Excerpt from The Cyber Patient
East Berlin, January 1985
Three men sat in a conference room on the top floor of a utilitarian gray concrete building, headquarters of what would soon become the World Wide Metaverse Computer Corporation. Wind-whipped snow beat against the windows, obscuring a view of the Berlin Wall in the distance. The fluorescent lights in the ceiling lit a long chamber, empty except for a mammoth conference table and a dozen hard-backed chairs.
"This is how it operates?" asked the Director.
"Yes, Herr Director. As amazing as it seems, the simplicity, the fact it has never before been detected ...."
"When did you discover this, Josef?" the Director asked.
"I've been working in this area for the past two years. It's been tantalizing. I've been circling around the solution for months," Josef replied, a tone of deep satisfaction in his voice. "And then, last week. There it was! The answer! A revolution in physics, certainly in the entire concept of computer programming, perhaps even in space travel."
"This is nonsense," the third man said, rolling his eyes. He stood and faced the Director. "Mein Herr, you cannot believe this drivel."
"Sit down," the Director said. "If true, this is an important discovery. Josef, how can you convince my skeptical companion?"
"I brought three computers here to demonstrate. Please put on these 3-D stereoscopic goggles. Herr Director, you sit here. And you sit there," Josef said, gesturing to the third man. Then Josef sat down at his computer.
"The fact that our computers are so far advanced ρρρ infinitely more sophisticated than the crude technology the Americans have, that this man Gates crows about ρρρ has made my discovery possible," Josef said. "I've created avatars for each of us. They will guide us to a parallel universe, your own Metaverse, Herr Director. Come."
"This is insanity," said the third man. "Really Herr Director, you can't...."
"Quiet! Josef, is this some crude computer game? I've read about them. They're for children. And do you expect us to believe that you've actually found a parallel universe? And that a computer can lead us there? And that you've created avatars? I thought avatars needed to be designed by individual players in these games," the Director said.
"Ah, but this computer program is not a game," Josef replied. "This program is completely different. It reaches far beyond any computer program ever devised. You'll see."
The Director and the third man followed Josef into the computer where they and their avatars moved back and forth, traveling from their dimension into another identical one. Josef proved that he had uncovered a parallel universe accessible via computer, and proceeded to demonstrate the controls that governed the operation The Director removed his goggles and closed his eyes. He recognized that this discovery could bring him unlimited economic and political power, and allow him to see his dream of a Caliphate rise again. "What do you say now?" the Director said, turning to the third man, who smiled.
"I'm overwhelmed," he replied. "I apologize for my deep skepticism, Herr Winkelmann. You've convinced me. You are to be commended." He gazed at the Director, who nodded.
"I'm happy you agree," the Director said. "Tell me, Josef, have you shown this to anyone else? To any of your colleagues? To your supervisor?"
"No, Herr Director. No one," Josef said.
"Why?" the Director asked. "Didn't you need some help from your colleagues?"
"No, sir. And I assure you that if you approve this discovery, subsequent upgrades can be made by our programmers working in isolation, unaware of the existence of this parallel universe, if you so wish."
"Very interesting. But getting back to the fact you worked in secrecy. Perhaps you didn't wish to share the rewards you'll get from me with anyone else?" the Director asked, smiling broadly.
"Well, not exactly, Herr Director. I was hoping my name alone will be attached to this discovery when it's marketed. As a loyal member of the Communist Party, I would take great satisfaction in seeing us eventually topple the West with my discovery. The economic and political power....it will be earthshaking."
"Yes, yes, we'll see to that," the Director said, his voice soft and syrupy. "Do you think Josef Winkelmann's name will be heralded around the world, demonstrating this mighty achievement of communism?" the Director asked the third man.
"Of course," the third man said, grinning. Then he rose, swung swiftly behind Josef, and severed the man's right carotid artery with one smooth slice of his knife.
"Nicely done," the Director said as he jumped back quickly to avoid the spurting blood. "Poor Josef, so intelligent and yet so stupid. Communism indeed!" He laughed. "I will make sure that both the West and Communism will become footnotes in history. Make certain that no one else knows of this discovery, and if anyone does...."
"I understand," the third man said, as he began attending to the disposal of Josef's body.