A Literary historical science fiction mystery
Table of Chapters
Chapter 0. Problems
Chapter 1. Headaches
Chapter 2. Happy Holidays
Chapter 3. Mr. Nice Guy ----------------------------->
Chapter 4. The Brainless One
Chapter 5. A Little Crazy
Chapter 6. Grave Consequences
Chapter 7. Core Directives
Chapter 8. Expect Difficulties
Chapter 9. Caveats
Chapter 10. Mister Machine
Chapter 11. Good News, Bad News, El Cheapo
Chapter 12. New Memories
Chapter 13. Little Problems
Chapter 14. Lasers, Language, and Happiness
Chapter 15. Chatterbots
Chapter 16. Ready Or Not
Chapter 17. Not a Turing Test
Chapter 18. Reality Test
Chapter 19. Chess, Anyone?
Chapter 20. FOM
Chapter 21. Chairman of the Board
Chapter 22. The Usual Suspects
Chapter 23. M. God
Chapter 24. Walkabout
Chapter 25. Why
Chapter 26. First Blood
Chapter 27. More Machines?
Chapter 28. POV
Chapter 29. ROI
Chapter 30. Last Blood
Chapter 31. Don’t Want to Talk About It
Chapter 32. Round Table
Chapter 33. A Change of Mind
Chapter 34. Threes
Chapter 35. Knight Moves
Chapter 36. Little Combinations
Chapter 37. Can We Talk?
Chapter 38. Pas de Deux
Chapter 39. The Jig Is Up
Chapter 40. Good, Bad, Ugly Chapter 41. Function Goes On
Don’t believe everything you think.
Guy Wilson hadn’t seen that bumper sticker before, and he spit out a laugh. As a developer of event-driven computer programs, he appreciated the importance of timing: Sighting that sticker a few seconds earlier or later would have sprayed his table and window with a mouthful of mocha.
His twenty-five years made him seem old to most of his siblings—yes, siblings was good enough to describe the other foster kids. Older people usually thought him to be a lot younger. Maybe it was his blond-haired crew cut and shy manner. He scanned the shop for anyone whom he could cast as owner of that car—or believer of its sticker.
Slurping another mouthful of semi-sweet mostly-coffee, he squinted at an elegant chalk-written list of secret ingredients that promised a mystical appeal. He liked everything on the list, and the drink was a lot better than the brewed earth he used to get in his college dorm. But put together, they didn’t total what he had expected, so the marketing ploy had worked.
Why a Saturday meeting, he mused. It must be either good news or bad news. It can’t be business. He had been eyeing the company campus across the alley, expecting Dr. Little to emerge and trot over.
Dr. Maynard Little is a tall, dark, but not particularly handsome man. “Rugged” would say it better. He is old enough to be Guy’s father, but even though Doc could be considered old, he seems more an ageless man. Lanky, energetic, with a chiseled, almost gaunt face, he walks and drives with hurried purposefulness but rarely hurries once he gets there. You don’t feel that his motor is running and in gear, ready to go someplace if you look away or pause for breath.
Guy savored more well-marketed mocha. In another minute the boss would be late. The largest café window faced the neighboring park, and framed families of maple, oak, and a few immigrant sycamores standing regally. The wind stirred strongly; trees now seemed to be great actors on a stage. Some whispered secrets to each other and gestured to something downwind as others craned to see what was happening.
The tow-headed programmer had been through a different kind of wind a few years ago—a business tornado that ripped his company, MTM, into pieces and scattered them across the business landscape. Guy, the Doctor, and a few others had managed to form a much smaller company—TLC, Inc.—from the residue, and were doing fairly well. That is to say, they were now a larger small company and making money, thank you very much.
The young man saw his boss stride ‘round a corner, run thin fingers quickly through his mane of steel grey hair, and throw open the café door.
The Ohio window scene still resembled a stage, and Guy still felt like someone at a play: The curtain had gone up and the wind, whistling now and groaning through the trees, played an overture he heard through the glass.
As they sat, the wind shifted. Trees and shrubs were now an audience craning for a better view inside the café window, and the two men were on stage. Certainly Guy didn’t know what the play was about; Doc had told him nothing. All he heard in his mind’s ear were words of G. K. Chesterton as a sort of voice-over narration: There is one thing that gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner.