Read in ‘The Best Science Fiction Stories and Novels 1956. (ed T.E. Dikty, Frederic Fell, 1956).
A strong start to Dikty’s anthology, with a story that stands the test of time well.
The story flits between two protagonists.
Sarith, a newly qualified psi-therapist, in her impatience to get to her first job, has transited to entirely the wrong planet. There is a heavy snowfall, and she struggles gamely for some time, until she falls into a ditch. Fortunately, before hypothermia sets in, one of the planet’s natives finds her, and she awakens in his native hut.
Her saviour is Lindsey, a man using alcohol to block out some dark event in his past, who is wasting his mind washing automobiles in town, and drinking himself to oblivion, aghast at the blood on the vehicles.
The narrative follows the pair of them, as Sarith manages to unblock his mental barriers to find out exactly what he is blocking out. Having solved the conundrum she has to decide whether to head to her original destination. Or not. The story is well-written