"Hurray!" exclaimed the editor proudly. "I knew you could do it, Mr Figment."
Figment popped out of site and when he next appeared in view, he was in a laboratory dressed in a white coat. Crowded behind him were three white haired, bespectacled gentlemen.
"Henderson, Gendleberg and Zuberstein!" Gates exclaimed in amazement.
"There’s no time for introductions," Figment said to the lost scientists. "It won’t be long before they discover what we’re up to, but I’m going to break us out of here and take us back to Microsoft headquarters."
"But how did you get in here?" Zuberstein asked. "I thought all the links were cut. That’s why we couldn’t get out and navigate our way back home."
"It will all become clear soon. Let’s get to work!"
A flying toaster screen saver replaced the action in the laboratory.
"I guess all we can do is wait," said Gates. "All Figment’s mental resources must be going to the task at hand since he can’t expend any energy in keeping the graphics running."
"I still find the scope of the technology amazing," said the editor.
A spiral of smoke came out of the disk drive and three gentlemen in white coats tumbled out, followed by a dazed, but otherwise unhurt Figment of the Imagination.
The editor rushed to his side. "Mr Figment! Are you all right?"
Figment stood up and dusted himself off. "Splendid. Thank you," he said.
"Mr Figment, how did you do it?" Gates asked.
"Yes," said Gendleberg. "Please tell us! Please!"
Figment smiled mischievously. "All right," he conceded. "I’ll tell you the secret." They all clamored around him. "It was quite simple really, once I figured out that the links are simply made of the same molecules that comprise the imagination. I simply channeled all my resources into building a new link, when I focused on the physics website. Just as easily as the Darkside destroyed the links with their evil intentions, I built one with my honorable ones."
"Remarkable!" Zuberstein applauded Figment.
"Good Show!" commented the editor.
"Rather!" Henderson agreed.
"And you broke out of the website using the same pathway?" Gates inquired.
Figment nodded. "I simply left a bookmark as an electronic place marker and traced my way back through the world wide web."
"Ah that’s why you were in such a hurry," said Gates. "You were concerned that they would find your trail."
"Why did you go all the way back?" asked the editor. "Couldn’t you simply have exited the program?"
"I would have lost all the data," Figment explained. "And the data was connected to my imagination and therefore the imagination of all of humanity."
"I see," said the editor. "In that case you made the right choice."
"Besides," said Figment, "distance is no object once the control is -cognitive. You can travel as fast as your neurons can fire. And they never expected me to retrace my steps. They didn’t even send anyone in pursuit."
"I’m just glad that you’re safe," said the editor."But what about all the web users out there? Aren’t they in danger?"
"The Darkside has little power over traditional mouse and keyboard users;" explained Gates. "They’re not exposing as much of their imagination as Figment and the professors were when they were directly connected to the database. But I’m sure we can develop and sell an imagination protection program for Windows that will protect them completely."
"What about our research?" Henderson asked Gates. "It will continue, won’t it?"
"This arena is fraught with dangers," the editor protested. "How can you risk sending anyone back there with the Darkside on the loose?"
"Perhaps we need to tread a little more cautiously," said Gates.
"Not at the speed of firing neurons?" asked Figment.
"Not just yet," said Gates.
"So is this the end of the hypertext cognitive interactive project?" asked Gendleberg.
"Where hypertext is concerned there is no beginning and no ending," said Gates.
"You’re right," said the editor. "That must be why I have an urge to say, ‘Figment what are you doing here?’"
"And I have an urge to press the boss key," said Figment.
Gates grinned mischievously. "Welcome to hyper world," he said.

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Copyright 1994 Ilanit Tof, All Rights Reserved.
Illustrations by Rhonda Willson, 1996.