The Frontier [Darkover series]
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by Diana L. Paxson
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description: Frontier medicine has always been challenging, but treating a multiple personality on Darkover may involve challenges a Terran psychiatrist would never have imagined.
eBook Publisher: Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 1993 Towers of Darkover
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
31 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [31 KB]
Reading time: 16-23 min.
"I probably shouldn't be here at all.... "Stevie sat on the edge of the easy chair as if he were afraid it would swallow him, a slight young man with mousy hair whose records said he was a data entry clerk in Transport and Supply. He looked up at me in appeal, and I was glad that when I was working I could exchange my Spaceforce blacks for a white smock like the rest of the medical personnel.
"It's just that the headaches are getting worse, and the docs don't seem to be able to find anything wrong. And sometimes ... sometimes when they go away, time has passed and I don't know where I've been!"
"Hmm--" I said noncommittally, but my heartbeat quickened. The standard battery of tests had indicated a rigid and rather limited personality, and I had been prepared for repressions, but not amnesia.
"Why don't you lean back in the chair?" I asked him. "It's very comfortable.... "It also had its own heating and could provide a soothing vibration, subliminal music or a maternal heartbeat, and restraints, in the event they should be required.
The chair did its work, and I listened with increasing interest to the litany of symptoms. Stevie had a variety of psychosomatic disorders. He was on drugs for his nightmares about the Trade City orphanage in which he had been raised, and such settings were notorious for physical and sexual abuse, no matter how well they were run. He had lived in a succession of apartments, and did not seem to keep friends for long.
"It says here that the Spaceforce MPs picked you up at the Goldenflower Inn after you had knocked out several crew members from the Star Whore, destroyed most of the chairs, and broken a chervine-drover's arm in a brawl--" I looked up from the screen, finding it hard to believe.
Stevie shook his head as if he were having the same problem.
"They say I did that, but I only remember waking up in the hospital. It doesn't make sense. I don't even like to drink. I would never go to a bar in that part of town."
"Hmm. It sounds as if you might have had another episode of amnesia. Would you be willing to let me use hypnosis to see if we can find out what went on?" I touched a spot on the desk, and the lights began to dim. The photosensors were already recording the session; I touched the controls to compensate and increase the pickup of sound.
"Will it hurt?" He looked tense, even in the embrace of the chair.
"Not at all. If there's something you're not ready to deal with, you won't even remember it. But in order to help you, I need to know."
"I guess so.... "He leaned back, and I keyed the subliminal drumbeat to begin. The relaxation induction went smoothly, and in a few minutes I could see that the tension had left his body.
"Stevie, can you hear me? Raise your little finger if you can--that's very good. Now, Stevie, I want you to go even deeper into trance. I want to speak to the part of you that can tell me what happened at the Goldenflower Inn...."
Stevie twitched, but there was only silence. I sighed, brought him back to the relaxed state, then took him down again. This resistance was annoying, but clearly at some level he wanted help, or he would not have come.
"I know there's a part of you that would like to talk to me. Will that part of you tell me how I can help you now?"
For a long moment I thought this was not going to work either. Then he stiffened. I could see his eyelids quivering, he took a few deep, controlled breaths, and opened his eyes.
Stevie's eyes had seemed as colorless as the rest of him, but even in that dim light I could have sworn that now they were a pellucid pale blue. Slowly he straightened in the chair, slender fingers brushing at his head for all the world as if he were putting back a veil.
"Dealing with this would all be much simpler in the Tower, but I suppose you will have to do." The tone was brisk, composed.
"Who are you?" I spoke more sharply than I had intended, because it was a woman's voice that had answered me, and despite the form, it was impossible not to see a woman sitting there.
"I am Allirinda Aillard, Keeper of Neskaya Tower."
Dissociative states ... multiple personality ... a paper for the Annals ... I had read enough to recognize the rare condition I was seeing now. This case could make my career.
"But you didn't start the fight at the Goldenflower Inn--" I found my voice at last.
"No--" Allirinda frowned fastidiously, "That ... was Dom Esteban-Gabriel Alton, and if we do not learn how to control him, he is going to do it again!"