Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
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Alter Id

By McCamy Taylor


The moon’s gravity made anyone born on planet a superman, even a middle aged scientist with more grey hair than brown. O’Leary tossed the body bag onto the examination table as easily as a sack of laundry and began stripping off his pressurized suit.

“What do you have there?” His mistress Ling, lunar born of Chinese descent was idly scrolling through a video catalogue of hair accessories.

“Military surplus.”

Ling arched a virtual brow. Her makeup today was geisha. “They sell corpses?”

“He died en route from planet. Id assassin.”

“What kind of assassin?” She only pretended to be interested. Her real goal was to get her lover to buy her the pair of jade hairpins that hovered in the air before her in larger than life holo display.

Her ploy did not work. The hairpins could have been twenty feet high, and O’Leary would not have noticed them, not when he had a cyborg to plunder. “Id. Identity dissociative. An assassin with an artificially contrived multiple personality.”

“You mean split personalities? They make them to order? Why?”

“Because they can, Ling, my dear, because they can.”

She wrinkled her powered nose. “I thought they outlawed all that brain washing after the Fifth World War.”

“You’re thinking old school. Back then, they experimented on war orphans using psychological trauma and torture. As unethical as hell, and more to the point as far as the military was concerned, they got shit results. They’ve refined the science since then .” As he spoke, he changed into lab gear, donning a protective coat, gloves and goggles. “Almost any task that an ordinary person would find distasteful or demeaning or unethical can be assigned to an alter ego.”

“Like killing people?”

“Or having sex with strangers for money. Assassins and prostitutes are the two most common types, but there are high powered corporate executive Ids that turn off their business personalities so that they can relax with their families on holiday.” He paused with his hand on the flap of the body bag. “I’m going to open this now. They didn’t tell me how he died…”

If Ling was a squeamish woman, she would not have been living with Doctor O’Leary, sometimes referred to as Dr. Frankenstein by his associates on Luna because of his more bizarre experiments with cyborg technology. She moved closer.

The doctor unzipped the bag.

“Oooo,” she exclaimed. “He is very pretty.”

“Excellent!” the doctor pronounced simultaneously. “His hardware should be intact.”

The young man on the table looked as if he had only just expired. Except for livid finger marks around his throat, there was no evidence of violence. His ethnic mix was indeterminate. He had the straight black hair and medium brown skin common to most of earth’s population. O’Leary pried open his eyes. They were dark brown, the pupils wide and fixed. His chest was absolutely still. His skin was cool with a slight coating of frost from the refrigerated body bag.

“Look at his eyelashes,” Ling purred. “So long.”

“The man was a killer,” O’Leary reminded her. “Not a gigolo.” He began attaching leads to the dead man, starting with his scalp, then his chest, beck, abdomen, wrists and ankles.

“He couldn’t have been much of a killer,” she pointed out sensibly. “Someone strangled him, and he didn’t even put up a fight.” She lifted one of his hands. “See? Nothing under the nails.” Ling had not always been a kept woman. For seven years, she was a nurse in one of Luna’s busiest trauma hospitals. Occasionally, she assisted O’Leary in his experiments.

Her lover batted her hand away. “Don’t touch! He’s military surplus, remember?”

“He’s dead!” she protested, pouting. “What harm can he do?”

O’Leary glowered at her. “If you used the holo-vid to watch something besides the shopping channels, you would know that military assassins are just as dangerous dead as alive. Twist his arm the wrong way , and you could trigger nerve gas or a poison dart.”

Ling shivered. She gathered the sleeves of her mauve silk kimono closer to her body, so that they would not accidentally brush the dead young man’s skin. “If he is so dangerous, how did he get strangled? That’s how he died, right?”

O’Leary checked the readings of the autopsy scanner. “Asphyxiation, yes.”

A ruby painted upper lip curled in scorn. “You need a machine to tell you that? I knew he was strangled just from looking.”

O’Leary stared down his nose at Ling as if she was a bug. “I need the machine to help me find the goodies.” He jabbed a finger at one of the monitors. “See this blip here? There’s a dart launcher implanted in the left fifth finger. The darts are probably poisoned.” He made a couple of marks on the tip of the dead man’s finger with indelible ink.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m getting ready to dismantle him. I paid good money for this dead Id assassin, but his accessories are worth a lot more than I shelled out for him.”

“Oh, I though you were going to harvest his organs.”

“Can’t. Don’t know how long he’s been dead. They found his body in a toilet on the shuttle. None of the prisoners would admit to killing him or would say who did it. Surveillance cameras didn’t catch the murder.” He made a mark beside the dead man’s sternum.

Ling had sat in on many autopsies, but she had never watched a cyborg assassin stripped of his weapons. She pulled up a stool. “You didn’t tell me that he was a criminal.”

“He wasn’t. Not technically. Think of him as a precautionary criminal. He was being shipped to the lunar colony because he was defective. His artificial personality had shut down. He had forgotten that he was a government trained assassin.”

Her smooth brow knotted. “I thought that was the whole point. Give them multiple personality disorder so that they can forget the terrible things they do for a living.”

“Ids are supposed to forget on cue. If they can’t call up their alter on demand—say when the military assigns a target—that’s a sign of mental instability.”

“Or a sign of a conscience,” Ling suggested.

“Instability, conscience, same thing as far as Earth’s military is concerned. A defective Id

assassin is worse than useless. He’s dangerous. Remember the murders in Mare Crisium? Tailor who had been living on Luna for three years, bothering no one, model citizen, suddenly went berserk and starting killing anyone who looked at him?”

“Gouged their eyes right out their heads with his bares fingers.” She shuddered. “Who could forget? Children, babies and even animals. You mean he----?”

“An Id assassin who had buried his killer persona---until something triggered it with a vengeance.”

Gazing at the body of the young man on the exam table with a mixture of pity and disgust, Ling murmured “No wonder they shipped him to the moon. We get all Terra’s trash. Do you think someone found out what he was and killed him for it?”

Her lover shrugged. “It’s possible. Or maybe he just said the wrong thing to one of the convicts on board the shuttle. With his assassin persona buried, he would have been an easy mark---what the hell?”

Ling leaned over his shoulder. “Did you find something good?”

“Yes. No. I mean, I found something, but I can’t say if it’s good or bad. Give me that med pack over there.”

She picked up a rectangular box from a nearby table.

O’Leary shook his head violently. “Not that one. The other one. Hurry.” He flipped open the pack and selected a couple of vials.

Ling’s eyes were wide. “What are you doing?”

“Reviving him.”

“But you said he’s dead.” Her voice came out as a squeak.

“They told me that he was dead when they sold me his corpse. He ought to be dead. No respirations, no pulse, no brain waves for over three hours. But his brain activity just started back up.” He injected the contents of first one then the second vial directly into the heart, then he strapped on a cardiac unit to stimulate blood flow. Once circulation was restored, he moved to the head of the examination table, where he clamped the dead man’s cranium in a vise to hold him immobile while the contents of a third, smaller vial was introduced into the intrathecal space. This was followed by a neurofilament which he threaded carefully between the two hemispheres. Once in place, he switched on the cortical activator. “Damned if I know what kept him alive. Hypothermia maybe? Or maybe just his overall cyborg design. It wouldn’t surprise me if---“

“Peter,” Ling said imploringly. “Think. He’s supposed to be dead.”

“You make it sound like divine judgment. Someone strangled him. There’s nothing predestined about that.” Slowly, he began to increase the stimulation to the cerebral cortex.

“The military sold you his body, because they thought that he was safely dead.” She tried to keep her voice calm. Her lover would be persuaded with reason not emotion. “He was on a prison shuttle. They were going to lock him up, weren’t they? Weren’t they? Probably for the rest of his life to make sure that he didn’t do what the psycho in Mare Crisium did. If you bring him back to life, what does he have to look forward to? He will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

“No he won’t.”

“What?”

“He won’t go to prison, because I won’t tell them that he has been revived and neither will you. Honestly, Ling, I can’t believe that you’re trying to talk me into letting this man die. We aren’t gods. We don’t have the right to make that kind of decision for other people---

Ling screamed as the young man on the table twitched and jerked. “Oh God, he’ll kill us all!”

“If you’re going to cause a scene, please leave,” O’Leary said coolly, as he began strapping the shaking body down on the exam table. “If you want to help, you can look through that cabinet in the corner by the door. Second drawer from the bottom there is a blue plastic case about so big. “ He held up his hands. “No, don’t open it. Just bring it over here. It’s perfectly safe. He’s just had a seizure. As long as he is postictal, the worst he will do is urinate on himself.” He flashed her a grin that was meant to be disarming, but with his magnifying goggles and his hair standing up around his head stiff with perspiration, he looked more like a mad scientist.

Ling thrust the blue plastic case into his hand and darted from the room.

“Silly girl,” O’Leary muttered under his breath, as he opened the case and selected the item he wanted. It was a prototype of his own design, a neuroregulatory implant created to suppress Id alter personalities of the assassin subtype. He had begun working on it after the mass murders in Mare Crisium. The military had declined to test it, even when he had offered it to them at no charge---bloody bureaucrats!--- however fortune had dropped a test subject in his lap. He was not about to let this opportunity go to waste.

He strapped on a gas mask. Humming a nursery rhyme, he inserted a scalpel alongside pre-existing hardware behind the right mastoid. It was a reservoir for nerve gas which could be released by a predetermined series of ocular muscle contractions. The assassin would have been inoculated against the toxin, but the doctor had no immunity, which was why he wore the mask. So calm and precise were his movements that he succeeded in removing the implanted weapon without discharging its dose of toxin. He bagged the nerve gas delivery device, which could be sold later for a nice profit and then cleaned out the implant site. As he had hoped, it was exactly the right size for his prototype disc.

The whole procedure took fifteen minutes. By the time the young man began to come around from his seizure, all memory of his career as an assassin was twice forgotten, once by his own volition and again thanks to the miracle of medical science.

O’Leary checked his patient’s life signs. “Stable. Now all I have to do is remove the rest of your hardware and think of a new name and identity for you. How does Adam sound?”

****

Adam was cleaning the air filters in the living quarters, when Ling switched the entertainment system to a documentary about the ongoing civil war in the Arctic Archipelago. She watched the doctor’s servant from under cover of her bangs---today’s look was China Doll. He tried valiantly to fight his rising panic, but when the announcer began to describe the carnage from improvised explosives, he dropped his brush and darted from the room, making it as far as the corridor before he fell to his knees and began vomiting.

O’Leary looked up from his vid-book. “Stop that!” he snapped at his lover.

“Just checking to make sure the alter supressor still works,” Ling said under her breath. She switched to one of the shopping channels. The model was demonstrating the latest in reflexology footwear. “He’s going to kill us in our beds one of these days.”

“He’s a gentle as a kitten! Timid to a fault. I need to turn down the behavioral conditioning settings.”

She dug her pink lacquered fingernails into her lover’s forearm. “Don’t you dare!”

They were still arguing when Adam returned. He had changed clothes and cleaned up the mess in the hall, but the air still smelled faintly sour. “Sorry,” he said sheepishly. “I don’t know what got into me.”

“Never mind,” the doctor said in his best avuncular manner. “It isn’t as if you have any control over it.”

The servant shuffled his bare feet nervously. “Have you been able to find out anything about my past? That might explain my panic attacks?”

“Not a thing,” O’Leary lied smoothly. “But I’ll keep checking. In the meantime, take the tranquilizers and listen to the tape I gave you before you go to sleep each night.”

Adam nodded his head vigorously. “I will.” Impulsively he grabbed the doctor’s hand. “Thank you for trying to help me. I know I’m nothing but trouble.”

“Not at all. You’re a great help around the house.”

“I wish I could do more in the lab. But the sight of blood---“ He turned pale at the thought.

“All in good time, my boy, all in good time.” The doctor ruffled his hair fondly.

Beaming, Adam returned to his task, scraping the lint from the filter as if there was nothing in the world that he would rather be doing. While he was not exactly sure what he used to do before arriving on Luna or why he had chosen to leave earth, he considered himself fortunate to have found a job with someone like Doctor O’Leary, who was tolerant of his illness.

The doctor said his mental disorder was the result of his close brush with death. When he woke after three days in a coma, Adam was covered in bandages, with no memory of who he was or how he had come to be on the moon. No one on the shuttle had witnessed the attack upon his life, but the bruises on his neck indicated that someone had tried to strangle the life from him. Lack of oxygen to the brain could have damaged nerve cells in his brain which would explain the lost memories. The events surrounding his injuries could have given him an acute case of post traumatic stress disorder, which would explain why he trembled and vomited anytime he saw blood or heard someone describe a scene of violence. The rest of his injuries, the cuts on his arms, legs, chest, neck, scalp indicated that whoever had attacked him must have been a very sick, violent individual. Were the lacerations made before he lost consciousness? Mercifully, he had no memory of being tortured with a knife, but just looking at the livid scars that dotted his body was enough to make him weak in the legs.

He was so lucky that the doctor had found him. Under his care, Adam was making slow but steady gains. Just yesterday, he had managed to dispose of fish heads without fainting at the sight of their cold, dead eyes. However, there were still a few things nagging at him. He wished he knew more about his past. What memories he had were vague. He recalled his parents but they seemed to disappear from his life when he was young. One memory seemed particularly vivid, his own face plastered up against the glass of a bullet train as it was pulling away from the station, his mother reaching out towards him, her face contorted in sorrow, his father restraining her. It might mean nothing. Perhaps he was leaving for his first day of school or to visit relatives. But if it was something so little, why did the recollection open such a well of grief within him? Was it possible that he had been kidnapped? Was there a train accident? Maybe he was separated from his family, because he was injured, and his current problems stemmed from that trauma and not from what happened to him in the Lunar shuttle.

There was a gap where his middle childhood should be, and then he was an adult. He had lived a prosperous life on earth, with a luxurious apartment, an elegant, surgically augmented mistress—but he had no idea what he did to afford such wealth. Or why he chose to give up a life of privilege to come to Luna where he apparently knew no one and had no job prospects.

If he could recall the events leading up to the attack on the shuttle, that might help him fill in the blanks. However, the simple act of contemplating the cold reality that someone had wanted him dead was enough to reduce him to a quivering mass of human jelly.

The only time he found peace was when he slept. Perhaps it was the sleeping pills or maybe it was the tape he listened to each night before going to bed. Once his head hit the pillow and he drifted to sleep, the tension that coiled like a serpent in his guts left him, and he spent the night blissfully free of fear. Even his dreams did not have the power to alarm him, not while he was living them. Awake, he could not bear to think about anything violent, but in his dreams, he witnessed and even acted out the most violent acts with a sense of serenity that his waking self found hard to reconcile.

“People often seek to confront their personal demons in their nightmares,” the doctor had informed him. “In the landscape of our own creation, we learn to master that which we fear.”

The doctor seemed to know everything, but in this one matter, Adam had his doubts. These were not nightmares, and there was never a feeling of conflict or danger. It never occurred to him to ask “What am I doing here?” Faced with challenges that would have daunted the waking Adam, his dream self plowed forward, ever resourceful, never cowed. No matter what obstacle stood in his way, a solution always presented itself.

Sometimes, he could not help but admire the dreaming Adam more than the timid, cowering person that he was in real life. It was so embarrassing when he did things like vomit at the sound of a slammed door or piss himself at the sight of blood.

He had to hurry up and get better. Eventually even the doctor’s patience would begin to wear thin. Adam feared his disapproval more than anything, which was why he had not told him about a new phobia that he had only recently noticed. At first, he thought it was his imagination, since this type of panic attack made no sense. But it had occurred four times in as many days, and it manifested itself again as Adam passed behind the doctor’s chair on his way out of the room and happened to glance over his shoulder.

O’Leary was reading a vid-book about the history of Helium 3 mining on Luna. The young man paused. It was an extremely dry, boring tome written in highly technical jargon with the most unexciting graphs and diagrams imaginable---and every time Adam started to listen to the text’s simulated voice drone about lunar mining, he began to shake uncontrollably, as if someone was holding a knife to his throat.

O’Leary noticed his discomfort. “You should lie down for a while. Listen to the tape. Take a nap. Are you still having those dreams we talked about?”

Adam gnawed at his lower lip. He hated to lie to the doctor, but he also disliked disappointing him, and O’Leary always grew concerned when his servant described any of his more violent dreams.

He debated his answer too long. The doctor took his silence as a negative. “Good. I told you the tranquilizers would help. Go on. You can finish cleaning later. Ling and I aren’t so delicate that we’ll drop dead from breathing a little dust.”

It was a bad choice of words. The image of Doctor O’Leary and his mistress falling over dead set off a particularly bad attack. Palms sweating, stomach churning, Adam fled. He felt his way along the corridor to the small room at the end of the hall where he slept. There, he fell across his bed and slapped on a headset. The familiar soothing music began to play. A woman’s voice spoke into his left ear.

“Close your eyes. You are alone in a room without doors or windows. There is no way in or out. You are perfectly safe. Before you there are five candles. As I count down, you will snuff them one at a time. Five. Four. Three. Breathe. Two.…”

****

Breakfast in bed was one of Ling’s passions. Since Adam’s arrival, she had been able to indulge to her heart’s content. Surprisingly, the former assassin was an excellent cook. Today, he had prepared a full Japanese style morning meal with miso soup, salad, steamed rice, smoked fish, pickled plums and green tea with a single jasmine blossom floating in the porcelain cup all presented on a lacquer tray with a linen napkin.

“He has his uses,” O’Leary challenged her to admit, his eyes taking in the feast over the cup of the cappuccino which was his usual morning meal.

She shrugged. Her silk robe shifted, revealing a round, white shoulder decorated with a small shooting star tattoo. “I’ll be nice and fat when he carves me up.”

“He can tell you don’t like him. He asked me yesterday what he’s done to make you unhappy.”

“Did you tell him the truth? That he’s a walking time bomb, and I don’t want to be near him when he goes boom ?” She sipped her miso. It was delicious. And the fish was smoked to perfection. What a shame they made the young man into a psychotic killing machine. He could have been a first rate chef.

“You should have more faith in me. The alter suppressor is working exactly as it’s supposed to.”

She feigned surprise. “The poor boy is supposed to act like a school girl every time someone raises their voice or he sees a drop of blood? It’s pathetic. He’s going to end up an emotional wreck. Multiple personalities will be the least of his problems.” She sat down the lacquer bowl and leaned forward to check her mail. “My sister wants to come visit.”

“No!”

“Her husband has been cheating on her. With an android of all things.” She covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh my god! An android cat-girl! He tried to bring it home.”

“I’m not having that woman in this house.”

“We can’t have visitors,” she agreed. “Not with Adam here. I’ll tell her that you’re doing an experiment with dangerous biologic weapons. It’s true. What’s this?” She opened the file. The hand which was reaching for her teacup fumbled, and she splashed tea across the bed linen. Her voice was shrill with alarm. “Peter! Come look at this!”

The image on the holo was Ling, but her features had been altered. The flesh and hair from the left side of her face had been peeled away, revealing the muscles and cartilage beneath the skin.

“Who would send such a thing?” she demanded. Automatically, she clicked on the accompanying message.

“Don’t!” her lover warned.

“I want to know who did it. What a stupid, childish---“

The holo image began to change. The eyes widened. The lips drew back from the teeth in a lifelike grimace. A silent scream erupted from the mouth. The remaining skin blistered and bubbled away, then the muscle blackened and dissolved, leaving a grinning skeleton.

A second face appeared, that of middle aged man with a deep brown complexion, heavy eyebrows and a bulbous nose. “Ling, darling, tell the doctor I want my soldiers. If he knows what’s good for you both, he’ll get to work on it. Ciao, sweetie.”

Ling bounded to her feet, upsetting her breakfast tray. “What’s this all about? What kind of trouble are you in now, Peter?” She jabbed her lover with a long lacquered nail. “What kind of trouble have you gotten me into?”

He arched his back to protect his face. “Calm down! He’s just some arms smuggling

hoodlum.”

“I know who Jimmy Soros is. I used to date him. Why is he sending me threatening mail?”

“Silly git bought a couple of pieces of Adam’s weaponry on the black market. He’s convinced that I can get my hands on more, and he wants me to install them in his thugs. When he couldn’t bribe me, he tried to persuade me with threats. He’s nothing. A schoolyard bully.”

She peered up at her lover, her eyes narrowed to slits. “If he’s no threat, why did you beef up the house security? Don’t try to tell me it’s just a coincidence .”

“I’ll admit that our…conversation reminded me that it was past time for me to upgrade security. However, a basic motion sensor array with a half dozen laser cannons is more than enough to take care of petty criminals like him.”

“I saw the inventory. You installed a lot more than motion sensors and laser cannons.” She crossed her arms over her ample bosom. Tapping one silk slipper against the floor, she regarded O’Leary coolly. “There’s something you aren’t telling me. Spit it out.”

He sighed. “You know me too well, Ling. I did it, because I think someone is after Adam.”

Ling’s eyes widened comically. “Did I hear you right? You upgraded security to protect your pet? Not to protect me, the woman you love or even to save your own skin. No, you want to make sure that Adam is safe and sound, so that when he finally flips his lid and murders us in our beds, he is in excellent physical condition.” She turned and began throwing open drawers.

“What are you doing?” O’Leary demanded.

“Packing!” she exclaimed. “I’m going to go stay with my sister, and I hope you and your precious Adam are very happy together until he cuts your throat. And I won’t cry at your funeral.” She spoiled the effect of this pronouncement by bursting into tears.

O’Leary put his arms around her. “Hush, Ling. There’s nothing to cry about. You’re perfectly safe. You know I would never let anything happen to you.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled Ling close to him. She put up a token struggle, before crawling onto his lap and throwing her arms around his neck.

“I wish you would pay half as much attention to me as you do to your experiments,” she sniffed, brushing away tears.

“You know I couldn’t live without you.”

I know it, but sometimes I think you forget. So, tell me. What kind of trouble is Adam in?”

The doctor glanced towards the door to assure himself that it was closed. “You know about Armstrong Enterprises, right?”

“Helium 3, sure. They hire more people on Luna that all the other mining companies put together.”

“A private contractor working for Armstrong Enterprises has been in contact with me, asking questions about Adam. When I told him that Adam had already been recycled, he asked for Adam’s data recorder.”

“Adam has something in his data recorder that Armstrong Enterprise’s wants?”

“So it would seem.”

“Did you check it?”

“I can’t. The data’s encrypted using an EEG code that Adam is apparently incapable of producing in his suppressed state. He tried for hours to unlock it, and all he got was a headache. In order to unlock the encryption, he needs to access his alter, which would mean turning down the suppressor---”

“Don’t!”

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to jeopardize the results of my experiment at this point. However, I want to know what is in that data recorder before I turn it over to Armstrong Enterprises.”

“So you’re going to give it to them?”

“Of course. Once we negotiate a fair price. And once my curiosity is satisfied.”

“Have you thought about asking Adam if he knows why Armstrong is interested in him?” Ling suggested.

“That was the first thing I tried.”

“No luck?” she guessed.

“I don’t know if you have noticed, but Adam has a panic attack whenever the topic of lunar mining comes up.”

“Adam has a panic attack whenever he sees his own shadow.”

“Don’t exaggerate. Lunar mining is a sore subject with him. As best I can guess, Adam learned something about Armstrong Enterprises while in his assassin persona, and now the topic is tainted by association. Mention lunar mining, and it calls up suppressed memories of ---“

A knock at the door interrupted their conversation. Adam popped his head into the room. When he saw the overturned tray on the bed, he hurried in to clean up the mess.

“Adam,” Ling asked abruptly. “What do you know about Helium 3 mining?”

The young man dropped to his knees clutching his stomach as if he had just been punched in the gut.

“See?” O’Leary said. “I told you.”

Adam gazed up at them through a haze of dizziness and nausea. Ling was a dark blob in her midnight blue silk kimono with her black hair streaming down her back. The doctor stood tall and imposing, a godlike figure with his head backlit and his features veiled in shadow.

“Please,” Adam begged. “I think I’m losing my mind. Help me.” He clutched at the doctor’s leg. “I can’t go on like this.”

O’Leary’s hand was reassuringly warm and firm on the back of his neck. “You’re doing fine, Adam. It’s just a little set back. Here, give me your arm. I’ll help you to your room. Ling, please fetch a 25 mg dose of Tranqual from my office. That will help you get some rest,” he assured the younger man.

“Is it safe for me to take so many drugs?” Adam asked nervously.

“Trust me,” O’Leary said. “I’m a doctor. I know what I’m doing.”

****

O’Leary and Ling had gone to a performance of the New Peking Opera, leaving Adam alone in the house, when the two stealth suited intruders surprised the young man in the kitchen. He was chopping bok choy for the evening meal, but he did not even consider using the eight inch surgically sharp blade as a weapon. With a girlish scream, he dropped the knife, covered his head with his arms and collapsed on the floor, gibbering.

“This him?” asked the first of the two burglars to remove his helmet. He was a middle aged man with radiation scarred skin and a shiny bald pate that reflected the grow-lights that hung above the kitchen herb garden.

A second, younger man with a pale complexion and protuberant pink eyes tossed aside his helmet and consulted a holo image generator. “Sure looks like him.” He stared down at Adam, who was curled up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position. “He doesn’t act like an Id assassin.”

“Boss says he’s broken. He doesn’t remember that he’s a killer.” The older thug kicked Adam hard in the groin. “See? Nothing. As helpless as a baby. Let’s find that data recorder and bag this guy and get outta here before----“ He clutched his throat. His face turned from pink to blue.

His partner, who was standing a few feet away, sniffed the air. With his pale skin, and his small, red tinged eyes, he looked like a tall, lean rat. “Is something burning?” He searched the kitchen for the source of the fumes. Finally, his eyes came to rest on the dark young man who had crawled a few feet and was now cowering beneath an imitation wooden table. The Id looked scared enough to piss himself, but it was not urine that was responsible for the odor that filled the air with an acrid, throat burning, eye watering stench. White gas was pouring from his left nostril.

“Sonofabitch!” the younger of the two burglars managed to gasp as he fumbled for his helmet. His partner was already down on the floor. The albino knew that his only hope was to get a clean air supply and try to figure out what kind of gas the two of them had been exposed to before it had a chance to do permanent damage. However, his fingers felt like sausages. And who had turned up the gravity and slowed down time? And why the hell wasn’t the Id showing any effects from the gas that was pouring from his nostril and coiling around his own head like cigarette smoke? Was he a monster? A fire breathing dragon?

Consumed by the rising panic that was part of the effect of the gas, the albino stumbled against the table. His fingers encountered the kitchen knife. Clutching it with both hands, he made a wild dive towards the Id.

****

O’Leary knew that something was wrong as soon as he entered the house. Adam should have been there to greet him like an eager puppy, with a gin and tonic in one hand for the doctor and something sweet with an umbrella in the other for Ling. A quick check of the house security log confirmed his worst fears---two people had entered while he was gone, using the security codes that only he and Ling knew. He did a rapid scan of the house expecting to find it empty. To his surprise, the sensors read the vital signs a single person in the kitchen, along with dangerously high levels of mercaptoserlyne gas.

He relaxed. A slow, satisfied smile spread across his face.

Ling attempted to peer over her lover’s shoulder at the security gauges. “ What’s that?” She tapped at the chromatograph display with a black lacquered nail.

“Poison.” The doctor studied her face carefully. “The kitchen is full of poison gas. I’ll have to vent it, before we go inside.” He started the necessary operations.

Ling wore too much makeup for her face to betray her emotions. However, her hands shook a little as she unbuttoned her faux seal skin coat and laid it aside. “How did poison get in our kitchen?”

O’Leary knew exactly how the MCS gas got in the kitchen, but he feigned ignorance. He kept one eye on the air gauge and the other on his mistress. “It’s safe now,” he said finally. He grabbed Ling by the upper arm. “Come.”

“Why do I need to come?” she demanded, digging her four inch spiked heels into the carpet.

The doctor’s smile did not extend to his eyes. “Because you orchestrated this mess, my dear.”

Ling protested her innocence all the way to the kitchen but to no avail. She finally shut up, when the door slid open, revealing a scene of carnage.

Adam had collapsed in the far corner of the room. He was covered with blood, and at first glance appeared to be dead. However, a cursory check of his vital signs showed that he was healthy though unconscious. The blood came from a superficial laceration on his forehead, probably made by a chopping knife clutched in the hands of one of the dead men who lay nearby. O’Leary did not recognize either of the intruders, who wore stealth suits of the type used by burglars to confuse motion and heat sensors. Their helmets indicated that they had arrived at the house by traveling across country rather than by the usual system of pressurized, air filled tunnels that connected the suburban mansions to the city dome. Both men were dead, and from the quick examination that he was able to perform in the kitchen without instruments, they appeared to have been dead for about one to two hours. There were no signs of trauma. Death from poisoning was the most likely cause.

Adam stirred. His eyelids fluttered. When he opened his eyes and saw the doctor’s face, he stretched out his hands. “Doctor, thank god! I thought I was going to die.”

When she saw that the Id was still alive, Ling screamed.

At the sound of her terror filled scream, Adam screamed.

Ling fainted.

Adam fainted.

O’Leary backed away from Adam, just in case the MCS reservoir was not empty. Though logic told him that fear should not cause it to discharge, he could not be absolutely sure that pain from the wound on the young man’s forehead, though minor, might not present an ongoing danger. Better to return with safety garments and a mask and a medkit in case he needed to sedate his patient.

He gathered up Ling’s limp body on his way out of the kitchen. He had no intention of leaving her to die from poison fumes, even if she occasionally did stupid things like this. There were few women in the world he could tolerate, and even fewer women who could put up with his many idiosyncrasies. For better or worse, they were made for each other.

Too late, it occurred to him that if Ling had given the security codes of the house to someone, that someone might be wondering why his two thugs had not returned with the prize. The doctor was halfway to the main computer to change the codes, when the front door burst open and Jimmy Soros stormed in, flanked by two of his lieutenants, identical Pacific Islander twins.

The Greek was a little man who had managed to add six inches of height with femur implants and shoe lifts, but he had never lost his air of overcompensation. “What did you do with my men!” he demanded, jabbing the doctor in the chest with a short, fat index finger.

O’Leary pulled himself up to his full height, because he knew that it would piss Soros off. “I didn’t do anything to them. They were dead when I got home. Mind telling me what they were doing in my kitchen?”

“Ask her.” Soros pointed at Ling. “She’s the one that said Armstrong Enterprises is willing to pay a pretty penny for that broken Id assassin and his data box. Why the hell you want to keep a defective Id around for? Don’t you know what that tailor did in Mare Crissium?” He patted Ling on the cheek. “Hey baby. Wake up. It’s me. Jimmy.”

“Don’t touch her!” The doctor hugged Ling more tightly against his chest. She began to stir.

“Why shouldn’t I touch her?” Soros replied, standing on tiptoe, his chest thrust out like a rooster. “Someone needs to look after her. You have her scared shitless, keeping that killer in your house. I told her I would take him off your hands. Where is he?”

Ling opened her eyes. “The kitchen. Be careful. He still has some kind of weapon that shoots poison gas.” She glared at O’Leary. “You told me you removed all his implants.”

“All the ones I could safely remove, with the equipment I have in my lab. The poison gas device in his sella tursica was too deeply embedded for me to extract without a full neurosurgical operating suite. I didn’t think it would be a problem leaving it in place, since it was only programmed to discharge if Adam was physically damaged.”

The two lieutenants paused in mid step on their way out the room. “Is he armed or isn’t he, boss?” asked one of the twins.

“Hell if I know.” Soros pointed at the doctor. “You stay here. Ling, you go get the Id. He knows you. Tell him whatever you have to tell him to make him trust us, ok? Tell him I’m his long lost friend.”

“But, what if----?”

Soros pulled out a flashy gold gun and pointed it at the doctor’s head. “Go.”

Ling uttered a stifled squeak and ran from the room.

O’Leary looked coolly down the barrel of the plasma gun. “If you are planning to sell him to Armstrong Enterprises, you won’t get anything unless you bring them his data recorder, too.”

“That’s right. Lily mentioned that. Where is the recorder?”

“In my lab.”

Soros snapped his fingers at his lieutenants. “Go get it.”

“They won’t be able to get into the lab. The lock on the door has an EEG encryption, retinal scan and voice recognition devise.”

“Man, you sure are a cautious bastard,” Soros remarked, frowning. “Don’t you trust Ling? No, I guess you wouldn’t.” He grinned, revealing a gold tooth embedded with an emerald.

“You had better put that away.” O’Leary indicated the gun. “If Adam sees that, he is liable to have another fit.”

“Sure thing.” Soros slipped it in his pocket. “It’s still aimed at you, so don’t try anything funny.”

By this time, Ling had returned with Adam, who appeared slightly less like the walking dead now that she had blotted most of the blood from his face and arms with a damp kitchen towel. However, he was still pale and shaken. His dark hair was plastered to his scalp with sweat, and his clothes were blood stained.

Adam was so relieved to see the doctor that he broke into tears. “I don’t know what happened. I was in the kitchen, making supper, and two men burst in. One of them kicked me, and then….and then….” Just thinking about it made him sick. He double over and vomited on the carpet.

The doctor helped him to his feet. Using his handkerchief, he wiped the mucous and flecks of food from Adam’s face. “Steady, my boy.” A frown of worry creased his brow.

“This is the Id, huh?” Soros made a sour face. “I’d rather someone shot me than do me like this. Disusting!”

“He’s your friend, boss,” one of the twin lieutenants reminded him in a whisper.

“Trust,” the other added quietly.

“This is the man I was telling you about,” Ling told Adam. “Jimmy Soros. Don’t be afraid. He’s here to help you.”

Adam and Soros were about the same height. The younger man approached the Greek cautiously, glancing once over his shoulder at the doctor to make sure that it was alright. “Ling said that you used to know me on earth. She said you can help me fill in the blanks in my memory.”

The little man’s eyes widened then narrowed. “That’s right kid. I’ve been looking all over for you. I’m going to take you to meet some more of your friends from earth. But first we have to get your data recorder.” He moved closer to O’Leary and pressed the pocketed gun against his ribs.

At the door to the lab, O’Leary pretended to submit to a complicated series of scans. When Ling opened her mouth to ask what he was doing, he gave her a withering look.

“I’ll be just a minute,” he said.

“Oh no you don’t,” Soros replied slyly. He followed the doctor into the lab. “Everyone inside. There’s plenty of room in here.”

His expression grim, O’Leary picked up a box labeled “Adam” and removed a small, stainless steel disc, roughly the diameter of a human eyeball but paper thin. “Come here for a minute, Adam.”

“That’s the data recorder?” Soros asked.

“It goes here,” the doctor replied. He laid his hand on the back of Adam’s neck, forcing his head forward, exposing the mastoid bone behind the ear, where there was a barely discernable groove. “Relax,” he murmured, as he felt the young man tense. “This won’t hurt a bit” The metal disc slid easily in place.

Adam looked from the doctor to Soros and the twins and then back to the doctor. He followed O’Leary’s gaze to the outline of the gun in the Greek’s pocket. The tension left his body. His upper lip twitched in the merest hint of a smile. “Thanks,” he murmured. “I feel much better now. Like my old self.”

For the first time since the incident with the burglars, Adam seemed relaxed. He let go of the doctor’s arm and stood a short distance away, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, his eyes half closed as if he was he was listening to some music that only he could hear. However, from beneath his thick lashes, his dark eyes watched every move of the Greek and the Pacific Island twins

Now that things had calmed down a little, Ling felt that she needed to say something to her lover, to make him understand why she had done what she did. “Peter,” she murmured so softly that only he could hear. She stood on tiptoe and locked her hands around the back of the doctor’s neck. Gazing up into his eyes with what she hoped was a contrite expression, she whispered “I did it for you as much as for me. If a big company like Armstrong Enterprises wants something, there is no way that ordinary people like us can fight them. And this way, we get Jimmy off our backs---“

O’Leary’s arm tightened around her waist. “Shhh,” he whispered into her hair. “Cross your fingers and hope that this doesn’t go horribly wrong.”

“What---?” She twisted her head to peer over her shoulder. It happened so quickly that she almost missed it.

Adam moved forward as if to pass by Jimmy Soros. His swinging arm brushed the Greek’s jacket. Soros’s eyes widened and his mouth opened in a scream.

The two lieutenants moved as one, converging on their employer as he crumpled to the floor clutching his belly where a twenty centimeter plasma burn allowed blood and intestine to spill to the floor.

“Oh my god!” one of them shouted. “Boss shot himself!” He tried to staunch the flow of blood and guts with his bare hands, however he was distracted when his brother’s brains splattered across his upturned face. Only then did he notice that the Id assassin—the supposedly broken Id assassin was holding the Boss’s special gold plated plasma gun, pointing it at his face. Before he could reach for his own weapon, his head exploded. The skull was not designed to expand, so it tended to react violently when the intracranial contents were suddenly heated to the boiling point.

Adam stood over the two headless corpses and the one still moaning, writhing body. He aimed the plasma gun at Soros’s head. “Alive or dead?” he asked.

O’Leary considered the question for a moment. “I don’t know who---if anyone---- he has talked to at Armstrong Enterprises.”

Adam switched on the safety and lifted the Greek onto the examination table with the ease of someone newly arrived from Earth. “Alive it is. If you are going to question him, you had better hurry up. Gut shot at close range, he won’t last long without medical attention.”

A dose of painkiller brought the Greek back to some semblance of sanity. An amp of Restrol and another of Cardime created something like cardiovascular stability in his shocky body. It was an illusion. Nothing short of total abdominal evacuation and a full gastrointestinal and renal transplant would save his life. However, it would take him many hours to become toxic.

Soros looked from Adam to O’Leary then back to Adam. “What did he do to you? What did he put in you?”

The Id assassin touched the bone behind his ear where the doctor had inserted the disc. “A damper, I imagine. The real question is what did you put in me that had to be dampened?”

“Later,” the doctor said impatiently. To Soros, “Who did you talk to at Armstrong Enterprises? What kind of bargain did you make?”

“No one. I talked to no one. I didn’t have any deal.”

The monitors which might have checked the Greek’s answers for accuracy were useless with the pain and blood pressure medication that he had been given. However, the Id assassin had his own way of judging whether or not people were telling the truth.

Soros swallowed and tried to turn his head away but he was strapped down to the table.. When Adam placed his hands on either side of his head, his fingertips resting lightly on the Greek’s temples, shudders racked the little man’s body, even though the pain medication had made him numb. He was someone who had stood up to the meanest, toughest bad guys on Luna, but he would have pissed himself if he had a working bladder. What was it about this Id that made him so scared? How could this be the same guy who screamed like a girl and vomited all over the floor?

He found himself babbling in his eagerness to spill the truth. “No way I would call anyone at Armstrong before hand. What if they figured out my plan and beat me here? That would be just like them, to try to cut me out. I figured I would come in with the codes Ling gave me and snatch the guy and the data box and be out of here. It was supposed to be easy money. She didn’t say anything about him being a freaking monster….”

Adam removed his fingers from Soros’s temples.

O’Leary raised an eyebrow. “Did I miss a truth serum delivery system under your nails?”

“Nothing so crude. Simple hypnosis. Can I kill him now?”

“Be my guest.”

****

“How did you know that my Id alter was still functioning?” Adam asked, as he and O’Leary finished composting the last of the five corpses and returned to the lab. Ling was upstairs in the room which she shared with the doctor, sleeping. O’Leary had given her a sedative, to help calm her down. She had not taken the cold blooded killing of her old boyfriend well, even after the doctor explained that it was a mercy killing and that Jimmy Soros was already as good as dead from the abdominal wound he had received.

“I didn’t.”

“Then why did you put the damper in?”

The doctor looked slightly embarrassed. “I couldn’t send you off to who knows what kind of treatment at the hands of Soros and his goons with the alter suppressor in place. The way you reacted to anything threatening or violent, it would have been grossly inhumane.”

Adam snorted. “And what you did to me wasn’t?”

“I’m a doctor! I was doing it for your own good!”

“Like hell you were! I was just another one of your experiments.” He glared up at the doctor. “I want this alter suppressor out.”

“Later. After I have a chance to observe you for a while and assure myself that you really are recovered---What are you doing with that scalpel? Stop that!”

Adam held the tip of the blade poised against his skull behind his ear, at the site where the damper had been inserted. “The suppressor is in here, right? If I muck around in here with a blade, I ought to be able to hit it.”

“That’s a valuable piece of hardware!”

“You’re supposed to say ‘That’s dangerous! You’ll hurt yourself!’ Some doctor you are.” Adam laid down the scalpel. Giving the doctor a sly, sideling glance he said “If you take the suppressor out, I’ll tell you why Armstrong Enterprises is after me and my data recorder.”

“Tell me, Adam!”

“After you take it out. And for your information, my name is Mikhal, not Adam. Christ, you must have some kind of god complex, naming me that.”

“I do not---!” O’Leary protested.

“Don’t interrupt. My code name is Michael the Archangel. I mention it in case you ever have to summon my assassin alter again.”

“You emerged fast enough when I put in the damper.”

“Because Soros was pointing a gun at us. Danger, pain, loss of consciousness or any prearranged signal will trigger an alter change. My non-assassin alter has no idea what I do for a living. He doesn’t even know why I am here on the moon, since I was in working mode when I came here. That thing you planted in my head drove my assassin alter into hiding. However, I know everything that the other me knows, so I know all about your weird experiments.” His eyes burned. He grabbed the doctor’s collar and lifted him from the floor. “It was damn lucky for all of us that you got soft hearted and decided to insert the damper. Otherwise, I would be on my way to Armstrong Enterprises, and everything I know about the bastards would be lost.”

“And you know what exactly?” demanded the doctor, trying his best to maintain his dignity with his feet dangling three inches off the floor.

”First the alter suppressor comes out, then I tell you what you want to know.” Mikhal released the doctor.

O’Leary rubbed his throat. He liked Adam much better than this cocky little killer. “What if my hand slips, and you go into a coma?”

“Then you’ll never know what Armstrong was so desperate to get their hands on, and curiosity will drive you mad. So, you better make sure your hands are steady.”

Grumbling under his breath, O’Leary pulled out a surgical tray. “Get on the table.” He picked up a syringe.

“No anesthesia,” Mikhal said. His grip on the doctor’s wrist was like iron. “It’s not that I don’t trust you,” he said grinning. “But I know you too well to trust you.”

“Smart ass. This is going to hurt like hell,“ the doctor warned.

“I’m an assassin. I’m good with pain.”

Scar tissue has grown up around the suppressor, but after a great deal of tugging, the doctor was able to extract it in one piece, along with the damper. Mikhal’s expression did not change during the procedure. He might have been Ling, having her nails done at her favorite salon.

“I’ll let you rest,” O’Leary told the assassin as he slapped a dressing on the wound. “Tell me when you’ve recovered enough---“

Mikhal sat up. “I’m fine. Where is my data recorder?”

“In the blue box.” O’Leary indicated the receptacle with his elbow. He was busy sterilizing the prototype suppressor and damper. He was quite pleased with his invention. He would have to fine tune the aversion settings before he could market it---no one could be expected to endure voluntarily what Adam had endured as part of the experiment---but all in all the device showed great promise.

The young man rummaged through the box. “Where?”

“In the contact lens case, where else?”

“Gotcha.” Mikhal opened the case and slid out the Plasticyne disc. Smaller than the tip of his little finger, it fit easily over the cornea of his left eye. Once in place, he need only generate alpha waves to unlock the device and view the images which were stored on it.

“You said you would show me,” O’Leary reminded him.

“Right. Where’s your amplifier?”

The doctor tossed him a pair of goggles.

The image which Mikhal was viewing appeared on the holo. “Give me some context,” O’Leary said. “What are we looking at?”

“Context.” Mikhal rolled the word on his tongue. “The context is I was hired to kill a woman by Asia Power and Light. While I was doing the deed, she managed to download this information in my data storage. Ordinarily, I dump any documents my targets pass on to me. It’s usually emotional baggage. Messages to next of kin, stuff like that.

“However, there was something about this target that bothered me. The assignment had been vetted by my superior at military intelligence, but I knew he took bribes, and the target was a scientist, not the usual double agent or corporate spy.

“So, when I got home, before I switched alters, I reviewed the documents. And look at what I found.”

O’Leary shook his head at the stream of figures and names that scrolled by. “I still don’t understand what we are looking at.”

“Ok, how about this one.” The raw data was replaced with a report marked “EO” Eyes Only.

“Sweet Jesus!” the doctor exclaimed after he read it.

“Exactly,” Mikhal said dryly.

“The safety data they gave the public about the solar wind collection panels they are building over Luna is a crock of shit.”

After years of strip mining, the moon’s supply of the valuable fusion material, Helium 3 was slowly being depleted. Therefore Armstrong Enterprises had designed a massive system of solar wind collectors that would capture the mineral in space, funnel it to the moon, where it could be collected and shipped to earth.

Environmentalists had protested the project from its inception, insisting that it would increase radiation exposure, already a major health problem for lunar residents. Lacking an atmosphere to trap dangerous solar radiation, the moon was plagued by premature aging, cancer, chromosome abnormalities and birth defects. The solar wind collectors, it was argued, would only exacerbate this problem.

After years of debate, Armstrong had tested a prototype solar wind collector and pronounced it a success. However, according to this document and the accompanying data, the prototype had been a failure. The material collected and funneled to the moon was so dangerously charged that the miners who handled it and the workers who maintained the collection and processing machinery had a small but definite

increase in solar sicknesses. Even people living in the proximity of the solar wind collector showed ill effects.

Once the final collection system was built, it would only be a matter of time before people living and working around the Helium 3 mine began to get sick. However, by then it would be too late to do anything about it. Earth was greedy for its fusion fuels. A few thousand more Lunar deaths from cancer a year would seem an acceptable loss for the people of Terra. The rise in mutant births would be written off the same way. There were be debates about whether the increase in disease was due to the collectors or due to lifestyle, and in the meantime nothing would get done.

“After I read this, I knew that I had to let the people of Luna know the truth,” Mikhal said. “Maybe they will learn the risks and decide that it is worth it. Helium 3 brings in a lot of money. A huge chunk of the moon’s economy depends on it. But the people of the moon have a right to make that decision for themselves.” His expression darkened. “I didn’t ask to become an Id. They gave us aptitude tests in school. I scored high on all the right characteristics. Idealism. Dualism. Aggression. Suggestibility. They told my parents it was either enroll me in the Id program or watch me unravel into paranoid schizophrenia….”

The doctor’s voice brought him back to reality. “Let me guess. You pretended to have an alter failure as part of a plot to get to the moon.”

“It was the only way they would let someone like me leave the earth. Especially since

Armstrong suspected that I had learned something. My apartment was bugged. I was being followed.”

“Armstrong tried to have you killed on the shuttle?” O’Leary guessed.

Mikhal shook his head. “No, that was me.”

One eyebrow shot up. “You arranged to have yourself murdered?”

“You misunderstand. I was never attacked. I faked my death. As a malfunctioning Id assassin, I would go to a military brig. If I was locked up in jail, I couldn’t do anyone on Luna any good. I waited until I was on the shuttle, and then I strangled myself. Or rather, I set my body to go into deep hibernation using the trigger of auto-strangulation. I knew that my automatic defribrillator and cortical stimulator would revive me. All I had to do was delay the resuscitation process until we reached the moon. Once there, I assumed they would dump me in a morgue somewhere, and I would quietly revive myself and slip away unnoticed. It never occurred to me that the military would sell me off for parts, or that I would be bought by a mad scientist.”

O’Leary bristled. “Who are you calling a mad scientist?”

“You, you mad scientist.”

“At least I’m not a suicidal split personality psychopath. What kind of idiot strangles himself? What if they had dumped your body into space? Or incinerated you? Hell, only a fool tries to resuscitate on his own. If I hadn’t been there, you could have choked on your own vomit---“

Neither of them noticed that Ling was standing in the doorway of the lab, dressed in a sheer lace negligee, her hair loose , reading the eyes only letter from Armstrong Enterprise. Her hand went to her lips. “This is awful!” She exclaimed. “Are you going to let Armstrong get away with this?” She turned to her lover.

“Certainly not!” he replied automatically. “I know the head of SWU, the Space Workers Union. I made a prosthetic arm for him, after he had a traumatic amputation in an air duct accident. Once he sees this data and shares it with the workers, it should be easy to get them to call a strike to halt work on the solar wind collector.”

Mikhal frowned. “I was going to talk to the head of the Lunar Counsel. Assuming I could get him to meet with me.”

O’Leary gave him a withering look. “You may be good as killing, my boy, but you have no head for intrigue. If Armstrong is building a death machine in orbit around the moon, the first person they will have bribed is the head of the Lunar Counsel. Ling, get Boris Vinklak on the phone. I guess I should invite the heads of the Lunar Mine Workers and the president of the medical college as well. I can say that I am having a poker party in case Armstrong has the line tapped. Adam, we’ll need a light meal for six. Make that seven. You’re the quest of honor.”

“Sorry,” replied the Id assassin. “You’re thinking of my other persona. I don’t know how to cook.”

“No problem. Switch alters. Once the guests arrive, I will summon your assassin persona back. Michael the Archangel, right? I’ll have to make sure that Adam doesn’t become a religious man, otherwise we’ll never know who you are.”

Mikhal glowered up at the doctor. “What makes you think I’m staying after I pass this info on?”

O’Leary gave him a hearty pat on the back. “Where else do you have to go? Don’t forget, Adam’s devoted to me. Even if you leave, he’ll come crawling back. Now run along and don’t forget to change your clothes before you change alters. I don’t want to have to explain those blood stains to Adam.”

Mikhal spluttered in fury. “Do you honestly think I’m going to stay here and clean lint out of your filters forever, you----you---?”

The doctor smiled benignly. “No, you are going to help me with my next project, dissociative identity reintegration. So that we can help all those people who were not given a choice as children have one as adults.”

The End


© 2007 McCamy Taylor

After a number of years as Assistant Short Story Editor for Aphelion and occasional contributor of remarkable short fiction of her own, McCamy was sidelined by illnesses that made prolonged sessions at the keyboard impossible. But now, at last, she's ba-a-ack. She also tells us "I have been doing political cartoons for almost two years and then I started working on my first comic book, Drug Puppies. Only two chapters are done so far..."

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