From Analog, February 1967
Police methods have advanced enormously in the last thirty years, They will, inevitably, advance still more. Sure…but you can also bet the equally inevitable crooked man will also advance. Here, the Crooked Man advances most hilariously.
"There is less crime than there used to be," Sacpole, head of Co-Ord said. "On the other hand, the quality of the crimes committed has risen an unprecedented degree. The apprehension of wrongdoers in straightforward cases is virtually one hundred percent. Those who commit common murder, burglary, theft, assault and the like, are easily detected and restrained. Generally speaking, potential criminals are discouraged sufficiently to ensure their social cooperation. This, and the unwarranted fear of the three-month mental reclamation course, have increasingly affected the downward trend on the per-capita crime scale.
"Those members of the public who might be so inclined are thoroughly aware of Co-Ord's formidable resources and know that the odds against successfully perpetrating a criminal act are very high. Take into account that offenders become model citizens after treatment, which eliminates the possibility of habituation, and it might seem that the dwindling of common malpractice places Co-Ord on the road to redundancy.
"This is not so. The 'common' quite uncommon in recent times. But Co-Ord continues to expand. It needs to expand. It MUST expand. A whole new section is required to deal with Instravel alone..."
Mr. Frederic Traff looked down at himself and choked back a cry of dismay. He had been incorrectly reassembled. His legs were on backwards and his toes pointed to the rear.
Mr. Traff teetered unfamiliarly.
His arms did not feel right. He examined them. His elbows pointed forward, his palms faced outward from his sides.
"Oh, God," he groaned unhappily. "Oh, God."
A tear overflowed his eye and trickled down the back of his neck.
The label round his wasted neck said that he was Obadiah Hoskings, forty-six years, one hundred twenty-two pounds, apathetic inadequate, opium degenerate.
"Excellent," said the celebrated Dr. Joynter, neurosurgeon and Professor of Anatomy. "Perfect. I wonder where they found him? No matter."
"Does the Psychotherapy Center know just exactly how you intend to rehabilitate him?" Leslie asked. "Their concern is not with ethics but results. I have their trust. I will justify that trust…"
"It's an encephalograph, a completely new type, superior to anything in use today."
Frank was skeptical. "Small, isn't it? Does it work?"
"It should do," Clive Mossy said. "No reason why it shouldn't."
"You mean you haven't tried it out yet?"
"It's at the testing stage now. That's why I invited you up."
"Oh, yeah?" Frank said. "I'm no guinea pig. I've had some of your bright ideas. I remember 'Mossy's Improved Electroconvulsive Machine'."
"What was wrong with it?" Clive asked, nettled. "It worked, didn't it? Stevenson seemed glad enough to steal it and modify me out of it."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Frank said. I know all about it. So it was great, yeah, and you're a genius. But that doesn't stop me from twitching every time I think about it. No. No dice. Find yourself another boy."
"What's his name?"
"Frederic Traff. Oslo to Vienna."
Rasulko frowned at the report. "Can't be sure. Take a look and see what you think."
Mauriss crossed to the plate-glass window and peered in at the unfortunate Mr. Traff. "Hm-m-m. Not as mixed up as they usually are. Interesting. Check out Dispatch and Reception?"
"Co-Ord teams are there now."
"Hm-m-m. Good. Should be a comparatively easy case. Shouldn't take more than a week to straighten him out."
"You see how I have enlarged the brain cavity, Leslie? Eh? Excellent. Perfect. It fits beautifully."
His bifocals flashed. Sharply he said, "Watch his temperature, Leslie! It's gone up a degree."
"Ha. Good." He hummed. "Now for the intricate part. Da de dum-de-dum, da de dum-de-dum. Enlarger auto. Magnificent. Leslie, come look at this. What delicate tracery."
"Keep an eye on the nutrient flow, Leslie," the doctor warned.
"Hm-m-m. Ha. Marvelous. Now then. Controls responding? Good. Micro tissue welder satisfactory? Good. Are you ready, Leslie?"
"Good. Then we shall proceed with the vital fusion."
Coordinated Scientific Criminal Research. C.S.C.R., or, popularly, a Co-Ord.
The note informed Igor Bernhof that five thousand dollars, had been placed in his Swiss account.
He smiled. It was easy for an Instravel operator to finely fumble the relays at a critical moment to ensure the incapacitation of a certain traveler.
Like Mr. Traff, for instance.
"Relax, Frank. You won't feel a thing, I promise."
"I'd better not feet a thing," Frank said ominously.
Clive smiled. "There is nothing to be afraid of. It is a measuring device, that's all. It's only on thirty-two volt power."
"O.K., O.K. Get on with it. Don't take all night. I got things to do. And any minute I'll start getting sensible and tell you to go to hell."
Clive raised a reassuring hand. "O.K. Are you ready? Right."
Clive switched on.
Hoskings opened his eyes and looked at the ceiling. Crisp sunlight angled through the bars and he thought, "Hell! They've got me in the jailhouse again."
Then he thought, "But I'm a registered incurable." He mulled this over. "Maybe I did some damage." But this raised the objection, "What damage could I do in the dope area?"
He stared at the ceiling. He saw fly preening its wings and rubbing its hands over a precious find.
With a suddenness that awakened his very toes, be became aware that his sight with startlingly keen. Without glasses. And…his tongue felt odd. But his mouth was uncommonly fresh. In fact…in fact he felt fresh. He felt fresh all over. In fact…in fact he felt alive. Clear headed. Even alert. It was years since he felt so…so conscious.
What bright sunlight! What a beautiful day! It would be a shame to waste such a day of vibrant promise.
He swung his legs off the bed and stared down at himself to discover the reason for his awkwardness: Short legs, long arms; a long-thumbed, long-palmed hand; and hair; thick black hair-all over.
Hoskings gazed in disbelief. He had changed into some kind of monkey.
"Instravel is one of the most exciting and important breakthroughs of this century," Sacpole said. "Teams of scientists worked years to produce it and perfect it.
"Now we have Instravel, safe, sure and reliable; growing all the time, expanding; shorter than a straight line when it comes to moving an object from point `A' to point `B'. A wonderful discovery, and currently the greatest single device to tax and absorb the talents of Co-Ord.
"Of those persons studying electro physics on the libritape circuit, you can be sure that a small percentage are seeking knowledge purely in order to cheat the legitimate sponsors of their due in matters of personal and goods transport; or to attempt privately to smuggle forbidden items; or again, to make efforts to obtain a deliberate malfunction of a licensed Instravel container in order that the user might disappear permanently.
"Before Instravel came into operation, the method was exhaustively tested over and over again to establish beyond doubt its absolute safety-certainty. If Instravel fails, you can be sure that the failure is due to deliberately contrived outside interference.
"Remember ALSA-Ranns Transport, Inc. ran a shock pulsator that almost destroyed Instravel at its inception. A large company competitively threatened by Instravel, their criminally negative defensive tactics were fortunately quickly detected and nullified. However, this episode demonstrated that Instravel was not invulnerable to outside attention and, since that time, many attempts have been made to breach the Instravel frequency illegally…
"Ready, is it?"
The technician grinned knowingly and winked. "All set and rarin' to go," he said.
Sir Edgar Smith chilled at the implied familiarity. His nose rose. "Aligned correctly to Cairo Reception?" he said austerely.
Still grinning, the technician nodded. "Set it for auto any time you have to go there-on business."
Sir Edgar viewed the man with well-bred distaste. The emphasis placed upon the word "business" was almost crude. It was distressing to have need of such people. "Very good," he said without warmth.
He turned and led the way from the bedroom. "Your installation fee is ten thousand dollars, I believe? If you will follow me, I will give you a transfer slip."
Cheekily the technician said, "Better make out half-a-dozen or so. Break it down. Doesn't look so suspicious. I'll give you the names to use."
"Hm-m-m," was how Sir Edgar acknowledged this blunt wisdom, and he quickened his pace, that the departure of his guest might be expedited.
"That's odd. I'm getting no reading." Clive paused, perplexed. He bent over Iris encephalogram. "Hold it, Frank, I'll just check the wiring."
"Huh?" Frank said.
Clive looked up. "I said I'll look over the circuits."
Frank's expression was most peculiar.
"Frank? Hey, Frank! What's the matter?"
"Where... where am I? Where... who are you? What's going an? Where am I?'
"You're testing my machine. Relax, Frank."
"Frank? Who's Frank?" Abruptly Frank road up. (his breath coming taster, he gazed abstractedly around the mom. His hand went to his forehead. "I... I don't know who I am. I... I can't remember. I can't remember anything. What's gang ten? What's happened to me''"
Taken aback, Clive said, "Take it easy, boy." He looked at his machine. "It seems I may have stumbled upon same kind of freak contingency…"
"It came by Special Delivery this morning, sir," she said.
"What is it?" Dorphelmyer asked.
His secretary picked at the tag. "It's from the Voyd Carpet Company," she said.
`'Can you tell who sent it?"
"1t doesn't say. Shall I get Brigg in to open it?"
The man who had been working on the radiant complex in the ceiling stepped down from his ladder. "May I help?" he asked.
"Oh," Dorphelmyer turned. "Why, thank you. They wrap things so formidably these days. Have you anything to cut the wire?"
The handyman produced a pair o; snips. Dorphelmyer had not the perception to detect the glint of mockery behind the heavy glasses. The man cast the wrappings aside and unfolded the carpet within.
"My word," Dorphelmyer said. "My word."
His secretary stood dumbly by.
"It's a beauty," the man said, brushing up his luxuriant old-fashioned moustache. "Goes with the decor perfectly."
"Most peculiar," Dorphelmyer said.
The man seemed dissatisfied. He looked about the office and parsed his lips. He moved his ladder. "It would look best about here, I think," be said. He pulled the circular carpet in front of the desk, directly under the radiation complex.
"There. Don't you think that is effective?"
Dorphelmyer was hesitant. "What is it? Is it a carpet, really? It looks... It looks... Is it there?"
The man smiled tightly. "Of course. The color is called abyss-black; though, in actual fact, it is not black at all but a non-refractive combination of pigmentations that deceive the eye."
He took a few paces to the center of the carpet. The secretary gave a small shriek, and Dorphelmyer gasped involuntarily.
"See?" the man said. "Firm and solid."
"Amazing," Dorphelmyer said. "You look as though you are standing on nothing."
"Try it," the man said.
Gingerly Dorphelmyer stepped onto the carpet. "Ha!" He looked down at his feet. "How odd. I'm standing on a hole in the floor. Ha! Remarkable. Quite remarkable."
The man smiled dryly and turned to collect his ladder.
"Not too much paci-gas, Leslie. Just enough to cool him into amenability…"
Una Sayld stepped into the lab. "What is it you want, Richard?" she asked boredly. She glanced at her watch. "It's nearly five and I have a dinner engagement tonight and I don't intend to be late."
Richard Baseman wiped his hands down his protective clothing. "It'll only take a couple of minutes," he said. He flipped a switch on the bench. "Do you mind sitting on the couch for a moment?"
She viewed him with mild disdain, one eyebrow raised.
She gave a slight shrug and- moved to the couch. She seated herself, carefully pulled at her hemline, raised her chin and waited.
Richard closed the second set of contacts.
Una blinked. Her mouth partly opened, then her eyes closed and slowly her head went back. "Aaaaaaaaaah..." she said.
Richard smiled shrewdly. "Good, huh?" He shut the lab door and locked it.
She spread her arms on the couch. "What is it?" she said. "It feels so…so glowing." She raised her head and her eyes opened wide. "What is it?"
His grin was knowledgeably lopsided. "It's a development from our electronic massage ray," he said. "Feels good, doesn't it? Clothes inhibit it a little. Take your coat off and feel it on your arms."
She looked at him, her eyes large now, her breathing quickening. "Maybe I will," she said.
She unbuttoned her coat and slipped from the sleeves. "Oh, my." She flexed her arms. "Lovely."
His lips twitched. He moved and knelt at her side. His fingers lightly pushed back the hem of her skirt. She did not seem to notice.
"The more you expose, the more wonderful you will feel," he said softly.
"I tingle all over," she said. "It's lovely. It's like bathing in concentrated sunlight."
Being careful not to shield her with his body, Richard reached to undo her blouse. "It's a tactitilator. It makes you feel vibrant and alive, doesn't it?"
"It does, it does," she panted. Then, "What are you doing?"
"I want you to know the full benefit," he said with smooth insistence.
"Peach Belle and Post Express are standing nicely now and…They're racing!
"And first to leave the barrier stalls is Demagogue, followed by Caveat, Dandy Boy and Musselman, with Copilot hitting out for the inside. In behind him Peach Belle and Blue River with..."
Up on Peach Belle, jockey Squit Sheeter hit the catch at his belt and expanded helium hissed unnoticed into his billowing jacket. Powerful stuff. He gripped his knees into his special saddle and hung on…
"You see, Hoskings, we have done you no real harm, have we? Your human body was not exactly a desirable property, was it?"
Hoskings hung on the bars and shook his great head to clear it. "Uh, uh, uh," he grunted. "Nut... ruht." He had great difficulty with the unfamiliar vocal chords.
"Not right?" Dr. Joynter said. "Was it right to let you rot away? To let your hopeless self-denigration put you in an early grave? What were you? A nobody. An outcast. And now? Now you have a fine body, young, virile and strong. You are unique."
"A gorilla," Hoskings panted through the bars.
"Is that so bad?" Dr. Joynter asked. "Think about it. You are no longer a besotted husk of a man. You are fit, vital. You are magnificent, don't you see?"
Hoskings frowned in concentration, his big ape's nostrils flaring. "Dunno," he managed.
"Just rest," Dr. Joynter said. "The more you think about it, the more you will see that I am right. You have a bright future. I envisage a brilliant career for you."
Leslie entered with his dinner. She eyed Hoskings with open admiration.
Immediately conscious that his hair did not provide adequate concealment, Hoskings hastily turned his back, only to be aware that the fresh view was hardly more prepossessing.
He snatched a blanket from the bed and wrapped it round himself.
Leslie approached the bars. She smiled. "Would you like a banana, Mr. Hoskings?" she asked sweetly.
"What I tell you? What I tell you?" Sy Zadly said exuberantly. "Six length anna course record. An' they dunno nothin'."
He jammed his smokka back between his teeth only to tear it out again and wave it about. "I tell you, boy, we got it made. Who gonna find out? Nobody, that who. We gonna clean up."
Wilf Waijer had his sober word of caution. "We've only got Peach Belle. Folk'll get suspicious, she keeps on winnin'. Anyway, the odds'll shorten an' it won't be worth the risk."
Sy regarded him pityingly. "You got rock in your boot where your brain s'posed to be. You dumb? We fix it, Peach Belle lose, right? An' who say Peach Belle only one? Anytime Sheeter ride we can fix, right? O.K."
"You'll need other jackets," Wilf objected. "You'll need a whole range of owners colors."
Sy circled his smokka airily. "O.K.. We gonna make money, hey? Already we even. Boy, you gotta 'spectorate if you gonna 'vacuate. Yes, sir." With deep satisfaction he stuck the smokka into his mouth and braced his hands behind his back.
Expansively he surveyed his world.
The cop waddled over from his jet scooter tagging his violation pad from his pocket. "O.K.," he said. "I don't have to tell you what you were doing wrong. You know the prescribed southbound height and the speed over dwelling areas. Let me see your license."
Clive Mossy reached affably for his wallet. The cop bent to peer through the window. His head came in line with what looked like a speaker, angled from the roof.
The cop looked puzzled.
Clive eased his foot from the control switch. "Can I do anything for you?"
The cop straightened up. "Where… What…?"
Clive leaned over to the window. "Can I help you?"
"I…I don't know. Where am I? What am I?"
Clive clucked sympathetically. "Lost, are you? Tut, tut. What you need is a policeman," he said and, with a friendly wave, he lifted to fifty feet and continued south.
"How beddy bore dibes?" Frederic Traff asked wearily.
"You'll have to be patient, sir," the technician glibly replied. "These things take time."
Mr. Traff sagged. "Well, ad leasd you cad dry do ged by dose the righd way ub dexd dibe. Blowig is bosed awgward."
"One thing at a time, sir," the technician said brightly. "You're coming along nicely, don't worry."
Mr. Traff ground his teeth, and winced with pain. He kept forgetting that his incisors had changed places-with his molars.
"It is human nature," Sacpole said. "It is the nature of Man to use the machines of Man to bring about the destruction of Man.
"Did not a charioteer sometimes partially sever the harness of a rival's rig? Have not men been sent to sea in boats cunningly patched with clay? Why, when we were younger, were bombs not put aboard airplanes; automobile brakes tampered with; bath water electrified?
"The continuing expansion of our technology greatly increases the variety of criminal ways and means..."
"This drug is undetectable. At least, we have found no way of detecting it.
"You have seen its effect upon muscle tissue, and rigorous testing has failed to fault the product. Side effects are minimal and temporary. Undiscoverable safety.
"Gentlemen, used with discretion, Aktiv can make this the foremost athletic nation in the world. And open warfare being obsolete, I do not have to impress upon you the enormous prestige that can be won upon the international sporting field…"
Dorphelmyer paced his office.
Forthcoming, reluctantly compelled to foreclose, Yours, et cetera, et cetera."
His secretary scribbled. He looked down at his feet—and center of the rug. The illusion of standing on nothing still sent a thrill through him. "Walking on air."
"Eh? Oh, nothing." He looked at his watch. "That will be all, I think, Miss Tolbar. If there is nothing more, you may go."
"Very good, sir. I'll have these ready by ten tomorrow."
"Yes, yes. Goodnight, Miss Tolbar."
She gathered her notes. "Goodnight, sir."
She timidly skirted the rug, flushing a little at the amusement in her employer's eyes. I don't care, she thought, and her chin came up. It's just not natural to walk on nothing.
And she closed the door and went home.
Joe left his Instravel cubicle after a swift glance up and down the battery.
His bare feet made no sound as he ran to the curtain that cut off the women's section. He drew the stiff folds to one side, peered cautiously and stepped through.
Very conscious of his nakedness, he hissed, "Anna? Anna, where are you?"
He opened one cubicle door with his slip key. "Sorry, ma'am," he said, and hastily closed the door again.
"Joe! Joe! I'm in here."
"Anna!" Quickly he released the catch and squeezed into the compartment with his girl.
"Oh, Joe, Joe," she said, throwing her arms around him, "I though you couldn't make it."
"So did I."
"I tell you I don't want a happill," her husband snarled. "Can't you get it through your head that I enjoy being miserable?"
Kaminsky banged the lectrocorder and cried, "Ha!" Boisterously he turned to the witnesses. "You see, comrades? Do you see? Like a drosky on a glacier, hey?" He threw up his hands. "He clips seventeen seconds off the five thousand meters, and he is only a thirdrank, broken down Kazkshtan blodder. What can a real runner do with a touch of Spert, hey?"
Kaminsky leaned forward and lowered his voice. "Comrades, an intelligent application of this drug will ensure that the Soviet Union gains complete ascendancy in the forthcoming Games."
"Can the drug be detected?"
"It is undetectable," Kaminsky said. "Pure, absorbed, used, gone."
"It will need careful handling," Bosgorov said.
Kaminsky's features stretched sideways, unaided by his fingers. "The utmost secrecy is being observed."
Bosgorov nodded at the runner, who was now doing push-ups on the track. "What about him?"
Kaminsky turned. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his lightweight English thermo-coat. He shrugged carelessly. "From his performance, I think he is suffering from salt deficiency," he said.
"I'll let you out, if you'll promise that you'll behave," Leslie said.
Hoskings leaned forward on his knuckles. "Errggh," he said.
Taking this for assent, Leslie opened the door.
Hoskings shambled out.
"There," Leslie said. "Now you have the run of the place." She reached , to stroke his hairy arm. Her eyes glowing, she breathed, "You'll find that your change has its compensations…"
"Co-Ord needs a full department to watch over Instravel alone," Sacpole said. "Constant vigilance is required if we are to track the brief pulsations of unlicensed Instravel containers bringing in illegal migrants and undesirables; to track private installations of the OWTE (One Way Ticket to Eternity) type; to thwart any attempts made by outside parties who, for private or political reasons, administer dispersal jolt oscillations to bring about either the permanent disintegration of the traveler, or disorganize his re-grouping to an extent that requires months of permutated calibrations to reestablish.
"Then again, moving away from deliberate interference, we have to deal with the deliberate victim. The latest teen-age cult is mutual entirety. This is a serious prank where a boy and a girl endeavor to occupy the same container. Separating those who succeed in this enterprise again requires months of computer hours to divide, evaluate and correctly realign…"
Mr. Traff stared horrified as they wheeled the new admission past his door. It was a grotesque human octopus, two bodies fantastically fused. He shuddered at the incongruous grins on two teen-age faces.
A hand on his arm, "We'll try and get your toenails up on top where they belong, Mr. Traff."
Mr. Traff gestured down the corridor. "What... was that?"
"Uh? Oh, that. Just a couple of kids. That's the third pair in two weeks. New craze they have. They call it togetherness."
"Where are we going?" Naomi asked.
"Over to my place," Clive Mossy said.
"Your place? No thank you. I want to go home."
"Just for a nightcap," Clive said.
"No," she said firmly. "I know you and your nightcaps. I've had some. Nothing doing. You just take me home. To my home."
Clive made a face. "O.K.," he said. His foot pressed the control switch.
Naomi frowned. She shook her head.
"What's the matter, honey?" Clive asked.
She put her hands to her temples. "I…I don't know…"
"Headache? We'll soon be home."
"No," she said. "Not a headache. It's…" She turned an anguished face to him. "I can't think. Funny. My mind…My mind's gone blank…"
Clive tut-tutted. "You've had too much excitement today, darling." He grinned. "Here's our home. We can put our feet up and rest, alone together at last."
"Alone together? Wait a minute. Who are you? What's happening?"
Clive brought the craft to a halt at his third-floor bay. He slipped his arm around her. "Darling, you must be joking," he said. He kissed her. "Surely you remember that we were married this afternoon?"
"Married?" Naomi said weakly.
"Of course, sweetheart." He brushed her shoulder. "Look. Confetti everywhere. Oh, darling, darling, you're wonderful, wonderful…"
"Mr. Hoskings?" Dr. Joynter called. "Oh, there you are. If you will come down here for a moment. The tailor is here to measure you."
Hoskings swung out of the tree in two easy loops and came bounding over the grass, his outsize Bermuda shorts flapping.
The tailor yelped, dropped his bag, and took off.
"What seems to be the trouble then?" Dr. Cruss asked.
"My parents don't seem to understand me. My father won't let me read his newsflap, and my libritape is kept on the juvenile channel."
"I see. I'll speak to your parents about it."
"I wish you would. I'm tired of pap."
"I'll see what I can do," Dr. Cruss said. "Anything else?"
"Not that I can think of just now."
"Very well. But do try to be patient with them, won't you?"
Three-year-old Jerry Knowles sighed. Resignedly he said, "O.K."
"Naturally, every woman wants a super-child. It's understandable. But the point is that we cannot inundate the world with genius. Despite automation, there are many jobs tolerable only to persons of mediocre intelligence. Also, if genius is to become standard, those of us not of like mental capacity must become substandard.
"No. In my opinion, the DNA adjustment process should be carefully restricted to selected persons. After all, how much genius can we use?"
In a large room, the improved and modified Instravel containers were ready for critical testing.
Professor Muldible made one last adjustment to his project, wired the time delay, and stepped, fully clothed, into the dispatch cabinet.
He watched the clock tick the seconds away. "…Seven…Six…Five…Professor Muldible counted. "…Two…One…Zero…One?…Two?…Three?…"
He stared blankly. Something had gone wrong. He had not moved. A wave of keen disappointment swept through him.
His Instravel unit cut out and a green all-clear flashed on.
Professor Muldible stepped from the receiver cabinet smiling broadly at his success as Professor Muldible stepped from the dispatch cabinet slowly shaking his head in perplexity…
Senator Hardman stubbed out his nicolette and dropped it in the swalla box. "Should leave the kids mingled," he said. "It would serve them right. Make an example of a couple. Put them on show, even.That would stop them."
Sacpole clucked disapprovingly. "That is a vengeful precept and exactly the kind of principle we are trying to eradicate from our society. We must try to be civilized, Senator, at all times."
Hardman scowled. "It's wasting good money on irresponsible kids."
"You were young once yourself," Senator Philson pointed out.
"Things were different then," Hardman snapped back.
Philson grinned, "I guess so. Do you remember that Jameson girl, and the night you let her drive so that she could knock down that stuffed pedestrian? Boy, how you rigged that case. You had her eating out of your hand."
Hardman looked suddenly sheepish. "It was just a lesson in applied psychology, that's all. There was no need to bring that up here."
"It's a lesson in teen-age high spirits," Philson said firmly, "and you know that it would be wrong to subject kids to harsh punishment for a juvenile escapade."
Hardman avoided his eye. "O.K., O.K.," he said. "You've made your point…"
"What was that, Michael?" she said with fresh interest.
"I said, wouldn't you like your child to be a genius?"
"Don't tell me you have some DNA pills?"
He patted his pocket significantly and nodded.
She looked at him thoughtfully for some moments. "Where did you get them?"
"I know a man who knows a man."
"How do you know that they are genuine?"
"They're genuine, don't worry about that," he said confidently.
She stood up. "I'll think about it," she said.
He shrugged. "There are other women."
She stopped. "You're being very blunt, Michael," she censured.
He smiled. "With these pills I can command a price for my services," he said. "You I like. You appeal to me. You've got something." He spread his hands. "O.K.. To you for free. Just thought I'd let you know."
He reached for his hat.
She made a quick decision. She caught his arm. "Don't go," she said. And then, "It might be fun. How long does it take for the pills to act?"
"Potency is after one hour through to the fifth."
"Really?" she said brightly. "Arthur will not be home till eight. If you take one now…"
"Are you sure no one will see you switching colors?" said Wilf Waijer doubtfully.
"Sure he sure," Sy Zadly said, his paternal pat on the back straightening Squit Sheeter's riding curve almost lethally. "What he got to worry? Who's looking? He draw color, he switch. He win. He switch back. Simple." He enveloped Squit's thin shoulders with his ample arm. "Ain't that right?"
"Yeah," the overpowered Squit said lugubriously. "Simple."
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"All countries now spend large sums on top-secret projects and, while nearly all countries have diabolical weapons and frightening means at their disposal, they have reason to be afraid that their enemies may be even more formidably equipped. It is the fear of ignorance, of some awful and unexpected retaliation, that has kept the world at peace for so many years. We do not know exactly how advanced our neighbors are, and they, likewise, can only guess at our true strength. We are frightened that they may know some of the fantastic things we know, and they are frightened that we may have discovered the terrible forces that they have found. And we are all afraid that we might not know enough.
"Warfare today is as it should be, a nonviolent mental conflict that will give a bloodless victory to those most fitted to rule, the wisely intelligent people."
"It is you that is the copy, not I," Professor Muldible said. "I was in the dispatch box and never moved."
"Nonsense," Professor Muldible said. "The experiment went exactly as anticipated except that, for some reason—inverted compensatory diffraction perhaps—my duplicate formed instantaneously through reflectory ionization…"
"Rubbish," Professor Muldible said. "I was molecularly assessed by the frequency atomizer, and some inhibitory factor, probably an inverse load on the quantum definitor, projected a facsimile grouping…"
"No, no, no," Professor Muldible said. "If that were the case, one of us would be insubstantial, a mere sho-scope image, whereas I, at least, am whole and complete…"
"That is impossible. You feel whole and complete, maybe, but in reality you are a composition of photonic weld in static simulation," Professor Muldible said. "Polarization would reduce your substance to a positive charge that…"
"Poppycock," Professor Muldible said heatedly. "If such was the case, it would mean that if I tried to go through the machine again I would be dispersed, correct?" He snorted. "You are the one that would be absorbed, not I."
"Oh, come, come, don't be ridiculous," Professor Muldible said. "Your self-realization is illusory. You are a carbon copy without carbon..."
"Oh? Oh, you think so, do you?" Professor Muldible activated the machinery and reset the time-delay. "We'll see who disappears," he said, stepping once again into the dispatch cabinet.
Professor Muldible scowled.. "Go ahead," he said. "Go on, go ahead. You'll see..."
"If we ever do have another war that requires a human army, the stuff might come in handy," Gregor said pessimistically. "Offhand, I can't think where it might be employed in peacetime."
Perrimont sighed. "I thought it might be useful."
"We'll keep it in reserve," Gregor said, "with the rest. Carry on with your work."
"Yes, sir." Perrimont left.
"Kreepi-gas." Gregor closed his eyes and shuddered.
"Where…Where am I?" Carol said, frightened. Her hand went to her mouth. "I've lost myself."
Clive leaned over. "You're not lost when you are with me, my darling." He kissed her shocked cheek. "Till death do us part," he murmured.
"What are you saying? Who are you?"
"Baby," he said with mock seriousness, "don't tell me you've forgotten your new husband already?"
"Uh-huh. We were married this morning. Don't pretend you can't remember." He brushed. "Why, look at all the confetti on your coat still…"
Lady Violet Smith nestled closer to her lover. "What's the matter, darling? You seem preoccupied."
"I don't know. I'm nervous, I guess. Are you sure Sir Edgar will be away some time?"
"Of course, darling. Eddy won't be back till Wednesday at the earliest."
His sixth sense persisted. "There's something wrong. I don't know what it is."
"Not me, I hope," she said, her voice frosting.
He was instantly contrite. "Oh, no, my rose. You are perfect…perfect."
He kissed her but his eyes wandered about the air-conditioned four-poster.
"It's this bed, I think," he said. He stared at the enfolding plastic drapes. "It looks somehow familiar…"
"Never mind that now." Lady Violet pulled him to her. "Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, Robert."
Robert put his nagging hunch aside and obliged.
Sir Edgar cried, "Ha, you tramp!" and closed his personal Instravel circuit.
The couple on the bed disappeared.
Sir Edgar switched off his secret viewer. "If that doesn't give me an uncontested divorce, I don't know what will."
Highly satisfied, he poured himself a brando and syfe.
Loy Chi Fong never noticed the small metal disk that dropped into his pocket.
The festival was in full swing, the crowd jostling, the streamers blowing in the wind, the great dragon undulating across the road. Among the many firecrackers that popped and spat incessantly, one jumper was tossed by Gang Wa.
Bang! It jumped. Bang, bang, bang! It hopped across the road. Bank, bang! Two more jumps and it was at Loy Chi Fong's feet.
Bang! The firecracker sprang at his pocket.
Loy Chi Fong lurched back too late.
Exit Loy Chi Fong.
"Right you are, Mr. Traff. Just sign these clearance papers, here, here, and here."
"What am I signing?"
"It's just to say that you are satisfied with the re-assembly job."
"I see," said Mr. Traff. "I intend to claim damages, you know."
"Of course, Mr. Traff. That is expected in a case such as yours."
"Ha. Well, I'm not signing anything till I see my lawyer and my own medical specialist."
Into the foyer, on a wheeled trolley, came another conglomerated couple. "Where from, Sam?" the reception clerk queried.
"Cairo," Sam said. "Came in on an illegal line, we think."
"O.K..," the clerk said. "Take 'em on up to Five."
Mr. Traff watched the trolley wheel away. He shook his head. "They're the oldest teen-agers I've ever seen," he muttered.
"Hosky, if you want me to tie your tie properly then you'll have to hold your chin up higher," Leslie said.
Hoskings lifted his chin. Leslie's fingers worked deftly. Hoskings' fingers worked less deftly.
"Aaaah!" She slapped his hand away. "Hosky, don't be naughty. There's a time and a place for everything." She straightened her skirt. "Now come along and behave yourself."
Meekly Hoskings took her hand and allowed her to lead him to the party.
"What you mean, you lost it?" Sy Zadly said. "How you lost it? What you done?"
"I don't know," Squit Sheeter said helplessly. "I think an apprentice took them. I put 'em on a hanger an' was only away a couple minutes..."
"Careless," Sy snapped. He rolled his eyes. "What in heaven I got to deal with people?" He glowered at Squit. "How come someone take 'em? What for? You been talking?" He balefaced his menage. "Anybody been talking?"
"I think an apprentice took 'em," Squit said unhappily. "See, young Donelli is on Costa this race, and that's a Pocmint gee, too. Same colors. So, by mistake, he musta took my silks..."
Sy's eyes widened. "What? You mean he's out there in my special jacket?" He struck himself forcibly between the eyes. "Aye-yi-yi. What we do? What we do?"
The bell rang, and a voice droned, and they became aware that the race was on.
Of one accord they scrambled from the locker room to seek a point of vantage.
"Your signature there, Mr. Hoskings, please. And there also."
Hoskings' long ape fingers guided the pen expertly.
Dr. Joynter beamed. "You see? I told you you would have a great future." He clapped his hands. "A ten-year-contract, with options."
The lawyer blanched. "Please don't do that," he pleaded.
Dr. Joynter rubbed his hands. "And my modest ten percent should enable me to extend my laboratory."
Velupta Orccid, his first leading lady, put a caressing hand on Hoskings' shoulder and leaned sensuously forward. "I think we are going to be great... together," she said, her husky voice throbbing with meaning.
In the background Leslie simmered and tried to catch his eye.
But Hoskings' sensitive nostrils were arched to Velupta's perfume, his small ocularballs beadily intent upon his leading lady.
An ape's fingers tugged to loosen a constricting collar…
"I told you there was something wrong," Robert snarled.
"Oh, shut up, will you? Shut up. Shut up!" Lady Violet Smith said, her sweet voice lost in testy acid.
Ferro-plastic. Easy to pour and work, gloss finish, hard and practically indestructible. But a disrupter-drill can destroy the adhesion of the magnetized steel particles, and could be used to soften quite a large area.
It is a trick that a handyman would know.
"…The possessor of a new, powerful, three hundred pound body. In short, gentlemen, Hoskings adapted to his new form with surprising rapidity and soon regarded the surgeon, not with hate as a enemy, but with affection as a benefactor and friend.
"This attitude made Co-Ord's prosecution of the case very difficult, and the State's plaint lapsed for want of proof of malicious injury. Hoskings likes being a gorilla and there is little that Co-Ord can do except apply certain restraints upon the surgeon. On the other hand, had Hoskings not liked being a gorilla, the legal aspects would still have tangled sections of our judicial system.
"As it is, Hoskings has full human rights and though we have tried to play down the facts of the case, as he is now in show business, our efforts have been somewhat ineffectual.
"We are afraid that this might create a demand for transplant by consent and give us a society interspersed with social monkeys and…and perhaps talking dogs. It can be done and, oddly enough, it has been assessed that few of those inclined to metamorphosis could be denied on the grounds of insanity.
"There are many features to consider…"
Expertly the thief broached the lock on the glidocar. He slid behind the control stick and ran through a half-dozen combinations before connecting with the correct starting range. He threw the switch.
Lock-bars thunked into the doors and windows, and a nerfroz capsule burst to fill the vehicle with paralyzing fumes.
In three seconds the thief was out cold and the signal bleep was sounding in the map room of the glidocar squad.
"We can rule out Instravel, solidless and mattamulse. Dorphelmyer got into the ceiling in some way we don't know about," Cranston Beever said.
"And what have you worked out?" Gil Prober asked.
"Well, on analysis, his body is smashed, consistent with a high fall. He had grass stains and dirt on his clothing. I can only jump to the obvious conclusion: Somehow, by some disintegration or disorientation process, a vertical hole was made inside the building. Dorphelmyer stepped into it and fell to his death."
"When the hole was restored again?"
"Yes. He fell from his own office. To be precise, he fell directly under a circular Voyd carpet that he had in front of his desk."
"I thought you would," Beever said. "We think the murder misfired. The dirt and grass stains suggest that Dorphelmyer landed on solid earth. This is quite a new block and, checking back, we found that they leveled a small hill to construct this building."
"You're working on a time-slot theory?"
"It's the only thing that makes sense. I think the killer wanted Dorphelmyer to disappear, to be integrated in the foundations. He did not know about the hill. On the other hand, he might have hoped that the body would stay in the past. Whatever it was, I think he fouled it up."
"Oh, brother," Gil Prober said. "This is going to be a beauty."
With unwarranted confidence, Beever said, "We'll get him. We weren't supposed to find the body. We have a few clues."
Prober grimaced. "I admire your optimism," he said.
"Cut!" the director roared. "Cut! Cut! CUT!" Passionately he threw his script to the ground. "Hoskings, can't you control yourself? What's the good of Make-up making you decent, if you can't control yourself?"
"I'm sorry," the gorilla grunted, abashed.
"Sorry? Huh! We can't take that. We'd be banned from every scope in the country. Whoever heard of an ape being so sensitive that he has to keep grabbing bunches of leaves to cover himself? You're supposed to be threatening her like a wild animal." He gestured wildly. "Something's got to be done. Something's got to be done."
Velupta adjusted her, negligible plastic deer-hide costume. "As I feel I must be equally responsible," she claimed throatily, "perhaps it might be better if he and I had a few days to adjust to one another."
The director scowled at her. "Adjust?"
"Familiarize," she said, her shallow eyes readily fathomable. "Say a week at my private retreat."
"You mean that place you go for your honeymoons?"
She cast down her eyes with arch demureness. "Yes," she said. "After all, the poor dear is obviously frustrated..."
"Crime today is specialized and is raising problems that are more and more beyond the accepted bounds of normality.
"Organized crime tends to betray itself, and lately we have been concerned almost exclusively with skillful and intelligent amateurs. Co-Ord's research and investigative facilities may seem to have a comprehensive variety fully adequate to deal with any contingency. This is not so.
"Every day, it seems, there are additions to the sum of human knowledge. And the public, generally, has access to this knowledge. It is inevitable that a percentage of our modern skills and discoveries should be misapplied, modified, and perhaps improved to suit a nefarious purpose. It is essential, therefore, that we be prepared to meet any novel circumstance, any challenge to our ingenuity..."
The green light flashed.
Professor Muldible triumphantly stepped from the receiver cabinet. "You see?" he said. "The same again."
Professor Muldible stepped out of the dispatch cabinet. "Well, I wasn't dispersed," he said.
Professor Muldible stared at his doubles. "Good heavens! You must have been right." He seemed stunned. "Most extraordinary," he muttered. "Most extraordinary:"
"Yes, indeed," Professor Muldible said. "It would seem that a reactive discharge, possibly through the meson tube, causes the pattern sequence to be ejected to its source, to take visible shape."
"It is an unforeseen consequence," Professor Muldible said, shattered. "That means that I... ah... we in the dispatch container are electrolytic representations, not truly life but cosmic creations without real substance."
"A very interesting phenomenon," Professor Muldible said clinically. "Your disintegration is inevitable. Even now you must be radiating irreplaceable energy and..."
"Yes, yes, yes," Professor Muldible said tartly. "We are doomed fabrications of tenuous consistency. Yet I do not feel like a mirage or a ghost. I came out of the receiver cubicle, reentered the dispatch cubicle, and this time you came out of the receiver cubicle."
"No, no, no. I came out of the receiver cubicle, reentered the dispatch cubicle and, naturally, came out of the receiver cubicle again."
"And it is your contention that if I activate this dispatch container again, that I would disappear?"
"I think you would be absorbed, yes," Professor Muldible said. "You see, your form of existence is purely..."
"You don't have to explain to me," Professor Muldible snarled. He closed the circuits and set the time-delay. He stepped into the dispatch container .
"…And first to leave the stalls is Red Strutter and Maori Minstrel, followed by Gamely, Top Choice, Costa, Billakin, then War Whoop, Conspicuous..."
Young Donelli kicked his heels and urged Costa over to the rails. His instructions were to stick with Top Choice. Don't hesitate to use the whip, the trainer had said. Costa was lazy.
Top Choice was on the inside and getting away. War Whoop was hustling to fill the gap. Donelli flailed, and his whip-butt clipped a concealed release. Expanded helium bloated his colors and, much to his surprise, his body lifted gently from the saddle. Before he had the wit to exert pressure with his legs, he was clear of the horse entirely and bobbing like a balloon on the end of the reins.
In the Paddock, Sy Zadly lowered his binoculars and let the agony of disaster screw his features into misery. "Aye-yi-yi," he groaned. "Aye-yi-yi."
Floating on air, and feeling extremely foolish in his novel position, Donelli let go of the reins.
Not a very bright lad, Donelli.
Incredibly the two runners put on speed. Already a full lap ahead of their nearest rivals, they turned into the straight and pulled out all the stops. Their legs pistoning to a blur, they both flashed through the tape, still accelerating.
In the Russian Bloc, Kaminsky tore off his hat and threw it against the wall. "Those Americans are cheating," he grated furiously. "They are using drugs. I am going to demand an examination!"
In the American Bloc, Sol Hardy smashed his fist into the table. "They're trying to be smart, huh? They're trying to pull a fast one, hey? Well, we'll see about that. We'll get the medicos' in..."
"Surely you remember, Daphne," Clive said. "Why, look at the confetti..."
The specialist pushed his glasses up on his forehead. "Mr. Traff," he said, "I know you are a generous man who gives readily to charity, but I have to tell you this: Your heart is not in the right place."
Mr. Traff nodded gloomily. "I guessed as much. That means that I have to go back?"
"The only place," the specialist said.
"Cut!" the director roared. "Cut! Cut! CUT!" He came to his feet with a snap that sent his chair flying. "You're a gorilla, aren't you? I could climb that tree faster myself."
"I'm tired," Hoskings mumbled.
"Boy!" the director cried. "Pep pills, quick!"
Hoskings yawned. "Had some," he said lethargically.
The director looked hard at Velupta.
She shrugged her sleek shoulders. With amiable insouciance she said, "At least you're getting no censorship problems..."
"We avoid sensationalism. For obvious reasons, we discourage emulation by minimizing the potential of the threat, and playing down the publicity, that our image as a competent and inescapable law force is strengthened. We try to ensure that the remarkable seems unremarkable, and to create the impression that our resources are inexhaustible, our knowledge complete and infinite.
"Unfortunately, this is not so. We have been tested to the limit of our ability, and have to be constantly on the alert. We literally do not know what might happen the next..."
Advertisement in a newsflap: "Suffer from insomnia? The Goodlife Enervator induces swift and complete relaxation. Portable, no bigger than a strip-tube. Can be clipped by sucaps in any position desired..."
"What we want to know," Officer Pyke said, "is where you get these secondhand parts." He picked up a heart unit. "Look at this."
"It's in good shape," DeCarlo said defensively. "Hardly used. Last for years yet."
"I know," Pyke said, "I know. That's what I mean. How come the last owner parted with it? Surely he didn't buy himself a new one? And this automatic liver. And this Mark III kidney filter. And this lung-air unit with a half-used refill. Where'd you get them? And what do you propose to do with them now that you've got them?"
"I have friends among the morticians."
"You mean these parts are stolen from the dead?"
"They are artificial, not true parts," DeCarlo argued.
"But what do you do with them?"
"The poor are still with us," DeCarlo said. "They just cannot afford brand-new medical sophistications..."
Headline: Costa Rider Losta.
"Last seen heading west and slowly gaining height, jockey Victor Donelli has been lost to sight in the twilight. Navy floaters are out with their scan pans and nets, and they welcome the diversion to indulge useful practical maneuvers.
"An inquiry into the matter is already under way but, until Donelli is recovered, we can only speculate..."
The delightful tingle in her arms warned her that she was moving into a Kress area. It felt good. On low power it was little more than detectable. She smiled at him.
Confidently he smiled back.
She let her stole slip from her shoulders. Lovely. Massage by a million tiny hands. He sat carefully beside her.
Under cover of the stole she fumbled in her bag. Her hand closed over her enervator. It took will power, but she stood up abruptly. "I must powder my nose," she said. "How about getting me a drink?"
Surprised, he said, "Why, sure thing. What would you like?"
She wrinkled her nose at him. "Nothing too strong." She tripped away to the bathroom.
He moved across into the kitchen. She paused, pressed the enervator against the wall, focused it, and clicked it on.
Back on the couch she noticed that the Kress radiation was slightly stronger. Delicious. So easy to revel in.
Again he settled beside her. "Your drink, ma'am," he said. `
"Put it on the table, please. I'll have it in a moment."
Out of sight, his fingers turned the booster up. At the same time his other hand rose to cover a yawn.
She glowed. "Oh my, oh my." The desire to expose more flesh directly to the source was irresistible. She wriggled from her dress.
He blinked. He yawned again and shook his head and tried to keep his eyes open. A strange ennui slacked his muscles and doped his senses. She rolled under the radiation, kicking her heels, bathing in it.
His eyelids would not stay open and he sagged limply against the back of the couch. She cavorted, enjoying herself thoroughly till, sated, she rolled out of range.
Recovered from her wild abandon, she dressed swiftly, combed her hair, checked her makeup. Then she went through the flat with professional skill, collecting the more readily portable valuables, letting her expert fingers finally go through the pockets of her snoring boyfriend.
A good haul.
Collecting her enervator, she left the flat.
"I'll never get used to it," Hoskings said, not unhappily. "I can't help being virile. It's natural to me as I am. And they like me."
The director stared at the repulsive face across the table. By what strange quirk did such ugliness magnetize women? Sans wig, teeth and corset, the director would admit that he himself was not particularly attractive. But he was not downright hideous.
His envy showed in his snarl. "We're going to fix you. We're going to make a comedy, and you're going to wear clothes..."
"Well?" Superintendent of the Olympic Medical Committee, Brazilian Enrico Escola, tossed out the loaded one-word question.
Gruethner, Swedish specialist, wagged his head. "Nothing."
Israeli Shylor Colom confirmed the negative with wry reluctance.
Other members of the team shrugged, or scowled annoyance at their defeat.
"So," Escola said. "No evidence? Nothing?" Again he scanned their faces. He sighed. "Nothing." He stood up and riffled the pages of his report.
"We know there is something," Shylor Colom said. "We must find what it is, or sporting achievements become meaningless." He scratched his ear. "I know it sounds foolish and naive," he said, "but we can appeal to the sporting instinct, to the sense of fair play, of those countries obviously involved."
"Aye-yi!" Escola said, his eyes.
Shylor's lips twitched mirthlessly. "Anything for a laugh," he said.
"Why, Mr. Traff. Welcome back, sir."
Mr. Traff glared at him.
In a house ideally located in Brittany, in a direct line between New York and the Instravel receiver in Paris, 303 Spydor watched the clock with an intensity unmatched by any worker impatient for the, knock-off whistle.
"Ten... Nine... Eight..." He dripped sweat. He licked his lips, ". . . Four... Three... Two... ONE..."
The synchronometer solenoid clacked sharply.
303 Spydor turned eagerly to the receiving cabinet.
He was there!
Triumphantly 303 Spydor ripped back the curtain. "Well, well," he said, grimly jubilant, "if it isn't Professor Sigstein Froymund. Welcome, Professor."
The professor started back. "No! No!"
303 Spydor took a firm grip on his arm and dragged him into the room. "It's no good, Professor, there's nothing you can do."
He jerked his head at 208 Spydor, who seized the professor's other arm. "We would enjoy your company, Professor, but your presence is required elsewhere, and our time is limited. I'm sure you understand."
The two agents bundled their protesting victim into a dispatch cabinet and locked the door.
For a moment 303 Spydor watched the professor hammer futilely on the hardened plastic. He nodded to 208. "The line is open and They will be waiting."
208 Spydor connected and the professor disappeared.
303 allowed himself a sigh of satisfaction. Then, "Let's get out of here."
They sprayed the telltale equipment with generous quantities of mattamulse—careless of its disastrous effects upon the building—and in five minutes were in their glidocar, well away from the scene of their coup.
When a drug had passed demanding preliminary trials and reached a stage where a human subject was required to experience and qualify its effects, the shrewd, but punctilious biochemist, Dr. Kurstead Schriff, refused the offers of his underlings. He felt that it was his duty to take whatever risk might be involved.
He settled himself comfortably on a settee. Dr. Clothilde Bell dabbed Colded on his arm. His assistant, Mayberry, inserted the hypo and squeezed 2cc. of catatonicine into his vein.
"Good," Dr. Schriff said. "Good."
"There are very few attempts at currency forgery these days. The disruptive influence of false currency was felt a few years ago, and the measures taken then have since been modified and constantly appraised in an effort to achieve perfection.
"The laminated shims that you carry in your pockets are works of art designed to protect you from the products of forgers. Every year you pay with your old shims and are issued new alloy-differentiated, code-pregnated, density radiated, intri-colored value shims.
"Under this system forgery is not impossible, but is very difficult. An issue of great importance is that this annual monetary rejuvenation has made hoarding an obsolete pastime and has ensured that no funds are undeclared. This makes disposal of illegally acquired monies a problem for the wrongdoer and, taxation-wise, is most helpful.
"We are streamlining this method and..."
"Oh, Hosky, Hosky! You beast! You brute! You..."
Dr. Joynter looked over his bifocals. "A gorilla, hey? They're expensive, you know."
"I can pay," the director said. "Will you do it?"
Dr. Joynter pinched his underlip. "Well, I don't know. You are aware that I have a ten percent interest in Hoskings? Not as remunerative as I had hoped, though."
"You can have ten percent of me if you like," the director said slyly.
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have two irons in the same fire," the doctor mused. "Come on through to the sycan and I'll run a fitness test on you..."
Sy Zadly tore the newsflap from the machine and crunched it into a ball. "Stupid bum," he said sourly. "He should freeze, the dumkopf."
But young Donelli was not freezing. On the contrary, he was quite warm. No longer frightened, even enjoying his experience, he decided, at one thousand feet, to cool off in the night air. He loosened his jacket. Not a very bright lad, Donelli.
"Hm-m-m. So now we have a successful tissue-restitutant. This, with anesthetolin, will make our inculcation system well-nigh perfect. Without doubt our fighting services will be the most dedicated and fearless military in the world."
The marshal's aide frowned. "But will they ever be used, sir?"
"We have them," the marshal said. "We are prepared, that is important..."
"I'm the same as Hoskings, aren't I? So why do you shudder? How is he different from me?"
"Hosky has charm," Velupta said. "He's basically shy, even timid. He's glorious." Her eyebrow lifted professionally. "You, on the other hand, are you in any skin. Hosky is a gentleman, but you, you have always been a gorilla..."
"What have you got?" Cranston Beever asked.
The technician sat back. "Not a thing," he said. "We've tried it every which way and all it does is radiate…"
"My husband thinks as I do, don't you, George? And we agree that it would be most worthwhile. How many divorces are there every year? A growing number. And what is the cause? Lack of understanding isn't that right, George?"
"Yes, dear... of course I do." Constance settled herself with assurance. "We are young, but even George and I do not understand one another. And can we ever? Can George ever understand a woman? Can I ever hope to understand a man? Of course not. But...suppose we could switch bodies? Would we not get to know each other in a way that would make each of us fully aware of the other? A deeper understanding. George, how did you put it the other night? A mutuality of... of..."
George coughed. "A consciousness of opposite requirements," he said diffidently, "and...
"Exactly. You see, my husband feels as I do."
"Only a temporary changeover, of course," George said. "We..."
"Just a week or two. That could be done, couldn't it? I mean, in the cause of better marital relations, this would be a great step, a unique opportunity for a woman to gain a masculine viewpoint, and for a man to begin to comprehend the complexities of female attitudes. Greater understanding, that is our aim."
"A temporary changeover," George said. "We..."
"To realize each other's needs and feelings," Constance said. "We hope to learn of means whereby we may promote greater compatibility between the sexes. This is not just a whim. We have discussed this matter very thoroughly, haven't we, George? And we agree that our findings may be of great importance in regard to the conjugal happiness of married couples everywhere."
"We intend to write a book," George said. "We..."
"What we learn we will give to the world. In the interests of science and happier homes, we are willing to give of ourselves, to use ourselves as... as guinea pigs. We are prepared..."
Dr. Joynter held up a hand. "Please," he said, "if I may get a word in sideways..."
"My wife's as cold as a deprived brass monkey," the man said. "Have you got anything to warm her up?"
The pharmacist glanced up and down the counter. He leaned forward and brought up his cupped hand. "Have you tried this?" he asked.
The man looked down at the small bottle. "What is it?" he said.
"Krucheeger. Great stuff. Latest thing. Safe. Very popular."
"Is it any good?"
"Guaranteed." The druggist deftly plain-wrapped. He slid the small parcel across. "Forty-five bucks," he said.
The man reached reluctantly for his wallet. "It'd have been cheaper to..."
"Rent? Certainly," Clive Mossy said. "Come in, won't you? Have I been here three months already? My, they should never oil clocks. Take a seat."
"Thanks." The landlord seated himself.
"I have only large shims," Clive said. "Do you have change?"
The landlord pulled out his wallet. "I think so," he said, then found himself staring at the wallet and wondering how it came to be in his hands.
Clive's finger left the button, and smoothly he took the wallet. "'That's real Morocco leather," he said. "Old fashioned, maybe, but I like it. You noticed the feel of it?"
"Ah... well... yes..." the dazed landlord said.
Clive tucked the wallet into his pocket. "Well," he said, "that's settled then. Sorry that I'm unable to help you, but you do understand, don't you?"
"I... well... uh..."
"My advice is just relax. Take it easy." Clive put a hand on the landlord's arm and led him to the door.
"But..." the landlord said. "But..."
"You'll be all right after a little rest," Clive said reassuringly. "Goodnight."
Helplessly the landlord stared at the closed door. "Wait... Here..." He looked about him. He was utterly lost. He turned and slowly walked away.
His eyes wide in search of familiarity, he groped down the corridor...
"With the correct equipment, blowing up the area to make manipulation of the minitools easy, the operation immediately becomes less difficult," Dr. Joynter said.
His pupils listened respectfully.
"Here, you see, I cut and seal. Quite straightforward. A simple repetitive maneuver. Clifford, take over, will you, please?"
"Can we legally prevent an individual from becoming, say, a lion in order to further a career in the entertainment world?
"Since Hoskings we have had two or three cases involving transplants. Already we cannot be sure of the number of transplants that have taken place. We frown on transplants, and discourage the practice, but active prevention when the desire for a transplant is innocently motivated, for research, for aesthetic reasons, or as a means of escape to personal freedom-is not possible.
"The issue is bound to grow more and more complex as time goes on, and Co-Ord is working hard to anticipate some of the legal and material problems that may arise..."
"Now then," Professor Muldible said, "explain that, smart aleck."
Professor Muldible stayed dumb.
Professor Muldible scratched his head.
Professor Muldible said, "It is most peculiar, isn't it? You know, I think we may have been hasty."
"How do you mean?" Professor Muldible asked.
"I can see what he's getting at," Professor Muldible said. "We have not been approaching this problem in a scientific manner."
"You're right," Professor Muldible said. "Carried away by the simplicity of direct experimentation, I have multiplied myself by four."
"Not you. Me. After all, I am the original."
"What?" Professor Muldible cried. "Balderdash! Neither of you could possibly be the original, and it is likely that he is a copy, too."
"Oh?" Professor Muldible said coldly. "And how do you arrive at this conclusion?"
"The first time I went through to the receiver, right? Leaving you, wasn't it, in dispatch?"
Professor Muldible nodded.
"Good. You haven't been through again, have you?"
Professor Muldible shook his head and smiled.
"So. I went through again, and again left a copy behind. The one left behind had been through once and therefore, failing the second time, is obviously a copy, right?"
"Ah... er... hm-m-m." Professor Muldible thought it out. Then he nodded gloomily. "That would be right. And if I am a copy and I was in dispatch, the original could not have come out of the receiver."
"Precisely. Which means that the original is either he or I. And I think that the odds favor me."
Professor Muldible smiled again.
"I don't think so," he said. "You see, I have a gold tooth..."
Much more than cosmetic surgery, a most promising and rewarding field for development. Instravel Re-Creative Physical Perfectionizing.
Surgical technician Rasulko unsealed the door of the adjustment box and threw it open. "Hullo, there, Mr. Wilt," he said, and beamed. "There you are, your club foot and your legs equalized. How does it feel?"
Mr. Wilt looked oddly unhappy, even agitated. "There's something wrong," he said.
"Wrong?" Rasulko said in surprise. "Wrong? We've given you five toes, haven't we?" He checked:
"It's not my feet," Mr. Wilt said. "They seem to be all right." His voice broke. "It's this arm."
Rasulko looked. "What's the matter with it? It seems a perfectly normal arm to me."
"Normal?" Mr. Wilt bit his lip. "It might be perfectly normal," he said, "but it's not mine!"
Rasulko raised his eyebrows. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure, you fool!" Mr. Wilt choked. "Look at the difference in my arms. Long, skinny, white, the other strong, brown and thick!"
"Don't shout, Mr. Wilt, please. Er... we'll do something about it, don't you worry..."
"You the guy that messes round with brains?" Sy Zadly asked bluntly.
"We do transplants here. Won't you sit down? I am Clifford Downey, Dr. Joynter's chief assistant. He's busy at the moment, so if you tell me what you have in mind...?"
Sy grunted. He nodded to Wilf Waijer, who was holding the arm of a reluctant little man, and the trio became seated.
Over his clasped hands, Clifford said, "Well?"
"Yeah," Sy said. "It like this. Our friend here wants to be a horse, O.K.?"
"A horse?" Clifford said unsurprised. "Do you have your own animal?"
The blase response upset Sy's speed. "Ah, sure. Sure, we got a horse. What else you want?"
"Not a great deal," Clifford said. "We must establish your friend's willingness to become a horse, test him for mental aberrations, and then, of course he must sign a responsibility waiver."
"He willing," Sy said. He turned to the little man. "Ain't you willing, Nye? 'Course you are!"
The little man stuck out his chin obstinately. "I want my own body," he said.
"Sure," Sy said. "They keep your body on ice, right?"
Clifford said, "It depends on the duration of transfer. For short experience periods, yes, but for longer terms we use suspended Instravel."
"Yeah, yeah," Sy said, "but he gets his body back when he wants it, right?"
"See? Nothin' to worry'bout."
Nye still looked doubtful.
"You'll make million bucks." Sy turned to Clifford. "Start fixing," he said with impatient authority. "He like idea. He just nervous..."
Roy Halsey cleared 9' 8" and Kaminsky glowered at Enrico Escola. "What? What? You see that? You see that?" He waved his hands angrily. "Don't tell us. Tell them." He pointed dramatically. "Tell them!"
"We have," Escola said patiently.
"Ha!" Kaminsky said.
Vladimir Olafskayer cleared 9'9"...
"Goodness gracious," Dr. Kurstead Schriff said. His closed eyes lent strangely to the wonderment on his face. "My goodness me..."
"Constance, don't do that. I'm tired and not in the mood."
"Oh, George, you're never in the mood. I was never like that to you, was I?"
"How am I going to know what a man feels like if you refuse to cooperate? You're being most selfish, George. After all, it is my body. . ."
Sy Zadly was irritated beyond measure. "Will you stop always complaining? All you think is yourself, yourself, yourself!"
"A maaaare!" Nye whinnied disgustedly. "A maaaaaaaaare!"
"What the difference?" Sy cried. "You be mare forever? Huh? We fix. We make money. What the difference?"
Nye snorted and hung his head.
"We clean up. You go back. Why fuss? You do right," Sy said ominously, "or you go to glue factory before."
Nye's head came up, ears pricked. Then the alarm died from his large wet eyes and he shuffled over to morosely nuzzle his hay. "A maaaaaare," he said bitterly.
Sy thumped the stable door. "What for you horse?" he shouted passionately. "Sex life? You horse to fix race, got that?"
Nye turned his rear to the door. To point up his sentiment he began to relieve himself.
"I only winked at her, George."
"I don't care," George said stubbornly. "This experiment was just between us, wasn't it?"
"Yes, of course," Constance said, sweetly reasonable, "but I can't help it if your body is roused by the sight of another female. It all helps toward greater understanding."
"Huh!" George said. "I've had enough. The two weeks are over tomorrow. We've learned enough. We can change back."
Constance A stared at him in amazement. "But, George, darling, we can't do that. We've hardly begun..."
Cranston Beever reported:
Dorphelmyer received the rug anonymously. Checking back, we found it was sent in the name of Koyoka Shubishu, a junior employee at 17 Overton Heights, which is the Nipponese Embassy. Inquiries at the Embassy brought denials that the rug had been sent, or that any contact had been made with Dorphelmyer.
We know that Dorphelmyer spent some years in Nippon and returned to this country for no clearly defined reason. We are also painfully aware that Nipponese technology may be in advance of our knowledge in certain fields.
Keeping in mind the delicacy of international relations, the Nipponese Embassy and personnel are being kept under unobtrusive autovigil, and the investigation is proceeding..."
"What we want is the feel of crime today," Senator Hardman said. "Why is it so? Why do people commit crimes? And why, when organized crime is practically nonexistent, when crime is now the province of the rare amateur, why should crime prevention cost more?"
"Co-Ord's range is constantly being stretched," Sacpole said. "For a standard crime we have a standard procedure, and the machinery of the law follows a tried path for moderate outlay. But dealing with a new type of crime calls for a new approach, calls possibly for extensive countermeasures. Large-scale preventive action may have to be undertaken. The crime has to be analyzed, documented, and the criminal action defined to ensure that it is indeed a criminal action..."
"How much?" Constance said, aghast.
The sweet young thing wriggled back into her shift. "Fifty dollars," she said demurely.
"Just for that?" Constance asked, astounded.
A brittle edge came to the young lady's voice. "I'm not cheap, you know. And it was your idea..."
Mutely Constance counted out the money.
"O.K., Molloy, grab her arm and drag her into the bushes. Careful now. O.K., hold it. Look up now, and lick your lips. Now sniff her all over. That's it, that's it. O.K. Now hit hard to draw blood, and rip her clothes. O.K., O.K. Good. Terrific. O.K., now start in to gnaw her. Great. Great. Great! Magnificent!
"O.K., O.K. Cut! Cut!"
Molloy stopped his simulated gnawing and began to lick instead. His rough tongue made the girl squeal with indescribable emotion.
Molloy's new yellow eyes gleamed with satisfaction. From being a one hundred twenty-six pound weakling with a common nine to five job, he had, in one bold stroke, become a star. Buying a tiger to swap with was the best investment he had ever made.
Clive Mossy had what looked like a portable radio on his shoulder. He stepped in front of Garrards' pay clerk, who was on his way from the bank. The pay clerk had no time to do anything but gape.
"Don't stand there like an idiot, man," Clive said irritably. "Give me the bag."
Dazedly the clerk looked down at the valise in his hand.
"Are you going to keep me waiting all day?" Clive said. He looked at his watch. "I'm fifteen minutes late already," he fumed.
"I... I..." the bewildered pay clerk said.
"And when you go back, you can tell Mr. Foster that I do not like to be kept waiting," Clive said, putting out his hand.
The stupefied pay clerk handed him the bag.
"I should think so," Clive said. He turned away, paused, and turned back. "Well, don't just stand there, man. Get back to your work."
"Yes," the unfortunate man said. "I'm sorry, I..."
Clive walked smartly away.
"What have you done to my arm?" Mr. Frederic Traff said. "You've made it all short and hairy..."
"Georgina. I like that name," Charley said. He reached across and took George's hand. "I'm glad you decided to have dinner with me tonight. Have you enjoyed yourself?"
"Immensely," George said.
Charley seemed pleased. "Ah..., how about rounding the evening off, Georgie, with a nightcap at my place?"
George smiled inwardly at the ill-concealed overtones. He tweaked Charley's ear. "Charles, I like you very much. You're very sweet. Later in the week, perhaps?"
Charley masterfully tried to hide his disappointment. "What about your husband?" he said.
"I can handle him," George said. He gazed soulfully into Charley's eyes. "Darling, be patient."
"That's not easy with you, Georgie."
George laughed. He leaned forward and kissed Charley lightly and jumped out of the car. "I'll call you in the morning, Charles?"
Charley nodded numbly.
"It is the question of the withdrawal of your two countries, or the withdrawal of every other country," the Olympic Chairman said to the Russian and American representatives. "That is the ultimatum supported by all other competing nations.
"Under the circumstances, the Committee hereby disqualifies both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. from further participation in these Games, and declares all results so far obtained null and void."
"This is outrageous," the Russian delegate spluttered. "You have no proof..."
The chairman rose with great dignity. "The proof lies in the superhuman capabilities of your athletes. Such extravagant superiority renders competition farcical. We do not know what you employ, or how you employ it. But we do know.
"In consideration to the host nation we cannot abandon the Games. But we can, and do, take the strongest possible measures where we feel certain beyond doubt that the Olympic spirit is being violated and mocked!"
The Russian delegate glared back into the chairman's fiercely reproving eye. "Ha!" he said.
The man from the United States looked uncomfortable. He felt sticky. "Ah, Mr. Chairman," he said diffidently, "before you take action, I... ah... on behalf of my country... ah..." he squirmed. "Sometimes... national pride... ah... blinds us... and... ah... in this matter. Ah... we have become aware..." He took a hold of himself. "Mr. Chairman, we will give you the facts and throw ourselves upon your mercy..."
He sprang at her from the thicket. She screamed involuntarily, and thumbed her signalgard.
A silocar soundlessly swerved and homed on the stuttering blip.
"Who told you about me?" Oliver Goldstick said. "No matter. They call me a crank. They say it can't be done. I think differently."
"How close are you to success?" Cranston Beever asked.
Goldstick shrugged. "I can't say. Here you can see the physical paraphernalia of my prototype. I am constantly modifying." He made a weary gesture. "If I had funds... If I had backing from a large research organization…hrmph, who knows? But they laugh at me," he said without rancor. "I am a crank..."
Cranston was not encouraged, but he was desperate. He outlined the facts of the Dorphelmyer Case, then asked, "What do you think? Do you think that it would be possible to create such a time-slot?"
Goldstick smiled wanly. "My young friend, who is to say what is, and what is not, impossible?" Softly he said, "Time. Ah... haaaa. Time is a challenge, a powerful and inexorable adversary. But there are weaknesses. For example, Time exists. It is measurable. Therefore, it must once have started. Thus we can make the logical assumption that Time cannot be infinite. Somewhere, somehow, the first second gassed..."
"Yes," Cranston Beever said, more curtly than he intended. "Thank you for your help. You will excuse me? I hope I didn't bother you too much..."
Cranston rudely took his leave, yet hating himself for the look of rejection he left on the older man's face.
In the street he tried to rationalize his guilt. "He's a nut. Sure, a nice old nut. But nevertheless he's a nut..."
George hummed a little tune as he let himself into the flat.
"Where have you been?" Constance cried.
"Out," George said. "Having a ball."
"Oh, George, how could you?" She came over and took his hands. "George, I needed you."
George disengaged himself. "Did you? All you think about is yourself, isn't it? Gadding about with other women. Well, two can play at that game."
Constance was distressed. "I'm sorry, George, truly I am. I've been thinking, and you are right. This experiment has gone on long enough." She paused. "I have made arrangements with Dr. Joynter, and he has agreed to take us in tomorrow for changeback."
George looked at her. He gave a short, nasty laugh. "Oh, you have, have you? When I have someone on a string who's prepared to keep me in the manner to which I am unaccustomed—just beating his brains out to keep me happy? Oh, yeah. This is gravy. No more work for me. With my know-how I've got it made."
Constance was shocked. "George!" she gasped. "George, what are you saying? You can't mean that. We'll change back." Suddenly horrified, she said, "We have to change back!"
"Not me," George said complacently. "I'm just beginning to like the way I am..."
"Your name is Clive Mossy?"
Clive studied the stranger in his two-view. He had Co-Ord agent screaming from every fiber of his conservative bloc-suit.
"That's right," Clive said. He pressed the tube release. "Come on up.'
Clive made arrangements for the discomfort of his guest.
Shortly the stranger faced him. Deadpan he said, "There are a few questions I'd like to ask you, Mr. Mossy. A certain pattern of incidents has brought me to you."
"Oh?" Clive said. "Would you like a drink?"
"Uh-uh, no thanks," the stranger said quickly.
"Not even coffee?"
"Uh-uh," the stranger said positively.
Clive frowned, then shrugged. "O.K.," he said. "Take a seat," indicating an armchair opposite the one he settled into himself.
The stranger hesitated a second, then bent at the knees and sank into comfort.
"Now then," Clive said pleasantly, "what's on your mind?"
"First visit to our country, I see?" the Immigration man said.
He stamped the visa of Carlich Nakaban. And so master-spy Alva Dakari, discovered, exposed, rejected, deported in disgrace, returned to the country of his denouement in a younger body, the sacrificial frame handpicked for perfect satisfaction.
Judge Mercier gazed dispassionately at the protagonists. "As the law stands," he said, "there is nothing to prevent willing parties, so inclined, from having their cerebral matter transplanted into whatever living vehicle they think fit. The law cannot be concerned in this matter with past agreements; each transplant, whether changeover or changeback, must accord with the wishes of both participants.
"In this case a state of unanimity is sadly absent, and it is the finding of this court that there is no legal redress where the matter cannot justly be decided without the mutual consent of both parties.
"I would like to add that those practicing this form of medicine are under threat of legal action if they use force or coercion, or fail to supply authoritatively witnessed affidavits upon the mental state and precise requirements of each of their clients..."
George grinned, and winked at Constance.
Constance gnashed George's teeth.
"It looks like my arm, all right," Mr. Wilt said. "How'd he come to get it?"
"A technical malfunction in the de-synchronized closed circuit relays," Rasulko said soothingly. "An errant overlap. The matter has been fully rectified."
"It has, has it?" Mr. Frederic Traff said angrily. "And what happens now? Another month of flips, I suppose?"
"Oh, no, no," the medico said, "The transfer correction should not be difficult. There is nothing wrong with the arms, and the sequence flow for those members will be complete..."
Dr. Kurstead Schriff frowned in distress. "Oh, really! Oh, no."
Dr. Mayberry quizzed Dr. Bell with his eyes.
"It seems he is going through the hallucinatory syndrome much as expected," she said quietly.
"How is his heartbeat?"
"Regular." Dr. Bell checked. "Temperature normal, respiration steady." She peered. "No irregularities in his brain pattern, either."
Dr. Mayberry nodded. "As anticipated." He scribbled in his notebook. "Climactic envisioning disassociated from physical involvement, with no physical manifestations apart from facial expression and minor vocal comment..."
"Well, really," Dr. Schriff muttered. "What a thing to do..."
The Professors Muldible, now defined as P1, P2, P3 and P4, were talking.
"We are flesh and blood," P3 said, "and we must have come from somewhere."
"Obviously," P2 said dryly.
"We look alike, talk alike, are fully conversant with this project, and have the same memories."
P2 said, "We even have the same wife."
They looked at one another. They brightened.
"I say, that's true," P3 said. "If we share her equally..."
"It would mean that we would only have to put up with her for a quarter of the time..."
"So," Shylor Colom said with satisfaction, "it can be detected."
"Sure," Virgil replied, "provided you know what you are looking for. And provided you look for it before it can be used up by exertion..."
Honest merit was back in the Olympics again.
Mr. Traff stared at the Instravel medico with undisguised malignancy.
The medico gazed in silent discomfort at Mr. Traff's two short, brown, hairy arms.
"Ah, yes," Rasulko said at last. "You realize that electronic surgery is in its infancy. A great advance in medicine and we feel, ah... We'll set it up again," he said hurriedly, and moved as briskly as he could to beyond the range of Mr. Traff's eyes.
Dr. Kurstead Schriff's eyes snapped open. "Good heavens," he said, "the cunning devils."
He abruptly sat up.
"How do you feel, sir?" Dr. Clothilde Bell asked.
"What was it like, sir?" Dr. Mayberry said.
"Uh? What? Oh. Don't bother me now." Dr. Schriff seemed preoccupied. He stood up. "You have the rest of the catatonicine here? Ah. Good." He pocketed the bottle and the hypo. He strode to the door.
Without a backward glance he let himself out and moved purposefully away down the corridor.
Was it feminine wiles that came to her aid?
"I'm glad you lost Charley," Constance said. "It was he more than anything else." She poured herself a whisky and splashed in some aerox.
"I'll find somebody else," George said confidently.
Constance looked miserable. "Do you have to?" Then, to his consternation, George saw his face crumple and big tears start to leak out of his eyes.
"Here, here," he said, "don't do that."
"I... I c... c... can't help it," Constance sobbed. "I... I've been such a f... f... fool, George, and I d... d... do love you so...
Embarrassed, George pulled handkerchief from the breast pocket of the suit his body was wearing. "Here," he said. "Here. Dry your eyes. There, there..."
Constance cried brokenly on his shoulder, her hands moving with a subtlety George did not suspect till it was too late.
Even so, why should he care? He did not know that Constance had swapped his contraceptive pills for aspirin...
At Canberra Instravel Reception the clerk was speaking to two Co-Ord agents. "Three of them, one after the other. Just failed to arrive..."
"A Dr. Kurstead Schriff to see you, sir."
"Kurstead Schriff?" Gil Prober said. "What does he want? Has he got an appointment?"
"No, sir, but he says it's urgent."
"It always is. Who is he, anyway? Anybody important?"
"I have his card, sir. It says he is the Director of the Psychiatric Drug Development Division of Principle Chemicals."
"Can't the juniors handle him?"
"He insists on seeing someone in authority, sir."
"He says about the disappearance of Sigstein Froymund, sir."
"Oh, very well. Let him through
the screen," Gil Prober said petulantly, "but I'm warning you, if he's another half-wit, I'm going to have you vaporized..."
Clive Mossy opened the door to his flat, closed it and pressed the light button. Thus triggered, nerfroz gas capsules popped profusely in the hallway.
Clive spun frantically back to the door, clawed with putty fingers and collapsed.
"Sorry, Mr. Zadly, but we cannot allow your horse to run," the Co-Ord agent said unapologetically.
"What? Why not? What I done?" Sy Zadly protested.
"That horse is a transplant," the agent said. "You intend, between you, to influence the result of the race. To cheat, in other words."
Sy gaped at him wordlessly.
"You withdraw the horse and restore him, and we will overlook the matter. If you persist in your attempts to defraud the racing public, proceedings will be taken against you."
"Aye-yi-yi," Sy said. "Don't cover me with spit. I know when I'm licked..."
"Come in, Cranston," Sacpole said. "Take a seat. You look tired."
To say Cranston Beever looked tired was the understatement of the year. He let his weary bones sag into a chair. Drained of his natural ebullience, an unaccustomed hopelessness shaded his troubled eyes, and his features were no longer boyish, but haggard and drawn.
"You've been working too hard, Cranston," Sacpole said. "Driving yourself twenty-four hours a day."
Cranston nodded glumly. Preliminary politeness, then, Sorry, Cranston, we'll put somebody else on the case. Why else would he be before the big boss?
"Drink, Cranston?" Sacpole poured him one and took it over. "Here, you look as though you could do with it."
"Thanks," Cranston mumbled.
"Hear about Gil Prober picking up the fellow who was operating that amnesi-wave?"
"Yes," Cranston said, morosely sipping his liquor.
"Co-Ord has been enjoying a run of good fortune lately," Sacpole said. "We've caught four spies, brain-transplant boys, one of them an Alsatian dog. We've discovered and closed down thirty-seven illegal Instravel installations, and we've caught Mossy, the Memory Man."
"Yes," Cranston said shortly. "Everybody has been doing fine but me."
Sacpole put a hand on his shoulder. "Cranston, you are in the depths, aren't you?" he said cheerfully. "What you need is a rest."
Cranston Beever thought, Here it comes.
"Go home and have a nice hot bath, a good meal and a long sleep, and come back here again at ten tomorrow, eh?"
The teleview buzzer sounded. The Professors Muldible looked at each other, commonly conjecturing.
"I'll take it," P1 said. He paused. "I think it would be best to present a singular appearance."
P2, P3 and P4 grumbled, but moved out of teleview focus.
P1 depressed the answer switch.
Sir Clifton Gunfield, Managing Director of Instravel, Ltd. (Australia) filled the screen. "Hullo, Neil," he said. "Hope I'm not disturbing you? How's the research coming?"
"Quite well, quite well," P1 said.
"Good, good. Ah. Fact is, we're having a spot of trouble here in Canberra, Neil. Ah. You're not very far away and I was wondering perhaps, ah, if you'd look into it?"
P1 looked doubtful. "I'm fairly busy at the moment..."
"I would deem it a great personal favor," Sir Clifton said meaningly.
"Well," P1 said, "I... er... What's the trouble at Canberra?"
"A little over an hour ago. Something fishy," Sir Clifton said. "Three people failed to arrive."
"Failed to arrive? Have the interference recorders been checked."
"Everything. It was a clear line. Nothing untoward at all. Very distressing. Some baggage, too. The chaps at Reception are most upset."
P1 stared blankly. An alarming thought had crept into his mind.
"I say, have you thought of something, Neil?"
P1's head did a very slow bob. "Yes, I've thought of something," he said dully...
"Marvelous," Mr. Traff said, razor-sharp teeth on his biting sarcasm. "Absolutely brilliant. First, you gave me his arms; now you've given me his whole body..."
"Ah, Cranston. You took my advice. You look much better," Sacpole said. "I want you to meet Dr. Kurstead Schriff."
Cranston shook hands with the doctor. It seemed expected.
"Come over here and sit down," Sacpole said. "On the divan. That's it. Now. I suppose you are wondering what this is all about?"
Cranston gave a noncommittal nod.
Sacpole smiled. "Dr. Schriff, would you care to explain?"
Dr. Schriff cleared his throat. "In the course of my studies I have discovered a certain drug, catatonicine. Basically an ataraxic, this drug was developed to relieve the psychoses of those suffering from schizophrenia. However, when I personally undertook initial testing of the drug, my reactions were remarkable. Remarkable indeed."
"In what way?" Cranston asked.
"Well, you may remember that Professor Sigstein Froymund disappeared. He was a very good friend of mine, and his inexplicable exit upset me considerably.
"Now, under the influence of catatonicine, I gained some kind of super vision, and I saw clearly that he had been kidnapped. I saw the whole crime, was cognizant of every detail, and could recognize the agents involved."
"And it checked out," Sacpole said contentedly.
Cranston frowned. "You mean you became clairvoyant?"
"Clairvoyance, E.S.P., what you will," Sacpole said. "It works. Why do you think Co-Ord has been so successful lately?"
"Exactly. And that's why you are here. Take off your coat and roll up your sleeve. You are steeped in the Dorphelmyer case. A shot of catatonicine and you'll get the whole picture from beginning to end..."
"I used to work in Missing Persons," Garvey said.
"So what's that to me?" Sy Zadly said sourly. "I ain't lost."
"Listen, Sy," Wilf Waijer pleaded, picking up the bottle and filling the glasses again, "he's got something..."
"Yeah," Garvey said, a little drunk already, "I got something. And you know what I got? I got some of the stuff that put me out of work, that's what I've got."
"What's he talking about?" Sy said. "Why you bring this bum here?"
"Sy, will you listen for a minute...?" Wilf begged.
Garvey tugged at his side pocket and produced a small bottle. He waved it at Sy. "See this?" he said. "Know what it is? No, 'course you don't. It's Co-Ord Especial, that's what it is. ESPEC." He glowered at the bottle. "Missing Persons," he said, "was a good job. Good gang. Then suddenly, nobody's missing any more. 'Cept me."
He put the small bottle down and turned back to his glass.
"An' what so special about this stuff?" Sy asked skeptically.
"Not special," Garvey said. "Especial." He threw his arms in a wide gesture, and his drink slopped crazily. "ESPEC," he said grandly. "Extra Sensory Perception Experience Control." He slumped forward over the table again. "How about that?" he said. "A shot in the arm. Ha!" He began to laugh. "A real shot in the arm. Ha, ha, ha. How about that?..."
"What annoys me," Cranston Beever said, "is that he made such a fool out of me."
Gil Prober chuckled. "At some time we all get blinded by science."
Cranston gazed at his beer. "What an idiot I have been. I've had every department in Co-Ord searching frantically for a time-manipulator. We took that radiation complex apart, piece by piece." He smacked his palm down on the bar. "Dammit, Gil, he led me right up the garden path and drove me nearly crazy."
Gil laughed and raised his finger to the bartender for refills.
"Right under my nose all the time. The most obvious suspect and I discarded him. Why? Because he didn't have the know-how, the scientific background, the technical knowledge." Cranston groaned.
"Don't take it so hard," Gil said lightly. "After all, you weren't alone. Everyone at Co-Ord thought the same way you did."
"But we didn't think of anything else," Cranston said. "We ran around in circles looking for a genius who didn't exist. How he must have laughed!"
"Ah, now," Gil said, "I wouldn't say that the genius didn't exist. On the contrary, he displayed the true genius of simplicity."
"Hm-m-m. I suppose so," Cranston said grudgingly. Then he exploded, "But what a setup to lead us astray! The radiation-complex, the Voyd rug, the exact perpendicular location. And the grass stains!" He smacked the bar again. "The obvious clue, and I didn't even check the lawn just outside the door!"
"Under the circumstances, I wouldn't have, either. He made you believe what he wanted you to believe. Anyway, he was a tidy worker and probably erased the signs."
"We didn't even notice that that section of the floor had only recently been laid."
"Oh, that is a pardonable error," Gil said. "The building is not very old and that honeycomb ferroplastic weld joints itself undetectably. No, our builder's handyman was a master. He knew what he was doing when he knocked Dorphelmyer out and dropped him out the window..."
"That Traff character is a jinx. Thousands of people use Instravel without fuss or trouble. Yet him," he shook his head. "Oh, boy! You know, I know it sounds crazy, but do you know what I think? I think it's an allergy. Instravel doesn't bring him out in a rash, or anything; it just scrambles him a little."
"Pity we have had only negative results in our efforts to forecast the future," Sacpole said. "However, that may come, eh?"
"A greater understanding of the drug is required," Dr. Kurstead Schriff said cautiously.
"Taken all round, I must say that your drug is the greatest single crime-preventive aid of the century," Sacpole said. "With concentration and catatonicine, I can see that there will be virtually no crime committed beyond our knowledge.
"We have closed the black market in D.N.A. pills, have much greater Instravel security, can detect antisocial transplants and, most importantly, are now able to halt the progress of those, like Clive Mossy, who abuse a novel technical advance to achieve their own ends."
"Catatonicine can be abused, too," Dr. Schriff pointed out.
"Yes," Sacpole said, "we are well aware of that. We need to employ strict controls on its supply and use. Most rigid controls." He coughed. "Doctor, that is why you have been called here. The possibilities of this drug are incalculable. Already our Intelligence departments are demanding a higher quota. You can appreciate our desire for secrecy."
"I can indeed," Dr. Schriff said. "We can be thankful for industrial piracy. At Principle Chemicals we work under strict security. The product is safe and in few hands."
Sacpole smiled. "I can see that you have a sound grasp of the situation," he said.
Dr. Schriff smiled back. "As a major shareholder in the company, my interest is profound—not superficial," he said. "All we have need to discuss are the terms of a satisfactory agreement..."
Sy Zadly came awake. "Gorrum," he breathed.
He snapped upright. "Gorrum! I gorrum! I there. I see. I see plain!" He smacked his fat palms together. "We got it made. Quick! Write down before I forget."
The pen trembled in Wilf Waijer's fingers. "Go ahead," he said eagerly. "Go ahead."
"First race, Annabella, nina-two. Second race, Bubba, threeta-one. Inna third, Steamer Steven, twenny..." He stopped. For a moment his features retained a fixed parody of enthusiasm.
Wilf looked at him for reason, looked back to see what he had written. He felt himself begin to freeze as horror dawned.
With a bellow of rage, Sy Zadly sprang to his feet. "Yesterday already! I know yesterday!" Furiously he kicked the table with his stockinged foot.
Which did not help matters.
Sir Clifton Gunfield looked at the Muldibles in dismay. "Are you sure that restoration is impossible?"
"The difficulties are insuperable," P3 said.
"The nearest we could get would be a photographic likeness of a stranger," P1 said.
The Professors Muldible were depressed and worried.
Sir Clifton turned to the Co-Ord agent. "Must there be publicity? Obviously it was an unfortunate accident. It won't happen again. What is done cannot be undone. Surely it would be better if the matter were handled quietly."
"It's not for me to decide," the agent said. "I only uncover the facts. I'll put in my report to the Chief, and he'll probably hand it over to the Legal Department, to sort out..."
"ESPEC makes much of Co-Ord redundant," Sacpole said. "There is nothing beyond our comprehension. This has leaked out and is now general knowledge, which has had a marked effect upon the public consciousness. Crime, as such, can not occur without being brought to light for scrutiny.
"Now we can truly say, "Crime does not pay'…"
"Everybody thinks that this guy Goldstick is a crackpot, but he's a genius not a screwball. I met him, and he made so much sense to me that I started working with him. Between us we have overcome practically every obstacle. We can create a chronomorphous state, and our main difficulty now is period selectivity."
"All very interesting, Ray, but why have you called us in?"
Ray grinned. "Shortly we will be able to move around in Time. Do you know what that means?"
"Go ahead, elucidate."
"I'll explain it this way. Back in 1935, three men walked into the Cambridge and Citizens' Bank and carted away over one million dollars worth of bullion. Got it?"
"I... uh..." He whistled.
"You got it. Some kind of fancy knock-out gas was used and the three men got clean away. The case is still in the Unsolved file," Ray said happily. "It's perfect. Handled with care, no one should get suspicious..."
Carl Roeder was wondering how to murder his wife. He liked the idea of planting a crucial but natural posthypnotic suggestion, but the recent Irving Case had revealed that the least suspicion invited ESPEC. And if ESPEC saw nothing untoward, the obligatory truth session was an attendant check-out feature that could foil the most skillful histrionic performance.
Carl Roeder sighed. It had been much easier in the old days.
No suspicion. There must not be the least hint of suspicion.
A thought came to him and he sat up to help it mature. Why not use ESPEC itself? He could see Mayberry at the club. Maybe wangle some ESPEC with a good excuse. With a shot of ESPEC and a telekinetic booster...
He rubbed his chin. It might work. He could envision her whereabouts and influence something to fall on her. Or perhaps give her a push. Or maybe put a glidocar out of control and...
Col was breathing hard. He did not have much time.
Everything was in readiness. He put his forehead against his forbidden Mossy Memory Box. For some reason it successfully confused ESPEC culprit visualization. It was simple, but it had its disadvantages.
The shutter was on 1/50th, and he clicked it over.
Col stared blankly at the Memory Box. Stuck on it was a note that said: "See letter on table."
Col turned, saw table and letter.
With agitated fingers he ripped the envelope open. He read: "Your memory will be gone for about a week. Don't worry. You did it yourself for a very good reason. Take it easy and try and relax. There is plenty of food in the kitchen cupboard and..."
Sy Zadly had learned something from his personal experience under the ESPEC drug, catatonicine. The picture came through clear and vivid, a startling presence, but too broad to cope with fine print. Also, the sound fell far short of hi-fi, and Sy laid his crafty plans accordingly.
Muffled unrecognizably, in a bare, undistinguished room, he made whispered blank-screen teleview contact with an equally circumspect ex-marine sharpshooter.
And so it came about that later, in a room on the tenth floor, overlooking the racecourse, the pair were huddled, effectively masked, at the window, as the first race was in progress.
"There he go," Sy hissed. "Yellow. Blue cap."
"So you keep tellin' me," the sharpshooter breathed patiently.
As the horses approached the home turn, the ex-marine raised his powa-punch-pac and carefully sighted through its telescope.
The horses turned into the straight.
"Now!" Sy said hoarsely. "Now!"
The ex-marine squeezed the trigger. His threepy gave its curious 1/10th. second full range whine, "weEoo," and a low-surge bolt needled out to the rump of Sy's selection.
"Again," Sy whispered excitedly. "Again!... "
Wilf Waijer, successfully disguised as a gentleman, watched the galvanized horse streak past the post, its frightened rider a blur of yellow.
He adjusted his monocle, twirled his cane, and contentedly went to collect...
"You might say that we have discovered the Philosopher's Stone," Sacpole mused.
Sir Clifton Gunfield savored his sherry. "You might say that." He studied Sacpole. "You showed remarkable perspicacity, old chap."
"I saw no reason why such a fortuitous discovery should become public property," Sacpole said mildly. "Competition would destroy its value. Too many commodity-duplicators, and operating benefits would be marginal."
"More sherry?" Sir Clifton filled his wineglass. "Odd, you know," he said, "it never crossed my mind. The productive potential, I mean. Materials to goods. My main concern was the Instravel image."
Sacpole laughed. "Luckily it was. It kept you quiet."
"And, thanks to your extraordinary foresight and promptness, the affair has been most satisfactorily resolved."
"Yes," Sacpole said. He rolled the wineglass between his fingers. "If you pay generous compensation to the dependents of the irrecoverable travelers, and I take care to close Co-Ord interest, only the Muldibles' remain. And they, with admirable co-operation, desire nothing more than privacy."
They sat for a while, both reflecting upon the promise of the future.
Sir Clifton broke the silence. "You are a powerful man," he said. "May I ask why you chose this course?"
Sacpole sighed. "Powerful, but not wealthy," he said. "This golden egg will restore the family fortunes, yours and mine." He raised his glass. "Cheers, eh?"
There is always a crooked man.