“Wait a minute,” I interrupted. I was thinking about the pseudopods that had come out of the earth and had engulfed that white-tailed deer. I explained what I had seen, and He waited for me to finish, though He must have read my mind ahead of me and must have known what I would say.
“I have a similar method of trapping game,” He said. “But it does not extend nearly as far as a mile. I believe you have found our Hyde.”
“I can send this other self I have created to destroy the Hyde mother body. Unfortunately, I have taken time to extend my game-catching network and have not created more than this single android. And the Hyde android, of course, which we are seeking.”
“I’ll accompany it,” I said. “I might not be much help, but at least there will be two of us.”
“Thank you, Jacob.”
“Do we start now?” I asked.
“Now,” the mother body said.
The android walked up the stairs with me to where I had dropped the guns. I picked them up now. “How will we kill it?” I asked.
“I have better ways than any weapons you could find, Jacob,” He said. “Let’s go.”
We went out into the cold and the whipping snow . . .
I should have felt some tremendous elation, I suppose. I had found out that He was, after all, everything that He claimed to be, that He did want to help mankind, that He was going to be a great benefit to us. I was standing on the threshold of a revolution, the likes of which the world had never before seen, and I could not summon up enough excitement to make a dog wag its tail. Perhaps it was because, in showing me what wonders lay ahead for Man, He had also shown me that Man was, in essence, a very small portion of things, a piece of a painting by a being so far superior, so much his intellectual master, that he could never hope to understand the real basis upon which the universe turned. One day, Man would reach the end of his explorations, and there would be nowhere else to go. This alone would not be so bad, but he would also have to cope with the understanding that there was more beyond what he knew, more than he could ever hope to grasp. The quitting would not be what hurt Man. It would be the knowing that he had quit before absolutely everything had been conquered.
The only emotion I felt as we boarded the sled was fear.
Hyde, after all, was every bit as formidable as the good part of His personality. A very deadly creature . . .
The android climbed in behind me, did not bother buckling himself in. After all, He was not prone to fatal accidents, not with a healing system that would patch up a torn artery or vein in seconds. I switched on the field, felt the sudden bouyancy as it hummed to life. The wheel trembled under my hands—or was it my hands that trembled? I put the sled in gear, tramped on the accelerator, and took it down the snowy slope, around the sharper rises, toward the edge of the woods around which I would have to navigate. In a few minutes we were moving in behind the cabin, near the spots where the pseudopods of the Hyde mother body had leaped out of the ground and had brought down the deer. I slowed, eased-off on the accelerator, and coasted to within fifty feet of the cabin, stopped the sled altogether, and shut down the magnetic field. With the motor oft, I knew for certain that it was my hands that trembled, not the wheel.
“You walk behind me,” He said.
We got out of the sled.
“We have two things to worry about,” He went on. “One, the mother body. It is immobile and offers us the smallest problem. It is set in its present form and cannot change to escape. Two, there is the Hyde android it has created. It may not be anywhere in the area, as far as that goes. It may still be back in New York, trying to find you. But if it is here, in this area, it may try to circle around behind us while we are at work on the mother body. Remember, as soon as the mother body knows we are here, the Hyde android will know as well, for they are one and the same organism.”