Chapter 7. Outside the Box
Chett pulled the car over to admire the two Suns in the sky – one in the East and one in the West. After a few seconds, the anomalous star in the West vanished, and all appeared to be right in the world again. Of course, he knew that wasn’t the case. The virus was already active inside the simulation – the cosmic software was corrupted. Small glitches in continuity would eventually ripple into huge disturbances as the laws of Physics unraveled. Even though he had worked on the team that programmed the virus, he wasn’t exactly sure how it would play out. Maybe the strong nuclear force would cease to function, and all the atoms in existence would spontaneously fly apart into their constituent particles, unleashing a fiery cataclysm that would vaporize everything in the universe. Or, maybe it would just go dark. It was hard to tell.
Chett didn’t have time to worry about it. If everything worked out, he wouldn’t be around for the final act. He merged back onto the road, keeping a watchful eye on the rear view mirror for the next fifteen minutes. He was reasonably confident nobody was tailing him, and he turned off onto a seldom used logging road. About a half mile into the forest, the road was reduced to little more than a trail, and soon after that, his tires were spinning in mud.
It would be a hard two-mile walk over rugged terrain, and he’d have to do it with an unpredictable spy in tow.
“Come on, Princess. Out of the trunk,” Chett instructed.
“That’s some fashion statement,” Chloe remarked. “A tie-dye shirt and camouflage pants.”
“Dress to impress – that’s my motto.”
“Where we goin’?” she asked casually.
“We’ve got a date with your little Gray alien friends. Start walking,” Chett said as he pointed out the general direction. “I’ll be right behind you, so don’t get any ideas.”
Chloe moved tentatively through the overgrown vegetation, always a bit off balance because her hands were still bound behind her back. “You know, I’d be able to go a lot faster if you’d just cut the tape off my wrists.”
“You’re doing fine, Princess. Slow and steady wins the race,” Chett said.
“Were you sent here by the Programmers?” she asked.
“I’m one of the Programmers. This simulation was my life’s work. Now it has to be destroyed.”
“There were some unexpected complications.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“There are lifeforms in the simulation that are quite capable of thinking outside the box. In fact, a couple of them got out of the box, and are running around loose in the real world. And now we think they’re trying to open a nexus so ten or twenty billion of their closest friends can join the party.”
“That must be really embarrassing for you and your colleagues,” Chloe observed.
“Let’s just say nobody is looking forward to their performance evaluation this year.”