`.how could Nature. assure us that we must not, however, decide to love ourselves if that
`...how could Nature... assure us that we must not, however,
decide to love ourselves if that might cause others pain?'
Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade
Hani watched over Andrey's shoulder as he manipulated the image
on the screen, rotating it, zooming in to examine details,
panning across the intricate designs. A slight frown crossed
Andrey's face as the machine laboured to keep up the display...
the object was very detailed.
"This bit," Hani pointed, "you press it in and turn it at the
same time." "Okay..." Andrey put his left hand into the feedback
glove, and a wireframe hand appeared on the screen. "Are you sure
this is safe?"
"Relax. As Terry Gilliam said in `Monty Python and the Holy
Grail', `It's only a model'."
"I know." Andrey turned in his ergonomic Hans Rudi
Giger-designed chair to face her. "If you will recall, `only a
model' is exactly what Phillip LeMarchand said about that thing
when he made it," gesturing with his free right hand at the
puzzle box that sat on the face of the HP scanner. The elaborate
brasswork gleamed in the bright light of Andrey's architect's
"What are you worried about, you fool? If anything is going
to happen, it'll happen in there," pointing at the case of his
TurboSkum Tower 586 PC, "so what can happen? Hard disk crash?"
"It ain't your hard disk." Andrey muttered. He returned his
attention to the display. The wireframe hand reached out,
pressed the centre of one side of the model of the puzzle box.
A touch of a function key and the hand rotated. Suddenly, the
image of the box came to life, changing shape with a fluidity and
speed that even his 80586-based pc, running AutoCad Version 23
could not match. "Oh shit," Andrey croaked, his throat suddenly
dry. He grabbed for the box with the feedback glove, but the
wireframe hand seemed to pass through the image frictionlessly.
It now looked like an elaborate cog, a spastic rubik's cube, an
elongated spearhead, a crown-of-thorns starfish. Blurring with
motion, the box resolved into a cube once more. Andrey grasped
it with the feedback glove. "Got the little fucker," he grinned.
Then, the image of the box on the monitor sprouted dozens of
spikes, like the Iraqi weapons that Hani had seen, potatoes with
six-inch nails thrust through them to make economy-sized
morningstars. Andrey shouted, "Chort vosmi!". Gleaming silver
spikes were protruding from the back of the black plastic mesh of
the feedback glove. He tried to tug his hand from it, but it was
plainly fixed. Blood ran from inside the glove, to drip down the
cable leading from the glove's interface and pool on the desk.
Hani grabbed the nearest thing to hand, which happened to be
Andrey's portable CD player, and bashed at a spike which poked
almost straight up. The matte-black case of the CD player passed
right through the silver sliver, protruding from its back like a
hologram. Andrey moaned as the CD player hit the back of his
impaled hand. The Cocteau Twins skipped a beat or two (you
really shouldn't hit people with CD players when they are playing
nice music like `IceBlink Luck'). Through gritted teeth, Andrey
"Okay, you smartass bitch, now what? Just a fucking model,
eh? NOW WHAT???" He shrieked as she grabbed his forearm and
tugged violently. The velcro padding that held the feedback
glove's interface to the desk separated, but not before Andrey's
hand came out, minus two fingers. "YOU STUPID BITCH!" he
shouted, oblivious of the flashes of blue light that were
emanating from the monitor, slightly diluted to purple through
the sprays of blood which ran down the screen. He took a swipe
at her with his mangled hand, and then a horrific screech came
from the machine's hard disk. The lights on the keyboard were
flashing maniacally. They had time to glimpse a message outlined
in an orange rectangle - `GURU MEDITATION' and something else, a
string of hex numbers, as the monitor exploded, peppering them
with slivers of glass. The force of the blast blew Andrey over
backwards in his chair, dragging Hani with him. When they
scrambled to their feet, there was someone standing behind the
desk, one hand on the top of the scorched monitor case. He was
dressed in scraps of black leather, some of which appeared to be
stitched to his skin. The general style appeared to be early
1920's Theatre-goer... he had one of those waistcoat-inset
dickeys made out of a strip of bleached flesh. He was wearing a
mask of skin, stapled to his face. The ravaged lips twitched.
"Good morning, architect." with a flick of his wrist, a
cut-throat razor opened in his right hand. An icepick appeared
in his left. He pointed the razor at Andrey's face. A cut
appeared between Andrey's eyes, and spread simultaneously down
his nose and up through his receding hairline. Another gesture,
and the razor was gone. The cenobite spread his fingers, and
with a rotten-calico-tearing sound, the two sides of Andrey's
face were torn from the fascia of his skull.
* * * * *
"I see you've been adding to your collection." Pinhead said
to Face as the chains clanked, the prisoners groaned and shrieked
on the end of their hooks. "Anyone we know?" Face shook his
"Just another architect of his own destruction." Pinhead
grimaced. "Oh, and by the way," Face continued, "if we have
anyone down here who knows how to use a personal computer, I have
an AutoCad Model that I think we should upload to some Bulletin
Boards...". He waved the disk that he had picked up from
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank