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Authors: Philip K. Dick

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BOOK: The Divine Invasion
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"You mean one of those colony-planet domes?" Herb Asher said.

"I can't make you listen, can I?" Manny said. "If I could say to you—"

"She is coming this way," Herb Asher said. "How did you know?" He moved a few steps toward her. Linda Fox walked rapidly, with small steps, a gentle expression on her face.

"Thank you," she was saying to people who spoke to her. For a moment she stopped to give her autograph to a black youth nattily dressed.

Tapping Herb Asher on the shoulder a waitress said, "You're going to have to take that boy out of here, sir; we can't have minors in here."

"Sorry," Herb Asher said.

"Right now," the waitress said.

"Okay," he said; he took Manny by the shoulder and, with unhappy reluctance, led him back toward their table. And, as he turned away, he saw out of the corner of his eye the Fox pass by the spot at which he and the boy had stood. Manny had been right. A few more seconds and he would have been able to speak a few words to her. And, perhaps, she would have answered.

Manny said, "It is her desire to trick you, Herb Asher. She offered it to you and took it away again. If you want to meet Linda Fox I will see that you do; I promise you. Remember this, because it will come to pass. I will not see you cheated."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Herb said, "but if I could meet her—"

"You will," Manny said.

"You're a strange kid," Herb Asher said. As they passed below a light fixture he noticed something that startled him; he halted and, taking hold of Manny, he moved him directly under the light.
You look like Rybys
, he thought. For an instant a flash of memory jarred him; his mind seemed to open up, as if vast spaces, open spaces, a universe of stars, had flooded into it.

"Herbert," the boy said, "she is not real. Linda Fox—she is a phantasm of yours. But I can make her real; I confer being—it is I who makes the irreal into the real, and I can do it for you, with her."

"What happened?" Rybys said, when they reached the table.

"Manny has to leave," Herb said to Zina Pallas. "The waitress said so. I guess you'll have to go. Sorry."

Taking her purse and cigarettes, Zina rose. "I'm sorry; I guess I kept you from seeing the Fox."

"Let's go with them," Rybys said, also rising. "My head hurts, Herb; I'd like to get out of here."

Resigned, he said, "All right." Cheated, he thought. That was what Manny had said.
I will not see you cheated
. That is exactly what happened, he realized; I have been cheated this evening. Well, some other time. It would be interesting to talk to her, maybe get her autograph. He thought, Close up I could see that her eyelashes are fake. Christ, he thought; how depressing. Maybe her breasts are fake, too. There're those pads they slip in. He felt disappointed and unhappy and now he, too, wanted to leave.

This evening didn't work out, he thought as he escorted Rybys, Zina and Manny from the club onto the dark Hollywood street. I expected so much … and then he remembered what the boy had said, the strange things, and the nanosecond of jarred memory: scenes that appeared in his mind so briefly and yet so convincingly. This is not an ordinary child, he realized. And his resemblance to my wife—I can see it now, as they stand together. He could be her son. Eerie. He shivered, even though the air was warm.

Zina said, "I fulfilled his wishes; I gave him what he dreamed of.  All those months as he lay on his bunk. With his 3-D posters of her, his tapes."

"You gave him nothing," Emmanuel said. "You robbed him, in fact. You took something away."

"She is a media product," Zina said. The two of them walked slowly along the nocturnal Hollywood sidewalk, back to her flycar. "That is no fault of mine. I can't be blamed if Linda Fox is not real."

"Here in your realm that distinction means nothing."

"What can you give him?" Zina said. "Only illness—his wife's illness. And her death in your service. Is your gift better than mine?"

Emmanuel said, "I made him a promise and I do not lie." I shall fulfill that promise, he said to himself. In this realm or in my own realm; it doesn't matter because in either case I will make Linda Fox real. That is the power I have, and it is not the power of enchantment; it is the most precious gift of all: reality.

"What are you thinking?" Zina said.

"'Better a live dog than a dead prince,'" Manny said.

"Who said that?"

"It is simply common sense.

Zina said, What is your meaning?"

"I mean that your enchantment gave him nothing and the real world—"

"The real world," Zina said, "put him in cryonic suspension for ten years. Isn't a beautiful dream better than a cruel reality? Would you rather suffer in actuality than enjoy yourself in the domain of—" She paused.

"Intoxication," he said. "That is what your domain consists of; it is a drunken world. Drunken with dancing and with joy. I say that the quality of realness is more important than any other quality, because once realness departs, there is nothing. A dream is nothing. I disagree with you; I say you cheated Herbert Asher. I say you did a cruel thing to him. I saw his reaction; I measured his dejection. And I will make it up to him."

"You will make the Fox real."

"Is it your wager that I can't?"

"My wager," Zina said, "is that it doesn't matter. Real or not she is worthless; you will have achieved nothing."

"I accept the wager," he said.

"Shake my hand on it." She extended her hand.

They shook, standing there on the Hollywood sidewalk under the glaring artificial light.

As they flew back to Washington, D.C. Zina said, "In my realm many things are different. Perhaps you would like to meet Party Chairman Nicholas Bulkowsky."

Emmanuel said, "Is he not the procurator?"

"The Communist Party has not the world power that you are accustomed to. The term 'Scientific Legate' is not known. Nor is Fulton Statler Harms the chief prelate of the C.I.C., inasmuch as no Christian-Islamic Church exists. He is a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church; he does not control the lives of millions."

"That is good," Emmanuel said.

"Then I have done well in my domain," Zina said. "Do you agree? Because if you agree—"

"These are good things," Emmanuel said.

"Tell me your objection."

"It is an illusion. In the real world both men hold world power; they jointly control the planet."

Zina said, "I will tell you something you do not understand. We have made changes in the past. We saw to it that the C.I.C. and the S.L. did not come into existence. The world you see here, my world, is an alternate world to your own, and equally real."

"I don't believe you," Emmanuel said.

"There are many worlds."

He said, "I am the generator of world, I and I alone. No one else can create world. I am He Who causes to be. You are not."

"Nonetheless—"

"You do not understand," Emmanuel said. "There are many potentialities that do not become actualized. I select from among the potentialities the ones I prefer and I bestow actuality onto them."

"Then you have made poor choices. It would have been far better if the C.I.C. and the S.L. never came into being."

"You admit, then, that your world is not real? That it is a forgery?"

Zina hesitated. "It branched off at crucial points, due to our interference with the past. Call it magic if you want or call it technology; in any case we can enter retrotime and overrule mistakes in history. We have done that. In this alternate world Bulkowsky and Harms are minor figures—they exist, but not as they do in your world. It is a choice of worlds, equally real."

"And Belial," he said. "Belial sits in a cage in a zoo and throngs of people, vast hordes of them, gape at him."

"Correct."

"Lies," he said. "It is wish fulfillment. You cannot build a world on wishes. The basis of reality is bleak because you cannot serve up obliging mock vistas; you must adhere to what is possible:
the law of necessity
. That is the underpinning of reality: necessity. Whatever is, is because it must be; because it can be no other way. It is not what it is because someone wishes it but because it has to be—that and specifically that, down to the most meager detail. I know this because I do this. You have your job and I have mine, and I understand mine; I understand the law of necessity."

Zina, after a moment, said:

 

The woods of Arcady are dead,

And over is their antique joy;

Of old the world on dreaming fed;

Grey Truth is now her painted toy;

Yet still she turns her restless head.

 

That is the first poem by Yeats," she finished.

"I know that poem," Emmanuel said. "It ends:

 

But ah! she dreams not now; dream thou!

For fair are poppies on the brow:

Dream, dream, for this is also sooth.

 

"'Sooth' meaning 'truth,'" he explained.

"You don't have to explain," Zina said. "And you disagree with the poem."

"Gray truth is better than the dream," he said. "That, too, is sooth. It is the final truth of all, that truth is better than any lie however blissful. I distrust this world because it is too sweet. Your world is too nice to be real. Your world is a whim. When Herb Asher saw the Fox he saw deception, and that deception lies at the heart of your world." And that deception, he said to himself, is what I shall undo.

I shall replace it, he said to himself, with the veridical. Which you do not understand.

The Fox as reality will be more acceptable to Herb Asher than any dream of the Fox. I know it; I stake everything on this proposition. Here I stand or fall.

"That is correct," Zina said.

"Any seeming reality that is obliging," Emmanuel said, "is something to suspect. The hallmark of the fraudulent is that it becomes what you would like it to be. I see that here. You would like Nicholas Bulkowsky not to be a vastly influential man; you would like Fulton Harms to be a minor figure, not part of history. Your world obliges you, and that gives it away for what it is. My world is stubborn. It will not yield. A recalcitrant and implacable world is a real world."

"A world that murders those forced to live in it."

"That is not the whole of it. My world is not that bad; there is much besides death and pain in it. On Earth, the real Earth, there is beauty and joy and—" He broke off. He had been tricked. She had won again.

"Then Earth is not so bad," she said. "It should not be scourged by fire. There is beauty and joy and love and good people. Despite Belial's rule. I told you that and you disputed it, as we walked among the Japanese cherry trees. What do you say now, Lord of Hosts, God of Abraham? Have you not proved me right?"

He admitted, "You are clever, Zina."

Her eyes sparkled and she smiled. "Then hold back the great and terrible day that you speak of in Scripture. As I begged you to."

For the first time he sensed defeat. Enticed into speaking foolishly, he realized. How clever she is; how shrewd.

"As it says in Scripture," Zina said.

 

I am Wisdom, I bestow shrewdness

and show the way to knowledge and prudence.

 

"But," he said, "you told me you are not Holy Wisdom. That you only pretended to be."

"It is up to you to discern who I am. You yourself must decipher my identity; I will not do it for you."

"And in the meantime—tricks."

"Yes" Zina said, "because it is through tricks that you will learn."

Staring at her he said, "You are tricking me so that I wake! As I woke Herb Asher!"

"Perhaps."

"Are you my disinhibiting stimulus?" Staring fixedly at her he said in a low stern voice, "I think I created you to bring back my memory, to restore me to myself."

"To lead you back to your throne," Zina said.

"
Did
I?"

Zina, steering the flycar, said nothing.

"Answer me," he said.

"Perhaps," Zina said.

"If I created you I can—"

"You created all things," Zina said.

"I do not understand you. I cannot follow you. You dance toward me and then away."

"But as I do so, you awaken," Zina said.

"Yes," he said. "And I reason back from that that you are the disinhibiting stimulus which I set up long ago, knowing as I did that my brain would be damaged and I would forget. You are systematically giving me back my identity, Zina. Then—I think I know who you are."

Turning her head she said, "Who?"

"I will not say. And you can't read it in my mind because I have suppressed it. I did so as soon as I thought it." Because, he realized, it is too much for me; even me. I can't believe it.

They drove on, toward the Atlantic and Washington, D.C.

 

  14  

H
erb Asher felt himself engulfed by the profound impression that he had known the boy Manny Pallas at some other time, perhaps in another life. How many lives do we lead? he asked himself. Are we on tape? Is this some kind of a replay?

To Rybys he said, "The kid looked like you."

"Did he? I didn't notice." Rybys, as usual, was attempting to make a dress from a pattern, and screwing it up; pieces of fabric lay everywhere in the living room, along with dirty dishes, over-filled ashtrays and crumpled, stained magazines.

Herb decided to consult with his business partner, a middle-aged black named Elias Tate. Together he and Tate had operated a retail audio sales store for several years. Tate, however, viewed their store, Electronic Audio, as a sideline: his central interest in life was his missionary work. Tate preached at a small, out-of-the-way church, engaging a mostly black audience. His message, always, consisted of:

REPENT
!
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND
!

It seemed to Herb Asher a strange preoccupation for a man so intelligent, but, in the final analysis, it was Tate's problem. They rarely discussed it.

Seated in the listening room of the store, Herb said to his partner, "I met a striking and very peculiar little boy last night, at a cocktail lounge in Hollywood."

BOOK: The Divine Invasion
13.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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