QUICKER THAN THE EYE Ray Bradbury
QUICKER THAN THE EYE Ray Bradbury
ZAHAROFF/RICHTER MARK V
ANOTHER FINE MESS
THAT WOMAN ON THE LAWN
THE VERY GENTLE MURDERS
QUICKER THAN THE EYE
DORIAN IN EXCELSUS
NO NEWS, OR WHAT KILLED THE DOG?
THE WITCH DOOR
THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE
AT THE END OF THE NINTH YEAR
ONCE MORE, LEGATO
THE OTHER HIGHWAY
MAKE HASTE TO LIVE: AN AFTERWORD
The incredible event occurred during my third visit to Gustav Von Seyfertitz, my foreign psychoanalyst.
I should have guessed at the strange explosion before it came.
After all, my alienist, truly alien, had the coincidental name, Von Seyfertitz, of the tall, lean, aquiline, menacing, and therefore beautiful actor who played the high priest in the 1935 film She.
In She, the wondrous villain waved his skeleton fingers, hurled insults, summoned sulfured flames, destroyed slaves, and knocked the world into earthquakes.
After that, “At Liberty,” he could be seen riding the Hollywood Boulevard trolley cars as calm as a mummy, as quiet as an unwired telephone pole.
Where was I? Ah, yes!
It was my third visit to my psychiatrist. He had called that day and cried, “Douglas, you stupid goddamn son of a bitch, it’s time for beddy-bye!
Beddy-bye was, of course, his couch of pain and humiliation where I lay writhing in agonies of assumed Jewish guilt and Northern Baptist stress as he from time to time muttered, “A fruitcake remark!” or “Dumb!” or “If you ever do that again, I’ll kill you!”
As you can see, Gustav Von Seyfertitz was a most unusual mine specialist. Mine? Yes. Our problems are land mines in our heads. Step on them! Shock-troop therapy, he once called it, searching for words. “Blitzkrieg?” I offered.
“Ja!” He grinned his shark grin. “That’s it!”
Again, this was my third visit to his strange, metallic-looking room with a most odd series of locks on a roundish door. Suddenly, as I was maundering and treading dark waters, I heard his spine stiffen behind me. He gasped a great death rattle, sucked air, and blew it out in a yell that curled and bleached my hair:
Thinking that the room might be struck by a titanic iceberg, I fell, to scuttle beneath the lion-claw-footed couch.
“Dive!” cried the old man.
“Dive?” I whispered, and looked up.
To see a submarine periscope, all polished brass, slide up to vanish in the ceiling.
Gustav Von Seyfertitz stood pretending not to notice me, the sweat-oiled leather couch, or the vanished brass machine. Very calmly, in the fashion of Conrad Veidt in Casablanca, or Erich Von like Jack Nicklaus hits a ball? Bamm. A hand grenade!
That was the sound my Germanic friend’s boots made as he knocked them together in a salute Crrrack!
“Gustav Mannerheim Auschlitz Von Seyfertitz Baron Woldstein, at your service!” He lowered his voice. “Unterderseaboat-“
I thought he might say “Doktor.” But:
I scrambled off the floor.
Another crrrack and-The periscope slid calmly down out of the ceiling, the most beautiful Freudian cigar I had ever seen.
“No!” I gasped.
“Have I ever lied to you?”
“But’ ‘-he shrugged-‘ ‘little white ones.” He stepped to the periscope, slapped two handles in place, slammed one eye shut, and crammed the other angrily against the view piece, turning the periscope in a slow roundabout of the room, the couch, and me.
“Fire one,” he ordered.
I almost heard the torpedo leave its tube. “Fire two!” he said.
And a second soundless and invisible bomb motored on its way to infinity. Struck midships, I sank to the couch.
“You, you!” I said mindlessly. “It!” I pointed at the brass machine. “This!” I touched couch. “Why?”
“Sit down,” said Von Seyfertitz.
“I’d rather not,” I said uneasily.
Von Seyfertitz turned the periscope so its topmost eye, raked at an angle, glared at me. It had an uncanny resemblance, in its glassy coldness, his own fierce hawk’s gaze.
His voice, from behind the periscope, echoed. “So you want to know, eh, how Gustav Von Seyfertitz, Baron Woldstein, suffered to leave the cold ocean depths, depart his dear North Sea ship, flee his destroyed and beaten fatherland, to become the Unterderseaboat Doktor-“