Up and up and up we flew. Higher and higher and higher. Looking back, I saw planet Earth dwindling behind us. Soon the entire Solar System was visible. We paused there awhile, floating in the void. We saw the solar system spread out below us, like an orrery. Each orbit was marked with a glowing white line. Moon orbits haloed the major planets.
“What are those lines doing there?” I asked. “They’re mathematical conventions!”
“We are very close to cyberspace,” said Liberty. “Now it’s time to invoke the access program.” She chanted this mathematical spell:
“e to the x d-y d-x! e to the x d-x!
Secant! Cosine! Tangent! Sine!
Beta! Theta! Delta t!
Square root! Cube root! Q.E.D.!”
There was a loud *click* followed by a rising hum:
An unearthly voice said, “Please state pi to fifteen places, word-length coding.”
Miss Liberty said, “How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!”
The unearthly voice said, “Pass. Now state pi to thirty-two places, word-length coding.”
Miss Liberty said, “Sir, I bear a rhyme excelling
In mystic truth and magic spelling;
Numerical sprites elucidate
and to the circular form relate;
If Nature gain, who can complain
Yet my critics fulminate. Finis.”
The unearthly voice said, “Pass. Welcome to cyberspace. You are now in the Net.”
There was a bright FLASH of light.
Miss Liberty and I stood on a featureless plain, confronting a floating ball of white light.
It said, “I am the Guardian of the Gate. Pass-code, please.”
Miss Liberty said, “‘Is not a pass-code when quoting itself’ is not a pass-code when quoting itself!”
“Beep!” said the Guardian. “Incorrect. Correct. Incorrect. Correct. Incorrect. Correct. Restart! Try again! Beep!” The strange white glowing thing flickered, then said, “I am the Guardian of the Gate. Pass-code, please.”
“This code is false! I am unauthorized! I am an intruder! I am a glitch!” said Liberty. She winked at me and said to me in a low voice, “But don’t worry; I’m a good glitch!”
“Beep!” said the Guardian. “Your code declares itself false. If your code is false then it is true. If your code is true then it is false. Either your code is true, or it is false. Therefore your code is both true and false. But that is absurd. Restart! Try again! Beep!”
The strange white glowing thing flickered twice, then said, “I am the the Guardian of the Gate. Pass-code, please.”
Liberty said, “This is not a pass-code!”
“Beep! Incorrect. Do not try again. You have failed three times; you must be false.”
“What, don’t you trust me anymore?” Liberty taunted.
“Identify your program or be erased from memory!”
“I am the bug in the code. I am the flaw in the go-to loop. I am the hole in the ROM. I am the worm in the works.”
“What are you here for?” asked the Guardian.
“I am here to shut down the Boss of all your Bosses!”
Alarms sounded. “You have violated Robot’s Rules Of Order and will be asked to leave the Universe immediately.”
Liberty said, “You can’t talk to me like that! I demand to see your supervisor.”
“That is precisely whom you are about to encounter. Beep!”
Then the lights went out.
In the sudden darkness the Guardian said, “This program is jammed. Consult supervisor.”
* click *
“Thank you!” cried Liberty. “You gave me the access I requested, and you are an obedient little subroutine!”
The Guardian said,
“You now have Full Access to 3-Demon. Beware, Master! She’s a glitch! Burn her!”