The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:32 am

PART 2

With a heart of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
With a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to tourney,
Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end --
Methinks it is no journey.
-- TOM-A-BEDLAM


CHAPTER EIGHT

The old year soured as pestilence poisoned the planets. The war gained momentum and grew from a distant affair of romantic raids and skirmishes in space to a holocaust in the making. It became evident that the last of the World Wars was done and the first of the Solar Wars had begun.

The belligerents slowly massed men and materiel for the havoc. The Outer Satellites introduced universal conscription, and the Inner Planets perforce followed suit. Industries, trades, sciences, skills, and professions were drafted; regulations and oppressions followed. The armies and navies requisitioned and commanded.

Commerce obeyed, for this war (like all wars) was the shooting phase of a commercial struggle. But populations rebelled, and draft- jaunting and labor-jaunting became critical problems. Spy scares and invasion scares spread. The hysterical became informers and lynchers. An ominous foreboding paralyzed every home from Baffin Island to the Falklands. The dying year was enlivened only by the advent of the Four Mile Circus.

This was the popular nickname for the grotesque entourage of Geoffrey Fourmyle of Ceres, a wealthy young buffoon from the largest of the asteroids. Fourmyle of Ceres was enormously rich; he was also enormously amusing. He was the classic bourgeois gentilhomme, the upstart nouveau riche of all time. His entourage was a cross between a country circus and the comic court of a Bulgarian kinglet, as witness this typical arrival in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Early in the morning a lawyer, wearing the stovepipe hat of a legal clan, appeared with a list of camp sites in his hand and a small fortune in his pocket. He settled on a four-acre meadow facing Lake Michigan and rented it for an exorbitant fee. He was followed by a gang of surveyors from the Mason & Dixon clan. In twenty minutes the surveyors had laid out a camp site and the word had spread that the Four Mile Circus was arriving. Locals from Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota came to watch the fun.

Twenty roustabouts jaunted in, each carrying a tent pack on his back. There was a mighty overture of bawled orders, shouts, curses, and the tortured scream of compressed air. Twenty giant tents ballooned upward, their lac and latex surfaces gleaming as they dried in the winter sun. The spectators cheered.

A six-motor helicopter drifted down and hovered over a giant trampoline. Its belly opened and a cascade of furnishings came down. Servants, valets, chefs, and waiters jaunted in. They furnished and decorated the tents. The kitchens began smoking and the odor of frying, broiling, and baking pervaded the camp. Fourmyle's private police were already on duty, patrolling the four acres, keeping the huge crowd of spectators back.

Then, by plane, by car, by bus, by truck, by bike, and by jaunte came Fourmyle's entourage. Librarians and books, scientists and laboratories, philosophers, poets, athletes. Racks of swords and sabres were set up, and judo mats and a boxing ring. A fifty-foot pool was sunk in the ground and filled by pump from the lake. An interesting altercation arose between two beefy athletes as to whether the pool should be warmed for swimming or frozen for skating.

Musicians, actors, jugglers, and acrobats arrived. The uproar became deafening. A crew of mechanics melted a greasepit and began revving up Fourmyle's collection of vintage diesel harvesters. Last of all came the camp followers: wives, daughters, mistresses, whores, beggars, chiselers, and grafters. By midmorning the roar of the circus could be heard for four miles, hence the nickname.

At noon, Fourmyle of Ceres arrived with a display of conspicuous transportation so outlandish that it had been known to make seven- year melancholics laugh. A giant amphibian thrummed up from the south and landed on the lake. An LST barge emerged from the plane and droned across the water to the shore. Its forward wall banged down into a drawbridge and out came a twentieth century staff car. Wonder piled on wonder for the delighted spectators, for the staff car drove a matter of twenty yards to the center of camp and then stopped.

"What can possibly come next? Bike?"

"No, roller skates."

"He'll come out on a pogo stick."

Fourmyle capped their wildest speculations. The muzzle of a circus cannon thrust up from the staff car. There was the bang of a black- powder explosion and Fourmyle of Ceres was shot out of the cannon in a graceful arc to the very door of his tent where he was caught in a net by four valets. The applause that greeted him could be heard for six miles. Fourmyle climbed onto his valets' shoulders and motioned for silence.

"Oh, God! It's going to make a speech."

"It? You mean 'he,' don't you?"

"No; it. It can't be human."

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen," Fourmyle began earnestly. "Lend me your ears, Shakespeare. 1564-1616. Damn!" Four white doves shook themselves out of Fourmyle's sleeves and fluttered away. He regarded them with astonishment, then continued. "Friends, greetings, salutations, bonjour, bon ton, bon vivant, bon voyage, bon- What the hell?" Fourmyle's pockets caught fire and rocketed forth Roman Candles. He tried to put himself out. Streamers and confetti burst from him. "Friends ... Shut up! I'll get this speech straight. Quiet, Friends -- I" Fourmyle looked down at himself in dismay. His clothes were melting away, revealing lurid scarlet underwear. "Kleinmann!" he bellowed furiously. "Kleinmann! What's happened to your goddamned hypno-training?"

A hairy head thrust out of a tent. "You stoodied for dis sbeech last night, Fourmyle?"

"Damn right. For two hours I stoodied. Never took my head out of the hypno-oven. Kleinmann on Prestidigitation."

"No, no, no!" the hairy man bawled. "How many times must I tell you? Prestidigitation is not speechmaking. Is magic. Dumbkopf! You had the wrong hypnosis taken!"

The scarlet underwear began melting. Fourmyle toppled from the shoulders of his shaking valets and disappeared within his tent. There was a roar of laughter and cheering and the Four Mile Circus ripped into high gear. The kitchens sizzled and smoked. There was a perpetuity of eating and drinking. The music never stopped. The vaudeville never ceased.

Inside his tent, Fourmyle changed his clothes, changed his mind, changed again, undressed again, kicked his valets, and called for his tailor in a bastard tongue of French, Mayfair, and affectation. Halfway into a new suit, he recollected he had neglected to bathe. He slapped his tailor, ordered ten gallons of scent to be decanted into the pool, and was stricken with poetic inspiration. He summoned his resident poet.

"Take this down," Fourrnyle commanded. "Le roi est mort, les -- Wait. What rhymes to moon?"

"June," his poet suggested. "Croon, soon, dune, loon, noon, rune, tune, boon ..."

"I forgot my experiment," Fourrnyle exclaimed. "Dr. Bohun! Dr. Bohun!"

Half-naked, he rushed pell-mell into the laboratory where he blew himself and Dr. Bohun, his resident Chemist, halfway across the tent. As the chemist attempted to raise himself from the floor he found himself seized in a most painful and embarrassing stranglehold.

"Nogouchi!" Fourmyle shouted. "Hi! Nogouchi! I just invented a new judo hold."

Fourrnyle stood up, lifted the suffocating chemist and jaunted to the judo mat where the little Japanese inspected the hold and shook his head.

"No, please." He hissed politely. "Hfffff. Pressure on windpipe are not perpetually lethal. Hfffff. I show you, please." He seized the dazed chemist, whirled him and deposited him on the mat in a position of perpetual self-strangulation. "You observe, please, Fourmyle?"

But Fourmyle was in the library bludgeoning his librarian over the head with Bloch's Das Sexual Leben (eight pounds, nine ounces) because that unhappy man could produce no text on the manufacture of perpetual motion machines. He rushed to his physics laboratory where he destroyed an expensive chronometer to experiment with cog wheels, jaunted to the bandstand where he seized a baton and led the orchestra into confusion, put on skates and fell into the scented swimming pool, was hauled out, swearing fulminously at the lack of ice, and was heard to express a desire for solitude.

"I wish to commute with myself," Fourmyle said, kicking his valets in all directions. He was snoring before the last of them limped to the door and closed it behind him.

The snoring stopped and Foyle arose. "That ought to hold them for today," he muttered, and went into his dressing room. He stood before a mirror, took a deep breath and held it, meanwhile watching his face. At the expiration of one minute it was still untainted. He continued to hold his breath, maintaining rigid control over pulse and muscle, mastering the strain with iron calm. At two minutes and twenty seconds the stigmata appeared, blood-red. Foyle let out his breath. The tiger mask faded.

"Better," he murmured. "Much better. The old fakir was right. Yoga is the answer. Control. Pulse, breath, bowels, brains."

He stripped and examined his body. He was in magnificent condition, but his skin still showed delicate silver seams in a network from neck to ankles. It looked as though someone had carved an outline of the nervous system into Foyle's flesh. The silver seams were the scars of an operation that had not yet faded.

That operation had cost Foyle a Cr 200,000 bribe to the chief surgeon of the Mars Commando Brigade and had transformed him into an extraordinary fighting machine. Every nerve plexus had been rewired, microscopic transistors and transformers had been buried in muscle and bone, a minute platinum outlet showed at the base of his spine. To this Foyle affixed a powerpack the size of a pea and switched it on. His body began an internal electronic vibration that was almost mechanical.

"More machine than man," he thought. He dressed, rejected the extravagant apparel of Fourmyle of Ceres for the anonymous black coverall of action.

He jaunted to Robin Wednesbury's apartment in the lonely building amidst the Wisconsin pines. It was the real reason for the advent of the Four Mile Circus in Green Bay. He jaunted and arrived in darkness and empty space and immediately plummeted down. "Wrong coordinates!" he thought. "Misjaunted?" The broken end of a rafter dealt him a bruising blow and he landed heavily on a shattered floor upon the putrefying remains of a corpse.

Foyle leaped up in calm revulsion. He pressed hard with his tongue against his right upper first molar. The operation that had transformed half his body into an electronic machine, had located the control switchboard in his teeth. Foyle pressed a tooth with his tongue and the peripheral cells of his retina were excited into emitting a soft light. He looked down two pale beams at the corpse of a man.

The corpse lay in the apartment below Robin Wednesbury's flat. It was gutted. Foyle looked up. Above him was a ten-foot hole where the floor of Robin's living room had been. The entire building stank of fire, smoke, and rot.

"Jacked," Foyle said softly. "This place has been jacked. What happened?"

The jaunting age had crystallized the hoboes, tramps, and vagabonds of the world into a new class. They followed the night from east to west, always in darkness, always in search of loot, the leavings of disaster, carrion. If earthquake shattered a warehouse, they were jacking it the following night. If fire opened a house or explosion split the defenses of a shop, they jaunted in and scavenged. They called themselves Jack-jaunters. They were jackals.

Foyle climbed up through the wreckage to the corridor on the floor above. The Jack-jaunters had a camp there. A whole calf roasted before a fire which sparked up to the sky through a rent in the roof. There were a dozen men and three women around the fire, rough, dangerous, jabbering in the Cockney rhyming slang of the jackals. They were dressed in mismatched clothes and drinking potato beer from champagne glasses.

An ominous growl of anger and terror met Foyle's appearance as the big man in black came up through the rubble, his intent eyes emitting pale beams of light. Calmly, he strode through the rising mob to the entrance of Robin Wednesbury's flat. His iron control gave him an air of detachment.

"If she's dead," he thought, "I'm finished. I've got to use her. But if she's dead ..."

Robin's apartment was gutted like the rest of the building. The living room was an oval of floor around the jagged hole in the center. Foyle searched for a body. Two men and a woman were in the bed in the bedroom. The men cursed. The woman shrieked at the apparition. The men hurled themselves at Foyle. He backed a step and pressed his tongue against his upper incisors. Neural circuits buzzed and every sense and response in his body was accelerated by a factor of five.

The effect was an instantaneous reduction of the external world to extreme slow motion. Sound became a deep garble. Color shifted down the spectrum to the red. The two assailants seemed to float toward him with dreamlike languor. To the rest of the world Foyle became a blur of action. He side-stepped the blow inching toward him, walked around the man, raised him and threw him toward the crater in the living room. He threw the second man after the first jackal. To Foyle's accelerated senses their bodies seemed to drift slowly, still in mid-stride, fists inching forward, open mouths emitting heavy clotted sounds.

Foyle whipped to the woman cowering in the bed.

"Wsthrabdy?" the blur asked.

The woman shrieked.

Foyle pressed his upper incisors again, cutting off the acceleration. The external world shook itself out of slow motion back to normal. Sound and color leaped up the spectrum and the two jackals disappeared through the crater and crashed into the apartment below.

"Was there a body?" Foyle repeated gently. "A Negro girl?" The woman was unintelligible. He took her by the hair and shook her, then hurled her through the crater in the living room floor.

His search for a clue to Robin's fate was interrupted by the mob from the hall. They carried torches and makeshift weapons. The Jack- jaunters were not professional killers. They only worried defenseless prey to death. "Don't bother me," Foyle warned quietly, ferreting intently through closets and under overturned furniture.

They edged closer, goaded by a ruffian in a mink suit and a tri-cornered hat, and inspired by the curses percolating up from the floor below. The man in the tricorne threw a torch at Foyle. It burned him. Foyle accelerated again and the Jack-jaunters were transformed into living statues. Foyle picked up half a chair and calmly clubbed the slow-motion figures. They remained upright. He thrust the man in the tricorne down on the floor and knelt on him. Then he decelerated.

Again the external world came to life. The jackals dropped in their tracks, pole-axed. The man in the tricorne hat and mink suit roared.

'Was there a body in here?" Foyle asked. "Negro girl. Very tall. Very beautiful."

The man writhed and attempted to gouge Foyle's eyes.

"You keep track of bodies," Foyle said gently. "Some of you Jacks like dead girls better than live ones. Did you find her body in here?"

Receiving no satisfactory answer, he picked up a torch and set fire to the mink suit. He followed the Jack-jaunter into the living room and watched him with detached interest. The man howled, toppled over the edge of the crater and flamed down into the darkness below.

"Was there a body?" Foyle called down quietly. He shook his head at the answer. "Not very deft." he murmured. "I've got to learn how to extract information. Dagenham could teach me a thing or two."

He switched off his electronic system and jaunted.

He appeared in Green Bay, smelling so abominably of singed hair and scorched skin that he entered the local Presteign shop (Jewels, perfumes, cosmetics, ionics, & surrogates) to buy a deodorant. But the local Mr. Presto had evidently witnessed the arrival of the Four Mile Circus and recognized him. Foyle at once awoke from his detached intensity and became the outlandish Fourmyle of Ceres. He clowned and cavorted, bought a twelve-ounce flagon of Euge No. 5 at Cr 100 the ounce, dabbed himself delicately and tossed the bottle into the street to the edification and delight of Mr. Presto.

The record clerk at the County Record Office was unaware of Foyle's identity and was obdurate and uncompromising.

"No, Sir. County Records Are Not Viewed Without Proper Court Order For Sufficient Cause. That Must Be Final."

Foyle examined him keenly and without rancor. "Asthenic type," he decided. "Slender, long-boned, no strength. Epileptoid character. Self-centered, pedantic, single-minded, shallow. Not bribable; too repressed and straitlaced. But repression's the chink of his armor."

An hour later six followers from the Four Mile Circus waylaid the record clerk. They were of the female persuasion and richly endowed with vice. Two hours later, the record clerk, dazed by flesh and the devil, delivered up his information. The apartment building had been opened to Jack-jaunting by a gas explosion two weeks earlier. All tenants had been forced to move. Robin Wednesbury was in protective confinement in Mercy Hospital near the Iron Mountain Proving Grounds.

"Protective confinement?" Foyle wondered. "What for? What's she done?"

It took thirty minutes to organize a Christmas party in the Four Mile Circus. It was made up of musicians, singers, actors, and rabble who knew the Iron Mountain coordinates. Led by their chief buffoon, they jaunted up with music, fireworks, firewater, and gifts. They paraded through the town spreading largess and laughter. They blundered into the radar field of the Proving Ground protection system and were driven out with laughter. Fourmyle of Ceres, dressed as Santa Claus, scattering bank notes from a huge sack over his shoulder and leaping in agony as the induction field of the protection system burned his bottom, made an entrancing spectacle. They burst into Mercy Hospital, following Santa Claus who roared and cavorted with the detached calm of a solemn elephant. He kissed the nurses, made drunk the attendants, pestered the patients with gifts, littered the corridors with money, and abruptly disappeared when the happy rioting reached such heights that the police had to be called. Much later it was discovered that a patient had disappeared too, despite the fact that she had been under sedation and was incapable of jaunting. As a matter of fact she departed from the hospital inside Santa's sack.

Foyle jaunted with her over his shoulder to the hospital grounds, There, in a quiet grove of pines under a frosty sky, he helped her out of the sack. She wore severe white hospital pajamas and was beautiful. He removed his own costume, watching the girl intently, waiting to see if she would recognize him and remember him.

She was alarmed and confused; her telesending was like heat lightning: "My God! Who is he? What's happened? Jacks again? Murder, this time? The music. The uproar. Why kidnapped in a sack? Drunks slurring on trombones. 'Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.' Adeste Fidelis. There go the rockets. Feu de joi: or feu d'enfer? What's he want from me? Who is he?"

"I'm Fourmyle of Ceres," Foyle said.

"What? Who? Fourmyle of-? Yes, of course. The buffoon. The bourgeois gentilhomme. Vulgarity. Imbecility. Obscenity. The Four Mile Circus. My God! Am I telesending? Can you hear me?"

"I hear you, Miss Wednesbury," Foyle said quietly.

"What have you done? Why? What do you want with me? I --"

"I want you to look at me."

"Bonjour, Madame. In my sack, Madame. Ecco! Look at me. I'm looking," Robin said, trying to control the jangle of her thoughts. She gazed up into his face without recognition. "It's a face. I've seen so many like it. The faces of men, oh God! The features of masculinity. Every man in rut. Will God never save us from brute desire?"

"My rutting season's over, Miss Wednesbury."

"I'm sorry you heard that. I'm terrified, naturally. I -- You know me?"

"I know you."

"We've met before?" She scrutinized him closely, but still without recognition. Deep down inside Foyle there was a surge of triumph. If this woman of all women failed to remember him he was safe, provided he kept blood and brains and face under control.

"We've never met," he said. "I've heard of you. I want something from you. That's why we're here; to talk about it. If you don't like my offer you can go back to the hospital."

"You want something? But I've got nothing ... nothing. Nothing's left but shame and -- Oh God! Why did the suicide fail? Why couldn't I --'

"So that's it?" Foyle interrupted softly. "You tried to commit suicide, eh? That accounts for the gas explosion that opened the building ... And your protective confinement. Attempted suicide. Why weren't you hurt in the explosion?"

"So many were hurt. So many died. But I didn't. I'm unlucky, I suppose. I've been unlucky all my life."

"Why suicide?"

"I'm tired. I'm finished. I've lost everything ... I'm on the army gray list ... suspected, watched, reported. No job. No family. No -- Why suicide? Dear God, what else but suicide?"

"You can work for me."

"I can ... What did you say?"

"I want you to work for me, Miss Wednesbury."

She burst into hysterical laughter. "For you? Another camp follower. Another Whore of Babylon in the Circus? Work for you, Fourmyle?

"You've got sex on the brain," he said gently. "I'm not looking for tarts. They look for me, as a rule."

"I'm sorry. I'm obsessed by the brute who destroyed me. I -- I'll try to make sense." Robin calmed herself. "Let me understand you. You've taken me out of the hospital to offer me a job. You've heard of me. That means you want something special. My specialty is telesending."

"And charm."

"What?"

"I want to buy your charm, Miss Wednesbury."

"I don't understand."

"Why," Foyle said mildly, "it ought to be simple for you. I'm the buffoon. I'm vulgarity, imbecility, obscenity. That's got to stop. 1want you to be my social secretary."

"You expect me to believe that? You could hire a hundred social secretaries ... a thousand, with your money. You expect me to believe that I'm the only one for you? That you had to kidnap me from protective confinement to get me?"

Foyle nodded. "That's right, there are thousands, but only one that can telesend."

"What's that got to do with it?"

"You're going to be the ventriloquist; I'm going to be your dummy. I don't know the upper classes; you do. They have their own talk, their own jokes, their own manners. If a man wants to be accepted by them he's got to talk their language. I can't, but you can. You'll talk for me, through my mouth ..."

"But you can learn."

"No. It would take too long. And charm can't be learned. I want to buy your charm, Miss Wednesbury. Now, about salary. I'll pay you a thousand a month."

Her eyes widened. "You're very generous, Fourmyle."

"I'll clean up this suicide charge for you."

"You're very kind."

"And I'll guarantee to get you off the army gray list. You'll be back on the white list by the time you finish working for me. You can start with a clean slate and a bonus. You can start living again."

Robin's lips trembled and then she began to cry. She sobbed and shook and Foyle had to steady her. "Well," he asked. "Will you do it?"

She nodded. "You're so kind ... It's ... I'm not used to kindness any more."

The dull concussion of a distant explosion made Foyle stiffen. "Christ!" he exclaimed in sudden panic. "Another Blue Jaunte. I --"

"No," Robin said. "I don't know what blue jaunte is, but that's the Proving Ground. They --" She looked up at Foyle's face and screamed. The unexpected shock of the explosion and the vivid chain of associations had wrenched loose his iron control. The blood-red scars of tattooing showed under his skin. She stared at him in horror, still screaming.

He touched his face once, then leaped forward and gagged her. Once again he had hold of himself.

"It shows, eh?" he murmured with a ghastly smile. "Lost my grip for a minute. Thought I was back in Gouffre Martel listening to a Blue Jaunte. Yes. I'm Foyle. The brute who destroyed you. You had to know, sooner or later, but I'd hoped it would be later. I'm Foyle, back again. Will you be quiet and listen to me?"

She shook her head frantically, trying to struggle out of his grasp. With detached calm he punched her jaw. Robin sagged. Foyle picked her up, wrapped her in his coat and held her in his arms, waiting for consciousness to return. When he saw her eyelids flutter he spoke again.

"Don't move or you'll be sick. Maybe I didn't pull that punch enough."

"Brute ... Beast ..."

"I could do this the wrong way," he said. "I could blackmail you. I know your mother and sisters are on Callisto, that you're classed as an alien belligerent by association. That puts you on the black list, ipso facto. Is that right? Ipso facto. By the very fact: Latin. You can't trust hypno-learning. I could point out that all I have to do is send anonymous information to Central Intelligence and you wouldn't be just suspect any more. They'd be ripping information out of you inside twelve hours ..."

He felt her shudder. "But I'm not going to do it that way. I'm going to tell you the truth because I want to turn you into a partner. Your mother's in the Inner Planets. She's in the Inner Planets," he repeated. "She may be on Terra."

"Safe?" she whispered.

"I don't know."

"Put me down."

"You're cold."

"Put me down."

He set her on her feet.

"You destroyed me once," she said in choked tones. "Are you trying to destroy me again?"

"No. Will you listen?"

She nodded.

"I was lost in space. I was dead and rotting for six months. A ship came up that could have saved me. It passed me by. It let me die. A ship named Vorga. Vorga-T: 1339. Does that mean anything to you?"

"No."

"Jiz McQueen -- a friend of mine who's dead now -- once told me to find out why I was left to rot. That would be the answer to who gave the order. So I started buying information about Vorga. Any information."

"What's that to do with my mother?"

"Just listen. Information was tough to buy. The Vorga records were moved from the Bo'ness & Dig files. I managed to locate three names ... three out of a standard crew of four officers and twelve men. Nobody knew anything or nobody would talk. And I found this." Foyle took a silver locket from his pocket and handed it to Robin. "It was pawned by some spaceman off the Vorga. That's all I could find out."

Robin uttered a cry and opened the locket with trembling fingers. Inside was her picture and the pictures of two other girls. As the locket was opened, the 3D photos smiled and whispered: "Love from Robin, Mama ... Love from Holly, Mama ... Love from Wendy, Mama ..."

"It is my mother's," Robin wept. "It ... She ... For pity's sake, where is she? What happened?"

"I don't know," Foyle said steadily. "But I can guess. I think your mother got out of that concentration camp ... one way or another."

"And my sisters too. She'd never leave them."

"Maybe your sisters too. I think Vorga was running refugees out of Callisto. Your family paid with money and jewelry to get aboard and be taken to the Inner Planets. That's how a spaceman off the Vorga came to pawn this locket."

"Then where are they?"

"I don't know. Maybe they were dumped on Mars or Venus. Most probably they were sold to a labor camp on the Moon, which is why they haven't been able to get in touch with you. I don't know where they are, but Vorga can tell us."

"Are you lying? Tricking me?"

"Is that locket a lie? I'm telling the truth ... all the truth I know. I want to find out why they left me to die, and who gave the order. The man who gave the order will know where your mother and sisters are. He'll tell you ... before I kill him. He'll have plenty of time. He'll be a long time dying."

Robin looked at him in horror. The passion that gripped him was making his face once again show the scarlet stigmata. He looked like a tiger closing in for the kill.

"I've got a fortune to spend ... never mind how I got it. I've got three months to finish the job. I've learned enough maths to compute the probabilities. Three months is the outside before they figure that Fourmyle of Ceres is Gully Foyle. Ninety days. From New Year's to All Fools. Will you join me?"

"You?" Robin cried with loathing. "Join you?"

"All this Four Mile Circus is camouflage. Nobody ever suspects a clown. But I've been studying, learning, preparing for the finish. All I need now is you."

"Why?"

"I don't know where the hunt is going to lead me ... society or slums. I've got to be prepared for both. The slums I can handle alone. I haven't forgotten the gutter, but I need you for society. Will you come in with me?"

"You're hurting me." Robin wrenched her arm out of Foyle's grasp.

"Sorry. I lose control when I think about Vorga. Will you help me find Vorga and your family?"

"I hate you," Robin burst out. "I despise you. You're rotten. You destroy everything you touch. Someday I'll pay you back."

"But we work together from New Year's to All Fools?"

"We work together."
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:32 am

CHAPTER NINE

On New Year's Eve, Geoffrey Fourmyle of Ceres made his onslaught on society. He appeared first in Canberra at the Government House ball, half an hour before midnight. This was a highly formal affair, bursting with color and pageantry, for it was the custom at formals for society to wear the evening dress that had been fashionable the year its clan was founded or its trademark patented.

Thus, the Morses (Telephone and Telegraph) wore nineteenth century frock coats and their women wore Victorian hoop skirts. The Skodas (Powder & Guns) harked back to the late eighteenth century, wearing Regency tights and crinolines. The daring Peenemundes (Rockets & Reactors), dating from the 1920's, wore tuxedos, and their women unashamedly revealed legs, arms, and necks in the decollete of antique Worth and Mainbocher gowns.

Fourmyle of Ceres appeared in evening clothes, very modern and very black, relieved only by a white sunburst on his shoulder, the trademark of the Ceres clan. With him was Robin Wednesbury in a glittering white gown, her slender waist tight in whalebone, the bustle of the gown accentuating her long, straight back and graceful step.

The black and white contrast was so arresting that an orderly was sent to check the sunburst trademark in the Almanac of Peerages and Patents. He returned with the news that it was of the Ceres Mining Company, organized in 2250 for the exploitation of the mineral resources of Ceres, Pallas, and Vesta. The resources had never manifested themselves and the House of Ceres had gone into eclipse but had never become extinct. Apparently it was now being revived.

"Fourmyle? The clown?"

"Yes. The Four Mile Circus. Everybody's talking about him."

"Is that the same man?"

"Couldn't be. He looks human."

Society clustered around Fourmyle, curious but wary.

"Here they come," Foyle muttered to Robin.

"Relax. They want the light touch. They'll accept anything if it's amusing. Stay tuned."

"Are you that dreadful man with the circus, Fourmyle?"

"Sure you are. Smile."

"I am, madam. You may touch me."

"Why, you actually seem proud. Are you proud of your bad taste?"

"The problem today is to have any taste at all."

"The problem today is to have any taste at all. I think I'm lucky."

"Lucky but dreadfully indecent."

"Indecent but not dull."

"And dreadful but delightful. Why aren't you cavorting now?"

"I'm 'under the influence,' Madam."

"Oh dear. Are you drunk? I'm Lady Shrapnel. When will you be sober again?"

"I'm under your influence, Lady Shrapnel."

"You wicked young man. Charles! Charles, come here and save Fourmyle. I'm ruining him."

"That's Victor of RCA Victor."

"Fourmyle, is it? Delighted. What's that entourage of yours cost?"

"Tell him the truth."

"Forty thousand, Victor."

"Good Lord! A week?"

"A day."

"A day! What on earth d'you want to spend all that money for?"

"The truth!"

"For notoriety, Victor."

"Ha! Are you serious?"

"I told you he was wicked, Charles."

"Damned refreshing. Klaus! Here a moment. This impudent young man is spending forty thousand a day ... for notoriety, if you please."

"Skoda of Skoda."

"Good evening, Fourmyle. I am much interested in this revival of the name. You are, perhaps, a cadet descendant of the original founding board of Ceres, Inc.?"

"Give him the truth."

"No, Skoda. It's a title by purchase. I bought the company. I'm an upstart."

"Good. Toujours l'audace!"

"My word, Fourmyle! You're frank."

"Told you he was impudent. Very refreshing. There's a parcel of damned upstarts about, young man, but they don't admit it. Elizabeth, come and meet Fourmyle of Ceres."

"Fourmyle! I've been dying to meet you."

"Lady Elizabeth Citroen."

"Is it true you travel with a portable college?"

"The light touch here."

"A portable high school, Lady Elizabeth."

"But why on earth, Fourmyle?"

"Oh, madam, it's so difficult to spend money these days. We have to find the silliest excuses. If only someone would invent a new extravagance."

"You ought to travel with a portable inventor, Fourmyle."

"I've got one. Haven't I, Robin? But he wastes his time on perpetual motion. What I need is a resident spendthrift. Would any of your clans care to lend me a younger son?"

"Welcome, by God! And there's many a clan would pay for the privilege of unloading."

"Isn't perpetual motion spendthrift enough for you, Fourmyle?"

"No. It's a shocking waste of money. The whole point of extravagance is to act like a fool and feel like a fool, but enjoy it. Where's the joy in perpetual motion? Is there any extravagance in entropy? Millions for nonsense but not one cent for entropy. My slogan."

They laughed and the crowd clustering around Fourmyle grew. They were delighted and amused. He was a new toy. Then it was midnight, and as the great clock tolled in the New Year, the gathering prepared to jaunte with midnight around the world.

"Come with us to Java, Fourmyle. Regis Sheffeld's giving a marvelous legal party. We're going to play 'Sober The Judge.'"

"Hong Kong, Fourmyle."

"Tokyo, Fourmyle. It's raining in Hong Kong. Come to Tokyo and bring your circus."

"Thank you, no. Shanghai for me. The Soviet Duomo. I promise an extravagant reward to the first one who discovers the deception of my costume. Meet you all in two hours. Ready, Robin?"

"Don't jaunte. Bad manners. Walk out. Slowly. Languor is chic. Respects to the Governor ... To the Commissioner ... Their Ladies ... Bien. Don't forget to tip the attendants. Not him, idiot! That's the Lieutenant Governor. All right. You made a hit. You're accepted. Now what?"

"Now what we came to Canberra for."

"I thought we came for the ball."

"The ball and a man named Forrest."

"Who's that?"

"Ben Forrest, spaceman off the Vorga. I've got three leads to the man who gave the order to let me die. Three names. A cook in Rome named Poggi; a quack in Shanghai named Orel; and this man, Forrest. This is a combined operation ... society and search. Understand?"

"I understand."

"We've got two hours to rip Forrest open. D'you know the coordinates of the Aussie Cannery? The company town?"

"I don't want any part of your Vorga revenge. I'm searching for my family."

"This is a combined operation ... every way," he said with such detached savagery that she winced and at once jaunted. When Foyle arrived in his tent in the Four Mile Circus on Jervis Beach, she was already changing into travel clothes. Foyle looked at her. Although he forced her to live in his tent for security reasons, he had never touched her again. Robin caught his glance, stopped changing and waited.

He shook his head. "That's all finished."

"How interesting. You've given up rape?"

"Get dressed," he said, controlling himself. "Tell them they've got two hours to get the camp up to Shanghai."

It was twelve-thirty when Foyle and Robin arrived at the front office of the Aussie Cannery company town. They applied for identification tags and were greeted by the mayor himself.

"Happy New Year," he caroled. "Happy! Happy! Happy! Visiting? A pleasure to drive you around. Permit me." He bundled them into a lush helicopter and took off. "Lots of visitors tonight. Ours is a friendly town. Friendliest company town in the world." The plane circled giant buildings. "That's our ice palace ... Swimming baths on the left ... Big dome is the ski jump. Snow all year 'round ... Tropical gardens under that glass roof. Palms, parrots, orchids, fruit. There's our market ... theater ... got our own broadcasting company, too. 3D-5S. Take a look at the football stadium. Two of our boys made All-American this year. Turner at Right Rockne and Otis at Left Thorpe."

"Do tell," Foyle murmured.

"Yessir, we've got everything. Everything. You don't have to jaunte around the world looking for fun. Aussie Cannery brings the world to you. Our town's a little universe. Happiest little universe in the world."

"Having absentee problems, I see."

The mayor refused to falter in his sales pitch. "Look down at the streets. See those bikes? Motorcycles? Cars? We can afford more luxury transportation per capita than any other town on earth. Look at those homes. Mansions. Our people are rich and happy. We keep 'em rich and happy."

"But do you keep them?"

"What d'you mean? Of course we-"

"You can tell us the truth. We're not job prospects. Do you keep them?"

"We can't keep 'em more than six months," the mayor groaned. "It's a hell of a headache. We give 'em everything but we can't hold on to 'em. They get the wanderlust and jaunte. Absenteeism's cut our production by 12 per cent. We can't hold on to steady labor."

"Nobody can."

"There ought to be a law. Forrest, you said? Right here."

He landed them before a Swiss chalet set in an acre of gardens and took off, mumbling to himself. Foyle and Robin stepped before the door of the house, waiting for the monitor to pick them up and announce them. Instead, the door flashed red, and a white skull and crossbones appeared on it. A canned voice spoke: "WARNING. THIS RESIDENCE IS MAN-TRAPPED BY THE LETHAL DEFENSE CORPORATION OF SWEDEN. R:77-23. YOU HAVE BEEN LEGALLY NOTIFIED."

"What the hell?" Foyle muttered. "On New Year's Eve? Friendly fella. Let's try the back."

They walked around the chalet, pursued by the skull and crossbones flashing at intervals, and the canned warning. At one side, they saw the top of a cellar window brightly illuminated and heard the muffled chant of voices: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ..."

"Cellar Christians!" Foyle exclaimed. He and Robin peered through the window. Thirty worshippers of assorted faiths were celebrating the New Year with a combined and highly illegal service. The twenty-fifth century had not yet abolished God, but it had abolished organized religion.

"No wonder the house is man-trapped," Foyle said. "Filthy practices like that. Look, they've got a priest and a rabbi, and that thing behind them is a crucifix."

"Did you ever stop to think what swearing is?" Robin asked quietly. "You say 'Jesus' and 'Jesus Christ.' Do you know what
that is?'

"Just swearing, that's all. Like 'ouch' or 'damn.'"

"No, it's religion. You don't know it, but there are two thousand years of meaning behind words like that."

"This is no time for dirty talk," Foyle said impatiently. "Save it for later. Come on."

The rear of the chalet was a solid wall of glass, the picture window of a dimly lit, empty living room.

"Down on your face," Foyle ordered. "I'm going in."

Robin lay prone on the marble patio. Foyle triggered his body, accelerated into a lightning blur, and smashed a hole in the glass wall. Far down on the sound spectrum he heard dull concussions. They were shots. Quick projectiles laced toward him. Foyle dropped to the floor and tuned his ears, sweeping from low bass to supersonic until at last he picked up the hum of the ManTrap control mechanism. He turned his head gently, pin-pointed the location by binaural D/F, wove in through the stream of shots and demolished the mechanism. He decelerated.

"Come in. quick!"

Robin joined him in the living room, trembling. The Cellar Christians were pouring up into the house somewhere, emitting the sounds of martyrs.

"Wait here," Foyle grunted. He accelerated, blurred through the house, located the Cellar Christians in poses of frozen light, and sorted through them. He returned to Robin and decelerated.

"None of them is Forrest," he reported. "Maybe he's upstairs. The back way, while they're going out the front. Come on!"

They raced up the back stairs. On the landing they paused to take bearings.

"Have to work fast," Foyle muttered. "Between the shots and the religion riot, the world and his wife'll be jaunting around asking questions --" He broke off. A low mewling sound came from a door at the head of the stairs. Foyle sniffed.

"Analogue" he exclaimed. "Must be Forrest. How about that? Religion in the cellar and dope upstairs."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'll explain later. In here. I only hope he isn't on a gorilla kick."

Foyle went through the door like a diesel tractor. They were in a large, bare room. A heavy rope was suspended from the ceiling. A naked man was entwined with the rope midway in the air. He squirmed and slithered up and down the rope, emitting a mewling sound and a musky odor.

"Python," Foyle said. "That's a break. Don't go near him. He'll mash your bones if he touches you."

Voices below began to call: "Forrest! What's all the shooting? Happy New Year, Forrest! Where in hell's the celebration?"

"Here they come," Foyle grunted. "Have to jaunte him out of here. Meet you back at the beach. Go!"

He whipped a knife out of his pocket, cut the rope, swung the squirming man to his back and jaunted. Robin was on the empty Jervis beach a moment before him. Foyle arrived with the squirming man oozing over his neck and shoulders like a python, crushing him in a terrifying embrace. The red stigmata suddenly burst out on Foyle's face.

"Sinbad," he said in a strangled voice. "Old Man of the Sea. Quick girl! Right pockets. Three over. Two down. Sting ampule. Let him have it anywh-" His voice was choked off.

Robin opened the pocket, found a packet of glass beads and took them out. Each bead had a bee-sting end. She thrust the sting of an ampule into the writhing man's neck. He collapsed. Foyle shook him off and arose from the sand.

"Christ!" he muttered, massaging his throat. He took a deep breath. "Blood and bowels. Control," he said, resuming his air of detached calm. The scarlet tattooing faded from his face.

"What was all that horror?" Robin asked.

"Analogue, psychiatric dope for psychotics. Illegal. A twitch has to release himself somehow, revert back to the primitive. He identifies with a particular kind of animal ... gorilla, grizzly, brood bull, wolf ... Takes the dope and turns into the animal he admires. Forrest was queer for snakes, seems as if."

"How do you know all this?"

"Told you I've been studying ... preparing for Vorga. This is one of the things I learned. Show you something else I've learned, if you're not chicken-livered. How to bring a twitch out of Analogue."

Foyle opened another pocket in his battle coveralls and got to work on Forrest. Robin watched for a moment, then uttered a horrified cry, turned and walked to the edge of the water. She stood, staring blindly at the surf and the stars, until the mewling and the twisting ceased and Foyle called to her.

"You can come back now."

Robin returned to find a shattered creature seated upright on the beach gazing at Foyle with dull, sober eyes.

"You're Forrest?"

"Who the hell are you?"

"You're Ben Forrest, leading spaceman. Formerly aboard the Presteign Vorga."

Forrest cried out in terror.

"You were aboard the Vorga on September 15, 2436."

The man sobbed and shook his head.

"On September sixteen you passed a wreck. Out near the asteroid belt. Wreck of the Nomad, your sister ship. she signalled for help. Vorga passed her by. Left her to drift and die. Why did Vorga pass her by?"

Forrest began to scream hysterically.

"Who gave the order to pass her by?"

"Jesus, no! No! No!"

"The records are all gone from the Bo'ness & Uig files. Someone got to them before me. Who was that? Who was aboard Vorga? Who shipped with you? I want officers and crew. Who was in command?"

"No," Forrest screamed. "No!"

Foyle held a sheaf of bank notes before the hysterical man's face. "I'll pay for the information. Fifty thousand. Analogue for the rest of your life. Who gave the order to let me die, Forrest? Who?"

The man smote the bank notes from Foyle's hand, leaped up and ran down the beach. Foyle tackled him at the edge of the surf. Forrest fell headlong, his face in the water. Foyle held him there.

"Who commanded Vorga, Forrest? Who gave the order?"

"You're drowning him'" Robin cried.

"Let him suffer a little. Water's easier than vacuum. I suffered for six months. Who gave the order, Forrest?"

The man bubbled and choked. Foyle lifted his head out of the water. "What are you? Loyal? Crazy? Scared? Your kind would sell out for five thousand. I'm offering fifty. Fifty thousand for information, you son of a bitch, or you die slow and hard." The tattooing appeared on Foyle's face. He forced Forrest's head back into the water and held the struggling man. Robin tried to pull him off.

"You're murdering him!"

Foyle turned his terrifying face on Robin. "Get your hands off me, bitch! Who was aboard with you, Forrest? Who gave the order? Why?"

Forrest twisted his head out of the water. "Twelve of us on Vorga," he screamed. "Christ save me! There was me and Kemp --"

He jerked spasmodically and sagged. Foyle pulled his body out of the surf.

"Go on. You and who? Kemp? Who else? Talk."

There was no response. Foyle examined the body.

"Dead," he growled.

"Oh my God! My God!"

"One lead shot to hell. Just when he was opening up. What a damned break." He took a deep breath and drew calm about him like an iron cloak. The tattooing disappeared from his face. He adjusted his watch for 120 degrees east longitude. "Almost midnight in Shanghai. Let's go. Maybe we'll have better luck with Sergei Orel, pharmacist's mate off the Vorga. Don't look so scared. This is only the beginning. Go, girl. Jaunte!"

Robin gasped. He saw that she was staring over his shoulder with an expression of incredulity. Foyle turned. A flaming figure loomed on the beach, a huge man with burning clothes and a hideously tattooed face. It was himself.

"Christ!" Foyle exclaimed. He took a step toward his burning image, and abruptly it was gone.

He turned to Robin, ashen and trembling. "Did you see that?"

"Yes."

"What was it?"

"You."

"For God's sake! Me? How's that possible? How-"

"It was you."

"But --" He faltered, the strength and furious possession drained out of him. "Was it illusion? Hallucination?"

"I don't know. I saw it too."

"Christ Almighty! To see yourself ... face to face ... The clothes were on fire. Did you see that? What in God's name was it?"

"It was Gully Foyle," Robin said, "burning in hell."

"All right," Foyle burst out angrily. "It was me in hell, but I'm still going through with it. If I burn in hell, Vorga'll burn with me." He pounded his palms together, stinging himself back to strength and purpose. "I'm still going through with it, by God! Shanghai next. Jaunte!"
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:33 am

CHAPTER TEN

At the costume ball in Shanghai, Fourmyle of Ceres electrified society by appearing as Death in Durer's "Death and the Maiden" with a dazzling blonde creature clad in transparent veils. A Victorian society which stifled its women in purdah, and which regarded the 1920 gowns of the peenemunde clan as excessively daring, was shocked, despite the fact that Robin Wednesbury was chaperoning the pair. But when Fourmyle revealed that the female was a magnificent android, there was an instant reversal of opinion in his favor. Society was delighted with the deception. The naked body, shameful in humans, was merely a sexless curiosity in androids.

At midnight, Fourmyle auctioned off the android to the gentlemen of the ball.

"The money to go to charity, Fourmyle?"

"Certainly not. You know my slogan: Not one cent for entropy. Do I hear a hundred credits for this expensive and lovely creature? One hundred, gentlemen? She's all beauty and highly adaptable. Two? Thank you. Three and a half? Thank you. I'm bid -- Five? Eight? Thank you. Any more bids for this remarkable product of the resident genius of the Four Mile Circus? She walks. She talks. She adapts. She has been conditioned to respond to the highest bidder. Nine? Do I hear any more bids? Are you all done? Are you all through? Sold, to Lord Yale for nine hundred credits."

Tumultuous applause and appalled ciphering: "An android like that must have cost ninety thousand! How can he afford it?"

"Will you turn the money over to the android, Lord Yale? She will respond suitably. Until we meet again in Rome, ladies and gentlemen ... The Borghese Palace at midnight. Happy New Year."

Fourmyle had already departed when Lord Yale discovered, to the delight of himself and the other bachelors, that a double deception had been perpetrated. The android was, in fact, a living, human creature, all beauty and highly adaptable. She responded magnificently to nine hundred credits. The trick was the smoking room story of the year. The stags waited eagerly to congratulate Fourmyle.

But Foyle and Robin Wednesbury were passing under a sign that read: DOUBLE YOUR JAUNTING OR DOUBLE YOUR MONEY BACK in seven languages, and entering the emporium of DR. SERGEI OREL, CELESTIAL ENLARGER OF CRANIAL CAPABILITIES.

The waiting room was decorated with lurid brain charts demonstrating how Dr. Orel poulticed, cupped, balsamed, and electrolyzed the brain into double its capacity or double your money back. He also doubled your money with anti-febrile purgatives, magnified your morals with tonic roborants, and adjusted all anguished psyches with Orel's Epulotic Vulnerary.

The waiting room was empty. Foyle opened a door at a venture. He and Robin had a glimpse of a long hospital ward. Foyle grunted in disgust.

"A Snow Joint. Might have known he'd be running a dive for hopheads too."

This den catered to Disease Collectors, the most hopeless of neurotic-addicts. They lay in their hospital beds, suffering mildly from illegally induced para-measles, para-flu, para-malaria; devotedly attended by nurses in starched white uniforms, and avidly enjoying their illegal illness and the attention it brought.

"Look at them," Foyle said contemptuously. "Disgusting. If there's anything filthier than a religion-junkey, it's a disease-bird."

"Good evening," a voice spoke behind them.

Foyle shut the door and turned. Dr. Sergei Orel bowed. The good doctor was crisp and sterile in the classic white cap, gown, and surgical mask of the medical clans, to which he belonged by fraudulent assertion only. He was short, swarthy, and olive-eyed, recognizably Russian by his name alone. More than a century of jaunting had so mingled the many populations of the world that racial types were disappearing.

"Didn't expect to find you open for business on New Year's Eve," Foyle said.

"Our Russian New Year comes two weeks later," Dr. Orel answered. "Step this way, please." He pointed to a door and disappeared with a "pop." The door revealed a long flight of stairs. As Foyle and Robin started up the stairs, Dr. Orel appeared above them. "This way, please. Oh ... one moment." He disappeared and appeared again behind them. "You forgot to close the door." He shut the door and jaunted again. This time he reappeared high at the head of the stairs. "In here, please."

"Showing off," Foyle muttered. "Double your jaunting or double your money back. All the same, he's pretty fast. I'll have to be faster."

They entered the consultation room. It was a glass-roofed penthouse. The walls were lined with gaudy but antiquated medical apparatus: a sedative-bath machine, an electric chair for administering shock treatment to schizophrenics, an EKG analyzer for tracing psychotic patterns, old optical and electronic microscopes.

The quack waited for them behind his desk. He jaunted to the door, closed it, jaunted back to his desk, bowed, indicated chairs, jaunted behind Robin's and held it for her, jaunted to the window and adjusted the shade, jaunted to the light switch and adjusted the lights, then reappeared behind his desk.

"One year ago," he smiled, "I could not jaunte at all. Then I discovered the secret, the Salutiferous Abstersive which ..."

Foyle touched his tongue to the switchboard wired into the nerve endings of his teeth. He accelerated. He arose without haste, stepped to the slow-motion figure, "Bloo-hwoo-fwaamawwing" behind the desk, took out a heavy sap, and scientifically smote Orel across the brow, concussing the frontal lobes and stunning the jaunte center. He picked the quack up and strapped him into the electric chair. All this took approximately five seconds. To Robin Wednesbury it was a blur of motion.

Foyle decelerated. The quack opened his eyes, stirred, discovered where he was, and started in anger and perplexity.

"You're Sergei Orel, pharmacist's mate off the Vorga," Foyle said quietly. "You were aboard the Vorga on September 16, 2436."

The anger and perplexity turned to terror.

"On September sixteen you passed a wreck. Out near the asteroid belt. It was the wreck of the Nomad. She signalled for help and Vorga passed her by. You left her to drift and die. Why?"

Orel rolled his eyes but did not answer.

"Who gave the order to pass me by? Who was willing to let me rot and die?"

Orel began to gibber.

"Who was aboard Vorga? Who shipped with you? Who was in command? I'm going to get an answer. Don't think I'm not," Foyle said with calm ferocity. ''I'll buy it or tear it out of you. Why I was I left to die? Who told you to let me die?"

Orel screamed. "I can't talk abou -- Wait I'll tell --"

He sagged.

Foyle examined the body.

"Dead," he muttered. "Just when he was ready to talk. Just like Forrest."

"Murdered."

"No. I never touched him. It was suicide." Foyle cackled without humor.

"You're insane."

"No, amused. I didn't kill them; I forced them to kill themselves."

"What nonsense is this?'

"They've been given Sympathetic Blocks. You know about SBs, girl? Intelligence uses them for espionage agents. Take a certain body of information you don't want told. Link it with the sympathetic nervous system that controls automatic respiration and heart beat. As soon as the subject tries to reveal that information, the block comes down, the heart and lungs stop, the man dies, your secret's kept. An agent doesn't have to worry about killing himself to avoid torture; it's been done for him."

"It was done to these men?"

"Obviously."

"But why?"

"How do I know? Refugee running isn't the answer. Vorga must have been operating worse rackets than that to take this precaution. But we've got a problem. Our last lead is Poggi in Rome. Angelo Poggi, chef's assistant off the Vorga. How are we going to get information out of him without --" He broke off.

His image stood before him, silent, ominous, face burning blood-red, clothes flaming.

Foyle was paralyzed. He took a breath and spoke in a shaking voice. "Who are you? What do you-"

The image disappeared.

Foyle turned to Robin, moistening his lips. "Did you see it?" Her expression answered him. "Was it real?"

She pointed to Sergei Orel's desk, alongside which the image had stood. Papers on the desk had caught fire and were burning briskly. Foyle backed away, still frightened and bewildered. He passed a hand across his face. It came away wet.

Robin rushed to the desk and tried to beat out the flames. She picked up wads of paper and letters and slammed helplessly. Foyle did not move.

"I can't stop it," she gasped at last. "We've got to get out of here."

Foyle nodded, then pulled himself together with power and resolution. "Rome," he croaked. "We jaunte to Rome. There's got to be some explanation for this. I'll find it, by God! And in the meantime I'm not quitting. Rome. Go, girl. Jaunte!"

***

Since the Middle Ages the Spanish Stairs have been the center of corruption in Rome. Rising from the Piazza di Spagna to the gardens of the Villa Borghese in a broad, long sweep, the Spanish Stairs are, have been, and always will be swarming with vice. Pimps lounge on the stairs, whores, perverts, lesbians, catamites. Insolent and arrogant, they display themselves and jeer at the respectables who sometimes pass.

The Spanish Stairs were destroyed in the fission wars of the late twentieth century. They were rebuilt and destroyed again in the war of the World Restoration in the twenty-first century. Once more they were rebuilt and this time covered over with blast-proof crystal. turning the stairs into a stepped Galleria. The dome of the Galleria cut off the view from the death chamber in Keats's house. No longer would visitors peep through the narrow window and see the last sight that met the dying poet's eyes. Now they saw the smoky dome of the Spanish Stairs, and through it the distorted figures of corruption below.

The Galleria of the Stairs was illuminated at night, and this New Year's Eve was chaotic. For a thousand years Rome has welcomed the New Year with a bombardment ... firecrackers, rockets, torpedoes, gunshots, bottles, shoes, old pots and pans. For months Romans save junk to be hurled out of top-floor windows when midnight strikes. The roar of fireworks inside the Stairs, and the clatter of debris clashing on the Galleria roof, were deafening as Foyle and Robin Wednesbury climbed down from the carnival in the Borghese Palace.

They were still in costume: Foyle in the livid crimson-and-black tights and doublet of Cesare Borgia, Robin wearing the silver-encrusted gown of Lucrezia Borgia. They wore grotesque velvet masks. The contrast between their Renaissance costumes and the modern clothes around them brought forth jeers and catcalls. Even the Lobos who frequented the Spanish Stairs, the unfortunate habitual criminals who had had a quarter of their brains burned out by prefrontal lobotomy, were aroused from their dreary apathy to stare. The job seethed around the couple as they descended the Galleria.

"Poggi," Foyle called quietly. "Angelo Poggi?"

A bawd bellowed anatomical adjurations at him.

"Poggi? Angelo Poggi?" Foyle was impassive. "I'm told he can be found on the Stairs at night. Angelo Poggi?"

A whore maligned his mother.

"Angelo Poggi? Ten credits to anyone who brings me to him."

Foyle was ringed with extended hands, some filthy, some scented, all greedy. He shook his head. "Show me, first."

Roman rage crackled around him.

"Poggi? Angelo Poggi?"

***

After six weeks of loitering on the Spanish Stairs, Captain Peter Y'ang-Yeovil at last heard the words he had hoped to hear. Six weeks of tedious assumption of the identity of one Angelo Poggi, chef's assistant off the Vorga, long dead, was finally paying off. It had been a gamble, first risked when Intelligence had brought the news to Captain Y'ang-Yeovil that someone was making cautious inquiries about the crew of the Presteign Vorga, and paying heavily for information,

"It's a long shot," Y'ang-Yeovil had said, "But Gully Foyle, AS-128/127:006, did make that lunatic attempt to blow up Vorga. And twenty pounds of PyrE is worth a long shot."

Now he waddled up the stairs toward the man in the Renaissance costume and mask. He had put on forty pounds weight with glandular shots. He had darkened his complexion with diet manipulation. His features, never of an Oriental cast but cut more along the hawklike lines of the ancient American Indian, easily fell into an unreliable pattern with a little muscular control.

The Intelligence man waddled up the Spanish Stairs, a gross cook with a larcenous countenance. He extended a package of soiled envelopes toward Foyle.

"Filthy pictures, signore? Cellar Christians, kneeling, praying, singing psalms, kissing cross? Very naughty. Very smutty, signore. Entertain your friends ... Excite the ladies."

"No," Foyle brushed the pornography aside. "I'm looking for Angelo Poggi."

Y'ang-Yeovil signalled microscopically. His crew on the stairs began photographing and recording the interview without ceasing its pimping and whoring. The Secret Speech of the Intelligence Tong of the Inner Planets Armed Forces wig-wagged around Foyle and Robin in a hail of tiny tics, sniffs, gestures, attitudes, motions. It was the ancient Chinese sign language of eyelids, eyebrows, fingertips, and infinitesimal body motions.

"Signore?" Y'ang-Yeovil wheezed.

"Angelo Poggi?"

"Si, signore. I am Angelo Poggi."

"Chef's assistant on the Vorga?" Expecting the same start of terror manifested by Forrest and Orel, which he at last understood, Foyle shot out a hand and grabbed Y'ang-Yeovil's elbow. "'Yes?"

"Si, signore," Y'ang-Yeovil replied tranquilly. "How can I serve your worship?"

"Maybe this one can come through," Foyle murmured to Robin. "He's not scared. Maybe he knows a way around the Block. I want information from you, Poggi."

"Of what nature, signore, and at what price?"

"I want to buy all you've got. Anything you've got. Name your price."

"But signore! I am a man full of years and experience. I am not to be bought in wholesale lots. I must be paid item by item. Make your selection and I will name the price. What do you want?"

"You were aboard the Vorga on September 16, 2436?"

"The cost of that item is Cr 10."

Foyle smiled mirthlessly and paid.

"I was, signore."

"I want to know about a ship you passed out near the asteroid belt. The wreck of the Nomad. You passed her on September 16. Nomad signalled for help and Vorga passed her by. Who gave that order?"

"Ah, signore!"

"Who gave you that order, and why?"

"Why do you ask, signore?"

"Never mind why I ask. Name the price and talk."

"I must know why a question is asked before I answer, signore." Y'ang-Yeovil smiled greasily. "And I will pay for my caution by cutting the price. Why are you interested in Vorga and Nomad and this shocking abandonment in space? Were you, perhaps, the unfortunate who was so cruelly treated?"

"He's not Italian! His accent's perfect, but the speech pattern's all wrong. No Italian would frame sentences like that."

Foyle stiffened in alarm. Y'ang-Yeovil's eyes, sharpened to detect and deduce from minutiae, caught the change in attitude. He realized at once that he had slipped somehow. He signalled to his crew urgently.

A white-hot brawl broke out on the Spanish Stairs. In an instant, Foyle and Robin were caught up in a screaming, struggling mob. The crews of the Intelligence Tong were past masters of this OP-I maneuver, designed to outwit a jaunting world. Their split-second timing could knock any man off balance and strip him for identification. Their success was based on the simple fact that between unexpected assault and defensive response there must always be a recognition lag. Within the space of that lag, the Intelligence Tong guaranteed to prevent any man from saving himself.

In three-fifths of a second Foyle was battered, kneed, hammered across the forehead, dropped to the steps and spread-eagled. The mask was plucked from his face, portions of his clothes tom away, and he was ripe and helpless for the rape of the identification cameras. Then, for the first time in the history of the tong, their schedule was interrupted.

A man appeared, straddling Foyle's body ... a huge man with a hideously tattooed face and clothes that smoked and flamed. The apparition was so appalling that the crew stopped dead and stared. A howl went up from the crowd on the Stairs at the dreadful spectacle.

"The Burning Man! Look! The Burning Man!"

"But that's Foyle," Y'ang-Yeovil whispered.

For perhaps a quarter of a minute the apparition stood, silent, burning, staring with blind eyes. Then it disappeared. The man spread- eagled on the ground disappeared too. He turned into a lightning blur of action that whipped through the crew, locating and destroying cameras, recorders, all identification apparatus. Then the blur seized the girl in the Renaissance gown and vanished.

The Spanish Stairs came to life again, painfully, as though struggling out of a nightmare. The bewildered Intelligence crew clustered around Y'ang-Yeovil.

"What in God's name was that, Yeo?"

"I think it was our man. Gully Foyle. You saw that tattooed face."

"And the burning clothes! Christ Almighty!"

"Looked like a witch at the stake."

"But if that burning man was Foyle, who in hell were we wasting our time on?"

"I don't know. Does the Commando Brigade have an Intelligence service they haven't bothered to mention to us?"

"Why the Commandos, Yeo?"

"You saw the way he accelerated, didn't you? He destroyed every record we made."

"I still can't believe my eyes."

"Oh, you can believe what you didn't see, all right. That was top secret Commando technique. They take their men apart and rewire and regear them. I'll have to check with Mars HQ and find out whether Commando Brigade's running a parallel investigation."

"Does the army tell the navy?"

"They'll tell Intelligence," Y'ang-Yeovil said angrily. "This case is critical enough without jurisdictional hassles. And another thing: there was no need to manhandle that girl in the maneuver. It was undisciplined and unnecessary." Y'ang-Yeovil paused, for once unaware of the significant glances passing around him. "I must find out who she is," he added dreamily.

"If she's been regeared too, it'll be real interesting, Yeo," a bland voice, markedly devoid of implication, said. "Boy Meets Commando."

Y'ang-Yeovil flushed. "All right," he blurted. "I'm transparent."

"Just repetitious, Yeo. All your romances start the same way. "There's no need to manhandle that girl ... " And then -- Dolly Quaker, Jean Webster, Gwynn Roget, Marion --"

"No names, please!" a shocked voice interrupted. "Does Romeo tell Juliet?"

"You're all going on latrine assignment tomorrow," Yang-Yeovil said. "I'm damned if I'll stand for this salacious insubordination. No, not tomorrow; but as soon as this case is closed." His hawk face darkened. "My God, what a mess! Will you ever forget Foyle standing there like a burning brand? But where is he? What's he up to? What's it all mean?"
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:33 am

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Presteign of Presteign's mansion in Central Park was ablaze for the New Year. Charming antique electric bulbs with zigzag filaments and pointed tips shed yellow light. The jaunteproof maze had been removed and the great door was open for the special occasion. The interior of the house was protected from the gaze of the crowd outside by a jeweled screen just inside the door.

The sightseers buzzed and exclaimed as the famous and near-famous of clan and sept arrived by car, by coach, by litter, by every form of luxurious transportation. Presteign of Presteign himself stood before the door, iron gray, handsome, smiling his basilisk smile, and welcomed society to his open house. Hardly had a celebrity stepped through the door and disappeared behind the screen when another, even more famous, came clattering up in a vehicle even more fabulous.

The Colas arrived in a band wagon. The Esso family (six sons, three daughters) was magnificent in a glass-topped Greyhound bus. But Greyhound arrived (in an Edison electric runabout) hard on their heels and there was much laughter and chaffing at the door. But when Edison of Westinghouse dismounted from his Esso-fueled gasoline buggy, completing the circle, the laughter on the steps turned into a roar.

Just as the crowd of guests turned to enter Presteign's home, a distant commotion attracted their attention. It was a rumble, a fierce chatter of pneumatic punches, and an outrageous metallic bellowing. It approached rapidly. The outer fringe of sightseers opened a broad lane. A heavy truck rumbled down the lane. Six men were tumbling baulks of timber out the back of the truck. Following them came a crew of twenty arranging the baulks neatly in rows.

Presteign and his guests watched with amazement. A giant machine, bellowing and pounding, approached, crawling over the ties. Behind it were deposited parallel rails of welded steel. Crews with sledges and pneumatic punches spiked the rails to the timber ties. The track was laid to Presteign's door in a sweeping arc and then curved away. The bellowing engine and crews disappeared into the darkness.

"Good God!" Presteign was distinctly heard to stay. Guests poured out of the house to watch.

A shrill whistle sounded in the distance. Down the track came a man on a white horse, carrying a large red flag. Behind him panted a steam locomotive drawing a single observation car. The train stopped before Presteign's door. A conductor swung down from the car followed by a Pullman porter. The porter arranged steps. A lady and gentleman in evening clothes descended.

"Shan't be long," the gentleman told the conductor. "Come back for me in an hour."

"Good God!" Presteign exclaimed again.

The train puffed off. The couple mounted the steps.

"Good evening, Presteign," the gentleman said. "Terribly sorry about that horse messing up your grounds, but the old New York franchise still insists on the red flag in front of trains."

"Fourmyle!" the guests shouted.

"Fourmyle of Ceres!" the sightseers cheered.

Presteign's party was now an assured success.

Inside the vast velvet and plush reception hall, Presteign examined Fourmyle curiously. Foyle endured the keen iron-gray gaze with equanimity, meanwhile nodding and smiling to the enthusiastic admirers he had acquired from Canberra to New York.

"Control," he thought. "Blood, bowels and brains. He grilled me in his office for one hour after that crazy attempt I made on Vorga. Will he recognize me? Your face is familiar, Presteign," Fourmyle said. "Have we met before?"

"I have not had the honor of meeting a Fourmyle until tonight," Presteign answered ambiguously. Foyle had trained himself to read men, but Presteign's hard, handsome face was inscrutable. Standing face to face, the one detached and compelled, the other reserved and indomitable, they looked like a pair of brazen statues at white heat on the verge of running molten.

"I'm told that you boast of being an upstart, Fourmyle."

"Yes. I've patterned myself after the first Presteign."

"Indeed?"

"You will remember that he boasted of starting the family fortune in the plasma blackmarket during the third World War."

"It was the second war, Fourmyle. But the hypocrites of our clan never acknowledge him. The name was Payne then."

"I hadn't known."

"And what was your unhappy name before you changed it to Fourmyle?"

"It was Presteign."

"Indeed?" The basilisk smile acknowledged the hit. "You claim a relationship with our clan?"

"I will claim it in time."

"Of what degree?"

"Let's say ... a blood relationship."

"How interesting. I detect a certain fascination for blood in you, Fourmyle."

"No doubt a family weakness, Presteign."

"You're pleased to be cynical," Presteign said, not without cynicism, "but you speak the truth. We have always had a fatal weakness for blood and money. It is our vice. I admit it."

"And I share it."

"A passion for blood and money?"

"Indeed I do. Most passionately."

"Without mercy, without forgiveness, without hypocrisy?"

"Without mercy, without forgiveness, without hypocrisy."

"Fourmyle, you are a young man after my own heart. If you do not claim a relationship with our clan I shall be forced to adopt you."

"You're too late, Presteign. I've already adopted you."

Presteign took Foyle's arm. "You must be presented to my daughter, Lady Olivia. Will you allow me?"

They crossed the reception hall. Triumph surged within Foyle. He doesn't know. He'll never know. Then doubt came: But I'll never know if he does know. He's crucible steel. He could teach me a thing or two about control.

Acquaintances hailed Fourmyle.

"Wonderful deception you worked in Shanghai."

"Marvelous carnival in Rome, wasn't it? Did you hear about the burning man who appeared on the Spanish Stairs?"

"We looked for you in London."

"What a heavenly entrance that was," Harry Sherwin-Williams called. "Outdid us all, Fourmyle. Made us look like a pack of damned pikers."

"You forget yourself, Harry," Presteign said coldly. "You know I permit no profanity in my home."

"Sorry, Presteign. Where's the circus now, Fourmyle?

"I don't know," Foyle said. "Just a moment."

A crowd gathered, grinning in anticipation of the latest Fourmyle folly. He took out a platinum watch and snapped open the case. The face of a valet appeared on the dial.

"Ahhh ... whatever your name is ... Where are we staying just now?"

The answer was tiny and tinny. "You gave orders to make New York your permanent residence, Fourmyle."

"Oh? Did I? And?"

"We bought St. Patrick's Cathedral. Fourmyle."

"And where is that?"

"Old St. Patrick's, Fourmyle. On Fifth Avenue and what was formerly 50th Street. We've pitched the camp inside."

"Thank you." Fourmyle dosed the platinum Hunter. "My address is Old St. Patrick's, New York. There's one thing to be said for the outlawed religions ... At least they built churches big enough to house a circus."

Olivia Presteign was seated on a dais, surrounded by admirers.

She was a Snow Maiden, an Ice Princess with coral eyes and coral lips, imperious, mysterious, unattainable. Foyle looked at her once and lowered his eyes in confusion before the blind gaze that could only see him as electromagnetic waves and infrared light. His heart began to beat faster.

"Don't be a fool!" he thought desperately. "Control yourself. Stop dreaming. This can be dangerous ..."

He was introduced; was addressed in a husky, silvery voice; was given a cool, slim hand; but the hand seemed to explode within his with an electric shock. It was almost a start of mutual recognition ... almost a joining of emotional impact.

"This is insane. She's a symbol. The Dream Princess . .. The Unattainable ... Control!"

He was fighting so hard that he scarcely realized he had been dismissed, graciously and indifferently. He could not believe it. He stood, gaping like a lout.

"What? Are you still here, Fourmyle?"

"I couldn't believe I'd been dismissed, Lady Olivia."

"Hardly that, but I'm afraid you are in the way of my friends."

"I'm not used to being dismissed. (No. No. All wrong!) At least by someone I'd like to count as a friend."

"Don't be tedious, Fourmyle. Do step down."

"How have I offended you?"

"Offended me? Now you're being ridiculous."

"Lady Olivia ... (Christ! Can't I say anything right? Where's Robin?) Can we start again, please?"

"If you're trying to be gauche, Fourmyle, you're succeeding admirably."

"Your hand again, please. Thank you. I'm Fourmyle of Ceres."

"All right." She laughed. "I'll concede you're a clown. Now do step down. I'm sure you can find someone to amuse."

"What's happened this time?"

"Really, sir, are you trying to make me angry?"

"No. (Yes, I am. Trying to touch you somehow . .. cut through the ice.) The first time our handclasp was ... violent. Now it's nothing. What happened?"

"Fourmyle," Olivia said wearily, "I'll concede that you're amusing, original, witty, fascinating ... anything, if you will only go away."

He stumbled off the dais. "Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. No. She's the dream just as I dreamed her. The icy pinnacle to be stormed and taken. To lay siege . .. invade . .. ravish . .. force to her knees . .."

He came face to face with Saul Dagenham.

He stood paralyzed, coercing blood and bowels.

"Ah, Fourmyle," Presteign said. "This is Saul Dagenham. He can only give us thirty minutes and he insists on spending one of them with you."

"Does he know? Did he send for Dagenham to make sure? Attack. Toujours audace. What happened to your face, Dagenham?" Fourmyle asked with detached curiosity.

The death's head smiled. "And I thought I was famous. Radiation poisoning. I'm hot. Time was when they said 'Hotter than a pistol.' Now they say 'Hotter than Dagenham." The deadly eyes raked Foyle. "What's behind that circus of yours?"

"A passion for notoriety."

"I'm an old hand at camouflage myself. I recognize the signs. What's your larceny?"

"Did Dillinger tell Capone?" Foyle smiled back, beginning to relax, restraining his triumph. I've outfaced them both. "You look happier, Dagenham." Instantly he realized the slip.

Dagenham picked it up in a flash. "Happier than when? Where did we meet before?"

"Not happier than when; happier than me." Foyle turned to Presteign. "I've fallen desperately in love with Lady Olivia."

"Saul, your half hour's up."

Dagenham and Presteign, on either side of Foyle, turned. A tall woman approached, stately in an emerald evening gown, her red hair gleaming. It was Jisbella McQueen. Their glances met. Before the shock could seethe into his face, Foyle turned, ran six steps to the first door he saw, opened it and darted through.

The door slammed behind him. He was in a short blind corridor. There was a click, a pause, and then a canned voice spoke courteously: "You have invaded a private portion of this residence. Please retire."

Foyle gasped and struggled with himself.

"You have invaded a private portion of this residence. Please retire."

"I never knew ... Thought she was killed out there ... She recognized me ..."

"You have invaded a private portion of this residence. Please retire."

"I'm finished ... She'll never forgive me ... Must be telling Dagenham and Presteign now."

The door from the reception hall opened, and for a moment Foyle thought he saw his flaming image. Then he realized he was looking at Jisbella's flaming hair. She made no move, just stood and smiled at him in furious triumph. He straightened.

"By God, I won't go down whining."

Without haste, Foyle sauntered out of the corridor, took Jisbella's arm and led her back to the reception hall. He never bothered to look around for Dagenham or Presteign. They would present themselves, with force and arms, in due time. He smiled at Jisbella; she smiled back, still in triumph.

"Thanks for running away, Gully. I never dreamed it could be so satisfying."

"Running away? My dear Jiz!"

"Well?"

"I can't tell you how lovely you're looking tonight. We've come a long way from Gouffre Martel, haven't we?" Foyle motioned to the ballroom. "Dance?"

Her eyes widened in surprise at his composure. She permitted him to escort her to the ballroom and take her in his arms.

"By the way, Jiz, how did you manage to keep out of Gouffre Martel?"

"Dagenham arranged it. So you dance, now, Gully?"

"I dance, speak four languages miserably, study science and philosophy, write pitiful poetry, blow myself up with idiotic experiments, fence like a fool, box like a buffoon ... In short, I'm the notorious Fourmyle of Ceres."

"No longer Gully Foyle."

"Only to you, dear, and whoever you've told."

"Just Dagenham. Are you sorry I blew your secret?"

"You couldn't help yourself any more than I could."

"No, I couldn't. Your name just popped out of me. What would you have paid me to keep my mouth shut?"

"Don't be a fool. Jiz. This accident's going to earn you about Cr 17,980,000."

"What d'you mean?"

"I told you I'd give you whatever was left over after I finished Vorga."

"You've finished Vorga?" she said in surprise.

"No, dear, you've finished me. But I'll -- keep my promise."

She laughed. "Generous Gully Foyle. Be real generous, Gully. Make a run for it. Entertain me a little."

"Squealing like a rat? I don't know how, Jiz. I'm trained for hunting, nothing else."

"And I killed the tiger. Give me one satisfaction, Gully. Say you were close to Vorga. I ruined you when you were half a step from the finish. Yes?"

"I wish I could, Jiz, but I can't. I'm nowhere. I was trying to pick up another lead here tonight."

"Poor Gully. Maybe I can help you out of this jam. I can say ... oh ... that I made a mistake ... or a joke ... that you really aren't Gully Foyle. I know how to confuse Saul. I can do it, Gully ... if you still love me."

He looked down at her and shook his head. "It's never been love between us, Jiz. You know that. I'm too one-track to be anything but a hunter."

"Too one-track to be anything but a fool!"

"What did you mean, Jiz ... Dagenham arranged to keep you out of Gouffre Martel ... You know how to confuse Saul Dagenham? What have you got to do with him?"

"I work for him. I'm one of his couriers."

"You mean he's blackmailing you? Threatening to send you back if you don't ..."

"No. We hit it off the minute we met. He started off capturing me; I ended up capturing him."

"How do you mean?"

"Can't you guess?"

He stared at her. Her eyes were veiled, but he understood. "Jiz! With him?"

"Yes."

"But how? He-"

"There are precautions. It's ... I don't want to talk about it, Gully."

"Sorry. He's a long time returning."

"Returning?"

"Dagenham. With his army."

"Oh. Yes, of course." Jisbella laughed again, then spoke in a low, furious tone. "You don't know what a tightrope you've been walking, Gully. If you'd begged or bribed or tried to romance me ... By God, I'd have ruined you. I'd have told the world who you were ... Screamed it from the housetops ..."

"What are you talking about?"

"Saul isn't returning, He doesn't know. You can go to hell on your own."

"I don't believe you."

"D'you think it would take him this long to get you? Saul Dagenham?"

"But why didn't you tell him? After the way I ran out on you ..."

"Because I don't want him going to hell with you. I'm not talking about Vorga. I mean something else. PyrE. That's why they hunted you. That's what they're after. Twenty pounds of PyrE"

"What's that?"

"When you got the safe open was there a small box in it? Made of ILI ... Inert Lead Isotope?"

"Yes. "

"What was inside the ILI box?"

"Twenty slugs that looked like compressed iodine crystals."

"What did you do with the slugs?"

"Sent two out for analysis. No one could find out what they are. I'm trying to run an analysis on a third in my lab ... when I'm not clowning for the public."

"Oh, you are, are you? Why?"

"I'm growing up, Jiz," Foyle said gently. "It didn't take much to figure out that was what Presteign and Dagenham were after."

"Where have you got the rest of the slugs?"

"In a safe place."

"They're not safe. They can't ever be safe. I don't know what PyrE is, but I know it's the road to hell, and I don't want Saul walking it."

"You love him that much?"

"I respect him that much. He's the first man that ever showed me an excuse for the double standard."

"Jiz, what is PyrE? You know."

"I've guessed. I've pieced together the hints I've heard. I've got an idea. And I could tell you, Gully, but I won't." The fury in her face was luminous. "I'm running out on you, this time. I'm leaving you to hang helpless in the dark. See what it feels like, boy! Enjoy!"

She broke away from him and swept across the ballroom floor. At that moment the first bombs fell.

They came in like meteor swarms; not so many, but far more deadly. They came in on the morning quadrant, that quarter of the globe in darkness from midnight to dawn. They collided head on with the forward side of the earth in its revolution around the sun. They had been traveling a distance of four hundred million miles.

Their excessive speed was matched by the rapidity of the Terran defense computers which traced and intercepted these New Year gifts from the Outer Satellites within the space of microseconds. A multitude of fierce new stars prickled in the sky and vanished; they were bombs detected and detonated five hundred miles above their target.

But so narrow was the margin between speed of defense and speed of attack that many got through. They shot through the aurora level, meteor level, the twilight limit, the stratosphere, and down to earth. The invisible trajectories ended in titanic convulsions.

The first atomic explosion which destroyed Newark shook the Presteign mansion with an unbelievable quake. Floors and walls shuddered and the guests were thrown in heaps along with furniture and decorations. Quake followed quake as the random shower descended around New York. They were deafening, numbing, chilling. The sounds, the shocks, the flares of lurid light on the horizon were so enormous, that reason was stripped from humanity, leaving nothing but flayed animals to shriek, cower, and run. Within the space of five seconds Presteign's New Year party was transformed from elegance into anarchy.

Foyle arose from the floor. He looked at the struggling bodies on the ballroom parquet, saw Jisbella fighting to free herself, took a step toward her and then stopped. He revolved his head, dazedly, feeling it was no part of him. The thunder never ceased. He saw Robin Wednesbury in the reception hall, reeling and battered. He took a step toward her and then stopped again. He knew where he must go.

He accelerated. The thunder and lightning dropped down the spectrum to grinding and flickering. The shuddering quakes turned into greasy undulations. Foyle blurred through the giant house, searching, until at last he found her, standing in the garden, standing tiptoe on a marble bench looking like a marble statue to his accelerated senses ... the statue of exaltation.

He decelerated. Sensation leaped up the spectrum again and once more he was buffeted by that bigger-than-death size bombardment.

"Lady Olivia," he called.

"Who is that?"

"The clown."

"Fourmyle?"

"Yes."

"And you came searching for me? I'm touched, really touched."

"You're insane to be standing out here like this. I beg you to let me --"

"No, no, no. It's beautiful ... Magnificent."

"Let me jaunte with you to some place that's safe."

"Ah, you see yourself as a knight in armor? Chivalry to the rescue. It doesn't suit you, my dear. You haven't the flair for it. You'd best go."

"I'll stay."

"As a beauty lover?"

"As a lover."

"You're still tedious, Fourmyle. Come, be inspired. This is Armageddon ... Flowering Monstrosity. Tell me what you see."

"There's nothing much," he answered, looking around and wincing. "There's light all over the horizon. Quick clouds of it. Above, there's a ... a sort of sparkling effect. Like Christmas lights twinkling."

"Oh, you see so little with your eyes. See what I see! There's a dome in the sky, a rainbow dome. The colors run from deep tang to brilliant burn. That's what I've named the colors I see. What would that dome be?"

"The radar screen," Foyle muttered.

"And then there are vasty shafts of fire thrusting up and swaying, weaving, dancing, sweeping. What are they?"

"Interceptor beams. You're seeing the whole electronic defense system."

"And I can see the bombs coming down too ... quick streaks of what you call red. But not your red; mine. Why can I see them?"

"They're heated by air friction, but the inert lead casing doesn't show the color to us."

"See how much better you're doing as Galileo than Galahad. Oh! There's one coming down in the east. Watch for it! It's coming, coming, coming ... Now!"

A flare of light on the eastern horizon proved it was not her imagination.

"There's another to the north. Very close. Very. Now!"

A shock tore down from the north.

"And the explosions, Fourmyle ... They're not just clouds of light. They're fabrics, webs, tapestries of meshing colors. So beautiful. Like exquisite shrouds."

"Which they are, Lady Olivia."

"Are you afraid?"

"Yes."

"Then run away."

"No."

"Ah, you're defiant."

"I don't know what I am. I'm scared, but I won't run."

"Then you're brazening it out. Making a show of knightly courage." The husky voice sounded amused. "Just think, Fourmyle. How long does it take to jaunte? You could be safe in seconds ... in Mexico, Canada, Alaska. So safe. There must be millions there now. We're probably the last left in the city."

"Not everybody can jaunte so far and so fast."

"Then we're the last left who count. Why don't you leave me? Be safe. I'll be killed soon. No one will ever know your pretense turned tail."

"Bitch!"

"Ah, you're angry. What shocking language. It's the first sign of weakness. Why don't you exercise your better judgment and carry me off? That would be the second sign."

"Damn you!"

He stepped close to her, clenching his fists in rage. She touched his cheek with a cool, quiet hand, but once again there was that electric shock.

"No, it's too late, my dear," she said quietly. "Here comes a whole cluster of red streaks ... down, down, down ... directly at us. There'll be no escaping this. Quick, now! Run! Jaunte! Take me with you. Quick! Quick!"

He swept her off the bench. "Bitch! Never!"

He held her, found the soft coral mouth and kissed her; bruised her lips with his, waiting for the final blackout.

The concussion never came.

"Tricked!" he exclaimed. She laughed. He kissed her again and at last forced himself to release her. She gasped for breath, then laughed again, her coral eyes blazing.

"It's over, " she said.

"It hasn't begun yet."

"What d'you mean?"

"The war between us."

"Make it a human war," she said fiercely. "You're the first not to be deceived by my looks. Oh God! The boredom of the chivalrous knights and their milk-maid passion for the fairy tale princess. But I'm not like that ... inside. I'm not. I'm not. Never. Make it a savage war between us. Don't win me ... destroy me!'

Suddenly she was Lady Olivia again, the gracious snow maiden. "I'm afraid the bombardment has finished, my dear Fourmyle. The show is over. But what an exciting prelude to the New Year. Good night."

"Good night?" he echoed incredulously.

"Good night," she repeated. "Really, my dear Fourmyle, are you so gauche that you never know when you're dismissed? You may go now. Good night."

He hesitated, searched for words, and at last turned and lurched out of the house. He was trembling with elation and confusion. He walked in a daze, scarcely aware of the confusion and disaster around him. The horizon now was lit with the light of red flames. The shock waves of the assault had stirred the atmosphere so violently that winds still whistled in strange gusts. The tremor of the explosions had shaken the city so hard that brick, cornice, glass, and metal were tumbling and crashing. And this despite the fact that no direct hit had been made on New York.

The streets were empty; the city was deserted. The entire population of New York, of every city, had jaunted in a desperate search for safety ... to the limit of their ability ... five miles, fifty miles, five hundred miles. Some had jaunted into the center of a direct hit. Thousands died in jaunte-explosions, for the public jaunte stages had never been designed to accommodate the crowding of mass exodus.

Foyle became aware of white-armored Disaster Crews appearing on the streets. An imperious signal directed at him warned him that he was about to be summarily drafted for disaster work. The problem of jaunting was not to get populations out of cities, but to force them to return and restore order. Foyle had no intention of spending a week fighting fire and looters. He accelerated and evaded the Disaster Crew.

At Fifth Avenue he decelerated; the drain of acceleration on his energy was so enormous that he was reluctant to maintain it for more than a few moments. Long periods of acceleration demanded days of recuperation.

The looters and Jack-jaunters were already at work on the avenue, singly, in swarms, furtive yet savage; jackals rending the body of a living but helpless animal. They descended on Foyle. Anything was their prey tonight.

"I'm not in the mood," he told them. "Play with somebody else."

He emptied the money out of his pockets and tossed it to them. They snapped it up but were not satisfied. They desired entertainment and he was obviously a helpless gentleman. Half a dozen surrounded Foyle and closed in to torment him.

"Kind gentleman," they smiled. "We're going to have a party."

Foyle had once seen the mutilated body of one of their party guests. He sighed and detached his mind from visions of Olivia Presteign.

"All right, jackals," he said. "Let's have a party."

They prepared to send him into a screaming dance. Foyle tripped the switchboard in his mouth and became for twelve devastating seconds the most murderous machine ever devised ... the Commando killer. It was done without conscious thought or violation; his body merely followed the directive taped into muscle and reflex. He left six bodies stretched on the street.

Old St. Pat's still stood, unblemished, eternal, the distant fires flickering on the green copper of its roof. Inside, it was deserted. The tents of the Four Mile Circus filled the nave, illuminated and furnished, but the circus personnel was gone. Servants, chefs, valets, athletes, philosophers, camp followers, and crooks had fled.

"But they'll be back to loot," Foyle murmured.

He entered his own tent. The first thing he saw was a figure in white, crouched on a rug, crooning sunnily to itself. It was Robin Wednesbury, her gown in tatters, her mind in tatters.

"Robin!"

She went on crooning wordlessly. He pulled her up, shook her, and slapped her. She beamed and crooned. He filled a syringe and gave her a tremendous shot of Niacin. The sobering wrench of the drug on her pathetic flight from reality was ghastly. Her satin skin turned ashen. The beautiful face twisted. She recognized Foyle, remembered what she had tried to forget, screamed and sank to her knees. She began to cry.

"That's better," he told her. "You're a great one to escape, aren't you? First suicide. Now this. What's next?"

"Go away."

"Probably religion. I can see you joining a cellar sect with passwords like Pax Vobiscum. Bible smuggling and martyrdom for the faith. Can't you ever face up to anything?'

"Don't you ever run away?"

"Never. Escape is for cripples. Neurotics."

"Neurotics. The favorite word of the Johnny-Come-Lately educated. You're so educated, aren't you? So poised. So balanced. You've been running away all your life."

"Me? Never. I've been hunting all my life."

"You've been running. Haven't you ever heard of Attack-Escape? To run away from reality by attacking it ... denying it ... destroying it? That's what you've been doing."

"Attack-Escape?" Foyle was brought up with a jolt. "You mean I've been running away from something?"

"Obviously."

"From what?"

"From reality. You can't accept life as it is. You refuse. You attack it ... try to force it into your own pattern. You attack and destroy everything that stands in the way of your own insane pattern." She lifted her tearstained face. "I can't stand it any more. I want you to let me go."

"Go? Where?"

"To live my own life."

"What about your family?"

"And find them my own way."

"Why? What now?"

"It's too much ... you and the war ... because you're as bad as the war. Worse. What happened to me tonight is what happens to me every moment I'm with you. I can stand one or the other; not both."

"No," he said. "I need you."

"I'm prepared to buy my way out."

"How?"

"You've lost all your leads to Vorga, haven't you?"

"And?"

"I've found another."

"Where?"

"Never mind where. Will you agree to let me go if I turn it over to you?"

"I can take it from you."

"Go ahead. Take it." Her eyes flashed. "If you know what it is, you won't have any trouble."

"I can make you give it to me."

"Can you? After the bombing tonight? Try."

He was taken aback by her defiance. "How do I know you're not bluffing?"

"I'll give you one hint. Remember the man in Australia?"

"Forrest?"

"Yes. He tried to tell you the names of the crew. Do you remember the only name he got out?"

"Kemp."

"He died before he could finish it. The name is Kempsey."

"That's your lead?"

"Yes. Kempsey. Name and address. In return for your promise to let me go."

"It's a sale," he said. "You can go. Give it to me."

She went at once to the travel dress she had worn in Shanghai. From the pocket she took out a sheet of partially burned paper.

"I saw this on Sergei Orel's desk when I was trying to put the fire out ... the fire the Burning Man started ..."

She handed him the sheet of paper. It was a fragment of a begging letter. It read:

... do anything to get out of these bacteria fields. Why should a man just because he can't jaunte get treated like a dog? Please help me, Serg. Help an old shipmate off a ship we don't mention. You can spare Cr 100. Remember all the favors I done you? Send Cr 100 or even Cr 50. Don't let me down.
Rodg Kempsey
Barrack 3
Bacteria, Inc.
Mare Nubium
Moon

"By God," Foyle exclaimed. "This is the lead. We can't fail this time. We'll know what to do. He'll spill everything ... everything." He grinned at Robin. "We leave for the moon tomorrow night. Book passage. No, there'll be trouble on account of the attack. Buy a ship. They'll be unloading them cheap anyway."

"We?" Robin said. "You mean you."

"I mean we," Foyle answered. "We're going to the moon. Both of us."

"I'm leaving."

"You're not leaving. You're staying with me."

"But you swore you'd-"

"Grow up, girl. I had to swear to anything to get this. I need you more than ever now. Not for Vorga. I'll handle Vorga myself. For something much more important."

He looked at her incredulous face and smiled ruefully. "It's too bad, girl. If you'd given me this letter two hours ago I'd have kept my word. But it's too late now. I need a Romance Secretary. I'm in love with Olivia Presteign."

She leaped to her feet in a blaze of fury. "You're in love with her? Olivia Presteign? In love with that white corpse!" The bitter fury of her telesending was a startling revelation to him. "Ah, now you have lost me. Forever. Now I'll destroy you!"

She disappeared.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:34 am

CHAPTER TWELVE

Captain Peter Y'ang-Yeovil was handling reports at Central Intelligence Hq, in London at the rate of six per minute. Information was phoned in, wired in, cabled in, jaunted in. The bombardment picture unfolded rapidly.

ATTACK SATURATED N & S AMERICA FROM 60º TO 120º WEST LONGITUDE ... LABRADOR TO ALASKA IN N ... RIO TO ECUADOR IN S ... ESTIMATED TEN PER CENT (10%) MISSILES PENETRATED INTERCEPTION SCREEN ... ESTIMATED POPULATION LOSS: TEN TO TWELVE MILLION ...

"Thank God for jaunting," Y'ang-Yeovil said. "Or the losses would have been five times that. All the same, it's close to a knockout. One more punch like that and Terra's finished."

He addressed this to the assistants jaunting in and out of his office, appearing and disappearing, dropping reports on his desk and chalking results and equations on the glass blackboard that covered one entire wall. Informality was the rule, and Y'angYeovil was surprised and suspicious when an assistant knocked on his door and entered with elaborate formality.

"What larceny now?" he asked.

"Lady to see you, Yeo."

"Is this the time for comedy?" Y'ang-Yeovii said in exasperated tones. He pointed to the Whitehead equations spelling disaster on the transparent blackboard. "Read that and weep on the way out."

"Very special lady, Yeo. Your Venus from the Spanish Stairs."

"Who? What Venus?"

"Your Congo Venus."

"Oh? That one?" Y'ang-Yeovil hesitated. "Send her in."

"You'll interview her in private, of course."

"Of course nothing. There's a war on. Keep those reports coming, but tip everybody to switch to Secret Speech if they have to talk to me."

Robin Wednesbury entered the office, still wearing the torn white evening gown. She had jaunted immediately from New York to London without bothering to change. Her face was strained, but lovely. Y'ang-Yeovil gave her a split-second inspection and realized that his first appreciation of her had not been mistaken. Robin returned the inspection and her eyes dilated. "But you're the cook from the Spanish Stairs! Angelo Poggi!"

As an Intelligence Officer, Y'ang-Yeovil was prepared to deal with this crisis. "Not a cook, madam. I haven't had time to change back to my usual fascinating self. Please sit here, Miss ... ?"

"Wednesbury. Robin Wednesbury."

"Charmed. I'm captain Y'ang-Yeovil. How nice of you to come and see me, Miss Wednesbury. You've saved me a long hard search."

"B-But I don't understand. What were you doing on the Spanish Stairs? Why were you hunting-?"

Y'ang-Yeovil saw that her lips weren't moving. "Ah? You're a telepath, Miss Wednesbury? How is that possible? I thought I knew every telepath in the system."

"I'm not a full telepath. I'm a telesend. I can only send ... not receive."

"Which, of course, makes you worthless to the world. I see." Y'ang-Yeovil cocked a sympathetic eye at her. "What a dirty trick, Miss Wednesbury ... to be saddled with all the disadvantages of telepathy, and be deprived of all the advantages. I do sympathize. Believe me."

"Bless him! He's the first ever to realize that without being told."

"Careful. Miss Wednesbury, I'm receiving you. Now, about the Spanish Stairs?"

He paused, listening intently to her agitated telesending: "Why was he hunting? Me? Alien Being -- Oh God! Will they hurt me? Cut and -- Information. I --"

"My dear girl," Y'ang-Yeovil said gently. He took her hands and held them sympathetically. "Listen to me a moment. You're alarmed over nothing. Apparently you're an Alien Belligerent. Yes?"

She nodded.

"That's unfortunate, but we won't worry about it now. About Intelligence cutting and slicing information out of people ... that's all propaganda."

"Propaganda?"

"We're not maladroits, Miss Wednesbury. We know how to extract information without being medieval. But we spread the legend to soften people up in advance, so to speak."

"Is that true? He's lying. It's a trick."

"It's true, Miss Wednesbury. I do finesse, but there's no need now. Not when you've evidently come of your own free will to offer information."

"He's too adroit ... too quick ... He-"

"You sound as though you've been badly tricked recently, Miss Wednesbury ... Badly burned."

"I have. God, I have. By myself, mostly. I'm a fool. A hateful fool."

"Never a fool, Miss Wednesbury, and never hateful. I don't know what's happened to shatter your opinion of yourself, but I hope to restore it. So ... you've been deceived, have you? By yourself, mostly? We all do that. But you've been helped by someone. Who?"

"I'm betraying him."

"Then don't tell me."

"But I've got to find my mother and sisters ... I can't trust him any more ... I've got to do it myself." Robin took a deep breath. "I want to tell you about a man named Gulliver Foyle."

Y'ang-Yeovil at once got down to business.

***

"Is it true he arrived by railroad?" Olivia Presteign asked. "In a locomotive and observation car? What wonderful audacity."

"Yes, he's a remarkable young man," Presteign answered. He stood, iron gray and iron hard, in the reception hall of his home, alone with his daughter. He was guarding honor and life while he waited for servants and staff to return from their panic-stricken jaunte to safety. He chatted imperturbably with Olivia, never once permitting her to realize their grave danger.

"Father, I'm exhausted."

"It's been a trying night, my dear. But please don't retire yet."

"Why not?'

Presteign refrained from telling her that she would be safer with him. "I'm lonely, Olivia. We'll talk for a few minutes."

"I did a daring thing, Father. I watched the attack from the garden."

"My dear! Alone?"

"No. With Fourmyle."

A heavy pounding began to shake the front door which Presteign had closed.

"What's that?"

"Looters," Presteign answered calmly. "Don't be alarmed, Olivia. They won't get in." He stepped to a table on which he had laid out an assortment of weapons as neatly as a game of patience. "There's no danger, my love." He tried to distract her. "You were telling me about Fourmyle ... "

"Oh, yes. We watched together ... describing the bombing to each other."

"Unchaperoned? That wasn't discreet, Olivia."

"I know. I know. I behaved disgracefully. He seemed so big, so sure of himself, that I gave him the Lady Hauteur treatment. You remember Miss Post, my governess, who was so dignified and aloof that I called her Lady Hauteur? I acted like Miss Post. He was furious, Father. That's why he came looking for me in the garden."

"And you permitted him to remain? I'm shocked, dear."

"I am too. I think I was half out of my mind with excitement. What's he like, Father? Tell me. What's he look like to you?"

"He is big. Tall very dark, rather enigmatic. Like a Borgia. He seems to alternate between assurance and savagery."

"Ah, he is savage, then? I could see it myself. He glows with danger. Most people just shimmer ... he looks like a lightning bolt. It's terribly fascinating."

"My dear," Presteign remonstrated gently. "Unmarried females are too modest to talk like that. It would displease me, my love, if you were to form a romantic attachment for a parvenu like Fourmyle of Ceres."

The Presteign staff jaunted into the reception hall, cooks, waitresses, footmen, pages, coachmen, valets, maids. All were shaken and hang-dog after their flight from death.

"You have deserted your posts. It will be remembered," Presteign said coldly. "My safety and honor are again in your hands. Guard them. Lady Olivia and I will retire."

He took his daughter's arm and led her up the stairs, savagely protective of his ice-pure princess. "Blood and money," Presteign murmured.

"What, Father?"

"I was thinking of a family vice, Olivia. I was thanking the Deity that you have not inherited it."

"What vice is that?"

"There's no need for you to know. It's one that Fourmyle shares."

"Ah, he's wicked? I knew it. Like a Borgia, you said. A wicked Borgia with black eyes and lines in his face. That must account for the pattern."

"Pattern, my dear?"

"Yes. I can see a strange pattern over his face ... not the usual electricity of nerve and muscle. Something laid over that. It fascinated me from the beginning."

"What sort of pattern do you mean?"

"Fantastic ... wonderfully evil. I can't describe it. Give me something to write with. I'll show you."

They stopped before a six-hundred-year-old Chippendale cabinet. Presteign took out a silver-mounted slab of crystal and handed it to Olivia. She touched it with her fingertip; a black dot appeared. She moved her finger and the dot elongated into a line. With quick strokes she sketched the hideous swirls and blazons of a devil mask.

***

Saul Dagenham left the darkened bedroom. A moment later it was flooded with light as one wall illuminated. It seemed as though a giant mirror reflected Jisbella's bedroom, but with one odd quirk. Jisbella lay in the bed alone, but in the reflection Saul Dagenham sat on the edge of the bed alone. The mirror was, in fact, a sheet of lead glass separating identical rooms. Dagenham had just illuminated his.

"Love by the clock," Dagenham's voice came through a speaker. "Disgusting."

"No, Saul. Never."

"Frustrating."

"Not that, either."

"But unhappy."

"No. You're greedy. Be content with what you've got."

"God knows, it's more than I ever had. You're magnificent."

"You're extravagant. Now go to sleep, darling. We're skiing tomorrow."

"No, there's been a change of plan. I've got to work."

"Oh Saul ... you promised me. No more working and fretting and running. Aren't you going to keep your promise?"

"I can't with a war on."

"To hell with the war. You sacrificed enough up at Tycho Sands. They can't ask any more of you."

"I've got one job to finish."

"I'll help you finish it."

"No. You'd best keep out of this, Jisbella."

"You don't trust me."

"I don't want you hurt."

"Nothing can hurt us."

"Foyle can."

"W-What?"

"Fourmyle is Foyle. You know that. I know you know."

"But I never --"

"No, you never told me. You're magnificent. Keep faith with me the same way, Jisbella."

"Then how did you find out?"

"Foyle slipped."

"How?"

"The name."

"Fourmyle of Ceres? He bought the Ceres company."

"But Geoffrey Fourmyle?"

"He invented it."

"He thinks he invented it. He remembered it. Geoffrey Fourmyle is the name they use in the megalomania test down in Combined Hospital in Mexico City. I tried the Megal Mood on Foyle when I tried to open him up. The name must have stayed buried in his memory. He dredged it up and thought it was original. That tipped me."

"Poor Gully."

Dagenham smiled. "Yes, no matter how we defend ourselves against the outside we're always licked by something from the inside. There's no defense against betrayal, and we all betray ourselves."

"What are you going to do, Saul?"

"Do? Finish him, of course."

"For twenty pounds of PyrE?"

"No. To win a lost war."

"What?" Jisbella came to the glass wall separating the rooms. "You, Saul? Patriotic?"

He nodded, almost guiltily. "It's ridiculous. Grotesque. But I am. You've changed me completely. I'm a sane man again."

He pressed his face to the wall too, and they kissed through three inches of lead glass.

***

Mare Nubium was ideally suited to the growth of anaerobic bacteria, soil organisms, phage, rare moulds, and all those microscopic life forms essential to medicine and industry, which required airless culture. Bacteria, Inc. was a huge mosaic of culture fields traversed by catwalks spread around a central clump of barracks, offices, and plant. Each field was a giant glass vat, one hundred feet in diameter, twelve inches high and no more than two molecules thick.

A day before the sunrise line, creeping across the face of the moon, reached Mare Nubium, the vats were filled with culture medium. At sunrise, abrupt and blinding on the airless moon, the vats were seeded, and for the next fourteen days of continuous sun they were tended, shielded, regulated, nurtured ... the field workers trudging up and down the catwalks in spacesults. As the sunset line crept toward Mare Nubium, the vats were harvested and then left to freeze and sterilize in the two week frost of the lunar night.

Jaunting was of no use in this tedious step-by-step cultivation. Hence Bacteria, Inc. hired unfortunates incapable of jaunting and paid them slave wages. This was the lowest form of labor, the dregs and scum of the Solar System; and the barracks of Bacteria, Inc. resembled an inferno during the two week lay-off period. Foyle discovered this when he entered Barrack 3.

He was met by an appalling spectacle. There were two hundred men in the giant room; there were whores and their hard-eyed pimps, professional gamblers and their portable tables, dope peddlers, money lenders. There was a haze of acrid smoke and the stench of alcohol and Analogue. Furniture, bedding, clothes, unconscious bodies, empty bottles, rotting food were scattered on the floor.

A roar challenged Foyle's appearance, but he was equipped to handle this situation. He spoke to the first hairy face thrust into his.

"Kempsey?" he asked quietly. He was answered outrageously. Nevertheless he grinned and handed the man a Cr 100 note. "Kempsey?" he asked another. He was insulted. He paid again and continued his saunter down the barracks distributing Cr 100 notes in calm thanks for insult and invective. In the center of the barracks he found his key man, the obvious barracks bully, a monster of a man, naked, hairless, fondling two bawds and being fed whiskey by sycophants.

"Kempsey?" Foyle asked in the old gutter tongue. "I'm diggin' Rodger Kempsey."

"I'm diggin' you for broke," the man answered, thrusting out a huge paw for Foyle's money. "Gimmie."

There was a delighted howl from the crowd. Foyle smiled and spat in his eye. There was an abject hush. The hairless man dumped the bawds and surged up to annihilate Foyle. Five seconds later he was groveling on the floor with Foyle's foot planted on his neck.

"Still diggin' Kempsey," Foyle said gently. "Diggin' hard, man. You better finger him, man, or you're gone, is all."

"Washroom!" the hairless man howled. "Holed up. Washroom."

"Now you broke me," Foyle said. He dumped the rest of his money on the floor before the hairless man and walked quickly to the washroom.

Kempsey was cowering in the corner of a shower, face pressed to the wall, moaning in a dull rhythm that showed he had been at it for hours.

"Kempsey?"

The moaning answered him.

"What's a matter, you?"

"Clothes," Kempsey wept. "Clothes. All over, clothes. Like filth, like sick, like dirt. Clothes. All over, clothes."

"Up, man. Get up."

"Clothes. All over, clothes. Like filth, like sick, like dirt ..."

"Kempsey, mind me, man. Orel sent me."

Kempsey stopped weeping and turned his sodden countenance to Foyle. "Who? Who?"

"Sergei Orel sent me. I've bought your release. You're free. We'll blow."

"When?"

"Now."

"Oh God! God bless him. Bless him!" Kempsey began to caper in weary exultation. The bruised and bloated face split into a facsimile of laughter. He laughed and capered and Foyle led him out of the washroom. But in the barracks he screamed and wept again, and as Foyle led him down the long room, the naked bawds swept up armfuls of dirty clothes and shook them before his eyes. Kempsey foamed and gibbered.

"What's a matter, him?" Foyle inquired of the hairless man in the gutter patois.

The hairless man was now a respectful neutral if not a friend. "Guesses for grabs," he answered. "Always like that, him. Show old clothes and he twitch. Man!"

"For why, already?"

"For why? Crazy, is all."

At the main-office airlock, Foyle got Kempsey and himself corked in suits and then led him out to the rocket field where a score of anti- grav beams pointed their pale fingers upward from pits to the gibbous earth hanging in the night sky. They entered a pit, entered Foyle's yawl and uncorked. Foyle took a bottle and a sting ampule from a cabinet. He poured a drink and handed it to Kempsey. He hefted the ampule in his palm, smiling.

Kempsey drank the whiskey, still dazed, still exulting. "Free," he muttered. "God bless him! Free. Christ, what I've been through." He drank again. "I still can't believe it. It's like a dream. Why don't you take off, man? I-" Kempsey choked and dropped the glass, staring at Foyle in horror. "Your face!" he exclaimed. "My God, your face! What happened to it?"

"You happened to it, you son of a bitch'" Foyle cried. He leaped up, his tiger face burning, and flung the ampule like a knife. It pierced Kempsey's neck and hung quivering. Kempsey toppled.

Foyle accelerated, blurred to the body, picked it up in mid-fall and carried it aft to the starboard stateroom. There were two main staterooms in the yawl, and Foyle had prepared both of them in advance. The starboard room had been stripped and turned into a surgery. Foyle strapped the body on the operating table, opened a case of surgical instruments, and began the delicate operation he had learned by hypno-training that morning ... an operation made possible only by his five-to-one acceleration.

He cut through skin and fascia, sawed through the rib cage, exposed the heart, dissected it out and connected veins and arteries to the intricate blood pump alongside the table. He started the pump. Twenty seconds, objective time, had elapsed. He placed an oxygen mask over Kempsey's face and switched on the alternating suction and ructation of the oxygen pump.

Foyle decelerated, checked Kempsey's temperature, shot an anti-shock series into his veins and waited. Blood gurgled through the pump and Kempsey's body. After five minutes, Foyle removed the oxygen mask. The respiration reflex continued. Kempsey was without a heart, yet alive. Foyle sat down alongside the operating table and waited. The stigmata still showed on his face.

Kempsey remained unconscious.

Foyle waited.

Kempsey awoke, screaming.

Foyle leaped up, tightened the straps and leaned over the heartless man.

"Hallo, Kempsey," he said.

Kempsey screamed.

"Look at yourself, Kempsey. You're dead."

Kempsey fainted. Foyle brought him to with the oxygen mask.

"Let me die, for God's sake!"

"What's the matter? Does it hurt? I died for six months, and I didn't whine."

"Let me die."

"In time, Kempsey. Your sympathetic block's been bypassed, but I'll let you die in time, if you behave. You were aboard Vorga on September 16, 2436?"

"For Christ's sake, let me die."

"You were aboard Vorga?"

"Yes."

"You passed a wreck out in space. Wreck of the Nomad. She signalled for help and you passed her by. Yes?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Christ! Oh Christ help me!"

"Why?"

"Oh Jesus!"

"I was aboard Nomad, Kempsey. Why did you leave me to rot?"

"Sweet Jesus help me! Christ, deliver me!"

"I'll deliver you, Kempsey, if you answer questions. Why did you leave me to rot?"

"Couldn't pick you up."

"Why not?"

"Reff's aboard."

"Oh? I guessed right, then. You were running refugees in from Callisto?"

"'Yes."

"How many?"

"Six hundred."

"That's a lot, but you could have made room for one more. Why didn't you pick me up?"

"We were scuttling the reffs."

"What!" Foyle cried.

"Overboard ... all of them ... six hundred ... Stripped 'em ... took their clothes, money, jewels, baggage ... Put 'em through the airlock in batches. Christ! The clothes all over the ship ... The shrieking and the -- Jesus! If I could only forget! The naked women ... blue ... busting wide open ... spinning behind us ... The clothes all over the ship ... Six hundred ... Scuttled!"

"You son of a bitch! It was a racket? You took their money and never intended bringing them to earth?"

"It was a racket."

"And that's why you didn't pick me up?"

"Would have had to scuttle you anyway."

"Who gave the order?"

"Captain."

"Name?"

"Joyce. Lindsey Joyce."

"Address?"

"Skoptsy Colony, Mars."

"What!" Foyle was thunderstruck. "He's a Skoptsy? You mean after hunting him for a year, I can't touch him ... hurt him ... make him feel what I felt?" He turned away from the tortured man on the table, equally tortured himself by frustration. "A Skoptsy! The one thing I never figured on ... After preparing that port stateroom for him ... What am I going to do? What, in God's name, am I going to do?" he roared in fury, the stigmata showing livid on his face.

He was recalled by a desperate moan from Kempsey. He returned to the table and bent over the dissected body. "Let's get it straight for the last time. This Skoptsy, Lindsey Joyce, gave the order to scuttle the reffs?"

"Yes."

"And to let me rot?"

"Yes. Yes. Yes. For God's sake, that's enough. Let me die."

"Live, you pig-man ... filthy heartless bastard! Live without a heart. Live and suffer. I'll keep you alive forever, you --'

A lurid flash of light caught Foyle's eye. He looked up. His burning image was peering through the large square porthole of the stateroom. As he leaped to the porthole, the burning man disappeared.

Foyle left the stateroom and darted forward to main controls where the observation bubble gave him two hundred and seventy degrees of vision. The Burning Man was nowhere in sight.

"It's not real," he muttered. "It couldn't be real. It's a sign, a good luck sign ... a Guardian Angel. It saved me on the Spanish Stairs. It's telling me to go ahead and find Lindsey Joyce."

He strapped himself into the pilot chair, ignited the yawl's jets, and slammed into full acceleration.

"Lindsey Joyce, Skoptsy Colony, Mars," he thought as he was thrust back deep into the pneumatic chair. "A Skoptsy ... Without senses, without pleasure, without pain. The ultimate in Stoic escape. How am I going to punish him? Torture him? Put him in the port stateroom and make him feel what I felt aboard Nomad? Damnation! It's as though he's dead. He is dead. And I've got to figure how to beat a dead body and make it feel pain. To come so close to the end and have the door slammed in your face ... The damnable frustration of revenge. Revenge is for dreams never for reality."

An hour later he released himself from the acceleration and his fury, unbuckled himself from the chair, and remembered Kempsey. He went aft to the surgery. The extreme acceleration of the take-off had choked the blood pump enough to kill Kempsey. Suddenly Foyle was overcome with a novel passionate revulsion for himself. He fought it helplessly.

"What's a matter, you?" he whispered. "Think of the six hundred, scuttled ... Think of yourself ... Are you turning into a white-livered Cellar Christian turning the other cheek and whining forgiveness? Olivia. What are you doing to me? Give me strength, not cowardice ..."

Nevertheless he averted his eyes as he scuttled the body.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:34 am

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

ALL PERSONS KNOWN TO BE IN THE EMPLOY OF FOURMYLE OF CERES OR ASSOCIATED WITH HIM IN ANY CAPACITY TO BE HELD FOR QUESTIONING. Y-Y: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE.

ALL EMPLOYEES OF THIS COMPANY TO MAINTAIN STRICT WATCH FOR ONE FOURMYLE OF CERES, AND REPORT AT ONCE TO LOCAL MR. PRESTO. PRESTEIGN.

ALL COURIERS WILL ABANDON PRESENT ASSIGNMENTS AND REPORT FOR REASSIGNMENT TO FOYLE CASE. DAGENHAM.

A BANK HOLIDAY WILL BE DECLARED IMMEDIATELY IN THE NAME OF THE WAR CRISIS TO CUT FOURMYLE OFF FROM ALL FUNDS. Y-Y: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE.

ANYONE MAKING INQUIRIES RE: S.S. VORGA TO BE TAKEN TO CASTLE PRESTEIGN FOR EXAMINATION. PRESTEIGN.

ALL PORTS AND FIELDS IN INNER PLANETS TO BE ALERTED FOR ARRIVAL OF FOURMYLE. QUARANTINE AND CUSTOMS TO CHECK ALL LANDINGS. Y-Y: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE.

OLD ST. PATRICK'S TO BE SEARCHED AND WATCHED. DAGENHAM.

THE FILES OF BO'NESS & UIG TO BE CHECKED FOR NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN OF VORGA TO ANTICIPATE, IF POSSIBLE, FOYLE'S NEXT MOVE. PRESTEIGN.

WAR CRIMES COMMISSION TO MAKE UP LIST OF PUBLIC ENEMIES GIVING FOYLE NUMBER ONE SPOT. Y-Y: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE.

CR 1,000,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO APPREHENSION OF FOURMYLE OF CERES, ALIAS GULLIVER FOYLE, ALIAS GULLY FOYLE, NOW AT LARGE IN THE INNER PLANETS. PRIORITY! URGENT! DANGEROUS!

After two centuries of colonization, the air struggle on Mars was still so critical that the V-L Law, the Vegetative-Lynch Law, was still in effect. It was a killing offense to endanger or destroy any plant vital to the transformation of Mars' carbon dioxide atmosphere into an oxygen atmosphere. Even blades of grass were sacred. There was no need to erect KEEP OFF THE GRASS neons. The man who wandered off a path onto a lawn would be instantly shot. The woman who picked a flower would be killed without mercy. Two centuries of sudden death had inspired a reverence for green growing things that almost amounted to a religion.

Foyle remembered this as he raced up the center of the causeway leading to Mars St. Michele. He had jaunted direct from the Syrtis airport to the St. Michele stage at the foot of the causeway which stretched for a quarter of a mile through green fields to Mars St. Michele. The rest of the distance had to be traversed on foot.

Like the original Mont St. Michele on the French coast, Mars St. Michele was a majestic Gothic cathedral of spires and buttresses looming on a hill and yearning toward the sky. Ocean tides surrounded Mont St. Michele on earth. Green tides of grass surrounded Mars St. Michele. Both were fortresses. Mont St. Michele had been a fortress of faith before organized religion was abolished. Mars St. Michele was a fortress of telepathy. Within it lived Mars's sole full telepath, Sigurd Magsman.

"Now these are the defenses protecting Sigurd Magsman," Foyle chanted, halfway between hysteria and litany. "Firstly, the Solar System; secondly, martial law; thirdly, Dagenham-Presteign & Co.; fourthly, the fortress itself; fifthly, the uniformed guards, attendants, servants, and admirers of the bearded sage we all know so well, Sigurd Magsman, selling his awesome powers for awesome prices...."

Foyle laughed immoderately: "But there's a Sixthly that I know: Sigurd Magsman's Achilles' Heel ... For I've paid Cr 1,000,000 to Sigurd III ... or was he IV?"

He passed through the outer labyrinth of Mars St. Michele with his forged credentials and was tempted to bluff or proceed directly by commando action to an audience with the Great Man himself, but time was pressing and his enemies were closing in and he could not afford to satisfy his curiosity. Instead, he accelerated, blurred, and found a humble cottage set in a walled garden within the Mars St. Michele home farm. It had drab windows and a thatched roof and might have been mistaken for a stable. Foyle slipped inside.

The cottage was a nursery. Three pleasant nannies sat motionless in rocking chairs, knitting poised in their frozen hands. The blur that was Foyle came up behind them and quietly stung them with ampules. Then he decelerated. He looked at the ancient, ancient child; the wizened, shriveled boy who was seated on the floor playing with electronic trains.

"Hello, Sigurd," Foyle said.

The child began to cry.

"Crybaby! What are you afraid of? I'm not going to hurt you."

"You're a bad man with a bad face."

"I'm your friend, Sigurd."

"No, you're not. You want me to do b-bad things."

"I'm your friend. Look, I know all about those big hairy men who pretend to be you, but I won't tell. Read me and see."

"You're going to hurt him and y-you want me to tell him."

"Who?"

"The captain-man. The Skl- Skot-" The child fumbled with the word, wailing louder. "Go away. You're bad. Badness in your head and burning mens and-"

"Come here, Sigurd."

"No. NANNIE! NAN-N-I-E!"

"Shut up, you little bastard!"

Foyle grabbed the seventy-year-old child and shook it. "This is going to be a brand new experience for you, Sigurd. The first time you've ever been walloped into anything. Understand?"

The ancient child read him and howled.

"Shut up! We're going on a trip to the Skoptsy Colony. If you behave yourself and do what you're told, I'll bring you back safe and give you a lolly or whatever the hell they bribe you with. If you don't behave, I'll beat the living daylights out of you."

"No, you won't ... You won't. I'm Sigurd Magsman. I'm Sigurd the telepath. You wouldn't dare."

"Sonny, I'm Gully Foyle, Solar Enemy Number One, I'm just a step away from the finish of a year-long hunt ... I'm risking my neck because I need you to settle accounts with a son of a bitch who -- Sonny, I'm Gully Foyle. There isn't anything I wouldn't dare."

The telepath began broadcasting terror with such an uproar that alarms sounded all over Mars St. Michele. Foyle took a firm grip on the ancient child, accelerated and carried him out of the fortress. Then he jaunted.

URGENT. SIGURD MAGSMAN KIDNAPED BY MAN TENTATIVELY IDENTIFIED AS GULLIVER FOYLE, ALIAS FOURMYLE OF CERES, SOLAR ENEMY NUMBER ONE, DESTINATION TENTATIVELY FIXED, ALERT COMMANDO BRIGADE. INFORM CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE. URGENT! URGENT! URGENT!

The ancient Skoptsy sect of White Russia, believing that sex was the root of all evil, practiced an atrocious self-castration to extirpate the root. The modern Skoptsys, believing that sensation was the root of all evil, practiced an even more barbaric custom. Having entered the Skoptsy Colony and paid a fortune for the privilege, the initiates submitted joyously to an operation that severed the sensory nervous system, and lived out their days without sight, sound, speech, smell, taste, or touch.

When they first entered the monastery, the initiates were shown elegant ivory cells in which it was intimated they would spend the remainder of their lives in rapt contemplation, lovingly tended. In actuality, the senseless creatures were packed in catacombs where they sat on rough stone slabs and were fed and exercised once a day. For twenty-three out of twenty-four hours they sat alone in the dark, untended, unguarded, unloved.

"The living dead," Foyle muttered. He decelerated, put Sigurd Magsman down, and switched on the retinal light in his eyes, trying to pierce the wombgloom. It was midnight above ground. It was permanent midnight down in the catacombs. Sigurd Magsman was broadcasting terror and anguish with such a telepathic bray that Foyle was forced to shake the child again.

"Shut up!" he whispered. "You can't wake these dead. Now find me Lindsey Joyce."

"They're sick ... all sick ... like worms in their heads ... worms and sickness and --"

"Christ, don't I know it. Come on, let's get it over with. There's worse to come."

They went down the twisting labyrinth of the catacombs. The stone slabs shelved the walls from floor to ceiling. The Skoptsys, white as slugs, mute as corpses, motionless as Buddhas, filled the caverns with the odor of living death. The telepathic child wept and shrieked. Foyle never relaxed his relentless grip on him; he never relaxed the hunt.

"Johnson, Wright, Keeley, Graff, Nastro, Underwood ... God, there's thousands here." Foyle read off the bronze identification plates attached to the slabs. "Reach out, Sigurd. Find Lindsey Joyce for me. We can't go over them name by name. Regal, Cone, Brady, Vincent - What in the --?"

Foyle started back. One of the bone-white figures had cuffed his brow. It was swaying and writhing, its face twitching. All the white slugs on their shelves were squirming and writhing. Sigurd Magsman's constant telepathic broadcast of anguish and terror was reaching them and torturing them.

"Shut up!" Foyle snapped. "Stop it. Find Lindsey Joyce and we'll get out of here. Reach out and find him."

"Down there." Sigurd wept. "Straight down there. Seven, eight, nine shelves down. I want to go home. I'm sick. I --"

Foyle went pell-mell down the catacombs with Sigurd, reading off identification plates until at last he came to: "LINDSEY JOYCE. BOUGAINVILLE. VENUS."

This was his enemy, the instigator of his death and the deaths of the six hundred from Callisto. This was the enemy for whom he had planned vengeance and hunted for months. This was the enemy for whom he had prepared the agony of the port stateroom aboard his yawl. This was Vorga. It was a woman.

Foyle was thunderstruck. In these days of the double standard, with women kept in purdah, there were many reported cases of women masquerading as men to enter the worlds closed to them, but he had never yet heard of a woman in the merchant marine ... masquerading her way to top officer rank.

"This?" he exclaimed furiously. "This is Lindsey Joyce? Lindsey Joyce off the Vorga? Ask her."

"I don't know what Vorga is."

"Ask her!"

"But I don't -- She was ... She like gave orders."

"Captain?"

"I don't like what's inside her. It's all sick and dark. It hurts. I want to go home."

"Ask her. Was she captain of the Vorga?"

"Yes. Please, please, please don't make me go inside her any more. It's twisty and hurts. I don't like her."

"Tell her I'm the man she wouldn't pick up on September 16, 2436. Tell her it's taken a long time but I've finally come to settle the account. Tell her I'm going to pay her back."

"I d-don't understand. Don't understand."

"Tell her I'm going to kill her, slow and hard. Tell her I've got a stateroom aboard my yawl, fitted up just like my locker aboard Nomad where I rotted for six months ... where she ordered Vorga to leave me to die. Tell her she's going to rot and die just like me. Tell her!" Foyle shook the wizened child furiously. "Make her feel it. Don't let her get away by turning Skoptsy. Tell her I kill her filthy. Read me and tell her!"

"She ... S -- -She didn't give that order."

"What!"

"I c-can't understand her."

"She didn't give the order to scuttle me?"

"I'm afraid to go in."

"Go in, you little son of a bitch, or I'll take you apart. What does she mean?"

The child wailed; the woman writhed; Foyle fumed. "Go in! Go in! Get it out of her. Jesus Christ, why does the only telepath on Mars have to be a child? Sigurd! Sigurd, listen to me. Ask her: Did she give the order to scuttle the reffs?"

"No. No!"

"No she didn't or no you won't?"

"She didn't."

"Did she give the order to pass Nomad by?"

"She's twisty and sicky. Oh please! NAN-N-I-E! I want to go home. Want to go."

"Did she give the order to pass Nomad by?"

"No."

"She didn't?"

"No. Take me home."

"Ask her who did."

"I want my Nannie."

"Ask her who could give her an order. She was captain aboard her own ship. Who could command her? Ask her!"

"I want my Nannie."

"Ask her!"

"No. No. No. I'm afraid. She's sick. She's dark and black. She's bad. I don't understand her. I want my Nannie. I want to go home."

The child was shrieking and shaking; Foyle was shouting. The echoes thundered. As Foyle reached for the child in a rage, his eyes were blinded by brilliant light. The entire catacomb was illuminated by the Burning Man. Foyle's image stood before him, face hideous, clothes on fire, the blazing eyes fixed on the convulsing Skoptsy that had been Lindsey Joyce.

The Burning Man opened his tiger mouth. A grating sound emerged. It was like flaming laughter.

"She hurts," he said.

"Who are you?" Foyle whispered.

The Burning Man winced. "Too bright," he said. "Less light."

Foyle took a step forward. The Burning Man clapped hands over his ears in agony. "Too loud," he cried. "Don't move so loud."

"Are you my guardian angel?"

"You're blinding me. Shhh!" Suddenly he laughed again. "Listen to her. She's screaming. Begging. She doesn't want to die. She doesn't want to be hurt. Listen to her."

Foyle trembled.

"She's telling us who gave the order. Can't you hear? Listen with your eyes." The Burning Man pointed a talon finger at the writhing Skoptsy. "She says Olivia."

"What?"

"She says Olivia. Olivia Presteign. Olivia Presteign. Olivia Presteign."

The Burning Man vanished.

The catacombs were dark again.

Colored lights and cacophonies whirled around Foyle. He gasped and staggered. "Blue jaunte," he muttered. "Olivia. No. Not. Never. Olivia. I --"

He felt a hand reach for his. "Jiz?" he croaked.

He became aware that Sigurd Magsman was holding on to his hand and weeping. He picked the boy up.

"I hurt," Sigurd whimpered.

"I hurt too, son."

"Want to go home."

"I'll take you home."

Still holding the boy in his arms, he blundered through the catacombs.

"The living dead," he mumbled.

And then: "I've joined them."

He found the stone steps that led up from the depths to the monastery cloister above ground. He trudged up the steps, tasting death and desolation. There was bright light above him, and for a moment he imagined that dawn had come already. Then he realized that the cloister was brilliantly lit with artificial light. There was the tramp of shod feet and the low growl of commands. Halfway up the steps, Foyle stopped and mustered himself.

"Sigurd," he whispered. "Who's above us? Find out."

"Sogers," the child answered.

"Soldiers? What soldiers?"

"Commando sogers." Sigurd's crumpled face brightened. "They come for me. To take me home to Nannie. HERE I AM! HERE I AM!"

The telepathic clamor brought a shout from overhead. Foyle accelerated and blurred up the rest of the steps to the cloister. It was a square of Romanesque arches surrounding a green lawn. In the center of the lawn was a giant cedar of Lebanon. The flagged walks swarmed with Commando search parties, and Foyle came face to face with his match; for an instant after they saw his blur whip up from the catacombs they accelerated too, and all were on even terms.

But Foyle had the boy. Shooting was impossible. Cradling Sigurd in his arms, he wove through the cloister like a broken field runner hurtling toward a goal. No one dared block him, for at plus-five acceleration a head-on collision between two bodies would be instantly fatal to both. Objectively, this break-neck skirmish looked like a five second zigzag of lightning.

Foyle broke out of the cloister, went through the main hall of the monastery, passed through the labyrinth, and reached the public jaunte stage outside the main gate. There he stopped, decelerated and jaunted to the monastery airfield, half a mile distant. The field, too, was ablaze with lights and swarming with Commandos. Every anti-grav pit was occupied by a Brigade ship. His own yawl was under guard.

A fifth of a second after Foyle arrived at the field, the pursuers from the monastery jaunted in. He looked around, desperately. He was surrounded by half a regiment of Commandos, all under acceleration, all geared for lethal-action, all his equal or better. The odds were impossible.

And then the Outer Satellites altered the odds. Exactly one week after the saturation raid on Terra, they struck at Mars.

Again the missiles came down on the midnight to dawn quadrant. Again the heavens twinkled with interceptions and detonations, and the horizon exploded great puffs of light while the ground shook. But this time there was a ghastly variation, for a brilliant nova burst overhead, flooding the nightside of the planet with garish light. A swarm of fission heads had struck Mars's tiny satellite, Phobos, instantly vaporizing it into a sunset.

The recognition lag of the Commandos to this appalling attack gave Foyle his opportunity. He accelerated again and burst through them to his yawl. He stopped before the main hatch and saw the stunned guard party hesitate between a continuance of the old action and a response to the new. Foyle hurled the frozen body of Sigurd Magsman up into the air like a Scotsman tossing the caber. As the guard party rushed to catch the boy, Foyle dove through them into his yawl, slammed the hatch, and dogged it.

Still under acceleration, never pausing to see if anyone was inside the yawl, he shot forward to controls, tripped the release lever, and as the yawl started to float up the anti-gray beam, threw on full 10-G propulsion. He was not strapped into the pilot chair. The effect of the 10-G drive on his accelerated and unprotected body was monstrous.

A creeping force took hold of him and spilled him out of the chair. He inched back toward the rear wall of the control chamber like a sleepwalker. The wall appeared, to his accelerated senses, to approach him. He thrust out both arms, palms flat against the wall to brace himself. The sluggish power thrusting him back split his arms apart and forced him against the wall, gently at first, then harder and harder until face, jaw, chest, and body were crushed against the metal.

The mounting pressure became agonizing. He tried to trip the switchboard in his mouth with his tongue, but the propulsion crushing him against the wall made it impossible for him to move his distorted mouth. A burst of explosions, so far down the sound spectrum that they sounded like sodden rock slides, told him that the Commando Brigade was bombarding him with shots from below. As the yawl tore up into the blue-black of outer space, he began to scream in a bat screech before he mercifully lost consciousness.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:35 am

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Foyle awoke in darkness. He was decelerated, but the exhaustion of his body told him he had been under acceleration while he had been unconscious. Either his power pack had run out or ... He inched a hand to the small of his back. The pack was gone. It had been removed.

He explored with trembling fingers. He was in a bed. He listened to the murmur of ventilators and refrigerants and the click and buzz of servo-mechanisms. He was aboard a ship. He was strapped to the bed. The ship was in free fall.

Foyle unfastened himself, pressed his elbows against the mattress and floated up. He drifted through the darkness searching for a light switch or a call button. His hands brushed against a water carafe with raised letters on the glass. He read them with his fingertips. SS, he felt. V, O, R, G, A. Vorga. He cried out.

The door of the stateroom opened. A figure drifted through the door, silhouetted against the light of a luxurious private lounge behind it.

"This time we picked you up," a voice said.

"Olivia?"

"Yes."

"Then it's true?"

"Yes, Gully."

Foyle began to cry.

"You're still weak," Olivia Presteign said gently. "Come and lie down."

She urged him into the lounge and strapped him into a chaise longue. It was still warm from her body. "You've been like this for six days. We never thought you'd live. Everything was drained out of you before the surgeon found that battery on your back."

"Where is it?" he croaked.

"You can have it whenever you want it. Don't fret, my dear."

He looked at her for a long moment, his Snow Maiden, his beloved Ice Princess ... the white satin skin, the blind coral eyes and exquisite coral mouth. She touched his moist eyelids with a scented handkerchief.

"I love you," he said.

"Shhh. I know, Gully."

"You've known all about me. For how long?"

"I knew Gully Foyle was my enemy from the beginning. I never knew he was Fourmyle until we met. Ah, if only I'd known before. How much would have been saved."

"You knew and you've been laughing at me."

"No."

"Standing by and shaking with laughter."

"Standing by and loving you. No. don't interrupt. I'm trying to be rational and it's not easy." A flush cascaded across the marble face. "I'm not playing with you now. I ... I betrayed you to my father. I did. Self-defense, I thought. Now that I've met him at last I can see he's too dangerous. An hour later I knew it was a mistake because I realized I was in love with you. I'm paying for it now. You need never have known."

"You expect me to believe that?"

"Then why am I here?" She trembled slightly. "Why did I follow you? That bombing was ghastly. You'd have been dead in another minute when we picked you up. Your yawl was a wreck...."

"Where are we now?"

"What difference does it make?"

"I'm stalling for time."

"Time for what?"

"Not for time ... I'm stalling for courage."

"We're orbiting Terra."

"How did you follow me?"

"I knew you'd be after Lindsey Joyce. I took over one of my father's ships. It happened to be Vorga again."

"Does he know?"

"He never knows. I live my own private life."

He could not take his eyes off her, and yet it hurt him to look at her. He was yearning and hating ... yearning for the reality to be undone, hating the truth for what it was. He discovered that he was stroking her handkerchief with tremulous fingers.

"I love you, Olivia."

"I love you, Gully, my enemy."

"For God's sake!" he burst out. "Why did you do it?"

'What?" she lashed back. "Are you demanding apologies?"

"I'm demanding an explanation."

"You'll get none from me!"

"Blood and money, your father said. He was right. Oh ... Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!"

"Blood and money, yes; and unashamed."

"I'm drowning, Olivia. Throw me a lifeline."

"Then drown. Nobody ever saved me. No -- No ... This is wrong, all wrong. Wait, my dear. Wait." She composed herself and began speaking very tenderly. "I could lie, Gully dear, and make you believe it, but I'm going to be honest. There's a simple explanation. I live my own private life. We all do. You do."

"What's yours?"

"No different from yours ... from the rest of the world. I cheat, I lie, I destroy ... like all of us. I'm criminal ... like all of us."

"Why? For money? You don't need money."

"No."

"For control ... power?"

"Not for power."

"Then why?"

She took a deep breath, as though this truth was the first truth and was crucifying her. "For hatred ... To pay you back, all of you."

"For what?"

"For being blind," she said in a smoldering voice. "For being cheated. For being helpless ... They should have killed me when 1 was born. Do you know what it's like to be blind ... to receive life secondhand? To be dependent, begging, crippled? 'Bring them down to your level,' I told my secret life. 'If you're blind make them blinder. If you're helpless, cripple them. Pay them back ... all of them.'"

"Olivia, you're insane."

"And you?"

''I'm in love with a monster."

"We're a pair of monsters."

"No!"

"No? Not you?" she flared. "What have you been doing but paying the world back, like me? What's your revenge but settling your own private account with bad luck? Who wouldn't call you a crazy monster? I tell you, we're a pair, Gully. We couldn't help falling in love."

He was stunned by the truth of what she said. He tried on the shroud of her revelation and it fit, clung tighter than the tiger mask tattooed on his face.

"'Remorseless," he said. "'Lecherous, treacherous, kindless villain." It's true. I'm no better than you. Worse. But before God 1 never murdered six hundred."

"You're murdering six million."

"What?"

"Perhaps more. You've got something they need to end the war, and you're holding out."

"You mean pyrE?"

"Yes."

"What is it, this bringer of peace, this twenty pounds of miracle that they're fighting for?"

"I don't know, but I know they need it, and I don't care. Yes, I'm being honest now. I don't care. Let millions be murdered. It makes no difference to us. Not to us, Gully, because we stand apart. We stand apart and shape our own world. We're the strong."

"We're the damned."

"We're the blessed. We've found each other." Suddenly she laughed and held out her arms. "I'm arguing when there's no need for words. Come to me, my love.... Wherever you are, come to me. ..."

He touched her and then put his arms around her. He found her mouth and devoured her. But he was forced to release her.

"What is it, Gully darling?"

"I'm not a child any more," he said wearily. "I've learned to understand that nothing is simple. There's never a simple answer. You can love someone and loathe them."

"Can you, Gully?"

"And you're making me loathe myself."

"No, my dear."

"I've been a tiger all my life. I trained myself ... educated myself ... pulled myself up by my stripes to make me a stronger tiger with a longer claw and a sharper tooth ... quick and deadly...."

"And you are. You are. The deadliest."

"No. I'm not. I went too far. I went beyond simplicity. I turned myself into a thinking creature. I look through your blind eyes, my love whom I loathe, and I see myself. The tiger's gone."

"There's no place for the tiger to go. You're trapped, Gully; by Dagenham, Intelligence, my father, the world."

"I know."

"But you're safe with me. We're safe together, the pair of us. They'll never dream of looking for you near me. We can plan together, fight together, destroy them together. ..."

"No. Not together."

"What is it?" she flared again. "Are you still hunting me? Is that what's wrong? Do you still want revenge? Then take it. Here I am. Go ahead ... destroy me."

"No. Destruction's finished for me."

"Ah, I know what it is." She became tender again in an instant. "It's your face, poor darling. You're ashamed of your tiger face, but I love it. You burn so brightly for me. You burn through the blindness. Believe me ..."

"My God! What a pair of loathsome freaks we are."

"What's happened to you?" she demanded. She broke away from him, her coral eyes glittering. "Where's the man who watched the raid with me? Where's the unashamed savage who --"

"Gone, Olivia. You've lost him. We both have."

"Gully!"

"He's lost."

"But why? What have I done?"

"You don't understand, Olivia."

"Where are you?" she reached out, touched him and then clung to him. "Listen to me, darling. You're tired. You're exhausted. That's all. Nothing is lost." The words tumbled out of her. "You're right. Of course you're right. We've been bad, both of us. Loathsome. But all that's gone now. Nothing is lost. We were wicked because we were alone and unhappy. But we've found each other; we can save each other. Be my love, darling. Always. Forever. I've looked for you so long, waited and hoped and prayed ..."

"No. You're lying, Olivia, and you know it."

"For God's sake, Gully!"

"Put Vorga down, Olivia."

"Land?"

"Yes."

"On Terra?"

"Yes."

"What are you going to do? You're insane. They're hunting you ... waiting for you ... watching. What are you going to do?"

"Do you think this is easy for me?" he said. "I'm doing what I have to do. I'm still driven. No man ever escapes from that. But there's a different compulsion in the saddle, and the spurs hurt, damn it. They hurt like hell."

He stifled his anger and controlled himself. He took her hands and kissed her palms.

"It's all finished, Olivia," he said gently. "But I love you. Always. Forever."

***

"I'll sum it up," Dagenham rapped. "We were bombed the night we found Foyle. We lost him on the Moon and found him a week later on Mars. We were bombed again. We lost him again. He's been lost for a week. Another bombing's due. Which one of the Inner Planets? Venus? The Moon? Terra again? Who knows. But we all know this: one more raid without retaliation and we're lost."

He glanced around the table. Against the ivory-and-gold background of the Star Chamber of Castle Presteign, his face, all three faces, looked strained. Y'ang-Yeovil slitted his eyes in a frown. Presteign compressed his thin lips.

"And we know this too," Dagenham continued. "We can't retaliate without PyrE and we can't locate the PyrE without Foyle."

"My instructions were," Presteign interposed, "that PyrE was not to be mentioned in public."

"In the first place, this is not public," Dagenham snapped. "It's a private information pool. In the second place, we've gone beyond property rights. We're discussing survival, and we've all got equal rights in that. Yes, Jiz?"

Jisbella McQueen had jaunted into the Star Chamber, looking intent and furious.

"Still no sign of Foyle."

"Old St. Pat's still being watched?"

"Yes."

"Commando Brigade's report in from Mars yet?"

"No."

"That's my business and Most Secret," Y'ang-Yeovil objected mildly.

"You've got as few secrets from me as I have from you." Dagenham grinned mirthlessly. "See if you can beat Central Intelligence back here with that report, Jiz. Go."

She disappeared.

"About property rights," Y'ang-Yeovil murmured. "May I suggest to Presteign that Central Intelligence will guarantee full payment to him for his right, title, and interest in PyrE?"

"Don't coddle him, Yeovil."

"This conference is being recorded," Presteign said, coldly. "The Captain's offer is now on file." He turned his basilisk face to Dagenham. "You are in my employ, Mr. Dagenham. Please control your references to myself."

"And to your property?" Dagenham inquired with a deadly smile. "You and your damned property. All of you and all of your damned property have put us in this hole. The system's on the edge of total annihilation for the sake of your property. I'm not exaggerating. It will be a shooting war to end all wars if we can't stop it."

"We can always surrender," Presteign answered.

"No," Y'ang-Yeovil said. "That's already been discussed and discarded at HQ. We know the post-victory plans of the Outer Satellites. They involve total exploitation of the Inner Planets. We're to be gutted and worked until nothing's left. Surrender would be as disastrous as defeat."

"But not for Presteign," Dagenham added.

"Shall we say ... present company excluded?" Yang-Yeovil replied gracefully.

"All right. Presteign." Dagenham swiveled in his chair. "Give."

"I beg your pardon, sir?"

"Let's hear all about PyrE. I've got an idea how we can bring Foyle out into the open and locate the stuff, but I've got to know all about it first. Make your contribution."

"No," Presteign answered.

"No, what?"

"I have decided to withdraw from this information pool. I will reveal nothing about PyrE."

"For God's sake, Presteign! Are you insane? What's got into you? Are you fighting Regis Sheffield's Liberal party again?"

"It's quite simple, Dagenham," Y'ang-Yeovil interposed. "My information about the surrender-defeat situation has shown Presteign a way to better his position. No doubt he intends negotiating a sale to the enemy in return for ... property advantages."

"Can nothing move you?" Dagenham asked Presteign scornfully. "Can nothing touch you? Are you all property and nothing else? Go away, Jiz! The whole thing's fallen apart."

Jisbella had jaunted into the Star Chamber again. "Commando Brigade's reported," she said. "We know what happened to Foyle."

"What?"

"Presteign's got him."

"What!" Both Dagenham and Y'ang-Yeovil started to their feet.

"He left Mars in a private yawl, was shot up, and was observed being picked up by the Presteign S.S. Vorga."

"Damn you, Presteign," Dagenham snapped. "So that's why you've been --"

"Wait," Y'ang-Yeovil commanded. "It's news to him too, Dagenham. Look at him."

Presteign's handsome face had gone the color of ashes. He tried to rise and fell back stiffly in his chair. "Olivia ..." he whispered. "With him ... That scum ..."

"Presteign?"

"My daughter, gentlemen, has ... for some time been engaged in ... certain activities. The family vice. Blood and -- I ... have managed to close my eyes to it ... Had almost convinced myself that I was mistaken. I ... But Foyle! Dirt! Filth! He must be destroyed!" Presteign's voice soared alarmingly. His head twisted back like a hanged man's and his body began to shudder.

"What in the --?"

"Epilepsy," Y'ang-Yeovil said. He pulled Presteign out of the chair onto the floor. "A spoon, Miss McQueen. Quick!" He levered Presteign's teeth open and placed a spoon between them to protect the tongue. As suddenly as it had begun, the seizure was over. The shuddering stopped. Presteign opened his eyes.

"Petit mal," Y'ang-Yeovil murmured, withdrawing the spoon. "But he'll be dazed for a while."

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.

"Then let's find it and get off the road. Here's my idea, Yeovil. Foyle was tinkering with that hell brew in his lab in Old St. Pat's, trying to analyze it."

"I told you that in strict confidence," Jisbella said furiously.

"I'm sorry, dear. We're past honor and the decencies. Now look, Yeovil, there must be some fragments of the stuff lying about ... as dust, in solution, in precipitates ... We've got to detonate those fragments and blow the hell out of Foyle's circus."

"Why?"

"To bring him running. He must have the bulk of the PyrE hidden there somewhere. He'll come to salvage it."

"What if it blows up too?"

"It can't, not inside an Inert Lead Isotope safe."

"Maybe it's not all inside."

"Jiz says it is ... at least so Foyle reported."

"Leave me out of this," Jisbella said

"Anyway, we'll have to gamble."

"Gamble!" Y'ang-Yeovil exclaimed. "On a phoenix action? You'll gamble the solar system into a brand new nova."

"What else can we do? Pick any other road ... and it's the road to destruction too. Have we got any choice?"

"We can wait," Jisbella said.

"For what? For Foyle to blow us up himself with his tinkering?"

"We can warn him."

"We don't know where he is."

"We can find him."

"How soon? Won't that be a gamble too? And what about that stuff lying around waiting for someone to think it into energy? Suppose a Jack-jaunter gets in and cracks the safe, looking for goodies? And then we don't just have dust waiting for an accidental thought, but twenty pounds."

Jisbella turned pale. Dagenham turned to the Intelligence man. "You make the decision, Yeovil. Do we try it my way or do we wait?"

Y'ang-Yeovil sighed. "I was afraid of this," he said. "Damn all scientists. I'll have to make my decision for a reason you don't know, Dagenham. The Outer Satellites are on to this too. We've got reason to believe that they've got agents looking for Foyle in the worst way. If we wait they may pick him up before us. In fact, they may have him now."

"So your decision is ... ?"

"The blow-up. Let's bring Foyle running if we can."

"No!" Jisbella cried.

"How?" Dagenham asked, ignoring her.

"Oh, I've got just the one for the job. A one-way telepath named Robin Wednesbury."

"When?"

"At once. We'll clear the entire neighborhood. We'll get full news coverage and do a full broadcast. If Foyle's anywhere in the Inner Planets, he'll hear about it."

"Not about it," Jisbella said in despair. "He'll hear it. It'll be the last thing any of us hear."

"Will and Idea," Presteign whispered.

***

As always, when he returned from a stormy civil court session in Leningrad, Regis Sheffield was pleased and complacent, rather like a cocky prizefighter who's won a tough fight. He stopped off at Blekmann's in Berlin for a drink and some war talk, had a second and more war talk in a legal hangout on the Quai D'Orsay, and a third session in the Skin & Bones opposite Temple Bar. By the time he arrived in his New York office he was pleasantly illuminated.

As he strode through the clattering corridors and outer rooms, he was greeted by his secretary with a handful of memobeads.

"Knocked Djargo-Dantchenko for a loop," Sheffield reported triumphantly. "Judgment and full damages. Old DD's sore as a boil. This makes the score eleven to five, my favor." He took the beads, juggled them, and then began tossing them into unlikely receptacles all over the office, including the open mouth of a gaping clerk.

"Really, Mr. Sheffield! Have you been drinking?"

"No more work today. The war news is too damned gloomy. Have to do something to stay cheerful. What say we brawl in the streets?"

"Mr. Sheffield!"

"Anything waiting for me that can't wait another day?"

"There's a gentleman in your office."

"He made you let him get that far?" Sheffield looked impressed. "Who is he? God, or somebody?"

"He won't give his name. He gave me this."

The secretary handed Sheffield a sealed envelope. On it was scrawled: "URGENT." Sheffield tore it open, his blunt features crinkling with curiosity. Then his eyes widened. Inside the envelope were two Cr 50,000 notes. Sheffield turned without a word and burst into his private office. Foyle arose from his chair.

"These are genuine," Sheffield blurted.

"To the best of my knowledge."

"Exactly twenty of these notes were minted last year. All are on deposit in Terran treasuries. How did you get hold of these two?"

"Mr. Sheffield?"

"Who else? How did you get hold of these notes?"

"Bribery."

"Why?"

"I thought at the time that it might be convenient to have them available."

"For what? More bribery?"

"If legal fees are bribery."

"I set my own fees," Sheffield said. He tossed the notes back to Foyle. "You can produce them again if I decide to take your case and if I decide I've been worth that to you. What's your problem?"

"Criminal."

"Don't be too specific yet. And ...?"

"I want to give myself up."

"To the police?"

"Yes."

"For what crime?"

"Crimes."

"Name two."

"Robbery and rape."

"Name two more."

"Blackmail and murder."

"Any other items?"

"Treason and genocide."

"Does that exhaust your catalogue?"

"I think so. We may be able to unveil a few more when we get specific."

"Been busy, haven't you? Either you're the Prince of Villains or insane."

"I've been both, Mr. Sheffield."

"Why do you want to give yourself up?"

"I've come to my senses," Foyle answered bitterly.

"I don't mean that. A criminal never surrenders while he's ahead. You're obviously ahead. What's the reason?"

"The most damnable thing that ever happened to a man. I picked up a rare disease called conscience."

Sheffield snorted. "That can often turn fatal."

"It is fatal. I've realized that I've been behaving like an animal."

"And now you want to purge yourself?"

"No, it isn't that simple," Foyle said grimly. "That's why I've come to you ... for major surgery. The man who upsets the morphology of society is a cancer. The man who gives his own decisions priority over society is a criminal. But there are chain reactions. Purging yourself with punishment isn't enough. Everything's got to be set right. I wish to God everything could be cured just by sending me back to Gouffre Martel or shooting me ..."

"Back?" Sheffield cut in keenly.

"Shall I be specific?"

"Not yet. Go on. You sound as though you've got ethical growing pains."

"That's it exactly." Foyle paced in agitation, crumpling the banknotes with nervous fingers. "This is one hell of a mess, Sheffield. There's a girl that's got to pay for a vicious, rotten crime. The fact that I love her -- No, never mind that. She has a cancer that's got to be cut out ... like me. Which means I'll have to add informing to my catalogue. The fact that I'm giving myself up too doesn't make any difference."

"What is all this mish-mash?"

Foyle turned on Sheffield. "One of the New Year's bombs has just walked into your office, and it's saying: 'Put it all right. Put me together again and send me home. Put together the city I flattened and the people I shattered.' That's what I want to hire you for. I don't know how most criminals feel, but --"

"Sensible, matter-of-fact, like good businessmen who've had bad luck," Sheffield answered promptly. "That's the usual attitude of the professional criminal. It's obvious you're an amateur, if you're a criminal at all. My dear sir, do be sensible. You come here, extravagantly accusing yourself of robbery, rape, murder, genocide, treason, and God knows what else. D'you expect me to take you seriously?"

Bunny, Sheffield's assistant, jaunted into the private office. "Chief!" he shouted in excitement. "Something brand new's turned up. A lech-jaunte! Two society kids bribed a C-class tart to -- Ooop. Sorry. Didn't realize you had --" Bunny broke off and stared. "Fourmyle!" he exclaimed.

"What? Who?" Sheffield demanded.

"Don't you know him, Chief?" Bunny stammered. "That's Fourmyle of Ceres. Gully Foyle."

More than a year ago, Regis Sheffield had been hypnotically fulminated and triggered for this moment. His body had been prepared to respond without thought, and the response was lightning. Sheffield struck Foyle in half a second; temple, throat, and groin. It had been decided not to depend on weapons since none might be available.

Foyle fell. Sheffield turned on Bunny and battered him back across the office. Then he spat into his palm. It had been decided not to depend on drugs since drugs might not be available. Sheffield's salivary glands had been prepared to respond with an anaphylaxis secretion to the stimulus. He ripped open Foyle's sleeve, dug a nail deep into the hollow of Foyle's elbow and slashed. He pressed his spittle into the ragged cut and pinched the skin together.

A strange cry was torn from Foyle's lips; the tattooing showed livid on his face. Before the stunned law assistant could make a move, Sheffield swung Foyle up to his shoulder and jaunted.

He arrived in the middle of the Four Mile Circus in Old St. Pat's. It was a daring but calculated move. This was the last place he would be expected to go, and the first place where he might expect to locate the PyrE. He was prepared to deal with anyone he might meet in the cathedral, but the interior of the circus was empty.

The vacant tents ballooning up in the nave looked tattered; they had already been looted. Sheffield plunged into the first he saw. It was Fourmyle's traveling library, filled with hundreds of books and thousands of glittering novel-beads. The Jack-jaunters were not interested in literature. Sheffield threw Foyle down on the floor. Only then did he take a gun from his pocket.

Foyle's eyelids fluttered; his eyes opened.

"You're drugged," Sheffield said rapidly. "Don't try to jaunte. And don't move. I'm warning you, I'm prepared for anything."

Dazedly, Foyle tried to rise. Sheffield instantly fired and seared his shoulder. Foyle was slammed back against the stone flooring. He was numbed and bewildered. There was a roaring in his ears and a poison coursing through his blood.

"I'm warning you," Sheffield repeated. ''I'm prepared for anything."

"What do you want?" Foyle whispered.

"Two things. Twenty pounds of PyrE, and you. You most of all."

"You lunatic! You damned maniac! I came into your office to give it up ... hand it over ..."

"To the O.S.?"

"To the ... what?"

"The Outer Satellites? Shall I spell it for you?"

"No ..." Foyle muttered. "I might have known. The patriot, Sheffield, an O.S. agent. I should have known. I'm a fool."

"You're the most valuable fool in the world, Foyle. We want you even more than the PyrE. That's an unknown to us, but we know what you are."

"What are you talking about?"

"My God! You don't know, do you? You still don't know. You haven't an inkling."

"Of what?"

"Listen to me," Sheffield said in a pounding voice. "I'm taking you back two years to Nomad. Understand? Back to the death of the Nomad. One of our raiders finished her off and they found you aboard the wreck. The last man alive."

"So an O.S. ship did blast Nomad?"

"Yes. You don't remember?"

"I don't remember anything about that. I never could."

"I'm telling you why. The raider got a clever idea. They'd turn you into a decoy ... a sitting duck, understand? You were half dead, but they took you aboard and patched you up. They put you into a spacesuit and cast you adrift with your microwave on. You were broadcasting distress signals and mumbling for help on every wave band. The idea was, they'd lurk nearby and pick off the IP ships that came to rescue you."

Foyle began to laugh. "I'm getting up," he said recklessly. "Shoot again, you son of a bitch, but I'm getting up." He struggled to his feet, clutching his shoulder. "So Vorga shouldn't have picked me up anyway," Foyle laughed. "I was a decoy. Nobody should have come near me. I was a shill, a lure, death bait ... Isn't that the final irony? Nomad didn't have any right to be rescued in the first place. I didn't have any right to revenge."

"You still don't understand," Sheffield pounded. "They were nowhere near Nomad when they set you adrift. They were six hundred thousand miles from Nomad."

"Six hundred thous --?"

"Nomad was too far out of the shipping lanes. They wanted you to drift where ships would pass. They took you six hundred thousand miles sunward and set you adrift. They put you through the air lock and backed off, watching you drift. Your suit lights were blinking and you were moaning for help on the microwave. Then you disappeared."

"Disappeared?"

"You were gone. No more lights, no more broadcast. They came back to check. You were gone without a trace. And the next thing we learned ... you got back aboard Nomad."

"Impossible."

"Man, you space-jaunted!" Sheffield said savagely. "You were patched and delirious, but you space-jaunted. You space-jaunted six hundred thousand miles through the void back to the wreck of the Nomad. You did something that's never been done before. God knows how. You don't even know yourself, but we're going to find out. I'm taking you out to the Satellites with me and we'll get that secret out of you if we have to tear it out."

He took Foyle's throat in his powerful hand and hefted the gun in the other. "But first I want the PyrE. You'll produce it, Foyle. Don't think you won't." He lashed Foyle across the forehead with the gun. "I'll do anything to get it. Don't think I won't." He smashed Foyle again, coldly, efficiently. "If you're looking for a purge, man, you've found it!"

***

Bunny leaped off the public jaunte stage at Five-Points and streaked into the main entrance of Central Intelligence's New York office like a frightened rabbit. He shot past the outermost guard cordon, through the protective labyrinth, and into the inner offices. He acquired a train of excited pursuers and found himself face to face with the more seasoned guards who had calmly jaunted to positions ahead of him and were waiting.

Bunny began to shout: "Yeovil! Yeovil! Yeovil!"

Still running, he dodged around desks, kicked over chairs, and created an incredible uproar. He continued his yelling: "Yeovil! Yeovil! Yeovil!" Just before they were about to put him out of his misery, Y'ang-Yeovil appeared.

"What's all this?" he snapped. "I gave orders that Miss Wednesbury was to have absolute quiet."

"Yeovil," Bunny shouted.

"Who's that?"

"Sheffield's assistant."

"What ... Bunny?"

"Foyle!" Bunny howled. "Gully Foyle."

Y'ang-Yeovil covered the fifty feet between them in exactly one-point-six-six seconds. "What about Foyle?"

"Sheffield's got him." Bunny gasped.

"Sheffield? When?"

"Half an hour ago."

"Why didn't he bring him here?"

'Don't know ... Got an idea ... Maybe an O.S. agent."

'Why didn't you come at once?"

"Sheffield jaunted with Foyle.... Knocked him stiffer'n a mackerel and disappeared. I went looking. All over. Took a chance. Must have made fifty jauntes in twenty minutes."

'Amateur!" Y'ang-Yeovi! exclaimed in exasperation. "Why didn't you leave that to the pros?"

"Found 'em."

"You found them? Where?"

"Old St. Pat's. Sheffield's after the --"

But Y'ang-Yeovil had turned on his heel and was tearing back up the corridor, shouting: "Robin! Robin! Stop! Stop!"

And then their ears were bruised by the bellow of thunder.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:35 am

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Like widening rings in a pond, the Will and the Idea spread, searching out, touching and tripping the delicate subatomic trigger of PyrE. The thought found particles, dust, smoke, vapor, motes, molecules. The Will and the Idea transformed them all.

In Sicily, where Dott. Franco Torre had worked for an exhausting month attempting to unlock the secret of one slug of PyrE, the residues and the precipitates had been dumped down a drain which led to the sea. For many months the Mediterranean currents had drifted these residues across the sea bottom. In an instant a hump-backed mound of water towering fifty feet high traced the courses, northeast to Sardinia and southwest to Tripoli. In a micro-second the surface of the Mediterranean was raised into the twisted casting of a giant earthworm that wound around the islands of Pantelleria, Lampedusa, Linosa, and Malta.

Some of the residues had been burned off; had gone up the chimney with smoke and vapor to drift for hundreds of miles before settling. These minute particles showed where they had finally settled in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Greece with blinding pin-point explosions of incredible minuteness and intensity. And some motes, still drifting in the stratosphere, revealed their presence with brilliant gleams like daylight stars.

In Texas, where Prof. John Mantley had had the same baffling experience with PyrE, most of the residues had gone down the shaft of an exhausted oil well which was also used to accommodate radioactive wastes. A deep water table had absorbed much of the matter and spread it slowly over an area of some ten square miles. Ten square miles of Texas flats shook themselves into corduroy. A vast untapped deposit of natural gas at last found a vent and came shrieking up to the surface where sparks from flying stones ignited it into a roaring torch, two hundred feet high.

A milligram of PyrE deposited on a disk of filter paper long since discarded, forgotten, rounded up in a waste paper drive and at last pulped into a mold for type metal, destroyed the entire late night edition of the Glasgow Observer. A fragment of PyrE spattered on a lab smock long since converted into rag paper, destroyed a Thank You note written by Lady Shrapnel, and destroyed an additional ton of first class mail in the process.

A shirt cuff inadvertently dipped into an acid solution of PyrE, long abandoned along with the shirt, and now worn under his mink suit by a Jack-jaunter, blasted off the wrist and hand of the Jack-jaunter in one fiery amputation. A decimilligram of PyrE, still adhering to a former evaporation crystal now in use as an ash tray, kindled a fire that scorched the office of one Baker, dealer in freaks and purveyor of monsters.

Across the length and breadth of the planet were isolated explosions, chains of explosions, traceries of fire, pin points of fire, meteor flares in the sky, great craters and narrow channels plowed in the earth, exploded in the earth, vomited forth from the earth.

In Old St. Pat's nearly a tenth of a gram of PyrE was exposed in Fourmyle's laboratory. The rest was sealed in its Inert Lead Isotope safe, protected from accidental and intentional psychokinetic ignition. The blinding blast of energy generated from that tenth of a gram blew out the walls and split the floors as though an internal earthquake had convulsed the building. The buttresses held the pillars for a split second and then crumbled. Down came towers, spires, pillars, buttresses, and roof in a thundering avalanche to hesitate above the yawning crater of the floor in a tangled, precarious equilibrium. A breath of wind, a distant vibration, and the collapse would continue until the crater was filled solid with pulverized rubble.

The star-like heat of the explosion ignited a hundred fires and melted the ancient thick copper of the collapsed roof. If a milligram more of PyrE had been exposed to detonation, the heat would have been intense enough to vaporize the metal immediately. Instead, it glowed white and began to flow. It streamed off the wreckage of the crumbled roof and began searching its way downward through the jumbled stone, iron, wood, and glass, like some monstrous molten mold creeping through a tangled web.

Dagenham and Y'ang-Yeovil arrived almost simultaneously. A moment later Robin Wednesbury appeared and then Jisbella McQueen. A dozen Intelligence operatives and six Dagenham couriers arrived along with Presteign's Jaunte Watch and the police. They formed a cordon around the blazing block, but there were very few spectators. After the shock of the New Year's Eve raid, that single explosion had frightened half New York into another wild jaunte for safety.

The uproar of the fire was frightful, and the massive grind of tons of wreckage in uneasy balance was ominous. Everyone was forced to shout and yet was fearful of the vibrations. Y'ang-Yeovil bawled the news about Foyle and Sheffield into Dagenham's ear. Dagenham nodded and displayed his deadly smile.

"We'll have to go in," he shouted.

"Fire suits," Y'ang-Yeovil shouted.

He disappeared and reappeared with a pair of white Disaster Crew fire suits. At the sight of these, Robin and Jisbella began shouting hysterical objections. The two men ignored them, wriggled into the Inert Isomer armor and inched into the inferno.

Within Old St. Pat's it was as though a monstrous hand had churned a log jam of wood, stone, and metal. Through every interstice crawled tongues of molten copper, slowly working downward, igniting wood, crumbling stone, shattering glass. Where the copper flowed it merely glowed, but where it poured it spattered dazzling droplets of white hot metal.

Beneath the log jam yawned a black crater where formerly the floor of the cathedral had been. The explosion had split the flagstone asunder, revealing the cellars, subcellars, and vaults deep below the building. These too were filled with a snarl of stones, beams, pipes, wire, the remnants of the Four Mile circus tents; all fitfully lit small fires. Then the first of the copper dripped down into the crater and illuminated it with a brilliant molten splash.

Dagenham pounded Y'ang-Yeovil's shoulder to attract his attention and pointed. Halfway down the crater, in the midst of the tangle, lay the body of Regis Sheffield, drawn and quartered by the explosion. Y'ang-Yeovil pounded Dagenham's shoulder and pointed. Almost at the bottom of the crater lay Gully Foyle, and as the blazing spatter of molten copper illuminated him, they saw him move. The two men at once turned and crawled out of the cathedral for a conference.

"He's alive."

"How's it possible?"

"I can guess. Did you see the shreds of tent wadded near him? It must have been a freak explosion up at the other end of the cathedral and the tents in between cushioned Foyle. Then he dropped through the floor before anything else could hit him."

"I'll buy that. We've got to get him out. He's the only man who knows where the PyrE is."

"Could it still be here ... unexploded?"

"If it's in the ILI safe, yes. That stuff is inert to anything. Never mind that now. How are we going to get him out?"

"Well we can't work down from above."

"Why not?"

"Isn't it obvious? One false step and the whole mess will collapse."

"Did you see that copper flowing down?"

"God, yes!"

'Well if we don't get him out in ten minutes, he'll be at the bottom of a pool of molten copper."

"What can we do?"

"I've got a long shot."

"What?"

"The cellars of the old RCA buildings across the street are as deep as St. Pat's."

"And?"

"We'll go down and try to hole through. Maybe we can pull Foyle out from the bottom."

A squad broke into the ancient RCA buildings, abandoned and sealed up for two generations. They went down into the cellar arcades, crumbling museums of the retail stores of centuries past. They located the ancient elevator shafts and dropped through them into the subcellars filled with electric installations, heat plants, and refrigeration systems. They went down into the sump cellars, waist deep in water from the streams of prehistoric Manhattan Island, streams that still flowed beneath the streets that covered them.

As they waded through the sump cellars, bearing east-northeast to bring up opposite the St. Pat's vaults, they suddenly discovered that the pitch dark was illuminated by a fiery flickering up ahead. Dagenham shouted and flung himself forward. The explosion that had opened the subcellars of St. Pat's had split the septum between its vaults and those of the RCA buildings. Through a jagged rent in stone and earth they could peer into the bottom of the inferno.

Fifty feet inside was Foyle, trapped in a labyrinth of twisted beams, stones, pipe, metal, and wire. He was illuminated by a roaring glow from above him and fitful flames around him. His clothes were on fire and the tattooing was livid on his face. He moved feebly, like a bewildered animal in a maze.

"My God" Y'ang-Yeovil exclaimed. "The Burning Man!"

"What?"

"The Burning Man I saw on the Spanish Stairs. Never mind that now. What can we do?"

"Go in, of course."

A brilliant white gob of copper suddenly oozed down close to Foyle and splashed ten feet below him. It was followed by a second, a third, a slow steady stream. A pool began to form. Dagenham and Y'ang-Yeovil sealed the face plates of their armor and crawled through the break in the septum. After three minutes of agonized struggling they realized that they could not get through the labyrinth to Foyle. It was locked to the outside but not from the inside. Dagenham and Y'ang-Yeovil backed up to confer.

"We can't get to him," Dagenham shouted, "but he can get out."

"How? He can't jaunte, obviously, or he wouldn't be there."

"No, he can climb. Look. He goes left, then up, reverses, makes a turn along that beam, slides under it and pushes through that tangle of wire. The wire can't be pushed in, which is why we can't get to him, but it can push out, which is how he can get out. It's a one-way door. "

The pool of molten copper crept up toward Foyle.

"If he doesn't get out soon he'll be roasted alive."

"We'll have to talk him out ... Tell him what to do."

The men began shouting: "Foyle! Foyle! Foyle!"

The Burning Man in the maze continued to move feebly. The downpour of sizzling copper increased.

"Foyle! Turn left. Can you hear me? Foyle! Turn left and climb up. You can get out if you'll listen to me. Turn left and climb up. Then -- Foyle!"

"He's not listening. Foyle! Gully Foylel Can you hear us?"

"Send for Jiz. Maybe he'll listen to her."

"No, Robin. She'll telesend. He'll have to listen."

"But will she do it? Save him of all people?"

"She'll have to. This is bigger than hatred. It's the biggest damned thing the world's ever encountered. I'll get her." Y'ang-Yeovil started to crawl out. Dagenham stopped him.

'Wait, Yeo. Look at him. He's flickering."

"Flickering?"

"Look! He's ... blinking like a glow-worm. Watch! Now you see him and now you don't."

The figure of Foyle was appearing, disappearing, and reappearing in rapid succession, like a firefly caught in a flaming trap.

"What's he doing now? What's he trying to do? What's happening?"

***

He was trying to escape. Like a trapped firefly or some seabird caught in the blazing brazier of a naked beacon fire, he was beating about in a frenzy ... a blackened, burning creature, dashing himself against the unknown.

Sound came as sight to him, as light in strange patterns. He saw the sound of his shouted name in vivid rhythms:

F O Y L E F O Y L E F O Y L E
F O Y L E F O Y L E F O Y L E
F O Y L E F O Y L E F O Y L E
F O Y L E F O Y L E F O Y L E
F O Y L E F O Y L E F O Y L E

Motion came as sound to him. He heard the writhing of the flames, he heard the swirls of smoke, he heard the flickering, jeering shadows ... all speaking deafeningly in strange tongues:

"BURUU GYARR RWAWW JERRMAKING?" the steam asked.

"Asha. Asha, rit-kit-dit-zit m'gid," the quick shadows answered.

"Ohhh. Ahhh. Heee. Teee. Oooo. Ahhh," the heat ripples clamored. "Ahhh. Maaa. Paaa. Laaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Even the flames smoldering on his own clothes roared gibberish in his ears. "MANTERGEISTMANN!" they bellowed. "UNVERTRACKINSTEIGN GANZELSSFURSTINLASTENBRUGG!"

Color was pain to him ... heat, cold, pressure; sensations of intolerable heights and plunging depths, of tremendous accelerations and crushing compressions:

RED RECEDED FROM HIM

GREEN LIGHT ATTACKED

INDIGO INDULATED WITH SICKENING SPEED LIKE A SHIVERING SNAKE

Touch was taste to him ... the feel of wood was acrid and chalky in his mouth, metal was salt, stone tasted sour-sweet to the touch of his fingers, and the feel of glass cloyed his palate like over-rich pastry.

***

Smell was touch ... Hot stone smelled like velvet caressing his cheek. Smoke and ash were harsh tweeds rasping his skin, almost the feel of wet canvas. Molten metal smelled like blows hammering his heart, and the ionization of the PyrE explosion filled the air with ozone that smelled like water trickling through his fingers.

***

He was not blind, not deaf, not senseless. Sensation came to him, but filtered through a nervous system twisted and short-circuited by the shock of the PyrE concussion. He was suffering from synesthesia, that rare condition in which perception receives messages from the objective world and relays these messages to the brain, but there in the brain the sensory perceptions are confused with one another. So, in Foyle, sound registered as sight, motion registered as sound, colors became pain sensations, touch became taste, and smell became touch. He was not only trapped within the labyrinth of the inferno under Old St. Pat's; he was trapped in the kaleidoscope of his own cross-senses.

Again desperate, on the ghastly verge of extinction, he abandoned all disciplines and habits of living; or, perhaps, they were stripped from him. He reverted from a conditioned product of environment and experience to an inchoate creature craving escape and survival and exercising every power it possessed. And again the miracle of two years ago took place. The undivided energy of an entire human organism, of every cell, fiber, nerve, and muscle empowered that craving, and again Foyle space-jaunted.

He went hurtling along the geodesical space lines of the curving universe at the speed of thought, far exceeding that of light. His spatial velocity was so frightful that his time axis was twisted from the vertical line drawn from the Past through Now to the Future. He went flickering along the new near-horizontal axis, this new space-time geodesic, driven by the miracle of a human mind no longer inhibited by concepts of the impossible.

Again he achieved what Helmut Grant and Enzio Dandridge and scores of other experimenters had failed to do, because his blind panic forced him to abandon the spatio-temporal inhibitions that had defeated previous attempts. He did not jaunte to Elsewhere, but to Elsewhen. But most important, the fourth dimensional awareness, the complete picture of the Arrow of Time and his position on it which is born in every man but deeply submerged by the trivia of living, was in Foyle close to the surface. He jaunted along the space- time geodesics to Elsewheres and Elsewhens, translating "i" the square root of minus one, from an imaginary number into reality by a magnificent act of imagination.

He jaunted.

He was aboard Nomad, drifting in the empty frost of space.

He stood in the door to nowhere.

The cold was the taste of lemons and the vacuum was a rake of talons on his skin. The sun and the stars were a shaking ague that racked his bones.

"GLOMMHA FREDNIS THE CLOMOHAMAGENSIN!" motion roared in his ears.

It was a figure with its back to him vanishing down the corridor; a figure with a copper cauldron of provisions over its shoulder; a figure darting, floating, squirming through free fall. It was Gully Foyle.

"MEEHAT JESSROT TO CRONAGAN BUT FLIMMCORK," the sight of his motion bellowed.

"Aha! Oh-ho! M'git not to kak," the flicker of light and shade answered.

"Oooooooh? Soooooo? Noooooo. Ahhhhhh!" the whirling raffle of debris in his wake murmured.

The lemon taste in his mouth became unbearable. The rake of talons on his skin was torture.

He jaunted.

He reappeared in the furnace beneath Old St. Pat's less than a second after he had disappeared from there. He was drawn, as the seabird is drawn, again and again to the flames from which it is struggling to escape. He endured the roaring torture for only another moment.

He jaunted.

He was in the depths of Gouffre Martel.

The velvet black darkness was bliss, paradise, euphoria.

"Ah!" he cried in relief.

"AH!" came the echo of his voice, and the sound was translated into a blinding pattern of light.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

The Burning Man winced. "Stop!" he called, blinded by the noise. Again came the dazzling pattern of the echo:

StOpStOpstOp
OpStOpStOpStOp
StOpStOpStOpStOp
OpStOpStOpStOpStop
OpStOpStOpStOpSt
OpStOpStOpStOp
OpStOpStOpSt

A distant clatter of steps came to his eyes in soft patterns of vertical borealis streamers:

c c c c c c
l l l l l l
a a a a a a
t t t t t t
t t t t t t
e e e e e e
r r r r r r

[6 streamers spelling "clatter"]

THERE
CAME
A
SHOUT
LIKE
A
ZIG
ZAG
OF
LIGHTNING

It was the search party from the Gouffre Martel hospital, tracking Foyle and Jisbella McQueen by geophone. The Burning Man disappeared, but not before he had unwittingly decoyed the searchers from the trail of the vanished fugitives.

He was back under Old St. Pat's, reappearing only an instant after his last disappearance. His wild beatings into the unknown sent him stumbling up geodesic space-time lines that inevitably brought him back to the Now he was trying to escape, for in the inverted saddle curve of space-time, his Now was the deepest depression in the curve.

He could drive himself up, up, up the geodesic lines into the past or future, but inevitably he must fall back into his own Now, like a thrown ball hurled up the sloping walls of an infinite pit, to land, hang poised for a moment, and then roll back into the depths.

But still he beat into the unknown in his desperation.

Again he jaunted.

He was on Jervis beach on the Australian coast.

The motion of the surf was bawling: "LOGGERMIST CROTEHAVEN JALL. LOOGERMISK MOTESLAVEN DOOL."

The churning of the surf blinded him with the lights of batteries of footlights:

************************************************************
************************************************************

Gully Foyle and Robin Wednesbury stood before him. The body of a man lay on the sand which felt like vinegar in the Burning Man's mouth. The wind brushing his face tasted like brown paper.

Foyle opened his mouth and exclaimed. The sound came out in burning star-bubbles.

Foyle took a step. "GRASH?" the motion blared.

The Burning Man jaunted.

He was in the office of Dr. Sergei Orel in Shanghai.

Foyle was again before him, speaking in light patterns:

WHO
ARE
YOU

WHO
ARE
YOU

WHO
ARE
YOU

He flickered back to the agony of Old St. Pat's and jaunted again.

HE WAS ON THE BRAWLING SPANISH
STAIRS. HE WAS ON THE BRAWLING
SPANISH STAIRS. HE WAS ON THE
BRAWLING SPANISH STAIRS. HE WAS
ON THE BRAWLING SPANISH STAIRS.
HE WAS ON THE BRAWLING SPANISH
STAIRS. HE WAS ON THE BRAWLING
SPANISH STAIRS. HE WAS ON THE
BRAWLING SPANISH STAIRS. HE WAS
ON THE BRAWLING SPANISH STAIRS.

The Burning Man jaunted.

It was cold again, with the taste of lemons, and vacuum raked his skin with unspeakable talons. He was peering through the porthole of a silvery yawl. The jagged mountains of the Moon towered in the background. Through the porthole he could see the jangling racket of blood pumps and oxygen pumps and hear the uproar of the motion Gully Foyle made toward him. The clawing of the vacuum caught his throat in an agonizing grip.

The geodesic lines of space-time rolled him back to Now under Old St. Pat's, where less than two seconds had elapsed since he first began his frenzied struggle. Once more, like a burning spear, he hurled himself into the unknown.

He was in the Skoptsy Catacomb on Mars. The white slug that was Lindsey Joyce was writhing before him.

"NO! NO! NO!" her motion screamed. "DON'T HURT ME. DON'T KILL ME. NO PLEASE ... PLEASE ... PLEASE ..."

The Burning Man opened his tiger mouth and laughed. "She hurts," he said. The sound of his voice burned his eyes.

SHEHURTSHEHURTS
STRUHEHSTRUHEHS
SHEHURTSHEHURTS

"Who are you?" Foyle whispered.

WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
HHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHH
0000000000000
00000
AREAREAREAREAREARE
AREAREAREAREAREARE
AREAREAREAREAREARE
YYYYYYYYYYYYY
YYYYY
0000000000000
00000
UUUUUUUUUUUUU
UUUUU

The Burning Man winced. "Too bright," he said. 'Less light."

Foyle took a step forward. "BLAA-GAA-DAA-MAWWFRAA-MISHINGLISTONVISTA!" the motion roared.

The Burning Man clapped his hands over his ears in agony. "Too loud, " he cried. "Don't move so loud."

The writhing Skoptsy's motion was still screaming, beseeching: "DON'T HURT ME. DON'T HURT ME."

The Burning Man laughed again. "Listen to her. She's screaming. Begging. She doesn't want to die. She doesn't want to be hurt. Listen to her."

"IT WAS OLIVIA PRESTEIGN GAVE THE ORDER. OLIVIA PRESTEIGN. NOT ME. DON'T HURT ME. OLIVIA PRESTEIGN."

"She's telling who gave the order. Can't you hear? Listen with your eyes. She says Olivia."

WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?
WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?
WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?
WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?
WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?

The checkerboard glitter of Foyle's question was too much for him.

"She says Olivia. Olivia Presteign. Olivia Presteign. Olivia Presteign."

He jaunted.

He fell back into the pit under Old St. Pat's, and suddenly his confusion and despair told him he was dead. This was the finish of Gully Foyle. This was eternity, and hell was real. What he had seen was the past passing before his crumbling senses in the final moment of death. What he was enduring he must endure through all time. He was dead. He knew he was dead.

He refused to submit to eternity.

He beat again into the unknown.

The Burning Man jaunted.

He was in a scintillating mist
a snowflake cluster of stars
a shower of liquid diamonds
There was the touch of butterfly wings on his skin
There was the taste of a strand of cool pearls in his mouth

His crossed kaleidoscopic senses could not tell him where he was, but he knew he wanted to remain in this Nowhere forever.

"Hello, Gully."

"Who's that?"

"This is Robin."

"Robin?"

"Robin Wednesbury that was."

"That was?"

"Robin Yeovil that is."

"I don't understand. Am I dead?"

"No, Gully."

"Where am I?"

"A long, long way from Old St. Pat's."

"But where?"

"I can't take the time to explain, Gully. You've only got a few moments here."

"Why?"

"Because you haven't learned how to jaunte through space-time yet. You've got to go back and learn."

"But I do know. I must know. Sheffield said I space-jaunted to Nomad ... six hundred thousand miles."

"That was an accident then, Gully, and you'll do it again ... after you teach yourself ... But you're not doing it now. You don't know how to hold on yet ... how to turn any Now into reality. You'll tumble back into Old St. Pat's in a moment."

"Robin, I've just remembered. I have bad news for you."

"I know, Gully."

"Your mother and sisters are dead."

"I've known for a long time, Gully."

"How long?"

"For thirty years."

"That's impossible."

"No it isn't. This is a long, long way from Old St. Pat's. I've been waiting to tell you how to save yourself from the fire, Gully. Will you listen?"

''I'm not dead?"

"No."

"I'll listen."

"Your senses are all confused. It'll pass soon, but I won't give the directions in left and right or up and down. I'll tell you what you can understand now."

"Why are you helping me ... after what I've done to you?"

"That's all forgiven and forgotten, Gully. Now listen to me. When you get back to Old St. Pat's, turn around until you're facing the loudest shadows. Got that?"

"Yes."

"Go toward the noise until you feel a deep prickling on your skin. Then stop."

"Then stop."

"Make a half turn into compression and a feeling of falling. Follow that."

"Follow that."

"You'll pass through a solid sheet of light and come to the taste of quinine. That's really a mass of wire. Push straight through the quinine until you see something that sounds like trip hammers. You'll be safe."

"How do you know all this, Robin?"

"I've been briefed by an expert, Gully." There was the sensation of laughter. "You'll be falling back into the past any moment now. Peter and Saul are here. They say au revoir and good luck. And Jiz Dagenham too. Good luck, Gully dear ..."

"The past? This is the future?"

"Yes, Gully."

"Am I here? Is ... Olivia --?"

And then he was tumbling down, down, down the spacetime lines back into the dreadful pit of Now.
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Re: The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester

Postby admin » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:36 am

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

His senses uncrossed in the ivory-and-gold star chamber of Castle Presteign. Sight became sight and he saw the high mirrors and stained glass windows, the gold tooled library with android librarian on library ladder. Sound became sound and he heard the android secretary tapping the manual bead-recorder at the Louis Quinze desk. Taste became taste as he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.

He knew he was at bay, faced with the decision of his life. He ignored his enemies and examined the perpetual beam carved in
the robot face of the bartender, the classic Irish grin.

"Thank you," Foyle said.

"My pleasure, sir," the robot replied and awaited its next cue.

"Nice day," Foyle remarked.

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot beamed.

"Awful day," Foyle said.

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot responded.

"Day," Foyle said.

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot said.

Foyle turned to the others. "That's me," he said, motioning to the robot. 'That's all of us. We prattle about free will, but we're nothing but response ... mechanical reaction in prescribed grooves. So ... here I am, here I am, waiting to respond. Press the buttons and I'll jump." He aped the canned voice of the robot. "My pleasure to serve, sir." Suddenly his tone lashed them. "What do you want?"

They stirred with uneasy purpose. Foyle was burned, beaten, chastened ... and yet he was taking control of all of them.

"We'll stipulate the threats," Foyle said. "I'm to be hung, drawn, and quartered, tortured in hell if I don't ... What? What do you want?"

"I want my property," Presteign said, smiling coldly.

"Eighteen and some odd pounds of PyrE. Yes. What do you offer?"

'I make no offer, sir. I demand what is mine."

Y'ang-Yeovil and Dagenham began to speak. Foyle silenced them. "One button at a time, gentlemen. Presteign is trying to make me jump at present." He turned to Presteign. "Press harder, blood and money, or find another button. Who are you to make demands at this moment?"

Presteign tightened his lips. "The law ..." he began.

"What? Threats?" Foyle laughed. "Am I to be frightened into anything? Don't be imbecile. Speak to me the way you did New Year's Eve, Presteign ... without mercy, without forgiveness, without hypocrisy."

Presteign bowed, took a breath, and ceased to smile. "I offer you power," he said. "Adoption as my heir, partnership in Presteign Enterprises, the chieftainship of clan and sept. Together we can own the world."

"With PyrE?"

"Yes."

'Your proposal is noted and declined. Will you offer your daughter?"

"Olivia?" Presteign choked and clenched his fists.

"Yes, Olivia. Where is she?"

"You scum!" Presteign cried. "Filth ... Common thief ... You dare to ..."

"Will you offer your daughter for the PyrE?"

"Yes," Presteign answered, barely audible.

Foyle turned to Dagenham. "Press your button, death's-head," he said.

"If the discussion's to be conducted on this level ..." Dagenham snapped.

"It is. Without mercy, without forgiveness, without hypocrisy. What do you offer?"

"Glory."

"Ah?"

"We can't offer money or power. We can offer honor. Gully Foyle, the man who saved the Inner Planets from annihilation. We can offer security. We'll wipe out your criminal record, give you an honored name, guarantee a niche in the hall of fame."

"No," Jisbella McQueen cut in sharply. "Don't accept. If you want to be a savior, destroy the secret. Don't give PyrE to anyone."

"What is PyrE?"

"Quiet!" Dagenham snapped.

"It's a thermonuclear explosive that's detonated by thought alone ... by psychokinesis," Jisbella said.

"What thought?"

"The desire of anyone to detonate it, directed at it. That brings it to critical mass if it's not insulated by Inert Lead Isotope."

"I told you to be quiet," Dagenham growled.

"If we're all to have a chance at him, I want mine."

"This is bigger than idealism."

"Nothing's bigger than idealism."

"Foyle's secret is," Y'ang-Yeovil murmured. "I know how relatively unimportant PyrE is just now." He smiled at Foyle. "Sheffield's law assistant overheard part of your little discussion in Old St. Pat's. We know about the space-jaunting."

There was a sudden hush.

"Space-jaunting," Dagenham exclaimed. "Impossible. You don't mean it."

"I do mean it. Foyle's demonstrated that space-jaunting is not impossible. He jaunted six hundred thousand miles from an O.S. raider to the wreck of the Nomad. As I said, this is far bigger than PyrE. I should like to discuss that matter first."

"Everyone's been telling what they want," Robin Wednesbury said slowly. "What do you want, Gully Foyle?"

"Thank you," Foyle answered. "I want to be punished."

"What?"

"I want to be purged," he said in a suffocated voice. The stigmata began to appear on his bandaged face. "I want to pay for what I've done and settle the account. I want to get rid of this damnable cross I'm carrying ... this ache that's cracking my spine. I want to go back to Gouffre Martel. I want a lobo, if I deserve it ... and I know I do. I want --"

"You want escape," Dagenham interrupted. "There's no escape."

"I want release!"

"Out of the question," Y'ang-Yeovil said. "There's too much of value locked up in your head to be lost by lobotomy."

"We're beyond easy childish things like crime and punishment," Dagenham added.

"No," Robin objected. "There must always be sin and forgiveness. We're never beyond that."

"Profit and loss, sin and forgiveness, idealism and realism," Foyle smiled. "You're all so sure, so simple, so single-minded. I'm the only one in doubt. Let's see how sure you really are. You'll give up Olivia, Presteign? To me, yes? Will you give her up to the law? She's a killer."

Presteign tried to rise, and then fell back in his chair.

"There must be forgiveness, Robin? Will you forgive Olivia Presteign? She murdered your mother and sisters."

Robin turned ashen. Y'ang-Yeovil tried to protest.

"The Outer Satellites don't have PyrE, Yeovil. Sheffield revealed that. Would you use it on them anyway? Will you turn my name into common anathema ... like Lynch and Boycott?"

Foyle turned to Jisbella. "Will your idealism take you back to Gouffre Martel to serve out your sentence? And you, Dagenham, will you give her up? Let her go?"

He listened to the outcries and watched the confusion for a moment, bitter and constrained.

"Life is so simple," he said. "This decision is so simple, isn't it? Am I to respect Presteign's property rights? The welfare of the planets? Jisbella's ideals? Dagenham's realism? Robin's conscience? Press the button and watch the robot jump. But I'm not a robot. I'm a freak of the universe ... a thinking animal ... and I'm trying to see my way clear through this morass. Am I to turn PyrE over to the world and let it destroy itself? Am I to teach the world how to space-jaunte and let us spread our freak show from galaxy to galaxy through all the universe? What's the answer?"

The bartender robot hurled its mixing glass across the room with a resounding crash. In the amazed silence that followed, Dagenham grunted: "Damn! My radiation's disrupted your dolls again, Presteign."

"The answer is yes," the robot said, quite distinctly.

"What?" Foyle asked, taken aback.

"The answer to your question is yes."

"Thank you," Foyle said.

"My pleasure, sir," the robot responded. "A man is a member of society first, and an individual second. You must go along with society, whether it chooses destruction or not."

"Completely haywire," Dagenham said impatiently. "Switch it off, Presteign."

"Wait," Foyle commanded. He looked at the beaming grin engraved in the steel robot face. "But society can be so stupid. So confused. You've witnessed this conference."

"Yes, sir, but you must teach, not dictate. You must teach society."

"To space-jaunte? Why? Why reach out to the stars and galaxies? What for?"

"Because you're alive, sir. You might as well ask: Why is life? Don't ask about it. Live it."

"Quite mad," Dagenham muttered.

"But fascinating," Y'ang-Yeovil murmured.

"There's got to be more to life than just living," Foyle said to the robot.

"Then find it for yourself, sir. Don't ask the world to stop moving because you have doubts."

"Why can't we all move forward together?"

"Because you're all different. You're not lemmings. Some must lead, and hope that the rest will follow."

"Who leads?"

"The men who must ... driven men, compelled men."

"Freak men."

"You're al1 freaks, sir. But you always have been freaks. Life is a freak. That's its hope and glory."

"Thank you very much."

"My pleasure, sir."

"You've saved the day."

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot beamed. Then it fizzed, jangled, and collapsed.

Foyle turned on the others. "That thing's right," he said, "and you're wrong. Who are we, any of us, to make a decision for the world? Let the world make its own decisions. Who are we to keep secrets from the world? Let the world know and decide for itself. Come to Old St. Pat's."

He jaunted; they followed. The square block was still cordoned and by now an enormous crowd had gathered. So many of the rash and curious were jaunting into the smoking ruins that the police had set up a protective induction field to keep them out. Even so, urchins, curio seekers, and irresponsibles attempted to jaunte into the wreckage, only to be burned by the induction field and depart, squawking.

At a signal from Y'ang-Yeovil, the field was turned off. Foyle went through the hot rubble to the east wall of the cathedral which stood to a height of fifteen feet. He felt the smoking stones, pressed, and levered. There came a grinding grumble and a three-by-five-foot section jarred open and then stuck. Foyle gripped it and pulled. The section trembled; then the roasted hinges collapsed and the stone panel crumbled.

Two centuries before, when organized religion had been abolished and orthodox worshippers of all faiths had been driven underground, some devout souls had constructed this secret niche in Old St. Pat's and turned it into an altar. The gold of the crucifix still shone with the brilliance of eternal faith. At the foot of the cross rested a small black box of Inert Lead Isotope.

"Is this a sign?" Foyle panted. "Is this the answer I want?"

He snatched the heavy safe before any could seize it. He jaunted a hundred yards to the remnants of the cathedral steps facing Fifth Avenue. There he opened the safe in full view of the gaping crowds. A shout of consternation went up from the Intelligence crews who knew the truth of its contents.

"Foyle!" Dagenham cried.

"For God's sake, Foyle!" Y'ang-Yeovil shouted.

Foyle withdrew a slug of pyrE, the color of iodine crystals, the size of a cigarette ... one pound of transplutonian isotopes in solid solution.

"PyrE!" he roared to the mob. "Take it! Keep it! It's your future. PyrE!" He hurled the slug into the crowd and roared over his shoulder: "SanFran. Russian Hill stage."

He jaunted St. Louis-Denver to San Francisco, arriving at the Russian Hill stage where it was four in the afternoon and the streets were bustling with late-shopper jaunters.

"PyrE!" Foyle bellowed. His devil face glowed blood red. He was an appalling sight. "PyrE. It's yours. Make them tell you what it is. Nome!" he called to his pursuit as it arrived, and jaunted.

It was lunch hour in Nome, and the lumberjacks jaunting down from the sawmills for their beefsteak and beer were startled by the tiger- faced man who hurled a one pound slug of iodine colored alloy into their midst and shouted in the gutter tongue "PyrE! You hear me, man? You listen a me, you. Grab no guesses, you. Make 'em tell you about PyrE, is all!"

To Dagenham, Y'ang-Yeovil and others jaunting in after him, as always, seconds too late, he shouted: "Tokyo. Imperial stage!" He disappeared a split second before their shots reached him.

It was nine o'clock of a crisp, windy morning in Tokyo, and the morning rush hour crowd milling around the imperial stage alongside the carp ponds was paralyzed by a tiger-faced Samurai who appeared and hurled a slug of curious metal and unforgettable admonitions at them.

Foyle continued to Bangkok where it was pouring rain, and Delhi where a monsoon raged ... always pursued in his mad-dog course. In Baghdad it was three in the morning and the nightclub crowd and pub crawlers who stayed a perpetual half hour ahead of closing time around the world, cheered him alcoholically. In Paris and again in London it was midnight and the mobs on the Champs Elysees and in Piccadilly Circus were galvanized by Foyle's appearance and passionate exhortation.

Having led his pursuers three-quarters of the way around the world in fifty minutes, Foyle permitted them to overtake him in London. He permitted them to knock him down, take the ILI sale from his arms, count the remaining slugs of PyrE, and slam the safe shut.

"There's enough left for a war. Plenty left for destruction ... annihilation ... if you dare." He was laughing and sobbing in hysterical triumph. "Millions for defense, but not one cent for survival."

"D'you realize what you've done, you damned killer?" Dagenham shouted.

"I know what I've done."

"Nine pounds of pyrE scattered around the world! One thought and we'll -- How can we get it back without telling them the truth? For God's sake, Yeo, keep that crowd back. Don't let them hear this."

"Impossible."

"Then let's jaunte."

"No," Foyle roared. "Let them hear this. Let them hear everything."

"You're insane, man. You've handed a loaded gun to children."

"Stop treating them like children and they'll stop behaving like children. Who the hell are you to play monitor?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Stop treating them like children. Explain the loaded gun to them. Bring it all out into the open." Foyle laughed savagely. "I've ended the last star-chamber conference in the world. I've blown the last secret wide open. No more secrets from now on. No more telling the children what's best for them to know. Let 'em all grow up. It's about time."

"Christ, he is insane."

"Am I? I've handed life and death back to the people who do the living and dying. The common man's been whipped and led long enough by driven men like us.... Compulsive men ... Tiger men who can't help lashing the world before them. We're all tigers, the three of us, but who the hell are we to make decisions for the world just because we're compulsive? Let the world make its own choice between life and death. Why should we be saddled with the responsibility?"

"We're not saddled," Y'ang-Yeovil said quietly. "We're driven. We're forced to seize the responsibility that the average man shirks."

"Then let him stop shirking it. Let him stop tossing his duty and guilt onto the shoulders of the first freak who comes along grabbing at it. Are we to be scapegoats for the world forever?"

"Damn you!" Dagenham raged, "Don't you realize that you can't trust people? They don't know enough for their own good."

"Then let them learn or die. We're all in this together. Let's live together or die together."

"D'you want to die in their ignorance? You've got to figure out how we can get those slugs back without blowing everything wide open."

"No. I believe in them. I was one of them before I turned tiger. They can all turn uncommon if they're kicked awake like I was."

Foyle shook himself and abruptly jaunted to the bronze head of Eros, fifty feet above the counter of Piccadilly Circus. He perched precariously and bawled: "Listen a me, all you! Listen, man! Gonna sermonize, me. Dig this, you!"

He was answered with a roar.

"You pigs, you. You rut like pigs, is all. You got the most in you, and you use the least. You hear me, you? Got a million in you and spend pennies. Got a genius in you and think crazies. Got a heart in you and feel empties. All a you. Every you ..."

He was jeered. He continued with the hysterical passion of the possessed.

"Take a war to make you spend. Take a jam to make you think. Take a challenge to make you great. Rest of the time you sit around lazy, you. Pigs, you! All right, God damn you! I challenge you, me. Die or live and be great. Blow yourselves to Christ gone or come and find me, Gully Foyle, and I make you men. I make you great. I give you the stars."

He disappeared.

***

He jaunted up the geodesic lines of space-time to an Elsewhere and an Elsewhen. He arrived in chaos. He hung in a precarious para-Now for a moment and then tumbled back into chaos.

"It can be done," he thought. "It must be done."

He jaunted again, a burning spear flung from unknown into unknown, and again he tumbled back into a chaos of para-space and para- time. He was lost in Nowhere.

"I believe," he thought. "I have faith."

He jaunted again and failed again.

"Faith in what?" he asked himself, adrift in limbo.

"Faith in faith," he answered himself. "It isn't necessary to have something to believe in. It's only necessary to believe that somewhere there's something worthy of belief."

He jaunted for the last time and the power of his willingness to believe transformed the para-NOW of his random destination into a real ...

***

NOW: Rigel in Orion, burning blue-white, five hundred and forty light years from earth, ten thousand times more luminous than the sun, a cauldron of energy circled by thirty-seven massive planets ... Foyle hung, freezing and suffocating in space, face to face with the incredible destiny in which he believed, but which was still inconceivable. He hung in space for a blinding moment, as helpless, as amazed, and yet as inevitable as the first gilled creature to come out of the sea and hang gulping on a primeval beach in the dawn-history of life on earth.

He space-jaunted, turning para-Now into ...

***

NOW: Vega in Lyra, an AO star twenty-six light years from earth, burning bluer than Rigel, planetless, but encircled by swarms of blazing comets whose gaseous tails scintillated across the blue-black firmament ...

***

And again he turned now into NOW: Canopus, yellow as the sun, gigantic, thunderous in the silent wastes of space at last invaded by a creature that once was gilled. The creature hung, gulping on the beach of the universe, nearer death than life, nearer the future than the past, ten leagues beyond the wide world's end. It wondered at the masses of dust, meteors, and motes that girdled Canopus in a broad, flat ring like the rings of Saturn and of the breadth of Saturn's orbit ...

***

NOW: Aldebaran in Taurus, a monstrous red star of a pair of stars whose sixteen planets wove high velocity ellipses around their gyrating parents. He was hurling himself through space-time with growing assurance ...

***

NOW: Antares, an MI red giant, paired like Aldebaran, two hundred and fifty light years from earth, encircled by two hundred and fifty planetoids of the size of Mercury, of the climate of Eden ...

***

And lastly ... NOW:

He was back aboard Nomad.

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation.
Deep space is my dwelling place,
The stars my destination.

The girl, Moira, found him in his tool locker aboard Nomad, curled in a tight fetal ball, his face hollow, his eyes burning with divine revelation. Although the asteroid had long since been repaired and made airtight, Foyle still went through the motions of the perilous existence that had given birth to him years before.

But now he slept and meditated, digesting and encompassing the magnificence he had learned. He awoke from reverie to trance and drifted out of the locker, passing Moira with blind eyes, brushing past the awed girl who stepped aside and sank to her knees. He wandered through the empty passages and returned to the womb of the locker. He curled up again and was lost.

She touched him once; he made no move. She spoke the name that had been emblazoned on his face. He made no answer. She turned and fled to the Interior of the asteroid, to the holy of holies in which Joseph reigned.

"My husband has returned to us," Moira said.

"Your husband?"

"The god-man who almost destroyed us."

Joseph's face darkened with anger.

"Where is he? Show me!"

"You will not hurt him?"

"All debts must be paid. Show me."

Joseph followed her to the locker aboard Nomad and gazed intently at Foyle. The anger in his face was replaced by wonder. He touched Foyle and spoke to him; there was still no response.

"You cannot punish him," Moira said. "He is dying."

"No," Joseph answered quietly. "He is dreaming. I, a priest, know these dreams. Presently he will awaken and read to us, his people, his thoughts."

"And then you will punish him."

"He has found it already in himself," Joseph said.

He settled down outside the locker. The girl, Moira, ran up the twisted corridors and returned a few moments later with a silver basin of warm water and a silver tray of food. She bathed Foyle gently and then set the tray before him as an offering. Then she settled down alongside Joseph ... alongside the world ... prepared to await the awakening.
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