(The story begins here.)
“I still don’t know what’s going on,” Lassiter said, “but I am beginning to figure out who I can trust. Fleming and Christopher, here, have had some success getting my problem under control, and they don’t treat me like part of a freak show. And Christopher says there’s a real world out there that calls to something inside me, which is certainly how it feels.
“But you—I’d really like to believe you, and I’m finally starting to realize that’s a bad sign. Besides, you sound like some people I ran across a while back. Kennen Sie den Herr Manfred Althaus?”
Dr. Newman smiled. “I am afraid that German is not one of my accomplishments, sir. I am merely an American.”
Dr. Fleming touched Lassiter’s arm. “Perhaps this was ill-considered. I know you are very busy, Adam, and it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to work against whatever personality conflict has arisen here. We’ll keep in touch, and I’m sure we shall seek your advice in the near future.”
Dr. Newman’s smile changed almost imperceptibly. “Your friend is sick, Victor, sick and dangerous. Mental conditions can prove contagious as well as any other disease: folie à un so swiftly becomes folie à plusieurs. I would regret to have to quarantine you all.”
His tone was so calm and reasonable it seemed wicked madness to resist. Training told Darren it would be wicked madness to give in. He prayed not only for himself but for his friends, and again the answer was not what he expected.
A breeze stirred the air, a breeze Darren himself could feel. Nor was he alone: Dr. Newman ceased to notice his visitors and glanced back, trying to find the source of the current. He murmured softly, almost musically,
“En la mondon venas nova sento,
Tra la mondo iras forta voko,
Per flugiloj de facila vento…”
His voice trailed off, and his guests filed out at high speed. Darren just caught a hesitant call: “Ho pordo—porda vento, venta pordo, venu por mi, malfermu por mi…”
“I don’t know what the language is,” Darren muttered to himself, “but he scarcely knows it himself. That’s the hesitation of someone trying to remember a forgotten tongue.”
The receptionist met them just outside the door. She was startled, and the gun in her hand wasn’t properly aimed when she called for them to stop.
“You first!” Dr. Fleming retorted, making some kind of motion with his hand. Darren barely saw a fine mist fly out and apparently strike the woman down. The doctor slowed her descent and waved the others on. “I think I’m getting used to this. At least I’m prepared anymore, though I somehow doubt it would’ve taken Newman down.”
They rushed outside and piled into the car. “Quick!” Dr. Fleming said. “This place does have gates, and I don’t have an unlimited supply of that spray.”
They started for the exit at high speed, slowing to something less suspicious only when the gates came in sight. The doctor waved cheerfully at the guards; then he gunned the engine as a bell sounded and one of them reached for a switch.
“I shall be a man and admit that all my friends are psychopaths,” the doctor said. “Can either of you do any better?”
Next: Angels and Demons
1 year ago