A Penny For Your Thoughts
By J. J. Dewey
Farce Shelbee was concentrating on his next move. His friend Less Brighten was watching him.
“Have you really been thinking of chess these past five minutes?” Less asked.
Farce said nothing. He continued concentrating on the board. Less was not surprised. Farce was often like this. He waited until he finished his move.
“Checkmate!” said Farce.
“Well, you did it again, Farce. You did it again. I’ll beat you someday, but tell me. Did you hear me a moment ago when I spoke to you?”
“You mean you really didn’t hear?”
“Did I miss something?”
“I just asked you a question while you were concentrating on your move. Say, I’ll give you a penny for your thoughts. What were you thinking about?”
“My next move? That’s all.”
“You’re sure?” said Less. “You know when you get that look in your eyes you always make me wonder. Sometimes I think you’re thinking of conquering the world.”
Farce laughed. “That’s a good thought. I think I’ll do it tomorrow. Ha!”
“You reminded me of something else. I was watching an educational program on television last night, and they were discussing the brain and its powers.”
“What’d they say?”
“Well, they said that we only use a small percentage of our brain power. Our brain emits certain kinds of waves which actually effect other people. The harder we concentrate the stronger these waves become.”
Farce leaned nearer. “Do tell.”
“Well, they explained that the reason some people are masters and others servants is because some emit strong waves and others weak ones. This can put the weaker-willed person under control of the stronger.”
Less could never tell how much Farce absorbed the things he said. “Even more interesting he said that if a person could concentrate hard enough he could make someone else do anything he wanted, and the weaker-willed person would think that it was his own will. Fortunately, these waves from most people are negligible.”
“That’s interesting. It really is.”
“You made me think of it when I saw you concentrating. I’ll bet you have as powerful brainwaves as they come.”
Farce smiled. It would be pretty neat to have power over other people.” He paused. “Just by thinking.”
“And what would you do if you did have the power?”
“Dunno. Never thought of it.”
“How about, well… like I said, ruling the world?”
“Now Less, do you think a guy like me would get a charge out of ruling the world?”
Less looked at Farce, a boney, timid man with glasses. “On second thought, sorry I mentioned it.”
“I hope so. About the most dramatic thing I’ve ever tried to rule is the chess board. Then there’s my girl, Rosie. Do you know what I would do with the power if I had it?”
“Why should I? In a way it would be stealing. Stealing a man’s mind. You know I’ve always tried to do what’s right, and I think it would be wrong.”
But it could be used for good.”
“You could make the people of the world stop fighting, and there would be peace. Imagine no more war.”
Farce thought, “You have a point there.”
“I’ll tell you what,” said Less. “Let’s experiment.”
“You mean you believe it will work?”
“I don’t think I can do it, but I know you can if any man alive can.”
“Well, it does kind of interest me. What do you propose?”
This time Less appeared to be in deep thought. “Let me see.” His eyes sparkled. “I’ll tell you what! Sometime during the next day or so you concentrate your thoughts toward me bringing you something. I don’t want to know what it is yet, but think something up and have me bring it to you.”
“Well, I might try it out if I get bored.”
“I hope you get bored,” said Less, getting up. “I want to see if it works.”
Less opened the door and looked into Farce’s unbeguiled eyes. “Farce, if any man on earth could be trusted with the power, I think you’d be the one.”
“Sure Less. We’ll see you later.”
“Yea. Later,” said Less and he was gone.
Curious thoughts ran through Farce’s mind. He wondered if it were possible for him to have the power. Farce had a great desire to get at the bottom of things. This combined with the thought that he may be able to do some good was impetus for him to experiment.
Farce sank himself in a most comfortable chair thinking of an idea for his first experiment. He decided he would have his girl, Rosie, bring him some flowers. He concentrated over and over: “Rosie, bring to me, Farce Shelbee, some flowers. Rosie, bring…”
At first his brow was wrinkled from the pressure of his eyelids, but as the intensity of his concentration increased the indentations on his face were smoothed and he nearly slept with thought.
A knock at the door sharply woke him from his semi-slumber. “Rosie?” He jumped up.
“Yes, it’s me. May I come in?”
“Yes, of course,” he said reaching for the door wondering if her coming was a coincidence — and if she had the flowers.
A bouquet of flowers was his first sight.
“How did you know it was me?” she said.
“Oh, I just thought you might be happening by. Why the surprise visit?”
“Oh, I just wanted to see you. You haven’t been over for two days now. I thought I might fix supper for you. You haven’t been getting very fat on your own cooking.”
“You’re doing all right on yours.”
“You say things like that and I’ll let you starve.”
“I’m sorry. Who are the flowers for?”
She looked at them as if startled, surprised that she had them. “Oh. For you, I guess. I just picked them on the way here. They pretty up the place. You aren’t the best housekeeper, and flowers always help.”
After Rosie had left Farce let out a gleeful yell. Why, he did he had no idea, but his mind was invigorated with the thought that he had the world in his palm. All he need do is think.
Now Farce knew he had to find the range of his power. Did it just work on Rosie because they were so close? Would it work on anyone or just certain people? He must know. Something inside him told him he had to.
Farce leaned back in his chair and thought of the many ways that he could use his new power. Why he could become the world’s richest man. Farce had never given much thought to riches. They always seemed so far away. But now they were in his grasp and a new temptation was there. But Farce was never a greedy man nor did he intend to be, but he was curious as to the extent of his power, and there must be a way to include riches in the next experiment. Ah, the idea finally hit him! Why not concentrate his thoughts towards everyone and have each person send a penny. That way Farce would not be taking a noticeable amount from anyone. No one would miss a penny, and if enough people sent them in he’d be rich.
This was his decision, a penny for his thoughts. Sounds pretty good he thought. He relaxed and began concentrating: “Attention, whoever and wherever you are. Stop what you are doing and find a penny, put it in an envelope, and send it to Farce Shelbee, Box 66, Spud City, Idaho, USA.” He repeated this over and over in his mind until he slept again.
The next afternoon he found the first one in his box. It was in a plain envelope with no return address and a single penny within. The envelope was postmarked Spud City and the address looked like Rosie’s handwriting. His hopes were dimmed as he wondered if Rosie was the only person he could reach with his thoughts.
He slowly pushed his box shut, looked again through the window at the emptiness, and started walking away, staring at the mint coin.
And then — “Oh Farce. Another letter for you.” It was the postmaster speaking from behind the bars.
“I didn’t see you back there. I thought it was all sorted.”
“It is now. Yours is the last one.” He hefted it. “It feels empty outside of a coin. A penny maybe. It’s funny. I had an itchin’ for a penny this morning. I wanted one something awful. I wonder what I planned to do with it.”
Farce looked rather funny at the postmaster handed him the envelope. He stared at it a moment. His eyes had a wild, yet happy and dreamy look in them. Then Farce turned around, ran out of the post office, dashed off a good throwing distance, and yelled and screamed with victory all the way home.
Farce relaxed in his easy chair staring at the handwriting on the second envelope. It appeared to have been opened with some haste. The handwriting looked like Mrs. Teeters’ down the street. At least he knew now he had the power. Power to control foreign minds with his own will. He would work on it. He would perfect this new gift until he tempered it to his satisfaction — And at this point, Farce was a hard man to satisfy.
The first thing Farce did when he got home was build a couple frames for his first two pennies. He hung them up on the wall side by side. He put a number one on Rosie’s and a number two on Mrs. Teeter’s. He wrote the number two in gold since that was the special one. “The first of millions” he told himself. He spent two hours hanging them straight on the wall of his living room.
That evening Farce again relaxed in his chair. He picked up a comic book. It reminded him of Less. He liked comics. Farce noticed an advertisement on muscle building: “Muscles grow with exercise. Send in for our 90 day plan…” That’s the key thought Farce. The more I exercise my mind the stronger it will get. He leaned back and started to concentrate again: Whoever and wherever you are find a penny and…”
Five minutes later the door burst open without a knock. Farce jumped up, startled. It was his friend, Less.
“Here you are, Farce. A penny for your thoughts!” He smiled holding a penny in his hand.
Farce took it and looked at it a minute. He slugged Less on the shoulder. “Less, you’ve made me the happiest man in the world.” He stomped his foot on the floor and let out a yell.
“Hey! What’s with you?” said Less. “I thought I’d come over here and pull a joke and you start jumping up and down.”
“You think you came here and gave me this penny for a joke?”
“Sure I did. You know I’m always doing stuff like this.”
“Less,” said Farce. Do you know why you really did come here with a penny?”
Less looked alarmed. “No! Don’t tell me.”
“Yes, it’s true. You came here because I made you. I thought you here.”
“Now Farce, settle down.” Less put his arm gently around him. “Just sit down here and you’ll be all right after a little rest.”
Farce threw his arm off. “Listen. You’re the one that started this. Can’t you see that it’s worked!”
Farce grabbed Less and shook him as he spoke. “The experiment, Less. I tried it. It works!”
“Oh, that,” I didn’t think you’d take it seriously. That’s just a thing a guy talks about. You really didn’t think me here did you?”
“You know I’ve never lied to you. I’m telling you, Less, I’ve got more power than any man in the world. I’ve got the world in my hand!”
Less backed away one step, his eyes widened. “Farce, enough is enough. I feel creepy with you talking like that.”
“Less, I thought you’d be the first to accept my power. Can you believe I thought you over here?”
“Well, I could, but I made the decision myself.”
“But, Less, that’s the way it works. Remember. That’s what you said!”
“Let’s see you use this power again.”
“All right. I left a pen at Rosie’s the last time I was there so I’ll have her bring it to me now.”
“This should be interesting.”
Farce leaned back in his chair and had such a genuine look of thought on his face it made Less think twice.
Five minutes later, a knock on the door. “Come in Rosie,” yelled Farce.
Rosie opened the door cautiously. “How’d you know it was me?”
She gave him the pen. “Thought you might be needing this.”
“Thanks. I was wondering where it was,” said Farce calmly.
“I’ve got a meeting I have to go to,” said Rosie. “See you later.”
“Bye,” said Farce. And she was gone.
So far Less had stared in silence with great awe. After Rosie shut the door behind her Less stared at it a few minutes, then he woke from his stupor and let out a yell. Farce joined him and they embraced each other. This called for a drink.
Less eyed the rim of his glass. “You realize what you could do with this power?” He looked at Farce.
“I realize. If I could concentrate hard enough I could become emperor of the world.”
“You could also become the world’s richest man. Why you could make people give their money to you.” Less thought a minute as Farce was in a bliss of imagination. “Farce,” he said in a serious tone of voice, shaking with a sudden fright which had come upon him. “Promise me something!”
“Never use this power of yours on me. Promise me that.”
“What’s the matter? Afraid I’ll make you commit suicide?”
“Just promise me, Farce. Here and now.”
“Don’t you trust me? You did a few days ago.”
Less spoke with a terrifying tone of voice. “Promise me Farce.” He grabbed him by the shoulders. “Promise me!!!”
“All right. All right. I won’t use it on you. I never even thought about it. If I ever decide to conquer the world, you’ll be my sidekick.”
Less was much more relaxed. The tension built up in his face was smoothed away. “So what are you going to do with this power now?”
“I’ve been thinking. I’m not really greedy, but I would like to experiment. For the present I’m going to concentrate on people sending me pennies.” He pounded his fist on the table in a manner that startled Less. “I won’t be satisfied until my thoughts reach all over creation! I’m going to get pennies from all over, from India, Russia, China… They may not call them pennies, but they can send their smallest medium of exchange.”
Less thought of what Farce said earlier about stealing but decided not to bring it up. “You think your thoughts can reach Russia?” he said.
“I know they can. If they can reach a mile they can reach anywhere. When the pennies start rolling in you can be my manager, Less.”
“And your sidekick when you rule the world,” joked Less.
Farce didn’t smile. “I’ll give you a percentage. Ten percent. Now leave me alone for a while so I can spend my time in concentration.”
“I’ll be back tomorrow then. Happy thoughts.”
The next day Farce received ten more coins from various people in Spud City and spent the day after in deep thought with the exception of a few interruptions from Rosie.
“But Farce. Why don’t you want to go out tonight? Why?” said Rosie.
“I just don’t. I’ve got a lot to do.”
“What are you doing, playing hermit?”
“Listen. I’m just busy tonight.”
“You’ve never acted like this before. Farce-Farce, is there someone else?”
“No, there’s no one else!”
Rosie looked at him in disbelief and nearly cried.
“There’s no one else,” said Farce. “If I told you what I was doing you wouldn’t believe me.”
“If you really loved me, you would tell me.”
He told her.
“You expect me to believe a stupid story like that?” Who is she?”
She started to cry again. Then Farce got the idea. He concentrated: “Rosie, you are happy. You are happy. You want to go home and watch television…”
After several minutes of concentration her tears were dried. She smiled and said: “On second thought I think I’ll go home and watch television. Have a good time concentrating.” She walked out the door. Farce smiled. He knew how to keep her out of the way now he thought.
Farce sat down to concentrate. His thoughts wandered. Another girl, he thought. That’s not really a bad idea. Rosie’s rather plump and not very sexy, but she is the best I can get. Her personality is interesting and she’s got a good heart. I guess my face doesn’t deserve much better. Ah, he thought, but my mind does. I could have any girl I want. Ha! But that’ll come later. Back to business. He continued concentrating.
The next day when Less came by the first thing he noticed was a large stack of opened envelopes on Farce’s front lawn. He walked up to the door and heard jingling inside. Within the door Less heard someone laughing in a voice he had never heard before and felt that weird feeling again. He knocked. The laughter stopped abruptly.
“Who’s there?” the voice uttered quickly.
“Me. It’s Less.”
The laughter started again. “Oh, Less. Less. Ha-ha. Come on in. I’ve got more. Lots more, ha-ha.”
Less walked in and viewed Farce sitting on a pile of pennies, occasionally throwing a handful in the air. Then he threw a handful at Less to wake him from his stupor.
“Feel it Less. It’s real, real!”
Less bent over and picked up a handful. “Yea,” he said in a whisper.
“Three thousand four hundred and sixty-three pennies altogether, Less. Even got a few from Denver. It won’t be long and my thoughts will reach around the world. A hundred million coins and I’ll be a millionaire.”
Farce and Less gathered the coins and took them to the bank and cashed them in. In return they received $34.61. They lost two pennies in the process. Farce handed Less $3.46. “Here’s your ten percent.”
“I’m game. Ten percent of a million dollars is one hundred thousand. Not bad.”
“And there’s nearly three billion people on earth.”
“Yea,” said Less. “You know, I’ve been trying this the past couple days, and it just hasn’t worked. The power must have something to do with that oversized forehead of yours.”
“Maybe. But it works, and that’s the main thing.”
“Yes, it works,” said Less.
Two weeks passed.
“Back up a little more!” yelled Farce.
“How’s that?” said Less.
“Good. Dump them.”
Less dumped the truckload of envelopes on the vacant lot. He parked the truck and walked over to Farce who was admiring the mountain of envelopes.
“A lot of them from New York,” said Less.
“Even a few from France and England. It won’t be long before we have worldwide coverage.”
“Not long now.”
“About a half million dollars worth wouldn’t you say?” said Farce.
“About.” Less agreed.
“We ought to take them to the bank soon and get some paper money.”
“Yea, but how are we going to open all the envelopes?”
“Good question,” said Farce. He thought. “I’ve got it! I’ll concentrate my thoughts around the world for someone to invent a mass letter opener and to send or bring it here. I’ll think on that tonight.”
Four days later Farce received a contraption sent by freight from Boeing in Seattle. It was the size of a car, complete with directions. It took one man to operate it and could open a thousand envelopes a minute. Farce put Less to work on it.
In two more weeks they received letters from Russia, China and India. “Look, Less. Look. Pennies from all over the world. Look at that mountain of copper.”
“And just think of how large of a mountain of envelopes we’d have if we hadn’t hired a hundred men to haul them away and burn them.”
“Really something isn’t it, Less?”
“Less, would you believe me if I told you something?”
“A few weeks ago, no, but today yes.”
“I was watching the President on live television last night, and I concentrated on what he should say, and…”
“So that’s it! That’s why his speech was so messed up. I was wondering about that. Farce. You been getting ideas?”
“Just thinking, Less. Just thinking.”
“Farce, you got pennies from over half the world now. You’ve got enough to be rich for the rest of your life. Are you going to quit now?”
“Quit?” said Farce in a raised voice. He looked upward with a gaze that scared Less. “A God treats all people equally.”
“A God?” Less felt a chill.
“Everyone will send me a penny before I’m through. I’m no respecter of persons.”
“But some parts of the world are poor. A penny is a lot of money to them, and most of the stamps cost a lot more.”
Farce screamed. “They’ll send me pennies or else!” It was the first time in his life Farce has raised his voice in anger to Less. “I’m no respecter of persons. Oh, how long shall I wait on this people. Mine anger is kindled against them.”
“Your anger is kindled?” Come off it, Farce. Let’s put jokes aside.”
Farce turned his head slowly and his eyes seemed to burn through Less. Less looked in them a few seconds, then turned away, looked again, and felt cold and scared. His legs felt as ice and it seemed as if he were surrounded by a dark cloud.
“What’s the matter, Farce? Huh, what’s the matter?”
“Silence ye fiend from the pit!” he pronounced in a voice that wasn’t his.
Less didn’t dare breathe.
“Be ye here early on the morrow for work,” said Farce and walked away.
Less didn’t sleep well that night.
That evening Farce was in his usual state of concentration. Now the sport of the thing seemed to be gone, and he was going at it a bit more seriously. His lips were pressured together. There was a knock at the door.
Farce stood up. “Yes, who’s there?” he stated in a raised and unfriendly voice.
“Rosie. It’s Rosie.”
The door opened. “What’s all this ‘who’s there’ about? You a segregationist now?”
“Close your mouth you harlot! I’ll give you two minutes to say what you want.” He had his arms folded, surrounded with an air of dignity.
“Farce, Farce. Don’t say things like that. Why have you avoided me the past month? And what’s with all these pennies? Everything’s so strange. What’s going on?”
“You have one minute left,” said Farce without emotion.
“Farce, it doesn’t even sound like you. You scare me. Let’s go out again tonight. A good dance or something will do wonders. Snap out of it, Farce. Farce!”
“That’s enough. From now on you are numbered on my left hand.” He pointed to the door. “Be gone.”
She started to embrace him, but he coldly closed his eyes and Rosie suddenly desired to go home and go to bed. As she left, Farce said, “The next time you come in here take off your shoes.”
Rosie cried all the way home.
The sun was shining on more than a thousand men working near the pile of pennies. They all thought they were working for Farce because they wanted to do a good deed. That’s what they thought.
“You’ve got all Spud City out there sorting and counting those pennies,” said Less.
Farce was standing, arms folded, eyes gazing at the men and coins. He didn’t answer, but his eyes grew proud.
One of the men came up to Farce, bowed reverently, and said, “Lord Farce, according to our calculations ninety percent of the people in the world have sent a penny.
“And the other ten percent?”
“They must be stubborn to thy will, O Lord Farce.” The men bowed and went back to work.
“I must get that final ten percent. I must. I cannot be sure of world domination until all yield. I can have no one against me.”
“Farce, you’re kidding aren’t you? Do you really intend to go through with it?”
“I shall not turn back, and call me Lord Farce from now on.”
“Come on, Farce. We’re friends, aren’t we? I don’t want to call you that.”
“It’s Lord Farce.” He stared at him with eyes of ice. Less shook inside.
“It scares me — you having people call you Lord. It really does.”
“If you are to be my friend you must not fear. Is that clear?”
“Lord Farce!!!” Farce shouted louder than Less had ever heard anyone shout. The earth seemed to quake.
“Haven’t any authorities tried to question you, Lord Farce?”
“They tried, but the mighty one controlled them. There is but one authority now.”
“And that’s you I assume.”
Farce slugged Less in the mouth as hard as he could. Less rested a few minutes, got up, and leveled his eyes with those of Farce. There was an eternity of depth and darkness in his eyes which Less didn’t like. “Farce, you won’t try and control me. You promised.”
“My promise covered mental control only. I can always have you controlled physically.”
“But, Farce, I mean Lord Farce. We’re friends. Friends.” Less sounded more like he was asking a question than making a statement.
Farce put his hand on Less’ shoulder. “You’re slacking off on your work here. A wise and faithful servant doesn’t have to be dictated to in every trifle.”
“Yes, Lord Farce,” Less said with a slackening tone.
“I’m going into isolation for three days without food and water and concentrate on that final ten percent. See that I’m not disturbed. I expect to start conquering the world in the next ten days. Take care of things out here and look after the sheep.”
“Yes, Lord Force.” He paused a minute. “Farce — I mean Lord Farce.”
Farce gave him his eyes.
“At first you just wanted to use the power. You thought maybe you could do some good. Then you wanted the money. Now you want to rule. You want to control every person on this planet. What happened to the idea of stopping wars and making peace? How about that?”
“When I put all things under my feet there will be peace.”
“Peace, hell! Like Zombies have peace.”
“I say unto you again, see that I’m not disturbed, or I shall find ways to unleash my wrath upon you.” And Farce went into his room for three days and nights.
Farce put more energy in those three days of concentration than he had in all the time that preceded that time. When he came out he made the towns people kill a lamb and roast it for him.
A few days later Farce was again surveying the mountain of coins. He spoke to Less. “Have the head mathematician report to his master.”
“Yes, Lord Farce,” said Less.
A few minutes later a man walked like a puppet up to Farce. Mathematician number one reports that between ninety-five and a hundred percent of the earth’s civilized population has sent pennies. However, not all of them have come in the form of coins. Some have sent pieces of silk, ivory, food and so on. There are probably more on their way.”
“That’s enough,” said Farce. “I’ll conquer immediately.”
“What will you do first?” said Less.
“First I’ll have all television and radio stations throughout the world announce my leadership. I’ll have the press print it. I’m concentrating for photographers right now. Also, I must have a suitable place to live. I shall have those who are able, build me a mansion, or temple. Call it what you may. It will make anything Solomon thought of shrink into insignificance. We have a lot of open space here so I’ll have it built ten miles on a side and as high as any building on earth.”
The dimensions even startled Less. Farce continued. “I figure I’ll have the million most intelligent and able people on earth work on it. Maybe more. I’ll use about fifty percent of the world’s gold supply along with much of the silver and jewels. I’ll give them a year to complete it, or they die.”
“And what will you use all the room for?”
“The most beautiful hundred thousand women on earth will live there. They will be my wives.” Less thought he noticed a smile on Farce’s face. The first in a long time, but not a comforting one.
That day Farce conquered the world, and the building of his mansion commenced. Within a year it was done. He had restrained himself from all women until this time. Now Farce and Less stood looking at the complete structure.”
“Not a bad looking building considering it was built with mortal hands,” said Farce. The passing of a year had left him unchanged, his eyes yet cold and emotionless.
“Yes,” said Less. He looked twenty years older. He was tired and worn out. Farce worked him hard the past year without pity.
“One hundred thousand women are on their way now,” said Farce. “They should be arriving any time.”
Within minutes they started to arrive from all parts of the world; in planes, trains, and cars. Farce had mentally selected these women and now he could see his dream coming true. He had everything he wanted: riches, women, power…
The first woman to arrive came to greet him. Farce made her think that she was happy to be there to serve him. She told Farce, addressing him as Lord, that her heart, soul, and body belonged to him. Then she kissed his feet and went into the building. Hundreds more came and thousands more were on their way. Each told Farce how much she loved him, kissed his feet and went into the building.
The passing year had built much tension and fear in Less. Finally, the tension was beginning to outweigh the fear.
“You vain man!” yelled Less. “Are you going to have all hundred thousand women do that?”
“You realize that many of these women were happily married and loved someone else?”
“Now they love me.”
“They say they love you, but they don’t. Then don’t even live anymore. They’re just your puppets!”
“I warned you a year ago,” said Farce. “If you speak against me again, you die.”
“But Lord Farce,” said Less, the only man on earth who had the free agency to speak his will. “consider all these women and the millions of lives you’ve ruined! You can’t go on this way forever. You can’t take the place of God. You weren’t a God and you’ll never be. You’re a fool, a damned fool, and if there’s a hell, you’ll go there.”
Farce’s face turned blood red and his eyes glowed with more anger than Less had seen on any ten men.
“You must be killed now.”
“Not if I can help it,” said Less and he jumped on Farce.
Farce was so taken by surprise at someone defying his power that he couldn’t concentrate for help. All he could think was vengeance towards Less and by his thought Less retreated.
Less was standing up now, his eyes gazing into eternity. Farce got up and straightened himself. Then he looked Less in the eyes and screamed: “You’re under my power now! Do you hear?”
Farce yelled louder: “Mine! You’re under my power. The whole earth is mine!”
Less felt as if his whole body were made of cement. He could strongly feel Farce’s controlling thoughts gluing his joints, preventing him from moving.
“I’m going to have my wives kill you, Less. They are going to claw you to death. I am going to tell them that they are wild cats and you’re their enemy.” He laughed loud and hard. When he stopped he had Less tied to a pillar of the building.
“Now you’re tied up I’ll give you your mind back. Any last words, friend?”
Less shook his head and came to himself. He eyed the women whom Farce had lined up to kill him. They looked so lovely and gentle. How could Farce be so cruel?
For the first time in ages Less did not fear to speak what was on his mind. He looked Farce in the eyes. “You’re no God! Gods don’t break promises. You controlled my mind, and you promised you wouldn’t. Farce, you promised. No, you’re not a God, Farce, but you’re sure the devil’s best friend.”
Farce pushed his finger in one of Less’ eyes. He screamed a while and then stopped.
“I just wanted to be the first,” said Farce. “I don’t have my servants do anything I wouldn’t do.” He laughed again. “You’re going to have a good death though. Can you think of a better way to go than being clawed to death by beautiful women?” He laughed in an even more hideous laughter. Less thought he wasn’t going to stop.
Suddenly, the earth began to shake. It shook for a few minutes and leveled Farce to the ground. When he got up he noticed a giant crack in the building. He looked at it and cried and screamed. He threw his arms around a pillar, “No-no-no-no,” he said.
A few minutes later the earth shook again. Farce collected himself and concentrated: “Someone find out what’s causing this and tell me.”
A short time later a man came running up to Farce. “They’re coming. They sky’s full of them!”
Farce grabbed the man and shook him. “What is it man? Speak sense.”
“Two of them have lit. More to come. Lots more.”
Farce shook him harder. He yelled, “What lit?”
“One in Germany and one in Arizona?”
“Shells from outer space. One about ten miles wide. The other a little less. Inside are millions of small discs. They look as if they’re coins. Both capsules contain millions of small coins. Pennies maybe. There’s thousands, millions more shells on their way.”
“Coins,” thought Farce. “Pennies!? His thoughts weren’t that powerful. They couldn’t be. No-No!”
The earth shook again.
“That’s another one,” said the man. “One will strike here in a few hours, and in a few days so many will hit the earth that it will be destroyed.”
“The earth?” Farce stared into space. Is there no escape, not for anyone?”
“Within days these shells will have covered the earth. There are so many shells coming that the earth will double in size within a few years.”
“No one will escape?” Farce’s eyes were more shallow than before.
“No one,” said the man. “All should be dead by tomorrow.”
Farce was silent. “Death,” he thought.
“Lord Farce,” said the man, “Would it be all right if I spent these last few hours with my wife?”
“What is there to stop you?”
The man pointed to the large building. “She’s in there.”
The reality of the things Farce did in the past year suddenly hit him. He looked at the man and saw that his eyes were begging him for a positive answer. Farce started to weep. He grabbed the man, embraced him a moment, and told him to go and find his wife. Then he released his mental control over the women. He thought of Rosie. He decided he would rather spend these last few hours with her than any million other women. He sent out a mental command for her to come.
He remembered Less. “Oh, my dear friend. What have I done?” He ran to him as hard as he could. He untied him, threw his arms around him, and wept.
“Less, Less, my good friend, please forgive me, forgive me.
Less moved back and stared at Farce with his one remaining eye. Before him was a man who went from being a God in his own mind to a sniveling coward. As Less felt the extreme pain in his eye from the wound, he knew there was one more thing he had to do.
With all his strength, he punched Farce in his eye.
Farce fell to the ground and Less stood over him. “Hurts doesn’t it?” he said.
Farce forgot about his situation for a moment and rose up in anger, “I could still have you clawed to death.”
“Go ahead! It wouldn’t hurt any worse than you betraying me.”
Farce composed himself and spoke with humility. “My friend, I’m so sorry I betrayed you and everyone and everything that is important to me. Absolute power has absolutely corrupted me. There’s something I have to tell you. My thoughts were much more powerful than even I realized and we are being bombarded by pennies from outer space — trillions of them. Within two days all life on earth will be destroyed. We’ve both going to die, Less.”
“So now you’re going to die you want to make amends?”
“I don’t deserve it, but the answer is yes,” said Farce.
“I’ll think about it,” he replied. “You say we have about two days?”
“About two days.”
I don’t feel very forgiving right now but I’ll see what I can do before the two days are up. What do we do now?”
“Rosie is coming and I’ll see if she will spend her last hours with me of her own free will.”
“Good luck,” said Less with some sarcasm.
Both men looked in the distance for a few minutes as if they were watching for Rosie.
“What if Rosie tells you she hates your guts?” said Less.
“She won’t,” he replied.
“She won’t or can’t?”
His friend’s words cut him to the core. Without even thinking about it he was still controlling her mind. Should he release her and give her freedom to hate him or should he die in her arms with her mind under his control? Maybe she would forgive him. Maybe he should release his control…
Farce struggled with his decision but was overcome with such fear of rejection that he couldn’t let go. He fell down at Less’ feet and wept.
Posted Sept 24,2007, First written 1962
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