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´╗┐Title: Dreamtown, U.S.A.
Author: Kelley, Leo P.
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 "Dreamtown, U.S.A." ***

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                          Dreamtown U. S. A.

                           BY LEO P. KELLEY

       _Here is another look at the America of tomorrow--by a
       Wilkes College sophomore, winner of the 3rd prize in IF's
        College Science Fiction Contest.... An America in which
       there is no more school, no more art, no more enterprise,
         no more intellectual pursuit--a nation of hedonists.
        And in such a land, how could there be malcontents?_

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
             Worlds of If Science Fiction, February 1955.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


The girl's body was small, slender, and perfectly proportioned. Her
hair had been dyed platinum and was drawn back from her face by a mesh
net which sparkled with red jewels. She stood in the middle of the
room, head tilted back, eyes closed, moving in time to the music coming
from an invisible transmitter. Her hands glided sinuously up and down
either side of her body. She seemed oblivious to the people circling
the room enjoying Gil Patton's party. It was only when she heard
Brant's voice that she opened her eyes.

"Lisa, you go for that stuff, I see," Brant called to her, referring
to the music being piped into the room from one of Dreamtown's many
Sensory Communications Centers.

"It's really out of this world, Brant, way out, all out!" Lisa replied.
She came over and sat on the arm of the chair in which Brant sprawled.

"You can feel it way down here," she said, and placed her hand on the
pit of her stomach.

"Wonder how we ever got kicks out of that old stuff that you couldn't
_feel_?" Brant asked as he placed his arm about Lisa's waist. "Just
_hearing_ music doesn't give you any glow."

Brant slid farther down in the chair and stretched his legs out before
him. The bluish light in the room glinted from the highly polished
surface of his knee length boots. He wore loose-fitting yellow trousers
and a black suede shirt split open almost to the waist, revealing his
chest.

"Have you tried one of Gil's new pebbles?" he asked Lisa.

"No, what's new about them?" she asked. She wriggled into Brant's lap
and rubbed her cheek against his chest.

"They're slaughter. Instead of just getting a deeper feeling from real
experiences, you can sit back and imagine something--anything--and you
can feel the sensations of your fantasy. You can feel all that way down
here, too," he said, touching, in repetition of Lisa's gesture, the pit
of her stomach.

"Get me one, Brant. Let's see what goes."

Brant lifted Lisa to her feet and rose from the chair. His boots
clicked against the green metal floor as he pushed his way through
the crowd of merry makers toward a transparent glass bubble which was
suspended from the ceiling by a silver chain. He pushed back the
dispenser on the bubble and a cylindrical pill rolled out onto his
hand. He carried it back to where Lisa sat swaying to the music which
continued to fill the room.

"Here child. This will really give you a dream," he said as he handed
her the pill.

Brant watched Lisa sink into the half coma that the sensation pills
produced. He leaned over and kissed her shoulder. Then he straightened
and moved across the room to where Gil Patton stood in front of a
glass wall which afforded a panoramic view of the entire city.

"Good party, Gil," Brant said to his host.

"I hoped it wouldn't be sad. Anything clicking?"

Brant pointed to Lisa. "She is. Been trying your new pebbles."

"How's the Assistant Director of Sensory Communications doing these
days?" Gil asked as they walked across the room to a plastic table on
which rested bowls of red, green, and yellow liquors.

"Right and light. We've got a new show scheduled to go on the
Distributor Cable in about another month. Runs twenty minutes two times
a day. Morning and night. A serial about the Council."

Gil turned to Brant with a drink in his hand. "Thought nobody knew
anything about the Council except that they run Dreamtown."

"No one does know very much about them. No one's ever seen them
actually. But we've heard rumors that the Rebels have been influencing
some of our citizens and word has come down to build this show for
morale purposes."

"Why, that's crazy. Who'd want to go back to the way it was before?
Those Rebels are out of their heads!"

Brant smiled. "Right man. But there are still some of them operating
in the less populated areas. The Watchers brought in seven men and a
woman last week from somewhere south of here. They found books in their
hideout and even some paintings that one of the Rebels claimed to have
done by hand."

Gil whistled through his teeth. "You'd think they'd get with it and
come back here. What are they getting out of this rebellion?"

Brant reached over and touched Gil's arm.

"Just between us, friend. Before they psychwashed these Rebels they
found out that they had been plotting with other Rebel groups to
overthrow Dreamtown. The Council has every available Watcher on their
trail."

"Couldn't ever happen, Brant. They don't have anything to fight with.
Books. Pictures. They'll wise up and come over to us. Wait and see."

Brant shrugged. "They forget we're living in 2054 and the Big War's
been over for nearly seventy years. They still think the old way was
pretty good. But Gil, boy, we're getting serious. Let's stack it! The
Watchers will get them. It's not our problem."

       *       *       *       *       *

The girl was gazing through one of the windows in the small farmhouse
kitchen. A wild flower was pinned in her long, auburn hair and it
matched, almost perfectly, the blue of her eyes. Even in slacks she
was, not beautiful, but a wonderfully pretty girl of twenty four or
five.

"I wonder when he'll be back, Dad. It's been almost two days and I--I'm
worried."

"He had a long trip to make, Nancy. Longer than usual because he had
to make a detour around Dreamtown in order to get down to Ben's group.
It's all of forty miles south of here. Don't you worry. He'll be back
soon."

The girl came away from the window and kissed Professor Alan Corbett
on the forehead. "You're wonderful, Dad. So calm and sensible about
things. I get scared though when I think of Dan going so close to
Dreamtown. The Watchers patrol for miles around the city and they'd
know Dan was a Rebel in a minute because of his clothes."

"Dan won't get caught, Nancy. You get busy now and make some coffee and
stop worrying," Professor Corbett smiled. "And afterward we'll play a
little gin rummy if you feel like it."

Nancy got up from the table and put the coffee pot on the stove. Her
father turned back to the book lying open on the table before him.

"This is such a treasure, Nancy. I wonder if you fully realize it." It
was a copy of the complete works of William Shakespeare. "There are
only five copies of this still in existence to my knowledge; although
there is a man in Ben's group who has been copying it by hand on paper
they've stolen from Dreamtown. Only five copies. There might be more,
but we haven't been able to find them."

Nancy poured steaming coffee into her father's cup and then into her
own. She sat across from him at the table and watched as he lovingly
examined the book in his hands.

"Listen to this, Nancy."

Nancy listened to Professor Corbett's quiet voice.

    "Is she kind as she is fair?
    For Beauty lives with kindness.
    Love doth to her eyes repair
    To help him of his blindness,
    And, being helped, inhabits there."

"It's beautiful, Dad."

Nancy watched her father as his eyes scanned the rest of the page. "You
love books, don't you?" she asked softly.

Her father looked up and took off his glasses. "Yes, Nancy, I guess
I do. Teaching in the University was the greatest thing in my life
because I was able to spend so much time with books. And, you know, in
a way, they weren't just books, they were like old friends. Socrates,
Aristotle, Chaucer, Shakespeare--all the others. Every time I picked
up one of those books it was like meeting old friends. And you never
really get tired of old friends, you know. As the years go by they
become dearer to you and you learn to appreciate their true value."
Professor Corbett smiled a little sadly. "Nancy, it almost broke my
heart when the Council abolished the schools and colleges and burned
the books. That was the reason I joined the Rebels ever so long ago.
And, of course, there were many others who felt as I did."

Nancy sipped the hot coffee and watched her father drift into his
reverie about the old days before there had been a Council or Watchers
and when Dreamtown had really been just what the name implied. A dream
city of books and learning and hard working men and women trying to put
a civilization back on its feet after the disastrous Big War. Nancy
thought of the kind of dreams that were dreamed in the city now. Dreams
of pleasure and sensation. Empty dreams. Vapid dreams.

"Do you know what the Council set up in place of the schools, Nancy?
They built the biggest and brightest and most terrible playgrounds in
the world. Children were taught to fight and to play; and the ones who
fought hardest, regardless of rules, were considered the champions
in each playground. They didn't bother to learn anything; they just
played...." His voice trailed off.

Nancy and her father drank their coffee in silence, each of them alone
with their thoughts. Professor Corbett was back in his University
classroom filled with the smell of chalk and the musty odor of books,
and Nancy was out in the dark night somewhere with Dan, making the
perilous journey to Ben's Rebel group.

A sudden sound on the porch shocked both of them back to reality.
Professor Corbett quickly dropped his book into a drawer of the table,
rose and walked past Nancy who stared at the door with a mixture of
hope and fear on her face. A soft knock sounded and, after a moment's
hesitation, Nancy's father unbolted and opened the door.

A tall young man wearing an old pair of blue jeans and a shirt from
which most of the buttons were missing stood in the doorway.

"Dan!" Nancy shouted and ran across the room and into his arms.

His huge frame almost filled the doorway, as he bowed, his blonde head
to murmur reassurances to Nancy, who cried with relief at having him
safely back.

"I'm alright, darling,--but I'm afraid I've got bad news," Dan said. He
released Nancy, keeping one of her hands in his. When the three of them
were seated Dan spoke.

"The Watchers must have gotten Ben and the others. The place was a
shambles. Everything was destroyed. They probably took the group to
Dreamtown. If they did, you know what that means."

"Psychwashing," Professor Corbett muttered. He dropped his head in his
hands. "Then you couldn't get the books?" he asked sadly.

"No. They had been burned. And so had Ben's paintings. We can't
wait any longer, Alan. We've got to organize and we've got to raid
Dreamtown. We can't go on like this anymore!"

Nancy tightened her grip on Dan's hand as Professor Corbett raised his
head and nodded. "You're right, Dan," he said. "We can't afford to wait
any longer."

       *       *       *       *       *

With a slight hum the large video panel in the ceiling of Brant's
apartment clicked on automatically. To the accompaniment of shrill
laughter in the background, the announcer told Brant and the other
viewers that they were about to witness the next installment in the
adventures of "The Pretty People." Brant stretched in his bed and
groaned from the effects of the party the night before. He watched
through half closed eyes as The Pretty People in their harlequin
costumes chased each other about a meadow filled with artificial
flowers. In spite of his discomfort Brant chuckled when Mannequina,
with a violent blow, knocked Manequin from a large toadstool on which
he had been seated. He laughed again as he watched Manequin roll down a
hill and land in a giant mud puddle at the bottom.

Brant eased himself out of bed and walked unsteadily to the cubicle in
one corner of the room, stepped in, and closed the plastic door behind
him. He rubbed his eyes and stretched as the soothing vigoro-senso rays
removed the last traces of the discomfort brought on by too much liquor
and too many sensation pills.

Back in his room he switched on the dimensional theater set and watched
the wall light up before him. Brant finished dressing to the sounds of
laughter coming from The Pretty People on the ceiling video and the
sighs and pleadings of two lovers in the dimensional theater set.

On his way to the door Brant selected one of the milder sensation pills
from the bowl on the low table, swallowed it, and passed through the
sliding door panel into the street.

He glanced at the gigantic clock which was suspended over the city like
a cloud in the sky by thin steel cables. Each numeral on the huge face
of the clock was composed of a man and a woman locked in an ardent
embrace.

Brant and several other people boarded one of the moving platforms as
it stopped before them. The city sped by in a vari-colored blur. At the
main Sensory Communications Building Brant got off. The building loomed
massive before him, its rose plastic exterior warm looking in the
sunlight. Brant, with another glance skyward at the clock, went inside.

He walked briskly down the jade hall and entered an office labeled
Assistant Director of Sensory Communications.

Lisa, seated behind a desk, greeted him. "We've got sun this morning,
Brant. Have a good time last night?"

"Had a ball, doll! You look great this morning." Brant said. "Benton in
yet?"

"Waiting for you," Lisa replied. "Told me to send you right in."

Brant turned and entered the inner office of Axel Benton, Director of
Sensory Communications for Dreamtown.

Benton looked up and frowned as Brant entered. "The show on the
Council has to go on two weeks earlier," he fairly shouted at Brant.
"The Minister of Entertainment called this morning and he's hot! Says
the Council is having a fit about the increase in activity among the
Rebels; and rumors have been leaking out that they're planning to
destroy Dreamtown. So they want the show on sooner. Also, they want a
half hour show instead of twenty minutes."

"Nobody cares what the Rebels are doing and it's crazy to think they
could destroy the city. So what's all the rush about?" Brant asked
angrily.

"I figured you'd talk that way so I arranged a little session for you
this morning that may bring you to your senses, bright boy Brant,"
Benton retorted. He barked into the intercom on the desk.

"Call downstairs and have them send up Jennings, Lisa," Benton ordered.

A few minutes later the door slid open and Jennings was led in by two
of the Watchers. He was a middle aged man who wore spectacles instead
of the contact lenses which nearly everyone in Dreamtown wore when they
needed glasses. The two Watchers stepped aside. They were young men,
neither looked more than twenty five, with eyes as brittle as glass.
Their black leather pants and jackets fitted tightly and steel cleats
on their heavy boots grated wickedly on the floor with each step they
took. Their hands, in black leather gloves, rested casually on their
hips close to the hypno ray guns fastened to their belts.

"Jennings," Benton began, "was found to be in possession of a book
titled 'Principles of Human Knowledge' by George Berkeley. And
Jennings, as you know, Brant, was in a strategic control position here
in the Center. He was in charge of show censorship for the whole Com
center.

"What do you mean, _was_ in charge?" Brant asked.

"Just that! He is no longer in charge. In fact, he is being taken now
by these Watchers to the psych lab but I wanted you to realize the
seriousness of this thing, Brant, so I had him brought here first."

"He's going to be psychwashed?" Brant asked.

"Of course, you fool!"

"But why? Couldn't you just burn the book and throw him out?" Brant
asked.

"I wouldn't expect you to understand," Benton sneered. "The book he had
is one of the most dangerous books ever written. It is against every
principle on which Dreamtown is founded and if Lisa hadn't found it in
his office--."

"Lisa found it?" Brant asked.

"Yes, and like the smart girl she is, she reported him to the Watchers
right away." Benton motioned to the two Watchers and they stiffened
immediately, seized Jennings who stared silently before him, and half
dragged him from the room.

"I never would have thought it of Jennings," Brant said softly.

"That's just it! We can't be too careful," Benton said.

"Are you sure he was a Rebel?" Brant asked.

Benton's fist made a crashing sound as he brought it down on the desk.
"Idiot!" he screamed. "What else could he be? No one but a Rebel would
read such trash! Now get out of here, Brant. I want the format for the
Council show finished in two days or you're going to find yourself in
real big trouble! Seeing Jennings should wake you up and start you
moving!"

Brant rose. "I see what you mean. You'll have the format."

"Good! We're bringing out a new sensation pill in a few weeks and we'd
like to coincide the opening of this show with the release of the pill.
Big promotion and all that. And, by the way, don't forget the show
schedule for the annual Playground Festival."

Benton turned back to the work on his desk as Brant left the office.

       *       *       *       *       *

Men and women were crowded into the smoke-filled living room of
Professor Corbett's farmhouse, and conversations were being carried on
in hushed whispers. Nancy stood talking to Dan. Professor Corbett was
near them busily engaged in conversation with two women and a man whose
clothes looked as if they had seen many years of hard wear.

Dan left Nancy and walked to the center of the room. His voice rang out
vibrant and clear as he called for the attention of the gathered crowd.

"I believe we are all here now. If everyone will sit down we'll begin
the meeting."

When everyone was seated Dan nodded to Professor Corbett.

"You all know by now," Professor Corbett began, "that Ben's group was
discovered and probably destroyed. We've been able to find no trace of
them. Things have been going pretty badly for us, friends, and that is
why we asked you all to make the effort to come here tonight. For many
of you it's been hard; you've come a long way. But we have to make a
stand and we must make that stand together."

Applause greeted Professor Corbett's introduction and, after hesitating
a moment, he continued.

"It is likely that Ben and the others were taken to Dreamtown and
psychwashed. In the past few days we have received no word from
Jennings either. It is possible that he has been found out and is
unable to contact us. At any rate, we must operate on that assumption
until we hear from him again.--If we do," he added solemnly.

Every eye in the group was fixed on Professor Corbett and every ear
strained to hear each word he spoke.

"The Watchers have been patrolling an increasingly wider area around
Dreamtown, which necessitates moving our outposts farther away. This
will make communications between our groups more difficult, but it is
a necessary maneuver. Another thing. Take your books and music and
paintings and anything else which might give you away, and hide them
in some safe place. It is most important that we preserve what we have
left. It must not fall into the hands of the Watchers."

A woman in the group spoke. "We can't just keep running and hiding! We
should do something!"

"That is exactly the reason I asked you here tonight," Professor
Corbett replied. "Dan and I have formulated a plan and we submit it to
you for your consideration, approval, and cooperation. Dan, will you
explain what we have worked out?"

Dan rose and came to stand beside the Professor.

"First of all," he began, "we need four volunteers to go into
Dreamtown, get jobs, and wait for the raid. These four people will have
to be in strategic positions on the day we raid the city. Two of them
will open the North gates of the city. One will dynamite the warehouses
where the sensation drugs are stored. And the fourth must in some way
gain control of the Watcher's barracks and arsenal."

There was excitement on the faces of the people who listened to Dan's
words. They began to see a ray of hope and a course of action, and they
leaned eagerly forward as Dan continued speaking.

"Our first target when we raid the city, will be the Council Building.
If we can get control of the Council we have the heart of the city in
our hands."

Two men stood up. "We want to volunteer to go to Dreamtown," they said.
A woman rose and joined them. "If you can use a woman, I'd like to go
too." Two other men volunteered, and there was much excited discussion
in the small room.

Dan held up his hands and asked for quiet. "Since four men have
volunteered," he said to the woman, "we'd best use them. And now, if
those four men will stay here with me, the rest of you can leave. You
will be notified of details by runner, as in the past."

The group broke up into smaller groups. Some went into the kitchen,
where Nancy had prepared a lunch for them. Others prepared to leave for
their own outposts.

Professor Corbett was talking to an elderly man who had been a
scientist in one of Dreamtown's first laboratories.

"It's a copy of a research project done by a colleague of mine on the
Relativity Theory. An astute paper, I'd say. I've been saving it for
you," Professor Corbett told the scientist. "I have it hidden with most
of my other books up on the hillside by the spring. Wait just a minute
and I'll get it for you."

"Never mind, Dad," Nancy said. She had been passing and overheard her
father's remark. "I'll get it. You stay here and talk. I know you're
having more fun than you've had in months and I wouldn't see you spoil
it for the world."

"But--," Professor Corbett tried to protest.

"Hush, now. Be back in a jiffy," Nancy said as she slipped out the door
into the darkness outside.

Professor Corbett and the scientist continued talking. Others joined
them and the discussion became heated. It touched on science, art,
literature, and many other topics that had been important and common in
the old days. A few minutes passed and Dan joined the group.

"Where's Nancy, Alan?" he asked.

Professor Corbett turned to Dan to explain Nancy's errand when the
sound of a shrill scream from somewhere outside the house caused
everyone to stiffen in fright.

"It's Nancy!" Dan shouted and sprang for the door. He wrenched it
open and, as he did so, a burst of flame seared out of the blackness,
missing him by inches. Another scream followed the first.

The people in the room were galvanized into action. Professor Corbett
ran to a chest in a corner of the room. He unlocked it quickly and
handed a ray gun to Dan. He distributed guns to most of the other men.
The guns had been smuggled out of Dreamtown by Jennings and others over
a period of years. Soon men were stationed at every window of the house
firing out into the blackness.

"It's the Watchers!" a woman shouted.

"Be careful of your fire," Dan yelled, "they've got Nancy!"

The firing continued, while Professor Corbett and some of the others
struggled to smother a fire that had been started by a blast from a
Watcher's ray gun.

"I'm going out after them!" Dan shouted.

Professor Corbett grabbed for Dan in an effort to stop him, but he was
too late. The Professor left the others to battle the fire and raced
after Dan.

As he stumbled along in the darkness, he could barely discern Dan's
figure racing in the direction from which the shots had come. There
was no firing now and the hillside was quiet. Dan had stopped,
and Professor Corbett joined him in the darkness. Both men looked
frantically in every direction.

"There's no trace of them. They got away, Alan. We held them off, but
they've taken Nancy with them!"

Professor Corbett put his arm around Dan's shoulder. His eyes filled
with tears and he gripped Dan tightly. For a few seconds neither of
them spoke and then Professor Corbett turned to Dan.

"We'd better go back to the house."

The two men turned and walked slowly back to the farmhouse where the
others still battled the fire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Lisa and Brant walked down the street toward the Playground.

"Benton liked your script for the Council show, Brant," Lisa said as
they walked along.

"It was a hard card to handle, I'll tell you," Brant said. "No one
actually knows anything about the Council. We don't even know how many
members there are. It was hard trying to get enough information to fill
the show time, so I just reworked the old stories about the Council and
added a few new ones."

Lisa slipped her arm through Brant's. "I'm proud of you, honey. It must
have been good to set Benton hopping like that. What'd you put in it?"

"Just said the Council was Dreamtown's protector, provider and
producer. Said the same thing twenty times in twenty different ways;
but didn't answer any of the real questions about the Council."

"No one asks any questions, Brant. Who cares how many men are on the
Council or how they operate? So long as we have our flip food and
parties--who cares? You worry too much."

Brant laughed and patted Lisa's hand. "You're right. Jennings worried
too much and look what happened to him!"

They continued down the street, standing aside once as a group of
Watchers in semi-military formation passed them. As they turned a
corner they saw the solid red wall that surrounded the Playground
rising in the distance.

"Will you be able to get the information you want here, Brant?" Lisa
asked.

"If they let us in," he replied.

"I've never been in the Playground before, have you?" Lisa asked.

"Once. A long time ago when it was first put into operation, but they
say things have changed a lot since then," Brant replied.

A Watcher halted them as they approached the gate. Brant explained
about coming to gather material for the forthcoming Playground Festival
show and displayed his official Sensory Communications card. The
Watcher directed them to wait and stepped into a booth at one side
of the gate. Brant and Lisa saw him talking to someone on the video
phone. A moment later he returned, unlocked the gate, and motioned them
inside. Once in, they were met by another Watcher who led them down
a long hall to a door at the far end. The silence of the hall was in
direct contrast to the cacophony that met their ears as they stepped
through the door into the Playground.

Children of both sexes and of every age and size filled the Playground.
Nearly all were shouting at the tops of their voices. Scattered among
the group were men and women dressed in the briefest of costumes. Some
participated in the children's games, but most stood and watched, in
rather stony silence, the activity before them.

From one of the small buildings within the Playground, a young
man walked toward Lisa and Brant. The Watcher stepped aside as he
approached.

"I am Kirk Rodson," the man said to Brant and Lisa. "Director of the
Playground. Can I help you?"

Brant introduced himself and Lisa to the man, and explained their
purpose in coming to the Playground.

"I see," Rodson said. "There's not much to tell. Children are brought
here immediately after birth and are cared for in our laboratories.
Their instruction in walking and talking is accelerated by specially
trained personnel. As soon as an infant learns to walk he is released
into the Playground with the others for a specified time each day. He
is fed a specially prepared diet. As he grows older, he is left in the
Playground for increasingly longer periods of time in order that he may
adjust to its demands."

"When do the children leave here?" Brant asked.

"The program of the Playground is arranged to accommodate children
until they reach the age of eighteen," Rodson answered curtly.

"What generally becomes of the children then?" Lisa asked.

"Most of them become ordinary citizens. The best of the male group are
trained as Watchers. The females usually join a breeder group. It is
only the elect, with the highest qualifications, that can fill either
of these positions."

"Who are those men and women out there with the children?" Brant asked,
staring out into the crowded Playground.

"They are some of the older ones who work with the children. Those
young men are joining the Watchers when they finish here."

Brant, Lisa, and Rodson watched as one of the leaders called sharply
to a curly headed boy who had been playing with a pretty raven haired
girl. The boy leaped to his feet at the sound of his name and raced to
where the athletic young man stood. The man pointed to a group of two
boys and a girl who were engaged in a tussle on the ground before him.

Brant and Lisa repressed their surprise as the boy quickly leaped
into the melee and, by virtue of his superior strength and size, beat
the two boys and the girl until they fled before his brutal blows.
The boy stared after them a moment and then returned to the man whose
directions he had followed. Rodson laughed a short harsh laugh as the
man slapped the boy's face and sent him sprawling in the dust.

"These children must learn to be constantly on guard. The stronger the
person, the better chance he has for survival," Rodson explained.

"It's a rather hard way to learn, isn't it?" Lisa asked.

Rodson stared icily at her for a moment before he answered. "Lessons
learned the hard way are longest remembered," he said.

As Brant listened to Rodson talk about the Playground, the children, at
shouted commands from their instructors, assembled in a rank and file
in the center of the Playground.

"Listen!" Rodson ordered.

One of the briefly clad young women raised her arm. Music resembling a
primitive rhythmical chant filled the air. The children sang as Brant
and Lisa listened.

    _We have fun.
    We have sun.
    We can fight.
    We are right.
    The Council leads us.
    The Council feeds us.
    Days of pleasure.
    Full of treasure.
    We are free!
    We are free!_

As the song ended the children were dismissed by a wave of the song
leader's hand, and they raced wildly to the bright red barracks
surrounding the Playground. Several of the younger children were
knocked to the ground in the stampede, but they immediately scrambled
to their feet and joined the racing mob again.

Brant thanked Kirk Rodson and walked with him to the door where they
parted. The Watcher led them down the silent hall and they were soon
out on the street again.

"We have nothing to worry about if we train the kids that well," Lisa
remarked.

"It's kind of hard on them at first, I guess," Brant observed.

"They get used to it though. And anyway, we need strong people for
Dreamtown with some of those crazy Rebels still running around loose,"
Lisa said.

"We don't have to worry about them. After seeing those kids today, I
don't think we have to worry about anything," Brant said as they walked
down the street away from the Playground.

       *       *       *       *       *

Professor Corbett, in response to a knock, opened the door of the cabin
to which he had moved after the Watcher's attack on his farmhouse and
greeted the man who stood outside.

"Jim. How are you?" the Professor asked as he motioned the young man to
a chair.

"I passed your old place on my way here, Professor. It's a good thing
you got out of there. The Watchers must have come back because the
place has been burned to the ground."

"We figured they'd be back once they knew our location. This cabin is
in bad shape but we were lucky to find it. And it's isolated. Be hard
to find, here in the middle of the woods. But now tell me Jim, what
progress has been made?"

"We've gotten a lot done in two weeks, Professor. I've just come from
Andy. He and his people have moved up to the summit of Thorny Mountain.
Joe and Ed have been in Dreamtown for almost the whole two weeks and
are working as laborers on the housing project in the West End. Bill
got himself a job as a messenger for the video control office and
Mike is working in the mess hall at the central headquarters of the
Watchers."

"Fine, fine. That's wonderful," Professor Corbett exclaimed happily. He
hesitated a moment.

"Mike," Jim said, "overheard one of the Watchers telling about the raid
on your place. He said they've got Nancy in one of the Detention Plants
near the Watcher's headquarters."

"Is--is she all right, Jim? Could you find out if she's all right?" the
Professor asked hurriedly.

"As far as we can tell, she's OK. They're holding her for questioning.
They'll probably try to find out as much as they can about our plans
before they--I mean--." Jim hesitated, embarrassed.

"I know, Jim. Wait a minute. I'll call Dan. He's upstairs taking a
nap. He worked almost all night on the plans for the raid." Professor
Corbett called up the steps to Dan, and within a few minutes he
appeared, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"Jim," Dan said, "have they found Nancy? Is she all right?"

"She's being held for questioning, Dan," Jim replied.

Dan turned to Professor Corbett. "Alan, that means we've got to act
fast. What's the report from the others?"

Jim outlined the progress that had been made since the night of the
raid on the farmhouse. Together with Professor Corbett, they went over
the details of the new outposts of the Rebel groups. They counted up
the number of weapons possessed by each individual group, and checked
and rechecked the positions that each group and each individual was to
hold on the day of the raid.

Jim told Dan of the positions that the four volunteers had obtained
within Dreamtown, and Dan wrote out detailed instructions for them to
follow on the day of the raid.

"Get these instructions to Mike and the others within four days," Dan
ordered. "Wednesday of next week."

"This whole thing," Professor Corbett said, "depends on our ability to
coordinate our actions. If there is one slip anywhere along the line
the whole thing will fall to pieces. Jim, you and the other runners
have an important job on your hands. You've got to get this information
to all the outposts and to the four men in the city by Monday. That
will give everyone a day to prepare before Wednesday."

Jim took the sheets of paper from Dan, folded them, and placed them in
the inside pocket of his jacket.

"What are your plans for getting Nancy out?" Jim asked.

Dan answered him. "In Mike's instructions, I explained that he was to
open the Detention Plant and release Nancy and any of our other people
that might be there. He'll tell them what they're to do. If he hears of
anything happening before that time, we've got to depend on Mike to be
able to save her."

"But if--," Jim began.

Professor Corbett held up his hand.

"We cannot afford to jeopardize the whole plan for anyone's sake." He
looked down at the floor. "Not even for the sake of my daughter."

Dan placed his hand on the Professor's shoulder. "Nancy wouldn't want
it any other way, Alan," he said.

"Mike will have to handle any emergency that arises. He's a good man
and we can depend on him," Dan added.

"With the Playground Festival taking place next Wednesday it should be
easier for us to get control of the city. The Council has sent word
that every adult must attend the ceremonies. We'll have them all in one
place and they'll be easy to control."

"I'll get going," Jim said. "Got to be in a lot of places between now
and Monday." He stood up and the three men shook hands solemnly.

"Good luck, Jim," Professor Corbett said.

Jim laughed. "See you in Dreamtown, Professor!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Gil Patton and Brant showed their official cards to the Watcher behind
the desk. Gil's civilian investigative status gained him immediate
entrance, but there was some discussion concerning Brant's right to
attend. The matter was finally cleared up to the Watcher's satisfaction
when Brant explained that Benton of the Sensory Com Center had arranged
for him to attend.

The two men were ushered into a large chamber, at one end of which
was an enormous metal desk almost the width of the room. Eight men
were seated behind it. Brant recognized the leader of the Watchers and
several other officials of the city. He and Gil took seats to one side
of the room near the desk.

"They're going to reexamine some of the Rebels that have been captured
recently," Gil said. "Should be amusing."

Brant nodded.

At a signal, a Watcher opened a door at one side of the room. A young
girl and a man and woman, were led into the room. They were led to a
spot to stand directly in front of the examiners.

"You are Rebels. Is that true?" barked the leader of the Watchers, who
was conducting the examination.

None of the three answered.

"You have been planning to destroy the city of Dreamtown?" the man
asked.

Again no one protested. He looked up.

"You deny these charges?" He paused and then directed his attention to
the girl before him.

"Your name!"

"Nancy Corbett," the girl said.

"Perhaps you will tell us why your people are being so foolish."

Nancy smiled at the man, and spoke quietly. "We don't believe we are
being foolish."

The man laughed aloud and the others joined him. Brant turned to Gil.
"She's not bad looking."

"Do your Rebels really believe you can destroy us?"

"We don't want to destroy you," Nancy replied. "We have no intentions
of doing that. We believe you are making many mistakes here in
Dreamtown and we believe things must be changed," she said.

"And how do you intend to do that?"

Nancy didn't answer.

The man stood up quickly and leaned across the desk. "Then you admit
you are trying to destroy the way of life we have built up here," he
shouted.

"No!" the man next to Nancy answered suddenly. "We've told you. We feel
it is wrong and must be changed."

"We want things back the way they were before you came," the woman said.

"What do you mean?" the man roared again.

"We want to read books and we want to hear the old music again. We want
to raise our children the way they should be raised."

"When we win we are going to rebuild the schools," Nancy said quickly.

"Silence!" the man thundered.

A man at the end of the desk rose.

"Didn't you always have enough to eat when you lived in Dreamtown?" he
asked.

Again no one answered.

"Didn't you have enough to do for entertainment?" He looked from face
to face before him.

"Didn't you enjoy yourselves here?" he asked.

Nancy stepped forward. "That's just it! Here all we were able to do,
all we were allowed to do, was enjoy ourselves. But only in your ways.
Some of us felt there were better ways to enjoy ourselves than with
parties and festivals and sensation pills."

"What ways?" the man asked quietly.

The man next to Nancy spoke. "We wanted time to think. Some of us
wanted to paint or write books."

"We wanted to be with our children," the woman said.

"Surely you realize by now," the man continued from behind the desk,
"how insignificant these things are in comparison to the progress we've
made in Dreamtown. Paintings done by hand cannot equal our paintings
that are done mechanically. And as for books. One must be alone to read
books and we believe that people should be together and share with one
another."

"That's just it," Nancy said. "Reading a book _is_ sharing something!
You share an experience with the man who wrote the book. You tell
people about it, they read it, you discuss it. That's sharing."

Another man at the desk spoke. "You talk of experience. With our
sensation pills you gain much greater and more vivid experience than
you ever could from a book."

"But it's not real that way," Nancy said softly. "It's not natural
either."

The leader of the Watchers resumed the examination, which consisted
of the same questions and the same accusations repeated over and over
again. The three Rebels stood awaiting whatever it was that to be done
to them, helpless to answer the charges, since there seemed to be no
way for them to make themselves understood.

"What will they do with them?" Brant asked.

"Psychwash them probably. It's simple and there's never any trouble
afterward." Gil answered.

The leader stood up and addressed the three individuals before him.

"We have decided that you are to be sent to the psych laboratories!"

The Rebel woman instinctively raised her hand to her mouth in fear.
Nancy and the other man stiffened but their glances remained steady.

"We will give you a day to think about what is to happen to you. If, in
that time, you decide to come to us with information concerning your
Rebel groups--their whereabouts, their plans and so on, you may do so.
Otherwise our plans for you will be carried out!"

He sat down. "Let me remind you that the fate of those who have been
psychwashed is not very pleasant. They no longer think. They move when
they are told to move. They do only what they are told to do. They
don't read books and they don't paint pictures. They--."

"They are not very different from the rest of the people in Dreamtown,
are they?" Nancy interrupted.

"Take them out of here!" the man screamed.

Nancy's remark created angry excitement among the examiners and as they
discussed it among themselves Brant and Gil watched the three people
being led swiftly from the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

The city lay like a great carnival ground in the wilderness,
illuminating the dark night. Dan and Professor Corbett lay on the
ground, hidden behind the scrubby growth of bushes a few hundred yards
from the wall of the city.

Dan looked at his watch and the luminous dial told him it was ten
o'clock. The raid was scheduled for 10:20.

"I think we got all the patrols, Alan," Dan whispered, "but I warned
the men to be careful anyway. We didn't have enough guns for everybody,
but once we're in the city we can get them from the Watchers and from
their arsenal."

Professor Corbett leaned toward Dan. "Let's go over the plan once
more," he said.

Dan shifted his position. "We have thirty people down at the West End
gate. They're coming in three minutes after we start. Bill and Ed
will open this gate and at the same time Joe will dynamite the drug
warehouses."

"Three of our men," the Professor said, "will head for the South
gate as soon as we're in, and three others will open the East gate.
If the surprise is great enough, they shouldn't have too hard a time
overcoming the Watchers at the gates. They'll be too confused to know
what hit them."

"Mike," Dan said, "will barricade the Watcher's barracks at 10:18, and
then wait until he is joined by the group from the West. That will only
take a few minutes and, once there, the group will split. Part will
keep the Watcher's under control and the rest will invade the Detention
Plant."

"Mike can pass out guns from the Watcher's arsenal to our people
in the Plant and direct them to the Playground. I'll head for the
Playground as soon as we're in," the Professor continued, "and we'll
take over there."

"You'll have the most men, Alan," Dan said. "I'm taking eight men and
heading for the Council Building. We'll grab the Council and bring them
to the Playground. Check, Alan?"

"Check!"

"It's 10:16. Pass the word along to watch for the first sign of the
gates opening," Dan directed.

Silence fell as each man in Dan's group waited while the remaining
minutes passed. Every eye was fixed on the city gates. 10:19. 10:20.

"Let's go!" Dan yelled at the top of his voice and leaped to his
feet. The gigantic gates began to swing outward as the forty five men
in Dan's group sprang to their feet and raced, shouting, toward the
opening gate.

"This way!" a voice called shrilly.

"It's Ed!" Dan called to Professor Corbett who was running by his side.
They reached Ed as the rest of the group entered the gate. Shots were
being exchanged between the Rebels and the Watchers now.

"Where's Bill?" Dan yelled above the noise.

"They shot him," Ed answered. "Come on!"

Suddenly, a series of terrific explosions filled the night with
screaming sound. The earth shook under their feet.

"The warehouses are gone!" Dan yelled. "I'm heading for the Council!"

The eight men Dan had selected raced after him down the empty street
of the city. The sound of firing, announcing the entry of the group at
the East gate, met their ears.

As Dan's men careened around a corner they saw two Watchers sprinting
toward them. One of the Rebels dropped to his knee, fired twice, and
the two Watchers froze, in the typical macabre positions produced by a
hypno-ray gun.

The group parted and made separate approaches to the Council Building.

Dan and four others stopped as they came in sight of the building. A
group of Watchers stood, guns ready, peering up and down the deserted
street.

"Let's go!" Dan yelled, and the Rebels sprang forward, dodging in
and out of doorways for protection. The other Rebels appeared at
the opposite end of the street. The Watchers, seeing themselves
outnumbered, suddenly turned and fled up the steps of the Council
Building.

"Stop!" Dan shouted. He fired a warning shot and the fleeing Watchers
halted.

"They'll serve as shields," Dan muttered. "No telling what we'll run
into inside."

The Rebels moved forward, with the Watchers preceding them at gunpoint.
Inside, the hall was silent and they walked cautiously, alert for any
sudden action.

"Don't turn around," Dan ordered the men in front of him. "Lead us to
the quarters of the Council."

The tense group continued through halls and rooms resplendently
furnished and decorated. They stopped several yards from a steel door
which faced them across a high ceilinged room.

"Go on!" Dan ordered.

"That's the Council's private apartment," one of the Watchers snapped.

"Open it!"

"No one's ever opened it. No one's ever been inside," the man answered.

Dan turned to one of his men. "Try to open that door, but be ready for
anything!"

After some minutes, the man turned back to the group.

"There doesn't seem to be any way to get it open, Dan," the man said.

"Then we'll blast it open!"

But it was soon evident that their blasts had no effect on the massive
structure. One of the Watchers sneered, when suddenly, without warning,
the door slid aside into the wall.

"Keep an eye on them," Dan cautioned his men.

He moved cautiously as he neared the open door. There was no sound
from within and so far as he could tell the room was empty. He stepped
inside.

"Good evening!" a voice greeted him.

Dan started, and his eyes quickly searched the room for the source of
the voice that had delivered this unusual greeting.

"Over here," the voice said. A grotesquely fat man wearing a red robe,
heavy with gold brocade rose from a reclining chair and smiled at Dan.

"We've just--," Dan began but the fat man interrupted him.

"I know! I've been expecting you for some time now. Have some grapes?"
the man asked, indicating a bronze container on the table. "Or some
wine?" he asked, proferring a silver decanter that stood beside the
bronze dish of grapes.

"Where are the other members of the Council?" Dan demanded.

The man repressed a laugh. "There are no other members!"

"You mean you--!" Dan stopped in utter amazement as the truth began to
become clear to him.

"Yes," the man replied calmly.

"But I don't understand. How did you do it?"

"Very simply. Are you sure you won't have some wine?" The man poured
himself a goblet of wine. "When Dreamtown began to become what it is
today, I saw a perfect opportunity to cash in, so to speak, on a good
thing. The details aren't important. I started small, and after I had
sufficient power, I set up this legend of the Council. It was a simple
thing to dispose of the few who knew the truth. Once that was done,
the secret was easy to keep. I am self sufficient here. There has been
no need to leave my apartments or my gardens. I send my directives,
my orders, my requests, through the transitab or over the intercom.
Food is left in an anteroom adjoining my chambers. Hardly anyone ever
questioned me except in the beginning, and then there were always the
Watchers, so the questioning soon stopped. Now, is there anything else
you would like to know?"

Dan turned and called to the others and they entered, their guns still
trained on the Watchers. Dan explained what he had heard as they all
listened in amazement.

"I don't believe it! It's a trick!" one of the Watchers blurted out.

The little man chuckled. "My boy, the trick is over. He told you the
truth."

"We're leaving now, and we're taking you with us to the Playground,"
Dan said.

"My wine first," the man said and raised the goblet to his lips. "Yes,
it's all over," he said softly and drained the goblet.

Instantly the man's body went limp and he slumped to the floor before
the shocked eyes of the others in the room.

Dan rushed forward and examined the inert form on the floor. "He's
dead! We'll have to leave him here. Lock the Watchers in that closet
and let's go. We've got to get to the Playground."

       *       *       *       *       *

They raced down the steps of the Council Building and headed toward
the Playground. Occasionally they met a citizen of Dreamtown who fled
before them in fear or merely stared in stupefied amazement.

The Playground gates were open and there were Rebels surrounding its
walls, their guns trained on captured groups of Watchers who stood
sullenly, staring for the most part, at the ground. A cheer went
up from the Rebels as they saw Dan and the others approaching. The
courtyard of the Playground was dotted with Rebels guarding the great
crowd that filled the stands which had been erected for the Festival.

In the center of the courtyard was a platform on which stood Professor
Corbett and some of the other Rebels. Dan yelled in delight as he
recognized Nancy standing beside her father.

In a great bound he was on the platform and Nancy was in his arms.

When he released her, he spoke quietly to Professor Corbett.

"Everything all right?" he asked.

"Yes. We lost some men, but everything went according to plan."

Dan turned to the shouting, fearful crowd before him in the stands. He
raised his gun and fired three successive shots into the night air. The
crowd quieted.

"We intend no harm," Dan began, "most of you have heard of us. They
called us Rebels. We were. We once lived in Dreamtown. After the Big
War we tried to build a new civilization, one founded in truth and
dignity. At that time we all wanted the same thing. Then some people
came and offered us toys instead of truth. Many of us took the toys.
After the horrors of the Big War we wanted peace and contentment and
pleasure. But we made a terrible mistake. We took these toys hoping
they would give us the thing we looked for, and as years went by we
forgot what we had set out to do. But some of us didn't forget. Some
of us remembered. And we fled from Dreamtown, because the Council and
the Watchers told us we were wrong to want those things. The Council no
longer exists. There isn't time to explain it all to you now. You will
be informed quickly and completely as soon as we are able to arrange
it. One more thing. We do not come as conquerors, but as friends. We
came back because we believed in Dreamtown, and wanted to rebuild the
life many of you may remember. It will be difficult at first. But time
will teach us many things. Each of us has something to give the other.
Go home now, and tomorrow we will begin again to find the dreams we
first dreamed when we built Dreamtown."

       *       *       *       *       *

The people sat in stunned silence for a moment. Then a cheer, lonely
and overloud in the silence, went up from a man in the crowd. A woman
ran from the crowd and seized a child from the group standing huddled
to one side of the Playground square. The woman was followed by two
other women who did the same thing, and soon the silence was broken by
the loud and excited talking of the great crowd of people.

"So much will have to be taught to these people," Professor Corbett
whispered as he watched the people file out of the Playground.

Dan held Nancy in his arms as he spoke. "We must teach them to hold
elections instead of blindly following self-appointed leaders."

"We'll build schools and publishing houses again," Professor Corbett
said happily.

"And baseball diamonds and football fields."

"There's such a long way to go."

"We'll begin tomorrow."





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