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´╗┐Title: Back to Julie
Author: Wilson, Richard, 1920-1987
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 "Back to Julie" ***

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



    Transcriber's Note:

    This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction May 1954.
    Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.
    copyright on this publication was renewed.



                    Back to Julie

                  By RICHARD WILSON


                Illustrated by VIDMER


_The side-shuffle is no dance step. It's the choice between making time
... and doing time!_



You can't go shooting off to _that_ dimension for peanuts. I don't
want to give you the impression that peanuts are in short supply here,
or that our economy is in the fix of having to import them sidewise.
What I'm trying to convey is that, if you're one of the rare ones
functionally equipped to do the side-shuffle, you ought to be well
paid for it--in any coin.

That's what I told Krasnow. And he wasn't after peanuts. "I'll do it,"
I said, "if you'll make it worth my while."

"I'd hardly expect you to do it for nothing," he replied
reproachfully. "How much do you want?"

I told him. The amount shook him up, but only briefly.

"Okay," he said grudgingly. "I suppose I'll have to give it to you.
But the stuff had better be good."

"Oh, it is," I assured him. "And you don't have to be afraid, because
I couldn't possibly skip with the loot. I'll have to travel naked. I
can't get there with so much as a sandal on one foot or a filling in a
single tooth. Fortunately, my teeth are perfect."

Sweat poured off Krasnow's florid face as he worked the combination of
his office safe. His fat jowls quivered unhappily around his cigar
while he counted out the bills. Ten per cent was cash in advance, and
the rest went into a bank account in my name. I paid off a batch of
bills, then stripped and did my off-to-Buffalo.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Honest" John Krasnow was a crooked District Attorney who wanted to be
Governor and then President. He had the Machine, but he didn't have
the People. And, because he needed the People, he needed me. I had
been to this other dimension--the one on the farthest branch of the
time-tree--and I could give him what he wanted.

Krasnow found out about it after I was hauled up in front of him on a
check-kiting charge. I'd had something of a reputation before I got
into difficulties and, in trying to live up to the reputation, I had
done some plain and fancy financing. Nothing that fifteen to twenty
grand wouldn't have fixed--but while I scrounged around, trying to get
cash, I kited a few checks. They pyramided me right into the D.A.'s
office, where Krasnow was properly sympathetic.

"How," he asked, "could a man of your standing in the scientific world
stoop so low?" It developed into quite a lecture and, even coming from
Krasnow, it made me feel pretty low.

So I began explaining. I told him where I was born, and where I went
to school, and where I had taken my sabbaticals--including this other
dimension. And Krasnow believed me. I can't account for it, except
possibly because he knew he was a crook and knew I wasn't
one--exactly. Anyway, he believed me, and we made the deal and I did
the side-shuffle, as agreed.

The journey to that other dimension is not a pleasant one. It does
disturbing things to the stomach, and you see everything thin and
elongated, as if you're sitting too far to the side in a movie
theater.

I got there, however, and waited for the hiccups to subside. _Hiccupi
laterali_, I had called them when I considered writing an article for
the _Medical Journal_ after my first trip. With the hiccupi gone, I
stole some clothing--which was one of the riskiest parts of the
program--and waited for morning. I didn't have any money, of course,
so I had to hitchhike into town.

I could have stolen myself a better fit, but people aren't
clothes-conscious in that dimension. They're more interested in what
you are and what you can do. The driver of the car that gave me a lift
asked, "And what is your field of endeavor?"

I told him, "I am able to eliminate the long wait in ivory production
by accelerating the growth cycle of elephants."

He was deeply impressed and tipped me handsomely. I was less impressed
with his talent for growing cobless corn, and therefore had to return
only a small part of the sum he gave me.

The world of this dimension had developed some remarkable parallels to
Earth. I mean our Earth, which falls into what I have designated
Timeline One Point One, since it's the Earth with which I am most
familiar. Every other world that has a language calls itself Earth,
too. I had to visit briefly hundreds of the lateral worlds, hovering
over primordial swamps, limitless oceans, insect kingdoms and
radioactive planetoids, before I found the one that was truly
parallel.

It existed in Timeline Seventeen Point Zero Eight, and it had
refrigerators, platinum blondes, automobiles, airplanes, apple pie,
tabloids, television, scotch and soda--just about everything we think
makes life worthwhile. But it had its little differences, which was
only to be expected in a timeline where the bionomics could create a
new world each time someone changed his mind.

Thus, the cobless-corn man was driving what looked to me like a
Chevrolet, but which was a Morton in his world. He let me off near a
downtown restaurant where, thanks to our little exchange of talent
talk, I had enough money for breakfast. It was considered unethical to
swap talent talk outside the limits of certain rigidly defined groups,
so I didn't try to out-impress the waitress.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fed, and filling my stolen clothes a bit better, I walked to the
recorder's office and spent the rest of the morning looking up old
documents. There was nothing there for Krasnow, as I had expected. But
for me there was a very pretty file clerk. Talking to her, I verified
my impression that human instincts and relationships were much the
same in this dimension as in my own--except in the one basic respect
that interested Krasnow, of course.

The file clerk and I lunched together and then I spent the afternoon
in the library. But I didn't find anything there, either, and then I
had dinner with her. She said her name was Julie. I told her mine was
Heck, for Hector, which it is. She thought this was "awfully cute" and
we got along fine.

[Illustration]

Julie had a delightful apartment and a matching sense of hospitality.
The following day, when she went to work, I stayed home and washed the
dishes and made the bed and used the telephone.

I ran up quite a bill with my long-distance calls, but I found out
what I needed to know. I impressed a lot of people with my elephant
story and pretended to be impressed hardly at all with what they told
me they did--although often I was, very much.

The trouble with these people is that they no longer know how to lie,
if that can be listed as trouble. I don't think it can. Neither did
Krasnow, obviously. He'd never have sent me off on my expensive
side-trip if he had.

Of course, Krasnow looked at it objectively. What he wanted from
Timeline Seventeen Point Zero Eight was not for himself. It was for
everybody else. He wanted the formula for the truth gas these people
had developed long ago and loosed upon their world to put a stop to
wars.

They had been in a bad way, although no worse than the sort of problem
we were up against. Their trans-ocean squabbles and power politics
seemed to have settled into a pattern of a war or two per generation.
Just like us. Hence, the man who invented the truth gas became a
global hero, after a certain amount of cynicism and skepticism. All
the doubts vanished, naturally, once the gas got to working. And so
did war.

[Illustration]

You can't do much plotting and scheming if, every time you open your
mouth to tell a lie, you stammer, sweat, turn red and gasp for breath.
It's a dead giveaway. Nobody tries it more than once.

One or two men had tried to nullify the gas or work out a local
antidote, either as a pure research project or through power-madness.
But, because they had had to state their purposes as soon as they
thought of them, they were put away. Neat. Very neat.

What I wanted was the formula for the truth gas. Its location wasn't
exactly a secret in this land of complete candor, but it wasn't writ
large on any wall for all to see, either. They kept it in their
capital--located about where our Omaha is--on file among the Vital
Statistics.

I took a superjet out there.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had no trouble posing as a historian entitled to the facts. The gas
didn't work on me, you see, because it was adjusted to the physiology
of that timeline. There was just enough difference between us for it
not to make me stick to the truth.

"We'll write out the formula for you," I was told obligingly. "But
you'll have to sign the usual statement."

"Of course," I said. "Which one is that?"

"The one that says you won't publish it, and will destroy your copy
when it has served your research purpose, without letting anyone else
see it."

"Oh, _that_ statement," I said.

I signed freely, told my elephant story and departed in an aura of
good will.

The jet got me back that same evening. Julie fixed me up a snack, and
we discussed how pretty she was and how nice I was.

I had everything Krasnow wanted now. I felt pretty good about it,
because there was nobody else who could have done the job for him, and
because it wasn't spying, really. Earth One Point One on the Timeline
is world enough for Krasnow, I'm sure. Besides, dimensions don't have
wars with one another. Too many things can go wrong.

Julie was lovely and I hated to leave the next morning, but it was my
job. I told her, "I'm afraid I have to leave town for a bit, dear, but
I'll be back very soon. Business, you know."

Being a Seventeen Point Zero Eight girl, Julie had no reason to doubt
me. "Make it _very_ soon," she whispered, her lips close to my ear.

So I came back, and now Krasnow has what he wants. He's delighted, as
he should be. I've made up the gas for him and adjusted the formula so
that it will work on people of our timeline. It's high-power stuff and
a little will go a long way. I also made up an antidote for him. This
was easy, since I could work on it without feeling any compulsion to
tell everybody what I was doing and why.

Krasnow plans to release the truth gas just before the state
convention. He'll be nominated, of course, and after November he'll
be Governor. With everyone else compelled to tell the truth, it should
be a cinch for him. He's a patient man, Honest John Krasnow is, and
he's willing to wait four years for the Presidency.

I ought to be happy too. With the money Krasnow gave me, I've been
living in the style to which I've always wanted to be accustomed. He
has offered me a place on his staff and, somewhat superfluously, the
use of his antidote. Naturally, the reason he was so magnanimous was
that he doesn't want anyone else around who knows his gimmick and
might have to tell the truth about it.

But I have had enough of this dimension now--now that Krasnow has what
I promised him. He's going to use it tomorrow. And if I know Honest
John--and I do--not even the Presidency will be big enough for him.

So I'm going back to Julie.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are some obvious questions in your mind, I know, such as: Why
did I get the formula for Krasnow, knowing there was no way for him to
prosecute me while I was in Julie's dimension? And what made me come
back?

In short--what was in it for me?

Let's call it research. Krasnow is a big-time operator; I've always
been, you might say, in the peanut end of the game. He had a great
deal to teach me and I, I'm happy to say, was an apt pupil. You might
speculate on what's in it for you, because, if you ask me, anybody who
can do the side-shuffle should do it before Krasnow becomes President.

However, don't go to Seventeen Point Zero Eight unless you want to
swap one Krasnow for another. The fact is that I've learned I can be
one in Julie's dimension. After all, their formula doesn't work on
me--but I can assure you that it will work on you.

And that elephant story I told on my last visit is, as I've indicated,
in the peanut category. All Krasnow has is a country. I'll have a
whole world.

There's nothing like study under a master, is there?

I should be back to Julie by midnight if I start now.

--RICHARD WILSON





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