"Mr Figment! What are you doing here?"
Figment hastily activated the emergency boss key mechanism with his mind and a table of meaningless data appeared on the computer screen in front of him. The editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and the CEO of Microsoft entered to find Figment connected by electrodes to his computer.
"Mr Editor!" Figment was just as surprised to see his friend and former colleague. "IÖ I work here now Ė for Mr Gates." He nodded politely to his employer.
"Thatís right," the latter confirmed. "Mr Figment is working on our most promising venture. Heís doing a wonderful job." Figment beamed.
"And heís doing an invaluable service to the entire technological community," Gates added.
"Well I must say Iím rather taken aback," the editor admitted. "When I was invited to visit Mr Gates to discuss the Oxford University Press Website, I never dreamed of finding you employed here. I always thought that you viewed computers in a negative light, believing that their use stifled the imaginative process."
"Mr Editor," Figment replied. "Computers are merely a tool, as benign as a pen. Itís how they are utilized that decides how they affect the imagination."
"And thisÖ this hypertext? You donít find it overwhelming or destructive to the imagination?"
"Relax, Mr Editor," Figment advised. "Hypertext is simply a nonlinear way of viewing information. Itís the ultimate collaboration between the author, the reader and the work, Reading and writing become a dynamic process, requiring an unprecedented investment of imagination."
"What prompted your change of heart, Mr Figment?" 
"Iím doing research for Mr Gates," Figment explained. "Heís developing a revolutionary form of hypertext. You see, the latest advancement allows my thoughts to control my pathway through the text. Itís the ultimate way for me to channel my imagination." "You mean you donít need a mouse or a keyboard?" the editor asked incredulously. Gates laughed. "The mouse and the keyboard will soon be obsolete."
"Stone age tools really," Figment added.
"Why donít we demonstrate some of our recent breakthroughs, Mr Figment?" Gates suggested.
Figment rubbed his hands together gleefully and saluted his employer.
"Iíve never seen the little chap so enthusiastic before," the editor remarked to Gates, but the Microsoft chief was already assisting Figment in fastening the electrodes to his head. Various windows and screens started to flash by on the monitor. The editor found this phenomenon, in the absence of a mouse and keyboard rather disconcerting.
"Figment is now traveling through hyperspace at an unprecedented rate," Gates explained.
"Hmm," the editor murmured. "Yes, it is remarkable."
"Itís only possible because the system is entirely reliant on his cognitive processes. Mr Figment need only fixate his mind on a particular textual destination and within nanoseconds he is there!"
"Remarkable!" the editor enthused, as Figment entered Xanadu, the global literary system. "Itís a whole docuverse!" 
He was transfixed as the Oxford University Press archives flashed past. Figment decelerated his thoughts as the Fourth Wall Fiasco by Ilanit Tof appeared. The Editor was so engrossed in the histiographic meta-fiction that it was some time before he noticed Figment had turned a deathly shade of pale and had started to squirm and writhe in his chair.
"Whatís happening?" the Editor demanded of Gates, when he became aware of Figmentís discomfort.
Gates clenched his jaw and swore under his breath. "Why?" he seethed, "Why is this happening again?"
"What is? Whatís happening again?" the editor persisted.
"We always get to a certain stage and then we lose them. I donít know what toÖ"
At that moment, a gust of air was emitted from the disk drive, nearly knocking the trio sideways. The gust extended a tendril, enveloping Figment. The editor lunged for him, but the gust had a firm hold and sucked Figment into the disk drive with it.
"Where is he, Bill? What happened to Mr Figment?" the editor demanded, taking hold of Gatesí lapels.

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Copyright © 1996 Ilanit Tof, All Rights Reserved.
Illustrations by Rhonda Willson, © 1996.