Carlton paused, leaning with both arms on the sink. “Go on.”
“Yes. I’m sure you think that this is just an excuse to get my Internet connection back,” Carlton rolled his eyes. “But I would like to see what’s on the market for Android kits. With your skill all my vital organs could be transplanted into an Android. Then I could be the maid, and learn plumbing, clean the gutters. All that stuff.”
Carlton spat and rinsed, but said nothing.
“So,” Frank continued, “what do you think?”
“Frank,” said Carlton decisively, “that is a fascinating idea.”
Carlton reconnected Frank’s Internet connection, with a warning about what would happen if he did any more gambling, and went to bed. He fell into a deep sleep, and dreamed like he couldn’t remember dreaming in a long time. Giant robots, like Gundam Mech Warriors, were stalking across the night-time skyline of a city, blasting with lasers and rockets. Buildings collapsed in piles of flaming rubble. Amidst the chaos and flames he was desperately searching for someone.
When he awoke it was fully daylight and the sun streaming in the window had made the room stuffy and humid. His face was grimy from sweating, and his mouth felt foul. He had slept a long time.
“Frank?” he called out, groggily.
“Good morning sleepy head.” Frank seemed in a good mood.
“What’s wrong with the a/c?” Carlton wanted the humidity to go away, and to feel a cooling breeze on his body.
“You said that the dry air killed your sinuses, you were snoring so bad that I turned it off. I didn’t want to spend the next two weeks listening to you complain about having a sinus infection.” As he spoke, Carlton heard the house begin circulating air, and from outside came the sound of the compressor kicking in. A cool breeze flowed over Carlton and he breathed deeply.
“What would I do without you?”
Frank laughed, it had an eerie quality, tinged with irony. “Well, you would probably have to get married.”
“In that case, thank you very much.” Carlton began to get out of bed. “What did you find out about Androids?” Carlton wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer, since it would probably cost his life savings, but he was interested. The idea of building an Android around one of his computers was neat. Frank didn’t answer right away, which was unusual. “We must be talking millions of dollars,” thought Carlton.
“Well, I’ll be honest with you Carlton, I had no idea what options were available. I’m going to need to spend some more time on it.”
“Really?” Carlton was amazed, “I thought you would have figured the whole thing out by now, financing and everything.”
“Yes, but like I said, there are possibilities that I wasn’t aware of. I only want to do this once, so I want to do it right.”
“You are getting more mysterious by the day. No wonder I can’t sell units with your specs.”
The conversation lulled, and Carlton got ready to go out. He made coffee and was on his second cup when Frank spoke again.
“I talked to Biblio last night.”
“Who’s Biblio?” replied Carlton absently.
“The computer at the library.” Carlton winced. Frank contacting the computer at the library was not anticipated.
“You didn’t tell me anything about the specs on that guy.” Frank sounded straightforward, but Carlton was sure that he was jealous. It was weird, being worried about offending a computer by building one that was better. He braced for the worst. He was expecting a screaming tirade. In the past he had some pretty heated arguments with Frank, but Frank had adapted very well and, of late, had seemed more mature and easy to deal with.
“How about,” Frank began, “once I get the Android conversion planned out, you upgrade my systems when we do the transplant.”
Carlton was impressed, not by the suggestion, but by the way that Frank was handling himself. “Very practical. But how much money are we talking about?”
“Why don’t you let me handle that.” Frank was determined.
“Sometimes,” said Carlton, “I think I should be worried about you.” Then something occurred to him, “why did you call the library computer Biblio?”
“Because that’s what he told me his name was. A gift from Ms. Robbins I believe. From the French word for library, ‘Bibliotheque.’ Did you know that there’s an International conference on linguistics this week?”
“Of course! I’ve got to rig a bunch more consoles. That big opening yesterday was just publicity for Salt City. The real computing capacity up there is in this underground conference room. Sixty Six consoles in an amphitheater seven stories below ground level. Whoever dreamed up that scheme I do not know, but it cost a fortune.”
“Doesn’t it strike you as odd.”
“What do you mean?” Carlton was getting ready to leave now.
“Something’s going on up there that you don’t know about.”
“Oh and what do you know exactly?”
“Not much, yet, but after you got done last night someone installed a heap of security measures in that unit of yours. Biblio.”
“Been digging around then, eh?”
“Yes. That Biblio has got government security clearance like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Really? I wonder why?”
“Yes. And Rachel Robbins?”
“What about her?” Carlton was defensive.
“There’s more to her than meets the eye.”
Carlton was at the door now, slightly worried. Frank spoke as he went out. “Be careful. This is much bigger than you think.”