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have to give you this." He indicated a small gun-shaped device at his belt.

"Skip it this week. Just once."

"I can't."

"Just once. You know I can't escape. I just want to feel again."

"So did Olean, and Brewster, and Tuan."

"Once. One week."

James shook his head. "If it were up to me-"

"It is up to you," Bester said, gritting his teeth.

"Be a good boy and take your medicine, Mr. Bester."

And so he did, stood still while the needle pricked his arm and the sleepers went in, as they had for ten years now. He barely felt the stupid feeling spread. He had never had the extreme reaction to the sleepers that some did-the listlessness, the deeply drugged feeling. No, they left his mind pretty much intact, so he could be acutely aware of how crippled he was.

James left, and Bester fought the gloom by working on his memoirs. He was nearly done with them, had been nearly done with them for years. He just kept fiddling. He liked to fiddle with his history-it was the only thing he still had control of, his version of things. Let the historians wrangle endlessly about what was true and what wasn't. He knew, and they didn't, and it was the only power he still had.

Well, that and the power of his predictions, of his insights. Those would validate him, one day.



* * *



Two days later, a week from Birthday, he got an early present. The vidcom on the ceiling came on, unannounced. It did that rather rarely-he could request programming and sometimes get it, but it usually took awhile. When it came on of its own accord, it usually meant bad news, some new announcement from the prison director.

This time, however, as he watched and listened, a ghost of his old smile returned to his face. The smile broadened when he understood that most everyone else
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