I raised my hands and stepped outside. It was Him they wanted to kill. They would take me prisoner and decide my fate later. Two WA policemen flanked me, cuffed my hands together, and led me across the frozen earth toward the copter on the far hill.
It was not snowing at all now. The wind had ceased to blow.
Once, I looked back at the bloody corpse. He had said there would soon be an end to death. I realized that this could not be called death. Not really. They had merely shot a husk. He lived on in the amoeboid flesh in the old ice cellar. And there would be thousands of other husks shortly. He was with us at last. He. And, of course, His name had always been spelled with a capital letter. He . . . Man was moving out. Man was immortal. The mystery of His flesh wrapped us like a blanket and carried us into the New World.
TWO: The enemy is self . . .
New York City is a weird conglomeration of old, new and experimental that staggers the mind of anyone who has not lived in a city its size. Harboring approximately eighty-five million souls, it is the second largest metropolis in the world. Size alone would be enough to awe men from urban areas (which comprise sixty percent of North America) where only a few hundred thousand live in small communities, for his neighborhood still supports individual houses (though even there they are beginning to dwindle in number), still has streets open to the air and paved of concrete and macadam, still permits automobiles on roads other than the mammoth freeways. New York City, of course, has none of these things.
All of New York City’s inhabitants live in high-rise apartment buildings, some as long as three and four blocks, the newest ones towering to two-hundred stories in some places. You can get a one-bedroom apartment or anything up to eight bedrooms, living room, dining room, two dens, playroom, reception room, two kitchens, and a library. These last suites are few and far between, for even in our Great Democracy, there are just not that many citizens able to shell out four thousand poscreds a month for a place to live. And to buy it—make certain you’ve just hit the first new oil well in the last ten years, have found a way to triple the life of a car battery between rechargings, or have discovered the answer to the food problem so that all the synthetic meats will taste as juicy and tender as the real thing.
And New York, of course, no longer has conventional streets, and would not allow an automobile into its great, throbbing mass of humanity even if it did. There is just no more room for individual vehicles in a metropolis of this size. Imagine eighty-five million people out on the roads of one city, and you’ll have some idea of the sort of traffic jam that the city fathers used to have nightmares about before the Renovation.
Renovation . . . That period of the city’s history was a landmark not only for the city and the nation, but for the entire world. There was a time when New York City was a part of New York State. During this time, the mayor could get little if any aid from the state government in Albany. The state was glad to take sales tax and state income tax from the metropolis’ citizens, but was reluctant to pay back on an equal basis. Finally, when the situation became critical, when the city had an unbearable population of fifty-seven million, the mayor and the council arranged to bring before the people of the city a proposal that they seek to become another state. This was shortly before World Authority began to function as a valid international organization. The vote was cast and returned in favor of the proposal. The mayor proceeded to declare the city independent of the state.
The Governor, a rather stupid man who had been elected because of his appearance and his family name, who had been nominated for his faithful party work for thirty years, and who had been allowed into party politics in the first place simply because his family was a large contributor to candidate funds, thought the city’s proclamation could be laughed off. He cut off all state funds to the city and sat back to wait them out.