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."Perhaps I merely needed a vacation, or ""You were hoping to avoid the penalties imposed by the Hortators for yournegligent behavior.You thought you could deceive them into forgetting youroffenses for a time.Isn't this the same type of deception you have justcondemned as illogical?""Well, I." (What had his earlier self been intending, anyway?)"Does anything prevent the College of Hortators, once they recall yournegligence, from publicly condemning the same project they condemned before,and for the same reasons? No, Phaethon, you pretend you are an isolatedindividual, separate from the world, from society, and able to defy them.Butwhen that separation became a reality, it was you, you Phaethon, who could notaccept what that reality was.""What do you mean?!""It was you who drove your wife to enter a permanent delirium tantamount tosuicide.""No! I cannot accept that!""An odd comment! It must be assumed you do not mean to reject reality, sinceyou have criticized those who do so heavily." There was a gentle irony to thehuman head's tone.The eagle head spoke loudly: "Does this mean there is aplan for recovering your wife?!" The cobra head was quiet: "The EleemosynaryComposition is not without sympathy.We are also not without resources."Phaethon grew very still.He spoke in soft, leaden tones: "What are youimplying.?""This is a cruel and callous society in which we live.Those who cannot paytheir housing bills are thrown into the streets.Recorded minds of any typewho cannot pay the rentals on their computer brain space are deleted.Thosewho are trapped permanently in the dreamscapes, who cannot pay the fees thatservice requires, are cut off, and ejected into reality."The Eleemosynary Composition offers to manipulate the stock market byaltering the buying habits of that percent of the population which comprisesour membership, and by using negotiation, buyouts, and other financialmaneuvers to either buy the companies in which Daphne's stock has beenPage 104 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.htmlinvested, or to ruin the values of those stocks.The Even-ingstar Sophotech isserving as investment broker for Daphne; an entity very smart and veryaccomplished in other fields, but utterly lacking the resources which theSeven Peers can bring to bear."It was true.Just in terms of consumer goods alone, the EleemosynaryComposition controlled about one-tenth of the human world gross industrialproduct.The Chimera said, "Once Daphne's stock is bankrupt, Ev-eningstar will ejecther from her dream coffin and into the real world.She will be utterly unableto cope with a reality she has redacted from all memory.She may not belegally competent to govern her own affairs.By virtue of your marriagecommunion circuit, you hold join copyright ownership on certain of herintellectual properties, including her personality template.At that point,you may be legally able to insert a temporary memory block to redact allrecent memories and personality changes; this would not be a personality-editoralteration.She would simply be restored to the condition she was in beforeshe decided to commit delusion-suicide.She will have the legal right, onceshe is sane again, to open her redacted memories, and let herself go insaneagain.But you will be present.You will have an opportunity to persuade herto live in reality."Phaethon said nothing.His eyes were wide.The Chimera said, "Your forgotten project is not the most important thing inlife to you.If you agree to cease all investigations into your past, theEleemosynary Composition will aid you in the fashion we have outlined torecover your wife back to reality and sanity.You should agree not onlybecause you personally shall receive the benefit of her love and gratitude,once she is restored; but also because it is your duty.You are her husband.Your marriage oath requires that you save her."You may call the Eleemosynary exchange from any public annex.We will leaveyou to meditate upon your answer."And the Chimera vanished.THE GOLDEN DOORSWas it cowardice or prudence that made him hesitate? One impulse was to rushto the nearest Eleemosynary agency and throw himself down, begging, weeping,instantly agreeing to anything and everything it took to recover his wife fromher horrible exile, her living death of permanent delusion.Another impulse, more cautious, told him to investigate further.Certainly the Eleemosynary Composition had not lied.It was true that, thesedays, very few people (aside from Nep-tunians) ever even attempted to lie; itwas altogether too easy to get caught by all-knowing Sophotechs, too easy forhonest men to confirm their statements by public display of their thoughtrecords.But it was also true that people could be mistaken, or could indulgein exaggerated (but honest) judgments of relative worth.The EleemosynaryComposition, for example, might judge something to be "difficult" or"impossible" which was not.Was it impossible for Phaethon to wake his dream-trapped wife? Impossible?He had to be certain.He had to see for himself.Phaethon reached for the yellow disk icon floating in the glass of the tablesurface, the communication channel.Itshould take only a moment to telepresent himself to the Ev-eningstar Sophotechwho had custody of his wife's body.But he did not wish to be furtherobserved; all this prying into his life was beginning to annoy him.Even as hereached, with his other hand he gestured the balcony window closed.Immediately, a panel was covering the view, and the sound and light andmovement from outside was shut off.Phaethon froze, startled.It was suddenly silent, with the total and absolutesilence of a vacuum.The panels had not slid or moved to shut; one moment theywere not there; the next they were in place.There was no hint or whisper ofnoise from beyond the panels, such as a Silver-Gray scene would have provided,Page 105 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.htmlto maintain the illusion of three dimensions and of consistency of objects.Phaethon's hand was near the table surface.Still he hesitated."Rhadamanthus, why am I hesitating? What am I thinking?" He asked the questionaloud before he remembered that he was disconnected from the Rhadamanthinesystem.(Had he been connected, he would not have forgotten, even for amoment.)There was an icon for a Noetic self-consideration circuit in the tabletop.Itwas a crude, old-fashioned model, weeks or months out of date.But Phaethonthought that if he could clean a room manually, he could clean his nervoussystem of emotional maladjustments manually.He touched the icon.Another, smaller window, like a tabletop, opened in theunsupported midair to his left.The new window was lit with the colors, dotsand grids of standard psychometric iconography.He saw that his tension levelswere high; grief and rancor were burning like a fire in a coal mine, sullen,just below the surface of his thoughts; and the temptation simply to give into the Eleemosynary's bargain, to have someone or something else solve thisproblem for him, was very high.The short-term emotional association index was carrying an image from thedream consciousness in his hypothalamus.He reached into the surface of thewindow, and through it, toopen the index box and look at the image list.There it was.He was associating the sudden silence of the closed balcony withbeing trapped in a coffin, the airtight lid slamming shut, inescapable [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]