Brian's attempt to woo Jane in chapter 5

During their brief encounter in the Euphoria cluster on campus, Brian had noticed some pictures on Jane’s screen. He knew that these pictures were graphs – he wasn’t that stupid – but he didn’t understand what they showed, or how to create them. He began to wonder whether he could create one for Jane, sort of like painting her a picture with numbers. She had seemed entranced by the minimalist, stylish images on her screen. ‘If she was enthralled by those plain images,’ Brian considered, ‘imagine how impressed she’d be by some 3-D effects.’ He made a mental note that she’d probably love it if he coloured the bars pink.

Across town Jane wandered the long corridors of a labyrinthine basement at the university. The walls were made from hundreds of jars. Each contained a brain suspended in lightly glowing green fluid. It was like an ossuary of minds. There was no natural light, but the glow of the jars created enough ambient light to see. Jane loved it down here. The jars were beautiful, elegant designs with brass bases and lids etched with green lines that made an elaborate external circuit board peppered with glistening lights. Jane wondered whether anyone had noticed that she had cracked the electronic lock, or that she spent so many evenings down here? Her parents and teachers had never appreciated how clever she was. At school they’d mocked her ‘human flatworm’ theory of learning. She would prove them wrong. She stopped and turned to a jar labelled ‘Florence’. She took a small electronic device from her pocket and pressed it against the jar. With a quiet hum, the jar moved forward from the wall, and the lid slowly opened. Jane took a knife and fork from her pocket.

Brian admired his poster. It was the most magnificent pink 3-D graph he had ever seen. He turned it to show the dude behind the counter at the printers. The guy smiled at Brian; it was a patronizing smile. Brian rushed to campus, poster tube under his arm. He had a spring in his step, and a plan in his mind.