Home > Disclosure(11)

Author: Michael Crichton

"And what're the laser scanners for? I thought you did position by infrared." The headsets had infrared sensors mounted above them, so that the system could detect where the user was looking and adjust the projected image inside the headset to match the direction of looking.

"We still do," Cherry said. "The scanners are for body representation.

"Body representation?"

"Yeah. Now, if you're walking down the Corridor with somebody else, you can turn and look at them and you'll see them. Because the scanners are capturing a three-dimensional texture map in real time: they read body and expression, and draw the virtual face of the virtual person standing beside you in the virtual room. You can't see the person's eyes, of course, because they're hidden by the headset they're wearing. But the system generates a face from the stored texture map. Pretty slick, huh?"

"You mean you can see other users?"

"That's right. See their faces, see their expressions. And that's not all. If other users in the system aren't wearing a headset, you can still see them, too. The program identifies other users, pulls their photo out of the personnel file, and pastes it onto a virtual body image. A little kludgey, but not bad." Cherry waved his hand in the air. "And that's not all. We've also built in virtual help."

"Virtual help?"

"Sure, users always need online help. So we've made an angel to help you. Floats alongside you, answers your questions." Cherry was grinning. "We thought of making it a blue fairy, but we didn't want to offend anybody."

Sanders stared thoughtfully at the room. Cherry was telling him about his successes. But something else was happening here: it was impossible to miss the tension, the frantic energy of the people as they worked.

"Hey, Don," one of the programmers shouted. "What's the Z-count supposed to be?"

"Over five," Cherry said.

"I got it to four-three."

Chapter 3

"Four-three sucks. Get it above five, or you're fired." He turned to Sanders. "You've got to encourage the troops."

Sanders looked at Cherry. "All right," he said finally. "Now what's the real problem?"

Cherry shrugged. "Nothing. I told you: fine-tuning."


Cherry sighed. "Well, when we jumped the refresh rate, we trashed the builder module. You see, the room is being built in real time by the box. With a faster refresh off the sensors, we have to build objects much faster. Otherwise the room seems to lag behind you. You feel like you're drunk. You move your head, and the room swooshes behind you, catching up."


"And, it makes the users throw up."

Sanders sighed. "Great."

"We had to take the walker pads apart because Teddy barfed all over everything."

"Great, Don."

"What's the matter? It's no big deal. It cleans up." Ile shook his head. "Although I do wish Teddy hadn't eaten huevos rancheros for breakfast. That was unfortunate. Little bits of tortilla everywhere in the bearings."

"You know we have a demo tomorrow for the C-W people."

"No problem. We'll be ready."

"Don, I can't have their top executives throwing up."

"Trust me," Cherry said. "We'll be ready. They're going to love it. Whatever problems this company has, the Corridor is not one of them."

"That's a promise?"

"That," Cherry said, "is a guarantee."

Sanders was back in his office by ten-twenty, and was seated at his desk when Gary Bosak came in. Bosak was a tall man in his twenties, wearing jeans, running shoes, and a Terminator T-shirt. He carried a large fold-over leather briefcase, the kind that trial attorneys used.

"You look pale," Bosak said. "But everybody in the building is pale today. It's tense as hell around here, you know that?"

"I've noticed."

"Yeah, I bet. Okay to start?"


"Cindy? Mr. Sanders is going to be unavailable for a few minutes."

Bosak closed the office door and locked it. Whistling cheerfully, he unplugged Sanders's desk phone, and the phone beside the couch in the corner. From there, he went to the window and closed the blinds. There was a small television in the corner; he turned it on. He snapped the latches on his briefcase, took out a small plastic box, and flipped the switch on the side. The box began to blink, and emitted a low white noise hiss. Bosak set it in the middle of Sanders's desk. Bosak never gave information until the white noise scrambler was in place, since most of what he had to say implied illegal behavior.

"I have good news for you," Bosak said. "Your boy is clean." He pulled out a manila file, opened it up, and started handing over pages. "Peter John Nealy, twenty three, DigiCom employee for sixteen months. Now working as a programmer in APG. Okay, here we go. His high school and college transcripts . . . Employment file from Data General, his last employer. All in order. Now, the recent stuff... Credit rating from TRW . . . Phone bills from his apartment . . . Phone bills for his cellular line . . . Bank statement . . . Savings account . . . Last two 1040s . . . Twelve months of credit card charges, VISA and Master . . . Travel records . . . E-mail messages inside the company, and off the Internet . . . Parking tickets . . . And this is the clincher . . . Ramada Inn in Sunnyvale, last three visits, his phone charges there, the numbers he called . . . Last three car rentals with mileage . . . Rental car cellular phone, the numbers called . . . That's everything."


"I ran down the numbers he called. here's the breakdown. A lot of calls to Seattle Silicon, but Nealy's seeing a girl there. She's a secretary, works in sales, no conflict. He also calls his brother, a programmer at Boeing, does parallel processing stuff for wing design, no conflict. His other calls are to suppliers and code vendors, and they're all appropriate. No calls after hours. No calls to pay phones. No overseas calls. No suspicious pattern in the calls. No unexplained bank transfers, no sudden new purchases. No reason to think he's looking for a move. I'd say he's not talking to anybody you care about."

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