The Man Who Was Six

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The Man Who Was Six


Illustrated by ASHMAN

[Transcriber’s Note: This etext was produced from
Galaxy Science Fiction September 1954.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

There is nothing at all like having a sound
mind in a sound body, but Dan Merrol had too
much of one—and also too much of the other!

“Sorry, darling,” said Erica. She yawned, added, “I’ve tried—but I just can’t believe you’re my husband.”

He felt his own yawn slip off his face. “What do you mean? What am I doing here then?”

“Can’t you remember?” Her laughter tinkled as she pushed him away and sat up. “They said you were Dan Merrol at the hospital, but they must have been wrong.”

“Hospitals don’t make that kind of mistake,” he said with a certainty he didn’t altogether feel.

“But I should know, shouldn’t I?”

“Of course, but….” He did some verbal backstepping. “It was a bad accident. You’ve got to expect that I won’t be quite the same at first.” He sat up. “Look at me. Can’t you tell who I am?” She returned his gaze, then swayed toward him. He decided that she was highly attractive—but surely he ought to have known that long ago.

With a visible effort she leaned away from him. “Your left eye does look familiar,” she said cautiously. “The brown one, I mean.”

“The brown one?”

“Your other eye’s green,” she told him.

“Of course—a replacement. I told you it was a serious accident. They had to use whatever was handy.”

“I suppose so—but shouldn’t they have tried to stick to the original color scheme?”

“It’s a little thing,” he said. “I’m lucky to be alive.” He took her hand. “I believe I can convince you I’m me.”

“I wish you could.” Her voice was low and sad and he couldn’t guess why.

“My name is Dan Merrol.”

“They told you that at the hospital.”

They hadn’t—he’d read it on the chart. But he had been alone in the room and the name had to be his, and anyway he felt like Dan Merrol. “Your name is Erica.”

“They told you that too.”

She was wrong again, but it was probably wiser not to tell her how he knew. No one had said anything to him in the hospital. He hadn’t given them a chance. He had awakened in a room and hadn’t wanted to be alone. He’d got up and read the chart and searched dizzily through the closet. Clothes were hanging there and he’d put them on and muttered her name to himself. He’d sat down to gain strength and after a while he’d walked out and no one had stopped him.

It was night when he left the hospital and the next thing he remembered was her face as he looked through the door. Her name hadn’t been on the chart nor her address and yet he had found her. That proved something, didn’t it? “How could I forget you?” he demanded.

“You may have known someone else with that name. When were we married?”

Maybe he should have stayed in the hospital. It would have been easier to convince her there. But he’d been frantic to get home. “It was quite a smashup,” he said. “You’ll have to expect some lapses.”

“I’m making allowances. But can’t you tell me something about myself?”

He thought—and couldn’t. He wasn’t doing so well. “Another lapse,” he said gloomily and then brightened. “But I can tell you lots about myself. For instance, I’m a specialist in lepidoptera.”

“What’s that?”

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