The Unknown: The Red Line.

Darkness had fallen across the campus. The alma mater bell tower chimed midnight. There was nobody afoot save for an occasional drunken undergraduate plodding home through the hedges and iron gates and ivy-laced stone buildings of the university. There was no moon. An owl hooted. A hound bayed distantly. There was a great fog rolling in off the fields.

The engineering campus was deserted. A ribbon of pavement looped through the purple grass. The castle of the Beckman Center upreared as a monolith against the black sky. It stood dark, save for the fact that, in a window in one of its towers, on a floor used by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, a fluorescent light burned.

A mouse, which was investigating the remains of a burrito, abruptly pricked up its ears and fled. The light in the window flickered, as if its electricity was being used to power some gigantic, monstrous supercomputing application.



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