The New International

There were a few amusing typos — or what I took as typos — (the repeated use of ‘wrap’ for knocking at the closet door, when wraps live in a closet but do not exist as knocks

Snuzcook- Writer’s Digest Contributor

Snuzcook has a story called Revelations you can find under the Writer’s Digest prompt The Discovery.

The Student Union never looked this cool when Jacob went here. In the early nineties it looked like a Fisher Price college, My First University. Back then the Union’s cafe looked like a bunch of fast-food style picnic tables had gotten lost in the lobby. Now the Union was as enticing as an experimenting freshman. And the football team was now worth watching sober, but Jacob wouldn’t do that. Tradition must be honored.

His lecture on Wormhole Displacement Theory wouldn’t start for another hour so he wandered the campus like a tourist. The stadium sized parking lot that once rented the space between the Union and the classroom buildings had been evicted and given back to nature. It was now a grassy pasture, crisscrossed with paths of crushed red rock

What a beautiful annoyance. Where the hell are you supposed to park now?

Jacob’s thoughts were interrupted by a familiar muttering that took him back fifteen years to the lab of Professor Donna Jahner. He wasn’t a student then. Jacob was her lead research assistant, he was there the day it happened. But what the hell was ‘it’? Again his thoughts were interrupted by the excited muttering. Jacob had not turned around. He was afraid to see what fifteen years had done to the Professor.

“Syrup, of course it should be that. 47 years. Should have seen it before. No matter. Time is neither here or there, but everywhere, and all that. Yes. Yes. Finally. Now to find the last piece. I know I left it here somewhere. ” She careened into Jacob and so there was nothing left but to have a look.

“There you are Jacob. I knew I left you here somewhere. I do hope you’re one of the good ones. The last several have been simply useless.”, she said as she shuffled past a startled Jacob.

“You really mustn’t dawdle anymore, not when we are so close dear.”

Her skin hung on her cheeks like a draped curtain. She craned her neck in close to Jacob’s face as though to look inside his head.

“How long has it been since ‘it’ happened dear boy?”

“Fifteen years”

“Aha” she said as she whirled about, her finger beckoning Jacob to follow.

“Fifteen years! Further proof we are neither here nor there. So delicious, the syrup, it tells it true.

Professor Jahner walked past the Neil Degrasse Tyson Building and straight into the Arts and Sciences Auditorium. The only building it seemed untouched by the University’s make over. It stood as it always had, ugly and utilitarian, like a river rock for whom the water had made way. Was it reverence or neglect? 

Jacob was hard on the Professor’s heels as she wound her way up the circling stairs, moving impossibly fast for a woman her age. She came to a stop at a narrow door simply marked, ‘Closet’.

Her three raps were answered by three raps. Then two, then one. The final rap was chased by a question riding on the accent of a cockney pirate.

“Arrr. How do I know ye to be true of this time and not some other from here or there?”

The Professor turned back to Jacob, beaming with the pride of a mother whose child had properly showed off for company.

Turning back to the door she answered the cockney pirate’s question. “Because  syrup should make pancakes soggy”.

The narrow door open to reveal exactly what it’s sign said it would be. A closet. Nothing more.

Jacob’s disappointment was mixed with confusion as the cockney pirate turned out to be an Asian man some seven feet tall.

The seven-foot Asian cockney pirate swung sideways to let them in, and there, at the other end of the narrow closet, sitting atop the wringer of a mop bucket, ‘it’ sat.

A ‘New International’ Double Keyboard typewriter.

On the top keyboard resided the usual numbers and letters. The bottom keyboard however, was home to a vast array of mathematical symbols.

“What the fuck is this?” is all Jacob could think to say.

“Even when balancing on the fulcrum of a Universal Time Shift Paradox, one needn’t be vulgar Jacob”.

“Arrr”

Jacob shook his head in acknowledgment, glassy-eyed from an understanding he couldn’t understand.

“Do you remember the formula matey?”

“I know hundreds of formulas”

“Do you remember ‘it’, Jacob dear. Try to feel your back to ‘it’.”

Right. ‘It’ wasn’t a thing. The odd keyboard is not what had stirred an understanding in Jacob. ‘It’ was a formula. He couldn’t remember it, but somehow he knew his fingers did.

He looked to the seven-foot Asian cockney pirate, who offered Jacob an encouraging “Arrrrr”.

Then to his Professor that had aged so many years in the span of decade and a half. “The formula was always right Jacob, dear. We were just in the wrong place. Go on. Bring us back to right.”

Jacob typed out the formula and hit enter after a brief pause. It was all so silly. What did he think would happen? He was after all in a small closet typing out a complex formula on a typewriter more than a hundred years old.

“What the fuck are we doing in here Professor?”

“Really, Jacob. The vulgarity dulls your brightness. Though I too would like to know what the fuck we are doing in this closet”

The small Asian man staring at them both, seemed also to be wondering what the fuck they were doing in his broom closet.

Jacob collected the New International Double Keyboard typewriter and offered an awkward “thank you”.

He and the Professor hurried out the broom closet. Lab was starting in less than an hour and they had a radical new formula to try out.

Jimmie G

 

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