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     "Who's that?"
     "Dr. De'Evilam."
     "Where are you?"
     "I'm right here, Frank. Standing right next to you, here in your room."
     "Dr. Zinovia! Are you with Dr. De'Evilam?"
     I opened my eyes and sat up in bed. The only other person in my room was Dr. Zinovia.
     "Frank, I'm sorry. I can't see Dr. De'Evilam."
     "You mean she's not here?"
     "No. No, Frank; I mean: even if Dr. De'Evilam were here, I wouldn't be able to see her."
     "Not able?" I stared at Dr. Zinovia's eyes, watery behind her face-mask.
     "She---her body---her clothing---oh, Frank, you should be talking to Dr. Bantellian about this."
     "Dr. Bantellian's not here," I pointed out, "so why can't you tell me why you aren't able to see Dr. De'Evilam?"
     "You won't believe me; you won't trust me."
     "Try it," I said rigidly.
     "She's not quite human. Or, to use Richard Gain's word, she's more human."
     "I'm getting that word a lot lately. Tell me again what Richard Gain meant when he used the word human.
     Dr. Dar entered noiselessly, saying, "The easiest way to look at it is to look at the difference between animals and human beings. How can you tell the difference between what you'd call an animal and what you'd call a human being?"
     I thought about it, not wanting to get trapped into admitting anything more to Dr. Dar than I had to. "Human beings think more---can express themselves more---" I felt uncomfortable as Dr. Dar wordlessly appropriated my characterizations of human beings for animals---and I had to agree with him. "Human beings are more compassionate and more intelligent. They have a wider range of emotions. They can express those emotions in words that other human beings can recognize without any doubts." I felt I was making some headway.
     "So the difference between human beings and animals is really one of quantity---of intelligence, compassion, other emotions---than of quality?"
     "Maybe---" I stalled, not wanting to be pushed into a position I couldn't defend. Nobody came to my assistance. "Maybe," I went on, "it's a sense of esthetics: people can take dogs into churches"---I hated it when the topic of religion came up!---"or into quiet forests, or to the seashore. Human beings will become quiet, meditative, awed by the silence and peacefulness. Dogs just run around yapping at the waves or chasing rabbits in the forest." I warmed to the subject. "Maybe it is just esthetics. I'll bet you can put dogs into rooms where the walls are crooked, the doors are out of proportion, the colors are all wrong, and dogs won't mind: they'll just hunt for the food. People would feel uncomfortable, disturbed by all the wrong colors."
     "What's wrong with wrong colors!" demanded Dr. Bantellian.
     "People have taste," I pushed ahead.
     "Children don't have taste. Are children animals!"
     "Maybe they are!" I said brightly. "That's one way of putting it: the younger the child, the more like an animal; the older the child, the more like a human being."
     Dr. Dar said, "So human beings are something that children grow into?"
     "I guess I'd go along with that."
     "Then 'humans' are what human beings grow into," concluded Dr. Dar softly.
     I said uncertainly, "Human beings grow up?"
     Dr. Dar spoke almost in a whisper, "Wouldn't it be about time?"
     I thought about it. I was reminded of thoughts I'd had, so many years ago, that Shakespeare's Macbeth was more believable as a being halfway between an apeman and a civilized man. His greed, his hardheaded emotions, his cruelty---these all seemed somehow less than civilized. I had thought to myself, back then, "Thank goodness we've come a long way since that time." Maybe we had grown up, in some ways, since that more aggressive, violent time.
     Tears came to my eyes. The phrase of another of Shakespeare's heroes floated through my mind, "'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd."
     "Don't you feel, now," pressed Dr. Dar, "after your time with your Gain-Radio, that you've grown up, as compared to what you were when you first woke up here?"
     Much as I tried to evade, to avoid, I couldn't. "Yes, yes I do feel that."
     "Whether the human is there to begin with, or created out of nothing, Richard Gain taught that one aim of the human being was to gain completeness as a human."
     Dr. Zinovia continued, "If a child can grow into a human being, don't you think that an adult can become more completely human, less of an animal?"
     "But that's a difference in quantity, not in quality ---" but I wasn't sure, somehow, what the difference was between quantity and quality, dealing with humanness. Then I pulled myself back to the original question, "but not to be able to see someone!"
     "You gave the answer to that yourself," smiled Dr. Dar. "When you talked about the 'unesthetic room' with all the 'wrong colors', an animal or a child---or even some adults without the proper training---would literally not see that it was an unesthetic room."
     "You're switching from physical sight to some kind of emotional judgment---"
     "Which might be the same," said Dr. Zinovia gently, "as growing from seeing as a child to seeing as an adult. How can you draw the line between physical seeing and---"
     "But rooms don't get so refined that they vanish," I shouted.
     "But maybe people do," said Dr. Dar, his voice just barely audible.
     "That's just not possible!" I shouted louder to contrast with Dr. Dar's voice.
     "But maybe----," and his voice trailed into inaudibility.
     "I can't hear you," I said, becoming furious.
     "That doesn't mean I wasn't talking," he said in a just audible tone of voice.
     Then it hit me. Of course! Just because I couldn't hear him didn't mean he wasn't talking. I just couldn't hear him! That didn't mean that human beings couldn't grow into humans, I just hadn't grown to that extent yet!
     The Musik in my room changed dramatically. The Higher Seven band of 'Absolute', barely audible to me before ---barely audible to me, but that didn't mean it hadn't been there all the time!---modulated into thrilling beauty.
     The quality of air---of course it was the quality of the air, it wasn't the quantity of the air---certainly I knew the difference between these two words!---changed as it seemed to conduct the sound more gracefully. My body, the room, the bodies of the doctors---all seemed to change slightly in color and texture. No, the colors didn't change, but the air between the objects and my eyes changed. Or had the scales been lifted from my eyes?
     "Tell me how you are!"
     Interpenetrating the Musik of 'Absolute' came the Musik of 'Fire' from the Elemental Seven. Interpenetrating the physical forms of the doctors, faces all smiling in union with my advance, came another form, first as a wavering of the background, then as a shadow, then as a rainbow-shower of shimmering light, then robed in a silver garment that I could see through before it became opaque. The form of a woman, hitherto invisible, yet now visible to me, shared the smiles in the faces of the doctors before me.
     "Dr. De'Evilam!"
     Their smiles became applause, brightening the air still more. Everything shifted beyond the tears that veiled my eyes. 'Beyond'! That band of the Elemental Seven shone forth visibly in the Musik of the fluids that flowed from my eyes. Scales were wept away.
     I gasped for breath. This was all too much! Intricacies of Musik changed and developed, not only in my ears but in my hands and on my tongue and throughout my body. The silver of Dr. De'Evilam's gown blurred as she came toward me and opened to enfold me. In her body were constellations of stars.
     I needed no more breathing. I heard words, repeated, that were so urgent that I remembered them afterwards, but now I was swept into the galaxies within Dr. De'Evilam. The brightness! Lucifer! Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, the angel who was a devil, and suddenly the "devil," which had bothered me in the middle of Dr. De'Evilam's name, bothered me no more. To be encompassed by this Bearer of Light was Beauty itself, unutterable contentment.
     Remove the "devil" from Dr. De'Evilam---I was left with "dream." I was, myself, within the dream of the devil. And I could dream! The Musik soared higher, more beautiful! I had---I have---I am!
     Bliss beyond bliss.
     Aeons of time passed in bliss. Beyond dreams of fulfillment I was fulfilled.
     Later, beyond time, I recalled the words that were of such importance.
     "You may impregnate me only."


     "Dr. De'Evilam!" I looked around. "Where are the others?"
     She smiled. "They couldn't take it. They've left."
     I shook my head. "What happened?"
     She laughed. "I can't tell you any more than you've already experienced. Perhaps you would like to tell me?"
     "What are you?"
     "You start with the hardest question first. I suppose you would have to call me an angel."
     I gaped.
     She laughed again; I was entranced. "Or you may continue to call me Dr. De'Evilam. You must say something."
     "Am I dreaming?"
     "No, you are---almost---as awake as I am."
     "The Musik---"
     "You had no words for that before; now I have given you the Mystical Seven. You have seven more frequency-bands to become frustrated with before your next breakthrough."
     "How many breakthroughs are there?"
     "You ask questions to which not even I know the answers. I'm working on the Seven Above Mystical. Since you have such a terror of the D-levels, I will tell you only that the D-level in the Seven Above Mystical is called 'Dreaming'; not as you know dreaming now, but as you may come to know dreaming."
     "Do you dream?"
     "Yes. You and I and Dr. Dar are the only ones of us that still dream."
     At length I saw that she wore no silver cap, and then I wondered if her gown were woven from her hair.
     "You have no face-mask; nor does Dr. Dar."
     "Nor do you," and the Musik heightened as her smile increased. "And there is one other."
     "One? Who?"
     "She---she whose name you may not yet know---lies now in coma, as you did."
     "Will she wake?"
     "She will wake when you have wakened fully. You must wake to the Seven Above Mystical---that will come only after you have digested the Mystical Seven themselves."
     "When will that be?"
     "Ah, my dearest," said she, touching my lip with her finger, and my lip burst into flame, "we must first find if you can digest the Mystical Seven. For that you must leave the hospital."
     My being rejoiced within me. I felt as if I'd made another breakthrough. But after so much waiting and wondering, it now seemed that things were happening too fast; I wanted to wait, to hold on. "Why must I leave the hospital?"
     "The whole world is not here."
     "I thought---"
     "But that does no good, you must experience for yourself."
     "Must I go?" I didn't want to leave her golden eyes, her silver hair, the flesh of her hand upon mine.
     "I will be with you when you need me. We both have tests to complete."
     "Is this a test for me?"
     "All life is a test; your leaving the hospital is only a part of one. But don't be afraid; you've faced greater dangers here than most you will face outside."
     I could hold it back no longer: "I don't want to leave you."
     She leaned to kiss my forehead. "And I don't want you to leave. But you must. You must give us what we need to know---for her!"
     My awful humor cracked, "So I'm your guinea pig?"
     "Yes," she said simply. Then kissed me again. "You are." And it was perfectly all right.


     I was to take only my Gain-Radio, newly enhanced with the Mystical Seven. I could not yet bear to listen for any great length of time to any of the bands above 'God', the lowest. Perhaps I was reminded of my death and the sounds, here in this frequency-band of seven, which caused it. I feared I might not survive, again.
     Dr. Zinovia was to come with me. Where, months before, it would have been the highest wish of my life to spend my days with her, now her beauty seemed only a shadow in the radiance of Dr. De'Evilam.
     "Tell me how you are!"
     "Dr. Bantellian, I haven't been this anxious since---"
     "So you needn't ask why you are going!"
     Reluctantly, I agreed with her. I began to see that my progress in the hospital hadn't been linear: it had been a series of sudden jumps.
     "I guess I was settling into a routine; probably at some level my anxiety is really a kind of excitement. Maybe that excitement itself will help my progress." I paused. "Now that I think of it, each step in my development happened when I least expected it. My first step----" I smiled, "was the first step I took away from my bed----"
     "Before we thought you should be walking." Dr. Zinovia, entering behind me, finished my sentence for me.
     "Yes, but I wanted to get up---"
     "And we knew we had a live one on our hands!" Dr. Andressin said, too loudly, as he joined our group.
     "My next step---" I paused, confused, uncertain as to which exact event I could name: was it completely regaining my physical energies after my long coma? Or working with Dr. Andressin on my emotional recovery?
     As I looked at him, smiling at me, I recalled days and weeks of anger, guilt, fears, rages, withdrawal, elation, depression, and---most of all---confusion. I was never able to predict---to control---my progress with Dr. Andressin---
     "Tell me how you are!"
     "Confused!" I blurted this out, so accustomed was I to responding to Dr. Bantellian's command.
     "Who is confused!"
     "I am confused!"
     "Your mind is confused! Are you your mind!"
     "No!" Did I say that? I wavered. "Well, of course---"
     "Your mind is confused!"
     "Yes! And you're not helping me by---"
     "I'm helping you; I'm not helping your mind!"
     The Musik changed in my room. Of course I wasn't my mind. I merely had the habit of defending my mind when I ---but what was I? Some sort of observer, some Inner Viewer, that controlled my body and my mind?
     But Dr. Bantellian's words brought to mind what must have been my second important step: my demand that Dr. Bantellian show me the outside world.
     "Of course that was an important step, but you don't know the direction in which that step took you," trumpeted Dr. Bantellian.
     The D-levels of 'Depth' in the Middle Seven, 'Death' in the Higher Seven, 'Drugged' in the Lower Seven, and 'Drowning' in the Elemental Seven---all merged with a tone that I'd heard before---but only once, before I'd died.
     "'Dor': Hidden; the Unknown; your D-level in the Mystical Seven," intoned Dr. Bantellian, and I recalled from the tone of her voice that she'd said those words, which I hadn't understood, which I still didn't understand---
     "You understand; your mind doesn't understand!" Dr. Bantellian's eyes blazed through the center of my skull. "Look at your Gain-Radio," she demanded.
     Without my mind controlling them, my eyes sought the frequency-descriptions on the face of my Gain-Radio.
     "Above 'Eyes', the sight of the Middle Seven, is 'Depth', the Sixth Sense of properness or rightness." I saw my Gain-Radio flash these levels.
     "Above 'Expansion', the mental level of the Higher Seven, is 'Death', the Soul." Without the aid of my sight, I saw this.
     "Above 'Energy', the fluid-state of the Lower Seven, is 'Drugged', the purity-state." My Gain-Radio flashed.
     "Above 'Ether', the air of the Elemental Seven, is 'Drowning', the water-state." My Gain-Radio flashed.
     "Above 'Enkidu', the wild man of the Mystical Seven, is 'Dor', the Hidden." My mind had stopped functioning; it had lost control.
     Then the room filled with light. My progress had occurred when I had been least in control---or in a state in which I thought I had been out of control.
     Maybe, I thought to myself, I don't know what control really is.
     Dr. Dar entered silently behind me. As I turned to face him, he said, "Maybe you don't know who is in control when you speak of control."
     "What do you mean?"
     "Did you hear me come into the room behind you?"
     "No, I---"
     "Yet you turned to face me when I came in."
     "I knew you had come in."
     "You knew I had come in. Your five senses didn't hear or see me---your Sixth Sense let you know; your mind didn't tell you---your Soul told you. Before you can know your mind, you have to destroy your mind; before you can destroy your mind, you have to train your mind to destroy itself." Dr. Dar smiled at Dr. Bantellian.
     "And I had to train your mind to destroy itself!"
     No part of me could say anything.
     Dr. Bantellian continued: "When you asked me to go outside the hospital, you were fear. I, and the other doctors here in the hospital, showed you the outside that you feared to see, just as you feared to see that you were not your mind!"
     Nothing registered.
     Dr. Bantellian continued: "I was in charge of your mental rehabilitation. But you would think, then, that rehabilitation would mean strengthening the mind. Ah, no. For me, rehabilitation meant destroying your mind."
     Comprehension was so faint as to be nonexistent.
     Dr. Bantellian continued: "You are not your mind. You thought you were your mind. I had to destroy that thought; to do that, I had to destroy your mind. So we embodied your worst fears of the fate of the world and put them, as a picture, before your eyes. Then I tried to make you more confused by some gibberish about the years being different: 'I'm fifteen years old, Dr. Andressin is six years old, Dr. Zinovia is five years old.' You clenched your ideas of time so firmly in your mind that I had to shake those foundations you thought to be so solid.
     "Yes, you made a great leap of progress then, but progress only in destroying your mind!" Dr. Bantellian's voice ricocheted through the room.
     "But you couldn't keep up with our therapies, then," said Dr. Dar quietly. "At first you surprised us by moving faster than we had thought you could; but then we tried to go too fast for you. As I told you then, 'you must understand that we are not infallible.'"
     I needed clarity: "But what you told me about the epidemics---"
     "All that was true," said Dr. Dar. He looked at me in a sympathetic way and said, "I know it was difficult for you to destroy your mind. But you found it easier after you destroyed your body."
     "After I died," I said softly.
     "After you died," nodded Dr. Dar. "That, for you, was perhaps your most important step. Death was so important to you. We had to work with what we were given."
     Dr. Bantellian continued: "That's why I told you that Dr. Dar was dead. You had to realize that I could lie to you---that your mind could give you the wrong information."
     I turned again to Dr. Dar. "But that made me mistrust you. And I had trusted you."
     "You had every reason to trust me: I never lied to you," said Dr. Dar gently. "Do you see how strangely the mind works sometimes: you wouldn't trust me because someone else told you a lie about me?"
     "But then---" My mind refused to let go of the question: "Dr. Dar, is Dr. Cetch dead?"
     Dr. Andressin burst into laughter. Dr. Bantellian rattled her guard-rails in exasperation, saying "Death dies hard with some people!"
     Dr. Dar looked into my eyes and said, "Dr. Cetch is dead as far as this hospital is concerned. But he was very much alive as part of your treatment; it was through your concern for his death that you were led to a crisis of trust. You were pushed to the point where you trusted no one, which is simply not a tenable position. When you reached that position, you had to change. We were all with you, as you recall, and we forced you to come out from behind your body, and your mind, and your fear, and your lack of trust."
     "And I got an erection," I remembered, dumbfounded.
     "Yes," said Dr. Dar, "the first erection on earth in fifteen years."


     I couldn't think of what to ask next.
     "We don't know why the males are infertile," continued Dr. Dar. "But all the males in the hospital are infertile." He paused awkwardly. "Perhaps that is for the best, because we suspect that pregnancy would kill any of the women in the hospital."
     No one except Dr. Dar was willing to fill the silence that followed. "Dr. Cetch impregnated one of our doctors. She died. He refused to accept any responsibility, saying that she had been weakened by the epidemics. We can't be sure that any pregnancy will kill any woman, but we can't afford to take chances here in the hospital."
     I finally interposed a question. "How many people are here, in this hospital?"
     "There are only five of us doctors, for you and our other patient. Seven in all."
     "How many people live outside this hospital?"
     Dr. Dar sighed. "The number of people isn't important; perhaps there are millions. However, the epidemics haven't been beneficial for the race. Some have degenerated to subhuman levels, others have developed in ways that we feel are detrimental to true progress." He paused. "Dr. Cetch is out there, too."
     An appalling idea hit me: "Do you consider everyone outside the hospital---as dead?"
     Dr. Dar stared at me before answering "Yes."
     I felt as if my Inner Viewer were observing the fate of the entire human race. "Are there other hospitals?"
     "Perhaps. We don't know. We had been in radio contact with one in Texas and one in California, but then, possibly by coincidence, possibly not, both contacts ceased on the same day. There was no indication of any trouble. Our last contacts sounded perfectly normal. Then there was silence."
     "So we're living in a fort."
     "A bunker, I believe, is the more accurate term. We have supplies for forty years. If we haven't succeeded by then---nothing will matter as far as we're concerned."
     "Succeeded with what?"
     "With curing what we consider to be the remnants of the human race. Curing their infertility. Otherwise---" he waved his hand in the air, "the animals will take over the earth."
     "Are we underground?"
     "Yes, five hundred feet below Roosevelt Island, in a water tunnel that was abandoned---when New York City was abandoned."
     "How is the air refreshed?"
     "It's totally recycled." Dr. Dar smiled, "for awhile, it looked as if the Earth would have to be recycled if it were to survive the predations of mankind upon it."
     "Why are you sending me out there if you have such a low opinion of everyone out there?"
     Dr. Dar looked at me steadily before responding. "I can only tell you that it is necessary for your continued progress and development. It would do you more harm than good to tell you of challenges you have yet to encounter and overcome." He paused, looking at me, and seemed to reach a decision. "And, for the first time since you've recovered from the effects of your coma, you will be outside the influence of the hospital itself."
     He emphasized the word "influence" so strongly that I had to question him about it.
     Dr. Dar continued, "The very air, being recycled, is filled with what you might call mood-enhancers."
     "If their purpose is to make me happy---," I began.
     "The mood to be enhanced," Dr. Dar said, "need not be a positive mood. Your thoughts about your wife and child were manipulated by us, through the air you breathe, to produce your visual hallucinations of them which led to your most profound step: your realization of the Archetypal. But your progress has been so rapid that we doctors began to fear that we may be limiting you in some unknown way."
     Dr. Dar again paused, as if he found it difficult to admit what he was about to say. "You've developed to a point beyond what we expected of you. Though we, here, do not in general believe in any supernatural governing agency, it is hard to resist the thought that Fate, or God, or some other form of directing power, has chosen to save you for a purpose that we, your doctors, are unable to envision."
     Again Dr. Dar appeared to wrestle with conflicting internal commands. "We no longer know how to direct your progress. Not even Dr. De'Evilam can foretell your capabilities."
     "Why isn't she here?"
     Dr. Zinovia responded, "She feels she's already influenced you too strongly. She wants you to depart without trying to get any more information from her."
     "Does she have the power to foretell the future?"
     "No," clarioned Dr. Bantellian, "even though she is more than human, she cannot see past the present."
     "How is it that she---" I could think of no other way to put it, "---that she is an angel?"
     Dr. Bantellian continued, "She was born and, as you would put it, grew up to be a human. Then her work with the higher Gain-Radio frequencies, particularly the Mystical Seven, changed her brain-patterns so completely that they began to change her body, and the food that she was digesting, into substances of a higher vibrational frequency. You could actually say she became more refined. She continued to refine her brain and, in turn, her body, until she became as she is now."
     "Is she really an angel?"
     Dr Bantellian trumpeted, "Tell me what an angel is and I'll tell you whether Dr. De'Evilam is an angel."
     I changed my line of questioning. "If she's so refined, how can she do research, handle equipment---how can she even eat?"
     Dr. Bantellian continued: "Dogs can hear sounds while human ears can hear only silence. Dogs can smell odors of which human noses are unconscious. But those sounds and odors exist though humans cannot detect them. In the same way, Dr. De'Evilam is still physical, and can interact with matter, even though some human eyes cannot see her."
     "Actually," put in Dr. Zinovia, "when I eat with Dr. De'Evilam, I can see the food that she eats through her refined skin and organs. I can see the food until her higher-vibrational digestive system refines and assimilates it. If she chooses, when we work together, she can depress her systems---she says it's actually like feeling depressed: feeling heavier, denser, slower---so that I can see her outline and work with her more easily."
     "But how---"
     Dr. Dar interrupted me. "Dr. De'Evilam wishes to remain removed from you. She doesn't wish to influence your development. The direction she chose may not be a direction that you may choose once you are outside her range of influence: this hospital. We other doctors agree with her. If this seems unfair to you, if you think that we are withholding information that you would like to have, we are sorry."
     I had learned so much patience that I remained silent and looked at Dr. Dar, hoping he would say more.
     Dr. Dar smiled. "You have even learned how to draw more information from us. None of us, not even Dr. De'Evilam, can be certain that her physical, emotional, and mental changes are permanent," he paused, "or desirable." I said nothing. Dr. Dar added reluctantly, "We can't even say that she may not have damaged herself in some way that will become evident only after the passing of more years."


     My thoughts whirled in the silence. I still found in myself the habit of looking at these doctors as if they knew everything. They had lived through a future that contained advances that I could only learn about through them. But I had to keep reminding myself that though they knew more technical details than I did, they had no monopoly on truth.
     They could make as many mistakes as I could. They could even make more disastrous mistakes since their technical knowledge surpassed mine. My Gain-Radio became discordant in my ears. The group of four doctors, surrounding me, seemed to focus in on me, to bear down on me. What was it they wanted?
     The sound from my Gain-Radio grew more discordant, even to the point of pain. I'd set it on 'Expansion' in the Higher Seven, facilitating my mental absorption of what the doctors were telling me. I tuned it higher, to 'Death'. Though the discordance lessened, it did not resolve into harmony.
     I searched higher, to the 'Cosmic' of the angelic level, which I had come to associate with Dr. De'Evilam. I felt her presence, somewhere near, but still the discordance continued. On a whim, I re-set my Gain-Radio an octave higher, to Mystical Seven, and tuned into 'Freya', a band on which I had heard nothing before.
     'Freya' was the only female name that I had recognized in this octave of proper names, though I realized that 'Dor', a name I'd never heard before, and 'Canopus', which I associated only with the name of a star in the Southern constellation Carina, could be of any gender including neuter. Now it struck me with great intensity that the Mystical Seven was the only frequency-band that had proper names.
     Before I could follow that thought, 'Freya', the goddess, seemed to speak to me in the voice of Dr. De'Evilam, saying, "Look not here for help; we are all travelers in search." As I yearned toward the sound of Dr. De'Evilam's voice, I looked down---at the top of my own head!
     Panic! Instantly I was looking out through my own eyes. Only Dr. Dar seemed to realize that something had happened to me in that moment. "What is it, Frank?"
     "I---" I couldn't say it: the idea was so alien to me that I couldn't express it. Had it been a hallucination? Were they still controlling me?
     "No, Frank, we're not controlling you." Dr. Dar reached forward to touch me, as if to stabilize me, but I drew back. I seemed to know that that was not what I wanted now.
     "Tell me how you are!"
     No, I told myself, that wasn't helping me at this point. I recalled that I had been attracted to the sound of Dr. De'Evilam's voice, the voice that seemed to speak through the 'Freya' band on my Gain-Radio. That voice was there---over there---and again I found myself looking through some organ of sight that was situated about a foot above my head.
     Remaining as calm as I could, I found that what I had termed "some organ of sight" were my own eyes, but they were in a head---my head---some form of my head---which had drawn out of my body below. Excitement, joy, fear, and curiosity battled for the upper hand. Hand---and I raised my hand---my new hand---in front of my new eyes in my new head. I tried to speak, and I found that I could not. Fighting down a new sense of panic, I permitted my new body to sink back down within my old one.
     Dr. Dar repeated, calmly, "What is it, Frank?"
     "I---" This time I must say it. "I've been out of my body. I can leave my body." A shiver, a pleasure, an intense charge of extravagant joy shot up my body's spine. In a burst of enthusiasm I bounced up out of my body again, experienced a fragment of fear, and settled back to control my vocal cords. "I can will an out-of-body experience."
     Dr. Andressin burbled with glee, "Now we know how you got your mosquito bite! You were out of your body when you were sleeping, but you refused to admit it. Now you must admit it. You can't deny it!"
     I couldn't deny it. My practice with accepting the many forms of "I" struggled to incorporate a new one: I could leave my body, with a body that was still my body, whenever I chose. Calmly, I rose above my body, looked at my new arms while looking down at my "other" arms on my body which remained standing quietly below me, and then settled back into my body with the same comfort that I'd settled into my Support Bed.
     "What is the music you have on your Gain-Radio?" asked Dr. Dar.
     "'Freya'," I replied.
     "No, that's 'Fire'," said Dr. Dar.
     I looked down. Somehow my Gain-Radio display had changed, and indeed the display showed 'Fire' set on my Elemental Seven frequency-band. As I stared in disbelief at the display, all the F-band names flowed and changed into one another: 'Fire' blended with 'Fundamental' and 'Fingers'. They all merged with 'Fullness' and 'Freya'.
     I heard each frequency-band individually, yet all as one. My eyes closed with the fullness of my emotions, and I felt a new freedom in which to move and have my being.
     Dr. De'Evilam, not present but near, whispered into my being: "You must leave now; or I may not permit you to leave later."
     "Frank." The voice was Dr. Dar's, but I didn't want to listen to him.
     "Frank!" A trumpet call from Dr. Bantellian. I felt that I must ignore her.
     "Frank?" A touch on my arm---somehow I couldn't refuse to respond to Dr. Zinovia. "Frank, where are you going?"
     "Frank," Dr. Zinovia's voice was soft and pleading. "Don't leave us for Dr. De'Evilam; you must help us all."
     "Leave you?"
     "Frank," Dr. Zinovia continued, "your body---I could begin to see through it. You must believe us, Frank. We don't know whether Dr. De'Evilam has taken the proper direction. We must look at other alternatives. Only you can help us. Only you can survive outside this hospital."
     Reluctantly, I settled back into my body, and now I understood fully how Dr. De'Evilam could describe her visible body as feeling depressed, heavy, and leaden. As brief as my taste of refinement had been, I wanted to stay with it. It had been so alluring.
     "Frank," said Dr. Dar, "you are, like me, capable of surviving without a face-mask. Dr. De'Evilam has set out on one path of discovery, whose destination we cannot hope to predict. We must keep your options open."
     Confused tears filled my eyes as I looked at him.
     "You must stay in your body to help us in the world outside. I can leave the hospital, but my work with the other person in coma cannot be imperiled by my leaving the hospital. We are stronger, but we are stronger in different ways. I have knowledge that may not be risked. You have the physical attributes which will make the risks less for you. Dr. De'Evilam feels she must continue her work on the Seven Above Mystical. Only you can leave this hospital."
     "Yet you can't tell me what I must do!"
     "You must find what you must do. Dr. Zinovia will help you however she can."
     "And keep me in my body," I said, perhaps too loudly.
     "And keep you in your body," admitted Dr. Dar. "Your progress has now become our progress. You must learn what even we do not know."
     "If you wish, you may think of us as parents who are reluctantly forcing you from the safety of your nest. You must finish your development on your own, away from involuntary patterns or limitations we may put on you. And then you must return, to help us with the next steps of our progress. Despite your growth, in a sense you are not yet one of us. You must become one of us before you can go beyond us with confidence. To grow, you must find what the outside world is like and report back to us."


     However much I argued, pleaded, and threatened, the doctors would tell me no more. They would only help me leave the hospital.
     I was to tell Dr. Zinovia as much as I could about my feelings and experiences in the world outside. I suspected, though they would not tell me, that Dr. Zinovia could remain in contact with them in some way.
     We were to take no food with us. The doctors assured me that fruits, vegetables, and even meats were available in the outside world.
     They said there were no maps. Though they insisted that the world was physically much the same as I'd known it, the epidemics, natural disasters, and other influences which they refused to describe to me would have so altered the terrain that a map would be more false than true. People in the outside world would help us, they insisted, but I was told only to head toward the west, following the sun to what had been California, and after reaching the ocean on the opposite coast, to return to this hospital.
     Dr. Zinovia's mental implants contained all the knowledge I would need to handle the outside world. All of my countless questions that started with "what if?" were refused answers.
     At least I knew, deep inside myself, that I couldn't refuse to leave. Indeed, the more the doctors refused to answer my questions, and refused to let me talk with Dr. De'Evilam, the more I wanted to leave.
     Weapons were denied me. "You have to slide through the world outside, not fight against it," stated Dr. Bantellian.
     Summer ruled for the next four months above ground. It would help speed my progress, the doctors said, if I knew that the advent of cold weather would make my travel more difficult.
     I knew they had some specific goals for me, yet I sympathized with their refusal to speak to me about them. The doctors insisted that they had no way of predicting what would constitute my success in dealing with my encounters. This, and almost everything else, they left up to Dr. Zinovia.
     In planning our time in the outside world, Dr. Zinovia and I grew closer. When I could no longer be in Dr. De'Evilam's presence, Dr. Zinovia seemed more relaxed and more self-confident.
     At last I was standing at the foot of the stairs that led to the outside world. I had bid farewell to Dr. Bantellian in my room, while Dr. Andressin said his goodbye at the door of the elevator which carried me 450 feet to just below the surface.
     My farewell with Dr. Dar affected me strongly. Now I looked at his maskless face in a different way, knowing that only three of us---and she whose name I was not to know--- were alone strong enough to venture about without face-masks. The diseases had killed off most of those who had been the strongest. Those who resisted most, died first. Those who, through nature or instinct or genes--- unless those three are different names for the same thing--- resisted least, only they managed to slide through the onslaughts of the diseases. I was different---I and she---in that we were in coma throughout the diseases.
     So far as was known in the hospital, we were the only ones to survive their comas. Others had been protected, but they had at length died. Others were awakened, had lived for a time, but had succumbed to disease. We---she and I---were the last, and I was being tested to ensure that she was safe when she woke.
     Now I had to slide through the outside world in the same way these few survivors had been able to slide through the diseases.
     Dr. Dar and I embraced, Dr. Dar and Dr. Zinovia embraced, and then Dr. Dar re-entered the elevator and descended to the hospital below. I led the way up the stairs, brushing aside vines growing down through the grating separating us from the surface. I pushed upward.


     I wasn't really surprised to find that the world outside wasn't like the vision I'd had before.
     The world was a-riot with color. Through mutations caused in part by the diseases, in part by the depleted ozone layer, chlorophyll was not only green but also blue and yellow and orange and violet. So the trees that waved welcome to us were colored in all the hues of the rainbow.
     It was about noon in my first day in the outside world.
     Dr. Zinovia directed me south, toward the sun, for a few hundred feet through a thicket of bushes and small trees that concealed the grating leading down to the hospital. "No one lives in New York City anymore," she said, "but we don't want to be discovered by any chance wanderers."
     As we stepped out into a clearing formed by what had been a street, she made sure than any passer-by would not be able to tell where we'd broken through to the street. Any view directly to the south was cut off by a similar thicket across the road. To the east was a ragged skyline of broken buildings that formed part of the Borough of Queens. To the west was the skyline of Manhattan, rising beyond the west tower of the Queensboro Bridge, slightly to the south of us.
     At first the skyline of Manhattan seemed hardly changed. Looking more closely, however, I could see that some windows were broken while others remained unbroken.
     "Most cities are deserted," Dr. Zinovia said in a matter-of-fact way, "because they didn't offer what people needed after the epidemics. They needed food and water, shelter and clothing, but most of all they needed isolation from other people."
     Dr. Zinovia told me that we would avoid other people until we got accustomed to the world as it had become after the epidemics had drastically decreased the population.
     We reached the western end of the street and continued down a gentle slope leading westward. "The East River silted up as a result of the cessation of dredging." Dr. Zinovia was parroting her implanted archives. We had no difficulty crossing the dried mud-flats of the former river, and previous post-epidemic settlers had constructed a rough ramp up which we scrambled onto the FDR Drive.
     "The cities were a magnet for the first few years as survivors plundered them for food, jewelry and other treasures, and even for now-worthless stacks of currency. But some of the epidemics reappeared when looters broke into hospitals searching for medicines and drugs, but they also found still-living reservoirs of diseases. Without pity, the survivors in the outside world killed the looters and, protected behind barricades of disinfectants, gloves, and masks, buried their bodies. After a few years the cities no longer held anything of value for the survivors.
     "Painting, sculpture, and other fine artwork rapidly disintegrated without protection from temperature changes and the elements."
     I interrupted Dr. Zinovia's depressing statements. "Stop talking about the cities. What happened to civilization?"
     Dr. Zinovia accessed another data-file. "As the epidemics increased, fewer and fewer people retained interest in their work. Alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, sexual license, and suicide all increased. Hospitals became no better than charnel houses. At length all effort at any form of central government or control collapsed from lack of support. Armies, police forces, and hastily organized militia all dissolved when individuals reverted entirely to self-interest."
     In contrast with this relentless drone from the past, the streets of Manhattan bloomed with plants, bushes, vines, and trees in staggering prolixity. Birds, many of them in bright, tropical plumage, flew in and out of their nests in the broken casements of the city. Underfoot were dozens of kinds of beetles and occasional columns of ants. At one intersection a startled deer froze and then darted away.
     Dr. Zinovia went on. "The collapse of the networks of communication was a major turning point. Television and radio stations, newspaper and magazine offices, telephone and fax networks, without their proper staffs, dwindled and died. Individual amateur-radio operators, becoming more interested in information from members of their own families in the same city, ceased inquiring for news from other cities.
     "When the electrical dynamos whirred to a stop, even personal-computer communications ceased. Some smaller towns attempted to maintain rudimentary power supplies, but renegades fleeing from cities, jealous that places they considered backward could still enjoy the benefits of civilization, destroyed the power supplies in a misguided appeal for democratization. The lowest common denominator was taking over the world."
     I plucked a bunch of rich burgundy grapes and ate them to appease hunger and thirst at the same time. At the corner of one building, I saw baby-fist-sized carrottops under lush greens. A rabbit poked his shocked head out of a basement window, saw two people, and vanished back inside.
     "Totalitarian governments retained power longer than democratic or socialistic governments. In some smaller nations, armed guards succeeded in patrolling cities to keep down revolutionary forces. But as the epidemics increased in virulence, the rulers, the armed, and the ruled became more interested in themselves than in any other factions.
     "During the first years, some had thought that safety lay on the Moon or on Mars, but those who had families wanted to be with their families, and those who were alone could not stand the isolation, so the human race came back to its birth-planet to live or die together.
     "Military forces were disbanded. Submarines surfaced for the last time to release their sick and dying mariners. Pilots, stranded in foreign lands, were often willing to fly planes back to their homelands, but seldom could the maintenance crews and fueling crews cooperate adequately to get a plane safely off the ground.
     "Ships were more successful; whole families were willing to commit themselves to the risks of not having proper landing crews at their home ports. At least they could launch lifeboats themselves and make it to shore with no outside assistance."
     A red fox peeped around the edge of a ground-floor window, its jaws red from a recent kill. Isolated on a high windowsill, three birds' eggs lay unmolested and warm in a nest.
     Dr. Zinovia recited on and on as we crossed Manhattan, skirting the northern edge of a Central Park that seemed hardly changed from what I'd remembered from my teenage forays into Harlem to listen to black jazz masters, passing near the almost-completed towers of St. John the Divine. An infinite sadness seemed the only response to a church, modeled after those hundreds of years obsolete, which had started a completion program in the late 1980s, which was never finished, terminated by the epidemics that killed off the newly-trained stonemasons whose ancestors had probably fallen to similar epidemics when the Black Death carried off twenty-five million persons, one-fourth of the population of Europe, during the fourteenth century.
     Riverside Park had become an island zoo. The animals seemed denser here than I'd remembered them being in the zoos of New York in the 1980s. We walked north to the George Washington Bridge, still spanning the Hudson River. As we neared the river itself, I was startled to see boulders underwater more than twenty feet from the shore. I'd forgotten that rivers could be so clear.
     Unstopped by me, Dr. Zinovia continued her dreary reporting. "With epidemics claiming more than 90% of the populations, nations soon stopped worrying where they were in relation to other nations. When railroad transportation ground to a halt, canals were left as the only reliable means of long-distance transportation. Automobiles had stopped first, their dependence on long-distance fuels determining their demise."
     The next few weeks passed before I could take a proper measure of them. Dr. Zinovia was indispensable: not an hour passed that I didn't look to her for direction of travel, edibility of food, or information about some puzzling natural or man-made feature.
     As we left New York City behind us, the populated areas of the eastern fringes of New Jersey gave way to wooded areas that showed few signs of humanity. The dwellings we passed were more and more rustic-looking, built out of more natural and fewer artificial materials. Many of them were already so covered with vines and obscured by trees that they were all but invisible until we practically walked through their front doors.
     A few unpleasant evenings inside abandoned dwellings taught us that we were safer outside. It appeared that the darker, more dangerous forms of animals and insects chose first to repopulate structures abandoned by humanity. To avoid centipedes, spiders, rats, snakes, and lizards, we learned to sleep outdoors, where we had only earthworms, ants, birds, foxes, and deer to contend with.
     It would be tedious to describe in detail all the foods, growing wild, that I first tasted reluctantly and ended up searching for avidly. Roots, barks, leaves, and twigs of many trees, bushes, and plants afforded more exotic flavors and intriguing tastes than the ordinary run of fruits and vegetables we had no trouble locating.
     Dr. Zinovia indicated the best branches with which to make bows and arrows, and with a little practice I could shoot down one or two birds, depending on their size, or one larger fowl like the chickens that seemed to have adapted very well to their new wild state. I'd killed only one deer; when the meat went bad before I could finish it, I was too depressed about the thought of the wasted meat to want to kill anything I couldn't finish the same day.
     Eating meat is fine if you don't have to skin and butcher it yourself: I found that I had less and less of an appetite for meat. Fishing, I learned, took too much time out of our days of walking toward the west.
     Sometimes, toward nightfall, we'd smell the smoke or see the distant glow from a community campfire. I'd been attracted to the first one, but I quickly grew depressed as I watched the family group huddled forlornly around their fires, telling stories of the days of the past. These animal-skin clad farmers reminded me too strongly of representations I'd seen of primitive man, before the birth of civilization. I couldn't bear to dwell on the contrast between the spotlessness and comfort of those in the hospital and the smoky, dirt-covered, exhausted, barely human survivors before us. The epidemics had taken too much from humanity; they had left too little behind.


     At first I missed the hospital desperately. I longed to hear, just once, Dr. Bantellian's shouted, "Tell me how you are!" I could even tolerate Dr. Andressin's hysteria.
     I missed Dr. Dar the most. His level-headed honesty I had grown to appreciate only toward the end of my days at the hospital. But in those few days I had drawn comfort from him. I tried not to think about Dr. De'Evilam.
     As my skin and my eyes and my feet grew accustomed to the harsher conditions in the outside world, I began to prefer the naturalness of what the earth itself had to offer, as opposed to what the doctors had only allowed me to experience.
     Of course, their physical, emotional, and mental conditioning of my outer and inner being had equipped me for dealing with this less-tolerant world. I had feared that Dr. Zinovia would not be able to stand up to the rigors of this uncivilized existence, but she was more resilient than I had thought. Her youth contributed to her eagerness to try new environments; at length she confessed to me that she was only nineteen years old. I had been unconscious through the entire span of time in which she'd grown up.
     One of my deepest worries had been for her health in this still-virulent outside world. Then a series of small accidents had taken me to the other extreme: it seemed that nothing could discomfort her for long. In addition, my concern about her body-covering had been completely unfounded. Falls, immersions in water, and even a brief dash through a brush fire---the impervious fabric resisted the slightest breach.
     I had not yet seen Dr. Zinovia without her body-covering. With the coolness that she'd exhibited in the hospital, she refused to answer my questions about it. She would only say that she had three of them, alternating two of them each day and keeping one on permanent reserve. Though I had tried to catch a glimpse of her changing garments by pretending to be asleep, she infallibly knew my status and invariably thwarted my scheming. I had no idea how she cleaned herself, how she excreted, or in fact how she could even breathe inside her body-armor.
     My first strange experience was conveyed by a forest in eastern Pennsylvania. We had come across a grove of trees that Dr. Zinovia identified as lindens. They had entirely covered the top of a small, rounded hill, and the canopy of heart-shaped leaves was so dense that only moss could grow on the grove floor. The lindens were in blossom: clusters of cream and gold flowers emitted a scent so honeyed, so overwhelming, that it seemed hypnotic. Above, the sun shone brightly; beneath the lindens it was dim.
     In the silence of the linden-grove, broken only by the remote hum of bees attracted to the blossoms, I recalled a segment of my walk on the treadmill in my room at the hospital.
     I had walked south through India, marveling at the temples that the Hindus had constructed in caves, around tanks of water, and on the shores of the Indian Ocean. I had crossed the arm of the Indian Ocean that separated the southern tip of India from the top of the pendant pearl that formed the island of Sri Lanka.
     Once on the island, walking south, I came across the ruins of the ancient city of Anuradhapura. The most venerated object is a Bo-tree, planted from a branch of the original Bo-tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Next to the Bo-tree is the Lovamahapaya, the Brazen Palace, one hundred and fifty feet on a side, the remains of a building with forty rows of forty pillars each.
     In its prime, the city ranked beside Nineveh and Babylon in its colossal proportions, its four walls, each sixteen miles long, enclosing an area of 256 square miles.
     My View-Screen had shown the pagodas so overgrown with trees that they resembled hemispheric hills. Dr. Zinovia had told me that, miraculously, the ruins in fact still existed in far-off Sri Lanka. I had been charmed by the forest of pillars. Using the magic of the View-Screen, I had walked through the pillars in the twilight and I had remained through the night in the Brazen Palace, so named because it was said that the wooden walls had been covered in brass. I had felt the magic through my View-Screen, and I was reminded of that magic, here, in what had been Pennsylvania, in a grove of lindens atop a gently rounded hill.
     The moss soft beneath my feet, the humming of bees providing a reverent masking drone of sound, the absence of any other living being---Dr. Zinovia so respected my attitude of awe that she stayed on the fringe of the grove ---and the cool green light filtering down through the bright-green leaves, sweetened by the fragrance of the blossoms, produced a suspended, mystical hush in my wanderings.
     I recalled my awe in the redwood forests of northern California, but there I had to shut out the shrieks and cries from a too-populous tourist invasion. I remembered a past conversation with Dr. Dar, trying to decide what differentiated a mere brain from a thinking mind, and concluding that a dog would remain unmoved by the sanctity of a grove of trees. Ah, what a dog would be missing!
     Looking upward at the underside of the green umbrella that sheltered the moss from the sun, I impulsively flung myself backward to lie on the moss, finding the light bright but not dazzling. An inquisitive bee ripped the air near my ear, evidently deciding I wasn't worthy of a closer look.
     How quiet, how peaceful it was. I recalled the climax of the opera "Mefistofeles," when Faust finally uttered the words that should have given his soul into the eternal clutches of the devil: "Stop, it's beautiful!"
     As this---I looked lazily around me---was surely as close to heaven as I'd ever gotten. How much better---how much more natural---this was than the revelations that I'd had in the hospital. I'd been blatantly manipulated by the doctors, by my Support Bed, and by the elements and drugs injected into the very air that I breathed.
     I became aware of my Gain-Radio around my neck, turned so low that only if I concentrated was I aware of the sound from it. Where had I left it tuned? I turned up the volume and the Musik seemed to fit unobtrusively into my surroundings. Idly, I changed the frequency-band. Although the Musik was quite different, it still seemed to merge with the background of the linden grove.
     Perversely, I shut off my Gain-Radio. I felt no essential difference in my appreciation of the grove. Though my Gain-Radio had been of undoubted importance in my development, in my preparation for this outside world, it really didn't affect the world in any appreciable way. To investigate further, I turned it back on and tuned it down to the Elemental Seven, to 'Drowning', which before I had found mysterious and unsatisfying. Now, as I listened, the green air beneath the parasol of linden leaves could have been transformed into water, and I would have enjoyed drowning in that water. I felt a thrill of accomplishment: I could still think of my own death without the pangs of fear or regret which had so ruled my life when I thought of my death in any way.
     I dialed lower, to 'Chaos', and still the Musik seemed fitting in this tranquil environment. 'Beyond', previously silent, now became a solid tone, as impenetrable as the vacuum that it symbolized. 'Absolute', the lowest frequency on my Gain-Radio, remained an obstinate silence. Perhaps, I thought, there was nothing beyond 'Beyond'.
     Why not? It was only a convention that each level was named with a word that began with the letters A through G. The word "Nothing" didn't begin with an A, but there was no good reason that I couldn't think of the 'Absolute' at the lowest frequency of my Gain-Radio as "Nothing," just as I thought of the 'Absolute' which was the highest frequency of the Higher Seven as the "Threshold of the Gods."
     I tapped my Gain-Radio three times to display the Higher Seven, and I tuned my way up to the 'Absolute' at the top of that range. The sound of "Formless Form" was very like the sound of the winds through the heart-leaves of the linden-tops above me. The wind, which could be gentle, as now, or which could accelerate to velocities that could denude this hilltop of trees in a second---the wind seemed the perfect embodiment of "Formless Form."
     There had been no wind in the hospital, I mused. How sad, not to hear wind.
     I tapped my Gain-Radio once more, to access the Mystical Seven. That, too, seemed to fit comfortably into my grove of lindens. Even the pang of Dr. De'Evilam's absence seemed dimmed when I passed through 'Freya', which I thought of as hers, and through 'Enkidu', with which I'd grown familiar in my role as wanderer, up to 'Dor', the highest of "that terrible D-level" that always troubled me.
     No trouble now. The moss seemed to become softer, but then I turned my head slightly and found that I'd floated out of my body, almost unbidden. How peaceful.
     'Canopus': with a shiver I recognized that this was the exact sound that had congealed my brain the first time I heard it. 'Canopus' had killed me. And now the green canopy---I smiled---above me was the embodiment of peaceful warmth. The warmth of a star. Our star, which we called the Sun.
     My body blazed through the canopy of linden leaves and shot like a comet into the heart of the Sun.