and degenerated into a rough trail for ground vehicles soon after

that. "How many people are there on this planet?" I asked my driver.

He never took his eyes from the road. "Two and a half million, last

census," he said, with great respect.

That explained things, of course. As the population grew, the cities

would expand and the forests would go under. It had happened on Earth,

and on every settled planet. As recently as 1850, for instance, large

tracts of New York City, where I make my home, were farm and forest;

why, in 1960 the population was only about eight million, and they

thought the place had reached its height.

Wohlen had only begun its drive to citify the planet. Give it another

hundred and fifty years and the guerrillas couldn't exist, for simple

lack of any place to hide and to live independently.

Unfortunately, the Government didn't have a hundred and fifty years.

Judging from what I'd seen, the Government didn't have a hundred and

fifty days. Rationing was in force at all the markets we'd passed on

the way out, and there seemed to be a lot of cops. That's always a bad

sign; it means normal processes are beginning to break down and

anarchy is creeping in.

I thought about it. Three months was an outside limit. If I couldn't

finish the job in three months, it might as well never be finished.

It's always nice to have a deadline, I told myself.

The car stopped at a place in the road that looked like any other

place in the road. I got out, adjusted my knapsack and started away

from the road, into the jungle that bordered it. The hypno I'd taken

had told me there were farms scattered through the jungle, but I

didn't know exactly where, and I didn't even want to find out. The

knapsack was heavy, but I decided I could stand the weight.

In five minutes I was surrounded by jungle, without any quick way to

tell me where the road had been. There was a trail, and maybe human

beings had used it, but it was no more than a scratch in the


That was green, like Earth's, and mostly spiny. I managed to scratch

myself twice and then I learned to duck. After that the time went by

slowly. I just kept walking, without much of an idea where I was

going. After a couple of hours I was good and lost, which was just

what I wanted. It was starting to get dark, so I took the opportunity

of building a fire. I dug in my knapsack and found some food and

started to cook it. I was still watching it heat up when I heard the

noise behind me.

Those boys were good. He'd sneaked up through the jungle and come

within a foot of me without my hearing him. I jumped up just as if I

hadn't expected him and whirled around to face him.

He had his heater out and was covering me with it. I didn't reach for

anything; I just watched him. He was a big man, almost as tall as I

was and solidly built, with a jaw like a bulldog's and tiny, sparkling

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