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Title: Suite Mentale
Author: Garrett, Randall, 1927-1987
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Suite Mentale" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

    _Just about a year ago, two enthusiastic young men came to see me,
    and during the course of the visit announced that they were starting
    a campaign to make their living in science fiction--and also to
    become "names" in the best science fiction magazines. They planned
    to collaborate on some material, and write on their own as well,
    intending to make the grade both ways._

    _One of the pair was a well-known science fiction fan, who had
    appeared once or twice in the "pro mags," as fans designate journals
    like this one. The other was Randall Garrett, who had previously
    sold a respectable number of stories to various magazines in the
    science fiction and fantasy field._

    _I shall not try to insult your intelligence by stating that I told
    them I knew they could do it; on the contrary, I larded doubt with
    sympathy. However, this story, and Robert A. Madle's "Inside Science
    Fiction" will show how wrong I was!_


by Randall Garrett

_Illustrated by EMSH_


The neurosurgeon peeled the thin surgical gloves from his hands as the
nurse blotted the perspiration from his forehead for the last time after
the long, grueling hours.

"They're waiting outside for you, Doctor," she said quietly.

The neurosurgeon nodded wordlessly. Behind him, three assistants were
still finishing up the operation, attending to the little finishing
touches that did not require the brilliant hand of the specialist. Such
things as suturing up a scalp, and applying bandages.

The nurse took the sterile mask--no longer sterile now--while the doctor
washed and dried his hands.

"Where are they?" he asked finally. "Out in the hall, I suppose?"


She nodded. "You'll probably have to push them out of the way to get out
of Surgery."

       *       *       *       *       *

Her prediction was almost perfect. The group of men in conservative
business suits, wearing conservative ties, and holding conservative,
soft, felt hats in their hands were standing just outside the door. Dr.
Mallon glanced at the five of them, letting his eyes stop on the face of
the tallest. "He may live," the doctor said briefly.

"You don't sound very optimistic, Dr. Mallon," said the FBI man.

Mallon shook his head. "Frankly, I'm not. He was shot laterally, just
above the right temple, with what looks to me like a .357 magnum pistol
slug. It's in there--" He gestured back toward the room he had just
left. "--you can have it, if you want. It passed completely through the
brain, lodging on the other side of the head, just inside the skull.
What kept him alive, I'll never know, but I can guarantee that he might
as well be dead; it was a rather nasty way to lobotomize a man, but it
was effective, I can assure you."

The Federal agent frowned puzzledly. "Lobotomized? Like those operations
they do on psychotics?"

"Similar," said Mallon. "But no psychotic was ever butchered up like
this; and what I had to do to him to save his life didn't help

The men looked at each other, then the big one said: "I'm sure you did
the best you could, Dr. Mallon."

The neurosurgeon rubbed the back of his hand across his forehead and
looked steadily into the eyes of the big man.

"You wanted him alive," he said slowly, "and I have a duty to save life.
But frankly, I think we'll all eventually wish we had the common human
decency to let Paul Wendell die. Excuse me, gentlemen; I don't feel
well." He turned abruptly and strode off down the hall.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the men in the conservative suits said: "Louis Pasteur lived
through most of his life with only half a brain and he never even knew
it, Frank; maybe--"

"Yeah. Maybe," said the big man. "But I don't know whether to hope he
does or hope he doesn't." He used his right thumbnail to pick a bit of
microscopic dust from beneath his left index finger, studying the
operation without actually seeing it. "Meanwhile, we've got to decide
what to do about the rest of those screwballs. Wendell was the only sane
one, and therefore the most dangerous--but the rest of them aren't what
you'd call safe, either."

The others nodded in a chorus of silent agreement.


"Now what the hell's the matter with me?" thought Paul Wendell. He could
feel nothing. Absolutely nothing: No taste, no sight, no hearing, no
anything. "Am I breathing?" He couldn't feel any breathing. Nor, for
that matter, could he feel heat, nor cold, nor pain.

"Am I dead? No. At least, I don't _feel_ dead. Who am I? What am I?" No
answer. _Cogito, ergo sum._ What did that mean? There was something
quite definitely wrong, but he couldn't quite tell what it was. Ideas
seemed to come from nowhere; fragments of concepts that seemed to have
no referents. What did that mean? What is a referent? A concept? He felt
he knew intuitively what they meant, but what use they were he didn't

There was something wrong, and he had to find out what it was. And he
had to find out through the only method of investigation left open to

So he thought about it.


The President of the United States finished reading the sheaf of papers
before him, laid them neatly to one side, and looked up at the big man
seated across the desk from him.

"Is this everything, Frank?" he asked.

"That's everything, Mr. President; everything we know. We've got eight
men locked up in St. Elizabeth's, all of them absolutely psychotic, and
one human vegetable named Paul Wendell. We can't get anything out of

The President leaned back in his chair. "I really can't quite understand
it. Extra-sensory perception--why should it drive men insane? Wendell's
papers don't say enough. He claims it can be mathematically worked
out--that he _did_ work it out--but we don't have any proof of that."

The man named Frank scowled. "Wasn't that demonstration of his proof

A small, graying, intelligent-faced man who had been sitting silently,
listening to the conversation, spoke at last. "Mr. President, I'm afraid
I still don't completely understand the problem. If we could go over it,
and get it straightened out--" He left the sentence hanging expectantly.

"Certainly. This Paul Wendell is a--well, he called himself a psionic
mathematician. Actually, he had quite a respectable reputation in the
mathematical field. He did very important work in cybernetic theory, but
he dropped it several years ago--said that the human mind couldn't be
worked at from a mechanistic angle. He studied various branches of
psychology, and eventually dropped them all. He built several of those
queer psionic machines--gold detectors, and something he called a hexer.
He's done a lot of different things, evidently."

"Sounds like he was unable to make up his mind," said the small man.

       *       *       *       *       *

The President shook his head firmly. "Not at all. He did new, creative
work in every one of the fields he touched. He was considered something
of a mystic, but not a crackpot, or a screwball.

"But, anyhow, the point is that he evidently found what he'd been
looking for for years. He asked for an appointment with me; I okayed the
request because of his reputation. He would only tell me that he'd
stumbled across something that was vital to national defense and the
future of mankind; but I felt that, in view of the work he had done, he
was entitled to a hearing."

"And he proved to you, beyond any doubt, that he had this power?" the
small man asked.

Frank shifted his big body uneasily in his chair. "He certainly did, Mr.

The President nodded. "I know it might not sound too impressive when
heard second-hand, but Paul Wendell could tell me more of what was going
on in the world than our Central Intelligence agents have been able to
dig up in twenty years. And he claimed he could teach the trick to

"I told him I'd think it over. Naturally, my first step was to make sure
that he was followed twenty-four hours a day. A man with information
like that simply could not be allowed to fall into enemy hands." The
President scowled, as though angry with himself. "I'm sorry to say that
I didn't realize the full potentialities of what he had said for several
days--not until I got Frank's first report."

       *       *       *       *       *

"You could hardly be expected to, Mr. President," Frank said. "After
all, something like that is pretty heady stuff."

"I think I follow you," said the Secretary. "You found he was already
teaching this trick to others."

The President glanced at the FBI man. Frank said: "That's right; he was
holding meetings--classes, I suppose you'd call them--twice a week.
There were eight men who came regularly."

"That's when I gave the order to have them all picked up. Can you
imagine what would happen if _everybody_ could be taught to use this
ability? Or even a small minority?"

"They'd rule the world," said the Secretary softly.

The President shrugged that off. "That's a small item, really. The point
is that _nothing_ would be hidden from _anyone_.

"The way we play the Game of Life today is similar to playing poker. We
keep a straight face and play the cards tight to our chest. But what
would happen if everyone could see everyone else's cards? It would cease
to be a game of strategy, and become a game of pure chance.

       *       *       *       *       *

"We'd have to start playing Life another way. It would be like chess,
where you can see the opponent's every move. But in all human history
there has never been a social analogue for chess. That's why Paul
Wendell and his group had to be stopped--for a while at least."

"But what could you have done with them?" asked the Secretary. "Imprison
them summarily? Have them shot? What _would_ you have done?"

The President's face became graver than ever. "I had not yet made that
decision. Thank Heaven, it has been taken out of my hands."

"One of his own men shot him?"

"That's right," said the big FBI man. "We went into his apartment an
instant too late. We found eight madmen and a near-corpse. We're not
sure what happened, and we're not sure we want to know. Anything that
can drive eight reasonably stable men off the deep end in less than an
hour is nothing to meddle around with."

"I wonder what went wrong?" asked the Secretary of no one in particular.


Paul Wendell, too, was wondering what went wrong.

Slowly, over a period of immeasurable time, memory seeped back into him.
Bits of memory, here and there, crept in from nowhere, sometimes to be
lost again, sometimes to remain. Once he found himself mentally humming
an odd, rather funeral tune:

    _Now, though you'd have said that the head was dead,
      For its owner dead was he,
    It stood on its neck with a smile well-bred,
      And bowed three times to me.
    It was none of your impudent, off-hand nods...._

Wendell stopped and wondered what the devil seemed so important about
the song.

Slowly, slowly, memory returned.

When he suddenly realized, with crashing finality, where he was and what
had happened to him, Paul Wendell went violently insane. Or he would
have, if he could have become violent.


"Open your mouth, Paul," said the pretty nurse. The hulking mass of
not-quite-human gazed at her with vacuous eyes and opened its mouth.
Dexterously, she spooned a mouthful of baby food into it. "Now swallow
it, Paul. That's it. Now another."

"In pretty bad shape, isn't he?"

Nurse Peters turned to look at the man who had walked up behind her. It
was Dr. Benwick, the new interne.

"He's worthless to himself and anyone else," she said. "It's a shame,
too; he'd be rather nice looking if there were any personality behind
that face." She shoveled another spoonful of mashed asparagus into the
gaping mouth. "Now swallow it, Paul."

"How long has he been here?" Benwick asked, eyeing the scars that showed
through the dark hair on the patient's head.

"Nearly six years," Miss Peters said.

"Hmmh! But they outlawed lobotomies back in the sixties."

"Open your mouth, Paul." Then, to Benwick: "This was an accident. Bullet
in the head. You can see the scar on the other side of his head."

       *       *       *       *       *

The doctor moved around to look at the left temple. "Doesn't leave much
of a human being, does it?"

"It doesn't even leave much of an animal," Miss Peters said. "He's
alive, but that's the best you can say for him. (Now swallow, Paul.
That's it.) Even an ameba can find food for itself."

"Yeah. Even a single cell is better off than he is. Chop out a man's
forebrain and he's nothing. It's a case of the whole being _less_ than
the sum of its parts."

"I'm glad they outlawed the operation on mental patients," Miss Peters
said, with a note of disgust in her voice.

Dr. Benwick said: "It's worse than it looks. Do you know why the
anti-lobotomists managed to get the bill passed?"

"Let's drink some milk now, Paul. No, Doctor; I was only a little girl
at that time."

"It was a matter of electro-encephalographic records. They showed that
there was electrical activity in the prefrontal lobes even after the
nerves had been severed, which could mean a lot of things; but the A-L
supporters said that it indicated that the forebrain was still capable
of thinking."

Miss Peters looked a little ill. "Why--that's _horrible_! I wish you'd
never told me." She looked at the lump of vegetablized human sitting
placidly at the table. "Do you suppose he's actually _thinking_,
somewhere, deep inside?"

"Oh, I doubt it," Benwick said hastily. "There's probably no real
self-awareness, none at all. There couldn't be."

"I suppose not," Miss Peters said, "but it's not pleasant to think of."

"That's why they outlawed it," said Benwick.


Insanity is a retreat from reality, an escape within the mind from the
reality outside the mind. But what if there is no detectable reality
outside the mind? What is there to escape from? Suicide--death in any
form--is an escape from life. But if death does not come, and can not be
self-inflicted, what then?

And when the pressure of nothingness becomes too great to bear, it
becomes necessary to escape; a man under great enough pressure will take
the easy way out. But if there is no easy way? Why, then a man must take
the hard way.

For Paul Wendell, there was no escape from his dark, senseless Gehenna
by way of death, and even insanity offered no retreat; insanity in
itself is senseless, and senselessness was what he was trying to flee.
The only insanity possible was the psychosis of regression, a fleeing
into the past, into the crystallized, unchanging world of memory.

So Paul Wendell explored his past, every year, every hour, every second
of it, searching to recall and savor every bit of sensation he had ever
experienced. He tasted and smelled and touched and heard and analyzed
each of them minutely. He searched through his own subjective thought
processes, analyzing, checking and correlating them.

_Know thyself._ Time and time again, Wendell retreated from his own
memories in confusion, or shame, or fear. But there was no retreat from
himself, and eventually he had to go back and look again.

He had plenty of time--all the time in the world. How can subjective
time be measured when there is no objective reality?

       *       *       *       *       *

Eventually, there came the time when there was nothing left to look at;
nothing left to see; nothing to check and remember; nothing that he had
not gone over in every detail. Again, boredom began to creep in. It was
not the boredom of nothingness, but the boredom of the familiar.
Imagination? What could he imagine, except combinations and permutations
of his own memories? He didn't know--perhaps there might be more to it
than that.

So he exercised his imagination. With a wealth of material to draw upon,
he would build himself worlds where he could move around, walk, talk,
and make love, eat, drink and feel the caress of sunshine and wind.

It was while he was engaged in this project that he touched another
mind. He touched it, fused for a blinding second, and bounced away. He
ran gibbering up and down the corridors of his own memory, mentally
reeling from the shock of--_identification_!

       *       *       *       *       *

Who was he? Paul Wendell? Yes, he knew with incontrovertible certainty
that he was Paul Wendell. But he also knew, with almost equal certainty,
that he was Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton. He was living--had
lived--in the latter half of the nineteenth century. But he knew nothing
of the Captain other than the certainty of identity; nothing else of
that blinding mind-touch remained.

Again he scoured his memory--Paul Wendell's memory--checking and
rechecking the area just before that semi-fatal bullet had crashed
through his brain.

And finally, at long last, he knew with certainty where his calculations
had gone astray. He knew positively why eight men had gone insane.

Then he went again in search of other minds, and this time he knew he
would not bounce.


An old man sat quietly in his lawnchair, puffing contentedly on an
expensive briar pipe and making corrections with a fountain pen on a
thick sheaf of typewritten manuscript. Around him stretched an expanse
of green lawn, dotted here and there with squat cycads that looked like
overgrown pineapples; in the distance, screening the big house from the
road, stood a row of stately palms, their fronds stirring lightly in the
faint, warm California breeze.

The old man raised his head as a car pulled into the curving driveway.
The warm hum of the turboelectric engine stopped, and a man climbed out
of the vehicle. He walked with easy strides across the grass to where
the elderly gentleman sat. He was lithe, of indeterminate age, but with
a look of great determination. There was something in his face that made
the old man vaguely uneasy--not with fear but with a sense of deep

"What can I do for you, sir?"

"I have some news for you, Mr. President," the younger one said.

The old man smiled wryly. "I haven't been President for fourteen years.
Most people call me 'Senator' or just plain 'Mister'."

       *       *       *       *       *

The younger man smiled back. "Very well, Senator. My name is Camberton,
James Camberton. I brought some information that may possibly relieve
your mind--or, again, it may not."

"You sound ominous, Mr. Camberton. I hope you'll remember that I've been
retired from the political field for nearly five years. What is this
shattering news?"

"Paul Wendell's body was buried yesterday."

The Senator looked blank for a second, then recognition came into his
face. "Wendell, eh? After all this time. Poor chap; he'd have been
better off if he'd died twenty years ago." Then he paused and looked up.
"But just who are you, Mr. Camberton? And what makes you think I would
be particularly interested in Paul Wendell?"

"Mr. Wendell wants to tell you that he is very grateful to you for
having saved his life, Senator. If it hadn't been for your orders, he
would have been left to die."

The Senator felt strangely calm, although he knew he should feel shock.
"That's ridiculous, sir! Mr. Wendell's brain was hopelessly damaged; he
never recovered his sanity or control of his body. I know; I used to
drop over to see him occasionally, until I finally realized that I was
only making myself feel worse and doing him no good."


"Yes, sir. And Mr. Wendell wants you to know how much he appreciated
those visits."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Senator grew red. "What the devil are you talking about? I just said
that Wendell couldn't talk. How could he have said anything to you? What
do you know about this?"

"I never said he _spoke_ to me, Senator; he didn't. And as to what I
know of this affair, evidently you don't remember my name. James

The Senator frowned. "The name is familiar, but--" Then his eyes went
wide. "Camberton! You were one of the eight men who--Why, _you're the
man who shot Wendell_!"

Camberton pulled up an empty lawnchair and sat down. "That's right,
Senator; but there's nothing to be afraid of. Would you like to hear
about it?"

"I suppose I must." The old man's voice was so low that it was scarcely
audible. "Tell me--were the other seven released, too? Have--have you
all regained your sanity? Do you remember--" He stopped.

"Do we remember the extra-sensory perception formula? Yes, we do; all
eight of us remember it well. It was based on faulty premises, and
incomplete, of course; but in its own way it was workable enough. We
have something much better now."

The old man shook his head slowly. "I failed, then. Such an idea is as
fatal to society as we know it as a virus plague. I tried to keep you
men quarantined, but I failed. After all those years of insanity, now
the chess game begins; the poker game is over."

"It's worse than that," Camberton said, chuckling softly. "Or, actually,
it's much better."

"I don't understand; explain it to me. I'm an old man, and I may not
live to see my world collapse. I hope I don't."

Camberton said: "I'll try to explain in words, Senator. They're
inadequate, but a fuller explanation will come later."

And he launched into the story of the two-decade search of Paul Wendell.


"Telepathy? Time travel?" After three hours of listening, the
ex-President was still not sure he understood.

"Think of it this way," Camberton said. "Think of the mind at any given
instant as being surrounded by a shield--a shield of privacy--a shield
which you, yourself have erected, though unconsciously. It's a perfect
insulator against telepathic prying by others. You feel you _have_ to
have it in order to retain your privacy--your sense of identity, even.
But here's the kicker: even though no one else can get in, _you_ can't
get out!

"You can call this shield 'self-consciousness'--perhaps _shame_ is a
better word. Everyone has it, to some degree; no telepathic thought can
break through it. Occasionally, some people will relax it for a fraction
of a second, but the instant they receive something, the barrier goes up

"Then how is telepathy possible? How can you go through it?" The Senator
looked puzzled as he thoughtfully tamped tobacco into his briar.

"You don't go _through_ it; you go _around_ it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Now wait a minute; that sounds like some of those fourth dimension
stories I've read. I recall that when I was younger, I read a murder
mystery--something about a morgue, I think. At any rate, the murder was
committed inside a locked room; no one could possibly have gotten in or
out. One of the characters suggested that the murderer traveled through
the fourth dimension in order to get at the victim. He didn't go through
the walls; he went around them." The Senator puffed a match flame into
the bowl of his pipe, his eyes on the younger man. "Is that what you're
driving at?"

"Exactly," agreed Camberton. "The fourth dimension. Time. You must go
back in time to an instant when that wall did not exist. An infant has
no shame, no modesty, no shield against the world. You must travel back
down your own four-dimensional tube of memory in order to get outside
it, and to do that, you have to know your own mind completely, and you
must be _sure_ you know it.

"For only if you know your own mind can you communicate with another
mind. Because, at the 'instant' of contact, you _become_ that person;
you must enter his own memory at the beginning and go _up_ the
hyper-tube. You will have all his memories, his hopes, his fears, his
_sense of identity_. Unless you know--beyond any trace of doubt--who
_you_ are, the result is insanity."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Senator puffed his pipe for a moment, then shook his head. "It
sounds like Oriental mysticism to me. If you can travel in time, you'd
be able to change the past."

"Not at all," Camberton said; "that's like saying that if you read a
book, the author's words will change.

"Time isn't like that. Look, suppose you had a long trough filled with
supercooled water. At one end, you drop in a piece of ice. Immediately
the water begins to freeze; the crystallization front moves toward the
other end of the trough. Behind that front, there is ice--frozen,
immovable, unchangeable. Ahead of it there is water--fluid, mobile,

"The instant we call 'the present' is like that crystallization front.
The past is unchangeable; the future is flexible. But they both exist."

"I see--at least, I think I do. And you can do all this?"

"Not yet," said Camberton; "not completely. My mind isn't as strong as
Wendell's, nor as capable. I'm not the--shall we say--the superman he
is; perhaps I never will be. But I'm learning--I'm learning. After all,
it took Paul twenty years to do the trick under the most favorable
circumstances imaginable."

"I see." The Senator smoked his pipe in silence for a long time.
Camberton lit a cigaret and said nothing. After a time, the Senator took
the briar from his mouth and began to tap the bowl gently on the heel of
his palm. "Mr. Camberton, why do you tell me all this? I still have
influence with the Senate; the present President is a protégé of mine.
It wouldn't be too difficult to get you men--ah--put away again. I have
no desire to see our society ruined, our world destroyed. Why do you
tell me?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Camberton smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid you might find it a little
difficult to put us away again, sir; but that's not the point. You see,
we need you. We have no desire to destroy our present culture until we
have designed a better one to replace it.

"You are one of the greatest living statesmen, Senator; you have a
wealth of knowledge and ability that can never be replaced; knowledge
and ability that will help us to design a culture and a civilization
that will be as far above this one as this one is above the wolf pack.
We want you to come in with us, help us; we want you to be one of us."

"I? I'm an old man, Mr. Camberton. I will be dead before this
civilization falls; how can I help build a new one? And how could I, at
my age, be expected to learn this technique?"

"Paul Wendell says you can. He says you have one of the strongest minds
now existing."

The Senator put his pipe in his jacket pocket. "You know, Camberton, you
keep referring to Wendell in the present tense. I thought you said he
was dead."

Again Camberton gave him the odd smile. "I didn't say that, Senator; I
said they buried his body. That's quite a different thing. You see,
before the poor, useless hulk that held his blasted brain died, Paul
gave the eight of us his memories; he gave us _himself_. The mind is not
the brain, Senator; we don't know what it _is_ yet, but we do know what
it _isn't_. Paul's poor, damaged brain is dead, but his memories, his
thought processes, the very essence of all that was Paul Wendell is
still very much with us.

"Do you begin to see now why we want you to come in with us? There are
nine of us now, but we need the tenth--you. Will you come?"

"I--I'll have to think it over," the old statesman said in a voice that
had a faint quaver. "I'll have to think it over."

But they both knew what his answer would be.

Transcriber's Note

This etext was produced from _Future Science Fiction_ No. 30, 1956.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright
on this publication was renewed. Minor spelling and typographical errors
have been corrected without note.

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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.