The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:25 am

by Alfred Bester
Copyright © 1956 by Alfred Bester
Copyright renewed 1984 by Alfred Bester
Special restored text of this edition copyright ©
1996 by the Estate of Alfred Bester
Introduction copyright © 1996 by Neil Gaiman
Special calligraphy and ideographs in Chapter 15
created by Jack Gaughan.




To Truman M. Talley

Suddenly Presteign began speaking in a low monotone. "PyrE is a pyrophoric alloy. A pyrophore is a metal which emits sparks when scraped or struck. PyrE emits energy, which is why E, the energy symbol, was added to the prefix Pyr. PyrE is a solid solution of transplutonian isotopes, releasing thermonuclear energy on the order of stellar Phoenix action. Its discoverer was of the opinion that he had produced the equivalent of the primordial protomatter which exploded into the Universe."

"My God!" Jisbella exclaimed.

Dagenham silenced her with a gesture and bent over Presteign. "How is it brought to critical mass, Presteign? How is the energy released?"

"As the original energy was generated in the beginning of time," Presteign droned. "Through Will and Idea."

"I'm convinced he's a Cellar Christian," Dagenham muttered to Y'ang-Yeovil. He raised his voice. "Will you explain, Presteign?"

"Through Will and Idea," Presteign repeated. "PyrE can only be exploded by psychokinesis. Its energy can only be released by thought. It must be willed to explode and the thought directed at it. That is the only way."

"There's no key? No formula?"

"No. Only Will and Idea are necessary." The glazed eyes closed.

"God in heaven!" Dagenham mopped his brow. "Will this give the Outer Satellites pause, Yeovil?"

"It'll give us all pause."

"It's the road to hell," Jisbella said.

-- "The Stars My Destination," by Alfred Bester

Table of Contents:

Of Time, and Gully Foyle, by Neil Gaiman
• Prologue
• Chapter One
• Chapter Two
• Chapter Three
• Chapter Four
• Chapter Five
• Chapter Six
• Chapter Seven
• Chapter Eight
• Chapter Nine
• Chapter Ten
• Chapter Eleven
• Chapter Twelve
• Chapter Thirteen
• Chapter Fourteen
• Chapter Fifteen
• Chapter Sixteen
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:26 am

by Neil Gaiman

You can tell when a Hollywood historical film was made by looking at the eye makeup of the leading ladies, and you can tell the date of an old science fiction novel by every word on the page. Nothing dates harder and faster and more strangely than the future.

This was not always true, but somewhere in the last thirty years (somewhere between the beginning of the death of what John Clute and Peter Nicholls termed, in their Encyclopedia of science Fiction, "First SF" in 1957 when Sputnik brought space down to earth and 1984, the year that George Orwell ended and William Gibson started) we lurched into the futures we now try to inhabit, and all the old SF futures found themselves surplus to requirements, standing alone on the sidewalk, pensioned off and abandoned. Or were they?

SF is a difficult and transient literature at the best of times, ultimately problematic. It claims to treat of the future, all the what-ifs and if-this-goes-ons; but the what-ifs and if-this-goes-ons are always founded here and hard in today. Whatever today is.

To put it another way, nothing dates harder than historical fiction and science fiction. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's historical fiction and his SF are of a piece -- and both have dated in a way in which Sherlock Holmes, pinned to his time in the gaslit streets of Victorian London, has not.

Dated? Rather, they are of their time.

For there are always exceptions. There may, for instance, be nothing in Alfred Bester's Tiger! Tiger! (1956 U.K.; republished in the U.S. under the original 1956 Galaxy magazine title, The Stars My Destination, in 1957) that radically transgresses any of the speculative notions SF writers then shared about the possible shape of a future solar system. But Gully Foyle, the obsessive protagonist who dominates every page of the tale, has not dated a moment. In a fashion which inescapably reminds us of the great grotesques of other literary traditions, of dark figures from Poe or Gogol or Dickens, Gully Foyle controls the world around him, so that the awkwardnesses of the 1956 future do not so much fade into the background as obey his obsessive dance. If he were not so intransigent, so utterly bloody-minded, so unborn, Gully Foyle could have become an icon like Sherlock Holmes. But he is; and even though Bester based him on a quote -- he is a reworking of the Byronesque magus Edmond Dantes whose revenge over his oppressors takes a thousand pages of Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo (1844) to accomplish -- he cannot himself be quoted.

When I read this book -- or one very similar; you can no more read the same book again than you can step into the same river -- in the early 1970s, as a young teenager, I read it under the title Tiger! Tiger! It's a title I prefer to the rather more upbeat The Stars My Destination. It is a title of warning, of admiration. God, we are reminded in Blake's poem, created the tiger too. The God who made the lamb also made the carnivores that prey upon it. And Gully Foyle, our hero, is a predator. We meet him and are informed that he is everyman, a nonentity; then Bester lights the touchpaper, and we stand back and watch him flare and burn and illuminate: almost illiterate, stupid, single-minded, amoral (not in the hip sense of being too cool for morality, but simply utterly, blindly selfish), he is a murderer -- perhaps a multiple murderer -- a rapist, a monster. A tiger.

(And because Bester began working on the book in England, naming his characters from an English telephone directory, Foyle shares a name with the largest, and most irritating bookshop in London -- and with Lemuel Gulliver, who voyaged among strange peoples. Dagenham, Yeovil, and Sheffield are all English cities.)

We are entering a second-stage world of introductions to SF. It is not long since everyone knew everybody. I for one never met Alfred Bester: I never travelled to America as a young man, and by the time he was due to come to England, to the 1987 Brighton Worldcon, his health did not permit it, and he died shortly after the convention.

I can offer no personal encomia to Bester the man -- author of many fine short stories, two remarkable SF novels in the first round of his career (The Demolished Man and the book you now hold in your hand); author of three somewhat less notable SF books in later life. (Also a fascinating psychological thriller called The Rat Race, about the world of New York television in the 1950s.)

He began his career as a writer in the SF pulps, moved from there to comics, writing Superman, Green Lantern (he created the "Green Lantern Oath"), and many other characters; he moved from there to radio, writing for Charlie Chan and The Shadow. "The comic book days were over, but the splendid training I received in visualization, attack, dialogue, and economy stayed with me forever," he said in a memoir.

He was one of the only -- perhaps the only-- SF writers to be revered by the old timers ("First SF"), by the radical "New Wave" of the 1960s and early 1970s, and, in the 1980s, by the" cyber-punks." When he died in 1987, three years into the flowering of cyberpunk, it was apparent that the 1980s genre owed an enormous debt to Bester -- and to this book in particular.

The Stars My Destination is, after all, the perfect cyberpunk novel: it contains such cheerfully protocyber elements as multinational corporate intrigue; a dangerous, mysterious, hyperscientific McGuffin (pyrE); an amoral hero; a supercool thief-woman . . .

But what makes The Stars My Destination more interesting -- and ten years on, less dated -- than most cyberpunk, is watching Gully Foyle become a moral creature, during his sequence of transfigurations (keep all heroes going long enough, and they become gods). The tiger tattoos force him to learn control. His emotional state is no longer written in his face -- it forces him to move beyond predation, beyond rage, back to the womb, as it were. (And what a sequence of wombs the book gives us: the coffin, the Nomad, the Gouffre Martel, St. Pat's, and finally the Nomad again.) It gives us more than that. It gives us:




A word of warning: the vintage of the book demands more work from the reader than she or he may be used to. Were it written now, its author would have shown us the rape, not implied it, just as we would have been permitted to watch the sex on the grass in the night after the Gouffre Martel, before the sun came up, and she saw his face ...

So assume it's 1956 again. You are about to meet Gully Foyle, and to learn how to jaunte. You are on the way to the future. It was, or is, or will be, as Bester might have said, had someone not beaten him to it, the best of times. It will be the worst of times ...
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:27 am


Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


This was a Golden Age, a time of high adventure, rich living, and hard dying ... but nobody thought so. This was a future of fortune and theft, pillage and rapine, culture and vice ... but nobody admitted it. This was an age of extremes, a fascinating century of freaks ... but nobody loved it.

All the habitable worlds of the solar system were occupied. Three planets and eight satellites and eleven million million people swarmed in one of the most exciting ages ever known, yet minds still yearned for other times, as always. The solar system seethed with activity ... fighting, feeding, and breeding, learning the new technologies that spewed forth almost before the old had been mastered, girding itself for the first exploration of the far stars in deep space; but --

"Where are the new frontiers?" the Romantics cried, unaware that the frontier of the mind had opened in a laboratory on Callisto at the turn of the twenty-fourth century. A researcher named Jaunte set fire to his bench and himself (accidentally) and let out a yell for help with particular reference to a fire extinguisher. Who so surprised as Jaunte and his colleagues when he found himself standing alongside said extinguisher, seventy feet removed from his lab bench.

They put Jaunte out and went into the whys and wherefores of his instantaneous seventy-foot journey. Teleportation ... the transportation of oneself through space by an effort of the mind alone ... had long been a theoretic concept, and there were a few hundred badly documented proofs that it had happened in the past. This was the first time that it had ever taken place before professional observers.

They investigated the Jaunte Effect savagely. This was something too earth-shaking to handle with kid gloves, and Jaunte was anxious to make his name immortal. He made his will and said farewell to his friends. Jaunte knew he was going to die because his fellow researchers were determined to kill him, if necessary. There was no doubt about that.

Twelve psychologists, parapsychologists, and neurometrists of varying specialization were called in as observers. The experimenters sealed Jaunte into an unbreakable crystal tank. They opened a water valve, feeding water into the tank, and let Jaunte watch them smash the valve handle. It was impossible to open the tank; it was impossible to stop the flow of water.

The theory was that if it had required the threat of death to goad Jaunte into teleporting himself in the first place, they'd damned well threaten him with death again. The tank filled quickly. The observers collected data with the tense precision of an eclipse camera crew. Jaunte began to drown. Then he was outside the tank, dripping and coughing explosively. He'd teleported again.

The experts examined and questioned him. They studied graphs and X-rays, neural patterns and body chemistry. They began to get an inkling of how Jaunte had teleported. On the technical grapevine (this had to be kept secret) they sent out a call for suicide volunteers. They were still ill the primitive stage of teleportation; death was the only spur they knew.

They briefed the volunteers thoroughly. Jaunte lectured on what he had done and how he thought he had done it. Then they proceeded to murder the volunteers. They drowned them, hanged them, burned them; they invented new forms of slow and controlled death. There was never any doubt in any of the subjects that death was the object.

Eighty per cent of the volunteers died, and the agonies and remorse of their murderers would make a fascinating and horrible study, but that has no place in this history except to highlight the monstrosity of the times. Eighty per cent of the volunteers died, but 20 per cent jaunted. (The name became a word almost immediately.)

"Bring back the romantic age," the Romantics pleaded, "when men could risk their lives in high adventure."

The body of knowledge grew rapidly. By the first decade of the twenty-fifth century the principles of jaunting were established and the first school was opened by Charles Fort Jaunte himself, then fifty-seven, immortalized, and ashamed to admit that he had never dared jaunte again. But the primitive days were past; it was no longer necessary to threaten a man with death to make him teleport. They had learned how to teach man to recognize, discipline, and exploit yet another resource of his limitless mind.

How, exactly, did man teleport? One of the most unsatisfactory explanations was provided by Spencer Thompson, publicity representative of the Jaunte Schools, in a press interview.

THOMPSON: Jaunting is like seeing; it is a natural aptitude of almost every human organism, but it can only be developed by training and experience.

REPORTER: You mean we couldn't see without practice?

THOMPSON: Obviously you're either unmarried or have no children ... preferably both. (Laughter)

REPORTER: I don't understand.

THOMPSON: Anyone who's observed an infant learning to use its eyes, would.

REPORTER: But what is teleportation?

THOMPSON: The transportation of oneself from one locality to another by an effort of the mind alone.

REPORTER: You mean we can think ourselves from ... say ... New York to Chicago?

THOMPSON: Precisely.

REPORTER: Would we arrive naked?

THOMPSON: If you started naked. (Laughter)

REPORTER: I mean, would our clothes teleport with us?

THOMPSON: When people teleport, they also teleport the clothes they wear and whatever they are strong enough to carry. I hate to disappoint you, but even ladies' clothes would arrive with them. (Laughter)

REPORTER: But how do we do it?

THOMPSON: How do we think?

REPORTER: With our minds.

THOMPSON: And how does the mind think? What is the thinking process? Exactly how do we remember, imagine, deduce, create? Exactly how do the brain cells operate?

REPORTER: I don't know. Nobody knows.

THOMPSON: And nobody knows exactly how we teleport either, but we know we can do it -- just as we know that we can think. Have you ever heard of Descartes? He said: Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am. We say: Cogito ergo jaunteo. I think, therefore I jaunte.


If it is thought that Thompson's explanation is exasperating, inspect this report of Sir John Kelvin to the Royal Society on the mechanism of jaunting:

We have established that the teleportative ability is associated with the Nissl bodies, or Tigroid Substance in nerve cells. The Tigroid Substance is easiest demonstrated by Nissl's method using 3.75 g. of methylene blue and 1.75 g. of Venetian soap dissolved in 1,000 cc. of water.

Where the Tigroid Substance does not appear, jaunting is impossible. Teleportation is a Tigroid Function. (Applause)

Any man was capable of jaunting provided he developed two faculties, visualization and concentration. He had to visualize, completely and precisely, the spot to which he desired to teleport himself; and he had to concentrate the latent energy of his mind into a single thrust to get him there. Above all, he had to have faith ... the faith that Charles Fort Jaunte never recovered. He had to believe he would jaunte. The slightest doubt would block the mind-thrust necessary for teleportation.

The limitations with which every man is born necessarily limited the ability to jaunte. Some could visualize magnificently and set the coordinates of their destination with precision, but lacked the power to get there. Others had the power but could not, so to speak, see where they were jaunting. And space set a final limitation, for no man had ever jaunted further than a thousand miles. He could work his way in jaunting jumps over land and water from Nome to Mexico, but no jump could exceed a thousand miles.

By the 2420's, this form of employment application blank had become a commonplace:


This space
reserved for
retina pattern

NAME ( Capital letters):
Last First Middle

Continent Country County

JAUNTE CLASS (Official Rating; Check One Only):
M (1,000 miles): L (50 miles):
D (500 miles): X (10 miles):
C (100 miles): V (5 miles):

The old Bureau of Motor Vehicles took over the new job and regularly tested and classed jaunte applicants, and the old American Automobile Association changed its initials to AJA.

Despite all efforts, no man had ever jaunted across the voids of space, although many experts and fools had tried. Helmut Grant, for one, who spent a month memorizing the coordinates of a jaunte stage on the moon and visualized every mile of the two hundred and forty thousand-mile trajectory from Times Square to Kepler City. Grant jaunted and disappeared. They never found him. They never found Enzio Dandridge, a Los Angeles revivalist looking for Heaven; Jacob Maria Freundlich, a paraphysicist who should have known better than to jaunte into deep space searching for metadimensions; Shipwreck Cogan, a professional seeker after notoriety; and hundreds of others, lunatic-fringers, neurotics, escapists, and suicides. Space was closed to teleportation. Jaunting was restricted to the surfaces of the planets of the solar system.

But within three generations the entire solar system was on the jaunte. The transition was more spectacular than the change-over from horse and buggy to gasoline age five centuries before. On three planets and eight satellites, social, legal, and economic structures crashed while the new customs and laws demanded by universal jaunting mushroomed in their place.

There were land riots as the jaunting poor deserted slums to squat in plains and forests, raiding the livestock and wildlife. There was a revolution in home and office building: labyrinths and masking devices had to be introduced to prevent unlawful entry by jaunting. There were crashes and panics and strikes and famines as pre-jaunte industries failed.

Plagues and pandemics raged as jaunting vagrants carried disease and vermin into defenseless countries. Malaria, elephantiasis, and the breakbone fever came north to Greenland; rabies returned to England after an absence of three hundred years. The Japanese beetle, the citrus scale, the chestnut blight, and the elm borer spread to every corner of the world, and from one forgotten pesthole in Borneo, leprosy, long imagined extinct, reappeared.

Crime waves swept the planets and satellites as their underworlds took to jaunting with the night around the clock, and there were brutalities as the police fought them without quarter. There came a hideous return to the worst prudery of Victorianism as society fought the sexual and moral dangers of jaunting with protocol and taboo. A cruel and vicious war broke out between the Inner Planets -- Venus, Terra, and Mars -- and the Outer Satellites ... a war brought on by the economic and political pressures of teleportation.

Until the Jaunte Age dawned, the three Inner Planets (and the Moon) had lived in delicate economic balance with the seven inhabited Outer Satellites: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto of Jupiter; Rhea and Titan of Saturn; and Lassell of Neptune. The United Outer Satellites supplied raw materials for the Inner Planets' manufactories, and a market for their finished goods. Within a decade this balance was destroyed by jaunting.

The Outer Satellites, raw young worlds in the making, had bought 70 per cent of the I.P. transportation production. Jaunting ended that. They had bought 90 per cent of the I.P. communications production. Jaunting ended that too. In consequence I.P. purchase of O.S. raw materials fell off.

With trade exchange destroyed it was inevitable that the economic war would degenerate into a shooting war. Inner Planets' cartels refused to ship manufacturing equipment to the Outer Satellites, attempting to protect themselves against competition. The O.S. confiscated the plants already in operation on their worlds, broke patent agreements, ignored royalty obligations ... and the war was on.

It was an age of freaks, monsters, and grotesques. All the world was misshapen in marvelous and malevolent ways. The Classicists and Romantics who hated it were unaware of the potential greatness of the twenty-fifth century. They were blind to a cold fact of evolution ... that progress stems from the clashing merger of antagonistic extremes, out of the marriage of pinnacle freaks. Classicists and Romantics alike were unaware that the Solar System was trembling on the verge of a human explosion that would transform man and make him the master of the universe.

It is against this seething background of the twenty-fifth century that the vengeful history of Gulliver Foyle begins.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:28 am


He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead. He fought for survival with the passion of a beast in a trap. He was delirious and rotting, but occasionally his primitive mind emerged from the burning nightmare of survival into something resembling sanity. Then he lifted his mute face to Eternity and muttered: "What's a matter, me? Help, you goddamn gods! Help, is all."

Blasphemy came easily to him: it was half his speech, all his life. He had been raised in the gutter school of the twenty-fifth century and spoke nothing but the gutter tongue. Of all brutes in the world he was among the least valuable alive and most likely to survive. So he struggled and prayed in blasphemy; but occasionally his raveling mind leaped backward thirty years to his childhood and remembered a nursery jingle:

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place
And death's my destination.

He was Gulliver Foyle, Mechanic's Mate 3rd Class, thirty years old, big boned and rough ... and one hundred and seventy days adrift in space. He was Gully Foyle, the oiler, wiper, bunkerman; too easy for trouble, too slow for fun, too empty for friendship, too lazy for love. The lethargic outlines of his character showed in the official Merchant Marine records:

FOYLE, GULLIVER AS-128/127:006

A man of physical strength and intellectual potential stunted by lack of ambition. Energizes at minimum. The stereotype Common Man. Some unexpected shock might possibly awaken him, but Psych cannot find the key. Not recommended for promotion. Has reached a dead end.

He had reached a dead end. He had been content to drift from moment to moment of existence for thirty years like some heavily armored creature, sluggish and indifferent -- Gully Foyle, the stereotype Common Man -- but now he was adrift in space for one hundred and seventy days, and the key to his awakening was in the lock. Presently it would turn and open the door to holocaust.


The spaceship Nomad drifted halfway between Mars and Jupiter. Whatever war catastrophe had wrecked it had taken a sleek steel rocket, one hundred yards long and one hundred feet broad, and mangled it into a skeleton on which was mounted the remains of cabins, holds, decks, and bulkheads. Great rents in the hull were blazes of light on the sunside and frosty blotches of stars on the darkside. The S.S. Nomad was a weightless emptiness of blinding sun and jet shadow, frozen and silent.

The wreck was filled with a floating conglomerate of frozen debris that hung within the destroyed vessel like an instantaneous photograph of an explosion. The minute gravitational attraction of the bits of rubble for each other was slowly drawing them into clusters which were periodically torn apart by the passage through them of the one survivor still alive on the wreck, Gulliver Foyle, AS- 128/127:006.

He lived in the only airtight room left intact in the wreck, a tool locker off the main-deck corridor. The locker was four feet wide, four feet deep, and nine feet high. It was the size of a giant's coffin. Six hundred years before, it had been judged the most exquisite Oriental torture to imprison a man in a cage that size for a few weeks. Yet Foyle had existed in this lightless coffin for five months, twenty days, and four hours.


"Who are you?"
"Gully Foyle is my name."
"Where are you from?"
"Terra is my nation."
"Where are you now?"
"Deep space is my dwelling place."
"Where are you bound?"
"Death's my destination."

On the one hundred and seventy-first day of his fight for survival, Foyle answered these questions and awoke. His heart hammered and his throat burned. He groped in the dark for the air tank which shared his coffin with him and checked it. The tank was empty. Another would have to be moved in at once. So this day would commence with an extra skirmish with death which Foyle accepted with mute endurance.

He felt through the locker shelves and located a torn spacesuit. It was the only one aboard Nomad and Foyle no longer remembered where or how he had found it. He had sealed the tear with emergency spray, but had no way of refilling or replacing the empty oxygen cartridges on the back. Foyle got into the suit. It would hold enough air from the locker to allow him five minutes in vacuum ... no more.

Foyle opened the locker door and plunged out into the black frost of space. The air in the locker puffed out with him and its moisture congealed into a tiny snow cloud that drifted down the torn main-deck corridor. Foyle heaved at the exhausted air tank, floated it out of the locker and abandoned it. One minute was gone.

He turned and propelled himself through the floating debris toward the hatch to the ballast hold. He did not run: his gait was the unique locomotion of free-fall and weightlessness ... thrusts with foot, elbow and hand against deck, wall and corner, a slow-motion darting through space like a bat flying under water. Foyle shot through the hatch into the darkside ballast hold. Two minutes were gone.

Like all spaceships, Nomad was ballasted and stiffened with the mass of her gas tanks laid down the length of her keel like a long lumber raft tapped at the sides by a labyrinth of pipe fittings. Foyle took a minute disconnecting an air tank. He had no way of knowing whether it was full or already exhausted; whether he would fight it back to his locker only to discover that it was empty and his life was ended. Once a week he endured this game of space roulette.

There was a roaring in his ears; the air in his spacesuit was rapidly going foul. He yanked the massy cylinder toward the ballast hatch, ducked to let it sail over his head, then thrust himself after it. He swung the tank through the hatch. Four minutes had elapsed and he was shaking and blacking out. He guided the tank down the main-deck corridor and bulled it into the tool locker.

He slammed the locker door, dogged it, found a hammer on a shelf and swung it thrice against the frozen tank to loosen the valve. Foyle twisted the handle grimly. With the last of his strength he unsealed the helmet of his spacesuit, lest he suffocate within the suit while the locker filled with air ... if this tank contained air. He fainted, as he had fainted so often before, never knowing whether this was death.


"Who are you?"
"Gully Foyle."
"Where are you from?"
"Where are you now?"
"Where are you bound-?"

He awoke. He was alive. He wasted no time on prayer or thanks but continued the business of survival. In the darkness he explored the locker shelves where he kept his rations. There were only a few packets left. Since he was already wearing the patched spacesuit he might just as well run the gantlet of vacuum again and replenish his supplies.

He flooded his spacesuit with air from the tank, resealed his helmet and sailed out into the frost and light again. He squirmed down the main-deck corridor and ascended the remains of a stairway to control deck, which was no more than a roofed corridor in space. Most of the walls were destroyed.

With the sun on his right and the stars on his left, Foyle shot aft toward the galley storeroom. Halfway down the corridor he passed a door frame still standing foursquare between deck and roof. The leaf still hung on its hinges, half-open, a door to nowhere. Behind it was all space and the steady stars.

As Foyle passed the door he had a quick view of himself reflected in the polished chrome of the leaf ... Gully Foyle, a giant black creature, bearded, crusted with dried blood and filth, emanated, with sick, patient eyes ... and followed always by a stream of floating debris, the raffle disturbed by his motion and following him through space like the tail of a festering comet.

Foyle turned into the galley storeroom and began looting with the methodical speed of five months' habit. Most of the bottled goods were frozen solid and exploded. Much of the canned goods had lost their containers, for tin crumbles to dust in the absolute zero of space. Foyle gathered up ration packets, concentrates, and a chunk of ice from the burst water tank. He threw everything into a large copper cauldron, turned and darted out of the storeroom, carrying the cauldron.

At the door to nowhere Foyle glanced at himself again, reflected in the chrome leaf framed in the stars. Then he stopped his motion in bewilderment. He stared at the stars behind the door which had become familiar friends after five months. There was an intruder among them; a comet, it seemed, with an invisible head and a short, spurting tail. Then Foyle realized he was staring at a spaceship, stern rockets flaring as it accelerated on a sunward course which must pass him.

"No," he muttered. "No, man. No."

He was continually suffering from hallucinations. He turned to resume the journey back to his coffin. Then he looked again. It was still a spaceship, stern rockets flaring as it accelerated on a sunward course which must pass him. He discussed the illusion with Eternity.

"Six months already," he said in his gutter tongue. "Is it now? You listen a me, lousy gods. I talkin' a deal, is all. I look again, sweet prayer-men. If it's a ship, I'm yours. You own me. But if it's a gaff, man ... if it's no ship ... I unseal right now and blow my guts. We both ballast level, us. Now reach me the sign, yes or no, is all."

He looked for a third time. For the third time he saw a spaceship, stern rockets flaring as it accelerated on a sunward course which must pass him.

It was the sign. He believed. He was saved.

Foyle shoved off and went hurtling down control-deck corridor toward the bridge. But at the companionway stairs he restrained himself. He could not remain conscious for more than a few more moments without refilling his spacesuit. He gave the approaching spaceship one pleading look, then shot down to the tool locker and pumped his suit full.

He mounted to the control bridge. Through the starboard observation port he saw the spaceship, stern rockets still flaring, evidently making a major alteration in course, for it was bearing down on him very slowly.

On a panel marked FLARES, Foyle pressed the DISTRESS button. There was a three-second pause during which he suffered. Then white radiance blinded him as the distress signal went off in three triple bursts, nine prayers for help. Foyle pressed the button twice again, and twice more the flares flashed in space while the radioactives incorporated in their combustion set up a static howl that must register on any waveband of any receiver.

The stranger's jets cut off. He had been seen. He would be saved. He was reborn. He exulted.

Foyle darted back to his locker and replenished his spacesuit again. He began to weep. He started to gather his possessions -- a faceless clock which he kept wound just to listen to the ticking, a lug wrench with a hand-shaped handle which he would hold in lonely moments, an egg slicer upon whose wires he would pluck primitive tunes. ... He dropped them in his excitement, hunted for them in the dark, then began to laugh at himself.

He filled his spacesuit with air once more and capered back to the bridge. He punched a flare button labelled: RESCUE. From the hull of the Nomad shot a sunlet that burst and hung, flooding miles of space with harsh white light.

"Come on, baby you," Foyle crooned. "Hurry up, man. Come on, baby baby you."

Like a ghost torpedo, the stranger slid into the outermost rim of light, approaching slowly, looking him over. For a moment Foyle's heart constricted; the ship was behaving so cautiously that he feared she was an enemy vessel from the Outer Satellites. Then he saw the famous red and blue emblem on her side, the trademark of the mighty industrial clan of Presteign; Presteign of Terra, powerful, munificent, beneficent. And he knew this was a sister ship, for the Nomad was also Presteign-owned. He knew this was an angel from space hovering over him.

"Sweet sister," Foyle crooned. "Baby angel, flyaway home with me."

The ship came abreast of Foyle, illuminated ports along its side glowing with friendly light, its name and registry number clearly visible in illuminated figures on the hull: Vorga-T: 1339. The ship was alongside him in a moment, passing him in a second, disappearing in a third.

The sister had spurned him; the angel had abandoned him.

Foyle stopped dancing and crooning. He stared in dismay. He leaped to the flare panel and slapped buttons. Distress signals, landing, take-off, and quarantine flares burst from the hull of the Nomad in a madness of white, red and green light, pulsing, pleading ... and Vorga-T: 1339 passed silently and implacably, stern jets flaring again as it accelerated on a sunward course.

So, in five seconds, he was born, he lived, and he died. After thirty years of existence and six months of torture, Gully Foyle, the stereotype Common Man, was no more. The key turned in the lock of his soul and the door was opened. What emerged expunged the Common Man forever.

"You pass me by," he said with slow mounting fury. "You leave me rot like a dog. You leave me die, Vorga ... Vorga-T: 1339. No. I get out of here, me. I follow you. Vorga. I find you, Vorga. I pay you back, me. I rot you. I kill you, Vorga. I kill you filthy."

The acid of fury ran through him, eating away the brute patience and sluggishness that had made a cipher of Gully Foyle, precipitating a chain of reactions that would make an infernal machine of Gully Foyle. He was dedicated.

"Vorga, I kill you filthy."


He did what the cipher could not do; he rescued himself.

For two days he combed the wreckage in five-minute forays, and devised a harness for his shoulders. He attached an air tank to the harness and connected the tank to his spacesuit helmet with an improvised hose. He wriggled through space like an ant dragging a log, but he had the freedom of the Nomad for all time.

He thought.

In the control bridge he taught himself to use the few navigation instruments that were still unbroken, studying the standard manuals that littered the wrecked navigation room. In the ten years of his service in space he had never dreamed of attempting such a thing, despite the rewards of promotion and pay; but now he had Vorga-T:1339 to reward him.

He took sights. The Nomad was drifting in space on the ecliptic, three hundred million miles from the sun. Before him were spread the constellations Perseus, Andromeda, and Pisces. Hanging almost in the foreground was a dusty orange spot that was Jupiter, distinctly a planetary disc to the naked eye. With any luck he could make a course for Jupiter and rescue.

Jupiter was not, could never be habitable. Like all the outer planets beyond the asteroid orbits, it was a frozen mass of methane and ammonia; but its four largest satellites swarmed with cities and populations now at war with the Inner Planets. He would be a war prisoner, but he had to stay alive to settle accounts with Vorga-T: 1339.

Foyle inspected the engine room of the Nomad. There was Hi-Thrust fuel remaining in the tanks and one of the four tail jets was still in operative condition. Foyle found the engine room manuals and studied them. He repaired the connection between fuel tanks and the one jet chamber. The tanks were on the sunside of the wreck and warmed above freezing point. The Hi-Thrust was still liquid, but it would not flow. In free-fall there was no gravity to draw the fuel down the pipes.

Foyle studied a space manual and learned something about theoretical gravity. If he could put the Nomad into a spin, centrifugal force would impart enough gravitation to the ship to draw fuel down into the combustion chamber of the jet. If he could fire the combustion chamber, the unequal thrust of the one jet would impart a spin to the Nomad.

But he couldn't fire the jet without first having the spin; and he couldn't get the spin without first firing the jet.

He thought his way out of the deadlock; he was inspired by Vorga.

Foyle opened the drainage petcock in the combustion chamber of the jet and torturously filled the chamber with fuel by hand. He had primed the pump. Now, if he ignited the fuel, it would fire long enough to impart the spin and start gravity. Then the flow from the tanks would commence and the rocketing would continue.

He tried matches.

Matches will not burn in the vacuum of space.

He tried flint and steel.

Sparks will not glow in the absolute zero of space.

He thought of red-hot filaments.

He had no electric power of any description aboard the Nomad to make a filament red hot.

He found texts and read. Although he was blacking out frequently and close to complete collapse, he thought and planned. He was inspired to greatness by Vorga.

Foyle brought ice from the frozen galley tanks, melted it with his own body heat, and added water to the jet combustion chamber. The fuel and the water were nonmiscible, they did not mix. The water floated in a thin layer over the fuel.

From the chemical stores Foyle brought a silvery bit of wire, pure sodium metal. He poked the wire through the open petcock. The sodium ignited when it touched the water and flared with high heat. The heat touched off the Hi-Thrust which burst in a needle flame from the petcock. Foyle closed the petcock with a wrench. The ignition held in the chamber and the lone aft jet slammed out flame with a soundless vibration that shook the ship.

The off-center thrust of the jet twisted the Nomad into a slow spin. The torque imparted a slight gravity. Weight returned. The floating debris that cluttered the hull fell to decks, walls and ceilings; and the gravity kept the fuel feeding from tanks to combustion chamber.

Foyle wasted no time on cheers. He left the engine room and struggled forward in desperate haste for a final, fatal observation from the control bridge. This would tell him whether the Nomad was committed to a wild plunge out into the no-return of deep space, or a course for Jupiter and rescue.

The slight gravity made his air tank almost impossible to drag. The sudden forward surge of acceleration shook loose masses of debris which flew backward through the Nomad. As Foyle struggled up the companionway stairs to the control deck, the rubble from the bridge came hurtling back down the corridor and smashed into him. He was caught up in this tumbleweed in space, rolled back the length of the empty corridor, and brought up against the galley bulkhead with an impact that shattered his last hold on consciousness. He lay pinned in the center of half a ton of wreckage, helpless, barely alive, but still raging for vengeance.

"Who are you?"
"Where are you from?"
"Where are you now?"
"Where are you bound?"
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:29 am


Between Mars and Jupiter is spread the broad belt of the asteroids. Of the thousands, known and unknown, most unique to the Freak Century was the Sargasso Asteroid, a tiny planet manufactured of natural rock and wreckage salvaged by its inhabitants in the course of two hundred years.

They were savages, the only savages of the twenty-fifth century; descendants of a research team of scientists that had been lost and marooned in the asteroid belt two centuries before when their ship had failed. By the time their descendants were rediscovered they had built up a world and a culture of their own, and preferred to remain in space, salvaging and spoiling, and practicing a barbaric travesty of the scientific method they remembered from their forebears. They called themselves The Scientific People. The world promptly forgot them.

S. S. Nomad looped through space, neither on a course for Jupiter nor the far stars, but drifting across the asteroid belt in the slow spiral of a dying animalcule. It passed within a mile of the Sargasso Asteroid, and it was immediately captured by The Scientific People to be incorporated into their little planet. They found Foyle.

He awoke once while he was being carried in triumph on a litter through the natural and artificial passages within the scavenger asteroid. They were constructed of meteor metal, stone, and hull plates. Some of the plates still bore names long forgotten in the history of space travel: INDUS QUEEN, TERRA; SYRTIS RAMBLER, MARS; THREE RING CIRCUS, SATURN. The passages led to great halls. storerooms, apartments, and homes, all built of salvaged ships cemented into the asteroid.

In rapid succession Foyle was borne through an ancient Ganymede scow, a Lassell ice borer, a captain's barge, a Callisto heavy cruiser, a twenty-second-century fuel transport with glass tanks still filled with smoky rocket fuel. Two centuries of salvage were gathered in this hive: armories of weapons, libraries of books, museums of costumes, warehouses of machinery, tools, rations, drink, chemicals. synthetics, and surrogates.

A crowd around the litter was howling triumphantly. "Quant Suff!" they shouted. A woman's chorus began an excited bleating:

Ammonium bromide gr. 1-1/2
Potassium bromide gr. 3
Sodium bromide gr. 2
Citric acid quant. suff.

"Quant Suff!" The Scientific People roared. "Quant Suff!"

Foyle fainted.

He awoke again. He had been taken out of his spacesuit. He was in the greenhouse of the asteroid where plants were grown for fresh oxygen. The hundred-yard hull of an old ore carrier formed the room, and one wall had been entirely fitted with salvaged windows ... round ports, square ports, diamond, hexagonal ... every shape and age of port had been introduced until the vast wall was a crazy quilt of glass and light.

The distant sun blazed through; the air was hot and moist. Foyle gazed around dimly. A devil face peered at him. Cheeks, chin, nose, and eyelids were hideously tattooed like an ancient Maori mask. Across the brow was tattooed JOSEPH. The "O" in JOSEPH had a tiny arrow thrust up from the right shoulder, turning it into the symbol of Mars, used by scientists to designate male sex.

"We are The Scientific People," Joseph said. "I am Joseph; these are my brethren."

He gestured. Foyle gazed at the grinning crowd surrounding his litter. All faces were tattooed into devil masks; all brows had names blazoned across them.

"How long did you drift?" Joseph asked.

"Vorga," Foyle mumbled.

"You are the first to arrive alive in fifty years. You are a puissant man. Very. Arrival of the fittest is the doctrine of Holy Darwin. Most scientific."

"Quant Suff!" the crowd bellowed.

Joseph seized Foyle's elbow in the manner of a physician taking a pulse. His devil mouth counted solemnly up to ninety-eight.

"Your pulse. Ninety-eight-point-six," Joseph said, producing a thermometer and shaking it reverently. "Most scientific."

"Quant Suff!" came the chorus.

Joseph proffered an Erlenmeyer flask. It was labeled: Lung, Cat, c.s., hematoxylin & eosin. "Vitamin?" Joseph inquired.

When Foyle did not respond, Joseph removed a large pill from the flask, placed it in the bowl of a pipe, and lit it. He puffed once and then gestured. Three girls appeared before Foyle. Their faces were hideously tattooed. Across each brow was a name: JOAN and MOIRA and POLLY. The "O" of each name had a tiny cross at the base.

"Choose," Joseph said. "The Scientific People practice Natural Selection. Be scientific in your choice. Be genetic."

As Foyle fainted again, his arm slid off the litter and glanced against Moira.

"Quant Suff!"


He was in a circular hall with a domed roof. The hall was filled with rusting antique apparatus: a centrifuge, an operating table, a wrecked fluoroscope, autoclaves, cases of corroded surgical instruments.

They strapped Foyle down on the operating table while he raved and rambled. They fed him. They shaved and bathed him. Two men began turning the ancient centrifuge by hand. It emitted a rhythmic clanking like the pounding of a war drum. Those assembled began tramping and chanting.

They turned on the ancient autoclave. It boiled and geysered, filling the hall with howling steam. They turned on the old fluoroscope. It was short-circuited and spat sizzling bolts of lightning across the steaming hall.

A ten foot figure loomed up to the table. It was Joseph on stilts. He wore a surgical cap, a surgical mask, and a surgeon's gown that hung from his shoulders to the floor. The gown was heavily embroidered with red and black thread illustrating anatomical sections of the body. Joseph was a lurid tapestry out of a surgical text.

"I pronounce you Nomad!" Joseph intoned.

The uproar became deafening. Joseph tilted a rusty can over Foyle's body. There was the reek of ether.

Foyle lost his tatters of consciousness and darkness enveloped him. Out of the darkness Vorga-T:1339 surged again and again, accelerating on a sunward course that burst through Foyle's blood and brains until he could not stop screaming silently for vengeance.


He was dimly aware of washings and feedings and trampings and chantings. At last he awoke to a lucid interval. There was silence. He was in a bed. The girl, Moira, was in bed with him.

"Who you?" Foyle croaked.

"Your wife, Nomad."


"Your wife. You chose me, Nomad. We are gametes."


"Scientifically mated," Moira said proudly. She pulled up the sleeve of her nightgown and showed him her arm. It was disfigured by four ugly slashes. "I have been inoculated with something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue."

Foyle struggled out of the bed.

"Where we now?"

"In our home."

"What home?"

"Yours. You are one of us, Nomad. You must marry every month and beget many children. That will be scientific. But I am the first."

Foyle ignored her and explored. He was in the main cabin of a small rocket launch of the early 2300's ... once a private yacht. The main cabin had been converted into a bedroom.

He lurched to the ports and looked out. The launch was sealed into the mass of the asteroid, connected by passages to the main body. He went aft. Two smaller cabins were filled with growing plants for oxygen. The engine room had been converted into a kitchen. There was Hi-Thrust in the fuel tanks, but it fed the burners of a small stove atop the rocket chambers. Foyle went forward. The control cabin was now a parlor, but the controls were still operative.

He thought.

He went aft to the kitchen and dismantled the stove. He re-connected the fuel tanks to the original jet combustion chambers. Moira followed him curiously.

"What are you doing, Nomad?"

"Got to get out of here, girl," Foyle mumbled. "Got business with a ship called Vorga. You dig me, girl? Going to ram out in this boat, is all."

Moira backed away in alarm. Foyle saw the look in her eyes and leaped for her. He was so crippled that she avoided him easily. She opened her mouth and let out a piercing scream. At that moment a mighty clangor filled the launch; it was Joseph and his devil-faced Scientific People outside, banging on the metal hull, going through the ritual of a scientific charivari for the newly weds.

Moira screamed and dodged while Foyle pursued her patiently. He trapped her in a corner, ripped her nightgown off and bound and gagged her with it. Moira made enough noise to split the asteroid open, but the scientific charivari was louder.

Foyle finished his rough patching of the engine room; he was almost an expert by now. He picked up the writhing girl and took her to the main hatch.

"Leaving," he shouted in Moira's ear. "Takeoff. Blast right out of asteroid. Hell of a smash, girl. Maybe all die, you. Everything busted wide open. Guesses for grabs what happens. No more air. "No more asteroid. Go tell'm. Warn'm. Go, girl."

He opened the hatch, shoved Moira out, slammed the hatch and dogged it. The charivari stopped abruptly.

At the controls Foyle pressed ignition. The automatic take-off siren began a howl that had not sounded in decades. The jet chambers ignited with dull concussions. Foyle waited for the temperature to reach firing heat. While he waited he suffered. The launch was cemented into the asteroid. It was surrounded by stone and iron. Its rear jets were flush on the hull of another ship packed into the mass. He didn't know what would happen when his jets began their thrust, but he was driven to gamble by Vorga.

He fired the jets. There was a hollow explosion as Hi-Thrust flamed out of the stern of the ship. The launch shuddered, yawed, heated. A squeal of metal began. Then the launch grated forward. Metal, stone, and glass split asunder and the ship burst out of the asteroid into space.


The Inner Planets navy picked him up ninety thousand miles outside Mars's orbit. After seven months of shooting war, the I.P. patrols were alert but reckless. When the launch failed to answer and give recognition countersigns, it should have been shattered with a blast and questions could have been asked of the wreckage later. But the launch was small and the cruiser crew was hot for prize money. They closed and grappled.

They found Foyle inside, crawling like a headless worm through a junk heap of spaceship and home furnishings. He was bleeding again, ripe with stinking gangrene, and one side of his head was pulpy. They brought him into the sick bay aboard the cruiser and carefully curtained his tank. Foyle was no sight even for the tough stomachs of lower deck navy men.

They patched his carcass in the amniotic tank while they completed their tour of duty. On the jet back to Terra, Foyle recovered consciousness and bubbled words beginning with V. He knew he was saved. He knew that only time stood between him and vengeance. The sick bay orderly heard him exulting in his tank and parted the curtains. Foyle's filmed eyes looked up. The orderly could not restrain his curiosity.

"You hear me, man?" he whispered.

Foyle grunted. The orderly bent lower.

"What happened? Who in hell done that to you?"

"What?" Foyle croaked.

"Don't you know?"

"What? What's a matter, you?"

"Wait a minute, is all."

The orderly disappeared as he jaunted to a supply cabin, and reappeared alongside the tank five seconds later. Foyle struggled out of the fluid. His eyes blazed.

"It's coming back, man. Some of it. Jaunte. I couldn't jaunte the Nomad, me."


"I was off my head."

"Man, you didn't have no head left, you."

"I couldn't jaunte. I forgot how, is all. I forgot everything, me. Still don't remember much. I --"

He recoiled in terror as the orderly thrust the picture of a hideous tattooed face before him. It was a Maori mask. Cheeks, nose, and eyelids were decorated with stripes and swirls, the brow was blazoned NOMAD. Foyle stared, then cried in agony. The picture was a mirror. The face was his own.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:29 am


Bravo, Mr. Harris! Well done! L-E-S, gentlemen. Never forget. Location. Elevation. Situation. That's the only way to remember your jaunte coordinates. Etre entre le marteau et l'enclume. French. English translation will not follow. Don't jaunte yet, Mr. Peters. Wait your turn. Be patient, you'll all be C class by and by. Has anyone seen Mr. Foyle? He's missing. Oh, look at that heavenly brown thrasher. Listen to him. Mozart on the wing. Oh dear, I'm thinking all over the place ... or have I been speaking, gentlemen?"

"Half and half, m'am."

"It does seem unfair. One-way telepathy is a nuisance. I do apologize for shrapneling you with my thoughts."

"We like it, m'am. You think pretty."

"How sweet of you, Mr. Gorgas. All right, class; all back to school and we start again. Has Mr. Foyle jaunted already? I never can keep track of him."

Robin Wednesbury was conducting her re-education class in jaunting on its tour through New York City, and it was as exciting a business for the cerebral cases as it was for the children in her primer class. She treated the adults like children and they rather enjoyed it. For the past month they had been memorizing jaunte stages at street intersections, chanting: "L-E-S, m'am. Location. elevation. Situation."

She was a tall, lovely Negro girl, brilliant and cultivated, but handicapped by the fact that she was a telesend, a one-way telepath. She could broadcast her thoughts to the world, but could receive nothing. This was a disadvantage that barred her from more glamorous careers, yet suited her for teaching. Despite her volatile temperament, Robin Wednesbury was a thorough and methodical jaunte instructor.

The men were brought down from General War Hospital to the jaunte school. which occupied an entire building in the Hudson Bridge at 42nd Street. They started from the school and marched in a sedate crocodile, to the vast Times Square jaunte stage, which they earnestly memorized. Then they all jaunted to the school and back to Times Square. The crocodile reformed and they marched up to Columbus Circle and memorized its coordinates. Then all jaunted back to school via Times Square and returned by the same route to Columbus Circle. Once more the crocodile formed and off they went to Grand Army Plaza to repeat the memorizing and the jaunting.

Robin was re-educating the patients (all head injuries who lad lost the power to jaunte) to the express stops, so to speak, of the public jaunte stages. Later they would memorize the local stops at street intersections. As their horizons expanded (and their powers returned) they would memorize jaunte stages in widening circles, limited as much by income as ability; for one thing was certain: you had to actually see a place to memorize it, which meant you first had to pay for the transportation to get you there. Even 3-D photographs would not do the trick. The Grand Tour had taken on a new significance for the rich.

"Location. Elevation. Situation," Robin Wednesbury lectured, and the class jaunted by express stages from Washington Heights to the Hudson Bridge and back again in primer jumps of a quarter mile each, following their lovely Negro teacher earnestly.

The little technical sergeant with the platinum skull suddenly spoke in the gutter tongue: "But there ain't no elevation, m'am. We're on the ground, us."

"Isn't, Sgt. Logan. 'Isn't any' would be better. I beg your pardon. Teaching becomes a habit and I'm having trouble controlling my thinking today. The war news is so bad. We'll get to Elevation when we start memorizing the stages on top of skyscrapers, Sgt. Logan."

The man with the rebuilt skull digested that, then asked: "We hear you when you think, is a matter you?"


"But you don't hear us?"

"Never. I'm a one-way telepath."

"We all hear you, or just I, is all?"

"That depends, Sgt. Logan. When I'm concentrating, just the one I'm thinking at; when I'm at loose ends, anybody and everybody ... poor souls. Excuse me." Robin turned and called: "Don't hesitate before jaunting, Chief Harris. That starts doubting, and doubting ends jaunting. Just step up and bang off."

"I worry sometimes, m'am," a chief petty officer with a tightly bandaged head answered. He was obviously stalling at the edge of the jaunte stage.

"Worry? About what?"

"Maybe there's gonna be somebody standing where I arrive. Then there'll be a hell of a real bang, m'am. Excuse me."

"Now I've explained that a hundred times. Experts have gauged every jaunte stage in the world to accommodate peak traffic. That's why private jaunte stages are small, and the Times Square stage is two hundred yards wide. It's all been worked out mathematically and there isn't one chance in ten million of a simultaneous arrival. That's less than your chance of being killed in a jet accident."

The bandaged C.P.O. nodded dubiously and stepped up on the raised stage. It was of white concrete, round, and decorated on its face with vivid black and white patterns as an aid to memory. In the center was an illuminated plaque which gave its name and jaunte coordinates of latitude, longitude, and elevation.

At the moment when the bandaged man was gathering courage for his primer jaunte, the stage began to flicker with a sudden flurry of arrivals and departures. Figures appeared momentarily as they jaunted in, hesitated while they checked their surroundings and set new coordinates, and then disappeared as they jaunted off. At each disappearance there was a faint "Pop" as displaced air rushed into the space formerly occupied by a body.

"Wait, class," Robin called. "There's a rush on. Everybody off the stage, please."

Laborers in heavy work clothes, still spattered with snow, were on their way south to their homes after a shift in the north woods. Fifty white clad dairy clerks were headed west toward St. Louis. They followed the morning from the Eastern Time Zone to the Pacific Zone. And from eastern Greenland, where it was already noon, a horde of white-collar office workers was pouring into New York for their lunch hour.

The rush was over in a few moments. "All right, class," Robin called. "We'll continue. Oh dear, where is Mr. Foyle? He always seems to be missing."

"With a face like he's got, him, you can't blame him for hiding it, m'am. Up in the cerebral ward we call him Boogey."

"He does look dreadful. doesn't he, Sgt. Logan. Can't they get those marks off?"

"They're trying, Miss Robin, but they don't know how yet. It's called 'tattooing' and it's sort of forgotten, is all."

"Then how did Mr. Foyle acquire his face?"

"Nobody knows, Miss Robin. He's up in cerebral because he's lost his mind, him. Can't remember nothing. Me personal, if I had a face like that I wouldn't want to remember nothing too."

"It's a pity. He looks frightful. Sgt. Logan, d'you suppose I've let a thought about Mr. Foyle slip and hurt his feelings?"

The little man with the platinum skull considered. "No, m'am. You wouldn't hurt nobody's feelings, you. And Foyle ain't got none to hurt, him. He's just a big, dumb ox, is all."

"I have to be so careful. Sgt. Logan. You see, no one likes to know what another person really thinks about him. We imagine that we do, but we don't. This telesending of mine makes me loathed. And lonesome. I -- Please don't listen to me. I'm having trouble controlling my thinking. Ah! There you are, Mr. Foyle. Where in the world have you been wandering?"

Foyle had jaunted in on the stage and stepped off quietly, his hideous face averted. "Been practicing, me," he mumbled.

Robin repressed the shudder of revulsion in her and went to him sympathetically. She took his arm. "You really should be with us more. We're all friends and having a lovely time. Join in."

Foyle refused to meet her glance. As he pulled his arm away from her sullenly, Robin suddenly realized that his sleeve was soaking wet. His entire hospital uniform was drenched.

"Wet? He's been in the rain somewhere. But I've seen the morning weather reports. No rain east of St. Louis. Then he must have jaunted further than that. But he's not supposed to be able. He's supposed to have lost all memory and ability to jaunte. He's malingering."

Foyle leapt at her. "Shut up, you!" The savagery of his face was terrifying.

"Then you are malingering."

"How much do you know?"

"That you're a fool. Stop making a scene."

"Did they hear you?"

"I don't know. Let go of me." Robin turned away from Foyle. "All right, class. We're finished for the day. All back to school for the hospital bus. You jaunte first, Sgt. Logan. Remember: L-E-S. Location. Elevation. Situation ..."

"What do you want?" Foyle growled. "A pay-off, you?"

"Be quiet. Stop making a scene. Now don't hesitate, Chief Harris. Step up and jaunte off."

"I want to talk to you."

"Certainly not. Wait your turn. Mr. Peters. Don't be in such a hurry."

"You going to report me in the hospital?"


"I want to talk to you."


"They gone now, all. We got time. I'll meet you in your apartment."

"My apartment?" Robin was genuinely frightened.

"In Green Bay, Wisconsin."

"This is absurd. I've got nothing to discuss with this --"

"You got plenty, Miss Robin. You got a family to discuss."

Foyle grinned at the terror she radiated. "Meet you in your apartment," he repeated.

"You can't possibly know where it is," she faltered.

"Just told you, didn't I?"

"Y-You couldn't possibly jaunte that far. You --"

"No?" The mask grinned. "You just told me I was mal -- that word. You told the truth, you. We got half an hour. Meet you there."

Robin Wednesbury's apartment was in a massive building set alone on the shore of Green Bay. The apartment house looked as though a magician had removed it from a city residential area and abandoned it amidst the Wisconsin pines. Buildings like this were a commonplace in the jaunting world. With self-contained heat and light plants, and jaunting to solve the transportation problem, single and multiple dwellings were built in desert, forest, and wilderness.

The apartment itself was a four-room flat, heavily insulated to protect neighbors from Robin's telesending. It was crammed with books, music, paintings, and prints ... all evidence of the cultured and lonely life of this unfortunate wrong-way telepath.

Robin jaunted into the living room of the apartment a few seconds after Foyle, who was waiting for her with ferocious impatience.

"So now you know for sure," he began without preamble. He seized her arm in a painful grip. "But you ain't gonna tell nobody in the hospital about me, Miss Robin. Nobody."

"Let go of me!" Robin lashed him across the face. "Beast! Savage! Don't you dare touch me!"

Foyle released her and stepped back. The impact of her revulsion made him turn away angrily to conceal his face.

"So you've been malingering. You knew how to jaunte. You've been jaunting all the while you've been pretending to learn in the primer class ... taking big jumps around the country; around the world, for all I know."

"Yeah. I got from Times Square to Columbus Circle by way of ... most anywhere, Miss Robin."

"And that's why you're always missing. But why? Why? What are you up to?"

An expression of possessed cunning appeared on the hideous face. "I'm holed up in General Hospital. me. It's my base of operations, see? I'm settling something, Miss Robin. I got a debt to pay off, me. I had to find out where a certain ship is. Now I got to pay her back. Now I rot you, Vorga. I kill you, Vorga. I kill you filthy!"

He stopped shouting and glared at her in wild triumph. Robin backed away in alarm.

"For God's sake, what are you talking about?"

"Vorga. Vorga-T:1339. Ever hear of her, Miss Robin? I found out where she is from Bo'ness & Uig's ship registry. Bo'ness & Uig are out in SanFran. I went there, me, the time when you was learning us the crosstown jaunte stages. Went out to San Fran, me. Found Vorga, me. She's in Vancouver shipyards. She's owned by Presteign of Presteign. Heard of him, Miss Robin? Presteign's the biggest man on Terra, is all. But he won't stop me. I'll kill Vorga filthy. And you won't stop me neither, Miss Robin."

Foyle thrust his face close to hers. "Because I cover myself, Miss Robin. I cover every weak spot down the line. I got something on everybody who could stop me before I kill Vorga ... including you, Miss Robin."


"Yeah. I found out where you live. They know up at the hospital. I come here and looked around. I read your diary, Miss Robin. You got a family on Callisto, mother and two sisters."

"For God's sake!"

"So that makes you alien-belligerent. When the war started you and all the rest was given one month to get out of the Inner Planets and go home. Any which didn't became spies by law." Foyle opened his hand. "I got you right here, girl." He clenched his hand.

"My mother and sisters have been trying to leave Callisto for a year and a half. We belong here. We-"

"Got you right here," Foyle repeated. "You know what they do to spies? They cut information out of them. They cut you apart, Miss Robin. They take you apart, piece by piece-"

Robin screamed. Foyle nodded happily and took her shaking shoulders in his hands. "I got you, is all, girl. You can't even run from me because all I got to do is tip Intelligence and where are you? There ain't nothing nobody can do to stop me; not the hospital or even Mr. Holy Mighty Presteign of Presteign."

"Get out, you filthy, hideous ... thing. Get out!"

"You don't like my face, Miss Robin? There ain't nothing you can do about that either."

Suddenly he picked her up and carried her to a deep couch. He threw her down on the couch.

"Nothing," he repeated.


Devoted to the principle of conspicuous waste, on which all society is based, Presteign of Presteign had fitted his Victorian mansion in Central Park with elevators, house phones, dumb-waiters and all the other labor-saving devices which jaunting had made obsolete. The servants in that giant gingerbread castle walked dutifully from room to room, opening and closing doors, and climbing stairs.

Presteign of Presteign arose, dressed with the aid of his valet and barber, descended to the morning room with the aid of an elevator, and breakfasted, assisted by a butler, footman, and waitresses. He left the morning room and entered his study. In an age when communication systems were virtually extinct -- when it was far easier to jaunte directly to a man's office for a discussion than to telephone or telegraph -- Presteign still maintained an antique telephone switchboard with an operator in his study.

"Get me Dagenham" he said.

The operator struggled and at last put a call through to Dagenham Couriers, Inc. This was a hundred million credit organization of bonded jaunters guaranteed to perform any public or confidential service for any principal. Their fee was Cr 1 per mile. Dagenham guaranteed to get a courier around the world in eighty minutes.

Eighty seconds after Presteign's call was put through, a Dagenham courier appeared on the private jaunte stage outside Presteign's home, was identified and admitted through the jaunte-proof labyrinth behind the entrance. Like every member of the Dagenham staff, he was an M class jaunter, capable of teleporting a thousand miles a jump indefinitely, and familiar with thousands of jaunte coordinates. He was a senior specialist in chicanery and cajolery, trained to the incisive efficiency and boldness that characterized Dagenham Couriers and reflected the ruthlessness of its founder.

"Presteign?" he said, wasting no time on protocol.

"I want to hire Dagenham."

"Ready, Presteign."

"Not you. I want Saul Dagenham himself."

"Mr. Dagenham no longer gives personal service for less than Cr 100,000."

"The amount will be five times that."

"Fee or percentage?"

"Both. Quarter of a million fee, and a quarter of a million guaranteed against 10 percent of the total amount at risk."

"Agreed. The matter?"


"Spell it, please."

"The name means nothing to you?"


"Good. It will to Dagenham. PyrE. Capital P-y-r Capital E. Pronounced 'pyre' as in funeral pyre. Tell Dagenham we've located PyrE. He's engaged to get it ... at all costs ... through a man named Foyle. Gulliver Foyle."

The courier produced a tiny silver pearl, a memo-bead, repeated Presteign's instructions into it, and left without another word. Presteign turned to his telephone operator. "Get me Regis Sheffield," he directed.

Ten minutes after the call went through to Regis Sheffield's jaunte stage, was vetted and admitted through the maze. He was a bright young man with a scrubbed face and the expression of a delighted rabbit.

"Excuse the delay, Presteign," he said. "We got your call in Chicago and I'm still only a D class five hundred miler. Took me a while getting here."

"Is your chief trying a case in Chicago?"

"Chicago, New York, and Washington. He's been on the jaunte from court to court all morning. We fill in for him when he's in another court. "

"I want to retain him."

"Honored, Presteign, but Mr. Sheffield's pretty busy."

"Not too busy for PyrE."

"Sorry, sir; I don't quite-"

"No, you don't, but Sheffield will. Just tell him: PyrE as in funeral pyre, and the amount of his fee."

"Which is?"

"Quarter of a million retainer and a quarter of a million guaranteed against 10 per cent of the total amount at risk."

"And what performance is required of Mr. Sheffield?"

"To prepare every known legal device for kidnapping a man and holding him against the army, the navy, and the police."

"Quite. And the man?"

"Gulliver Foyle."

The law clerk muttered quick notes into a memo-bead, thrust the bead into his ear, listened, nodded and departed. Presteign left the study and ascended the plush stairs to his daughter's suite to pay his morning respects.

In the homes of the wealthy, the rooms of the female members were blind, without windows or doors, open only to the jaunting of intimate members of the family. Thus was morality maintained and chastity defended. But since Olivia Presteign was herself blind to normal sight, she could not jaunte. Consequently her suite was entered through doors closely guarded by ancient retainers in the Presteign clan livery.

Olivia Presteign was a glorious albino. Her hair was white silk, her skin was white satin, her nails, her lips, and her eyes were coral. She was beautiful and blind in a wonderful way, for she could see in the infrared only, from 7,500 angstroms to one millimeter wavelengths. She saw heat waves, magnetic fields, radio waves, radar, sonar, and electromagnetic fields.

She was holding her Grand Levee in the drawing room of the suite. She sat in a brocaded wing chair, sipping tea, guarded by her duenna, holding court, chatting with a dozen men and women standing about the room. She looked like an exquisite statue of marble and coral, her blind eyes flashing as she saw and yet did not see.

She saw the drawing room as a pulsating flow of heat emanations ranging from hot highlights to cool shadows. She saw the dazzling magnetic patterns of clocks, phones, lights, and locks. She saw and recognized people by the characteristic heat patterns radiated by their faces and bodies. She saw, around each head, an aura of the faint electromagnetic brain pattern and, sparkling through the heat radiation of each body, the everchanging tone of muscle and nerve.

Presteign did not care for the artists, musicians, and fops Olivia kept about her, but he was pleased to see a scattering of society notables this morning. There was a Sears-Roebuck, a Gillette, young Sidney Kodak who would one day be Kodak of Kodak, a Houbigant, Buick of Buick, and R. H. Macy XVI, head of the powerful Saks-Gimbel clan.

Presteign paid his respects to his daughter and left the house. He set off for his clan headquarters at 99 Wall Street in a coach and four driven by a coachman assisted by a groom, both wearing the Presteign trademark of red, black, and blue. That black "P" on a field of scarlet and cobalt was one of the most ancient and distinguished trademarks in the social register, rivaling the "57" of the Heinz clan and the "RR" of the Rolls-Royce dynasty in antiquity.

The head of the Presteign clan was a familiar sight to New York jaunters. Iron gray, handsome, powerful, impeccably dressed and mannered in the old-fashioned style, Presteign of Presteign was the epitome of the socially elect, for he was so exalted in station that he employed coachmen, grooms, hostlers, stableboys, and horses to perform a function for him which ordinary mortals performed by jaunting.

As men climbed the social ladder, they displayed their position by their refusal to jaunte. The newly adopted into a great commercial clan rode an expensive bicycle. A rising clansman drove a small sports car. The captain of a sept was transported in a chauffeur-driven antique from the old days, a vintage Bentley or Cadillac or a towering Lagonda. An heir presumptive in direct line of succession to the clan chieftainship staffed a yacht or a plane. Presteign of Presteign, head of the clan Presteign, owned carriages, cars, yachts, planes, and trains. His position in society was so lofty that he had not jaunted in forty years. Secretly he scorned the bustling new-rich like the Dagenhams and Sheffields who still jaunted and were unashamed.

Presteign entered the crenelated keep at 99 Wall Street that was Castle Presteign. It was staffed and guarded by his famous Jaunte-Watch, all in clan livery. Presteign walked with the stately gait of a chieftain as they piped him to his office. Indeed he was grander than a chieftain, as an importunate government official awaiting audience discovered to his dismay. That unfortunate man leaped forward from the waiting crowd of petitioners as Presteign passed.

"Mr. Presteign," he began. "I'm from the Internal Revenue Department, I must see you this morn-" Presteign cut him short with an icy stare.

"There are thousands of Presteigns," he pronounced. "All are addressed as Mister. But I am Presteign of Presteign, head of house and sept, first of the family, chieftain of the clan. I am addressed as Presteign. Not 'Mister' Presteign. Presteign."

He turned and entered his office where his staff greeted him with a muted chorus: "Good morning, Presteign."

Presteign nodded, smiled his basilisk smile and seated himself behind the enthroned desk while the Jaunte-Watch skirled their pipes and ruffled their drums. Presteign signaled for the audience to begin. The Household Equerry stepped forward with a scroll. Presteign disdained memo-beads and all mechanical business devices.

"Report on Clan Presteign enterprises," the Equerry began. "Common Stock: High-201/-1/2, Low-201-1/4. Average quotations New York, Paris, Ceylon, Tokyo --"

Presteign waved his hand irritably. The Equerry retired to be replaced by Black Rod.

"Another Mr. Presto to be invested, Presteign."

Presteign restrained his impatience and went through the tedious ceremony of swearing in the 497th Mr. Presto in the hierarchy of Presteign Prestos who managed the shops in the Presteign retail division. Until recently the man had had a face and body of his own. Now, after years of cautious testing and careful indoctrination, he had been elected to join the Prestos.

After six months of surgery and psycho-conditioning, he was identical with the other 496 Mr. Prestos and to the idealized portrait of Mr. Presto which hung behind Presteign's dais ... a kindly, honest man resembling Abraham Lincoln, a man who instantly inspired affection and trust. Around the world purchasers entered an identical Presteign store and were greeted by an identical manager, Mr. Presto. He was rivaled, but not surpassed, by the Kodak clan's Mr. Kwik and Montgomery Ward's Uncle Monty.

When the ceremony was completed, Presteign arose abruptly to indicate that the public investiture was ended. The office was cleared of all but the high officials. Presteign paced, obviously repressing his seething impatience. He never swore, but his restraint was more terrifying than profanity.

"Foyle," he said in a suffocated voice. "A common sailor. Dirt. Dregs. Gutter scum. But that man stands between me and-"

"If you please, Presteign," Black Rod interrupted timidly. "It's eleven o'clock Eastern time; eight o'clock Pacific time."


"If you please, Presteign, may I remind you that there is a launching ceremony at nine, Pacific time? You are to preside at the Vancouver shipyards."


"Our new freighter, the Presteign Princess. It will take some time to establish three dimensional broadcast contact with the shipyard so we had better-"

"I will attend in person."

"In person!" Black Rod faltered. "But we cannot possibly fly Vancouver in an hour, Presteign. We --"

"I will jaunte," Presteign of Presteign snapped. Such was his agitation.

His appalled staff made hasty preparations. Messengers jaunted ahead to warn the Presteign offices across the country, and the private jaunte stages were cleared. Presteign was ushered to the stage within his New York office. It was a circular platform in a black-hung room without windows -- a masking and concealment necessary to prevent unauthorized persons from discovering and memorizing cordinates. For the same reason, all homes and offices had one-way windows and confusion labyrinths behind their doors.

To jaunte it was necessary (among other things) for a man to know exactly where he was and where he was going, or there was little hope of arriving anywhere alive. It was as impossible to jaunte from an undetermined starting point as it was to arrive at an unknown destination. Like shooting a pistol, one had to know where to aim and which end of the gun to hold. But a glance through a window or door might be enough to enable a man to memorize the L-E-S coordinates of a place.

Presteign stepped on the stage, visualized the coordinates of his destination in the Philadelphia office, seeing the picture clearly and the position accurately. He relaxed and energized one concentrated thrust of will and belief toward the target. He jaunted. There was a dizzy moment in which his eyes blurred. The New York stage faded out of focus; the Philadelphia stage blurred into focus. There was a sensation of falling down, and then up. He arrived. Black Rod and others of his staff arrived a respectful moment later.

So, in jauntes of one and two hundred miles each, Presteign crossed the continent, and arrived outside the Vancouver shipping yards at exactly nine o'clock in the morning, Pacific time. He had left New York at 11 A.M. He had gained two hours of daylight. This, too, was a commonplace in a jaunting world.

The square mile of unfenced concrete (what fence could bar a jaunter?) looked like a white table covered with black pennies neatly arranged in concentric circles. But on closer approach, the pennies enlarged into the hundred-foot mouths of black pits dug deep into the bowels of the earth. Each circular mouth was rimmed with concrete buildings, offices, check rooms, canteens, changing rooms.

These were the take-off and landing pits, the drydock and construction pits of the shipyards. Spaceships, like sailing vessels, were never designed to support their own weight unaided against the drag of gravity. Normal terran gravity would crack the spine of a spaceship like an eggshell. The ships were built in deep pits, standing vertically in a network of catwalks and construction grids, braced and supported by anti-gravity screens. They took off from similar pits, riding the anti-grav beams upward like motes mounting the vertical shaft of a searchlight until at last they reached the Roche Limit and could thrust with their own jets. Landing spacecraft cut drive jets and rode the same beams downward into the pits.

As the Presteign entourage entered the Vancouver yards they could see which of the pits were in use. From some the noses and hulls of spaceships extruded, raised a quarterway or halfway above ground by the anti-grav screens as workmen in the pits below brought their aft sections to particular operational levels. Three Presteign V-class transports, Vega, Vestal, and Vorga, stood partially raised near the center of the yards, undergoing flaking and replating, as the heat-lightning flicker of torches around Vorga indicated.

At the concrete building marked: ENTRY, the Presteign entourage stopped before a sign that read:


Visitor badges were distributed to the party, and even Presteign of Presteign received a badge. He dutifully pinned it on for he well knew what the result of entry without such a protective badge would be. The entourage continued, winding its way through pits until it arrived at 0-3, where the pit mouth was decorated with bunting in the Presteign colors and a small grandstand had been erected.

Presteign was welcomed and, in turn, greeted his various officials. The Presteign band struck up the clan song, bright and brassy, but one of the instruments appeared to have gone insane. It struck a brazen note that blared louder and louder until it engulfed the entire band and the surprised exclamations. Only then did Presteign realize that it was not an instrument sounding, but the shipyard alarm.

An intruder was in the yard, someone not wearing an identification or visitor's badge. The radar field of the protection system was tripped and the alarm sounded. Through the raucous bellow of the alarm, Presteign could hear a multitude of "pops" as the yard guards jaunted from the grandstand and took positions around the square mile of concrete field. His own Jaunte-Watch closed in around him, looking wary and alert.

A voice began blaring on the P.A., coordinating defense. "UNKNOWN IN YARD. UNKNOWN IN YARD AT E FOR EDWARD NINE. E FOR EDWARD NINE MOVING WEST ON FOOT."

"Someone must have broken in," Black Rod shouted.

"I'm aware of that," Presteign answered calmly.

"He must be a stranger if he's not jaunting in here."

"I'm aware of that also."


"What in God's name is he up to?" Black Rod exclaimed.

"You are aware of my rule, sir," Presteign said coldly. "No associate of the Presteign clan may take the name of the Divinity in vain. You forget yourself."


Black Rod touched Presteign's arm. "He's coming this way, Presteign. Will you take cover, please?"

"I will not."

"Presteign, there have been assassination attempts before. Three of them. If-"

"How do I get to the top of this stand?"


"Help me up."

Aided by Black Rod, still protesting hysterically, Presteign climbed to the top of the grandstand to watch the power of the Presteign clan in action against danger. Below he could see workmen white jumpers swarming out of the pits to watch the excitement. Guards were appearing as they jaunted from distant sectors toward the focal point of the action.


Presteign watched the B-3 pit. A figure appeared, dashing swiftly toward the pit, veering, dodging, hulling forward. It was a giant man in hospital blues with a wild thatch of black hair and a distorted face that appeared, in the distance, to be painted in livid colors. His clothes were flickering like heat lightning as the protective induction field of the defense system seared him.


There were shouts and a distant rattle of shots, the pneumatic whine of scope guns. Half a dozen workmen in white leaped for the intruder. He scattered them like ninepins and drove on and on toward B-3 where the nose of Vorga showed. He was a lightning bolt driving through workmen and guards, pivoting, bludgeoning, boring forward implacably.

Suddenly he stopped, reached inside his flaming jacket and withdrew a black cannister. With the convulsive gesture of an animal writhing in death throes, he bit the end of the cannister and hurled it, straight and true on a high arc toward Vorga. The next instant he was struck down.


"Presteign!" Black Rod squawked.

Presteign shook him off and watched the cannister curve up and then down toward the nose of Vorga, spinning and glinting in gray beam and flicked upwards as by a giant invisible thumbnail. Up and up and up it whirled, one hundred, five hundred, a thousand feet. Then there was a blinding flash, and an instant later a titanic clap of thunder that smote ears and jarred teeth and bone.

Presteign picked himself up and descended the grandstand to the launching podium. He placed his finger on the launching button of the Presteign Princess.

"Bring me that man, if he's still alive," he said to Black Rod He pressed the button. "I christen thee ... the Presteign Power," he called in triumph.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:30 am


The star chamber in Castle Presteign was an oval room with ivory panels picked out with gold, high mirrors, and stained glass windows. It contained a gold organ with robot organist by Tiffany, a gold-tooled library with android librarian on library ladder, a Louis Quinze desk with android secretary before a manual memo-bead recorder, an American bar with robot bartender. Presteign would have preferred human servants, but androids and robots kept secrets.

"Be seated, Captain Yeovil." he said courteously. "This is Mr. Regis Sheffield, representing me in this matter. That young man is Mr. Sheffield's assistant."

"Bunny's my portable law library," Sheffield grunted.

Presteign touched a control. The still life in the star chamber came alive. The organist played, the librarian sorted books, the secretary typed, the bartender shook drinks. It was spectacular; and the impact, carefully calculated by industrial psychometrists, established control for Presteign and put visitors at a disadvantage.

"You spoke of a man named Foyle, Captain Yeovil?" Presteign prompted.

Captain Peter Yang-Yeovil of Central Intelligence was a lineal descendant of the learned Mencius and belonged to the Intelligence Tong of the Inner Planets Armed Forces. For two hundred years the IPAF had entrusted its intelligence work to the Chinese who, with a five thousand-year history of cultivated subtlety behind them, had achieved wonders. Captain Y'ang-Yeovil was a member of the dreaded Society of Paper Men, an adept of the Tientsin Image Makers, a Master of superstition, and fluent in the Secret Speech. He did not look Chinese.

Y'ang-Yeovil hesitated, fully aware of the psychological pressures operating against him. He examined Presteign's ascetic, basilisk face; Sheffield's blunt, aggressive expression; and the eager young man named Bunny whose rabbit features had an unmistakable Oriental cast. It was necessary for Yeovil to re-establish control or effect a compromise.

He opened with a flanking movement. "Are we related anywhere within fifteen degrees of consanguinity?" he asked Bunny in the Mandarin dialect. "I am of the house of the learned MengTse whom the barbarians call Mencius."

"Then we are hereditary enemies." Bunny answered in faltering Mandarin. "For the formidable ancestor of my line was deposed as governor of Shan-tung in 342 B.C. by the earth pig Meng-Tse."

"With all courtesy I shave your ill-formed eyebrows." Y'ang-Yeovil said.

"Most respectfully I singe your snaggle teeth." Bunny laughed.

"Come, sirs," Presteign protested.

"We are reaffirming a three-thousand-year blood feud," Y'ang-Yeovil explained to Presteign, who looked sufficiently unsettled by the conversation and the laughter which he did not understand. He tried a direct thrust. "When will you be finished with Foyle?" he asked.

"What Foyle?" Sheffield cut in.

"What Foyle have you got?"

"There are thirteen of that name associated with the clan Presteign."

"An interesting number. Did you know I was a Master of Superstition? Some day I must show you the Mirror-And-Listen Mystery. I refer to the Foyle involved in a reported attempt on Mr. Presteign's life this morning."

"Presteign," Presteign corrected. "I am not 'Mister." I am Presteign of Presteign."

"Three attempts have been made on Presteign's life," Sheffield said. "you'll have to be more specific."

"Three this morning? Presteign must have been busy." Yang-Yeovil sighed. Sheffield was proving himself a resolute opponent. The Intelligence man tried another diversion. "I do wish our Mr. Presto had been more specific."

"Your Mr. Presto!" Presteign exclaimed.

"Oh yes. Didn't you know one of your five hundred Prestos was an agent of ours? That's odd. We took it for granted you'd find out and went ahead with a confusion operation."

Presteign looked appalled. Y'ang-Yeovil crossed his legs and continued to chat breezily. "That's the basic weakness in routine intelligence procedure; you start finessing before finesse is required."

"He's bluffing." Presteign burst out. "None of our Prestos could possibly have any knowledge of Gulliver Foyle."

"Thank you." Y'ang-Yeovil smiled. "That's the Foyle I want. When can you let us have him?"

Sheffield scowled at Presteign and then turned on Y'ang-Yeovil. "Who's 'us'?" he demanded.

"Central Intelligence."

''Why do you want him?"

"Do you make love to a woman before or after you take your clothes off?"

"That's a damned impertinent question to ask."

"And so was yours. When can you let us have Foyle?'

"When you show cause."

"To whom?"

"To me." Sheffield hammered a heavy forefinger against his palm. "This is a civilian matter concerning civilians. Unless war material, war personnel, or the strategy and tactics of a war-in-being are involved, civilian jurisdiction shall always prevail."

"303 Terran Appeals 191," murmured Bunny.

"The Nomad was carrying war material.'"

"The Nomad was transporting platinum bullion to Mars Bank," Presteign snapped. "If money is a-"

"I am leading this discussion." Sheffield Interrupted. He swung around on Y'ang-Yeovil. "Name the war material."

This blunt challenge knocked Y'ang-Yeovil off balance. He knew that the crux of the Nomad situation was the presence on board the ship of 20 pounds of PyrE, the total world supply, which was probably irreplaceable now that its discoverer had disappeared. He knew that Sheffield knew that they both knew this. He had assumed that Sheffield would prefer to keep PyrE unnamed. And yet, here was the challenge to name the unnamable.

He attempted to meet bluntness with bluntness. "All right, gentlemen, I'll name it now. The Nomad was transporting twenty pounds of a substance called PyrE."

Presteign started; Sheffield silenced him. "What's pyrE?"

"According to our reports-"

"From Presteign's Mr. Presto?"

"Oh, that was bluff." Y'ang-Yeovil laughed, and momentarily regained control. "According to Intelligence, PyrE was developed for Presteign by a man who subsequently disappeared. PyrE is a Misch Metal, a pyrophore. That's all we know for a fact. But we've had vague reports about it. Unbelievable reports from reputable agents. If a fraction of our inferences are correct, PyrE could make the difference between a victory and a defeat."

"Nonsense. No war material has ever made that much difference."

"No? I cite the fission bomb of 1945. I cite the Null-G antigravity installations of 2022. Talley's All-Field Radar Trip Screen of 2194. Material can often make the difference, especially when there's the chance of the enemy getting it first."

"There's no such chance now."

"Thank you for admitting the importance of PyrE."

"I admit nothing; I deny everything."

"Central Intelligence is prepared to offer an exchange. A man for a man. The inventor of PyrE for Gully Foyle."

"You've got him?" Sheffield demanded. "Then why badger us for Foyle?"

"Because we've got a corpse'" Y'ang-Yeovil flared. "The Outer Satellites command had him on Lassell for six months trying to carve information out of him. We pulled him out with a raid at a cost of 79 percent casualties. We rescued a corpse. We still don't know if the Outer Satellites were having a cynical laugh at our expense letting us recapture a body. We still don't know how much they ripped out of him."

Presteign sat bolt upright at this. His merciless fingers tapped slowly and sharply.

"Damn it," Y'ang-Yeovil stormed. "Can't you recognize a crisis, Sheffield? We're on a tightrope. What the devil are you doing backing Presteign in this shabby deal? You're the leader of the liberal party ... Terra's archpatriot. You're Presteign's political archenemy. Sell him out, you fool, before he sells us all out."

"Captain Yeovil," Presteign broke in with icy venom. "These expressions cannot be countenanced."

"We want and need PyrE." Y'ang-Yeovil continued. "We'll have to investigate that twenty pounds of PyrE, rediscover the synthesis, learn to apply it to the war effort ... and all this before the O.S. beats us to the punch, if they haven't already. But Presteign refuses to cooperate. Why? Because he's opposed to the party in power. He wants no military victories for the Liberals. He'd rather we lost the war for the sake of polities because rich men like Presteign never lose. Come to your senses, Sheffield. You've been retained by a traitor. What in God's name are you trying to do?"

Before Sheffield could answer, there was a discreet tap on the door of the Star Chamber and Saul Dagenham was ushered in. Time was when Dagenham was one of the Inner Planets' research wizards, a physicist with inspired intuition, total recall and a sixth-order computer for a brain. But there was an accident at Tycho Sands, and the fission blast that should have killed him did not. Instead it turned him dangerously radioactive; it turned him 'hot"; it transformed him into a twenty-fifth century "Typhoid Mary."

He was paid Cr 25,000 a year by the Inner Planets government to take precautions which they trusted him to carry out. He avoided physical contact with any person for more than five minutes per day. He could not occupy any room other than his own for more than thirty minutes a day. Commanded and paid by the IP to isolate himself, Dagenham had abandoned research and built the colossus of Dagenham couriers, Inc.

When Y'ang-Yeovil saw the short blond cadaver with leaden skin and death's-head smile enter the Star Chamber, he knew he was assured of defeat in this encounter. He was no match for the three men together. He arose at once.

'I'm getting an Admiralty order for Foyle," he said. "As far as Intelligence is concerned, all negotiations are ended. From now on it's war."

"Captain Yeovil is leaving." Presteign called to the Jaunte-Watch officer who had guided Dagenham in. "Please see him out through the maze."

Y'ang-Yeovil waited until the officer stepped alongside him and bowed. Then, as the man courteously motioned to the door, Y'ang-Yeovil looked directly at Presteign, smiled ironically, and disappeared with a faint pop!

"Presteign!" Bunny exclaimed. "He jaunted. This room isn't blind to him. He-"

"Evidently," Presteign said icily. "Inform the Master of the Household," he instructed the amazed Watch officer. "The coordinates of the Star chamber are no longer secret. They must be changed within twenty-four hours. And now, Mr. Dagenham ..."

"One minute." Dagenham said. "There's that Admiralty order."

Without apology or explanation he disappeared too. Presteign raised his eyebrows. "Another party to the Star Chamber secret," he murmured. "But at least he had the tact to conceal his knowledge until the secret was out."

Dagenham reappeared. "No point wasting time going through the motions of the maze," he said. "I've given orders in Washington. They'll hold Yeovil up; two hours guaranteed, three hours probably, four hours possible."

"How will they hold him up?" Bunny asked.

Dagenham gave him his deadly smile. "Standard FFCC Operation of Dagenham couriers. Fun, fantasy, confusion, catastrophe.... We'll need all four hours. Damn! I've disrupted your dolls, Presteign." The robots were suddenly capering in lunatic fashion as Dagenham's hard radiation penetrated their electronic systems. "No matter, I'll be on my way."

"Foyle?" Presteign asked.

"Nothing yet." Dagenham grinned his death's-head smile. "He's really unique. I've tried all the standard drugs and routines on him ... Nothing. Outside, he's just an ordinary spaceman ... if you forget the tattoo on his face ... but inside he's got steel guts. Something's got hold of him and he won't give."

"What's got hold of him?" Sheffield asked.

"I hope to find out."


"Don't ask; you'd be an accessory. Have you got a ship ready, Presteign?"

Presteign nodded.

"I'm not guaranteeing there'll be any Nomad for us to find, but we'll have to get a jump on the navy if there is. Law ready, Sheffield?"

"Ready. I'm hoping we won't have to use it."

"I'm hoping too; but again, I'm not guaranteeing. All right. Stand by for instructions. I'm on my way to crack Foyle."

"Where have you got him?"

Dagenham shook his head. "This room isn't secure." He disappeared.

He jaunted Cincinnati-New Orleans-Monterey to Mexico City, where he appeared in the psychiatry Wing of the giant hospital of the Combined Terran Universities. Wing was hardly an adequate name for this section which occupied an entire city in the metropolis which was the hospital. Dagenham jaunted up to the 43rd floor of the Therapy Division and looked into the isolated tank where Foyle floated, unconscious. He glanced at the distinguished bearded gentlemen in attendance.

"Hello, Fritz."

"Hello, Saul."

"Hell of a thing, the Head of psychiatry minding a patient for me."

"I think we owe you favors, Saul."

"You still brooding about Tycho sands, Fritz? I'm not. Am I lousing your wing with radiation?"

"I've had everything shielded."

"Ready for the dirty work?"

"I wish I knew what you were after."


"And you have to to turn my therapy department into an inquisition to get it?"

"That was the idea."

"Why not use ordinary drugs?"

"Tried them already. No good. He's not an ordinary man."

"You know this is illegal."

"I know. Changed your mind? Want to back out? I can duplicate your equipment for a quarter of a million."

"No, Saul. We'll always owe you favors."

"Then let's go. Nightmare Theater first."

They trundled the tank down a corridor and into a hundred feet square padded room. It was one of therapy's by-passed experiments. Nightmare Theater had been an early attempt to shock schizophrenics back into the objective world by rendering the phantasy world into which they were withdrawing uninhabitable. But the shattering and laceration of patients' emotions had proved to be too cruel and dubious a treatment.

For Dagenham's sake, the head of Psychiatry had dusted off the 3D visual projectors and reconnected all sensory projectors. They decanted Foyle from his tank, gave him a reviving shot and left him in the middle of the floor. They removed the tank, turned off the lights and entered the concealed control booth. There, they turned on the projectors.

Every child in the world imagines that its phantasy world is unique to itself. Psychiatry knows that the joys and terrors of private phantasies are a common heritage shared by all mankind. Fears, guilts, terrors, and shames could be interchanged, from one man to the next, and none would notice the difference. The therapy department at Combined Hospital had recorded thousands of emotional tapes and boiled them down to one all-inclusive all-terrifying performance in Nightmare Theater.

Foyle awoke, panting and sweating, and never knew that he had awakened. He was in the clutch of the serpent-haired bloody-eyed Eumenides. He was pursued, entrapped, precipitated from heights, burned, flayed, bowstringed, vermin-covered, devoured. He screamed. He ran. The radar Hobble-Field in the Theater dogged his steps and turned them into the ghastly slow motion of dream- running. And through the cacophony of grinding, shrieking, moaning, pursuing that assailed his ears, muttered the thread of a persistent voice.

'Where is Nomad where is Nomad where is Nomad where is Nomad where is Nomad?"

'Vorga." Foyle croaked. 'Vorga.'

He had been inoculated by his own fixation. His own nightmare had rendered him immune.

'Where is Nomad? where have you left Nomad? what happened to Nomad? where is Nomad?'

'Vorga." Foyle shouted. 'Vorga. Vorga. Vorga."

In the control booth, Dagenham swore. The head of psychiatry, monitoring the projectors, glanced at the clock. "One minute and forty- five seconds, Saul. He can't stand much more."

"He's got to break. Give him the final effect."

They buried Foyle alive, slowly, inexorably, hideously. He was carried down into black depths and enclosed in stinking slime that cut off light and air. He slowly suffocated while a distant voice boomed." 'WHERE IS NOMAD? WHERE HAVE YOU LEFT NOMAD? YOU CAN ESCAPE IF YOU FIND NOMAD· WHERE IS NOMAD?"

But Foyle was back aboard Nomad in his lightless, airless coffin, floating comfortably between deck and roof. He curled into a tight fetal ball and prepared to sleep. He was content. He would escape. He would find Vorga.

"Impervious bastard!" Dageham swore. "Has anyone ever resisted Nightmare Theater before, Fritz?"

"Not many. You're right. That's an uncommon man, Saul."

"He's got to be ripped open. All right, to hell with any more of this. We'll try the Megal Mood next. Are the actors ready?"

"All ready."

"Then let's go."

"There are six directions in which delusions of grandeur can run. The Megal (short for Megalomania) Mood was therapy's dramatic diagnosis technique for establishing and plotting the particular course of megalomania.

Foyle awoke in a luxurious four-poster bed. He was in a bedroom hung with brocade, papered in velvet. He glanced around curiously. Soft sunlight filtered through latticed windows. Across the room a valet was quietly laying out clothes.

"Hey ..." Foyle grunted.

"The valet turned. "Good morning, Mr. Fourmyle," he murmured.


"It's a lovely morning, sir. I've laid out the brown twill and the cordovan pumps, sir."

"What's a matter, you?

"I've-" The valet gazed at Foyle curiously. "Is anything wrong, Mr. Fourmyle?"

"What you call me, man?"

"By your name, sir."

"My name is ... Fourmyle?" Foyle struggled up in the bed. "No, it's not. It's Foyle. Gully Foyle, that's my name, me."

The valet bit his lip. "One moment, sir ..." He stepped outside and called. Then he murmured. A lovely girl in white came running into the bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed. She took Foyle's hands and gazed into his eyes. Her face was distressed.

"Darling, darling, darling," she whispered. "You aren't going to start all that again, are you? The doctor swore you were over it."

"Start what again?"

"All that Gulliver Foyle nonsense about your being a common sailor and-"

"I am Gully Foyle. That's my name, Gully Foyle."

"Sweetheart, you're not. That's just a delusion you've had for weeks. You've been overworking and drinking too much."

"Been Gully Foyle all my life, me."

"Yes, I know darling. That's the way it's seemed to you. But you're not. You're Geoffrey Fourmyle. The Geoffrey Fourmyle. You're- Oh, what's the sense telling you? Get dressed, my love. You've got to come downstairs. Your office has been frantic."

Foyle permitted the valet to dress him and went downstairs in a daze. The lovely girl, who evidently adored him, conducted him through a giant studio littered with drawing tables, easels, and half-finished canvases. She took him into a vast hall filled with desks, filing cabinets, stock tickers, clerks, secretaries, office personnel. They entered a lofty laboratory cluttered with glass and chrome. Burners flickered and hissed; bright colored liquids bubbled and churned; there was a pleasant odor of interesting chemicals and odd experiments.

"What's all this?" Foyle asked.

The girl seated Foyle in a plush armchair alongside a giant desk littered with interesting papers scribbled with fascinating symbols. On some Foyle saw the name: Geoffrey Fourmyle, scrawled in an imposing, authoritative signature.

"There's some crazy kind of mistake, is all," Foyle began.

The girl silenced him. "Here's Doctor Regan. He'll explain."

An impressive gentleman with a crisp, comforting manner, came to Foyle, touched his pulse, inspected his eyes, and nodded in satisfaction.

"Good," he said. "Excellent. You are close to complete recovery, Mr. Fourmyle. Now you will listen to me for a moment, eh?"

Foyle nodded.

"You remember nothing of the past. You have only a false memory. You were overworked. You are an important man and there were too many demands on you. You started to drink heavily a month ago -- No, no, denial is useless. You drank. You lost yourself."

"I --"

"You became convinced you were not the famous Jeff Fourmyle. An infantile attempt to escape responsibility. You imagined you were a common spaceman named Foyle. Gulliver Foyle, yes? With an odd number ... "

"Gully Foyle. AS:128/127:006. But that's me. That's-"

"It is not you. This is you." Dr. Regan waved at the interesting offices they could see through the transparent glass wall.

"You can only recapture the true memory if you discharge the old. All this glorious reality is yours, if we can help you discard the dream of the spaceman." Dr. Regan leaned forward, his polished spectacles glittering hypnotically. "Reconstruct this false memory of yours in detail, and I will tear it down. Where do you imagine you left the spaceship Nomad? How did you escape? Where do you imagine the Nomad is now?"

Foyle wavered before the romantic glamour of the scene which seemed to be just within his grasp.

"It seems to me I left Nomad out in-" He stopped short.

A devil-face peered at him from the highlights reflected in Dr. Regan's spectacles ... a hideous tiger mask with NOMAD blazoned across the distorted brow. Foyle stood up.

"Liars!" he growled. "It's real, me. This here is phoney. What happened to me is real. I'm real, me."

Saul Dagenham walked into the laboratory. "All right," he called. "Strike. It's a washout."

The bustling scene in laboratory, office, and studio ended. The actors quietly disappeared without another glance at Foyle. Dagenham gave Foyle his deadly smile. "Tough, aren't you? You're really unique. My name is Saul Dagenham. We've got five minutes for a talk. Come into the garden."

The Sedative Garden atop the Therapy Building was a triumph of therapeutic planning. Every perspective, every color, every contour had been designed to placate hostility, soothe resistance, melt anger, evaporate hysteria, absorb melancholia and depression.

"Sit down," Dagenham said, pointing to a bench alongside a pool in which crystal waters tinkled. "Don't try to jaunte -- you're drugged. I'll have to walk around a bit. Can't come too close to you. I'm 'hot.' D'you know what that means?"

Foyle shook his head sullenly. Dagenham cupped both hands around the flaming blossom of an orchid and held them there for a moment. "Watch that flower," he said. "you'll see."

He paced up a path and turned suddenly. "You're right, of course. Everything that happened to you is real. ... Only what did happen?"

"Go to hell." Foyle growled.

"You know, Foyle, I admire you."

"Go to hell."

"In your own primitive way you've got ingenuity and guts. You're Cro-Magnon, Foyle. I've been checking on you. That bomb you threw in the Presteign shipyards was lovely, and you nearly wrecked General Hospital getting the money and material together." Dagenham counted fingers. "You looted lockers, stole from the blind ward, stole drugs from the pharmacy, stole apparatus from the lab stockrooms."

"Go to hell, you."

"But what have you got against Presteign? Why'd you try to blow up his shipyard? They tell me you broke in and went tearing through the pits like a wild man. What were you trying to do, Foyle?"

"Go to hell."

Dagenham smiled. "If we're going to chat," he said. "You'll have to hold up your end. Your conversation's getting monotonous. What happened to Nomad?"

"I don't know about Nomad, nothing."

"The ship was last reported over seven months ago. Then ... spurlos versenkt. Are you the sale survivor? And what have you been doing all this time? Having your face decorated?"

"I don't know about Nomad, nothing."

"No, no, Foyle, that won't do. You show up with Nomad tattooed across your face. Fresh tattooed. Intelligence checks and finds you were aboard Nomad when she sailed. Foyle, Gulliver." AS:128/127:006, Mechanic's Mate, 3rd Class. As if all this isn't enough to throw Intelligence into a tizzy, you come back in a private launch that's been missing fifty years. Man, you're cooking in the reactor. Intelligence wants the answers to all these questions. And you ought to know how Central Intelligence butchers its answers out of people."

Foyle started. Dagenham nodded as he saw his point sink home. "Which is why I think you'll listen to reason. We want information, Foyle. I tried to trick it out of you; admitted. I failed because you're too tough; admitted. Now I'm offering an honest deal. We'll protect you if you'll cooperate. If you don't, you'll spend five years in an Intelligence lab having information chopped out of you."

It was not the prospect of the butchery that frightened Foyle, but the thought of the loss of freedom. A man had to be free to avenge himself, to raise money and find Vorga again, to rip and tear and gut Vorga.

"What kind of deal?" he asked.

"Tell us what happened to Nomad and where you left her."

"Why, man?"

"Why? Because of the salvage, man."

"There ain't nothing to salvage. She's a wreck, is all."

"Even a wreck's salvagable."

"You mean you'd jet out a million miles to pick up pieces? Don't joker me, man."

"All right," Dagenham said in exasperation. "There's the cargo."

"She was split wide open. No cargo left."

"It was a cargo you don't know about." Dagenham said confidentially. "Nomad was transporting platinum bullion to Mars Bank. Every so often, banks have to adjust accounts. Normally, enough trade goes on between planets so that accounts can be balanced on paper. The war's disrupted normal trade, and Mars Bank found that Presteign owed them twenty odd million credits without any way of getting the money short of actual delivery. Presteign was delivering the money in bar platinum aboard the Nomad. It was locked in the purser's safe."

"Twenty million," Foyle whispered.

"Give or take a few thousand. The ship was insured, but that just means that the underwriters, Bo'ness and Uig, get the salvage rights and they're even tougher than Presteign. However, there'll be a reward for you. Say ... twenty thousand credits."

"Twenty million," Foyle whispered again.

"We're assuming that an O.S. raider caught up with Nomad somewhere on course and let her have it. They couldn't have boarded and looted or you wouldn't have been left alive. This means that the purser's safe is still -- Are you listening, Foyle?"

But Foyle was not listening. He was seeing twenty million ... not twenty thousand ... twenty million in platinum bullion as a broad highway to Vorga. No more petty thefts from lockers and labs; twenty million for the taking and the razing of Vorga.


Foyle awoke. He looked at Dagenham. "I don't know about Nomad, nothing," he said.

"What the hell's got into you now? Why're you dummying up again?"

"I don't know about Nomad, nothing."

"I'm offering a fair reward. A spaceman can go on a hell of a tear with twenty thousand credits ... a one-year tear. What more do you want?"

"I don't know about Nomad, nothing."

"It's us or Intelligence, Foyle."

"You ain't so anxious for them to get me, or you wouldn't be flipping through all this. But it ain't no use, anyway. I don't know about Nomad, nothing. "

"You son of a ---" Dagenham tried to repress his anger. He had revealed just a little too much to this cunning, primitive creature. "You're right," he said. "We're not anxious for Intelligence to get you. But we've made our own preparations." His voice hardened. "You think you can dummy up and stand us off. You think you can leave us to whistle for Nomad. You've even got an idea that you can beat us to the salvage."

"No," Foyle said.

"Now listen to this. We've got a lawyer waiting in New York. He's got a criminal prosecution for piracy pending against you; piracy in space, murder, and looting. We're going to throw the book at you. Presteign will get a conviction in twenty-four hours. If you've got a criminal record of any kind, that means a lobotomy. They'll open up the top of your skull and burn out half your brain to stop you from ever jaunting again."

Dagenham stopped and looked hard at Foyle. When Foyle shook his head, Dagenham continued.

"If you haven't got a record, they'll hand you ten years of what is laughingly known as medical treatment. We don't punish criminals in our enlightened age, we cure 'em; and the cure is worse than punishment. They'll stash you in a black hole in one of the cave hospitals. You'll be kept in permanent darkness and solitary confinement so you can't jaunte out. They'll go through the motions of giving you shots and therapy, but you'll be rotting in the dark. You'll stay there and rot until you decide to talk. We'll keep you there forever. So make up your mind."

"I don't know nothing about Nomad. Nothing!" Foyle said.

"All right," Dagenham spat. Suddenly he pointed to the orchid blossom he had enclosed with his hands. It was blighted and rotting. "That's what's going to happen to you."
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:30 am


South of Saint-Girons near the Spanish-French border is the deepest abyss in France, the Gouffre Manel. Its caverns twist for miles under the Pyrenees. It is the most formidable cavern hospital on Terra. No patient has ever jaunted out of its pitch darkness. No patient has ever succeeded in getting his bearings and learning the jaunte coordinates of the black hospital depths. Short of prefrontal lobotomy, there are only three ways to stop a man from jaunting: a blow on the head producing concussion, sedation which prevents concentration, and concealment of jaunte coordinates. Of the three, the jaunting age considered concealment the most practical.

The cells that line the winding passages of Gouffre Martel are cut out of living rock. They are never illuminated. The passages are never illuminated. Infrared lamps flood the darkness. It is black light visible only to guards and attendants wearing snooper goggles with specially treated lenses. For the patients there is only the black silence of Gouffre Martel broken by the distant rush of underground waters.

For Foyle there was only the silence, the rushing, and the hospital routine. At eight o'clock (or it may have been any hour in this timeless abyss) he was awakened by a bell. He arose and received his morning meal, slotted into the cell by pneumatic tube. It had to be eaten at once, for the china surrogate of cups and plates was timed to dissolve in fifteen minutes. At eight-thirty the cell door opened and Foyle and hundreds of others shuffled blindly through the twisting corridors to Sanitation.

Here, still in darkness, they were processed like beef in a slaughter house: cleansed, shaved, irradiated, disinfected, dosed, and inoculated. Their paper uniforms were removed and sent back to the shops to be pulped. New uniforms were issued. Then they shuffled back to their cells which had been automatically scrubbed out while they were in Sanitation. In his cell, Foyle listened to interminable therapeutic talks, lectures, moral and ethical guidance for the rest of the morning. Then there was silence again, and nothing but the rush of distant water and the quiet steps of goggled guards in the corridors.

In the afternoon came occupational therapy. The TV screen in each cell illuminated and the patient thrust his hands into the shadow frame of the screen. He saw three-dimensionally and he felt the broadcast objects and tools. He cut hospital uniforms, sewed them, manufactured kitchen utensils, and prepared foods. Although actually he touched nothing, his motions were transmitted to the shops where the work was accomplished by remote control. After one short hour of this relief came the darkness and silence again.

But every so often ... once or twice a week (or perhaps once or twice a year) came the muffled thud of a distant explosion. The concussions were startling enough to distract Foyle from the furnace of vengeance that he stoked all through the silences. He whispered questions to the invisible figures around him in Sanitation.

"What's them explosions?"


"Blow-ups. Hear 'em a long way off, me."

"Them's Blue Jauntes."


"Blue Jauntes. Every sometime a guy gets fed up with old Jeffrey. Can't take it no more, him. Jauntes into the wild blue yonder."


"Yep. Don't know where they are, them. Don't know where they're going. Blue Jaunte into the dark ... and we hear 'em exploding in the mountains. Boom! Blue Jaunte."

He was appalled, but he could understand. The darkness, the silence, the monotony destroyed sense and brought on desperation. The loneliness was intolerable. The patients buried in Gouffre Martel prison hospital looked forward eagerly to the morning Sanitation period for a chance to whisper a word and hear a word. But these fragments were not enough, and desperation came. Then there would be another distant explosion.

Sometimes the suffering men would turn on each other and then a savage fight would break out in Sanitation. These were instantly broken up by the goggled guards, and the morning lecture would switch on the Moral Fiber record preaching the Virtue of Patience.

Foyle learned the records by heart, every word, every click and crack in the tapes. He learned to loathe the voices of the lecturers: the Understanding Baritone, the Cheerful Tenor, the Man-to-Man Bass. He learned to deafen himself to the therapeutic monotony and perform his occupational therapy mechanically, but he was without resources to withstand the endless solitary hours. Fury was not enough.

He lost count of the days, of meals, of sermons. He no longer whispered in Sanitation. His mind came adrift and he began to wander. He imagined he was back aboard Nomad, reliving his fight for survival. Then he lost even this feeble grasp on illusion and began to sink deeper and deeper into the pit of catatonia: of womb silence, womb darkness, and womb sleep.

There were fleeting dreams. An angel hummed to him once. Another time she sang quietly. Thrice he heard her speak: "Oh God ..." and "God damn" and "Oh ..." in a heart-rending descending note.

He sank into his abyss, listening to her.

"There is a way out," his angel murmured in his ear, sweetly, comforting. Her voice was soft and warm, yet it burned with anger. It was the voice of a furious angel. "There is a way out."

It whispered in his ear from nowhere, and suddenly, with the logic of desperation, it came to him that there was a way out of Gouffre Martel. He had been a fool not to see it before.

"Yes, " he croaked. "There's a way out."

There was a soft gasp, then a soft question: "Who's there?"

"Me, is all," Foyle said. "You know me."

"Where are you?"

"Here. Where I always been, me."

"But there's no one. I'm alone."

"Got to thank you for helping me."

"Hearing voices is bad," the furious angel murmured. "The first step off the deep end. I've got to stop."

"You showed me the way out, Blue Jaunte."

"Blue Jaunte! My God, this must be real. You're talking the gutter lingo. You must be real. Who are you?"

"Gully Foyle."

"But you're not in my cell. You're not even near. Men are in the north quadrant of Gouffre Martel. Women are in the south. I'm South- 900. Where are you?"


"You're a quarter of a mile away. How can we -- Of course! It's the Whisper Line. I always thought that was a legend, but it's true. It's working now."

"Here I go, me," Foyle whispered. "Blue Jaunte."

"Foyle, listen to me. Forget the Blue Jaunte. Don't throw this away. It's a miracle."

"What's a miracle?"

"There's an acoustical freak in Gouffre Martel ... they happen in underground caves ... a freak of echoes, passages, and whispering galleries. Old-timers call it the Whisper Line. I never believed them. No one ever did, but it's true. We're talking to each other over the Whisper Line. No one can hear us but us. We can talk, Foyle. We can plan. Maybe we can escape."


Her name was Jisbella McQueen. She was hot-tempered, independent, intelligent, and she was serving five years of cure in Gouffre Martel for larceny. Jisbella gave Foyle a cheerfully furious account of her revolt against society.

"You don't know what jaunting's done to women, Gully. It's locked us up, sent us back to the seraglio."

"What's seraglio, girl?"

"A harem. A place where women are kept on ice. After a thousand years of civilization (it says here) we're still property. Jaunting's such a danger to our virtue, our value, our mint condition, that we're locked up like gold plate in a safe. There's nothing for us to do ... nothing respectable. No jobs. No careers. There's no getting out, Gully, unless you bust out and smash all the rules."

"Did you have to, Jiz?"

"I had to be independent, Gully. I had to live my own life, and that's the only way society would let me. So I ran away from home and turned crook." And Jiz went on to describe the lurid details of her revolt: the Temper Racket, the Cataract Racket, the Honeymoon and Obituary Robs, the Badger Jaunte, and the Glim-Drop.

Foyle told her about Nomad and Vorga, his hatred and his plans. He did not tell Jisbella about his face or the twenty millions in platinum bullion waiting out in the asteroids.

"What happened to Nomad?" Jisbella asked. "Was it like that man, Dagenham, said? Was she blasted by an O.S. raider?"

"I don't know, me. Can't remember, girl."

"The blast probably wiped out your memory. Shock. And being marooned for six months didn't help. Did you notice anything worth salvaging from Nomad?"


"Did Dagenham mention anything?"

"No," Foyle lied.

"Then he must have another reason for hounding you into Gouffre Martel. There must be something else he wants from Nomad."

"Yeah, Jiz."

"But you were a fool trying to blow up Vorga like that. You're like a wild beast trying to punish the trap that injured it. Steel isn't alive. It doesn't think. You can't punish Vorga."

"Don't know what you mean, girl. Vorga passed me by."

"You punish the brain, Gully. The brain that sets the trap. Find out who was aboard Vorga. Find out who gave the order to pass you by. Punish him."

"Yeah. How?"

"Learn to think, Gully. The head that could figure out how to get Nomad under way and how to put a bomb together ought to be able to figure that out. But no more bombs; brains instead. Locate a member of Vorga's crew. He'll tell you who was aboard. Track them down. Find out who gave the order. Then punish him. But it'll take time, Gully ... time and money; more than you've got."

"I got a whole life, me."

They murmured for hours across the whisper line, their voices sounding small yet close to the ear. There was only one particular spot in each cell where the other could be heard, which was why so much time had passed before they discovered the miracle. But now they made up for lost time. And Jisbella educated Foyle.

"If we ever break out of Gouffre Martel, Gully, it'll have to be together, and I'm not trusting myself to an illiterate partner."

"Who's illiterate?"

"You are," Jisbella answered firmly. "I have to talk gutter a you half the time, me."

"I can read and write."

"And that's about all ... which means that outside of brute strength you'll be useless."

"Talk sense, you," he said angrily.

"I am talking sense, me. What's the use of the strongest chisel in the world if it doesn't have an edge? We've got to sharpen your wits, Gully. Got to educate you, man, is all."

He submitted. He realized she was right. He would need training not only for the bust-out but for the search for Vorga as well. Jisbella was the daughter of an architect and had received an education. This she drilled into Foyle, leavened with the cynical experience of five years in the underworld. Occasionally he rebelled against the hard work, and then there would be whispered quarrels, but in the end he would apologize and submit again. And sometimes Jisbella would tire of teaching, and then they would ramble on, sharing dreams in the dark.

"I think we're falling in love, Gully."

"I think so too, Jiz."

"I'm an old hag, Gully. A hundred and five years old. What are you like?"


"How awful?

"My face."

"You make yourself sound romantic. Is it one of those exciting scars that make a man attractive?"

"No. You'll see when we meet, us. That's wrong, isn't it, Jiz? Just plain: 'When we meet: Period."

"Good boy."

"We will meet some day, won't we, Jiz?"

"Soon, I hope, Gully." Jisbella's faraway voice became crisp and businesslike. "But we've got to stop hoping and get down to work. We've got to plan and prepare."

From the underworld, Jisbella had inherited a mass of information about Gouffre Martel. No one had ever jaunted out of the cavern hospitals, but for decades the underworld had been collecting and collating information about them. It was from this data that Jisbella had formed her quick recognition of the Whisper Line that joined them. It was on the basis of this information that she began to discuss escape.

"We can pull it off, Gully. Never doubt that for a minute. There must be dozens of loopholes in their security system."

"No one's ever found them before."

"No one's ever worked with a partner before. We'll pool our information and we'll make it."

He no longer shambled to Sanitation and back. He felt the corridor walls, noted doors, noted their texture, counted, listened, deduced, and reported. He made a note of every separate step in the Sanitation pens and reported them to Jiz. The questions he whispered to the men around him in the shower and scrub rooms had purpose. Together, Foyle and Jisbella built up a picture of the routine of Gouffre Martel and its security system.

One morning, on the return from Sanitation, he was stopped as he was about to step back into his cell.

"Stay in line, Foyle."

"This is North-111. I know where to get off by now."

"Keep moving."

"But --" He was terrified. "You're changing me?"

"Visitor to see you."

He was marched up to the end of the north corridor where it met the three other main corridors that formed the huge cross of the hospital. In the center of the cross were the administration offices, maintenance workshops, clinics, and plants. Foyle was thrust into a room, as dark as his cell. The door was shut behind him. He become aware of a faint shimmering outline in the blackness. It was no more than the ghost of an image with a blurred body and a death's head. Two black discs on the skull face were either eye sockets or infrared goggles.

"Good morning," said Saul Dagenham.

"You?" Foyle exclaimed.

"Me. I've got five minutes. Sit down. Chair behind you."

Foyle felt for the chair and sat down slowly.

"Enjoying yourself?" Dagenham inquired.

"What do you want, Dagenham?"

"There's been a change," Dagenham said dryly. "Last time we talked your dialogue consisted entirely of 'Go to hell.'"

"Go to hell, Dagenham, if it'll make you feel any better."

"Your repartee's improved; your speech, too. You've changed," Dagenham said. "Changed a damned sight too much and a damned sight too fast. I don't like it. What's happened to you?"

"I've been going to night school."

"You've had ten months in this night school."

"Ten months," Foyle echoed in amazement. "That long?"

"Ten months without sight and without sound. Ten months in solitary. You ought to be broke."

"Oh, I'm broke, all right."

"You ought to be whining. I was right. You're unusual. At this rate it's going to take too long. We can't wait. I'd like to make a new offer."

"Make it."

"Ten per cent of Nomad's bullion. Two million."

"Two million'" Foyle exclaimed. "Why didn't you offer that in the first place?"

"Because I didn't know your caliber. Is it a deal?"

"Almost. Not yet."

"What else?"

"I get out of Gouffre Martel."


"And someone else, too."

"It can be arranged." Dagenham's voice sharpened. "Anything else?"

"I get access to Presteign's files."

"Out of the question. Are you insane? Be reasonable."

"His shipping files."

"What for?"

"A list of personnel aboard one of his ships."

"Oh." Dagenham's eagerness revived. "That, I can arrange. Anything else?"


"Then it's a deal." Dagenham was delighted. The ghostly blur of light arose from its chair. "We'll have you out in six hours. We'll start arrangements for your friend at once. It's a pity we wasted this time, but no one can figure you, Foyle."

"Why didn't you send in a telepath to work me over?"

"A telepath? Be reasonable, Foyle. There aren't ten full telepaths in all the Inner Planets. Their time is earmarked for the next ten years. We couldn't persuade one to interrupt his schedule for love or money."

"I apologize, Dagenham. I thought you didn't know your business."

"You very nearly hurt my feelings."

"Now I know you're just lying."

"You're flattering me."

"You could have hired a telepath. For a cut in twenty million you could have hired one easy."

"The government would never --"

"They don't all work for the government. No. You've got something too hot to let a telepath get near."

The blur of light leaped across the room and seized Foyle. "How much do you know, Foyle? What are you covering? Who are you working for?" Dagenham's hands shook. "Christ! What a fool I've been. Of course you're unusual. You're no common spaceman. I asked you: who are you working for?"

Foyle tore Dagenham's hands away from him. "No one," he said. "No one, except myself."

"No one, eh? Including your friend in Gouffre Martel you're so eager to rescue? By God, you almost swindled me, Foyle. Tell Captain Y'ang-Yeovil, congratulate him. He's got a better staff than I thought."

"I never heard of any Y'ang-Yeovil."

"You and your colleague are going to rot here. It's no deal. You'll fester here. I'll have you moved to the worst cell in the hospital. I'll sink you to the bottom of Gouffre Martel. I'll -- Guard, here! G-"

Foyle grasped Dagenham's throat, dragged him down to the floor and hammered his head on the flagstones. Dagenham squirmed once and then was still. Foyle ripped the goggles off his face and put them on. Sight returned in soft red and rose lights and shadows.

He was in a small reception room with a table and two chairs. Foyle stripped Dagenham's jacket off and put it on with two quick jerks that split the shoulders. Dagenham's cocked highwayman's hat lay on the table. Foyle clapped it over his head and pulled the brim down before his face.

On opposite walls were two doors. Foyle opened one a crack. It led out to the north corridor. He closed it, leaped across the room and tried the other. It opened onto a jaunte-proof maze. Foyle slipped through the door and entered the maze. Without a guide to lead him through the labyrinth, he was immediately lost. He began to run around the twists and turns and found himself back at the reception room. Dagenham was struggling to his knees.

Foyle turned back into the maze again. He ran. He came to a closed door and thrust it open. It revealed a large workshop illuminated by normal light. Two technicians working at a machine bench looked up in surprise.

Foyle snatched up a sledge hammer, leaped on them like a caveman, and felled them. Behind him he heard Dagenham shouting in the distance. He looked around wildly, dreading the discovery that he was trapped in a cul-de-sac. The workshop was L-shaped. Foyle tore around the corner, burst through the entrance of another jaunte-proof maze and was lost again. The Gouffre Martel alarm system began clattering. Foyle battered at the walls of the labyrinth with the sledge, shattered the thin plastic masking, and found himself in the infrared-lit south corridor of the women's quadrant.

Two women guards came up the corridor, running hard. Foyle swung the sledge and dropped them. He was near the head of the corridor. Before him stretched a long perspective of cell doors, each bearing a glowing red number. Overhead the corridor was lit by glowing red globes. Foyle stood on tiptoe and clubbed the globe above him. He hammered through the socket and smashed the current cable. The entire corridor went dark ... even to goggles.

"Evens us up; all in the dark now," Foyle gasped and tore down the corridor feeling the wall as he ran and counting cell doors. Jisbella had given him an accurate word picture of the South Quadrant. He was counting his way toward South-900. He blundered into a figure, another guard. Foyle hacked at her once with his sledge. She shrieked and fell. The women patients began shrieking. Foyle lost count, ran on, stopped.

"Jiz!" he bellowed.

He heard her voice. He encountered another guard, disposed of her, ran, located Jisbella's cell.

"Gully, for God's sake ..." Her voice was muffled.

"Get back, girl. Back." He hammered thrice against the door with his sledge and it burst inward. He staggered in and fell against a figure.

"Jiz?" he gasped. "Excuse me ... Was passing by. Thought I'd drop in."

"Gully, in the name of --"

"Yeah. Hell of a way to meet, eh? Come on. Out, girl. Out!" He dragged her out of the cell. "We can't try a break through the offices. They don't like me back there. Which way to your Sanitation pens?"

"Gully, you're crazy."

"Whole quadrant's dark. I smashed the power cable. We've got half a chance. Go, girl. Go."

He gave her a powerful thrust and she led him down the passages to the automatic stalls of the women's Sanitation pens. While mechanical hands removed their uniforms, soaped, soaked, sprayed and disinfected them, Foyle felt for the glass pane of the medical observation window. He found it, swung the sledge and smashed it.

"Get in, Jiz."

He hurled her through the window and followed. They were both stripped, greasy with soap, slashed and bleeding. Foyle slipped and crashed through the blackness searching for the door through which the medical officers entered.

"Can't find the door, Jiz. Door from the clinic. I --"


"But --"

"Be quiet, Gully."

A soapy hand found his mouth and clamped over it. She gripped his shoulder so hard that her fingernails pierced his skin. Through the bedlam in the caverns sounded the clatter of steps close at hand. Guards were running blindly through the Sanitation stalls. The infrared lights had not yet been repaired.

"They may not notice the window," Jisbella hissed. "Be quiet."

They crouched on the floor. Steps trampled through the pens in bewildering succession. Then they were gone.

"All clear, now," Jisbella whispered. "But they'll have searchlights any minute. Come on, Gully. Out."

"But the door to the clinic, Jiz. I thought --"

"There is no door. They use spiral stairs and they pull them up. They've thought of this escape too. We'll have to try the laundry lift. God knows what good it'll do us. Oh Gully, you fool! You utter fool!"

They climbed through the observation window back into the pens. They searched through the darkness for the lifts by which soiled uniforms were removed and fresh uniforms issued. And in the darkness the automatic hands again soaped, sprayed and disinfected them. They could find nothing.

The caterwauling of a siren suddenly echoed through the caverns, silencing all other sound. There came a hush as suffocating as the darkness.

"They're using the G-phone to track us, Gully."

"The what?"

"Geophone. It can trace a whisper through half a mile of solid rock. That's why they've sirened for silence."

"The laundry lift?"

'Can't find it."

"Then come on."


"We're running."


"I don't know, but I'm not getting caught flat-footed. Come on. The exercise'll do you good."

Again he thrust Jisbella before him and they ran, gasping and stumbling, through the blackness, down into the deepest reaches of South Quadrant. Jisbella fell twice, blundering against turns in the passages. Foyle took the lead and ran, holding the twenty-pound sledge in his hand, the handle extended before him as an antenna. Then they crashed into a blank wall and realized they had reached the dead end of the corridor. They were boxed, trapped.

"What now?"

"Don't know. Looks like the dead end of my ideas, too. We can't go back for sure. I clobbered Dagenham in the offices. Hate that man. Looks like a poison label. You got a flash, girl?"

"Oh Gully ... Gully ..." Jisbella sobbed.

"Was counting on you for ideas. 'No more bombs,' you said. Wish I had one now. Could -- Wait a minute." He touched the oozing wall against which they were leaning. He felt the checkerboard indentations of mortar seams. "Bulletin from G. Foyle. This isn't a natural cave wall. It's made. Brick and stone. Feel."

Jisbella felt the wall. "So?"

"Means this passage don't end here. Goes on. They blocked it off. Out of the way."

He shoved Jisbella up the passage, ground his hands into the floor to grit his soapy palms, and began swinging the sledge against the wall. He swung in steady rhythm, grunting and gasping. The steel sledge struck the wall with the blunt concussion of stones struck under water.

"They're coming," Jiz said. "I hear them."

The blunt blows took on a crumbling, crushing overtone. There was a whisper, then a steady pebble-fall of loose mortar. Foyle redoubled his efforts. Suddenly there was a crash and a gush of icy air blew in their faces.

"Through," Foyle muttered.

He attacked the edges of the hole pierced through the wall with ferocity. Bricks, stones, and old mortar flew. Foyle stopped and called Jisbella.

"Try it."

He dropped the sledge, seized her, and held her up to the chest-high opening. She cried out in pain as she tried to wriggle past the sharp edges. Foyle pressed her relentlessly until she got her shoulders and then her hips through. He let go of her legs and heard her fall on the other side.

Foyle pulled himself up and tore himself through the jagged breach in the wall. He felt Jisbella's hands trying to break his fall as he crashed down in a mass of loose brick and mortar. They were both through into the icy blackness of the unoccupied caverns of Gouffre Martel ... miles of unexplored grottos and caves.

"By God, we'll make it yet," Foyle mumbled.

"I don't know if there's a way out, Gully." Jisbella was shaking with cold. "Maybe this is all cul-de-sac, walled off from the hospital. "

"There has to be a way out."

"I don't know if we can find it."

"We've got to find it. Let's go, girl."

They blundered forward in the darkness. Foyle tore the useless set of goggles from his eyes. They crashed against ledges, corners, low ceilings; they fell down slopes and steep steps. They climbed over a razor-back ridge to a level plain and their feet shot from under them. Both fell heavily to a glassy floor. Foyle felt and touched it with his tongue.

"Ice," he muttered. "Good sign. We're in an ice cavern, Jiz. Underground glacier."

They arose shakily, straddling their legs and worked their way across the ice that had been forming in the Gouffre Martel abyss for millennia. They climbed into a forest of stone saplings that were stalagmites and stalactites thrusting up from the jagged floor and down from the ceilings. The vibrations of every step loosened the huge stalactites, ponderous stone spears that thundered down from overhead. At the edge of the forest, Foyle stopped, reached out and tugged. There was a clear metallic ring. He took Jisbella's hand and placed the long tapering cone of a stalagmite in it.

"Cane," he grunted. "Use it like a blind man."

He broke off another and they went tapping, feeling, stumbling through the darkness. There was no sound but the gallop of panic ... their gasping breath and racing hearts, the taps of their stone canes, the multitudinous drip of water, the distant rushing of the underground river beneath Gouffre Martel.

"Not that way, girl," Foyle nudged her shoulder. "More to the left."

"Have you the faintest notion where we're headed, Gully?"

"Down, Jiz. Follow any slope that leads down."

"You've got an idea?"

"Yeah. Surprise, surprise! Brains instead of bombs."

"Brains instead of-" Jisbella shrieked with hysterical laughter. "You exploded into South Quadrant w-with a sledge hammer and th-that's your idea of b-brains instead of b-b-b-" She brayed and hooted beyond all control until Foyle grasped her and shook her.

"Shut up, Jiz. If they're tracking us by G-phone they could hear you from Mars."

"S-sorry, Gully. Sorry. I ..." She took a breath. "Why down?"

"The river, the one we hear all the time. It must be near. It probably melts all the glacier back there."

"The river?"

"The only sure way out. It must break out of the mountain somewhere. We'll swim."

"Gully, you're insane!"

"'What's a matter, you? You can't swim?"

"I can swim, but-"

"Then we've got to try. Got to, Jiz. Come on."

The rush of the river grew louder as their strength began to fail. Jisbella pulled to a halt at last, gasping.

"Gully, I've got to rest."

"Too cold. Keep moving."

"I can't."

"Keep moving." He felt for her arm.

"Get your hands off me," she cried furiously. In an instant she was all spitfire. He released her in amazement.

"What's the matter with you? Keep your head, Jiz. I'm depending on you."

"For what? I told you we had to plan ... work out an escape ... and now you've trapped us into this."

"I was trapped myself. Dagenham was going to change my cell. No more Whisper Line for us. I had to, Jiz ... and we're out, aren't we?"

"Out where? Lost in Gouffre Martel. Looking for a damned river to drown in. You're a fool, Gully, and I'm an idiot for letting you trap me into this. Damn you! Damn you! You pull everything down to your imbecile level and you've pulled me down too. Run. Fight. Punch. That's all you know. Beat. Break. Blast. Destroy -- Gully!"

Jisbella screamed. There was a clatter of loose stone in the darkness, and her scream faded down and away to a heavy splash. Foyle heard the thrash of her body in water. He leaped forward, shouted: "Jiz!" and staggered over the edge of a precipice.

He fell and struck the water flat with a stunning impact. The icy river enclosed him, and he could not tell where the surface was. He struggled, suffocated, felt the swift current drag him against the chill slime of rocks, and then was borne bubbling to the surface. He coughed and shouted. He heard Jisbella answer, her voice faint and muffled by the roaring torrent. He swam with the current, trying to overtake her.

He shouted and heard her answering voice growing fainter and fainter. The roaring grew louder, and abruptly he was shot down the hissing sheet of a waterfall. He plunged to the bottom of a deep pool and struggled once more to the surface. The whirling current entangled him with a cold body bracing itself against a smooth rock wall.


"Gully! Thank God'"

They clung together for a moment while the water tore at them.

"Gully ..." Jisbella coughed. "It goes through here."

"The river?"


He squirmed past her, bracing himself against the wall, and felt the mouth of an underwater tunnel. The current was sucking them into it.

"Hold on," Foyle gasped. He explored to the left and the right. The walls of the pool were smooth, without handhold.

"We can't climb out. Have to go through."

"There's no air, Gully. No surface."

"Couldn't be forever. We'll hold our breath."

"It could be longer than we can hold our breath."

"Have to gamble."

"I can't do it."

"You must. No other way. Pump your lungs. Hold on to me."

They supported each other in the water, gasping for breath, filling their lungs. Foyle nudged Jisbella toward the underwater tunnel. "You go first. I'll be right behind .... Help you if you get into trouble."

'Trouble" Jisbella cried in a shaking voice. She submerged and permitted the current to suck her into the tunnel mouth. Foyle followed. The fierce waters drew them down, down, down, caroming from side to side of a tunnel that had been worn glass-smooth. Foyle swam close behind Jisbella, feeling her thrashing legs beat his head and shoulders.

They shot through the tunnel until their lungs burst and their blind eyes started. Then there was a roaring again and a surface, and they could breathe. The glassy tunnel sides were replaced by jagged rocks. Foyle caught Jisbella's leg and seized a stone projection at the side of the river.

"Got to climb out here," he shouted.


"Got to climb out. You hear that roaring up ahead? Cataracts. Rapids. Be torn to pieces. Out, Jiz."

She was too weak to climb out of the water. He thrust her body up onto the rocks and followed. They lay on the dripping stones, too exhausted to speak. At last Foyle got wearily to his feet.

"Have to keep on," he said. "Follow the river. Ready?"

She could not answer; she could not protest. He pulled her up and they went stumbling through the darkness, trying to follow the bank of the torrent. The boulders they traversed were gigantic, standing like dolmens, heaped, jumbled, scattered into a labyrinth. They staggered and twisted through them and lost the river. They could hear it in the darkness; they could not get back to it. They could get nowhere.

"Lost ... " Foyle grunted in disgust. "We're lost again. Really lost this time. What are we going to do?"

Jisbella began to cry. She made helpless yet furious sounds. Foyle lurched to a stop and sat down, drawing her down with him.

"Maybe you're right, girl," he said wearily. "Maybe I am a damned fool. I got us trapped into this no-jaunte jam, and we're licked."

She didn't answer.

"So much for brainwork. Hell of an education you gave me." He hesitated. "You think we ought to try backtracking to the hospital?"

"We'll never make it."

"Guess not. Was just practicing m'brain. Should we start a racket? Make a noise so they can track us by G-phone?"

"They'd never hear us ... Never find us in time."

"We could make enough noise. You could knock me around a little. Be a pleasure for both of us."

"Shut up."

"What a mess!" He sagged back, cushioning his head on a tuft of soft grass. "At least I had a chance aboard Nomad. There was food and I could see where I was trying to go. I could --" He broke off and sat bolt upright. "Jiz!"

"Don't talk so much."

He felt the ground under him and clawed up sods of earth and tufts of grass. He thrust them into her face.

"Smell this," he laughed. "Taste it. It's grass, Jiz. Earth and grass. We must be out of Gouffre Martel."


"It's night outside. Pitch-black. Overcast. We came out of the caves and never knew it. We're out, Jiz! We made it."

They leaped to their feet, peering, listening, sniffing. The night was impenetrable, but they heard the soft sigh of night winds, and the sweet scent of green growing things came to their nostrils. Far in the distance a dog barked.

"My God, Gully," Jisbella whispered incredulously. "You're right. We're out of Gouffre Martel. All we have to do is wait for dawn."

She laughed. She flung her arms about him and kissed him, and he returned the embrace. They babbled excitedly. They sank down on the soft grass again, weary, but unable to rest, eager, impatient, all life before them.

"Hello, Gully, darling Gully. Hello Gully, after all this time."

"Hello, Jiz."

"I told you we'd meet some day ... some day soon. I told you, darling. And this is the day."

"The night."

"The night, so it is. But no more murmuring in the night along the Whisper Line. No more night for us, Gully, dear."

Suddenly they became aware that they were nude, lying close, no longer separated. Jisbella fell silent but did not move. He clasped her, almost angrily, and enveloped her with a desire that was no less than hers.

When dawn came, he saw that she was lovely: long and lean with smoky red hair and a generous mouth.

But when dawn came, she saw his face.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:31 am


Harley Baker, M.D., had a small general practice in Montana-Oregon which was legitimate and barely paid for the diesel oil he consumed each weekend participating in the rallies for vintage tractors which were the vogue in Sahara. His real income was earned in his Freak Factory in Trenton to which Baker jaunted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night. There, for enormous fees and no questions asked, Baker created monstrosities for the entertainment business and refashioned skin, muscle, and bone for the underworld.

Looking like a male midwife, Baker sat on the cool veranda of his Spokane mansion listening to Jiz McQueen finish the story of her escape.

"Once we hit the open country outside Gouffre Martel it was easy. We found a shooting lodge, broke in, and got some clothes. There were guns there too ... lovely old steel things for killing with explosives. We took them and sold them to some locals. Then we bought rides to the nearest jaunte stage we had memorized."



"Traveled by night, eh?"


"Do anything about Foyle's face?"

"We tried makeup but that didn't work. The damned tattooing showed through. Then I bought a dark skin-surrogate and sprayed it on."

"Did that do it?"

"No," Jiz said angrily. "You have to keep your face quiet or else the surrogate cracks and peels. Foyle couldn't control himself. He never can. It was hell."

"Where is he now?"

"Sam Quatt's got him in tow."

"I thought Sam retired from the rackets."

"He did," Jisbella said grimly, "but he owes me a favor. He's minding Foyle. They're circulating on the jaunte to stay ahead of the cops."

"Interesting," Baker murmured. "Haven't seen a tattoo case in all my life. Thought it was a dead art. I'd like to add him to my collection. You know I collect curios, Jiz?"

"Everybody knows that zoo of yours in Trenton, Baker. It's ghastly."

"I picked up a genuine fraternal cyst last month," Baker began enthusiastically.

"I don't want to hear about it," Jiz snapped. "And I don't want Foyle in your zoo. Can you get the muck off his face? Clean it up? He says they were stymied at General Hospital."

"They haven't had my experience, dear. Hmm. I seem to remember reading something once ... somewhere ... Now where did I-? Wait a minute." Baker stood up and disappeared with a faint pop. Jisbella paced the veranda furiously until he reappeared twenty minutes later with a tattered book in his hands and a triumphant expression on his face.

"Got it," Baker said. "Saw it in the Caltech stacks three years ago. You may admire my memory."

"To hell with your memory. What about his face?"

"It can be done." Baker flipped the fragile pages and meditated. "Yes, it can be done. Indigotin disulphonic acid. I may have to synthesize the acid but ..." Baker closed the text and nodded emphatically. "I can do it. Only it seems a pity to tamper with that face if it's as unique as you describe."

"Will you get off your hobby," Jisbella exclaimed in exasperation. "We're hot, understand? The first that ever broke out of Gouffre Martel. The cops won't rest until they've got us back. This is extra-special for them."


"How long d'you think we can stay out of Gouffre Martel with Foyle running around with that tattooed face?"

"What are you so angry about?"

"I'm not angry. I'm explaining."

"He'd be happy in the zoo," Baker said persuasively. "And he'd be under cover there. I'd put him in the room next to the cyclops girl-"

"The zoo is out. That's definite."

"All right, dear. But why are you worried about Foyle being recaptured? It won't have anything to do with you."

"Why should you worry about me worrying? I'm asking you to do a job. I'm paying for the job."

"It'll be expensive, dear, and I'm fond of you. I'm trying to save you money."

"No you're not."

"Then I'm curious."

"Then let's say I'm grateful. He helped me; now I'm helping him."

Baker smiled cynically. "Then let's help him by giving him a brand new face."


"I thought so. You want his face cleaned up because you're interested in his face."

"Damn you, Baker, will you do the job or not?'

"It'll cost five thousand."

"Break that down."

"A thousand to synthesize the acid. Three thousand for the surgery. And one thousand for --"

"Your curiosity?'

"No, dear." Baker smiled again. "A thousand for the anesthetist."

"Why anesthesia?'

Baker reopened the ancient text. "It looks like a painful operation. You know how they tattoo? They take a needle, dip it in dye, and hammer it into the skin. To bleach that dye out I'll have to go over his face with a needle, pore by pore, and hammer in the indigotin disulphonic. It'll hurt."

Jisbella's eyes flashed. "Can you do it without the dope?"

"I can, dear, but Foyle-"

"To hell with Foyle. I'm paying four thousand. No dope, Baker. Let Foyle suffer."

"Jiz! You don't know what you're letting him in for."

"I know. Let him suffer." She laughed so furiously that she startled Baker. "Let his face make him suffer too."


Baker's Freak Factory occupied a round brick three-story building that had once been the roundhouse in a suburban railway yard before jaunting ended the need for suburban railroads. The ancient ivy-covered roundhouse was alongside the Trenton rocket pits, and the rear windows looked out on the mouths of the pits thrusting their anti-grav beams upward, and Baker's patients could amuse themselves watching the spaceships riding silently up and down the beams, their portholes blazing, recognition signals blinking, their hulls rippling with St. Elmo's fire as the atmosphere carried all the electrostatic charges built up in outer space.

The basement floor of the factory contained Baker's zoo of anatomical curiosities, natural freaks and monsters bought, hired, kidnapped, abducted. Baker, like the rest of his world, was passionately devoted to these creatures and spent long hours with them, drinking in the spectacle of their distortions the way other men saturated themselves with the beauty of art. The middle floor of the roundhouse contained bedrooms for post-operative patients, laboratories, staff rooms, and kitchens. The top floor contained the operating theaters.

In one of the latter, a small room usually used for retinal experiments, Baker was at work on Foyle's face. Under a harsh battery of lamps, he bent over the operating table working meticulously with a small steel hammer and a platinum needle. Baker was following the pattern of the old tattooing on Foyle's face, searching out each minute scar in the skin, and driving the needle into it. Foyle's head was gripped in a clamp, but his body was unstrapped. His muscles writhed at each tap of the hammer, but he never moved his body. He gripped the sides of the operating table.

"Control." he said through his teeth. 'You wanted me to learn control, Jiz. I'm practicing." He winced.

"Don't move," Baker ordered.

"I'm playing it for laughs."

"You're doing all right, son," Sam Quatt said, looking sick. He glanced sidelong at Jisbella's furious face. "What do you say, Jiz?"

"He's learning."

Baker continued dipping and hammering the needle.

"Listen, Sam," Foyle mumbled, barely audible. "Jiz told me you own a private ship. Crime pays, huh?"

"Yeah. Crime pays. I got a little four-man job. Twin-jet. Kind they call a Saturn Weekender."

"Why Saturn Weekender?"

"Because a weekend on Saturn would last ninety days. She can carry food and fuel for three months."

"Just right for me," Foyle muttered. He writhed and controlled himself. "Sam, I want to rent your ship."

"What for?"

"Something hot."



"Then it's not for me, son. I've lost my nerve. Jaunting the circuit with you, one step ahead of the cops, showed me that. I've retired for keeps. All Iwant is peace."

"I'll pay fifty thousand. Don't you want fifty thousand? You could spend Sundays counting it."

The needle hammered remorselessly. Foyle's body was twitching at each impact.

"I already got fifty thousand. I got ten times that in cash in a bank in Vienna." Quatt reached into his pocket and took out a ring of glittering radioactive keys. "Here's the key for the bank. This is the key to my place in Joburg. Twenty rooms; twenty acres. This here's the key to my Weekender in Montauk. You ain't temptin' me, son. I quit while I was ahead. I'm jaunting back to Joburg and live happy for the rest of my life."

"Let me have the Weekender. You can sit safe in Joburg and collect."

"Collect when?"

"When I get back. "

"You want my ship on trust and a promise to pay?"

"A guarantee."

Quatt snorted. "What guarantee?"

"It's a salvage job in the asteroids. Ship named Nomad."

"What's on the Nomad? What makes the salvage payoff?"

"I don't know."

"You're lying."

"I don't know," Foyle mumbled stubbornly. "But there has to be something valuable. Ask Jiz."

"Listen," Quatt said, "I'm going to teach you something. We do business legitimate, see? We don't slash and scalp. We don't hold out. I know what's on your mind. You got something juicy but you don't want to cut anybody else in on it. That's why you're begging for favors ..."

Foyle writhed under the needle, but still gripped in the vise of his possession, was forced to repeat, "I don't know, Sam. Ask Jiz."

"If you've got an honest deal. make an honest proposition," Quatt said angrily. "Don't come prowling around like a damned tattooed tiger figuring how to pounce. We're the only friends you got. Don't try to slash and scalp-"

Quatt was interrupted by a cry torn from Foyle's lips.

"Don't move," Baker said in an abstracted voice. "When you twitch your face I can't control the needle." He looked hard and long at Jisbella. Her lips trembled. Suddenly she opened her purse and took out two Cr 500 banknotes. She dropped them alongside the beaker of acid.

"We'll wait outside," she said.

She fainted in the hall. Quatt dragged her to a chair, and found a nurse who revived her with aromatic ammonia. She began to cry so violently that Quatt was frightened. He dismissed the nurse and hovered until the sobbing subsided.

"What the hell has been going on?" he demanded. "What was that money supposed to mean?"

"It was blood money."

"For what?"

"I don't want to talk about it,"

"Are you all right?"


"Anything I can do?"


There was a long pause. Then Jisbella asked in a weary voice, "Are you going to make that deal with Gully?"

"Me? No. It sounds like a thousand-to-one shot."

"There has to be something valuable on the Nomad. Otherwise Dagenham wouldn't have hounded Gully."

"I'm still not interested. What about you?"

"Me? Not interested either. I don't want any part of Gully Foyle again."

After another pause, Quatt asked: "Can I go home now?"

"You've had a rough time, haven't you, Sam?"

"I think I died about a thousand times nurse-maidin' that tiger around the circuit."

"I'm sorry, Sam."

"I had it coming to me after what I did to you when you were copped in Memphis."

"Running out on me was only natural, Sam."

"We always do what's natural, only sometimes we shouldn't do it."

"I know, Sam. I know."

"And you spend the rest of your life trying to make up for it. I figure I'm lucky, Jiz. I was able to square it tonight. Can I go home now?"

"Back to Joburg and the happy life?"


"Don't leave me alone, yet, Sam. I'm ashamed of myself."

"What for?"

"Cruelty to dumb animals."

'What's that supposed to mean?"

"Never mind. Hang around a little. Tell me about the happy life. What's so happy about it?"

"Well," Quatt said reflectively. "It's having everything you wanted when you were a kid. If you can have everything at fifty that you wanted when you were fifteen, you're happy. Now when I was fifteen ... " And Quatt went on and on describing the symbols, ambitions, and frustrations of his boyhood which he was now satisfying until Baker came out of the operating theater.

"Finished?" Jisbella asked eagerly.

"Finished. After I put him under I was able to work faster. They're bandaging his face now. He'll be out in a few minutes."



"How long before the bandages come off?"

"Six or seven days."

"His face'll be clean?"

"I thought you weren't interested in his face, dear. It ought to be clean. I don't think I missed a spot of pigment. You may admire my skill, Jisbella ... also my sagacity. I'm going to back Foyle's salvage trip."

"What?" Quatt laughed. "You taking a thousand-to-one gamble, Baker? I thought you were smart."

"I am. The pain was too much for him and he talked under the anesthesia. There's twenty million in platinum bullion aboard the Nomad."

"Twenty million!" Sam Quatt's face darkened and he turned on Jisbella. But she was furious too.

"Don't look at me, Sam. I didn't know. He held out on me too. Swore he never knew why Dagenham was hounding him."

"It was Dagenham who told him," Baker said. "He let that slip too."

"I'll kill him," Jisbella said. "I'll tear him apart with my own two hands and you won't find anything inside his carcass but black rot. He'll be a curio for your zoo, Baker; I wish to God I'd let you have him!"

The door of the operating theater opened and two orderlies wheeled out a trolley on which Foyle lay, twitching slightly. His entire head was one white globe of bandage.

"Is he conscious?" Quatt asked Baker.

"I'll handle this," Jisbella burst out. "I'll talk to the son of a-Foyle!"

Foyle answered faintly through the mask of bandage. As Jisbella drew a furious breath for her onslaught, one wall of the hospital disappeared and there was a clap of thunder that knocked them off their feet. The entire building rocked from repeated explosions, and through the gaps in the walls uniformed men began jaunting in from the streets outside, like rooks swooping into the gut of a battlefield.

"Raid!" Baker shouted. "Raid!"

"Christ Jesus!" Quatt shook.

The uniformed men were swarming all over the building, shouting: "Foyle! Foyle! Foyle! Foyle!" Baker disappeared with a pop. The attendants jaunted too, deserting the trolley on which Foyle waved his arms and legs feebly, making faint sounds.

"It's a goddamn raid!" Quatt shook Jisbella. "Go, girl! Go!"

"We can't leave Foyle!" Jisbella cried.

"Wake up, girl! Go!"

"We can't run out on him."

Jisbella seized the trolley and ran it down the corridor. Quatt pounded alongside her. The roaring in the hospital grew louder: "Foyle! Foyle! Foyle!"

"Leave him, for God's sake!" Quatt urged. "Let them have him."


"It's a lobo for us, girl, if they get us."

"We can't run out on him."

They skidded around a comer into a shrieking mob of postoperative patients, bird men with fluttering wings, mermaids dragging themselves along the floor like seals, hermaphrodites, giants, pygmies, two-headed twins, centaurs, and a mewling sphinx. They clawed at Jisbella and Quatt in terror.

"Get him off the trolley," Jisbella yelled.

Quatt yanked Foyle off the trolley. Foyle came to his feet and sagged. Jisbella took his arm, and between them Sam and Jiz hauled him through a door into a ward filled with Baker's temporal freaks ... subjects with accelerated time sense, darting about the ward with the lightning rapidity of humming birds and emitting piercing batlike squeals.

"Jaunte him out, Sam."

"After the way he tried to cross and scalp us?"

"We can't run out on him, Sam. You ought to know that by now. Jaunte him out. Caister's place!"

Jisbella helped Quatt haul Foyle to his shoulder. The temporal freaks seemed to fill the ward with shrieking streaks. The ward doors burst open. A dozen bolts from pneumatic guns whined through the ward, dropping the temporal patients in their gyrations. Quatt was slammed back against a wall, dropping Foyle. A black and blue bruise appeared on his temple.

"Get to hell out of here," Quatt roared. "I'm done."


"I'm done. Can't jaunte. Go, girl!"

Trying to shake off the concussion that prevented him from jaunting, Quatt straightened and charged forward, meeting the uniformed men who poured into the ward. Jisbella took Foyle's arm and dragged him out the back of the ward, through a pantry, a clinic, a laundry supply, and down flights of ancient stairs that buckled and threw up clouds of termite dust.

They came into a victual cellar. Baker's zoo had broken out of their cells in the chaos and were raiding the cellar like bees glutting themselves with honey in an attacked hive. A Cyclops girl was cramming her mouth with handfuls of butter scooped from a tub. Her single eye above the bridge of her nose leered at them.

Jisbella dragged Foyle through the victual cellar, found a bolted wooden door and kicked it open. They stumbled down a flight of crumbling steps and found themselves in what had once been a coal cellar. The concussions and roarings overhead sounded deeper and hollow. A chute slot on one side of the cellar was barred with an iron door held by iron clamps. Jisbella placed Foyle's hands on the clamps. Together they opened them and climbed out of the cellar through the coal chute.

They were outside the Freak Factory, huddled against the rear wall. Before them were the Trenton rocket pits, and as they gasped for breath, Jiz saw a freighter come sliding down an antigrav beam into a waiting pit. Its portholes blazed and its recognition signals blinked like a lurid neon sign, illuminating the back wall of the hospital.

A figure leaped from the roof of the hospital. It was Sam Quatt, attempting a desperate flight. He sailed out into space, arms and legs flailing, trying to reach the up-thrusting anti-grav beam of the nearest pit which might catch him in mid-flight and cushion his fall. His aim was perfect. Seventy feet above ground he dropped squarely into the shaft of the beam. It was not in operation. He fell and was smashed on the edge of the pit.

Jisbella sobbed. Still automatically retaining her grip on Foyle's arm, she ran across the seamed concrete to Sam Quatt's body. There she let go of Foyle and touched Quatt's head tenderly. Her fingers were stained with blood. Foyle tore at the bandage before his eyes, working eye holes through the gauze. He muttered to himself, listening to Jisbella weep and hearing the shouts behind him from Baker's factory. His hands fumbled at Quatt's body, then he arose and tried to pull Jisbella up.

"Got to go," he croaked. "Got to get out. They've seen us."

Jisbella never moved. Foyle mustered all his strength and pulled her upright.

"Times Square," he muttered. "Jaunte, Jiz!"

Uniformed figures appeared around them. Foyle shook Jisbella's arm and jaunted to Times Square where masses of jaunters on the gigantic stage stared in amazement at the huge man with the white bandaged globe for a head. The stage was the size of two football fields. Foyle stared around dimly through the bandages. There was no sign of Jisbella but she might be anywhere. He lifted his voice to a shout.

"Montauk, Jiz! Montauk! The Folly Stage!"

Foyle jaunted with a last thrust of energy and a prayer. An icy nor'easter was blowing in from Block Island and sweeping brittle ice crystals across the stage on the site of a medieval ruin known as Fisher's folly. There was another figure on the stage. Foyle tottered to it through the wind and the snow. It was Jisbella, looking frozen and lost.

"Thank God," Foyle muttered. "Thank God. Where does Sam keep his Weekender?" He shook Jisbella's elbow. "Where does Sam keep his Weekender?"

"Sam's dead."

"Where does he keep that Saturn Weekender?"

"He's retired, Sam is. He's not scared any more."

"Where's the ship, Jiz?"

"In the yards down at the lighthouse."

"Come on."


"To Sam's ship." Foyle thrust his big hand before Jisbella's eyes; a bunch of radiant keys lay in his palm. "I took his keys. Come on."

"He gave them to you?"

"I took them off his body."

"Ghoul! She began to laugh. "Liar ... Lecher ... Tiger ... Ghoul. The walking cancer ... Gully Foyle."

Nevertheless she followed him through the snowstorm to Montauk Light.


To three acrobats wearing powdered wigs, four flamboyant women carrying pythons, a child with golden curls and a cynical mouth, a professional duellist in medieval armor, and a man wearing a hollow glass leg in which goldfish swam, Saul Dagenham said: "All right, the operation's finished. Call the rest off and tell them to report back to Courier headquarters."

The side show jaunted and disappeared. Regis Sheffield rubbed his eyes and asked: "What was that lunacy supposed to be, Dagenham?"

"Disturbs your legal mind, eh? That was part of the cast of our FFCC operation. Fun, fantasy, confusion, and catastrophe." Dagenham turned to Presteign and smiled his death's-head smile. "I'll return your fee if you like, Presteign."

"You're not quitting?"

"No, I'm enjoying myself. I'll work for nothing. I've never tangled with a man of Foyle's caliber before. He's unique."

"How?" Sheffield demanded.

"I arranged for him to escape from Gouffre Martel. He escaped, all right, but not my way. I tried to keep him out of police hands with confusion and catastrophe. He ducked the police, but not my way ... his own way. I tried to keep him out of Central Intelligence's hands with fun and fantasy. He stayed clear ... again his own way. I tried to detour him into a ship so he could make his try for Nomad. He wouldn't detour, but he got his ship. He's on his way out now."

"You're following?"

"Naturally." Dagenham hesitated. "But what was he doing in Baker's factory?

"Plastic surgery?' Sheffield suggested. "A new face?"

"Not possible. Baker's good, but he can't do a plastic that quick. It was minor surgery. Foyle was on his feet with his head bandaged."

"The tattoo," Presteign said.

Dagenham nodded and the smile left his lips. "That's what's worrying me. You realize, Presteign, that if Baker removed the tattooing we'll never recognize Foyle?"

"My dear Dagenham, his face won't be changed."

"We've never seen his face ... only the mask."

"I haven't met the man at all," Sheffield said. "What's the mask like?"

"Like a tiger. I was with Foyle for two long sessions. I ought to know his face by heart, but I don't. All I know is the tattooing."

"Ridiculous," Sheffield said bluntly.

"No. Foyle has to be seen to be believed. However, it doesn't matter. He'll lead us out to Nomad. He'll lead us to your bullion and PyrE, Presteign. I'm almost sorry it's all over. Or nearly. As I said, I've been enjoying myself. He really is unique."
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:31 am


The Saturn Weekender was built like a pleasure yacht; it was ample for four, spacious for two, but not spacious enough for Foyle and Jiz McQueen. Foyle slept in the main cabin; Jiz kept to herself in the stateroom.

On the seventh day out, Jisbella spoke to Foyle for the second time: "Let's get those bandages off, Ghoul."

Foyle left the galley where he was sullenly heating coffee, and kicked back to the bathroom. He floated in after Jisbella and wedged himself into the alcove before the washbasin mirror. Jisbella braced herself on the basin, opened an ether capsule and began soaking and stripping the bandage off with hard, hating hands. The strips of gauze peeled slowly. Foyle was in agony of suspense.

"D'you think Baker did the job?" he asked.

No answer.

"Could he have missed anywhere?"

The stripping continued.

"It stopped hurting two days ago."

No answer.

"For God's sake, Jiz! Is it still war between us?"

Jisbella's hands stopped. She looked at Foyle's bandaged face with hatred. "What do you think?"

"I asked you."

"The answer is yes."


"You'll never understand."

"Make me understand."

"Shut up."

"If it's war, why'd you come with me?"

"To get what's coming to Sam and me."


"Shut up."

"You didn't have to. You could have trusted me."

"Trusted you? You?" Jisbella laughed without mirth and recommenced the peeling. Foyle struck her hands away.

"I'll do it myself."

She lashed him across his bandaged face. "You'll do what I tell you. Be still, Ghoul!"

She continued unwinding the bandage. A strip came away revealing Foyle's eyes. They stared at Jisbella, dark and brooding. The eyelids were clean; the bridge of the nose was clean. A strip came away from Foyle's chin. It was blue-black. Foyle, watching intently in the mirror, gasped.

"He missed the chin," he exclaimed. "Baker goofed-"

"Shut up," Jiz answered shortly. "That's beard."

The innermost strips came away quickly, revealing cheeks, mouth, and brow. The brow was clean. The cheeks under the eyes were clean. The rest was covered with blue-black seven day beard.

"Shave," Jiz commanded.

Foyle ran water, soaked his face, rubbed in shave ointment, and washed the beard off. Then he leaned close to the mirror and inspected himself, unaware that Jisbella's head was close to his as she too stared into the mirror. Not a mark of tattooing remained. Both sighed.

"It's clean," Foyle said. "Clean. He did the job." Suddenly he leaned further forward and inspected himself more closely. His face looked new to him, as new as it looked to Jisbella. "I'm changed. I don't remember looking like this. Did he do surgery on me too?"

"No," Jisbella said. "What's inside you changed it. That's the ghoul you're seeing, along with the liar and the cheat."

"For God's sake! Layoff. Let me alone!"

"Ghoul," Jisbella repeated, staring at Foyle's face with glowing eyes. "Liar. Cheat."

He took her shoulders and shoved her out into the companionway. She went sailing down into the main lounge, caught a guide bar and spun herself around. "Ghoul!" she cried. "Liar! Cheat! Ghoul! Lecher! Beast!"

Foyle pursued her, seized her again and shook her violently. Her red hair burst out of the clip that gathered it at the nape of her neck and floated out like a mermaid's tresses. The burning expression on her face transformed Foyle's anger into passion. He enveloped her and buried his new face in her breast.

"Lecher," Jiz murmured. "Animal ..."

"Oh, Jiz ..."

"The light," Jisbella whispered. Foyle reached out blindly toward the wall switches and pressed buttons, and the Saturn Weekender drove on toward the asteroids with darkened portholes.


They floated together in the cabin, drowsing, murmuring, touching tenderly for hours.

"Poor Gully," Jisbella whispered. "Poor darling Gully ..."

"Not poor," he said. "Rich ... soon."

"Yes, rich and empty. You've got nothing inside you, Gully dear ... Nothing but hatred and revenge."

"It's enough."

"Enough for now. But later?"

"Later? That depends."

"It depends on your inside, Gully; what you get hold of."

"No. My future depends on what I get rid of."

"Gully ... why did you hold out on me in Gouffre Martel? Why didn't you tell me you knew there was a fortune aboard Nomad?"

"I couldn't."

"Didn't you trust me?"

"It wasn't that. I couldn't help myself. That's what's inside me ... what I have to get rid of."

"Control again, eh Gully? You're driven."

"Yes, I'm driven. I can't learn control, Jiz. I want to, but I can't."

"Do you try?"

"I do. God knows, I do. But then something happens, and ... "

"And then you pounce like a tiger. 'Remorseless, lecherous, treacherous, kindless villain ...'"

"What's that?"

"Something a man named Shakespeare wrote. It describes you, Gully ... when you're out of control."

"If I could carry you in my pocket, Jiz ... to warn me ... stick a pin in me ..."

"Nobody can do it for you, Gully. You have to learn yourself."

He digested that for a long moment. Then he spoke hesitantly: "Jiz ... about the money ... ?"

"To hell with the money."

"Can I hold you to that?"

"Oh, Gully."

"Not that I ... that I'm trying to hold out on you. If it wasn't for Vorga, I'd give you all you wanted. And I'll give you every cent left over when I'm finished. But I'm scared, Jiz. Vorga is tough ... what with Presteign and Dagenham and that lawyer, Sheffield. I've got to hold on to every cent, Jiz. I'm afraid if I let you take one credit, that could make the difference between Vorga and I."


"Me." He waited. "Well?"

"You're all possessed," she said wearily. "Not just a part of you, but all of you."


"Yes, Gully. All of you. It's just your skin making love to me. The rest is feeding on Vorga."

At that moment the radar alarm in the forward control cabin burst upon them, unwelcome and warning.

"Destination zero," Foyle muttered, no longer relaxed, once more possessed. He shot forward into the control cabin.


Foyle overran the asteroid with the sudden fury of a Vandal raid. He came blasting out of space, braked with a spume of flame from the forward jets, and kicked the Weekender into a tight spin around the junkheap. They whirled around, passing the blackened ports, the big hatch from which Joseph and his Scientific People emerged to collect the drifting debris of space, the new crater Foyle had torn out of the side of the asteroid in his first plunge back to Terra. They whipped past the giant patchwork windows of the asteroid greenhouse and saw hundreds of faces peering out at them, tiny white dots mottled with tattooing.

"So I didn't murder them," Foyle grunted. "They've pulled back into the asteroid ... Probably living deep inside while they get the rest repaired."

"Will you help them, Gully?"


"You did the damage."

"To hell with them. I've got my own problems. But it's a relief. They won't be bothering us."

He circled the asteroid once more and brought the Weekender down in the mouth of the new crater.

"We'll work from here," he said. "Get into a suit, Jiz. Let's go! Let's go!"

He drove her, mad with impatience; he drove himself. They corked up in their spacesuits, left the Weekender, and went sprawling through the debris in the crater into the bleak bowels of the asteroid. It was like squirming through the crawling tunnels of giant wormholes. Foyle switched on his microwave suit set and spoke to Jiz.

"Be easy to get lost in here. Stay with me. Stay close."

"Where are we going, Gully?"

"After Nomad. I remember they were cementing her into the asteroid when I left. Don't remember where. Have to find her."

The passages were airless, and their progress was soundless, but the vibrations carried through metal and rock. They paused once for breath alongside the pitted hull of an ancient warship. As they leaned against it they felt the vibrations of signals from within, a rhythmic knocking.

Foyle smiled grimly. "That's Joseph and The Scientific People inside, " he said. "Requesting a few words. I'll give 'em an evasive answer." He pounded twice on the hull. "And now a personal message for my wife." His face darkened. He smote the hull angrily and turned away. "Come on. Let's go."

But as they continued the search, the signals followed them. It became apparent that the outer periphery of the asteroid had been abandoned; the tribe had withdrawn to the center. Then, far down a shaft wrought of beaten aluminum, a hatch opened, light blazed forth, and Joseph appeared in an ancient spacesuit fashioned of glass cloth. He stood in the clumsy sack, his devil face staring, his hands clutched in supplication, his devil mouth making motions.

Foyle stared at the old man, took a step toward him, and then stopped, fists clenched, throat working as fury arose within him. And Jisbella, looking at Foyle, cried out in horror. The old tattooing had returned to his face, blood red against the pallor of the skin, scarlet instead of black, truly a tiger mask in color as well as design.

"Gully!" she cried. "My God! Your face!"

Foyle ignored her and stood glaring at Joseph while the old man made beseeching gestures, motioned to them to enter the interior of the asteroid, and then disappeared. Only then did Foyle turn to Jisbella and ask: "What? What did you say?"

Through the clear globe of the helmet she could see his face distinctly. And as the rage within Foyle died away, Jisbella saw the blood- red tattooing fade and disappear.

"Did you see that joker?" Foyle demanded. "That was Joseph. Did you see him begging and pleading after what he did to me ... ? What did you say?"

"Your face, Gully. I know what's happened to your face."

"What are you talking about?"

"You wanted something that would control you, Gully. Well, you've got it. Your face. It-" Jisbella began to laugh hysterically. "You'll have to learn control now, Gully. You'll never be able to give way to emotion ... any emotion ... because-"

But he was staring past her and suddenly he shot up the aluminum shaft with a yell. He jerked to a stop before an open door and began to whoop in triumph. The door opened into a tool locker, four by four by nine. There were shelves in the locker and a jumble of old provisions and discarded containers. It was Foyle's coffin aboard the Nomad.

Joseph and his people had succeeded in sealing the wreck into their asteroid before the holocaust of Foyle's escape had rendered further work impossible. The interior of the ship was virtually untouched. Foyle took Jisbella's arm and dragged her on a quick tour of the ship and finally to the purser's locker where Foyle tore at the windrows of wreckage and debris until he disclosed a massive steel face, blank and impenetrable.

"We've got a choice," he panted. "Either we tear the safe out of the hull and carry it back to Terra where we can work on it, or we open it here. I vote for here. Maybe Dagenham was lying. All depends on what tools Sam has in the Weekender anyway. Come back to the ship, Jiz."

He never noticed her silence and preoccupation until they were back aboard the Weekender and he had finished his urgent search for tools.

"Nothing'" he exclaimed impatiently. "There isn't a hammer or a drill aboard. Nothing but gadgets for opening bottles and rations."

Jisbella didn't answer. She never took her eyes off his face.

"Why are you staring at me like that?" Foyle demanded.

"I'm fascinated," Jisbella answered slowly.

"By what?"

"I'm going to show you something, Gully."


"How much I despise you."

Jisbella slapped him thrice. Stung by the blows, Foyle started up furiously. Jisbella picked up a hand mirror and held it before him.

"Look at yourself, Gully," she said quietly. "Look at your face."

He looked. He saw the old tattoo marks flaming blood-red under the skin, turning his face into a scarlet and white tiger mask. He was so chilled by the appalling spectacle that his rage died at once, and simultaneously the mask disappeared.

"My God ..." he whispered. "Oh my God ... "

"I had to make you lose your temper to show you," Jisbella said.

"What's it mean, Jiz? Did Baker goof the job?"

"I don't think so. I think you've got scars under the skin, Gully ... from the original tattooing and then from the bleaching. Needle scars. They don't show normally, but they do show, blood red, when your emotions take over and your heart begins pumping blood ... when you're furious or frightened or passionate or possessed ... Do you understand?"

He shook his head, still staring at his face, touching it in bewilderment.

"You said you wished you could carry me in your pocket to stick pins in you when you lose control. You've got something better than that, Gully, or worse, poor darling. You've got your face."

"No!" he said. "No!"

"You can't ever lose control, Gully. You'll never be able to drink too much, eat too much, love too much, hate too much ... You'll have to hold yourself with an iron grip."

"No!" he insisted desperately. "It can be fixed. Baker can do it, or somebody else. I can't walk around afraid to feel anything because it'll turn me into a freak!"

"I don't think this can be fixed, Gully."

"Skin-graft ..."

"No. The scars are too deep for graft. You'll never get rid of this stigmata, Gully. You'll have to learn to live with it."

Foyle flung the mirror from him in sudden rage, and again the blood-red mask flared up under his skin. He lunged out of the main cabin to the main hatch where he pulled his spacesuit down and began to squirm into it.

"Gully! Where are you going? What are you going to do?"

"Get tools," he shouted. "Tools for the safe."


"In the asteroid. They've got dozens of warehouses stuffed with tools from wrecked ships. There have to be drills there, everything I need. Don't come with me. There may be trouble. How is my God damned face now? Showing it? By Christ, I hope there is trouble!"

He corked his suit and went into the asteroid. He found a hatch separating the habited core from the outer void. He banged on the door. He waited and banged again and continued the imperious summons until at last the hatch was opened. Arms reached out and yanked him in, and the hatch was closed behind him. It had no air lock.

He blinked in the light and scowled at Joseph and his innocent people gathering before him, their faces hideously decorated. And he knew that his own face must be flaming red and white for he saw Joseph start, and he saw the devil mouth shape the syllables: NOMAD.

Foyle strode through the crowd, scattering them abruptly. He smashed Joseph with a backhand blow from his mailed fist. He searched through the inhabited corridors, recognizing them dimly, and he came at last to the chamber, half natural cave, half antique hull, where the tools were stored.

He rooted and ferreted, gathering up drills, diamond bits, acids, thermites, crystallants, dynamite jellies, fuses. In the gently revolving asteroid the gross weight of the equipment was reduced to less than a hundred pounds. He lumped it into a mass, roughly bound it together with cable, and started out of the store-cave.

Joseph and his Scientific People were waiting for him, like fleas waiting for a wolf. They darted at him and he battered through them, harried, delighted, savage. The armor of his spacesuit protected him from their attacks and he went down the passages searching for a hatch that would lead out into the void.

Jisbella's voice came to him, tinny on the earphones and agitated: "Gully, can you hear me? This is Jiz. Gully, listen to me."

"Go ahead."

"Another ship came up two minutes ago. It's drifting on the other side of the asteroid."


"It's marked with yellow and black colors, like a hornet."

"Dagenham's colors!"

"Then we've been followed."

"What else? Dagenham's probably been tailing me ever since we busted out of Gouffre Martel. I was a fool not to think of it. How'd he tail me, Jiz? Through you?"


"Forget it. Just practicing jokes." He laughed without amusement. "We've got to work fast, Jiz. Cork up in a suit and meet me aboard Nomad. The purser's room. Go, girl."

"But Gully ..."

"Sign off. They may be monitoring our waveband. Go!"

He drove through the asteroid, reached a barred hatch, broke through the guard before it, smashed it open and went into the void of the outer passages. The Scientific People were too desperate getting the hatch closed to stop him. But he knew they would follow him; they were raging.

He hauled the bulk of his equipment through twists and turns to the wreck of the Nomad. Jisbella was waiting for him in the purser's room. She made a move to turn on her microwave set and Foyle stopped her. He placed his helmet against hers and shouted: "No shortwave. They'll be monitoring and they'll locate us by D/F. You can hear me like this, can't you?"

She nodded.

"All right. We've got maybe an hour before Dagenham locates us. We've got maybe an hour before Joseph and his mob come after us. We're in a hell of a jam. We've got to work fast."

She nodded again.

"No time to open the safe and transport the bullion."

"If it's there."

"Dagenham's here, isn't he? That's proof it's there. We'll have to cut the whole safe out of the Nomad and get it into the Weekender. Then we blast."


"Just listen to me and do what I say. Go back to the Weekender. Empty it out. Jettison everything we don't need ... all supplies except emergency rations."


"Because I don't know how many tons this safe weighs, and the ship may not be able to handle it when we come back to gravity. We've got to make allowances in advance. It'll mean a tough trip back but it's worth it. Strip the ship. Fast! Go, girl. Go!"

He pushed her away and without another glance in her direction, attacked the safe. It was built into the structural steel of the hull, a massive steel ball some four feet in diameter. It was welded to the strakes and ribs of the Nomad at twelve different spots. Foyle attacked each weld in turn with acids, drills, thermite, and refrigerants. He was operating on the theory of Structural strain ... to heat, freeze, and etch the steel until its crystalline structure was distorted and its physical strength destroyed. He was fatiguing the metal.

Jisbella returned and he realized that forty-five minutes had passed. He was dripping and shaking but the globe of the safe hung free of the hull with a dozen rough knobs protruding from its surface. Foyle motioned urgently to Jisbella and she strained her weight against the safe with him. They could not budge its mass together. As they sank back in exhaustion and despair, a quick shadow eclipsed the sunlight pouring through the rents in the Nomad hull. They stared up. A spaceship was circling the asteroid less than a quarter of a mile off.

Foyle placed his helmet against Jisbella's. "Dagenham," he gasped. "Looking for us. Probably got a crew down here combing for us too. Soon as they talk to Joseph they'll be here."

"Oh Gully ..."

"We've still got a chance. Maybe they won't spot Sam's Weekender until they've made a couple of revolutions. It's hidden in that crater. Maybe we can get the safe aboard in the meantime."

"How, Gully?"

"I don't know, damn it! I don't know." He pounded his fists together in frustration. "I'm finished."

"Couldn't we blast it out?"

"Blast ... ? What, bombs instead of brains? Is this Mental McQueen speaking?"

"Listen. Blast it with something explosive. That would act like a rocket jet ... give it a thrust."

"Yes, I've got that. But then what? How do we get it into the ship, girl? Can't keep on blasting. Haven't got time."

"No, we bring the ship to the safe."


"Blast the safe straight out into space. Then bring the ship around and let the safe sail right into the main hatch. Like catching a ball in your hat. See?"

He saw. "By God, Jiz, we can do it." Foyle leaped to the pile of equipment and began sorting out sticks of dynamite gelatine, fuses, and caps.

"We'll have to use the short-wave. One of us stays with the safe; one of us pilots the ship. Man with the safe talks the man with the ship into position. Right?"

"Right. You'd better pilot, Gully. I'll do the talking."

He nodded, fixing explosive to the face of the safe, attaching caps and fuses. Then he placed his helmet against hers. "Vacuum fuses, Jiz. Timed for two minutes. When I give the word by shortwave, just pull off the fuse heads and get the hell out of the way. Right?"


"Stay with the safe. Once you've talked it into the ship, come right after it. Don't wait for anything. It's going to be close."

He thumped her shoulder and returned to the Weekender. He left the outer hatch open, and the inner door of the airlock as well. The ship's air emptied out immediately. Airless and stripped by Jisbella, it looked dismal and forlorn.

Foyle went directly to the controls, sat down and switched on his microwave set. "Stand by," he muttered. "I'm coming out now."

He ignited the jets, blew the laterals for three seconds and then the forwards. The Weekender lifted easily, shaking debris from her back and sides like a whale surfacing. As she slid up and back, Foyle called: "Dynamite, Jiz! Now!"

There was no blast; there was no flash. A new crater opened in the asteroid below him and a flower of rubble sprang upward, rapidly outdistancing a dull steel ball that followed leisurely, turning in a weary spin.

"Ease off." Jisbella's voice came cold and competent over the earphones. "You're backing too fast. And incidentally, trouble's arrived."

He braked with the rear jets, looking down in alarm. The surface of the asteroid was covered with a swarm of hornets. They were Dagenham's crew in yellow and black banded spacesuits. They were buzzing around a single figure in white that dodged and spun and eluded them. It was Jisbella.

"Steady as you go," Jiz said quietly, although he could hear how hard she was breathing. "Ease off a little more ... Roll a quarter turn."

He obeyed her almost automatically, still watching the struggle below. The flank of the Weekender cut off any view of the trajectory of the safe as it approached him, but he could still see Jisbella and Dagenham's men. She ignited her suit rocket ... he could see the tiny spurt of flame shoot out from her back and came sailing up from the surface of the asteroid. A score of flames burst out from the backs of Dagenham's men as they followed. Half a dozen dropped the pursuit of Jisbella and came up after the Weekender.

"It's going to be close, Gully," Jisbella was gasping now, but her voice was still steady. "Dagenham's ship came down on the other side, but they've probably signaled him by now and he'll be on his way. Hold your position, Gully. About ten seconds now ..."

The hornets closed in and engulfed the tiny white suit.

"Foyle! Can you hear me? Foyle!" Dagenham's voice came in fuzzily and finally cleared. "This is Dagenham calling on your band. Come in, Foyle!"

"Jiz! Jiz! Can you get clear of them?"

"Hold your position, Gully.... There she goes! It's a hole in one, son!"

A crushing shock racked the Weekender as the safe, moving slowly but massively, rammed into the main hatch. At the same moment the white suited figure broke out of the cluster of yellow wasps. It came rocketing up to the Weekender, hotly pursued.

"Come on, Jiz! Come on!" Foyle howled. "Come, girl! Come!"

As Jisbella disappeared from sight behind the flank of the Weekender, Foyle set controls and prepared for top acceleration.

"Foyle! Will you answer me? This is Dagenham speaking."

"To hell with you, Dagenham," Foyle shouted. "Give me the word when you're aboard, Jiz, and hold on."

"I can't make it, Gully."

"Come on, girl!"

"I can't get aboard. The safe's blocking the hatch. It's wedged in halfway ..."


"There's no way in, I tell you," she cried in despair. "I'm blocked out."

He stared around wildly. Dagenham's men were boarding the hull of the Weekender with the menacing purpose of professional raiders. Dagenham's ship was lifting over the brief horizon of the asteroid on a dead course for him. His head began to spin.

"Foyle, you're finished. You and the girl. But I'll offer a deal ..."

"Gully, help me. Do something, Gully. I'm lost!"

"Vorga," he said in a strangled voice. He closed his eyes and tripped the controls. The tail jets roared. The Weekender shook and shuddered forward. It broke free of Dagenham's boarders, of Jisbella, of warnings and pleas. It pressed Foyle back into the pilot's chair with the blackout of 10G acceleration, an acceleration that was less pressing, less painful, less treacherous than the passion that drove him.

And as he passed from sight there rose up on his face the blood-red stigmata of his possession.
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