Sham was hurrying through the hall when he heard the imagine chamber door open and saw Hal step through. “Sham, BigE says there’s only a 43% chance this will work now,” he related.
“Well I can’t help that Professor Ursion left on a bus before I could talk to him,” Sham lamented. “Has he bicycled back yet?”
“Yup,” Hal affirmed. “And you have an hour until the detonation in Room 1082 destroys the building.”
“I’ll intercept Ursion in time then,” Sham said confidently. He continued down the hall.
“I’m wondering if we’ll see Lynn again,” Hal mused. “She had a nice set of…”
“…polygons. Could use a new array of jewelry though…”
“We don’t have time to get graphic about a newed Lynn Kedlist,” Sham interrupted. “Though if I’m right she will play a part in this. I just hope I can catch Rick Ursion off guard.”
As it turned out, the two professors collided at the next corner. Lynn, who was also there, dropped a stack of papers.
“Rick!” Sham gasped. “No time for password semantics – you need to authorize a cancellation of the current ground floor ALU project.”
Sham paused. “It’s pointless,” Sham hedged, glancing at Lynn. “Computer Science is CS, right? But CS can also be Customer Support. That means work on a Helpdesk. Which implies answering phones. But if something is phoney, then it’s not real, so neither is CS. QED! And if Computer Science isn’t real, why waste time on it?”
Rick Ursion paused. “That seems to follow logically,” he said slowly.
Lynn gaped. “You CAD! I object!” she cried.
Rick turned. “Don’t be object oriented,” he admonished. “You’re acting even odder than you were the day under the larch tree.”
Sham quickly processed this. “I think she’s upset because she’s a secret member of the CPU,” he revealed. “I’ve suspected her ever since she identified what sociable numbers were.”
“Sociable numbers?” Rick wondered.
“Like friendly numbers,” Sham explained. “Three or more numbers whose divisors add up to the next in a closed loop. Such as 12496, 14288, 15472, 14536 and 14264, the divisors of one add up to the next and the last ones sum to the first number. Lynn must have seen some when she read up on divisibility, as all ALU passwords have something to do with that subject. But no normal person would know about these numbers.”
“Clever, Sham!” Hal realized. He paused. “So I guess you really can study too much.”
Lynn cursed, then recursed. “Well, you haven’t foiled my Scheme yet!” she shouted, producing a black box and an assembly of switches. “I can set off the explosion from here! The chairs will released from their confines whether you like it or not!”
Sham hadn’t counted on this. “The explosion will also destroy the building…” he began. But Lynn had lost control.
“I’m setting it to go off when the countdown reaches an aliquot of 360!” she shouted. She flipped a switch… but the flip flopped.
“Sham, now the whole University is going to be wiped off the map!” Hal shouted.
Rick quickly blocked Lynn’s escape as Sham grabbed her black box. “Set a different aliquot!” Rick Ursion proposed.
Sham’s memory swiss-cheesed. “What’s an aliquot?” he asked.
Will Sham remember in time to save the University of Mizuloo? Find out in the epic conclusion next issue…
–Greg “hologrami” Taylor
[None of this was scripted ahead of time, can you tell? We’re at entry 5 of 6.]