The ground trembled.
Gates/Torvalds stirred and set down his drink. The pines still smelled as sweet, the wind was still as cool, the view of the Cascades from his deck just as breathtaking. But something was wrong.
The ground heaved and buckled. Gates/Torvalds felt the deck crumbling under him. He struggled to his feet and caught a glimpse of fissures opening, trees toppling, the entire world a blur.
Gates/Torvalds ran. He transferred to his Raymond Chandler-era house in Los Angeles, using an illegal provision in the Grid. He was great at tricks like that.
Running didn't help. Los Angeles was in the middle of the Big One. Buildings didn't just fall, they shattered and turned to dust.
Gates/Torvalds ran again, to a point outside that corner of the human Virtuality.