Chapter XII.

7 Jun

His morning consultations ended, Dr. Bingen returned to the ice channel wharf and waited for his confederate.

Standing alongside the entrance to the sheltered area, he glanced at his wrist horologe every so often. Concern and impatience grew as the minutes passed. Where was the neurotic sociopath he was depending on? Perhaps bringing him along to Monera Station had been a foolish, ill-conceived error. It was risky to depend upon so unstable an individual. The man was highly erratic and unpredictable. What had happened to him and where was he at the present moment? worried the psychiatrist.

Why didn’t his would-be intelligencer appear as he had been ordered to do?

Twenty minutes past noon was the limit when Cam decided to go and seek Thun at the theater where the endangered singer was performing.

He went out into the cold after asking an iceboat worker the location of the Odeon. His steps were energetic and vigorous.

Why has my private agent been delayed? he asked himself with more than a small bit of anxiety growing inside him. Had something gone wrong for his associate?

Razo, sensing the sound of repressed breathing from the unlighted alcove, moved closer in order to investigate the strange situation. As he drew near, his pace slowed due to rising fear. Was it the wild playboy lurking in the shadowy recess? he wondered.

At the same time, Naze attempted to become as immotile as possible. At his feet lay the drugged Fyn Kvaloz, more stolidly motionless than the one who had immobilized him with the stupefying spray.

No use, thought Naze, realizing that the other man perceived the presence of something alive in the alcove. It is necessary to admit that I am here. This impasse cannot continue. It was impossible to conceal oneself, and there was in reality no logical reason to try to do so.

“How do you do?” suddenly called out the paragnostic. “I know you from Bifrost City, sir, as the musician who plays the orchestrion for Miss Vipur. Isn’t that who you are? Don’t you accompany her singing?”

Cautiously circling around the long body of the unconscious one, he entered the circle of dim light in the corridor leading to the stage.

“What is your business here?” questioned Razo, quickly taking a defensive pose.

Naze came to an instant standstill only an arm span from the rotund accompanist.

“I have been seeking to prevent more trouble for the young woman who sings so beautifully.”

“Why were you concealed in a corner, then?”

For a moment, the sociopath debated internally how far he should go in openly trusting this particular musician.

“The singer has suffered continuous stalking and physical attacks from a certain vile rogue,” stated Naze as boldly as he possibly could. “But now there is a way of putting a final end to her problems with the troublemaker.”

“What are you talking about?” demanded the aroused and excited Razo, his face visibly reddening with nervous apprehension.

“Come, let me show you something back in the darkness of the corner behind me here.” He pointed with his right hand.

For a short period, there was hesitation in Razo as he studied the enigmatic stranger. But what alternative was there but to have a look at what this man wanted him to see?

Naze, grasping the musician by the arm, guided him into the unlighted alcove where the case that had held the harmonium had been left. It took only a few moments for Razo to realize what it was he made out on the floor there.

“Fyn Kvaloz!” he exclaimed in surprised shock, staring at the lump of flesh he saw before him. His face turned toward the man holding his arm.

“What happened to him?”

Before Naze Thun could answer, he had to contend with something new and unexpected.

Dr. Cam Bingen walked into the stage corridor from the side hallway. Suddenly, Naze remembered the appointment he had missed to meet him at dockside. There was no need to call out or say anything to draw his attention, The psychiatrist caught sight of Naze and Razo at once.

Cam stopped in his tracks and stared into the dusky, recessed alcove.

“What’s going on? What are you two doing back there?”

For a number of seconds, there was no reply.

“Come over here and see what I managed to accomplish, sir,” whispered the patient named Naze. “It is now up to you to advise me what to do next.”

Sunda stood dumbstruck as her tormentor was carried into the dressing room. Razo and Naze placed him on a rest cot while Cam started to explain the situation.

“He is under sedation,” he assured her. “There is no immediate danger.”

“I sprayed him with a strong stupefier,” confessed Naze with an arch grin. “He will be in dream land for several hours. That should provide a measure of safety for all of us. It will take him considerable time to reach full consciousness.”

“What is going to happen to him?” asked Sunda, staring at Bingen with expectation. “He will cause trouble when he awakens. That is for certain.”

Cam’s brow furrowed with serious concern.

All at once, he knew what had to be done to the crazed stalker.

“Sunda, how late are the two of you here in the theater?”

She gave him a look of wonder. “Until the end of our last show, late this afternoon. We leave then for the ice packet that goes to Protista Station, along with the rest of our troupe.”

The doctor scratched his chin a moment, then turned to Naze.

“I want you to rush over to the Monera Clinic as quickly as you can.”

The man who had used the sprayer on Fyn Kvaloz returned a blank stare.

“You are to get my special carrying case from the consulting room. If anyone asked what you are doing, tell them that I will be there later to explain.” He then turned his dark green eyes on the singer. “I intend to liberate you of your inner demon once and for all. This is the place and the time to accomplish that for you. I am certain that it can be done.”

Naze hurried toward the door, eager to get on with his newly assigned mission. –

For her second performance in early afternoon, Sunda sang mythic songs about the time before human settlement of Bifrost, when it was inhabited by other kinds of beings. They told of how the gods of Vanir fell into mortal contention among themselves. She began with the great feud between Baldr, god of light and the peacemaker, with evil Tyr, god of war and thunder. It was a tale of how goodness defeated strife and darkness.

Magnificent Tyr, with red hair and beard, fought armed with a magic hammer, one that always returned to his hand after striking down a foe. But clever and resourceful Baldr directed the rays of the daystar to disorient the terrible projectile aimed at him, causing it to strike the temple of Tyr, knocking him into a coma of a thousand winters.

Then, the singer and her accompanist went into a cycle of songs about the rivalry of the demigods of Asgard at their polar home and the rebellion of the giants of Jotunheim on the edge of Bifrost.

The Aesirs were depicted as pure-blooded descendants of the ancient Vanir gods. Their foes, the Jotans, resulted from the interbreeding with the earliest humans who came to the Far South. The giants, with weapons of fire, destroyed the heroes of Asgard. But then they themselves fell before the waves of human pioneers who outnumbered them and possessed advanced weapon technology.

Sunda ended with a plaintive lament for the dead gods, demigods, and heroes of prehistoric Bifrost.

She rushed off the stage without acknowledging the applause of the joyous, delighted listeners. Razo took one bow, then hurried to catch up to her.

Both of them were anxious to learn the situation back in the dressing room.

As soon as the patient turned semiconscious, Cam set the intense rays of the advanced beamer into his eyes.

Fyn was unable to raise himself from the cot to which Naze had bound him with backstage ropes. The playboy was too disoriented to try to resist.

Bingen connected a heavy cable line to the holographic beamer, focusing the light into the partially conscious eyes of Fyn Kvaloz. He motioned to Naze to stand by the door and guard it, then adjusted the settings on the central panel of the apparatus.

“Look into the light,” he instructed the involuntary patient. “It will not hurt you. Let the rays clear your mind of painful memories. Think of the calm, pacific sea of ice along the edge of Bifrost. Let the light bring you enlightenment. It has powers that are miraculous.”

Cam watched as the coherent front of waves entered the young man’s eyes.

No single neuron or brain cell contains an entire bit of memory, he told himself. A thought is scattered about the human brain, stored as a hologram is, in innumerable separate locations. But such is the redundancy of the mind’s geography. All memories have been sorted, filtered, and dispersed. Each and every idea and experience has undergone transformation and coding, splitting and scattering.

The mind consists, therefore, of waves that are neurographic. Two waves combine into three, then into nine. Soon there are eighty-one, then more and more of them. Memory becomes a multi-imaged convolution. The brain’s engrams that are involved are innumerable, nearly countless. How, then, can there ever be the erasure of anything from the past? How can any mental trace be destroyed?

Can the advanced holographic beamer of Jyl Skager destroy the roots of neurosis left from earlier times? Is a life that amenable to change? Can new images be placed onto old brain cells?

These were the concerns weighing upon Cam Bingen as he readied the new apparatus for application on the brain of Fyn Kvaloz. He stepped over to his involuntary patient, strapped down on a flat gurney and spoke slowly to him.

“Think of your father, Fyn. Consider all the times that you were made to fear him. Remember the emotions that he aroused in your young, growing mind. How did you feel in those instances? Was it hatred, was it loathing? Recall all of those painful experiences as fully as possible, despite the difficulties.”

He leaned over the confused, puzzled playboy, gazing directly into his eyes.

“The bright lights will take away your burdens from the past.

“Healing will come to you in a short time, Fyn. New images will replace the ones that trouble your mind. A new life will open up for you. It will be one that brings you genuine happiness and peace.”

Cam aimed the beamer into both eyes of the playboy and turned on its photonic apparatus.


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