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Second Sight   By: (1912-2003)

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Basil Wells, who lives in Pennsylvania, writes that he has been doing research concerning the keelboat age prior to and following the War of 1812 on the "locally famous section of portage keelboat rafting stream from Waterford down to Pittsburgh," turning from this to this grimmer future.

second sight


Then his hand caught an arm and he exerted his full strength. The entire arm tore away from its shoulder....

His fingers moved over the modest packet of bills the invisible rockhound had handed to him. He smiled through the eternal night that was his own personal hell. Duggan's Hades.

"Thanks, Pete," he said gratefully. "Here, have a box of Conmos."

His sensitized fingers found the cigars, handed over a box, and he heard the nervous scuff of the other's shoes.

"This eight thousand means I can see again for a while at least. Take 'em! It's little enough."

"Look, Duggan. I get eight hundred for selling you the ticket on the breakthrough time. Keep the cigars. You need the dough."

Feet pounded, thumping into swift inaudibility along the 10th Level's yielding walkway. His fingers caressed the crisp notes that his lucky guess on the 80th Level's tunnel juncture had won for him, plus the ten dollars, that this meager business could ill afford, it had cost to join the rockhounds' pool....

But now he was free. His own man. He was released from the calculated economies of his wife. Janith knew to within a few dollars what his newsstand on the 10th Level should make. He had never been able to save the necessary thousand dollar deposit, and ten dollars an hour, that a rented super mech cost. And she would never listen to his pleas that he must see again if only for an hour....

"Waste ten or twenty dollars for nothing," she would storm. "We have all your hospital bills to pay. I need new clothes. Your stock in the stands is too small."

What she left unspoken was the fact that she must secretly have hated his engineering career in the deep levels under Appalachia, and that she was dedicated to preventing his possible return....

After three years of blindness, under his wife's firm dominance, Duggan felt only hate for her. With this sudden fortune he could be independent. He could divorce her. He could rent a super mech even return to work in the ever deepening levels of Appalachia City!

First of all he must see again.

He closed up the news and cigar stand. With his cane's sensitive radar button pulsating beneath his fingers he hurried along the walkway toward the nearest super mech showroom. It was less than three blocks....

"Be sure that all the contacts are against the skull and neck," the salesman was saying, his voice muffled by the mentrol hood covering Duggan's head and shoulders.

"Of course." Duggan's impatience made his voice shrill. "I've used mentrols before when inspecting cave ins and such."

"Very well, sir." The man's voice was relieved. Probably he hated his job as much as Duggan hated his cigars and news.

Duggan tripped the switches and heard the building hum of power. An odd sort of vibration that his mind told him was purely emotional, seemed to be permeating his whole body.

Abruptly the transition was complete. He was no longer lying on the padded bench beneath the mentrol hood. He was standing erect, conscious of the retaining clamps that held him upright.

He gulped a deep draught of air into the artificial lungs that did not need oxygen and his mechanical pulse quickened.

His eyes slitted open, drinking in by degrees the mirrored mentrol booth and the pallid, fat, little man sitting beside his hooded body. He stepped out of the clamps, his sharpened senses aware of softness, and hardness, and scent, and color that human weakness so often blurs.

This super mech that was linked directly with his brain by twin mentrols was tall, chunky and gray of eye and hair... Continue reading book >>

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