[Editor's note. Many of my collaborators such as Ivory and Angela we newly formed in the Final Reality and they had no analogues in the previous Reality (what I think of as the Ekcolir Reality). So far, I've only given you a brief glimpse into the Ekcolir Reality, in the chapter about Roben. Starting here, below, the next dozen or so chapters of Trysta and Ekcolir are all accounts of events in Deep Time. Collaboration with Ivory and Angela and Anney's ability to access information from past Realities was of critical importance in allowing events from the Ekcolir Reality to be told here in the Final Reality. Of course, some of my collaborators originated in Deep Time and when they arrived here in the Final Reality they could provide me with access to their memories of the Ekcolir Reality. In the Ekcolir Reality, the analogue of Jack Vance was born as twins. One of those twins (John) was "extracted" from that Reality and brought over into this Reality where he founded the Dead Widowers Society.]
large number of stories in the magazine, providing a welcome and steady flow of income.
Now John and his wife were going to pass through New York City. They were returning from two months in Europe and had arranged to stop over for one night on their way back home in California.
With his wife settled in to their midtown hotel where she would utilize the spa and beauty salon, John set out to visit the offices of Zane Publishing. Arriving ten minutes early for the appointment, he checked in with McGee's receptionist. She was a middle aged brunette with gray just beginning to shade her dark hair. She beamed at John and said with a slight southern accent, "I'm so pleased to finally meet you, Mr. Vance. I've handled all of your manuscripts over the years."
He gently shook her hand and read the name plate that rested on the edge of her desk. "Oh! You are Mrs. Edelstein! Thank you for all your help over the years."
"Not much help. And you can call me Sally. Dennis never makes many changes to your stories."
"For that I am grateful."
"Dennis...I really should say Mr. McGee...always praises your writing. Your manuscripts arrive in almost publishable format."
"You can thank my wife for that. She's a wonderful editor and constant pillar of support."
"How lucky you are!"
The door to McGee's office opened and a young man came out, walking quickly. He handed a sheaf of papers to Sally and said, "For the March edition." He glanced at John, nodded politely and quickly strode out of the office.
Sally looked through the manuscript and shook her head at all the red editorial markup. "This is what I usually have to deal with. I'll have to re-type the entire thing." She pushed a toggle on her phone and said, "Mr. Vance is here already."
"Perfect. Please let him in."
"Mr. McGee can see you now." She let John into McGee's office.
McGee was seated behind his desk. John stepped forward and saw that McGee was sitting in a wheel chair. McGee said, "Polio got me as a boy. But who needs legs as long as you can lift a pen, eh?"
John leaned across the desk and shook McGee's hand. "Nice to finally meet you Mr. McGee. I'm grateful for my mobility. It does me good to travel the world and discover new ideas for inclusion in my stories."
"Wonderful! But for me, as an editor, I only need to sit ten or twelve hours a day and read manuscripts. Functioning legs would do me no good.....probably just make for distractions from my work."
John shrugged, a bit dismayed at the idea of a man trapped in a wheel chair. "I appreciate your quick turnaround and attention to detail. It is always a pleasure publishing in Future Science."
McGee gestured towards Sally who waited at the door. "Before we settle in and get down to our business, would you like some refreshment? Coffee? Tea? Sally, do you still have some of those doughnuts? Or, perhaps you prefer something more brisk, Mr. Vance?"
John shook his head, "I'm fine. After our cruise I think both Mrs. Vance and I need to go on diets. And please call me John."
"I shall, John, as long as you call me Dennis. That's all Sally." She closed the door and McGee picked up a file folder from his desk. Within he found a draft table of contents. "Your story 'Blind Luck' will be in the February edition. Thank you for continuing to submit your stories to Future Science."
"You pay twice as much as any other magazine. I can't afford not to submit my work to you."
"Well, it is nice that you think that is true, but I suspect you could make more if you packaged your work as novels."
"Not every story is novel-length."
"But more and more writers are bundling together ten or twelve short stories and publishing them as a connected narrative, in book format."
"That's a practice I despise. No, I'm satisfied to publish my short fiction in magazines and my longer works as novels. I'm not looking for any publishing innovations."
"Ah, but you are an innovator.....the way you play your own work off against that of your brother."
"We both like each others writing, so we can't resist reacting to each other."
"Yes, and your fans love it. I've tried to entice Jack into publishing in Future Science, but I've had no luck."
"I hope you have not invited me here in order to ask me to talk him into writing short stories."
"No, I would not ask you to do that. Still, I've long wanted to meet you and get to know you better. Maybe if I understood you then I'd gain some insight into the mysterious life of your brother."
"He's just a private person who enjoys his isolation from the bustle and scurry of civilization. I don't believe anything will change that."
"Hmm. But change is part of life."
John stifled a yawn and took off his suit coat and then leaned back into the comfortable leather chair. "Why did you invite me to visit today?"
McGee solemnly said, "Today marks a big change in your life. Really, you will now be moving on to your second life."
At that moment, John was rather alarmed to see a man and woman suddenly appear to the side of the desk. At first John imagined that the man might be his brother, Jack, but he looked like an exact copy of John, right down to the same tie and shoes. The woman who had appeared was a complete stranger to John, yet somehow he felt he should know her. She was eye-catching, with beautiful dark skin and classically beautiful features.
Strangely, McGee seemed unconcerned by the magical arrival of two people in his office, as if he was expecting them. John tried to speak, but he found that he could not move; he could not consciously control any of his large muscles. With special effort, he could still exert some crude control over his eye muscles.
McGee gestured towards the duplicate John Vance. "This is your replicoid, the new Mr. Vance. Even your wife won't notice any changes when he takes over your life. Meanwhile, you will be moving on to more important affairs." McGee got up out of his wheel chair and seemed to have no trouble walking. He went to stand beside the duplicate Vance and placed a hand on his shoulder. He asked, "Is everything ready for Mr. Vance within the Hierion Domain?"
The alternate Vance nodded, "We've been waiting for this day a long time." He looked at the real Vance and said, "I think you will enjoy your new life, Mr. Vance. Prepare yourself for wonderful new experiences."
Vance was struggling mightily to speak and move, but he was trapped and immobile in the soft chair.
The mysterious woman and the duplicate Vance pulled the real Vance to his feet. McGee picked up his coat from the chair and placed it over John's shoulders. The woman spoke in a soft voice, "Step back, Maghy".
McGee returned to his wheel chair and gave a final silent nod of farewell to John. The duplicate Vance released his grip on John, leaving him supported and steadied only by the woman's strong arms. An instant later Vance and the woman disappeared. McGee rolled himself across the room to the door and opened it. He said, "So nice to meet you, John. I'll be waiting anxiously for your next submission to Future Science."
The duplicate Vance turned and shook McGee's hand. "A pleasure doing business, Dennis." He turned and walked out of the office, whistling a tune. He nodding briefly to Sally and gave her a quick two fingered salute as he passed.
After "Vance" had departed from the room, Sally said, "Well, he seems pleased. Did you talk him into it?"
McGee replied, "Actually, I think he was ready for a change. You can move ahead with our plans to repackage Mr. Vance's stories in book format." He picked up a file folder from his lap, opened it and extracted a legal document. He handed her the crisp sheet of paper. "Here's his signed release for the project."
McGee wheeled himself back into his office.
Trysta and Ekcolir is copyright John Schmidt, but the text of the story is licensed for sharing under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) license.