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   Chapter 17 No.17

Supermind By Randall Garrett Characters: 7843

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Two hours passed, somehow. Bourbon and soda helped them pass, Malone discovered; he drank two highballs slowly, trying not to think about anything, and kept staring around at the walls of his apartment without really seeing anything. He felt terrible.

He made himself a third bourbon and soda and started in on it. Maybe this one would make him feel better. Maybe, he thought, he ought to break out the cigars and celebrate.

But there didn't seem to be very much to celebrate, somehow.

He felt like a guinea pig being congratulated on having successfully resisted a germ during an experiment.

He drank some more of the bourbon and soda. Guinea pigs didn't drink bourbon and soda, he told himself. He was better off than a guinea pig. He was happier than a guinea pig. But he couldn't imagine any guinea pig in the world, no matter how heartbroken, feeling any worse than Kenneth J. Malone.

He looked up. There was another guinea pig in the room.

Then he frowned. She wasn't a guinea pig. She was one off the experimenters. She was the one the guinea pig was supposed to fall in love with, so the guinea pig could be nice and telepathic and all the other experimenters could congratulate themselves. But whoever heard of a scientist falling in love with a guinea pig? It was fate. And fate was awful. Malone had often suspected it, but now he was sure. Now he saw things from the guinea pig's side, and fate was terrible.

"But Ken," the experimenter said. "It isn't like that at all."

"It is, too," Malone said. "It's even worse, but that'll have to wait.

When I have some more to drink it will get worse. Watch and see."

"But Ken-" Lou hesitated, and then went on. "Don't feel sad about being an experiment. We're all experiments."

"I'm the guinea pig," Malone said. "I'm the only guinea pig. You said so."

"No, Ken," she said. "Remember, all of us in the PRS got early training when it was new and untried. Some of those methods weren't as good as we now have them; that's why a man like your boss sometimes tends to have a little trouble."

"Sure," Malone said. "But I'm your guinea pig. You made me dance

through hoops and do tricks and everything just for an experiment.

That's what." He took another swallow of his drink. "See?" he said.

"It's getting worse already."

"No, it's not," Lou said. "It's getting better, if you'll only listen.

I wasn't given this job, Ken. I volunteered for it."

"That isn't any better," Malone said morosely.

"I volunteered because I-because I liked you," Lou said. "Because I wanted to work with you, wanted to be with you."

"It's more experimenting," Malone said flatly. "More guinea-pigging around."

"It isn't, Ken," Lou said. "Believe me. Look into my mind. Believe me."

Malone tried. A second passed…

And then a long time passed, without any words at all.

"Well, well," Malone said at last. "If this is the life of a guinea pig, I'm all for it."

"I'm all for guinea pigs' rights," Lou said. "Life, Liberty and the

Pursuit of Me."

"Agreed," Malone said. "How about that crisis, by the way? Are you going to have to leave suddenly again?"

Lou stretched lazily on the couch. "That's all over with, thank God," she said. "We had to get our agent out of Miami Beach, and cover his tracks at the same time."

"Tricky," Malone said.

"Very," Lou said.

"But-" Malone blinked. "Wait a minute," he said. "Your agent? You mean you had Governor Flarion killed?"

Lou nodded soberly. "We had to," she said. "That paranoid mind of his had built up a shield we simply couldn't get through. He had plans for making himself president, you know-and all the terrifying potentialities of an embryonic Hitler." She grimaced. "We don't like being forced to kill," she said, "but sometimes we've got to."

Malone thought of his own .44 Magnum, and the times he had used it, and nodded very slowly.

"There

are still a couple of questions, though," he said. "For instance, there's that trip to Russia. Why did you make it? Was it your father?"

"Of course it was," Lou said. "We had to get him back in and make sure he was safe."

"You mean that Vasili Garbitsch is a PSR member?" Malone said, stunned.

"Well, really," Lou said. "Did you think my father would really be a spy? We had to get him back to Russia; he was needed for work in the Kremlin. That's why we nudged Boyd into making the arrest."

"And the others?" Malone said. "Brubitsch and Borbitsch?"

"Real spies," Lou said. "Bad ones, but real. Any more questions?"

"Some," Malone said. "Were you kidding about that drink in Moscow?"

She shook her head. "I wish I had been," she said. "But I was concentrating on Petkoff, who didn't know a thing about the drugged drink. I didn't catch anything else until after I'd swallowed it. And then it was too late."

"Good old Petkoff," Malone said. "Always helpful. But he was right about one thing, anyway."

"What?" Lou said.

"The FBI," Malone said. "He told us it was a secret police organization. And, by God, in a way it is!"

Lou grinned. Malone started to laugh outright. They found themselves very close and the laughter stopped, and there was some more time without words. When Malone broke free, he had a suddenly sobered expression on his face.

"Hey," he said. "What about Tom Boyd? He knows a lot but he hasn't got any talents, as far as I know, and-"

"He'll be all right," Lou said. "Andrew and the others have thought of that."

"But he knows an awful lot about the evidence I dug up."

"Andrew will give him a cover-up explanation they're working out," Lou said. "That will convince Boyd there's nothing more to worry about. Of course, we may have to change his mind about a few things, but we can do that, probably through you, since you know him best. There's nothing for you to worry over, Ken. Nothing at all."

"Good," Malone said. He leaned over and kissed her. "Because I'm not in the least worried."

Lou sighed deeply, looking off into space.

"Luba Malone," she said. "It sounds nice. And, after all, my mother was Irish. At least it sounds better than Garbitsch."

"What doesn't?" Malone said automatically. Then he blinked. "Hey, I'm Malone!" he said. "How could you be Malone?"

"Me?" Lou said. She caroled happily. "I'm Malone because I love you, love you with all my heart."

"That," Malone said, "does it. A woman after my own heart."

Lou made a low curtsy.

"And a woman of grace and breeding," Malone said. "Eftsoons, if that means anything."

"You know," Lou said, "I like you even better when you're being Sir

Kenneth. Especially when you're talking to yourself."

"My innate gallantry and all my good qualities come out," Malone said.

"Yes," Lou said. "Indeed they do. All over the place. It's nice to go back to Elizabethan times, anyhow, in the middle of all these troubles."

"Oh, I don't know," Malone said. "There's always been trouble. In the Middle Ages, it was witches. In the Seventeenth Century, it was demons. In the Nineteenth it was revolutions. In-"

Lou cut him off with a kiss. When she broke away Malone raised his eyebrows.

"I prithee," he said, "interrupt me not. I am developing a scheme of philosophy. There have always been troubles. In the 1890's there was a Depression and panic, and the Spanish-American War-"

"All right, Sirrah," Lou said. "And then what?"

"Let's see," Malone said, reverting to 1973 for a second. "In 1903 there was the airplane, and troubles abroad."

"Yes?" Lou said. "Do go on, Sirrah. Your liege awaits your slightest word."

"Hmm," Malone said.

"That, Milord, was a very slight word indeed," Lou said. "What's after 1903?"

Malone smiled and went back to the days of the First Elizabeth happily.

"In 1914, it was enemy aliens," said Sir Kenneth Malone.

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