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New Pathways, 9, November, I had to know!
I walked up to join their conversation. She reminded me of a Mercedes-Benz…classic features, and a flawless exterior, gliding along on smoothly meshing joints. Can you leave your body? Did it ever occur to you that black holes and white holes really exist in your Mindscape?
If I played it right Jack would probably go along with me…maybe…and if I could just find someone else … Helen was talking quietly to Jack as we went into the bar. I was sure she was already wondering how to get rid of this obvious loser, Simon Bork, so that she and Jack could really rap.
But I knew Jack wanted me to stick around, and I started trying to make friends with Helen while Jack got us a pitcher. We exchanged a few listless facts about what we did for a living…she was in medical school…and then a silence fell. I had to say something interesting.
She gave me her full attention for a few seconds…sizing me up. I know what I look like…hell, I build this body from scratch every morning, including the glasses. Gold-rimmed glasses, set deep into eye sockets with colorless eyes.
Prematurely bald, with a few lank strands across the top. Twitchy face with a rabbity mouth. The kind of guy who eats Oreos for dessert after every one of the crummy little meals he cooks in his rented room. She was so beautiful. Teeth, mouth, swelling breasts, her voice.
This was as close to a girl this beautiful as I had ever been. If only I could get closer…I closed my eyes to skren her better. It was so relaxing to be near this woman. I was starting to flow! Beneath my shirt the stiff orange buds were already forming on the transparent hide covering my swirling green bodymass.
Helen had jumped to her feet, and when I slid to the floor I could see her shiny black underwear. It took the full force of my will to keep from beginning to rave in the mother tongue. Not that she could have any doubts about what I was. In seconds she would begin to scream, and things would get worse until finally I would have to chirp again.
For two years I had held human shape except when I got into my werble…disguised as the bed in my cheap, but well-locked, boarding-house room.
But now sitting here with this woman my control had suddenly snapped…and I was flopping around under the table like a sun-ripened manta ray. This would make the third mission in a row I had blown. Any second she would scream.
I tensed myself and prepared to chirp. When forced out of my body, I convert its mass into a single pulse of electromagnetic energy…a chirp…which eventually reaches the Pure Land and is reconstructed there. The energy density hard-boils their brain like an egg in a microwave oven.
But still no one came…and there was no scream. Something brushed against me. Something soft…it was the girl! Helen had sat down, taken off her shoes, and was gently kneading my bodymass. I grew bristles which slipped between her toes, and she clenched and gently tugged at them. Unmistakable pheromones were drifting down.
Helen was a V-sexual. There was still time to save this mission. I forced myself back into human form and crawled out from under the table. Just as I stood up, Jack Flash came back with a pitcher of beer.
I loved every minute of it. If not … Jack looked at me with respect. Finally Helen broke the relaxed silence. If you were in both of them already, then what would there be to move? After all, I come from a parallel universe. Several members of my swarm have completed successful missions, and they have described to me in detail what it is like to have the sort of multiple trans-universal consciousness which Jack and Helen were puzzling out.
The three of us. He thought I wanted to turn them on to some dope. So of course he came along. And Helen…she and I dropped a little behind and she slipped her hand into my shirt. No human had ever touched me there before.
There are thousands of us on Earth now, but few of us are ever detected…and the establishment chooses to ignore whatever fragmentary proofs of our existence arise.
But there are rumors and, more important, there is subconscious knowledge. V-sexuals are people who have fallen in love with this subconsciously-sensed other presence in the world. I could hardly wait. And if we could get Jack to join in … It takes a minute to get my door open.
I have three locks. Jack began kidding me about it. Jack went in first, and Helen came in after me, her hand resting lightly on my back.
I wanted to triple lock the door behind me, but I feared this might alarm them. The door opens into the kitchenette end of the room. Sometimes when I am too tired to cook, I just break some eggs on the floor, pour oil and ketchup on top of them, and then flow around on the linoleum until I have ingested everything.
But now I had company. They were sitting on my werble at the other end of the room. The only other place to sit was the chair by the kitchenette table. I got out three beers and glided over to the werble…my body movements suggestively fluid. She slid a hand back under my shirt and fingered a stiff orange bud.
Her hand was damp. Jack jumped up off the bed and began moving towards the door. Helen was moaning now, running her moist, trembling fingers over my face.First, car 1 goes forward in time till it gets to the left phase-mirror. Frisk was awoken by the warm rays of sunlight hitting their face. I relaxed my hold on the knotted spacetime which made up my body and put everything I had into my chirp…carefully beaming it at the spot behind me where he crouched. This is just what you want.
I let my head go slack, and it began sinking down through the collar of my shirt. Helen was fumbling frantically at our clothes. He had stopped near the door and was hesitating…his emotions a mixture of fear and curiosity. Finally curiosity won out. He ripped the top off another beer from the icebox.
He sat down on the kitchen chair. She had gotten her shirt and bra off, and she lay down to rub her stiff-nippled breasts across me. For the next half hour or so she sat there kneading and molding me…like a three-year-old girl at the nursery school play-dough table. Somewhere along the line she got her pants off too, and I grew a few suitable protuberances.
I liked that Jack was watching us. He might be smarter than me, he might be human…but I had the girl. I guess Helen and I made something like the ultimate donkey show.
When she finally got off me and lay panting on my werble, Jack was so hot that he pulled down his pants and jumped her. I flowed closer and laid a gentle pseudopod across the back of his thighs. I should have taken them then and there…but lesnerization goes a lot smoother if the human hosts are completely willing.
Over the next year, your offspring slowly absorbs all of the host body, learning how to model it in the process. My mind drifted pleasantly as I thought of rejoining my swarm…a respected and successful colonizer…possessor of trans-universal consciousness. It makes a nice package. But they both looked a little doubtful.
We want to be your allies…your partners in a new trans-universal culture. Lesnerization is just a way of getting to know each other better. Lesnerization is simply a way for me to take things that I know and put them into your head. And why are you all so secretive?
I felt like just chirping the hell out of there and blowing one of them away. So I politely answered her question as I dressed. We call it the Pure Land. Jack interrupted impatiently before I could answer. You can read about it in that Geometry and Relativity book I wrote.
Jack turned to me. Scared of small-minded xenophobic bigots. If we tried to land a ship openly, the pigs would blast us out of the sky. We need to know more about human psychology first, and we need time to spread the right kind of rumors about us.
But Jack seemed to be becoming more hostile. Well, I could fry your brain…hard-boil it really…but only by converting my body into pure energy. We call it chirping. Although it was supper time, the restaurant was almost empty.Infantino Grow-With-Me Gym and Ball Pit
He stopped to chat with the guy making pizzas in the front window. I smiled moistly at Helen. Surely he would listen to reason. I skrenned him walking across the room.
I started to turn, but then he was already upon me, and he sank an eight-inch knife into my neck. Jack Flash was going to get it. I relaxed my hold on the knotted spacetime which made up my body and put everything I had into my chirp…carefully beaming it at the spot behind me where he crouched.
But I should have looked first. The bastard had an aluminum pizza pan in front of his face…and I bounced off it and out through the ceiling. You get a faster-than-light phase-shift going in your pulse, lock it real, tear loose, and jump spacetime sheets.
They said I could either go back to Earth or spend fifteen years in the tissue fields. You have to go the long way…around the Horn, as it were. That is, you have to take a spaceship out the collapsed star Gouda X-1, fly in, bounce off the ring singularity into a new universe, and fly back to Earth.
I asked for a week to think it over. They gave me two days, and I went out into the plaza promising to be back. It felt good to be flowing across the intricately grooved stones again with the swarm.
I realized I was horny, and found a willing fellow-citizen…whom you might as well think of as a girl. We flowed away from the plaza together, and our individual consciousness returned.
She told me her name was Pasmit. As we passed through a grove of geezel fungi I paused to pry loose one of the immature spores.
I threw it to Pasmit, she digested a little of it and threw it back to me. We went on for several versts this way, finally stopping when the singing in our tissues could no longer be ignored. We pressed our vents together, guided by the sensitive bristles surrounding them; and then we let our bodymasses mingle for a timeless interval.
The hydro-carbon drizzle increased, and the geezel spore rolled stealthily back towards its mother fungus. Finally we stopped pulsing and slid apart. The gamma-radiation is much stronger out in the country, and everything was suffused with a kindly glow. I must have been mad to want to go back to Earth, I thought.
Pasmit and I could build a burrow near the tissue fields. I sighed and went limp, images of Helen filling my mind.
Pasmit leaned over me and began to knead my bodymass with her hands. Quaveringly I pulsed my next request, and extruded the appropriate protuberances.
She started to do it … But abruptly she stopped, and her pulsations became harsh. You want me to be like a human, Sibork! I spent an uneasy night sleeping under a rock, and the next morning I shipped out for Earth again.
So our spaceships do not need any very complex life-support systems. My ship consisted, basically, of one hundred kilos of geezel and the shell of a nauton, a sort of gigantic fungus-snail common in the Pure Land.
I packed the geezel into the front of the cone-shaped spiral shell, crawled in after, and sealed the back off with a specially thickened section of my hide. During the trip I would feed off the geezel, and propel the ship by converting some of the food energy into a stream of ions, to be blown out of an aperture in my hide door.
In effect, I fart myself through space. Given the steady force and the small mass of my ship, I can reach relativistic velocities rather easily…and once one travels close enough to the speed of light, time dilation sets in. I spent five years in a trance, pooting along towards Gouda X When I was not too far from it, the intense gravitational radiation jolted me back into existence.
For a few moments I was totally disoriented. Ahead of me I skrenned a hot bluish star with a huge tufty horn of flame growing out of it. The name Beetroot popped into my mind. The horn fed an immense spiral of brightly glowing gas which was twisted around a region of what seemed to be absolute blackness.
I was falling…at almost the speed of light…down towards the collapsed star which nestled in the center of the spiral of gas it had pulled out of its companion star.
The collapsed star was Gouda X-1, and at its very center was the gate which led out of the Pure Land universe. As I drew closer I could see the ring singularity that lay at the heart of this whirlpool of space and time. If a star such as Gouda X-1 is rotating fast enough when it collapses to form a black hole, then the singularity at its center takes the shape of a ring.
Space is infinitely curved at each point of this ring, and to venture too close to it is to be torn apart atom from atom.
But if you manage to go through the ring, something quite different happens. Think of the many parallel universes as being a stack of so many pieces of cloth. Now imagine punching a circular hole through this stack of fabrics, and then sewing all of these spacetime sheets together along the edges of the circles you punched out.Have a ball with the transforming Activity Gym & Shape Sorting Ball Pit! This unique gym converts into a fun, sensory-stimulating ball pit that’s perfect for busy toddlers.
Well, when you go through the ring you enter an antimatter, anti-gravity anti-universe…which repels you, spits you back like a squeezed watermelon seed. Causality takes a beating when minds and singularities interact.
Anyway, there I was in a flexible nauton shell being sucked down into the heart of Gouda X-1 at something like the speed of light. I had to laugh thinking of that jerk sneaking up behind me like that with his knife and pizza pan.
When I got to Earth this time things were going to be different. The singularity was dead ahead now, a bright ring a few kilometers in diameter.
You know how a mirror looks when it bounces sun into your eyes? It was like looking at the ultimate platonic circle in Big Mind, the circle from which all other circles derive their feeble and reflected reality. As you can imagine, the gravitational force coming off that ring was incredible.
I was thin as a needle and I whisked through without even slowing down. This was the most dangerous part of the trip. There was also the matter of bouncing out into the right space and time.
I could already see myself looking in through the pizza-parlor window at Jack Flash getting a knife and pan from his friend behind the counter. Jack looked scared and I felt a little sorry for him. My attention snapped back to the situation at hand. This was the roughest part of the ride. I had some slowing down to do before I got to Earth…if there was an Earth in this space.
The ship was traveling rear-end first now, and I began absorbing geezel and shooting out the ion-steam again. Five years of this and I would have decelerated back to rest. I had started out with revenge and lust in my mind, but for some reason I was now suffused with thoughts of peace and love.
I was so anxious about missing Earth that I woke up a few months early. Those were peaceful months, hurtling towards the Sun with a speed that I steadily diminished. There was plenty of time to think about what I would do on Earth.
I began to wonder about the wisdom of reproducing by lesnerization. Disguised as a Dutch mathematician, Brow had advanced the destructive mathematical philosophy called intuitionism, and he had lesnerized dozens, perhaps hundreds of people before chirping back to the Pure Land.
But what had made Brow feel that the only safe place to grow a bud was inside a human skull? At home we grow buds in nautons, in geezel plants…sometimes even in the ground. What gave Brow, and the rest of us, our conviction that on Earth we should only reproduce by the murder of innocent human beings?
As I explain in my article on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, blobs from outer space symbolize the unchecked id. But a less idealistic part of me was still wondering how to safely reproduce myself on Earth if not by lesnerizing. Would not the humans hunt out and destroy a bud which was hidden anywhere other than inside a human skull?
And if I failed to achieve trans-universal consciousness this time I could never return to the Pure Land. If I was going to show up at the right time, I would.
It was around dusk when I reached the highway and stuck out my thumb. After awhile a pickup truck stopped.
The driver was an old farmer, bound for Livingston, my destination. I told him I was an English prof at the college there, and we talked a little about monster movies. He had a strange way of putting his fingers under his nose and sniffing them when he talked about creatures from outer space.
Was he trying to tell me something? His features were flowing with joy and we embraced. Roon dropped me off near the pizza-parlor, and we agreed to meet again. Roon dropped me off near the pizza-parlor, right?
I knew that Jack was going to be standing in that window. I opened the door and walked in. I walked over to the jukebox and kicked it so hard that the needle slid across the record and the machine turned itself off.
He whirled around, knife at the ready. I could see that realization sink into him, and he mumbled something about getting the knife to cut up the pizza. Meanwhile I walked over to Helen. She had stopped crying and was sitting there watching the conversation in amazement.
You have broader horizons than other people is all. The Pure Land could wait. The 57th Franz Kafka, Ace Books, This apprentice exercise touches upon some of my favorite SF themes: Not that my family, friends or I are really very much like my fiction characters.
Enlightenment Rabies His boots looked so perfect. Two dark parabolas in a field of yellow; slight three-dimensional interest provided by the scurf strewn about. Or entered another spacetime. Buying the newspaper was marketplace, and grooving on his boots was cave.
Bodine tried to live at the interface of complementary world-views; but more often than not he was just really out of it. You have their tomorrow. Lose the consensus, Jimmy. Bodine fell into a dream looking at the gauzy white clouds against the light and bright November sky.
Good day for something. He put some music in his workspace and started walking. Bodine had nearly been swept that time.
Bodine sat down on a bench and took the newspaper out of his packet. It was really a small white-light hologram. He held it up to his eye and looked through to see an old-fashioned newspaper spread out on a table. Social hygiene was page four. The state invented the diseases and spread them, but it always named them after some perceived social ill.
This time it was enlightenment, next time it might be underconsumption or dirty teeth. In any case, the point was that if you were too wasted or stubborn to go get the state-administered antidote you were going to get swept.
Today was the 20th. Now where was the nearest center? After a few minutes he knew where to go. Off the interface, brought down in the marketplace, running scared like they wanted. Halfway down the block Bodine bumped into his friend Ace High.
Ace was standing on the sidewalk with his head thrown far back and his arms wrapped around his legs. The Metal Crane position. Bodine stopped to look at Ace for a minute. Bodine was clearly in the presence of an unvaccinated fellow-citizen. He got the message and locked in on the signal.
His face split like a melon when he smiled, as he did now, uncleaned teeth glistening in the sun. It was easier to be going together. That way if you forgot where you were going, your friend might still know. He still had his pair. Ace had lost his, so they decided to stop in at the next news-shop to get some.
Bodine was already feeling the effects of his stunglasses. His mind was filled with safety tips, news updates, and new product information.
Purposefully he went into the news-shop and bought a pair of stunglasses for Ace High. It was an attractive little shop with a big multiplexed holographic display in the corner.
If Bodine looked in just the right direction, the image his stunglasses produced fit right on top of the image displayed in the news-shop. Fortunately Ace High had already put on his new stunglasses. Ace High looked at the floor, not wanting to disturb his friend.
The stunglasses were projecting a three-dimensional holographic image in front of everything he looked at. It was a lot things at once, and his brain knew how to sort out and store the information. His trusting brain was soaking it right up. Concern that he had not drawn his paycheck for two months.
Concern about what he had been doing for two months. Concern that everyone receive their Enlightenment Rabies vaccination, particularly himself and Bodine. Concern with the fact that more and more young people were turning their backs on the real world, only to go chasing after some kind of crazy half-scientific hopped-up occultist mystagogic blue-dome swizzle, uh.
Bodine was more or less squatting on the floor with his arms between his knees. He was singing or moaning a wavering note. The Music of the Spheres is what the kids called it, and ordinarily if your best friend was singing the Music of the Spheres you left him alone for a few days.
Then he shifted phases, the images unlocked, and he was walking out the door with a headache. Bodine nodded, and they started down the cold and dry sidewalk, flooded yellow with clear November sun. They were wearing their stunglasses, and each of them had about half of his attention occupied by the multiplex image the stunglasses projected into any part of the visual field not under active scrutiny.
They were absorbed in watching a dinosaur show. Soon Bodine and Ace High had joined the long line of waiting citizens that snaked out of the old bus station.
Everyone had stunglasses on. Some people were watching sports, some were watching old movies, some were watching sex, some were watching university extension courses.
Nobody was watching the November sunlight sliding across the street like nectar from the last flower of the year.
New Pathways, 9, November, And, of course, I was filled with hatred for television. From the present-day vantage, the story looks cyberpunk. William Gibson and I both had our first SF publications there.
Shop for ebook or print version of Complete Stories. In a Geiger counter there is a tiny amount of radioactive substance, so tiny that maybe within an hour one of the atoms decays, but equally probably none of them decays.
If an atom decays then the counter triggers and via a relay activates a little hammer which breaks a container of cyanide. If one has left this entire system for an hour, then one would say that the cat is still living if no atom has decayed.
The first decay would have poisoned it. The wave-function of the entire system would express this by containing equal parts of the living and the dead cat.
But I must cast my net as wide as possible. Such are the facts: He used this machine to produce a yes-and-no situation, which he tried to observe.Play mat
As a result, he has split into an uncollapsible mixed state. Due to coupling effects, I suffer his condition, though not yet to the same degree. It is March 21,Heidelberg, West Germany. I am sitting in the office Stepanek shared with me, staring out at a white sky.
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