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In Milton Lumky Territory (1984)

Philip K. Dick

  ‘Dick’s abundant storytelling gifts and the need to express his inner struggles combined to produce some of the most groundbreaking novels and ideas’

  Waterstone’s Guide to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

  ‘In all his work he was astonishingly intimate, self exposed and very dangerous. His dreads were our own, spoken as we could not have spoken them’

  The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

  ‘For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplicating realities of the modern world, remember: Philip K. Dick got there first’

  Terry Gilliam

  ‘Dick quietly produced serious fiction in a popular form and there can be no higher praise’

  Michael Moorcock

  Also by Philip K. Dick

  Solar Lottery (1955)

  The World Jones Made (1956)

  The Man Who Japed (1956) (1976)

  Eye in the Sky (1957)

  Dr. Futurity (1959)

  Time Out of Joint (1959)

  Vulcan’s Hammer (1960) (1982)

  The Man in the High Castle 1962)

  The Game-Players of Titan (1963)

  The Simulacra (1964)

  Martian Time-Slip (1964)

  Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964)

  The Penultimate Truth (1964)

  The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)

  Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965)

  Cantata-140 (The Crack in Space) (1966)

  Now Wait for Last Year (1966)

  The Ganymede Takeover (with Ray F. Nelson)

  The Zap Gun (1967)

  Confessions of a Crap Artist (1975)

  Deus Irae (with Roger Zelazny)

  The Cosmic Puppets (1957)

  A Scanner Darkly (1977)

  The Divine Invasion (1981)

  Valis (1981)

  The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

  Lies, Inc (1984)

  The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike (1984)

  Puttering About in a Small Land (1985)

  Radio Free Albemuth (1985 Humpty Dumpty in Oakland (1986)

  Mary and the Giant (1987)

  The Broken Bubble (1988)

  Short Story Collections

  The Variable Man (1967)

  A Handful of Darkness (1966)

  The Turning Wheel (1977)

  Counter-Clock World (1967)

  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

  Galactic Pot-Healer (1969)

  Ubik (1969)

  Our Friends From Frolix 8 (1970)

  A Maze of Death (1970)

  We Can Build You (1972)

  Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974)

  The Best of Philip K. Dick (1977)

  The Golden Man (1980)

  Minority Report (2002)

  The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick

  1. Beyond Lies the Wub (1987)

  2. Second Variety (1987)

  3. The Father Thing (1987)

  4. The Days of Perky Pat (1987)

  5. We Can Remember it for You Wholesale (1987)



  Philip K. Dick

  A Gollancz eBook

  Copyright (c) Philip K. Dick 1985

  All rights reserved.

  The right of Philip K. Dick to be identified as the author

  of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the

  Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

  This edition first published in Great Britain in 2005 by


  The Orion Publishing Group Ltd

  Orion House

  5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane

  London, WC2H 9EA

  An Hachette UK Company

  This eBook first published in 2010 by Gollancz.

  A CIP catalogue record for this book

  is available from the British Library.

  ISBN 978 0 575 09826 8

  This eBook produced by Jouve, France

  All characters and events in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any from or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor to be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.





  Also by Philip K. Dick

  Author Foreword

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  About the Author


  This is actually a very funny book, and a good one, too, in that the funny things that happen happen to real people who come alive. The ending is a happy one. What more can an author say? What more can he give?


  AT SUNSET, acrid-smelling air from the lake puffed along the empty streets of Montario, Idaho. With the air appeared clouds of sharp-winged yellow flies; they smashed against the windshields of cars in motion. The drivers strove to clear them away with their wipers. As the street lights lit up Hill Street, stores began to close until only the drugstores - one at each end of town - remained open. The Luxury movie theater did not open until six-thirty. The several cafes did not count as parts of the town; open or shut, they belonged to the highway, US 95, which made use of Hill Street.

  Hooting and clacking and sliding along the northernmost of fourteen parallel tracks, the Union Pacific sleeper appeared, passing from Portland to Boise. It did not stop, but at the Hill Street crossing it slowed until the mail car appeared to be a dingy-green metal building among the brick warehouses along the track, scarcely in motion, with its doors open and two trainmen in striped suits hanging out with their hands dangling down. A middle-aged woman, wrapped up in quilted wool to keep warm, stepped forward at the sidewalk and deftly handed several letters up to one of the trainmen.

  The wig-wag signal bonged and the red light flashed for a considerable period after the last car of the train had gone off out of sight.

  At the lunch counter in his drugstore, Mr. Hagopian ate a small fried hamburger steak and canned string beans while he read a copy of Confidential taken from the rack by the front door. Now, at six, no customers bothered him. He sat so that he could see the street outside. If anyone came along he intended to stop eating and wipe his mouth and hands with a paper napkin.

  Far off, running and whirling about to run backwards with his head up, came a boy wearing a Davy Crockett cap with tail. The boy circled his way across the street, and Mr. Hagopian realized that he was coming into the drugstore.

  The boy, hands in his pockets, his motions stiff and jerky, stepped into the store and to the candy bars all intermingled under the sign, 3 for 2SC. Mr. Hagopian continued eating and reading. The boy at last picked out a box of Milk Duds, a package of M & M chocolates, and a Hershey bar.

  “Fred,” Mr. Hagopian called.

  His son Fred pushed the curtains aside, from the back room, and came out to wait on the boy.

  At seven o’clock Mr. Hagopian said to his son Fred, “You might as well go on
home. There won’t be enough more tonight to make it worth both our time.” He felt irritable, thinking about it. “Nobody of consequence is going to show up and buy anything the rest of tonight.”

  “I’ll stick around awhile longer,” Fred said. “I don’t have anything to do anyhow.”

  The telephone rang. It was Mrs. de Rouge, on Pine Street, wanting a prescription filled and delivered. Mr. Hagopian got out the book, and when he looked up the number he found that it was for Mrs. de Rouge’s pain pills. So he told her that Fred would bring them by eight o’clock.

  While he was making up the pills - capsules of codeine - the door of the drugstore opened and a young man, well-dressed in a single-breasted suit and tie, stepped in. He had a sandy, bony nose and short-cropped hair; by that, Mr. Hagopian recognized him, and also by his smile. He had good strong white teeth.

  “Can I help you, sir?” Fred said.

  “Just looking right now,” the man said. Hands in his pockets he moved over to the magazine racks.

  I wonder why he hasn’t been in here for awhile, Mr. Hagopian thought to himself. He used to come in here all the time. Since he was a kid. Has he been taking his business up to Wickley’s? At that, the old man felt growing indignation. He finished up Mrs. de Rouge’s pills, dropped them into a bottle, and walked to the counter.

  The young man, Skip Stevens, had brought a copy of Life up to Fred, and was rummaging in his trouser pocket for change.

  “Anything else, sir?” Fred said.

  Mr. Hagopian started to speak to Skip Stevens, but at that moment Skip leaned toward Fred and said in a low voice, “Yes, I wanted to pick up a package of Trojans.” So Mr. Hagopian delicately turned away and busied himself until Fred had wrapped the package of contraceptives and rung up the sale on the register.

  “Thank you sir,” Fred said, in the business-like tone he always took when somebody bought contraceptives. As he left the counter he winked at his father.

  His magazine under his arm, Skip started toward the door, very slowly, eyeing the magazines and shelves to show that he did not feel intimidated. Mr. Hagopian caught up with him and said, “Long time no see.” His indignation made his voice rattle. “I hope you and your family have been well.”

  “Everybody’s fine,” Skip said. “I haven’t seen them for a couple of months. I’m living down in Reno. I have a job there.”

  “Oh,” Mr. Hagopian said, not believing him. “I see.”

  Fred tilted his head, listening.

  “You remember Skip Stevens,” Mr. Hagopian said to his son.

  “Oh yeah,” Fred said. “I didn’t recognize you.” He nodded at Skip. “Haven’t seen you in months.”

  “I’m located down in Reno now,” Skip explained. “This is the first time I’ve been up here to Montario since April.”

  “I wondered why we hadn’t seen you,” Fred said.

  Mr. Hagopian asked Skip, “Your brother still off back east at school?”

  “No,” Skip said. “He’s out of school now, and married.”

  This boy isn’t living down in Reno, Mr. Hagopian thought. He’s just ashamed to admit why he hasn’t been in. Skip shifted about from one foot to the other, obviously ill-at-ease. He obviously wanted to leave.

  “What line of work are you in?” Fred said.

  Skip said, “I’m a buyer.”

  “What kind of buyer?”

  “For C.B:B.,” he said.

  “Television?” Mr. Hagopian said.

  “For Consumers’ Buying Bureau,” Skip said.

  “What’s that?”

  Skip said, “Something like a department store. It’s a new place down on Highway 40, between Reno and Sparks.”

  With a strange look on his face, Fred said, “I know what that is. Some guy was up here telling me about it.” To his father, he said, “It’s one of those discount houses.”

  At first, the old man did not understand. And then he remembered what he had heard about discount houses. “Do you want to drive the retailers out of business?” he said loudly to Skip.

  Skip, turning red, said, “It’s no different from a supermarket. It buys in volume and passes the savings on to the consumer. That’s how Henry Ford operated, producing in volume.”

  “It’s not the American way,” Mr. Hagopian said.

  “Sure it is,” Skip said. “It means a higher standard of living because it eliminates overhead and the middleman’s costs.”

  Mr. Hagopian returned to the counter. To his son he said, “Mrs. de Rouge wants some more pain pills.” He held out the bottle, and Fred accepted it. “I told her before eight.”

  He did not care to talk to Skip Stevens any further. Competing with Chinese and Japs was bad enough. To him, the big new discount houses seemed worse; they pretended to be American - they had neon signs and they advertised and they had parking lots, and unless you knew what they were they did look like supermarkets. He did not know who ran them. Nobody ever saw the owners of discount houses. In fact, he himself had never even seen a discount house.

  “It doesn’t cut into your business,” Skip said, following after Fred as he wrapped Mrs. de Rouge’s package. “Nobody drives five hundred miles to shop, even for major items like furniture.”

  Mr. Hagopian made out a tag while his son wrapped.

  Skip said, “It’s only in big cities anyhow. This town isn’t large enough. Boise might be.”

  Neither Fred nor his father said anything. Fred put on his coat, got the tag from his father, and left the drugstore.

  The old man busied himself with sorting different articles that had been delivered during the day. Presently the door closed after Skip Stevens.

  * * * * *

  A S HE DROVE along the unlighted residential streets of Montario, over the gravel that served as pavement, Bruce Stevens thought about old Hagopian, whom he had encountered now and again all his life. Years ago, the old man had chased him away from the comic books and out the front door of the drugstore. For months Hagopian had simmered in silence as the children, scrunched down behind the shelf of mineral oil bottles, had read Tip Top Comics and King Comics and seldom if ever bought anything. Then he had made up his mind and gone at the first child who next put in an appearance. It had been Bruce Stevens; Skip Stevens in those days, because of his bright round freckled face and reddish hair. The old man still called him “Skip.” What a heck of a world, Bruce thought, as he watched the houses. I made him sore then, and he’s still sore. It’s a wonder he didn’t call the police when I bought the box of Trojans.

  But the old man’s outrage toward the idea of him working for a discount house in Reno did not bother him, because he knew how the little retailers felt; they had felt that way when the first supermarkets had opened just after World War Two. And in some respects their animosity delighted him. It proved that people were beginning to buy from discount houses, or at least were beginning to be aware of them.

  It’s the coming thing, he told himself once again. Another ten years and nobody’ll think to pick up razor blades one day and soap the next; they’ll shop for everything one day of the week, in a place where they can get any kind of thing there is, from phonograph records to autos.

  But then it occurred to him that he hadn’t bought his package of contraceptives back in Reno, but here in a small drugstore, at full retail price. In fact he did not even know if the discount people for whom he worked stocked contraceptives.

  And a magazine, too, he realized. To hide his actual intentions. Whenever he had bought contraceptives he felt embarrassed. The clerk behind the counter always gave him a bad time. Dropping the little metal tin so people would glance over to see. Or calling from the length of the store, “Which did you ask for, Trojans or -” whatever the other brand was. Sheiks or something. Since his nineteenth year, the first year he had started carrying contraceptives around with him, he had stuck to Trojans. That’s America, he said to himself. Buy by brand. Know your product.

  His trip up from Reno was to end in Boise, b
ut passing through his home town he had decided to stop off and perhaps drop in on a girl he had gone around with, the year before. He could easily get back on the road the next morning; Boise was only fifteen miles northeast, on US Highway 95, up from Nevada. Or, if things didn’t work out, he could continue on tonight.

  He was twenty-four years old. He liked his job at C.B.B., which did not pay too much - about three hundred a month - but which gave him a chance to get out on the road in his ‘55 Merc, and to meet people and bargain with them, to snoop into different establishments with the keen inner urge for discovery. And he liked his boss, Ed von Scharf, who had a big black Ronald Colman mustache and who had been a sergeant in the Marine Corps in World War Two, when Bruce had been eight years old.

  And he liked living by himself in an apartment in Reno, away from his parents and away from an essentially farming-town in a potato-growing state that had lettered on its highways: DON’T BE A GUBERIF, which meant “don’t be a firebug,” and which always infuriated him when he drove onto one of them. From Reno he could get easily over the Sierras into California, or the other direction to Salt Lake City for whatever that was worth. The air in Nevada was cleaner, lacking the heavy brackish fog that rolled into Montario carrying the flies that he had stepped on and inhaled all his life.

  Now, on the hood, bumpers, fenders, and windshield of his car, hundreds of those same flies lay squashed and dead. They had fouled the radiator. Their thin hairy bodies dotted his field of vision and made the finding of Peg’s house that much harder.

  At last he recognized it, by the wide lawn and porch and tree. There were lights on inside. And several cars were parked nearby.

  When he had parked, and was stepping up onto the porch to ring the bell, he heard unmistakable sounds of music and people from inside the house. There goes that, he said to himself as he rang.

  The door flew open. Peg recognized him, gasped, raised her hands and then slid aside and drew him into the house. “What a surprise! Of all people!”

  In the living room a number of persons sat about with drinks, listening to the phonograph playing Johnny Ray records. Three or four men and as many women.