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´╗┐Title: Scent Makes a Difference
Author: Stamers, James
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 "Scent Makes a Difference" ***

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                       SCENT MAKES A DIFFERENCE

                           By JAMES STAMERS

                      Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Galaxy Magazine April 1961.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

             What I wanted was a good night's sleep. What
               I got was visitation rights with the most
             exasperating pack of sleepwalkers in history.

A fried egg came floating up through the stone steps of the Medical
Center and broke on my shoe. According to my watch, it was time for
the breakfast I didn't have that morning, so I waited a moment for the
usual two rashers of bacon.

When they materialized, I hopped aside to avoid them and went back into
the building, where the elevator took me straight up to the psychiatric
floor, without asking.

"Your blood pressure, salts, minerals, vitamins, basal metabolism,
brain pattern, nervous reflexes and skin temperature control are within
accepted tolerances," it droned, opening the doors to let me off. "You
have no clinical organic disorders; you weigh a hundred and fifty-two
pounds, Earth, measure six feet one inch, and have a clear pallid
complexion and an egg on your shoe."

I walked down the corridor to Dr. Doogle Spacio-Psycho Please Enter
and went determinedly in.

"Name, please," said the blonde receptionist, tapping her nail eroder.

"Jones. Harry Jones."

"Mr. Harry K. Jones, the physicist?"


"Oh, no," she said, fiddling with the appointment list, "Mr. Harry K.
Jones has just had his morning appointment and left."

"I know," I said. "An important piece of clinical data has just turned
up. I have returned with an egg on my shoe."

"I think you'd better see the doctor."

I sat down to wait and took the little bottle of pills from my pocket.
"From the Galaxy to you, through Dr. Doogle, Spacio-Psycho," it said on
the label. "The last word in tranquilizers. Conservative Zen methods
only, appointments any hour, first consultation free, no obligation,
call personal transmitter DDK 51212-6790, Earth. Active ingredients
oxylatohydrobenzoic-phe-ophenophino, sugar, coloring to 100%."

       *       *       *       *       *

The inner office door opened and Dr. Doogle smiled fatly at me from
behind his expensive desk.

"Do come in," he called, "and tell me all about it."

"It's happened again," I said, going into his office.

"Well, why not, if you feel that way? Nurse, bring me Mr. Hing-humph's
case history."

"Mr. Har-ry K. Jo-nes' film is in the transcriber, Doctor," said the
receptionist. "Mr. Jones, the physicist."

"Ah, yes, of course. Please sit down, Mr. Jones. Now what exactly is
the trouble? Hold nothing back, tell me all, reveal your intimate

"The main entrance just served me the breakfast that your diet
forbids," I said, sitting down.

"Plain case of wish fulfillment. Put it down to poltergeists, Mr.

"And what exactly do you mean by that?"

"Well, now," Dr. Doogle said, drumming his fat fingers, "I don't think
we need to go into technicalities, Mr. Jones."

"Look," I said firmly. "I came to you to get a quiet night's sleep. No
more insomnia, you said, leave your problems in the laboratory, let not
the nucleii banish sleep, work hard, sleep hard, take tranquilizers
and enjoy the useful recuperation of the daily wear on body tissues,
deep dreamless sleep of the innocent."

He look at me suspiciously.

"It sounds like the sort of advice I might have given," he admitted.

"Well, at least I managed to keep my dreams in my head until I started
your treatment. I have an urgent problem to solve that vitally affects
national security. I can't have this sort of thing happening in the
middle of an experiment."

I pointed to the fried egg on my shoe and shook it off on the pile of
his green carpet.

"Yes. Well," he said, peering over the desk at it. "If you feel that
strongly, Mr. Jones, perhaps you'd better give up the diet and just
take the pills."

"I want to know how it happens," I said, and I settled firmly into the
consulting chair.

Dr. Doogle coughed professionally. "Of course, of course. You are an
intelligent man, Mr. Jones. One of our leading physical scientists.
Naturally you wish to know the precise mechanism of such phenomena.
Very commendable and entirely natural. Think no more about it."

"Dr. Doogle, do you know what you are doing?"

"Spacio-Psycho is still in its early stages, Mr. Jones. You are really
privileged to be a pioneer, you know. We have had some most interesting
results with that new tranquilizer. I hope you're not losing faith, Mr.

"I accept the orthodox philosophy of Spacio-Psycho, it is only the
basic philosophy of Ch'anna or Zen, and I had the routine scientific
education, naturally."

"Ah," said Dr. Doogle with rapture, "the substratum of the universe is
no-mind, and thus all material things are in constant unimpeded mutual
solution. Ji-ji-muge, the appleness of an apple is indistinguishable
from the cupness of a cup."

"And an egg on the shoe is the breakfast I didn't have," I said.

"Here," he said. "I think those pills are sending your sleeping
mind down beyond the purely personal level of your own emotions and
subconscious cerebrations. Take these, in a little water, half an hour
before going to bed."

I stood up and walked over to the door.

"What are they?" I asked.

"Same as before, only stronger. Should send you right down to the
root of things. Pass quiet nights in no-mind, Mr. Jones, sleep beyond
the trammels of self, support yourself on the universal calm sea of

"If these don't work, there'll be no-fee," I told him.

       *       *       *       *       *

I took three of the stronger pills that night, turned off the light and
lay back in bed, waiting for sleep to come and get me. The antiseptic
odor of the Medical Center recalled itself, but nothing else happened,
and I was still waiting to go to sleep when I woke up next morning.
No dreams of a breakfast I couldn't eat, no dreams at all. I had been
smelling the memory of formaldehyde and just slid off to sleep. I could
still smell it, for that matter, as if it were coming from the slightly
open bedroom window. I looked up.

"Hallo," said the tall skinny man in a doctor's coat on the window sill.

"Hallo yourself," I said. "Go away, I'm awake."

"Yes, you are. At least I assume you are. But I'm not."

I sat up and looked at him, and he obligingly turned his head to
profile against the brightness of the window. He had a sharp, beaky
face that was familiar.

"Haven't we met somewhere?" I asked.

"Certainly," he said, in a slightly affected voice.


"I don't know your name," he said, "but I have a very important
post-operative case at present, and you keep charging around the ward
when you're asleep. I just came over, as soon as I could get a few
hours' sleep myself, to ask you to stop doing it, if you don't mind."

"I've done no such thing."

"You were doing it all last night, my friend."

"I was not," I said. "I spent last night here in my own bed. I didn't
even dream."

"Ah, that probably accounts for it. Tell me, do you take drugs,
tranquilizers, by any chance? We've had a lot of trouble with that.
They seem to cause a bubble in the sequence of probabilities and things
shift about. I've been taking a new one myself, while this case is on.
I suspect that although I'm dreaming you, I think, you are not asleep
at all. At least I wasn't when you made all that noise in my ward last

"No, I'm awake," I said. "Very much so."

"I see. Well, I shall wake up soon myself and go back to my own world,
of course. But while I'm here, I suppose you haven't any advanced works
on post-operative hyperspace relapse?

"Pity," he said, as I shook my head.

"I suppose you have no information on the fourth octave of
ultra-uranium elements?"

He shook his head. "Didn't even know they existed," he said. "I don't
believe they do in my probable time. What are you, a physicist? Ah," he
added, as I nodded, "I wanted to specialize in physics when I was in
college, but I went in for medicine instead."

"So did I," I said, "medicine, I mean, but I never passed pharmacology
with all those confusing extraterrestrial derivatives."

"Really?" he said interestedly. "It's my weakest subject, too. I'm a
pretty good surgeon, but an awful fool with medications. I suppose
that's how we got together. You won't come busting up the ward again,
will you?"

"I'd like to be obliging, but if I don't dream and I don't know where I
am when I'm asleep, I don't see what I can do to stop it. It's not as
if I'm really there, is it?"

       *       *       *       *       *

He crossed his arms and frowned at me. "Look," he said. "In my probable
time, you're as much physically there as I am now in your time here.
I'll prove it. I know I'm asleep in the emergency surgeon's room in my
hospital. You know you're awake in your bedroom."

He held out his hand and walked across the floor to me.

"My name's Jones," he said.

"So's mine," I answered, shaking his solid hand. "This must be a very
vivid dream to you."

We smiled at each other, and as he turned away, I caught sight of his
reflection in the wall mirror beside my hairbrush on the cabinet.

"Good heavens!" I said. "In a mirror, you look exactly like me. Is your
name Harry Jones?"

He stopped, walked over to the mirror and moved about until he could
see me in it.

"Harold K. Jones," he said. "You've got the face I shave every morning,
but I've only just recognized you. You're me."

"I prefer to think you are me," I said.

"So you did fail that final pharmacology exam, eh? And I didn't, in my
probability. Well, well. I must admit it seemed more probable I would
fail at the time, but I passed."

"It was that tramp Kate's fault. She said yes too easily."

He coughed and looked at his fingers. "She said no to me. And, as a
matter of fact, after I passed I married her. She's my wife."

"I'm sorry. I meant nothing personal."

"You never married?"

"I never really got over Kate," I said.

"I wonder what would have happened if I had qualified and then not
married her."

"You mean what _did_ happen--to the Harry K. Jones who passed in
pharmacology but did not marry Kate. He must be around in another
probability somewhere, the same as we are. Good heavens," I shouted,
"somewhere I may have solved the fourth octave equation."

"You're right, Harry. And I may have found out how to get hyperspace
relapse under control."

"Harold," I said, "This is momentous! It is more probable that
you-I and I-you will make a mess of things, but there must be other
probability sequences where we are successful."

"And we can get to them," he shouted, jumping up. "Are you using

"Something like that."

"Three pills last thing at night?"


"Ever have foreign bodies materialize into your time-space?"

"Several breakfasts," I said. "The last egg was yesterday, on my shoe."

"It was Virginia ham with me, so I stopped dieting and increased the

"So did I," I said. "I suppose, apart from major points where a whole
probability branches off, we lead much the same lives. But eggs don't
dream. How did the ham get into your waking world?"

"Harry, really! I have a tendency to jump to conclusions, which you
must control. How do you know eggs don't dream? I would have thought,
though, that a pig was peculiarly liable to the nightmare that it will
end up as a rasher--any reasonably observant pig, that is. But I don't
think that is necessary. Obviously, we are dipping down to a stratum
where things coexist in fact, and not merely one in fact and the other
in mind, or one probability and not its twin alternative. Now, how do I
get hold of the me that solved this hyperspace relapse business?"

"And I the ultra-uranium octave relationship," I added.

"Look out," he said. "I'm waking up. Good-by, Harry. Look after

He flickered, paused in recovery and then faded insubstantially away. I
looked around my empty bedroom. Then, because it was time to go to work
at the laboratory, I shaved, dressed and left my apartment, as usual.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some high brass and politicians had been visiting the laboratory,
showing off to their females how they were important enough to visit
the top-secret bomb proving labs, and the thick perfume was hanging in
the sealed rooms like a damp curtain.

"I wish they wouldn't bring women into the unventilated labs," I
grumbled to my assistant.

"Never mind, Chief. If you can make this bomb work, they'll let you
build your own lab in the Nevada desert, with no roads to it. Have you
found the solution?"

"I'll tell you when I have," I said. "But I do have a new approach to
the problem."

And as soon as I could, I left the labs and went back to my apartment
downtown, took three pills and lay still, waiting for sleep. I could
not get the smell of that perfume in the lab out of my nose. It was a
heavy gardenia-plus-whatnot odor. I woke up in the middle of the night
with the perfume still clinging to the air. The room was dark and I
crossed my fingers as I leaned over to turn on the bedside lamp. If
mental concentration on all the possible errors in my work was the key,
the successful me should be here in the room, snatched from his own
segment of probability.

I turned on the light. There was no one else in the room.

"Hell," I said.

Perhaps it just meant he, or that me, was not asleep, or was perversely
not using tranquilizers. Or didn't that matter? No, I controlled this
alone and had gone wrong.

"Did you say something, Harry?" asked Kate, stepping out of the
bathroom and pulling the top of her nightgown into, I guess, place.
"Ooo, fancy dreaming about you. This is odd."

I sat up and covered myself protectively in the bedsheets.

"Look, Kate," I said. "I don't want to see you. I'm not your husband,
really. He's a pleasant fellow, I met him today, and he's not me. I
never became a doctor. No doubt you remember what I was doing instead
of studying."

That was a mistake, for she came and sat on the edge of the bed and ran
her fingers into my hair.

"I thought it was odd I should dream about my husband," she said. "I'll
believe you, because I don't know how I got here and you do look like
the Harry I used to know, before he went all high scientific surgeon
and no time for fun."

She curved more fully than she had when she was eighteen, but there was
neat symmetry to her sine formulae, and she still had blonde hair. Her
perfume was the same as the one in the lab I had been smelling all day,
it was now reaching me at high amperage.

So that was the key, the evocative power of smell association. I
sniffed deeply at the perfume in appreciation.

"Like it?" Kate asked, wriggling.

"Only for its scientific values," I said. "It suggests a most valuable
line of research."

"I'm in favor," she said, and pressed me to the bed.

"Your husband is coming!" I shouted, and it worked. She disappeared.
Presumably she woke up in her own probability time-space. And no doubt
Kate's reflexes by now were trained to snap her awake and away at the
suggestion that her husband was around. It was highly improbable that
Kate would alter much.

I got up to make myself some coffee. There was no point in wasting
sleep without a plan. Clearly, I had to take the pills and fix the
appropriate smell in my mind, and when I woke up I would drag the
proper slice of another probability with me. And then I would interview
the me who had solved the ultra-uranium heavy element equation. And the
bomb to end all bombs would be perfected. The test was ready, waiting
for me to say, "Let's go, boys. We know what will happen this time."

But there was, it struck me, the difficulty of finding the right scent
to evoke the right probable me.

       *       *       *       *       *

I collected all the toothpaste, deodorant, shaving stick, aftershave
lotion I could find in the bathroom and started on the toothpaste. I
inhaled deeply and lay down, with the first tube on my chest. But after
the coffee, I slept very briefly, and when I looked up there was only a
toothbrush on the carpet. It was not mine in this world and I had no
idea whose it was, or rather which probable me it belonged to.

But at least this established the principle. The smell produced the
object--and, if I went deep enough in sleep, it would produce the whole

I dressed quickly and went out for a walk in the night air, breathing
deeply and memorizing every scent I came across. Then I went back to
the apartment, sniffed hard at the row of personal unguents, and lay
down to sleep.

When I woke up, it was morning and the room was full of people.

There were about a dozen of me, some wearing very odd clothes, some
scowling, others grinning unbecomingly, and some looking just plain

"Gentlemen," I said, standing up on my bed, "I am sorry to disturb your
dreams but a matter of vital consequence has made me call you all here.
I am Harry, or Harold K. Jones, and I became a physicist. I need your
help. Do any of you know anything about the octaves of elements beyond

There was a babble, through which I heard chiefly:

"The man's mad.... He says he's me.... Who are you, anyway?... No,
you're not. _I'm_ Jones...."

"Please, gentlemen," I said. "I don't expect we have much time
before some of you wake up in your own probability. You, sir, in the
armchair--yes, you in the tight pants--how about you?"

"Me?" he said. "I'm Captain Jones. Third Vector Spacefleet. Engineer
rank. Who the galactic hellix are you, eh?"

Even from the bed, I could detect the smell of sweat and grease from
his working uniform.

"I suppose you took up flight engineering at high school?" I suggested.

"Quite right," he snapped.

An early deviation, obviously. I remembered being enthralled with the
arrival when I was a kid of the early space rockets, but my enthusiasm
was daunted by old Birchall, who made us stick to airplanes. Obviously,
his was not.

"How about you?" I asked, pointing to the thinnest me in the room.

"Penal colony on Arcetus," he said. "Eternal labor."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I wonder which time--well, how many physicists are
there here, or physical chemists, or astronomers, or even general

I walked around the room, detecting toothpaste brands A, B, C and
Whitebrighter, and a range of toilet preparations with manly odors
contributing to our popularity with friends, relatives, girls and
bosses, but no other physicist. Not a trace of research in my line. And
one or two of them were already showing signs of waking up elsewhere
and disappearing from the room.

I was about to start tracing it back to the point when I abandoned a
medical career, and I could still smell the formaldehyde, when Dr.
Harold K. Jones appeared.

"Look," he said, "I want you to keep away from Kate. Perhaps I didn't
make that clear yesterday.... Good heavens, where did you get all of
these me from? Does anyone here know anything about post-operative
hyperspace relapse?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Disgustedly, I saw that more than half of them did. Perhaps I should
have been a doctor, after all. The probabilities were heavily
represented in medicine. I sat on the bed and stared at my toes while
the doctors babbled excitedly together. I gathered that Dr. Harold K.
Jones had solved his problem, anyway.

"Excuse me," said a thoughtful me in a very quiet voice. "I didn't want
to make myself obtrusive, but I did do a certain amount of research
on the theoretical possibilities of elements heavier than uranium. It
seemed to me they might go on being discovered almost indefinitely."

"They are," I said quickly, "octave after octave of them. Tell me about
it, please."

"Look," he said, "it was only an idea. I really specialized in
biochemistry, but we do use trace elements, and the formula I worked
out at the time was--let me see...."

"Please try to remember," I said.

"Ah, yes, it was this," he said, and the strain of remembering woke him
up and he disappeared back to his own probability.

"This was damned well planned, Harry!" said Dr. Harold K. Jones
enthusiastically. "I think we can save hundreds of people every year
now. I always knew I had it in me."

"Listen, Jones," said Captain Jones of the Third Vector Spacefleet,
pushing himself through the crowd. "I've been talking to one or two of
the others, see, and if you have the galactic gall to disturb my sleep
again, I'm going to blast you. Is that clear?"

"Perfectly," I said.

"It's tricky out in space, you know. No hard feelings, but the fraction
of a micro-error and _poof_! You see what I mean. I must get a sound
sleep at stand-down."

"Don't forget what I said about Kate," Dr. Harold K. Jones remembered
to warn me. "I know how to do it, too. And you can have an accident
with my instruments--easily."

He disappeared. I watched as the others woke up and went, one by one,
even the felon from Arcetus, until they were all gone and I was alone
with dark thoughts on heavy elements. It was so improbable that I was
the only me who had worked on these lines, and very probable that if
two of us with similar minds did work on the same problem, we could
between us find the answer. Look at Dr. Jones and his hyperspace

Thinking of Dr. Jones made me think of Kate, and I fell asleep again
with the memory of her scent in my head, as if I were really smelling
it. When I woke up again, halfway through the morning, there she was in
my room. She was at least dressed this time, but she smiled familiarly
at me.

"For God's sake, Kate," I said, "go back to your husband!"

       *       *       *       *       *

She began to cry. "Oh, Haroldkin," she said. "I'm so glad to see you. I
must be dreaming, because I know you're dead, but I've kept everything
just the way it was. Look--I haven't even touched your messy desk."

"Are you sitting in a room?" I asked.

"I'm in your study, Haroldkin," she said, surprised. "Can't you see?"

"No, as a matter of fact, I can't."

"Oh! Then I can throw out all these old papers?"

"What old papers?"

"Oh, I don't know, Haroldkin," Kate said. "You made such a fuss about
failing that silly medical exam that you never let me touch your desk
when you graduated in physics."


"Yes," said Kate, throwing paper after paper onto the carpet. She made
sweeping motions in the air and dumped a mass of notes into her lap.
They appeared on her fingertips, but they stayed in existence when she
dropped them on the carpet.

"How did I die?" I asked, bending down and thumbing rapidly over the

"A bomb went off," she said. "I really don't want to talk about it. But
you were so _eminent_, Haroldkin!"

I must have been very soft in the discrimination to have allowed that
revolting nickname, I thought, but it was clear from the papers I was
holding that I knew my physics. And there it was, printed in an issue
of the _Commission's Journal_ that never existed in my time-space, the
whole equation I was looking for. It was so obvious when I read it that
I could not understand how I failed to think of it for myself--for my
own myself, that is.

When I looked up, this probable Kate had gone. I wanted to thank her,
but the evening would do. Meanwhile, here was the ultra-uranium fourth
octave equation.

I called the laboratory, read it off to my assistant, and told him to
get on with the test.

"Right, Chief. I'll go down myself and give you a report when I get

I said fine and took the rest of the day off. It was the peak of my
career so far, and from the widow Kate's comments, it seemed as if
I had a great probable career to come. Of course, I would have to
redouble our safety precautions at the labs and it would be best if I
never went near the proving grounds. That other physicist me probably
made some error that I would avoid, being forewarned.

By evening, I decided to try to locate that probable Kate again, to
thank her, and to find out exactly how that poor me blew himself up
with a bomb. With care, I recalled the perfume and also the musty smell
of the papers, for I did not want Dr. Harold K. Jones' Kate appearing.
Then I removed all other odoriferous substances from the bedroom, took
three pills and was about to lie down to sleep when my assistant
called to report on the test.

"That you, Chief? What a success! We're made. Your name's in lights,
Chief! It was the most colossal explosion I've ever seen. It burned the
area like toast. It even smelled like toast, with a touch of ozone and
sulphur. Very strong smell...."

"Stop!" I screamed. "Stop!"

But it was too late. I could smell it clearly as he had described it.
And now the pills are working. How in the name of heaven am I going to
stay awake? Because once I fall asleep....

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