Chapter XXVII


Frank was nervous on the flight.  He asked me several times what direction we were headed.  He didn’t even order a drink, which was very unusual for him.  He asked me for my keyboard and I slipped it out of my person and handed it to him.  It was a wireless keyboard that was connected to me.  It had a small flip up screen so you could see what you were typing.  You could also go on the Internet and sound was routed via the ButtonPort earbud.  I was fully integrated for all office tasks.  I could tell Frank was writing a draft article of the whole Lutts story.  It had been at least five years since Frank used a keyboard.  Most of the time he just dictated to me what he wanted to write.  I surmised he did not want anyone to know about the story by overhearing him while he dictated to me.  From my knowledge of humans I knew this article would get worldwide attention.  As they say in the newspaper business, “This is big.”

Considering how rare it is for Frank to use a keyboard, he typed very fast.  I saw there were a lot of typos, but that would be easy for me to fix.  Many of the spelling words I would fix on the fly as Frank typed.  He had over two thousand words when he finished.  I asked him if I should edit it and send it to his editor.  He said he wanted it encrypted and sent as a time email. 

“Have it show up a week from now,” he said to me as he handed me the keyboard.  “It will be good insurance”, he said with a smile.

After that he put his seat back as far as Icelandic Air would let him and tried to sleep.  I figured in another two hours we would be landing. 

The rest of the flight was uneventful - a needed change of pace for us.  Once we landed Frank made a bee line to the Underground and soon we were on our way to our usual hotel in Kensington.  Normally, after a long flight Frank would take a taxi to the hotel.  I asked him why the change of habit.  He said he didn’t want to take a chance on being hijacked by some zombie robotic taxi.  I assume he was worried Sir Terrance might grab him.  In that case a public subway would be the safest.  I have never heard of the underground being used to kidnap anyone.  Plenty of other bizarre crimes had been carried out over the centuries on the underground.  It would make for a colorful article to write about all the crimes committed on the tube.  I made a note to myself to suggest that to Frank when we found ourselves between world disasters.

While we were on the tube I did call to book a room.  That would save us some time.  I wondered what Frank’s next move would be.  Would he go to the police and turn in Sir Terrance?  Would he take it to MI6?  How would he convince them to raid Maidstone?  Would he be able to get the British to enlist the pacifist Finns to raid Lutts's biggest laboratory?  Would it been better to approach the CIA?  Most importantly, would it be in time to stop Sir Terrance?  Frank still did not know how Lutts plans on distributing these nano-religion killers?  Would Lutts send drones all over the world or would he have some secret natural way to spread it worldwide?  I just realized Frank has a lot of loose ends.

Frank turned to me as the subway car pulled out of another station and said, “Jack, send the same file I sent to Perry to the Monsignor.  Have it encrypted for two weeks.  Then send a message to the Monsignor that he must come see me in London.  Tell him I have met the devil.  I thought that was an odd statement.  Farmer Soborg did not look like the devil.  That Øllebrød looked like it was from hell, but that is just my humble robotic opinion.  Oh my, shame on my circuits, he meant Sir Terrance.  I did as he wished before we started slowing down for the next station, which happened to be the one we wanted. 

Frank walked slowly from the station.  I had expected him to jog like he did back in Iceland.  In fact, we walked into a Waitrose and bought a sandwich, a bag of Drop Dead Coffee and a quart of Jack Daniels.  He then went to Boots and picked up some toiletries.  I found that unusual as well.  Frank has a generous expense account from the WSJ and he usually just charges things like that from the hotel.  He must be very paranoid that Sir Terrance controls everything.  I think Frank has seen too many of those old James Bond films from the 20th Century. 

With me carrying the various bags from Waitrose and Boots we finally entered the hotel lobby and checked in.  Frank immediately opened up the bottle of Jack Daniels that we bought in Waitrose.  He told me to go put the sandwich in the fridge and then to order him up some clothes for tomorrow.  There was a men’s clothing store about four blocks away that Frank always used for clothes when he needed any.  This was not the first time we had landed in London without any luggage.  I ordered several Oxford cloth shirts, two pairs of slacks, two sports coats, three ties, socks, and a black leather belt. 

“Frank, your clothes are ordered.”

“Thanks, Jack.  One more thing.  Any word from the Monsignor?”

“None, other than he did send back an auto response.”

“I hope he has seen it.  Well, we lost a couple of hours flying east.  It is already getting dark out.  I’m tired, Jack.  Before I go to bed, help me move that dresser over by the door.  I want you to stay alert tonight.  Any unusual footwork in the hall I want you to wake me up.  Also, when that clothes order comes, be careful.  Can you bring me that sandwich?  We may not have time for breakfast tomorrow.”

Once the dresser was in place Frank settled down in bed with his sandwich and his favorite beverage.  He watched a little television and caught up on the world news.  The media was still focused on Old Jerusalem and totally missing the point.  They were all wrapped up with the political reaction of the governments.  Israel had accused the Syrians of using some top secret Russian technology.  Iran demanded that their scientists be allowed to do tests on everyone in Old Jerusalem in order to find out how this western devil’s work was done.  It was a mess and the people in Old Jerusalem didn’t give a damn.  Frank did finish his drink, but he never finished his sandwich.  He fell asleep after forty minutes of listening to all the talking heads on Sky News and CNN.  I signaled the television to mute itself and then went to the center of the room and concentrated on my security protocols.  I monitored the news, Frank’s communications, the sounds from the streets, the rooms next to us, above and below us, and the hallway. 

I had analyzed 82 different events and found all were negative.  A big city and a big hotel generate a lot of noises.  Most of the events took only a few seconds of additional monitoring to see there was nothing to fear.  Frank slept soundly through all these events. 

At about four in the morning I heard the elevator door which was twenty-five feet from our room open and a set of soft steps start coming down our end of the hall.  There was only one person so I did not expect to hear any conversation.  When I knew it was close to our door I prepared an emergency communication just in case.  I had created four of those earlier, but then the events revealed themselves to be negative.  There was a soft tap at the door and I heard a voice say, “Frank, it’s me.”  In less than a fraction of a heartbeat I identified the voice as Princess Marianne.  I walked over to the door and said, “Princess, he is asleep.”  She responded, “Jack, let me in before someone sees me.”  I told her to wait a minute and quietly moved the dresser out of the way.  I opened the door and she stood outside where a dark green coat and sunglasses.  I figured she dressed this way to avoid people recognizing her.  She was the most famous Princess these days and her photograph was always in the Tabloids.  Famous people often went around at night wearing sunglasses. 

“Come in, Princess” I said as I closed the door again and put the dresser back. 

“What that for?” she asked.

“I think after Master’s experiences the last 24 hours he is a little jittery.  Also, he was attacked in this hotel.”

She went over to the chair and took off her coat and laid down her sunglasses.  It was then I noticed she had a black eye.  She then slipped off her skirt and hung that over the coat, then as quiet as a mouse she slid into Frank’s bed.  Unlike before she did not try and arouse him. She just lay facing him and looking at his sleeping face.  Before long I could hear her breathing becoming shallow and even.  Within three minutes she had joined him in dreamland.  I often wondered what it was like to sleep.  There are no parallel states of operation for a robot.  We are either on or off.  We have the ability to shut down certain functions to save on power, but that is just partially turning off sub-systems.  Our main robotic brain and most sensors are still operational.  From what I have been led to believe, when humans sleep they lose consciousness, but on a cellular level their brain is often in high gear.  The brain has often been referred to as wetware because it serves as both hardware and software.  For an organic object it is remarkably complex and plastic.  I guess that is what makes humans so unpredictable.  The odd thing is none of them have any control as to what the brain wants to rewire.  It is interesting they claim their unpredictability is why they have free will.  I have no such thing in my programming.


Chapter XXVIII




















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