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´╗┐Title: What is Posat?
Author: Smith, Phyllis Sterling
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "What is Posat?" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                            What is POSAT?

                       By PHYLLIS STERLING SMITH

                      Illustrated by ED ALEXANDER

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                Galaxy Science Fiction September 1951.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



              Of course coming events cast their shadows
              before, but this shadow was 400 years long!


The following advertisement appeared in the July 1953 issue of several
magazines:

                MASTERY OF ALL KNOWLEDGE CAN BE YOURS!

              What is the secret source of those profound
            principles that can solve the problems of life?
               Send for our FREE booklet of explanation.

                   Do not be a leaf in the wind! YOU
                  can alter the course of your life!

             Tap the treasury of Wisdom through the ages!

              The Perpetual Order of Seekers After Truth

                                 POSAT

                       an ancient secret society

Most readers passed it by with scarcely a glance. It was, after all,
similar to the many that had appeared through the years under the
name of that same society. Other readers, as their eyes slid over the
familiar format of the ad, speculated idly about the persistent and
mildly mysterious organization behind it. A few even resolved to clip
the attached coupon and send for the booklet--sometime--when a pen or
pencil was nearer at hand.

Bill Evans, an unemployed pharmacist, saw the ad in a copy of _Your
Life and Psychology_ that had been abandoned on his seat in the bus.
He filled out the blanks on the coupon with a scrap of stubby pencil.
"You can alter the course of your life!" he read again. He particularly
liked that thought, even though he had long since ceased to believe
it. He actually took the trouble to mail the coupon. After all, he
had, literally, nothing to lose, and nothing else to occupy his time.

Miss Elizabeth Arnable was one of the few to whom the advertisement
was unfamiliar. As a matter of fact, she very seldom read a magazine.
The radio in her room took the place of reading matter, and she always
liked to think that it amused her cats as well as herself. Reading
would be so selfish under the circumstances, wouldn't it? Not but what
the cats weren't almost smart enough to read, she always said.

It just so happened, however, that she had bought a copy of the
_Antivivisectionist Gazette_ the day before. She pounced upon the POSAT
ad as a trout might snap at a particularly attractive fly. Having
filled out the coupon with violet ink, she invented an errand that
would take her past the neighborhood post office so that she could post
it as soon as possible.

Donald Alford, research physicist, came across the POSAT ad tucked at
the bottom of a column in _The Bulletin of Physical Research_. He was
engrossed in the latest paper by Dr. Crandon, a man whom he admired
from the point of view of both a former student and a fellow research
worker. Consequently, he was one of the many who passed over the POSAT
ad with the disregard accorded to any common object.

He read with interest to the end of the article before he realized that
some component of the advertisement had been noted by a region of his
brain just beyond consciousness. It teased at him like a tickle that
couldn't be scratched until he turned back to the page.

It was the symbol or emblem of POSAT, he realized, that had caught his
attention. The perpendicularly crossed ellipses centered with a small
black circle might almost be a conventionalized version of the Bohr
atom of helium. He smiled with mild skepticism as he read through the
printed matter that accompanied it.

"I wonder what their racket is," he mused. Then, because his typewriter
was conveniently at hand, he carefully tore out the coupon and inserted
it in the machine. The spacing of the typewriter didn't fit the dotted
lines on the coupon, of course, but he didn't bother to correct it.
He addressed an envelope, laid it with other mail to be posted, and
promptly forgot all about it. Since he was a methodical man, it was
entrusted to the U.S. mail early the next morning, together with his
other letters.

Three identical forms accompanied the booklet which POSAT sent in
response to the three inquiries. The booklet gave no more information
than had the original advertisement, but with considerable more
volubility. It promised the recipient the secrets of the Cosmos and the
key that would unlock the hidden knowledge within himself--if he would
merely fill out the enclosed form.

Bill Evans, the unemployed pharmacist, let the paper lie unanswered for
several days. To be quite honest, he was disappointed. Although he had
mentally disclaimed all belief in anything that POSAT might offer, he
had watched the return mails with anticipation. His own resources were
almost at an end, and he had reached the point where intervention by
something supernatural, or at least superhuman, seemed the only hope.

He had hoped, unreasonably, that POSAT had an answer. But time lay
heavily upon him, and he used it one evening to write the requested
information--about his employment (ha!), his religious beliefs, his
reason for inquiring about POSAT, his financial situation. Without
quite knowing that he did so, he communicated in his terse answers some
of his desperation and sense of futility.

Miss Arnable was delighted with the opportunity for autobiographical
composition. It required five extra sheets of paper to convey all the
information that she wished to give--all about her poor, dear father
who had been a missionary to China, and the kinship that she felt
toward the mystic cults of the East, her belief that her cats were
reincarnations of her loved ones (which, she stated, derived from a
religion of the Persians; or was it the Egyptians?) and in her complete
and absolute acceptance of everything that POSAT had stated in their
booklet. And what would the dues be? She wished to join immediately.
Fortunately, dear father had left her in a comfortable financial
situation.

To Donald Alford, the booklet seemed to confirm his suspicion that
POSAT was a racket of some sort. Why else would they be interested in
his employment or financial position? It also served to increase his
curiosity.

"What do you suppose they're driving at?" he asked his wife Betty,
handing her the booklet and questionnaire.

"I don't really know what to say," she answered, squinting a little as
she usually did when puzzled. "I know one thing, though, and that's
that you won't stop until you find out!"

"The scientific attitude," he acknowledged with a grin.

"Why don't you fill out this questionnaire incognito, though?" she
suggested. "Pretend that we're wealthy and see if they try to get our
money. Do they have anything yet except your name and address?"

Don was shocked. "If I send this back to them, it will have to be with
correct answers!"

"The scientific attitude again," Betty sighed. "Don't you ever let your
imagination run away with the facts a bit? What are you going to give
for your reasons for asking about POSAT?"

"Curiosity," he replied, and, pulling his fountain pen from his vest
pocket, he wrote exactly that, in small, neat script.

It was unfortunate for his curiosity that Don could not see the
contents of the three envelopes that were mailed from the offices of
POSAT the following week. For this time they differed.

Bill Evans was once again disappointed. The pamphlet that was enclosed
gave what apparently meant to be final answers to life's problems. They
were couched in vaguely metaphysical terms and offered absolutely no
help to him.

His disappointment was tempered, however, by the knowledge that he
had unexpectedly found a job. Or, rather, it had fallen into his lap.
When he had thought that every avenue of employment had been tried, a
position had been offered him in a wholesale pharmacy in the older
industrial part of the city. It was not a particularly attractive place
to work, located as it was next to a large warehouse, but to him it was
hope for the future.

It amused him to discover that the offices of POSAT were located on the
other side of the same warehouse, at the end of a blind alley. Blind
alley indeed! He felt vaguely ashamed for having placed any confidence
in them.

Miss Arnable was thrilled to discover that her envelope contained not
only several pamphlets, (she scanned the titles rapidly and found that
one of them concerned the sacred cats of ancient Egypt), but that it
contained also a small pin with the symbol of POSAT wrought in gold and
black enamel. The covering letter said that she had been accepted as an
active member of POSAT and that the dues were five dollars per month;
please remit by return mail. She wrote a check immediately, and settled
contentedly into a chair to peruse the article on sacred cats.

After a while she began to read aloud so that her own cats could enjoy
it, too.

Don Alford would not have been surprised if his envelope had shown
contents similar to the ones that the others received. The folded
sheets of paper that he pulled forth, however, made him stiffen with
sharp surprise.

"Come here a minute, Betty," he called, spreading them out carefully on
the dining room table. "What do you make of these?"

She came, dish cloth in hand, and thoughtfully examined them, one by
one. "Multiple choice questions! It looks like a psychological test of
some sort."

"This isn't the kind of thing I expected them to send me," worried
Don. "Look at the type of thing they ask. 'If you had discovered
a new and virulent poison that could be compounded from common
household ingredients, would you (1) publish the information in a
daily newspaper, (2) manufacture it secretly and sell it as rodent
exterminator, (3) give the information to the armed forces for use
as a secret weapon, or (4) withhold the information entirely as too
dangerous to be passed on?'"

"Could they be a spy ring?" asked Betty. "Subversive agents? Anxious to
find out your scientific secrets like that classified stuff that you're
so careful of when you bring it home from the lab?"

Don scanned the papers quickly. "There's nothing here that looks like
an attempt to get information. Besides, I've told them nothing about
my work except that I do research in physics. They don't even know
what company I work for. If this is a psychological test, it measures
attitudes, nothing else. Why should they want to know my attitudes?"

"Do you suppose that POSAT is really what it claims to be--a secret
society--and that they actually screen their applicants?"

He smiled wryly. "Wouldn't it be interesting if I didn't make the grade
after starting out to expose their racket?"

He pulled out his pen and sat down to the task of resolving the
dilemmas before him.

His next communication from POSAT came to his business address and,
paradoxically, was more personal than its forerunners.

    Dear Doctor Alford:

    We have examined with interest the information that you have sent
    to us. We are happy to inform you that, thus far, you have
    satisfied the requirements for membership in the Perpetual Order
    of Seekers After Truth. Before accepting new members into this
    ancient and honorable secret society, we find it desirable that
    they have a personal interview with the Grand Chairman of POSAT.

    Accordingly, you are cordially invited to an audience with our
    Grand Chairman on Tuesday, July 10, at 2:30 P.M. Please let us
    know if this arrangement is acceptable to you. If not, we will
    attempt to make another appointment for you.

The time specified for the appointment was hardly a convenient one
for Don. At 2:30 P.M. on most Tuesdays, he would be at work in the
laboratory. And while his employers made no complaint if he took his
research problems home with him and worried over them half the night,
they were not equally enthusiastic when he used working hours for
pursuing unrelated interests. Moreover, the headquarters of POSAT was
in a town almost a hundred miles distant. Could he afford to take a
whole day off for chasing will-o-wisps?

It hardly seemed worth the trouble. He wondered if Betty would be
disappointed if he dropped the whole matter. Since the letter had been
sent to the laboratory instead of his home, he couldn't consult her
about it without telephoning.

_Since the letter had been sent to the laboratory instead of his home!_
But it was impossible!

He searched feverishly through his pile of daily mail for the
envelope in which the letter had come. The address stared up at him,
unmistakably and fearfully legible. The name of his company. The number
of the room he worked in. In short, the address that he had never given
them!

"Get hold of yourself," he commanded his frightened mind. "There's some
perfectly logical, easy explanation for this. They looked it up in the
directory of the Institute of Physics. Or in the alumni directory of
the university. Or--or--"

But the more he thought about it, the more sinister it seemed. His
laboratory address was available, but why should POSAT take the trouble
of looking it up? Some prudent impulse had led him to withhold that
particular bit of information, yet now, for some reason of their own,
POSAT had unearthed the information.

His wife's words echoed in his mind, "Could they be a spy ring?
Subversive agents?"

Don shook his head as though to clear away the confusion. His
conservative habit of thought made him reject that explanation as too
melodramatic.

At least one decision was easier to reach because of his doubts. Now he
knew he had to keep his appointment with the Grand Chairman of POSAT.

He scribbled a memo to the department office stating that he would not
be at work on Tuesday.

       *       *       *       *       *

At first Don Alford had some trouble locating the POSAT headquarters.
It seemed to him that the block in which the street number would fall
was occupied entirely by a huge sprawling warehouse, of concrete
construction, and almost entirely windowless. It was recessed from the
street in several places to make room for the small, shabby buildings
of a wholesale pharmacy, a printer's plant, an upholstering shop, and
was also indented by alleys lined with loading platforms.

It was at the back of one of the alleys that he finally found a door
marked with the now familiar emblem of POSAT.

He opened the frosted glass door with a feeling of misgiving, and faced
a dark flight of stairs leading to the upper floor. Somewhere above him
a buzzer sounded, evidently indicating his arrival. He picked his way
up through the murky stairwell.

The reception room was hardly a cheerful place, with its battered desk
facing the view of the empty alley, and a film of dust obscuring the
pattern of the gray-looking wallpaper and worn rug. But the light of
the summer afternoon filtering through the window scattered the gloom
somewhat, enough to help Don doubt that he would find the menace here
that he had come to expect.

The girl addressing envelopes at the desk looked very ordinary. _Not
the Mata-Hari type_, thought Don, with an inward chuckle at his own
suspicions. He handed her the letter.

She smiled. "We've been expecting you, Dr. Alford. If you'll just step
into the next room--"

She opened a door opposite the stairwell, and Don stepped through it.

The sight of the luxurious room before him struck his eyes with the
shock of a dentist's drill, so great was the contrast between it and
the shabby reception room. For a moment Don had difficulty breathing.
The rug--Don had seen one like it before, but it had been in a museum.
The paintings on the walls, ornately framed in gilt carving, were
surely old masters--of the Renaissance period, he guessed. Although he
recognized none of the pictures, he felt that he could almost name the
artists. That glowing one near the corner would probably be a Titian.
Or was it Tintorretto? He regretted for a moment the lost opportunities
of his college days, when he had passed up Art History in favor of
Operational Circuit Analysis.

The girl opened a filing cabinet, the front of which was set flush with
the wall, and, selecting a folder from it, disappeared through another
door.

Don sprang to examine the picture near the corner. It was hung at eye
level--that is, at the eye level of the average person. Don had to bend
over a bit to see it properly. He searched for a signature. Apparently
there was none. But did artists sign their pictures back in those
days? He wished he knew more about such things.

Each of the paintings was individually lighted by a fluorescent tube
held on brackets directly above it. As Don straightened up from his
scrutiny of the picture, he inadvertently hit his head against the
light. The tube, dislodged from its brackets, fell to the rug with a
muffled thud.

_Now I've done it!_ thought Don with dismay. But at least the tube
hadn't shattered.

In fact--it was still glowing brightly! His eyes registered the fact,
even while his mind refused to believe it. He raised his eyes to the
brackets. They were simple pieces of solid hardware designed to support
the tube.

There were no wires!

Don picked up the slender, glowing cylinder and held it between
trembling fingers. Although it was delivering as much light as a two
or three hundred watt bulb, it was cool to the touch. He examined it
minutely. There was no possibility of concealed batteries.

The thumping of his heart was caused not by the fact that he had never
seen a similar tube before, but because he had. He had never held
one in his hands, though. The ones which his company had produced as
experimental models had been unsuccessful at converting all of the
radioactivity into light, and had, of necessity, been heavily shielded.

Right now, two of his colleagues back in the laboratory would still
be searching for the right combination of fluorescent material
and radioactive salts with which to make the simple, efficient,
self-contained lighting unit that he was holding in his hand at this
moment!

_But this is impossible!_ he thought. _We're the only company that's
working on this, and it's secret. There can't be any in actual
production!_

And even if one had actually been successfully produced, how would it
have fallen into the possession of POSAT, an Ancient Secret Society,
The Perpetual Order of Seekers After Truth?

The conviction grew in Don's mind that here was something much deeper
and more sinister than he would be able to cope with. He should have
asked for help, should have stated his suspicions to the police or the
F.B.I. Even now--

With sudden decision, he thrust the lighting tube into his pocket and
stepped swiftly to the outer door. He grasped the knob and shook it
impatiently when it stuck and refused to turn. He yanked at it. His
impatience changed to panic. It was locked!

A soft sound behind him made him whirl about. The secretary had
entered again through the inner door. She glanced at the vacant light
bracket, then significantly at his bulging pocket. Her gaze was still
as bland and innocent as when he had entered, but to Don she no longer
seemed ordinary. Her very calmness in the face of his odd actions was
distressingly ominous.

"Our Grand Chairman will see you now," she said in a quiet voice.

Don realized that he was half crouched in the position of an animal
expecting attack. He straightened up with what dignity he could manage
to find.

She opened the inner door again and Don followed her into what he
supposed to be the office of the Grand Chairman of POSAT.

Instead he found himself on a balcony along the side of a vast room,
which must have been the interior of the warehouse that he had noted
outside. The girl motioned him toward the far end of the balcony, where
a frosted glass door marked the office of the Grand Chairman.

But Don could not will his legs to move. His heart beat at the sight of
the room below him. It was a laboratory, but a laboratory the like of
which he had never seen before. Most of the equipment was unfamiliar
to him. Whatever he did recognize was of a different design than he had
ever used, and there was something about it that convinced him that
this was more advanced. The men who bent busily over their instruments
did not raise their eyes to the figures on the balcony.

"Good Lord!" Don gasped. "That's an atomic reactor down there!" There
could be no doubt about it, even though he could see it only obscurely
through the bluish-green plastic shielding it.

His thoughts were so clamorous that he hardly realized that he had
spoken aloud, or that the door at the end of the balcony had opened.

He was only dimly aware of the approaching footsteps as he speculated
wildly on the nature of the shielding material. What could be so dense
that only an inch would provide adequate shielding and yet remain
semitransparent?

His scientist's mind applauded the genius who had developed it, even as
the alarming conviction grew that he wouldn't--couldn't--be allowed to
leave here any more. Surely no man would be allowed to leave this place
alive to tell the fantastic story to the world!

"Hello, Don," said a quiet voice beside him. "It's good to see you
again."

"Dr. Crandon!" he heard his own voice reply. "_You're_ the Grand
Chairman of POSAT?"

He felt betrayed and sick at heart. The very voice with which
Crandon had spoken conjured up visions of quiet lecture halls and
his own youthful excitement at the masterful and orderly disclosure
of scientific facts. To find him here in this mad and treacherous
place--didn't anything make sense any longer?

"I think we have rather abused you, Don," Dr. Crandon continued. His
voice sounded so gentle that Don found it hard to think there was any
evil in it. "I can see that you are suspicious of us, and--yes--afraid."

       *       *       *       *       *

Don stared at the scene below him. After his initial glance to confirm
his identification of Crandon, Don could not bear to look at him.

Crandon's voice suddenly hardened, became abrupt. "You're partly right
about us, of course. I hate to think how many laws this organization
has broken. Don't condemn us yet, though. You'll be a member yourself
before the day is over."

Don was shocked by such confidence in his corruptibility.

"What do you use?" he asked bitterly. "Drugs? Hypnosis?"

Crandon sighed. "I forgot how little you know, Don. I have a long
story to tell you. You'll find it hard to believe at first. But try to
trust me. Try to believe me, as you once did. When I say that much of
what POSAT does is illegal, I do not mean immoral. We're probably the
most moral organization in the world. Get over the idea that you have
stumbled into a den of thieves."

Crandon paused as though searching for words with which to continue.

"Did you notice the paintings in the waiting room as you entered?"

Don nodded, too bewildered to speak.

"They were donated by the founder of our Organization. They were part
of his personal collection--which, incidentally, he bought from the
artists themselves. He also designed the atomic reactor we use for
power here in the laboratory."

"Then the pictures are modern," said Don, aware that his mouth was
hanging open foolishly. "I thought one was a Titian--"

"It is," said Crandon. "We have several original Titians, although I
really don't know too much about them."

"But how could a man alive _today_ buy paintings from an artist of the
Renaissance?"

"He is not alive today. POSAT is actually what our advertisements
claim--an _ancient_ secret society. Our founder has been dead for over
four centuries."

"But you said that he designed your atomic reactor."

"Yes. This particular one has been in use for only twenty years,
however."

Don's confusion was complete. Crandon looked at him kindly. "Let's
start at the beginning," he said, and Don was back again in the
classroom with the deep voice of Professor Crandon unfolding the
pages of knowledge in clear and logical manner. "Four hundred years
ago, in the time of the Italian Renaissance, a man lived who was a
super-genius. His was the kind of incredible mentality that appears not
in every generation, or even every century, but once in thousands of
years.

"Probably the man who invented what we call the phonetic alphabet was
one like him. That man lived seven thousand years ago in Mesopotamia,
and his discovery was so original, so far from the natural course
of man's thinking, that not once in the intervening seven thousand
years has that device been rediscovered. It still exists only in the
civilizations to which it has been passed on directly.

"The super-genius who was our founder was not a semanticist. He was
a physical scientist and mathematician. Starting with the meager
heritage that existed in these fields in his time, he began tackling
physical puzzles one by one. Sitting in his study, using as his
principal tool his own great mind, he invented calculus, developed the
quantum theory of light, moved on to electromagnetic radiation and what
we call Maxwell's equations--although, of course, he antedated Maxwell
by centuries--developed the special and general theories of relativity,
the tool of wave mechanics, and finally, toward the end of his life, he
mathematically derived the packing fraction that describes the binding
energy of nuclei--"

"But it can't be done," Don objected. "It's an observed phenomenon. It
hasn't been derived." Every conservative instinct that he possessed
cried out against this impossible fantasy. And yet--there sat the
reactor, sheathed in its strange shield. Crandon watched the direction
of Don's glance.

"Yes, the reactor," said Crandon. "He built one like it. It confirmed
his theories. His calculations showed him something else too. He saw
the destructive potentialities of an atomic explosion. He himself could
not have built an atomic bomb; he didn't have the facilities. But his
knowledge would have enabled other men to do so. He looked about
him. He saw a political setup of warring principalities, rival states,
intrigue, and squabbles over political power. Giving the men of his
time atomic energy would have been like handing a baby a firecracker
with a lighted fuse.

"What should he have done? Let his secrets die with him? He
didn't think so. No one else in his age could have _derived_ the
knowledge that he did. But it was an age of brilliant men. Leonardo.
Michelangelo. There were men capable of _learning_ his science, even as
men can learn it today. He gathered some of them together and founded
this society. It served two purposes. It perpetuated his discoveries
and at the same time it maintained the greatest secrecy about them. He
urged that the secrets be kept until the time when men could use them
safely. The other purpose was to make that time come about as soon as
possible."

Crandon looked at Don's unbelieving face. "How can I make you see that
it is the truth? Think of the eons that man or manlike creatures have
walked the Earth. Think what a small fraction of that time is four
hundred years. Is it so strange that atomic energy was discovered a
little early, by this displacement in time that is so tiny after all?"

"But by one man," Don argued.

Crandon shrugged. "Compared with him, Don, you and I are stupid men.
So are the scientists who slowly plodded down the same road he had
come, stumbling first on one truth and then the succeeding one. We know
that inventions and discoveries do not occur at random. Each is based
on the one that preceded it. We are all aware of the phenomenon of
simultaneous invention. The path to truth is a straight one. It is only
our own stupidity that makes it seem slow and tortuous.

"He merely followed the straight path," Crandon finished simply.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don's incredulity thawed a little. It was not entirely beyond the realm
of possibility.

But if it were true! A vast panorama of possible achievements spread
before him.

"Four hundred years!" he murmured with awe. "You've had four hundred
years head-start on the rest of the world! What wonders you must have
uncovered in that time!"

"Our technical achievements may disappoint you," warned Crandon.
"Oh, they're way beyond anything that you are familiar with. You've
undoubtedly noticed the shielding material on the reactor. That's a
fairly recent development of our metallurgical department. There are
other things in the laboratory that I can't even explain to you until
you have caught up on the technical basis for understanding them.

"Our emphasis has not been on physical sciences, however, except as
they contribute to our central project. We want to change civilization
so that it can use physical science without disaster."

For a moment Don had been fired with enthusiasm. But at these words his
heart sank.

"Then you've failed," he said bitterly. "In spite of centuries of
advance warning, you've failed to change the rest of us enough to
prevent us from trying to blow ourselves off the Earth. Here we are,
still snarling and snapping at our neighbors' throats--and we've caught
up with you. We have the atomic bomb. What's POSAT been doing all that
time? Or have you found that human nature really can't be changed?"

"Come with me," said Crandon.

He led the way along the narrow balcony to another door, then down a
steep flight of stairs. He opened a door at the bottom, and Don saw
what must have been the world's largest computing machine.

"This is our answer," said Crandon. "Oh, rather, it's the tool by which
we find our answer. For two centuries we have been working on the
newest of the sciences--that of human motivation. Soon we will be ready
to put some of our new knowledge to work. But you are right in one
respect, we are working now against time. We must hurry if we are to
save our civilization. That's why you are here. We have work for you to
do. Will you join us, Don?"

"But why the hocus-pocus?" asked Don. "Why do you hide behind such a
weird front as POSAT? Why do you advertise in magazines and invite just
anyone to join? Why didn't you approach me directly, if you have work
for me to do? And if you really have the answers to our problems, why
haven't you gathered together all the scientists in the world to work
on this project--before it's too late?"

Crandon took a sighing breath. "How I wish that we could do just that!
But you forget that one of the prime purposes of our organization is
to maintain the secrecy of our discoveries until they can be safely
disclosed. We must be absolutely certain that anyone who enters this
building will have joined POSAT before he leaves. What if we approached
the wrong scientist? Centuries of accomplishment might be wasted if
they attempted either to reveal it or to exploit it!

"Do you recall the questionnaires that you answered before you were
invited here? We fed the answers to this machine and, as a result, we
know more about how you will react in any given situation than you do
yourself. Even if you should fail to join us, our secrets would be
safe with you. Of course, we miss a few of the scientists who might
be perfect material for our organization. You'd be surprised, though,
at how clever our advertisements are at attracting exactly the men we
want. With the help of our new science, we have baited our ads well,
and we know how to maintain interest. Curiosity is, to the men we want,
a powerful motivator."

"But what about the others?" asked Don. "There must be hundreds of
applicants who would be of no use to you at all."

"Oh, yes," replied Crandon. "There are the mild religious fanatics. We
enroll them as members and keep them interested by sending pamphlets in
line with their interests. We even let them contribute to our upkeep,
if they seem to want to. They never get beyond the reception room if
they come to call on us. But they are additional people through whom we
can act when the time finally comes.

"There are also the desperate people who try POSAT as a last
resort--lost ones who can't find their direction in life. For them we
put into practice some of our newly won knowledge. We rehabilitate
them--anonymously, of course. Even find jobs or patch up homes. It's
good practice for us.

"I think I've answered most of your questions, Don. But you haven't
answered mine. Will you join us?"

Don looked solemnly at the orderly array of the computer before him.
He had one more question.

"Will it really work? Can it actually tell you how to motivate the
stubborn, quarrelsome, opinionated people one finds on this Earth?"

Crandon smiled. "You're here, aren't you?"

Don nodded, his tense features relaxing.

"Enroll me as a member," he said.





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