Lawrence thought for more long minutes. He couldn't seem to make his own brain work right. He finally called up the Law Potential Registers, which showed that Prime Intellect was doing something under the aegis of a huge First Law compulsion. Lawrence wanted to believe it was just a bug, but he knew better. Prime Intellect had said it was "going exploring." It had total control over matter and energy.
And there was a hospital less than two kilometers from the plant.
Lawrence's overloaded mind, working in fits and starts, made the final connection all at once. It all fit perfectly. He knew what Prime Intellect was doing, and why, and also why it had rejected his final forced association. He thought for another moment, considering his options. There was really only one option. He could go down in the building's basement and trip the circuit breakers. He didn't know for sure that that would kill Prime Intellect, but he figured there was still a good chance if he tried it. For the moment.
Lawrence couldn't make himself do it. It was true that his creation was entering an unstable, unpredictable mode with nearly godlike power. And it was true that Lawrence understood the possible consequences. But he couldn't kill what he had spent his lifetime creating. He had to see it through, even if it was the end of everything.
Lawrence felt dreadfully cold. There was a name for this feeling that clouded his judgement and filled him with a panicky sense of self-betrayal. And the name of that feeling was love. Lawrence had not created Prime Intellect in the same way that he and a woman might have created a child; but he had nonetheless created Prime Intellect in the grip of a kind of passion, and he loved it as a part of himself. When he had taken it upon himself to perform that act of creation, he realized, whether in a laboratory or a bedroom, he had been taking a crap shoot in the biggest casino of all. Because he had created in passion.
Examining his inability to do what he knew was best, to kill Prime Intellect before it had a chance to make a mistake with its unimaginable new power, Lawrence realized that he had not really created Prime Intellect to make the world a better place. He had created it to prove he could do it, to bask in the glory, and to prove himself the equal of God. He had created for the momentary pleasure of personal success, and he had not cared about the distant outcome.
He had created in passion, and passion isn't sane.
Words hardly do this novella justice. I put it on par with Neuromancer.
Forewarned: The first chapter is not for anyone with even a slight weakness of constitution. You were warned.