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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOut Like A Light - Chapter 16
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Out Like A Light - Chapter 16 Post by :PlayersGolf Category :Long Stories Author :Randall Garrett Date :May 2012 Read :1305

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Out Like A Light - Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI

"The only thing we had to worry about," Malone said, pouring some more champagne into the hollow-stemmed glasses, "was whether the theory would actually prove out in practice. From all we knew, it seemed logical that I could concentrate on the room with the boys in it, and by that concentration prevent them from teleporting out--but there's a lot we don't know, too. And it didn't damage the kids any."

Dorothea relaxed in her chair and looked around at the hotel room walls with contentment. "Mike seemed pretty normal--except that he had that awful _trapped feeling."

Malone handed her one of the filled glasses with an air. He was beginning slowly to feel less like the nervous, uncertain Kenneth J. Malone and more and more like good old Sir Kenneth Malone. "I can see why he felt trapped," he said. "If a guy's been unhampered by four walls all the time, even for only a year or so, he's certainly going to feel penned in when he's stopped from going through them. Especially when what stops him is just what he has--only more of the same. It might be a little ego-crushing, and just a trifle claustrophobic."

"The main thing is," Dorothea said, "that everybody's so happy. Commissioner Fernack, even--with Mr. Burris promising to give him a medal."

"And Lynch," Malone said reflectively. "He'll get a promotion out of this for sure. And good old Kettleman."

"Kettleman," Dorothea said. "Oh, sure. He's some kind of social worker, isn't he? Only we never knew what kind."

"And now he's getting a scroll from the FBI," Malone said. "A citation for coming up with the essential clue in this case. Even though he didn't know it _was the essential clue. You know," he added reflectively, "one thing puzzles me about that man."

"Yes?"

"Well," Malone said, "he worked in your neighborhood. You knew him."

"Of course I did," Dorothea said. "We all knew Kettleman."

"He said he had a lot of success as a social worker," Malone said. "Now, I've met him. And talked with him. And I just can't picture--"

"Oh," Dorothea said. "We keep him around--kept him around, I mean--as a sort of joke. A pet, or a mascot. Of course, he never did catch on. I don't suppose he has yet."

Malone laughed. "Nope," he said. "He hasn't."

* * * * *

"Mike," Dorothea said.

"Mike what?"

"Mike," she repeated. "He's probably the happiest of all. After Mom and I talked to him for a while, anyhow, and he began to ... to get used to things. Now he's excited about being an FBI man." She looked worriedly at Malone for a second. "You weren't kidding about that, were you?" she asked.

She looked very pretty when she was worried, Malone decided. He leaned over and kissed her with great care. After a while he said: "You were saying?"

"Was I?" Dorothea said. "Oh, yes. I was. About Mike being an FBI man."

"Oh," Malone said. "Well, normally you've got to be a lawyer or an accountant, but there are a few special cases. And maybe Mike would fit in to the special-case bracket. If he doesn't--well, he'll be doing some kind of official work for the Government."

"What about Her Majesty, or whatever she is?" Dorothea asked. "Is she--convinced that teleportation's no good, the way Mike is?"

Malone looked unhappy. "I wish you hadn't mentioned it," he said.

"Then what will you do?" Dorothea said.

"Burris has it all down pat," Malone said bitterly. "Since I'm the only one who can predict where she's going to be, I'm going to be her permanent bodyguard from now on. She's promised me that she won't go teleporting all over the place--but we won't be able to keep her locked up all the time, either. So: whither she goes, I go--first."

"Well," Dorothea said, "don't feel bad. After all, you did what you set out to do."

"I suppose so," Malone said.

"Sure you did," Dorothea said. "You got the boys. And they won't feel so bad after they get used to it."

"I suppose not," Malone said. "We had to prove one thing to them, anyway. We can stop them at any time. You see, they've got to think about teleporting, and as soon as they do that one of our telepaths--like Her Majesty or me, I guess--will know what they're thinking. And we can 'freeze' them. I mean, I can."

"It sounds all right," Dorothea said.

"Sure," Malone said. "After all, we did them quite a favor--getting them out of all the trouble they'd gotten themselves into."

"That reminds me, Ken," Dorothea said. "All the things that were stolen. The liquor and all of that. Money. What's going to happen to that?"

"Well," Malone said, "everything that can be returned--and that includes most of the liquor, because they hadn't had a chance to get rid of it to the bootleggers around this area--will be returned. What can't be returned--money, stuff they've used, broken or sold--well, I don't exactly know about that. It might take a special act of Congress," he said brightly.

"All for the boys?" Dorothea said.

"Well, they'll be at Yucca Flats," Malone said, "and they'll be pretty useful. And, as I said before we started all this, if they try to run away from Yucca Flats we'll just have to keep them 'frozen' all the time. I mean, I will. Little as we want to. They can be of some use that way, too. The Government isn't doing all this for nothing."

"But keeping them 'frozen'--"

"I said we didn't want to do it. And I don't think we'll have to. They'll be well taken care of, don't worry. Some of the best psychiatrists and doctors are out there. And Mike and the others--if they can show they're trustworthy--can come home every weekend, or even every night if they can teleport that far." Malone paused. "But it isn't charity," he added. "We need people with specialized psionic abilities--and, for a variety of reasons, they're pretty hard to find."

"You know," Dorothea said, "you're pretty wonderful, Mr. Malone."

Malone didn't answer her. He just kissed her again.

Dorothea pushed him gently away. "I'm envious," she announced. "Everybody gets a reward but me. Do I get left out just because I swiped your notebook?"

Malone kissed her again. "What kind of a reward do you want?"

She sighed. "Oh, well," she said, "I suppose this is good enough."

"Good enough?" Malone said. "Just good enough?"

His lips met hers for the fifth time. She reached one hand gently out to the light switch and pushed it.

The lights went out.


(THE END)
Randall Garrett's Novel: Out Like a Light

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