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Bedside Manner   By: (1906-1980)

Bedside Manner by Joseph Samachson

First Page:



Illustrated by VIDMER

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction May 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Broken, helpless, she had to trust an alien doctor to give her back her body and mind a doctor who had never seen a human before!]

She awoke, and didn't even wonder where she was.

First there were feelings a feeling of existence, a sense of still being alive when she should be dead, an awareness of pain that made her body its playground.

After that, there came a thought. It was a simple thought, and her mind blurted it out before she could stop it: Oh, God, now I won't even be plain any more. I'll be ugly.

The thought sent a wave of panic coursing through her, but she was too tired to experience any emotion for long, and she soon drowsed off.

Later, the second time she awoke, she wondered where she was.

There was no way of telling. Around her all was black and quiet. The blackness was solid, the quiet absolute. She was aware of pain again not sharp pain this time, but dull, spread throughout her body. Her legs ached; so did her arms. She tried to lift them, and found to her surprise that they did not respond. She tried to flex her fingers, and failed.

She was paralyzed. She could not move a muscle of her body.

The silence was so complete that it was frightening. Not a whisper of sound reached her. She had been on a spaceship, but none of a ship's noises came to her now. Not the creak of an expanding joint, nor the occasional slap of metal on metal. Not the sound of Fred's voice, nor even the slow rhythm of her own breathing.

It took her a full minute to figure out why, and when she had done so she did not believe it. But the thought persisted, and soon she knew that it was true.

The silence was complete because she was deaf.

Another thought: The blackness was so deep because she was blind.

And still another, this time a questioning one: Why, if she could feel pain in her arms and legs, could she not move them? What strange form of paralysis was this?

She fought against the answer, but slowly, inescapably, it formed in her mind. She was not paralyzed at all. She could not move her arms and legs because she had none. The pains she felt were phantom pains, conveyed by the nerve endings without an external stimulus.

When this thought penetrated, she fainted. Her mind sought in unconsciousness to get as close to death as it could.

When she awoke, it was against her will. She sought desperately to close her mind against thought and feeling, just as her eyes and ears were already closed.


But thoughts crept in despite her. Why was she alive? Why hadn't she died in the crash?

Fred must certainly have been killed. The asteroid had come into view suddenly; there had been no chance of avoiding it. It had been a miracle that she herself had escaped, if escape it could be called a mere sightless, armless and legless torso, with no means of communication with the outside world, she was more dead than alive. And she could not believe that the miracle had been repeated with Fred.

It was better that way. Fred wouldn't have to look at her and shudder and he wouldn't have to worry about himself, either. He had always been a handsome man, and it would have killed him a second time to find himself maimed and horrible.

She must find a way to join him, to kill herself. It would be difficult, no doubt, without arms or legs, without any way of knowing her surroundings; but sooner or later she would think of a way. She had heard somewhere of people strangling themselves by swallowing their own tongues, and the thought cheered her. She could at least try that right now... Continue reading book >>

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