`.how could Nature. assure us that we must not, however, decide to love ourselves if that

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`...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 drawing-board lamps. "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 grated, "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 head sadly. "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 Andrey's desk.


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