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Clans of the Alphane Moon

Philip K. Dick



  Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. He briefly attended the University of California, but dropped out before completing any classes. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, in Santa Ana, California, of heart failure following a stroke.


  Clans of the Alphane Moon

  Confessions of a Crap Artist

  The Cosmic Puppets

  Counter-Clock World

  The Crack in Space

  Deus Irae (with Roger Zelazny)

  The Divine Invasion

  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

  Dr. Bloodmoney

  Dr. Futurity

  Eye in the Sky

  Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

  Galactic Pot-Healer

  The Game-Players of Titan

  The Man in the High Castle

  The Man Who Japed

  Martian Time-Slip

  A Maze of Death

  Now Wait for Last Year

  Our Friends from Frolix 8

  The Penultimate Truth

  Radio Free Albemuth

  A Scanner Darkly

  The Simulacra

  Solar Lottery

  The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

  Time Out of Joint

  The Transmigration of Timothy Archer


  The Unteleported Man


  Vulcan’s Hammer

  We Can Build You

  The World Jones Made

  The Zap Gun


  Before entering the supreme council room, Gabriel Baines sent his Mans-made simulacrum clacking ahead to see if by chance it might be attacked. The simulacrum—artfully constructed to resemble Baines in every detail—did many things, since it had been made by the inventive clan of Manses, but Baines only cared to employ it in its maneuvering for defense; defending himself was his sole orientation in life, his claim to membership in the Pare enclave of Adolfville at the north end of the moon.

  Baines had of course been outside Adolfville many times, but he felt safe—or rather relatively safe—only here, within the stout walls of this, the Pare city. Which proved that his claim to membership in the Pare clan was not contrived, a mere simulated technique by which he could gain entry into the most solidly-built, sturdy and enduring urban area anywhere. Baines beyond doubt was sincere… as if there could be any doubt of him.

  For example, there was his visit to the incredibly degrading hovels of the Heebs. Recently he had been in search of escaped members of a work brigade; being Heebs they had perhaps straggled back to Gandhitown. The difficulty, however, was that all Heebs, to him at least, looked alike: dirty, stooped creatures in soiled clothing who giggled and could not concentrate on any complicated procedure. They were useful for mere manual labor, nothing more. But with the constant need for tinkering improvement of Adolfville’s fortifications against the predations of the Manses, manual labor was currently at a premium. And no Pare would dirty his hands. Anyhow, among the dilapidated shacks of the Heebs he had felt pure terror, a sense of almost infinitely vast exposure among the most flimsy of human constructs; it was an inhabited garbage dump of cardboard dwellings. The Heebs however did not object. They dwelt among their own refuse in tranquil equilibrium.

  Here today, at the twice yearly council meeting representing all the clans, the Heebs would of course have a spokesman; speaking for the Pares he would find himself seated in the same room with an odious—literally so—Heeb. And this scarcely dignified his task. Probably it would be straggle-haired, fat Sarah Apostoles again this year.

  But more ominous would be the Mans representative. Because, like every Pare, Baines was terrified of each and every Mans. Their reckless violence shocked him; he could not comprehend it, so purposeless was it. For years he had put Manses down as simply hostile. But that did not explain them. They enjoyed violence; it was a perverse delight in breaking things and intimidating others, especially Pares such as himself.

  But knowing this did not fully help him; he still quailed at the anticipated confrontation with Howard Straw, the Mans delegate.

  Wheezing asthmatically his simulacrum returned, a fixed smile on its Baines-like artificial countenance. “All in order, sir. No deadly gas, no electrical discharge of a dangerous degree, no poison in the water pitcher, no peepholes for laser rifles, no concealed infernal machines. I would offer the suggestion that you can safely enter.” It clacked to a halt, became silent.

  “No one approached you?” Baines asked cautiously.

  The simulacrum said, “No one is there yet. Except, of course, for the Heeb sweeping the floor.”

  Baines, out of a lifetime of protective cunning, opened the door a crack for that which was essential: a momentary glimpse of the Heeb.

  The Heeb, a male, swept in his slow, monotonous way, the usual silly Heeb expression on his face, as if his work amused him. He could probably keep it up for months without becoming bored; Heebs could not tire of a task because they could not comprehend even the concept of diversity. Of course, Baines reflected, there was some virtue in simplicity. He had for instance been impressed by the famous Heeb saint, Ignatz Ledebur, who radiated spirituality as he wandered from town to town, spreading the warmth of his harmless Heeb personality. This one certainly looked devoid of dangerousness.…

  And the Heebs, at least, even their saints, did not try to convert people, as did the Skitz mystics. All the Heebs asked was to be let alone; they simply did not want to be bothered by life, and each year they shed more and more of the complexities of living. Returned, Baines reflected, to the mere vegetable, which, to a Heeb, was ideal.

  Checking his laser pistol—it was in order—Baines decided that he could enter. So step by step he walked into the council room, took a chair, then abruptly changed to another; that one had been too close to the window: he presented too good a target to anyone outdoors.

  To amuse himself while he waited for the others to arrive, he decided to bait the Heeb. “What’s your name?” he demanded.

  “J-jacob Simion,” the Heeb said, sweeping with his standard silly grin unchanged; a Heeb never knew when he was being baited. Or if he did he did not care. Apathy toward everything: that was the Heeb way.

  “You like your work, Jacob?” Baines asked, lighting a cigarette.

  “Sure,” the Heeb said, and then giggled.

  “You’ve always spent your time sweeping floors?”

  “Huh?” The Heeb did not appear able to comprehend the question.

  The door opened and plump, pretty Annette Golding, the Poly delegate, appeared, purse under her arm, her round face flushed, her green eyes shining as she panted for breath. “I thought I was late.”

  “No,” Baines said, rising to offer her a chair. He glanced professionally over her; no sign that she had brought her weapon. But she could be carrying feral spores in capsules secreted in a gum-pocket within her mouth; he made it a point, when he reseated himself, to select a chair at the far end of the big table. Distance… a highly valuable factor.

  “It’s warm in here,” Annette said, still perspiring. “I ran all the way up the stairs.” She smiled at him in the artless way that some Polys had. She did seem attractive to him… if only she could lose a little weight. Nonetheless he liked Annette and he took this opportunity to engage in light banter with her, tinged
with overtones of the erotic.

  “Annette,” he said, “you’re such a pleasant, comfortable person. A shame you don’t marry. If you married me—”

  “Yes, Gabe,” Annette said, smiling. “I’d be protected. Litmus paper in every corner of the room, atmosphere analyzers throbbing away, grounding equipment in case influence machines radiating—”

  “Be serious,” Baines said, crossly. He wondered how old she was; certainly no more than twenty. And, like all Polys, she was childlike. The Polys hadn’t grown up; they remained unfixed, and what was Polyism if not the lingering of plastic childhood? After all, their children, from every clan on the moon, were born Polys, went to their common, central school as Polys, did not become differentiated until perhaps their tenth or eleventh year. And some, like Annette, never became differentiated.

  Opening her purse Annette got out a package of candy; she began to eat rapidly. “I feel nervous,” she explained. “So I have to eat.” She offered the bag to Baines, but he declined—after all, one never knew. Baines had preserved his life for thirty-five years now, and he did not intend to lose it due to a trivial impulse; everything had to be calculated, thought out in advance if he expected to live another thirty-five.

  Annette said, “I suppose Louis Manfreti will represent the Skitz clan again this year. I always enjoy him; he has such interesting things to tell, the visions he sees of primordial things. Beasts from the earth and the sky, monsters that battle under the ground…” She sucked on a piece of hard candy thoughtfully. “Do you think the visions that Skitzes see are real, Gabe?”

  “No,” Baines said, truthfully.

  “Why do they ponder and talk about them all the time, then? They’re real to them, anyhow.”

  “Mysticism,” Baines said scornfully. He sniffed, now; some unnatural odor had come to him, something sweet. It was, he realized, the scent of Annette’s hair and he relaxed. Or was it supposed to make him think that? he thought suddenly, again alert. “Nice perfume you have on,” he said disingenuously. “What’s it called?”

  “Night of Wildness,” Annette said. “I bought it from a peddler here from Alpha II; it cost me ninety skins but it does smell wonderful, don’t you think? A whole month’s salary.” Her dark eyes looked sad.

  “Marry me,” Baines began again, and then broke off.

  The Dep representative had appeared; he stood in the doorway and his fear-haunted, concave face with its staring eyes seemed to pierce Baines to the heart. Good lord, he groaned, not knowing whether to feel compassion for the poor Dep or just outright contempt. After all, the man could buck up; all the Deps could buck up, if they had any courage. But courage was totally lacking in the Dep settlement to the south. This one palpably showed this lack; he hesitated at the door, afraid to come in, and yet so resigned to his fate that in a moment he would do so anyhow, would do the very thing he feared… whereas an Ob-Com of course would simply count to twenty by twos, turn his back and flee.

  “Please enter,” Annette coaxed pleasantly, indicating a chair.

  “What’s the use of this conversation?” the Dep said, and entered slowly, sagging with despair. “We’ll just tear each other apart; I see no point in convening for these fracases.” However, resignedly, he seated himself, sat with bowed head, hands clenched futilely together.

  “I’m Annette Golding,” Annette said, “and this is Gabriel Baines, the Pare. I’m the Poly. You’re Dep, aren’t you? I can tell by the way you stare at the floor.” She laughed, but with sympathy.

  The Dep said nothing; he did not even give his name. Talking for a Dep, Baines knew, was difficult; it was hard for them to summon the energy. This Dep had probably come early out of a fear of being late; over-compensation, typical of them. Baines did not like them. They were useless to themselves and the other clans; why didn’t they die? And, unlike the Heebs, they could not even function as laborers; they lay down on the ground and stared sightlessly up at the sky, devoid of hope.

  Leaning toward Baines, Annette said softly, “Cheer him up.”

  “The hell I will,” Baines said. “What do I care? It’s his own fault he’s the way he is; he could change if he wanted. He could believe good things if he made the effort. His lot’s no worse than the rest of ours, maybe even better; after all, they work at a snail’s pace… I wish I could get away with doing as little work in a year as the average Dep.”

  Now, through the open door, walked a tall, middle-aged woman in a long gray coat. This was Ingred Hibbler, the Ob-Com; counting silently to herself she passed around and around the table, tapping each chair in turn. Baines and Annette waited; the Heeb sweeping the floor glanced up and giggled. The Dep continued to stare sightlessly down. At last Miss Hibbler found a chair whose numerology satisfied her; she drew it back, seated herself rigidly, her hands pressed tightly together, fingers working at great speed, as if knitting an invisible garment of protectiveness.

  “I ran into Straw on the parking lot,” she said, and counted silently to herself. “Our Mans. Ugh, he’s an awful person; he almost ran over me with his wheel. I had to—”

  She broke off. “Never mind. But it’s hard to rid yourself of his aura, once it infects you.” She shivered.

  Annette said, to no one in particular, “This year if Manfreti is the Skitz again he’ll probably come in through the window instead of by the door.” She laughed merrily. The Heeb, sweeping, joined her. “And of course we’re waiting for the Heeb,” Annette said.

  “I’m the d-delegate from Gandhitown,” the Heeb, Jacob Simion, said, pushing his broom in his monotonous way. “I j-just thought I’d do this while I w-waited.” He smiled guilelessly around at all of them.

  Baines sighed. The Heeb representative, a janitor. But of course; they all were, potentially if not actually. Then that left only the Skitz and the Mans, Howard Straw, who would be in as soon as he finished darting about the parking lot, scaring the other delegates as they arrived. Baines thought, He better not try to intimidate me. Because the laser pistol at Baines’ waist was not simulated. And there was always his sim, waiting outside in the hall, to call on.

  “What’s this meeting about?” Miss Hibbler the Ob-Com asked, and counted rapidly, her eyes shut, fingers dangling. “One, two. One, two.”

  Annette said, “There’s a rumor. A strange ship has been sighted and it’s not traders from Alpha II; we’re reasonably sure of that.” She went on eating candy; Baines saw, with grim amusement, that she had devoured almost the entire bagful by now. Annette, as he well knew, had a diencephalic disturbance, an overvalent idea in the gluttony-syndrome area. And whenever she became tense or worried it became worse.

  “A ship,” the Dep said, stirring into life. “Maybe it can get us out of our mess.”

  “What mess?” Miss Hibbler asked.

  Stirring, the Dep said, “You know.” That was all he could summon up; he became inarticulate once more, lapsed into his coma of gloom. To a Dep things were always a mess. And yet, of course, the Deps feared change, too. Baines’ contempt grew as he pondered this. But—a ship. His contempt for the Dep turned to alarm. Was this true?

  Straw, the Mans, would know. At Da Vinci Heights the Manses had elaborate technical devices for sighting incoming traffic; probably the original word had come from Da Vinci Heights… unless of course a Skitz mystic had foreseen it in a vision.

  “It’s probably a trick,” Baines said aloud.

  Everyone in the room, including the gloomy Dep, gazed at him; the Heeb momentarily even ceased sweeping.

  “Those Manses,” Baines explained, “they’ll try anything. This is their way of getting an advantage over the rest of us, paying us back.”

  “For what?” Miss Hibbler said.

  “You know the Manses hate all of us,” Baines said. “Because they’re crude, barbaric roughnecks, unwashed storm troopers who reach for their gun when they hear the word ‘culture.’ It’s in their metabolism; it’s the old Gothic.” And yet that did not really state it; to be perfectly honest he did
not know why the Manses were so intent on hurting everyone else, unless, as his theory went, it was out of sheer delight in inflicting pain. No, he thought, there must be more than that. Malice and envy; they must envy us, know we’re culturally superior. As diverse as Da Vinci Heights is, there’s no order, no esthetic unity to it; it’s a hodgepodge of incomplete so-called “creative” projects, started out but never finished.

  Annette said slowly, “Straw is a little unpolished, I admit. Even typically the reckless sort. But why would he report a foreign ship if one hadn’t been sighted? You haven’t given any clear reason.”

  “But I know,” Baines said stubbornly, “that the Manses and especially Howard Straw are against us; we should act to protect ourselves from—” He ceased, because the door had opened and Straw strode brusquely into the room.

  Red-haired, big and brawny, he was grinning. The appearance of an alien ship on their minute moon did not bother him.

  It remained now only for the Skitz to arrive and, as usual, he might be an hour late; he would be wandering in a trance somewhere, lost in his clouded visions of an archetypal reality, of cosmic proto-forces underlying the temporal universe, his perpetual view of the so-called Urwelt.

  We might as well make ourselves comfortable, Baines decided. As much so as possible, given Straw’s presence among us. And Miss Hibbler’s; he did not much care for her either. In fact, he did not care for any of them with perhaps the exception of Annette: she of the inordinate, conspicuous bosom. And he was getting nowhere with her. As usual.

  But that was not his fault; all the Polys were like that—no one ever knew which way they’d jump. They were contrary on purpose, opposed to the dictates of logic. And yet they were not moths, as were the Skitzes, nor debrained machines like the Heebs. They were abundantly alive; that was what he enjoyed so about Annette—her quality of animation, freshness.

  In fact she made him feel rigid and metallic, encased in thick steel like some archaic weapon of a useless, ancient war. She was twenty, he was thirty-five, perhaps that explained it. But he did not believe so. And then he thought, I’ll bet she wants me to feel this way; she’s deliberately trying to make me feel bad.