“My future is smooth and white,” said Savrov. “The smooth white reinforced concrete of buildings erected according to scientific principles.”

“Yes, but even so-” Paul began.

“It is a Council matter,” Savrov said with finality. “Council government is a reality now, and Council policy dictates that needless ornamentation is a waste of state resources. It is a far better use of Council funds to throw a few more pulpy romance stories on the streets.”

“So that’s it, then,” Paul said, dejected. “You’re just going to dynamite away all my fine old buildings.”

“Of course not,” sniffed Savrov. “One or two will be useful to the Council as museums. For tourists, you understand. It will be some time before they can be replaced with useful structures since architecture, like copper, needs time to acquire a patina that the minds of the people find pleasing.”

It was clear that there was no place for the curves and ornamentation that had been Paul’s stock and trade as an architect and a builder in Savrov’s gleaming new world of scientific squares. Already, from the top floor of the Council Ministry, Paul could see cranes hauling up glittering blocks of pulverized stone all over the city even as a half-dozen wrecking balls swung at older edifices dating to before the advent of Council rule.

“Come now, Paul, don’t be so sentimental,” Savrov continued. “Your professional skills have been a great asset to the Council and the state. Throwing a childish fit over a few stones is sure to only mark you as an impediment to the Council. I don’t need to tell you what that could mean.”

The veiled threat, cloaked in Savrov’s falsely jovial optimism, was clear enough. But Paul had already crossed his Rubicon; he had only been giving the Council planner a chance for reprieve.

“Tell me, then, what you think of the efficiency and scientific worth of this,” Paul said. He drew from his briefcase a small target pistol, the sort used by athletes and small-game hunters. Its bullets were very small and very slow, but very accurate as they spiraled through the thin barrel designed by a blind man, and Paul fired every one of the twenty small cartridges that the pistol could hold.

When Council State Security apprehended him moments later, he offered no resistance to their considerably more efficient weapons.

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