Author : George R. Shirer



“Um. I sort of want to eat your face.”

Raj said this in a sheepish tone.

“No, you don’t.”

“I know, I just. . . .”

I jerked a thumb over my shoulder, at the back of the car.

“It’s not you. It’s her.”

I hit the switch, activating the shock-collar the perp was wearing. She twitched on the backseat like an epileptic having a grand mal seizure.

“Better?” I asked Raj.

He nodded, rubbed his head. “Yeah.”

“You have to learn to keep ‘em out of your head, kid.”

“How do you do it?”

I shrugged and we drove along for a while in silence. Outside the car, the concrete highway glowed in the moonlight. Ahead, a neon sign flashed, advertising a truck stop.

As we drew near it, Raj sighed and drew his gun, pressed it against my head.

“Pull over, Mac.”

I looked at him. The ‘path was out cold, in the back seat. “You’re a sympathizer, Raj?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, and pulled the trigger.

The bullet bounced off my skull and shattered the front windshield. I jabbed two fingers into Raj’s throat, hard. He bent double, choking and I relieved him of his gun, slammed it into the side of his head. Raj slumped, unconscious.

I checked myself in the rear-view mirror. The bullet had torn through the synthetic flesh covering the side of my head, exposing the metal beneath it. Repairing the damage wouldn’t take much, but until that happened I would be walking around, looking like an escapee from a bad sci-fi movie.

“What . . . ?”

Turning, I saw the ‘path staring at me, blearily, through the perp-glass. On general principles I switched on the shock-collar again, a full jolt. There was an unpleasant stink of burning hair and urine.


Damned telepaths.

Bad enough the war with them turned me into a cyborg, now this one had to piss all over the backseat.

I stopped and radioed headquarters, letting them know what had happened. They gave me the green light to sanction the ‘path, but wanted Raj alive. Living sympathists were rare. The spooks wanted to interrogate Raj before they sanctioned him.

I felt sorry for the kid, until I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window.


The interrogators were welcome to him.

I pulled the telepath out of the car and put a bullet in her mutant brain. By the time the spooks arrived for Raj, I was sitting on the car’s hood, sucking on a cigarette, watching the sunrise and feeling almost human.


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