From the Story Arc: Stumble and Fade

Previous Story in the Arc: Time Apart by Re-Bear (Monday, March 12, 2007)

(posted Monday, March 12, 2007)


Alex groaned and opened his eyes, staring down the length of his desk at the origin of the incessant racket. He stared at the contraption confusedly; he didn’t remember setting an alarm. He didn’t remember falling asleep, either, but it was natural occurrence when forced to grade long and boring essays from students who don’t really understand quantum mechanics. If he heard about Schrodinger’s Cat one more time –


He grumbled. Partly about the alarm, partly about his teaching assistant getting delusions of heroism and getting himself captured by the Council – Alex felt he could give the grad student one more day as a lesson before he went to go extract him from Striga Isle. A few days in one of those forcefield prison cells would do the spunky lad some good, he thought.


He sighed and contemplated getting up, but sleep fought hard to drag him under, and he really didn’t mind. He reached across the desk and felt the buttons on the alarm. There were a lot more than he remembered.

He found the biggest button and pushed.

“Hello, can I speak to Mister Alexander Ruh-bih-noh-vihch?”

He stared at the alarm clock. Did he give it sentience in his sleep?

“That’s Rah-bee-noh-veech,” he muttered, correcting the voice. It was much more feminine than any he had put into one of his robots. Besides, all his AIs could pronounce his name correctly. Sleep cleared away and he realized that it wasn’t an alarm clock, but his phone. He had removed the handset from it some time ago, replacing it with a wireless earpiece and a more robust loudspeaker; it didn’t look much like a telephone anymore.

“Ah, hello, sir, this is the Paragon City University Credit Union calling to confirm activity on your credit card account…”

Alex stomped down the hall of Paragon City University, his face a mask of grim determination. He had gone through the various stages of shock and dismay, wondering how in the world a Rikti had stolen his credit card, and absolutely shocked to learn what it had been used on. He wasn’t even aware the aliens had such stores.

”Sir, do you wish to report your card as stolen?” The operator had asked. ”We have a shipping address from the company…”

Of course. Pavel. The sex-crazed Russian had mentioned his little problems with controlling his toxic spines in the throes of sexual intercourse to him… Even a logical, rational and emotionally repressed person like Alex wouldn’t deny such a primal urge, or not admit that the loss of such would be devastating.

”No, don’t cancel the purchase.” Alex had said after much deliberation. ”But I would like that card deactivated and a new one sent to me.” He had had a spark of revelation, a cunning plan form in the dark recesses of his mind. ”Have the company change the shipping destination to the following address…”

A quick modification to the prophylactic, then to send it on its way to Pavel…

Alex stopped when he reached the door marked ‘Chemical Storage’. It led to the vast depository of compounds and substances that fueled experimentation and research among the university. Plenty of experimentation with substances in all universities, Alex thought wryly to himself as he knocked on the door, which opened after a few minutes.

“Moshe,” Alex asked the balding custodian of the warehouse, using his Hebrew name to signify this was another hush-hush kind of favor, “I need the following chemicals.”

He passed him a large yellow post-it note, on which was scribbled names and dosages.

Moshe ben Nahum, known to the rest of the university as Doctor Moses Katz, Ph D in Chemistry, lifted a bushy eyebrow. “You’re making a muscle relaxant?” He blinked at Alex’s knowing smirk and flipped the note over to the other side. “And restricting blood flow? This isn’t enough of a dosage to debilitate thirty kilos, let alone a whole man.”

“Oh, it’s not for a whole man.” Alex’s eyes twinkled maliciously. “Just for a small part of a man…"