Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gideon's Chip, Part Two


Gideon's Chip, Part Two

***

   "You already have the chip," I told him as I peered closely at his ICON.
The flesh tone was not quite right, being mottled and a little too red for a
normal person's face. But then, perhaps that was the image this grim reaper
was going for.
   "Mr. O'Neil, this is not a time for games."
   "You're right. You have the chip. It's the only copy, so leave me alone.
Okay?"
   "No, I will not. That data I am told was passed to you is no longer in our
posession. My recovery team was found dead on the steps of your apartment
building and an inspection of your messy apartment revealed nothing but your
bachelor lifestyle."
   ICONs sometimes have trouble frowning. Or getting it right, anyway. It
takes a high class processor to translate the face's tiny motor responses and
electrical inputs into raw data and so most normal folks appear to be
somewhat wooden in the Net. Smiles use more muscles and are even harder to
reproduce.
   So I don't think the grimace that was plastered across the face of my meat
body wholly made it into the virtual world. "I don't have it. It was stolen."
   The mysterious benefactor was utterly still for half a minute. Then his
hands fluttered like pale leaves hanging on black tree, moved by an unfelt
wind. His disembodied head tilted to one side as he considered me.
   At last, he said, "It's true the connection between yourself and Hans
Carlson is tenuous and outdated at the very least. I have to admit a certain
curiosity as to why he would approach you with such information. You have
nothing to gain from it."
   The person behind the strange ICON had a first class processor: his frown
was clear.
   "Yet I cannot abandoned this lead. Mr. O'Neil, I would like to meet with
you in person. Perhaps then I could verify your story. Would you be amenable
to such a meeting?"
   Yes, I thought, I would. Meeting a no doubt strange man in person - were
there would be gun, and more, trained on me - was preferable to being chased
until I dropped. Part of me was confident we could work this mess out in
person. "Sure," I told him.
   "Excellent," said the ICON, clasping its hands. "I'll send some one to
pick you up the night after tomorrow."
   "Couldn't we do this now? Or tomorrow?"
   "I am a busy man. I have other leads to follow, in fact. Good night, Mr.
O'Neil."
   Before I could protest more, the door of light appeared again, a swatch of
bright pixels in the artifical dark, and the mysterious benefactor stepped
back into it. He disappeared and the door closed.
   I sighed.
   My faraway hands punched certain recall codes into my deck. As I begin to
rise up out of the virtual world and its empty sky, I could almost feel alien
eyes on me. I was grateful, shuddering, when my eyes reset and I saw only my
ransacked room.
   My next door neighbor was standing at the open door, cat in her arms. When
I stared back, a silent kind of communication, she turned and walked into her
apartment.

***

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