Sinister Barrier

Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell

Book: Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Frank Russell
Tags: Science-Fiction
scientist’s breathing was loud in the confines of the small room. “All who duplicated Bjornsen’s final experiment became endowed with the ability to penetrate that barrier of sight. Those who saw the Vitons got excited about it, thought about the discovery and walked in the shadow of death. From within limited distance, the Vitons can read human minds as easily as we could read an open book. Naturally, they take swift action to forestall the broadcasting of news which eventually might lead to our challenging their ages-old predominance. They maintain their mastery as cold-bloodedly as we maintain ours over the animal world—by shooting the opposition. Those of Bjornsen’s copyists who failed to hide the knowledge within their mind, or, possibly, were betrayed by dreams while helpless in their slumbers, have had their minds and mouths closed forever.” He paused, added, “As ours may yet be closed.” Another pause, timed by the steady ticking of the little clock. “There, Graham, is your living purgatory—to know all is to be damned. An exceptionally powerful mind may seek refuge by controlling its daytime thoughts, all the time, every minute, every second, but who can control his dreams? Aye, in slumber lies the deadliest peril. Don’t get into that bed—it might be loaded!”
    “I suspected something of the sort.”
    “You did?” Surprise was evident in Beach’s tones.
    “Ever since I commenced my investigation I’ve had queer, uncanny moments when I’ve felt that it was tremendously important to shift my thoughts elsewhere. More than once I’ve obeyed a crazy but powerful impulse to think of other things, feeling, believing, almost knowing that it was safer to do so.”
    “It is the only thing that has spared you,” Beach asserted. “But for that, you’d have been buried at the start.”
    “Then is my mental control greater than that of more accomplished men such as Bjornsen, Luther, Mayo and Webb?”
    “No, not at all. You were able to exercise control more easily because what you were controlling was merely a vague hunch. Unlike the others, you did not have to suppress a full and horrible knowledge.” Ominously, he added, “The real test will lie in how long you last after this!”
    “Anyway, thank heavens for my hunches!” murmured Graham, gratefully.
    Beach said, “I suspect that you do not have hunches. If those feelings of yours though vague and unreasoning, were powerful enough to command obedience in defiance of your rational instinct, it is evident that you have extrasensory perception developed to an unusual degree.”
    “I’d never thought of that,” Graham admitted. “I’ve been too busy to take time off to analyse myself.”
    “The faculty, though not common, is far from unique.” Getting up from his chair, Beach switched on the lights, pulled a drawer from a large filing cabinet. Raking through a mass of press clippings that filled the drawer, he extracted a bunch, looked them over.
    “I have data concerning many such cases going back for one hundred fifty years. Michele Lefevre, of St. Ave, near Vannes, in France, repeatedly tested by French scientists. Her extra-sensory perception was estimated as having sixty per cent of the efficiency of her normal sight. Juan Eguerola, of Seville, seventy-five per cent. Willi Osipenko, of Poznan, ninety per cent.” He pulled a clipping out of the bunch. “Here’s a honey. It’s taken from British Tit Bits dated March 19, 1938. Ilga Kirps, a Latvian shepherdess, of Riga. She was a young girl of no more than average intelligence, yet a scientific curiosity. A committee of leading European scientists subjected her to a very thorough examination, then stated that she undoubtedly possessed the power of extra-sensory perception developed to such an amazing degree that it was superior to her natural eyesight.”
    “Stronger than mine,” commented Graham as the scientist put the clippings back, turned off the light, resumed his

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