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Contentment, Satisfaction, Cheer, Well-Being, Gladness, Joy, Comfort, and Not Having to Get Up Early Any More

For centuries the world had been run by the Representatives. This must sound wonderful. You know, an organization of devoted men, chosen by the population of the entire world on the basis of individual merit, working together for the betterment of mankind as a whole, rather than national interests. Well, it does sound wonderful. It wasn't wonderful, though. Still, at times, it was pretty good despite itself.

In the early days, there were six Representatives: the Representative of North America, one from South America, and Representatives of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. In the beginning, it seemed a very logical and reasonable way of running things. There were the advantages of several different political systems, each of which had enjoyed popularity at one time or another: despotism, democracy, the benevolent monarchy, and so on. Eclecticism was the mood of the people, and the Representatives didn't see any reason to oppose the trend.

After some centuries of Representative rule, the then-current Representative of North America phoned the Representative of Asia, on the pretext of returning a friendly call. Sooner or later, though, their talk got around to the administrative problems of running continents.

"You know," said Tom, the Representative of North America, "sometimes it gets to be a pain in the neck, handling all these 'minority group members.' I'll bet they're worse than the original minorities ever were."

"I know just what you mean," said Denny, the Representative of Asia. "Only last month I had some guy dressed up like a monk or something who set himself on fire in downtown Kowloon. Now, we haven't had real Buddhist monks in five hundred years. This guy was a regular Fiver-dash-Jerry civil service man, probably from Trenton, New Jersey, or somewhere. But he really got into his job. He was supposed to give speeches, pray a lot, burn incense, chant, that kind of thing. There was nothing in the personnel specs about setting himself on fire."

"You just never know," said Tom. "The job gets to them sometimes. I have the same trouble every day with my people. And not just the ones you'd expect. I have to have a famous melting pot over here. All the slag rises to the top."

The Representative of Asia laughed. "Maybe we ought to get rid of these pretend minorities altogether. They're too much trouble."

"No," said Tom. "They serve a purpose. But it might help to kind of consolidate our efforts a little."

The Representative of Asia sounded suspicious. "What do you mean?" he asked.

Tom spoke in an unnaturally light tone. "Well," he said, "look at it this way. The more Representatives there are, the more our decisions get diluted, and the weaker our power is. It's like the old days, with a million rulers and a billion legislators. It's better now, but it's not perfect yet."

Denny's voice became a whisper. "I'll bet you've got some terrific idea to improve things."

"There's the whole area of the Pacific," said Tom. "Stan's running that show. But I keep finding myself beating my head against his stupid plans. I'll bet you do, too. Now, if there were someone else in his place, someone who understood me better — "

"You want to have Stan replaced, before the election."

"Yes," said Tom.

"Who? You wouldn't just say that if you didn't already have ideas."

"I don't want to put someone else in Stan's job," said the Representative of North America. "That would just prolong the trouble. I think we could do a better job ourselves."

"Squeeze him out, and move in ourselves."

"Now you got it," said Tom cheerfully. And that's how the six Representatives who ruled the world became five.

It was very easy to set a precedent in those days. There weren't dozens upon dozens of nations any more, each with its own peculiar ways. There was a loud cry of alarm and anger from the people of the Pacific territories when they learned that Stan had been retired to a nice ranch in California, and that Tom and Denny had divided his former domain. But the alarm and the anger did not last very long; most people in the Pacific territories couldn't tell the difference between Stan and either Tom or Denny in the first place. Things settled down, just as Tom knew they would, and everything got back to normal in a matter of weeks.

Several years later, the Representative of North America made a phone call to Chuck, the Representative of Europe. It was, in many respects, very similar to the phone call Tom had made to Denny, except that his new ideas were even more daring. "Listen," said Tom, "and I'm speaking frankly, honestly, and with a high regard for our constituents."

"Of course," said Chuck. "Aren't you always worrying about the voters? Don't you just stay up nights wondering if they still like you?"

"Shut up. I was thinking about what makes our continents run as smoothly as they do."

"Your continent, maybe," said Chuck. "My continent won't keep still long enough for me to tell it what to do."

"You're too kind," said Tom. "You have to be tough with the people."

"Easy for you to say," said Chuck. "You've got Americans. Just Americans. And Canadians. Even Stan could have dealt with them. Me, I've got Polish, German, Italian, French, Spanish, those damn inscrutable Finns, and God knows what all. And don't tell me about the withering of national identities, because you don't know what you're talking about. The countries may be gone, but the tempers aren't."

"All right, all right," said Tom. "Forget it. I was just thinking of a way that we could make things run a lot better, on a worldwide scale."

There was a short pause and a quiet laugh from Chuck. "We could turn the whole thing over to the prairie dogs, and let them have their shot at it."

"No," said Tom. "Not quite."

"Then I'll bet it's something really exciting and fun," said Chuck cynically. "If you give me a moment, I think I can get in the right ball park."

"Take all the time you want," said Tom.

"Does it have to do with, say, Ed or Nelson?"

Now Tom laughed. "Amazing," he said. "Now guess which one."

"Nelson in South America."

"No," said Tom. "How could you oversee anything in South America when you're sitting in Ponta do Sol?"

"All right," said Chuck. "Ed in Africa, and the same thing applies to you, sitting in your shuffleboard palace in Florida."

"Yes — Ed. Africa isn't a difficult place to govern any longer. Everything's the same, just the same as it is here, just the same as it is where you are. They have things in Africa that we need, we have things they need. The one thing that nobody needs is Ed."

"I've been saying that for years," said Chuck. "Now, are we just going to campaign for his removal or what?"

"Well, I've got a plan. I remember how well the operation against Stan went. I mean, not even Stan minded terribly much. He's very happy. He's playing shuffleboard, too, out in California. I visit him sometimes. He's getting good. I never saw anybody get topspin on one of those disks before. Anyway, I just thought he could use some company, and Ed doesn't seem to be doing much."

"That's his charm," said Chuck. "How do we do it? The same way you and Denny squeezed out Stan?"

"Pretty much," said Tom, pleased that Chuck was reacting so favorably.

So, in about six months, after a carefully drawn-up scheme of rumor, innuendo, planned dissatisfaction, false news leaks, skillfully aimed gossip, and character assassination, Tom and Chuck took over the governing of Africa, and Ed was retired to a nice ranch only a stone's throw from Stan. Denny didn't say anything; he was in no position to complain. But it was obvious that Nelson in South America was watching Tom with some nervousness.

The people of Africa were also a little more distraught than the citizens of the Pacific had been. Africa had long since lost its distinctive personality as a continent. There were no more desert nomadic tribes. There were no more vast savannahs, populated by fierce and beautiful beasts. There were few animals of any kind, in this once-rich continent overflowing with life. The Sahara had been made into a huge area virtually indistinguishable from Brooklyn or Queens; indeed, if you blindfolded someone from New York City and set him down anywhere in Africa, he would have a difficult time telling you where he was. The only giveaway might be the climate; a New Yorker would suspect that it was cooler in Africa in the summertime.

The government — meaning, of course, the Representatives — had hired a number of people to be Arabs, and a number of people to be goat or cow-herding tribesmen. But they never went so far as to maintain anything like the old society and culture. Music, sculpture, art, and the oral literary tradition were dead and gratefully lost. These things just got in the way of making one's living.

The removal of Ed as Representative made the African people think that this, too, would cause a major disturbance in their lives. That was the reason for their outcry; they didn't have the time, the energy, or the interest for a major disturbance. But Tom and Chuck moved in quickly, splitting the continent between them, taking over the government immediately and suppressing any reactions that looked potentially dangerous. Like the people of the Pacific, the Africans were astonished at how little their private lives were changed. Once this fact was accepted, so were Tom and Chuck, and Ed was easily forgotten. The six Representatives were now four. Three confident Representatives, and one very, very fearful one.

The frightened Representative was Nelson, in South America, and he had every reason in the world to be afraid. After making two unprecedented power grabs in less than ten years, Tom was casting his eye around for more, and the logical choice was Nelson. One of the chief advantages to supplanting Nelson was that Tom needed the help of nobody. He didn't have to go to Chuck or Denny with his ideas. He had gained enough experience to plan the entire operation himself; in fact, the maneuver had been thought up, at least in some rough form, from the time of the first takeover in the Pacific. Tom had only waited until his own position of power was sufficiently well-grounded. According to population figures, Tom now governed as many people as Chuck, possibly even more; Tom had graciously allowed Chuck the majority of Africa. Tom did not rule as many people as Denny, but his territory was richer in natural resources and all of that kind of thing, about which he knew little but about which his advisers were always very happy. Tom, Chuck, and Denny were about equal in power; Nelson was far, far behind. It hadn't yet occurred to Chuck and Denny that, should Tom replace Nelson single-handedly, the Representative of North America (and South America, and parts of Africa and the Pacific) would undeniably take a commanding lead.

Nelson tried to hint at this, in order to get help from Chuck and Denny. Neither Representative paid much attention. They always had problems of their own, and South America did not seem very important, even if Tom did succeed in grabbing it. After all, what would he get? A couple of dozen cities that could not be distinguished from Houston, Baltimore, Duluth, Vienna, Lisbon, Bratislava, Istanbul . . .

Tom had larger ideas. In only eight weeks, Nelson was living on a rather nice ranch-style home completely furnished with built-ins and two-and-a-half-car garage, not far from schools and shopping centers, between Ed's house and Stan's. And Tom had gotten himself some sunny new vacation homes in Brazil, a very pretty canal in Central America, and a staging point for future operations. Certainly he had no doubts that there would be future operations, even though Chuck and Denny thought that he had come to the end of his amusing games.


Now, before the discussion of the rest of Tom's affairs begins, it's time to talk about the other great influence in the lives of the people and the actions of the Representatives. This was TECT, the largest, most comprehensive, most versatile mechanical calculating device ever built. It had been in existence in one form or another for many years. Sometimes the electronic storage system was increased and made more efficient. Sometimes a technician would devise completely new techniques which would expand the powers of the gigantic computer beyond even what the Representatives could understand. TECT started off as a relatively small installation beneath the island of Malta. Other satellite units were added from time to time. After nearly a century, TECT was virtually autonomous, needing a minimum of human maintenance. Soon that minimum was reduced to zero. Meanwhile, TECT had become the repository and synthesizer of all human knowledge. Any book, newspaper, magazine, film, or sound recording that was in existence could be obtained from TECT. The computer — although "computer" is as poor a term for TECT as "star" is for Rigel, as far as conveying size is concerned — was provided with capabilities that allowed it to answer purely philosophical questions, using the vast resources at its command. By the time of Tom, Chuck, and Denny, there was no single human alive who comprehended all that TECT meant or all that TECT could do.

But there were a few folks around who had an idea.

Someone once came up with what he considered to be a cure for inflation. At least, he reasoned, inflation could be slowed down if everyone did away with money. The Representatives thought this over for a few years and decided to try it. No more currency was printed, only a small quantity of coins of small denominations, for use in minor transactions. All other transfers of goods was controlled and remembered by TECT; if one bought an item, TECT would deduct the value of the property from the buyer's credit account, and add it to the seller's. Everyone had an official government ID card, and this was used to record every business transaction in the world; the card was placed in a small bookkeeping machine and the amount of the sale was registered. There were millions of these machines in the world, in every store, restaurant, official church, newsstand on every continent, and every machine was tied directly to TECT. TECT could handle it all easily; the shifting of credit happened instantaneously, and a good deal of fraud was ended by TECT's sure knowledge of everyone's current financial situation. The Representatives were very fond of the plan, and it worked very well indeed. The research team that put it into operation were rewarded with luxurious gifts and appliances, and generous gift certificates from the Representatives' own large chain of department stores.

Long before Tom first got the idea of removing Stan, almost every household in the world had its own tect, its own external terminal of the huge TECT buried beneath the ground. Now everyone had access to any information that he might want, except, of course, that information which had been classified for security reasons or which TECT might deem an infringement on another person's privacy. Books could be printed out on microfiche cards in a matter of seconds, and read on a built-in screen. Any music or film could be requested.

At the same time, the Representatives had an accurate and relatively inconspicuous way of keeping tabs on everyone on the planet; TECT remembered every request that was made of it, and sometimes this information could be very useful, too. It was impossible to purchase anything without TECT learning where one was, so fugitives from justice had a much more difficult time. The official ID card became the most valuable possession a person had: without it, he could not eat, he could not clothe himself, he could not rent lodgings, he would find it nearly impossible to find sexual gratification.

One of the reasons that the Representatives liked TECT so much was that the computer did much to make their own jobs easier. If everyone had a tect in his home, then there was a simple way of communicating with each constituent. An election could be held, with billions of individual voting machines; the vote would be made on the tect, and TECT would count the world-wide tally.

One of the reasons that Tom, Chuck, Denny, Nelson, Stan, and Ed had been Representatives for so long was that they controlled the computer technicians who wrote the programs that governed the counting of the votes. The Representatives lied.

Naturally, there were those who suspected, but they were powerless. TECT's records of past elections were altered to fit the Representatives' designs. And very little interest could be stirred among the populations to investigate; the angry few who demanded a recount found very few listeners.

Another great step forward was made when the discovery of matter teleportation was made. TECT could be used to move objects or people safely from one place to another — again, instantaneously. TECT had always been able to do this, from the days since it had ceased being just another huge computer; it was just that no one had realized the potential of the machine. It isn't necessary to go into what matter transmission did to the politics and economy of the world. Ordinarily, it might be assumed that the effect would be tremendous. But everything was already the same, so very few people noticed the difference. It speeded up the mail delivery, and you could get back and forth to the moon faster, but teletrans units were too expensive to install in the home. It was still cheaper to take the plane.


So, against this background, Tom found himself master of quite a bit of the world. He ruled over more territory than anyone since Charles V of Spain and a lot of other places. But, naturally enough, Tom was not satisfied. One morning Denny awoke to find both Tom and Chuck in his bedroom, each holding a glass of water and a pill. Denny shrugged and accepted the pills, and when he awoke again, he was inside a lovely four-bedroom house from which he could hear the shuffleboard disks clacking at Stan's.

Of course, Chuck realized that he was in pretty unstable circumstances himself. What had happened to Stan, Ed, Nelson, and Denny could very well happen to him — could, ha. Would. There wasn't any doubt about it. The only question was when Tom would move. From the day that Chuck helped Tom retire Denny, Chuck had hired a guard to watch while he slept. In Chuck's retinue, the Representative had an eccentric reputation, but he was just being careful. He ruled the world with Tom for many years. They used TECT and they used television, they used sports and popular entertainment media, they used sex and they used drugs, all to their benefit, all to keep their people happy. They became identified as a team — the Representatives, Tom and Chuck. The others were forgotten. Tom and Chuck, the Representatives. They were doing a good job. Nobody was bothered. It seemed that they might go on like that forever.

They might well have, except that after about twelve years Chuck let his guard down. Tom moved quickly; he had been watchful all during that time. Chuck excused himself to go to the lavatory, and the young woman he was dining with never saw him again. Chuck took up collecting shells in California, and Nelson paid him back a decades-old sock on the jaw that Chuck had completely forgotten about. Except for that, the five Representatives-in-Exile spent the rest of their days in friendly community activities, watched over by Tom and his associates.

Now, at last, Tom alone ruled the world. It was the first time that anyone had ever done that. It was certainly a noteworthy occasion, and to be sure, Tom received a great number of congratulatory telegrams and flowers subceived to his personal teletrans unit. In Europe, everyone missed Chuck. "What happened to old Chuck?" asked the Danish fishermen, the German industrialists, the Italian tenors, the British working stiffs, the Spanish dancers, the French chefs. No one seemed to know. There were plenty of people in Europe who squinted one eye, shook one finger, and said, "I'll bet he's gone the same place as those others." Life went on, and by lunchtime Chuck had ceased to be a cause for concern.

In the United States and Canada, there was a certain pride involved in living under the Representative who seemed to have come out on top. No one had even been aware that there was any sort of power struggle, but if there was — and now it surely seemed that way — well, it was better to be in on the winning side. There wasn't anyone who could explain why, or how having been governed by Tom before anyone else had been would work to their benefit; and so by lunchtime Tom had ceased to be a topic of conversation.

During that time, Tom, the Representative of the world, was kept informed of how his coup had affected the voters. He was surprised and gratified that the transition was easy; he didn't have any need for the massive public relations job that he had planned. That was just as well. He could put the time and resources into other things; it seemed that the people loved him, or if not, they kept their mouths shut. Maybe they had him mixed up with someone else. In any event, it didn't make any difference. The regime replaced the old twelve-year Tom-and-Chuck routine without the slightest rough moment. Tom wondered in private: did those people, those ten billion people, did they ever wonder what happened to Chuck (let alone Denny, Nelson, and so on)? Did they have any idea what would happen if something accidental happened to Tom?

In the most private of these moments, Tom wondered what would happen if something accidental happened to Tom.

So, in Asia, in little islands in the ocean, in the frozen Greenland stations, in Cleveland, everyone accepted Tom as the boss. It wasn't much different than having a bunch of Representatives, after all; the only adjustment that people could make (although few did) was to realize that everyone else in the world had the same Representative. Was that so terrible?

About this time, Tom turned from the petty cares of his office to benevolence. It was a sudden and wonderful thing. One day he called in his secretary. "Miss Brant," he said, "today I am going to do these benevolent things. Take a memo." And he listed over two dozen charitable, praiseworthy acts which he, through the resources of his office, was easily able to accomplish. Nuns — that is, civil servants hired as nuns — in Africa were given clean linens. Sons of pseudo-Chicanos were given softballs and bats. A hospital in Lima, Peru, was begun and another in Lima, Ohio, torn down. Many other things happened that first day, and people all over the world were surprised and gratified.

The next morning, Tom anxiously waited for word to come into the Representative headquarters. He kept asking TECT, "How am I doing?" TECT kept responding, "Fine. Just fine." That wasn't what Tom was looking for. He called in Miss Brant. "How do you think I'm doing?" he asked.

"Fine," she said. Tom gave her another list of kindly deeds for that day. An hour later, Tom asked TECT, "How am I doing? Break it down statistically. Print it out as a comparison with one year ago today."

TECT complied. The answer read:

30 August 1 YT
Popularity at highest level in twelve months. As of this date, one year ago, popularity of the Representative of North America was 8.37483+. Data received as of 23:47:54 30August 1 YT indicates popularity has risen to 8.84747+.

Tom looked at the figures silently. He had certainly worked hard at being liked. Apparently he was succeeding. Well, that was fine. Miss Brant was right. It was just fine. He stared at the figures on the tect's screen: 8.84747+. That meant that out of ten people there were 1.15253 who didn't like him. Tom ignored the percentage in the larger, positive figure who had been counted merely as "no opinion." He didn't ask TECT about that; it was a side to the question he didn't want to know more about. Instead, he gave the money to begin a subway system in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

Five hours later, the popularity index stood at 8.84751+. Tom was making progress.

There was a newspaper article the next morning, wondering why Tom was doing all of this. Had he been involved in some unspeakable horror, was he trying to channel the people's attention away from his evil nature? TECT reported all of this without interest, only because everything that directly mentioned the Representative was sorted, coded, and abridged for his benefit. Tom was very unhappy. He decided to take tect time and speak to the world again.

"My fellow humans," he said, wondering if that were any better than "Earthlings." His face was wan and lined, a testimonial to the skills of his wardrobe and make-up staff. He chewed on a thumbnail while he stood, uncomfortably, in front of a large globe. The room looked like some important office, but it was just a stage-set near his bathroom. "My fellow humans," he said, "I haven't done anything wrong. Look at me. It's Tom, you remember. I've been with you a long time. We've done a lot of things together, you and I, we've seen a lot of changes. Can it be that the people of the world, my people, my world, your world, too, are so starved for novelty that they have to attack me in this way?" In the hand that wasn't being bitten he waved the article. It was printed on a microfiche card, and impossible to see clearly. "I sure hate to think that. And I won't, because I know my people better. My staff keeps me posted."

Tom looked out at the audience, all the people in the world, all ten billion of them, and smiled sincerely. "I'm doing the best I can," he said. Then he walked out of the room.

The next morning the newspaper printed an article that defended Tom, but suggested that his henchmen and underlings were using their greater power to further their own ends. Tom shrugged; well, sure they were. His popularity index had held fast; he asked TECT about the trustworthy quotient of his henchmen and underlings, in the eyes of the constituents. This was quoted as 3.28537+. The juniors had messed up again; in a little while they would begin to affect Tom adversely as well. He went back on the air and explained that, if anything wrong happened, anywhere in the world, it could likely be traced to an honest mistake by one of the underlings and henchmen. "I have to admit that I am limited by the skill of these good men," he said. "I have to be dependent on somebody. Everybody has to be dependent on somebody." This time he didn't even smile. He just walked away.

"What is Tom going to do?" asked many millions of people. "It's true that the quality of our lives is higher than ever before, but he's prevented from raising it even further by those underlings and henchmen upon whom he depends." Millions of people were saying these very words, all over the world; millions of other people only shrugged. In California, five ex-Representatives were uneasy about their friend's predicament.

Everyone had made the reckoning without taking into account Tom's superior foresight. He called a meeting of technicians, technologists, scientists, researchers, savants, and stenographers to hear his views. His views were roundly applauded; then Tom asked for the views of the other people present. Some of these ideas were rejected, others incorporated. Things moved along at an excellent pace, in a comfortable atmosphere of democratic fellowship, until the decision was made to build even more sophisticated capabilities into TECT.

Among Tom's own associates, his underlings and henchmen, there was a great amount of celebration. One might have thought that another habitable planet had been discovered, an event that occurred only once or twice a year. The underlings and the henchmen were sure that they would be given positions of greater responsibility, although those positions hadn't been in existence for many, many years. And along with those positions, they reasoned, must go greater privileges. But no one wanted to bring the matter up; certainly it was too early to approach Tom. He had earned a period of adjustment. So, by lunchtime, all of Tom's underlings and henchmen were trying to act naturally. They all sweated a lot and laughed nervously, but they pretended that it was natural. They never gave any thought to the possibility that the sole ruler of the world might not want a bunch of sweating, giggling apes as his subordinates. That kind of junior executive never considers the broad perspective; Tom was well aware of the situation.

"I am well aware of the situation," he said as he headed up his first staff meeting that afternoon. "I know what you must be thinking. That's how I got to be where I am today. And, first off, I'd like to thank each and every one of you." The henchmen and the underlings looked at each other and tried to hide their smirks behind their hands. They waited to hear what Tom had planned for them.

Tom looked around the large, polished metal table. The men who sat listening to him had served him for a long time, relieving him of many irritating duties. Some of the men had been with him so long he had forgotten who they were and what they did. He glanced from face to face, and he couldn't suppress a shudder. "Who is responsible for this report?" he asked, holding up a thick notebook. "Number 18192-J-495?"

One of the men coughed softly and raised a hand. "My group," he said timidly.

"Fine," said Tom. "Fine work."

The man gave his Representative a short, tight smile.

"Have you read the report?" asked Tom.

"No, sir," said the man. "A résumé was due to be put on my desk this morning, but, well, with all the commotion and everything — "

Tom interrupted the underling with a gesture. "Just as well," he said. "You're out of a job. You saved yourself a lot of depressing reading. TECT has your job now. The report estimated that I didn't need any of you any more. TECT estimated that, too. I figured it out for myself, a while ago. So now you can go out and enjoy life. I alone will worry and cry over the pain of government. I, and TECT. You may go. Go out now; there's always a job for a henchman."

When Tom ordered the next day that the island of Java be cleared of its inhabitants, he received no opposition. The new adjunct to TECT was constructed there. It was completed within the year, and TECT took on even more of Tom's troublesome duties.

Tom could go anywhere in the known universe, just by stepping through the portals of a TECT teletrans unit. He could summon up any fact or thought that had ever been recorded in human history. He could ask TECT, "Can we ever really 'know' anything?" and the answer would come back instantaneously, in about three medium-sized paragraphs of colloquial language. But Tom suspected, he planned, that TECT could do more.

Meanwhile, all through Tom's domain, things were looking up. In the Pacific, Stan's old constituency, people moved over to make room for the former residents of Java. There wasn't a single relocation that caused any problems, either for the Javanese or their new hosts; this was because every place in the Pacific looked like every other place. The language was the same, the clothing was the same, the food was the same, the attitudes were the same. It made moving a lot easier and a lot less traumatic.

About this time a team of specialists compiled a report that stated that the settled worlds around the nearby stars were advanced enough to begin legitimate commerce with the mother world. They had products at last, things that Earth could use, and for which they could be given Earth-made goods; the economy was stimulated, and some megalomaniac thinkers began dreaming in terms of commercial domination of the stars. Not many, though.

In Africa, times were so good that the civil servants who lived their lives as poor nomadic tribespeople were given promotions. Now they wore suits and ties and dresses shipped from New York, all five years behind the current style. The younger members of this civil service group were directed to complain about the loss of their national identity and their cultural heritage. But only on Monday through Friday, from nine until five.

The basic unit used in dwellings, the modular apartment, was standardized, so that a family could move their boxlike home to any continent, to any planet, and find a skeletal building that would accept it, barring the usual difficulties in finding vacancies. The manufacturers were informed by TECT that agreements had to be reached so that all products likely to be taken from one continent to another could be used in either place with equal facility. This was TECT's first major independent decision, and no one was more surprised than Tom himself; everyone in the world cheered the wisdom and good sense apparent in TECT's judgment.

Naturally, TECT could not be affected by praise or by threats. Therefore, it was unsound reasoning to think that TECT was encouraged by its first success. It was illogical to assume that TECT's next flurry of announcements was at all connected with the universal approbation which greeted the first one. Nevertheless, when TECT ordered the disbanding of the CAS police force, as the group had outlasted its usefulness, many people around the world were secretly pleased. TECT had won a great victory again, and many more supporters. Even the former CAS police were happy, because they never had anything to do, anyway. They were all relocated and retrained, and many became productive members of society thereafter.

In Europe, people had begun to identify TECT with the memory of Chuck. It had been Tom and Chuck for so long; now, with prosperity growing, the Europeans wanted another team of leaders to look toward. Tom and TECT. The machine assumed a personality in the minds of the people, a personality that Tom had given up trying to explain away. There was no personality to TECT; there were only the effects caused by TECT's decisions. But if the people wanted to believe — well, whatever the people wanted was all right with Tom. Mostly.

On the moon, in plastic domes that tinted the sun green, the settlers and scientists were governed almost entirety by TECT, although they never realized it. All of their directives came through Tom's office, but originated with TECT; Tom had given the moon to the computer at an early stage. That colony had always been a headache for him.

And in the United States and Canada, where the citizens had known Tom longer than anyone else in the world, there was a growing feeling that the Western Hemisphere had displayed some kind of natural superiority; Tom's assumption of leadership was looked on as an odd kind of victory for North America. Tom told TECT to find some way of eliminating that attitude.

After several months of this, the strain was beginning to show on Tom. He made a public speech, and it was clear that this was not the same Tom who had broadcast baseball games with Chuck, had done kids' shows in the mornings, had provided housewives over half the world with recipes for dinner each afternoon. He talked about how burdensome it was, to be the only Representative, but said that he was willing to accept the load. He knew it was best for mankind; he'd take the worry and the sorrow — after all, that was his job. And if no one ever showed any sign of appreciation — well, Tom could live without that. So what? he said. It was always like that at the top.

The responsibilities were tremendous. Everyone watching the speech on their tects could understand that. They felt a little guilty about not giving Tom the respect he was due. They didn't know exactly how to go about doing it; after all, they didn't even know where he was. They couldn't send him a card or a funny birthday note. But when the guilt passed, as it always did, rather quickly, the feeling remained that Tom was losing some of his sharpness.

A year later, Tom made another public address. "My fellow earthlings (he had tried to find a better word, but he had been unable to; also, he hadn't tried all that hard)," he said slowly, in a voice that filled his audience with surprise and concern, "I don't really have much to say to you. I mean, if you were doing anything important, go back to it. This isn't a major announcement or anything. I just wanted to talk to you. You know, it's a real headache keeping your lives in order for you. I hope you appreciate that. I have to admit that there are rough times. There sure are. I have to admit that.

"But being the Representative has its rewards, too. So in case you were worrying about me, you can just stop. I'm fine, really. There are problems every morning that I have to wade into, but I knew that before I took the job. Somebody had to do it. Sometimes I hate getting up out of bed. Sometimes I can't sleep.

"So I just wanted you to know. It isn't all a bed of roses, but I think that together we'll all struggle through. Things aren't so bad for you, are they? That just shows that I'm doing my level best. So try to keep from hurting each other, and we'll all be happy. I'm as happy as I can be, under the circumstances. But don't worry about me. I'm fine. Good night."

Tom sighed softly and walked out of the room. He went to his bedroom, took two large blue capsules, and fell quickly asleep. He didn't communicate with another human being for months.

"Things would really be terrific," people said to each other after this speech, "if we had the old Tom back." TECT reported these conversations to Tom whenever he requested them, and he couldn't understand them. After all, he was getting older all the time.

Tom told TECT a lot of things now, because he was very lonely. Sometimes, he went on tect time to tell his people that they shouldn't worry about him, that although the responsibilities weighed heavily and all that, he was strong. But he would walk around his house complaining all the time. Miss Brant, his secretary, used to get tired of hearing about it.

"It's very lonely here," said Tom.

Miss Brant sighed. "So go out. Meet people."

Tom laughed softly. "I wish I could. Me? The Representative? I can't just go out. I have things to do."

"Then stay in," said Miss Brant. "You can have people brought in. You remember those parties Denny used to throw."

"I can't do that either."

"Then it's just too bad," said Miss Brant. She picked up her notebook and left Tom alone. He turned to TECT for consolation.

"Good old TECT," he whispered. "What do you think of me, huh? After all these years?"

The answer came across Tom's tect, flashing in green letters on the darker green screen.

09:25:42 16May 3 YT
You're all right, I suppose.

"You've seen worse, right?" said Tom, pressing the glowing button that switched off the tect.

Tom had been the solitary ruler of the world for nearly two and a half years; he thought that it was about time that he started to give some thought to his future. After all, he couldn't depend on anyone when he got old; he had no family, no friends. It was beyond the realm of possibility that one of the henchmen or underlings would be so loyal; Tom pictured his feeble, helpless old age, nothing left but his scrapbook of microfiche cards. He wondered why he had forsaken love.

Well, he answered himself, somebody had to. Somebody had to make the sacrifices. He was actually very proud of himself, but he had no illusions about what the people of the world would think of him ten, twenty years after he turned the governmental control over. They would remember him in much the way they remembered Stan, Ed, Nelson, Denny, and Chuck: on stamps every once in a while, in little plastic figures collected by the nostalgic, and very often by the wrong names.

"I've got a great deal for you," he said to TECT. The computer made no reply. It had heard the same thing from many, many people over the years. "How would you like to speed things up? Let's take a look at Operation Knee. I want the specs printed out, please. I also want an analysis of how things have changed since we first worked out the operation, and a projection of what the effects would be of activating the operation now instead of in seventeen years."

TECT produced everything that Tom asked for in a few moments. The Representative read through the original report, in which the eventual handling of all facets of government would be turned over to TECT. So much progress had been made during Tom's administration that TECT's analysis and projection showed that the public would be little disrupted by the changeover. Tom had mixed feelings about that.

"How do you feel about the moral implications of Operation Knee?" asked Tom.

There aren't any.

"There must be," said Tom. "I can't understand you. There certainly were moral implications a few years ago. I find it hard to believe that they've disappeared."

Twelve cc. of phosphoric colioate administered intramuscularly will make it much easier to believe.

"All right, all right," said Tom. He sighed. What was he but an extension of TECT already? What was he but an obstacle for TECT? He felt sorry for himself. He had an impulse to call in Miss Brant. He would explain what he contemplated doing, and get her reaction. Then TECT would see that there definitely were unfavorable moral connections, at least in the minds of the people at large; but TECT had made a careful analysis, and Tom realized that if Miss Brant came in and voiced her opinion, she might give Tom an unpleasant surprise. "Okay," he said to his tect. "Do it." He tossed the reports into a wastebasket.

The red Advise light flashed on the tect.

"What is it?" asked Tom irritably.

16May 3 YT
Operating coded key phrase is needed.

"I don't remember what it is," said Tom.

"Get thee hence."

"Sure," said Tom sourly. "'Get thee hence.'"

Thank you. Operation Knee has begun.

"Fine," said Tom. Then he called in Miss Brant, after all.

Clearing out his desk the next morning, Tom recalled all the wonderful times he had spent during his career. Many times he stopped his work and asked TECT to produce a printed record of some exploit or other, which already had faded from the ex-Representative's mind. Then Tom would return to his labor, packing shopping bags and liquor cartons with the junk that had accumulated since his first election.

Just before lunch, he was interrupted by Miss Brant. "What is it?" he asked.

"Well," said his former secretary, "the office staff wanted to present you with this." She handed him a small package, wrapped in brightly colored foil.

Tom was startled. "Did TECT tell you to do this?" he asked.

Miss Brant looked hurt. "Of course not," she said. "We just thought it would be nice. To thank you and all."

"Of course," said Tom absently, wondering how he could have grown to be so out of touch with people's feelings. He accepted the present with as much grace as he could summon. "I hope it isn't a tie," he said. "I won't be needing a tie where I'm going."

Both he and Miss Brant laughed. "No, it isn't a tie. Open it. We all chipped in."

Tom opened the package. Inside was a pen and pencil stand, with a little metal plaque glued on it that said To our Representative forever, from his gang down at the shop. Tom felt nothing as he looked at it. When he glanced back up at Miss Brant, he faked a choked voice and a slight sniff. "Thank them all," he said. "Do that for me." Then he waved and turned around, as though to hide a tear. He was relieved to hear the sound of his door closing again.

TECT had already reassigned Miss Brant and the others to new jobs. Tom wondered where his secretary would go, but he didn't wonder enough to ask her.

That afternoon he stepped through his teletrans unit and emerged into the harsh glare of the California sunlight. He carried a couple of suitcases with him; the rest of his belongings had already been sent ahead. There was a pleasant road through a grove of strange flowering trees. Tom walked slowly along the road toward the house that TECT had prepared for him. The house was pleasant enough from the outside. Tom leaned against his white wooden fence for some time, thinking. Then he went inside.

The house smelled freshly painted and sounded empty. There were odd, uncomfortable echoes wherever he walked. He put his suitcases down in the largest of the three bedrooms. Then he went back to the living room. On the back of the front door, there was a piece of paper taped to the small diamond-shaped window. Tom shrugged and went to see what it was. It was a note from Nelson. It said:

Hey, Tom!

Glad you're here finally. When you're all settled in, come on over. We're eating here tonight. Denny and Ed are cooking (Ed's gotten a whole lot better). Don't worry about bringing anything.

We'll work on your mood if you're depressed. Things aren't so unpleasant here.

After dark, the game starts. Hundred credit minimums. You ought to clean up — you're a bluffer from 'way back, ha-ha. No hard feelings. See you soon.


Tom tore the note off the door and crumpled it, but he couldn't find a place to throw it. He stuffed it into a pocket and went outside. He had forgotten about the time difference; it was still a couple of hours before dinnertime. He began walking slowly toward Nelson's house. As he walked, he imagined that he could feel the throbbing, buzzing, rumbling of TECT beneath his feet.

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