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     "Hello, Frank."
     "Where am I?"
     "How are you feeling?"
     "How long have I been here?"
     "Are you in any pain?"
     "Who are you?"
     "Please answer my question: are you in any pain?"
     I stared up at her; her appearance slowly registered in my fogged brain. She was clothed entirely in white, including her right hand which reached out to touch my shoulder gently. My neck ached and my eyes narrowed from the pain they felt as they tried to focus on her hand, only inches from my face. I could see her short fingernails through the white material on her hand, though I could see no line where her glove ended on her sleeve, made from the same thin material.
     My gaze traveled up her arm and across to her body, stopping at the faintly visible pink of her right nipple which rested where her breast was cradled against the upper part of her arm. My thoughts stopped in confusion as I found that my bed was level with her waist, covering what might have been visible below. Why was my bed so high?
     "No," I said haltingly. "No---pain."
     She said, "Good," and she smiled, and some part of my brain pumped out pleasure-inducing chemicals.
     Her blond hair fit her head like a cap. The color of her eyes was lost in the dimness, but the large, intense black of her pupils contrasted with irises that were breathtakingly pale.
     Her uniform was loose, yet shaped to her body without having any visible belts or bands to mold her waist or wrists. As she bent closer, a glint across her eyes made me realize that what I'd taken to be an opening in a cap which covered her entire head was actually a transparent bit of material in the semi-opaque fabric of her costume.
     "Who are you?" I asked.
     "Dr. Zinovia," she said, putting a rising timbre in her soft voice and smiling a brighter smile.
     "Where am I?" I didn't want her to leave my side. I wanted her to stay with me always. If she left the room, she might never come back. I couldn't stand that.
     "In hospital," she said, with a descending scale in her tone, as if absolving me from the sin of being in a hospital.
     "What happened to me?"
     A tiny frown wrinkled her smooth forehead, and I longed to stretch up a finger to erase the delicate lines. "You know," she paused. "You know you tried to kill yourself. But it didn't work. You went into coma. You were brought here. You---"
     "New York City Hospital. Roosevelt Island---"
     "Roosevelt Island? Isn't that a mental---?"
     Her "No" was so delightedly light it sounded more like a laugh. "It's one of the newest---it's been built since---," she lowered her head and pursed her pink lips, "you shouldn't be talking so much---"
     As she said this I realized that my throat felt raw, as if a bottlebrush had been pushed into and pulled out of it. My eyes stung from trying to focus on her face in the dimness. My neck was achingly tired from holding my head up slightly. My awareness of my body rushed back in a flood of agony; I felt as though I'd just completed my first, practice, ninety-yard touchdown after an inert summer with no calisthenics to tone my bulky body.
     "Just rest for awhile. I'll come back," she said, as if she had read from my eyes my panic at the thought of her absence. "Just listen to the Musik---"
     "The music?" What could replace her comforting presence?
     "The Musik," she said with a firm, warm smile, "the Musik is very good for you."
     She departed. My head rolled back, and I stared at the ceiling before my eyes closed in fatigue. Painful sensations began to drift away from parts of my body, and before I could ask more questions, even in my own mind, I found myself drifting toward sleep.


     The music played on.
     When I woke again, I sensed---an absence. Slowly opening my eyes, I saw that I was again imprisoned between featureless four walls under a matte-white ceiling. But Dr. Zinovia wasn't there, and it was as if most of the oxygen had been removed from the room.
     I closed my eyes. What was there to look at if she wasn't there? My discomfort had lessened, but my mind leapt toward another absence: I hadn't had any dreams!
     Always before, I would wake with either the vivid recollection of a dream or with the memory of having had a dream which I'd forgotten. But then, the music seemed to soften the blow. After I killed Anna and Bill, my dreams had turned into nightmares. Their screams had haunted my sleeping, and I began to dread remembering my dreams. But still I had dreamed, dreamed so relentlessly that my doctor had suggested sleeping pills. Would he have prescribed them if I had asked for them, thinking that I might want to kill myself?
     Relax. Listen to the music. She had told me to listen to the music. How funnily she had said that word: music. I remember how I marveled at Julie Andrews' crystal enunciation of that word in a recording of "The Sound of Music." Though there was the flavor of the word "mew" as of the sound of a cat, there was a glittering clarity of a jewel---of the word "jewel" as the British would pronounce it, not the "jool" that the Brooklynites talked about. The preciousness, the brilliant hardness of a diamond was embodied in her talk of the music.
     "The music." I said it aloud to savor the sound.
     The sound of a sliding door to my left came to my ear, and I turned with rapture to watch her approach my bed.
     "You're awake," she said, laughter not far from her tone.
     "What is the music?"
     "Ah," she said reverently, "that's not a very easy question to answer."
     "Tell me." I felt like a child begging for a fairy tale from its mother. One corner of my mind protested that my son, Bill, could never again ask for a fairy tale from my wife, Anna, but the music seemed to wrap that thought in cotton and bury it deeply into my unconscious.
     "Well---it's not ordinary music; it's Musik."
     I knew she was using a different word. "It's not spelled M-U-S-I-C," I said.
     She touched my hand. The material covering her fingertips was transparent to the warmth of her body. "No," she said with the softness of her touch, "it's spelled M-U-S-I-K, with a capital M, since it's really a trademark."
     "Why haven't I heard such Musik before?"
     Again I wanted to erase the delicate lines that appeared in the middle of her forehead.
     "You must sleep." Each word was a kiss, but still I was dismayed.
     "I just woke up. I've been sleeping too much."
     "Don't," she said, moving her hand to my lips, actually touching my forehead to soothe the lines there. Was she reading my mind? "Listen to the Musik. I promise you we'll have time to talk later."
     The Musik seemed to have changed from a refreshing brightness to a lulling restfulness. Was I being hypnotized? I sank down into sleep.


     I woke next with a kind of resentful jolt. How could I have fallen asleep so soon after I'd awakened? And why had I still not had a dream?
     Hospitals and medical costumes might change, but how could I have changed, or been changed, not to have dreams? Was someone drugging me?
     I winced at these thoughts. The Musik increased slightly in volume. Could the Musik be, somehow, tailored for me?
     "Dr. Zinovia!"
     Her sound; her presence; did I even detect a subtle change in the antiseptic smell in the room when she entered?
     "You don't have to shout, you know; I'm right here." Again I felt like a small child, like Bill, the son I had killed.
     "If you can't relax, we'll have to increase your medication. You wouldn't like that, would you?" My body was immobilized under the warmth of her hand resting on my chest.
     "So I'm under sedation?"
     "Sedation?" Her tongue gave the word the charm of a pleasurable game. "Not at all. We have to make sure that you're comfortable. As you gain more strength---"
     "Gain strength? How did I lose strength?"
     "You still want to go too fast. You have no need to be in a hurry." She put her right hand at the top of my head. I felt a preternatural warmth spread downward through my body. When I felt her left hand on my chest also warming up, I realized there must be some sort of electrical circuitry in her white costume. Wouldn't she get warmer inside, also? And how does she breathe through that transparent material across her face?
     "Why don't I dream?"
     "Ah," she said, her eyes glistening in the dimness, "that's one of the things we would like to know, also."
     My eyes closed contentedly, then fluttered open in alarm: how did she know I'm not dreaming? Is she reading my mind? I turned my head slightly toward her, almost expecting her to answer. Her only response was a delicious curl of her lips at both sides of her mouth. "You need to get more sleep," she offered in an almost subliminal whisper.
     I'm being brainwashed, I thought with some panic. I don't need more sleep. I've been getting too much sleep anyway. Is this some kind of punishment for taking sleeping pills? Involuntarily, I slept again.

     CHAPTER 4

     I need answers, I thought as I woke again. My mind seemed sharper. Maybe they were lessening my medications. My short, dream-like awakenings now seemed like normal wakefulness. Clearly, the doctors were controlling my state of mind. Maybe I was in a jail because I'd killed my wife and my son.
     "I killed my wife and son." I said it aloud, experimentally. It was like poking at a dead animal. I was sorry that it was a true statement, but much of the emotional charge had gone from it.
     I again heard their screams as they saw the truck bearing down on us. I again heard my curses as I tried to find an alternative as the terrified driver I was attempting to pass sped up when I sped up and slowed down when I slowed down. My experience as a mathematician refused to help my panicking mind as I struggled to figure out how to get back into my narrow lane on the highway. I should have driven her off the road, but she looked enough like my beloved Anna that I couldn't steer my car into the side of her car. I hoped that a miracle would permit us to hit the truck head-on and survive. Well, I survived, but Anna and Bill were dead. I'd killed them, and though the doctor thought I would recover my stability after a few good nights' rest, their screams in my head had never stopped, never stopped, until I knew that my only relief would come with my death. So I'd sorted through the possibilities and taken my own life. Even that hadn't worked.
     I turned my attention back to the Musik. It played constantly, but so persistently that I found myself forgetting about it for long periods of time.
     My mind jumped. I hadn't eaten for days, yet I wasn't the least bit hungry. My eyes blinked open: and I hadn't urinated or defecated since I woke up. My thick jaw and my cheeks felt perfectly clean-shaven. My hand explored the bed under my body: I could feel no tubes and no catheters. How could this be?
     "Dr. Zinovia!"
     The sameness of her appearance shocked me for the first time. How could she always be awake when I needed her? How could she always look precisely the same? I shuddered: maybe she isn't alive? A vague unease that had been forming, without words, in my mind, condensed into a single question. "How long have I been here?"
     Expressionlessly, she looked down at me. The pause stretched to my nerves' snapping point. Her pink lips parted.
     "Twenty years."


     I woke in panic: I'd been sent back to sleep on hearing those two words: twenty years.
     I screamed, "Dr. Zinovia!"
     Her sound; her presence: "How are you now?"
     I grabbed her hand, warm through her protective garment. I could do nothing but cry like a lost child, wanting to curl myself into a bowl of tears around that warm hand.
     She made sympathetic noises from deep within her throat, and she patted me on the shoulder. Then she caressed my head, clasped it in her free hand, and drew it to her bosom.
     I cried and cried.
     "Yes, yes," she started saying, rocking me gently in her arms. "That's OK, that's all right. It's good to cry; that's good."
     Time passed in a bliss of weeping, a luxuriance of tears.
     At the end of that time, completely exhausted, I lay my head back on my bed. I breathed in a great sigh and let it out with the few remaining shudders of my weeping.
     "How are you now?" she said in a voice that was softness itself.
     "I'm confused and afraid and tired, why am I tired? I just woke up why did I fall asleep how can---"
     Dr. Zinovia laughed---and she laughed the same as the Musik was laughing, intertwined with her voice. I then asked the question that was most important to me: "Are you real?"
     "Why---yes, I'm real; I'm a human being. I'm not a robot, or a Martian, or anything else you may fear that I am. What is it that you're afraid of?" Her face, so close, was so caring and so beautiful that I could hardly pass my words through my choked throat.
     "I was afraid that you weren't real, that I was making you up so that--" The thought that I had been pursuing quietly evaporated, like a drop of water in hot sunlight. I frowned.
     "What's wrong?"
     "Can you control my thoughts in my mind?"
     She laughed again. "Control?"
     "Can you read my mind?"
     "Read?" She pulled in her lips and tilted her head. My adoration threatened to blind me completely.
     "Tell me."
     "In a way," she sighed, "yes, I can read your mind, but not, perhaps, in the way you think. You've been unconscious for so long and so many things have changed---"
     "Tell me."
     "We can't really read your mind, of course not. But we've learned so much about emotions, and manifestations of emotions, that we can, now, gain far more information from your tone of voice, choice of words, facial expressions, and body movements than you could twenty years ago. She raised her hand, laughing again, to stop me from interrupting her. "You haven't learned, as we have in the intervening twenty years, to stop or shield these emotions from your face, voice, and body."
     I felt comforted, but I felt that I had to fight against that very comfort to get more information. "Can the Musik read my mind?"
     "Well, this room could be said to read your mind, in that there are sensors which are invisible to you and which relay great quantities of data on your respiration rates, pupillary size, sweat reflexes---"
     "Am I hooked up to a lie detector?"
     The lovely lines reappeared on her forehead. "A lie detector? The lines disappeared as her eyebrows lifted above her delicious laughter. "No, not a lie detector; you might better think of it as a mood detector. The Musik---"
     "Tell me more about the Musik---"
     "I was just about to," she said with a tiny tang of annoyance. "By coincidence, you were born in the same year, 1960, as Dr. Richard Gain, who established the Musik-science that he named Niag Yoga."
     "Niag is just Gain, his name, spelled backwards."
     She smiled. "Yes, but Dr. Gain said that the name really came from his home town, Niagara Falls, New York. He got the idea for his Musik-science from the sound of the waters rushing over Niagara Falls. He called them 'Niag-Ara,' from the Latin word 'Ara,' which means 'Altar.' He called Niagara the Altar of Niag, Niag-Ara.
     "Dr. Gain grew up within hearing distance of Niagara Falls. He began to notice that his elevated and depressed moods varied as the sounds of Niagara Falls varied when more or less water was drawn away from the falls to feed the hydroelectric plants.
     "His Musik operates through Vibrational Entrainment. The Musik plays at frequencies that entrain the vibrations of your body, brain, and other organs, including the glandular secretions that govern your emotions and reactions.
     "Did the Musik keep me alive for twenty years?"
     "No." She smiled. "For part of the time we kept your body just above freezing temperature."
     "What treatments am I being given now?
     "You are now absorbing nutrients and water by osmosis through your skin. Medical science developed your Support Bed gradually through the years. Mechanisms turn your body, to prevent bedsores, as you sleep. As different areas of your body come in contact with the Support Bed, different osmotic interfaces introduce solid and liquid nutrients into your body and remove solid and liquid excretions from your body."
     "So the Musik doesn't feed me," and I had to laugh at the expression on her face.
     "No, the Musik is effective in many ways, but that's not one of them."
     "I keep wondering about the Musik," I said, newly aware of its constant presence in my waking, and undoubtedly in my sleeping, hours. "What does it do; how does it work?"
     "Dr. Gain found that the resonances of his Musik were more important than the actual frequencies of the tones. He incorporated the resonances into an octave, a series of tones like a musical octave."
     As I listened to the Musik, I reached between my body and my lower sheet. I could feel no moisture or oiliness on the surface of the sheet, but my body seemed ever so slightly more moist, as if the osmotic processes Dr. Zinovia described were in fact operating through the lower sheet into my body.
     I tried to feel the resonances from the Musik, imagining them as tiny pellets of sound hitting every square inch of my body. But I could sense nothing other than the sounds of the Musik in my ears and somehow also affecting the delicate linings of the inside of my nose.
     I raised my head, but then the Musik changed, seemed to become more tranquil than its previous gentle rhythms, and I let my head fall back onto the bed. It was just too much trouble to get out of bed. Then my emotions galvanized themselves.
     I feared I was being brainwashed. Was the Musik controlling me? I had to get up to prove to myself that I could do it despite the Musik. I raised myself on my elbows, fighting as if against increased gravity. I had to get up.
     My breath rasped in my throat, my neck strained with the effort, and I gained a sitting position and gasped for breath.
     "Frank, you don't have to prove anything to yourself," Dr. Zinovia said sternly. "The Musik doesn't force itself on anyone, it merely suggests what might be beneficial."
     "I want to get up," I almost shouted.
     Dr. Zinovia frowned down on me. As her expression relaxed, the Musik changed again. I actually swung my legs off the side of the bed so that, with a little hop, I found myself standing for the first time in twenty years.



     "How do you feel?" she asked, with barely repressed joy quivering in her voice.
     My legs were quaking, my ankles felt as if they'd been enclosed in a vise, and the bottoms of my feet burned as if the floor were on fire. "I feel great," I exulted.
     Trying not to feel what seemed like bonds tying me both physically and emotionally to the bed behind me, I shuffled my feet alternately toward the sliding panel that made the entire side of my room into a doorway to the exterior world.
     I didn't turn, for fear of losing my balance, when I heard a tiny beep of sound behind me. Was she signaling for help? With grim determination I reached the sliding wall, then looked helplessly back and forth.
     Dr. Zinovia said, "Your retinal-vein pattern hasn't been given to the door yet. Let me open it for you." She stepped to my right side and turned her head briefly to the right. The door slid open with the sound that I associated with her awaited entrance. The wall of the corridor across from me was entirely featureless.
     When I stepped into the corridor, I felt eddies of motion, as if hordes of people had suddenly left my doorway in a rush. Maybe the beep of sound hadn't been for help, but for a clearing of the corridor of whatever had been there before.
     Light sources, though hidden in invisible recesses, shed their uniform glow. Parallel rows of foot-square frames were placed, at eye-level, ten feet apart from each other on both sides of the corridor.
     "Those are the view-plates," said Dr. Zinovia. My door had closed behind us, and as she faced the frame it showed the lightly-glowing characters of a liquid-crystal display with lines about a half-inch high. The title of the display, in inch-high letters, was simply "Frank."
     "What else can the view-plate show?"
     She looked at me and smiled. "Somewhere it shows that you were a mathematician who liked to play computer games; is that what makes you ask so many questions?"
     "Can you blame me for asking questions? I've got twenty years to catch up with."
     "Of course. I'm sorry."
     "What I meant was, does the view-plate show anything but data in words."
     She hesitated for only a moment. "No," she said, turning away from me to face the panel, "it can show this." A rough outline of my body appeared on the view-plate, with tiny areas containing microscopic print covering various parts of the outline.
     "Can you read that?"
     "It can be enlarged," she said, and suddenly, as she stared at the display, an area of print in the lower left corner ballooned into half-inch letters that obliterated the rest of the image on the view-plate. As I bent closer to read the printing, the letters dwindled and returned to their corner. "The terminology would probably only confuse you," she said uncertainly.
     "Try me."
     "How do your feet feel?"
     I'd been trying not to think about my feet. Progressing from the first burning sensations, I now felt that red-hot needles were trying to drill through the bottoms of my heels. My toes were clenching and unclenching as they struggled to retain my balance. "I guess I'd like to sit down."
     "We have very little experience with people who have been in a coma for more than ten years. It takes a very long time for the lungs, the blood, and the glandular systems to cope with the stresses of waking. That's why you've been put to sleep so much." She raised a hand to quiet my questions.
     "Sleep, you may be surprised to hear, is far more active than a coma-state. You've actually been making rapid progress in the time since you first woke from your coma. That progress has taken place while you've been asleep.
     "Now that your basic maintenance systems have been restored, you can begin a more active program to recover the use of your muscles. Now your progress can be more in your own hands." She walked to a featureless wall, looked at it, and a billow of wall-material about six feet long curled out to form a shelf about two feet deep and two feet off the floor. "You may sit or lie down, if you wish."
     "This must make cleaning the floors a cinch. But you probably have machines to do that," I said as I sat down.
     "Yes, we have machines to do that." She stood, looking down at me, as pain transferred itself from the bottoms of my feet to the base of my spine.
     "I seem to be made out of Pain Putty."
     "Pain Putty?"
     "I used to play with Silly Putty. I mostly made silly shapes out of it. My body seems to respond with pain wherever I stress it, so I think of it as Pain Putty."
     "You must still voluntarily work on restoring your muscular tone. We don't even know how basic reflexes---"
     She moved suddenly toward me. I was startled, but my senses seemed to be operating in another, slower, time frame. It took what seemed like seconds for my body to react and withdraw from her unexpected closeness.
     "---are affected by a twenty-year coma." She smiled almost apologetically for having tested me so quickly.
     Feelings of nausea began demanding attention. I was glad she'd remained standing, because I felt compelled to lie down on the wall-bench. She looked down sympathetically. "You can push at the edges of your condition, if you like, but you'll have to be prepared to pay the price."
     "Some cliches never die," I said weakly. My nausea increased. "I hope I'm not going to be sick."
     Dr. Zinovia laughed. "That's one of the advantages of not feeding you solid food while you recover. There's nothing inside you to be sick with. But let's get you back to your bed." I wanted to protest, but my body's discomfort effectively shut my mouth. Agonies at the base of my spine, at the bottoms of my feet, even at my elbow as Dr. Zinovia's lightest touch guided me through the doorway into my bed--- all shouted that I had a painful recovery ahead of me.
     My bed felt unbearably welcoming, like a soothing womb of comfort and need-filling solace. With the Musik caressing me in the background, Dr. Zinovia smiled, touched my ear, and said, "Sleep."


     "Here's your Gain-Radio," said Dr. Zinovia, handing me a pair of headphones from which dangled a small rectangular plastic card.
     "What's a Gain-Radio?" I had learned to ask only questions which had a chance of being answered.
     "The Gain-Radio plays Musik which is specifically attuned to your metabolism. The Musik in this room is directed toward healing you. You can use the Gain-Radio as you wish, for your pleasure. If you press here," she said, demonstrating that a seven-stage dial lit up, "you can select any frequency-band of the Middle Seven."
     I read from the dial the words 'Auditory', 'Body', 'Charm', 'Depth', 'Eyes', 'Fingers', and 'Gustatory' from top to bottom.
     "'Auditory'," said Dr. Zinovia, "is the basic sound spectrum. These are the basic seven tones, each one of which has a frequency unique to you: no other individual has the same basic seven tones at precisely the same resonances as yours.
     "You can change the volume by moving your finger up and down along the right-hand side of the Radio." I put on the headphones and experimented as she talked. "You can change the intensity by moving your finger up and down along the left-hand side of the Radio."
     I understood the louder and softer tones I got by moving my finger on the right side, but the qualities that I could only identify as more strident or more energetic, as opposed to more tranquil or less energetic, from the left side mystified me. "Don't worry about it," she said.
     "Running your finger along the bottom of the Radio will change the emphasis of the Musik. If you move the emphasis all the way to the left, you go to the border of the next-lower band which is marked 'Body'"
     "'Body' is my whole body?"
     "Right," she said. "Then you can continue down to 'Charm', the name that Richard Gain chose for the sense of smell, which is appropriately placed between the whole body and what he called 'Depth', or what you might call the sixth sense. Again," she added hastily, to prevent my asking more questions, "you'll find out more about that by experimenting with your Radio, rather than by asking questions. Words can't give nearly the amount of information that actual experience can give.
     "'Depth' is followed by 'Eyes' for the sense of sight, then 'Fingers' for the sense of touch, and the last is 'Gustatory' for the sense of taste. Remember that the first letters of the band go from A to G."
     "When do I use the Radio?"
     "Anytime you like. You can wear it while you sleep, and you can wear it while you're exercising. You can play it quietly when I'm here, so that you can hear me above it. I'm playing my own Musik, now, in here," she said, putting her hands to the sides of her white-clothed head.
     "Is your Musik anything like my Musik?"
     "Yes and no, and it's really not your concern," and her little frown-lines reappeared. "You can only go step-by-step, and you only learn from experiencing what you're doing, not talking about what you're going to do. You must use your Gain-Radio to learn what it can do for you. You can't use it too much; you can only use it too little. And if you turn it up loudly enough," and here she grabbed my arm and yanked it upward, causing my shoulder muscles to scream in anguished protest, "you can help drown out the pains of your physical rehabilitation!"


     The following days alternated excruciations of the flesh and the benevolence of sleep. With no external signals, I had no idea if days had twenty-four hours, but my mind tired of endless niggling over details.
     I trusted Dr. Zinovia. I didn't care if she turned into a vampire and slept clutching her ceiling with her toes.
     Gradually, she reintroduced me to food: liquids of uncertain colors with no particular taste in opaque containers, followed by bowls of purees of pastel colors with no particular taste that could have been made out of the same material as the bowls and spoons I used. Sometimes the foods were warm, sometimes cold, but I could detect no pattern. Did the temperature of the food depend on the time of day, on my mood at the time, or on my needs of the moment? I had no way of telling, and my questions to Dr. Zinovia were usually answered with vague evasions: I would find out later; it wasn't important; I should concentrate on restoring my muscular coordination.
     Slowly, painfully, my physical wellbeing returned. I was allowed to open my door myself by looking at an invisible spot along the right side of it. Even when Dr. Zinovia wasn't there, when I passed a certain point on my way to the door, there was the same tiny beep as before. This warned them that I was coming, so all the pink elephants and purple brontosauruses in the corridor outside would be whisked away into the ceiling, or down through the floor, away from my sight.
     Or maybe, as I feared in moments of baseless paranoia, the corridor outside was brought into being by that innocuous beep. Perhaps when I was in my room nothing else existed outside my room at all but malevolent thought-forms, fattening me up for some unthinkably hideous kill. What had happened during those intervening twenty years? I still had all my unruly brown hair and my football-player's bulky body. A mirror still reflected the face that I hoped would recall the pugilistic roughness of the face of the French movie star Jean-Paul Belmondo.
     Dr. Zinovia had been wise to permit me to increase my energy-levels before filling me in on that unknown history.
     "Tell me what happened," I would implore her.
     "You have to take things slowly. You have to be 'brought up' in this world to understand it. You're like a three-year-old, and you're demanding adult answers to adult questions. We'll start you off with this book."
     My pride was satisfied that it didn't have a cotton-padded cover and drawings of white bunny-rabbits and green snails, but they seemed to be some sort of fairy-tales nonetheless.
     But the large print satisfied my body: my eyes had to be retrained to read, my eye-muscles had to be strengthened before I could read for more than a few minutes without tearing and eyestrain. It was comforting to turn page after page, building up strength in my eyes and mind as I was building up strength in my arms, torso, and legs, as well as in my cardiovascular system, my digestive system, and even my excretory system.
     My first real defecation was an experience I won't soon forget.
     The fairy-tales started benign, like those I remembered from my childhood, but they began subtly to change from story to story. From the lost children and evil queens and vengeful ogres, the plots changed to emphasize children who had been found, who knew their place. The stories began to feature good queens and vengeful, sometimes comic, dwarfs.
     At length the queens became more powerful and more distant, until I became accustomed to read of them as more like beneficent goddesses, far above the tribulations of their realms.
     But then a disturbing element began to creep in. The direction of the lessons taught seemed to me to be epitomized in a story I read over and over, trying to identify why I found it so disquieting. The story was simply entitled "The Ants."


The Ants

     Long, long ago, there was a peaceful Queendom ruled by the gracious Queen Quilda. Queen Quilda had taken care of her countryside for as long as anyone could remember.
     The farmers farmed their farms, and they gratefully sent a bit of their produce to the Court of Queen Quilda.
     The teachers taught their classes, and they gratefully sent their best male students to the Court of Queen Quilda.
     The den-mothers raised their children, who played in the towns and the fields and the forests.
     The governors took care of the farmers, the teachers, and the den-mothers, and they coordinated their efforts so that Queen Quilda didn't have to be bothered with all the details.
     Queen Quilda lived in a beautiful castle at the top of the highest hill in the Queendom, so that all of her subjects knew, indeed, that she was high above any of them.
     From the castle, every year on Mating Day, came the den-fathers, who had been the best students that had been sent to the Court of Queen Quilda.
     There were warm seasons, and cold seasons, and seasons of growing and lying fallow, but the governors of Queen Quilda kept the storehouses full of food against the years when not much food could be grown.
     The Library circled the bottom of the Castle in more ways than one: it filled the entire valley at the bottom of the Castle, circling it completely; and it moved in its valley, so that each part of the Library rotated completely around the Castle in a four-hour period. Students could leave the Home Sector at 7, get off at the School Sector at 8, or stay on until the Farm Sector at 9, or stay on until the Shop Sector at 10, or simply use the Library until they got off back at the Home Sector at 11.
     If teachers left the School Sector at 12, they could get off at the Farm Sector at 13, the Shop Sector at 14, or the Home Sector at 15. Look at the picture to see how this works:

                              2          LIBRARY

                    SCHOOL     1          CASTLE          3     SHOP


     Life was very good in Queen Quilda's Queendom for many, many years. The Shop Sector, run by the shopkeepers, manufactured the goods for the Home, the School, and the Farm. The Home Sector housed the farmers, teachers, students, den-mothers, governors, and shopkeepers. The teachers taught the students in the School Sector, and the farmers produced the foods in the Farm Sector.
     The forest surrounded all four sectors, though lakes and rivers and parklands penetrated through the sectors to the Library at the foot of the Castle.
     Everything was peaceful until the ants came.
     One day, den-mother Mary noticed that there was a little trail of red ants coming over the doorsill and heading into her pantry. One of her children hadn't wiped the honey from the side of the jar, and the red ants were swarming around the honey-jar. She washed the honey-jar, killed the ants, and thought nothing more about it.
     Later, some of the sugar-farmers reported to the governors that some of the sugar-storage bins had a worse than usual infestation of black ants. The governors ordered the infested sugar melted, filtered, boiled, and recrystallized into clean sugar. The governors also requested more of Queen Quilda's birds.
     Queen Quilda's birds grew fat eating ants, mosquitoes, and flies; more of Queen Quilda's birds would eat more of the ants. Then green ants began attacking Queen Quilda's birds in their hatchling nests. The governors ordered that the green ants be poisoned, but the poison also began killing the butterflies.
     Then the blue ants increased dramatically in numbers, killing off most of the red ants and black ants. Some of the governors thought that the green-ant poison may have caused the increase in the blue-ant population.
     One of the governors enlisted many of the shopkeepers to manufacture tiny ant-eaters, which looked like tiny birds without wings that would fill up with ants and carry them to incinerators. It turned out that ant-ash made very good fertilizer for the lands in the Farm Sector.
     Soon the ants were found everywhere: purple ants were eating all the corn before it ripened in the fields of the Farm Sector. Yellow ants were found to be short-circuiting the computers in the School Sector. White ants infested the Library stacks while orange ants grew so numerous they began to slow up the rotary circulation of the Library.
     Everything the governors tried seemed to lead to new infestations of ants.
     Finally, desperately, they called upon Queen Quilda. No one knows what Queen Quilda did, but all of a sudden over 99% of the ants died. Oh, there were still a few black ants to cause squeals of dismay during picnics in the forest. The biology classes in the School Sector could still find small red-ant hills to study for the ants' social interrelationships. But the infestation of the ants had been stopped by Queen Quilda. And her Queendom lived happily after that.


     Dr. Zinovia refused to answer my questions about "The Ants." "It's really not my field," she said evasively.
     After weeks of slow recovery, most physical functions restored, I began to demand more information.
     Dr. Zinovia sighed. "I guess it's time for you to meet Dr. Andressin."
     "Who's that?"
     "Dr. Andressin is in charge of your emotional healing." She continued when she saw my puzzlement. "I've been handling your physical rehabilitation---that is my specialization. Dr. Andressin is responsible for your emotional rehabilitation. We've been concentrating for the past weeks on your physical recovery. Now that you're strong enough, you will be better able to handle the emotional---the emotional---"
     I put in: "Shocks?"
     "That may be too strong a word, seeing the resilience in your physical recovery. But Dr. Andressin will make sure you exercise your emotions gradually, just as you've exercised your muscles gradually, growing stronger each day."
     "When do we get to my sexual muscles?" Dr. Zinovia had previously resisted my inquiries on this level. Maybe, now that she was passing me on to someone else, she would answer me. She said, "Sexual relationships are---or they should be---more emotional than they are physical. Dr. Andressin will be of more help in that area than I would be."
     "When will I meet her?"
     "Her? Oh, no," she said, laughing, "Dr. Andressin is a man."
     "But I want---"
     "I know what you want," she interrupted me. "But you don't know anything about me---" She held up her hand to prevent me interrupting her. "---because I haven't told you anything about me. But our working relationship isn't terminating because you're meeting Dr. Andressin. When you are stronger, emotionally, we can talk about this."
     "Talk," I shouted. "That's all that happens around here."
     She smiled. "And exercise."
     "OK, talk and exercise. What do you do on your nights off? Are you married? Do you have a family? Why can't you answer these simple questions?"
     "Because those simple questions don't have simple answers. Many things have changed in twenty years. Some of the words you use don't have the same meanings anymore. You must spend some time with Dr. Andressin."


     I'd been working with the Gain-Radio, containing the Middle Seven frequency-bands, for a number of weeks when Dr. Zinovia asked me for a formal report on what I'd learned through using it.
     "All my senses seem to run together much more than they used to," I began. 'Auditory' seemed to sound just like ordinary radio until I began moving up from 'Body', the sensorium of the entire body. Then it seemed like 'Auditory' added to the experience of all the senses of the body taken together. What I'm trying to say is---well, I can't say what I'm trying to say, but you were right: it's easier to experience the results than it is to talk about them.
     Dr. Zinovia said, "Maybe it would be better if you started somewhere in the middle: what did you experience with 'Fingers', the sense of touch?"
     "That was the one with which I learned the most," not bothering to feel paranoid that she'd "guessed" which would be easiest for me to talk about. "I thought that most of the materials and utensils that came into my room were made out of the same kind of plastic-ceramic, but I was wrong. The spoons feel different, softer somehow, from the knives, and they both feel different from the plates, which aren't made from the same materials as the bowls. There are even two different kinds of bowls: the one used for warm foods is rougher, somehow, while the cold-food bowls are smoother, with something of the feel of ice about them.
     "Then I found out that the bottom sheet on my bed is of a different material from the top sheet on my bed. They look the same; they weigh the same; but they feel different." I smiled more broadly when I saw Dr. Zinovia nodding in approval. "The top of my pajamas feels different from the bottom of my pajamas---and I think I can "feel" why! Does the top of my body give off more heat, or sweat more, than my legs, so that the bottom material feels more impermeable?
     "And that was just with my fingers; then I began to use the sense of touch in the bottoms of my feet, in the insides of my upper arms, and even with my eyes, which were the next up in the frequency-band, and I found why the sense of touch is next to the sense of sight: I could begin to see, with my fingers, what I was touching, and I could feel, with my eyes, what I was looking at, and then when I added the sense of taste, I wanted to go beyond that, or below that, because if these are the Middle Seven they must be in the middle of others---
     Dr. Zinovia laughed aloud. "Yes, you are progressing very satisfactorily. You have more words for what you can't find words for than anyone else I know. What did you find when you used 'Depth'?"
     My glow vanished. "Maybe," I said slowly, "you shouldn't have connected it with the Sixth Sense. I kept looking for another sense. I took a hint that it was between 'Smell' and 'Sight', something like the sensation of a place that's good and clean and healthy, and a place that's bad and dirty and unhealthy. A feeling---but I can't use that word since it means something else---maybe a sense---not a different sense but a combination of senses---like a combination of smell and sight that said something was proper or not, or fitting or not. Maybe I don't think that I got much out of it because I can't think of the words to describe it."
     Dr. Zinovia handed me what looked to be a Gain-Radio identical to the one I was already wearing. "Give me the Radio you have on," she said, "and use this one."
     "What's the difference?" I asked as I obediently removed the object which I'd worn almost constantly after I'd received it.
     "This has a second level of frequency-bands added to it. You've gotten what you can from the Middle Seven. These are the Higher Seven bands, and the Musik from these bands will help you in your upcoming meetings with Dr. Andressin. Let me show you how these work." She pressed the card twice.
     "When you dial 'Groundwork', you will add new sounds that encompass the total-body sensorium. 'Fullness' will help when you talk with Dr. Andressin, who deals primarily with your emotional status. 'Expansion' denotes a cognitive expansion of the previous levels.
     "'Death' means many different things in many different religions, but your experience when listening to this band of Musik will tell you more than I can. 'Cosmic' denotes a level above the Soul, the level of the Supersoul.
     "'Beyond' was touched by Jung when he described Archetypes, and 'Absolute' denotes a level where words themselves begin to break apart into meaninglessness.
     "When you actually experience the Higher Seven, you'll know what I'm trying to talk about. This Higher Seven frequency-band is exponentially more powerful than the Middle Seven. Like powerful medicine, it must be used in moderation."


     I walked on the treadmill in my room. I had just left Budapest, continuing my long walk from London to Istanbul, thanks to the Pace-Viewer on my treadmill. The door to my room opened and a man entered.
     The omnipresent Musik couldn't prevent me from registering the annoyed thought that this was only the second person I had seen since waking from my coma.
     He wore the same type of clear-faced bodysuit that Dr. Zinovia wore. I said, "Dr. Andressin, I presume?"
     He laughed. "Yes, Frank, I'm Dr. Andressin. Please continue with your treadmill; you've improved greatly, but you need more time to recover an optimum level of endurance. How are you feeling?"
     "Ah, since you're in charge of my emotional recovery, you're asking about my emotional feelings, rather than my physical feelings?"
     Dr. Andressin said nothing, giving me no alternative but to continue. "Dr. Zinovia wants to know how my muscles and bones are feeling; you want to know what my heart and my head are feeling."
     The reflection of light on Dr. Andressin's face covering shifted slightly, but still he said nothing. "Am I right?" I demanded.
     "Why are you so concerned about being right, Frank? Why do you sound so angry?"
     I felt deflated. I'd been hoping for someone of substance, unlike the cool, elusive, warm-yet-distant Dr. Zinovia. "I want to get out of here." I stopped, surprised. I hadn't even thought of that before, let alone expressed it in words. Was there a slightly different sound to the Musik, now that Dr. Andressin had entered my room?
     "Where would you want to go?"
     "Where could I go? Is there anyplace to go, out there? Why can't I see what's out there?"
     "The world has changed, more than you can imagine, out there. We have to make sure you've developed the emotional resilience---the emotional muscles if you will---to accept those changes."
     He paused, almost sniffing at the air. "And it's not as you've feared it might have become, either. There is a world out there; we don't re-invent the corridor when you choose to go outside." I wondered how he could know my thoughts so clearly.
     "Maybe you've been telling me the good things; what are the bad things?"
     "Budapest---" he waved at my Pace-Viewer, "---Budapest doesn't exist anymore." I stopped my walking, stunned beyond the idea that my Pace-Viewer had been lying to me. He leaned forward, watching me closely, his clean-shaven face expressionless, and continued, "No large cities exist anymore. New York, as it was, can't be said to exist anymore."
     "What happened?"
     "Disease." Dr. Andressin spoke slowly, as if evaluating the effect of each syllable on my emotional state. "What you called AIDS was only the beginning of an increasingly devastating series of contagious epidemics that drastically reduced the population of the world."
     His words sucked the air out of my universe, leaving me with nothing to breathe. Instinctively, I walked from the treadmill to the comfort of my bed. "What happened to your anger?" asked Dr. Andressin quietly.
     "How can I be angry?" I cried. "You're telling me that the world I knew---is dead! Can I be angry---at a disease?"
     "Many people were," said Dr. Andressin. "Great medical advances may be made when anger impels researchers to find answers, to avenge loved ones taken from them by the unknown. What do you feel when you're confronted with the unknown?"
     I could barely speak. "The death of the world isn't unknown---"
     "But it's been replaced! This is a different world from the one you grew up in: it takes different strategies to succeed in this world. You need a different emotional stability to survive in this world. You had emotional problems that were caused by the world that's now dead.
     "You, Frank, would like to think that you were in some way innocent of the death of your wife and son---"
     "No! I turned away from him.
     "Listen to me, Frank. I know that you were miserable after they died, but you didn't adapt to your new life without them. You felt guilty that you survived that wreckage and they didn't."
     "Yes, that's why---"
     "That is not why you tried to kill yourself! Your emotions weren't clear to you then because everyone back then carried around a load of guilt, and anger, and pain that they couldn't deal with. Why do you think there were so many wars, so many murders, so much violence, so much bloodshed back then?"
     "Stop it; I don't want to hear anymore."
     "But you must hear. You crushed yourself because you didn't want to hear, you didn't want to listen to what was going on around you. The Earth itself was screaming in agony and nobody listened to her. Everyone was guilty of causing unfaceable agonies and no one was willing to do anything about it."
     I had to protect myself; I almost screamed: "But I tried---"
     "Trying never accomplishes anything. You must do something." Dr. Andressin paused as if daring me to say anything. I couldn't. "And you did nothing."
     I was horrified to see moisture collecting inside his facemask, gathering and dripping down over his face. His face-covering became hot-red where it stuck wetly to his face, and the red alternated with gray-white streaks of condensation. His smooth face looked wrinkled, partly hidden, and frighteningly alien.
     "What could I do?" My words sounded weak and pleading next to his monumental anger.
     "That's the point: you couldn't do anything. "You couldn't do anything because you were insane, you were out of your mind. Everyone who tried to function in that catastrophe of a world twenty years ago was driven out of their right mind."
     I backed away from the force of his emotions.
     "Listen to me," he shouted so violently I feared his facemask would tear apart. "You've had it easy here so far, now you have to face the world you live in."
     "Dr. Zinovia," I said, trying to find some way to defend myself from this attack.
     "Dr. Zinovia was responsible for your physical well-being. She succeeded admirably. You're now in a physical state strong enough to endure what I'm telling you. But, just as those people living twenty years ago, you must now be told the facts of your survival, your very existence. You exist at the cost of thousands of lives. You did before, when you tried to crush your misery back in 1990. You do even more strongly now. You've been coddled and pampered for the last twenty years, at the cost of thousands of lives."
     "I don't understand---" I waved my arms futilely.
     "You've been encased, figuratively, in bandages and mummy-wrappings to allow your body to regain strength. But now it's time to rip away those bandages and allow your body to bathe in the waters of your real emotions! Dr. Zinovia pampered you; I'm not going to pamper you. If I allowed you to dip into these waters with a tentative toe, you'd back off, hide inside again. But now I've flung you bodily into these waters, and you've got to swim to survive.
     "You must listen to what I'm telling you. Your Musik, your Radio, none of these will help you here. You'd been sick in body and sick in mind long before your futile attempt at self-negation. The whole world was sick and had to be purged. And indeed the world was purged."
     His words spat into my face. I recoiled from him; was he a madman? Had a patient escaped, murdered Dr. Andressin, and taken over his role in the hospital?
     "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the Earth, and God said, 'I will destroy man from the face of the Earth.' And it was done."
     I sat, aghast, as the figure before me shuddered violently in his rage. This must be a religious maniac. I had no call-button for Dr. Zinovia, but I wanted her to protect me from these ravings.
     "You can find no shelter from me once I have managed to instill my anger into you. Do you feel anger, now, at the diseases that wiped out the world that you knew?"
     "Anger?" I still didn't follow him. "I'm afraid---"
     "You must be stronger than your fear," he shouted, and I felt apprehension about his becoming even more violent. How could I control him?
     "But I don't know enough---." I started to protest, to protect myself against his rage, and his trembling figure froze in stasis before my eyes.
     "Then," he said icily, "you have no more need of me. I will send Dr. Bantellian." And he removed himself silently from my room.
     I felt shattered and traumatized. I lay down on my bed and tuned the Gain-Radio louder in my ears.


     As I listened to the 'Fullness' band of the Musik, trying to drown out the tumult of the meeting, I heard subtleties that had escaped me before. Under the upward-tending buoyancy of the music were deeper, down-stepping tones that seemed to pull the listening in opposite directions. I heard more of a sense of conflict in the Musik than I'd heard before. What did 'Fullness' correspond to?
     Emotional conflict, of course. Now the Musik, the upward-tending part of the Musik, seemed amplified in my ears as a thrill of revelation swept over my body. I was more fully experiencing the effects of this particular band. I couldn't wait to tell Dr. Zinovia.
     "How was your meeting with Dr. Andressin?" Her voice was loud enough to break through the volume of Musik in my earphones, and I quickly sat up in bed. The Musik from the earphones blended with the Musik in my room, and that sudden complexity mirrored the involved feelings I had for Dr. Zinovia.
     I tried to make my question a joke, but it came out sounding serious: "Couldn't you have warned me about that madman?"
     "Madman?" She smiled. "Dr. Andressin isn't a madman. He has more scope with his treatment than I do. Don't worry. You'll get used to him. Most of us do, anyway."
     "He mentioned a Dr. Bantellian. Who is that?"
     "She will be helped in her work if you modulate your Gain-Radio upward from 'Fullness' into 'Expansion'."
     "You can tell where my Musik is tuned?"
     "Lower your Radio frequency down to 'Groundwork'." As I did so, I frowned from the unpleasant dissonances between the Musik on my Radio and the Musik in my room. "Now raise your Radio frequency to 'Fullness'." The dissonances vanished, but strange periodic pulsations remained. "Now press the 'Expansion' band above 'Fullness'." Instantly the Radio-Musik meshed with the Room-Musik. Tears welled in my eyes.
     "That's wonderful," I sighed.
     "You've only begun to recognize the similarities and differences between adjacent frequency-bands. Stay with the 'Expansion' band as long as you feel comfortable with it." She smiled and left the room.
     My sense of wellbeing was so great that I glanced down to see if I was still in my body, and then I reacted to my own action: If I was still in my body! Why would such a thought enter my mind?
     But my physical body had been too-long inactive. I got out of bed and turned on the treadmill, the Pace-Viewer obediently depicting the countryside south of Budapest. As I continued my recuperative walking, Dr. Andressin's words echoed in my ears. "Budapest isn't there anymore." The view I was looking at---a view that I had assumed to be a faithful representation of reality---was false.
     I felt sadness, but the vibrant cadences of my Gain-Radio, pushing out melodies of 'Expansion', lifted me above the sadness and propelled me toward a wider reality.


     Now that I had regained my physical abilities, I spent more time away from my bed. Reluctant at first to leave what I looked upon as a womb in a very real sense, I began to fall into what seemed to be a natural circadian rhythm.
     Unfortunately, I had not yet been off my hospital floor to see what a daily rhythm might look like in the world outside the hospital. Was it a perpetual pall of winter outside, bereft of sunlight, that my keepers prevented me from seeing? Or had disease blasted the plant-life, too, so that only glaring deserts remained, in which shards of glass and rusting steel were the only remnants of what I had known as civilization?
     Dr. Zinovia, though she no longer had primary responsibility for my care, continued to deflect questions with answers of the form "That's not my field."
     Dr. Andressin appeared sporadically, for short periods of time only, usually to harangue and rant at me until I collapsed like a discarded set of clothing.
     Since I wasn't confined to bed anymore, Dr. Zinovia had given me a set of coveralls to wear, terminating at the bottom with a connected pair of slippers and at the top with a turtleneck. I wasn't to be dignified with the head-covering that all the doctors wore.
     My coveralls suited every need. The entire fabric seemed to be made of strips of material akin to what I had known as Velcro. Openings could be made anywhere for ventilation, physical examinations, and elimination. "A firm twist of the wrist," as Dr. Zinovia had put it, sufficed to separate the fabric from itself. I could pull off sleeves and trouser-legs if I wanted brief attire, or I could walk around fully clothed without any danger of "walking out of my garments," as Dr. Andressin had assured me when I expressed skepticism about its durability.
     If only the hospital could have come apart as easily! I examined every corner of my room, but even with my Radio-enhanced senses I could find no ducts large enough to escape through---I remembered how surprised Dr. Andressin was when I first used the word "escape" in relation to the hospital.
     He had said, "Why would you want to 'escape' from here?" It was almost as if he thought any status outside the hospital would have to be, somehow, lower. I couldn't answer him with any honesty.
     I had finally replied, "Well, why can't I stay here in the hospital and also take a look at the world outside?"
     "You'll have to talk with Dr. Bantellian about that," said Dr. Andressin almost petulantly. I could almost have predicted his coda: "That's her field."


     Despite what seemed to be firm promises from Dr. Zinovia and Dr. Andressin, Dr. Bantellian failed to appear. I tried repeating their names, almost as mantras, to invoke their cooperation: "Zinovia, Andressin, Bantellian." The multi-syllabic foreignness of the names, liquid with n's, sounded as though they'd been constructed. What if this were all some sort of bizarre coma-dream? How could I tell that I'd actually wakened?
     I started making lists of possibilities, to occupy my time. My hours at the treadmill and other exercise machinery became mere pastimes with a visual pabulum of foreign terrain that I knew no longer existed in that form, elevated to pleasure by the Musik from the Gain-Radio and from the room.
     But when I got to the possibility that I'd been kidnapped by aliens from outer space and been deposited in some sort of elaborate zoo, in which I was watched by eyes that could penetrate walls that seemed opaque to me, I decided that guessing had become mere fantasy. I needed facts.
     I tried not to anticipate what Dr. Bantellian would be like. If I let my mind expand on the idea of her, she became more beautiful than Dr. Zinovia, and my imaginative creation of her body verified that, despite total lack of physical proof, my sexual drives had survived my coma intact.
     I had never met anyone in the corridor. For some reason that always seemed disappointing to me. Another convalescent, another doctor who happened not to have been assigned to my case, or a visitor from the outside world would have caused me to prostrate myself at their feet with gratitude. But it never happened.
     The names in the frames in the hallway were, as nearly as I could remember, always the same. Could this be some kind of funhouse inside my own mind?
     I knew so few facts.

     At last, Dr. Bantellian rode through the doorway into my room. A tiny wheelchair conveyed what at first looked like a basketful of head into my room. Then I saw that the basket was a latticework of flexible wooden slats that formed a protective cage around a body that was unimaginably thin and impossibly frail. I backed away from the frightening vulnerability of this conveyed body.
     I felt the thundering burden of trust shown me by allowing this gossamer body into my presence. In one burst of anger I could have swept away the latticework of slats and crumpled the body within like a paper doll. I had to steel myself not to weep with pity at the terrible torment of her very existence.
     Her monstrous head, ringed with an insubstantial cloud of white hair, would have terrified me if it had appeared in a dream, but, surmounting that pathetic body, it possessed an almost clown-like gaiety, intensified by the brilliant blue of the eyes, the purple of the eyelids, and the red strings that were her lips. The head shouted without speaking: even with all this, all this that has become of me---still, I live!
     Her mouth opened and gave forth a sound like a clarion trumpet: "Dr. Bantellian!"
     I could only stammer, "I---I---," aghast at the apparition.
     "You're Frank. I know. Don't worry. You'll get used to me. You'll have to. Nothing else for it. How are you!"
     She seemed incapable of questions but only spoke in declaratives, exclamations, and interjections.
     "I---." I felt stupid. "What do you want to know?"
     "You'll tell me what I want to know!"
     "Yes, yes!" What could I tell her? "I'd---I'd really like to get out of here. Is it possible that I could see something of the outside world?"
     "I didn't ask you for questions. How are you!"
     Obviously, I had to answer her demands. "My physical recovery seems almost complete. My endurance is equal to, even surpasses, my endurance before I---I tried to kill myself." I paused, but her head remained unmoving and unmoved. I had to tell her more---about how I was.
     "I've begun digesting real food, and my other physical systems seem to be in order. Dr. Zinovia has done an excellent job." Couldn't Dr. Bantellian at least acknowledge that I was talking in the right direction? Her unwavering attention compelled me to continue.
     "I wish I could be as grateful to Dr. Andressin. He always seems to be angry with me, or with someone else." Why was I saying this? I didn't even know who else Dr. Andressin could be angry with. "He seems impatient with my progress, but he never tells me what my progress should be. Dr. Zinovia sets goals of miles walked, hours in the Torsion Machine, pounds of weight lifted, and when I reach them and exceed them, she's very encouraging---even flattering." Could this possibly be what Dr. Bantellian wanted to hear? "But Dr. Andressin keeps poking me, getting at me, screaming at me. I can't say it gets boring, like the physical training does, but I'd like to know what he's aiming at."
     At her word, the Musik in my room attained a harmony I'd never heard before. In the upper ranges of the Higher Seven on my Gain-Radio, I'd heard fragments of sound that had touched some higher part within myself, liberating what I, somewhat embarrassed, had come to call my Inner Viewer from the fetters of my physical senses.
     This Inner Viewer was some uncorrupt and incorruptible core of my being, most tangible when I was playing the 'Cosmic' band of my Radio. I had tuned upward past 'Death', which I didn't like the sound of, to 'Cosmic'. There I first felt, tasted, smelled, touched, and saw the glimmer of a part of myself, hidden deep within myself, that seemed like a present long forgotten under some distant-past Christmas tree.
     Now, dazzlingly, that one word from Dr. Bantellian had coalesced into a physical light in my room: a light which amplified the Musik while the Musik brightened the light. "Yes!" was the only word I could think to say.
     "Good!" clarioned Dr. Bantellian. "Tell me what you hear at 'Beyond'."
     Frustration! Could I tell her? There seemed no alternative but the truth. "Nothing."
     "Yes." Did she approve? "I thought this would be a good time to visit you." Her chair moved noiselessly past me to the side of the bed. "Lie down."
     No possibility of denial or questioning entered my mind. I lay down.
     "Tell me how you are!"
     I felt like a child in a doctor's office for the first time. I wanted to obey; I wanted to please, but I didn't have the slightest idea what to say. "I don't like lying down." I cleared my throat. Subconsciously trying to imitate her brazen tones, I had raised my voice; now it felt strained.
     "Relax!" I tensed! Was she going to be harder to work with than Dr. Andressin? I had to say something. Then the Musik in the room changed again: yes, I could actually tell Dr. Bantellian how I was.
     "I'm happy to be alive. I'm grateful to you---all---for keeping my body and soul together." How could I have uttered such a solecism? I certainly didn't believe in a soul.
     "You'd be surprised!" Since I had tensed when she had commanded me to relax, I felt absolutely no surprise at her statement now. But I felt I had to continue talking.
     "I appreciate the efforts you take with me. I even wonder if it's worth it---why you're doing all this for me. But I wouldn't have it any other way," I hastened to add. "I think I'd rather live, in any circumstances, than die." I stopped in shock at what came from my lips. Would she take this personally?
     "Clearly!" My thoughts tumbled over themselves. Was she answering my spoken words or my unspoken thoughts?
     "Then why do you demand that I utter words aloud?"
     "Speaking reveals to you what you did not know before. It doesn't help you if I know something about you; it only helps you if you know something about you. Speak!"
     "But I want to know---." Somehow I thought this would be sufficient.
     "Yeeessss?" Ah, she was capable of questioning. As moments of expectant silence passed, her gentle word asked for more than I could give her.
     "I want to know---why I'm being held prisoner here."
     "You are no more prisoner than I."
     "Can I walk outside the hospital?"
     "Yes. All you need do is ask."
     "Are you quite, quite sure?"
     "Yes," she intoned, and the wall of my room opposite the door-wall vanished. I was outside at last.