He was Walt. He owned a Jaguar XXB sports ship with a flat-out velocity of fifteen thousand miles an hour. His shirts came from Italy and his shoes were made in England. As he opened his eyes he looked for the little G.E. clock TV set by his bed; it would be on automatically, tuned to the morning show of the great newsclown Jim Briskin. In his flaming red wig Briskin was already forming on the screen. Walt sat up, touched a button which swung his bed, altered to support him in a sitting position, and lay back to watch for a moment the program in progress.
“I’m standing here at the corner of Van Ness and Market in downtown San Francisco;’ Briskin said pleasantly, “and we’re just about to view the opening of the exciting new subsurface conapt building Sir Francis Drake, the first to be entirely underground. With us, to dedicate the building, standing right by me is that enchanting female of ballad and—”
Walt shut off the TV, rose, and walked barefoot to the window; he drew the shades, saw out then onto the warm, sparkling early-morning San Francisco street, the hills and white houses. This was Saturday morning and he did not have to go to his job down in Palo Alto at Ampex Corporation; instead—and this rang nicely in his mind—he had a date with his girl, Pat Christensen, who had a modern little apt over on Potrero Hill.
It was always Saturday.
In the bathroom he splashed his face with water, then squirted on shave cream, and began to shave. And, while he shaved, staring into the mirror at his familiar features, he saw a note tacked up, in his own hand.
THIS IS AN ILLUSION. YOU ARE SAM REGAN, A COLONIST ON MARS. MAKE USE OF YOUR TIME OF TRANSLATION, BUDDY BOY. CALL UP PAT PRONTO!
And the note was signed Sam Regan.
An illusion, he thought, pausing in his shaving. In what way? He tried to think back; Sam Regan and Mars, a dreary colonists’ hovel…yes, he could dimly make the image out, but it seemed remote and vitiated and not convincing. Shrugging, he resumed shaving, puzzled, now, and a little depressed. All right, suppose the note was correct; maybe he did remember that other world, that gloomy quasi-life of involuntary expatriation in an unnatural environment. So what? Why did he have to wreck this? Reaching, he yanked down the note, crumpled it and dropped it into the bathroom disposal chute.
—Philip K. Dick: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)
Art by Steve Young.