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Monkey On His Back   By: (1911-1997)

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Transcriber's note. This story was published in Galaxy magazine, June 1960. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

[Illustration]

By CHARLES V. DE VET

monkey on his back

Under the cloud of cast off identities lay the shape of another man was it himself?

Illustrated by DILLON

He was walking endlessly down a long, glass walled corridor. Bright sunlight slanted in through one wall, on the blue knapsack across his shoulders. Who he was, and what he was doing here, was clouded. The truth lurked in some corner of his consciousness, but it was not reached by surface awareness.

The corridor opened at last into a large high domed room, much like a railway station or an air terminal. He walked straight ahead.

At the sight of him a man leaning negligently against a stone pillar, to his right but within vision, straightened and barked an order to him, "Halt!" He lengthened his stride but gave no other sign.

Two men hurried through a doorway of a small anteroom to his left, calling to him. He turned away and began to run.

Shouts and the sound of charging feet came from behind him. He cut to the right, running toward the escalator to the second floor. Another pair of men were hurrying down, two steps at a stride. With no break in pace he veered into an opening beside the escalator.

At the first turn he saw that the aisle merely circled the stairway, coming out into the depot again on the other side. It was a trap. He glanced quickly around him.

At the rear of the space was a row of lockers for traveler use. He slipped a coin into a pay slot, opened the zipper on his bag and pulled out a flat briefcase. It took him only a few seconds to push the case into the compartment, lock it and slide the key along the floor beneath the locker.

There was nothing to do after that except wait.

The men pursuing him came hurtling around the turn in the aisle. He kicked his knapsack to one side, spreading his feet wide with an instinctive motion.

Until that instant he had intended to fight. Now he swiftly reassessed the odds. There were five of them, he saw. He should be able to incapacitate two or three and break out. But the fact that they had been expecting him meant that others would very probably be waiting outside. His best course now was to sham ignorance. He relaxed.

He offered no resistance as they reached him.

They were not gentle men. A tall ruffian, copper brown face damp with perspiration and body oil, grabbed him by the jacket and slammed him back against the lockers. As he shifted his weight to keep his footing someone drove a fist into his face. He started to raise his hands; and a hard flat object crashed against the side of his skull.

The starch went out of his legs.

"Do you make anything out of it?" the psychoanalyst Milton Bergstrom, asked.

John Zarwell shook his head. "Did I talk while I was under?"

"Oh, yes. You were supposed to. That way I follow pretty well what you're reenacting."

"How does it tie in with what I told you before?"

Bergstrom's neat boned, fair skinned face betrayed no emotion other than an introspective stillness of his normally alert gaze. "I see no connection," he decided, his words once again precise and meticulous. "We don't have enough to go on. Do you feel able to try another comanalysis this afternoon yet?"

"I don't see why not." Zarwell opened the collar of his shirt. The day was hot, and the room had no air conditioning, still a rare luxury on St. Martin's. The office window was open, but it let in no freshness, only the mildly rank odor that pervaded all the planet's habitable area... Continue reading book >>




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