Richter 10 by Arthur C. Clarke; Mike McQuay

Richter 10 by Arthur C. Clarke; Mike McQuay

Author:Arthur C. Clarke; Mike McQuay
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Published: 2011-03-07T23:29:57+00:00

She jumped up and stared him down. “I meant every word of what I said. How dare you belittle my life and my work!”

“Look, you’re good with computers,” he said. “Kudos. But Crane is selling fantasy. How can you possibly believe that globe will ever work?”

“It will work. I’m going to make it work.”

“Then you’re just as crazy as he is.”

She glared at him, and for the first time he saw meanness there, focused anger. “Are you finished?” she asked quietly.

“No, I’m not finished. I’m just getting started.”

“Well, I’ve heard enough, Dr. Newcombe. You’ve got to excuse me. There are two people in the other room who don’t think I’m insane. I’d prefer to be with them.”

“I’m not going to let you go that easily,” he said. “Crane’s infected you somehow with his insanity. I can wait, Lanie. I love you and I’ll always be there for you.”

“Do yourself a favor, Dan,” she said. “Move on.”

Newcombe’s gut was on fire, dorphless rage and despair settling over him as he watched Lanie leave.

Sumi sat at her new desk at the National Academy of Science and tried to concentrate on the grant requests stacked up before her. She was having a difficult time keeping her mind on the job. They’d put Crane in jail—jail!—and it was all her fault. He had always treated her with respect and friendship. And how had she repaid him? With the basest deceit. She wondered how much of herself she could give up and still remain human.

“You seem deep in thought,” came a voice, jerking her back into the here and now.

Mr. Li stood before her desk, smiling beatifically down at her. “Sir,” she said, rising.

“Is it you or a projection?”

He reached across the desk and touched her arm, his touch lingering. “I’m real and I’m here. What I’m going to say is very private.”


“Sit down, Sumi.” She did as she was told.

Li moved fluidly, snakelike, around to her side of the desk and sat on its edge. “Sometimes,” he said, “life has a way of altering our ... circumstances in the most astounding fashion without our having to do anything to precipitate the changes. Do you know what I’m saying?”

“I assume my new position here is an example,” she said, not liking the look in his eyes.

“On a small scale, yes. Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

“Yes, I do mind.”

Mr. Li laughed. “I’m finding myself intrigued by your lifestyle. What’s it like to masquerade for some twenty-eight years as the opposite sex?”

In absolute defensive mode, she answered carefully. “It’s not like anything, really. I’ve always done it, so it’s ... natural.”

“Do you feel like a man or like a woman?”

“I feel like what I am.”

Mr. Li stood and moved behind Sumi, his hands coming up to massage her shoulders.

“You know what I mean,” he said softly. “Sexually. What are you like sexually?”

“Sir. I do not wish to answer questions of this kind.”

His hands moved down to her arms, rubbing softly, as she fought back feelings of nausea.


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