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.