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20. Inoculation


"Izzy Molson cant help you, Mel," Shaman told me. Gypsy twiddled his thumbs and snarled under his breath. "Im you. And youre not what you think you are, Mel. Im you. You didnt consummate with Nora, Mel, or youd know how right I am. Im you. She wanted you to explode inside her, and not just your sperm, Mel. Im you." I felt like a cow being milked, helplessly and dumbly chewing cud. Shaman squeezing my udders, his fingers sticky with my milk. The hiss of milk spray into Shamans bucket. The pressure inside me dwindling. Chewing and chewing.

Then Shaman whispered: "Im you, Mel. They want to pull the Sphinx up through your mind like a baby gorilla out an aphids pussy, so they can install him in the Magellanics. Im you. Is that what you want, Mel?"

"You make me laugh." Gypsy turned on Shaman suddenly. "The arrogance! You think you can bore into him right here in front of my face!"

"But I am. Hes mine, old Gyp. You cant do squat zip. Look at the poor worm. Even if you got him to Sandy, hes not Abu. You make me laugh, Sandulean."

"Shaman, the only reason I let you get this far is to inoculate him against you. Now hell recognize what you do." And Gypsy slapped me sharply across the face. It stung. My ears rang. The flood of awareness made me conscious all at once of another, deeper violation, and I swung my gaze toward Shaman as if I were wielding a shillelagh.

He drew back, startled. There was the slightest hint of fear, then it passed like the moon shadow of a wisp of smoke, and Shaman was his own again. He smiled a studied smile. I withered.

"I see," Shaman said to Gypsy. "You want to take away my farm."

Nora careened to the table and stood over Shaman. There was blood smeared on her neck, down her arms, and across her chest. "Youve been at him. You said you wouldnt."

"Shaman tried to drill him," Gypsy said, "right here in the Magellanic Stream. Mel threw him out. It was funny, Nora. You should have seen it. Mel bounced him!"

Shaman shot back, "It wasnt the Earther. It was him, it was Gypsy using the boy like a hand puppet. The boy is mine. He has no will. He has no self. He is nothing. He is my straw, my chocolate flavor straw into the mind of Abu. This had nothing to do with you or with anyone on Sanduleak or anywhere else in the Magellanics."

"Youre wrong, Shaman," Nora said. "Abu is our father as well.

"Im no menace to your galaxies. Why cant you live and let live?" Shaman pushed away from the table and stormed to what used to be the glass doors leading to the pedestrian walkway. He stood there, staring out into black space. Gypsy applauded sardonically; Shamans was the gesture of a Shakespearean actor.

"Nora," I stuttered, "youre covered with blood."

"It was that tattooed man," she said, "the one who gave me a flower. He must have been in the mens room when we took off. He stayed there and hid, apparently. I heard him through the wall. I had to kill him."



19. Lingua Franca | Izzy and the Father of Terror | 21. If and Only If