Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

It’s Teaser Tuesday again! So this Tuesday Dan’s sharing a snippet from an unreleased and untitled project that you’ll see later this year. Pretty awesome, huh? I have to keep my lips sealed about this latest novel of his, but I will tell you this: I think this is going to be Dan’s best book yet!

Scroll down to read more!

Hugs and happy reading,
Laura

Teaser #1 of Untitled Project

At the D-Wave Systems quantum computing lab in Seattle, Washington, project manager Franklin Thomas terminated the program loop inside their prototype supercomputer and squeezed his jaw in frustration, rubbing the sandpaper texture of his stubble. He hadn’t shaved in days.

Nothing was working.

Too hot. Much too hot. They were hyper-clocking the CPUs, generating way too much heat.

Enough heat to cook anything.

Franklin glanced around the lab. Rows of empty desks littered with circuit boards, racks of processors sprouting wires like gnarled tree roots, chips steaming in cryogenic helium baths.

Too much heat.

It was midnight, and the hallways leading out of the lab were dark. Everyone else had gone home for the night, like sane people.

They knew a doomed project.

Franklin sighed and rose from his terminal, fumbling for the ID card hanging around his neck to unlock the magnetically shielded room containing the prototype.

A few weeks ago, one of the other project managers had died of a heart attack. Too much stress. They were all stressed. Months behind schedule and way over budget. Bugs. Bugs everywhere. Franklin would fix them in the evening, and in the morning he’d find a dozen more, all different ones. Sloppy, like the runtime loops had been coded by first graders.

They were doing brand new science, quantum physics, superposition states and entanglement—light years ahead of the industry.

And his team coded like first graders.

A scuffle sounded behind him. Like rubber on linoleum. He spun, eyes scanning the impenetrable black hallways. Nothing.

Just his imagination, the building settling for the night. With a chill, he slid the card into the reader, feeling a rising eagerness to get home to his wife. Just this one last fix, then he’d go home.

The door clicked and swung open.

The prototype rose before him, the size of a refrigerator, all gleaming black plastic. The shell radiated heat, yet sent chills down his spine at the same time. The sight of the D-Wave Chronos Quantum Computer never failed to catch his breath in his throat.

It was worth it. It was all worth it.

He stepped across the room, static electricity prickling his skin, and opened the prototype box. Putrid smoke billowed out from inside, stinging his nostrils.

More melted electronics.

By themselves, the rack of processors running inside the box were no laughing matter. A hundred AMD Opteron 16-core CPUs clocking ninety-four trillion floating-point operations per second. But it was the box that was truly cutting edge. The protective thermal canister cooled the processors to near zero and put them in a state of quantum superposition, allowing the processors to hyper-clock in unlimited parallel states.

One by one, Franklin unplugged the ruined processors and tossed them behind him. They clattered on the floor. A small fortune’s worth of frontline CPUs, ruined. Finally he wiped sweat off his brow and slid the rack out, set it aside.

Then he stepped inside the box.

Beneath the smell of burnt plastic, the warm air tasted stale, like he had just entered a crypt. Barely enough space to kneel.

He hiked up his khakis and crouched down, reaching for the panel covering the cooling electronics—

Another scuffle. A patter of footsteps.

In the same room as him.

Franklin’s hand froze over the panel, his hairs stood on end. He peered out from inside the box, but the rectangle of light showed only half the room.

“Who’s there?” he stammered.

Without warning, the box slammed shut with him inside it, plunging him into darkness. No light.

“Hey!” He jumped up, pushing on the door. But the latch only opened from outside. Not the inside. No one had planned for the possibility of someone getting stuck inside. Why should they?

Another design oversight that would need to be fixed. Franklin knew he could force the door, but he didn’t want to damage the prototype.

Besides, he knew what this was. One of his team playing a practical joke on him. They always said he needed to relax.

“Peter, that you?” he said. “Ha ha. Very funny. Now let me out.”

But then he heard something else, something that chilled his blood. Around him, a rising mechanical whine.

Another program loop was starting.

The box was running another loop.

With him inside it.

In an instant, his irritation gave way to terror. He yelled, slammed the walls, crashed against the door with all his weight. Again, and again, but the walls of the prototype didn’t budge, as if somehow frozen in place by a rigid force field.

A program loop . . . what would happen to a person inside a program loop? The prototype entered a quantum state not meant for living things. What would happen to him?

Throat thick with fear, skin prickling, he listened to the sound of the looping box. An eerie, stretched out silence, almost like a moan. Nothing else.

All sounds from outside the box had ceased. Utter quiet. Just his own racing pulse. Just the gentle whine of the box, now his prison, running through an endless program loop. Looping him.

A bead of sweat dripped from his forehead.

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