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Final Weapon   By: (1918-1977)

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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.

Illustrated by Leydenfrost

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 Coördination 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... Continue reading book >>

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