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«We Can Remember It for You Wholesale», Philip Dick

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He awoke—and wanted Mars. The valleys, he thought. What would it be like to trudge among them? Great and greater yet: the dream grew as he became fully conscious, the dream and the yearning. He could almost feel the enveloping presence of the other world, which only Government agents and high officials had seen. A clerk like himself? Not likely.

“Are you getting up or not?” his wife Kirsten asked drowsily, with her usual hint of fierce crossness. “If you are, push the hot coffee button on the darn stove.”

“Okay,” Douglas Quail said, and made his way barefoot from the bedroom of their conapt to the kitchen. There, having dutifully pressed the hot coffee button, he seated himself at the kitchen table, brought out a yellow, small tin of fine Dean Swift snuff. He inhaled briskly, and the Beau Nash mixture stung his nose, burned the roof of his mouth. But still he inhaled; it woke him up and allowed his dreams, his nocturnal desires and random wishes, to condense into a semblance of rationality.

I will go, he said to himself. Before I die I’ll see Mars.

It was, of course, impossible, and he knew this even as he dreamed. But the daylight, the mundane noise of his wife now brushing her hair before the bedroom mirror—everything conspired to remind him of what he was. A miserable little salaried employee, he said to himself with bitterness. Kirsten reminded him of this at least once a day and he did not blame her; it was a wife’s job to bring her husband down to Earth. Down to Earth, he thought, and laughed. The figure of speech in this was literally apt.

“What are you sniggering about?” his wife asked as she swept into the kitchen, her long busy-pink robe wagging after her. “A dream, I bet. You’re always full of them.”

“Yes,” he said, and gazed out the kitchen window at the hovercars and traffic runnels, and all the little energetic people hurrying to work. In a little while he would be among them. As always.

“I’ll bet it has to do with some woman,” Kirsten said witheringly.

“No,” he said. “A god. The god of war. He has wonderful craters with every kind of plant-life growing deep down in them.”

“Listen.” Kirsten crouched down beside him and spoke earnestly, the harsh quality momentarily gone from her voice. “The bottom of the ocean—our ocean is much more, an infinity of times more beautiful. You know that; everyone knows that. Rent an artificial gill-outfit for both of us, take a week off from work, and we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts. And in addition,” She broke off. “You’re not listening. You should be. Here is something a lot better than that compulsion, that obsession you have about Mars, and you don’t even listen!” Her voice rose piercingly. “God in heaven, you’re doomed, Doug! What’s going to become of you?”

“I’m going to work,” he said, rising to his feet, his breakfast forgotten. “That’s what’s going to become of me.”

She eyed him. “You’re getting worse. More fanatical every day. Where’s it going to lead?”

“To Mars,” he said, and opened the door to the closet to get down a fresh shirt to wear to work.


Having descended from the taxi Douglas Quail slowly walked across three densely-populated foot runnels and to the modern, attractively inviting doorway. There he halted, impeding mid-morning traffic, and with caution read the shifting-color neon sign. He had, in the past, scrutinized this sign before… but never had he come so close. This was very different; what he did now was something else. Something which sooner or later had to happen.


Rekal, Incorporated


Was this the answer? After all, an illusion, no matter how convincing, remained nothing more than an illusion. At least objectively. But subjectively—quite the opposite entirely.

And anyhow he had an appointment. Within the next five minutes.

Taking a deep breath of mildly smog-infested Chicago air, he walked through the dazzling poly-chromatic shimmer of the doorway and up to the receptionist’s counter. The nicely-articulated blonde at the counter, bare-bosomed and tidy, said pleasantly, “Good morning, Mr. Quail.”

“Yes,” he said. “I’m here to see about a Rekal course. As I guess you know.”

“Not �rekal’ but recall,” the receptionist corrected him. She picked up the receiver of the vidphone by her smooth elbow and said into it, “Mr. Douglas Quail is here, Mr. McClane. May he come inside, now? Or is it too soon?”

“Giz wetwa wum-wum wamp,” the phone mumbled.

“Yes, Mr. Quail,” she said. “You may go on in; Mr. McClane is expecting you.” As he started off uncertainly she called after him, “Room D, Mr. Quail. To your right.”

After a frustrating but brief moment of being lost he found the proper room. The door hung open and inside, at a big genuine walnut desk, sat a genial-looking man, middle-aged, wearing the latest Martian frog-pelt gray suit; his attire alone would have told Quail that he had come to the right person.

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