Chapter IX.

27 Jan

Tado fell into a pattern of coming to the offices of Sucre Publications each day around noon. His editing work there was limited to reaching a few decisions about new books to be produced. He would tell Paena what his plans were. She then saw to their fulfillment and completion on her own.

One day, he found her in a rhapsodic mood of excitement. She rushed to the tilleulwood desk assigned him as he prepared to sit down there.

“I found something this morning that you have to see, Tado. There is an interesting new book review in “The Fortnightly”. It deals with our futural, “The Velvet Psychic”. Think of how that can draw interest and increase our sales.”

Smiling radiantly, she stepped up to the editor-writer, handing him a copy of the literary publication. Tado took it from her, feeling surprise and confusion. Why would an intellectual, high-brow magazine look at something he had psychically lifted out of the forgotten past of futurals? The possibilities caught his imagination at once. What opportunities might now exist for his new line of novellae about the imaginary planet? He could see some prospects ahead.

“It’s on the third page,” indicated Paena, her zaffir eyes ablaze.

The psychographist looked there, locating what she was talking about.

“Since nothing of aesthetic or literary value has ever come from the presses of Sucre Publications, it is with satisfaction we take up a recent work issued there, the first from that source to deserve serious critical attention. The novella in question is Volume One of a new series. The volumes will bear the general title of “The Velvet World”. The introductory book, appearing with the author named as Augo Fibril, is a thoughtful, original narrative that has something to say far beyond the borders of its futural fantasy genre. The general reader will receive both pleasure and insight from the pages of this minor masterpiece. The characters are much more than typical cardboard figures. They speak as authentic souls with ideas we can understand and sympathize with. It is quite a surprise to find.

“Without revealing too much, we can say that “The Velvet Psychic” occurs in a world where thoughts of one person are shared with others. Due to telepathic achievements and astounding inventions, human potentials are increased to incredible proportions and dimensions. This novella, the first in what is hoped will be a long, meaningful series, provides a far-reaching perspective to those who take the trouble to obtain and read it. A fresh, inspiring optimism wafts off its pages. Congratulations to Sucre Publications on giving us a piece of fiction that makes us think and speculate. Keep up the good writing over there.”

When he finished reading the review, Tado had an exultant grin on his face. He gave the literary sheets back to Paena, but said nothing directly to her.

“What does this mean for us?” she asked him after a time. “Can we use such praise?”

“We are about to enter a new level and soar upward!” he said rejoicingly. “The limits are now broken. We have transcended them. There can be no stopping us now. “The Velvet World” is going to take us to the top. Have you shown this review to your father yet?”

“No.”

“Let’s go in and show it to him. He will understand at once how much it means to be in “The Fortnightly” with such a glorious review.”

Endo, becoming acquainted with youths his own age, began in the evenings to frequent a public recreation club in the Charque neighborhood where the Carqs had their apartment. His favorite pastime there was to play games of checkmate with a competent, competitive opponent. It was easier for him to fall asleep after a few hours of distraction and relaxation, the young man of eighteen discovered. He enjoyed playing, regardless of the final score.

One evening, the brother of the opposing player came up and spoke to him in the middle of a match.

“I finished the book and liked it. Are there any continuations out yet?”

The player stopped and looked to his side. “Next week a second volume goes on sale. I’ll lend you my copy as soon as I have it finished. But you must give me back the first volume. Do you have that book with you?”

The brother placed a small, thin paperback on the edge of the playing table, to the side of the squares and the pieces. A single pawn stood nearest the intruding novella.

As his brother walked away, Endo’s opponent gave him an explanation of what was going on.

“One of my hobbies beyond checkmate, is collecting and reading futural stories. I love to read about the fantastic.” He reached toward the book on the table. “This is one of the best I’ve seen in quite a long time. My brother heard me talking about the story and asked to read it himself. I imagine he will want to see my copy of the second volume that continues the tale. My bookstore has ordered it for me.

“This one on the table is the first book of the series called “The Velvet World”. The fascinating, entrancing first novella is titled “The Velvet Psychic”. I hope that the coming volumes continue to deal with the telepathic. That is what gives the first book its interest and attraction. There has been nothing like it in the futurals before. The author is some unknown named Augo Fabril. No one I know has ever heard of him. But his mind is brilliant and inventive. I have never read anything as fascinating as this.”

Thinking fast, Endo made a proposal. “Why don’t you let me see it, if you say it is so interesting? It does not look too thick. I can finish it overnight and return the book to you tomorrow morning.”

“You have the skill of rapid reading?”

“Yes,” admitted Endo. “It is something I picked up early.”

“Tell me what you think of the story and the writing,” said the opposite player as he handed the book to the new psychographist.

The pair returned to the board game in front of them. They finished it quickly, Endo winning as he had foreseen from the beginning.

Endo begged off further playing, claiming he was too tired to continue.

He nearly ran home, the novella under his arm.

That night he read all of it.

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