The supervisor on duty sits on his chair in front of a huge panel for the control of mental activities. Right now he’s a bit drowsy, but that’s all right because the automatics would warn him if any irregularity turned up. Still, nothing at all is happening on the panel now; nothing has happened since he began his duty this morning. In fact, he can’t remember the last time an alarm occurred. It would be better if something did, in fact, happen–at least now and then. Otherwise, his superior might cancel his post some day, consider him redundant. But today, as always, all is quiet; all the indicators are green.
Somewhere, a long way off, Thomas Mogul is sitting at ease in front of his big multivisor set. Today is the first Sunday morning of the month, the time of his regular psycho testing. Beside him, today’s psycho controller, Arouser, is arranging his instruments. Mogul knows the filling meter is the most important, the decisive appliance among all those devices.
Mogul absent-mindedly listens to Arouser’s talking, trying not to show his indifference. He’s aware of the need to appear that he is willing to cooperate. Despite that, Mogul doesn’t believe that Arouser will find anything anomalous on him. None of the earlier psycho controllers had found anything unusual. Through all the years up to the present, he’d been tested by many of them without any result.
Now Thomas Mogul sees that Arouser is presenting him with fragments of the most exciting moments of various sports events. There are penalties taken on the football pitch, with roaring fans in the stands, the final match of the biggest tennis tournament, the last round of the heavyweight boxing match for the world title, the finish of a horse race with enormously high wagers… Mogul tries to hide the boredom on his face.
Arouser switches to the newest video scenes. Cakes are flying into surprised faces, people are falling into mud, and a naked lover is climbing through a bedroom window. There follows short fragments from sitcoms, appearances of the most popular comedians, fantastic gags, never performed before jokes and jests of all kinds. Mogul can hardly stifle his yawns.
Arouser skips over to presenting deeply disturbing sights. A long knife is stabbed again and again into the helpless body of a beautiful woman, the murderer laughs; a man falls from a high building on to the impaling spikes of an iron fence; a blast among a crowd of people throws their body parts all around; a heavy tank rolls over a soldier roaring with pain. Mogul takes a sip from his glass and reaches for some popcorn.
Next, he sees erotica that cedes increasingly to hard-core porn: full breasted and long-legged women are doing their sexual acrobatics with muscled men; they thrash about in various perverted ways. Mogul’s eyelids are closing, slowly but as inevitably as a glacier.
The multivisor set switches off and Mogul becomes aware that Arouser is talking to him about something. Obviously, he’s given up on the technical and now he’s using a more personal approach. Arouser’s excitable face draws nearer and nearer to Mogul. He abuses and insults him; he mocks and scoffs at Mogul’s professional incapability, his poor intelligence, his disgusting physical appearance and his sexual impotence. Then Arouser vulgarly rains curses down on Mogul, on his family, his ancestors and descendants, relatives and friends. Suddenly, Arouser slaps Mogul’s face and snatches him out of his apathy–but only for a moment. Mogul knows well that it’s nothing personal, just business. In the same spirit, he stoically accepts the next blow to his stomach, the next kick in the shins. Mogul is glad that Arouser doesn’t spit in his face like some of psycho controllers did some months ago.
Throughout all this, Thomas Mogul catches a glimpse of the filling meter; its pointer lazily waves slightly over zero.
Now Mogul becomes aware that Arouser has already cleared away his trifles. Behind the mask of placidity, Mogul suspects some degree of disappointment. What nonsense. Still, he’ll get his compulsory fee, which doesn’t depend on the test results. Perhaps Arouser’s professional pride is affected? Mogul has never understood such nonsense. All these bureaucrats sent by the government are the same–they can do nothing more than just the standard, routine procedures. He nods coldly at Arouser’s farewell and closes the front door behind his visitor with a remote control.
All right, that’s behind him.
However, before him is still the whole Sunday afternoon, which he has to fill up with something. But with what? What on earth? Thomas Mogul rejects all the various possibilities that are entering his mind, one after another. Indeed, all forms of entertainment are very similar to what Arouser tried to force on him.
Maybe he should go for a long, healthy walk? Oh, no–on that asphalted pavement and through all that smog? Or perhaps some jogging or cycling? Or tennis with a robotic partner, where you can regulate the skill degree? Ah, nonsense. All that is much too tiresome. And what about some of his many computer games or maybe an e-books? No, no. All that’s nothing but boredom.
With his mental command, Thomas Mogul is reading a long line of menus and submenus, which flicker by in orderly fashion. His hope that he’ll find something interesting is melting away. No, regrettably there isn’t anything to help him to kill the superfluous, unnecessary Sunday time. Who was that blockhead, anyway, who came up with such a foolish rule that on Sundays it isn’t proper to do any work–nothing which would gain a man some extra money? Thanks to that, one-seventh of his weekly earnings are lost: a sum enough to pay all his income taxes. Thomas Mogul emits a deep sigh and reaches to his temples to take down his mental command when something instantaneously stops him.
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