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Forever
written by "Francis, Dick"
...came to sitting in an armchair. There were armed men on either side of him. In front of him stood a small, plump, undistinguished-looking man in sedate clothing. "My name is Mr. Bennet," the plump man said. "I wish to beg your forgiveness, Mr. Dennison, for the violence to which you were subjected. We found out about your invention only at the last moment and therefore had to improvise. The bullets were meant only to frighten and delay you. Murder was not our intention." "You merely wanted to steal my discovery," Dennison said. "Not at all," Mr. Bennet told him. "The secret of immortality has been in our possession for quite some time." "I see. Then you want to keep immortality from the public in order to safeguard your damned undertaking business!" "Isn't that rather a naive view?" Mr. Bennet asked, smiling. "As it happens, my associates and I are not undertakers. We took on the disguise in order to present an understandable motive if our plan to capture you had misfired. In that event, others would have believed exactly—and only—what you thought: that our purpose was to safeguard our business." Dennison frowned and watchfully waited. "Disguises come easily to us," Mr. Bennet said, still smiling. "Perhaps you have heard rumors about a new carburetor suppressed by the gasoline companies, or a new food source concealed by the great food suppliers, or a new synthetic hastily destroyed by the cotton-owning interests. That was us. And the inventions ended up here." "You're trying to impress me," Dennison said. "Certainly." "Why did you stop me from patenting my immortality serum?" "The world is not ready for it yet," said Mr. Bennet. "It isn't ready for a lot of things," Dennison said. "Why didn't you block the atom bomb?" "We tried, disguised as mercenary coal and oil interests. But we failed. However, we have succeeded with a surprising number of things." "But what'...

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