I am searching for a science fiction short story I read in an anthology obtained from the public library in Riverside, California around 1964.

It is written in the first person, and deals with a man who takes an illegal drug during an epidemic of the drug's use. People who have taken the drug display one common after-effect: when approached, they all say "You aren't real" or "This isn't real".

The man enters a shop and is instructed to lie down on a cot. He is given the drug. He goes to sleep. He wakes up. He leaves the shop. He lives the rest of his life. He dies.

He wakes up on the cot in the shop. He gets up and leaves. He lives a different life, full of joy, heartbreak, boredom - the sort of things that make up a typical human lifetime - grows old, dies . . .

And, of course, wakes up again on the same cot, in the same shop. This goes on and on. Sometimes he dies violently, other times of old age and/or illness, but always reawakens on the cot in the shop. Can anyone help me find this story?


1 Answer 1


The short story is "Mind Partner" by Christopher Anvil. The text is available online.

Near the beginning of the story one of the addicts is interviewed:

"We want to ask you just a few questions, Janice."

The girl didn't answer. The doctor started to say something else, but she cut him off.

"Go away," she said bitterly. "You don't fool me. You don't even exist. You're nothing."

The protagonist's first "life" and his reawakening:

After careful thought, Jim decided to use the money to open a detective agency of his own. Walters, who caught the dope gang trying to escape through an unused steam tunnel, gave Jim his blessing, and the offer of a job if things went wrong. Fortunately, things went very well. Jim's agency prospered. In time, he found the right girl, they married, and had two boys and a girl. The older boy became a doctor, and the girl married a likable fast-rising young lawyer. The younger boy had a series of unpleasant scrapes and seemed bound on wrecking his life. Jim, who was by this time very well to do, at last offered the boy a job in his agency, and was astonished to see him take hold. The years fled past much faster than Jim would have liked. Still, when the end came near, he had the pleasure of knowing that his life's work would be in the capable hands of his own son.

He breathed his last breath in satisfaction.

And woke up lying on a bed in a room where a light drapery blew back at the window and the morning sun shone in, and his clothes were folded on a chair by his bed.

The story continues with Jim living out more lives and always waking up in the same room.

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