Saturday, September 18, 2010

Prologue – Chapter 3

Iida, on night watch at the school that Saturday, noticed that there was someone in the CAI room and opened the door.

"Who's here at a time like this?"

At the sound of his voice, a student looked up from one of the CAI terminals, his face glowing strangely in the reflected light of the display.

Iida's expression softened. "Oh, it's just you, Nakajima. What are you doing in here with all the lights off?"

Nakajima's academic record was far from perfect, but his genius had endeared him somewhat to the math and science teachers and earned their trust.

"My program's just not working out the way I wanted to. But I'm almost done fixing it." Nakajima's voice seemed slightly metallic, as if in tune with the sound of the disk drive spinning.

"I'm always happy to see your enthusiasm, but you know that you need to ask permission in advance if you want to work in this classroom late at night. You're lucky I found you instead of someone else," Iida scolded as he flicked on the light switch.

"What is this!?" Iida's shocked voice echoed through the illuminated CAI room. A large geometric figure was drawn on the floor in white and red chalk, with Nakajima's seat situated at the center.

"It's a Solomon Hexagram."

"Solomon? That has an occultish sound to it."

Nakajima paid Iida's sarcasm no heed, and his fingers slid over the keys of the terminal. Presently, the host computer behind thick glass walls in the adjacent machine room started to run.

"Great, the bugs are finally gone. It's done!"

After sending a print job to publish the contents of the program list, Nakajima stood and turned toward Iida. His girlish, almond eyes glittered amidst a demonic grin. His still-healing lip split open from his excitement, and a trickle of fresh blood stained his jaw.

Iida's gaze became stern. "All right, Nakajima, do you want to explain just what kind of program you're running on the host computer--and without permission, I might add?"

Nakajima brushed aside some hair from his forehead and responded nonchalantly. "I've written a program that will summon demons. This hexagram is here to protect me from them. In just a moment, a demon will appear. Sensei, you should probably get inside it as well. You might get shredded to pieces otherwise."

For an instant, Iida's mouth gaped open, and he took a long hard look at Nakajima.

"Have you lost it?"

"Is it me who's lost it, or the school? Sensei, take a good look at me. This wound on my lip, the bruise on my face. I got the crap beaten out of me by Kondo from the karate club. Takamizawa Kyoko is just as guilty. The school just lets wild animals like that run free, and doesn't do anything to deal with them. No matter what happens to me in the classroom, the teachers and students just pretend it didn't happen. The violence that happens in this school is as plain as day, and yet nobody gets punished. I suppose the teachers are just waiting for students like that to graduate. As long as they keep their eyes shut, the calamity will just clear itself up on its own. They just have to endure it for two or three years. But this is the only time I get to be a high school student. I'm not going to let them just do whatever the hell they want any more. I'm going to summon a demon and execute those annoying insects."

Nakajima's speech seemed manic as his shoulders rose and fell in sync with his wild breathing.

Nakajima turned away from the stunned Iida and to the keyboard.

> RUN

The last command displayed on the monitor, the magnetic tape of the host computer started to gradually spin. Iida tried to yell at Nakajima and stop the computer. But the moment he opened his lips, a frigid breeze from nowhere struck him and covered his arms in goose bumps.

"Summoning demons with a computer ...what a concept!" Iida twisted his lips into a smile to hide his fear.

"Computer theory and magical thought have many overlapping similarities. I bet the first person who thought up the principles of computing was an alchemist or Kabbalist. It's not that well-known, but things like spells, sacrifices, and thaumaturgic circles are very easy to put into binary format. Summoning a demon is just a transfer of the matter comprising the demon in the Atziluth World to the Assiah—real—World. A computer is the perfect device to facilitate it."

As Nakajima explained his theory, cold air wrapped around Iida almost like a living creature, and a bizarre smell entered his nostrils. The lights of the classroom flickered out, and the CAI room plunged into darkness, the only sound the spinning disk drive. Presently, the computer let out a low whine.

"Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh." To Iida's ears, the whine sounded like actual, real words.

"Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh."

Whispering in synch with the computer, Nakajima continued to enter commands on the keyboard with unbelievable speed. Soon the entire room started to shake from an earthquake, and cracks formed in the windows. Nakajima entered his final command.

> KILL: KONDO HIROYUKI, TAKAMIZAWA KYOKO

Iida did not like students like Kondo Hiroyuki and Takamizawa Kyoko. In fact, he hated them, but he felt even more loathing for the manner Nakajima intended to deal with them.

"Stop this foolishness. If you'd like, I can make sure the incident is investigated fully and have Kondo expelled. Just stop doing this."

Stumbling through the shaking room, Iida desperately reached for the computer's power switch. To prevent him from interfering, Nakajima grabbed his arm with a strength one wouldn't even imagine from him. While the two struggled, the rumbling started to subside. The fluorescent lights lit up with a creaking sound and illuminated the room as the freezing air surrounding Iida's body dissipated.

"Where did you go!? Why won't you show yourself? Demon, are you going to abandon me?"

Crying out, Nakajima headed toward the keyboard.

> KILL! KILL!

But the host computer's magnetic tape slowly and mercilessly started spinning to a halt. Anxiously opening the program list, Nakajima scanned the details of the program with bloodshot eyes and stood aimlessly, as if sapped of all his vitality.

"My program was perfect. There wasn't a single bug in it. So why did the demon vanish before showing itself? It should have appeared right over there!"

Leaving the program list open, Nakajima stumbled out of the CAI room as if in a trance. Staring dumbfounded at Nakajima's back as he left, Iida finally came to his senses and turned off the power to the computer.

"I guess it's true how they say that there's a fine line between genius and insanity. That was one hell of an earthquake though," Iida whispered, as if trying to purge his memory of the repulsive experience.

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