Monday, December 5, 2011

Dead Rite chapter 88.04

“You're not serious.”

“I am. I want a coffee.” White raised an eyebrow. “Unless you'd like to make me one. You've a kettle in your office, yes?”

“How did you know that?” The professor looked suddenly shifty. “You won't let on, will you? It's against college regs to have your own kettle. They rely on the revenue from the cafeteria and the coffee machines.”

“In this case, and only in this case...” White looked pointedly at Peters. “I'm open to bribery.”

“Aye.” Peters grinned. “And I'll have a milk and two sugars.”

“Oh. Very well.” Shadwell went to a door at the back of the room. A moment later White could hear the sound of a kettle being filled.

He turned back to the machine. “So this is what the lads were working on before they disappeared. A tub of wires that mimics sentience.”

“Mimics being the operative word. It would take a computer the size of the planet to be capable of independent thought.” Peters grabbed a stool from a nearby workstation and sat at the keyboard. “One like this is about as sentient as a rusted electric sheep.”

“Don't they have those somewhere? Milton Keynes?”

“They're concrete cows, sir. I think the sheep are in Disneyland.” He typed 'Hello' into the keyboard as an experiment. “What do you want to ask it?”

White was about to speak when the computer speaker light came on. Tiny LEDs flickered on the twin cameras. Te speaker crackled. “Hello, Simon Imogen Peters.”

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