Weissenbaum's Eye - Stetten - Chapter 37
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Don Andrews had not seen another human face in days. He had avoided meals when Judy might have been there, and other times she was up on her pillar. His wall showed her activity on the couch. Ever since Tarni and Sand had left, Judy had been there constantly, alone, immersed in her work.
Don Andrews should have been angry at the way she had let Sand and Tarni slip away without asking. But he was too tired, and tried to understand the end of his supremacy. He had not openly been disobeyed, but he had been defeated. They had escaped beyond his grasp. They would be back, but it would never be the same.
It was his own fault for having brought the simultron into Backdoor. Don Andrews looked at his couch, like a musical instrument he had never learned to play.
Judy leaned close to the door and listened, and hearing nothing, knocked softly. After a moment it slid open, and Don Andrews stood in the doorway, clearly surprised. She had rarely come to see him in his room. "What do you want?" he asked. "Is something wrong?"
"No," Judy replied. She had wanted to create more suspense, but Don Andrews was about to turn away, so she quickly added, "I think I've discovered how to make a Culminate."
These words stopped him.
"In simulation," she explained. "I've gone through all the motions of building one. With the couch, I can show that it will work. We can now make a Culminate."
Don Andrews frowned in disbelief. "You have the plans, in simulation?"
"Yes," Judy replied almost laughing. "Sand got me started, but now I'm making programs by myself. Me, an artist!"
This was more than just using Sand's dresser top cathedral. These last few days, her talents as an artist had truly blossomed with the music of creation all around her. Don Andrews saw that she had changed, in the glow of her expression and the color of her voice.
"Give me a copy," he said. "I want to try it."
"Of course," said Judy. "I'll send it right up." She turned to leave, noticing his strange expression as he glanced at his own couch before the door closed between them.
He never was comfortable with the simultron, she thought as she walked back down to the cathedral. He had never even asked Sand for a lesson. She pictured Don Andrews lying on his couch in the program she had made, seeing his dream made real. She climbed the pillar to her couch. Touching a few controls, Judy sent a copy of her new program to Don Andrews. Then with a certain pride she also sent copies to Sand's couch, and to Tarni's, for them to try when they got back from Earth.
Judy wanted to check her work, to imagine, again, the impression it would make. Lying down, she was surrounded by the rhythm of lasers and particle beams creating circuits on an enormous bubble, deep in space. The view was of the giant globe, more than a thousand miles across, just having been inflated, all the working parts neatly simulated.
Suddenly, Don Andrews was beside her, their simulations somehow linked. She watched him, almost touching him, so close that she could share his wonder. The joining of their views had shocked her, but she stayed quiet and still. For it signified to Judy the joining of their hearts, and she would not disturb it.
But Don Andrews did not feel the wonder of interaction. He did not even realize she was there. What he felt was jealousy. The Culminate had chosen Judy over himself.
It seemed indeed that she had solved all of the major problems. Floating high in orbit, it would be free from major gravitational distortion. Vacuum would be easy to maintain. Its sheer size allowed redundant circuits, so that damage from meteors could be repaired. The Culminate would survive. And it would be so thin, as to be almost transparent. His mind raced. Why hadn't these ideas come to him? Had he not always believed the Culminate was there, that it had chosen him to carry out its plans? So why instead did it reveal it secrets first to Judy? So thin, almost transparent...
The realization threw him off his couch and out the door into the hall.