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Expediter   By: (1917-1983)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction May 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

EXPEDITER

His assignment was to get things done; he definitely did so. Not quite the things intended, perhaps, but definitely done.

by MACK REYNOLDS

ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE SCHELLING

The knock at the door came in the middle of the night, as Josip Pekic had always thought it would. He had been but four years of age when the knock had come that first time and the three large men had given his father a matter of only minutes to dress and accompany them. He could barely remember his father.

The days of the police state were over, so they told you. The cult of the personality was a thing of the past. The long series of five year plans and seven year plans were over and all the goals had been achieved. The new constitution guaranteed personal liberties. No longer were you subject to police brutality at the merest whim. So they told you.

But fears die hard, particularly when they are largely of the subconscious. And he had always, deep within, expected the knock.

[Illustration]

He was not mistaken. The rap came again, abrupt, impatient. Josip Pekic allowed himself but one chill of apprehension, then rolled from his bed, squared slightly stooped shoulders, and made his way to the door. He flicked on the light and opened up, even as the burly, empty faced zombi there was preparing to pound still again.

There were two of them, not three as he had always dreamed. As three had come for his father, more than two decades before.

His father had been a rightist deviationist, so the papers had said, a follower of one of whom Josip had never heard in any other context other than his father's trial and later execution. But he had not cracked under whatever pressures had been exerted upon him, and of that his son was proud.

He had not cracked, and in later years, when the cult of personality was a thing of the past, his name had been cleared and returned to the history books. And now it was an honor, rather than a disgrace, to be the son of Ljubo Pekic, who had posthumously been awarded the title Hero of the People's Democratic Dictatorship.

But though his father was now a hero, Josip still expected that knock. However, he was rather bewildered at the timing, having no idea of why he was to be under arrest.

The first of the zombi twins said expressionlessly, "Comrade Josip Pekic?"

If tremor there was in his voice, it was negligible. He was the son of Ljubo Pekic. He said, "That is correct. Uh ... to what do I owe this intrusion upon my privacy?" That last in the way of bravado.

The other ignored the question. "Get dressed and come with us, Comrade," he said flatly.

At least they still called him comrade. That was some indication, he hoped, that the charges might not be too serious.

He chose his dark suit. Older than the brown one, but in it he felt he presented a more self possessed demeanor. He could use the quality. Five foot seven, slightly underweight and with an air of unhappy self deprecation, Josip Pekic's personality didn't exactly dominate in a group. He chose a conservative tie and a white shirt, although he knew that currently some frowned upon white shirts as a bourgeois affectation. It was all the thing, these days, to look proletarian, whatever that meant.

The zombis stood, watching him emptily as he dressed. He wondered what they would have said had he asked them to wait in the hallway until he was finished. Probably nothing. They hadn't bothered to answer when he asked what the charge against him was.

He put his basic papers, his identity card, his student cards, his work record and all the rest in an inner pocket, and faced them... Continue reading book >>




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