home   |   -   |   A-Z   |  


ORGANS FOR sale or trade. Any paired organs, best offer. Need posterior coronal heart sections, L. auricle, L. R. ventricle, and associated parts. Phone 88-703 for tissue match.

HNEFATAFL PLAYERS, Swedes or Muscovites. Grand Gateway Tournament. Will teach. 88-122.

PENPAL FROM Toronto would like to hear you tell what its like out there. Address Tony, 955 Bay, TorOntCan M5S 2A3.

I NEED to cry. I will help you find your own pain. Ph 88-622.

What made it easy to turn off our insights was that we pretended to each other, and sometimes to ourselves, that what we were doing was preparing ourselves, really well, for the day when the Right trip came along.

It wasnt hard to do that. A lot of real prospectors did the same thing, between trips. There was a group that called itself the Heechee Seekers, which met on Wednesday nights; it had been started by a prospector named Sam Kahane, kept up by others while he was off on a trip that hadnt worked out, and now had Sam back in it between trips, while he was waiting for the other two members of his crew to get back in shape for the next one. (Among other things, they had come back with scurvy, due to a malfunction in the food freezer.) Sam and his friends were gay and apparently set in a permanent three-way relationship, but that didnt affect his interest in Heechee lore. He had secured tapes of all the lectures of several courses on exostudies from East Texas Reserve, where Professor Hegramet had made himself the worlds foremost authority on Heechee research. I learned a lot I hadnt known, although the central fact, that there were far more questions than answers about the Heechee, was pretty well known to everybody.

And we got into physical-fitness groups, where we practiced muscle-toning exercises that you could do without moving any limb more than a few inches, and massage for fun and profit. It was probably profitable, but it was even more fun, particularly sexually. Klara and I learned to do some astonishing things with each others bodies. We took a cooking course (you can do a lot with standard rations, if you add a selection of spices and herbs). We acquired a selection of language tapes, in the event we shipped out with non-English-speakers, and practiced taxi-driver Italian and Greek on each other. We even joined an astronomy group. They had access to Gateways telescopes, and we spent a fair amount of time looking at Earth and Venus from outside the plane of the ecliptic. Francy Hereira was in that group when he could get time off from the ship. Klara liked him, and so did I, and we formed the habit of having a drink in our rooms well, Klaras rooms, but I was spending a lot of time in them with him after the group. Francy was deeply, almost sensually, interested in what was Out There. He knew all about quasars and black holes and Seyfert galaxies, not to mention things like double stars and novae. We often speculated what it might be like to come out of a mission into the wavefront of a supernova. It could happen. The Heechee were known to have had an interest in observing astrophysical events firsthand. Some of their courses were undoubtedly programmed to bring crews to the vicinity of interesting events, and a pre-supernova was certainly an interesting event. Only now it was a long lot later, and the supernova might not be pre anymore.

I wonder, said Klara, smiling to show that it was only an abstract point she was putting to us, if that might not be what happened to some of the nonreturn missions.

It is an absolute statistical certainty, said Francy, smiling back to show that he agreed to the rules of the game. He had been practicing his English, which was pretty good to start with, and now he was almost accent-free. He also possessed German, Russian, and fair amounts of the other romance languages to go with his Portuguese, as we had discovered when we tried some of our language-tape conversation on each other and found he understood us better than we understood ourselves. Nevertheless, people go.

Klara and I were silent for a moment, and then she laughed. Some do, she said.

I cut in quickly, It sounds as if you want to go yourself, Francy.

Have you ever doubted it?

Well, yes, actually I have. I mean, youre in the Brazilian Navy. You cant just take off, can you?

He corrected me: I can take off at any time. I simply cannot go back to Brazil after that.

And its worth that to you?

Its worth anything, he told me.

Even I pressed, if theres the risk of not coming back, or of getting messed up like the return today? That had been a Five that had landed on a planet with some sort of plant life like poison ivy. It had been a bad one, we had heard.

Yes, of course, he said.

Klara was getting restless. I think, she said, I want to go to sleep now.

There was some extra message in the tone of her voice. I looked at her and said, Ill walk you back to your room.

Thats not necessary, Rob.

Ill do it anyhow, I said, ignoring the message. Good night, Francy. See you next week.

Klara was already halfway to the downshaft, and I had to hurry to catch up to her. I caught the cable and called down to her, If you really want me to, Ill go back to my own place.

She didnt look up, but she didnt say that was what she wanted, either, so I got off at her level and followed her to her rooms. Kathy was sound asleep in the outer room, Hywa drowsing over a holodisk in our bedroom. Klara sent the maid home and went in to make sure the child was comfortable. I sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for her.

Maybe Im premenstrual, Klara said when she came back. Im sorry. I just feel edgy.

Ill go if you want me to.

Jesus, Rob, quit saying that! Then she sat down next to me and leaned against me so that I would put my arm around her. Kathys so sweet, she said after a moment, almost wistfully.

Youd like to have one of your own, wouldnt you?

I will have one of my own. She leaned back, pulling me with her. I wish I knew when, thats all. I need a lot more money than I have to give a kid a decent life. And younger.