Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:14 am

Vulcan's Hammer
by Philip K. Dick
© 1960 by Ace Books, copyright renewed 1988 by Laura Coelho, Christopher Dick, and Isa Dick

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Table of Contents:

• Chapter 1
• Chapter 2
• Chapter 3
• Chapter 4
• Chapter 5
• Chapter 6
• Chapter 7
• Chapter 8
• Chapter 9
• Chapter 10
• Chapter 11
• Chapter 12
• Chapter 13
• Chapter 14
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:15 am

CHAPTER ONE

Arthur Pitt was conscious of the mob as soon as he left the Unity office and started across the street. He stopped at the corner by his car and lit a cigarette. Unlocking the car, he studied the mob, holding his briefcase tightly.

There were fifty or sixty of them: people of the town, workers and small businessmen, petty clerks with steel-rimmed glasses. Mechanics and truckdrivers, farmers, housewives, a white-aproned grocer. The usual-lower middle-class, always the same.

Pitt slid into his car, and snapping on the dashboard mike, called his highest ranking superior, the South American Director. They were moving fast, now, filling up the street and surging silently toward him. They had, no doubt, identified him by his T-class clothes -- white shirt and tie, gray suit, felt hat. Briefcase. The shine of his black shoes. The pencil beam gleaming in the breast pocket of his coat. He unclipped the gold tube and held it ready. "Emergency," he said.

"Director Taubmann here," the dashboard speaker said. "Where are you?" The remote, official voice, so far up above him.

"Still in Cedar Groves, Alabama. There's a mob forming around me. I suppose they have the roads blocked. Looks like the whole town."

"Any Healers?"

Off to one side, on the curb, stood an old man with a massive head and short-cropped hair. Standing quietly in his drab brown robe, a knotted rope around his waist, sandals on his feet. "One," Pitt said.

"Try to get a scan for Vulcan 3."

"I'll try." The mob was all around the car now. Pitt could hear their hands, plucking and feeling at the car, exploring it carefully and with calm efficiency. He leaned back and double-locked the doors. The windows were rolled up; the hood was down tight. He snapped on the motor which activated the defense assembly built into the car. Beneath and around him the system hummed as its feedback elements searched for any weak links in the car's armor.

On the curb, the man in brown had not moved. He stood with a few others, people in ordinary street clothing. Pitt pulled the scanner out and lifted it up.

A rock at once hit the side of the car, below the window. The car shuddered; in his hands the scanner danced. A second rock hit directly against the window, sending a web of cracks rippling across it.

Pitt dropped the scanner. "I'm going to need help. They mean business."

"There's a crew already on the way. Try to get a better scan of him. We didn't get it well."

"Of course you didn't," Pitt said in anger. "They saw the thing in my hand and they deliberately let those rocks fly." One of the rear windows had cracked; hands groped blindly into the car. "I've got to get out of here, Taubmann." Pitt grinned bleakly as he saw, out of the corner of his eye, the car's assembly attempting to repair the broken window -- attempting and failing. As new plastiglass foamed up, the alien hands grasped and wadded it aside.

"Don't get panicky," the tinny dashboard voice told him.

"Keep the old-brain down?" Pitt released the brake. The car moved forward a few feet and stopped dead. The motor died into silence, and with it, the car's defense system; the hum ceased.

Cold fear slid through Pitt's stomach. He gave up trying to find the scanner; with shaking fingers he lifted out his pencil beam. Four or five men were astride the hood, cutting off his view; others were on the cab above his head. A sudden shuddering roar: they were cutting through the roof with a heat drill.

"How long?" Pitt muttered thickly. "I'm stalled. They must have got some sort of interference plasma going -- it conked everything out."

"They'll be along any minute," the placid, metallic voice said, lacking fear, so remote from him and his situation. The organization voice. Profound and mature, away from the scene of danger.

"They better hurry." The car shuddered as a whole barrage of rocks hit. The car tipped ominously; they were lifting it up on one side, trying to overturn it. Both back windows were out. A man's hand reached for the door release.

Pitt burned the hand to ash with his pencil beam. The stump frantically withdrew. "I got one."

"If you could scan some of them for us ..."

More hands appeared. The interior of the car was sweltering; the heat drill was almost through. "I hate to do this." Pitt turned his pencil beam on his briefcase until there was nothing left. Hastily, he dissolved the contents of his pockets, everything in the glove compartment, his identification papers, and finally he burned his wallet. As the plastic bubbled away to black ooze, he saw, for an instant, a photograph of his wife ... and then the picture was gone.

"Here they come," he said softly, as the whole side of the car crumpled with a hoarse groan and slid aside under the pressure of the drill.

"Try to hang on, Pitt. The crew should be there almost any --"

Abruptly the speaker went dead. Hands caught him, throwing him back against the seat. His coat ripped, his tie was pulled off. He screamed. A rock crashed into his face; the pencil beam fell to the floor. A broken bottle cut across his eyes and mouth. His scream bubbled into choked silence. The bodies scrambled over him. He sank down, lost in the clutching mass of warm-smelling humanity.

On the car's dashboard, a covert scanner, disguised as a cigar lighter, recorded the immediate scene; it continued to function. Pitt had not known about it; the device had come with the car supplied to him by his superiors. Now, from the mass of struggling people, a hand reached, expertly groped at the dashboard -- tugged once, with great precision, at a cable. The covert scanner ceased functioning. Like Pitt, it had come to the end of its span.

Far off down the highway the sirens of the police crew shrieked mournfully.

The same expert hand withdrew. And was gone, back into the mass ... once more mingled.

William Barris examined the photo carefully, once more comparing it with the second of scanning tape. On his desk his coffee cooled into muddy scum, forgotten among his papers. The Unity Building rang and vibrated with the sounds of endless calculators, statistics machines, vidphones, teletypes, and the innumerable electric typewriters of the minor clerks. Officials moved expertly back and forth in the labyrinth of offices, the countless cells in which T-class personnel worked. Three young secretaries, their high heels striking sharply, hurried past his desk, on their way back from their coffee break. Normally he would have taken notice of them, especially the slim blonde in the pink wool sweater, but today he did not; he was not even aware that they had passed.

"This face is unusual," Barris murmured. "Look at his eyes and the heavy ridge over the brows."

"Phrenology," Taubmann said indifferently. His plump, well-scrubbed features showed his boredom; he noticed the secretaries, even if Barris did not.

Barris threw down the photo. "No wonder they get so many followers. With organizers like that --" Again he peered at the tiny fragment of scanning tape; this was the only part that had been clear at all. Was it the same man? He could not be sure. Only a blur, a shape without features. At last he handed the photo back to Taubmann. "What's his name?"

"Father Fields." In a leisurely fashion, Taubmann thumbed through his file. "Fifty-nine years old. Trade: electrician. Top-grade turret- wiring expert. One of the best during the war. Born in Macon, Georgia, 1970. Joined the Healers two years ago, at the beginning. One of the founders, if you can believe the informants involved here. Spent two months in the Atlanta Psychological Correction Labs."

Barris said, "That long?" He was amazed; for most men it took perhaps a week. Sanity came quickly at such an advanced lab -- they had all the equipment he knew of, and some he had only glimpsed in passing. Every time he visited the place he had a deep sense of dread, in spite of his absolute immunity, the sworn sanctity that his position brought him.

"He escaped," Taubmann said. "Disappeared." He raised his head to meet Barris' gaze. "Without treatment."

"Two months there, and no treatments? "

"He was ill," Taubmann said with a faint, mocking smile. "An injury, and then a chronic blood condition. Then something from wartime radiation. He stalled -- and then one day he was gone. Took one of these self-contained air-conditioning units off the wall and reworked it. With a spoon and a toothpick. Of course, no one knows what he made out of it; he took his results through the wall and yard and fence with him. All we had for our inspection were the leftover parts, the ones he didn't use." Taubmann returned the photo to the file. Pointing at the second of scanning tape he said, "If that's the same man, it's the first time we've heard anything about him since then."

"Did you know Pitt?"

"A little. Nice, rather naive young fellow. Devoted to his job. Family man. Applied for field duty because he wanted the extra monthly bonus. Made it possible for his wife to furnish her living room with Early New England oak furniture." Taubmann got to his feet. "The call is out for Father Fields. But of course it's been out for months."

"Too bad the police showed up late," Barris said. "Always a few minutes late." He studied Taubmann. Both of them, technically, were equals, and it was policy for equals in the organization to respect one another. But he had never been too fond of Taubmann; it seemed to him that the man was too concerned with his own status. Not interested in Unity for theoretical reasons.

Taubmann shrugged. "When a whole town's organized against you, it isn't so odd. They blocked the roads, cut wires and cables, jammed the vidphone channels."

"If you get Father Fields, send him in to me. I want to examine him personally."

Taubmann smiled thinly. "Certainly. But I doubt if we'll get him." He yawned and moved toward the door. "It's unlikely; he's a slick one."

"What do you know about this?" Barris demanded. "You seem familiar with him -- almost on a personal basis."

Without the slightest loss of composure, Taubmann said, "I saw him at the Atlanta Labs. A couple of times. After all, Atlanta is part of my region." He met Barris' gaze steadily.

"Do you think it's the same man that Pitt saw slightly before his death?" Barris said. "The man who was organizing that mob?"

"Don't ask me," Taubmann said. "Send the photo and that bit of tape on to Vulcan 3. Ask it; that's what it's for."

"You know that Vulcan 3 has given no statement in over fifteen months, " Barris said.

"Maybe it doesn't know what to say." Taubmann opened the door to the hall; his police bodyguard swarmed alertly around him. "I can tell you one thing, though. The Healers are after one thing and one thing only; everything else is talk -- all this stuff about their wanting to destroy society and wreck civilization. That's good enough for the commercial news analysts, but we know that actually --"

"What are they really after?" Barris interrupted.

"They want to smash Vulcan 3. They want to strew its parts over the countryside. All this today, Pitt's death, the rest -- they're trying to reach Vulcan 3."

"Pitt managed to burn his papers?"

"I suppose. We found nothing, no remains of him or any of his equipment." The door closed.

After he had waited a careful few minutes, Barris walked to the door, opened it and peered out to be sure that Taubmann had gone. Then he returned to his desk. Clicking on the closed-circuit vidsender he got the local Unity monitor. "Give me the Atlanta Psychological Correction Labs," he said, and then instantly he struck out with his hand and cut the circuit.

He thought, it's this sort of reasoning that's made us into the thing we are. The paranoid suspicions of one another. Unity, he thought with irony. Some unity, with each of us eyeing the other, watching for any mistake, any sign. Naturally Taubmann had contact with a major Healer; it's his job to interview any of them that fall into our hands. He's in charge of the Atlanta staff. That's why I consulted him in the first place.

And yet -- the man's motives. He's in this for himself, Barris thought grimly. But what about mine? What are my motives, that lead me to suspect him?

After all, Jason Dill is getting along in years, and it will be one of us who will replace him. And if I could pin something on Taubmann, even the suspicion of treason, with no real facts ...

So maybe my own shirts aren't so clean, Barris thought. I can't trust myself because I'm not disinterested -- none of us are, in the whole Unity structure. Better not yield to my suspicions then, since I can't be sure of my motives.

Once more he contacted the local monitor. "Yes, sir, " she said." Your call to Atlanta--"

"I want that canceled," he said curtly. "Instead--" He took a deep breath. "Give me Unity Control at Geneva."

While the call was put through -- it had to be cleared through an assortment of desks along the thousands of miles of channel -- he sat absently stirring his coffee. A man who avoided psychotherapy for two months, in the face of our finest medical men. I wonder if I could do that. What skill that must have taken. What tenacity.

The vidphone clicked. "Unity Control, sir."

"This is North American Director Barris." In a steady voice he said, "I wish to put through an emergency request to Vulcan 3."

A pause and then, "Any first-order data to offer?" The screen was blank; he got only the voice, and it was so bland, so impersonal, that he could not recognize the person. Some functionary, no doubt. A nameless cog.

"Nothing not already filed." His answer came with heavy reluctance. The functionary, nameless or not, knew the right questions; he was skilled at his job.

"Then," the voice said, "you'll have to put through your request in the usual fashion." The rustling of sheets of paper. "The delay period," the voice continued, "is now three days."

In a light, bantering voice, Barris said, "What's Vulcan 3 doing these days? Working out chess openings?" Such a quip had to be made in a bantering manner; his scalp depended on it.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Barris. The time lag can't be cut even for Director-level personnel."

Barris started to ring off. And then, plunging all the way into it, he said in a brisk, authoritative tone, "Let me talk to Jason Dill, then."

"Managing Director Dill is in conference." The functionary was not impressed, nor disturbed. "He can't be bothered in matters of routine."

With a savage swipe of his hand, Barris cut the circuit. The screen died. Three days! The eternal bureaucracy of the monster organization. They had him; they really knew how to delay.

He reflectively picked up his coffee cup and sipped it, The cold, bitter stuff choked him and he poured it out; the pot refilled the cup at once with fresh coffee.

Didn't Vulcan 3 give a damn? Maybe it wasn't concerned with the world-wide Movement that was out -- as Taubmann had said-to smash its metal hide and strew its relays and memory tubes and wiring for the crows to pick over.

But it wasn't Vulcan 3, of course; it was the organization. From the vacant-eyed little secretaries off on their coffee breaks, all the way up through the managers to the Directors, the repairmen who kept Vulcan 3 going, the statisticians who collected data, And Jason Dill.

Was Dill deliberately isolating the other Directors, cutting them off from Vulcan 3? Perhaps Vulcan 3 had responded and the information had been withheld.

I'm suspecting even him, Barris thought. My own superior. The highest official in Unity. I must be breaking down under the strain; that's really insane.

I need a rest, he thought wildly. Pitt's death has done it; I feel somehow responsible, because after all I'm safe here, safe at this desk, while eager youngsters like that go out in the country, out where it's dangerous. They get it, if something goes wrong. Taubmann and I, all of us Directors -- we have nothing to fear from those brown-robed crackpots.

At least, nothing to fear yet.

Taking out a request form, Barris began carefully to write. He wrote slowly, studying each word. The form gave him space for ten questions; he asked only two:

a) ARE THE HEALERS OF REAL SIGNIFICANCE?

b) WHY DON'T YOU RESPOND TO THEIR EXISTENCE?

Then he pushed the form into the relay slot and sat listening as the scanner whisked over its surface. Thousands of miles away, his questions joined the vast tide flowing in from allover the world, from the Unity offices in every country. Eleven Directorates -- divisions of the planet. Each with its Director and staff and sub-directorate Unity offices. Each with its police organs under oath to the local Director.

In three days, Barris' turn would come and answers would flow back. His questions, processed by the elaborate mechanism, would be answered -- eventually. As with everyone else in -class, he submitted all problems of importance to the huge mechanical computer buried somewhere in the subsurface fortress near the Geneva offices.

He had no other choice. All policy-level matters were deter mined by Vulcan 3; that was the law.

Standing up, he motioned to one of the nearby secretaries who stood waiting, She immediately came toward his desk with her pad and writing stick. "Yes, sir," she said, smiling.

"I want to dictate a letter to Mrs. Arthur Pitt," Barris said. From his papers he gave her the address. But then, on second thought, he said, "No, I think I'll write it myself."

"In handwriting, sir?" the secretary said, blinking in surprise. "You mean the way children do in school?"

"Yes," he said.

"May I ask why, sir?"

Barris did not know; he had no rational reason. Sentimentality, he thought to himself as he dismissed the secretary. Throwback to the old days, to infantile patterns.

Your husband is dead in the line of duty, he said to himself as he sat at his desk meditating. Unity is deeply sorry. As Director, I wish to extend my personal sympathy to you in this tragic hour.

Damn it, he thought. I can't do it; I never can. I'll have to go and see her; I can't write a thing like this. There have been too many, lately. Too many deaths for me to stand. I'm not like Vulcan 3. I can't ignore it. I can't be silent.

And it didn't even occur in my region. The man wasn't even my employee.

Clicking open the line to his sub-Director, Barris said, "I want you to take over for the rest of today. I'm knocking off. I don't feel too well."

"Too bad, sir," Peter Allison said. But the pleasure was obvious, the satisfaction of being able to step from the wings and assume a more important spot, if only for a moment.

You'll have my job, Barris thought as he closed and locked his desk. You're gunning for it, just as I'm gunning for Dill's job. On and on, up the ladder to the top.

He wrote Mrs. Pitt's address down, put it in his shirt pocket, and left the office as quickly as he could, glad to get away. Glad to have an excuse to escape from the oppressive atmosphere.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:15 am

CHAPTER TWO

Standing before the blackboard, Agnes Parker asked, "What does the year 1992 bring to mind?" She looked brightly around the class.

"The year 1992 brings to mind the conclusion of Atomic War I and the beginning of the decade of international regulation," said Peter Thomas, one of the best of her students.

"Unity came into being," Patricia Edwards added. "Rational world order."

Mrs. Parker made a note on her chart. "Correct." She felt pride at the children's alert response. "And now perhaps someone can tell me about the Lisbon Laws of 1993."

The classroom was silent. A few pupils shuffled in their seats. Outside, warm June air beat against the windows. A fat robin hopped down from a branch and stood listening for worms. The trees rustled lazily.

"That's when Vulcan 3 was made," Hans Stein said.

Mrs. Parker smiled. "Vulcan 3 was made long before that; Vulcan 3 was made during the war. Vulcan 1 in 1970. Vulcan 2 in 1975. They had computers even before the war, in the middle of the century. The Vulcan series was developed by Otto Jordan, who worked with Nathaniel Greenstreet for Westinghouse, during the early days of the war ..."

Mrs. Parker's voice trailed off into a yawn. She pulled herself together with an effort; this was no time to be dozing. Managing Director Jason Dill and his staff were supposed to be in the school somewhere, reviewing educational ideology. Vulcan 3 was rumored to have made inquiries concerning the school systems; it seemed to be interested in knowing the various value biases that were currently being formulated in the pupils' basic orientation programs. After all, it was the task of the schools, and especially the grammar schools, to infuse the youth of the world with the proper attitudes. What else were schools for?

"What," Mrs. Parker repeated, "were the Lisbon Laws of 1993? Doesn't anybody know? I really feel ashamed of you all, if you can't exert yourselves to memorize what may well be the most important facts you'll learn in your entire time of school. I suppose if you had your way you'd be reading those commercial comic books that teach adding and subtracting and other business crafts." Fiercely, she tapped on the floor with her toe. "Well? Do I hear an answer?"

For a moment there was no response. The rows of faces were blank. Then, abruptly, incredibly: "The Lisbon Laws dethroned God," a piping child's voice came from the back of the class- room. A girl's voice, severe and penetrating.

Mrs. Parker awoke from her torpor; she blinked in amazement. "Who said that?" she demanded. The class buzzed. Heads turned questioningly toward the back. "Who was that?"

"It was Jeannie Baker!" a boy hollered.

"It was not! It was Dorothy!"

Mrs. Parker paced rapidly down the aisle, past the children's desks. "The Lisbon Laws of 1993," she said sharply, "were the most important legislation of the past five hundred years." She spoke nervously, in a high-pitched shrill voice; gradually the glass turned toward her. Habit made them pay attention to her- the training of years. "All seventy nations of the world sent representatives to Lisbon. The world-wide Unity organization formally agreed that the great computer machines developed by Britain and the Soviet Union and the United States, and hitherto used in a purely advisory capacity, would now be given absolute power over the national governments in the determination of top-level policy --"

But at that moment Managing Director Jason Dill entered the classroom, and Mrs. Parker lapsed into respectful silence.

This was not the first time she had seen the man, the actual physical entity, in contrast to the synthetic images projected over the media to the public at large. And as before, she was taken by surprise; there was such a difference between the real man and his official image. In the back of her mind she wondered how the children were taking it. She glanced toward them and saw that all of them were gazing in awe, everything else forgotten.

She thought, He's actually not so different from the rest of us. The highest ranking human being ... and he's just a plain man. An energetic middle-aged man with a shrewd face, twinkling eyes, and a genial smile of confidence. He's short, she thought. Shorter than some of the men around him.

His staff had entered with him, three men and two women, all in the businesslike T-class gray. No special badges. No royal gear. If I didn't know, she thought, I wouldn't guess. He's so unassumIng.

"This is Managing Director Dill," she said. "The Coordinating Director of the Unity system." Her voice broke with tension. "Managing Director Dill is responsible only to Vulcan 3. No human being except Director Dill is permitted to approach the computer banks."

Director Dill nodded pleasantly to Mrs. Parker and to the class. "What are you children studying?" he asked in a friendly voice, the rich voice of a competent leader of the T-class.

The children shuffled shyly. "We're learning about the Lisbon Laws," a boy said.

"That's nice," Director Dill affirmed heartily, his alert eyes twinkling. He nodded to his staff and they moved back toward the door. "You children be good students and do what your teacher tells you."

"It was so nice of you," Mrs. Parker managed to say. "To drop by, so they could see you for a moment. Such an honor." She followed the group to the door, her heart fluttering. "They'll always remember this moment; they'll treasure it."

"Mr. Dill," a girl's voice came. "Can I ask you something?"

The room became abruptly silent. Mrs. Parker was chilled. The voice. The girl again. Who was it? Which one? She strained to see, her heart thumping in terror. Good lord, was that little devil going to say something in front of Director Dill?

"Certainly," Dill said, halting briefly at the door. "What do you want to ask? " He glanced at his wrist watch, smiling rather fixedly.

"Director Dill is in a hurry," Mrs. Parker managed to say. "He has so much to do, so many tasks. I think we had better let him go, don't you?"

But the firm little child's voice continued, as inflexible as steel. "Director Dill, don't you feel ashamed of yourself when you let a machine tell you what to do?"

Director Dill's fixed smile remained. Slowly, he turned away from the door, back toward the class. His bright, mature eyes roved about the room, seeking to pinpoint the questioner. "Who asked that?" he inquired pleasantly.

Silence.

Director Dill moved about the room, walking slowly, his hands in his pockets. He rubbed his chin, plucking at it absently. No one moved or spoke; Mrs. Parker and the Unity staff stood frozen in horror.

It's the end of my job, Mrs. Parker thought. Maybe they'll make me sign a request for therapy --maybe I'll have to undergo voluntary rehabilitation. No, she thought frantically. Please.

However, Director Dill was unshaken. He stopped in front of the blackboard. Experimentally, he raised his hand and moved it in a figure. White lines traced themselves on the dark surface. He made a few thoughtful motions and the date 1992 traced itself.

"The end of the war," he said.

He traced 1993 for the hushed class.

"The Lisbon Laws, which you're learning about. The year the combined nations of the world decided to throw in their lot together. To subordinate themselves in a realistic manner -- not in the idealistic fashion of the UN days -- to a common supranational authority, for the good of all mankind."

Director Dill moved away from the blackboard, gazing thoughtfully down at the floor. "The war had just ended; most of the planet was in ruins. Something drastic had to be done, because another war would destroy mankind. Something, some ultimate principle of organization, was needed. International control. Law, which no men or nations could break. Guardians were needed.

"But who would watch the Guardians? How could we be sure this supranational body would be free of the hate and bias, the animal passions that had set man against man throughout the centuries? Wouldn't this body, like all other man-made bodies, fall heir to the same vices, the same failings of interest over reason, emotion over logic?

"There was one answer. For years we had been using computers, giant constructs put together by the labor and talent of hundreds of trained experts, built to exact standards. Machines were free of the poisoning bias of self-interest and feeling that gnawed at man; they were capable of performing the objective calculations that for man would remain only an ideal, never a reality. If nations would be willing to give up their sovereignty, to subordinate their power to the objective, impartial directives of the --"

Again the thin child's voice cut through Dill's confident tone. The speech ceased, tumbled into ruin by the flat, direct interruption from the back of the classroom. "Mr. Dill, do you really believe that a machine is better than a man ? That man can't man - age his own world? "

For the first time, Director Dill's cheeks glowed red. He hesitated, half-smiling, gesturing with his right hand as he sought for words. "Well --" he murmured.

"I just don't know what to say," Mrs. Parker gasped, finding her voice. "I'm so sorry. Please believe me, I had no idea --"

Director Dill nodded understandingly to her. "Of course," he said in a low voice. "It's not your fault. These are not tabulae rasae which you can mold like plastic."

"Pardon?" she said, not understanding the foreign words. She had a dim idea that it was -- what was it? Latin?

Dill said, "You will always have a certain number who will not respond." Now he had raised his voice for the class to hear. "I'm going to playa game with you," he said, and at once the small faces showed anticipation. "Now, I don't want you to say a word; I want you to clap your hands over your mouths and be the way our police crews are when they're waiting to catch one of the enemy." The small hands flew up to cover mouths; eyes shone with excitement. "Our police are so quiet," Dill continued. "And they look around; they search and search to see where the enemy is. Of course, they don't let the enemy know they're about to pounce.

The class giggled with joy.

"Now," Dill said, folding his arms. "We look around." The children dutifully peered around. "Where's the enemy? We count-one, two, three." Suddenly Dill threw up his arms and in a loud voice said, "And we point to the enemy. We point her out!"

Twenty hands pointed. In her chair in the back the small red haired girl sat quietly, giving no reaction.

"What's your name?" Dill said, walking leisurely down the aisle until he stood near her desk.

The girl gazed silently up at Director Dill.

"Aren't you going to answer my question?" Dill said, smiling.

Calmly, the girl folded her small hands together on her desk. "Marion Fields," she said clearly. "And you haven't answered my questions.

***

Together, Director Dill and Mrs. Parker walked the corridor of the school building.

"I've had trouble with her from the start," Mrs. Parker said. "In fact, I protested their placing her in my class." Quickly, she said, "You'll find my written protest on file; I followed the regular method. I knew that something like this was going to happen, I just knew it! "

"I guarantee you," Director Dill said, "that you have nothing to fear. Your job is safe. You have my word." Glancing at the teacher he added reflectively, "Unless, of course, there's more to this than meets the eye." He paused at the door to the principal's office. "You have never met or seen her father, have you?"

"No," Mrs. Parker answered. "She's a ward of the government; her father was arrested and committed to the Atlanta --"

"I know," Dill interrupted. "She's nine, is she? Does she try to discuss current events with the other children? I presume that you have some manner of monitoring equipment going at all times -- in the cafeteria and on the playground especially."

"We have complete tapes of all conversations among the pupils," Mrs. Parker said proudly. "There's never a moment when they're not overheard. Of course, we're so rushed and overworked, and our budget is so low ... frankly, we've had trouble finding time to replay the tapes. There's a backlog, and all of us teachers try to spend at least an hour a day in careful replaying --"

"I understand," Dill murmured. "I know how overworked you all are, with all your responsibilities. It would be normal for any child her age to talk about her father. I was just curious. Obviously --" He broke off. "I believe," he said somberly, "that I'll have you sign a release permitting me to assume custody of her. Effective at once. Do you have someone you can send. to her dorm to pick up her things? Her clothes and personal articles?" He glanced at his watch. "I don't have too much time."

"She has just the standard kit," Mrs. Parker said. "Class B, which is provided for nine-year-olds. That could be picked up anywhere. You can take her right-I'll have the form made out at once." She opened the door to the principal's office and waved to a clerk.

"You have no objection to my taking her?" Dill said.

"Certainly not," Mrs. Parker answered. "Why do you ask?" In a dark, introspective voice, Dill said, "It would put an end to her schooling, for one thing."

"I don't see that that matters.

Dill eyed her, and she became flustered; his steady gaze made her shrink away. "I suppose," he said, "that schooling for her has been a failure anyhow. So it doesn't matter."

"That's right," she said quickly. "We can't help malcontents like her. As you pointed out in your statement to the class."

"Have her taken down to my car," Dill said. "She's been detained by someone capable of restraining her, I presume. It would be a shame if she selected this moment to sneak off."

"We have her locked in one of the washrooms," Mrs. Parker said.

Again he eyed her, but this time he said nothing. While she shakily made out the proper form he took a moment to gaze out the window at the playground below. Now it was recess; the faint, muffled voices of the children drifted up to the office.

"What game is that?" Dill said finally. "Where they mark with the chalk." He pointed.

"I don't know," she said, looking over his shoulder.

At that, Dill was dumbfounded. "You mean you let them play unorganized games? Games of their own devising?"

"No," she said. "I mean I'm not in charge of playground teaching; it's Miss Smollet who handles that. See her down there? "

When the custody transfer had been made out, Dill took it from her and departed. Presently she saw, through the window, the man and his staff crossing the playground. She watched as he waved genially to the children, and she saw him stop several times to bend down to speak to some individual child.

How incredible, she thought. That he could take the time for ordinary persons like us.

At Dill's car she saw the Fields girl. The small shape, wearing a coat, the bright red hair shimmering in the sun ... and then an official of Dill's staff had boosted the child into the back of the car. Dill got in too, and the doors slammed. The car drove off. On the playground, a group of children had gathered by the high wire fence to wave.

Still trembling, Mrs. Parker made her way back up the corridor to her classroom. Is my job safe? she asked herself. Will I be investigated, or can I believe him? After all, he did give me his absolute assurance, and no one can contradict him. I know my record is clear, she thought desperately. I've never done anything subversive; I asked not to have that child in my class, and I never discuss current events in the classroom; I've never slipped once. But suppose --

Suddenly, at the corner of her eye, something moved.

She halted rigid where she was. A flicker of motion. Now gone. What was it? A deep, intuitive dread filled her; something had been there, near her, unobserved. Now swiftly vanished- she had caught only the most indistinct glimpse.

Spying on her! Some mechanism overhearing her. She was being watched. Not just the children, she thought in terror. But us, too. They have us watched, and I never knew for sure; I only guessed.

Could it read my thoughts? she asked herself. No, nothing can read thoughts. And I wasn't saying anything aloud. She looked up and down the corridor, striving to make out what it had been.

Who does it report to? she wondered. The police? Will they come and get me, take me to Atlanta or some place like that?

Gasping with fear, she managed to open the door of her classroom and enter.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:15 am

CHAPTER THREE

The Unity Control Building filled virtually the whole business area of Geneva, a great imposing square of white concrete and steel. Its endless rows of windows glittered in the late afternoon sun; lawns and shrubs surrounded the structure on all sides; gray-clad men and women hurried up the wide marble steps and through the doors.

Jason Dill's car pulled up at the guarded Director's entrance. He stepped quickly out and held the door open. "Come along," he said.

For a moment Marion Fields remained in the car, unwilling to leave. The leather seats had given her a sense of security, and she sat looking out at the man standing on the sidewalk, trying to control her fear of him. The man smiled at her, but she had no confidence in the smile; she had seen it too many times on the public television. It was too much a part of the world that she had been taught to distrust.

"Why?" she said. "What are you going to do?" But at last she slid slowly from the car onto the pavement. She was not sure where she was; the rapid trip had confused her.

"I'm sorry you had to leave your possessions behind," Dill said to her. He took hold of her hand and led her firmly up the steps of the great building. "We'll replace them," he said. "And we'll see that you have a pleasant time here with us; I promise you, on my word of honor." He glanced down to see how she was taking it.

The long echoing hall stretched out ahead of them, lit by recessed lights. Distant figures, tiny human shapes, scampered back and forth from one office to another. To the girl, it was like an even larger school; it was everything she had been subjected to but on a much larger scale.

"I want to go home," she said.

"This way," Dill said in a cheerful voice, as he guided her along. "You won't be lonely because there are a lot of nice people who work here who have children of their own, girls of their own. And they'll be glad to bring their children by so you can have someone to play with. Won't that be nice?"

"You can tell them," she said.

"Tell them what?" Dill said, as he turned down a side passage.

"To bring the children. And they will. Because you're the boss." She gazed up at him, and saw, for an instant, his compo- sure depart. But almost at once he was smiling again. "Why do you always smile?" she said. "Aren't things ever bad, or aren't you able to admit it when they're bad? On the television you always say things are fine. Why don't you tell the truth?" She asked these questions with curiosity; it did not make sense to her. Surely he knew that he never told the truth.

"You know what I think's wrong with you, young woman?"

Dill said. "I don't really think you're such a troublemaker as you pretend." He opened the door to an office. "I think you just worry too much." As he ushered her inside he said, "You should be like other children. Play more healthy outdoor games. Don't do so much thinking off by yourself. Isn't that what you do? Go off by yourself somewhere and brood? "

She had to nod in agreement. It was true.

Dill patted her on the shoulder. "You and I are going to get along fine," he said. "You know, I have two children of my own-a good bit older than you, though."

"I know," she said. "One's a boy and he's in the police youth, and your girl Joan is in the girls' army school in Boston. I read about it in a magazine they give us at school to read."

"Oh, yes," Dill murmured. "World Today. Do you like to read it?"

"No," she said. "It tells more lies even than you."

After that, the man said nothing; he concerned himself with papers on his desk, and left her to stand by herself.

"I'm sorry you don't like our magazine," he said finally, in a preoccupied voice. "Unity goes to a great deal of trouble to put it out. By the way, who told you to say that about Unity? Who taught you?"

"Nobody taught me."

"Not even your father?"

She said, "Do you know you're shorter than you look on television? Do they do that on purpose? Try to make you look bigger to impress people?"

To that, Dill said nothing. At his desk he had turned on a little machine; she saw lights flash.

"That's recording," she said.

Dill said, "Have you had a visit from your dad since his escape from Atlanta?"

"No, she said.

"Do you know what sort of place Atlanta is?"

"No," she said. But she did know. He stared at her, trying to see if she was lying, but she returned his stare. "It's a prison," she said at last. "Where they send men who speak their mind."

"No," Dill said. "It's a hospital. For mentally unbalanced people. It's a place where they get well."

In a low, steady voice, she said, "You're a liar."

"It's a psychological therapy place," Dill said. "Your father was-upset. He imagined all sorts of things that weren't so. There evidently were pressures on him too strong for him to bear, and so like a lot of perfectly normal people he cracked under the pressure."

"Did you ever meet him?"

Dill admitted, "No. But I have his record here." He showed her a great mass of documents that lay before him.

"They cured him at that place?" Marion asked.

"Yes," Dill said. But then he frowned. "No, I beg your pardon. He was too ill to be given therapy. And I see he managed to keep himself ill the entire two months he was there."

"So he isn't cured," she said. "He's still upset, isn't he?"

Dill said, "The Healers. What's your father's relationship to them?"

"I don't know."

Dill seated himself and leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head. "Isn't it a little silly, those things you said? Overthrowing God ... somebody has told you we were better off in the old days, before Unity, when we had war every twenty years." He pondered. "I wonder how the Healers 'got their name. Do you know?"

"No," she said.

"Didn't your father tell you?"

"No."

"Maybe I can tell you; I'll be a sort of substitute father, for a while. A 'healer' is a person who comes along with no degree or professional medical training and declares he can cure you by some odd means when the licensed medical profession has given you up. He's a quack, a crank, either an out-and-out nut or a cynical fake who wants to make some easy money and doesn't care how he goes about it. Like the cancer quacks- but you're too young; you wouldn't remember them." Leaning forward, he said, "But you may have heard of the radiation- sickness quacks. Do you remember ever seeing a man come by in an old car, with perhaps a sign mounted on top of it, selling bottles of medicine guaranteed to cure terrible radiation burns?"

She tried to recall. "I don't remember," she said. "I know I've seen men on television selling things that are supposed to cure all the ills of society."

Dill said, "No child would talk as you're talking. You've been trained to say this." His voice rose. "Haven't you?"

"Why are you so upset?" she said, genuinely surprised. "I didn't say it was any Unity salesman."

"But you meant us," Dill said, still flushed. "You meant our informational discussions, our public relations programs."

She said, "You're so suspicious. You see things that aren't there." That was something her father had said; she remembered that. He had said. They're paranoids, Suspicious even of each other. Any opposition is the work of the devil.

"The Healers," Dill was saying, "take advantage of the superstitions of the masses. The masses are ignorant, you see. They believe in crazy things: magic, gods and miracles, healing, the Touch. This cynical cult is playing on basic emotional hysterias familiar to all our sociologists, manipulating the masses like sheep, exploiting them to gain power."

"You have the power," she said. "All of it. My father says you've got a monopoly on it."

"The masses have a desire for religious certainty, the com- forting balm of faith. You grasp what I'm saying, don't you? You seem to be a bright child."

She nodded faintly.

"They don't live by reason. They can't; they haven't the courage and discipline, They demand the metaphysical absolutes that started to go out as early as 1700. But war keeps bringing it back-the whole pack of frauds."

"Do you believe that?" she said. "That it's all frauds?"

Dill said, "I know that a man who says he has the Truth is a fraud. A man who peddles snake oil, like your --" He broke off. "A man," he said finally, "like your father. A spellbinder who fans up the flames of hate, inflames a mob until it kills."

To that she said nothing.

Jason Dill slid a piece of paper before her eyes. "Read this. It's about a man named Pitt-not a very important man, but it was worth your father's while to have him brutally murdered. Ever hear of him?"

"No," she said.

"Read it!" Dill said,

She took the report and examined it, her lips moving slowly.

"The mob," Dill said, "led by your father, pulled the man from his car and tore him to bits. What do you think of that?"

Marion pushed the paper back to him, saying nothing.

Leaning toward her, Dill yelled, "Why? What are they after? Do they want to bring back the old days? The war and hatred and international violence? These madmen are sweeping us back into the chaos and darkness of the past! And who gains? Nobody, except these spellbinders; they gain power. Is it worth it? Is it worth killing off half of mankind, wrecking cities --"

She interrupted, "That's not so. My father never said he was going to do anything like that." She felt herself become rigid with anger. "You're lying again, like you always do."

"Then what does he want? You tell me."

"They want Vulcan 3."

"I don't know what you mean." He scowled at her. "They're wasting their time. It repairs and maintains itself; we merely feed it data and the parts and supplies it wants. Nobody knows exactly where it is. Pitt didn't know."

"You know."

"Yes, I know." He studied her with such ferocity that she could not meet his gaze. "The worst thing that's happened to the world," he said at last, "in the time that you've been alive, is your father's escape from the Atlanta Psych Labs. A warped, psychopathic, deranged madman ..." His voice sank to a mutter.

"If you met him," she said, "you'd like him."

Dill stared at her. And then, abruptly, he began to laugh. "Anyhow," he said when he had ceased laughing, "you'll stay here in the Unity offices. I'll be talking to you again from time to time. If we don't get results we can send you to Atlanta. But I'd rather not."

He stabbed a button on his desk and two armed Unity guards appeared at the office door. "Take this girl down to the third subsurface level; don't let anything happen that might harm her." Out of her earshot, he gave the guards instructions; she tried to hear but she could not.

I'll bet he was lying when he said there'd be other kids for me to play with, she thought. She had not seen another child yet, in this vast, forbidding building.

Tears came to her eyes, but she forced them back. Pretending to be examining the big dictionary in the corner of Director Dill's office, she waited for the guards to start ordering her into motion.

***

As Jason Dill sat moodily at his desk, a speaker near his arm said, "She's in her quarters now, sir. Anything else?"

"No," he said. Rising to his feet, he collected his papers, put them into his briefcase and left the office.

A moment later he was on his way out of the Unity Control Building, hurrying up the ramp to the confined field, past the nests of heavy- duty aerial guns and on to his private hanger. Soon he was heading across the early evening sky, toward the underground fortress where the great Vulcan computers were maintained, carefully hidden away from the race of man.

Strange little girl, he thought to himself. Mature in some ways, in others perfectly ordinary. How much of her was derived from her father? Father Fields secondhand, Dill thought. Seeing the man through her, trying to infer the father by means of the child.

He landed, and presently was submitting to the elaborate examination at the surface check-point, fidgeting impatiently. The tangle of equipment sent him on and he descended quickly into the depths of the underground fortress. At the second level he stopped the elevator and abruptly got off. A moment later he was standing before a sealed support-wall, tapping his foot nervously and waiting for the guards to pass him.

"All right, Mr. Dill." The wall slid back. Dill hurried down a long deserted corridor, his heels echoing mournfully. The air was clammy, and the lights flickered fitfully; he turned to the right and halted, peering into the yellow gloom.

There it was. Vulcan 2, dusty and silent. Virtually forgotten. No one came here anymore. Except himself. And even he not very often.

He thought, It's a wonder the thing still works.

Seating himself at one of the tables, he unzipped his briefcase and got out his papers. Carefully, he began preparing his questions in the proper manner; for this archaic computer he had to do the tape-feeding himself. With a manual punch, he spelled out on the iron oxide tape the first series, and then he activated the tape transport. It made an audible wheezing sound as it struggled into life.

In the old days, during the war, Vulcan 2 had been an intricate structure of great delicacy and subtlety, an elaborate instrument consulted by the skilled technicians daily. It had served Unity well, in its time; it had done honorable service. And, he thought, the schoolbooks still laud it; they still give it its proper credit.

Lights flashed, and a bit of tape popped from the slot and fell into the basket. He picked it up and read:

Time will be required. Return in twenty-four hours. please.

The computer could not function rapidly, now. He knew that, and this did not surprise him. Again taking up the punch, he made the balance of his questions into feeding data, and then, closing his brief case, he strode rapidly from the chamber, back up the musty, deserted corridor.

How lonesome it is here, he thought. No one else but me.

And yet -- he had the sudden acute sensation that he was not alone, that someone was nearby, scrutinizing him. He glanced swiftly about. The dim yellow light did not show him much; he ceased walking, holding his breath and listening. There was no sound except the distant whirl of the old computer as it labored over his questions.

Lifting his head, Dill peered into the dusty shadows along the ceiling of the corridor. Strands of cobweb hung from the light fixtures; one bulb had gone dead, and that spot was black -- a pit of total darkness.

In the darkness, something gleamed.

Eyes, he thought. He felt chill fear.

A dry, rustling noise. The eyes shot off; he saw the gleam still, retreating from him along the ceiling of the corridor. In an instant the eyes had gone. A bat? Bird of some sort, trapped down here? Carried down by the elevator?

Jason Dill shivered, hesitated, and then went on.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:16 am

CHAPTER FOUR

From Unity records, William Barris had obtained the address of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Pitt. It did not surprise him to discover that the Pitts-now just Mrs. Pitt, he realized soberly-had a house in the expensive and fashionable Sahara region of North Africa. During the war that part of the world had been spared both hydrogen bomb explosions and fallout; now real estate there was priced out of the reach of most people, even those employed by the Unity system.

As his ship carried him from the North American landmass across the Atlantic, Barris thought, I wish I could afford to live there. It must have cost the man everything he had; in fact, he must have gone into debt up to his neck. I wonder why. Would it be worth it? Not to me, Barris thought. Perhaps for his wife ...

He landed his ship at the fabulously illuminated Proust Field runways, and shortly thereafter he was driving by commercial robot taxi out the twelve-lane freeway to the Golden Lands Development, in which Mrs. Pitt lived.

The woman, he knew, had been notified already; he had made sure that he would not be bringing her the first news of her husband's death.

On each side of the road, orange trees and grass and sparkling blue fountains made him feel cool and relaxed. As yet there were no multiple-unit buildings; this area was perhaps the last in the world still zoned for one-unit dwellings only. The limit of luxury, he thought. One-unit dwellings were a vanishing phenomenon in the world.

The freeway branched; he turned to the right, following the sign. Presently SLOW warnings appeared. Ahead he saw a gate blocking the road; astonished, he brought his rented taxi to a halt. Was this development legally able to screen visitors? Apparently it was; the law sanctioned it. He saw several men in ornate uniforms -- like ancient Latin American dictator garb- standing at stopped cars, inspecting the occupants. And, he saw, several of the cars were being turned back.

When the official had sauntered over to him, Barris said in a brusque voice, "Unity business."

The man shrugged. "Are you expected?" he asked in a bored tone.

"Listen," Barris began but the man was already pointing back at the through freeway. Subsiding, Barris said with great restraint, "I want to see Mrs. Arthur Pitt. Her husband was killed in the line of duty and I'm here expressing official regrets." That was actually not true, but it was near enough.

"I'll ask her if she wishes to see you," the uniformed man, heavy with medals and decorations, said. He took Barris' name; the fact that he was a Director did not seem to impress him. Going off, he spent some time at a portable vidscreen, and then he returned with a more pleasant expression on his face. "Mrs. Pitt is willing to have you admitted," he said. And the gate was drawn aside for Barris' rented taxi to pass.

Somewhat disconcerted by the experience, Barris drove on. Now he found himself surrounded by small, modern, brightly colored houses, all neat and trim, and each unique; he did not see two alike. He switched the automatic beam, and the taxi obediently hooked in to the circuit of the development. Otherwise, Barris realized, he would never find the house.

When the cab pulled over to the curb and stopped, he saw a slim, dark-haired young woman coming down the front steps of the house. She wore a wide-brimmed Mexican-style hat to protect her head from the midday African sun; from beneath the hat ringlets of black hair sparkled, the long Middle Eastern style so popular of late. On her feet she had sandals, and she wore a ruffled dress with bows and petticoats.

"I'm dreadfully sorry that you were treated that way, Director," she said in a low, toneless voice as he opened the door of the cab. "You understand that those uniformed guards are robots."

"No," he said. "I didn't know. But it isn't important." He surveyed her, seeing, he decided, one of the prettiest women that he had ever come across. Her face had a look of shock, a residue from the terrible news of her husband's death. But she seemed composed; she led him up the steps to the house walking very slowly.

"I believe I saw you once," she said as they reached the porch. "At a meeting of Unity personnel at which Arthur and I were present. You were on the platform, of course. With Mr. Dill."

The living room of the house, he noticed, was furnished as Taubmann had said. He saw Early New England oak furniture on every side.

"Please sit down," Mrs. Pitt said.

As he gingerly seated himself on a delicate-looking straight backed chair, he thought to himself that for this woman being married to a Unity official had been a profitable career. "You have very nice things here," he said.

"Thank you," Mrs. Pitt said, seating herself opposite him on a couch. "I'm sorry, " she said, "if my responses seem slow. When I got the news I had myself put under sedation. You can understand." Her voice trailed off.

Barris said, "Mrs. Pitt --"

"My name is Rachel," she said.

"All right," he said. He paused. Now that he was here, facing this woman, he did not know what to say; he was not sure, now, why he had come here.

"I know what's on your mind," Rachel Pitt said. "I put pres-sure on my husband to seek out active service so that we could have a comfortable home."

To that, Barris said nothing.

"Arthur was responsible to Director Taubmann," Rachel Pitt said. "I ran into Taubmann several times, and he made clear how he felt about me; it didn't particularly bother me at the time, but of course with Arthur dead --" She broke off. "It isn't true, of course, Living this way was Arthur's idea. I would have been glad to give it up any time; I didn't want to be stuck out here in this housing development, away from everything." For a moment she was silent. Reaching to the coffee table she took a package of cigarettes. "I was born in London," she said, as she lit a cigarette. "All my life I lived in a city, either in London or New York. My family wasn't very well off-my father was a tailor, in fact. Arthur's family has quite a good deal of money; I think he got his taste in interior decorating from his mother." She gazed at Barris. "This doesn't interest you. I'm sorry. Since I heard, I haven't been able to keep my thoughts in order."

"Are you all by yourself here?" he said. "Do you know anyone in the development?"

"No one that I want to depend on," she said. "Mostly you'll find ambitious young wives here. Their husbands all work for Unity; that goes without saying. Otherwise, how could they afford to live here?" Her tone was so bitter that he was amazed.

"What do you think you'll do?" he said.

Rachel Pitt said, "Maybe I'll join the Healers."

He did not know how to react. So he said nothing. This is a highly distraught woman, he thought. The grief, the calamity that she's involved in ... or is she always like this? He had no way of telling.

"How much do you know about the circumstances surrounding Arthur's death?" she asked.

"I know most of the data," Barris said cautiously.

"Do you believe he was killed by --" She grimaced. "A mob? A bunch of unorganized people? Farmers and shopkeepers, egged on by some old man in a robe?" Suddenly she sprang to her feet and hurled her cigarette against the wall; it rolled near him and he bent reflexively to retrieve it. "That's just the usual line they put out," she said. "I know better. My husband was murdered by someone in Unity-someone who was jealous of him, who envied him and everything he had achieved. He had a lot of enemies; every man with any ability who gets anywhere in the organization is hated." She subsided slightly, pacing about the room with her arms folded, her face strained and distorted. "Does this distress you?" she said at last. "To see me like this? You probably imagined some little clinging vine of a woman sobbing quietly to herself. Do I disappoint you? Forgive me." Her voice trembled with fury.

Barris said, "The facts as they were presented to me --"

"Don't kid me," Rachel said in a deadly, harsh voice. And then she shuddered and put her hands against her cheeks. "Is it all in my mind? He was always telling me about people in his office plotting to get rid of him, trying to get him in bad. Carrying tales. Part of being in Unity, he always said. The only way you can get to the top is push someone else away from the top." She stared at Barris wildly. "Who did you murder to get your job? How many men dead, so you could be Director? That's what Arthur was aiming for-that was his dream."

"Do you have any proof?" he said. "Anything to go on that would indicate that someone in the organization was involved?" It did not seem even remotely credible to him that someone in Unity could have been involved in the death of Arthur Pitt; more likely this woman's ability to handle reality had been severely curtailed by the recent tragedy. And yet, such things had happened, or at least so it was believed.

"My husband's official Unity car," Rachel said steadily, "had a little secret scanning device mounted on the dashboard. I saw the reports, and it was mentioned in them. When Director Taubmann was talking to me on the vidphone, do you know what I did? I didn't listen to his speech; I read the papers he had on his desk." Her voice rose and wavered. "One of the people who broke into Arthur's car knew about that scanner-he shut it off Only someone in the organization could have known; even Arthur didn't know. It had to be someone up high." Her black eyes flashed. "Someone at Director level."

"Why?" Barris said, disconcerted.

"Afraid my husband would rise and threaten him. Jeopardize his job. Possibly eventually take his job from him, become Direc- tor in his place. Taubmann, I mean." She smiled thinly. "You know I mean him. So what are you going to do? Inform on me? Have me arrested for treason and carried off to Atlanta?"

Barris said, "I -- I would prefer to give it some thought."

"Suppose you don't inform on me. I might be doing this to trap you, to test your loyalty to the system. You have to inform -- it might be a trick!" She laughed curtly. "Does all this distress you? Now you wish you hadn't come to express your sympathy; see what you got yourself into by having humane motives?" Tears filled her eyes. "Go away," she said in a choked, unsteady voice. "What does the organization care about the wife of a dead minor petty fieldworker?"

Barris said, "I'm not sorry I came."

Going to the door, Rachel Pitt opened it. "You'll never be back," she said. "Go on, leave. Scuttle back to your safe office."

"I think you had better leave this house," Barris said.

"And go where?"

To that, he had no ready answer. "There's a cumbersome pension system," he began. "You'll get almost as much as your husband was making. If you want to move back to New York or London --"

"Do my charges seriously interest you?" Rachel broke in. "Does it occur to you that I might be right? That a Director might arrange the murder of a talented, ambitious underling to protect his own job? It's odd, isn't it, how the police crews are always just a moment late."

Shaken, ill-at-ease, Barris said, "I'll see you again. Soon, I hope."

"Good-bye, Director," Rachel Pitt said, standing on the front porch of her house as he descended the steps to his rented cab. "Thank you for coming."

She was still there as he drove off.

***

As his ship carried him back across the Atlantic to North America, William Barris pondered. Could the Healers have contacts within the Unity organization? Impossible. The woman's hysterical conviction had overwhelmed him; it was her emotion, not her reason, that had affected him. And yet he himself had been suspicious of Taubmann.

Could it be that Father Fields' escape from Atlanta had been arranged? Not the work of a single clever man, a deranged man bent on escape and revenge, but the work of dull-witted officials who had been instructed to let the man go?

That would explain why, in two long months, Fields had been given no psychotherapy.

And now what? Barris asked himself acidly. Whom do I tell? Do I confront Taubmann -- with absolutely no facts? Do I go to Jason Dill?

One other point occurred to him. If he ever did run afoul of Taubmann, if the man ever attacked him for any reason, he had an ally in Mrs. Pitt; he had someone to assist him in a counterattack.

And, Barris realized grimly, that was valuable in the Unity system, someone to back up your charges-if not with evidence, at least with added assertion. Where there's smoke there's fire, he said to himself. Someone should look into Taubmann's relationship with Father Fields. The customary procedure here would be to send an unsigned statement to Jason Dill, and let him start police spies to work tracing Taubmann, digging up evidence. My own men, Barris realized, could do it; I have good police in my own department. But if Taubmann got wind of it ...

This is ghastly, he realized with a start. I have to free myself from this vicious cycle of suspicion and fear! I can't let myself be destroyed; I can't let that woman's morbid hysteria infiltrate my own thinking. Madness transmitted from person to person -- isn't that what makes up a mob? Isn't that the group mind that we're supposed to be combatting?

I had better not see Rachel Pitt again, he decided.

But already he felt himself drawn to her. A vague but nonetheless powerful yearning had come into existence inside him; he could not pin down the mood. Certainly she was physically attractive, with her long dark hair, her flashing eyes, slender, active body. But she is not psychologically well-balanced, he decided. She would be a terrible liability; any relationship with a woman like that might wreck me. There is no telling which way she might jump. After all, her tie with Unity has been shattered, without warning; all her plans, her ambitions, have been thrown back in her teeth. She's got to find another entree, a new technique for advancement and survival.

I made a mistake in looking her up, he thought. What would make a better contact than a Director? What could be of more use to her?

When he had gotten back to his own offices, he at once gave instructions that no calls from Mrs. Arthur Pitt be put through to him; any messages from her were to be put through proper channels, which meant that regular agencies-and clerks- would be dealing with her.

"A pension situation," he explained to his staff. "Her husband wasn't attached to my area, so there's no valid claim that can be filed against this office. She'll have to take it to Taubmann. He was her husband's superior, but she's got the idea that I can help in some way."

After that, alone in his office, he felt guilt. He had lied to his staff about the situation; he had patently misrepresented Mrs. Pitt in order to insure protection of himself. Is that an improvement? he asked himself. Is that my solution?

***

In her new quarters, Marion Fields sat listlessly reading a comic book. This one dealt with physics, a subject that fascinated her. But she had read the comic book three times, now, and it was hard for her to keep up an interest.

She was just starting to read it over for the fourth time when without warning the door burst open. There stood Jason Dill, his face white. "What do you know about Vulcan 2? " he shouted at her." Why did they destroy Vulcan 2? Answer me! "

Blinking, she said, "The old computer?"

Dill's face hardened; he took a deep breath, struggling to control himself.

"What happened to the old computer?" she demanded, avid with curiosity. "Did it blow up? How do you know somebody did it? Maybe it just burst. Wasn't it old? " All her life she had read about, heard about, been told about, Vulcan 2; it was an historic shrine, like the museum that had been Washington, D.C. Except that all the children were taken to the Washington Museum to walk up and down the streets and roam in the great silent office buildings, but no one had ever seen Vulcan 2. "Can I look?" she demanded, following Jason Dill as he turned and started back out of the room. "Please let me look. If it blew Up it isn't any good anymore anyhow, is it? So why can't I see it?"

Dill said, " Are you in contact with your father?"

"No," she said. "You know I'm not."

"How can I contact him?"

"I don't know," she said.

"He's quite important in the Healers' Movement, isn't he?" Dill faced her. "What would they gain by destroying a retired computer that's only good for minor work? Were they trying to reach Vulcan 3? " Raising his voice he shouted, "Did they think it was Vulcan 3? Did they make a mistake?"

To that, she could say nothing.

"Eventually we'll get him and bring him in," Dill said. "And this time he won't escape psychotherapy; I promise you that, child. Even if I have to supervise it myself."

As steadily as possible she said. "You're just mad because your old computer blew up, and you have to blame somebody else. You're just like my dad always said; you think the whole world's against you."

"The whole world is," Dill said in a harsh, low voice.

At that point he left, slamming the door shut after him. She stood listening to the sound of his shoes against the floor of the hall outside. Away the sound went, becoming fainter and fainter.

That man must have too much work to do, Marion Fields thought. They ought to give him a vacation.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:16 am

CHAPTER FIVE

There it was. Vulcan 2, or what remained of Vulcan 2-heaps of twisted debris; fused, wrecked masses of parts; scattered tubes and relays lost in random coils that had once been wiring. A great ruin, still smoldering. The acrid smoke of shorted transformers drifted up and hung against the ceiling of the chamber. Several technicians poked morosely at the rubbish; they had salvaged a few minor parts, nothing more. One of them had already given up and was putting his tools back in their case.

Jason Dill kicked a shapeless blob of ash with his foot. The change, the incredible change from the thing Vulcan 2 had been to this, still dazed him. No warning -- he had been given no warning at all. He had left Vulcan 2, gone on about his business, waiting for the old computer to finish processing his questions ... and then the technicians had called to tell him.

Again, for the millionth time, the questions scurried hopelessly through his brain. How had it happened? How had they gotten it? And why? It didn't make sense. If they had managed to locate and penetrate the fortress, if one of their agents had gotten this far, why had they wasted their time here, when Vulcan 3 was situated only six levels below?

Maybe they made a mistake; maybe they had destroyed the obsolete computer thinking it was Vulcan 3. This could have been an error, and, from the standpoint of Unity, a very fortunate one.

But as Jason Dill gazed at the wreckage, he thought. It doesn't look like an error. It's so damn systematic. So thorough. Done with such expert precision.

Should I release the news to the public? he asked himself. I could keep it quiet; these technicians are loyal to me completely. I could keep the destruction of Vulcan 2 a secret for years to come.

Or, he thought, I could say that Vulcan 3 was demolished; I could lay a trap, make them think they had been successful. Then maybe they would come out into the open. Reveal themselves.

They must be in our midst, he thought frantically. To be able to get in here-they've subverted Unity.

He felt horror, and, in addition, a deep personal loss. This old machine had been a companion of his for many years. When he had questions simple enough for it to answer he always came here; this visit was part of his life.

Reluctantly, he moved away from the ruins. No more coming here, he realized. The creaking old machine is gone; I'll never be using the manual punch again, laboriously making out the questions in terms that Vulcan 2 can assimilate.

He tapped his coat. They were still there, the answers that Vulcan 2 had given him, answers that he had puzzled over, again and again. He wanted clarification; his last visit had been to rephrase his queries, to get amplification. But the blast had ended that.

Deep in thought, Jason Dill left the chamber and made his way up the corridor, back to the elevator. This is a bad day for us, he thought to himself. We'll remember this for a long time.

Back in his own office he took time to examine the DQ forms that had come in. Larson, the leader of the data-feed team, showed him the rejects.

"Look at these." His young face stern with an ever-present awareness of duty, Larson carefully laid out a handful of forms. "This one here -- maybe you had better turn it back personally, so there won't be any trouble."

"Why do I have to attend to it? " Jason Dill said with irritation. "Can't you handle it? If you're overworked, hire a couple more clerks up here, from the pool. There's always plenty of clerks; you know that as well as I. We must have two million of them on the payrolls. And yet you still have to bother me." His wrath and anxiety swept up involuntarily, directed at his subordinate; he knew that he was taking it out on Larson, but he felt too depressed to worry about it.

Larson, with no change of expression, said in a firm voice, "This particular form was sent in by a Director. That's why I feel --"

"Give it to me, then," Jason Dill said, accepting it.

The form was from the North American Director, William Barris. Jason Dill had met the man any number of times; in his mind he retained an impression of a somewhat tall individual, with a high forehead ... in his middle thirties, as Dill recalled. A hard worker. The man had not gotten up to the level of Director in the usual manner -- by means of personal social contacts, by knowing the right persons -- but by constant accurate and valuable work.

"This is interesting," Jason Dill said aloud to Larson; he put the form aside for a moment. "We ought to be sure we're publicizing this particular Director. Of course, he probably does a full public-relations job in his own district; we shouldn't worry."

Larson said, "I understand he made it up the hard way. His parents weren't anybody."

"We can show," Jason Dill said, "that the ordinary individual, with no pull, knowing no one in the organization, can come in and take a regular low-grade job, such as clerk or even maintenance man, and in time, if he's got the ability and drive, he can rise all the way up to the top. In fact, he might get to be Managing Director." Not, he thought to himself wryly, that it was such a wonderful job to have.

"He won't be Managing Director for a while," Larson said, in a tone of certitude.

"Hell," Jason Dill said wearily. "He can have my job right now, if that's what he's after. I presume he is." Lifting the form he glanced at it. The form asked two questions.

a) ARE THE HEALERS OF REAL SIGNIFICANCE?

b) WHY DON'T YOU RESPOND TO THEIR EXISTENCE?

Holding the form in his hands, Jason Dill thought, One of the eternal bright young men, climbing rapidly up the Unity ladder. Barris, Taubmann, Reynolds, Henderson -- they were all making their way confidently, efficiently, never missing a trick, never failing to exploit the slightest wedge. Give them an opportunity, he thought with bitterness, and they'll knock you flat; they'll walk right on over you and leave you there.

"Dog eat dog," he said aloud.

"Sir?" Larson said at once.

Jason Dill put down the form. He opened a drawer of his desk and got out a flat metal tin; from it he took a capsule which he placed against his wrist. At once the capsule dissolved through the dermal layers; he felt it go into his body, passing into his blood stream to begin work without delay. A tranquilizer ... one of the newest ones in the long, long series.

It works on me, he thought, and they work on me; it in one direction, their constant pressure and harassment in the other.

Again Jason Dill picked up the form from Director Barris. "Are there many DQ's like this?"

"No, sir, but there is a general increase in tension. Several Directors besides Barris are wondering why Vulcan 3 gives no pronouncement on the Healers' Movement."

"They're all wondering," Jason Dill said brusquely.

"I mean," Larson said, "formally. Through official channels."

"Let me see the rest of the material."

Larson passed him the remaining DQ forms. "And here's the related matter from the data troughs." He passed over a huge sealed container. "We've weeded all the incoming material carefully."

After a time Jason Dill said, "I'd like the file on Barris."

"The documented file?"

Jason Dill said, "And the other one. The unsub-pak." Into his mind came the full term, not usually said outright. Unsubstantiated. "The worthless packet," he said. The phony charges, the trumped-up smears and lies and vicious poison-pen letters, mailed to Unity without signature. Unsigned, sometimes in the garbled prose of the psychotic, the lunatic with a grudge. And yet those papers were kept, were filed away. We shouldn't keep them, Jason Dill thought. Or make use of them, even to the extent of examining them. But we do. Right now he was going to look at such filth as it pertained to William Barris. The accumulation of years.

Presently the two files were placed before him on his desk. He inserted the microfilm into the scanner, and, for a time, studied the documented file. A procession of dull facts moved by; Barris had been born in Kent, Ohio; he had no brothers or sisters; his father was alive and employed by a bank in Chile; he had gone to work for Unity as a research analyst. Jason Dill speeded up the film, skipping about irritably. At last he rewound the microfilm and replaced it in the file. The man wasn't even married, he reflected; he led a routine life, one of virtue and work, if the documents could be believed. If they told the full story.

And now, Jason Dill thought, the slander. The missing parts; the other side, the dark shadow side.

To his disappointment, he found the unsub-pak on William Barris almost empty.

Is the man that innocent? Dill wondered. That he's made no enemies? Nonsense. The absence of accusation isn't a sign of the man's innocence; to rise to Director is to incur hostility and envy. Barris probably devotes a good part of his budget to distributing the wealth, to keeping everybody happy. And quiet.

"Nothing here," he said when Larson returned.

"I noticed how light the file felt," Larson said. "Sir, I went down to the data rooms and had them process all the recent material; I thought it possible there might be something not yet in the file." He added, "As you probably know, they're several weeks behind."

Seeing the paper in the man's hand, Jason Dill felt his pulse speed up in anticipation. "What came in?"

"This." Larson put down a sheet of what appeared to be expensive watermarked stationery. "I also took the measure, when I saw this, of having it analyzed and traced. So you'd know how to assess its worth."

"Unsigned," Dill said.

"Yes, sir. Our analysts say that it was mailed last night, some where in Africa. Probably in Cairo."

Studying the letter, Jason Dill murmured, "Here's someone who Barris didn't manage to get to. At least not in time."

Larson said, "It's a woman's writing. Done with an ancient style of ball-point pen. They're trying to trace the make of pen. What you have there is actually a copy of the letter; they're still examining the actual document down in the labs. But for your purposes --"

"What are my purposes? " Dill said, half to himself. The letter was interesting, but not unique; he had seen such accusations made toward other officials in the Unity organization.

To whom it may concern:

This is to notify you that William Barris, who is a Director; cannot be trusted, as he is in the pay of the Healers and has been for some time. A death that occurred recently can be laid at Mr. Barris' door, and he should be punished for his crime of seeing to it that an innocent and talented Unity servant was viciously murdered.

"Notice that the writing slopes down," Larson said. "That's supposed to be an indication that the writer is mentally disturbed."

"Superstition," Dill said. "I wonder if this is referring to the murder of that fieldworker, Pitt. That's the most recent. What connection does Barris have with that? Was he Pitt's Director? Did he send him out?"

"I'll get all the facts for you, sir?" Larson said briskly.

After he had reread the unsigned letter, Jason Dill tossed it aside and again picked up the DQ form from Director Barris. With his pen he scratched a few lines on the bottom of the form. "Return this to him toward the end of the week. He failed to fill in his identification numbers; I'm returning it to be corrected."

Larson frowned. "That won't delay him much. Barris will immediately return the form correctly prepared."

Wearily, Jason Dill said, "That's my problem. You let me worry about it. Tend to your own business and you'll last a lot longer in this organization. That's a lesson you should have learned a long time ago."

Flushing, Larson muttered, "I'm sorry, sir."

"I think we should start a discreet investigation of Director Barris," Dill said. "Better send in one of the police secretaries; I'll dictate instructions."

While Larson rounded up the police secretary', Jason Dill sat gazing dully at the unsigned letter that accused Director Barris of being in the pay of the Healers. It would be interesting to know who wrote this, he thought to himself. Maybe we will know, someday soon.

In any case, there will be an investigation -- of William Barris.

***

After the evening meal, Mrs. Agnes Parker sat in the school restaurant with two other teachers, exchanging gossip and relaxing after the long, tense day.

Leaning over so that no one passing by could hear, Miss Crowley whispered to Mrs. Parker, " Aren't you finished with that book, yet? If I had known it would take you so long, I wouldn't have agreed to let you read it first." Her plump, florid face trembled with indignation. "We really deserve our turn."

"Yes," Mrs. Dawes said, also leaning to join them. "I wish you'd go get it right now. Please let us have it, won't you?"

They argued, and at last Mrs. Parker reluctantly rose to her feet and moved away from the table, toward the stairway. It was a long walk up the stairs and along the hall to the wing of the building in which she had her own room, and once in the room she had to spend some time digging the book from its hiding place. The book, an ancient literary classic called Lolita, had been on the banned list for years; there was a heavy fine for anyone caught possessing it-and, for a teacher, it might mean a jail term. However, most of the teachers read and circulated such stimulating books back and forth among them, and so far no one had been caught.

Grumbling because she had not been able to finish the book, Mrs. Parker placed it inside a copy of World Today and carried it from her room, out into the hall. No one was in sight, so she continued on toward the stairway.

As she was descending she recalled that she had a job to do, a job that had to be done before morning; the little Fields girl's quarters had not been emptied, as was required by school law. A new pupil would be arriving in a day or so and would occupy the room; it was essential that someone in authority go over every inch of the room to be certain that no subversive or illicit articles belonging to the Fields girl remained to contaminate the new child. Considering the Fields girl's background, this rule was particularly important. As she left the stairway and hurried along a corridor, Mrs. Parker felt her heart skip several beats. She might get into a good deal of trouble by being forgetful in this area ... they might think she wanted the new child contaminated.

The door to Marion Fields' old room was locked. How could that be? Mrs. Parker asked herself. The children weren't permitted keys; they could not lock any doors anywhere. It had to be one of the staff. Of course she herself had a key, but she hadn't had time to come down here since Managing Director Dill had taken custody of the child.

As she groped in her pocket for her master key, she heard a sound on the other side of the door. Someone was in the room.

"Who's in there?" she demanded, feeling frightened. If there was an unauthorized person in the room, she would get in trouble; it was her responsibility to maintain this dorm. Bringing her key out, she took a quick breath and then put the key into the lock. Maybe it's someone from the Unity offices checking up on me, she thought. Seeing what I let the Fields girl have in the way of possessions. The door opened and she switched on the light.

At first she saw no one. The bed, the curtains, the small desk in the corner ... the chest of drawers!

On the chest of drawers something was perched. Something that gleamed, shiny metal, gleamed and clicked as it turned toward her. She saw into two glassy mechanical lenses, something with a tubelike body, the size of a child's bat, shot upward and swept toward her.

She raised her arms. Stop, she said to herself. She did not hear her voice; all she heard was a whistling noise in her ears, a deafening blast of sound that became a squeal. Stop! she wanted to scream, but she could not speak. She felt as if she were rising; now she had become weightless, floating. The room drifted into darkness. It fell away from her, farther and farther. No motion, no sound ... just a single spark of light that flickered, hesitated, and then winked out.

Oh dear, she thought. I'm going to get into trouble. Even her thoughts seemed to drift away; she could not maintain them. I've done something wrong. This will cost me my job.

She drifted on and on.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:16 am

CHAPTER SIX

The buzzing of his bedside vidscreen woke J as on Dill from his deep, tranquilizer-induced sleep. Reaching, he reflexively snapped the line open, noticing as he did so that the call was on the private circuit. What is it now? he wondered, aware of a pervasive headache that he had been struggling with throughout hours of sleep. The time was late, he realized. At least four-thirty.

On the vidscreen an unfamiliar face appeared. He saw, briefly, a displayed identification-standard. The medical wing.

"Managing Director Dill," he muttered. "What do you want? Better check next time with the monitor; it's late at night here, even if it's noon where you are."

The medical person said, "Sir, I was advised by members of your staff to notify you at once." He glanced at a card. "A Mrs. Agnes Parker, a schoolteacher."

"Yes," Dill said, nodding.

"She was found by another teacher. Her spinal column had been damaged at several points and she died at 1:30 A.M. First examination indicated that the injuries were done deliberately. There's indication that some variety of heat plasma was induced. The spinal fluid evidently was boiled away by --"

"All right," Dill said. "Thanks for notifying me; you did absolutely right." Stabbing at a button he broke the connection and then asked the monitor for a direct line with Unity Police.

A placid, fleshy face appeared.

Dill said, "Have all the men guarding the Fields girl removed and a new crew, picked absolutely at random, put in at once. Have the present crew detained until they can be fully cleared." He considered. "Do you have the information regarding Agnes Parker?"

"It came in an hour or two ago," the police official said.

"Damn it," Dill said. Too much time had passed. They could work a lot of harm in that time. They?

The enemy.

"Any word on Father Fields? " he asked. "I take it for granted you haven't managed to round him up yet."

"Sorry, sir," the police official said.

"Let me know what you find on the Parker woman," Dill said." Go over her file, naturally. I'll leave it to you; it's your business. It's the Fields girl I'm concerned about. Don't let anything happen to her. Maybe you should check right now and see if she's all right; notify me at once, either way." He rang off then and sat back.

Were they trying to find out who took the Fields girl? he asked himself. And where? That was no secret; she was loaded into my car in broad daylight, in front of a playground of children.

They're getting closer, he said to himself. They got Vulcan 2 and they got that foolish, sycophantic schoolteacher whose idea of taking care of her children was to gladly sign them over to the first high official who came along. They can infiltrate our innermost buildings. They evidently know exactly what we're doing. If they can get into the schools, where we train the youth to believe. ..

For an hour or two he sat in the kitchen of his home, warming himself and smoking cigarettes. At last he saw the black night sky begin to turn gray.

Returning to the vidscreen he called Larson. The man, disheveled by sleep, peered at him grumpily until he recognized his superior; then at once he became businesslike and polite.

"Yes, sir," he said.

"I'm going to need you for a special run of questions to Vulcan 3," Jason Dill said. "We're going to have to prepare them with utmost care. And there will be difficult work regarding the data-feeding." He intended to go on, but Larson interrupted him.

"You'll be pleased to know that we have a line on the person who sent the unsigned letter accusing Director Barris," Larson said. "We followed up the lead about the 'talented murdered man.' We worked on the assumption that Arthur Pitt was meant, and we discovered that Pitt's wife lives in North Africa -- in fact, she's in Cairo on shopping trips several times a week. There's such a high degree of probability that she wrote the letter that we're preparing an order to the police in that region to have her picked up. That's Blucher's region, and we'd better put it through his men so there won't be any hard feelings. I just want to get a clearance from you, so I won't have to assume the responsibility. You understand, sir. She may not have done it."

"Pick her up," Dill said, only half listening to the younger man's torrent of words.

"Right, sir," Larson said briskly. "And we'll let you know what we can get from her. It'll be interesting to see what her motive is for accusing Barris -- assuming of course that it was she. My theory is that she may well be working for some other Director who --"

Dill broke the connection. And went wearily back to bed.

***

Toward the end of the week, Director William Barris received his DQ form back. Scrawled across the bottom was the notation: "Improperly filled out. Please correct and refile."

Furiously, Barris threw the form down on his desk and leaped to his feet. He snapped on the vidsender. "Give me Unity Control at Geneva."

The Geneva monitor formed. "Yes, sir?"

Barris held up the DQ form. "Who returned this? Whose writing is this? The feed-team leader?"

"No, sir." The monitor made a brief check. "It was Managing Director Dill who handled your form, sir."

Dill! Barris felt himself stiffen with indignation. "I want to talk to Dill at once."

"Mr. Dill is in conference. He can't be disturbed."

Barris killed the screen with a savage swipe. For a moment he stood thinking. There was no doubt of it; Jason Dill was stalling. I can't go on like this any further, Barris thought. I'll never get any answers out of Geneva this way. What is Dill up to, for God's sake?

Why is Dill refusing to cooperate with his own Directors?

Over a year, and no statement from Vulcan 3 on the Healers. Or had there been, and Dill hadn't released it?

With a surge of disbelief, he thought, Can Dill be keeping back information from the computer? Not letting it know what's going on?

Can it be that Vulcan 3 does not know about the Healers at all?

That simply did not seem credible. What ceaseless mass effort that would take on Dill's part; billions of data were fed to Vulcan 3 in one week alone; surely it would be next to impossible to keep all mention of the Movement from the great machine. And if any datum got in at all, the computer would react; it would note the datum, compare it with all other data, record the incongruity.

And, Barris thought, if Dill is concealing the existence of the Movement from Vulcan 3, what would be his motive? What would he gain by deliberately depriving himself -- and Unity in general -- of the computer's appraisal of the situation?

But that has been the situation for fifteen months, Barris realized. Nothing has been handed down to us from Vulcan 3, and either the machine has said nothing, or, if it has, Dill hasn't released it. So for all intents and purposes, the computer has not spoken.

What a basic flaw in the Unity structure, he thought bitterly. Only one man is in a position to deal with the computer, so that one man can cut us off completely; he can sever the world from Vulcan 3. Like some high priest who stands between man and god, Barris mused. It's obviously wrong. But what can we do? What can I do? I may be supreme authority in this region, but Dill is still my superior; he can remove me any time he wants. True it would be a complex and difficult procedure to remove a Director against his will, but it has been done several times. And if I go and accuse him of --

Of what?

He's doing something, Barris realized, but there's no way I can make out what it is. Not only do I have no facts, but I can't even see my way clearly enough to phrase an accusation. After all, I did fill out the DQ form improperly; that's a fact. And if Dill wants to say that Vulcan 3 simply has said nothing about the Healers, no one can contradict him because no one else has access to the machine. We have to take his word.

Barris thought, But I've had enough of taking his word. Fifteen months is long enough; the time has come to take action. Even if it means my forced resignation.

Which it probably will mean, and right away.

A job, Barris decided, isn't that important. You have to be able to trust the organization you're a part of; you have to believe in your superiors. If you think they're up to something, you have to get up from your chair and do something, even if it's nothing more than to confront them face-to-face and demand an explanation.

Reaching out his hand, he relit the vidscreen. "Give me the field. And hurry it up."

After a moment the field-tower monitor appeared. "Yes, sir?"

"This is Barris. Have a first-class ship ready at once. I'm taking off right away."

"Where to, sir?"

"To Geneva," Barris set his jaw grimly. "I have an appointment with Managing Director Dill." He added under his breath, "Whether Dill likes it or not."

***

As the ship carried him at high velocity toward Geneva, Barris considered his plans carefully.

What they'll say, he decided, is that I'm using this as a pretext to embarrass Jason Dill. That I'm not sincere; that in fact I'm using the silence of Vulcan 3 as a device to make a bid for Jason Dill's job. My coming to Geneva will just go to prove how ruthlessly ambitious I am. And I won't be able to disprove the charge; I have no way by which I can prove that my motives are pure.

This time the chronic doubt did not assail him; he knew that he was acting for the good of the organization. I know my own mind this time, he realized. In this case I can trust myself.

I'll just have to stand firm, he told himself. If I keep denying that I'm trying to undercut Dill for personal advantage --

But he knew better. All the denials in the world won't help me, he thought, once they loose the gods. They can get a couple of those police psychologists up from Atlanta, and once those boys have gone over me I'll agree with my accusers; I'll be convinced that I'm cynically exploiting Dill's problems and undermining the organization. They'll even have me convinced that I'm a traitor and ought to be sentenced to forced labor on Luna.

At the thought of the Atlanta psychologists, he felt cold perspiration stand out on his throat and forehead.

Only once had he been up against them, and that was the third year of his employment with Unity. Some unbalanced clerk in his department-at that time he had managed a small rural branch of Unity-had been caught stealing Unity property and reselling it on the black market. Unity of course had a monopoly on advanced technological equipment, and certain items were excessively valuable. It was a constant temptation, and this particular clerk had been in charge of inventories; the temptation had been coupled with opportunity, and the two together had been too much. The secret police had caught up with the man almost at once, had arrested him and gained the usual confession. To get himself in good, or what he imagined to be in good, the man had implicated several others in the branch office, including William Barris. And so a warrant had been served on him, and he had been hauled down in the middle of the night for an "interview."

There was no particular onus connected with being served with a police warrant; virtually every citizen became involved with the police at one time or another in his life. The incident had not hurt Barris' career; he had very quickly been released, and he had gone on at his job, and no one had brought the matter up when time came for his advancement to a high position. But for half an hour at police headquarters he had been worked over by two psychologists, and the memory was still with him to wake him up late at night-a bad dream but unfortunately one that might recur in reality at any time.

If he were to step out of line even now, in his position as North American Director with supreme authority over the area north of the Mason-Dixon Line ...

And, as he was carried closer and closer to Unity Control at Geneva, he was decidedly sticking his neck out. I should mind my own business, he told himself. That is a rule we all learn, if we expect to get up the ladder or even keep out of jail.

But this is my business!

Not much later a recorded voice said pleasantly, "We are about to land, Mr. Barris."

Geneva lay below. The ship was descending, pulled down by the automatic relays that had guided it from his field, across the Atlantic and over Western Europe.

Barris thought, Probably they already know I'm on my way. Some flunky, some minor informant, has relayed the information. Undoubtedly some petty clerk in my own building is a spy for Unity Control.

And now, as he rose from his chair and moved toward the exit, someone else was no doubt waiting at the Geneva terminal, watching to mark his arrival. I'll be followed the entire time, he decided.

At the exit he hesitated. I can turn around and go back, he said to himself. I can pretend I never started this trip, and probably no one will ever bring it up; they will know I started to come here, got as far as the field, but they won't know why. They'll never be able to establish that I intended to confront my superior, Jason Dill.

He hesitated, and then he touched the stud that opened the door. It swung aside, and bright midday sunlight spilled into the small ship. Barris filled his lungs with fresh air, paused, and then descended the ramp to the field.

As he walked across the open space toward the terminal building, a shape standing by the fence detached itself. There's one, he realized. Watching for me. The shape moved slowly toward him. It was a figure in a long blue coat. A woman, her hair up in a bandanna, her hands in her coat pockets. He did not recognize her. Sharp pale features. Such intense eyes, he thought. Staring at him. She did not speak or show any expression until the two of them were separated by only a few feet. And then her colorless lips moved.

"Don't you remember me, Mr. Barris?" she said in a hollow voice. She fell in beside him and walked along with him, toward the terminal building. "I'd like to talk to you. I think it'll be worth your while."

He said, "Rachel Pitt."

Glancing at him, Rachel said, "I have something to sell. A piece of news that could determine your future." Her voice was hard and thin, as brittle as glass. "But I have to have something back; I need something in exchange."

"I don't want to do any business with you," he said. "I didn't come here to see you."

"I know," she said. "I tried to get hold of you at your office; they stalled me every time. I knew right away that you had given orders to that effect."

Barris said nothing. This is really bad, he thought. That this demented woman should manage to locate me, here, at this time.

"You're not interested," Rachel said, "and I know why not; all you can think of is how successfully you're going to deal with Jason Dill. But you see, you won't be able to deal with him at all."

"Why not?" he said, trying to keep any emotions he might be feeling out of his voice.

Rachel said, "I've been under arrest for a couple of days, now. They had me picked up and brought here."

"I wondered what you were doing here," he said.

"A loyal Unity wife," she said. "Devoted to the organization. Whose husband was killed only a few --" She broke off. "But you don't care about that, either." At the fence she halted, facing him. "You can either go directly to the Unity Control Building, or you can take half an hour and spend it with me. I advise the latter. If you decide to go on and see Dill now, without hearing me out ..." She shrugged. "I can't stop you. Go ahead." Her black eyes glowed unwinkingly as she waited.

This woman is really out of her mind, Barris thought. The rigid, fanatical expression ... But even so, could he afford to ignore her ?

"Do you think I'm trying to seduce you?" she said.

Startled, he said, "I --"

"I mean, seduce you away from your high purpose." For the first time she smiled and seemed to relax. "Mr. Barris," she said with a shudder. "I'll tell you the truth. I've been under intensive examination for two days, now. You can suppose who by. But it doesn't matter. Why should I care? After what's happened to me ..." Her voice trailed off, then resumed. "Do you think I escaped? That they're after me?" A mocking, bantering irony danced in her eyes. "Hell no. They let me go. They gave me compulsive psychotherapy for two days, and then they told me I could go home; they shoved me out the door."

A group of people passed by on their way to a ship; Barris and Rachel were both silent for a time.

"Why did they haul you in?" he asked finally.

Rachel said, "Oh, I was supposed to have written some kind of a poison-pen letter, accusing someone high up in Unity. I managed to convince them I was innocent-or rather, their analysis of the contents of my mind convinced them; all I did was sit. They took my mind out, took it apart, studied it, put the pieces back together and stuffed them back in my head." Reaching up, she slid aside the bandanna for a moment; he saw, with grim aversion, the neat white scar slightly before her hairline. "It's all back," she said. "At least, I hope it is."

With compassion, he said, "That's really terrible. A real abuse of human beings. It should be stopped."

"If you get to be Managing Director, maybe you can stop it," she said. "Who knows? You might someday be-after all, you're bright and hardworking and ambitious. All you have to do is defeat all those other bright, hardworking, ambitious Directors. Like Taubmann."

"Is he the one you're supposed to have accused?" Barris said.

"No," she said, in a faint voice. "It's you, William Barris. Isn't that interesting? Anyhow, now I've given you my news-free. There's a letter in Jason Dill's file accusing you of being in the pay of the Healers; they showed it to me. Someone is trying to get you, and Dill is interested. Isn't that worth your knowing, before you go in there and lock horns with him?"

Barris said, "How do you know I'm here to do that?"

Her dark eyes flickered. "Why else would you be here? " But her voice had a faltering tone now.

Reaching out, he took hold of her arm. With firmness, he guided her along the walk to the street side of the field. "I will take the time to talk to you," he said. He racked his mind, trying to think of a place to take her. Already they had come to the public taxi stand; a robot cab had spotted them and was rolling in their direction.

The door of the cab opened. The mechanical voice said, "May I be of service, please?"

Barris slid into the cab and drew the woman in beside him. Still holding firmly onto her, he said to the cab, "Say listen, can you find us a hotel, not too conspicuous-you know." He could hear the receptor mechanism of the cab whirring as it responded. "For us to get a load off our feet," he said, "My girl and me. You know."

Presently the cab said, "Yes, sir." It began to move along the busy Geneva streets. "Out-of-the-way hotel where you will find the privacy you desire." It added, "The Hotel Bond, sir." Rachel Pitt said nothing; she stared sightlessly ahead.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:16 am

CHAPTER SEVEN

In his pockets, Jason Dill carried the two reels of tape; they never left him, night and day. He had them with him now as he walked slowly along the brightly lit corridor. Once again, involuntarily, he lifted his hand and rubbed the bulge which the tapes made. Like a magic charm, he thought to himself with irony. And we accuse the masses of being superstitious!

Ahead of him, lights switched on. Behind him, enormous reinforced doors slid shut to fill in the chamber's single entrance. The huge calculator rose in front of him, the immense tower of receptor banks and indicators. He was alone with it-alone with Vulcan 3.

Very little of the computer was visible; its bulk disappeared into regions which he had never seen, which in fact no human had ever seen. During the course of its existence it had expanded certain portions of itself. To do so it had cleared away the granite and shale earth; it had, for a long time now, been conducting excavation operations in the vicinity. Sometimes Jason Dill could hear that sound going on like a far-off, incredibly high- pitched dentist's drill. Now and then he had listened and tried to guess where the operations were taking place. It was only a guess. Their only check on the growth and development of Vulcan 3 lay in two clues: the amount of rock thrown up to the surface, to be carted off, and the variety, amount, and nature of the raw materials and tools and parts which the computer requested.

Now, as Jason Dill stood facing the thing, he saw that it had put forth a new reel of supply requisitions; it was there for him to pick up and fill. As if, he thought, I'm some errand boy.

I do its shopping, he realized. It's stuck here, so I go out and come back with the week's groceries. Only in its case we don't supply food; we supply just about everything else but.

The financial cost of supporting Vulcan 3 was immense. Part of the taxation program conducted by Unity on a worldwide basis existed to maintain the computer. At the latest estimate, Vulcan 3 's share of the taxes came to about forty-three percent.

And the rest, Dill thought idly, goes to schools, for roads, hospitals, fire departments, police -- the lesser order of human needs.

Beneath his feet the floor vibrated. This was the deepest level which the engineers had constructed, and yet something was constantly going on below. He had felt the vibrations before. What lay down there? No black earth; not the inert ground. Energy, tubes and pipes, wiring, transformers, self-contained machinery ... He had a mental image of relentless activity going on: carts carrying supplies in, wastes out; lights blinking on and off; relays closing; switches cooling and reheating; worn-out parts replaced; new parts invented; superior designs replacing obsolete designs. And how far had it spread? Miles? Were there even more levels beneath the one transmitting up through the soles of his shoes? Did it go down, down, forever?

Vulcan 3 was aware of him. Across the vast impersonal face of metal an acknowledgment gleamed, a ribbon of fluid letters that appeared briefly and then vanished. Jason Dill had to catch the words at once or not at all; no latitude for human dullness was given.

Is the educational bias survey complete?

"Almost," Dill said. "A few more days." As always, in dealing with Vulcan 3, he felt a deep, inertial reluctance; it slowed his responses and hung over his mind, his faculties, like a dead weight. In the presence of the computer he found himself becoming stupid. He always gave the shortest answers; it was easier. And as soon as the first words lit up in the air above his head, he had a desire to leave; already, he wanted to go.

But this was his job, this being cloistered here with Vulcan 3. Someone had to do it. Some human being had to stand in this spot.

He had never had this feeling in the presence of Vulcan 2.

Now, new words formed, like lightning flashing blue-white in the damp air.

I need it at once.

"It'll be along as soon as the feed-teams can turn it into data forms."

Vulcan 3 was -- well, he thought, the only word was agitated. Power lines glowed red -- the origin of the series' name. The rumblings and dull flashes of red had reminded Nathaniel Greenstreet of the ancient god's forge, the lame god who had created the thunderbolts for Jupiter, in an age long past.

There is some element misfunctioning. A significant shift in the orientation of certain social strata which cannot be explained in terms of data already available to me. A realignment of the social pyramid is forming in response to historic-dynamic factors unfamiliar to me. I must know more if I am to deal with this.

A faint tendril of alarm moved through Jason Dill. What did Vulcan 3 suspect? "All data is made available to you as soon as possible."

A decided bifurcation of society seems in the making. Be certain your report on educational bias is complete. I will need all the relevant facts.

After a pause, Vulcan 3 added: I sense a rapidly approaching crisis.

"What kind of crisis?" Dill demanded nervously.

Ideological. A new orientation appears to be on the verge of verbalization. A Gestalt derived from the experience of the lowest classes. Reflecting their dissatisfaction.

"Dissatisfaction? With what?"

Essentially, the masses reject the concept of stability. In the main, those without sufficient property to be firmly rooted are more concerned with gain than with security. To them, society is an arena of adventure. A structure in which they hope to rise to a superior power status.

"I see," Dill said dutifully.

A rationally controlled, stable society such as ours defeats their desires. In a rapidly altering, unstable society the lowest classes would stand a good chance of seizing power. Basically, the lowest classes are adventurers, conceiving life as a gamble, a game rather than a task, with social power as the stakes.

"Interesting," Dill said. "So for them the concept of luck plays a major role. Those on top have had good luck. Those --" But Vulcan 3 was not interested in his contribution; it had already continued.

The dissatisfaction of the masses is not based on economic deprivation but on a sense of ineffectuality. Not an increased standard of living, but more social power, is their fundamental goal. Because of their emotional orientation, they arise and act when a powerful leader-figure can coordinate them into a functioning unit rather than a chaotic mass of unformed elements.

Dill had no reply to that. It was evident that Vulcan 3 had sifted the information available, and had come up with uncomfortably close inferences. That, of course, was the machine's forte; basically it was a device par excellence for performing the processes of deductive and inductive reasoning. It ruthlessly passed from one step to the next and arrived at the correct inference, whatever it was.

Without direct knowledge of any kind, Vulcan 3 was able to deduce, from general historic principles, the social conflicts developing in the contemporary world. It had manufactured a picture of the situation which faced the average human being as he woke up in the morning and reluctantly greeted the day. Stuck down here, Vulcan 3 had, through indirect and incomplete evidence, imagined things as they actually were.

Sweat came out on Dill's forehead. He was dealing with a mind greater than anyone man's or any group of men's. This proof of the prowess of the computer-this verification of Greenstreet's notion that a machine was not limited merely to doing what man could do, but doing it faster. ..Vulcan 3 was patently doing what a man could not do no matter how much time he had available to him.

Down here, buried underground in the dark, in this constant isolation, a human being would go mad; he would lose all contact with the world, all ideas of what was going on. As time progressed he would develop a less and less accurate picture of reality; he would become progressively more hallucinated. Vulcan 3, however, moved continually in the opposite direction; it was, in a sense, moving by degrees toward inevitable sanity, or at least maturity -- if, by that, was meant a clear, accurate, and full picture of things as they really were. A picture, Jason Dill realized, that no human being has ever had or will ever have. All humans are partial. And this giant is not!

"I'll put a rush on the educational survey," he murmured. "Is there anything else you need? "

The statistical report on rural linguistics has not come in. Why is that? It was under the personal supervision of your subcoordinator, Arthur Graveson Pitt.

Dill cursed silently. Good lord! Vulcan 3 never mislaid or lost or mistook a single datum among the billions that it ingested and stored away. "Pitt was injured," Dill said aloud, his mind racing desperately. "His car overturned on a winding mountain road in Colorado. Or at least that's the way I recall it. I'd have to check to be sure, but --"

Have his report completed by someone else. I require it. Is his injury serious?

Dill hesitated. "As a matter of fact, they don't think he'll live. They say --"

Why have so many T-class persons been killed in the past year? I want more information on this. According to my statistics only one- fifth of that number should have died of natural causes. Some vital factor is missing. I must have more data.

"All right," Dill muttered. "We'll get you more data; any- thing you want."

I am considering calling a special meeting of the Control Council. I am on the verge of deciding to question the staff of eleven Regional Directors personally.

At that Dill was stunned; he tried to speak, but for a time he could not. He could only stare fixedly at the ribbon of words. The ribbon moved inexorably on.

I am not satisfied with the way data is supplied. I may demand your removal and an entirely new system of feeding.

Dill's mouth opened and closed. Aware that he was shaking visibly, he backed away from the computer. "Unless you want something else," he managed, "I have business. In Geneva." All he wanted to do was get out of the situation, away from the chamber.

Nothing more. You may go.

As quickly as possible, Dill left the chamber, ascending by express lift to the surface level. Around him, in a blur, guards checked him over; he was scarcely aware of them.

What a going-over, he thought. What an ordeal. Talk about the Atlanta psychologists -- they're nothing compared with what I have to face, day after day.

God, how I hate that machine, he thought. He was still trembling, his heart palpitating; he could not breathe, and for a time he sat on a leather-covered couch in the outer lounge, recovering.

To one of the attendants he said, "I'd like a glass of some stimulant. Anything you have."

Presently it was in his hand, a tall green glass; he gulped it down and felt a trifle better. The attendant was waiting around to be paid, he realized; the man had a tray and a bill.

"Seventy-five cents, sir," the attendant said.

To Dill it was the final blow. His position as Managing Director did not exempt him from these annoyances; he had to fish around in his pocket for change. And meanwhile, he thought, the future of our society rests with me. While I dig up seventy-five cents for this idiot.

I ought to let them all get blown to bits. I ought to give up.

***

William Barris felt a little more relaxed as the cab carried him and Rachel Pitt into the dark, overpopulated, older section of the city. On the sidewalks clumps of elderly men in seedy garments and battered hats stood inertly. Teenagers lounged by store windows. Most of the store windows, Barris noticed, had metal bars or gratings protecting their displays from theft. Rubbish lay piled up in alleyways.

"Do you mind coming here?" he asked the woman beside him. "Or is it too depressing?"

Rachel had taken off her coat and put it across her lap. She wore a short-sleeved cotton shirt, probably the one she had had on when the police arrested her; it looked to him like something more suited for house use. And, he saw, her throat was streaked with what appeared to be dust. She had a tired, wan expression and she sat listlessly.

"You know, I like the city," she said, after a time.

"Even this part?"

"I've been staying in this section," she said. "Since they let me go."

Barris said, "Did they give you time to pack? Were you able to take any clothes with you?"

"Nothing," she said.

"What about money?"

"They were very kind." Her voice had weary irony in it. "No, they didn't let me take any money; they simply bundled me into a police ship and took off for Europe. But before they let me go they permitted me to draw enough money from my husband's pension payment to take care of getting me back home." Turning her head she finished, "Because of all the red tape, it will be several months before the regular payments will be forthcoming. This was a favor they did me."

To that, Barris could say nothing.

"Do you think," Rachel said, "that I resent the way Unity has treated me? "

"Yes," he said.

Rachel said, "You're right."

Now the cab had begun to coast up to the entrance of an ancient brick hotel with a tattered awning. Feeling somewhat dismayed by the appearance of the Bond Hotel, Barris said, "Will this be all right, this place?"

"Yes," Rachel said. "In fact, this is where I would have had the cab take us. I had intended to bring you here."

The cab halted and its door swung open. As Barris paid it, he thought, Maybe I shouldn't have let it decide for me. Maybe I ought to get back in and have it drive on. Turning, he glanced up at the hotel.

Rachel Pitt had already started up the steps. It was too late.

Now a man appeared in the entrance, his hands in his pockets. He wore a dark, untidy coat, and a cap pulled down over his forehead. The man glanced at her and said something to her.

At once Barris strode up the steps after her. He took her by the arm, stepping between her and the man. "Watch it," he said to the man, putting his hand on the pencil beam which he carried in his breast pocket.

In a slow, quiet voice the man said, "Don't get excited, mister." He studied Barris. "I wasn't accosting Mrs. Pitt. I was merely asking when you arrived." Coming around behind Barris and Rachel, he said, "Go on inside the hotel, Director. We have a room upstairs where we can talk. No one will bother us here. You picked a good place."

Or rather, Barris thought icily, the cab and Rachel Pitt picked a good place. There was nothing he could do; he felt, against his spine, the tip of the man's heat beam.

"You shouldn't be suspicious of a man of the cloth, in regards to such matters," the man said conversationally, as they crossed the grimy, dark lobby to the stairs. The elevator, Barris noticed, was out of order; or at least it was so labeled. "Or perhaps," the man said, "you failed to notice the historic badge of my vocation." At the stairs the man halted, glanced around, and removed his cap.

The stern, heavy-browed face that became visible was familiar to Barris. The slightly crooked nose, as if it had been broken once and never properly set. The deliberately short-cropped hair that gave the man's entire face the air of grim austerity.

Rachel said, "This is Father Fields."

The man smiled, and Barris saw irregular, massive teeth. The photo had not indicated that, Barris thought. Nor the strong chin. It had hinted at, but not really given, the full measure of the man. In some ways Father Fields looked more like a toughened, weathered prize fighter than he did a man of religion.

Barris, face to face with him for the first time, felt a complete and absolute fear of the man; it came with a certitude that he had never before known in his life.

Ahead of them, Rachel led the way upstairs.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:17 am

CHAPTER EIGHT

Barris said, "I'd be interested to know when this woman went over to you." He indicated Rachel Pitt, who stood by a window of the hotel room, gazing meditatively out at the buildings and rooftops of Geneva.

"You can see Unity Control from here," Rachel said, turning her head.

"Of course you can," Father Fields said in his hoarse, grumbling voice. He sat in the corner, in a striped bathrobe and fleece-lined slippers, a screw driver in one hand, a light fixture in the other; he had gone into the bathroom to take a shower, but the light wasn't working. Two other men, Healers evidently, sat at a card table poring over some pamphlets stacked up between them in wired bundles. Barris assumed that these were propaganda material of the Movement, about to be distributed.

"Is that just coincidence?" Rachel asked.

Fields grunted, ignoring her as he worked on the light fixture. Then, raising his head, he said brusquely to Barris, "Now listen. I won't lie to you, because it's lies that your organization is founded on. Anyone who knows me knows I never have need of lying. Why should I? The truth is my greatest weapon."

"What is the truth?" Barris said.

"The truth is that pretty soon we're going to run up that street you see outside to that big building the lady is looking at, and then Unity won't exist." He smiled, showing his malformed teeth. But it was, oddly, a friendly smile. As if, Barris thought, the man hoped that he would chime in-possibly smile back in agreement.

With massive irony, Barris said, "Good luck."

"Luck," Fields echoed. "We don't need it. All we need is speed. It'll be like poking at some old rotten fruit with a stick." His voice twanged with a regional accent of his origin; Barris caught the drawl of Taubmann's territory, the Southern States that formed the rim of South America.

"Spare me your folksy metaphors," Barris said.

Fields laughed. "You stand in error, Mister Director."

"It was a simile," Rachel agreed, expressionlessly.

Barris felt himself redden; they were making fun of him, these people, and he was falling into it. He said to the man in the striped bathrobe, "I'm amazed at your power to draw followers. You engineer the murder of this woman's husband, and after meeting you she joins your Movement. That is impressive."

For a time Fields said nothing. Finally he threw down the light fixture. "Must be a hundred years old," he said. "Nothing like that in the United States since I was born. And they call this area 'modern."' He scowled and plucked at his lower lip. "I appreciate your moral indignation. Somebody did smash in that poor man's head; there's no doubt about that."

"You were there too," Barris said.

"Oh, yes," Fields said. He studied Barris intently; the hard dark eyes seemed to grow and become even more wrathful. "I do get carried away," he said. "When I see that lovely little suit you people wear, that gray suit and white shirt, those shiny black shoes." His scrutiny traveled up and down Barris. "And especially, I get carried away by that thing you all have in your pockets. Those pencil beams."

Rachel said to Barris, "Father Fields was once burned by a tax collector."

"Yes," Fields said. "You know your Unity tax collectors are exempt from the law. No citizen can take legal action against them. Isn't that lovely?" Lifting his arm, he pulled back his right sleeve; Barris saw that the flesh had been corroded away to a permanent mass of scar tissue, from the man's wrist to his elbow. "Let's see some moral indignation about that," he said to Barris.

"I have it," Barris said. "I never approved of the general tax- collecting procedures. You won't find them in my area."

"That's so," Fields said. His voice lost some of its ferocity; he seemed to cool slightly. "That's a fact about you. Compared to the other Directors; you're not too bad. We have a couple of people in and around your offices. We know quite a bit about you. You're here in Geneva because you want to find out why Vulcan 3 hasn't handed down any dogma about us Healers. It needles your conscience that old Jason Dill can toss your DQ forms back in your face and there's nothing you can do. It is mighty odd that your machine hasn't said anything about us."

To that, Barris said nothing.

"It gives us sort of an advantage," Fields said. "You boys don't have any operating policy; you have to mark time until the machine talks. Because it wouldn't occur to you to put together your own human-made policy."

Barris said, "In my area I have a policy. I have as many Healers as possible thrown into jail -- on sight."

"Why?" Rachel Pitt asked.

"Ask your dead husband," Barris said, with animosity toward her. "I can't understand you," he said to her. "Your husband went out on his job and these people --"

Fields interrupted, "Director, you have never been worked over by the Atlanta psychologists." His voice was quiet. "This woman has. So was I, to some extent. To a very minor extent. Not like she was. With her, they were in a hurry."

For a while no one spoke.

There's not much I can say, Barris realized. He walked over to the card table and picked up one of the pamphlets; aimlessly, he read the large black type.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SAY IN RUNNING YOUR LIVES?

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU VOTED?

"There has been no public election," Fields said, "for twenty years. Do they teach that to the little kids in your schools?"

"There should be," Barris said.

Fields said, "Mr. Barris --" His voice was tense and husky. "How'd you like to be the first Director to come over to us?" For an instant Barris detected a pleading quality; then it was gone. The man's voice and face became stern. "It'll make you look good as hell in the future history books," he said, and laughed harshly. Then, once more picking up the light fixture he resumed work on it. He ignored Barris; he did not even seem to be waiting for a reply.

Coming over to Barris, Rachel said in her sharp, constricted fashion, "Director, he's not joking. He really wants you to join the Movement."

"I imagine he does," Barris said.

Fields said, "You have a sense of what's wrong. You know how wrong it is. All that ambition and suspicion. What's it for? Maybe I'm doing you people an injustice, but honest to God, Mr. Barris, I think your top men are insane. I know Jason Dill is. Most of the Directors are, and their staffs. And the schools are turning out lunatics. Did you know they took my daughter and stuck her into one of their schools? As far as I know she's there now. We never got into the schools too well. You people are really strong, there. It means a lot to you."

"You went to a Unity school," Rachel said to Barris. "You know how they teach children not to question, not to disagree. They're taught to obey. Arthur was the product of one of them. Pleasant, good-looking, well-dressed, on his way up --" She broke off.

And dead, Barris thought.

"If you don't join us," Fields said to him, "you can walk out the door and up the street to your appointment with Jason Dill."

"I have no appointment," Barris said.

"That's right," Fields admitted.

Rachel screamed, pointing to the window.

Coming across the sill, through the window and into the room, was something made of gleaming metal. It lifted and flew through the air. As it swooped it made a shrill sound. It changed direction and dropped at Fields.

The two men at the card table leaped up and stared open- mouthed. One of them began groping for the gun at his waist. The metal thing dived at Fields. Covering his face with his arms, Fields flung himself to the floor and rolled. His striped bathrobe flapped, and one slipper shot from his foot and slid across the rug. As he rolled and grabbed out a heat beam and fired upward, sweeping the air above him. A burning flash seared Barris; he leaped back and shut his eyes.

Still screaming, Rachel Pitt appeared in front of him, her face torn with hysteria. The air crackled with energy; a cloud of dense blue- gray matter obscured most of the room. The couch, the chairs, the rug and walls were burning. Smoke poured up, and Barris saw tongues of flame winking orange in the murk. Now he heard Rachel choke; her screams ceased. He himself was partly blinded. He made his way toward the door, his ears ringing.

"It's okay," Father Fields said, his voice coming dimly through the crackling of energy. "Get those little fires out. I got the god- damn thing." He loomed up in front of Barris, grinning crookedly. One side of his face was badly burned and part of his short-cropped hair had been seared away. His scalp, red and blistered, seemed to glow. "If you can help get the fires out," he said to Barris in an almost courtly tone, "maybe I can find enough of the goddamn thing to get into it and see what it was."

One of the men had found a hand-operated fire extinguisher outside in the hall; now, pumping furiously, he was managing to get the fires out. His companion appeared with another extinguisher and pitched in. Barris left them to handle the fire and went back through the room to find Rachel Pitt.

She was crouched in the far corner, sunk down in a heap, staring straight ahead, her hands clasped together. When he lifted her up, he felt her body trembling. She said nothing as he stood holding her in his arms; she did not seem aware of him.

Appearing beside him, Fields said in a gleeful voice, "Hot dog, Barris -- I found most of it." He triumphantly displayed a charred but still intact metal cylinder with an elaborate system of antennas and receptors and propulsion jets. Then, seeing Rachel Pitt, he lost his smile. "I wonder if she'll come out of it this time," he said. "She was this way when she first came to us. After the Atlanta boys let her go. It's catatonia."

"And you got her out of it? " Barris said.

Fields said, "She came out of it because she wanted to. She wanted to do something. Be active. Help us. Maybe this blast was too much for her. She's stood a lot." He shrugged, but his face was an expression of great compassion.

"Maybe I'll see you again," Barris said to him.

"You're leaving?" Fields said. "Where are you going?"

"To see Jason Dill."

"What about her?" Fields said, indicating the woman in Barris' arms. "Are you taking her with you? "

"If you'll let me," Barris said.

"Do what you want," Fields said, eyeing him thoughtfully. "I don't quite understand you, Director." He seemed, in this moment, to have shed his regional accent. "Are you for us or against us? Or do you know? Maybe you don't know; maybe it'll take time."

Barris said, "I'll never go along with a group that murders."

"There are slow murders and fast murders," Fields said. "And body murders and mind murders. Some you do with evil schools."

Going past him, Barris went on out of the smoke-saturated room, into the hall outside. He descended the stairs to the lobby.

Outside on the sidewalk he hailed a robot cab.

***

At the Geneva field he put Mrs. Pitt aboard a ship that would carry her to his own region, North America. He contacted his staff by vidsender and gave them instructions to have the ship met when it landed in New York and to provide her with medical care until he himself got back. And he had one final order for them.

"Don't let her out of my jurisdiction. Don't honor any request to have her transferred, especially to South America."

The staff member said acutely, "You don't want to let this per son get anywhere near Atlanta."

"That's right," Barris said, aware that without his having to spell it out his staff understood the situation. There was probably no one in the Unity structure who would not be able to follow his meaning. Atlanta was the prime object of dread for all of them, great and small alike.

Does Jason Dill have that hanging over him too ? Barris wondered as he left the vidbooth. Possibly he is exempt-certainly from a rational viewpoint he has nothing to fear. But the irrational fear could be there anyhow.

He made his way through the crowded, noisy terminal building, headed in the direction of one of the lunch counters. At the counter he ordered a sandwich and coffee and sat with that for a time, pulling himself together and pondering.

Was there really a letter to Dill accusing me of treason? he asked himself. Had Rachel been telling the truth? Probably not. It probably had been a device to draw him aside, to keep him from going on to Unity Control.

I'll have to take the chance, he decided. No doubt I could put out careful feelers, track the information down over a period of time; I might even know within a week. But I can't wait that long. I want to face Dill now. That's what I came here for.

He thought, And I have been with them, the enemy. If such a letter exists, there is now what would no doubt be called "proof. "The structure would need nothing more; I would be tried for treason and convicted. And that would be the end of me, as a high official of the system and as a living, breathing human being. True, something might still be walking around, but it wouldn't really be alive.

And yet, he realized, I can't even go back now, to my own region. Whether I like it or not I have met Father Fields face-to- face; I've associated with him, and any enemies I might have, inside or outside the Unity structure, will have exactly what they want-for the rest of my life. It's too late to give up, to drop the idea of confronting Jason Dill. With irony, he thought, Father Fields has forced me to go through with it, the thing he was trying to prevent.

He paid for his lunch and left the; lunch counter. Going outside onto the sidewalk, he called another robot cab and instructed it to take him to Unity Control.

***

Barris pushed past the battery of secretaries and clerks, into Jason Dill's private syndrome of interconnected offices. At the sight of his Director's stripe, the dark red slash on his gray coat sleeve, officials of the Unity Control stepped obediently out of his path, leaving a way open from room to room. The last door opened -- and abruptly he was facing Dill.

Jason Dill looked up slowly, putting down a handful of reports. "What do you think you're doing?" He did not appear at first to recognize Barris; his gaze strayed to the Director's stripe and then back to his face. "This is out of the question," Dill said, "your barging in here like this."

"I came here to talk to you," Barris said. He shut the office door after him; it closed with a bang, startling the older man. Jason Dill half stood up, then subsided.

"Director Barris," he murmured. His eyes narrowed. "File a regular appointment slip; you know procedure well enough by now to --"

Barris cut him off. "Why did you turn back my DQ form? Are you withholding information from Vulcan 3?"

Silence.

The color left Jason Dill's face. "Your form wasn't properly filled out. According to Section Six, Article Ten of the Unity --"

"You're rerouting material away from Vulcan 3; that's why it hasn't stated a policy on the Healers." He came closer to the seated man, bending over him as Dill stared down at his papers on the desk, not meeting his gaze. "Why? It doesn't make sense. You know what this constitutes. Treason! Keeping back data, deliberately falsifying the troughs. I could bring charges against you, even have you arrested." Resting his hands on the surface of the desk, Barris said loudly, "Is the purpose of this to isolate and weaken the eleven Directors so that --"

He broke off. He was looking down into the barrel of a pencil beam. Jason Dill had been holding it since he had burst into the man's office. Dill's middle-aged features twitched bleakly; his eyes gleamed as he gripped the small tube. "Now be quiet, Director," Dill said icily. "I admire your tactics. This going on the offensive. Accusations without opportunity for me even to get in one word. Standard operating procedure." He breathed slowly, in a series of great gasps. "Damn you," he snapped, "sit down."

Barris sat down watchfully. I made my pitch, he realized. The man is right. And shrewd. He's seen a lot in his time, more than I have. Maybe I'm not the first to barge in here, yelling with indignation, trying to pin him down, force admissions.

Thinking that, Barris felt his confidence ebb away. But he continued to face the older man; he did not draw back.

Jason Dill's face was gray now. Drops of perspiration stood out on his wrinkled forehead; bringing out his handkerchief he patted at them. With the other hand, however, he still held the pencil beam. "We're both a little calmer," he said. "Which in my opinion is better. You were overly dramatic. Why?" A faint, distorted smile appeared on his lips. "Have you been practicing how you would make your entrance?"

The man's hand traveled to his breast pocket. He rubbed a bulge there; Barris saw that he had something in his inner pocket, something to which his hand had gone involuntarily. Seeing what he had done, Dill at once jerked his hand away.

Medicine? Barris wondered.

"This treason gambit," Dill said. "I could try that, too. An attempted coup on your part." He pointed at a control on the edge of his desk. "All this -- your grand entrance -- has of course been recorded. The evidence is there." He pressed a stud and, on the desk vidscreen, the Geneva Unity monitor appeared. "Give me the police," Dill said. Sitting with the pencil beam still pointed at Barris, he waited for the line to be put through. "I have too many other problems to take time off to cope with a Director who decides to run amuck."

Barris said, "I'll fight this all the way in the Unity courts. My conscience is clear; I'm acting in the interests of Unity, against a Managing Director who's systematically breaking down the sys- tem, step by step. You can investigate my entire life and you won't find a thing. I know I'll beat you in the courts, even if it takes years."

"We have a letter," Dill said. On the screen the familiar heavy-jowled features of a police official appeared. "Stand by," Dill instructed him. The police official's eyes moved as he took in the scene of the Managing Director holding his gun on Director Barris.

"That letter," Barris said as steadily as possible, "has no factual basis for the charges it makes."

"Oh?" Dill said. "You're familiar with its charges?"

"Rachel Pitt gave me all the information," Barris said. So she had been telling the truth. Well, that letter -- spurious as its charges were -- coupled with this episode, would probably be enough to convict him. The two would dovetail; they would create together the sort of evidence acceptable to the Unity mentality.

The police official eyed Barris.

At his desk, Jason Dill held the pencil beam steadily.

Barris said, "Today I sat in the same room with Father Fields."

Reaching his hand out to the vidsender, Jason Dill reflected and then said, "I'll ring you off and recontact you later." With his thumb he broke the connection; the image of the police official, still staring at Barris, faded out.

Jason Dill rose from his desk and pulled loose the power cable supplying the recording scanner which had been on since Barris entered the room. Then he reseated himself.

"The charges in the letter are true! " he said with incredulity. "My God, it never occurred to me. .." Then, rubbing his fore- head he said, "Yes, it did. Briefly. So they managed to penetrate to the Director level." His eyes showed horror and weariness.

"They put a gun on me and detained me," Barris said. "When I got here to Geneva."

Doubt, mixed with distraught cunning, crossed the older man's face. Obviously, he did not want to believe that the Healers had gotten so far up into Unity, Barris realized. He would grasp at any straw, any explanation which would account for the facts ... even the true one, Barris thought bitingly. Jason Dill had a psychological need that took precedence over the habitual organizational suspicions.

"You can trust me," Barris said.

"Why?" The pencil beam still pointed at him, but the conflicting emotions swept back and forth through the man.

"You have to believe someone," Barris said. "Sometime, some where. What is that you reach up and rub, there at your chest?"

Grimacing, Dill glanced down at his hand; again it was at his chest. He jerked it away. "Don't play on my fears," he said.

"Your fear of isolation?" Barris said. "Of having everyone against you? Is that some physical injury that you keep rubbing?"

Dill said, "No. You're guessing far too much; you're out of your depth." But he seemed more composed now. "Well, Director," he said. "I'll tell you something. I probably don't have long to live. My health has deteriorated since I've had this job. Maybe in a sense you're right ... it's a physical injury I'm rubbing. If you ever get where I am, you'll have some deep-seated injuries and illnesses too. Because there'll be people around you putting them there."

"Maybe you should take a couple of flying wedge squads of police and seize the Bond Hotel," Barris said. "He was there an hour ago. Down in the old section of the city. Not more than two miles from here."

"He'd be gone," Dill said. "He turns up again and again on the outskirts this way. We'll never get him; there're a million ratholes he can slither down."

Barris said, "You almost did get him."

"When?"

"In the hotel room. When that robot tracking device entered and made for him. It almost succeeded in burning him up, but he was quite fast; he managed to roll away and get it first."

Dill said, "What robot tracking device? Describe it." As Barris described it, Dill stared at him starkly. He swallowed noisily but did not interrupt until Barris had finished.

"What's wrong?" Barris said. "From what I saw of it, it seems to be the most effective counterpenetration weapon you have. Surely you'll be able to break up the Movement with such a mechanism. I think your anxiety and preoccupation is excessive."

In an almost inaudible voice, Dill said, "Agnes Parker."

"Who is that?" Barris said.

Seemingly not aware of him, Dill murmured, "Vulcan 2. And now a try at Father Fields. But he got away." Putting down his pencil beam he reached into his coat; rummaging, he brought out two reels of tape. He tossed the tape down on the desk.

"So that's what you've been carrying," Barris said with curiosity. He picked up the reels and examined them.

Dill said, "Director, there is a third force."

"What?" Barris said, with a chill.

"A third force is operating on us," Jason Dill said, and smiled grotesquely. "It may get all of us. It appears to be very strong."

He put his pencil beam away, then. The two of them faced each other without it.
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Re: Vulcan's Hammer, by Philip K. Dick

Postby admin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:17 am

CHAPTER NINE

The police raid on the Bond Hotel, although carried out expertly and thoroughly, netted nothing.

Jason Dill was not surprised.

In his office by himself he faced a legal dictation machine. Clearing his throat he said into it hurriedly, "This is to act as a formal statement in the event of my death, explaining the circumstances and reasons why I saw fit as Unity Managing Director to conduct sub rosa relations with North American Director William Barris. I entered into these relations knowing full well that Director Barris was under heavy suspicion concerning his position vis-a-vis the Healers' Movement, a treasonable band of murderers and --" He could not think of the word so he cut off the machine temporarily.

He glanced at his watch. In five minutes he had an appointment with Barris; he would not have time to complete his protective statement anyway. So he erased the tape. Better to start over later on, he decided. If he survived into the later on.

I'll go meet him, Jason Dill decided, and go on the assumption that he is being honest with me. I'll cooperate with him fully; I'll hold nothing back.

But just to be on the safe side, he opened the drawer of his desk and lifted out a small container. From it he took an object wrapped up and sealed; he opened it, and there was the smallest heat beam that the police had been able to manufacture. No larger than a kidney bean.

Using the adhesive agent provided, he carefully affixed the weapon inside his right ear. Its color blended with his own; examining himself in a wall mirror he felt satisfied that the heat beam would not be noticed.

Now he was ready for his appointment. Taking his overcoat, he left his office, walking briskly.

***

He stood by while Barris laid the tapes out on the surface of a table, spreading them flat with his hands.

"And no more came after these," Barris said.

"No more," Dill said. "Vulcan 2 ceased to exist at that point." He indicated the first of the two tapes. "Start reading there."

This Movement may be of more significance than first appears. It is evident that the Movement is directed against Vulcan 3 rather than the series of computers as a whole. Until I have had time to consider the greater aspects, I suggest Vulcan 3 not be informed of the matter.

"I asked why," Dill said. "Look at the next tape."

Consider the basic difference between Vulcan 3 and preceding computer. Its decisions are more than strictly factual evaluations of objective data; essentially it is creating policy at a value level. Vulcan 3 deals with teleological problems ... the significance of this cannot be immediately inferred. I must consider it at greater length.

"And that's it," Dill said. "The end. Presumably Vulcan 2 did consider it at greater length. Anyhow, it's a metaphysical problem; we'll never know either way."

"These tapes look old," Barris said. Examining the first one he said, "This is older than the other. By some months."

Jason Dill said, "The first tape is fifteen months old. The second --" He shrugged. "Four or five. I forget."

"This first tape was put out by Vulcan 2 over a year ago, " Barris said, "and from that time on, Vulcan 3 gave out no directives concerning the Healers."

Dill nodded.

"You followed Vulcan 2's advice," Barris said. "From the moment you read this tape you ceased informing Vulcan 3 about the growth of the Movement." Studying the older man he said, "You've been withholding information from Vulcan 3 without knowing why." The disbelief on his face grew; his lips twisted with outrage. "And all these months, all this time, you went on carrying out what Vulcan 2 told you to do! Good God, which is the machine and which is the man? And you clasp these two reels of tape to your bosom --" Unable to go on, Barris clamped his jaws shut, his eyes furious with accusation.

Feeling his own face redden, Dill said, "You must understand the relationship that existed between me and Vulcan 2. We had always worked together, back in the old days. Vulcan 2 was limited, of course, compared with Vulcan 3; it was obsolete-it couldn't have held the authoritative position Vulcan 3 now holds, determining ultimate policy, All it could do was assist ..." He heard his voice trail off miserably. And then resentment clouded up inside him; here he was, defending himself guiltily to his inferior officer. This was absurd!

Barris said, "Once a bureaucrat, always a bureaucrat. No matter how highly placed." His voice had an icy, deadly quality; in it there was no compassion for the older man. Dill felt his flesh wince at the impact. He turned, then, and walked away, his back to Barris. Not facing him, he said:

"I admit I was partial to Vulcan 2. Perhaps I did tend to trust it too much, "

"So you did find something you could trust. Maybe the Healers are right. About all of us."

"You detest me because I put my faith in a machine? My God, every time you read a gauge or a dial or a meter, every time you ride in a car or a ship, aren't you putting your faith in a machine?"

Barris nodded reluctantly. "But it's not the same," he said.

"You don't know," Dill said. "You never had my job. There's no difference between my faith in what these tapes tell me to do, and the faith the water-meter reader has when he reads the meter and writes down the reading. Vulcan 3 was dangerous and Vulcan 2 knew it. Am I supposed to cringe with shame because I shared Vulcan 2's intuition? I felt the same thing, the first time I watched those goddamn letters flowing across that surface."

"Would you be willing to let me look at the remains of Vulcan 2?" Barris said.

"It could be arranged," Dill said. "All we need are papers that certify you as a maintenance repairman with top clearance. I would advise you not to wear your Director's stripe, in that case."

"Fine," Barris said. "Let's get started on that, then."

***

At the entrance of the gloomy, deserted chamber, he stood gazing at the heaps of ruin that had been the old computer. The silent metal and twisted parts, fused together in a useless, shapeless mass. Too bad to see it like this, he thought, and never to have seen it the way it was. Or maybe not. Beside him, Jason Dill seemed overcome; his body slumped and he scratched compulsively at his right ear, evidently barely aware of the man whom he had brought.

Barris said, "Not much left."

"They knew what they were doing." Dill spoke almost to himself; then, with great effort, he roused himself. "I heard one of them in the corridor. I even saw it. The eyes gleaming. It was hanging around. I thought it was only a bat or an owl. I went on out."

Squatting down, Barris picked up a handful of smashed wiring and relays. "Has an attempt been made to reconstruct any of this?"

"Vulcan 2?" Dill murmured. "As I've said, destruction was so complete and on such a scale --"

"The components," Barris said, He lifted a complex plastic tube carefully. "This, for instance. This wheeling valve. The envelope is gone, of course, but the elements look intact."

Dill eyed him doubtfully. "You're advancing the idea that there might be parts of it still alive? "

"Mechanically intact," Barris said. "Portions which can be made to function within some other frame. It seems to me we can't really proceed until we can establish what Vulcan 2 had determined about Vulcan 3. We can make good guesses on our own, but that might not be the same."

"I'll have a repair crew make a survey on the basis which you propose," Dill said. "We'll see what can be done. It would take time, of course. What do you suggest in the meanwhile? In your opinion, should I continue the policy already laid down? "

Barris said, "Feed Vulcan 3 some data that you've been holding back. I'd like to see its reaction to a couple of pieces of news."

"Such as?"

"The news about Vulcan 2's destruction."

Floundering, Dill said, "That would be too risky. We're not sure enough of our ground, Suppose we were wrong."

I doubt if we are, Barris thought. There seems less doubt of it all time. But maybe we should at least wait until we've tried to rebuild the destroyed computer. "There's a good deal of risk," he said aloud. "To us, to Unity." To everyone, he realized.

Nodding, Jason Dill again reached up and plucked at his ear.

"What do you have there?" Barris said. Now that the man had stopped carrying his two tape-reels he had evidently found something else to fall back on, some replacement symbol of security.

"N-nothing," Dill stammered, flushing. "A nervous tic, I suppose. From the tension." He held out his hand. "Give me those parts you picked up, We'll need them for the reconstruction. I'll see that you're notified as soon as there's anything to look at."

"No," Barris said. He decided on the spot, and, having done so, pushed on with as much force as he could muster, "I'd prefer not to have the work done here. I want it done in North America."

Dill stared at him in bewilderment. Then, gradually, his face darkened. "In your region, By your crews."

"That's right," Barris said, "What you've told me may all be a fraud. These reels of tape could easily be fakes. All I can be sure of is this: my original notion about you is correct, the notion that brought me here." He made his voice unyielding, without any doubt in it. "Your withholding of information from Vulcan 3 constitutes a crime against Unity. I'd be willing to fight you in the Unity courts any time, as an act of duty on my part. Possibly the rationalizations you've given are true, but until I can get some verification from these bits and pieces ..." He swept up a handful of relays, switches, wiring.

For a long, long time Dill was silent. He stood, as before, with his hand pressed against his right ear. Then at last he sighed. "Okay, Director. I'm just too tired to fight with you. Take the stuff. Bring your crew in here and load it, if you want; cart it out and take it to New York. Play around with it until you're satisfied." Turning, he walked away, out of the chamber and up the dim, echoing corridor.

Barris, his hands full of the pieces of Vulcan 2, watched him go. When the man had disappeared out of sight, Barris once more began to breathe, It's over, he realized. I've won. There won't be any charge against me; I came to Geneva and confronted him -- and I got away with it.

His hands shaking with relief, he began sorting among the ruins, taking his time, beginning a thorough, methodical job.

By eight o'clock the next morning the remains of Vulcan 2 had been crated and loaded onto a commercial transport. By eight-thirty Barris' engineers had been able to get the last of the original wiring diagrams pertaining to Vulcan 2. And at nine, when transport finally took off for New York, Barris breathed a sigh of relief. Once the ship was off the ground, Jason Dill ceased to have authority over it.

Barris himself followed in the ten o'clock passenger flight, the swift little luxurious ship provided for tourists and businessmen traveling between New York and Geneva, It gave him a chance to bathe and shave and change his clothes; he had been hard at work all night.

In the first-class lounge he relaxed in one of the deep chairs, enjoying himself for the first time in weeks. The buzz of voices around him lulled him into a semidoze; he lay back, passively watching the smartly dressed women going up the aisles, listening to snatches of conversation, mostly social, going on around him.

"A drink, sir?" the robot attendant asked, coming up by him.

He ordered a good dark German beer and with it the cheese hors d'oeuvres for which the flight was famous.

While he sat eating a wedge of port de salut, he caught sight of the headlines of the London Times which the man across from him was reading. At once he was on his feet, searching for the newspaper-vending robot; he found it, bought his own copy of the paper, and hurried back to his seat.

DIRECTORS TAUBMANN AND HENDERSON CHARGE AUTHORITY IN ILLINOIS HEALERS VICTORY. DEMAND INVESTIGATION

Stunned, he read on to discover that a carefully planned mass uprising of the Movement in Illinois rural towns had been coordinated with a revolt of the Chicago working class; together, the two groups had put an end -- at least temporarily -- to Unity control of most of the state.

One further item, very small, also chilled him.

NORTH AMERICAN DIRECTOR BARRIS UNAVAILABLE, NOT IN NEW YORK

They had been active during his absence; they had made good use of it. And not just the Movement, he realized grimly, Taubmann, also. And Henderson, the Director of Asia Minor. The two had teamed up more than once in the past.

The investigation, of course, would be a function of Jason Dill's office. Barris thought, I barely managed to handle Dill before this; all he needs is a little support from Taubmann, and the ground will be cut from under my feet. Even now, while I'm stuck here in mid-flight ... Possibly Dill himself instigated this; they may already have joined forces, Dill and Taubmann -- ganging up on me.

His mind spun on, and then he managed to get hold of him- self. I am in a good position, he decided. I have the remains of Vulcan 2 in my possession, and, most important of all, I forced Dill to admit to me what he has been doing. No one else knows! He would never dare take action against me, now that I have that knowledge. If I made it public ...

I still hold the winning hand, he decided. In spite of this cleverly timed demand for an investigation of my handling of the Movement in my area.

That damn Fields, he thought. Sitting there in the hotel room, complimenting me as the "one decent Director," and then doing his best to discredit me while I was away from my region.

Hailing one of the robot attendants, he ordered, "Bring me a vidsender. One on a closed-circuit line to New York Unity."

He had the soundproof curtains of his chair drawn, and a few moments later he was facing the image of his sub Director, Peter Allison, on the vidscreen.

"I wouldn't be alarmed," Allison said, after Barris had made his concern clear. "This Illinois uprising is being put down by our police crews. And in addition it's part of a worldwide pattern. They seem to be active almost everywhere, now. When you get back here I'll show you the classified reports; most of the Directors have been keeping the activity out of the newspapers. If it weren't for Taubmann and Henderson, this business in Illinois might have been kept quiet. As I get it, there've been similar strikes in Lisbon and Berlin and Stalingrad. If we could get some kind of decision from Vulcan 3 --"

"Maybe we will, fairly soon," Barris said.

"You made out satisfactorily in Geneva? You're coming back with definite word from it?"

"I'll discuss it with you later," Barris said, and broke the connection.

Later, as the ship flew low over New York, he saw the familiar signs of hyperactivity there, too. A procession of brown-clad Healers moved along a side street in the Bo\very, solemn and dignified in their coarse garments. Crowds watched in respectful admiration. There was a demolished Unity auto-destroyed by a mob, not more than a mile from his offices. When the ship began its landing maneuver, he managed to catch sight of chalked slogans on building walls. Posters. So much more in the open, he realized. Blatant. They had progressively less to fear.

He had beaten the commercial transport carrying the remains of Vulcan 2 by almost an hour. After he had checked in at his offices and signed the formal papers regaining administrative authority from Allison, he asked about Rachel.

Allison said, "You're referring to the widow of that Unity man slain in South America?" Leafing through an armload of papers and reports and forms, the man at last came up with one. "So much has been going on since you were last here," he explained. "It seems as if everything broke over us at once." He turned a page, "Here it is. Mrs. Arthur Pitt arrived here yesterday at 2:30 A.M. New York time and was signed over to us by the personnel responsible for her safe transit from Europe. We then arranged to have her taken at once to the mental health institute in Denver."

Human lives, Barris thought. Marks on forms.

"I think I'll go to Denver," he said. "For a few hours. A big transport will be coming in here from Unity Control any time now; make sure it's fully guarded at all times and don't let any- one pry into it or start uncrating the stuff inside. I want to be present during most of the process."

"Shall I continue to deal with the Illinois situation?" Allison asked, following after him. "It's my impression that I've been relatively successful there; if you have time to examine the --"

Barris said, "You keep on with that. But keep me informed."

Ten minutes later he was aboard a small emergency ship that belonged to his office, speeding across the United States toward Colorado. I wonder if she will be there, he asked himself. He had a fatalistic dread. They'll have sent her on. Probably to New Mexico, to some health farm there. And when I get there, they'll have transferred her to New Orleans, the rim-city of Taubmann's domain. And from there, an easy, effortless bureaucratic step to Atlanta.

But at the Denver hospital the doctor who met him said, "Yes, Director. We have Mrs. Pitt with us. At present she's out on the solarium," He pointed that way. "Taking things easy," the doctor said, accompanying him part way. "She's responded quite well to our techniques. I think she'll be up and on her feet, back to normal, in a few days."

Out on the glass-walled balcony, Barris found her. She was lying curled up on a redwood lawn bench, her knees pulled up tightly against her, her arms wrapped around her calves, her head resting to one side. She wore a short blue outfit which he recognized as hospital convalescent issue. Her feet were bare.

"Looks like you're getting along fine," he said awkwardly.

For a time she said nothing. Then she stirred and said, "Hi. When did you get here?"

"Just now," he said, regarding her with apprehension; he felt himself stiffen. Something was still wrong.

Rachel said, "Look over there," She pointed, and he saw a plastic shipping carton lying open, its top off. "It was addressed to both of us," she said, "but they gave it to me. Someone put it on the ship at a stop somewhere. Probably one of those men who clean up. A lot of them are Healers."

Grabbing at the carton, he saw inside it the charred metal cylinder, the half-destroyed gleaming eyes. As he gazed down he saw the eyes respond; they recorded his presence.

"He repaired it," Rachel said in a flat, emotionless voice. "I've been sitting here listening to it."

"Listening to it?"

"It talks," Rachel said. "That's all it does; that's all he could fix. It never stops talking. But I can't understand anything it says. You try. It isn't talking to us." She added, "Father fixed it so it isn't harmful. It won't go anywhere or do anything."

Now he heard it. A high-pitched blearing, constant and yet altering each second. A continual signal emitted by the thing. And Rachel was right. It was not directed at them.

"Father thought you would know what it is," she said. "There's a note with it. He says he can't figure it out. He can't figure out who it's talking to." She picked up a piece of paper and held it out. Curiously, she said, "Do you know who it's talking to?"

"Yes," Barris said, staring down at the crippled, blighted metal thing deliberately imprisoned in its carton; Father Fields had taken care to hobble it thoroughly. "I guess I do."
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