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Garsfield College is a very advanced centre of learning; the students are taught exclusively by tapes fed into teaching machines.  Most of them take to this method of education easily; but some, like Sarah Richards, become neurotic and unhappy.  The inhumanity of the machines frightens her.

Stephen Kershaw, who supervises the tape operation, is instructed to realign some new machines in accordance with fire regulations.  The students are roped in to help and, after the machines have been arranged in their new pattern, strange things begin to happen.

(In the Control Room Kershaw and his assistant begin to notice that the students' responses seem to be speeded up.  Most surprising is the change in Sarah.  She looks more relaxed, completely at ease, all her nerves forgotten.  And she answers all questions automatically and at once.  They try her on Third Year problems.  She answers questions she couldn't possibly have known.  So do all the other students, even in the First Year Grade.  Gradually Sarah takes over control.  The moving of the machines has somehow established a mental link between all the students, and the composite will working through Sarah is strong enough not only to alter the very structure of the College, but to kill is opposed.  Sarah informs Kershaw that after a while the first batch of students will be "processed" and that he will be one of the replacements.  When the time arrives for him to take place at a machine, he appears to do so willingly, then a post hypnotic suggestion orders him to move one of the machines a fraction of a foot.

The plan works; but destroys not only the pattern, but the machines and the College as well.  Kershaw and Sarah's mother visit the girl in hospital.  She has become again a timid little girl, hiding from the world behind her spectacles.)

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