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The Right Time   By: (1919-1988)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction December 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


The trouble with prophets is that if they're accurate, the news won't do you any good, and if they aren't accurate, they're no good. Unless, of course, they're more than just prophets....


Illustrated by George Schelling

"Don't let the old goat rattle you, Pheola," I said as we rode the elevator to the penthouse. "He'll try. Just remember, he is the one who has to say O.K. if we are to give you some training."

Her eyes rolled and she moaned softly, clinging to my arm. "Oh, Billy Joe!" she whispered. "I don't want to fail you!"

Maragon has some pretty creepy types in his office and the receptionist that day was no exception. She was one of those twitchy hyper thyroid clairvoyants that he likes to test.

"Don't tell me," the receptionist twitched proudly as we came in. "I know!" She got up from behind her desk and led us to the Grand Master's private office.

I intended to make her guess whom I had with me, but that didn't bother her. "Dr. Walter Bupp and Pheola Rountree," she announced smugly. Clairvoyants live in a condition of perpetual thrill with their powers.

Maragon's penthouse office has glass walls on two sides. He was prowling back and forth in front of his desk, sharply lit by the bright sunlight that streamed in. His gray shock of hair glistened, and his bushy eyebrows shaded his face. He radiated impatience, from the grinding of his square jaw to the fists he had rammed into his hips.

"Lefty," he greeted me, "do they all have to look alike? Where did you get this scarecrow?"

I could feel Pheola stiffen. I guess no woman, no matter how plain, likes to be reminded of it.

"Same place you dig up those twitchy CV types you have spooking up your outer office," I snapped. "There's nothing the matter with Pheola that three square meals won't cure in a month!"

Maragon grunted. "And just what wonderful power do you have, young woman, that makes it worth while for the Lodge to fatten you up?" he demanded.

She had plenty of spunk, I'll say that for her. "I have the power of prophecy, and the gift of healin'," Pheola said, squinting at him.

He barked a laugh at her and went across the thick carpet to sit in his swivel chair. It was a beauty of dark green morocco that matched his Bank of England chairs and leather sofa that was against one of the walls. "What's your favorite prophecy, young woman?" he wanted to know.

Pheola smiled over at me. "Oh, no!" I groaned, but she nodded.

"Billy Joe and I are gettin' married," she told Maragon.

"Billy Joe?" he asked, scowling at me across his desk.

"That's me," I said. "Don't ask me where the name comes from."

"I couldn't care less," Maragon grumped. "Is it true? Are you going to marry this bag of bones?"

I could feel my face getting red. "Not that I know of," I said.

He swung around in his chair to face her. "Young woman, someone has told you how much the Lodge is interested in precognition. You wouldn't walk in here claiming the power if you didn't know we want to find it, and rarely can. But you certainly came ill prepared. Going to marry Lefty, eh? Why, you can't predict the right time!" He banged his fist on the big slab of walnut. "You're a fake!" he said.

"I ain't a fake!" Pheola protested. "We will get married!"

"Drag her out, Lefty," Maragon said wearily, with a limp wave of his hand.

"Come on, Pheola," I said, taking her arm with my right hand. I saw no point talking with him any further.

"Lefty!" Maragon exclaimed.


"You used your right arm! You can't move it!"

"I can now," I told the old goat with relish. "Pheola told you she was a healer... Continue reading book >>

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