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Sight Gag   By: (1933-2002)

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction May 1962. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

SIGHT GAG

BY LARRY M. HARRIS

Intelligence is a great help in the evolution by survival but intelligence without muscle is even less useful than muscle without brains. But it's so easy to forget that muscle plain physical force is important, too!

ILLUSTRATED BY SCHOENHERR

Downstairs, the hotel register told Fredericks that Mr. John P. Jones was occupying Room 1014. But Fredericks didn't believe the register. He knew better than that. Wherever his man was, he wasn't in Room 1014. And whoever he was, his real name certainly wasn't John P. Jones. "P for Paul," Fredericks muttered to himself. "Oh, the helpful superman, the man who knows better, the man who does better."

Fredericks had first known of him as FBI Operative 71 054P, under the name of William K. Brady. "And what does the K stand for?" Fredericks muttered, remembering. "Killer?" Brady wouldn't be the man's real name, either. FBI Operatives had as many names as they had jobs, that much was elementary. Particularly operatives like Jones Brady X. "Special talents," Fredericks muttered. "Psi powers," he said, making it sound like a curse. "Superman."

Upstairs, in Room 1212, the superman sat in a comfortable chair and tried to relax. He wasn't a trained telepath but he could read surface thoughts if there were enough force behind them, and he could read the red thoughts of the man downstairs. They worried him more than he wanted to admit, and for a second he considered sending out a call for help. But that idea died before it had been truly born.

Donegan had told him he could handle the situation. Without weapons, forbidden to run, faced by a man who wanted only his death, he could handle the situation.

Sure he could, he thought bitterly.

Of course, if he asked for reinforcements he would undoubtedly get them. The FBI didn't want one of its Psi Operatives killed; there weren't enough to go round as it was. But calling for help, when Donegan had specifically told him he wouldn't need it, would mean being sent back a grade automatically. A man of his rank and experience, Donegan had implied, could handle the job solo. If he couldn't why, then, he didn't deserve the rank. It was all very simple.

Unfortunately, he was still fresh out of good ideas.

The notion of killing Fredericks using his telekinetic powers to collapse the hotel room on the man, or some such, even if he wasn't allowed to bear arms had occurred to him in a desperate second, and Donegan had turned it down very flatly. "Look," the Psi Section chief had told him, "you got the guy's brother and sent him up for trial. The jury found him guilty of murder, first degree, no recommendation for mercy. The judge turned him over to the chair, and he fries next week."

"So let Fredericks take it out on the judge and jury," he'd said. "Why do I have to be the sitting duck?"

"Because ... well, from Fredericks' point of view, without you his brother might never have been caught. It's logic of a sort."

"Logic, hell," he said. "The guy was guilty. I had to send him up. That's my job."

"And so is this," Donegan said. "That's our side of it. Fredericks has friends his brother's friends. Petty criminals, would be criminals, unbalanced types. You know that. You've read the record."

"Read it?" he said. "I dug up half of it."

Donegan nodded. "Sure," he said. "And we're going to have six more cases like Fredericks' brother murder, robbery, God knows what else unless we can choke them off somehow."

"Crime prevention," he said. "And I'm in the middle... Continue reading book >>




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