11-Monitors (Laumer)

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Riding the pocket copter, Blondel decided after the first ten minutes, was the closest approach
to a witch’s broomstick that had yet been devised. Still, it was not as uncomfortable as it looked.
The saddle was nicely padded, the coverall windproof, fleece-lined, and electrically heated; the
bubble helmet light and transparent, pressurized with oxygen-enriched air. At ten thousand feet
he leveled off, studied the instrument faces set in the handlebar of the machine, set off on a
heading of one-oh-five at an airspeed of one hundred and ten MPH. The engine hummed

smoothly; the slip stream howled around the cleverly designed full- length windshield which
deflected the worst of the air blast. Above, the short blades whined, chopping at the air at ten
thousand RPM, hurtling him onward.
Below, through scattered cloud cover, he saw the city slipping away to the west — a vast
sprawl of misty light interrupted in great, rectilinear patches by the Monitor-made clearings.
Almost half the city, he estimated, had now been leveled by the invaders.
The first hour passed. Blondel shifted against the hold-down straps, conscious of the weight of
the implosion bomb nestled in his pants pocket. Blackwish’s scheme had been insane, of course —
but his own was probably no better. The Monitors, pacifistic though they were, undoubtedly had
effective methods of preventing airborne attackers — even gnat- sized attackers like himself – –
from getting too close. But since all other approaches had failed, there was only this one forlorn
hope left. One man, one tiny infernal device, which might or might not perform as advertised, and
another thousand miles of empty air to traverse before he would know the answer.
Dawn came after an endless night: a glory of dusky pink swelling to gold and then to a flat,
wintry blue. Blondel squinted out across the olive- drab blanket below, cut by the silver threads of
rivers, patched by tilled acreage, blotched here and there by towns and cities, and crisscrossed by
roads that wandered along routes originally marked out by beavers or elk or settlers pursuing lost
goats. Far off to the north the mighty coast-to-coast highway, designed by the Monitors, was a
rigid line of pale pink – – a strange color for paving, Blondel thought. But then, why not?
The day wore on. Once a gold-painted heli flitted under him on a skew course, a bright
dragonfly in the sunlight; but it made no move to intercept him. He climbed then, leveled at
fifteen thousand. Far ahead, the metallic sheen of the sea stretched to the horizon. Blondel
remembered the last meal he had eaten — lunch with Nelda at the empty restaurant with the
insidious Pekkerup hovering like an officious mother hen. It seemed too long ago, like a game of
mud patties in another life.
And then the coast was under him, a long curve of slate-blue, steely ocean stretching from the
line of slow- combing breakers edging the beach on and on to the distant haze of the horizon.
It was mid-afternoon before he discovered the chocolate bars, dates, and water supply tucked
neatly away in a pouch just below the left knee of the coverall. He ate slowly, savoring every bite,
using only a few sips of water. If the Monitors’ floating island was not in the advertised position, it
might be a long trip across the ocean …
The first tentative yellowing of evening was touching the farthest clouds when Blondel sighted
the incredible shape lying on the sea, thirty miles off his port bow. He squeezed his eyes shut,
opened them and looked again. There it lay – – a city, a patterned design in pale pinks and blues
and yellows, spread across the gently heaving surface of the deep ocean.
He descended to five thousand, flying a wide circular course, skirting the target, sizing it up.
There were copters in the air – – he could see the tiny golden machines as mere flecks of reflected
sunlight, moving busily to and fro, or setting out at remarkable speed across the water toward the
distant mainland – – and in the other direction too, toward Europe, and south toward the
Venezuelan coast.
Twilight deepened. The sun sank in familiar glory into a molten copper sea; the first stars
emerged. Across the island city, lights came on, lining avenues, sparkling from slim towers,
winking from circling aircraft. Blondel took a deep breath to quell the roil in his stomach, dropped
down until he was riding mere yards above the ghostly whitecaps. It was almost full dark now. He
picked a spot that seemed to have less than the usual quota of lights, and headed toward the
floating fortress-headquarters of the Monitors.
It was astonishingly easy. The rim of the island rose sheer, ten feet above the choppy seas
which seemed to damp out as they approached the barrier before them. Blondel flitted down
almost silently in the shadow of a graceful peach-colored dome, settled on a patch of what
appeared to be scarlet grass, swiftly slipped out of the confining harness and hobbled on stiff

limbs to the concealment of a flowering shrub.
He stretched out, repressing groans of mingled pleasure and pain, massaged his cramped legs
and shoulders, half-expecting to be pounced on by a squad of alert Monitors. Through the stems
of the bush he could see the lighted avenue a block distant, thronged with slim, athletic figures
moving about their business. His eye fell on the SCRAG copter, lying where he had left it by a tiled
walk, as conspicuous as a dead cat on the parlor rug. He got to his feet, limped to it, his head still
humming from the fourteen hours under the whirling blades, lifted the apparatus and staggered
back with it to shove it far back under the foliage. Another glance along the grassy walks and
gardens revealed no hordes of traffic cops descending. His approach, it appeared, had been
unnoticed.
The next problem was assuming larger proportions now: how to find the commander of the
invading forces. There were a large number of imposing towers in sight, any one of which might
house the supreme enemy headquarters. His best bet, he reflected, might be to simply appear
and let himself be captured, after which … – Footsteps crunched gravel nearby. Blondel crouched
back, saw a slender figure come into view around a curve in the walk. In the glow of the
varicolored lights sprinkled across the nearby buildings, he saw that it was a nicely-stacked young
female. She came along slowly, humming to herself. Blondel held his breath as she paused,
looking down at the trampled spot where the tiny copter had landed. The girl stooped, came up
with a scrap of paper. Blondel winced as he recognized it as a Hershey-bar wrapper, one of those
he had emptied during the flight.
The girl turned, following the drag marks Blondel had made in the grass. She lifted the
screening fronds aside, peered in at him.
“My God,” she said, “what in the world are you doing in there, Blondel?”
“Nelda – – I can hardly believe — I mean, you look so — ”
“Stop stuttering,” the girl said sharply. “So I’ve lost weight; but inside, I’m still the same ego-Gestalt in confrontation with a cryptic universe.”
“It’s you, all right,” Blondel conceded. “But it’s only been a day and a half – – ”
Nelda waved a slim, manicured hand. “There’s nothing miraculous about it; the Monitors have a
total understanding of such elementary matters as human metabolism. Pekky arranged for me to
have an hour or two in the organic symmetrizer to iron out my little obesity problem. But that’s
merely superficial. What I flipped over was his understanding of the real, inner, suffering me!”
“That’s fine, Nelda,” Blondel said nervously. “Ah … is he trailing along behind you somewhere?”
He looked back along her trail.
Nelda sighed. “No. It’s always like this. Every time I find what appears to be a true, fate-
ordained relationship, it turns out to be platonic.”
“That’s too bad,” Blondel commiserated, noting the sleek curve of her once bulging flank, the
perfectly proportioned swell of her formerly overwhelming bosom. “But I’m sure you’re going to
make lots of new friends. In the meantime, maybe you could help me — ”
“Help you?” Nelda echoed irately. “That’s all I’m for, I suppose! I just happened to be
conceived, born, nourished, educated, matured and placed in this particular spot just so I could
lend you five?”
“Gosh, Nelda, you take a more macrocosmic view of things than I do,” Blondel protested. “I
just meant — ”
“What are you doing here, anyway? Why are you dining behind the shrubbery? You’re not one
of those poor warped creatures who jump out at girls, are you?”
“Nelda, you know me better than that!”
“Yes — I know you have an irrational prejudice against the Monitors, who just happen to be the
most marvelous thing that’s ever happened to the human race!”
“Now, Nelda, I’m not prejudiced, but after all — ”
“Why, of course,” Nelda clapped her hands together, “you’ve seen the truth at last!”

“Right!” Blondel agreed. “That’s why I’m here, and – – ”
“Blondel, I should have known that such an essentially perceptive person as yourself would
eventually wake up to the real nature of the Monitors!”
“You mean – – you know, too?”
“Of course. I suspected it the minute I met Pekky, and when I got to know him better — you
know – – then I was sure!” Blondel nodded. “I guess that would be a dead giveaway.”
“I suppose you’ll want your synaptic therapy right away; that’s best, because then you’re so
much more receptive to what they call Gross Orientation, which, of course, precedes the real re-
educational process.”
“Hold on, Nelda. I’m not sure — ”
“Oh, don’t be silly.” Nelda took his arm and tugged at him. “There’s no point in losing your
nerve just before the big moment! There’s nothing to be afraid of — ”
“Wait! I don’t think you understand, Nelda! You mean that even now, after you know what
they’re really like, that you want to sign up for their programs?”
“Don’t you?”
“I’d prefer to leave my brains in their present self-scrambled condition, thanks.” Blondel
disengaged his arm.
“Don’t be a total cuboid, Blondel! Come along now, and we’ll go find Pekky and ask him to help
you.”
“I don’t want their help! This is a serious matter. Don’t you understand?”
“Certainly, I know the old instinct for the inviolability of the psyche. But it’s like a lot of other
silly old Judeo-Christian hangups: After all, the essence of fun is the violation of ritualistic taboos!”
“Nelda, I came here for a purpose — ”
“And now we’ll see to it that you don’t chicken out at the last moment.”
Blondel, weak with fatigue, found himself being hauled bodily from hiding.
“Nelda, the future of the human race — ”
“That’s it, Blondel! The whole, glorious, Monitor-directed future of our poor, helpless, struggling
species! All you have to do is relax, and it will all be taken care of!”
Blondel stiffened himself, pulled free from Nelda’s grip. “Sure,” he panted. “That’s the dream of
humanity, in a nutshell. But I’m not ready to sign up for embalming yet, not as long as I can still
suck in air and blow it out again!”
“Blondel, you cretin! Do you mean you’d reject all the wonderful things the Monitors offer, just
because of some idiotic, old-fashioned, masculine idea, like that nonsense about climbing
mountains and planting flags on top, just because they’re there?”
“You name it,” Blondel said. “All I know is, I don’t want my destiny delivered to my door, gift-
wrapped!”
“Men!” Nelda planted her fists on her trim hips. “You need keepers, and we women are lucky
the Monitors came along to take you in hand!”
“Now, Nelda, women are men, too, in one sense of the word — ”
“We’re a race apart,” Nelda said flatly. “Well, then, if you didn’t come to join the forces of
enlightenment, what do you want here? How did you get here, anyway? What are you planning to
do? Why don’t you want them to know you’re here?”
“Nelda,” Blondel appealed. “Calm yourself. I want to see the leader of the Monitors. He must be
here, somewhere.”
“You mean the Tersh? ”
“Not Jetterax?”
“Certainly. Why do you want to see him?”
“I … I have something to tell him.”
“Blondel, I don’t trust you!”
“How can it hurt anything for me to talk to him?” Blondel spread his hands.

“You aren’t planning any … any mischief?”
“Who, me, Nelda?” Blondel looked innocent. “What could a mere man do to hurt a Monitor?”
“That’s true,” Nelda conceded. “But why don’t you tell me what it is you want to tell him?”
“Never mind.” Blondel started past her. “I’ll find him myself.”
“No, wait; I guess you have to indulge your boyish taste for the mysterious. Come on, and we’ll
see if we can catch him before mid-morning contemplation.”
The Tersh Jetterax looked up, beaming broadly as Nelda and Blondel appeared at the open
archway that gave entrance to the airy vine-hung terrace where he sat behind a low table set with
a vast fruit bowl, plates on doilies, and gleaming silver.
“Ah, welcome, my dears!” he cried. “My morning is complete, now! Do sit down! Nelda, how
delightful to see the real you, freed from its former cocoon of unhealthy flesh. And Blondel! At last
you’ve come to us!”
“Humph!” Nelda sniffed. “It wasn’t so unhealthy. In fact, some gentlemen prefer a well- fleshed
girl.”
“Of course; but it’s these weird imbalances we’re all pledged to correct, eh? Now, Blondel, dear
boy, I’ve followed your adventures with considerable interest. In a sense, your experiences have
been a microcosm of what we must expect to encounter in the process of correcting all the faults
of your charming little world.”
“You’ve, er, followed my adventures?”
The Tersh nodded. “And how delighted I was when I saw that at last you were turning your
course here. Your disillusionment was a difficult time for you; but I fancy that now, as you enter
your new, enriched life, the old traumas will soon disappear, and — ”
“I wonder,” Blondel interrupted, “if I could have a few words with you in private?”
“Eh? But what have we to conceal, my boy? The suspicions and mutual mistrusts which once
made such subterfuge necessary do not exist here — ”
“I have to talk to you alone.”
“You mean you want me to leave?” Nelda fumed. “Well, of all the – – and after I brought you
here myself – – ”
“Perhaps it would be best to indulge our new guest’s wishes,” the Tersh suggested gently. “Just
for a short while, Nelda. There’s a dear child.”
She departed, protesting. Blondel took the chair across from the aged- looking Monitor.
“Now, Blondel, in what way can I serve you?” The latter beamed.
“Skip the routine,” Blondel said bluntly. “I know what you are.”
The Tersh eyed him almost blankly, his wrinkled features twitching into a number of tentative
expressions before falling back into the bland smile.
“Don’t bother with the grimaces,” Blondel said. “It must be a strain on you, running through a
list of native facial codes and then working the right levers. I’d rather” have you conserve your
energy for what I have to tell you.”
“Ah … are you feeling well, my boy?”
“Your boy probably has nine legs and tentacles,” Blondel said bluntly. “I don’t know where you
come from, but we can cover that later — if there is a ‘later.’ Right now I have an ultimatum to
deliver.”
There was a short, strained silence. Then: “This is unfortunate,” the Tersh said. “I see that you
have somehow stumbled on a small item of information that I had hoped to keep confidential for
just a little longer. Yes, we Monitors are not members of your own race; but, believe me, we are
your friends.”
“Why the masquerade, then? Why not come slithering up to us, monster to man, and make
your pitch?”
“I considered that the donning of cosmetic prosthetics was no more than courteous,” the Tersh
Jetterax said in a dignified tone. “After all, in your present immature state of xenophobia you were

hardly prepared to deal with nonhumans as potential friends.”
“How true. Now that we’ve got that straightened out, how long will it take you to pack up and
scat back to your home base?”
“Now, now, Blondel, don’t be hasty.” The Tersh showed a patient smile. “Surely you can see
that for our mission to depart now would be a gross injustice to your poor race?”
“Nuts,” Blondel dismissed the proposition. “What have you done that’s so great? Cleared out a
few slums, straightened out the highways, fired some crooked cops, and taken the fat off some of
our compulsive eaters. Not a thing we couldn’t have done ourselves!”
“But did you do them?” the Tersh murmured. “As for more sophisticated measures, to
introduce any technique from a higher technological plateau would be a gross violation of
regulations.” He shook his head. “No, my boy, our obligation to the entire brotherhood of
intelligent life permits of no move so barbaric as to leave you to your own devices now. No matter
how petty, cruel, blind, shortsighted, foolish, venal, bloodthirsty, masochistic and obtuse you may
be, it is a matter of principle with us, as civilized beings, to do our very best to raise you to our
own level of advancement along the road to true enlightenment.”
“Too bad,” Blondel said shortly. “You have just twenty- four hours to clear out.”
“Now, now, dear boy — ”
“If you’re as fast on your feet leaving as you were arriving, that shouldn’t strain your
capabilities.”
“Please, Blondel, don’t create unnecessary patterns of frustration within your already confused
psyche — ”
“The twenty-four hours have already started,” Blondel said curtly. “You have twenty-three
hours, fifty- nine minutes, and thirty seconds left.”
The Tersh sighed. “I do wish that I could prevail on you to voluntarily undergo remedial
treatment, Blondel. It would clear up any number of erroneous reaction- patterns — ”
“I don’t need any lobotomies performed by interstellar do-gooders,” Blondel cut him off. “You’d
better get started giving the orders to pull out.”
“Surely you realize the futility of attempting to browbeat me,” the Tersh said, almost sternly.
“I’m not browbeating you. I’m threatening you. Pack up and get out, or I’ll blow this whole raft
to kingdom come!”
The Tersh smiled sadly. “You must be aware by now that violence is ineffective against us. Our
automatic protective screens repel all potentially unstable molecules, both chemical and nuclear.
No weapon can enter here. And if it did, the nature of our defenses is such that any force applied
is merely turned back against the attacker.”
“No weapon, eh? What would you say if I told you there was such a weapon — and that I
control it? A weapon that would make a nuclear bomb look like a toy?”
The Tersh stiffened. “I wouldn’t believe you.”
“Ever heard of an implosion bomb?” Blondel asked flatly.
“An … implosion bomb?”
“That’s right . Implosion bomb.”
“No … I can’t say that I have.”
“Picture it,” Blondel invited grimly. “A five- mile-wide bubble of perfect vacuum, all rushing in
toward a central core of annihilated matter. The defensive fields will help the reaction along:
they’ll be triggered, but in reverse; instead of bouncing back an attack from outside, they’ll
reinforce the collapse from within. In a split microsecond your whole headquarters will be one big
slag bubble, smashed flatter than a boardinghouse pancake.”
“I … I don’t understand … ”
“The end will come in its ghastliest form,” Blondel pressed on. “Picture it, Jetterax: The
Ultimate Closure … ”
The Tersh made a small yipping sound and shrank back in his chair. For a moment his

pseudohuman limbs quivered, uncontrolled. His mask drooped to an expression of idiot vacuity.
“That’s the picture,” Blondel bored on relentlessly. “Get out or get flattened. You’ve got twenty-
three hours and fifty- eight minutes left.”
“Ukkkk!” Jetterax croaked. “Ikkkkk! Rrrrmmmmm!” He shook himself, with an obvious effort
brought his shuddering members under control. His face worked, then froze into a horrified
grimace.
“You’d … you’d do this … this hideous thing? To us – – who brought you only good, who meant
only kindness and love?”
“Yep.”
“But … but how could you doubt our benign intentions? Haven’t we proved already that we are
kindly, tolerant — ”
“The human race refuses to be tolerated,” Blondel told him. “Your visit has had one beneficial
effect — and I don’t mean the pretty flowers. In time, we’d have gotten around to all that
ourselves. You’ve made it pretty clear to us that there’s a Galactic Culture out there and we’ve
been tossed into it, ready or not. And humanity being what it is, we’ll enter the club as first-class
members on our own efforts — or not at all.”
“But think, Blondel! By accepting us as your leaders you could save generations of
heartbreaking effort, centuries of human suffering, millennia of trial- and- error – – ”
“And end up as Galactic lap-dogs. No thanks, Jetterax. We’ll do it alone. That’s the way we are;
anything we haven’t worked for, we don’t appreciate.”
The Tersh straightened. “I see you are in earnest,” he said hollowly. “Your tragic folly will bring
nothing but pain and destruction, where there could have been sunshine and joy. Well, then,
proceed, my boy! Bring on your bomb – – if your threat was not idle! Blast me and my faithful
workers into nothingness! But even if you destroy us all it will avail you nothing. All missionary
services expect casualties. A new Tersh will come out to replace me, and the work will go on. With the help of your people or without it, we will civilize you in the end. And one day your descendants
will thank us, and rue the unnecessary violence that preceded the millennium.”
“Now, wait a minute,” Blondel protested. “I’m not bluffing! The bomb exists, and it’s already
planted where it will do the most good, and – – ”
“I believe you,” the Tersh said mildly. “Your race’s capacity for violence exceeds anything we
have heretofore encountered. And such a weapon as you describe would, in truth, penetrate our
shields undetected and turn our own defenses against us. I concede it all. And I say – – proceed, if
you must. A few Monitorial lives are small payment for the salvation of a savage race.”
“But — you were supposed to … I mean, I’m the one giving the orders!”
“I defy you, Blondel.” Jetterax drew himself up. “We Monitors, too, know how to die.”
“I don’t want you to die!” Blondel yelped. “I want you to surrender and go back home!”
“Never.”
“Never?”
“Not ever.”
“But in the movies – – ”
“This, my boy, is not a movie.”
Blondel stared glumly across at the alien. His shoulders drooped. He sighed.
“I should have known nothing Blackwish had anything to do with would work,” he said. He
reached in his pocket, took out the heavy cylindrical implosion bomb, placed it gently on the table.
“Here,” he said. “You win. Get rid of this thing before it hurts somebody.”
“Isn’t it marvelous?” Nelda cooed, clinging to Blondel’s arm as they strolled beside a rippling
brook flowing across the crimson- carpeted park that lay among the cherry – bright towers of the
island fortress. “I just knew that everything was going to work out perfectly, after the Tersh made
such a generous, wonderful gesture!”

“Well, maybe it will help a little,” Blondel said glumly. “Putting local human bosses into all the
second-string administrative jobs will at least give us an illusion that we’re running our own
business.”
“It was just the sort of kind, thoughtful, darling thing you’d expect from him!”
“Umph.” Blondel plodded along in silence for a few yards. “I guess I’d better be getting back to
the mainland,” he said. “After wading around in all this sweetness and light for the past three
days, I’m ready for a change.”
“Ace, dear, if only you wouldn’t be such an old reactionary about having your synaptic
treatment,” Nelda chided, “you’d shed all these primordial competitive urges and settle down to
enrich the garden of your mind with the heady fertilizer of Monitorial wisdom.”
“A head full of fertilizer isn’t what I’m yearning for at the moment.” Blondel paused to kick at a
pale-pink daisy nodding in the gentle summery breeze. “I think I’ll find myself a spot up in the
mountains somewhere, with lots of nice trees and a trout stream, and build myself a little log
cabin, and plant a small garden patch, and start tanning my own hides and making fishhooks out
of antlers, and getting back to nature.”
“My God,” Nelda said mildly. “Your asociality is burgeoning into a full- fledged neurosis.”
“I’m not completely asocial,” Blondel corrected. “For example, I had an idea … that is, I
thought maybe, ah, you might like to go along.”
“Me?”
“Sure.” Blondel patted the sleek curve of her rump.
“I – – ”
Nelda’s roundhouse swing caught him squarely across the side of the head, sent him
staggering back, eyes watering, bright lights whirling before him.
“Keep your lascivious, grasping hands to yourself, Mister Blondel!” she shrilled.
“But … but Nelda! Have you forgotten what a nice, friendly relationship we had – – ”
“Fooie.” She tossed her head, and even through the pain tears Blondel admired the graceful
line of her remodelled throat and chin, the bright haze of her blonde hair, the vivacious curve of
her pouty red lips. “That was before.”
“Yes, but I thought you said that inside, you’re the same poor, lonely, suffering you!”
“New packaging, new rules, Blondel,” Nelda said carelessly. “Now, you may escort me, if you
promise to be a gentleman.”
“Gentleman?” Blondel echoed numbly.
“And if you’re a very, very good boy, I may let you have just one, teensy, little kiss — later.”
“Well,” Blondel fell in beside her, “you’ve got to start somewhere.”
“Mr. Blondel!” He turned at an agitated shout from across the velvety lawn. “Mr. Blondel, come
quickly! The Tersh needs you! Something terrible has happened!”
“It’s simply incredible,” the Tersh Jetterax wailed, wringing his imitation hands in a practiced
gesture. “In all my years of experience I’ve never before seen such an outburst of insanity! The
entire population of the planet seems to have been seized by a frenzy! Riots are sweeping every
center of population larger than a two-family house! My Monitors have been mobbed, their
defensive screens overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers! Wild-eyed hordes have beaten them
and herded them into improvised concentration camps! Everything we’ve done – – all of our
programs, our orientation centers, our retraining classes — all disrupted; our instructors sent
fleeing, our timetables shattered into total chaos! Why? Why?”
Blondel, reading the reports coming in over the small TV screen on the Tersh’s desk, nodded.
“It looks as though it’s a toss-up between disappointed jobseekers out to fill the new
bureaucratic slots, and the rank and file who resent having some dull clod of a colorless neighbor
put in charge of them. Between the two categories, I guess they constitute about ninety-seven
per cent of the population. The other three per cent is joining in out of sheer animal spirits.”
“Never did I dream that I would see the day when the rule of peace and good- fellowship would

fail,” the Tersh said in a dull, defeated voice. “I was prepared to persevere through any
imaginable setback; but to find the entire planetary population united as one in a frenzy of total
resistance — this is too much.”
“Well, being told what to do by an obviously superior being is one thing,” Blondel pointed out.
“Taking orders from the idiot next door is something no redblooded American boy could stand for.
And I guess the same thing goes for red-blooded Poles, Welshmen, Masais, and Lower
Laplanders.”
“I admit defeat,” the Tersh said in a sepulchral voice. “My Monitors will leave immediately.”
“Now, wait just a minute,” Blondel said. “Don’t do anything hasty. Let’s talk this over first.”
“Nothing remains to be said, Blondel. The reports speak for themselves.”
“Send your boys out somewhere to rake leaves.” Blondel indicated the group of worried
Monitors standing anxiously by. “You and I need to have another little conference.”
“It was the only sensible thing to do,” Blondel told Nelda as they sat together on a marblelike
bench overlooking a superb sunset. “After all, it’s pretty obvious that running a planet is a job that
takes certain skills. Letting amateurs try to handle it is pretty idiotic, when there’s a corps of
specialists around willing to take on the chore.”
“Yes, certainly — but I thought you were against all that! What about your ideas that man’s
poor little psyche would wither on the vine if he wasn’t strutting around on top of the heap,
bossing everything?”
“Oh, he is, he is.” Blondel waved the heavy roll of parchment in his hand.

“The contract clearly spells out that the Monitors are employed by the human race as governmental specialists,
empowered to do whatever they find necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Nobody
minds listening to advice from experts, as long as the experts are clearly in an inferior position,
liable to being summarily fired if they fail to please.”
“Contract government!” Nelda marveled. “Well, it’s something new.

But who authorized you to sign a contract with an extraterrestrial power?”
“I appointed myself Human Ambassador to the Monitors,” Blondel said, “and Commissioner of
Extraterrestrial Affairs. I guess that gives me rank enough to handle the job.”
“But isn’t that a pretty arrogant usurpation of power? I mean, why don’t you call an election –”
“The contract doesn’t call for any more nonsense,” Blondel said. “From now on things will be
done according to plan.”
“But will people accept that?”
“People only ignore free advice. When they pay enough for it, they follow it to the letter.”
“How are we paying? What have we got that the Monitors need?”
“They seem to find our art work quite vigorous, in a primitive, undisciplined way. We’ll have to set up a big new art program, to let all our frustrated geniuses develop their talents; but that’s right in line with the program.”
“My God.” Nelda shook her head. “So many changes, all at once. How are we going to keep our
bearings in such a total cultural turmoil? I have a sudden apprehension that we’re all going to flip
our wigs in sheer disorientation at the reshuffling of traditional values … ”
“Never mind.” Blondel tentatively gained another inch in his campaign to insinuate his arm
around Nelda’s slim waist. He tilted her chin up and smiled into her bright blue eyes. “There are
still a few old habits that we can cling to — purely for reasons of mental health, of course.”
“Purely?” Nelda murmured, and nibbled his ear. “Well, maybe just a little bit just for the hell of
it,” Blondel admitted, and together they slid off the bench to a softer resting place among the pink
daisies.

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