“The computer we have at home is junk, even by junk standards,” said Heath. “If I’m going to program, I need something with some oomph.”

“Hmph,” said Simona. “When I was last in the library, they had a bank of cheap 80/86 clones. Not even good ones from Tandy or Compaq, but rubbish units by somebody called Alpha Systems. Of course, I had a Commodore 64 at home and we used Apples for the business – only the finest!”

“Well, okay,” said Heath. “When I say ‘something with some oomph’ what I really mean is ‘something with a keyboard and an internet connection. Mom only ever uses her iPad, and programming with that is like trying to fillet a fish with bare hands.”

“Oh, I know,” Simona agreed, with a shiver that made the fur draped over her shoulders dance. “Past a certain point you simply must have a tactile interface, darling. At least, that’s what I used to tell my second husband. So that’s why you’re always in the library, dear boy?”

“Well, there’s that and they have the little lab there with a soldering iron, and all the books you could ever want. There’s a lot of old circuit stuff you can only find in books, after all. Plus Ruby makes me get stuff, even if I charge her double when I have a fine.”

“Why doesn’t she go in herself, dearie?” Simona asked.

“She’s banned. Ever since the incident.”

“The incident?”

“She won’t tell me what happened, and neither will the librarian. But I do know the cops have a standing order to arrest her for trespassing there.”

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