Chapter XIII.

7 Jun

Sunda and her psychiatrist entered the small restaurant and took a table near the front entrance. On a large tablet of blue slate by the kitchen the specials of the day were written in large letters. Spratfish, whitebait, red drumfish, menhaden, and weakfish. Cam read the list with a smile. He was not used to this monopolization of the Bifrost diet by seafood.

The folksinger was the first to speak.

“You believe that Razo and the other one can handle him should he awake before we return?” she asked nervously.

“Yes,” he replied with a smile. “I gave him a sedative that I always carry with me. The two of them should be able to keep our friend under control. Finally, Naze has his sprayer to depend on, if necessary.”

A waiter came and took their orders for fish platters. When he was gone, Sunda spoke once again.

“The troupe leaves for the packet soon after this evening’s performance. But what happens to Fyn once we depart from the theater?”

“My assistant and I do not yet have lodging for tonight. I am scheduled tomorrow to have a series of sessions with local individuals under therapy. Here is my plan: Naze and I rent two rooms. He is willing to keep watch over Fyn for half the night. Then I relieve him and he gets himself some sleep. We rotate in keeping an eye on the spoiled rascal.

“When I am away at the Monera Clinic tomorrow, Naze will have to be the one in charge of managing him.”

“Do you think he is capable of such a task?” she asked him with fear in her voice and on her face.

Bingen thought a second or two.

“He will have to be,” the doctor hissed between his teeth. “There is no clear alternative to utilizing him, is there?”

“I guess not,” she said with regret. “Razo and I will be at Protista Station by morning. We give three performances there, then take the iceboat further south to Dinobryon. Can you send me word on how things are going with your peculiar patient?”

“Certainly,” agreed Cam. “I can try to get you over holophone at the theaters in those two towns.”

“Good,” she said with a slight lilt in her voice. “Tomorrow, it’s the Music Lyceum in Protista. Then we go on to the Amphion Theater in Dinobryon. That last one is where the largest audience is expected. It will be the finale of our tour.”

“And then back to Bifrost City?”

“That’s right.”

The waiter appeared at this point with their steaming fish plates. Only after both of them had taken a few bites of food did the doctor speak again.

“I do not believe you shall be bothered any more, Sunda,” he told her reassuringly. “The memory of his infatuation was a prime target in the treatment that I administered. That link has been broken, along with other neurotic memories. His behavior should now be changed into something different. The threat from him should have disappeared. That is what I believe the result of the treatment is going to be.”

“Fyn has forgotten me, then?” She stared across at the Landian.

“That should be verifiable very soon, when the man becomes fully awake. I will be able to evaluate his mind and his emotions with clarity once he is conscious.”

The two proceeded to finish their meals.

Cam took a credit crystal from his wallet and paid the bill.

“Let’s go back and see if anything has happened,” he said as his companion rose from her seat and accompanied him out onto the silicon-sheltered sidewalk.

The patient was struggling toward wakefulness, twitching and wrestling with his still comatose body.

Razo stood by the head, with Naze, Sunda, and Cam at the other end where the feet seemed to be shaking and shuddering.

“He’s having a dream in his preconscious,” indicated the psychiatrist. “It won’t be long before his mind comes to.”

The singer spoke in a trembling voice. “What is going to happen when he sees me?”

Razo took a step toward her. “It is time for us to get ready for the evening presentation. There is no time to waste.”

“Yes, you’re right,” replied Sunda in a tone of partial relief.

Cam looked at the assistant he had recruited in Bifrost City.

“Is there a hotel within close walking distance, Naze?” he inquired.

“Yes. It’s called the Austral.”

Bingen moved forward to the edge of the cot. He took the wrist of the young man he had given holographic light therapy to and felt his pulse. “The heart beat is near normal. We will have to walk him there, providing support on both sides.”

By that time, Sunda had removed her anoraq. “Let’s get in position behind the stage, Razo,” she proposed. “We don’t want to be late in making our appearance.”

As the singer and her partner exited the room, the eyes of Fyn Kvaloz opened for a brief moment, then closed shut once again. An eerie gurgling noise came from his throat. Suddenly, he attempted to roll over.

“Let’s get him out of bed and up,” murmured Cam to his helper. “It will be easier to move him before he is fully awake and conscious.”

Gradually, the playboy was lifted into a sitting position, then brought up to his feet. His eyes only half open, he peered about as if in a dream.

“We are going to take a little walk, Fyn,” announced the psychiatrist. “Our friend, Naze, is going to help put on your outdoor coat. Then, the two of us will help give you support from both right and left. Don’t say anything now. We are on our way to a hotel where you can get more of the rest than you need.”

Within a minute, the three men were making their way out of the theater, proceeding in a slow, cautious manner along the snowy walkway.

Cam Bingen woke early, dressed, then went next door to the hotel room where Naze Thun was keeping watch on the man who had undergone photonic therapy.

Sunda had already arrived in Protista by overnight packet, he reminded himself as he knocked on the adjacent door down the hallway.

A sleepy Naze opened it for him, still yawning.

“How is your friend?” whispered the doctor.

“In bed taking another nap,” announced the other. “I have him under control.”

Cam thought a moment. “I’ll tell them downstairs to have breakfast brought up here in a little while. I have to get to the Clinic now. If you need me for any reason, call me there by holophone.”

“I understand,” said Naze with a moan. He closed the door and returned to the armchair he had been sitting in. It gave him a full view of the dozing prisoner.

For fifteen minutes, his eyes never left the inert form on the wide bed.

I can’t afford to lie down on the other one, the neurotic advised himself. Must keep myself vigilant and fully awake, never letting down my guard.

A soft knock sounded at the door to the room.

Must be breakfast, Naze realized as he got up from his chair. Indeed, it was a hotel waiter in yellow uniform, wheeling in a small carrying cart with food containers on it.

“My friend is still asleep,” whispered the occupant. “Just leave everything. I’ll move the carrier out in the hall when we are finished with the food you brought us.”

“Very good, sir,” said the employee, then departed.

Naze moved the cart between his chair and the bed that Fyn was asleep on. Picking up a spoon and a bowl, he sat down and began eating the burgoo porridge, still steaming with heat.

His eyes on Fyn Kvoloz, the watching guardian followed every move on the bed.

All of a sudden, Fyn opened his eyes and looked about the room. His gaze settled on the man in the armchair holding a bowl with a spoon sticking up from it.

“Good morning. How are you feeling today?” began Naze.

The other tried to lift himself up, succeeding only half way.

“Where am I? What happened to me?” demanded the one who had just awakened.

“You are in the Austral Hotel in Monera Station. You suffered an accidental fall yesterday, remember? You underwent some first aid treatment and are now recovering. The injuries were not serious enough to demand hospital treatment and the doctor will be stopping by later today. How about a bite of breakfast?”

“I feel very hungry,” muttered Fyn, rolling over so as to be able to drop both feet to the floor.

Naze got up and moved over to the food cart, putting down his own bowl and picking up the one which hadn’t been touched yet. “You may find the burgoo has cooled off some. I’ll heat up the pot of kelp tea on the griller. It will warm up your insides, my friend.”

The playboy studied him with skeptical eyes. “Who are you? What is your connection to me? How did I get here? My mind is in a thick fog and I can hardly understand anything about how I got here with you.”

“I’m an employee of your father,” lied Thun, handing him the bowl.

After both of them were finished with their porridge and tea, Naze turned on the room’s entertainment holoscreen to a public channel, hoping that would distract his charge. After wheeling the breakfast cart into the hall outside, he returned and sat down in his armchair. Fyn, in a second one, seemed spellbound by the variety shows on the wall screen. Comedy, dancing, music, and drama alternated in a continuous stream on the magnetic monitor screen.

At intervals, the man on guard glanced over at the recovering one. He did not pay much attention to what was appearing on the optical screen.

A female singer who resembled Sunda Vipur in many ways started to sing a forest song from the Urthian zone. Her voice was a high, ethereal soprano.

“The cutting Eurus blows from the southeast,
An etesian harbinger of the end of estival summer…”

Naze’s attention, for a moment, drifted off into the past. The result was that he had no warning of what was about to happen next until it struck him.

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