Ubik

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Book: Ubik by Philip K. Dick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Philip K. Dick
Tags: Fiction
left of Ella; we may have to move our offices to the Beloved Brethren Moratorium at Zürich and operate out of there.” He seated himself in an aisle seat where he could watch the four inertials haggling over the correct way to direct the ship. Somnambulantly, engulfed by the dull, dreary ache of shock, he got out a bent cigarette and lit it.
    The cigarette, dry and stale, broke apart as he tried to hold it between his fingers. Strange, he thought.
    “The bomb blast,” Al Hammond said, noticing. “The heat.”
    “Did it age us?” Wendy asked, from behind Hammond; she stepped past him and seated herself beside Joe. “I feel old. I
am
old; your package of cigarettes is old; we’re all old, as of today, because of what has happened. This was a day for us like no other.”
    With dramatic energy the ship rose from the surface of Luna, carrying with it, absurdly, the plastic connective tunnel.

SEVEN
----
    Perk up pouting household surfaces with new miracle Ubik, the easy-to-apply, extra-shiny, non-stick plastic coating. Entirely harmless if used as directed. Saves endless scrubbing, glides you right out of the kitchen!
    “Our best move,” Joe Chip said, “seems to be this. We’ll land at Zürich.” He picked up the microwave audiophone provided by Runciter’s expensive, well-appointed ship and dialed the regional code for Switzerland. “By putting him in the same moratorium as Ella we can consult both of them simultaneously; they can be linked up electronically to function in unison.”
    “Protophasonically,” Don Denny corrected.
    Joe said, “Do any of you know the name of the manager of the Beloved Brethren Moratorium?”
    “Herbert something,” Tippy Jackson said. “A German name.”
    Wendy Wright, pondering, said, “Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang. I remember it because Mr. Runciter once told me it means ‘Herbert, the beauty of the song of birds.’ I wish I had been named that. I remember thinking that at the time.”
    “You could marry him,” Tito Apostos said.
    “I’m going to marry Joe Chip,” Wendy said in a somber, introspective voice, with childlike gravity.
    “Oh?” Pat Conley said. Her light-saturated black eyes ignited. “Are you really?”
    “Can you change that too?” Wendy said. “With your talent?”
    Pat said, “I’m living with Joe. I’m his mistress. Under our arrangement I pay his bills. I paid his front door, this morning, to let him out. Without me he’d still be in his conapt.”
    “And our trip to Luna,” Al Hammond said, “would not have taken place.” He eyed Pat, a complex expression on his face.
    “Perhaps not today,” Tippy Jackson pointed out, “but eventually. What difference does it make? Anyhow, I think that’s fine for Joe to have a mistress who pays his front door.” She nudged Joe on the shoulder, her face beaming with what struck Joe as salacious approval. A sort of vicarious enjoying of his private, personal activities; in Mrs. Jackson a voyeur dwelt beneath her extroverted surface.
    “Give me the ship’s over-all phone book,” he said. “I’ll notify the moratorium to expect us.” He studied his wrist watch. Ten more minutes of flight.
    “Here’s the phone book, Mr. Chip,” Jon Ild said, after a search; he handed him the heavy square box with its keyboard and microscanner.
    Joe typed out SWITZ, then ZUR, then BLVD BRETH MORA. “Like Hebrew,” Pat said from behind him. “Semantic condensations.” The microscanner whisked back and forth, selecting and discarding; at last its mechanism popped up a punch card, which Joe fed into the phone’s receptor slot.
    The phone said tinnily, “This is a recording.” It expelled the punch card vigorously. “The number which you have given me is obsolete. If you need assistance, place a red card in—”
    “What’s the date on that phone book?” Joe asked Ild, who was returning it to its handy storage shelf.
    Ild examined the information stamped on the rear of the box. “1990. Two years

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