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´╗┐Title: Beyond Bedlam
Author: Guin, Wyman
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 "Beyond Bedlam" ***

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



                             BEYOND BEDLAM

                             By WYMAN GUIN

                      Illustrated by DAVID STONE

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                  Galaxy Science Fiction August 1951.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



              However fantastic it may seem, the society
              so elaborately described in this story has
              its seeds in ours. Just check the data....


The opening afternoon class for Mary Walden's ego-shift was almost
over, and Mary was practically certain the teacher would not call on
her to recite her assignment, when Carl Blair got it into his mind to
try to pass her a dirty note. Mary knew it would be a screamingly
funny Ego-Shifting Room limerick and was about to reach for the note
when Mrs. Harris's voice crackled through the room.

"Carl Blair! I believe you have an important message. Surely you will
want the whole class to hear it. Come forward, please."

As he made his way before the class, the boy's blush-covered freckles
reappeared against his growing pallor. Haltingly and in an agonized
monotone, he recited from the note:

    "There was a young hyper named Phil,
    Who kept a third head for a thrill.
    Said he, 'It's all right,
    I enjoy my plight.
    I shift my third out when it's chill.'"

The class didn't dare laugh. Their eyes burned down at their laps in
shame. Mary managed to throw Carl Blair a compassionate glance as he
returned to his seat, but she instantly regretted ever having been kind
to him.

"Mary Walden, you seemed uncommonly interested in reading something
just now. Perhaps you wouldn't mind reading your assignment to the
class."

There it was, and just when the class was almost over. Mary could have
scratched Carl Blair. She clutched her paper grimly and strode to the
front.

"Today's assignment in Pharmacy History is, 'Schizophrenia since the
Ancient Pre-pharmacy days.'" Mary took enough breath to get into the
first paragraph.

"Schizophrenia is where two or more personalities live in the
same brain. The ancients of the 20th Century actually looked upon
schizophrenia as a disease! Everyone felt it was very shameful to have
a schizophrenic person in the family, and, since children lived right
with the same parents who had borne them, it was very bad. If you were
a schizophrenic child in the 20th Century, you would be locked up
behind bars and people would call you--"

Mary blushed and stumbled over the daring word--"crazy." "The ancients
locked up strong ego groups right along with weak ones. Today we would
lock up those ancient people."

       *       *       *       *       *

The class agreed silently.

"But there were more and more schizophrenics to lock up. By 1950 the
_prisons_ and hospitals were so full of schizophrenic people that
the ancients did not have room left to lock up any more. They were
beginning to see that soon everyone would be schizophrenic.

"Of course, in the 20th Century, the schizophrenic people were almost
as helpless and 'crazy' as the ancient Modern men. Naturally they did
not fight wars and lead the silly life of the Moderns, but without
proper drugs they couldn't control their Ego-shiftability. The
personalities in a brain would always be fighting each other. One
personality would cut the body or hurt it or make it filthy, so that
when the other personality took over the body, it would have to suffer.
No, the schizophrenic people of the 20th Century were almost as 'crazy'
as the ancient Moderns.

"But then the drugs were invented one by one and the schizophrenic
people of the 20th Century were freed of their troubles. With the
drugs the personalities of each body were able to live side by side in
harmony at last. It turned out that many schizophrenic people, called
overendowed personalities, simply had so many talents and viewpoints
that it took two or more personalities to handle everything.

"The drugs worked so well that the ancients had to let millions of
schizophrenic people out from behind the bars of 'crazy' houses. That
was the Great Emancipation of the 1990s. From then on, schizophrenic
people had trouble only when they criminally didn't take their drugs.
Usually, there are two egos in a schizophrenic person--the hyperalter,
or prime ego, and the hypoalter, the alternate ego. There often were
more than two, but the Medicorps makes us take our drugs so that won't
happen to us.

"At last someone realized that if everyone took the new drugs, the
great wars would stop. At the World Congress of 1997, laws were passed
to make everyone take the drugs. There were many fights over this
because some people wanted to stay Modern and fight wars. The Medicorps
was organized and told to kill anyone who wouldn't take their drugs as
prescribed. Now the laws are enforced and everybody takes the drugs and
the hyperalter and hypoalter are each allowed to have the body for an
ego-shift of five days...."

Mary Walden faltered. She looked up at the faces of her classmates,
started to turn to Mrs. Harris and felt the sickness growing in her
head. Six great waves of crescendo silence washed through her. The
silence swept away everything but the terror, which stood in her frail
body like a shrieking rock.

Mary heard Mrs. Harris hurry to the shining dispensary along one
wall of the classroom and return to stand before her with a swab of
antiseptic and a disposable syringe.

Mrs. Harris helped her to a chair. A few minutes after the expert
injection, Mary's mind struggled back from its core of silence.

"Mary, dear, I'm sorry. I haven't been watching you closely enough."

"Oh, Mrs. Harris...." Mary's chin trembled. "I hope it never happens
again."

"Now, child, we all have to go through these things when we're young.
You're just a little slower than the others in acclimatizing to the
drugs. You'll be fourteen soon and the medicop assures me you'll be
over this sort of thing just as the others are."

Mrs. Harris dismissed the class and when they had all filed from the
room, she turned to Mary.

"I think, dear, we should visit the clinic together, don't you?"

"Yes, Mrs. Harris." Mary was not frightened now. She was just ashamed
to be such a difficult child and so slow to acclimatize to the drugs.

As she and the teacher walked down the long corridor to the clinic,
Mary made up her mind to tell the medicop what she thought was wrong.
It was not herself. It was her hypoalter, that nasty little Susan
Shorrs. Sometimes, when Susan had the body, the things Susan was doing
and thinking came to Mary like what the ancients had called _dreams_,
and Mary had never liked this secondary ego whom she could never really
know. Whatever was wrong, it was Susan's doing. The filthy creature
never took care of her hair, it was always so messy when Susan shifted
the body to her.

Mrs. Harris waited while Mary went into the clinic.

Mary was glad to find Captain Thiel, the nice medicop, on duty. But she
was silent while the X-rays were being taken, and, of course, while he
got the blood samples, she concentrated on being brave.

Later, while Captain Thiel looked in her eyes with the bright little
light, Mary said calmly, "Do you know my hypoalter, Susan Shorrs?"

The medicop drew back and made some notes on a pad before answering.
"Why, yes. She's in here quite often too."

"Does she look like me?"

"Not much. She's a very nice little girl...." He hesitated, visibly
fumbling.

Mary blurted, "Tell me truly, what's she like?"

Captain Thiel gave her his nice smile. "Well, I'll tell you a secret if
you keep it to yourself."

"Oh, I promise."

He leaned over and whispered in her ear and she liked the clean odor of
him. "She's not nearly as pretty as you are."

Mary wanted very badly to put her arms around him and hug him. Instead,
wondering if Mrs. Harris, waiting outside, had heard, she drew back
self-consciously and said, "Susan is the cause of all this trouble, the
nasty little thing."

"Oh now!" the medicop exclaimed. "I don't think so, Mary. She's in
trouble, too, you know."

"She still eats sauerkraut." Mary was defiant.

"But what's wrong with that?"

"You told her not to last year because it makes me sick on my shift.
But it agrees in buckets with a little pig like her."

The medicop took this seriously. He made a note on the pad. "Mary, you
should have complained sooner."

"Do you think my father might not like me because Susan Shorrs is my
hypoalter?" she asked abruptly.

"I hardly think so, Mary. After all, he doesn't even know her. He's
never on her Ego shift."

"A little bit," Mary said, and was immediately frightened.

Captain Thiel glanced at her sharply. "What do you mean by that, child?"

"Oh, nothing," Mary said hastily. "I just thought maybe he was."

"Let me see your pharmacase," he said rather severely.

Mary slipped the pharmacase off the belt at her waist and handed it
to him. Captain Thiel extracted the prescription card from the back
and threw it away. He slipped a new card in the taping machine on his
desk and punched out a new prescription, which he reinserted in the
pharmacase. In the space on the front, he wrote directions for Mary to
take the drugs numbered from left to right.

Mary watched his serious face and remembered that he had complimented
her about being prettier than Susan. "Captain Thiel, is your hypoalter
as handsome as you are?"

The young medicop emptied the remains of the old prescription from the
pharmacase and took it to the dispensary in the corner, where he slid
it into the filling slot. He seemed unmoved by her question and simply
muttered, "Much handsomer."

The machine automatically filled the case from the punched card on its
back and he returned it to Mary. "Are you taking your drugs exactly as
prescribed? You know there are very strict laws about that, and as soon
as you are fourteen, you will be held to them."

Mary nodded solemnly. Great straitjackets, who didn't know there were
laws about taking your drugs?

There was a long pause and Mary knew she was supposed to leave. She
wanted, though, to stay with Captain Thiel and talk with him. She
wondered how it would be if he were appointed her father.

Mary was not hurt that her shy compliment to him had gone unnoticed.
She had only wanted something to talk about. Finally she said
desperately, "Captain Thiel, how is it possible for a body to change as
much from one Ego shift to another as it does between Susan and me?"

"There isn't all the change you imagine," he said. "Have you had your
first physiology?"

"Yes. I was very good...." Mary saw from his smile that her inadvertent
little conceit had trapped her.

"Then, Miss Mary Walden, how do _you_ think it is possible?"

Why did teachers and medicops have to be this way? When all you wanted
was to have them talk to you, they turned everything around and made
you think.

She quoted unhappily from her schoolbook, "The main things in an
ego shift are the two vegetative nervous systems that translate the
conditions of either personality to the blood and other organs right
from the brain. The vegetative nervous systems change the rate at which
the liver burns or stores sugar and the rate at which the kidneys
excrete...."

Through the closed door to the other room, Mrs. Harris's voice raised
at the visiophone said distinctly, "_But, Mr. Walden...._"

"Reabsorb," corrected Captain Thiel.

"What?" She didn't know what to listen to--the medicop or the distant
voice of Mrs. Harris.

"It's better to think of the kidneys as reabsorbing salts and nutrients
from the filtrated blood."

"Oh."

"_But, Mr. Walden, we can overdo a good thing. The proper amount of
neglect is definitely required for full development of some personality
types and Mary certainly is one of those...._"

"What about the pituitary gland that's attached to the brain and
controls all the other glands during the shift of egos?" pressed
Captain Thiel distractingly.

"_But, Mr. Walden, too much neglect at this critical point may cause
another personality to split off and we can't have that. Adequate
personalities are congenital. A new one now would only rob the present
personalities. You are the appointed parent of this child and the Board
of Education will enforce your compliance with our diagnosis...._"

Mary's mind leaped to a page in one of her childhood storybooks. It
was an illustration of a little girl resting beneath a great tree that
overhung a brook. There were friendly little wild animals about. Mary
could see the page clearly and she thought about it very hard instead
of crying.

"Aren't you interested any more, Mary?" Captain Thiel was looking at
her strangely.

The agitation in her voice was a surprise. "I have to get home. I have
a lot of things to do."

Outside, when Mrs. Harris seemed suddenly to realize that something was
wrong, and delicately probed to find out whether her angry voice had
been overheard, Mary said calmly and as if it didn't matter, "Was my
father home when you called him before?"

"Why--yes, Mary. But you mustn't pay any attention to conversations
like that, darling."

_You can't force him to like me_, she thought to herself, and she was
angry with Mrs. Harris because now her father would only dislike her
more.

Neither her father nor her mother was home when Mary walked into the
evening-darkened apartment. It was the first day of the family shift,
and on that day, for many periods now, they had not been home until
late.

Mary walked through the empty rooms, turning on lights. She passed
up the electrically heated dinner her father had set out for her.
Presently she found herself at the storage room door. She opened it
slowly.

After hesitating a while she went in and began an exhausting search for
the old storybook with the picture in it.

Finally she knew she could not find it. She stood in the middle of the
junk-filled room and began to cry.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day which ended for Mary Walden in lonely weeping should have been,
for Conrad Manz, a pleasant rest day with an hour of rocket racing in
the middle of it. Instead, he awakened with a shock to hear his wife
actually _talking_ while she was _asleep_.

He stood over her bed and made certain that she was asleep. It was as
though her mind thought it was somewhere else, doing something else.
Vaguely he remembered that the ancients did something called _dreaming_
while they slept and the thought made him shiver.

Clara Manz was saying, "Oh, Bill, they'll catch us. We can't pretend
any more unless we have drugs. Haven't we any drugs, Bill?"

Then she was silent and lay still. Her breathing was shallow and even
in the dawn light her cheeks were deeply flushed against the blonde
hair.

Having just awakened, Conrad was on a very low drug level and the
incident was unpleasantly disturbing. He picked up his pharmacase
from beside his bed and made his way to the bathroom. He took his
hypothalamic block and the integration enzymes and returned to the
bedroom. Clara was still sleeping.

She had been behaving oddly for some time, but there had never been
anything as disturbing as this. He felt that he should call a medicop,
but, of course, he didn't want to do anything that extreme. It was
probably something with a simple explanation. Clara was a little
scatterbrained at times. Maybe she had forgotten to take her sleeping
compound and that was what caused _dreaming_. The very word made his
powerful body chill. But if she was neglecting to take any of her drugs
and he called in a medicop, it would be serious.

Conrad went into the library and found the _Family Pharmacy_. He
switched on a light in the dawn-shrunken room and let his heavy
frame into a chair. _A Guide to Better Understanding of your Family
Prescriptions. Official Edition, 2831._ The book was mostly Medicorps
propaganda and almost never gave a practical suggestion. If something
went wrong, you called a medicop.

Conrad hunted through the book for the section on sleeping compound. It
was funny, too, about that name Bill. Conrad went over all the men of
their acquaintance with whom Clara had occasional affairs or with whom
she was friendly and he couldn't remember a single Bill. In fact, the
only man with that name whom he could think of was his own hyperalter,
Bill Walden. But that was naturally impossible.

Maybe dreaming was always about imaginary people.

    SLEEPING COMPOUND: An official mixture of soporific and
    hypnotic alkaloids and synthetics. A critical drug; an essential
    feature in every prescription. Slight deviations in following
    prescription are unallowable because of the subtle manner in which
    behavior may be altered over months or years. The first sleeping
    compound was announced by Thomas Marshall in 1986. The formula has
    been modified only twice since then.

There followed a tightly packed description of the chemistry and
pharmacology of the various ingredients. Conrad skipped through this.

    The importance of Sleeping Compound in the life of every individual
    and to society is best appreciated when we recall Marshall's words
    announcing its initial development:

    "It is during so-called _normal_ sleep that the vicious unconscious
    mind responsible for wars and other symptoms of unhappiness
    develops its resources and its hold on our conscious lives.

    "In this _normal_ sleep the critical faculties of the cortex are
    paralyzed. Meanwhile, the infantile unconscious mind expands
    misinterpreted experience into the toxic patterns of neurosis and
    psychosis. The conscious mind takes over at morning, unaware that
    these infantile motivations have been cleverly woven into its very
    structure.

    "Sleeping Compound will stop this. There is no unconscious activity
    after taking this harmless drug. We believe the Medicorps should at
    once initiate measures to acclimatize every child to its use. In
    these children, as the years go by, infantile patterns unable to
    work during sleep will fight a losing battle during waking hours
    with conscious patterns accumulating in the direction of
    adulthood."

That was all there was--mostly the Medicorps patting its own back for
saving humanity. But if you were in trouble and called a medicop, you'd
risk getting into real trouble.

Conrad became aware of Clara standing in the doorway. The flush of
her disturbed emotions and the pallor of her fatigue mixed in ragged
banners on her cheeks.

Conrad waved the _Family Pharmacy_ with a foolish gesture of
embarrassment.

"Young lady, have you been neglecting to take your sleeping compound?"

Clara turned utterly pale. "I--I don't understand."

"You were talking in your sleep."

"I--was?"

She came forward so unsteadily that he helped her to a seat. She stared
at him. He asked jovially, "Who is this 'Bill' you were so desperately
involved with? Have you been having an affair I don't know about?
Aren't my friends good enough for you?"

The result of this banter was that she alarmingly began to cry,
clutching her robe about her and dropping her blonde head on her knees
and sobbing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Children cried before they were acclimatized to the drugs, but Conrad
Manz had never in his life seen an adult cry. Though he had taken his
morning drugs and certain disrupting emotions were already impossible,
nevertheless this sight was completely unnerving.

In gasps between her sobs, Clara was saying, "Oh, I can't go back to
taking them? But I can't keep this up! I just can't!"

"Clara, darling, I don't know what to say or do. I think we ought to
call the Medicorps."

Intensely frightened, she rose and clung to him, begging, "Oh, no,
Conrad, that isn't necessary! It isn't necessary at all. I've only
neglected to take my sleeping compound and it won't happen again. All
I need is a sleeping compound. Please get my pharmacase for me and it
will be all right."

She was so desperate to convince him that Conrad got the pharmacase and
a glass of water for her only to appease the white face of fright.

Within a few minutes of taking the sleeping compound, she was calm. As
he put her back to bed, she laughed with a lazy indolence.

"Oh, Conrad, you take it so seriously. I only needed a sleeping
compound very badly and now I feel fine. I'll sleep all day. It's a
rest day, isn't it? Now go race a rocket and stop worrying and thinking
about calling the medicops."

But Conrad did not go rocket racing as he had planned. Clara had been
asleep only a few minutes when there was a call on the visiophone; they
wanted him at the office. The city of Santa Fe would be completely out
of balance within twelve shifts if revised plans were not put into
operation immediately. They were to start during the next five days
while he would be out of shift. In order to carry on the first day of
their next shift, he and the other three traffic managers he worked
with would have to come down today and familiarize themselves with the
new operations.

There was no getting out of it. His rest day was spoiled. Conrad
resented it all the more because Santa Fe was clear out on the edge of
their traffic district and could have been revised out of the Mexican
offices just as well. But those boys down there rested all five days of
their shift.

Conrad looked in on Clara before he left and found her asleep in the
total suspension of proper drug level. The unpleasant memory of her
behavior made him squirm, but now that the episode was over, it no
longer worried him. It was typical of him that, things having been set
straight in the proper manner, he did not think of her again until late
in the afternoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

As early as 1950, the pioneer communications engineer Norbert
Wiener had pointed out that there might be a close parallel between
disassociation of personalities and the disruption of a communication
system. Wiener referred back specifically to the first clear
description, by Morton Prince, of multiple personalities existing,
together in the same human body. Prince had described only individual
cases and his observations were not altogether acceptable in Wiener's
time. Nevertheless, in the schizophrenic society of the 29th Century,
a major managerial problem was that of balancing the communicating and
non-communicating populations in a city.

As far as Conrad and the other traffic men present at the conference
were concerned, Santa Fe was a resort and retirement area of 100,000
human bodies, alive and consuming more than they produced every
day of the year. Whatever the representatives of the Medicorps and
Communications Board worked out, it would mean only slight changes in
the types of foodstuffs, entertainment and so forth moving into Santa
Fe, and Conrad could have grasped the entire traffic change in ten
minutes after the real problem had been settled. But, as usual, he and
the other traffic men had to sit through two hours while small wheels
from the Medicorps and Communications acted big about rebalancing a
city.

For them, Conrad had to admit, Santa Fe was a great deal more complex
than 100,000 consuming, moderately producing human bodies. It was
200,000 human personalities, two to each body. Conrad wondered
sometimes what they would have done if the three and four personality
cases so common back in the 20th and 21st Centuries had been allowed to
reproduce. The 200,000 personalities in Santa Fe were difficult enough.

Like all cities, Santa Fe operated in five shifts, A, B, C, D, and E.

Just as it was supposed to be for Conrad in his city, today was rest
day for the 20,000 hypoalters on D-shift in Santa Fe. Tonight at around
6:00 P.M. they would all go to shifting rooms and be replaced by their
hyperalters, who had different tastes in food and pleasure and took
different drugs.

Tomorrow would be rest day for the hyperalters on E-shift and in the
evening they would turn things over to their hyperalters.

The next day it would be rest for the A-shift hyperalters and three
days after that the D-shift hyperalters, including Bill Walden, would
rest till evening, when Conrad and the D-shift hypoalters everywhere
would again have their five day use of their bodies.

Right now the trouble with Santa Fe's retired population, which worked
only for its own maintenance, was that too many elderly people on the
D-shift and E-shift had been dying off. This point was brought out by a
dapper young department head from Communications.

Conrad groaned when, as he knew would happen, a Medicorps officer
promptly set out on an exhaustive demonstration that Medicorps
predictions of deaths for Santa Fe had indicated clearly that
Communications should have been moving people from D-shift and E-shift
into the area.

Actually, it appeared that someone from Communications had blundered
and had overloaded the quota of people on A-shift and B-shift moving
to Santa Fe. Thus on one rest day there weren't enough people working
to keep things going, and later in the week there were so many
available workers that they were clogging the city.

None of this was heated exchange or in any way emotional. It was just
interminably, exhaustively logical and boring. Conrad fidgeted through
two hours of it, seeing his chance for a rocket race dissolving. When
at last the problem of balanced shift-populations for Santa Fe was
worked out, it took him and the other traffic men only a few minutes
to apply their tables and reschedule traffic to coordinate with the
population changes.

Disgusted, Conrad walked over to the Tennis Club and had lunch.

There were still two hours of his rest day left when Conrad Manz
realized that Bill Walden was again forcing an early shift. Conrad
was in the middle of a volley-tennis game and he didn't like having
the shift forced so soon. People generally shifted at their appointed
regular hour every five days, and a hyperalter was not supposed to use
his power to force shift. It was such an unthinkable thing nowadays
that there was occasional talk of abolishing the terms hyperalter and
hypoalter because they were somewhat disparaging to the hypoalter, and
really designated only the antisocial power of the hyperalter to force
the shift.

Bill Walden had been cheating two to four hours on Conrad every
shift for several periods back. Conrad could have reported it to the
Medicorps, but he himself was guilty of a constant misdemeanor about
which Bill had not yet complained. Unlike the sedentary Walden, Conrad
Manz enjoyed exercise. He overindulged in violent sports and put off
sleep, letting Bill Walden make up the fatigue on his shift. That was
undoubtedly why the poor old sucker had started cheating a few hours on
Conrad's rest day.

Conrad laughed to himself, remembering the time Bill Walden had
registered a long list of sports which he wished Conrad to be
restrained from--rocket racing, deepsea exploration, jet-skiing. It
had only given Conrad some ideas he hadn't had before. The Medicorps
had refused to enforce the list on the basis that danger and violent
exercise were a necessary outlet for Conrad's constitution. Then poor
old Bill had written Conrad a note threatening to sue him for any
injury resulting from such sports. As if he had a chance against the
Medicorps ruling!

Conrad knew it was no use trying to finish the volley-tennis game. He
lost interest and couldn't concentrate on what he was doing when Bill
started forcing the shift. Conrad shot the ball back at his opponent in
a blistering curve impossible to intercept.

"So long," he yelled at the man. "I've got some things to do before my
shift ends."

He lounged into the locker rooms and showered, put his clothes and
belongings, including his pharmacase, in a shipping carton, addressed
them to his own home and dropped them in the mail chute.

He stepped with languid nakedness across the hall, pressed his
identifying wristband to a lock-face and dialed his clothing sizes.

In this way he procured a neatly wrapped, clean shifting costume from
the slot. He put it on without bothering to return to his shower room.

He shouted a loud good-bye to no one in particular among the several
men and women in the baths and stepped out onto the street.

Conrad felt too good even to be sorry that his shift was over. After
all, nothing happened except you came to, five days later, on your
next shift. The important thing was the rest day. He had always said
the last day of the shift should be a work day; then you would be glad
it was over. He guessed the idea was to rest the body before another
personality took over. Well, poor old Bill Walden never got a rested
body. He probably slept off the first twelve hours.

Walking unhurriedly through the street crowds, Conrad entered a public
shifting station and found an empty room. As he started to open the
door, a girl came out of the adjoining booth and Conrad hastily averted
his glance. She was still rearranging her hair. There were so many rude
people nowadays who didn't seem to care at all about the etiquette of
shifting, women particularly. They were always redoing their hair or
makeup where a person couldn't help seeing them.

Conrad pressed his identifying wristband to the lock and entered the
booth he had picked. The act automatically sent the time and his shift
number to Medicorps Headquarters.

Once inside the shifting room, Conrad went to the lavatory and turned
on the faucet of makeup solvent. In spite of losing two hours of his
rest day, he decided to be decent to old Bill, though he was half
tempted to leave his makeup on. It was a pretty foul joke, of course,
especially on a humorless fellow like poor Walden.

Conrad creamed his face thoroughly and then washed in water and
used the automatic dryer. He looked at his strong-lined features in
the mirror. They displayed a less distinct expression of his own
personality with the makeup gone.

He turned away from the mirror and it was only then that he remembered
he hadn't spoken to his wife before shifting. Well, he couldn't
decently call up and let her see him without makeup.

He stepped across to the visiophone and set the machine to deliver
his spoken message in type: "Hello, Clara. Sorry I forgot to call you
before. Bill Walden is forcing me to shift early again. I hope you're
not still upset about that business this morning. Be a good girl and
smile at me on the next shift. I love you. Conrad."

       *       *       *       *       *

For a moment, when the shift came, the body of Conrad Manz stood
moronically uninhabited. Then, rapidly, out of the gyri of its brain,
the personality of Bill Walden emerged, replacing the slackly powerful
attitude of Conrad by the slightly prim preciseness of Bill's bearing.

The face, just now relaxed with readiness for action, was abruptly
pulled into an intellectualized mask of tension by habitual patterns of
conflict in the muscles. There were also acute momentary signs of clash
between the vegetative nervous activity characteristic of Bill Walden
and the internal homeostasis Conrad Manz had left behind him. The face
paled as hypersensitive vascular beds closed down under new vegetative
volleys.

Bill Walden grasped sight and sound, and the sharp odor of makeup
solvent stung his nostrils. He was conscious of only one clamoring,
terrifying thought: _They will catch us. It cannot go on much longer
without Helen guessing about Clara. She is already angry about Clara
delaying the shift, and if she learns from Mary that I am cheating on
Conrad's shift.... Any time now, perhaps this time, when the shift is
over, I will be looking into the face of a medicop who is pulling a
needle from my arm, and then it'll all be over._

So far, at least, there was no medicop. Still feeling unreal but
anxious not to lose precious moments, Bill took an individualized kit
from the wall dispenser and made himself up. He was sparing and subtle
in his use of the makeup, unlike the horrible makeup jobs Conrad Manz
occasionally left on. Bill rearranged his hair. Conrad always wore it
too short for his taste, but you couldn't complain about everything.

Bill sat in a chair to await some of the slower aspects of the shift.
He knew that an hour after he left the booth, his basal metabolic rate
would be ten points higher. His blood sugar would go down steadily.
In the next five days he would lose six to eight pounds, which Conrad
later would promptly regain.

Just as Bill was about to leave the booth, he remembered to pick up
a news summary. He put his wristband to the switch on the telephoto
and a freshly printed summary of the last five days in the world fell
into the rack. His wristband, of course, called forth one edited for
hyperalters on the D-shift.

It did not mention by name any hypoalter on the D-shift. Should one
of them have done something that it was necessary for Bill or other
D-shift hyperalters to know about, it would appear in news summaries
called forth by their wristbands--but told in such fashion that the
personality involved seemed namelessly incidental, while names and
pictures of hyperalters and hypoalters on any of the other four
shifts naturally were freely used. The purpose was to keep Conrad
Manz and all other hypoalters on the D-shift, one-tenth of the total
population, non-existent as far as their hyperalters were concerned.
This convention made it necessary for photoprint summaries to be on
light-sensitive paper that blackened illegibly before six hours were
up, so that a man might never stumble on news about his hypoalter.

Bill did not even glance at the news summary. He had picked it up only
for appearances. The summaries were essential if you were going to
start where you left off on your last shift and have any knowledge of
the five intervening days. A man just didn't walk out of a shifting
room without one. It was failure to do little things like that that
would start them wondering about him.

Bill opened the door of the booth by applying his wristband to the lock
and stepped out into the street.

Late afternoon crowds pressed about him. Across the boulevard, a
helicopter landing swarmed with clouds of rising commuters. Bill had
some trouble figuring out the part of the city Conrad had left him
in and walked two blocks before he understood where he was. Then he
got into an idle two-place cab, started the motor with his wristband
and hurried the little three-wheeler recklessly through the traffic.
Clara was probably already waiting and he first had to go home and get
dressed.

The thought of Clara waiting for him in the park near her home was a
sharp reminder of his strange situation. He was in a left you with
shame, and a fear that the other fellow would tell people you seemed to
have a pathological interest in your alter and must need a change in
your prescription.

But the most flagrant abuser of such morbid little exchanges would have
been horrified to learn that right here, in the middle of the daylight
traffic, was a man who was using his antisocial shifting power to meet
in secret the wife of his own hypoalter!

Bill did not have to wonder what the Medicorps would think. Relations
between hyperalters world was literally not supposed to exist for
him, for it was the world of his own hypoalter, Conrad Manz.

Undoubtedly, there were people in the traffic up ahead who knew both
him and Conrad, people from the other shifts who never mentioned the
one to the other except in those guarded, snickering little confidences
they couldn't resist telling and you couldn't resist listening to.
After all, the most important person in the world was your alter. If he
got sick, injured or killed, so would you.

Thus, in moments of intimacy or joviality, an undercover exchange went
on ... _I'll tell you about your hyperalter if you'll tell me about
my hypoalter._ It was orthodox bad manners that and hypoalters of
opposite sex were punishable--drastically punishable.

       *       *       *       *       *

When he arrived at the apartment, Bill remembered to order a dinner for
his daughter Mary. His order, dialed from the day's menu, was delivered
to the apartment pneumatically and he set it out over electric warmers.
He wanted to write a note to the child, but he started two and threw
both in the basket. He couldn't think of anything to say to her.

Staring at the lonely table he was leaving for Mary, Bill felt his
guilt overwhelming him. He could stop the behavior which led to
the guilt by taking his drugs as prescribed. They would return him
immediately to the sane and ordered conformity of the world. He would
no longer have to carry the fear that the Medicorps would discover he
was not taking his drugs. He would no longer neglect his appointed
child. He would no longer endanger the very life of Conrad's wife Clara
and, of course, his own.

When you took your drugs as prescribed, it was impossible to experience
such ancient and primitive emotions as guilt. Even should you
miscalculate and do something wrong, the drugs would not allow any
such emotional reaction. To be free to experience his guilt over the
lonely child who needed him was, for these reasons, a precious thing
to Bill. In all the world, this night, he was undoubtedly the only man
who could and did feel one of the ancient emotions. People felt shame,
not guilt; conceit, not pride; pleasure, not desire. Now that he had
stopped taking his drugs as prescribed, Bill realized that the drugs
allowed only an impoverished segment of a vivid emotional spectrum.

But however exciting it was to live them, the ancient emotions did not
seem to act as deterrents to bad behavior. Bill's sense of guilt did
not keep him from continuing to neglect Mary. His fear of being caught
did not restrain him from breaking every rule of inter-alter law and
loving Clara, his own hypoalter's wife.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bill got dressed as rapidly as possible. He tossed the discarded
shifting costume into the return chute. He retouched his makeup, trying
to eliminate some of the heavy, inexpressive planes of muscularity
which were more typical of Conrad than of himself.

The act reminded him of the shame which his wife Helen had felt when
she learned, a few years ago, that her own hypoalter, Clara, and his
hypoalter, Conrad, had obtained from the Medicorps a special release
to marry. Such rare marriages in which the same bodies lived together
on both halves of a shift were something to snicker about. They verged
on the antisocial, but could be arranged if the batteries of Medicorps
tests could be satisfied.

Perhaps it had been the very intensity of Helen's shame on learning
of this marriage, the nauseous display of conformity so typical of
his wife, that had first given Bill the idea of seeking out Clara,
who had dared convention to make such a peculiar marriage. Over the
years, Helen had continued blaming all their troubles on the fact that
both egos of himself were living with, and intimate with, both egos of
herself.

So Bill had started cutting down on his drugs, the curiosity having
become an obsession. What was this other part of Helen like, this
Clara who was unconventional enough to want to marry only Bill's own
hypoalter, in spite of almost certain public shame?

He had first seen Clara's face when it formed on a visiophone, the
first time he had forced Conrad to shift prematurely. It was softer
than Helen's. The delicate contours were less purposefully, set, gayer.

"Clara Manz?" Bill had sat there staring at the visiophone for several
seconds, unable to continue. His great fear that she would immediately
report him must have been naked on his face.

He had watched an impish suspicion grow in the tender curve of her lips
and her oblique glance from the visiophone. She did not speak.

"Mrs. Manz," he finally said, "I would like to meet you in the park
across from your home."

To this awkward opening he owed the first time he had heard Clara
laugh. Her warm, clear laughter, teasing him, tumbled forth like a
cloud of gay butterflies.

"Are you afraid to see me here at home because my husband might _walk
in on us_?"

Bill had been put completely at ease by this bantering indication that
Clara knew who he was and welcomed him as an intriguing diversion.
Quite literally, the one person who could not _walk in on them_, as the
ancients thought of it, was his own hypoalter, Conrad Manz.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bill finished retouching his makeup and hurried to leave the apartment.
But this time, as he passed the table where Mary's dinner was set out,
he decided to write a few words to the child, no matter how empty they
sounded to himself. The note he left explained that he had some early
work to do at the microfilm library where he worked.

Just as Bill was leaving the apartment, the visiophone buzzed. In his
hurry Bill flipped the switch before he thought. Too late, his hand
froze and the implications of this call, an hour before anyone would
normally be home, shot a shaft of terror through him.

But it was not the image of a medicop that formed on the screen. The
woman introduced herself as Mrs. Harris, one of Mary's teachers.

It was strange that she should have thought he might be home. The
shift for children was half a day earlier than that for adults, so
the parents could have half their rest day free. This afternoon would
be for Mary the first classes of her shift, but the teacher must have
guessed something was wrong with the shifting schedules in Mary's
family. Or had the child told her?

Mrs. Harris explained rather dramatically that Mary was being
neglected. What could he say; to her? That he was a criminal breaking
drug regulations in the most flagrant manner? That nothing, not even
the child appointed to him, meant more to him than his wife's own
hypoalter? Bill finally ended the hopeless and possibly dangerous
conversation by turning off the receiver and leaving the apartment.

Bill realized that now, for both him and Clara, the greatest joy had
been those first few times together. The enormous threat of a Medicorps
retaliation took the pleasure from their contact and they came together
desperately because, having tasted this fantastic non-conformity and
the new undrugged intimacy, there was no other way for them. Even now
as he drove through the traffic toward where she would be waiting, he
was not so much concerned with meeting Clara in their fear-poisoned
present as with the vivid, aching remembrance of what those meetings
once had really been like.

He recalled an evening they had spent lying on the summer lawn of the
park, looking out at the haze-dimmed stars. It had been shortly after
Clara joined him in cutting down on the drugs, and the clear memory of
their quiet laughter so captured his mind now that Bill almost tangled
his car in the traffic.

In memory he kissed her again and, as it had then, the newly cut grass
mixed with the exciting fragrance of her skin. After the kiss they
continued a mock discussion of the ancient word "sin." Bill pretended
to be trying to explain the meaning of the word to her, sometimes with
definitions that kept them laughing and sometimes with demonstrational
kisses that stopped their laughter.

He could remember Clara's face turned to him in the evening light
with an outrageous parody of interest. He could hear himself saying,
"You see, the ancients would say we are not _sinning_ because they
would disagree with the medicops that you and Helen are two completely
different people, or that Conrad and I are not the same person."

Clara kissed him with an air of tentative experimentation. "Mmm, no. I
can't say I care for that interpretation."

"You'd rather be sinning?"

"Definitely."

"Well, if the ancients did agree with the medicops that we are
distinct from our alters, Helen and Conrad, then they would say we are
sinning--but not for the same reasons the Medicorps would give."

"That," asserted Clara, "is where I get lost. If this sinning business
is going to be worth anything at all, it has to be something you can
identify."

Bill cut his car out of the main stream of traffic and toward the park,
without interrupting his memory.

"Well, darling, I don't want to confuse you, but the medicops would
say we are sinning only because you are my wife's hypoalter, and I am
your husband's hyperalter--in other words, for the very reason the
ancients would say we are _not_ sinning. Furthermore, if either of us
were with anyone else, the medicops would think it was perfectly all
right, and so would Conrad and Helen. Provided, of course, I took a
hyperalter and you took a hypoalter only."

"Of course," Clara said, and Bill hurried over the gloomy fact.

"The ancients, on the other hand, would say we are sinning because we
are making love to someone we are not married to."

"But what's the matter with that? Everybody does it."

"The ancient Moderns didn't. Or, that is, they often did, but...."

Clara brought her full lips hungrily to his. "Darling, I think the
ancient Moderns had the right idea, though I don't see how they ever
arrived at it."

Bill grinned. "It was just an invention of theirs, along with the wheel
and atomic energy."

That evening was long gone by as Bill stopped the little taxi beside
the park and left it there for the next user. He walked across the
lawns toward the statue where he and Clara always met. The very thought
of entering one's own hypoalter's house was so unnerving that Bill
brought himself to do it only by first meeting Clara near the statue.
As he walked between the trees, Bill could not again capture the spirit
of that evening he had been remembering. The Medicorps was too close.
It was impossible to laugh that way now.

Bill arrived at the statue, but Clara was not there. He waited
impatiently while a livid sunset coagulated between the branches of the
great trees. Clara should have been there first. It was easier for her,
because she was leaving her shift, and without doing it prematurely.

The park was like a quiet backwater in the eddying rush of the evening
city. Bill felt conspicuous and vulnerable in the gloaming light. Above
all, he felt a new loneliness, and he knew that now Clara felt it, too.
They needed each other as each had been, before fear had bleached their
feeling to white bones of desperation.

They were not taking their drugs as prescribed, and for that they would
be horribly punished. That was the only unforgivable _sin_ in their
world. By committing it, he and Clara had found out what life could be,
in the same act that would surely take life from them. Their powerful
emotions they had found in abundance simply by refusing to take the
drugs, and by being together briefly each fifth day in a dangerous
breach of all convention. The closer their discovery and the greater
their terror, the more desperately they needed even their terror, and
the more impossible became the delight of their first meetings.

Telegraphing bright beads of sound, a night bird skimmed the sunset
lawns to the looming statue and skewed around its monolithic base. The
bird's piping doubled and then choked off as it veered frantically from
Bill. After a while, far off through the park, it released a fading
protest of song.

Above Bill, the towering statue of the great Alfred Morris blackened
against the sunset. The hollowed granite eyes bore down on him out
of an undecipherable dark ... the ancient, implacable face of the
Medicorps. As if to pronounce a sentence on his present crimes by a
magical disclosure of the weight of centuries, a pool of sulfurous
light and leaf shadows danced on the painted plaque at the base of the
statue.

    On this spot in the Gregorian year 1996, Alfred Morris announced to
    an assembly of war survivors the hypothalamic block. His stirring
    words were, "This new drug selectively halts at the thalamic brain
    the upward flow of unconscious stimuli and the downward flow of
    unconscious motivations. It acts as a screen between the cerebrum
    and the psychosomatic discharge system. Using hypothalamic block,
    we will not act emotively, we will initiate acts only from the
    logical demands of situations."

    This announcement and the subsequent wholehearted action of the
    war-weary people made the taking of hypothalamic block obligatory.
    This put an end to the powerful play of unconscious mind in the
    public and private affairs of the ancient world. It ended the
    great paranoid wars and saved mankind.

In the strange evening light, the letters seemed alive, a centuries-old
condemnation of any who might try to go back to the ancient
pre-pharmacy days. Of course, it was not really possible to go back.
Without drugs, everybody and all society would fall apart.

The ancients had first learned to keep endocrine deviates such as the
diabetic alive with drugs. Later they learned with other drugs to
"cure" the far more prevalent disease, schizophrenia, that was jamming
their hospitals. The big change came when the ancients used these same
drugs on everyone to control the private and public irrationality of
their time and stop the wars.

In this new, drugged world, the schizophrene thrived better than any,
and the world became patterned on him. But, just as the diabetic was
still diabetic, the schizophrene was still himself, plus the drugs.
Meanwhile, everyone had forgotten what it was the drugs did to
you--that the emotions experienced were blurred emotions, that insight
was at an isolated level of rationality because the drugs kept true
feelings from ever emerging.

How inconceivable it would be to Helen and the other people of his
world to live on as little drug as possible ... to experience the
conflicting emotions, the interplay of passion and logic that almost
tore you apart! Sober, the ancients called it, and they lived that way
most of the time, with only the occasional crude and clublike effects
of alcohol or narcotics to relieve their chronic anxiety.

By taking as little hypothalamic block as possible, he and Clara were
able to desire their fantastic attachment, to delight in an absolutely
illogical situation unheard of in their society. But the society would
judge their refusal to take hypothalamic block in only one sense. The
weight of this judgment stood before him in the smoldering words, "_It
ended the great paranoid wars and saved mankind_."

When Clara did appear, she was searching myopically in the wrong
vicinity of the statue. He did not call to her at once, letting the
sight of her smooth out the tensions in him, convert all the conflicts
into this one intense longing to be with her.

Her halting search for him was deeply touching, like that of a tragic
little puppet in a darkening dumbshow. He saw suddenly how like puppets
the two of them were. They were moved by the strengthening wires of a
new life of feeling to batter clumsily at an implacable stage setting
that would finally leave them as bits of wood and paper.

Then suddenly in his arms Clara was at the same time hungrily moving
and tense with fear of discovery. Little sounds of love and fear choked
each other in her throat. Her blonde head pressed tightly into his
shoulder and she clung to him with desperation.

She said, "Conrad was disturbed by my tension this morning and made me
take a sleeping compound. I've just awakened."

They walked to her home in silence and even in the darkened apartment
they used only the primitive monosyllables of apprehensive need. Beyond
these mere sounds of compassion, they had long ago said all that could
be said.

Because Bill was the hyperalter, he had no fear that Conrad could force
a shift on him. When later they lay in darkness, he allowed himself to
drift into a brief slumber. Without the sleeping compound, distorted
events came and went without reason. Dreaming, the ancients had called
it. It was one of the most frightening things that had begun to happen
when he first cut down on the drugs. Now, in the few seconds that he
dozed, a thousand fragments of incidental knowledge, historical reading
and emotional need melded and, in a strange contrast to their present
tranquility, he was dreaming a frightful moment in the 20th century.
_These are the great paranoid wars_, he thought. And it was so because
he had thought it.

He searched frantically through the glove compartment of an ancient
automobile. "Wait," he pleaded. "I tell you we have sulfonamide-14.
We've been taking it regularly as directed. We took a double dose back
in Paterson because there were soft-bombs all through that part of
Jersey and we didn't know what would be declared Plague Area next."

Now Bill threw things out of his satchel onto the floor and seat of
the car, fumbling deeper by the flashlight Clara held. His heart beat
thickly with terror. Then he remembered his pharmacase. Oh, why hadn't
they remembered sooner about their pharmacases. Bill tore at the belt
about his waist.

The Medicorps captain stepped back from the door of their car. He
jerked his head at the dark form of the corporal standing in the
roadway. "Shoot them. Run the car off the embankment before you burn
it."

Bill screamed metallically through the speaker of his radiation mask.
"Wait. I've found it." He thrust the pharmacase out the door of the
car. "This is a pharmacase," he explained. "We keep our drugs in one of
these and it's belted to our waist so we are never without them."

The captain of the Medicorps came back. He inspected the pharmacase and
the drugs and returned it. "From now on, keep your drugs handy. Take
them without fail according to radio instructions. Do you understand?"

Clara's head pressed heavily against Bill's shoulder, and he could hear
the tinny sound of her sobbing through the speaker of her mask.

The captain stepped into the road again. "We'll have to burn your
car. You passed through a Plague Area and it can't be sterilized on
this route. About a mile up this road you'll come to a sterilization
unit. Stop and have your person and belongings rayed. After that, keep
walking, but stick to the road. You'll be shot if you're caught off it."

The road was crowded with fleeing people. Their way was lighted by
piles of cadavers writhing in gasoline flames. The Medicorps was
everywhere. Those who stumbled, those who coughed, the delirious and
their helping partners ... these were taken to the side of the road,
shot and burned. And there was bombing again to the south.

Bill stopped in the middle of the road and looked back. Clara clung to
him.

"There is a plague here we haven't any drug for," he said, and realized
he was crying. "We are all mad."

Clara was crying too. "Darling, what have you done? Where are the
drugs?"

The water of the Hudson hung as it had in the late afternoon, ice
crystals in the stratosphere. The high, high sheet flashed and glowed
in the new bombing to the south, where multicolored pillars of flame
boiled into the sky. But the muffled crash of the distant bombing was
suddenly the steady click of the urgent signal on a bedside visiophone,
and Bill was abruptly awake.

Clara was throwing on her robe and moving toward the machine on
terror-rigid limbs. With a scrambling motion, Bill got out of the
possible view of the machine and crouched at the end of the room.

Distinctly, he could hear the machine say, "Clara Manz?"

"Yes." Clara's voice was a thin treble that could have been a shriek
had it continued.

"This is Medicorps Headquarters. A routine check discloses you have
delayed your shift two hours. To maintain the statistical record of
deviations, please give us a full explanation."

"I ..." Clara had to swallow before she could talk. "I must have taken
too much sleeping compound."

"Mrs. Manz, our records indicate that you have been delaying your shift
consistently for several periods now. We made a check of this as a
routine follow up on any such deviation, but the discovery is quite
serious." There was a harsh silence, a silence that demanded a logical
answer. But how could there be a logical answer?

"My hyperalter hasn't complained and I--well, I have just let a bad
habit develop. I'll see that it--doesn't happen again."

The machine voiced several platitudes about the responsibilities of one
personality to another and the duty of all to society before Clara was
able to shut it off.

Both of them sat as they were for a long, long time while the tide of
terror subsided. When at last they looked at each other across the dim
and silent room, both of them knew there could be at least one more
time together before they were caught.

       *       *       *       *       *

Five days later, on the last day of her shift, Mary Walden wrote the
address of her appointed father's hypoalter, Conrad Manz, with an
indelible pencil on the skin just below her armpit.

During the morning, her father and mother had spoiled the family rest
day by quarreling. It was about Helen's hypoalter delaying so many
shifts. Bill did not think it very important, but her mother was angry
and threatened to complain to the Medicorps.

The lunch was eaten in silence, except that at one point Bill said, "It
seems to me Conrad and Clara Manz are guilty of a peculiar marriage,
not us. Yet they seem perfectly happy with it and you're the one who is
made unhappy. The woman has probably just developed a habit of taking
too much sleeping compound for her rest day naps. Why don't you drop
her a note?"

Helen made only one remark. It was said through her teeth and very
softly. "Bill, I would just as soon the child did not realize her
relationship to this sordid situation."

Mary cringed over the way Helen disregarded her hearing, the
possibility that she might be capable of understanding, or her feelings
about being shut out of their mutual world.

After the lunch Mary cleared the table, throwing the remains of the
meal and the plastiplates into the flash trash disposer. Her father had
retreated to the library room and Helen was getting ready to attend
a Citizen's Meeting. Mary heard her mother enter the room to say
good-bye while she was wiping the dining table. She knew that Helen was
standing, well-dressed and a little impatient, just behind her, but she
pretended she did not know.

"Darling, I'm leaving now for the Citizen's Meeting."

"Oh ... yes."

"Be a good girl and don't be late for your shift. You only have an hour
now." Helen's patrician face smiled.

"I won't be late."

"Don't pay any attention to the things Bill and I discussed this
morning, will you?"

"No."

And she was gone. She did not say good-bye to Bill.

Mary was very conscious of her father in the house. He continued to sit
in the library. She walked by the door and she could see him sitting in
a chair, staring at the floor. Mary stood in the sun room for a long
while. If he had risen from his chair, if he had rustled a page, if he
had sighed, she would have heard him.

It grew closer and closer to the time she would have to leave if Susan
Shorrs was to catch the first school hours of her shift. Why did
children have to shift half a day before adults?

Finally, Mary thought of something to say. She could let him know she
was old enough to understand what the quarrel had been about if only it
were explained to her.

Mary went into the library and hesitantly sat on the edge, of a couch
near him. He did not look at her and his face seemed gray in the midday
light. Then she knew that he was lonely, too. But a great feeling of
tenderness for him went through her.

"Sometimes I think you and Clara Manz must be the only people in the
world," she said abruptly, "who aren't so silly about shifting right
on the dot. Why, I don't _care_ if Susan Shorrs _is_ an hour late for
classes!"

Those first moments when he seized her in his arms, it seemed her heart
would shake loose. It was as though she had uttered some magic formula,
one that had abruptly opened the doors to his love. It was only after
he had explained to her why he was always late on the first day of the
family shift that she knew something was wrong. He _did_ tell her, over
and over, that he knew she was unhappy and that it was his fault. But
he was at the same time soothing her, petting her, as if _he was afraid
of her_.

He talked on and on. Gradually, Mary understood in his trembling body,
in his perspiring palms, in his pleading eyes, that he was afraid of
dying, that he was afraid _she_ would kill him with the merest thing
she said, with her very presence.

This was not painful to Mary, because, suddenly, something came with
ponderous enormity to stand before her: _I would just as soon the child
did not realize her relationship to this sordid situation._

Her relationship. It was some kind of relationship to Conrad and Clara
Manz, because those were the people they had been talking about.

The moment her father left the apartment, she went to his desk and
took out the file of family records. After she found the address of
Conrad Manz, the idea occurred to her to write it on her body. Mary was
certain that Susan Shorrs never bathed and she thought this a clever
idea. Sometime on Susan's rest day, five days from now, she would try
to force the shift and go to see Conrad and Clara Manz. Her plan was
simple in execution, but totally vague as to goal.

Mary was already late when she hurried to the children's section of a
public shifting station. A Children's Transfer Bus was waiting, and
Mary registered on it for Susan Shorrs to be taken to school. After
that she found a shifting room and opened it with her wristband. She
changed into a shifting costume and sent her own clothes and belongings
home.

Children her age did not wear makeup, but Mary always stood at the
mirror during the shift. She always tried as hard as she could to
see what Susan Shorrs looked like. She giggled over a verse that was
scrawled beside the mirror ...

    Rouge your hair and comb your face;
    Many a third head is lost in this place.

... and then the shift came, doubly frightening because of what she
knew she was going to do.

       *       *       *       *       *

Especially if you were a hyperalter like Mary, you were supposed to
have some sense of the passage of time while you were out of shift. Of
course, you did not know what was going on, but it was as though a more
or less accurate chronometer kept running when you went out of shift.
Apparently Mary's was highly inaccurate, because, to her horror, she
found herself sitting bolt upright in one of Mrs. Harris's classes, not
out on the playgrounds, where she had expected Susan Shorrs to be.

Mary was terrified, and the ugly school dress Susan had been wearing
accented, by its strangeness, the seriousness of her premature shift.
Children weren't supposed to show much difference from hyperalter to
hypoalter, but when she raised her eyes, her fright grew. Children did
change. She hardly recognized anyone in the room, though most of them
must be the alters of her own classmates. Mrs. Harris was a B-shift and
overlapped both Mary and Susan, but otherwise Mary recognized only Carl
Blair's hypoalter because of his freckles.

Mary knew she had to get out of there or Mrs. Harris would eventually
recognize her. If she left the room quietly, Mrs. Harris would not
question her unless she recognized her. It was no use trying to guess
how Susan would walk.

Mary stood and went toward the door, glad that it turned her back to
Mrs. Harris. It seemed to her that she could feel the teacher's eyes
stabbing through her back.

But she walked safely from the room. She dashed down the school
corridor and out into the street. So great was her fear of what she was
doing that her hypoalter's world actually seemed like a different one.

It was a long way for Mary to walk across town, and when she rang the
bell, Conrad Manz was already home from work. He smiled at her and she
loved him at once.

"Well, what do you want, young lady?" he asked.

Mary couldn't answer him. She just smiled back.

"What's your name, eh?"

Mary went right on smiling, but suddenly he blurred in front of her.

"Here, here! There's nothing to cry about. Come on in and let's see if
we can help you. Clara! We have a visitor, a very sentimental visitor."

Mary let him put his big arm around her shoulder and draw her, crying,
into the apartment. Then she saw Clara swimming before her, looking
like her mother, but ... no, not at all like her mother.

"Now, see here, chicken, what is it you've come for?" Conrad asked when
her crying stopped.

Mary had to stare hard at the floor to be able to say it. "I want to
live with you."

Clara was twisting and untwisting a handkerchief. "But, child, we have
already had our first baby appointed to us. He'll be with us next
shift, and after that I have to bear a baby for someone else to keep.
We wouldn't be allowed to take care of you."

"I thought maybe I was your real child." Mary said it helplessly,
knowing in advance what the answer would be.

"Darling," Clara soothed, "children don't live with their natural
parents. It's neither practical nor civilized. I have had a child
conceived and borne on my shift, and this baby is my exchange, so you
see that you are much too old to be my conception. Whoever your natural
parents may be, it is just something on record with the Medicorps
Genetic Division and isn't important."

"But you're a special case," Mary pressed. "I thought because it was a
special arrangement that you were my real parents." She looked up and
she saw that Clara had turned white.

And now Conrad Manz was agitated, too. "What do you mean, we're a
special case?" He was staring hard at her.

"Because...." And now for the first time Mary realized how special this
case was, how sensitive they would be about it.

He grasped her by the shoulders and turned her so she faced his
unblinking eyes. "I said, what do you mean, we're a special case?
Clara, what in thirty heads does this kid mean?"

His grip hurt her and she began to cry again. She broke away. "You're
the hypoalters of my appointed father and mother. I thought maybe when
it was like that, I might be your real child ... and you might want me.
I don't want to be where I am. I want somebody...."

Clara was calm now, her sudden fear gone. "But, darling, if you're
unhappy where you are, only the Medicorps can reappoint you. Besides,
maybe your appointed parents are just having some personal problems
right now. Maybe if you tried to understand them, you would see that
they really love you."

Conrad's face showed that he did not understand. He spoke with a stiff,
quiet voice and without taking his eyes from Mary. "What are you doing
here? My own hyperalter's kid in my house, throwing it up to me that
I'm married to his wife's hypoalter!"

They did not feel the earth move, as she fearfully did. They sat there,
staring at her, as though they might sit forever while she backed away,
out of the apartment, and ran into her collapsing world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Conrad Manz's rest day fell the day after Bill Walden's kid showed
up at his apartment. It was ten days since that strait jacket of a
conference on Santa Fe had lost him a chance to blast off a rocket
racer. This time, on the practical knowledge that emergency business
conferences were seldom called after lunch, Conrad had placed his
reservation for a racer in the afternoon. The visit from Mary Walden
had upset him every time he thought of it. Since it was his rest day,
he had no intention of thinking about it and Conrad's scrupulously
drugged mind was capable of just that.

So now, in the lavish coolness of the lounge at the Rocket Club, Conrad
sipped his drink contentedly and made no contribution to the gloomy
conversation going on around him.

"Look at it this way," the melancholy face of Alberts, a pilot from
England, morosely emphasized his tone. "It takes about 10,000 economic
units to jack a forty ton ship up to satellite level and snap it around
the course six times. That's just practice for us. On the other hand,
an intellectual fellow who spends his spare time at a microfilm library
doesn't use up 1,000 units in a year. In fact, his spare time activity
may turn up as units gained. The Economic Board doesn't argue that all
pastime should be gainful. They just say rocket racing wastes more
economic units than most pilots make on their work days. I tell you the
day is almost here when they ban the rockets."

"That's just it," another pilot put in. "There was a time when you
could show that rocket races were necessary for better spaceship
design. Design has gone way beyond that. From their point of view we
just burn up units as fast as other people create them. And it's no use
trying to argue for the television shows. The Board can prove people
would rather see a jet-skiing meet at a cost of about one-hundredth
that of a rocket race."

Conrad Manz grinned into his drink. He had been aware for several
minutes that pert little Angela, Alberts' soft-eyed, husky-voiced wife,
was trying to catch his eye. But stranded as she was in the buzzing
traffic of rockets, she was trying to hail the wrong rescuer. He had
about fifteen minutes till the ramp boys would have a ship ready for
him. Much as he liked Angela, he wasn't going to miss that race.

Still, he let his grin broaden and, looking up at her, he lied
maliciously by nodding. She interpreted this signal as he knew she
would. Well, at least he would afford her a graceful exit from the
boring conversation.

He got up and went over and took her hand. Her full lips parted a
little and she kissed him on the mouth.

Conrad turned to Alberts and interrupted him. "Angela and I would like
to spend a little time together. Do you mind?"

Alberts was annoyed at having his train of thought broken and rather
snapped out the usual courtesy. "Of course not. I'm glad for both of
you."

Conrad looked the group over with a bland stare. "Have you lads ever
tried jet-skiing? There's more genuine excitement in ten minutes of it
than an hour of rocket racing. Personally, I don't care if the Board
does ban the rockets soon. I'll just hop out to the Rocky Mountains on
rest days."

       *       *       *       *       *

Conrad knew perfectly well that if he had made this assertion before
asking Alberts for his wife, the man would have found some excuse to
have her remain. All the faces present displayed the _aficionado's_
disdain for one who has just demonstrated he doesn't _belong_. What the
straitjacket did they think they were--some ancient order of noblemen?

Conrad took Angela's yielding arm and led her serenely away before
Alberts could think of anything to detain her.

On the way out of the lounge, she stroked his arm with frank
admiration. "I'm so glad you were agreeable. Honestly, Harold could
talk rockets till I died."

Conrad bent and kissed her. "Angela, I'm sorry, but this isn't going
to be what you think. I have a ship to take off in just a few minutes."

She flared and dug into his arm now. "Oh, Conrad Manz! You ... you made
me believe...."

He laughed and grabbed her wrists. "Now, now. I'm neglecting you to
_fly_ a rocket, not just to talk about them. I won't let you die."

At that she could not suppress her husky musical laugh. "I found that
out the last time you and I were together. Clara and I had a drink the
other day at the Citizen's Club. I don't often use dirty language, but
I told Clara she must be keeping you in a _straitjacket_ at home."

Conrad frowned, wishing she hadn't brought up the subject. It worried
him off and on that something was wrong with Clara, something even
worse than that awful _dreaming_ business ten days ago. For several
shifts now she had been cold, nor was it just a temporary lack of
interest in himself, for she was also cold to the men of their
acquaintance of whom she was usually quite fond. As for himself, he had
had to depend on casual contacts such as Angela. Not that they weren't
pleasant, but a man and wife were supposed to maintain a healthy
love life between themselves, and it usually meant trouble with the
Medicorps when this broke down.

Angela glanced at him. "I didn't think Clara laughed well at my remark.
Is something wrong between you?"

"Oh, no," he declared hastily. "Clara is sometimes that way ... doesn't
catch a joke right off."

A page boy approached them where they stood in the rotunda and advised
Conrad that his ship was ready.

"Honestly, Angela, I'll make it up, I promise."

"I know you will, darling. And at least I'm grateful you saved me from
all those rocket jets in there." Angela raised her lips for a kiss and
afterward, as she pushed him toward the door, her slightly vacant face
smiled at him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Out on the ramp, Conrad found another pilot ready to take off. They
made two wagers--first to reach the racing course, and winner in a
six-lap heat around the six-hundred-mile hexagonal course.

They fired together and Conrad blasted his ship up on a thunderous
column of flame that squeezed him into his seat. He was good at this
and he knew he would win the lift to the course. On the course,
though, if his opponent was any good at all, Conrad would probably
lose because he enjoyed slamming the ship around the course in his
wasteful, swashbuckling style much more than merely winning the heat.

Conrad kept his drive on till the last possible second and then shot
out his nose jets. The ship shuddered up through another hundred miles
and came to a lolling halt near the starting buoys. The other pilot
gasped when Conrad shouted at him over the intership, "The winner by
all thirty heads!"

It was generally assumed that a race up to the course consisted of
cutting all jets when you had enough lift, and using the nose brakes
only to correct any over-shot. "What did you do, just keep your power
on and flip the ship around?" The other racer coasted up to Conrad's
level and steadied with a brief forward burst.

They got the automatic signal from the starting buoy and went for the
first turn, nose and nose, about half a mile apart. Conrad lost 5000
yards on the first turn by shoving his power too hard against the
starboard steering Jets.

It made a pretty picture when a racer hammered its way around a turn
that way with a fan of outside jets holding it in place. The Other
fellow made his turns cleanly, using mostly the driving jets for
steering. But that didn't look like much to those who happened to
flip on their television while this little heat was in progress. On
every turn, Conrad lost a little in space, but not in the eye of the
automatic televisor on the buoy marking the turn. As usual, he cut
closer to the buoys than regulations allowed, to give the folks a show.

Without the slightest regret, Conrad lost the heat by a full two sides
of the hexagon. He congratulated his opponent and watched the fellow
let his ship down carefully toward earth on its tail jets. For a while
Conrad lolled his ship around near the starting buoy and its probably
watching eye, flipping through a series of complicated maneuvers with
the steering jets.

Conrad did not like the grim countenance of outer space. The lifeless,
gemlike blaze of cloud upon cloud of stars in the perspectiveless black
repelled him. He liked rocket racing only because of the neat timing
necessary, and possibly because the knowledge that he indulged in it
scared poor old Bill Walden half to death.

Today the bleak aspect of the Galaxy harried his mind back upon its
own problems. A particularly nasty association of Clara with Bill
Walden and his sniveling kid kept dogging Conrad's mind and, as soon as
stunting had exhausted his excess of fuel, he turned the ship to earth
and sent it in with a short, spectacular burst.

Now that he stopped to consider it, Clara's strange behavior had begun
at about the same time that Bill Walden started cheating on the shifts.
That kid Mary must have known something was going on, or she would not
have done such a disgusting thing as to come to their apartment.

Conrad had let the rocket fall nose-down, until now it was screaming
into the upper ionosphere. With no time to spare, he swiveled the ship
on its guiding jets and opened the drive blast at the up-rushing earth.
He had just completed this wrenching maneuver when two appalling things
happened together.

Conrad suddenly knew, whether as a momentary leak from Bill's mind to
his, or as a rapid calculation of his own, that Bill Walden and Clara
shared a secret. At the same moment, something tore through his mind
like fingers of chill wind. With seven gravities mashing him into the
bucket-seat, he grunted curses past thin-stretched lips.

"Great blue psychiatrists! What in thirty straitjackets is that
three-headed fool trying to do, kill us both?"

Conrad just managed to raise his leaden hand and set the plummeting
racer for automatic pilot before Bill Walden forced him out of the
shift. In his last moment of consciousness, and in the shock of his
overwhelming shame, Conrad felt the bitter irony that he could not cut
the power and kill Bill Walden.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Bill Walden became conscious of the thunderous clamor of the
braking ship and the awful weight of deceleration into which he had
shifted, the core of him froze. He was so terrified that he could not
have thought of reshifting even had there been time.

His head rolled on the pad in spite of its weight, and he saw the
earth coming at him like a monstrous swatter aimed at a fly. Between
his fright and the inhuman gravity, he lost consciousness without ever
seeing on the control panel the red warning that saved him: _Automatic
Pilot_.

The ship settled itself on the ramp in a mushroom of fire. Bill
regained awareness several seconds later. He was too shaken to do
anything but sit there for a long time.

When at last he felt capable of moving, he struggled with the door till
he found how to open it, and climbed down to the still-hot ramp he had
landed on. It was at least a mile to the Rocket Club across the barren
flat of the field, and he set out on foot. Shortly, however, a truck
came speeding across to him.

The driver leaned out. "Hey, Conrad, what's the matter? Why didn't you
pull the ship over to the hangars?"

With Conrad's makeup on, Bill felt he could probably get by. "Controls
aren't working," he offered noncommittally.

At the club, a place he had never been to before in his life, Bill
found an unused helicopter and started it with his wristband. He flew
the machine into town to the landing station nearest his home.

He was doomed, he knew. Conrad certainly would report him for this.
He had not intended to force the shift so early or so violently.
Perhaps he had not intended to force it at all this time. But there was
something in him more powerful than himself ... a need to break the
shift and be with Clara that now acted almost independently of him and
certainly without regard for his safety.

Bill flew his craft carefully through the city traffic, working his way
between the widely spaced towers with the uncertain hand of one to whom
machines are not an extension of the body. He put the helicopter down
at the landing station with some difficulty.

Clara would not be expecting him so early. From his apartment, as soon
as he had changed makeup, he visiophoned her. It was strange how long
and how carefully they needed to look at each other and how few words
they could say.

Afterward, he seemed calmer and went about getting ready with more
efficiency. But when he found himself addressing the package of
Conrad's clothes to his home, he chuckled bitterly.

It was when he went back to drop the package in the mail chute that he
noticed the storage room door ajar. He disposed of the package and went
over to the door. Then he stood still, listening. He had to stop his
own breathing to hear clearly.

Bill tightened himself and opened the door. He flipped on the light and
saw Mary. The child sat on the floor in the corner with her knees drawn
up against her chest. Between the knees and the chest, the frail wrists
were crossed, the hands closed limply like--like those of a fetus. The
forehead rested on the knees so that, should the closed eyes stray
open, they would be looking at the placid hands.

The sickening sight of the child squeezed down on his heart till the
color drained from his face. He went forward and knelt before her. His
dry throat hammered with the words, _what have I done to you_, but he
could not speak. The question of how long she might have been here, he
could not bear to think.

He put out his hand, but he did not touch her. A shudder of revulsion
shook him and he scrambled to his feet. He hurried back into the
apartment with only one thought. He must get someone to help her. Only
the Medicorps could take care of a situation like this.

As he stood at the visiophone, he knew that this involuntary act of
panic had betrayed all that he had ever thought and done. He had to
call the Medicorps. He could not face the result of his own behavior
without them. Like a ghostly after-image, he saw Clara's face on the
screen. She was lost, cut off, with only himself to depend on.

A part of him, a place where there were no voices and a great tragedy,
had been abruptly shut off. He stood stupidly confused and disturbed
about something he couldn't recall. The emotion in his body suddenly
had no referent. He stood like a badly frightened animal while his
heart slowed and blood seeped again into whitened parenchymas, while
tides of epinephrine burned lower.

Remembering he must hurry, Bill left the apartment. It was an apartment
with its storage room door closed, an apartment without a storage room.

From the moment that he walked in and took Clara in his arms, he was
not worried about being caught. He felt only the great need for her.
There seemed only one difference from the first time and it was a good
difference, because now Clara was so tense and apprehensive. He felt
a new tenderness for her, as one might feel for a child. It seemed to
him that there was no end to the well of gentleness and compassion that
was suddenly in him. He was mystified by the depth of this feeling.
He kissed her again and again and petted her as one might a disturbed
child.

Clara said, "Oh, Bill, we're doing wrong! Mary was here yesterday!"

Whoever she meant, it had no meaning for him. He said, "It's all right.
You mustn't worry."

"She needs you, Bill, and I take you away from her."

Whatever it was she was talking about was utterly unimportant beside
the fact that she was not happy herself. He soothed her. "Darling, you
mustn't worry about it. Let's be happy the way we used to be."

He led her to a couch and they sat together, her head resting on his
shoulder.

"Conrad is worried about me. He knows something is wrong. Oh, Bill, if
he knew, he'd demand the worst penalty for you."

Bill felt the stone of fear come back in his chest. He thought, too,
of Helen, of how intense her shame would be. Medicorps action would be
machinelike, logical as a set of equation; they were very likely to
take more drastic steps where the complaints would be so strong and no
request for leniency forthcoming. Conrad knew now, of course. Bill had
felt his hate.

It was nearing the end. Death would come to Bill with electronic
fingers. A ghostly probing in his mind and suddenly....

Clara's great unhappiness and the way she turned her head into his
shoulder to cry forced him to calm the rising panic in himself, and
again to caress the fear from her.

Even later, when they lay where the moonlight thrust into the room
an impalpable shaft of alabaster, he loved her only as a succor.
Carefully, slowly, smoothing out her mind, drawing it away from all the
other things, drawing it down into this one thing. Gathering all her
mind into her senses and holding it there. Then quickly taking it away
from her in a moaning spasm so that now she was murmuring, murmuring,
palely drifting. Sleeping like a loved child.

For a long, long time he watched the white moon cut its arc across
their window. He listened with a deep pleasure to her evenly breathing
sleep. But slowly he realized that her breath had changed, that the
body so close to his was tensing. His heart gave a great bound and tiny
moths of horror fluttered along his back. He raised himself and saw
that the eyes were open in the silver light. Even through the makeup he
saw that they were Helen's eyes.

He did the only thing left for him. He shifted. But in that terrible
instant he understood something he had not anticipated. In Helen's eyes
there was not only intense shame over shifting into her hypoalter's
home; there was not only the disgust with himself for breaking
communication codes. He saw that, as a woman of the 20th Century might
have felt, Helen hated Clara as a sexual rival. She hated Clara doubly
because he had turned not to some other woman, but to the other part of
herself whom she could never know.

As he shifted, Bill knew that the next light he saw would be on the
adamant face of the Medicorps.

       *       *       *       *       *

Major Paul Grey, with two other Medicorps officers, entered the
Walden apartment about two hours after Bill left it to meet Clara.
Major Grey was angry with himself. Important information on a case
of communication-breaks and drug-refusal could be learned by letting
it run its course under observation. But he had not intended Conrad
Manz's life to be endangered, and certainly he would not have taken the
slightest chance on what they found in the Walden apartment if he had
expected it this early.

Major Grey blamed himself for what had happened to Mary Walden. He
should have had the machines watching Susan and Mary at the same time
that they were relaying all wristband data for Bill and Conrad and for
Helen and Clara to his office.

He had not done this because it was Susan's shift and he had not
expected Mary to break it. Now he knew that Helen and Bill Walden
had been quarreling over the fact that Clara was cheating on Helen's
shifts, and their conversations had directed the unhappy child's
attention to the Manz couple. She had broken shift to meet them ...
looking for a loving father, of course.

Still--things would not have turned out so badly if Captain Thiel,
Mary's school officer, had not attributed Susan Shorrs' disappearance
only to poor drug acclimatization. Captain Thiel had naturally known
that Major Grey was in town to prosecute Bill Walden, because the major
had called on him to discuss the case. Yet it had not occurred to him,
until 18 hours after Susan's disappearance, that Mary might have forced
the shift for some reason associated with her aberrant father.

By the time the captain advised him, Major Grey already knew that Bill
had forced the shift on Conrad under desperate circumstances and he had
decided to close in. He fully expected to find the father and daughter
at the apartment, and now ... it sickened him to see the child's
demented condition and realize that Bill had left her there.

Major Grey could see at a glance that Mary Walden would not be
accessible for days even with the best treatment. He left it to the
other two officers to hospitalize the child and set out for the Manz
apartment.

He used his master wristband to open the door there, and found a woman
standing in the middle of the room, wrapped in a sheet. He knew that
this must be Helen Walden. It was odd how ill-fitting Clara Manz's
softly sensual makeup seemed, even to a stranger, on the more rigidly
composed face before him. He guessed that Helen would wear color higher
on her cheeks and the mouth would be done in severe lines. Certainly
the present haughty face struggled with its incongruous makeup as well
as the indignity of her dress.

She pulled the sheet tighter about her and said icily, "I will not wear
that woman's clothes."

Major Grey introduced himself and asked, "Where is Bill Walden?"

"He shifted! He left me with.... Oh, I'm so ashamed!"

Major Grey shared her loathing. There was no way to escape the
conditioning of childhood--sex relations between hyperalter and
hypoalter were more than outlawed, they were in themselves disgusting.
If they were allowed, they could destroy this civilization. Those
idealists--they were almost all hypoalters, of course--who wanted the
old terminology changed didn't take that into account. Next thing
they'd want children to live with their actual parents!

Major Grey stepped into the bedroom. Through the bathroom door beyond,
he could see Conrad Manz changing his makeup.

Conrad turned and eyed him bluntly. "Would you mind staying out of here
till I'm finished? I've had about all I can take."

Major Grey shut the door and returned to Helen Walden. He took a
hypothalamic block from his own pharmacase and handed it to her. "Here,
you're probably on very low drug levels. You'd better take this." He
poured her a glass of pop from a decanter and, while they waited for
Conrad, he dialed the nearest shifting station on the visiophone and
ordered up an emergency shifting costume for her.

When at last they were both dressed, made up to their satisfaction and
drugged to his satisfaction, he had them sit on a couch together across
from him. They sat at opposite ends of it, stiff with resentment at
each other's presence.

Major Grey said calmly, "You realize that this matter is coming to a
Medicorps trial. It will be serious."

Major Grey watched their faces. On hers he saw grim determination. On
Conrad's face he saw the heavy movement of alarm. The man loved his
wife. That was going to help. "It is necessary in a case such as this
for the Medicorps to weigh your decisions along with the scientific
evidence we will accumulate. Unfortunately, the number of laymen
directly involved in this case--and not on trial--is only two, due
to your peculiar marriage. If the hypoalters, Clara and Conrad, were
married to other partners, we might call on as many as six involved
persons and obtain a more equitable lay judgment. As it stands, the
entire responsibility rests on the two of you."

Helen Walden was primly confident. "I don't see how we can fail to
treat the matter with perfect logic. After all, it is not _we_ who
neglect our drug levels.... They _were_ refusing to take their drugs,
weren't they?" she asked, hoping for the worst and certain she was
right.

"Yes, this is drug refusal." Major Grey paused while she relished the
answer. "But I must correct you in one impression. Your proper drug
levels do not assure that you will act logically in this matter. The
drugged mind _is_ logical. However, its fundamental datum is that the
drugs and drugged minds must be protected before everything else." He
watched Conrad's face while he added, "Because of this, it is possible
for you to arrive logically at a conclusion that ... death is the
required solution." He paused, looking at their white lips. Then he
said, "Actually, other, more suitable solutions may be possible."

"But they _were_ refusing their drugs," she said. "You talk as if you
are defending them. Aren't you a Medicorps prosecutor?"

"I do not prosecute _people_ in the ancient 20th Century sense, Mrs.
Walden. I prosecute the _acts_ of drug refusal and communication
breaks. There is quite a difference."

"Well!" she said almost explosively. "I always knew Bill would get
into trouble sooner or later with his wild, antisocial ideas. I never
_dreamed_ the Medicorps would take _his_ side."

Major Grey held his breath, almost certain now that she would walk into
the trap. If she did, he could save Clara Manz before the trial.

"After all, they have broken every communication code. They have
refused the drugs, a defiance aimed at our very lives. They--"

"Shut up!" It was the first time Conrad Manz had spoken since he sat
down. "The Medicorps spent weeks gathering evidence and preparing their
recommendations. You haven't seen any of that and you've already made
up your mind. How logical is that? It sounds as if you _want_ your
husband dead. Maybe the poor devil had some reason, after all, for what
he did." On the man's face there was the nearest approach to hate that
the drugs would allow.

Major Grey let his breath out softly. They were split permanently. She
would have to trade him a mild decision on Clara in order to save Bill.
And even there, if the subsequent evidence gave any slight hope, Major
Grey believed now that he could work on Conrad to hang the lay judgment
and let the Medicorps' scientific recommendation go through unmodified.

He let them stew in their cross-purposed silence for a while and then
nailed home a disconcerting fact.

"I think I should remind you that there are few advantages to having
your alter extinguished in the _mnemonic eraser_. A man whose
hyperalter has been extinguished must report on his regular shift days
to a hospital and be placed for five days in suspended animation. This
is not very healthy for the body, but necessary. Otherwise, everyone's
natural distaste for his own alter and the understandable wish to spend
twice as much time living would generate schemes to have one's alter
sucked out by the eraser. That happened extensively back in the 21st
Century before the five day suspension was required. It was also used
as a 'cure' for schizophrenia, but it was, of course, only the brutal
murder of innocent personalities."

Major Grey smiled grimly to himself. "Now I will have to ask you both
to accompany me to the hospital. I will want you, Mrs. Walden, to shift
at once to Mrs. Manz. Mr. Manz, you will have to remain under the close
observation of an officer until Bill Walden tries to shift back. We
have to catch him with an injection to keep him in shift."

       *       *       *       *       *

The young medicop put the syringe aside and laid his hand on Bill
Walden's forehead. He pushed the hair back out of Bill's eyes.

"There, Mr. Walden, you don't have to struggle now."

Bill let his breath out in a long sigh. "You've caught me. I can't
shift any more, can I?"

"That's right, Mr. Walden. Not unless we want you to." The young man
picked up his medical equipment and stepped aside.

Bill noticed then the Medicorps officer standing in the background. The
man was watching as though he contemplated some melancholy distance. "I
am Major Grey, Bill. I'm handling your case."

Bill did not answer. He lay staring at the hospital ceiling. Then he
felt his mouth open in a slow grin.

"What's funny?" Major Grey asked mildly.

"Leaving my hypoalter with my wife," Bill answered candidly. It had
already ceased to be funny to him, but he saw Major Grey smile in
spite of himself.

"They were quite upset when I found them. It must have been some
scramble before that." Major Grey came over and sat in the chair
vacated by the young man who had just injected Bill. "You know, Bill,
we will need a complete analysis of you. We want to do everything we
can to save you, but it will require your cooperation."

Bill nodded, feeling his chest tighten. Here it came. Right to the end,
they would be tearing him apart to find out what made him work.

Major Grey must have sensed Bill's bitter will to resist. His resonant
voice was soft, his face kindly. "We must have your sincere desire to
help. We can't force you to do anything."

"Except die," Bill said.

"Maybe helping us get the information that might save your life at the
trial isn't worth the trouble to you. But your aberration has seriously
disturbed the lives of several people. Don't you think you owe it to
them to help us prevent this sort of thing in the future?" Major Grey
ran his hand through his whitening hair. "I thought you would like
to know Mary will come through all right. We will begin shortly to
acclimatize her to her new appointed parents, who will be visiting her
each day. That will accelerate her recovery a great deal. Of course,
right now she is still inaccessible."

The brutally clear picture of Mary alone in the storage room crashed
back into Bill's mind. After a while, in such slow stages that the
beginning was hardly noticeable, he began to cry. The young medicop
injected him with a sleeping compound, but not before Bill knew he
would do whatever the Medicorps wanted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day was crowded with battery after battery of tests. The
interviews were endless. He was subjected to a hundred artificial
situations and every reaction from his blood sugar to the frequency
ranges of his voice was measured. They gave him only small amounts of
drugs in order to test his reaction to them.

Late in the evening, Major Grey came by and interrupted an officer who
was taking an electroencephalogram for the sixth time after injection
of a drug.

"All right, Bill, you have really given us cooperation. But after
you've had your dinner, I hope you won't mind if I come to your room
and talk with you for a little while."

When Bill finished eating, he waited impatiently in his room for the
Medicorps officer. Major Grey came soon after. He shook his head at
the mute question Bill shot at him.

"No, Bill. We will not have the results of your tests evaluated until
late tomorrow morning. I can't tell you a thing until the trial in any
case."

"When will that be?"

"As soon as the evaluation of your tests is in." Major Grey ran his
hand over his smooth chin and seemed to sigh. "Tell me, Bill, how do
you feel about your case? How did you get into this situation and what
do you think about it now?" The officer sat in the room's only chair
and motioned Bill to the cot.

Bill was astonished at his sudden desire to talk about his problem. He
had to laugh to cover it up. "I guess I feel as if I am being condemned
for trying to stay sober." Bill used the ancient word with a mock tone
of righteousness that he knew the major would understand.

Major Grey smiled. "How do you feel when you're sober?"

Bill searched his face. "The way the ancient Moderns did, I guess. I
feel what happens to me the _way_ it happens to me, not the artificial
way the drugs let it happen. I think there is a way for us to live
without the drugs and really enjoy life. Have you ever cut down on your
drugs. Major?"

The officer shook his head.

Bill smiled at him dreamily. "You ought to try it. It's as though a new
life has suddenly opened up. Everything looks different to you.

"Look, with an average life span of 100 years, each of us only lives
50 years and our alter lives the other 50. Yet even on half-time we
experience only about half the living we'd do if we didn't take the
drugs. We would be able to feel the loves and hatreds and desires
of life. No matter how many mistakes we made, we would be able
occasionally to live those intense moments that made the ancients
great."

Major Grey said tonelessly, "The ancients were great at killing,
cheating and debasing one another. And they were worse sober than
_drunk_." This time he did not smile at the word.

Bill understood the implacable logic before him. The logic that had
saved man from himself by smothering his spirit. The carefully achieved
logic of the drugs that had seized upon the disassociated personality,
and engineered it into a smoothly running machine, where there was no
unhappiness because there was no great happiness, where there was no
crime except failure to take the drugs or cross the alter sex line.
Without drugs, he was capable of fury and he felt it now.

"You should see how foolish these communication codes look when you
are undrugged. This stupid hide-and-seek of shifting! These two-headed
monsters simpering, about their artificial morals and their endless
prescriptions! They belong in _crazy_ houses! What use is there in such
a world? If we are all this sick, we should die...."

Bill stopped and there was suddenly a ringing silence in the barren
little room.

Finally Major Grey said, "I think you can see, Bill, that your desire
to live without drugs is incompatable with this society. It would
be impossible for us to maintain in you an artificial need for the
drugs that would be healthy. Only if we can clearly demonstrate that
this aberration is not an inherent part of your personality can we do
something medically or psycho-surgically about it."

Bill did not at first see the implication in this. When he did, he
thought of Clara rather than of himself, and his voice was shaken. "Is
it a localized aberration in Clara?"

Major Grey looked at him levelly. "I have arranged for you to be with
Clara Manz a little while in the morning." He stood up and said good
night and was gone.

Slowly, as if it hurt him to move, Bill turned off the light and lay on
the cot in the semi-dark. After a while he could feel his heart begin
to take hold and he started feeling better. It was as though a man who
had thought himself permanently expatriated had been told, "Tomorrow,
you walk just over that hill and you will be home."

All through the night he lay awake, alternating between panic and
desperate longing in a cycle with which finally he became familiar. At
last, as a rusty light of dawn reddened his silent room, he fell into a
troubled sleep.

He started awake in broad daylight. An orderly was at the door with his
breakfast tray. He could not eat, of course. After the orderly left, he
hastily changed to a new hospital uniform and washed himself. He redid
his makeup with a trembling hand, straightened the bedclothes and then
he sat on the edge of the cot.

No one came for him.

The young medicop who had given him the injection that caught him in
shift finally entered, and was standing near him before Bill was aware
of his presence.

"Good morning, Mr. Walden. How are you feeling?"

Bill's wildly oscillating tensions froze at the point where he could
only move helplessly with events and suffer a constant, unchangeable
longing.

It was as if in a dream that they moved in silence together down the
long corridors of the hospital and took the elevator to an upper floor.
The medicop opened the door to a room and let Bill enter. Bill heard
the door close behind him.

Clara did not turn from where she stood looking out the window. Bill
did not care that the walls of the chill little room were almost
certainly recording every sight and sound. All his hunger was focused
on the back of the girl at the window. The room seemed to ring with his
racing blood. But he was slowly aware that something was wrong, and
when at last he called her name, his voice broke.

Still without turning, she said in a strained monotone, "I want you to
understand that I have consented to this meeting only because Major
Grey has assured me it is necessary."

It was a long time before he could speak. "Clara, I need you."

She spun on him. "Have you no shame? You are married to my
hyperalter--don't you understand that?" Her face was suddenly wet with
tears and the intensity of her shame flamed at him from her cheeks.
"How can Conrad ever forgive me for being with his hyperalter and
talking about him? Oh, how can I have been so _mad_?"

"They have done something to you," he said, shaking with tension.

Her chin raised at this. She was defiant, he saw, though not toward
himself--he no longer existed for her--but toward that part of herself
which once had needed him and now no longer existed. "They have cured
me," she declared. "They have cured me of everything but my shame, and
they will help me get rid of that as soon as you leave this room."

Bill stared at her before leaving. Out in the corridor, the young
medicop did not look him in the face. They went back to Bill's room and
the officer left without a word. Bill lay down on his cot.

Presently Major Grey entered the room. He came over to the cot. "I'm
sorry it had to be this way, Bill."

Bill's words came tonelessly from his dry throat. "Was it necessary to
be cruel?"

"It was necessary to test the result of her psycho-surgery. Also, it
will help her over her shame. She might otherwise have retained a seed
of fear that she still loved you."

Bill did not feel anything any more. Staring at the ceiling, he knew
there was no place left for him in this world and no one in it who
needed him. The only person who had really needed him had been Mary,
and he could not bear to think of how he had treated her. Now the
Medicorps was efficiently curing the child of the hurt he had done her.
They had already erased from Clara any need for him she had ever felt.

This seemed funny and he began to laugh. "Everyone is being cured of
me."

"Yes, Bill. That is necessary." When Bill went on laughing Major
Grey's voice turned quite sharp. "Come with me. It's time for your
trial."

       *       *       *       *       *

The enormous room in which they held the trial was utterly barren.
At the great oaken table around which they all sat, there were three
Medicorps officers in addition to Major Grey.

Helen did not speak to Bill when they brought him in. He was placed on
the same side of the table with an officer between them. Two orderlies
stood behind Bill's chair. Other than these people, there was no one in
the room.

The great windows were high above the floor and displayed only the
blissful sky. Now and then Bill saw a flock of pigeons waft aloft on
silver-turning wings. Everyone at the table except himself had a copy
of his case report and they discussed it with clipped sentences.
Between the stone floor and the vaulted ceiling, a subtle echolalia
babbled about Bill's problem behind their human talk.

The discussion of the report lulled when Major Grey rapped on the
table. He glanced unsmiling from face to face, and his voice hurried
the ritualized words: "This is a court of medicine, co-joining the
results of medical science and considered lay judgment to arrive
at a decision in the case of patient Bill Walden. The patient is
hospitalized for a history of drug refusal and communication breaks. We
have before us the medical case record of patient Walden. Has everyone
present studied this record?"

All at the table nodded.

"Do all present feel competent to pass judgment in this case?"

Again there came the agreement.

Major Grey continued, "It is my duty to advise you, in the presence
of the patient, of the profound difference between a trial for simple
drug refusal and one in which that aberration is compounded with
communication breaks.

"It is true that no other aberration is possible when the drugs are
taken as prescribed. After all, the drugs _are_ the basis for our
schizophrenic society. Nevertheless, simple drug refusal often is a
mere matter of physiology, which is easy enough to remedy.

"A far more profound threat to our society is the break in
communication. This generally is more deeply motivated in the patient,
and is often inaccessible to therapy. Such a patient is driven to
emotive explorations which place the various ancient passions, and the
infamous art of _historical gesture_, such as 'give me liberty or give
me death,' above the welfare of society."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bill watched the birds flash down the sky, a handful of heavenly
coin. Never had it seemed to him so good to look at the sky. _If they
hospitalize me_, he thought, _I will be content forever to sit and look
from windows._

"Our schizophrenic society," Major Grey was saying, "holds together and
runs smoothly because, in each individual, the personality conflicts
have been compartmentalized between hyperalter and hypoalter. On
the social level, conflicting personalities are kept on opposite
shifts and never contact each other. Or they are kept on shifts where
contact is possible no more than one or two days out of ten. Bill
Walden's break of shift is the type of behavior designed to reactivate
these conflicts, and to generate the destructive passions on which
an undrugged mind feeds. Already illness and disrupted lives have
resulted."

Major Grey paused and looked directly at Bill. "Exhaustive tests
have demonstrated that your entire personality is involved. I might
also say that the aberration to live without the drugs and to break
communication codes _is_ your personality. All these Medicorps officers
are agreed on that diagnosis. It remains now for us of the Medicorps
to sit with the laymen intimately involved and decide on the action
to be taken. The only possible alternatives after that diagnosis are
permanent hospitalization or ... total removal of the personality by
mnemonic erasure."

Bill could not speak. He saw Major Grey nod to one of the orderlies
and felt the man pushing up his sleeve and injecting his nerveless arm.
They were forcing him to shift, he knew, so that Conrad Manz could sit
on the trial and participate.

Helplessly, he watched the great sky blacken and the room dim and
disappear.

       *       *       *       *       *

Major Grey did not avert his face, as did the others, while the shift
was in progress. Helen Walden, he saw, was dramatizing her shame at
being present during a shift, but the Medicorps officers simply stared
at the table. Major Grey watched the face of Conrad Manz take form
while the man who was going to be tried faded.

Bill Walden had been without makeup, and as soon as he was sure Manz
could hear him, Major Grey apologized. "I hope you won't object to this
brief interlude in public without makeup. You are present at the trial
of Bill Walden."

Conrad Manz nodded and Major Grey waited another full minute for the
shift to complete itself before he continued. "Mr. Manz, during the
two days you waited in the hospital for us to catch Walden in shift, I
discussed this case quite thoroughly with you, especially as it applied
to the case of Clara Manz, on which we were already working.

"You will recall that in the case of your wife, the Medicorps diagnosis
was one of a clearly localized aberration. It was quite simple to apply
the mnemonic eraser to that small section without disturbing in any way
her basic personality. Medicorps agreement was for this procedure and
the case did not come to trial, but simply went to operation, because
lay agreement was obtained. First yourself and eventually--" Major Grey
paused and let the memory of Helen's stubborn insistence that Clara die
stir in Conrad's mind--"Mrs. Walden agreed with the Medicorps."

Major Grey let the room wait in silence for a while. "The case of
Bill Walden is quite different. The aberration involves the whole
personality, and the alternative actions to be taken are permanent
hospitalization or total erasure. In this case, I believe that
Medicorps opinion will be divided as to proper action and--" Major Grey
paused again and looked levelly at Conrad Manz--"this may be true,
also, of the lay opinion."

"How's that, Major?" demanded the highest ranking Medicorps officer
present, a colonel named Hart, a tall, handsome man on whom the
military air was a becoming skin. "What do you mean about Medicorps
opinion being divided?"

Major Grey answered quietly, "I'm holding out for hospitalization."

Colonel Hart's face reddened. He thrust it forward and straightened his
back. "That's preposterous! This is a clear-cut case of a dangerous
threat to our society, and we, let me remind you, are _sworn_ to
protect that society."

Major Grey felt very tired. It was, after all, difficult to understand
why he always fought so hard against erasure of these aberrant cases.
But he began with quiet determination. "The threat to society is
effectively removed by either of the alternatives, hospitalization
or total erasure. I think you can all see from Bill Walden's medical
record that his is a well rounded personality with a remarkable
mind. In the environment of the 20th Century, he would have been an
outstanding citizen, and possibly, if there had been more like him, our
present society would have been better for it.

"Our history has been one of weeding out all personalities that did not
fit easily into our drugged society. Today there are so few left that I
have handled only 136 in my entire career...."

Major Grey saw that Helen Walden was tensing in her chair. He realized
suddenly that she sensed better than he the effect he was having on the
other men.

"We should not forget that each time we erase one of these
personalities," he pressed on relentlessly, "society loses irrevocably
a certain capacity for change. If we eliminate all personalities who
do not fit, we may find ourselves without any minds capable of meeting
future change. Our direct ancestors were largely the inmates of mental
hospitals ... we are fortunate _they_ were not erased. Conrad Manz," he
asked abruptly, "what is your opinion on the case of Bill Walden?"

Helen Walden started, but Conrad Manz shrugged his muscular shoulders.
"Oh, hospitalize the three-headed monster!"

Major Grey snapped his eyes directly past Colonel Hart and fastened
them on the Medicorps captain. "Your opinion, Captain?"

But Helen Walden was too quick. Before he could rap the table for
order, she had her thin words hanging in the echoing room. "Having been
Mr. Walden's wife for 15 years, my sentiments naturally incline me to
ask for hospitalization. That is why I may safely say, if Major Grey
will pardon me, that the logic of the drugs does not entirely fail us
in a situation like this."

Helen waited while all present got the idea that Major Grey had accused
them of being illogical. "Bill's aberration has led to our daughter's
illness. And think how quickly it contaminated Clara Manz! I cannot ask
that society any longer expose itself, even to the extent of keeping
Bill in the isolation of the hospital, for my purely sentimental
reasons.

"As for Major Grey's closing remarks, I cannot see how it is fair to
bring my husband to trial as a threat to society, if some future chance
is expected, in which a man of his behavior would benefit society.
Surely such a change could only be one that would ruin our present
world, or Bill would hardly fit it. I would not want to save Bill or
anyone else for such a future."

She did not have to say anything further. Both of the other Medicorps
officers were now fully roused to their duty. Colonel Hart, of course,
"humphed" at the opinions of a woman and cast his with Major Grey. But
the fate of Bill Walden was sealed.

Major Grey sat, weary and uneasy, as the creeping little doubts began.
In the end, he would be left with the one big stone-heavy doubt ...
could he have gone through with this if he had not been drugged, and
how would the logic of the trial look without drugs?

He became aware of the restiveness in the room. They were waiting for
him, now that the decision was irrevocable. Without the drugs, he
reflected, they might be feeling--what was the ancient word, _guilt_?
No, that was what the criminal felt. _Remorse?_ That would be what they
should be feeling. Major Grey wished Helen Walden could be forced to
witness the erasure. People did not realize what it was like.

What was it Bill had said? "You should see how foolish these
communication codes took when you are undrugged. This stupid
hide-and-seek of shifting...."

Well, wasn't that a charge to be _inspected_ seriously, if you were
taking it seriously enough to kill the man for it? As soon as this case
was completed, he would have to return to his city and blot himself out
so that his own hyperalter, Ralph Singer, a painter of bad pictures and
a useless fool, could waste five more days. To that man he lost half
his possible living days. What earthly good was Singer?

Major Grey roused himself and motioned the orderly to inject Conrad
Manz, so that Bill Walden would be forced back into shift.

"As soon as I have advised the patient of our decision, you will all be
dismissed. Naturally, I anticipated this decision and have arranged for
immediate erasure. After the erasure, Mr. Manz, you will be instructed
to appear regularly for suspended animation."

       *       *       *       *       *

For some reason, the first thing Bill Walden did when he became
conscious of his surroundings was to look out the great window for the
flock of birds. But they were gone.

Bill looked at Major Grey and said, "What are you going to do?"

The officer ran his hand back through his whitening hair, but he looked
at Bill without wavering. "You will be erased."

Bill began to shake his head. "There is something wrong," he said.

"Bill...." the major began.

"There is something wrong," Bill repeated hopelessly. "Why must we be
split so there is always something missing in each of us? Why must we
be stupefied with drugs that keep us from knowing what we should feel?
I was trying to live a better life. I did not want to hurt anyone."

"But you _did_ hurt others," Major Grey said bluntly. "You would do so
again if allowed to function in your own way in this society. Yet it
would be insufferable to you to be hospitalized. You would be shut off
forever from searching for another Clara Manz. And--there is no one
else for you, is there?"

Bill looked up, his eyes cringing as though they stared at death. "No
one else?" he asked vacantly. "No one?"

The two orderlies lifted him up by his arms, almost carrying him into
the operating room. His feet dragged helplessly. He made no resistance
as they lifted him onto the operating table and strapped him down.

Beside him was the great panel of the mnemonic eraser with its thousand
unblinking eyes. The helmetlike prober cabled to this calculator was
fastened about his skull, and he could no longer see the professor who
was lecturing in the amphitheater above. But along his body he could
see the group of medical students. They were looking at him with great
interest, too young not to let the human drama interfere with their
technical education.

The professor, however, droned in a purely objective voice. "The
mnemonic eraser can selectively shunt from the brain any identifiable
category of memory, and erase the synaptic patterns associated with its
translation into action. Circulating memory is disregarded. The machine
only locates and shunts out those energies present as permanent memory.
These are there in part as permanently echoing frequencies in closed
cytoplasmic systems. These systems are in contact with the rest of the
nervous system only during the phenomenon of remembrance. Remembrance
occurs when, at all the synapses in a given network 'y,' the
permanently echoing frequencies are duplicated as transient circulating
frequencies.

"The objective in a total operation of the sort before us is to
distinguish all the stored permanent frequencies, typical of the
personality you wish to extinguish, from the frequencies typical of the
other personality present in the brain."

Major Grey's face, very tired, but still wearing a mask of adamant
reassurance, came into Bill's vision. "There will be a few moments of
drug-induced terror, Bill. That is necessary for the operation. I hope
knowing it beforehand will help you ride with it. It will not be for
long." He squeezed Bill's shoulder and was gone.

"The trick was learned early in our history, when this type of total
operation was more often necessary," the professor continued. "It is
really quite simple to extinguish one personality while leaving the
other undisturbed. The other personality in the case before us has
been drug-immobilized to keep this one from shifting. At the last
moment, this personality before us will be drug-stimulated to bring
it to the highest possible pitch of total activity. This produces
utterly disorganized activity, every involved neuron and synapse being
activated simultaneously by the drug. It is then a simple matter for
the mnemonic eraser to locate all permanently echoing frequencies
involved in this personality and suck them into its receiver."

Bill was suddenly aware that a needle had been thrust into his arm.
Then it was as though all the terror, panic and traumatic incidents of
his whole life leaped into his mind. All the pleasant experiences and
feelings he had ever known were there, too, but were transformed into
terror.

A bell was ringing with regular strokes. Across the panel of the
mnemonic eraser, the tiny counting lights were alive with movement.

There was in Bill a fright, a demand for survival so great that it
could not be felt.

It was actually from an island of complete calm that part of him saw
the medical students rising dismayed and white-faced from their seats.
It was apart from himself that his body strained to lift some mountain
and filled the operating amphitheater with shrieking echoes. And all
the time the thousand eyes of the mnemonic eraser flickered in swift
patterns, a silent measure of the cells and circuits of his mind.

Abruptly the tiny red counting lights went off, a red beam glowed with
a burr of warning. Someone said, "Now!" The mind of Bill Walden flashed
along a wire as electrical energy and, converted on the control panel
into mechanical energy, it spun a small ratchet counter.

"Please sit down," the professor said to the shaken students. "The drug
that has kept the other personality immobilized is being counteracted
by this next injection. Now that the sickly personality has been
dissipated, the healthy one can be brought back rapidly.

"As you are aware, the synapse operates on the binary 'yes-no' choice
system of an electronic calculator. All synapses which were involved in
the diseased personality have now been reduced to an atypical, uniform
threshold. Thus they can be re-educated in new patterns by the healthy
personality remaining.... There, you see the countenance of the healthy
personality appearing."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Conrad Manz who looked up at them with a wry grin. He rotated
his shoulders to loosen them. "How many of you pushed old Bill Walden
around? He left me with some sore muscles. Well, I did that often
enough to him...."

Major Grey stood over him, face sick and white with the horror of
what he had seen. "According to law, Mr. Manz, you and your wife are
entitled to five rest days on your next shift. When they are over, you
will, of course, report for suspended animation for what would have
been your hyperalter's shift."

Conrad Manz's grin shrank and vanished. "_Would_ have been? Bill
is--gone?"

"Yes."

"I never thought I'd miss him." Conrad looked as sick as Major Grey
felt. "It makes me feel--I don't know if I can explain it--sort of
_amputated_. As though something's wrong with me because everybody else
has an alter and I don't. Did the poor son of a straitjacket suffer
much?"

"I'm afraid he did."

Conrad Manz lay still for a moment with his eyes closed and his mouth
thin with pity and remorse. "What will happen to Helen?"

"She'll be all right," Major Grey said. "There will be Bill's
insurance, naturally, and she won't have much trouble finding another
husband. That kind never seems to."

"Five rest days?" Conrad repeated. "Is that what you said?" He sat up
and swung his legs off the table, and he was grinning again. "I'll get
in a whole shift of jet-skiing! No, wait--I've got a date with the wife
of a friend of mine out at the rocket grounds. I'll take Clara out
there; she'll like some of the men."

Major Grey nodded abstractedly. "Good idea." He shook hands with
Conrad Manz, wished him fun on his rest shift, and left.

Taking a helicopter back to his city, Major Grey thought of his own
hyperalter, Ralph Singer. He'd often wished that the silly fool
could be erased. Now he wondered how it would be to have only one
personality, and, wondering, realized that Conrad Manz had been
right--it _would_ be like amputation, the shameful distinction of
living in a schizophrenic society with no alter.

No, Bill Walden had been wrong, completely wrong, both about drugs
and being split into two personalities. What one made up in pleasure
through not taking drugs was more than lost in the suffering of
conflict, frustration and hostility. And having an alter--any kind,
even one as useless as Singer--meant, actually, _not being alone_.

Major Grey parked the helicopter and found a shifting station. He took
off his makeup, addressed and mailed his clothes, and waited for the
shift to come.

It was a pretty wonderful society he lived in, he realized. He wouldn't
trade it for the kind Bill Walden had wanted. Nobody in his right mind
would.





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