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Wagner laughed mirthlessly. "I could not find one," he
said.
My anger was uncontrollable. "There are eight million of
them out there!" I said. I grabbed his arm and dragged him
to the door. I opened the screen and pointed. "Look, you fool!
Any one. Any one of them!" He just laughed and I grew more
furious. I raised my hand to strike him and he cowered, still
laughing. I did not hit him, but instead merely threw the
forceps that I was holding. They hit his massive chest and fell
to the sawdust-covered floor. "Don't you understand, you
monster?" I said. "For the good of humanity!"
Wagner laughed again. "They're happy," he said. I turned
away in frustration.
"Get out," I said. "Get out of my clean lab. Go home to
that `wife' of yours." Wagner laughed, and I shuddered to
hear it. He did leave, slamming the screen door, and I never
saw him again until that time before the warehouse. Perhaps
a kind word...
But no. It was hopeless. My heart was broken, but
involved in my work as I was, I never noticed. Or else it is
only now, now that I can no longer hope to regain the
scientific objectivity that I prized for so many years, now that
I am that which I vilified for most of my life--a poet--that I
see things in their broader perspective. I certainly haven't
gained anything by this new-found ability.
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Dirty Tricks
by George Alec Effinger
I didn't know what to do. My friend Larry and my other
associates were as puzzled in their labs as I, and could offer
little help. I was on my own. Absently I took out one of my
last frogs and set it on the drawing board. It was a female,
and I really didn't feel like flushing the eggs when I got to
that point. I sometimes think about what my life would have
been like had that Rana been a male. Perhaps my life would
have been different. I think about that sometimes, about the
different roads I might have taken. Maybe I would have
ended up an entirely different person. Who can say? I think
about that sometimes.
Suddenly I jumped from my seat, leaving the poor frog
where she lay, pinned out against the board like some
hapless target in a circus knife-thrower's act. I put on a long
gray overcoat and a tan slouch hat, pulled down over my
forehead to shroud my eyes in shadow. I looked like Der
Wand'rer or one of those fellows who exposes himself to little
girls in playgrounds. Then I went out in search of my subject.
I was still locking the outside door to the lab when a lovely
young lady danced by on the sidewalk. I grabbed her arm and
she barely noticed, so happy was she. "Let me take care of
that for you," I said, and she smiled without comprehension. I
unlocked the door again with one hand, still holding her arm
tightly in the other. Then I steered her into the lab.
I removed my coat and hat. "Make yourself at home," I
said, trying to appear cheerful. She ignored me, dancing to
the buried music in her head. "Tell me, how did it all start?"
She said nothing. "How does it actually feel? Do you ever get
dizzy, nauseous, thirsty, cold?" Silence.
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Dirty Tricks
by George Alec Effinger
Perhaps already I was beginning to lose that sense of
devotion to method, that necessary coolness of intellect that
is essential to valid appraisal. It had to begin somewhere. But
why? Fifty years in the field, all to be brought to nothing
within a week. To wake up in the morning and suddenly be a
whole new person, one who is basically weaker and
completely useless (by the old standards), is a terrifying
thing. Even worse is this consuming and hopeless yearning
for the old self. To be a scientist--and one of the best of the
lot--and then to abandon, nay, misplace (as the procedure
was totally involuntary and darkened with mystery) that
carefully cultured turn of mind and find oneself fit only for the
stringing together of pretty words, that is a nightmare from
which I can never wake.
My subject avoided me. It wasn't a conscious thing, I
suppose. She was preoccupied with her happiness, and
unaware of her environment. She looked as though she
hadn't been eating regularly; she certainly had totally
forsaken bathing. I decided that she would have to be treated
and acclimated in much the same way as my mice and
gerbils. But I didn't understand the danger.
I found myself cutting up frogs or clams and humming to
myself. Old half-remembered show tunes would pop up in my
mind when I watched the girl (whom I named Mary and
clothed in my overcoat so her lovely body wouldn't distract
me) move around the lab, curiously picking up knives or mice
or bottles of chemicals from the shelves. Sometimes when
she was asleep I used to look at her or feel the fine hair along
214
Dirty Tricks
by George Alec Effinger
her arms, tickling her, I guess, because she'd smile in her
dreams or even wake up and touch me.
After a few days of this seductive madness, I was saved by
a visit from my friend Larry. He was accompanied by a tall,
slender young woman wearing Larry's overcoat. "This is
Janice," said Larry. The young woman smiled. Her eyes were
glazed with a kind of joyful fever that had become far too
familiar to me. I was beginning to find that same quality
attractive in my own specimen, Mary. My friend gave Janice a
little shove, sending her off in the general direction of Mary.
The two young women bumped about my laboratory for
several minutes before their paths intersected. When at last
this lucky event occurred, they smiled at each other and [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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