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BRING THEM BACK.
"We can't do that. They are gone forever."
"We cannot bring them back."
Just like a kid, Norman thought. Just exactly like a kid. Telling the kid you can't do what he wants, you can't play the way he wants to play, and he refuses to accept it.
"We do not have the power, Jerry, to bring them back."
I WISH YOU TO BRING THE OTHER ENTITIES BACK NOW.
"He thinks we're refusing to play," Harry said.
BRING BACK THE ENTITY TED.
Norman said, "We can't, Jerry. We would if we could."
I AM LIKING THE ENTITY TED. HE IS VERY HUMOROUS.
"Yes," Norman said. "Ted liked you, too. Ted was trying to talk to you."
YES I AM LIKING HIS MANIFESTATIONS. BRING BACK TED.
There was a long pause.
I AM OFFENDED YOU?
"No, not at all."
WE ARE FRIENDS NORMAN AND HARRY.
"Yes, we are."
THEN BRING BACK THE ENTITIES.
"He just refuses to understand," Harry said. "Jerry, for God's sake, we can't do it!"
YOU ARE HUMOROUS HARRY. MAKE IT AGAIN.
He's definitely reading strong emotional reactions as some kind of manifestation, Norman thought. Was this his idea of play - to make a provocation to the other party, and then to be amused by their responses? Was he delighted to see the vivid emotions brought on by the squid? Was this his idea of a game?
HARRY MAKE IT AGAIN. HARRY MAKE IT AGAIN.
"Hey, man," Harry said angrily. "Get off my back!"
THANK YOU. I AM LIKING THAT. IT WAS RED ALSO. NOW YOU WILL PLEASE BRING BACK THE ENTITIES GONE.
Norman had an idea. "Jerry," he said, "if you wish the entities back, why don't you bring them back?"
I AM NOT PLEASED TO DO THIS.
"But you could do it, if you wanted to."
I CAN DO ANY THING.
"Yes, of course you can. So why don't you bring back the entities you desire?"
NO. I AM NOT HAPPY TO DO THIS.
"Why not?" Harry said.
HEY MAN GET OFF MY BACK.
"No offense, Jerry," Norman said quickly. There was no reply on the screen. "Jerry?"
The screen did not respond.
"He's gone again," Harry said. He shook his head. "God knows what the little bastard will do next."
Norman went up to the lab to see beth, but she was asleep, curled up on her couch. In sleep, she looked quite beautiful. It was odd after all the time down here she should seem so radiant. It was as if the harshness had gone out of her features. Her nose did not seem so sharp any more; the line of the mouth was softer, fuller. He looked at her arms, which had been sinewy, veins bulging. The muscles seemed smoother, more feminine somehow.
Who knows? he thought. After so many hours down here, you're no judge of anything. He climbed back down the ladder and went to his bunk. Harry was already there, snoring loudly.
Norman decided to take another shower. As he stepped under the spray, he made a startling discovery.
The bruises which had covered his body were gone. Anyway, almost gone, he thought, staring down at the remaining patches of yellow and purple. They had healed within hours. He moved his limbs experimentally and realized that the pain had gone, too. Why? What had happened? For a moment he thought this was all a dream, or a nightmare, and then he thought: No, it's just the atmosphere. Cuts and bruises healing faster in the high-pressure environment. It wasn't anything mysterious. Just an atmospheric effect.
He toweled himself as dry as he could with the damp towel, and then went back to his bunk. Harry was still snoring, as loud as ever.
Norman lay on his back, stared at the red humming coils of the ceiling heater. He had an idea, and got out of bed, and shifted Harry's talker from the base of his throat to one side. Immediately the snores changed to a soft, high-pitched hiss.
Much better, he thought. He lay on the damp pillow, and was almost immediately asleep. He awoke with no sense of passing time - it might have been only a few seconds - but he felt refreshed. He stretched and yawned, and got out of bed.
Harry still slept. Norman moved the talker back, and the snores resumed. He went into D Cyl, to the console. Still on the screen were the words:
HEY MAN GET OFF MY BACK.
"Jerry?" Norman said. "Are you there, Jerry?"
The screen did not respond. Jerry wasn't there. Norman looked at the stack of printouts to one side. I really should go over this stuff, he thought. Because something troubled him about Jerry. Norman couldn't put his finger on it, but even if one imagined the alien as a spoiled child-king, Jerry's behavior didn't make sense. It just didn't add up. Including the last message.
HEY MAN GET OFF MY BACK.
Street talk? Or just imitating Harry? In any case it wasn't Jerry's usual mode of communication. Usually Jerry was ungrammatical and sort of spacy, talking about entities and awareness. But from time to time he would become sharply colloquial. Norman looked at the sheets.
WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK AFTER A SHORT BREAK FOR THESE MESSAGES FROM OUR SPONSOR.
That was one example. Where had that come from? It sounded like Johnny Carson. Then why didn't Jerry sound like Johnny Carson all the time? What caused the shift?
Then, too, there was the problem of the squid. If Jerry liked to scare them, if he enjoyed rattling their cage and seeing them jump, why use a squid? Where had that idea come from? And why only a squid? Jerry seemed to enjoy manifesting different things. So why hadn't he produced giant squid one time, great white sharks another time, and so on? Wouldn't that provide a greater challenge to his abilities?
Then there was the problem of Ted. Ted had been playing with Jerry at the time he was killed. If Jerry liked to play so much, why would he kill off a player? It just didn't make sense.
Or did it?
Norman sighed. His trouble lay in his assumptions. Norman was assuming that the alien had logical processes similar to his own. But that might not be true. For one thing, Jerry might operate at a much faster metabolic rate, and thus have a different sense of time. Kids played with a toy only until they got tired of it; then they changed to another. The hours that seemed so painfully long to Norman might be only a few seconds in the consciousness of Jerry. He might just be playing with the squid for a few seconds, until he dropped it for another toy.
Kids also had a poor idea about breaking things. If Jerry didn't know about death, then he wouldn't mind killing Ted, because he would think the death was just a temporary event, a "humorous" manifestation by Ted. He might not realize he was actually breaking his toys.
And it was also true, when he thought about it, that Jerry had manifested different things. Assuming that the jellyfish and the shrimps and the sea fans and now the sea snakes were his manifestations. Were they? Or were they just normal parts of the environment? Was there any way to tell?
And the Navy seaman, he thought suddenly. Let's not forget the seaman. Where had he come from? Was that seaman another of Jerry's manifestations? Could Jerry manifest his playmates at will? In that case, he really wouldn't care if he killed them all.
But I think that's clear, Norman thought. Jerry doesn't care if he kills us. He just wants to play, and he doesn't know his own strength.
Yet there was something else. He scanned the sheets of printout, feeling instinctively some underlying organization to everything. Something he wasn't getting, some connection he wasn't making.
As he thought about it, he kept coming back to one question: Why a squid? Why a squid?
Of course, he thought. They had been talking about a squid, during the conversation at dinner. Jerry must have overheard that. He must have decided that a squid would be a provocative item to manifest. And he was certainly right about that.
Norman shifted the papers, and came upon the very first message that Harry had decoded.
HELLO. HOW ARE YOU? I AM FINE. WHAT IS YOUR NAME? MY NAME IS JERRY.
That was as good a place to begin as any. It had been quite a feat for Harry to decode it, Norman thought. If Harry hadn't succeeded with that, they would never have ever started talking to Jerry at all.
Norman sat at the console, stared at the keyboard. What had Harry said? The keyboard was a spiral: the letter G was one, and B was two, and so on. Very clever to figure it out. Norman would never have figured that out in a million years. He started trying to find the letters in the first sequence.
00032125252632 032629 301321 04261037 18 3016 06180
82132 29033005 1822 04261013 0830162137 1604 083016
21 1822 033013130432
Let's see ... 00 marked the beginning of the message, Harry had said. And 03, that was H. And then 21, that was E, then 25 was L, and 25 was another L, and just above it, 26, was 0. ...
Yes, it all fitted. He continued translating. 032629 was HOW. ...
HOW ARE YOU?
So far, so good. Norman experienced a certain pleasure, almost as if he were decoding it himself for the first time. Now, 18. That was I... .
I AM FINE.
He moved more quickly, writing down the letters.
WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
Now, 1604 was MY. ... MY NAME IS ... But then he found a mistake in one letter. Was that possible? Norman kept going, found a second mistake, then wrote out the message, and stared at it in growing shock.
MY NAME IS HARRY.
"Jesus Christ," he said.
He went over it again, but there was no mistake. Not by him. The message was perfectly clear.
HELLO. HOW ARE YOU? I AM FINE. WHAT IS YOUR NAME? MY NAME IS HARRY.
Beth sat up in her bed in the laboratory and stared at the message Norman had given her. "Oh my God," she said. She pushed her thick dark hair away from her face. "How can it be?" she said.
"It all goes together," Norman said. "Just think. When did the messages start? After Harry came out of the sphere. When did the squid and the other animals first appear? After Harry came out of the sphere."
"Yes, but - "
" - At first there were little squid, but then, when we were going to eat them, suddenly there were shrimps, too. Just in time for dinner. Why? Because Harry doesn't like to eat squid."
Beth said nothing; she just listened.
"And who, as a child, was terrified by the giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea?"
"Harry was," she said. "I remember he said that." Norman went on in a rush. "And when does Jerry appear on the screen? When Harry is present. Not at other times. And when does Jerry answer us as we talk? When Harry is in the room to hear what we're saying. And why can't Jerry read our minds? Because Harry can't read our minds. And remember how Barnes kept asking for the name, and Harry wouldn't ask for the name? Why? Because he was afraid the screen would say 'Harry,' not 'Jerry.' "
"And the crewman ..."
"Right. The black crewman. Who shows up just as Harry is having a dream of being rescued? A black crewman shows up to rescue us."
Beth was frowning, thinking. "What about the giant squid?"
"Well, in the middle of its attack, Harry hit his head and was knocked unconscious. Immediately the squid disappeared. It didn't come back again until Harry woke up from his nap, and told you he'd take over."
"My God," Beth said.
"Yes," Norman said. "It explains a lot."
She was silent for a while, staring at the message. "But how is he doing it?"
"I doubt if he is. At least, not consciously." Norman had been thinking about this. "Let's assume," he said, "that something happened to Harry when he went inside the sphere - he acquired some kind of power while in the sphere."
"The power to make things happen just by thinking of them. The power to make his thoughts real."
Beth frowned. "Make his thoughts real ..."
"It's not so strange," he said. "Just think: if you were a sculptor, first you would get an idea, and then you would carve it in stone or wood, to make it real. The idea comes first, then the execution follows, with some added effort to create a reality that reflects your prior thoughts. That's the way the world works for us. We imagine something, and then we try to make it happen. Sometimes the way we make it happen is unconscious - like the guy who just happens to go home unexpectedly at lunchtime and catches his wife in bed with another man. He doesn't consciously plan it. It just sort of happens by itself."
"Or the wife who catches the husband in bed with another woman," Beth said.
"Yes, of course. The point is, we manage to make things happen all the time without thinking about them too much. I don't think of every word when I talk to you. I just intend to say something and it comes out okay."
"So we can make complicated creations like sentences without effort. But we can't make other complicated creations like sculptures without effort. We believe we have to do something besides simply have an idea."
"And we do," Beth said.
"Well, Harry doesn't. Harry's gone one step further. He doesn't have to carve the statue any more. He just gets the idea, and things happen by themselves. He manifests things."
"Harry imagines a frightening squid, and suddenly we have a frightening squid outside our window?"
"Exactly. And when he loses consciousness, the squid disappears."
"And he got this power from the sphere?"
Beth frowned. "Why is he doing this? Is he trying to kill us?"
Norman shook his head. "No. I think he's in over his head."
"How do you mean?"
"Well," Norman said, "we've considered lots of ideas of what the sphere from another civilization might be. Ted thought it was a trophy or a message - he saw it as a present. Harry thought it had something inside - he saw it as a container. But I wonder if it might be a mine."
"You mean, an explosive?"
"Not exactly - but a defense, or a test. An alien civilization could strew these things around the galaxy, and any intelligence that picks them up would get to experience the power of the sphere. Which is that whatever you think comes true. If you think positive thoughts, you get delicious shrimp for dinner. If you think negative thoughts, you get monsters trying to kill you. Same process, just a matter of content."
"So, the same way a land mine blows up if you step on it, this sphere destroys people if they have negative thoughts?"
"Or," he said, "if they simply aren't in control of their consciousness. Because, if you're in control of your consciousness, the sphere would have no particular effect. If you're not in control, it gets rid of you."
"How can you control a negative thought?" Beth said. She seemed suddenly very agitated. "How can you say to someone, 'Don't think of a giant squid'? The minute you say that, they automatically think of the squid in the course of trying not to think of it."
"It's possible to control your thoughts," Norman said. "Maybe for a yogi or something."
"For anybody," Norman said. "It's possible to deflect your attention from undesirable thoughts. How do people quit smoking? How do any of us ever change our minds about anything? By controlling our thoughts."
"I still don't see why Harry is doing this."
"Remember your idea that the sphere might strike us below the belt?" Norman said. "The way the AIDS virus strikes our immune system below the belt? AIDS hits us at a level we aren't prepared to deal with. So, in a sense, does the sphere. Because we believe that we can think whatever we want, without consequence. 'Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.' We have sayings like that, which emphasize the point. But now suddenly a name is as real as a stick, and it can hurt us in the same way. Our thoughts get manifested - what a wonderful thing - except that all our thoughts get manifested, the good ones and the bad ones. And we simply aren't prepared to control our thoughts. We've never had to do it before."
"When I was a child," Beth said, "I was angry with my mother, and when she got cancer, I was terribly guilty. ..."
"Yes," Norman said. "Children think this way. Children all believe that their thoughts have power. But we patiently teach them that they're wrong to think that. Of course," he said, "there has always been another tradition of belief about thoughts. The Bible says not to covet your neighbor's wife, which we interpret to mean that the act of adultery is forbidden. But that's not really what the Bible is saying. The Bible is saying that the thought of adultery is as forbidden as the act itself."
"Do you know anything about Jungian psychology?"
Beth said, "That stuff has never struck me as relevant."
"Well, it's relevant now," Norman said. He explained. "Jung broke with Freud early in this century, and developed his own psychology. Jung suspected there was an underlying structure to the human psyche that was reflected in an underlying similarity to our myths and archetypes. One of his ideas was that everybody had a dark side to his personality, which be called the 'shadow.' The shadow contained all the unacknowledged personality aspects - the hateful parts, the sadistic parts, all that. Jung thought people had the obligation to become acquainted with their shadow side. But very few people do. We all prefer to think we're nice guys and we don't ever have the desire to kill and maim and rape and pillage."
"As Jung saw it, if you didn't acknowledge your shadow side, it would rule you."
"So we're seeing Harry's shadow side?"
"In a sense, yes. Harry needs to present himself as Mr. Arrogant Know-It-All Black Man," Norman said.
"He certainly does."
"So, if he's afraid to be down here in this habitat - and who isn't? - then he can't admit his fears. But he has the fears anyway, whether he admits them or not. And so his shadow side justifies the fears - creating things that prove his fears to be valid."
"The squid exists to justify his fears?"
"Something like that, yes."
"I don't know," Beth said. She leaned back and turned her head up, and her high cheekbones caught the light. She looked almost like a model, elegant and handsome and strong. "I'm a zoologist, Norman. I want to touch things and hold them in my hands and see that they're real. All these theories about manifestations, they just ... They're so ... psychological."
"The world of the mind is just as real, and follows rules just as rigorous, as the world of external reality," Norman said.
"Yes, I'm sure you're right, but ..." She shrugged. "It isn't very satisfying to me."
"You know everything that has happened since we got down here," Norman said. "Tell me another hypothesis that explains it all."
"I can't," she admitted. "I've been trying, all the time you've been talking. I can't." She folded the paper in her hands and considered it for a while. "You know, Norman, I think you've made a brilliant series of deductions. Absolutely brilliant. I'm seeing you in a whole different light."
Norman smiled with pleasure. For most of the time he had been down in the habitat, he'd felt like a fifth wheel, an unnecessary person in this group. Now someone was acknowledging his contribution, and he was pleased. "Thank you, Beth."
She looked at him, her large eyes liquid and soft. "You're a very attractive man, Norman. I don't think I ever really noticed before." Absently, she touched her breast, beneath the clinging jumpsuit. Her hands pressed the fabric, outlining the hard nipples. She suddenly stood and hugged him, her body close to him. "We have to stay together on this," she said. "We have to stay close, you and I"
"Yes, we do."
"Because, if what you are saying is true, then Harry is a very dangerous man."
"Just the fact that he is walking around, fully conscious, makes him dangerous."
"What are we going to do about him?"
"Hey, you guys," Harry said, coming up the stairs. "Is this a private party? Or can anybody join in?"
"Sure," Norman said, "come on up, Harry," and he moved away from Beth.
"Was I interrupting something?" Harry said.
"I don't want to get in the way of anybody's sex life."
"Oh, Harry," Beth said. She sat at the lab bench, moving away from Norman.
"Well, you two sure look all charged up about something."
"Do we?" Norman said.
"Yeah, especially Beth. I think she gets more beautiful every day she's down here."
"I've noticed that, too," Norman said, smiling.
"I'll bet you have. A woman in love. Lucky you." Harry turned to Beth. "Why are you staring at me like that?"
"I'm not staring," Beth said.
"You are, too."
"Harry, I'm not staring."
"I can tell when someone is staring at me, for Christ's sake."
Norman said, "Harry - "
" - I just want to know why you two are looking at me like that. You're looking at me like I'm a criminal or something."
"Don't get paranoid, Harry."
"Huddling up here, whispering ..."
"We weren't whispering."
"You were." Harry looked around the room. "So it's two white people and one black person now, is that it?"
"Oh, Harry ..."
"I'm not stupid, you know. Something's going on between you. I can tell."
"Harry," Norman said, "nothing is going on."
And then they heard a low insistent beeping, from the communications console downstairs. They exchanged glances, and went downstairs to look.
The console screen was slowly printing out letter groups.
CQX VDX MOP IM
"Is that Jerry?" Norman asked.
"I don't think so," Harry said. "I don't think he would go back to code."
"Is it a code?"
"I would say so, definitely."
"Why is it so slow?" Beth said. A new letter was added every few seconds in a steady, rhythmic way.
"I don't know," Harry said. "Where is it coming from?"
Harry frowned. "I don't know, but the transmission speed is the most interesting characteristic. The slowness. Interesting."
Norman and Beth waited for him to figure it out. Norman thought: How can we ever get along without Harry? We need him. He is both the most important intelligence down here, and the most dangerous. But we need him.
CQX VDX MOP LKI XXC VRW TGK PIU YQA
"Interesting," Harry said. "The letters are coming about every five seconds. So I think it's safe to say that we know where it's coming from. Wisconsin."
Norman could not have been more surprised. "Wisconsin?"
"Yeah. This is a Navy transmission. It may or may not be directed to us, but it is coming from Wisconsin."
"How do you know that?"
"Because that's the only place in the world it could be coming from," Harry said. "You know about ELF? No? Well, it's like this. You can send radio waves through the air, and, as you know, they travel pretty well. But you can't send radio far through water. Water is a bad medium, so you need an incredibly powerful signal to go even a short distance."
"But the ability to penetrate is a function of wavelength. An ordinary radio wave is short-shortwave radio, all of that. The length of the waves are tiny, thousands or millions of little waves to an inch. But you can also make ELF, extremely low-frequency waves, which are long-each individual wave is maybe twenty feet long. And those waves, once generated, will go a very great distance, thousands of miles, through water, no problem. The only trouble is that, since the waves are long, they're also slow. That's why we're getting one character every five seconds. The Navy needed a way to communicate with their submarines underwater, so they built a big ELF antenna in Wisconsin to send these long waves. And that's what we're getting."
"And the code?"
"It must be a compression code - three-letter groupings which stand for a long section of predefined message. So it won't take so long to send a message. Because if you sent a plain text message, it would literally take hours."
CQX VDX MOP LKI XXC VRW TGK PIU YQA IYT
EEQ FVC ZNB TMK EXE MMN OPW GEW
The letters stopped.
"Looks like that's it," Harry said.
"How do we translate it?" Beth said.
"Assuming it's a Navy transmission," Harry said, "we don't."
"Maybe there's a codebook here somewhere," Beth said.
"Just hold on," Harry said.
The screen shifted, translating groups one after another.
2340 HOURS 7-07 CHIEF CINCCOMPAC TO BARNES DEEPHAB-8
"It's a message to Barnes," Harry said. They watched as the other letter groups were translated.
SURFACE SUPPORT VESSELS STEAMING NANDI AND VIPATI TO YOUR LOCATION ETA 1600 HOURS 7-08 DEEP WITHDRAW AUTOSET ACKNOWLEDGE GOOD LUCK SPAULDING END
"Does that mean what I think it means?" Beth said.
"Yeah," Harry said. "The cavalry is on the way."
"Hot damn!" Beth clapped her hands.
"The storm must be calming down. They've sent the surface ships and they'll be here in a little more than sixteen hours."
They had the answer immediately. Every screen in the habitat flickered. In the upper right corner of each appeared a small box with numbers: 16:20:00. The numbers ran backward.
"It's automatically counting down for us."
"Is there some kind of countdown we're supposed to follow for leaving the habitat?" Beth said.
Norman watched the numbers. They were rolling backward, just as they had on the submarine. Then he said, "What about the submarine?"
"Who cares about the submarine," Harry said.
"I think we should keep it with us," Beth said. She checked her watch. "We have another four hours before it has to be reset."
"Plenty of time."
Privately, Norman was trying to gauge whether they could survive for sixteen more hours.
Harry said, "Well, this is great news! Why are you two so hangdog?"
"Just wondering if we'll make it," Norman said.
"Why shouldn't we make it?" Harry said.
"Jerry might do something first," Beth said. Norman felt a burst of irritation with her. Didn't she realize that by saying that, she was planting the idea in Harry's mind?
"We can't survive another attack on the habitat," Beth said.
Norman thought, Shut up, Beth. You're making suggestions.
"An attack on the habitat?" Harry said.
Quickly, Norman said, "Harry, I think you and I should talk to Jerry again."
"I want to see if I can reason with him."
"I don't know if you can," Harry said. "Reason with him."
"Let's try anyway," Norman said, with a glance at Beth. "It's worth a try."
Norman knew he would not really be talking to Jerry. He would be talking to a part of Harry. An unconscious part, a shadow part. How should he go about it? What could he use?
He sat in front of the monitor screen, thinking, What do I know about Harry, really? Harry, who had grown up in Philadelphia as a thin, introverted, painfully shy boy, a mathematical prodigy, his gifts denigrated by his friends and family. Harry had said once that when he cared about mathematics, everybody else cared about slamdunking. Even now, Harry hated all games, all sports. As a young man he had been humiliated and neglected, and when he finally got proper recognition for his gifts, Norman suspected, it came too late. The damage was already done. Certainly it came too late to prevent the arrogant, braggart exterior.
I AM HERE. DO NOT BE AFRAID.
"I have a request to make."
YOU MAY DO SO.
"Jerry, many of our entities are gone, and our habitat is weakened."
I KNOW THIS. MAKE YOUR REQUEST.
"Would you please stop manifesting?"