A SCANNER DARKLY -- CHAPTER 15
"No," Mike said, "1 think I'm going to put you on one of our farms. I want to try you with plants for a while, a few months. Out in the open, where you can touch the ground. With all these rocket- ship space probes there's been too much trying to reach the sky. I want you to make the attempt to reach --"
"I want to be with something living."
Mike explained, "The ground is living. The Earth is still alive. You can get the most help there. Do you have any agricultural background? Seeds and cultivation and harvesting?"
"I worked in an office."
"You'll be outside from now on. If your mind comes back it'll have to come back naturally. You can't make yourself think again. You can only keep working, such as sowing crops or tilling on our vegetable plantations -- as we call them -- or killing insects. We do a lot of that, driving insects out of existence with the right kind of sprays. We're very careful, though, with sprays. They can do more harm than good. They can poison not only the crops and the ground but the person using them. Eat his head." He added, "Like yours has been eaten."
"Okay," Bruce said.
You have been sprayed, Mike thought as he glanced at the man, so that now you've become a bug. Spray a bug with a toxin and it dies; spray a man, spray his brain, and he becomes an insect that clacks and vibrates about in a closed circle forever. A reflex machine, like an ant. Repeating his last instruction.
Nothing new will ever enter his brain, Mike thought, because that brain is gone.
And with it, that person who once gazed out. That I never knew.
But maybe, if he is placed in the right spot, in the right stance, he can still see down, and see the ground. And recognize that it is there. And place something which is alive, something different from himself, in it. To grow.
Since that is what he or it can't do any longer: this creature beside me has died, and so can never again grow. It can only decay gradually until what remains, too, is dead. And then we cart that off.
There is little future, Mike thought, for someone who is dead. There is, usually, only the past. And for Arctor-Fred-Bruce there is not even the past; there is only this.
Beside him, as he drove the staff car, the slumped figure jiggled. Animated by the car.
I wonder, he thought, if it was New-Path that did this to him. Sent a substance out to get him like this, to make him this way so they would ultimately receive him back?
To build, he thought, their civilization within the chaos. If "civilization" it really is.
He did not know. He had not been at New-Path long enough; their goals, the Executive Director had informed him once, would be revealed to him only after he had been a staff member another two years.
Those goals, the Executive Director had said, had nothing to do with drug rehabilitation.
No one but Donald, the Executive Director, knew where the funding for New-Path originated. Money was always there. Well, Mike thought, there is a lot of money in manufacturing Substance D. Out in various remote rural farms, in small shops, in several facilities labeled "schools." Money in manufacturing it, distributing it, and finally selling it. At least enough to keep New-Path solvent and growing -- and more. Sufficient for a variety of ultimate goals.
Depending on what New-Path intended to do.
He knew something -- U.S. Drug Restriction knew something -- that most of the public, even the police, did not know.
Substance D, like heroin, was organic. Not the product of a lab.
So he meant quite a bit when he thought, as he frequently did, that all those profits could well keep New-Path solvent -- and growing.
The living, he thought, should never be used to serve the purposes of the dead. But the dead -- he glanced at Bruce, the empty shape beside him -- should, if possible, serve the purposes of the living.
That, he reasoned, is the law of life.
And the dead, if they could feel, might feel better doing so.
The dead, Mike thought, who can still see, even if they can't understand: they are our camera.