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Джон Варли.

Платежное поручение(engl)

Copyright (C) by John Varley.


ALL AT ONCE he was in motion. Around him smooth jets hummed. He was on
a small private rocket cruiser, moving leisurely across the afternoon sky,
between cities.
"Ugh!" he said, sitting up in his seat and rubbing his head. Beside him
Earl Rethrick was staring keenly at him, his eyes bright.
"Coming around?"
"Where are we?" Jennings shook his head, trying to clear the dull ache.
"Or maybe I should ask that a different way." Already, he could see that it
was not late fall. It was spring. Below the cruiser the fields were green.
The last thing he remembered was stepping into an elevator with Rethrick.
And it was late fall. And in New York.
"Yes," Rethrick said. "It's almost two years later. You'll find a lot
of things have changed. The Government fell a few months ago. The new
Government is even stronger. The SP, Security Police, have almost unlimited
power. They're teaching the schoolchildren to inform, now. But we all saw
that coming. Let's see, what else? New York is larger. I understand they've
finished filling in San Francisco Bay."
"What I want to know is what the hell I've been doing the last two
years!" Jennings lit a cigarette nervously, pressing the strike end. "Will
you tell me that?"
"No. Of course I won't tell you that."
"Where are we going?"
"Back to the New York Office. Where you first met me. Remember? You
probably remember it better than I. After all, it was just a day or so ago
for you."
Jennings nodded. Two years! Two years out of his life, gone forever. It
didn't seem possible. He had still been considering, debating, when he
stepped into the elevator. Should he change his mind? Even if he were
getting that much money - and it was a lot, even for him - it didn't
really seem worth it. He would always wonder what work he had been doing.
Was it legal? Was it - But that was past speculation, now. Even while he
was trying to make up his mind the curtain had fallen. He looked ruefully
out the window at the afternoon sky. Below, the earth was moist and alive.
Spring, spring two years later. And what did he have to show for the two
"Have I been paid?" he asked. He slipped his wallet out and glanced
into it. "Apparently not."
"No. You'll be paid at the Office. Kelly will pay you."
"The whole works at once?"
"Fifty thousand credits."