-Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future-


-Chapter 07-

Bryce watched Edison pace his studio the next day, looking like a caged tiger. Apparently the revelation from the previous evening had unnerved the reporter just a little bit.

"Don't worry," Bryce told him, sounding just a bit snippy, "I thought about what you said last night, and I can assure you that I'm over you."

"I'm sorry that I broke your heart, Bryce," Edison apologized, though he hadn't actually done anything to encourage the young genius's feelings toward him.

"I've been giving the Freddy problem a bit of thought as well," Bryce said, changing the subject. "I have an idea. It's dangerous, but since I'm in danger of dying anyhow…"

"Well, let's hear it, then," Edison suggested.

"We trap Freddy." Bryce said, simply.

"That's it?" Edison asked in shock. He'd expected more from someone as smart as Bryce.

"For all practical purposes," Bryce explained, "Freddy is a virus. I think we can isolate him in an unlinked portable computer unit."

"How do we get him in there?" Edison asked.

"Through a telecine machine," Bryce decided.

"No," Edison said, realizing where this idea was going. "I lost Paddy to that machine! I won't lose you to it, too!"

"If we don't do anything I'm going to be killed anyway," Bryce pointed out. "We don't have any other options. The telecine machine is the only way to stop Freddy."

"So, how do we use it to trap Freddy?" Edison asked, feeling very bad about the whole thing.

"I'll have to re-link the telecine machine so that it runs into the portable unit rather than onto the Mind's Eye vu-screens." Bryce figured. "That shouldn't be too difficult. The problem is going to be making sure that Freddy decides to make an appearance."

"I have a very bad feeling about this, Bryce," Edison told him an hour later, as he watched Bryce rewire the telecine machine at Mind's Eye. He remembered seeing Paddy on Breughal and Mahler's body-slab and the girl who had died before his eyes in the throes of a violent nightmare. Now people were dying from their dreams without benefit of a telecine machine. Bryce had already come close twice now. So, Edison didn't feel that he should endanger himself further by hooking himself up to a machine whose use had been proven fatal.

"So do I," Bryce admitted. "But I can't stay awake forever. Sooner or later I will have to face him. I'd rather do it on my terms than on his."

"Well, be careful," Edison told him.

"Edison, this is insane," Theora said over the link. "You can't let him do it. You know what happened to Paddy. We don't want to lose Bryce. We need him."

"We'll lose him anyway if Freddy gets him," Edison reminded her. "Bryce is right. He can't stay awake forever, and if he doesn't do something, Freddy will kill him anyhow. I think Bryce just doesn't want to go down without a fight."

"I won- won- wonder where he got that from. From." Max quipped.

"I'm ready, Edison," Bryce said as he settled into one of the chairs and slipped on the telecine goggles.

"Good luck, kid," Edison said, solemnly. He wished that Bryce had connected the machine so that he could still see what was happening on the vu-screens. Not knowing what was happening in the young genius's dream was the most heart-wrenching thing he'd ever endured.

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