Parallelities

Parallelities by Alan Dean Foster Read Free Book Online

Book: Parallelities by Alan Dean Foster Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alan Dean Foster
leave his kindly host wholly downcast, he volunteered what he hoped would be construed as a mildly backhanded compliment. “At least you’re not doing cold fusion.”
    It was Boles’s turn to laugh. “Not me. I’m into science, not fantasy.” He stared out into the gathering darkness. Cool coastal fog was starting to creep onshore. “Can I offer you something to eat? My fridge serves as sort of an unofficial annex for the Pacific Rim Deli down in Malibu. How about a corned beef or pastrami on rye? Or I could nuke some brisket?”
    “No thanks. I’ve got work to do at home and I’ll heat something up there. Good luck proving your theories and finding your parallel worlds, Barry. Of all the, um, revolutionaries I’ve interviewed, you’re one of the few I’d actually like to see succeed. Better a para world than a para normal.”
    “I expect that’s para for the course.” The inventor grinned as Max winced.
    Half a story was better than none, he decided as he guided the Aurora down the winding access road toward the coast and the highway. It was too bad Boles was so damn normal. It muted Max’s enthusiasm for the ferociously caustic piece he had planned to write. As for the pictures he’d taken, including those of his host, the touch-up guys in the photo department could spice them up as required. Electronic image manipulation had been a tremendous boon to the likes of the
Investigator
, where any story, no matter how imaginative or outrageous, could now be supported by photographic “evidence.”
    The gate guard did not look up from his TV as Max exited the walled compound and turned south onto the highway. It was a crisp, windless night, the fog was atmospheric rather than intrusive, and he was able to enjoy the drive down through Malibu and into the city. Once back up on the bluffs, he headed briefly south on Ocean until he could turn down Appian Way toward his building. The electric garage gate responded swiftly to his remote.
    He was relieved to see that his parking space was empty.Late-night visitors tended to appropriate unused stalls on the assumption that their owners were out for the evening, instead of parking in those spaces that had been reserved for them. He backed in effortlessly.
    It had been a productive, if busy, day, and he was feeling very good about himself as he took the elevator to the top floor, exited, and strolled to the far end of the hall. His was the last apartment on the left, near the front of the building and facing the water. Fumbling in a pocket, he pulled out his key.
    He did not need it. The door to his apartment was ever so slightly ajar. Muted light emerged from within.
    It was too late for the manager to come calling, he thought furiously. Besides, the building’s manager, an affable guy named Tim, was not in the habit of paying uninvited visits to tenants’ apartments, much less hanging out in them for extended periods of time. The same held true for repairmen, and in any case, nothing in his place was broken. That left two possibilities; a thief, or one of the several women friends to whom he had extended the courtesy of a key. Living in a beachfront apartment in L.A. offered benefits beyond a view.
    Who had his key, and who might have dropped in to surprise him? He struggled to remember. Leaving the door ajar might be a certain lady friend’s way of teasing him in, in which case the longer he stood there toying mentally with possibilities the longer he was putting off nascent pleasures. Leaning close to the crack, he listened intently. No banging orbashing about piqued his interest, but neither did he hear the stereo softly pumping out Yanni or Barry White, either.
    He considered alerting the manager or retreating to the garage to use the cellular phone in his car to call the police. If his visitor was feminine and less than immoderately dressed, however, the arrival of several cops clutching drawn pistols and nighttime attitudes was likely to dampen the mood

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