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The Mighty Dead   By: (1910-1995)

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the mighty dead

by William Campbell Gault

What would it be like to live in a world which has conquered the near planets but abolished all literature? Bill Gault gives us a look at a world like this in a not too distant future which finds all our pressure groups united to rule the roost.

On its surface the choice was an easy one Doak Parker's career in Washington against a highly suspect country girl he had just met.

Doak Parker was thinking of June, when the light flashed. He was thinking of the two months' campaign and the very probable probability of his knocking her off this week end. It was going to be a conquest to rank among his best. It was going to be....

The buzzer buzzed, the light flashed and the image of Ryder appeared on his small desk screen. Ryder said, "Come in, Doak. A little job for the week end."

No , Doak thought, no, no, no! Not this week end. Not this particular triumphant looming week end. No! He said, "Be right there, Chief."

Ryder was sitting behind his desk when Doak entered. Ryder was a man of about sixty, with a lined, weary face and a straggling mustache. He nodded at the chair across the desk from him.

Ryder depressed a button on his desk and the screen beyond him began to glow. Ryder said, "An electronic transcript of a phone call I received this morning from former Senator Elmer Arnold. You know who he is, I guess, Doak."

"Author of the Arnold Law?" Doak smiled. "Who doesn't?"

Then the image of former Senator Arnold came on the screen. He didn't look any more than a hundred and ten years old, a withered and thin lipped man with a complexion like ashes. He began to talk.

"Ryder, I guess you know I'm no scatterbrain and I guess you know I'm not one to cry wolf but there's something damned funny going on in the old Fisher place on the Range Road. You better send a man down here, and I mean quick. You have him contact me."

The image faded, the rasping voice ceased. Doak sighed and looked at his nails.

"Senile, you're thinking?" Ryder said quietly.

"I wasn't thinking at all, Chief," Doak said.

"Not even about that new one, that June?" the Chief asked, smiling.

Doak looked up, startled. "Is there no privacy? Are there no sanctuaries?"

"Not from Security," Ryder said. "But don't be disturbed. There's no law against that yet excepting some of the old ones and who has time for the old ones?"

"As long as we're being frank," Doak said, "he mentioned the old Fisher place and a road as though you should know them. Friends of yours?"

"Friends? That's our home town. Senator Arnold was very instrumental in my Department climb." Ryder paused. "And no crackpot."

"I'll buy that," Doak agreed. "He was the man who first saw the power in combining pressure groups. He surely made some strange bedfellows."

"Any lobbyist would be a strange bedfellow, I've been told," the Chief answered. "The Arnold Law has saved us one hell of a lot of work, Doak, and saved the Department money."

"Yes, sir," Doak said. "I'm to understand this couldn't be put off until Monday?"

Ryder nodded.

"And no other Security Officer would do?"

"No other."

Doak rose. "Anything else sir ?"

Ryder smiled. "Just one. As a guess, what do you think it is, in the old Fisher place, on the Range Road?"

"Readers," Doak answered, "or why would the uh, Mr. Arnold be so worried."

Ryder chuckled. "I can see them now, in the curtained room, huddling over an old railroad timetable. I think your guess is sound, Doak." He rose. "And there'll be other week ends. That girl can wait. She isn't going to spoil."

"But I might explode," Doak said. "Well, it will be triple time. That's some consolation. Enough for a new video set I need one in the bathroom."

It was still a half hour to quitting time and Doak went back to his desk. He sat there, trying to remember the history of Senator Arnold... Continue reading book >>

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