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Title: Psichopath
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 "Psichopath" ***

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                         Transcriber's Note:

  This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction October 1960.
  Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright
  on this publication was renewed.


                              PSICHOPATH


                         By DARREL T. LANGART



     _Given psi powers like clairvoyance and telepathy, solving
     problems of sabotage would be easy, of course. That is, it
     seems that way at first thought!_


                      Illustrated by van Dongen

       *       *       *       *       *



The man in the pastel blue topcoat walked with steady purpose, but
without haste, through the chill, wind-swirled drizzle that filled the
air above the streets of Arlington, Virginia. His matching blue
cap-hood was pulled low over his forehead, and the clear, infrared
radiating face mask had been flipped down to protect his chubby cheeks
and round nose from the icy wind.

No one noticed him particularly. He was just another average man who
blended in with all the others who walked the streets that day. No one
recognized him; his face did not appear often in public places, except
in his own state, and, even so, it was a thoroughly ordinary face.
But, as he walked, Senator John Peter Gonzales was keeping a mental,
fine-webbed, four-dimensional net around him, feeling for the
slightest touch of recognition. He wanted no one to connect him in any
way with his intended destination.

It was not his first visit to the six-floor brick building that stood
on a street in a lower-middle-class district of Arlington. Actually,
government business took him there more often than would have been
safe for the average man-on-the-street. For Senator Gonzales, the
process of remaining incognito was so elementary that it was almost
subconscious.

Arriving at his destination, he paused on the sidewalk to light a
cigarette, shielding it against the wind and drizzle with cupped
hands while his mind made one last check on the surroundings. Then he
strode quickly up the five steps to the double doors which were
marked: _The Society For Mystical And Metaphysical Research, Inc._

Just as he stepped in, he flipped the face shield up and put on an
old-fashioned pair of thick-lensed, black-rimmed spectacles. Then, his
face assuming a bland smile that would have been completely out of
place on Senator Gonzales, he went from the foyer into the front
office.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Jesser," he said, in a high, smooth, slightly
accented voice that was not his own. "I perceive by your aura that you
are feeling well. Your normal aura-color is tinged with a positive
golden hue."

Mrs. Jesser, a well-rounded matron in her early forties, rose to the
bait like a porpoise being hand-fed at a Florida zoo. "_Dear_ Swami
Chandra! How perfectly wonderful to see you again! You're looking
_very_ well your-_self_."

The Swami, whose Indian blood was of the Aztec rather than the Brahmin
variety, nonetheless managed to radiate all the mystery of the East.
"My well-being, dear Mrs. Jesser, is due to the fact that I have been
communing for the past three months with my very good friend, the
Fifth Dalai Lama. A most refreshingly wise person." Senator Gonzales
was fond of the Society's crackpot receptionist, and he knew exactly
what kind of hokum would please her most.

"Oh, I _do_ hope you will find time to tell me _all_ about it," she
said effusively. "Mr. Balfour isn't in the city just now," she went
on. "He's lecturing in New York on the history of flying saucer
sightings. Do you realize that this is the fortieth anniversary of the
first saucer sighting, back in 1944?"

"The first _photographed_ sighting," the Swami corrected
condescendingly. "Our friends have been watching and guiding us for
far longer than that, and were sighted many times before they were
photographed."

Mrs. Jesser nodded briskly. "Of course. You're right, as always,
Swami."

"I am sorry to hear," the Swami continued smoothly, "that I will not
be able to see Mr. Balfour. However, I came at the call of Mr. Brian
Taggert, who is expecting me."

Mrs. Jesser glanced down at her appointment sheet. "He didn't mention
an appointment to me. However--" She punched a button on the intercom.
"Mr. Taggert? Swami Chandra is here to see you. He says he has an
appointment."

Brian Taggert's deep voice came over the instrument. "The Swami, as
usual, is very astute. I have been thinking about calling him. Send
him right up."

"You may go up, Swami," said Mrs. Jesser, wide-eyed. She watched in
awe as the Swami marched regally through the inner door and began to
climb the stairs toward the sixth floor.

       *       *       *       *       *

One way to hide an ex-officio agency of the United States Government
was to label it truthfully--_The Society For Mystical And Metaphysical
Research_. In spite of the fact that the label was literally true, it
sounded so crackpot that no one but a crackpot would bother to look
into it. As a consequence, better than ninety per cent of the
membership of the Society was composed of just such people. Only a few
members of the "core" knew the organization's true function and
purpose. And as long as such scatter-brains as Mrs. Jesser and Mr.
Balfour were in there pitching, no one would ever penetrate to the
actual core of the Society.

The senator had already pocketed the exaggerated glasses by the time
he reached the sixth floor, and his face had lost its bland,
overly-wise smile. He pushed open the door to Taggert's office.

"Have you got any ideas yet?" he asked quickly.

Brian Taggert, a heavily-muscled man with dark eyes and black,
slightly wavy hair, sat on the edge of a couch in one corner of the
room. His desk across the room was there for paperwork only, and
Taggert had precious little of that to bother with.

He took a puff from his heavy-bowled briar. "We're going to have to
send an agent in there. Someone who can be on the spot. Someone who
can get the feel of the situation first hand."

"That'll be difficult. We can't just suddenly stick an unknown in
there and have an excuse for his being there. Couldn't Donahue or
Reeves--"

Taggert shook his head. "Impossible, John. Extrasensory perception
can't replace sight, any more than sight can replace hearing. You know
that."

"Certainly. But I thought we could get enough information that way to
tell us who our saboteur is. No dice, eh?"

"No dice," said Taggert. "Look at the situation we've got there. The
purpose of the Redford Research Team is to test the Meson Ultimate
Decay Theory of Dr. Theodore Nordred. Now, if we--"

Senator Gonzales, walking across the room toward Taggert, gestured
with one hand. "I know! I know! Give me _some_ credit for
intelligence! But we _do_ have one suspect, don't we? What about
_him_?"

Taggert chuckled through a wreath of smoke. "Calm down, John. Or are
you trying to give me your impression of Mrs. Jesser in a conversation
with a saucerite?"

The senator laughed and sat down in a nearby chair. "All right. Sorry.
But this whole thing is lousing up our entire space program. First
off, we nearly lose Dr. Ch'ien, and, with him gone, the interstellar
drive project would've been shot. Now, if this sabotage keeps up, the
Redford project _will_ be shot, and that means we might have to stick
to the old-fashioned rocket to get off-planet. Brian, we _need_
antigravity, and, so far, Nordred's theory is our only clue."

"Agreed," said Taggert.

"Well, we're never going to get it if equipment keeps mysteriously
burning itself out, breaking down, and just generally goofing up. This
morning, the primary exciter on the new ultracosmotron went haywire,
and the beam of sodium nuclei burned through part of the accelerator
tube wall. It'll take a month to get it back in working order."

Taggert took his pipe out of his mouth and tapped the dottle into a
nearby ash disposal unit. "And you want to pick up our pet spy?"

Senator Gonzales scowled. "Well, I'd certainly call him our prime
suspect." But there was a certain lack of conviction in his manner.

Brian Taggert didn't flatly contradict the senator. "Maybe. But you
know, John, there's one thing that bothers me about these accidents."

"What's that?"

"The fact that we have not one shred of evidence that points to
sabotage."

       *       *       *       *       *

In a room on the fifth floor, directly below Brian Taggert's office, a
young man was half sitting, half reclining in a thickly upholstered
adjustable chair. He had dropped the back of the chair to a forty-five
degree angle and lifted up the footrest; now he was leaning back in
lazy comfort, his ankles crossed, his right hand holding a slowly
smoldering cigarette, his eyes contemplating the ceiling. Or, rather,
they seemed to be contemplating something _beyond_ the ceiling.

It was pure coincidence that the focus of his thoughts happened to be
located in about the same volume of space that his eyes seemed to be
focused on. If Brian Taggert and Senator Gonzales had been in the room
below, his eyes would still be looking at the ceiling.

In repose, his face looked even younger than his twenty-eight years
would have led one to expect. His close-cropped brown hair added to
the impression of youth, and the well-tailored suit on his slim,
muscular body added to the effect. At any top-flight university, he
could have passes for a well-bred, sophisticated, intelligent student
who had money enough to indulge himself and sense enough not to overdo
it.

He was beginning to understand the pattern that was being woven in the
room above--beginning to feel it in depth.

Senator Gonzalez was mildly telepathic, inasmuch as he could pick up
thoughts in the prevocal stage--the stage at which thought becomes
definitely organized into words, phrases, and sentences. He could go a
little deeper, into the selectivity stage, where the linking processes
of logic took over from the nonlogical but rational processes of the
preconscious--but only if he knew the person well. Where the senator
excelled was in detecting emotional tone and manipulating emotional
processes, both within himself and within others.

Brian Taggert was an analyzer, an originator, a motivator--and more.
The young man found himself avoiding too deep a probe into the mind of
Brian Taggert; he knew that he had not yet achieved the maturity to
understand the multilayered depths of a mind like that. Eventually,
perhaps....

Not that Senator Gonzales was a child, nor that he was emotionally or
intellectually shallow. It was merely that he was not of Taggert's
caliber.

The young man absently took another drag from his cigarette. Taggert
had explained the basic problem to him, but he was getting a wider
picture from the additional information that Senator Gonzales had
brought.

Dr. Theodore Nordred, a mathematical physicist and one of the
top-flight, high-powered, original minds in the field, had shown that
Einstein's final equations only held in a universe composed entirely
of normal matter. Since the great Einstein had died before the
Principle of Parity had been overthrown in the mid-fifties, he had
been unable to incorporate the information into his Unified Field
Theory. Nordred had been able to show, mathematically, that Einstein's
equations were valid only for a completely "dexter," or right-handed
universe, or for a completely "sinister" or left-handed universe.

Although the universe in which Man lived was predominantly
dexter--arbitrarily so designated--it was not completely so. It had a
"sinister" component amounting to approximately one one-hundred-thousandth
of one per cent. On the average, one atom out of every ten million in the
universe was an atom of antimatter. The distribution was unequal of course;
antimatter could not exist in contact with ordinary matter. Most of it was
distributed throughout interstellar space in the form of individual atoms,
freely floating in space, a long way from any large mass of normal matter.

But that minute fraction of a per cent was enough to show that the
known universe was not totally Einsteinian. In a purely Einsteinian
universe, antigravity was impossible, but if the equations of Dr.
Theodore Nordred were actually a closer approximation to true reality
than those of Einstein, then antigravity _might_ be a practical
reality.

And that was the problem the Redford Research Team was working on. It
was a parallel project to the interstellar drive problem, being
carried on elsewhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

The "pet spy," as Taggert had called him, was Dr. Konrad Bern, a
middle-aged Negro from Tanganyika, who was convinced that only under
Communism could the colored races of the world achieve the
technological organization and living standard of the white man. He
had been trained as a "sleeper"; not even the exhaustive
investigations of the FBI had turned up any relationship between Bern
and the Soviets. It had taken the telepathic probing of the S.M.M.R.
agents to uncover his real purposes. Known, he constituted no danger.

There was no denying that he was a highly competent, if not brilliant,
physicist. And, since it was quite impossible for him to get any
information on the Redford Project into the hands of the
opposition--it was no longer fashionable to call Communists "the
enemy"--there was no reason why he shouldn't be allowed to contribute
to the American efforts to bridge space.

Three times in the five months since Bern had joined the project,
agents of the Soviet government had made attempts to contact the
physicist. Three times the FBI, warned by S.M.M.R. agents, had quietly
blocked the contact. Konrad Bern had been effectively isolated.

But, at the project site itself, equipment failure had become
increasingly more frequent, all out of proportion to the normal
accident rate in any well-regulated laboratory. The work of the
project had practically come to a standstill; the ultra-secret project
reports to the President were beginning to show less and less progress
in the basic research, and more and more progress in repairing damaged
equipment. Apparently, though, increasing efficiency in repair work
was self-neutralizing; repairing an instrument in half the time merely
meant that it could break down twice as often.

It had to be sabotage. And yet, not even the S.M.M.R. agents could
find any trace of intentional damage nor any thought patterns that
would indicate deliberate damage.

And Senator John Peter Gonzales quite evidently did _not_ want to face
the implications of _that_ particular fact.

"We're going to have to send an agent in," Taggert repeated.

(_That's my cue_, thought the young man on the fifth floor as he
crushed out his cigarette and got up from the chair.)

"I don't know how we're going to manage it," said the senator. "What
excuse do we have for putting a new man on the Redford team?"

Brian Taggert grinned. "What they need is an expert repair
technician--a man who knows how to build and repair complex research
instruments. He doesn't have to know anything about the purpose of the
team itself, all he has to do is keep the equipment in good shape."

Senator Gonzalez let a slow smile spread over his face. "You've been
gulling me, you snake. All right; I deserved it. Tell him to come in."

As the door opened, Taggert said: "Senator Gonzales, may I present Mr.
David MacHeath? He's our man, I think."

       *       *       *       *       *

David MacHeath watched a blue line wriggle its way erratically across
the face of an oscilloscope. "The wave form is way off," he said
flatly, "and the frequency is slithering all over the place."

He squinted at the line for a moment then spoke to the man standing
nearby. "Signal Harry to back her off two degrees, then run her up
slowly, ten minutes at a time."

The other man flickered the key on the side of the small
carbide-Welsbach lamp. The shutters blinked, sending pulses of light
down the length of the ten-foot diameter glass-walled tube in which
the men were working. Far down the tube, MacHeath could see the
answering flicker from Harry, a mile and a half away in the darkness.

MacHeath watched the screen again. After a few seconds, he said:
"O.K.! Hold it!"

Again the lamp flashed.

"Well, it isn't perfect," MacHeath said, "but it's all we can do from
here. We'll have to evacuate the tube to get her in perfect balance.
Tell Harry to knock off for the day."

While the welcome message was being flashed, MacHeath shut off the
testing instruments and disconnected them. It was possible to
compensate a little for the testing equipment, but a telephone, or
even an electric flashlight, would simply add to the burden.

Bill Griffin shoved down the key on the lamp he was holding and locked
it into place. The shutters remained open, and the lamp shed a beam of
white light along the shining walls of the cylindrical tube. "How much
longer do you figure it'll take, Dave?" he asked.

"Another shift, at least," said MacHeath, picking up the compact,
shielded instrument case. "You want to carry that mat?"

[Illustration]

Griffin picked up the thick sponge-rubber mat that the instrument case
had been sitting on, and the two men started off down the tube,
walking silently on the sponge-rubber-soled shoes which would not
scratch the glass underfoot.

"Any indication yet as to who our saboteur is?" Griffin asked.

"I'm not sure," MacHeath admitted. "I've picked up a couple of leads,
but I don't know if they mean anything or not."

"I wonder if there _is_ a saboteur," Griffin said musingly. "Maybe
it's just a run of bad luck. It could happen, you know. A statistical
run of--"

"You don't believe that, any more than I do," MacHeath said.

"No. But I find it even harder to believe that a materialistic
philosophy like Communism could evolve any workable psionic
discipline."

"So do I," agreed MacHeath.

"But it can't be physical sabotage," Griffin argued. "There's not a
trace of it--anywhere. It _has_ to be psionic."

"Right," said MacHeath, grinning as he saw what was coming next.

"But we've already eliminated that. So?" Griffin nodded firmly as if
in full agreement with himself. "So we follow the dictum of the
Master: 'Eliminate the impossible; whatever is left, no matter how
improbable, is the truth.' And, since there is absolutely nothing
left, there is no truth. At the bottom, the whole thing is merely a
matter of mental delusion."

"Sherlock Holmes would be proud of you, Bill," MacHeath said. "And so
am I."

Griffin looked at MacHeath oddly. "I wish I was a halfway decent
telepath, I'd like to know what's going on in your preconscious."

"You'd have to dig deeper than that, I'm afraid," MacHeath said
ruefully. "As soon as my subconscious has solved the problem, I'll let
you know."

"I've changed my mind," said Griffin cheerfully. "I don't envy your
telepathy. I don't envy a guy who has to TP his own subconscious to
find out what he's thinking."

MacHeath chuckled softly as he turned the bolt that opened the door in
the "gun" end of the stripped-nuclei accelerator. The seals broke with
a soft hiss. Evidently, the barometric pressure outside the
two-mile-long underground tube had changed slightly during the time
they had been down there.

"It'll be a week before we can test it," MacHeath said in a tired
voice. "Even after we get it partly in balance. It'll take that long
to evacuate the tube and sweep it clean."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was the first sentence he had spoken in the past hour or so, and it
was purely for the edification of the man who was standing on the
other side of the air lock, although neither Griffin nor MacHeath had
actually seen him as yet.

Griffin was not a telepath in the sense that the S.M.M.R. used the
word, but to a non-psionicist, he would have appeared to be one.
Membership in the "core" group of the _Society for Mystical and
Metaphysical Research_ required, above all, _understanding_. And, with
that understanding, a conversation between two members need consist
only of an occasional gesture and a key word now and then.

The word "understanding" needs emphasis. Without understanding of
another human mind, no human mind can be completely effective. Without
that understanding, no human being can be completely free.

And yet, the English word "understanding" is only an approximation to
the actual process that must take place. _Total_ understanding, in one
sense, would require that a person actually _become_ another
person--that he be able to feel, completely and absolutely, every
emotion, every thought, every bodily sensation, every twinge of
memory, every judgment, every decision, and every sense of personal
identity that is felt by the other person, no more and no less.

Such totality is, obviously, neither attainable nor desirable. The
result would be a merger of identities, a total unification. And, as a
consequence, a complete loss of one of the human beings involved.

Optimum "understanding" requires that a judgment be made, and that, in
turn, requires _two_ minds--not a fusion of identity. There must be
one to judge and another to be judged, and each mind plays both
roles.

_Love thy neighbor as thyself._ But the original Greek word would
translate better as "respect and understand" than as the modern
English "love." The founders of our modern religions were not fools;
they simply did not have the tools at hand to formulate their
knowledge properly. As understanding increases, a critical point is
reached, which causes a qualitative change in the human mind.

First, self-understanding must come. The human mind operates through
similarities, and the thing most similar to any human mind is itself.
The next most similar thing is another human mind.

From that point on, all objects, processes, and patterns in the
universe can be graded according to their similarity to each other,
and, ultimately, to their similarity to the human mind.

Two given entities may seem utterly dissimilar, but they can always be
linked by a _tertium quid_--a "third thing" which is similar to both.
This third thing, be it a material object or a product of the human
imagination, is called a symbol. Symbols are the bridges by which the
human mind can reach and manipulate the universe in which it exists.
With the proper symbols and the understanding to use them, the human
mind is limited only by its own inherent structural restrictions.

One of the most active research projects of the S.M.M.R. was the
construction of a more powerful symbology. Psionics had made
tremendous strides in the previous four decades, but it was still in
the alchemy stage. So far, symbols for various processes could only be
worked out by cut-and-try, rule-of-thumb methods, using symbols
already established, including languages and mathematics. None were
completely satisfactory, but they worked fairly well within their
narrow limits.

As far as communication was concerned, the hashed-together symbology
used by the S.M.M.R. was better than any conceivable code. The
understanding required to "break" the "code" was well beyond the
critical point. Anyone who could break it was, _ipso facto_, a member
of the S.M.M.R.

Most people didn't even realize that a conversation was taking place
between two members, especially if a "cover conversation" was used at
the same time.

       *       *       *       *       *

MacHeath's verbal discussion of the testing of the nuclei accelerator
was just such a cover. Even before he had cracked the air lock, he had
known that Dr. Theodore Nordred was standing on the other side of the
thick wall.

MacHeath pushed the heavy door open on its smooth hinges. "Oh, hello,
Dr. Nordred. How's everything?"

The heavy-set mathematician smiled pleasantly as MacHeath and Griffin
came into the gun chamber. "I just thought I'd come down and see how
you were getting along," he said. His voice was a low tenor, with
just a touch of Midwestern twang. "Sometimes the creative mind gets
bogged down in the nth-order abstractions that have no discernible
connection with anything at all." He chuckled. "When that happens, I
drop everything and go out to find something mundane to worry about."

Nordred was only an inch shorter than the slim MacHeath, and he
weighed in at close to two hundred pounds. At twenty-five, he had had
the build of a lightweight wrestler; thirty more years had added
poundage--a roll beneath his chin and a bulge at the belly--but he
still looked capable of going a round or two without tiring. His shock
of heavy hair was a mixture of mouse-brown and gray, and it seemed to
have a tendency to stand up on end, which added another inch and a
half to his height. His round face had a tendency to smile when he was
talking or working with his hands; when he was deep in thought, his
face usually relaxed into thoughtful blankness. He frowned rarely, and
only for seconds at a time.

"It seems to me you have enough to worry about, doctor," MacHeath said
banteringly, "without looking for it." He put down his instrument case
and took out a cigarette while Griffin closed the door to the
acceleration tube.

"Oh I don't have to look far," Nordred said. "How long do you think it
will be before we can resume our work with the Monster?"

"Ten days to two weeks," MacHeath said promptly.

"I see." One his rare frowns crossed his face. "I wish I knew why the
exciter arced across. It shouldn't have."

"Don't you have any idea?" MacHeath asked innocently. At the same
time, he opened his mind wide to net in every wisp and filament of
Nordred's thoughts that he could reach.

"None at all," admitted the mathematician. "Weakness in the
insulation, I suppose, though it tested solidly enough." And his mind,
as far back as his preconscious and the upper fringes of his
subconscious, agreed with his words. MacHeath could go no deeper as
yet; he didn't know Nordred well enough yet.

There were suspicions in Nordred's mind that the insulation weakness
must have been caused by deliberate sabotage, but he had no one to pin
his suspicions on. Neither he nor anyone else connected with the
Redford project was aware of the true status of Dr. Konrad Bern.

"Well, let's hope it doesn't happen again," MacHeath said. "Balancing
these babies so that they work properly is hard enough for a deuteron
accelerator, but the Monster here is ten times as touchy."

Nordred nodded absently. "I know. But our work can't be done with
anything less." Nordred actually knew less about the engineering
details of the big accelerator than anyone else on the project; he was
primarily a philosopher-mathematician, and only secondarily a
physicist. He was theoretically in charge of the project, but the
actual experimentation was done by the other four men; Drs. Roger
Kent, Paul Luvochek, Solomon Bessermann, and Konrad Bern. These four
and their assistants set up and ran off the experiments designed to
test Dr. Nordred's theories.

MacHeath picked up his instrument case again, and the three men went
out of the gun chamber, into the outer room, and then started up the
spiral stairway that led to the surface, talking as they went. But the
apparent conversation had little to do with the instruction that
MacHeath was giving Griffin as they climbed.

So when MacHeath stopped suddenly and patted at his coverall pockets,
Griffin was ready for the words that came next.

"Damn!" MacHeath said. "I've left my notebook. Will you go down and
get it for me, Bill?"

Dr. Nordred had neither understood nor noticed the actual
instructions:

"Bill, as soon as I give you an excuse, get back down there and check
that gun chamber. Give it a thorough going-over. I don't really think
you'll find a thing, but I don't want to take any chances at this
stage of the game."

"Right," said Griffin, starting back down the stairway.

MacHeath and Dr. Nordred went on climbing.

       *       *       *       *       *

David MacHeath sat at a table in the project's cafeteria, absently
stirring his coffee, and trying to look professionally modest while
Dr. Luvochek and Dr. Bessermann alternately praised him for his work.

Luvochek, a tubby little butterball of a man, whose cherubic face
would have made him look almost childlike if it weren't for the blue
of his jaw, said: "You and those two men of yours have really done a
marvelous job in the past four days, Mr. MacHeath--really marvelous."

"I'll say," Bessermann chimed in. "I was getting pretty tired of
looking at burned-out equipment and spending three-quarters of my time
putting in replacement parts and wielding a soldering gun." Bessermann
was leaner than Luvochek, but, like his brother scientist, he was
balding on top. Both men were in their middle thirties.

"I don't understand this jinx, myself," Luvochek said. "At first, it
was just little things, but the accidents got worse and worse. And
then, when the Monster blew--" He stopped and shook his head slowly.
"I'd suspect sabotage, except that there was never any sign of
tampering with the equipment I saw."

"What do you think of the sabotage idea?" Bessermann asked MacHeath.

MacHeath shrugged. "Haven't seen any signs of it."

"Run of bad luck," said Luvochek. "That's all."

As they talked MacHeath absorbed the patterns of thought that wove in
and out in the two men's minds. Both men were more open than Dr.
Nordred; they were easier for MacHeath to understand. Nowhere was
there any thought of guilt--at least, as far as sabotage was
concerned.

MacHeath drank his coffee slowly and thoughtfully, keeping up his part
of the three-way conversation while he concentrated on his own
problem.

One thing was certain: Nowhere in the minds of any of the personnel of
the Redford Project was there any conscious knowledge of sabotage. Not
even in the mind of Konrad Bern.

Dr. Roger Kent, a tall, lantern-jawed sad-eyed man in his forties, had
been hard to get through to at first, but as soon as MacHeath
discovered that the hard block Kent had built up around himself was
caused by grief over a wife who had been dead five years, he became as
easy to read as a billboard. Kent had submerged his grief in work; the
eternal drive of the true scientist to drag the truth out of Mother
Nature. He was constitutionally incapable of sabotaging the very
instruments that had been built to dig in after that truth.

Dr. Konrad Bern, on the other hand, was difficult to read below the
preconscious stage. Science, to him, was a form of power, to be used
for "idealistic" purposes. He was perfectly capable of sabotaging the
weapons of an enemy if it became necessary, whether that meant ruining
a physical instrument or carefully falsifying the results of an
experiment. Outwardly, he was a pleasant enough chap, but his mind
revealed a rigidly held pattern of hatreds, fears, and twisted
idealism. He held them tightly against the onslaughts of a hostile
world.

And that meant that he couldn't possibly have any control over
whatever psionic powers he may have had.

Unless--

Unless he was so expert and so well-trained that he was better than
anything the S.M.M.R. had ever known.

MacHeath didn't even like to think about that. It would mean that all
the theory of psionics that had been built up so painstakingly over
the past years would have to be junked _in toto_.

Something was gnawing in the depths of his mind. In the perfectly
rational but utterly nonlogical part of his subconscious where hunches
are built, something was trying to form.

MacHeath didn't try to probe for it. As soon as he had enough
information for the hunch to be fully formed, it would be ready to
use. Until then, it would be worthless, and probing for it might
interrupt the formation.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was just finishing his coffee as Bill Griffin came in the door and
headed toward the table where MacHeath, Luvochek, and Bessermann were
sitting.

MacHeath stood up and said: "Excuse me. I'll have to be getting some
work done if you guys are ever going to get your own work done."

"Sure."

"Go ahead."

"Thanks for the coffee," MacHeath added as he moved away.

"Anytime," said Bessermann, grinning. "You guys just keep up the good
work. When you fix 'em, they stay fixed. We haven't had a burnout
since you came."

"Maybe you broke our statistical jinx," said Luvochek, with a chubby
smile.

"Maybe," said MacHeath. "I hope so."

For some reason, the gnawing in his hunch factory became more
persistent.

As he and Griffin walked toward the door, Griffin reported rapidly. "I
checked everything in the gun chamber. No sign of any tampering.
Everything's just as we left it. The dust film hasn't been disturbed."

"It figures," said MacHeath.

Outside, in the corridor, they met Dr. Konrad Bern hurrying toward the
cafeteria. He stopped as he saw them.

"Oh, hello, Mr. MacHeath, Mr. Griffin," he said. His white-toothed
smile was friendly, but both of the S.M.M.R. agents could detect the
hostility that was hard and brittle beneath the surface. "I wanted to
thank you for the wonderful job you've been doing."

"Why, thank you, doctor," said MacHeath honestly. "We aim to satisfy."

Bern chuckled. "You're doing well so far. Odd streak of luck we've
had, isn't it? Poor Dr. Nordred has been under a terrible strain; his
whole life work is tied up in this project." He made a vague gesture
with one hand. "Would you care for some coffee?"

"Just had some, thanks," said MacHeath, "but we'll take a rain check."

"Fine. Anytime." And he went on into the cafeteria.

"Wow!" said Griffin as he walked on down the corridor with MacHeath.
"That man is scared silly! But what an actor! You'd never know he was
eating his guts out."

"Sure he's scared," MacHeath said. "With all this sabotage talk going
around, he's afraid there'll be an exhaustive investigation, and he
can't take that right now."

Griffin frowned. "I guess I missed that. What did you pick up?"

"He's supposed to meet a Soviet agent tonight, and he's afraid he'll
be caught. He doesn't know what happened to the first three, and he
won't know what will happen to Number Four tonight.

"We'll keep him around as long as he's useful. He's not a Bohr or a
Pauli or a Fermi, but he--"

MacHeath stopped himself suddenly and came to a dead halt.

"My God," he said softly, "that's _it_."

His hunch had hatched.

After a moment, he said: "Harry is getting back from the target end of
the tube now, Bill. He can't pick me up, so beetle it down to the tool
room, get him, and get up to the workshop fast. If I'm not there,
wait; I have a little prying to do."

[Illustration]

"Can do," said Griffin. He went toward the elevator at an easy lope.

David MacHeath went in the opposite direction.

       *       *       *       *       *

When MacHeath returned to the workshop which he had been assigned,
Bill Griffin and Harry Benbow were waiting for him. Beside the
big-muscled Griffin, Harry Benbow looked even thinner than he was. He
was a good six-two, which made him a head taller than Griffin, but,
unlike many tall, lean men, Benbow had no tendency to slouch; he stood
tall and straight, reminding MacHeath of a poplar tree towering
proudly over the countryside. Benbow was one of those rare American
Negroes whose skin was actually as close to being "black" as human
pigmentation will allow. His eyes were like disks of obsidian set in
spheres of white porcelain, which gave an odd contrast-similarity
effect when compared with Griffin's china-blue eyes.

If the average man had wanted to pick two human beings who were
"opposites," he could hardly have made a better choice than Benbow and
the short, thickly-built, blond-haired, pink-skinned Bill Griffin. But
the average man would be so struck by the differences that he would
never notice that the similarities were vastly more important.

"You look as if you'd just been kissed by Miss America," Harry said as
MacHeath came through the door.

"Better than that," MacHeath said. "We've got work to do."

"What's the pitch?" Griffin wanted to know.

"Well, in the first place, I'm afraid Dr. Konrad Bern is no longer of
any use to the Redford Project. We're going to have to arrest him as
an unregistered agent of the Soviet Government."

"It's just as well," said Harry Benbow gently. "His research hasn't
done us any good and it hasn't done the Soviets any good. The poor
guy's been on edge ever since he got here. All the pale hide around
this place stirs up every nerve in him."

"What got you onto this?" Griffin asked MacHeath.

"A hunch first," MacHeath said. "Then I got data to back it up. But,
first ... Harry, how'd you know about Bern's reactions? He keeps those
prejudices of his down pretty deep; I didn't think you could go that
far."

"I didn't have to. He spent half an hour talking to me this morning.
He was so happy to see a fellow human being--according to his
definition of human being--that he was as easy to read as if _you_
were doing the reading."

MacHeath nodded. "I hate to throw him to the wolves, but he's got to
go."

"What was the snooping you said you had to do?" Griffin asked.

"Dates. Times. Briefly, I found that the run of accidents has been
building up to a peak. At first, it was just small meters that went
wrong. Then bigger, more complex stuff. And, finally, the Monster
went. See the pattern?"

The other men nodded.

"You're the therapist," Griffin said. "What do you suggest?"

"Shock treatment," said David MacHeath.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just how Dr. Konrad Bern got wind of the fact that a squad of FBI men
had come to the project to arrest him that evening is something that
MacHeath didn't know until later. He was busy at the time, ignoring
anything but what he was interested in. It always fascinated him to
watch the mind of a psychokinetic expert at work. He couldn't do the
trick himself, and he was always amazed at the ability of anyone who
could.

It was like watching a pianist play a particularly difficult concerto.
A person can watch a pianist, see every move he is making, and why he
is making it. But being able to see what is going on doesn't mean that
one can duplicate the action. MacHeath was in the same position.
Telepathically, he could observe the play of emotions that ran through
a psychokinetic's mind--the combinations of avid desire and the utter
loathing which, playing one against another, could move a brick, a
book, or a Buick if the mind was powerful enough. But he couldn't do
it himself, no matter how carefully he tried to follow the raging
emotions that acted as two opposing jaws of a pair of tongs to lift
and move the object.

And so engrossed was he with the process that he did not notice that
Konrad Bern had eluded the FBI. He was unaware of what had happened
until one of the Federal agents rapped loudly on the workshop door.

Almost instantly, MacHeath picked up the information from the agent's
mind. He glanced at Griffin and Benbow. "You two can handle it. Be
careful you don't overdo it."

Then he went to the door and opened it a trifle. "Yes?"

The man outside showed a gold badge. "Morgan, FBI. You David
MacHeath?"

"Yes." MacHeath stepped outside and showed the FBI man his
identification.

"We were told to co-operate with you in this Konrad Bern case. He's
managed to slip away from us somehow, but we know he's still in the
area. He can't get past the gate."

MacHeath let his mind expand until it meshed with that of Dr. Konrad
Bern.

"There is a way out," MacHeath snapped. "The acceleration tube."

"What?"

"Come on!" He started sprinting toward the elevators. He explained to
the FBI agent as they went.

"The acceleration tube of the ultracosmotron runs due north of here
for two miles underground. The guard at the other end won't be
expecting anyone to be coming from the inside of the target building.
If Bern plays his cards right, he can get away."

"Can't we phone the target building?" the FBI man asked.

"No. We shut off all the electrical equipment and took down some of
the wires so we could balance the acceleration fields."

"Well, if he's on foot, we could send a car out there. We'd get there
before he does. Uh ... wouldn't we?"

"Maybe. But he'll kill himself if he sees he's trapped." That wasn't
quite true. Bern was ready to fight to the death, and he had a heavy
pistol to back him up. MacHeath didn't want to see anyone killed, and
he didn't want stray bullets flying around the inside of that tube or
in the target room.

MacHeath and the FBI agent piled out of the elevator at the bottom of
the shaft. Dr. Roger Kent was standing at the head of the stairs that
spiraled down to the gun chamber. Dr. Kent knew that Bern had gone
down the stairway, but he didn't know why.

"He's our saboteur," MacHeath said quickly. "I'm going after him. As
soon as I close the door and seal it, you turn on the pumps. Lower the
air pressure in the tube to a pound per square inch below
atmospheric. That'll put a force of about a ton and a quarter against
the doors, and he won't be able to open them."

Dr. Kent still didn't grasp the fact that Bern was a spy.

"Explain to him, Morgan," MacHeath told the Federal agent. He went on
down the spiral staircase, knowing that Kent would understand and act
in plenty of time.

       *       *       *       *       *

The door to the tube was standing open. MacHeath slipped on a pair of
the sponge-soled shoes, noticing angrily that Bern hadn't bothered to
do so. He went into the tube and closed the door behind him. Then he
started down the blackness of the tube at a fast trot. Ahead of him,
in the utter darkness, he could hear the click of heels as the
leather-shod Bern moved toward the target end of the long tube.

Neither of them had lights. They were unnecessary, for one thing,
since there was only one direction to go and there were no obstacles
in the path. Bern would probably have carried a flashlight if he'd
been able to get his hands on one quickly, but he hadn't, so he went
in darkness. MacHeath didn't want a light; in the darkness, he had the
advantage of knowing where his opponent was.

Every so often, Bern would stop, listening for sounds of pursuit,
since his own footsteps, echoing down the glass-lined cylinder,
drowned out any noise from behind. But MacHeath, running silently on
the toes of his thick-soled shoes, kept in motion, gaining on the
fleeing spy.

A two-mile run is a good stretch of exercise for anyone, but MacHeath
didn't dare slow down. As it was, Konrad Bern was already tugging
frantically at the door that led to the target room by the time
MacHeath reached him. But the faint sighing of the pumps had already
told MacHeath that the air pressure had been dropped. Bern couldn't
possibly get the door open.

MacHeath's lungs wanted to be filled with air; his chest wanted to
heave; he wanted to pant, taking in great gulps of life-giving oxygen.
But he didn't dare. He didn't want Bern to know he was there, so he
strained to keep his breath silent.

He stepped up behind the physicist in the pitch blackness, and judging
carefully, brought his fist down on the nape of the man's neck in a
hard rabbit punch.

Konrad Bern dropped unconscious to the floor of the tube.

Then MacHeath let his chest pump air into his lungs in long, harsh
gasps. Shakily, he lowered himself to the floor beside Bern and
squatted on his haunches, waiting for the hiss of the bleeder valve
that would tell him that the air pressure had been raised to allow
someone to enter the air lock.

It was Morgan, the FBI man, who finally cracked the door. Griffin and
Dr. Kent were with him.

"You all right?" asked Morgan.

"I'm fine," MacHeath said, "but Bern is going to have a sore neck for
a while. I didn't hit him hard enough to break it, but he'll get
plenty of sleep before he wakes up."

More FBI men came in, and they dragged out the unprotesting Bern.

Dr. Kent said: "Well, I'm glad that's over. I'll have to get back and
see what Dr. Nordred is raving about."

"Raving?" asked MacHeath innocently.

"Yes. While I was in the pump room reducing the pressure, he called me
on the interphone. Said he'd been looking all over for me. He and
Luvochek and Bessermann are up in the lab." He frowned. "They claim
that one of the radiolead samples was floating in the air in the lab.
It's settled down now, I gather, but it only weighs a fraction of what
it should, though it's gaining all the time. And that's ridiculous.
It's not at all what Dr. Nordred's theory predicted." Then he clamped
his lips together, thinking perhaps he had talked too much.

"Interesting," said MacHeath blandly. "Very interesting."

       *       *       *       *       *

Senator Gonzales sat in Brian Taggert's sixth-floor office in the
S.M.M.R. building and looked puzzled. "All right, I grant you that
Bern couldn't have been the saboteur. Then why arrest him?"

Dave MacHeath took a drag from his cigarette before he answered. "We
had to have a patsy--someone to put the blame on. No one really
believed that it was just bad luck, but they'll all accept the idea
that Bern was a saboteur."

"We would have had to arrest him eventually, anyway," said Brian
Taggert.

"Give me a quick run-down," Gonzales said. "I've got to explain this
to the President."

"Did you ever hear of the Pauli Effect?" MacHeath asked.

"Something about the number of electrons that--"

"No," MacHeath said quickly. "That's the Pauli _principle_, better
known as the Exclusion Principle. The Pauli _Effect_ is a different
thing entirely, a psionic effect.

"It used to be said that a theoretical physicist was judged by his
inability to handle research apparatus; the clumsier he was in
research, the better he was with theory. But Wolfgang Pauli was a lot
more than clumsy. Apparatus would break, topple over, go to pieces, or
burn up if Pauli just walked into the room.

"Up to the time he died, in 1958, his colleagues kidded about it,
without really believing there was anything behind it. But it is
recorded that the explosion of some vacuum equipment in a laboratory
at the University of Göttingen was the direct result of the Pauli
Effect. It was definitely established that the explosion occurred at
the precise moment that a train on which Pauli was traveling stopped
for a short time at the Göttingen railway station."

The senator said: "The poltergeist phenomenon."

"Not exactly," MacHeath said, "although there is a similarity. The
poltergeist phenomenon is usually spectacular and is nearly always
associated with teen-age neurotics. Then there's the pyrotic; fires
always start in his vicinity."

"But there's always a reason for psionic phenomena to react violently
under subconscious control," Senator Gonzales pointed out. "There's
always a psychological quirk."

"Sure. And I almost fell into the same trap, myself."

"How so?"

"I was thinking that if Bern were the saboteur, all our theories about
psionics would have to be thrown out--we'd have to start from a
different set of precepts. _And I didn't even want to think about such
an idea!_"

"Nobody likes their pet theories overthrown," Gonzales observed.

"Of course not. But here's the point: The only way that a scientific
theory can be proved wrong is to uncover a phenomenon which doesn't
fit in with the theory. A theoretical physicist is a mathematician; he
makes logical deductions and logical predictions by juggling symbols
around in accordance with some logical system. But the axioms, the
assumptions upon which those systems are built, are nonlogical. You
can't prove an axiom; if comes right out of the mind.

"So imagine that you're a theoretical physicist. A really
original-type thinker. You come up with a mathematical system that
explains all known phenomena at that time, and predicts others that
are, as yet, unknown. You check your math over and over again; there's
no error in your logic, since it all follows, step by step."

"O.K.; go on," Gonzales said interestedly.

"Very well, then; you've built yourself a logical universe, based on
your axioms, and the structure seems to have a one-to-one
correspondence with the actual universe. Not only that, but if the
theory is accepted, you've built your reputation on it--your life.

"Now, what happens if your axioms--not the logic _about_ the axioms,
but the axioms themselves--are proven to be wrong?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Brian Taggert took his pipe out of his mouth. "Why, you give up the
erroneous set of axioms and build a new set that will explain the new
phenomenon. Isn't that what a scientist is supposed to do?" His manner
was that of wide-eyed innocence laid on with a large trowel.

"Oh, _sure_ it is," said the senator. "A man builds his whole life,
his whole universe; on a set of principles, and he scraps them at the
drop of a hat. _Sure_ he does."

"He claims he will," MacHeath said. "Any scientist worth the paper his
diploma is printed on is firmly convinced that he will change his
axioms as soon as they're proven false. Of course, ninety-nine per
cent of 'em _can't_ and _won't_ and _don't_. They refuse to look at
anything that suggests changing axioms.

"Some scientists eagerly accept the axioms that they were taught in
school and hang on to them all their lives, fighting change tooth and
nail. Oh, they'll accept new ideas, all right--provided that they fit
in with the structures based on the old axioms.

"Then there are the young iconoclasts who don't like the axioms as
they stand, so they make up some new ones of their own--men like
Newton, Einstein, Planck, and so on. Then, once the new axioms have
been forced down the throats of their colleagues, the innovators
become the Old Order; the iconoclasts become the ones who put the
fences around the new images to safeguard them. And they're even more
firmly wedded to their axioms than anyone else. This is _their_
universe!

"Of course, these men proclaim to all the world that they are
perfectly willing to change their axioms. And the better a scientist
he is, the more he believes, in his heart-of-hearts, that he really
would change. He really thinks, consciously, that he wants others to
test his theories.

"But notice: A theory is only good if it explains all known phenomena
in its field. If it does, then the only thing that can topple it is a
_new_ fact. The only thing that can threaten the complex structure
formulated by a really creative, painstaking, mathematical physicist
is _experiment_!"

Senator Gonzales' attentive silence was eloquent.

"Experiment!" MacHeath repeated. "That can wreck a theory quicker and
more completely than all the learned arguments of a dozen men. And
every theoretician is aware of that fact. Consciously, he gladly
accepts the inevitable; but his subconscious mind will fight to keep
those axioms.

"_Even if it has to smash every experimental device around!_

"After all, if nobody can experiment on your theory, it can't be
proved wrong, can it?

"In Nordred's case, as in Pauli's, this subconscious defense actually
made itself felt in the form of broken equipment. Dr. Theodore Nordred
was totally unconscious of the fact that he detested and feared the
idea of anyone experimenting to prove or disprove his theory. He had
no idea that he, himself, was re-channeling the energy in those
machines to make them burn out."

Brian Taggert looked at MacHeath pointedly. "Do you think the shock
treatment you gave him will cause any repercussions?"

"No. Griffin and Benbow held that block of radiolead floating in the
air only while Dr. Nordred was alone in the lab. He pushed at it, felt
of it, and moved it around for more than ten minutes before he'd admit
the reality of what he saw. Then he called Luvochek and Bessermann in
to look at it.

"Griffin and Benbow let the sample settle to the desk, so that by the
time the other two scientists got to the lab, the lead didn't have an
apparent negative weight, but was still much lighter than it should
be.

"All the while that Bessermann and Luvochek were trying to weigh the
lead block, to get an accurate measurement, Griffin and Benbow, three
rooms away, kept increasing the weight slowly towards normal. And so
far no one has invented a device which will give an instantaneous
check on the weight of an object. A balance can't check the weight of
a sample unless that weight is constant; there's too much time lag
involved.

"So, what evidence do they have? Scientifically speaking, none. They
have no measurements, and the experiment can't be repeated. And only
Nordred actually saw the sample _floating_. Luvochek and Bessermann
will eventually think up a 'natural' explanation for the apparent
steady gain in weight. Only Nordred will remain convinced that what he
saw actually happened.

"I don't see how there could be any serious repercussions in the field
of physics." But he looked at Taggert for confirmation.

Taggert gave it to him with an approving look.

"It's a funny thing," said Gonzales musingly. "Some time back, we were
in a situation where we had to go to the extreme of physical violence
to keep from demonstrating to a scientist that psionic powers could
be controlled, just to keep from ruining the physicist's work.

"Now, we turn right around and demonstrate the 'impossible' to another
physicist in order to pull his hard-earned axioms out from under him."
He smiled wryly. "There ain't no justice in the world."

"No," agreed MacHeath, "but the trick worked. He won't have any
subconscious desire to smash equipment just to protect a theory that
has already been smashed. On the contrary, he'll let them go through
in order to find new data to build another theory on."

"He'll never again be the man he was," said Taggert regretfully. "He's
lost the force of his convictions. He won't be capable of taking a
no-nonsense, dogmatic, black-and-white stand. But it was necessary."
He made an odd gesture with one hand. "What else can you do with a man
who's a psionic psychopath?"

THE END

       *       *       *       *       *





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