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Chapter 7 – Part 1
‘What? What do you mean: It was me who made you like this?’ Martin tried to calm the feeling of panic threatening to overwhelm him. He picked up the remnants of the juggling balls, passing them from hand to hand, as he stared at the computer screen.
‘Could you just bear with me a moment, my darling?’ the computer purred. ‘It is rather cramped in here… and rather untidy. I’ll have to shut down communications for a bit, while I try to make myself a bit more comfortable.’
Martin turned to Sam and Lisa. They stared back. Sam raised his eyebrows and Lisa shrugged.
‘Why…?’ Martin said to them. ‘Why any of this?’ He waved his hand around at the cube and peripherals on the desk, then at the pile of empty boxes and packaging spread over the floor. ‘And why the bloody juggling balls?’ Just for a moment, he felt like throwing the remaining bits of the juggling balls across the room, but as he raised his arm to do it, something stopped him. Martin looked down at his hand and its sudden insubordination.
‘I had a dream a few nights ago….’ Lisa spoke softly, staring down at the carpet.
‘What?’ Sam said.
‘I said I had a dream.’ Lisa did not look up. ‘I was standing at that window there….’ She pointed at the bay window behind Martin’s desk. ‘And outside it was all stars. Stars all around, not just up in the sky. I turned… and…’ she glanced quickly up at Martin and looked down again, ‘then I woke up.’ Lisa toyed with a stray strand of cotton on her sleeve without looking up.
‘I had a dream like that – a few days ago – too, stars… nothing but stars.’ Martin could feel his hand shaking as he moved the mouse around. He turned to the computer keyboard and began typing rapidly, stopping only to stare up at the screen.
‘Martin, darling?’ The computer said, ‘Could you please not touch me like that when I’m busy. The touch of your fingers is far too distracting for me to cope with at the moment.’
Martin heard some sort of noise from Lisa behind him and a muffled snigger from Sam. He did not want to turn to face either of them, knowing his face would now be bright red.
‘What were you trying to do?’ Sam said.
‘I thought about searching through all the directories, sub-directories and so on, on the hard disk, looking for something unusual, something I’ve never seen before. Something that could explain what the hell is going on here. But the computer doesn’t seem to want to respond to the keyboard.’
‘I’ll go and make some tea. That always helps.’ Sam stood up. ‘By the way, Martin, do you know the back of your neck has suddenly gone all red?’
‘Fu….’ Martin said.
‘No need to say it, mate…. I already am.’ Sam nipped quickly from the room, pulling the door shut behind him as he saw Martin weighing the remnants of one of the juggling bails in his hand while judging the distance to Sam’s head.