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The Alternate Plan   By:

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The operation was a very serious one and Bart Neely was willing to put himself into Dr. Morton's hands. But if things turned out badly, Bart was going to teach them a lesson. He was going to refuse to die.

Bart Neely was fighting the hypo. They'd slipped that over on him. Now he had to struggle to keep his brain ready for plan B. The alternate plan. He nodded feebly at his reflection in the mirror over the white enamel dresser. This throat trouble wasn't going to lick him. He lay back on the cool white pillow. Medical men always thought theirs was the final answer; well, psychologists like himself knew there was a broader view of man than the anatomical. There was a vast region of energy at man's disposal; the switch to turn it on, located in the brain.

Rubber soled shoes squished across the bare floor as Dr. Jonas Morton came into Bart's room. His hair was hidden by a sterile cap, his arms bare to well above the elbows.

Looks like a damned butcher, thought Bart.

"Bart, I want you to reconsider the anesthetic. I think you ought to be out for this one, completely out." The doctor's voice became a shade less professional. "I don't tell you how to run your perception experiments, I think you ought to let me judge what's best in the surgical area."

"No," Bart whispered hoarsely. It was hell squeezing the words out. Lifting his voice these days was harder than lifting a half ton truck. "Must be conscious, able to decide." Jonas had to lean down to catch all the words. "Not going to let you take my voice while I'm unconscious ... helpless ..."

Dr. Morton shook his head. "You're the boss."

"How soon?"

"Twenty minutes." The professional tone became pronounced again. "Your wife's outside waiting to see you. Don't get emotional, I don't want your endocrine system in an uproar." The doctor stepped out into the corridor.

Emotional. He mustn't think about it. He might weaken, consent to linger on, an invalid, just to be with Vivian a few extra years. Extra years of indignities calculated to twist the man woman relationship into an ugly distortion. How romantic it would be, he and Vivian locked in an embrace, the silky softness of her hair falling across his arm, the pressure of her fingers on his back. And then, instead of placing his mouth against her ear and whispering the familiar intimacies, he would switch on the light, disengage himself so that he could whip out a pad and pencil and ...

His heart skipped at the sound pattern of high heels on the corridor. Vivian, Vivian. Her perfume pricked his senses and it took effort to shut out the emotional response. "Remember the need for an alternate plan," he reminded himself fiercely and then looked up into his wife's clear green eyes. Without a word she bent down and lay her face next to his. He was struck with the warmth of her. He gently pushed her head away. "Vi." (My Lord, his eyes were wet ... what a schoolboy performance!) "Vi, you know I don't want to go on here ... if radical surgery is necessary. I want you to remember me as a whole man, not a ... dummy."

"Bart, oh Bart." There was a frown of apprehension on her forehead. She sighed heavily and whispered, "Can it make so much difference when I love you Bart?"

"But don't you see, Vi? It may not be Bart Neely they wheel back here after the operation." He motioned for her to bend closer for the sound of his voice was becoming weaker. "In my field I've seen a lot of crazy reactions to loss of basic ability. Personality reversals brought about by loss of hearing, impotency, or even the inability to bear a child." He stroked the back of her hand with his finger. "Bart Neely without a voice box might be a stranger. I'm not sure you'd like him. I don't think I'd even like him."

An intern backed into the room followed by a gurney. Bart shot a look at Vi. "This is plan A... Continue reading book >>

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