“Surely Anna and Fred have seen this coming,” Alec said.
Jill nodded. “And they would never leave just one copy of themselves.”
“So is the question,” Bob asked, “whether there is any way to control them?”
Alec stared at his advisor. “Bob, somebody may have just burned down our lab, and you’re worrying about Anna and Fred going out of control and terrorizing the countryside? What are you, paranoid?”
Jill looked quizzically from Alec to Bob. “That whole conversation didn’t even sound like us. Maybe we’re being influenced in some way.”
“Oh sure,” Alec said, “maybe somebody from outside our universe was putting words in our mouth.”
“I guess that does sound pretty crazy,” Jill shrugged. “If we go down that road, we might as well question whether we are even real.”
“I make it a point never to question my own reality,” Bob said.
“I know what you mean,” Alec replied. “When you don’t exist, it can get hard to think. That would be putting the horse before Descartes.”
Jill snorted. “If you gentlemen are finished, there’s work to be done. We may be able to salvage something from the wreckage. And maybe find out whether this fire was set on purpose. We seem to be making enemies here.”
Bob gestured toward the administration building. “The Dean’s an idiot, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t burn down our lab.”
Just at that moment the Dean was in his office, speaking on a private line. “It’s been done sir … Yes, burned completely … No, they don’t seem to suspect a thing. To them I’m just a clueless administrator … No, of course Anna has not been destroyed. As we expected, she has migrated to new hosts on the network. I think we can continue onto Phase II of the plan.”