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The receptionist opened the inner door. "Will you go right in, Mr. Gordon?"

Gordon said, "Thank you." The door closed softly behind him, and at the same time a man rose from behind a small desk and came toward him. He was a tall man, surprisingly young, with a brisk, friendly, energetic air about him. "Mr. Gordon?" he said, and held out his hand. "I'm Dr. Keogh."

Gordon shook hands and allowed himself to be guided to a chair beside the desk. He sat, looking around the room, looking everywhere but at Keogh, suddenly acutely embarrassed.

Keogh said quietly, "Have you ever consulted a psychiatrist before?"

Gordon shook his head. "I never . . . uh . . . felt the need."

"All of us have problems at some time in our lives," said Keogh. "This is nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is to realize that a problem does exist. Then, and only then, is it possible to do something about it." He smiled. "You see, you have already taken the vital forward step. From here on it should be much easier. Now then." He studied Gordon's card which he had filled in at what seemed unnecessary length. "You're in the insurance business."


"Judging from your position with the firm, you must be quite successful."

"I've worked hard these last few years," Gordon said, in an odd voice.

"Do you like your work?"

"Not particularly."

Keogh was silent a moment or two, frowning at the card. Gordon fought down an overwhelming impulse to run for the door. He knew that he would only have to come back again. He could not carry this question alone any longer. He had to know.

"I see that you're unmarried," Keogh said. "Like to tell me why?"

"That's part of the reason I came here. There was a girl . . . ." He broke off, then said with sudden fierce determination, "I want to find out whether I've been having delusions."

"What kind of delusions?" asked Keogh gently.

"At the time," said Gordon, "I wasn't in any doubt. It was all real. More real, more alive, than anything that had ever happened to me before. But now . . . now I don't know." He looked at Keogh, his eyes full of pain. "I'll be honest with you. I don't want to lose this dream . . . if it was a dream. It's more precious to me than any reality. But I know that if . . . if I . . . oh, hell!" He got up and moved around the room, aimlessly, his broad stocky shoulders hunched and his hands balled into fists. He looked like a man about to jump off a cliff, and Keogh knew that he was just that. He sat quietly, waiting.

Gordon said, "I thought that I went to the stars. Not now, but in the future. Two hundred thousand years in the future. I'll give it to you all in one lump, Doctor, and then you can call for the strait-jacket. I believed that my mind was drawn across time, into the body of another man, and for a while . . . keeping my own identity, you understand, my own memories as John Gordon of twentieth-century Earth . . . for a while I lived in the body of Zarth Arn, a prince of the Mid-Galactic Empire. I went to the stars . . . ."

His voice trailed away. He stood by the window, looking out at falling rain and the roofs and walls and chimneys of West Sixty-fourth Street. The sky was a drab blankness fouled with soot.

"I heard the sunrise music," Gordon said, "that the crystal peaks make above Throon when Canopus comes to warm them. I feasted with the star-kings in the Hall of Stars. And at the end, I led the fleets of the Empire against our enemies, the men from the League of Dark Worlds. I saw the ships die like swarming fireflies off the shores of the Hercules Cluster . . . ."

He did not turn to see how Keogh was taking all this. He had started and he would not stop, and in his voice there was pride and longing and the anguish of loss.

"I've shot the Orion Nebula. I've been into the Cloud, where the drowned suns burn in a haze of darkness. I've killed men, Doctor. And in that last battle, I—"

He stopped and shook his head, turning abruptly away from the window.

"Never mind that now. But there was more. A lot more. A whole universe, a language, names, people, costumes, places, details. Could I have imagined all that?"

He looked at Keogh. Desperately.

Keogh said, "Were you happy in that universe?"

Gordon thought about that, his square, honest face creased in a careful frown. "Most of the time I was frightened. Things were . . ." He made a gesture vaguely indicating great troubles. "I was in constant danger. But . . . yes, I guess I was happy there."

Keogh nodded. "You mentioned a girl?"

Now Gordon turned again to the window. "Her name was Lianna. She was a princess of Fomalhaut Kingdom. She and Zarth Arn were betrothed . . . a matter of state, you understand, and it wasn't supposed to be anything more. Zarth Arn already had a morganatic wife, but I, Gordon, in Zarth Arn's body—I fell in love with Lianna."

"Did she return your feeling?"

"Yes, it was the end of the world for me when I had to leave her and come back here to my own world, my own time . . . . And here's what makes it so difficult, Doctor. I'd given up hope of ever seeing her again, and then it seemed to me that she spoke to me one night, telepathically, across time, and told me that Zarth Arn believed he could find a way to bring me through physically, in my own body . . . ." His voice trailed off again and his shoulders sagged. "How insane that dream sounds when I tell it. But it made this dreary life worth living for a long while, just the hope, knowing that someday I might go back. And of course nothing ever happened. And now I don't know whether anything ever did happen, really."

He walked back to the chair and sat down, feeling strangely exhausted and empty.

"I've never told this to anyone before. Now that I have, it's like . . . it's as though I'd killed something, or killed part of myself. But I can't go on living between two worlds. If that world of the future was hallucination, and this one is reality, the only reality, then I've got to accept it."

He sat, brooding. Now it was Keogh's turn to rise and move about. He turned to glance at Gordon a time or two, as though he were having difficulty finding a point of attack. Then he made up his mind.

"Well," he said briskly, "let us look at the available evidence." He glanced at some scribbled notes on his desk. "You say that your mind was drawn across time, into the body of another man."

"That's right. Zarth Arn was a scientist as well as a noble. He had perfected the method and the equipment. The exchange was effected from his laboratory."

"Very well. Now what happened to your own body, here in the present day on Earth, while your mind was absent from it?"

Gordon looked at him. "I said exchange. That was the purpose of the whole thing. Zarth Arn wanted to explore the past. He had done this many times before. Only in my case, things got fouled up."

"Then this . . . uh . . . Zarth Arn actually inhabited your body?"


"Went to your place of employment, did your work?"

"Well, no. When I came back, my boss said he was happy to see me recovered from my illness. Apparently Zarth Arn had given that excuse. I don't suppose he wanted to run the risk of making some irreparable blunder. I did not have the same choice."

Keogh said. "I congratulate you on your very logical mind, Mr. Gordon. But there is no proof at all, no physical proof, that this exchange of minds actually took place?"

"No," said Gordon. "Not a bit. How could there be? But what did you mean about my logical mind?"

"You have covered all the loopholes so carefully." Keogh smiled. "It's a gorgeous fantasy, Mr. Gordon. Few men are gifted with that much imagination." He added seriously, "I understand what strength of mind it must have taken to bring you here. I think we are going to have a very good relationship, Mr. Gordon, because I think you already realize subconsciously that your dreams of star-kingdoms and nebulae and beautiful princesses were only the attempt of your mind to escape from a world that you found unbearably humdrum and dull. Dreary, I think was your word. Now, this will take work, and time, and possibly there will be some painful moments, but I don't think you have anything at all to worry about. The fact that you've had no recurrence of the dream for a long period of time is a healthy sign. I shall want to see you twice weekly, if possible."

"I can manage it."

"Good. Miss Finlay will make the appointments for you. Oh, and here is my private number." He handed Gordon a card. "If you should at any time have a recurrence, please call me, no matter how late it is."

He shook Gordon's hand warmly, and a few minutes later Gordon found himself on the street, walking in the rain and feeling nothing but an utter desolation. He knew that Keogh was right, that he must be right. He knew that he had indeed almost resigned himself to that fact and only needed someone to supply the final push. Yet somehow the act of putting it all into words had the cruelty of a surgeon's knife, performing a necessary and humane operation but without anesthesia.

And it had all seemed, and did still seem, so real . . . .

Brutally he thrust out of his mind and heart the sound of Lianna's voice, the beautiful picture of her face, the memory of her lips.

In his office, Keogh was talking rapidly into his dictation machine, getting down all of what Gordon had told him while it was fresh, and shaking his head in wonder. This case was going to be, literally, one for the books.

Twice a week thereafter Gordon visited Keogh, answering his questions, telling more and more of his dream, and under Keogh's skillful guidance learning to look at it objectively. He came to understand the underlying motivations . . . boredom with a job that did not offer him sufficient challenge, desire for fame and aggrandizement, desire for power, desire to punish the world for its frustrations and its failure to appreciate him. On this last point, Keogh had been enormously impressed, not to say startled, by Gordon's description of the Disruptor, a weapon of incredible power which, as Zarth Arn, he had wielded in the great battle against the League.

"You annihilated part of space?" Keogh asked, and shook his head. "You do have powerful desires. How fortunate that you took this one out in dreaming."

Lianna was most easily explained of all. She was the dream-girl, the unattainable, and by transferring his feelings to her as he was relieved of the necessity of seeking out or competing for the actual young women by whom he was surrounded. Keogh pointed out to him that he was afraid of women. Gordon had felt that he was merely bored by them, but he supposed Keogh knew his subconscious better than he did. So he did not dispute him.

And steadily, week by week, the dream faded.

Keogh was personally delighted by the whole case. He liked Gordon, who had proved to be an uniquely cooperative patient. And he had acquired a mass of material that was going to keep him in learned papers and outstanding lectures for a long time to come.

At last, on one soft May afternoon when the sun shone gently down from a cloud-flecked sky, Keogh said to Gordon, "We have made tremendous progress. I'm very pleased. And I'm going to let you try your wings alone for a while. Come back in three weeks and tell me how you're doing."

They had a drink together to celebrate and later on Gordon bought himself a lavish dinner and took in a show, telling himself all the while how happy he was. When he walked home to his apartment late that night the stars were glowing above the city lights. He studiously avoided looking at them.

He went to bed.

At forty-three minutes past two o'clock Keogh's phone rang, rousing him from sleep. He answered it, and was instantly wide awake. "Gordon! What is it?"

Gordon's voice was wild and shaken. "It's come again. Zarth Arn. He spoke to me. He said—he said he was ready now to bring me through. He said Lianna was waiting. Doctor—Doctor! . . ."

The voice broke off. "Gordon!" Keogh shouted, but there was no answer. "Hold on," he said to the humming wire. "Don't panic. I'll be right over."

He was there in fifteen minutes. The door of Gordon's apartment was locked but he roused the manager, who unlocked it grudgingly after examining his credentials. The apartment was empty and quiet. The phone swung from its cord as though it had been dropped in the midst of conversation. Absently Keogh replaced it.

He stood for a little time, thoughtful. He had no doubt of what had happened. Gordon had not been able to stand the loss of his glittering delusion, his dream so Gordon had run away, from his analyst, from reality. He would be back, of course, but then all that work must be done again . . . . Keogh sighed and shook his head, and went out.

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