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A Treasury of Great Science Fiction Vol 2 Part 80

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Again he jaunted.

He was on Jervis beach on the Australian coast.

The motion of the surf was bawling: "LOGGERMIST CROTEHA-VEN!"

The churning of the surf blinded him with the lights of batteries of footlights: Gully Foyle and Robin Wednesbury stood before him. The body of a man lay on the sand which felt like vinegar in the Burning Man's mouth. The wind brushing his face tasted like brown paper.

Foyle opened his mouth and exclaimed. The sound came out in burning star-bubbles: Foyle took a step. "CRASH?" the motion blared.

The Burning Man jaunted.

He was in the office of Dr. Sergei Orel in Shanghai.

Foyle was again before him, speaking light patterns: WHO ARE YOU He flickered back to the agony of Old St. Pat's and jaunted again.

He was on the brawling Spanish stairs.

The Burning Man jaunted.

It was cold again, with the taste of lemons, and vacuum raked his skin with unspeakable talons. He was peering through the porthole of a silvery yawl. The jagged mountains of the Moon towered in the background. Through the porthole he could see the jangling racket of blood pumps and oxygen pumps and hear the uproar of the motion Gully Foyle made toward him. The clawing of the vacuum caught his throat in an agonizing grip.

The geodesic lines of s.p.a.ce-time rolled him back to Now under Old St. Pat's, where less than two seconds had elapsed since he first began his frenzied struggle. Once more, like a burning spear, he hurled himself into the unknown.

He was in the Skoptsy Catacomb on Mars. The white slug that was Lindsey Joyce was writhing before him.

"NO! NO! NO!" her motion screamed. "DON'T HURT ME. DON'T KILL ME. NO PLEASE...

PLEASE...".

The Burning Man opened his tiger mouth and laughed. "She hurts," he said. The sound of his voice burned his eyes.

"Who are you?" Foyle whispered.

The Burning Man winced. "Too bright," he said. "Less light."

Foyle took a step forward. "BLAA-GAA-DAA-MAWWl" the motion roared.The Burning Man clapped his hands over his ears in agony. "Too loud," he cried. "Don't move so loud."

The writhing Skoptsy's motion was still screaming, beseeching: "DON'T HURT ME. DON'T HURT ME.".

The Burning Man laughed again. She was mute to normal men, but to his freak-crossed senses her meaning was clear. "Listen to her. She's scream-ing. Begging. She doesn't want to die. She doesn't want to be hurt. Listen to her."

"IT WAS OLIVIA PRESTEIGN GAVE THE ORDER. OLIVIA PRESTEIGN. NOT ME. DON'T.

HURT ME. OLIVIA PRESTEIGN.".

"She's telling who gave the order. Can't you hear? Listen with your eyes. She says Olivia."

WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?.

WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?.

WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?. WHAT?.

The checkerboard glitter of Foyle's question was too much for him. The Burning Man interpreted the Skoptsy's agony again.

"She says Olivia. Olivia Presteign. Olivia Presteign. Olivia Presteign."

He jaunted.

He fell back into the pit under Old St. Pat's, and suddenly his confusion and despair told him he was dead. This was the finish of Gully Foyle. This was eternity, and h.e.l.l was real. What he had seen was the past pa.s.sing before his crumbling senses in the final moment of death. What he was enduring he must endure through all time. He was dead. He knew he was dead.

He refused to submit to eternity.

He beat again into the unknown.

The Burning Man jaunted.

I.

He was in a scintillating mist a snowflake cl.u.s.ter of stars a shower of liquid diamonds. There was the touch of b.u.t.terfly wings on his skin. Ther was the taste of a strand of of cool pearls in his mouth. His crossed kaleidoscopic senses could could not tell him where he was but he knew he wanted to remain in this Nowhere forever.

"h.e.l.lo, Gully."

"Who's that?"

"Tfcis is Robin." "Robin?"

"Robin Wednesbury that was."

"That was?" "Robin Yeovil that is." "I don't understand. Am I dead?"

"No, Gully." "Where am I?""A long, long -way from Old St. Pat's." "But where?"

"I can't take the time to explain, Gully. You've only got a few moments here."

"Why?"

"Because you haven't learned how to jaunte through s.p.a.ce-time yet. You've got to go back and learn."

"But I do know. I must know. Sheffield said I s.p.a.ce-jaunted to 'Nomad'... six hundred thousand miles."

"That was an accident then, Gully, and you'll do it again... after you teach yourself... But you're not doing it now. You don't know how to hold on yet... how to turn any Now into reality. You'll tumble back into Old St. Pat's in a moment."

"Robin, I've just remembered. I have bad news for you."

"I know, Gully."

"Your mother and sisters are dead."

"I've known for a long time, Gully."

"How long?"

"For thirty years."

"That's impossible."

"No it isn't. This is a long, long way from Old St. Pat's. I've been waiting to tell you how to save yourself from the fire, Gully. Will you listen?"

"I'm not dead?"

"No."

"I'll listen."

"Your senses are all confused. It'll pa.s.s soon, but I won't give the directions in left and right or up and down. I'll tell you what you can understand now."

"Why are you helping me... after what I've done to you?"

"That's all forgiven and forgotten, Gully. Now listen to me. When you get back to Old St. Pat's, turn around until you're facing the loudest shadows. Got that?"

"Yes."

"Go toward the noise until you feel a deep p.r.i.c.kling on your skin. Then stop."

"Then stop."

"Make a half turn into compression and a feeling of falling. Follow that."

"Follow that.""You'll pa.s.s through a solid sheet of light and come to the taste of quinine. That's really a ma.s.s of wire. Push straight through the quinine until you see something that sounds like trip hammers.

You'll be safe."

"How do you know all this, Robin?"

"I've been briefed by an expert, Gully." There was the sensation of laughter. "You'll be falling back into the past any moment now. Peter and Saul are here. They say au revoir and good luck. And ]iz Dagenham too. Good luck, Gully dear..."

"The past? This is the future?"

"Yes, Gully."

"Am I here? Is... Olivia-?"

And then he was tumbling down, down, down the s.p.a.ce-time lines back into the dreadful pit of Now.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

His SENSES UNCROSSED in the ivory-and-gold star chamber of Castle Presteign. Sight became sight and he saw the high mirrors and stained gla.s.s windows, the gold tooled library with android librarian on library ladder. Sound became sound and he heard the android secretary tapping the manual bead-recorder at the Louis Quinze desk. Taste became taste as he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.

He knew he was at bay, faced with the decision of his life. He ignored his enemies and examined the perpetual beam carved in the robot face of the bartender, the cla.s.sic Irish grin.

"Thank you," Foyle said.

"My pleasure, sir," the robot replied and awaited its next cue.

"Nice day," Foyle remarked.

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot beamed.

"Awful day," Foyle said.

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot responded.

"Day," Foyle said.

"Always a lovely day somewhere, sir," the robot said.

Foyle turned to the others. "That's me," he said, motioning to the robot. "That's all of us. We prattle about free will, but we're nothing but response... mechanical reaction in prescribed grooves. So... here I am, here I am, waiting to respond. Press the b.u.t.tons and I'll jump." He aped the canned voice of the robot. "My pleasure to serve, sir." Suddenly his tone lashed them. "What do you want?"

They stirred with uneasy purpose. Foyle was burned, beaten, chastened... and yet he was taking control of all of them.

"We'll stipulate the threats," Foyle said. "I'm to be hung, drawn, and quartered, tortured in h.e.l.l if I don't... What? What do you want?""I want my property," Presteign said, smiling coldly.

"Eighteen and some odd pounds of PyrE. Yes. What do you offer?"

"I make no offer, sir. I demand what is mine."

Y'ang-Yeovil and Dagenham began to speak. Foyle silenced them. "One b.u.t.ton at a time, gentlemen.

Presteign is trying to make me jump at present." He turned to Presteign. "Press harder, blood and money, or find another b.u.t.ton. Who are you to make demands at this moment?"

Presteign tightened his lips. "The law..." he began.

"What? Threats?" Foyle laughed. "Am I to be frightened into anything? Don't be imbecile. Speak to me the way you did New Year's Eve, Presteign... without mercy, without forgiveness, without hypocrisy."

Presteign bowed, took a breath, and ceased to smile. "I offer you power," he said. "Adoption as my heir, partnership in Presteign Enterprises, the chieftainship of clan and sept. Together we can own the world."

"With PyrE?"

"Yes."

"Your proposal is noted and declined. Will you offer your daughter?"

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A Treasury of Great Science Fiction Vol 2 Part 80 summary

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