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Final Weapon



Final Weapon







From: Final Weapon

Man has developed many a deadly
weapon. Today, the weapon most
effective in destroying a man's
hopes and security is the file
folder ... and that was the weapon
Morely knew and loved. But there
was something more potent to come.



District Leader Howard Morely leaned back in his seat, to glance down at
the bay. Idly, he allowed his gaze to wander over the expanse of water
between the two blunt points of land, then he looked back at the
skeletonlike spire which jutted upward from the green hills he had just
passed over. He could remember when that ruin had been a support for one
of the world's great bridges.

Now, a crumbling symbol of the past, it stubbornly resisted the attacks
of the weather, as it had once resisted the far more powerful blasts of
explosives. Obstinately, it pointed its rusty length skyward, to remind
the observer of bygone conflict--and more.

Together with the tangled cables, dimly seen in the shoal water, the
line of wreckage in the channel, and the weed-covered strip of torn
concrete which led through the hills, it testified to the arrival of the
air age. Bridges, highways, and harbors alike had passed their day of
usefulness.

Not far from the ruined bridge support, Morely could see the huge, well
maintained intake of one of the chemical extraction plants. He shook his
head at the contrast.

"That eyesore should be pulled down," he muttered. "Should have been
pulled down long ago. Suggested it in a report, but I suppose it never
got to the Old Man. He depends on his staff too much. If I had the
region, I'd--"

He shook his head. He was not the regional director--yet. Some day, the
old director would retire. Then, Central Coordination would be examining
the records of various district leaders, looking for a successor. Then--

He shrugged and turned his attention to his piloting of the borrowed
helicopter. It was a clumsy machine, and he had to get in to Regional
Headquarters in time for the morning conference. There would be no sense
it getting involved in employee traffic--not if he could avoid it.

The conference, his informant had told him, would be a little out of the
ordinary. It seemed that the Old Man had become somewhat irritated by
the excess privileges allowed in a few of the eastern districts. And he
was going to jack everyone up about it. After that would come the usual
period of reports, and possibly a few special instructions. Some of the
leaders would have pet projects to put forward, he knew. They always
did. Morely smiled to himself. He'd have something to come up with, too.

And this conference might put a crimp in Harwood's style. Morely had
carefully worded his progress report to make contrast with the type of
report that he knew would come from District One. George Harwood had
been allowing quite a few extra privileges to his people, stating that
it was good for morale. And, during the past couple of months, he'd
seemed to be proving his point. Certainly, the production of the
employees from the peninsula had been climbing. Harwood, Morely decided
would be the most logical person--after himself--for the region when the
Old Man retired. In fact, for a time, it had looked as though the
director of District One was going to be a dangerous rival.

But this conference would change things. Morely smiled slowly as he
thought of possible ways of shading the odds.

He looked ahead. Commuters were streaming in from the peninsula now, to
make for the factory parking lots. His face tightened a little. Why, he
wondered, had the Old Man decided to call the conference at this hour?
He could have delayed a little, until commuter traffic was less heavy.
He'd been a district leader once. And before that, under the old
government, a field leader. He should know how annoying the employee
classes could be. And to force his leaders to mingle with commuting
employees in heavy traffic!

* * * * *

For that matter, everyone seemed to be conspiring to make things
uncomfortable today. Those heavy-handed mechanics in the district motor
pool, for example. They'd failed him today. His own sleek machine, with
its distinctive markings was still being repaired. And he'd been forced
to use this unmarked security patrol heli. The machine wasn't really too
bad, of course. It had a superb motor, and it carried identification
lights and siren, which could be used if necessary. But it resembled
some lower-class citizen's family carryall. And, despite its
modifications, it still handled like one. Morely grimaced and eased the
wheel left a little. The helicopter swung in a slow arc.

Helis were rising from the factory lots, to interlace with incoming
ships before joining with the great stream headed south. The night
workers were heading for home. Morely hovered his machine for a moment,
to watch the ships jockey for position, sometimes barely avoiding
collisions in the stream of traffic. He watched one ship, which edged
forward, stopped barely in time to avoid being hit, edged forward again,
and finally managed to block traffic for a time while its inept driver
fooled with the controls and finally got on course.

"Quarrelsome, brawling fools," he muttered. "Even among themselves, they
can't get along."

He looked around, noting that the air over the Administrative Group was
comparatively free of traffic. To be sure, he would have to cross the
traffic lines, but he could take the upper lanes, avoiding all but
official traffic. A guard might challenge, but he could use his
identifying lights. He wouldn't be halted. He corrected his course a
little, glanced at the altimeter, and put his ship into a climb.

At length, he eased his ship over the parklike area over Administrative
Square and hovered over the parking entry. A light blinked on his dash,
to tell him that all the official spaces were occupied. He grunted.

"Wonder they couldn't leave a clear space in Official. They know I'm
coming in for conference."

He moved the control wheel, allowing his ship to slide over to a
shopping center parking slot, and hovered over the entry, debating. He
could park here and take the sub-surface to Administrative, or he could
use the surface lot just outside of the headquarters group. Of course,
the director frowned on use of the surface lot, except in emergency. The
underground lots were designated for all normal parking. Morely thought
over the problem, ignoring the helis which hovered, waiting for him to
clear the center of the landing area. Finally, his hand started for the
throttle. He would settle in the landing slot, let the guards shove his
heli to a space, and avoid any conflict with the director's orders
regarding the surface lot.

* * * * *

Suddenly, there was a sputtering roar. Someone had become impatient at
the delay. A small sports heli swept by, impellers reversed, and dropped
rapidly toward the entry to the underground parking space. Morely's ship
rocked a little in the air blast.

For an instant, Morely felt a sharp pain which gnawed at the pit of his
stomach. His head was abruptly light, and his hand, apparently of its
own volition, closed over the throttle knob.

This joy boy was overdue for a lesson.

Morely measured the distance quickly, judging the instant when the other
pilot would have to repitch his impellers and halt his downward rush. He
allowed his own heavy ship to wallow earthward.

Scant feet from ground surface, the sportster pilot flicked his pitch
control and pulled his throttle out for the brief burst of power which
would allow him to drop gently to the landing platform.

Morely grinned savagely as he saw the impellers below him change pitch
and start to move faster. He twisted his own impellers to full pitch and
pulled out the throttle for a sudden, roaring surge of power, then swung
the control column, jerking his ship up and away. As he steadied his
heli and cut power, he looked down.

The powerful downblast had completely upset the sportster pilot's
calculations. The small ship, struck by the gale from above, had listed
to the right and gone out of control, grazing one of the heavy splinter
shutters at the side of the landing slot. The ship lay on its side,
amidst the wreckage of its impellers.

Morely flicked on his warning siren and lights, then feathered his own
impellers, dropping his ship in free fall. He dropped to the grassy area
by the landing slot, ignoring the other ships which scattered like
frightened chickens, to give him room. At the last instant, he twisted
the impellers to full pitch again, pulled out the throttle for a moment,
then slammed the lever to the closed position. His ship touched down on
springy turf, its landing gear settling gently to accept the weight. A
klaxon was sounding, and warning lights flashed from the landing slot,
to warn ships away from an attempted landing.

It would be a long time before the shiny, new sportster would be in
condition to sweep into another parking area. And, after paying his fine
and taking care of his extra duties, it would be an even longer time
before the employee-pilot would have much business in the luxury
shopping center, anyway.

Morely smiled bitterly as he closed the door of his ship. It didn't pay
to cross Howard Morely--ever.

He walked slowly toward the landing slot, motioning imperiously to an
approaching guard.

"Have someone place that ship for me," he ordered, jerking a thumb back
toward his heli. "Then come over to that wreck. I shall want words with
the pilot." He held out his small identification folder.

The guard's glance went to the folder. For an instant, he studied the
card exposed before him, then he straightened and saluted, his face
expressionless.

"Yes, sir." He signaled another guard, then pointed toward Morely's
ship, and to the landing slot. "I can go with you now."

The two went down in the elevator and walked over to the wrecked
sportster. A slender man was crawling from a door. When the man was
clear of his ship, Morely beckoned.

"Over here, Fellow," he commanded.

The sportster pilot approached, the indignation on his face changing to
bewilderment, then dismay as he noted Morely's insignia and the attitude
of the two men who faced him.

Morely turned to the guard.

"Get me his name, identification number, and the name of his leader."

"Yes, sir."

The guard turned to the man, who grimaced a little with pain as he
slowly put a hand in his pocket. Wordlessly, he extracted a bulky
folder, from which he took a small booklet. He held out the booklet to
the guard.

Morely held out a hand. "Never mind," he said. "Simply put him in
custody. I'll turn this over to his leader myself."

He had noted the cover design on the booklet. It was from District
One--Harwood's district. He flipped the cover open, ascertaining that
there was no transfer notice. He'd give this to Harwood all right--at
the right time. He looked at his watch.

"I shall want my heli in about three hours," he announced. "See to it
that it's ready. And have a man check the fuel and see if the ship's
damaged in any way." He turned away.

* * * * *

The district leaders sat before the large conference table. Among them,
close to the director's place, was Morely, his face fixed in an
expression of alert interest. His informant had been right. The man must
have gotten a look at the Old Man's notes. The regional director was
criticizing the laxity in inspection and control of employee activities.
He objected to the excessive luxury activity allowed to some members of
the employee classes, as well as to the overabundance of leisure allowed
in several cases, some of which he described in detail.

He especially pointed up the fact that a recent heli meet had been
almost dominated by employee class entries. And he pointed out the fact
that there was considerable rehabilitation work to be done in bombed
areas. It could be done by employees, during their time away from their
subsistence jobs. That was all community time, he reminded.

It was all very well, he said, to allow the second- and even third-class
citizens a certain amount of leisure recreation. That kept morale up.
But they were certainly not to be allowed any position of dominance,
either individually, or as a class. That, he said, was something else
again. It was precisely the sort of thing that had led to the collapse
and downfall of many previous civilizations.

"Keep 'em busy," he ordered. "So busy they don't have time to think up
mischief to get into. Remember, gentlemen, second- and third-class
citizens have no rights--only privileges. And privileges may be
withdrawn at any time."

He rapped sharply on the table and sat down, looking at the leader of
District One.

One by one, the district leaders made their verbal reports of activity.
Occasionally, questions of production or work quotas were brought up and
decided. Morely waited.

At last, he made his own report, emphasizing the fact that his district
had exceeded its quotas--subsistence, luxury, and rehabilitation--for
the fourth consecutive quarter. He cited a couple of community
construction projects he had ordered and which were well on the way to
completion, and brought out the fact that his people, at least, were
being inspected constantly and thoroughly.

Also, he suggested, if any time remained to be used, or if leisure
activity threatened to become excessive, it might be well to turn some
attention outside of the old urban areas. There was considerable bomb
damage in the suburban and former farming areas, and the scrap from some
of the ruined structures could be stockpiled for disposal to factories
and community reclamation plants.

Further, a beautification program for the entire region might keep some
of the employee class busy for some time. And some of the ex-farmers
among the lower classes might find it pleasant to work once again with
the soil, instead of their normal work in the synthetic food labs or
machine shops. With the director's permission, he could start the
program by removing the useless tower and wreckage at the bay channel,
and by salvaging the metal from it. Of course, he admitted, it was a
trifle beyond his own authority, since most of the channel was in
District One. The regional director cast him a sharp glance, then
considered the suggestion. At last, he nodded.

"It might be well," he decided. "Go ahead, Morely. Take care of that
detail." He looked over at his executive. "Have Planning draw up
something on salvage and beautification in the former rural areas," he
ordered. He looked about the room.

"And the rest of you might try looking over your own districts. You
don't have to wait for a directive, and every one of you can find some
improvement that could be made. If it's a district line matter, submit
some plan for mutual agreement to my office." He rose and went to the
door.

Morely waited, watching George Harwood. The leader of District One
gathered his papers, looked down the table for an instant, then went
out. Morely followed him at a discreet distance.

As Harwood neared the door to the regional director's office, Morely
caught up with him.

"Oh, Harwood," he said loudly. "Caught one of your people in a flagrant
case of reckless flying this morning. Why don't you bear down a little
on those fellows of yours? This one seemed to think he was winning a
heli meet."

He held out the folder he had confiscated. "Here's his identification. I
had the guards hold him for you. Second-class citizen. Must've had a lot
of spare time, to get the luxury credits and purchase authorization for
that ship of his."

Harwood looked at him, a faint expression of annoyance crossing his
face. Then, he glanced at the open door nearby, and comprehension grew
on his face. He took the folder, nodded wordlessly, and walked rapidly
past Morely, who turned to watch him.

As Harwood swung through the door to an elevator, Morely smiled
appreciatively. That had been a smart trick, he thought. Have to
remember that one. No argument to disturb the Old Man. Not even positive
proof that Morely hadn't been talking to empty space. But there was an
answer to that, too, if one was alert. He walked through the doorway
into the director's office.

The regional director looked up.

"Oh, Morely. You wanted to see me?"

"Yes, sir." Morely stood at rigid attention. "I just thought of all
those useless highways around the countryside. Of course, a few of them
have been camouflaged and converted to temporary and emergency heli
parking lots, but there's still a lot of waste concrete about that could
be removed. It would improve the camouflage of the groups. It could be
divided into community projects for spare time work, sir."

"Very good idea. If this stalemate we're in should develop into another
war, it would be well to have as few landmarks as possible. And some of
these people do have too much time on their hands. They sit around,
thinking of their so-called rights. Next thing we know, some of the
second-class citizens'll be screaming for the privilege of a vote. Set
it up in your district, Morely. We'll see how it works out, and the rest
of the district leaders can follow your example."

He looked sharply at Morely. "Heard a little disturbance in the hall
just before you came in."

"Oh, that." Morely contrived a look of confusion. "I'm sorry, sir. I
didn't mean anyone to hear that. It was just that I had a minor bit of
business with Leader Harwood. One of his people nearly knocked me out of
the air this morning, over a parking area, and I confiscated his
identification. I tried to give it to Harwood after the conference, but
he must have been in a hurry. I caught up with him and gave him the
folder."

"So I heard." The director smiled wryly. "Anything more?"

"No, sir." Morely saluted and left.

"That," he told himself, "should drop Harwood a few points."

He went to the parking area to reclaim his helicopter. Better get back
to his district and start setting up those community projects. Too, he
would have to run a check inspection or so this evening. See to it his
sector men weren't getting lax. He'd check on Bond tonight.

* * * * *

He flew back to District Twelve, dropped his helicopter into the landing
area, and made his way to his office.

Inside, he went to a file, from which he took his spot-inspection
folder. Carrying it to his desk, he checked it. Yes, Bond's sector was
due for a spot inspection. Might be well to make a detailed check of one
of the employees in that sector, too. Morely touched a button on his
desk.

Almost immediately, a clerk stood in the doorway.

"Get me the master quarters file for Sector Fourteen," Morely ordered.

The clerk went out, to return with two long file drawers. Quickly, he
set them side by side on a small table, which he pushed over to his
superior's desk.

Idly, Morely fingered through the cards, noting the indexing and
condition of the file. He nodded in approval, then gave the clerk a nod
of dismissal. At least, his people were keeping their files in order.

He reached into a pocket, to withdraw a notebook. Turning its pages, he
found a few of the entries he had made on population changes, then
cross-checked them against the files. All were posted and properly
cross-indexed. Again, he nodded in satisfaction.

Evidently, that last dressing down he had given the files section had
done some good. For a moment, he considered calling in the chief clerk
and complimenting him. Then, he changed his mind.

"No use giving him a swelled head," he told himself.

He drew a file drawer to him, running his finger down its length. At
last, he pulled a card at random. It was colored light blue.

He put it back. Didn't want to check a group leader. He'd be a
first-class citizen, and entitled to privacy. He pulled another card
from a different section of the file. This one was salmon pink--an
assistant group leader. He examined it. The man was a junior equipment
designer in one of the communications plants. For a moment, Morely
tapped the card against his desk. Actually, he had wanted a basic
employee, but it might be well to check one of the leadmen. He could
have the man accompany him while he made a further check on one of the
apartments in his sub-group. Again, he looked at the card.

Paul Graham, he noted, was forty-two years of age. He had three
children--was an electronics designer, junior grade. His professional
profile showed considerable ability and training, but the security
profile showed a couple of threes. Nothing really serious, but he would
be naturally expected to be a second-class citizen--or below. It was not
an unusual card.

Morely looked at the quarters code. Graham lived in Apartment 7A, Group
723, which was in Block 1022, Sector Fourteen. It would be well to check
his quarters first, then check, say, 7E. Morely went through the
numerical file, found the card under 7E, and flipped the pages of his
notebook to a blank sheet, upon which he copied the data he needed from
the two cards.

He put the notebook in his pocket and returned the cards to their places
in the file, then riffled the entire file once more, to be sure there
would be no clue as to which cards he had consulted. Finally, he touched
the button on his desk again.

Once more, the clerk stood in the doorway.

"This file seems to be satisfactory," he was told. "You may bring in the
correspondence now."

The correspondence was no heavier than usual. Morely flipped through the
routine matter, occasionally selecting a report or letter and
abstracting data. Tomorrow, he could check performance by referring to
these. At last, he turned to the separate pile of directives, production
and man-hour reports, and other papers which demanded more attention
than the routine paper.

He worked through the stack of paper, occasionally calling upon his
clerk for file data, sometimes making a communicator call. At last, he
pushed away the last remaining report and leaned back. He spun his chair
about, activated the large entertainment screen, and spent some time
watching a playlet. At the end of the play, he glanced at his watch,
then turned back to his desk. He leaned forward to touch a button on his
communicator.

As the viewsphere lit, he flicked on the two-way video, then spoke.

"Get me Sector Leader Bond." He snapped the communicator off almost
before the operator could acknowledge, then spun about, switching his
entertainment screen to ground surface scan. A scene built up, showing a
view from his estate in the hills.

* * * * *

There were some buildings on the surface--mostly homes of upper grade
citizens, who preferred the open air, and could afford to have a surface
estate in addition to their quarters in the groups. These homes, for the
most part, were located in wooded areas, where their owners could find
suitable fishing and hunting.

Most of the traces of damage done by the bombings of the Nineties were
gone from about the estate areas by now, and the few which remained were
being eliminated. Morely increased the magnification, to watch a few
animals at a waterhole. He could do a little hunting in a few weeks.
Take a nice leave. He drew a deep breath.

Those years after the end of the last war had been hectic, what with new
organizational directives, the few sporadic revolts, the integration of
homecoming fighters, and the final, tight set-up. But it had all been
worth it. Everything was running smoothly now.

The second- and third-class citizens had learned to accept their status,
and some few of them had even found they liked it. At least, now they
had far more security. There was subsistence in plenty for all
producers, thanks to the war-born advances in technology, and to the
highly organized social framework. To be sure, a few still felt uneasy
in the underground quarters, but the necessity for protection from
bombing in another war had been made clear, and they'd just have to get
used to conditions. And, there were a very few who, unable to get or
hold employment, existed somehow in the spartan discomfort of the
subsistence quarters.

For most, however, there was minor luxury, and a plenitude of
necessities. And there was considerable freedom of action and choice as
well as full living comfort for the full citizens, who had proved
themselves to be completely trustworthy, and who were deemed fit to hold
key positions.

The communicator beeped softly, and he glanced at the sphere. It showed
the face of Harold Bond, leader of the fourteenth sector. The district
leader snapped on his scanner.

"Report to me here in my office at eighteen hours, Bond."

"Yes, sir."

"And you might be sure your people are all in quarters this evening."

Bond nodded. "They will be, sir."

"That's all." Morely flicked the disconnect switch.

He got up, strode around the office, then consulted his watch. There
would be time for a cup of coffee before Bond arrived. Time for a cup of
coffee, and time for the employees in Sector Fourteen to scurry about,
getting their quarters in shape for an inspection. They would have no
way of knowing which quarters were to be checked, and all would be put
in order.

He smiled. It was a good way, he thought, to insure that there would be
no sloppiness in the homes of his people. And it certainly saved a lot
of inspection time and a lot of direct contact.

He went out of the office, and walked slowly down to the snack bar,
where he took his time over coffee, looking critically at the neat
counter and about the room as he drank.

The counter girls busied themselves cleaning up imaginary spots on the
plastic counter and on their equipment, casting occasional, apprehensive
glances at him. Finally, he set his cup down, looked at the clock over
the counter, and walked out.

Bond was waiting in the office. Morely examined the younger man,
carefully appraising his appearance. The sector leader, he saw, was
properly attired. The neat uniform looked as if freshly taken from the
tailor shop. The man stepped forward alertly, to halt at the correct
distance before his superior.

"Good evening, sir. My heli is on the roof."

"Very good." Morely nodded shortly and took his notebook from his
pocket. "We'll go to Building Seven Twenty-three."

He turned and walked toward the self-service elevator. Bond hurried a
little to open the door for him.

* * * * *

Bond eased the helicopter neatly through the entry slot and on down into
one of the empty visitor spaces in the landing area at Block 1022. The
two men walked across the areaway to an entrance.

As they went up the short flight of stairs into the hall, Morely took
careful notice of the building. The mosaic tile of the stairs and floor
gleamed from a recent scrubbing. The plastic and metal handrails were
spotless. He looked briefly at his subordinate, then motioned toward the
door at their right.

"This one," he ordered.

Bond touched the call button and they waited.

From inside the apartment, there was a slight rustle of motion, then the
door opened and a man stood before them. For an instant, he looked
startled, then he straightened.

"Paul Graham, sir," he announced. "Apartment 7A is ready for
inspection." He stepped back.

Morely looked him over critically, saw nothing that warranted criticism,
and went inside, followed by Bond.

Cursorily, the district leader let his gaze wander about the apartment.
The kitchen at his left, he saw, was in perfect order, everything being
in place and obviously clean. He went to the range and motioned with his
head.

"Pull the drip pan," he ordered.

Graham came forward and pulled a flat sheet from the range, then opened
an access door at the front of the stove.

Morely peered inside, then thrust a hand in. For a moment, he groped
around, then he pulled his hand out and looked at it. It was clean. He
sniffed at his fingers, then turned away.

"You may replace the pan, Fellow." He went into the living room, noting
that the woman and three children were neat and in the proper attitudes
of attention. One of the children was looking at him, wide-eyed. He saw
that the child was clean and apparently healthy.

In addition to the usual chairs, table, and divan, there were some
bookcases which formed a small alcove around a combination desk and
drawing table. Morely circled the bookcases, to stand before the desk.

"What's this?" he demanded. He turned to a bookcase, to examine the
titles.

Most of the books were engineering texts and reference works. There
were some standard works of philosophy and a few on psychology. None of
the titles seemed to be actually objectionable.

"I--" Graham started to speak, but Morely silenced him with an upraised
hand.

"Later," he said coldly. "Bond, has this been reported to you, and have
you investigated?"

Bond nodded. "Yes, sir," he said. "Graham is a design engineer, sir, and
has been granted permission to do some research in his quarters.

"He's commercially employed, sir, and it was a routine matter. His
employer says he has been keeping his production quotas, no alteration
to the apartment has been made, and no community property has been
defaced. I'm told that several of Graham's designs have been of value in
his plant. I didn't think--"

"I see you didn't. What is this man working on now?"

"A new type of communicator, sir. I don't know all the details."



"Get them, Bond. Get them all, and give me a full report on his project
and its progress tomorrow. Since this work is being done during time
when the man is not working for his employer, he's using community time
and the community becomes vitally interested in his results." Morely
paused, looking at the bookcase again.

"And, while we are on the subject," he added, "get me details on those
previous designs you spoke of. It's quite possible the community has not
been getting royalty payments to which it's entitled." He picked out a
book, flipping over its pages for a moment, then replaced it and looked
searchingly at Bond.

"And get me a full inventory of this man's books and any equipment he
may have." He turned on Graham.

"Do you have purchase authorization and receipts for all of this?"

"Yes, sir." Graham motioned toward the desk.

"Very well. I shan't bother with that now. An investigating team can
check that."

Morely took a final glance at the half-finished schematic on the drawing
board, then circled the bookcases again, to come out into the main room.

"We'll inspect the rest of your quarters."

* * * * *

At last, Morely left the quarters area, followed by Bond. As they
reached the helicopter, Morely turned, one hand on the door.

"Laxity, Bond, is something I don't tolerate. You should know that.
Possibly this man, Graham, is doing nothing illegal, or even irregular.
Possibly, he is not wasting community time, but I have very serious
doubts. I'll venture to say the community has a financial interest in
several of his recent designs, and I mean to find out which ones and how
much. And it's certainly an unusual situation. The man's a leadman, you
know, and could spend his time more profitably in checking on the people
he's responsible for." He slid into the seat.

"I'll concede," he continued, "that employees are to be allowed a
certain amount of recreation of their own choosing. They may have light
reading in their quarters, and they may even work on small
projects--with permission, of course. But this man seems to have gone
much farther than that. He has a small electronics factory of his own,
as well as a rather extensive library. He's obviously spending a lot of
time at his activities, and that time must come out of his community
performance. This certainly is not routine, and I can't condone your
failure to make a report on it."

"But, I--"

Morely held up a hand sternly. "Let's not have a string of excuses," he
said. "Give me a full report on the man's possessions, his history, and
the progress of whatever work he's doing in that private factory of his.
Get the details on his previous designs, too. And bring your report in
to me in the morning, personally. I shall want to determine whether to
make this new device a community project, or whether to allow it to be
offered to his employer on a community royalty agreement. And I shall
require details on his older designs for Fiscal to examine into.
Research, you should know, is a community function, not something to be
done in any set of quarters. I shall want to talk to you further when
I've gone over this matter.

"Now, get me back to the district offices. I want to get home, and
you've work to do tonight."

* * * * *

The report was a long one. Morely smiled to himself as he thought of the
time it must have taken Bond to assemble the data and to make up his
final draft. Possibly in the future, that young man would be a little
less inclined to assume too much authority, or to be too soft in his
dealings with the employee classes. The spring in his swivel chair
twanged musically as the district leader leaned back to read.

First, there was an inventory of Graham's effects. It was a lengthy
list, followed by a certification by a security inspector that all of
the equipment inventoried was covered by authorizations and receipts
held by Graham, and that none of the books and equipment were of
improper nature for possession by a member of the employee classes.
Morely grunted and tossed that section aside.

There was a detailed history of Graham's activities, so far as known to
Security. Morely scanned through it hurriedly. There was nothing here of
an unusual nature.

Graham had been graduated from one of the large technical colleges
during the early nineties. Morely noted that it was one of those schools
which had been later closed as a result of one of the post-war
investigations.

The subject had been employed by Consolidated Electronics as a junior
engineer, and had designed several improvements for Consolidated's
products. There was a record of promotions and a few awards. He had held
a few patents, which had been taken over by the Central Coordination
Products Division during the post-war reorganization. He had also
belonged to the now proscribed Society of Electronic Engineers, had
contributed articles to that organization's journal, and had taken an
active part in some of its chapter meetings.

During the war, he had worked on radio-controlled servos, doing
acceptable work. When the professional and trade societies and other
organizations were outlawed, he had promptly resigned from his society,
and made the required declarations. But he had been reported as
privately remarking that it was "a sad thing to see the last vestiges of
personal freedom removed."

Morely pursed his lips. Not an unusual history, he decided. Of course,
the man was completely ineligible for full citizenship--bad risk. He was
barely qualified for second-class citizenship, his obvious ability being
the only qualifying factor. Unlike many, he had no record of any effort
to shirk duty, or do economic damage during the critical period. The
district leader tossed the dossier aside and picked up the report on
Graham's present activities.

There were a series of complex schematics, and several machine drawings
which he shuffled to the back of his report. Those could be interpreted
later, if necessary. He was interested in the description of function.

The device Graham was working on was described as a communicator which
operated by direct mind-to-mind transfer. Morely sat up straighter,
reading the paragraph over again. Either this man was a true genius, who
had discovered a new principle, or he was completely a crackpot.

"Telepathy!"

Morely snorted and went over to the descriptions of the device, reading
carefully. Finally, he read the comments of a senior engineer, who
cautiously admitted that the circuits involved, though highly
unconventional, were not of a type to cause spurious radiation, or to
interfere with normal communication in any way.

The engineer also noted that it was possible that the device might be
capable of radiation effects outside of the electromagnetic spectrum,
and that the power device was capable of integration into standard
equipment--in fact, might be well worth adoption. He carefully declined,
however, to give any definite opinion without an actual model to run
tests on. And he added the comment that the first model was as yet
incomplete.

Morely tossed the last sheet to his desk and leaned forward, tapping
idly on the dull-finished plastic. Finally, he touched his call button
and waited till the clerk came in.

"You may send Mr. Bond in now," he directed.

He picked up the section of the report dealing with Graham's past
designs, and started scanning it. He would have the Fiscal chief go over
this and set up the necessary royalty agreements with Consolidated. Some
of them might generate worth-while amounts of funds.

* * * * *

He made no sign of recognition or awareness when Bond entered the
office, but continued with his reading. At last, he pulled a notepad to
him, wrote a brief indorsement to the Fiscal chief, and clipped it to
the part of the report dealing with Graham's older designs. He replaced
his pen in its stand and leaned back, to stare at his junior, who stood
at rigid attention.

"Yes?"

"Sector Leader Bond, sir, reporting as ordered." Bond saluted.

Negligently, Merely returned the salute, then picked up Bond's report.

"I have gone through this, Bond," he announced. "Very interesting. And
you thought it too unimportant to report on before?"

"I didn't want to bother you with some idle fantasy, sir. Until the
man's experiments showed definite results of some sort, I--"

"And then, you hoped to spring a completed device on me? Take credit for
it yourself, eh?"

"Not at all, sir. I--"

Morely raised a hand. "Never mind. I don't need any kind of aid to read
your intentions. They're quite plain, I see. It would have been quite a
credit to you, wouldn't it?

"'Look what I worked out, with a little, minor help from one of the
employees in my sector.'

"But I've seen that line worked before, Bond, and worked smoothly. You
don't catch the Old Man napping so easily as that." He paused.

"Of course we don't know whether or not this device is going to be of
any real use. But we do know that this man, Graham, has developed one
thing which can be profitably incorporated into conventional equipment.
That power source of his appears to be quite practical, and we'll adopt
it. Offer it to the man's employer, subject to community royalty. And
see if you can get Graham a little time off work in compensation. Then,
keep a close watch on his work on the rest of his device. He'll probably
use his time off to work on it--at least, he'll be a lot better off if
he does.

"I want frequent reports on his progress--daily reports, if any
significant developments occur. And I want a model of that device as
soon as it's developed and has had preliminary tests. If it works, it
might be valuable for community defense." He waved a hand.

"That's all."

Bond turned to go, and almost got to the door before Morely called him
back.

"Oh, one more thing, Bond. Keep a closer watch on the rest of your
people. If any more of them decide to do extra work of any unusual
nature, I shall expect an immediate report in full. Don't fail me again.
Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir." Bond saluted again and made his escape.

Morely watched him disappear, then turned to his communicator. "Get me
Field Leader Denton," he ordered.

The pause was slight, then the face of a middle-aged man appeared in the
viewsphere.

"Denton," said the district leader, "I want you to keep closer watch on
your sector men. Last night I spot-checked Bond, in Fourteen, and I
found an irregularity. I'll expect you to endorse the report back, and
I'll expect you to tighten down. Keep an especially close eye on this
man, Bond."

The field leader's eyebrows raised a little. "Bond, sir? He's one of--"

"Bond. Yes." His superior interrupted forcefully. "And tighten down on
all your men. You know how I feel about laxity."

He snapped the communicator off and gathered Bond's report together. For
a few seconds, he looked at the neat stack of paper, then he slipped a
paper clamp on it and punched his call button.

* * * * *

"There!" Paul Graham straightened from his hunched-over position at the
desk. He laid his soldering iron down and massaged the small of his
back, grimacing slightly.

"Oh, me! I'll swear my back'll never be the same again. But that ought
to do it, at last." He looked at the equipment before him and grinned
ruefully.

"Of all the haywire messes. It started out so nice. And it ended up so
awful."

The device had started out as a fairly neat assembly, using a headband
as a chassis. But the circuitry seemed to have gone out of control.
Miniature sub-assemblies hung at all angles from their wires and tiny
components were interlaced through the unit, till the entire assembly
looked like a wig from a horror play. Graham shook his head, picked up
the band; and carefully fitted it, being careful that the contacts
touched his forehead and temples properly.

For an instant, he looked a little dazed. Then, he reached up and
fumbled for a moment with the controls at the front of the headband.
Suddenly, he stopped, an expression of pleasure on his face. He stood
for a time, looking at the wall, then looked up at the ceiling. He
frowned and looked at his wife, who was anxiously watching him. A smile
grew on his face, and she was clearly conscious of the projected
thought.

"I told you, Elaine, it can't possibly hurt anyone. Stop worrying about
me."

Elaine Graham looked startled. "I didn't, say anything, darling."

Her husband looked at her with an impish grin. She frowned a little,
then her eyes widened and her mouth opened a little. She ran at him
indignantly.

"It simply isn't decent! You take that thing off, Paul Graham, right
now. I won't have you reading my mind!"

Graham laughingly fended her off with one hand as he carefully removed
the headband with the other. He set the device gently on the desk, then
seized his wife about the waist.

"It works, honey," he said jubilantly. "It really works." He waltzed her
away from the desk, to the middle of the living room.

"Of course, I couldn't get anything from anyone but you. It seems to
work just as I thought it might--only if you can see the person you want
to contact. But I'll bet two people who were acquainted could use two of
these things to communicate with each other at any distance. And it may
be possible to work out the problem of single-device communication at
distance and through obstacles. But that'll have to come later. Right
now, this thing works."

"But Paul. I'm afraid. What will they do with something like this? We
have so little freedom left now. Why, they won't even let us think
privately." She paused, her head turning from side to side as she looked
about the apartment.

"You know, Paul, I hardly ever dare go out of this apartment now, they
upset me so. And if they're able to read my thoughts, I shan't be safe,
even here."

Graham frowned. "True," he admitted. "But somehow, when I had the thing
on, I got some funny ideas. I wonder if anyone could really oppress
someone he fully understood. I wonder if two people who could fully
comprehend each other's point of view could have a really serious
disagreement." He picked up the headband, looking at it searchingly.

* * * * *

"And there's another thing," he added. "Unless both parties are wearing
the things, vision seems to be essential to any reaction, at least in
this model. I tried to get thoughts from the kids and from the Moreno's,
upstairs. But there wasn't a thing. And yet, I could get you clearly.
Apparently this thing won't work out as a spy device."

"But, are you sure?"

Graham shrugged wryly. "Well ... no," he admitted. "I'll have to finish
wiring the other set and try 'em both out before I'll be sure of
anything. And it'll take a lot of tests before I'm sure of very much.
Now, I've just got some ideas." He frowned thoughtfully.

"Anyway, I can't stop now. They know about the thing, and I've got to
finish it--or furnish definite proof it's impractical." He turned back
to the desk. "Should be through with the other band in a few minutes.
Just have to put in a couple of filters."

He picked up the completed device and turned around again. "Here,
Elaine, put this on, will you? See what you get. Try to catch a thought
from outside the room."

* * * * *

Dutifully, Elaine Graham accepted the headband. She eyed it doubtfully
for a moment, then adjusted it over her hair, setting the contacts on
her skin as she had seen her husband do. For a few seconds, she stared
at her husband, wide-eyed. Then, she looked away, her eyes focused on
infinity.

Graham busied himself with the soldering iron and another headband.

At last, Elaine took the headband off. "It's weird, Paul," she said.
"When I was looking at you, I knew everything you were thinking. But
when I looked away, there was nothing. It was almost as though I didn't
have it on. Only, I seemed to be able to think so much more clearly."

Graham looked up from his work, squinting thoughtfully. "Yeah," he
muttered. "Yeah, I noticed that, too, come to think of it. Feedback
effect of some sort, I suppose. Have to experiment with that, too, I
expect." He turned back to his work.

* * * * *

Elaine put the headband back on and watched him. She felt a complete
familiarity with everything he was working on. For the first time, she
felt she fully understood this man with whom she had lived for so many
years. And the understanding was pleasant. She could comprehend the
mysteries of the circuits he was working on. She had always felt
slightly neglected when he worked with his equipment, especially since
the bureaucracy, who took his results without recompense. Now, she could
feel his interest in his work for its own sake. She could sympathize
with it. And, with a little study, she felt she could join with him.

Graham straightened again. "It's done," he said. He picked the second
headband from the desk and put it on. Abruptly, both he and his wife
were aware of a fuzziness in their thoughts and senses. The walls, the
floor, and the furniture seemed to blur and waver, like the fantasy
world of delirium. He put his hand up and adjusted the controls. The
room returned to normal, and their senses were abruptly sharp and clear
again. He dropped his hand.

"Outside. See if it'll work when we can't see each other."

"Almost curfew time."

"Only a couple of minutes. Then lights out and sleep."

Elaine walked to the door. She stepped out into the corridor and walked
down the steps.

"All right?"

"Perfect! Try the parking lot. Close the door."

She went out of the quarters, crossed the areaway, and stood under the
landing slot. Far overhead, a segment of sky appeared between the open
bomb shutters. Stars shone coldly. She was conscious of a movement and
looked down, toward a shadow which moved among the parked helicopters.

"What's that?"

She looked more closely at the shadow, then shuddered a little.

"Never mind." The thought was urgent. "Come inside. I got him, too."

* * * * *

Quickly, Elaine walked back into the apartment. She closed the door and
walked to the desk, removing the headband as she approached. Her husband
put his headband beside it.

"We'd better get to bed," he said quietly. "I'll notify them tomorrow."

"No, Paul. It would be harder then. And there would be so many
questions. Call the sector leader tonight. We'll have to get it over."
Elaine shivered.

"But what will they do with it?" She asked the question almost
despairingly.

Graham shook his head. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "I started with the
idea of simply building a really effective communicator. But this is
more than that. To you and I, it meant full understanding. But to that
person out there ... I don't know."

"His thoughts were flat--almost lifeless. And he made my skin crawl.
Paul, do you remember how you used to feel when you came close to a
snake? There's something wrong with that man."

"I know. I felt it, too. And it made the blood rush into my ears."
Graham moved toward the communicator, placing his hand on the switch.
"And you're right. I'll have to report immediately. They don't really
need telepathy. And certainly, they never required real evidence. A
suspicion is sufficient, and they'd be very suspicious if I didn't
notify the sector leader tonight."

He depressed the switch deliberately, like a man firing a weapon. Then,
he dialed a number, and waited.

The sphere lit, to show the face of Harold Bond.

"Oh, Graham." Bond frowned a little. "It's late. Do you have something
to report?"

"Yes, sir." Graham's face was expressionless. "The mental communicator
is finished. Do you wish to test it, sir?"

Bond opened his eyes a little more and nodded. "It's really done,
then?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'll be there in a few minutes." The sphere darkened.

Graham looked at it. De-energized, the communicator seemed to be merely
a large ball of clear material. It stood on its low pedestal, against
its black background, reflecting a distorted picture of the chiaroscuro
of the room. He leaned toward it, and saw a faint, deformed reflection
of his own head and shoulders.

He spread his hands a little, and turned around. Elaine had crossed to
the divan, where she sat, looking apathetically at the door, her hands
folded in her lap. He smiled apprehensively, coughed, and held up a
hand, two fingers crossed.

Elaine glanced at him, nodded, and resumed her watch of the door. Graham
shrugged and walked over to his desk, where he stood, aimlessly looking
down at the two headbands.

* * * * *

They both jumped convulsively when the buzzer sounded. Graham strode
rapidly to the door, opened it, and stood back as the sector leader came
in. Elaine had come to her feet, and stood rigidly, facing the door.

Sector Leader Bond closed the door, then looked from one of them to the
other. He shook his head a little sadly, and waved a hand gently back
and forth.

"Relax, you two," he said. "I'm alone this time." He turned to Graham.
"Let's see what we've got."

Graham walked to his desk and picked up the two headbands.

"They're a little rough-looking, sir," he apologized. "But they work."

Bond tossed his head back with a little laugh. "They do look a little
rugged, don't they?" he chuckled. "Well, we'll worry about appearance
later. Right now, I'm curious. I want to see what these things do."

Graham handed over one of the bands and slowly adjusted the other to his
head. For a moment, he looked searchingly at the sector leader, then his
face relaxed into a relieved expression.

"Hear me?"

Bond had been examining the device in his hands. He looked up, puzzled.

"Of course I hear you," he said. "I'm not deaf."

Graham smiled a little, then placed a hand tightly over his mouth.

"Still get me?"

Bond cocked his head to one side, looked down at the device in his
hands, then looked up again. "Well," he commented. "So that's the way
they work. I thought you spoke."

Graham shook his head. "Didn't have to. Try it on."

Bond shrugged. "Well, here we go." He pulled off his cap, tossed it to a
chair, and replaced it with the headband. For a moment, he looked around
the apartment, then he glanced at Mrs. Graham. He blinked, ducked his
head, and looked more closely at her.

"Ow! Nobody could be as bad as that!" He looked at Graham. "What do
you think?"

"There's one outside." Graham inclined his head a little.

Elaine Graham sprang to her feet. "I'm terribly sorry," she apologized
contritely. "It's just that I--"

Bond took off the headband abruptly. "I'm sorry, too," he said. "I was
prying." He looked down at the device. "I'm not too sure about this
thing," he added. "It works. I can see that much. But I'm almost afraid
it works too well. What's it going to cause?"

Graham pulled off his own headband and extended his hand for the other.
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "I'm not sure of anything at all." He
frowned. "Wish I hadn't--" He looked at the sector leader quickly.

"I'm sorry, sir," he apologized. "Forgot my training, I guess."

Bond waved a hand. "Look," he said, "there are times, and there are
places. Right now, I'm in your home, and I'm just as worried about this
as you are. I'm just another person." He looked down at his neat
uniform.

"Once," he mused, "we were all just people. Now--" He shrugged. "And
then, these things come along." He looked at the two headbands, then at
the man holding them.

"Wonder how many people feel like that?"

Graham held out the headbands. "I know one way to find out."

Bond nodded. "I see what you mean," he admitted. "But it could be pretty
bad." He walked over to the chair and picked up his cap.



"Well," he added with a sigh, "I suppose I'd better grab these things
and take them over to Research. Have to find out all we can about them.
I've still got to report on them." Again, he looked at Graham. "You'd
better come along, too. Research people might have a lot of questions,
and I could never answer them."

* * * * *

Graham nodded and went to the hall closet. He took his coat from the
hanger, put it on, and reached for his hat, then hesitated.

"You know," he said, "we might try one experiment, right here."

"Oh?" Bond raised his eyebrows.

"There's a man out in the parking lot. I believe he's detailed to keep
watch on me. You might try him with one of the headbands. Then, see what
he'll do with one on."

"Any special reason?"

Graham twisted his face uneasily. "I can't describe it," he said almost
inaudibly. "You'd have to see for yourself."

Bond looked at him speculatively for a moment, then held out his cap and
one of the headbands.

"Here, hold these."

He put the other headband on, accepted the first, and walked out of the
apartment, followed by Graham, who still carried the cap.

As they came out and started across the parking lot, a man approached
them.

Bond looked at him, frowned, then cast a sidelong look at Graham.

"That what you meant?" His thought carried an undercurrent of
incredulity.

Graham nodded wordlessly, and Bond looked toward the approaching man
again. Once more, his face wrinkled distastefully, then he spoke aloud.

"Oh, Ross. Want you to try some thing." He held out the headband he was
carrying in his left hand.

Ross came up, accepted the device, and looked at it curiously. "You mean
this is the thing he's been working on?" He jerked a thumb at Graham.
"Saw his wife come out a while ago. Guess she had one of 'em on. She
went right back in again."

Bond nodded. "This is it," he said. "Let's see how it works for you."

Ross shrugged. "Try anything once, I guess." He adjusted the band to his
head, then stood, looking at the two men.

"Notice anything?" Bond looked at him sharply.

Again, Ross shrugged. "Nothing special," he said with a slight grunt.
"Seems as though this guy's pretty nervous."

"You don't have to say anything, just think it. And see if you can
communicate with Graham."

"Huh?" Ross had been looking directly at Bond. He frowned.

"You mean, this thing--" He paused, looking for a moment at Graham,
then took the headband off. "Thing doesn't feel good," he complained. He
held the device out to Bond, who accepted it.

"But it works? You could communicate both ways with it?"

"Oh, sure." Ross nodded grudgingly. "I got you, all right. But I
couldn't get a thing out of this guy." He wagged his head toward Graham.
"Except he was jittery about something."

"I see. Thanks." Bond accepted the headband. "We're going to take these
to Research," he added. "Let the technicians there find out how good
they are." He turned away and led Graham to his helicopter.

As Graham settled in the seat, he turned to the sector leader. "He just
couldn't use it properly," he remarked. "Maybe only certain people can
use them."

Bond nodded as he started the motor. "Or maybe only certain people
can't." He busied himself in getting the machine up through the landing
slot, then turned as they climbed into the night sky.

"Maybe you've got to be able to understand and like people before you
can establish full contact with them. Maybe ... Maybe a lot of things."
He was silent for a moment. "You know, this thing might become far more
valuable than you thought, Graham."

* * * * *

Howard Morely looked up from a memo as the clerk tapped on the door.

"Come in."

The man opened the door and stepped inside.

"Sector Leader Bond is here, sir. He has some gentlemen with him."

"And what does he want?"

"He said it was about that new communicator, sir."

"Oh." Morely turned his attention back to the memo. "Have them wait." He
waved a hand in dismissal and went on with his reading.

The beautification program was progressing well. Twenty miles of the old
main highway through the valley had been completely cleared and planted.
Crews were working on another stretch. The foreman of the wrecking crew
down at the point, in Sector Nine, reported that the last bit of scrap
had been removed from the old bridge support. Underwater crews had
salvaged the cables and almost all of the metal from the fallen bridge
itself, and the scrap was on the beach, ready for delivery to the
reclamation mills in District One.

Morely smiled sourly. Harwood would have a storage problem on his hands
in a day or so. The delay in delivery could be explained and justified.
Morely had seen to that. Now, all the material was ready and could be
delivered in one lot.

Harwood would have to raise his production quota in his community mills
to use up the excess material, and that would slow down the clean-up in
District One. The Old Man couldn't help but notice, and he'd see who was
efficient in his region. The district leader pushed the memo sheets
aside and placed his hands behind his head.

Slowly, he pivoted his chair, to look at the entertainment screen. He
started to energize it, then drew his hand back.

So that crackpot, Graham, had finally come up with something definite.
Morely smiled again. It had almost seemed as though the man had been
stalling for a while. But the pressure and the veiled threats had been
productive--again.

To be sure, the agents covering that project had reported that the
device seemed to be merely another fairly good means of
communication--nothing of any tremendous importance. But results had
been obtained, and a communicator which was reasonably free from
interception and which required relatively low power might be of some
value to the community. He might be able to get a commendation out of
it, at least.

And even if it were unsuitable for defense, there'd be a new product for
one of the luxury products plants in the district, and the district
would get royalties from the manufacturer. Too, it would keep people
busy and make 'em spend more of their credits.

He grimaced at his vague reflection in the screen before him, and spoke
aloud.

"That's the way to get things done. Make 'em know who's in charge. And
let 'em know that no nonsense will be tolerated. Breathe down their
necks a little. They'll produce." He cleared his throat and spun around,
to punch the button on his desk.

* * * * *

The door opened and the clerk stood, respectfully awaiting orders.

"Send in Bond and the people with him."

The clerk stepped back, turning his head.

"You may go in now, sir." He disappeared around the door.

Harold Bond stepped through the doorway, followed by two men. Morely
looked at them closely. Engineers, he thought.

"What have you got?" he demanded.

One of the men opened a briefcase and removed a large, dully gleaming
band. Apparently, it was made of plastic, or some light alloy, for he
handled it as though it weighed very little.

As the man laid it on the desk, Morely examined the object closely. It
was large enough to go on a man's head, he saw. It had adjustable
straps, which could be used to hold it in place, and there were a few
spring-loaded contacts, which apparently were meant to rest against a
wearer's forehead and temples.

A few tiny knobs protruded from one side of the band, and a short wire,
terminated by a miniature plug, depended from the other.

The engineer dipped into his brief case again, to produce a small, flat
case with a long wire leading from it. He put this by the headband, and
connected the plugs.

"The band, sir," he explained, "is to be worn on the head." He pointed
to the flat case. "To save weight in the band, we built a separate power
unit. It can be carried in a pocket. We've tested the unit, sir, and it
does provide a means of private communication with anyone within sight,
or with a group of people. Two people, wearing the headbands, can
communicate for considerable distances, regardless of obstacles."

"I see." Morely picked up the headband. "Do you have more than one of
these?"

"Yes, sir. We made four of the prototypes and tested them thoroughly."
Bond stepped forward. "I sent a report in on them yesterday."

"Yes, yes. I know." Morely waved impatiently. He examined the headband
again. "And you say it provides communication?"

"Yes, sir."

"No chance of interception?"

Bond shook his head. "Well," he admitted, "if two people are in contact,
and a third equipped person wishes to contact either one, he can join
the conversation."

"So, it's easier to tap than a cable circuit, or even a security type
radio circuit." Morely frowned. "Far from a secure means of
communication."

"Well, sir, if anyone cuts in on a communication, both parties know it
immediately."

Morely grunted and shook his head. "Still not secure," he growled. He
looked at the papers on his desk. "Oh, put one on. We'll see how they
work." He leaned back in his chair.

* * * * *

Bond turned to the man with the brief case, who held out another
headband. The sector leader fitted it to his head, plugged in the power
supply and looked around the room. Finally, he glanced at his superior.
A shadow of uncertainty crossed his face, followed by a quickly
suppressed expression of distaste.

Morely watched him. "Well?" he demanded impatiently, "I don't feel or
see anything unusual."

"Of course not, sir," explained Bond smoothly. "You haven't put on the
other headband yet."

"Oh? I thought you could establish communication with only one headset,
so long as you were in the same room."

Bond smiled ingratiatingly. "Only sometimes, sir. Some people are more
susceptible than others."

"I see." Morely looked again at the headband, then set it on his head.
One of the engineers hurried forward to help him with the power pack,
and he looked around the room, becoming conscious of slight sensations
of outside thought. As he glanced at the engineers, he received faint
impressions of anxious interest.

"Can you receive me, sir?"

Morely looked at Bond. The younger man was staring at him with an
intense expression on his face. The district leader started to speak,
then remembered and simply thought the words.

"Of course I can. Didn't you expect results?"

"Oh, certainly, sir. Do you want me to go outside for a further test?"

The headband was bothering Morely a little. Unwanted impressions seemed
to be hovering about, uncomfortably outside the range of recognition. He
took the device off and looked at it again.

"No," he said aloud. "It won't be necessary. It's obvious to me that
this thing will never be any good for practical application in any
community communications problem. It's too vague. But it'll make an
interesting toy, I suppose. Some people might like it as a novelty, and
it'll give them s





Next: Indirection

Previous: Alarm Clock



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