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Fifty Per Cent Prophet   By: (1927-1987)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction September 1961. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

FIFTY

PER CENT

PROPHET

By DARREL T. LANGART

That he was a phony Swami was beyond doubt. That he was a genuine prophet, though, seemed ... but then, what's the difference between a dictator and a true prophet? So was he....

Illustrated by Schoenherr

Dr. Joachim sat in the small room behind his reception hall and held his fingers poised above the keys of the rather creaky electrotyper on his desk. The hands seemed to hang there, long, slender, and pale, like two gulls frozen suddenly in their long swoop towards some precious tidbit floating on the writhing sea beneath, ready to begin their drop instantly, as soon as time began again.

All of Dr. Joachim's body seemed to be held in that same stasis. Only his lips moved as he silently framed the next sentence in his mind.

Physically, the good doctor could be called a big man: he was broad shouldered and well muscled, but, hidden as his body was beneath the folds of his blue, monkish robe, only his shortness of stature was noticeable. He was only fifty four, but the pale face, the full, flowing beard, and the long white hair topped by a small blue skullcap gave him an ageless look, as though centuries of time had flowed over him to leave behind only the marks of experience and wisdom.

The timelessness of an idealized Methuselah as he approached his ninth centennial, the God given wisdom engraved on the face of Moses as he came down from Sinai, the mystic power of mighty Merlin as he softly intoned a spell of albamancy, all these seemed to have been blended carefully together and infused into the man who sat behind the typer, composing sentences in his head.

Those gull hands swooped suddenly to the keyboard, and the aged machine clattered rapidly for nearly a minute before Dr. Joachim paused again to consider his next words.

A bell tinkled softly.

Dr. Joachim's brown eyes glanced quickly at the image on the black and white TV screen set in the wall. It was connected to the hidden camera in his front room, and showed a woman entering his front door. He sighed and rose from his seat, adjusting his blue robes carefully before he went to the door that led into the outer room.

He'd rather hoped it was a client, but

"Hello, Susan, my dear," he said in a soft baritone, as he stepped through the door. "What seems to be the trouble?"

It wasn't the same line that he'd have used with a client. You don't ask a mark questions; you tell him. To a mark, he'd have said: "Ah, you are troubled." It sounds much more authoritative and all knowing.

But Cherrie Tart née Sue Kowalski was one of the best strippers on the Boardwalk. Her winters were spent in Florida or Nevada or Puerto Rico, but in summer she always returned to King Frankie's Golden Surf , for the summer trade at Coney Island. She might be a big name in show business now, but she had never forgotten her carny background, and King Frankie, in spite of the ultra ultra tone of the Golden Surf , still stuck to the old Minsky traditions.

The worried look on her too perfect face had been easily visible in the TV screen, but it had been replaced by a bright smile as soon as she had heard Dr. Joachim opening the door. The smile flickered for a moment, then she said: "Gee, Doc; you give a girl the creepy feeling that you really can read her mind."

Dr. Joachim merely smiled. Susan might be with it, but a good mitt man doesn't give away all his little secrets. He had often wished that he could really read minds he had heard rumors of men who could but a little well applied psychology is sometimes just as good... Continue reading book >>




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