Read CHAPTER 5 of Brain Twister , free online book, by Gordon Randall Garrett & Laurence Mark Janifer, on

Malone opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Not even air.

He wasn’t breathing.

He stared at Burris for a long moment, then took a breath and looked again at Her Majesty. “The spy?” he whispered.

“That’s right,” she said.

“But that’s ” He had to fight for control. “That’s the head of the FBI,” he managed to say. “Do you mean to say he’s a spy?”

Burris was saying: “... I’m afraid this is a matter of importance, Dr. Dowson. We cannot tolerate delay. You have the court order. Obey it.”

“Very well, Mr. Burris,” Dowson said with an obvious lack of grace. “I’ll release him to Mr. Malone immediately, since you insist.”

Malone stared, fascinated. Then he turned back to the little old lady. “Do you mean to tell me,” he said, “that Andrew J. Burris is a telepathic spy?”

“Oh, dear me,” Her Majesty said, obviously aghast. “My goodness gracious. Is that Mr. Burris on the screen?”

“It is,” Malone assured her. A look out of the corner of his eye told him that neither Burris, in Washington, nor Dowson or any others in the room, had heard any of the conversation. Malone lowered his whisper some more, just in case. “That’s the head of the FBI,” he said.

“Well, then,” Her Majesty said, “Mr. Burris couldn’t possibly be a spy, then, could he? Not if he’s the head of the FBI. Of course not. Mr. Burris simply isn’t a spy. He isn’t the type. Forget all about Mr. Burris.”

“I can’t,” Malone said at random. “I work for him.” He closed his eyes. The room, he had discovered, was spinning slightly. “Now,” he said, “you’re sure he’s not a spy?”

“Certainly I’m sure,” she said, with her most regal tones. “Do you doubt the word of your sovereign?”

“Not exactly,” Malone said. Truthfully, he wasn’t at all sure. Not at all. But why tell that to the Queen?

“Shame on you,” she said. “You shouldn’t even think such things. After all, I am the Queen, aren’t I?” But there was a sweet, gentle smile on her face when she spoke; she didn’t seem to be really irritated.

“Sure you are,” Malone said. “But ”

“Malone!” It was Burris’ voice, from the phone. Malone spun around. “Take Mr. Logan,” Burris said, “and get going. There’s been enough delay as it is.”

“Yes, sir,” Malone said. “Right away, sir. Anything else?”

“That’s all,” Burris said. “Good night.” The screen blanked.

There was a little silence.

“All right, Doctor,” Boyd said. He looked every inch a king, and Malone knew exactly what king. “Bring him out.”

Dr. Dowson heaved a great sigh. “Very well,” he said heavily. “But I want it known that I resent this highhanded treatment, and I shall write a letter complaining of it.” He pressed a button on an instrument panel in his desk. “Bring Mr. Logan in,” he said.

Malone wasn’t in the least worried about the letter. Burris, he knew, would take care of anything like that. And, besides, he had other things to think about.

The door to the next room had opened almost immediately, and two husky, white-clad men were bringing in a strait-jacketed figure whose arms were wrapped against his chest, while the jacket’s extra-long sleeves were tied behind his back. He walked where the attendants led him, but his eyes weren’t looking at anything in the room. They stared at something far away and invisible, an impalpable shifting nothingness somewhere in the infinite distances beyond the world.

For the first time, Malone felt the chill of panic. Here, he thought, was insanity of a very real and frightening kind. Queen Elizabeth Thompson was one thing and she was almost funny, and likeable, after all. But William Logan was something else, and something that sent a wave of cold shivering into the room.

What made it worse was that Logan wasn’t a man, but a boy, barely nineteen. Malone had known that, of course but seeing it was something different. The lanky, awkward figure wrapped in a hospital strait-jacket was horrible, and the smooth, unconcerned face was, somehow, worse. There was no threat in that face, no terror or anger or fear. It was merely a blank.

It was not a human face. Its complete lack of emotion or expression could have belonged to a sleeping child of ten or to a member of a different race. Malone looked at the boy, and looked away.

Was it possible that Logan knew what he was thinking?

Answer me, he thought, directly at the still boy.

There was no reply, none at all. Malone forced himself to look away.
But the air in the room seemed to have become much colder.

The attendants stood on either side of him, waiting. For one long second no one moved, and then Dr. Dowson reached into his desk drawer and produced a sheaf of papers.

“If you’ll sign these for the government,” he said, “you may have Mr. Logan. There seems little else that I can do, Mr. Malone in spite of my earnest pleas ”

“I’m sorry,” Malone said. After all, he needed Logan, didn’t he? After a look at the boy, he wasn’t sure any more but the Queen had said she wanted him, and the Queen’s word was law. Or what passed for law, anyhow, at least for the moment.

Malone took the papers and looked them over. There was nothing special about them; they were merely standard release forms, absolving the staff and management of Desert Edge Sanatorium from every conceivable responsibility under any conceivable circumstances, as far as William Logan was concerned. Dr. Dowson gave Malone a look that said: “Very well, Mr. Malone; I will play Pilate and wash my hands of the matter but you needn’t think I like it.” It was a lot for one look to say, but Dr. Dowson’s dark and sunken eyes got the message across with no loss in transmission. As a matter of fact, there seemed to be more coming a much less printable message was apparently on the way through those glittering, sad and angry eyes.

Malone avoided them nervously, and went over the papers again instead. At last he signed them and handed them back. “Thanks for your cooperation, Dr. Dowson,” he said briskly, feeling ten kinds of a traitor.

“Not at all,” Dowson said bitterly. “Mr. Logan is now in your custody. I must trust you to take good care of him.”

“The best care we can,” Malone said. It didn’t seem sufficient. He added: “The best possible care, Doctor,” and tried to look dependable and trustworthy, like a Boy Scout. He was aware that the effort failed miserably.

At his signal, the two plainclothes FBI men took over from the attendants. They marched Logan out to their car, and Malone led the procession back to Boyd’s automobile, a procession that consisted (in order) of Sir Kenneth Malone, prospective Duke of Columbia, Queen Elizabeth I, Lady Barbara, prospective Duchess of an unspecified county, and Sir Thomas Boyd, prospective Duke of Poughkeepsie. Malone hummed a little of the first Pomp and Circumstance march as they walked; somehow, he thought it was called for.

They piled into the car, Boyd at the wheel with Malone next to him, and the two ladies in back, with Queen Elizabeth sitting directly behind Sir Thomas. Boyd started the engine and they turned and roared off.

“Well,” said Her Majesty with an air of great complacence, “that’s that. That makes six of us.”

Malone looked around the car. He counted the people. There were four. He said, puzzled: “Six?”

“That’s right, Sir Kenneth,” Her Majesty said. “You have it exactly. Six.”

“You mean six telepaths?” Sir Thomas asked in a deferent tone of voice.

“Certainly I do,” Her Majesty replied. “We telepaths, you know, must stick together. That’s the reason I got poor little Willie out of that sanatorium of his, you know and, of course, the others will be joining us.”

“Don’t you think it’s time for your nap, dear?” Lady Barbara put in suddenly.

“My what?” It was obvious that Queen Elizabeth was Not Amused.

“Your nap, dear,” Lady Barbara said.

“Don’t call me dear,” Her Majesty snapped.

“I’m sorry, Your Majesty,” Barbara murmured. “But really ”

“My dear girl,” Her Majesty said, “I am not a child. I am your sovereign. Do try to have a little respect. Why, I remember when Shakespeare used to say to me but that’s no matter, not now.”

“About those telepaths ” Boyd began.

“Telepaths,” Her Majesty said. “Ah, yes. We must all stick together. In the hospital, you know, we had a little joke the patients for Insulin Shock Therapy used to say: ’If we don’t stick together, we’ll all be stuck separately.’ Do you see, Sir Thomas?”

“But,” Sir Kenneth Malone said, trying desperately to return to the point. "Six?" He had counted them up in his mind. Burris had mentioned one found in St. Elizabeths, and two more picked up later. With Queen Elizabeth, and now William Logan, that made five.

Unless the Queen was counting him in. There didn’t seem any good reason why not.

“Oh, no,” Her Majesty said with a little trill of laughter, “not you, Sir Kenneth. I meant Mr. Miles.”

Sir Thomas Boyd asked: “Mr. Miles?”

“That’s right,” Her Majesty said. “His name is Barry Miles, and your FBI men found him an hour ago in New Orleans. They’re bringing him to Yucca Flats to meet the rest of us; isn’t that nice?”

Lady Barbara cleared her throat.

“It really isn’t necessary for you to try to get my attention, dear,” the Queen said. “After all, I do know what you’re thinking.”

Lady Barbara blinked. “I still want to suggest, respectfully, about that nap ” she began.

“My dear girl,” the Queen said, with the faintest trace of impatience, “I do not feel the least bit tired, and this is such an exciting day that I just don’t want to miss any of it. Besides, I’ve already told you I don’t want a nap. It isn’t polite to be insistent to your Queen no matter how strongly you feel about a matter. I’m sure you’ll learn to understand that, dear.”

Lady Barbara opened her mouth, shut it again, and opened it once more. “My goodness,” she said.

“That’s the idea,” Her Majesty said approvingly. “Think before you speak and then don’t speak. It really isn’t necessary, since I know what you’re thinking.”

Malone said grimly: “About this new telepath this Barry Miles. Did they find him ”

“In a nut-house?” Her Majesty said sweetly. “Why, of course, Sir Kenneth. You were quite right when you thought that telepaths went insane because they had a sense they couldn’t effectively use, and because no one believed them. How would you feel, if nobody believed you could see?”

“Strange,” Malone admitted.

“There,” Her Majesty said. “You see? Telepaths do go insane it’s sort of an occupational disease. Of course, not all of them are insane.”

“Not all of them?” Malone felt the faint stirrings of hope. Perhaps they would turn up a telepath yet who was completely sane and rational.

“There’s me, of course,” Her Majesty said.

Lady Barbara gulped audibly. Boyd said nothing, but gripped the wheel of the car more tightly.

And Malone thought to himself: That’s right. There’s Queen Elizabeth who says she isn’t crazy.

And then he thought of one more sane telepath. But the knowledge didn’t make him feel any better.

It was, of course, the spy.

How many more are going to turn up? Malone wondered.

“Oh, that’s about all of us,” the Queen said. “There is one more, but she’s in a hospital in Honolulu, and your men won’t find her until tomorrow.”

Boyd turned. “Do you mean you can foretell the future, too?” he asked in a strained voice.

Lady Barbara screamed: “Keep your eyes on the wheel and your hands on the road!”

“What?” Boyd said.

There was a terrific blast of noise, and a truck went by in the opposite direction. The driver, a big, ugly man with no hair on his head, leaned out to curse at the quartet, but his mouth remained open. He stared at the four Elizabethans and said nothing at all as he whizzed by.

“What was that?” Boyd asked faintly.

“That,” Malone snapped, “was a truck. And it was due entirely to the mercy of God that we didn’t hit it. Barbara’s right. Keep your eyes on the wheel and your hands on the road.” He paused and thought that over. Then he said: “Does that mean anything at all?”

“Lady Barbara was confused by the excitement,” the Queen said calmly.

“It’s all right now, dear.”

Lady Barbara blinked across the seat. “I was afraid,” she said.

“It’s all right,” the Queen said. “I’ll take care of you.”

“This,” Malone announced to no one in particular, “is ridiculous.”

Boyd swept the car around a curve and concentrated grimly on the road. After a second the Queen said: “Since you’re still thinking about the question, I’ll answer you.”

“What question?” Malone said, thoroughly baffled.

“Sir Thomas asked me if I could foretell the future,” the Queen said equably. “Of course I can’t. That’s silly. Just because I’m immortal and I’m a telepath, don’t go hog-wild.”

“Then how did you know the FBI agents were going to find the girl in Honolulu tomorrow?” Boyd said.

“Because,” the Queen said, “they’re thinking about looking in the hospital tomorrow, and when they look they’ll certainly find her.”

Boyd said: “Oh,” and was silent.

But Malone had a grim question. “Why didn’t you tell me about these other telepaths before?” he said. “You could have saved us a lot of work.”

“Oh, heavens to Betsy, Sir Kenneth,” Her Majesty exclaimed. “How could I? After all, the proper precautions had to be taken first, didn’t they? I told you all the others were crazy really crazy, I mean. And they just wouldn’t be safe without the proper precautions.”

“Perhaps you ought to go back to the hospital, too,” Barbara said, and added: “Your Majesty,” just in time.

“But if I did, dear,” Her Majesty said, “you’d lose your chance to become a Duchess, and that wouldn’t be at all nice. Besides, I’m having so much fun!” She trilled a laugh again. “Riding around like this is just wonderful!” she said.

And you’re important for national security, Malone said to himself.

“That’s right, Sir Kenneth,” the Queen said. “The country needs me, and I’m happy to serve. That is the job of a sovereign.”

“Fine,” Malone said, hoping it was.

“Well, then,” said Her Majesty, “that settles that. We have a whole night ahead of us, Sir Kenneth. What do you say we make a night of it?”

“Knight who?” Malone said. He felt confused again. It seemed as if he was always feeling confused lately.

“Don’t be silly, Sir Kenneth,” Her Majesty said. “There are times and times.”

“Sure,” Malone said at random. And time and a half, he thought. Possibly for overtime. “What is Your Majesty thinking of?” he asked with trepidation.

“I want to take a tour of Las Vegas,” Her Majesty said primly.

Lady Barbara shook her head. “I’m afraid that’s not possible, Your Majesty,” she said.

“And why not, pray?” Her Majesty said. “No. I can see what you’re thinking. It’s not safe to let me go wandering around in a strange city, and particularly if that city is Las Vegas. Well, dear, I can assure you that it’s perfectly safe.”

“We’ve got work to do,” Boyd contributed.

Malone said nothing. He stared bleakly at the hood ornament on the car.

“I have made my wishes known,” the Queen said.

Lady Barbara said: “But ”

Boyd, however, knew when to give in. “Yes, Your Majesty,” he said.

She smiled graciously at him, and answered Lady Barbara only by a slight lift of her regal eyebrow.

Malone had been thinking about something else. When he was sure he had a firm grip on himself he turned. “Your Majesty, tell me something,” he said. “You can read my mind, right?”

“Well, of course, Sir Kenneth,” Her Majesty said. “I thought I’d proved that to you. And, as for what you’re about to ask ”

“No,” Malone said. “Please. Let me ask the questions before you answer them. It’s less confusing that way. I’ll cheerfully admit that it shouldn’t be but it is. Please?”

“Certainly, Sir Kenneth, if you wish,” the Queen said. She folded her hands in her lap and waited quietly.

“Okay,” Malone said. “Now, if you can read my mind, then you must know that I don’t really believe that you are Queen Elizabeth of England. The First, I mean.”

“Mr. Malone,” Barbara Wilson said suddenly. “I ”

“It’s all right, child,” the Queen said. “He doesn’t disturb me. And I do wish you’d call him Sir Kenneth. That’s his title, you know.”

“Now that’s what I mean,” Malone said. “Why do you want us to act as if we believe you, when you know we don’t?”

“Because that’s the way people do act,” the Queen said calmly. “Very few people really believe that their so-called superiors are superior. Almost none of them do, in fact.”

“Now wait a minute,” Boyd began.

“No, no, it’s quite true,” the Queen said, “and, unpleasant as it may be, we must learn to face the truth. That’s the path of sanity.” Lady Barbara made a strangled noise but Her Majesty continued, unruffled. “Nearly everybody suffers from the silly delusion that he’s possibly equal to, but very probably superior to, everybody else my goodness, where would we be if that were true?”

Malone felt that a comment was called for, and he made one. “Who knows?” he said.

“All the things people do toward their superiors,” the Queen said, “are done for social reasons. For instance, Sir Kenneth: you don’t realize fully how you feel about Mr. Burris.”

“He’s a hell of a fine guy,” Malone said. “I work for him. He’s a good Director of the FBI.”

“Of course,” the Queen said. “But you believe you could do the job just as well, or perhaps a little better.”

“I do not,” Malone said angrily.

Her Majesty reserved a dignified silence.

After a while Malone said: “And what if I do?”

“Why, nothing,” Her Majesty said. “You don’t think Mr. Burris is any smarter or better than you are but you treat him as if you did. All I am insisting on is the same treatment.”

“But if we don’t believe ” Boyd began.

“Bless you,” Her Majesty said, “I can’t help the way you think, but, as Queen, I do have some control over the way you act.”

Malone thought it over. “You have a point there,” he said at last.

Barbara said: “But ”

“Yes, Sir Kenneth,” the Queen said, “I do.” She seemed to be ignoring Lady Barbara. Perhaps, Malone thought, she was still angry over the nap affair. “It’s not that,” the Queen said.

“Not what?” Boyd said, thoroughly confused.

“Not the naps,” the Queen said.

“What naps?” Boyd said. Malone said: “I was thinking ”

“Good,” Boyd said. “Keep it up. I’m driving. Everything’s going to hell around me, but I’m driving.”

A red light appeared ahead. Boyd jammed on the brakes with somewhat more than the necessary force, and Malone was thrown forward with a grunt. Behind him there were two ladylike squeals.

Malone struggled upright. “Barbara?” he called. “Are you all right ” Then he remembered the Queen.

“It’s all right,” Her Majesty said. “I can understand your concern for Lady Barbara.” She smiled at Malone as he turned.

Malone gaped at her. Of course she knew what he thought about Barbara; she’d been reading his mind. And, apparently, she was on his side. That was good, even though it made him slightly nervous to think about.

“Now,” the Queen said suddenly, “what about tonight?”


“Yes, of course,” the Queen said. She smiled, and put up a hand to pat at her white hair under the Elizabethan skullcap. “I think I should like to go to the Palace,” she said. “After all, isn’t that where a Queen should be?”

Boyd said, in a kind of explosion: “London? England?”

“Oh, dear me....” the Queen began, and Barbara said:

“I’m afraid that I simply can’t allow anything like that. Overseas ”

“I didn’t mean overseas, dear,” Her Majesty said. “Sir Kenneth, please explain to these people.”

The Palace, Malone knew, was more properly known as the Golden Palace.
It was right in Las Vegas convenient to all sources of money.

As a matter of fact, it was one of the biggest gambling houses along the Las Vegas strip, a veritable chaos of wheels, cards, dice, chips and other such devices. Malone explained all this to the others, wondering meanwhile why Miss Thompson wanted to go there.

“Not Miss Thompson, please, Sir Kenneth,” Her Majesty said.

“Not Miss Thompson what?” Boyd said. “What’s going on anyhow?”

“She’s reading my mind,” Malone said.

“Well, then,” Boyd snapped, “tell her to keep it to herself.” The car started up again with a roar and Malone and the others were thrown around again, this time toward the back. There was a chorus of groans and squeals, and they were on their way once more.

“To reply to your question, Sir Kenneth,” the Queen said.

Lady Barbara said, with some composure: “What question Your Majesty?”

The Queen nodded regally at her. “Sir Kenneth was wondering why I wished to go to the Golden Palace,” she said. “And my reply is this: it is none of your business why I want to go there. After all, is my word law, or isn’t it?”

There didn’t seem to be a good enough answer to that, Malone thought sadly. He kept quiet and was relieved to note that the others did the same. However, after a second he thought of something else.

“Your Majesty,” he began carefully, “we’ve got to go to Yucca Flats tomorrow. Remember?”

“Certainly,” the Queen said. “My memory is quite good, thank you. But that is tomorrow morning. We have the rest of the night left. It’s only a little after nine, you know.”

“Heavens,” Barbara said. “Is it that late?”

“It’s even later,” Boyd said sourly. “It’s much later than you think.”

“And it’s getting later all the time,” Malone added. “Pretty soon the sun will go out and all life on earth will end. Won’t that be nice and peaceful?”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Boyd said.

“I’m not,” Barbara said. “But I’ve got to get some sleep tonight, if I’m going to be any good at all tomorrow.”

You’re pretty good right now, Malone thought, but he didn’t say a word. He felt the Queen’s eye on him but didn’t turn around. After all, she was on his side wasn’t she?

At any rate, she didn’t say anything.

“Perhaps it would be best,” Barbara said, “if you and I Your Majesty just went home and rested up. Some other time, then, when there’s nothing vital to do, we could ”

“No,” the Queen said. “We couldn’t. Really, Lady Barbara, how often will I have to remind you of the duties you owe your sovereign not the least of which is obedience, as dear old Ben used to say.”

“Ben?” Malone said, and immediately wished he hadn’t.

“Johnson, dear boy,” the Queen said. “Really a remarkable man and such a good friend to poor Will. Why, did you ever hear the story of how he actually paid Will’s rent in London once upon a time? That was while Will and that Anne of his were having one of their arguments, of course. I didn’t tell you that story, did I?”

“No,” Malone said truthfully, but his voice was full of foreboding. “If I might remind Your Majesty of the subject,” he added tentatively, “I should like to say ”

“Remind me of the subject!” the Queen said, obviously delighted. “What a lovely pun! And how much better because purely unconscious! My, my, Sir Kenneth, I never suspected you of a pointed sense of humor could you be a descendant of Sir Richard Greene, I wonder?”

“I doubt it,” Malone said. “My ancestors were all poor but Irish.” He paused. “Or, if you prefer, Irish, but poor.” Another pause, and then he added: “If that means anything at all. Which I doubt.”

“In any case,” the Queen said, her eyes twinkling, “you were about to enter a new objection to our little visit to the Palace, were you not?”

Malone admitted as much. “I really think that ”

Her eyes grew suddenly cold. “If I hear any more objections, Sir Kenneth, I shall not only rescind your knighthood and when I regain my rightful kingdom deny you your dukedom, but I shall refuse to cooperate any further in the business of Project Isle.”

Malone turned cold. His face, he knew without glancing in the mirror, was white and pale. He thought of what Burris would do to him if he didn’t follow through on his assigned job.

Even if he wasn’t as good as Burris thought he was, he really liked being an FBI agent. He didn’t want to be fired.

And Burris had said: "Give her anything she wants."

He gulped and tried to make his face look normal. “All right,” he said. “Fine. We’ll go to the Palace.”

He tried to ignore the pall of apprehension that fell over the car.