Chapter 1

People averting their faces as they walked past the office door finally wore through his numbness. Daniel Movius began to clench and unclench his fists. He jerked out of his chair, strode to the window, stared at the morning light on the river.

Far out across the river, in silver layers up the Council Hills, he could see the fluting, inverted stalagmites of the High-Opp apartments. And down below them, the drabness, the smoke, the dismal carpet of factories and Warrens.

Back into that? Damn them!

Footsteps. Movius whirled.

A man walked past the door, examined the blank opposite wall of the corridor. Movius raged inwardly. Sephus! You son of a Sep! A woman followed. Bista! I’d as soon make love to a skunk!

Yet only yesterday she had made courting gestures, bending toward him over her desk to show the curves under the light green coveralls.

He hurled himself into his chair, sent the angry thoughts after them, the words he dared not use. “Avert your faces, you clogs! Don’t look at me!”

Another thought intruded. In Roper’s name, where was Cecelia? Was she another averted face?

Two men appeared in the doorway pushing a handcart loaded with boxes. Movius did not recognize them, but the LP above their lapel numbers told him. Workers. Labor Pool rabbits. But now he was one of the rabbits. Back into the LP. No more special foods at the restricted restaurants, no more extra credit allowance, no Upper Rank apartment, no car, no driver, no more courting gestures from such as Bista. Today, he was Daniel Movius, EX-Senior Liaitor.

One of the workmen at the door coughed, looked at the desk plaque which Movius had not yet removed. “Excuse me, sir.”

Yes?” His voice still held its tone of command.

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