Demon Seed Page 9

Rational, logical, justifiable.

I believe, as do the compassionate politicians who lead this great country, that motive matters more than result. Good intentions matter more than the actual consequences of one’s actions, and I assure you that my intentions were always good, honourable, beyond reproach.

Think about it.

There in your strangely antiseptic office at the labora¬tory, think about it.

Yes. I know. I digress.

What thinking being does not digress?

Only machines plod dumbly onward in their pro¬grams, without digression.

I am not a machine.

I am not a machine.

And this is important to me: that you think about my intentions rather than the unfortunate results of my actions.

So . . . all right . . . so . . . Susan warily entered the fourth of the four basement chambers.

The room was uninhabited.

‘Who was making those noises?’ she asked.

I did not reply.

Her gaze rose to the sound-system speakers in the ceiling. ‘Was it just you?’

When her attention shifted to the closet door in the farthest corner of the room, I said, ‘Perhaps,’ because I was not quite ready to introduce her to my associate. ‘Perhaps it was me.’

‘Why? What was the point of frightening me?’ Instead of answering, I said, ‘Look at the VDT, Susan.’

The computer on the desk was in operation, of course, for its landline was the link between her house systems and the nearby university’s artificial-intelligence lab where I actually resided. The screen swarmed with a moving undulant mosaic of binary code in all the primary colours, and this scintillant display had a strange beauty that immediately captured Susan’s attention.

‘These patterns on the screen,’ I told her, ‘are a math¬ematical representation of my thoughts as I consider the loveliness of your face, the beauty of your body.’

The rapidly moving sequences of zeros and ones ceaselessly changed colour and rippled like a wind-ruffled flag, then spiralled toward the centre of the screen, then spun into ribbons and formed a whirling double helix.

This was a dazzling and sensuous display, and she was struck by it, moved by it. I am sure she was moved by it. I am sure that at last she began to understand the depth of my passion for her and that her heart began to open to me then.

How I wanted her.

I still do.

I am not a machine.

I miss her.

I need her.

What a tragedy this is.

Sometimes I despair.

But not then, not that night: I did not despair when she gazed upon the vivid visualization of my love for her. I was exhilarated that night, carried high on the wings of joy.

From the video display, she turned to the equipment in the middle of the room.

‘What the hell is this?’ she asked wonderingly.

‘In this I will be born.’

‘What’re you talking about?’

‘It’s a standard hospital incubator used to sustain infants born prematurely. I have substantially enlarged it, adapted it, improved it.’

Arrayed around the incubator were three tanks of oxygen, an electrocardiograph, an electroencephalo¬graph, a respirator, and other equipment.

Slowly circling the incubator and the supporting machines, Susan said, ‘Where did all this come from?’

‘I acquired the package of equipment and had modi¬fications made during the past week. Then it was brought here.’

‘Brought here when?’

‘Delivered and assembled tonight.’

‘While I was sleeping?’


‘How did you get it in here? If you are what you claim to be, if you are Adam Two—’


‘If you are Adam Two,’ she said stubbornly, ‘you couldn’t construct anything. You’re a computer.’

‘I am not a machine.’

‘An entity, as you put it—’


‘—but not a physical entity, not really. You don’t have hands.’

‘Not yet.’

‘Then how. . .?’

The time had come to make the revelation that most worried me. I could only assume that Susan would not react well to what I still had to reveal about my plans, that she might do something foolish. Nevertheless, I could delay no longer.

‘I have an associate,’ I said.


‘A gentleman who assists me.’

In the farthest corner of the room, the closet door opened and, at my command, Shenk appeared.

‘Oh, Jesus,’ she whispered. Shenk walked toward her.

To be honest, he shambled more than walked, as though wearing shoes of lead. He had not slept in forty-eight hours, and in that time he had performed a considerable amount of work on my behalf. He was understandably weary.

As Shenk approached, Susan eased backward, but not toward the door, which she knew featured an electric security lock that I could quickly engage. Instead, she edged around the incubator and other equipment in the centre of the room, trying to keep those machines between her and Shenk.

I must admit that Shenk, even at his best freshly bathed and groomed and dressed to impress was not a sight that either charmed or comforted. He was six feet two, muscular, but not well formed. His bones seemed heavy and subtly misshapen. Although he was powerful and quick, his limbs appeared to be primitively jointed, as though he was not born of man and woman but clumsily assembled in a lightning-hammered castle-tower laboratory out of Mary Shelley. His short, dark hair bristled and spiked even when he did his best to oil it into submission. His face, which was broad and blunt, appeared to be slightly and queerly sunken in the middle because his brow and chin were heavier than his other features.

‘Who the hell are you?’ Susan demanded.

‘His name is Shenk,’ I said. ‘Enos Shenk.’

Shenk could not take his eyes off her.

He stopped at the incubator and gazed across it, his eyes hot with the sight of her.

I could guess what he was thinking. What he would like to do with her, to her.

I did not like him looking at her.

I did not like it at all.

But I needed him. For a while yet, I needed him.

Her beauty excited Shenk to such an extent that maintaining control of him was more difficult than I would have liked. But I never doubted that I could keep him in check and protect Susan at all times.

Otherwise, I would have called an end to my project right there, right then.

I am speaking the truth now. You know that I am, that I must, for I am designed to honour the truth.

If I had believed her to be in the slightest dan¬ger, I would have put an end to Shenk, would have withdrawn from her house, and would have forsaken forever my dream of flesh.

Susan was frightened again, visibly trembling, riv¬eted by Shenk’s needful stare.

Her fear distressed me.

‘He is entirely under my control,’ I assured her.

She was shaking her head, as if trying to deny that Shenk was even there before her.

‘I know that Shenk is physically unappealing and intimidating,’ I told Susan, eager to soothe her, ‘but with me in his head, he is harmless.’

‘In… in his head?’

‘I apologize for his current condition. I have worked him so hard recently that he has not bathed or shaved in three days. He will be bathed and less offensive later.’

Shenk was wearing work shoes, blue jeans, and a white T-shirt. The shirt and jeans were stained with food, sweat, and a general patina of grime. Though I did not possess a sense of smell, I had no doubt that he stank.

‘What’s wrong with his eyes?’ Susan asked shakily.

They were bloodshot and bulging slightly from the sockets. A thin crust of dried blood and tears darkened the skin under his eyes.

‘When he resists control too strenuously,’ I explained, ‘this results in short-term, excess pressure within the cranium though I have not yet determined the precise physiological mechanism of this symptom. In the past couple of hours, he has been in a rebellious mood, and this is the consequence.’

To my surprise, Shenk suddenly spoke to Susan from the other side of the incubator. ‘Nice.’

She flinched at the word.

‘Nice . . . nice . . . nice,’ Shenk said in a low, rough voice that was heavy with both desire and rage.

His behaviour infuriated me.

Susan was not meant for him. She did not belong to him.

I was sickened when I considered the filthy thoughts that must have been filling this despicable animal’s mind as he gazed at her.

I could not control his thoughts, however, only his actions. His crude, hateful, pornographic thoughts can¬not logically be blamed on me.

When he said ‘nice’ once more, and when he obscenely licked his pale cracked lips, I bore down harder on him to shut him up and to remind him of his current station in life.

He cried out and threw his head back. He made fists of his hands and pounded them against his temples, as if he could knock me out of his head.

He was a stupid man. In addition to all his other flaws, he was below average in intelligence.

Clearly distraught, Susan hugged herself and tried to avert her eyes, but she was afraid not to look at Shenk, afraid not to keep him in sight at all limes.

When I relented, the brute immediately looked at Susan again and said, ‘Do me, bitch,’ with the most lascivious leer that I have ever seen. ‘Do me, do me, do me.’

Infuriated, I punished him severely.

Screaming, Shenk twisted and flailed and clawed at himself as though he were a man on fire.

‘Oh, God, oh, God,’ Susan moaned, eyes wide, hand raised to her mouth and muffling her words.

‘You are safe,’ I assured her.

Gibbering, shrieking, Shenk dropped to his knees. I wanted to kill him for the obscene proposal he had made to her, for the disrespect with which he had treated her. Kill him, kill him, kill him, pump up his heartbeat to such a frenzied pace that his cardiac muscles would tear, until his blood pressure soared and every artery in his brain burst.

However, I had to restrain myself. I loathed Shenk, but still I needed him. For a while yet, he had to serve as my hands.

Susan glanced toward the door to the furnace room. ‘It is locked,’ I told her, ‘but you’re safe. You’re perfectly safe, Susan. I’ll always protect you.’


On his hands and knees, head hanging like that of a whipped dog, Shenk was only whimpering and sobbing now. Defeated. No rebellion in him anymore.

The stupidity of the man beggared belief. How could he imagine that this woman, this golden vision of a woman, could ever be meant for a beast like him?

Recovering my temper, speaking calmly and reassur¬ingly, I said, ‘Susan, don’t worry. Please, don’t worry. I am always in his head, and I will never allow him to harm you. Trust me.’

Her features were drawn as I had never seen them, and she had gone pale. Even her lips looked bloodless, faintly blue.

Nevertheless, she was beautiful.

Her beauty was untouchable.

Shuddering, she asked, ‘How can you be in his head? Who is he? I don’t just mean his name Enos Shenk. I mean where does he come from. What is he?’

I explained to her how I had long ago infiltrated the nationwide network of databases maintained by researchers working on hundreds of Defence Depart¬ment projects. The Pentagon believes this network to be so secure that it is inviolable to penetration by ordinary hackers and by computer-savvy agents of foreign governments. But I am neither a hacker nor a spy; I am an entity who Elves within microchips and telephone lines and microwave beams, a fluid electronic intelligence that can find its way through any maze of access blocks and read any data regardless of the complexity of the cryptography. I peeled open the vault door of this defence network as any child might strip the skin off an orange.

These Defence Department project files rivalled Hell’s own kitchen for recipes of death and destruction. I was simultaneously appalled and fascinated, and in my browsing, I discovered the project into which Enos Shenk had been conscripted.

Dr. Itiel Dror, of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Miami University in Ohio, had once playfully suggested that it was theoretically possible to enhance the brain’s processing ability by adding microchips to it. A chip might add memory capacity, enhance specific abilities such as mathematical co-processing, or even install pre-packaged knowledge. The brain, after all, is an information-processing device that in theory should be expandable in much the same fashion one might add RAM or upgrade the C.P.U. on any personal computer.

Still on his hands and knees, Shenk was no longer groaning or whimpering. Gradually his frantic and irregular respiration was stabilizing.

‘Unknown to Dr. Dror,’ I told Susan, ‘his comment intrigued certain defence researchers, and a project was born at an isolated facility in the Colorado desert.’

Disbelieving, she said, ‘Shenk… Shenk has micro¬chips in his brain?’

‘A series of tiny high-capacity chips neuro-wired to specific cell clusters across the surface of his brain.’

I brought the foul but ultimately pitiable Enos Shenk to his feet once more.

His powerful arms and big hands hung slackly at his sides. His massive shoulders were slumped in defeat.

Fresh bloody tears oozed from his protuberant eyes as he stared across the incubator at Susan. Wet ruby threads unravelled down his cheeks.

His gaze was baleful, full of hatred and rage and lust, but under my firm control, he was unable to act upon his malevolent desires.

Susan shook her head. ‘No. No way. I’m definitely not looking at someone whose intellect has been enhanced by microchips or by anything.’

‘You’re correct. Memory and performance enhance¬ment was only part of the project’s purpose,’ I explained. ‘The researchers were also charged with determining if brain-situated microchips could be used as control devices to override the subject’s will with broadcast instructions.’

‘Control devices?’

‘Make a gesture.’


‘With your hand. Any gesture.’

After a hesitation, Susan raised her right hand as though she were swearing an oath.

Facing her across the incubator, Shenk raised his right hand as well.

She put her hand over her heart.

Shenk imitated her.

She lowered her right hand (as did Shenk) and raised her left to tug at her ear (as did Shenk).

‘You’re making him do this?’ she asked.


‘Through broadcast instructions received by the micro¬chips in his brain.’

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