The Martian Viking

The Martian Viking by Tim Sullivan

Book: The Martian Viking by Tim Sullivan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tim Sullivan
Tags: Science-Fiction
the Video Church.
    "There is a fairly reliable method of weaning people away from the Video Church of God," Madame Psychosis said after a few seconds.
    "Oh? What's that?"
    "Ronindella's religion teaches that therapy is incompatible with the church's tenets, but not that it is strictly forbidden. If she is threatened with an alternative that is forbidden, then she might consent to therapy."
    "I don't understand."
    "The alternative must be the No-God Sect."
    "Huh? That's no alternative. Ronindella would never hang out with that No-God bunch."
    "Perhaps not," Madame Psychosis said in a motherly tone, "but wouldn't you? "
    "Me?"
    "Yes, you."
    "Join the No-God Sect . . .? I don't know, Madame."
    "If you want her to seek therapy, this is a tried and true method."
    "But it seems so . . ." He almost said "sneaky," but at the last instant amended it to: " . . .risky."
    "We must deal with risk, just as we must deal with our feelings," Madame Psychosis said in portentous tones. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
    Ryan felt sticky with perspiration, though the room was quite comfortable. He had to do what she suggested, obviously. Madame Psychosis would persist until he carried this thing out. Since he was paying for these sessions, he might as well agree to do it sooner, rather than later.
    "All right," he said, his voice squeaking a little in submission. "How do I convert?"
    "The No-God Sect requires no conversion as such. An acceptance of the central tenet is all that's necessary."
    "And what is the central tenet?"
    "That there is not, never has been, never will be, and can never be a supreme being."
    Ryan mulled that over for a few seconds. "How do they know?"
    "That's irrelevant," Madame Psychosis said. "Besides, discussion of such matters will give you something to do at the Sect meetings. Something that is not sybaritic, that is."
    "Yeah, I suppose so." Ryan added resigned, "How long is this going to take?"
    "The sooner you convince Ronindella that her reluctance to seek therapy is the cause of your involvement with the No-God Sect, the sooner she is likely to relent."
    There was one thing that bothered Ryan, something that Madame Psychosis hadn't really touched on. "What if it doesn't work?" he said. "What if she just gets another guy?"
    "Come now, Ryan," Madame said. "Haven't we learned to be more self-assured than that?" She smiled beatifically at him, and he knew that her strength would see him through the coming struggle.
     
    Ronindella's credit swelled, the figures changing on the 'gram even as she watched. It was the result of the infusion from Johnsmith's government pay. But the figures didn't run up for long, she was disappointed to see. In the final analysis, it wasn't nearly as much as she had hoped for. It looked as if she would be stuck with Ryan, at least until something better came along. He was already getting on her nerves, she thought, as she lit a cigarette.
    "Smitty," she called out, "what are you doing?" This question was almost ritualistic, as was Smitty's reply.
    "Nothing." Smitty emerged from the bedroom with his dinosaur in hand. "This doesn't work anymore, Mom."
    "We'll get some batteries for it later, honey." She patted his dark hair. "Which is about the only thing we can afford at the moment."
    Smitty didn't know what she was talking about. He had only started playing with the dinosaur again a few days ago. Every time he'd started to take it out of its box, he'd thought of his Dad, that last time they saw each other on the phone. But then his Mom had received this letter saying that Dad's pay was coming, and it almost seemed as if Smitty had heard from him personally. After that, he'd wanted to play with the dinosaur again, but the batteries had soon worn out. Well, maybe his Mom would remember to get him some new ones the next time she went out.
    "Get your jacket on," she said after a few seconds.
    "Huh?" This was unexpected. They were going out already. But somehow Smitty didn't think they

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