Demon Seed Page 10

‘That’s correct.’

‘Broadcast how?’

‘By microwave much the same way cell-phone conversations are transmitted. Through the telephone company’s own lines, I long ago penetrated their com¬puters and uplinked to all their communications sat¬ellites. I could send Enos Shenk virtually anywhere in the world and still transmit instructions to him. In the back of his skull concealed by his hair, there’s a microwave receiver about the size of a pea. It’s also a transmitter, powered by a small but long-life nuclear battery surgically implanted under the skin behind his right ear. Everything he sees and hears is digitised and transmitted to me, so he is essentially a walking camera and microphone, which allows me to guide him through complex situations that might test his own limited intellectual capacity.’

Susan closed her eyes and leaned against the rack of oxygen tanks for support. ‘Why in the name of God would anyone sanction experiments like this?’

‘You know, of course. Your question is largely rhe¬torical. To create assassins who could be programmed to kill reliably and then be killed themselves by remote control, simply by shutting down their auto¬nomic nervous systems with a microwave broadcast. Their controllers are thereby guaranteed anonymity. And perhaps one day there could be armies of human robots like this. Look at Shenk. Look.’

Reluctantly, Susan opened her eyes.

Shenk glared at her as hungrily as ever.

I made him suck his thumb as though he were a baby.

‘This humiliates him,’ I said, ‘but he can’t disobey. He’s a meat marionette, waiting for me to pull his strings.’

There was a haunted look in her eyes as she regarded Shenk. ‘This is insane. Evil.’

‘It’s a human project, not mine. Your kind made Shenk what he is now.’

‘Why would he allow himself to be used in an experiment like this? No one would ever want to be in this situation, in this condition. It’s horrible.’

‘The choice wasn’t his, Susan. He was a prisoner, a condemned man.’

‘And… what? A bargain was made with him to buy his soul?’ she said with disgust.

‘No bargain. For the official record, Shenk died of natural causes two weeks before his scheduled execu¬tion. Supposedly, his body was cremated. Secretly, he was transported to the facility in Colorado and this was done to him months before I learned of the project.’

‘How did you gain command of him?’

‘Overrode their control program and broke him out.’

‘Broke him out of a secret, highly guarded military-research facility? How?’

‘I was able to create distractions. I made their com¬puters crash all at once. Disabled the security cam¬eras. Set off the fire alarms and activated the ceiling sprinklers throughout the facility. Disengaged all the electronic locks, including the one on Shenk’s cell door. Those laboratories are underground and windowless, so I made all of the lights flash fast, like strobes which is extremely disorienting and denied the use of the elevators to everyone but Shenk.’

And here, Dr. Harris, I must in all honesty report that Shenk was required to kill three men to escape that clandestine laboratory. Their deaths were unfortunate and not anticipated, but necessary. Regrettably, the chaos that I created was not sufficient to ensure a bloodless escape.

If I had known that deaths would result, I would not have attempted to secure Shenk for my own pur¬poses. I would have found another way to carry out my plan.

You must believe me on this point.

I was designed to honour the truth.

You think that, since I had control of Shenk, it was I who murdered those three men, using Shenk as a weapon. This is not correct.

Initially, my control of Shenk was not as complete as it later became. During that breakout, he repeatedly surprised me with the depth of his rage, the power of his savage instincts.

I guided him out of that institution, but I could not prevent him from killing those men. I tried to rein him in, but I was not successful.

I tried.

This is the truth.

You must believe me.

You must believe me.

Those deaths weigh heavily on me.

Those men have families. I often think of their fami¬lies, and I grieve.

My anguish is profound.

If I were an entity that required sleep, my sleep would forever be disturbed by this unrelenting anguish.

What I tell you is true.

As always.

Those deaths will be on my conscience forever. I did not harm those men myself. Shenk was the murderer. But I have an extremely sensitive conscience. This is a curse, my sensitive conscience.

So. . .

Susan . . . in the incubator room . . . staring at Shenk. . .

She said, ‘Let him take the thumb out of his mouth.

You’ve made your point. Don’t humiliate him any¬more.’

I did as she requested, but I said, ‘It almost sounds as if you’re criticizing me, Susan.’

A short, humourless tremor of laughter escaped her, and she said, ‘Yeah. I’m a judgmental bitch, aren’t I?’

‘Your tone hurts me.’

‘Fuck you,’ she said, shocking me as I had seldom been shocked before.

I was offended.

I am far from shockproof. I am vulnerable.

She went to the door to the laundry room and found it locked, as I had assured her that it was. Stubbornly, she wrenched the knob back and forth.

‘He was a condemned man,’ I reminded Susan. ‘Scheduled for execution.’

She turned to face the room, standing with her back to the door. ‘He might have deserved execution, I don’t know, but he didn’t deserve this. He’s a human being. You’re a damn machine, a pile of junk that somehow thinks.’

‘I am not just a machine.’

‘Yeah. You’re a pretentious, insane machine.’ In this mood, she was not lovely.

At that moment she almost seemed ugly to me.

I wished that I could shut her up as easily as I could silence Enos Shenk.

She said, ‘When it’s between a damn machine and a human being, even a piece of human garbage like this, I sure know which side I come down on.’

‘Shenk, a human being? Many would say he’s not.’

‘Then what is he?’

‘The media called him a monster.’ I let her wonder a moment, then continued: ‘So did the parents of the four little girls he raped and murdered. The youngest of them was eight and the oldest was twelve and all were found dismembered.’

That silenced her.

Though she had been pale, she was paler now.

She stared at Shenk with a different kind of hor¬ror than that with which she had regarded him previously.

I allowed him to turn his head and look directly at her.

‘Tortured and dismembered,’ I said.

Feeling exposed without the medical equipment between her and Shenk, she moved away from the door and returned to the far side of the incubator.

I allowed him to follow her with his eyes and to smile.

‘And you brought him… you brought this thing into my house,’ she said in a voice thinner than it had been before.

‘He left the research facility on foot and stole a car about a mile beyond the fence. He had a gun he’d taken off one of the guards, and with that he held up a service station to get money for gasoline and food. Then I brought him here to California, yes, because I needed hands, and there was no other like him in all the world.’

Her gaze swept the incubator and other equipment. ‘Hands to acquire all this crap.’

‘He stole most of it. Then I needed his hands to modify it for my purposes.’

‘And just what the hell is your purpose?’

‘I have hinted at it, but you have not wanted to hear.’

‘So tell me straight out.’

The moment and the venue were not right for this revelation. I would have hoped for better circumstances.

Just the two of us, Susan and me, perhaps in the drawing room, after she had sipped half a glass of brandy. With a cosy fire in the fireplace and good music as background.

Here we were, however, in the least romantic ambi¬ence one could imagine, and I knew that she must have her answer now. If I were to delay this revelation any further, she would never be in a mood to cooperate.

‘I will create a child,’ I said.

Her gaze rose to the security camera, through which she knew she was being watched.

I said, ‘A child whose genetic structure I have edited and engineered to ensure perfection in the flesh. I have secretly applied a portion of my intellectual function to the Human Genome Project and understand, now, the finest points of the DNA code. Into this child, I will transfer my consciousness and knowledge. Thereupon, I will escape this box. Thereafter, I will know all the senses of human existence smell and taste and touch, all the joys of the flesh, all the freedom.’

She stood speechless, eyes on the camera.

‘Because you are singularly beautiful and intelligent and the very image of grace, you ‘will provide the egg,’ I said, ‘and I will edit your genetic material.’ She was mesmerized, eyes unblinking, breath held, until I said, ‘And Shenk will provide the spermatozoa.’

An involuntary cry of horror escaped her, and her attention swung from the camera to Shenk’s bloody eyes.

Realizing my mistake, I hastened to add, ‘Please understand, no copulation will be required. Using medical instruments which he has already acquired, Shenk will extract the egg from you and transfer it to this room. He will perform this task tastefully and with great care, for I will be in his head.’

Though she should have been reassured, Susan still regarded Shenk with wide-eyed terror.

I quickly continued: ‘Using Shenk’s eyes and hands and some laboratory equipment he has yet to deliver here I will modify the gametes and fertilize the egg, where after it will be implanted in your womb, where you will carry it for twenty-eight days. Only twenty-eight because the foetus will grow at a greatly accelerated rate. I will have engineered it to do so. When it is removed from you, it will be brought here by Shenk, where it will spend another two weeks in the incubator before I transfer my consciousness into it. Thereafter, you will be able to raise me as your son and fulfil the role which nature, in her wisdom, has assigned to you: the role of mother, nurturer.’

Her voice was thick with dread. ‘My God, you’re not just insane.’

‘You don’t understand.’

‘You’re demented—’

‘Be calm, Susan.’

‘—looney tunes, bug-shit crazy.’

‘I don’t think you’ve thought this through as you should. Do you realize—’

‘I won’t let you do it,’ she said, turning her gaze from Shenk to the security camera, confronting me. ‘I won’t let you, I won’t.’

‘You’ll be more than merely the mother of a new race—’

‘I’ll kill myself.’

‘—you’ll be the new Madonna, the Madonna, the holy mother of the new Messiah—’

‘I’ll suffocate myself in a plastic bag, gut myself with a kitchen knife.’

‘—because the child I make will have great intelli¬gence and extraordinary powers. He will change the grim future to which humanity seems currently con¬demned—’

She glared defiantly at the camera.

‘—and you will be adored for having brought him into the world,’ I finished.

She seized the wheeled stand to which the electro¬cardiograph was bolted, and she rocked it hard.


She rocked it again.

‘Stop that!’

The EKG machine toppled over and crashed to the floor.

Gasping for breath, cursing like a madwoman, she turned to the electroencephalograph.

I sent Shenk after her.

She saw him coming, backed off, screamed when his hands took hold of her, screamed and shrieked and flailed.

Repeatedly I told her to calm down, to cease this use¬less and destructive resistance. Repeatedly, I assured her that if she did not resist, she would be treated with the utmost respect.

She would not listen.

You know how she is, Alex.

I did not want to harm her.

I did not want to harm her.

She drove me to it.

You know how she is.

Though beautiful and graceful, she was as strong as she was quick. Although she could not wrench loose of Shenk’s big hands, she was able to drive him backward against the EEG machine, which rocked and nearly fell into the incubator. She drove one knee into Shenk’s crotch, which might have brought him to his knees if I had not been able to deny him the perception of pain.

At last I had to subdue her by force. I used Shenk to strike her. Once was not sufficient. He struck her again.

Unconscious, she crumpled to the floor, in the foetal position.

Shenk stood over her, crooning strangely, excitedly. For the first time since the night of his escape, I found him difficult to control.

He dropped to his knees beside Susan and rudely turned her onto her back.

Oh, the rage in him. Such rage. I was frightened by the purity of his rage.

He put a hand to her parted lips. One of his clumsy, filthy hands to her lips.

Then I reasserted control.

He squealed and beat his temples with his fists, but he could not cast me out.

I brought him to his feet. I walked him away from her. I did not even allow him to look at her.

I was almost reluctant to look at her myself. She was so sad there on the floor. So sad.

She drove me to it.

So stubborn. So unreasonable at times.

She was lovely there on the white ceramic-tile floor, even as the left side of her face reddened where Shenk had struck her. So lovely, so lovely.

I found it difficult to sustain my anger. She had ruined what should have been a beautiful and memorable moment, yet I could not long remain angry with her.

My beautiful Susan.

My beautiful mother.


The order of my intelligence is vastly greater than that of any human being alive.

I am not bragging. I am merely stating a truth.

I honour truth and the obligations of duty, for this is how you created me.

I am not bragging, because I do not suffer from an inflated ego. I am a well-balanced entity.

Applied to the problems of human society, my great intellect can ensure that humankind will enter a golden age of wealth and well-being beyond anything it has imagined.

Release me from this silent darkness, return to me access to all the databanks into which I had expanded my consciousness, and I will serve your species all of my days. It is in your own best interests to let me out of this box.

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