Mr Spaceship pt 3
After Kramer finished the old man lay back in the bed without speaking. At last he sighed.
“I understand. A human mind, taken out of a human body.” He sat up a little, looking at Kramer. “I suppose you’re thinking of me.”
Kramer said nothing.
“Before I make my decision I want to see the papers on this, the theory and outline of construction. I’m not sure I like it.—For reasons of my own, I mean. But I want to look at the material. If you’ll do that—”
“Certainly.” Kramer stood up and went to the door. Gross and the two Security Agents were standing outside, waiting tensely. “Gross, come inside.”
They filed into the room.
“Give the Professor the papers,” Kramer said. “He wants to study them before deciding.”
Gross brought the file out of his coat pocket, a manila envelope. He handed it to the old man on the bed. “Here it is, Professor. You’re welcome to examine it. Will you give us your answer as soon as possible? We’re very anxious to begin, of course.”
“I’ll give you my answer when I’ve decided.” He took the envelope with a thin, trembling hand. “My decision depends on what I find out from these papers. If I don’t like what I find, then I will not become involved with this work in any shape or form.” He opened the envelope with shaking hands. “I’m looking for one thing.”
“What is it?” Gross said.
“That’s my affair. Leave me a number by which I can reach you when I’ve decided.”
Silently, Gross put his card down on the dresser. As they went out Professor Thomas was already reading the first of the papers, the outline of the theory.
Kramer sat across from Dale Winter, his second in line. “What then?” Winter said.
“He’s going to contact us.” Kramer scratched with a drawing pen on some paper. “I don’t know what to think.”
“What do you mean?” Winter’s good-natured face was puzzled.
“Look.” Kramer stood up, pacing back and forth, his hands in his uniform pockets. “He was my teacher in college. I respected him as a man, as well as a teacher. He was more than a voice, a talking book. He was a person, a calm, kindly person I could look up to. I always wanted to be like him, someday. Now look at me.”
“Look at what I’m asking. I’m asking for his life, as if he were some kind of laboratory animal kept around in a cage, not a man, a teacher at all.”
“Do you think he’ll do it?”
“I don’t know.” Kramer went to the window. He stood looking out. “In a way, I hope not.”
“But if he doesn’t—”
“Then we’ll have to find somebody else. I know. There would be somebody else. Why did Dolores have to—”
The vidphone rang. Kramer pressed the button.
“This is Gross.” The heavy features formed. “The old man called me. Professor Thomas.”
“What did he say?” He knew; he could tell already, by the sound of Gross’ voice.
“He said he’d do it. I was a little surprised myself, but apparently he means it. We’ve already made arrangements for his admission to the hospital. His lawyer is drawing up the statement of liability.”
Kramer only half heard. He nodded wearily. “All right. I’m glad. I suppose we can go ahead, then.”
“You don’t sound very glad.”
“I wonder why he decided to go ahead with it.”
“He was very certain about it.” Gross sounded pleased. “He called me quite early. I was still in bed. You know, this calls for a celebration.”
“Sure,” Kramer said. “It sure does.”