“Zaphod!” the ghost was saying, “you became President of the Galaxy for a reason. Have you forgotten?”
“Could we go into this later?”
“Have you forgotten!” insisted the ghost.
“Yeah! Of course I forgot! I had to forget. They screen your brain when you get the job you know. If they’d found my head full of tricksy ideas I’d have been right out on the streets again with nothing but a fat pension, secretarial staff, a fleet of ships and a couple of slit throats.”
“Ah,” nodded the ghost in satisfaction, “then you do remember!”
He paused for a moment.
“Good,” he said and the noise stopped.
“Forty-eight seconds,” said Ford. He looked again at his watch and tapped it. He looked up.
“Hey, the noise has stopped,” he said.
A mischievous twinkle gleamed in the ghost’s hard little eyes.
“I’ve slowed down time for a moment,” he said, “just for a moment you understand. I would hate you to miss all I have to say.”
“No, you listen to me, you see-through old bat,” said Zaphod leaping out of his chair, “A – thanks for stopping time and all
that, great, terrific, wonderful, but B – no thanks for the homily, right? I don’t know what this great think I’m meant to be
doing is, and it looks to me as if I was supposed not to know. And I resent that, right?
“The old me knew. The old me cared. Fine, so far so hoopy. Except that the old me cared so much that he actually got inside his own brain – my own brain – and locked off the bits that knew and cared, because if I knew and cared I wouldn’t be able to do it. I wouldn’t be able to go and be President, and I wouldn’t be able to steal this ship, which must be the important thing.
“But this former self of mine killed himself off, didn’t he, by changing my brain? OK, that was his choice. This new me has its own choices to make, and by a strange coincidence those choices involve not knowing and not caring about this big number,whatever it is. That’s what he wanted, that’s what he got.
“Except this old self of mine tried to leave himself in control, leaving orders for me in the bit of my brain he locked off. Well, I don’t want to know, and I don’t want to hear them. That’s my choice. I’m not going to be anybody’s puppet, particularly not my
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