Meanwhile, Back In New York, still...

The man stood over Angelina.

He reached out a hand and touched her cheek. It was not a tender touch. It was not a caress. It was not sensual in any way, but it was not mean, either. It was not cruel, not in the ordinary way. He touched it the way a butcher touches meat, the way a carpenter touches a board, grading and judging the materials he is about to use.

He pinched her cheek and then moved up to her hair, which he lifted and let fall. He opened one eye, which stared at him dully as he looked under the eyelid. He poked it with his finger. He rolled it left and right. Angelina did not protest because she was still unconscious.

He would not have listened to her protests, anyway.

He moved on to her torso, poking and prodding and pinching, rubbing it sometimes. He lifted each of her arms and let them fall. Then he lifted them again and held them up to his own head.

People, he knew, do not share when they are unconscious. He had learned that. But he could still tell some things about them and did not want to wake her up. It was easiest to pick up on those things he could learn by pressing the hand directly to his own forehead, to where the tiny microchip that every baby got, prenatally, was, the microchip that was implanted to allow people to grow and develop in such a way that their nerves themselves could conduct electricial impulses, not just electrical impulses from the brain and central nervous system, but electrical impulses from other's central nervous systems, and from computers.

He had one. Almost everyone had one. Except the people he made. He took them out of the people he made, and then even though their nerves had the same capacity to conduct the impulses from others and from electromagnetic sources like computers and broadcasts, even though they could carry those signals, they could not interpret them without the microchip.

He would cut out Angelina's, too, before he was done. He had not decided yet what parts of her to use right away and what parts might be saved or what parts should be disposed of, but he knew he would cut out the chip because he always saved the heads and he always took the chips out of them.

The people he created, people who sometimes worked, could not share.

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