"Oh yes." Beth's brain peered more closely at the computer. Beth saw herself reflected in the screen. "But how to get past this? This project cannot be procrastinated, worked on in groups, vanished, parted, scooped up, or siphoned away, nor can it be transfigured, charmed or otherwise made to change it's nature."
Almost absentmindedly, Beth's brain placed her hands on the keyboard.
"I can only conclude that this project is supposed to be completed."
"What?" said Beth. "No!"
"Yes, I think so: Only by completing it can I get past the project and end the term."
"But what if - what if it kills you?"
"Oh, I doubt that it would work like that," said Beth's brain easily. "Our professor would not want to kill the person who approached this task."
Beth couldn't believe it. Was this more of her brain's insane determination to see good in everyone?
"Brain," said Beth, trying to keep her voice reasonable, "brain, this is our professor we're-"
"I'm sorry, Beth; I should have said, she would not want to immediately kill the person who approached this task," Beth's brain corrected itself. "She would want to keep them alive long enough to find out how they managed to penetrate so far through her course and, most importantly of all, why they were so intent upon completing this project. Do not forget that our professor believes that she alone knows about passing a class."
Beth made to speak again, but this time her brain silenced her, frowning slightly at the silver surface of the keyboard, evidently thinking hard.
"Undoubtedly," it said, finally, "this project must act in a way that will prevent me from functioning. It might paralyze me, cause me to forget what I am here for, create so much pain I am distracted, or render me incapable in some other way. This being the case, Beth, it will be your job to make sure I keep working, even if you have to force the information into me and onto this screen. You understand?"
Beth didn't speak. Was this why she had even taken classes into spring? So that she could force-feed her brain with information that she would undoubtably never use?
"You remember," said Beth's brain, "the condition on which I let us take this class?
Beth hesitated, looking again at the computer.
"But what if-?"
"You swore, did you not, to follow any instruction I gave you?"
"I warned you, did I not, that there might be danger?"
"Yes," said Beth, "but-"
"Well, then," said Beth's brain, edging her fingers again towards the keys, "you have my orders."