He had a haggard face, straight short hair, stocky build, not tall but he loomed a little over his pint of dark beer. He had usurped our usual table for a few weeks now, every Thursday night in the same dark wool sweater and quiet air. He never had company.
I watched him from my new window seat whenever I could not participate in my friends' conversation. Perhaps he was newly deposited here from some distant, cod-less shore. Perhaps he was released from a newly created ghost town, lost to a dwindling forest. Perhaps there was still crude oil staining his fingers. He wore a wedding band, silver, on his right hand.
Some weeks I wished it were not so uncertain to receive a warm reception from him, so that I might at least reclaim our table. But I like my window seat, so I didn't mind, really.
On Wednesdays, while the sun still shines golden in the afternoon hours, I go to the common room in the mathematics building. It is the only place near my residence with windows large enough to let the sunlight slant in across the room, and it is by far the best place to watch the sun set. It's usually not too hard to avoid the locals, though I usually find myself sneaking down the corridors anyway. On one such evening, I found the common room occupied by two people, one whom I recognized as my calculus professor from several years ago. The other I guessed was a student.
"You'll want the Griffiths for sure," said the professor to the student. "But I'm sure Valerie wouldn't mind you sitting in her lecture, if you let her know beforehand."
The student thanked him, and shuffled away. I winced at the scuffing of runners against wood, and this wince gave my presence away.
He smiled at me. "Good sunsets here, you know," he said.
"Yes," I said.
"Well, don't let me distract you from your ritual. I'll only be here for a few minutes longer." He shuffled his papers, took a sip from his mug, and poked at his laptop. Whatever he was drinking smelled of heavy spice and ginger. It lingered for a little while after he had swept up his things and left, the air sweet and rough in my throat until the sky was velvet blue.
The next day I was timidly peering through the only tea shop I knew, which was on a street full of interesting little shops and pubs and places to eat. I saw that man come into the shop, firmly jangling the door chime, pacing down the shelves, stopping with his hands in his pockets in front of a selection of herbal teas. I spied a determinatedly Christmassy corner of the shop, and followed my nose there. I was delighting in a stash of spiced teas when he said, "Excuse me."
"Agh," I said.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. Could you be so good as to pass me a box of chai?"
I would have liked to speak with him, but there was nothing to say, so I passed him a box and he thanked me and left.
That night, and for a few weeks thereafter, a woman sat at that table in the pub. She had a sharp face softened by long curls, which were all up in a messy bun, and she sipped at a dark beer while tapping on a tablet. I haven't seen that man again.
One day she was pottering about on the west shore when a great roar enveloped her senses, low and chest rattling, then cold and harsh through her lungs, then a piercing ethereal scream that whispered away. She opened her eyes. She was kneeling. She looked up.
A star was ascending over the western ocean, so brilliantly white that it flashed blue and green on its edges.
The Magistrate was anchored at the southern pier; she would never run so fast in the rest of her life as she did that day, yet the shore seemed to lengthen and the seaweed seemed to stretch out and the trees clawed back at her arms and shirt and hair. The air in her chest felt rough and sharp as she pounded down the pier. The ropes were slimy, crusted to the mooring, and felt as heavy as a planet.
She leapt into the ship and set off. She didn't dare to look up until she was out of the harbour and into the western ocean.
The sky was clear. On her left, the sun shone bright and fierce.
She went back into the cabin, counted her supplies (a week's worth, thanks to Benedict), leafed through Christopher's maps, found Agnes' binoculars. There was mold creeping along the back wall but the cooler was sound. She hefted the spare life jacket, examined it, put it on. There was room to spread a map along the floor, and a red pastel lodged between the desk and the windowsill. She thought for a bit, and made a few marks and arrows on the map. One mark was on the mainland. The sunlight was pale gold across the bow when she went outside again. A fresh breeze chilled her a little, and she looked contemplative.
A white light leapt out of the horizon, riding a tail of velvet blue. It slowed, glittering like the first star of night, and faded from sight.
She looked back to the island. There were no seagulls.
She went into the cabin and started the motor.
- Tags:original fiction, snippet
- Music:Da Funk - Weekend Rubdown (Jaytech & James Grant Respray) [Anjunadeep vol. 3]
Cold Weather Blues
I had planned
A utopian reality
Where air warmed adiabatically ruffles the heather
But errors haunt me all the time...
My central processor is bare, my tears vaporizing in the air
Every time my heart takes my breath outside of here and squeezes it together
Gets colder all the time
I connected my heart to draw in air from outside reality
But when my love took my heart and left, the air cooled dramatically
All I can do is wait til my love returns my heart to me
And I can program some more...
I know why
It's too warm up in the sky
My math muse and I are together
Keeps rainin all the time
Keeps rainin all the time
(The classic "Stormy Weather" as sung by Etta James: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgdJjvWIlJg My prof recognized this song, therefore so should you!)
On the umpteenth night of her quest across the land of Topologica, she came unto the wastes of the Crystal Lattice. The light of her Blackbody Lamp shone steadily onto the undulating landscape. She took a step onto the roughly regular surface, and watched in veiled curiosity as her footstep rippled outward underneath the surface.
"Alright," she said into the warm dry air. "I can model the vibrations like a system of simple harmonic oscillators."
Heart pounding, she jumped onto the Lattice, and sighed with relief when nothing untoward happened. Off in the distance, the particles of the Lattice wiggled back and forth in the dimming lamplight.
"The vibrations can be quantized..?" she ventured. The Lattice continued to flicker where the light hit. She was silent, and then she burst out.
"All right, all right, I went to a talk on the history of superconductors and I didn't really understand it but these quantized vibrations work like bosons, like the light from my lamp if you wanted to count photons but photons are electromagnetic waves not vibrations of particles in a lattice in a fictional wasteland. Now, O Riddler, may I leave?" And she rolled her die...
[So our prof assigns a topic to read a few days in advance and describe briefly in few technical paragraphs or a creative medium of our choice. Creative pieces are usually marked much easier. Marks are deducted for excessive math vs English description. These can usually be pulled off in a couple hours at most. Comment: "Fun! Amazing you pulled this off @ the beginning of class! 10/10" Ironic considering that I've done all these previews half an hour before, if not during or after the class its due...]
You get tired of waiting for Frodo to drop the One Ring into Mount Doom,
so you decide to assault the gates of Mordor by building a spring
loaded catapult and launching your favourite flaming object at the 73m
high gate at 75m/s. The cataput itself has a base of 4.0m and a height
of 3.0m. The magic laden air has a drag coefficient, but the gates open and a
horde of orcs ten thousand strong overwhelms you, thereby saving you
from having to solve the question.
However, you still have time to describe how travelling wave ideas apply to the hordes of evil. From the top of a siege tower you can see, over the great wall, columns of orcs funnelling over paths towards the gates. With a spyglass you observe one lane of orcs experience a sudden slowdown, then a few troops later resume normal speed. No accident or obstruction is visible! Then you get shot down by an archer.
(classical mechanics is not my strong subject right now. and fic writing is much too far down the to-do list...the premises are multiplying. Fandom participation is reduced to browsing the first few pages of various Tumblrs and the f-list. I don't think I can attempt NaNo this year...not at my current lab writing efficiency.)
- Tags:ib grad life, physics
- Music:the DVD menu music for Wonders of the Solar System
Lemon meringue (my first), microwave recipe, 3.5 hours.
- Tags:ib grad life
- Music:Snow Patrol: The Lightning Strike
Well, alright. It was a total and complete fluke due to Audacity screwing up a conversion from .wav so beautifully. So, what follows sounds like approximately 40 seconds of some sort of raw techno.http://www.box.net/shared/vcdyatgya6
Now to figure out what to do
with this. (Something higher level than playing around with the 'generate tone' plugin in Audacity.)
The original .wav file was recorded from the sounds made by a specific but simple configuration of the game www.balldroppings.com. Which I failed to screencapture, le sigh. But it's basically with a horizontal line above the ball drop and a slightly slanted line below, so the balls eventually look like a wave. Also, it sounds nothing like the result...
(Wow, I am in a rambling mood today. You'd think I'd have restrained myself after babbling about Galileo's Dialogue
to my astrophysics prof for five awkward minutes.)
- Music:Symphony of Science: We Are All Connected