Previously, we left the ‘Feds’, agents of the Internal Revenue Federation, outside Bill’s safe house. How can Bill and Milton escape them?
Milton continued to crack into the encryption surrounding the two visitors. “Yeah, they’re definitely Feds. It’ll take me a while to overcome their firewalls.”
Bill opened his personal interface and called up his bookmarks. “I’d better leap out of here.”
“No! No, that’s the worst thing you can do. That’s exactly what they’ll be looking for. Then they’ll sniff your data stream and will catch you for sure.”
“Then what should I do?”
“Wait, just wait. Maybe they won’t come in. They resolved outside the safe perimeter but my security programs scan well past the normal horizon. Perhaps they’ll hang around outside. Or maybe I’ll crack their encryption and will be able to terminate their programs. Uh-oh.”
“Uh-oh? What’s that mean?”
“They’ve stepped inside the neutral threshold round the house. They’re coming up the garden path, to the front door.”
“So what do I do?”
Bill grimaced. “Hide where? In the closet?”
“First, get into this.” Milton picked up a transparent glass cube from his desk, as large as a sugar cube, holding it between his thumb and his forefinger.
“You’re joking, surely?”
“I’m sending you the link,” said Milton, typing with his other hand. Bill opened his personal interface, to receive the incoming message.
“I don’t understand,” said Bill, shaking his head.
“In v-space, we’re all composed of vectors, and all vectors are relative. We don’t normally play with the equations, but this box is a mathematical transform. It won’t seem small when you’re inside; it’ll just be that everything else will seem bigger than it really is. More importantly, the box is hermetically, digitally, perfectly, sealed. Nothing you do inside will be able to leak out.”
“And what if they find the cube, and confiscate it?”
The doorbell rang. “Don’t worry about that,” said Milton. “I’m going to hide you somewhere that they’re categorically not allowed to look.”
Bill hit the hyperlink that Milton had just sent him. He vanished, and – click – reappeared inside the cube. From Bill’s perspective, he was stuck inside a glass box, barely taller than himself. Milton looked like a 140-foot giant. Milton was ugly at normal size, so magnifying him caused Bill to feel queasy. “Okay, I’m inside,” he shouted, “now what?” Milton did not react. Bill banged on the glass, but realized he was being silly. Milton could not hear, or see him through the one-way material of the cube. Bill reopened his interface, intending to send Milton a message that way. The interface opened. But it had no connection to the rest of v-space. It only connected to his local data. With no connection, Bill could not send a message, nor hyperleap out. He looked aghast. “Milton – what have you got me into?!”
Milton picked up the cube, and held it to his eye. If his face looked ugly normally, it was repellent when magnified a hundred times. “I guess you’re in there buddy,” said Milton, talking to Bill. “Now hold on…”
From Bill’s perspective, Milton’s giant eye was disturbing. Looking up Milton’s giant nose was disgusting. And looking inside Milton’s giant mouth was horrific. He shouted: “Milton: what are you doing?” But before Bill had finished his own sentence, Milton had tossed the cube into his mouth, and gulped it down. The cube rolled and fell and clattered to a halt inside… a perfectly black void. It was so perfectly black that Bill reopened his interface, just to cast some light on his surroundings. But when he did, he saw there was literally nothing to see, except for the interface itself and his own body, seemingly floating in empty black space. Bill reasoned that the cube was probably in a special compartment built inside Milton’s avatar. So with nothing to do, and with no access to the rest of the world, Bill closed his screen again. He scratched the back of his head, and sat on the floor of the cube. Within a few minutes, he was lying down. And a few minutes later he closed his eyes, because it made no difference if they were open. And before he knew it, Bill was doing something that only he, of all the mobs in v-space, could do. He slept, and dreamed.