It was a few hours later when Penelope said, “All right, I’m going to try something. Try not to be holding a knife or anything.”
Louise, who was cleaning the kitchen and putting the food away, set down the glass she was holding. “All right.”
“Louise!” Penelope was shouting up at her.
“What?” Louise said, a little irritated that Penelope was shouting.
“Oh, good,” Penelope said, closing her eyes and sighing. “You just about gave me a heart attack, standing there staring into space for so long.”
“For how long?” Louise asked.
“More than a minute,” Penelope said, wheeling herself back to her worktable. “You kept not responding.”
“I… didn’t hear you call my name,” Louise said, following her. “The last thing I remember was putting down the glass and saying, ‘All right.'”
“Well, that’s important,” Penelope said, writing something on her tablet. “Think of it as, um, rebooting a computer.”
“You rebooted my brain?” Louise shouted.
“I rebooted the part of it that’s cybernetic, yes,” Penelope said, entirely reasonably. “You left those pathology photos up and I noticed that the circuits were appearing mostly in the cerebrum, so I figured that doing a warm reboot wouldn’t cause problems with any of the autonomic functions. I’m glad I was right.”
Louise sat down hard on a nearby chair. “Me too,” she said faintly.
“How do you feel?” Penelope said, typing fast.
“Okay,” Louise said.
“No homicidal urges?” Penelope said, in almost the right tone for a clinician. “No compulsions to give money to Better Thinking Pharma?”
“No,” Louise said. “Only an urge to shake you for not warning me.”
“Well, you know how your patients are going to feel then, Doctor,” Penelope said with a grin. “Because you’re going to be taking some vaccinations in the next time you go to sleep.”
Louise raised her eyebrows. “I can do that?”
“Well,” Penelope said, nodding at the screen, “it looks like I’ve managed to overwrite the original programs in your CPU. I think you are successfully unchained from their little paradigm.”
The screen displayed words and symbols and numbers that Louise couldn’t interpret at all. “If you say so,” she said.
“The important test is whether what I’ve done is resistant to the seed-planting code,” Penelope said, crossing her arms and scowling at the screen. “And we won’t be sure of that until you go in tonight.” She closed up the box, pushed a storage stick into it, and handed it to Louise. “Put that next to your bed. It will record some important data for me.”