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Illustrated by Paul Orban


Once upon a time life was perfection. Government made sure its citizens were supplied with every comfort and pleasure. But sometimes perfection breeds boredom and ...


Allen Kinderwood slowed his pace so his forelock would quit bobbing. The damn thing wasn't supposed to bob; it was supposed to be a sort of peaked crest above rugged, handsome features a dark lock brushed carelessly aside by a man who had more important things to do than fuss with personal grooming. But no matter how carefully he combed it and applied lusto set, it always bobbed if he walked too fast.

But then, why should it matter now? He wasn't looking for a woman tonight. Not when his appointment with the Social Adjustment counsellors was tomorrow morning, and he would get a Departure Permit. Should get one, he corrected himself. But he had never heard of a petition for a DP being refused.

He wanted to spend his last night in the city over here in the main park of C Sector, walking in the restless crowds, trying to settle his thoughts. He moved through slow aimless eddies of brightly appareled citizens, avoiding other pedestrians, skaters and the heavy, four wheeled autoscooters. Everything was dully, uncompromisingly the same as in his own sector, even to the size and spacing of the huge, spreading trees. He had hoped, without conviction, that there might be some tiny, refreshing difference anything but the mind sapping sameness that had driven him to the petition.


Allen was careful not to brush against any girl with an escort. Since he wasn't on the make, what would be the use of fighting? Kind of an odd feeling, though, to know you'd never date or fight again, or ... Or what? What else was there to do, if you hadn't the luck to be a jobman or a tech? You ate, and slept, and preened, and exercised, and found what pleasure you could, and fought mostly because it was momentarily stimulating, and, eventually, after a hundred and fifty years or so, you died.

Unless you were a tech. If you were a tech, Government gave you stuff to keep you alive longer. A jobman got a somewhat different deal he got nothing to keep him alive abnormally, because ninety percent of Earth's population was waiting for his job anyway.

Allen skirted a huge fountain throwing colored, scintillant spray high into the dark summer sky, stealing a glance backward over his shoulder. That girl was still behind him. Following him? It wouldn't be anything new, in his case especially in his own sector but maybe she just happened to be going his way.

It would be easy to find out. He circled the fountain twice. With her looks she should have been picked up before she'd left her compartment building block except that whoever got her might have to fight more than once during the evening to hold her. Definitely a young man's darling.

And, the way it began to look, definitely Allen's darling. On the second trip around, she had backtracked to meet him face to face her purpose obvious.

He tried to dodge, but there was no way it could be done without insult. Damn....

"Hi, brute. Nedda Marsh. Alone?" She ran soft hands along the hard biceps under his short jacket sleeves. The motion threw open her shriekingly bright orange cloak, displaying saucy breasts, creamy abdomen and, beneath her brief jeweled skirt, long smooth thighs. And the perfume assailed his nostrils with almost physical force.

"Hi, Nedda. Allen Kinderwood. Alone, natch." Natch, hell. But what could any male do to combat Government perfume? He smiled, his pulse suddenly quickening. "Date, darling?" She was a beautiful thing.

Her large, sparkling eyes showed pleasure. "Take me, Al." She touched vivid red lips lightly against his. And the formula was complete. Private citizens Allen Kinderwood and Nedda Marsh were dated at least until dawn or a better man did them part.

He squeezed her arm where she'd snuggled it against his side, starting with her away from the fountain... Continue reading book >>

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