Ubik [Page 107]



Joe Chip leaned back in the boss chair and thought about what had just happened. Was it possible? Him, a resonator repairman, CEO of the whole company?

On his desk was a note from Pat Conley:

‘Hey Joe, I just want to let you know that, even though I haven’t done much in the first 106 pages, I plan to use my power in a big way starting from now. If anything bad happens to you, if anything dramatic comes along then I’ll just skip back to the past and make sure it doesn’t. Cool?


Joe re-read the note and smiled. Everything was going great all of a sudden. But what about Runciter? Was he still on the phone line? Would he want his office back?

He picked up the phone and heard static. Runciter was gone. Great. Well, not great, but okay. Runciter was a good guy, but it’s not like he was the most amazing person who’d ever lived.

Give it a year, thought Joe. Then I’ll be the new Runciter.

The door opened and the wisp-form of Wendy Wright appeared.

“Wendy! You’re alive!” shouted Joe, shuffling off the repairman jacket.

“I hope so.”

“But…last night…you looked like…”

“A mummy? Yes, I noticed that too. Suppose it was…entropy?”

“Yeah, entr-…” Joe paused. “You wanna have sex?”

“With you?”

Joe stood up and started taking off his belt. He wasn’t usually this forward but the pink vibes from his newly-fixed resonator were telling him things might just go his way.

“Joe, you’re okay. But I won’t touch you.”

Joe’s hand froze on his belt.

“Actually, I’m kinda seeing someone…”

“Seeing someone…who? When?”

“I don’t think you know him. He was on TV a while back…an actor. A bad one. But he’s a writer now. Did a well-regarded neo-gothic script directed by a Korean maverick. Nothing since.”

“Which writer? Who?”

“I’ve gotta go now, Joe. Good luck with the company and everything.”


Wendy floated out of the closed window, through the window cleaner, reducing Joe to component parts [spiritually]. Next to him, in front of the resonator, was a can of Ubik. He looked at it for a while then picked it up and sprayed muon bits into the air molecules in front of him.

Nothing happened.

He sprayed the table.

His wallet.

His money.

His jacket.

His secretary.

The resonator.

Nothing nothing nothingness.

“Fucking Ubik snack oil…”

The door opened again. It was Al Hammond.

“Joe, you’ll never guess what’s happened.”


“Reality has warped in ways I can’t explain…everything gone all super atavistic then right back to super normal again. Oscillating if you want a word for it. Or fluctuate. One of those. But I think we might be dead and Runciter might be alive and he’s trying to contact us and help us with the thingy you missed…”


“…the neutrino bomb. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Except exist within this bigger brain. Brain-scape. Not really sure about the terminology, to be honest. Also, object-real is still real. Just so you know. Sorry.”

“Santa Sangre…”

“Not my rules, Joe. Just a paddler around here. By the way, don’t go outside, it’s toxic. And don’t trust people with an O in their name.”

“Fuck off, Al.”

Al nodded and walked out through the Dagon poster, closing the door behind him. Joe returned to the can of Ubik. Stared at it for two days straight. During those two days he neither slept nor ate. In the 49th hour, something happened.

The can looked at him funny.

Them done botch start

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