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datatime: 2022-11-28 14:10:27 Author:MzaAOQaR

The word came and went-

Which meant that there must be someone else in the house.

Just after 4.00 A.M. Wyatt returned to the machine room, gave Garrison an opiate booster, turned up fear-stimulation to the full and jammed the controls firmly in that position. Then, leaving the room, he padlocked the door and pocketed the keys.

draining feeling which came whenever the Machine suffered a power loss; and he had been powerless to do anything about it. It seemed that Psychomech could only help him - and conversely that he could only help the Machine - in a real crisis.

And yet... it had been attempted Most certainly. And it had succeeded. Garrison's weight was up.

He went downstairs. Terri would be here in a little over four hours. By then everything must be under control; Garrison dead, all records completely up to date, and Wyatt's own nerves steady once more. He had work to do. But first a wash and a shave, then coffee. Lots of strong, black coffee.

Not before that time and never since, until now, had Garrison suffered claustrophobia.

And yet... it had been attempted Most certainly. And it had succeeded. Garrison's weight was up.

Someone, some unknown but very real and physical one, had somehow been in here and turned down the fear-stimulation controls, releasing Garrison from his nightmares. Someone was here, in this very house, right now. It was crazy, ridiculous, but it was the only solution.

After that he had climbed aboard the revitafized Machine to ride it out of the desert into a green and beautiful valley, and for some little time - though time as a real concept did not have a great deal of meaning here - he had followed a tinkling stream to where it cut a cleft through a range of high, domed hills. And as the machine had followed the stream through the great and rambling V of the deep cleft, so Garrison had once more slept upon its broad back.

At 6.00 A.M. he felt an almost irresistible urge to check Garrison's condition, but somehow managed to fight it ?off. Psychomech would do the job, he was sure. And at 6.30, after a hot shower, he allowed himself to fall asleep for two hours, only waking up at Tern's insistent ringing at the doorbell.

Heavy skies, yes. They seemed to weigh on him with the weight of the Universe. They seemed almost to shut him in...

Not before that time and never since, until now, had Garrison suffered claustrophobia.

Koenig? The German manservant seemed most eligible, Wyatt had to admit. He could have gone to Germany, turned around and flown straight back. He could be here right now, looking after his master's interests as always. But if he was here, and if he knew what was going on, why didn't he just come right on out of the woodwork, free Garrison and make an accusation?

But between times, in the room of the machine...

And yet... it had been attempted Most certainly. And it had succeeded. Garrison's weight was up.

And that, he told himself, is that

At 6.00 A.M. he felt an almost irresistible urge to check Garrison's condition, but somehow managed to fight it ?off. Psychomech would do the job, he was sure. And at 6.30, after a hot shower, he allowed himself to fall asleep for two hours, only waking up at Tern's insistent ringing at the doorbell.

-And came back.

One sure way to check for outside interference would be, quite simply, to search the house from top to bottom. And after that, if he found nothing and no one - which he suspected would be the case, for if there were a human adversary at work here he must be extremely clever and unlikely to let himself be discovered - then Wyatt must simply deny him access to the room of the machine, which he could do easily enough.

He went downstairs. Terri would be here in a little over four hours. By then everything must be under control; Garrison dead, all records completely up to date, and Wyatt's own nerves steady once more. He had work to do. But first a wash and a shave, then coffee. Lots of strong, black coffee.

After that he had climbed aboard the revitafized Machine to ride it out of the desert into a green and beautiful valley, and for some little time - though time as a real concept did not have a great deal of meaning here - he had followed a tinkling stream to where it cut a cleft through a range of high, domed hills. And as the machine had followed the stream through the great and rambling V of the deep cleft, so Garrison had once more slept upon its broad back.

Not only had the control panel been interfered with but Garrison had been fed. Not by Psychomech, no, for the machine's feeding was really recycling and more on the psychical than the physical side. How had he been fed? -that was anybody's guess. It should be quite impossible. There were no scraps of food in his mouth, no spilled liquids, and he must certainly have choked if it were attempted.

One sure way to check for outside interference would be, quite simply, to search the house from top to bottom. And after that, if he found nothing and no one - which he suspected would be the case, for if there were a human adversary at work here he must be extremely clever and unlikely to let himself be discovered - then Wyatt must simply deny him access to the room of the machine, which he could do easily enough.

Which meant that there must be someone else in the house.

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