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Old 09-11-2009, 07:29 PM   #1
Kevin Gerard
Kevin Gerard
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Another Free Short Story - Professor's Payback

Professor’s Payback

Kevin Gerard

Professor Hikkins inched his car into the tiny parking spot. He abhorred the new faculty lots. He loved his automobile and hated having it scratched and dinged by careless staff and faculty members. There simply was no way to avoid hitting another vehicle when you opened your door to enter or exit your car. The process became worse while retrieving supplies from the back seat. As careful as he was, more than once he had misjudged the distance he could push open his door, resulting in a slight tick against the vehicle parked next to him. He always assessed the damage, to the other vehicle and to his own. It just didn’t seem right to him, whether lecturer or full professor, to have to park in such minute slots. After eighteen or more years of education, one should be afforded a full sized, regulation parking spot.

The middle aged professor retrieved his satchel along with the books he needed for his morning classes. He reordered the pile of academic regalia on the back seat before gently closing the back door of his BMW. He loved the sound the doors made when they closed. Unlike the rickety, plastic sound of an American vehicle, when these doors closed they did so with authority.

He moved to the back of the vehicle, pulling open the trunk with one hand and grasping one of the zippers on his golf bag with the other. With deft fingers, he unzipped the ball pocket and retrieved a box of cigarettes. Gingerly retrieving one from the packet, he closed the light, cardboard lid and replaced the box in the pouch. After checking to see if the outer sleeve of his satchel contained anything, he dropped the cigarette into the empty compartment. Assuring himself that he held a book of matches in his shirt pocket, Professor Hikkins walked toward campus. Without looking back, he reached into the left front pocket of his slacks, grasped the BMW key and depressed the locking button. The car, now fifteen feet to this rear, snapped the door locks down authoritatively.

Professor Hikkins walked through the parking lot and onto the south end of campus. Stepping onto the grooved sidewalk, he watched a few students converse while hanging over the rails of the stairway above him. He scanned the faces, checking for anyone he might know. Seeing no one familiar, he turned his attention to the door of the business building. With a precise tug, he pulled open the glass and steel door, allowing two students to exit before he entered. He mumbled an answer to their expressions of appreciation, not looking back at all.

Walking down the hallway, he passed a number of classrooms along both walls. He glanced quickly into each window, looking for any signs of life. They always looked the same, however, rooms full of sagging bodies and lifeless pens. Professor Hikkins knew which rooms held the good teachers, he could tell in less than a second. Sadly, he saw very few rooms containing excited students, or even some who paid attention to more than their cell phones and i-Pods. Unfortunate, thought Hikkins, as he passed the mid-point of the building by the elevators.

The professor kept a brisk, even pace as he walked by the center of the “beer building” as the faculty referred to it. A well known distributor had contributed a hefty sum to the college’s general fund, and in turn got to put his last name on the business building. As much as Hikkins disliked it, the bathrooms were new and clean, as was his new office.

Passing through the east end of the structure, professor Hikkins glanced into a few open doors before exiting the building. Other professors, either hard at work or playing computer poker, huddled close to their computer monitors. Hikkins padded by all them, finally pressing the opening mechanism of another door, the identical twin to the one he used to enter the building. Swinging it wide, he walked back out into the sunshine. He spied his objective, a mere fifty feet away. He panned the area slowly, again seeking familiar faces.

Upon seeing no one he knew, he slid into the only shaded area outside of the business building. Setting his satchel down, he gently retrieved the cigarette from the outer slot. Certain he had not damaged his treasure; he set his lunch bag on the ground next to his briefcase. Assured that everything was perfectly in place, he examined the cigarette butt for the best approach. He inserted the filter between his lips, dry inhaling once to taste the untarnished tobacco. He unfolded the cover of the matchbook and pulled a stick cleanly from the row. Dragging the head across the sulfur strip, he listened to it ignite. He held it to the tip of the cigarette, sucking the flame onto the tobacco. He exhaled quickly, expelling the sulfur encrusted smoke from his mouth. Then he took a long, slow drag, inhaled deeply, and enjoyed the one second of euphoria he would experience the entire day.

He smoked unhurriedly, enjoying the relaxing euphoria of the nicotine. He allowed himself one or two cigarettes a week, quite a drop from a horrible habit of roughly a carton a week only four years ago. He had finally conquered it after listening to his doctor’s nightmarish stories about all the medical problems coming his way should he continue to smoke. Mr. Hikkins, being a precise man, cut a deal with himself. If he quit smoking, he would allow himself one cigarette per week, enough in his mind to satisfy his cravings. The arrangement had worked, more or less. Some weeks it would be one; some weeks a few more, but he tried to keep his self criticism to a minimum no matter what the amount.

Smoking the cigarette down to precisely one quarter of its original size, Mr. Hikkins exhaled one last time before inserting the fiery butt into the appropriate receptacle. Soon the school will be without designated smoking areas at all, he thought to himself. Maybe then another deal can be struck, but more likely, he would find another safe spot to engage in his morning ritual.

He walked across the gravel pathway back toward the beer building. He shook his head again, looking at the abomination that housed his office. The architecture wasn’t so bad, but the decorative exterior made him feel like vomiting. Some nitwit had encased a good portion of the building in what Hikkins saw as “aluminum foil.” To finish the optical assault, large river boulders cradled the exterior of the building, housing obscene looking trees in basins filled with cobalt blue glass rock. It was, without exception, the most hideous looking structure Professor Hikkins had ever seen.

After passing through the front door, he walked straight to the elevator bank. He depressed the “up” button, stood back and waited for the car to arrive. He gave plenty of room in case any occupants wanted to disembark. He detested people who walked into elevators before allowing riders to exit. It made no logical sense. Indeed, both students and faculty alike engaged in this ridiculous habit.

Sure enough, a student chattering into a cell phone walked up to the elevator, stood like a zombie next to the professor until the door opened, and then walked right past the people trying to exit. Hikkins observed the ceremonial bumping, combined with the perfunctory requests for forgiveness. He stood back until the way ahead of him cleared, and then entered the elevator.

Having seen his floor already selected, he assumed his position against the back wall of the elevator. Out of the corner of his right eye, he spied the young woman riding along with him. As with most students these days, she clutched a cell phone like a pacifier, yakking away about nothing important. Hikkins overheard her companion’s loud, high pitched voice erupting from the earpiece of the cell phone, and the young woman’s trite responses as they bit into the microphone.

Professor Hikkins couldn’t understand the allure of cell phones. He didn’t own one, and he couldn’t conceive how people in society enslaved themselves to such tedious personal technology. There were a few rational reasons for owning a cell phone, but he rarely heard anyone using one of the instruments for any of those purposes. He exhaled loudly, communicating his disgust to the student in the elevator with him.

After what seemed like a century, the elevator reached the third floor. Hikkins stood like a statue waiting for the student to disembark, and then walked through the arch toward the hallway leading to his office. He listened to his footsteps clicking down the hallway in perfect cadence. His shoes made a very authoritative racket when coming down any hallway on campus. He relished the sight of students scrambling to look busy whenever he approached the door of a classroom.

Exactly six feet prior to reaching the final hallway to his office, professor Hikkins slipped his left hand into his pants pocket. Retrieving his keys, he felt through the ring for the largest one in the bunch. He ran his finger down the spine, feeling the smooth side of the metal casing. Keeping that side up, he extended his arm toward the door. He knocked first, as he always did. Hearing no one stirring inside, he deftly inserted his key and turned the tumblers. He opened the door, silently removing the key in the same motion. He reached up for the light switch.

“Good morning, professor Hikkins,” said Miss Waldorf, the kinesiology professor in the office directly opposite. “How was your drive up this morning? Did you catch any traffic from the accident?”

“None at all,” replied Hikkins, “and how has your day progressed?”

“The same as usual for this time of year. Students waking up to the fact that they actually have to turn in projects. They’re bombarding me with requests for help.”

“I’m sure you’ll answer in the appropriate manner,” said Hikkins as he softly pressed the door to its closed position. He heard the double click as the mechanism saved him from his associate’s drivel.

Professor Hikkins placed his satchel on the desk in the exact location he always did, directly underneath the high window on the south wall of his office. In front of that he set his lunch bag, strategically positioned so he could extract an apple or a protein bar at some point during his office hour. Then he sat in his chair while fingering buttons on the computer. When the login screen presented itself, he briskly typed in the necessary information. He snapped the enter key down and sat back for a few moments, watching the computer process his request and bring his office desktop to life.

The background picture appeared; a grotesque piece of computer art engineered by a long lost associate. Hikkins liked the piece very much, it had become sort of an alter-ego for him, a gigantic warrior, blood spattered and determined. The creature reminded him of his state of mind at the end of each semester, slogging through endless student requests like a behemoth on the pathway to deliverance. The other faculty sharing his office cared little for his taste in art. For professor Hikkins, that fact solidified his decision to keep his desktop friend close at hand. He much preferred him to the bland selections offered by the school or the software company.

Clicking the internet icon, he watched the screen flash once. He could now examine a tribe living in the Costa Rican rainforests, peruse the art in the Louvre, or take a cross country trip in any nation around the world. He smiled contentedly at the power of the web.

Bringing his mind back to reality, the professor pulled up his campus e-mail account. Tapping in his login and password again, he watched his inbox appear on the screen. As it filled with numerous requests for information, pleas for leniency and demands for justice, Hikkins’ shoulders visibly slumped. The muscles in his face gave way, allowing flaccid skin to sag on the bones of his skull. He blinked his eyes a few times, sadly commencing his daily ritual. If only he could hire a teacher’s aide or a graduate student to see to these pathetic requests.

Hikkins blinked once, sending his gaze toward the top left portion of the screen. One hundred twenty-nine new e-mails. Grimacing, he grabbed the mouse, slid it over to the first message, and double-clicked to open it.

Professor Hikkins, this is Danielle Mason and I’m a senior this year. I can’t get in to any of you’re statistics classes this spring, because their all full up. Is there any way I can crash one of your classes, I really, really need to take it. I have to graduate in May because my boyfriend and I are going to teach English in Japan or Korea or something like that. Thanks so much in advance! P.S. I here you’re a really cool teacher!

Hikkins let his forehead fall slowly into his hands. If they couldn’t traverse their way through the registration process in four years, or learn to spell by the time they approached graduation, how could they ever expect to successfully complete his class? The docile professor placed his hands on the keyboard, preparing to execute his standard response. As he depressed his first key, his thoughts shifted to a most interesting strategy indeed. Hikkins waited for a moment, trying to control himself, and then for the first time in thirty-three years of professional instruction, he acted quite impulsively. Chuckling under his breath, he typed a very unusual response.

Ms. Mason;
Under no circumstances would I ever allow you to crash my course. In fact, even if you did handsprings from one end of the campus to the other, I still would refrain from allowing you the honor of gracing my classroom.
Prof H

Hikkins sat there for a moment, tempted beyond all reason to click the send icon. Instead he deftly wiped over the text before hitting the delete key. He rephrased his note according to academic protocol, sent the response and proceeded to file through the next fifty or so messages. While glancing at most of them he merely scoffed or smirked while executing a curt response. With a few he took his time; these were the dedicated students to which he gave his expertise and patience. They may not be the smartest in the classroom, but they tried their hardest and showed up every day, ready to work. That was all he asked for; it continually perplexed him why so few of them got the message.

Professor Hikkins saved the text of the most outlandish messages into a file he had been secretly keeping for nearly twelve years. He titled the manuscript, “Student Excuses,” but the file had grown to include a wide assortment of ridiculous pleas, requests and excuses from students of every creed, color and sex. He meant to turn it into a book some day in the future. Somehow he knew that everyday people would laugh as heartily as he had while reading many of the entertaining e-mails.

Checking his pocket watch, the computer clock and the large standard issue, circular clock on the wall to synchronize his next move, Hikkins logged out of his computer, checked his satchel one last time, and prepared to leave his faculty office. Grabbing his bag and lunch container in his right hand, Hikkins pressed the light switches next to the door with the index finger of his left. He ripped the door open noisily, hoping to startle Ms. Waldorf out of any attempt to socialize with him again. Fortunately, she had already taken leave of her chair. Professor Hikkins walked uniformly down the hallway toward his next scheduled class, nodding to students and murmuring greetings to other faculty and staff.

Upon leaving the beer building, Hikkins glanced at the newsprint racks fronting the side entrance to the main hall. Spying a fresh stack of New York Times dailies, he strolled over to fetch one for his wife. As he nestled the folded paper into the side flap of his satchel, professor Hikkins noticed something quite peculiar occurring down by the library quad. He actually heard it before seeing anything in particular. A large group of students, all screaming with delight, seemed to be following some commotion as it slowly entered and exited the huge sidewalk area fronting the learning center.

Hikkins peered down the stairs of Palm Court, in between University Hall and Lower Academic Hall. His eyes, unfortunately, weren’t as keen as during his youth. He simply couldn’t see anything more than a huge throng of students.
He heard their cries easily enough, however. In all his years on campus, he had never witnessed so many students gathered in one area before this day. Something had transpired, what he couldn’t fathom, so he wrote it off as another in a long string of bizarre pranks that take place on college campuses every day. Turning to his left, he walked toward Upper Academic Hall, the building housing the room for his next class.

While passing through the interior doors, he noticed a large number of students exiting classrooms on both sides of the hallway. He found that quite odd, seeing as how ten o’clock classes were due to commence in less than five minutes. He walked to the door of his room, grasped the handle firmly. Just before swinging the door wide, he noticed an inordinate number of students lingering about in Founders’ Plaza. The crowd was unlike anything he had ever witnessed at the small college. He decided to check the ruckus before corralling the students back into their respective classrooms.

When he opened the central doors to Academic Hall, the chaos blasted away like an army of trumpets. Hundreds of students had gathered just outside the building. Hikkins pushed through the mass of bodies, twenty or thirty deep, until finally breaking through to the front of the crowd. What he saw nearly caused his knees to give out beneath him.

Urged on by the roaring crowd, a clearly frightened Danielle Mason rolled head over heels in a tight circle inside the large group of students. She did handspring after handspring, spinning like a manic doll searching for escape from the crowd of students. Hikkins looked at the young woman’s face. He saw the terrified look in her eyes. She obviously hadn’t initiated this display, and she was trying desperately to ride out the bizarre spectacle.

Professor Hikkins looked on in shock, half mortified and half giggling internally. He watched the poor girl intently, remembering with distinct clarity the mock e-mail he had typed less than thirty minutes before. It couldn’t be, he thought to himself, he couldn’t possibly have been responsible for this bizarre event. All the same, this certainly wasn’t a normal occurrence. The quiet, diminutive man backed away involuntarily, nudging a few students in the process. Before he could make it very far, however, three members of campus security penetrated the mass of people directly opposite his position. They cleared away a path, holding the throng at bay while the president of the campus walked to the center of the circle.

Before the president could utter a sound, the twirling Ms. Mason sped through the gap in the students. To the rising cheers of the gathering, Danielle escaped from the circle, turned left and rolled up the incline toward the business building. Whimpering like a scared kitten, the young woman continued her manic handsprings. The president of the college, left behind in the huge circle of students, ordered the security personnel to follow her.
The three campus officers ran after the spinning girl. They caught up to her quickly, and upon doing so, fell in beside her, not quite sure what to do. The lead officer ran ahead and blocked her way. Quickly realizing the futility of this strategy, the man stepped aside before the twirling girl ran him down. Two of the other officers grabbed Danielle’s limbs in a desperate attempt to slow her progress. They soon found themselves rolling alongside the frightened girl, unable to inhibit her motion at all. Both of them fell away in a heap on either side of her. In one last desperate attempt, all three guards rushed the young woman, colliding in three different directions with the twirling student. Danielle wavered for a moment, giving hope to the security personnel, and to the university president watching from some distance away. Just when she seemed ready to topple over, however, the girl’s spinning motion kicked into a higher gear. She righted herself while abruptly throwing off the three men. They lay on the sidewalk, dizzy and embarrassed, watching the girl spin away toward the university commons.

Down the lengthy set of stairs she flew, somehow placing her hands and feet on the appropriate steps. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, her handsprings abruptly ceased. She rolled over one last time, landing on her feet and then her rump in front of the commons doors. She stared dumbly at two students exiting the building, and then promptly fell over to one side and passed out cold.

She woke up after a few minutes, stared dumbly at the campus security personnel gathered near her slumped form. She kept repeating one phrase over and over.

“It didn’t stop until I had rolled around the whole campus.”

* * * * *

Professor Hikkins sat in his car, gaping at the campus newspaper. Somehow, amidst his tremendous astonishment, he had managed to teach his courses that day. After finishing his late class, he went directly to the media office. His hopes were rewarded when he found a fresh copy of the day’s paper sitting in a rack outside the door. As he sat staring at the one statement Ms. Mason kept repeating at the conclusion of her ordeal, he shook his head with a mixture of disbelief and delight.

“It couldn’t be,” he said quietly. “It just couldn’t be.”

Instead of following his first inclination, Hikkins exited his car, depressed the appropriate sensor to lock the doors, and proceeded back into the beer building. At nearly eight o’clock in the evening, he encountered few students and even less faculty and staff. He skulked through the hallways, took the elevator to the third floor, and after finding his office, carefully pressed the door closed. Breathing quickly but silently, he pulled the chair to his desk back and sat down in front of his computer. He initiated the login sequence, glancing over at the door three different times while waiting for the computer to boot up.

He stared at the e-mail icon. His hand shook as he tried unsuccessfully to grab the mouse. Finally placing it over the highlighted icon, Hikkins double clicked the program. With a mixture of elation and fear, the man watched his inbox appear on the screen. The computer informed him there were one hundred eleven new messages. Hikkins perused the names of the individuals responsible for sending the e-mails. Doubt flashed to the forefront of his mind again.

“No,” he suddenly said. “This is lunacy. Besides, it can’t possible be true.”
Nothing would stop him from experimenting, however. If simply for scientific reasons he had to determine if this peculiar phenomenon would repeat itself. He scanned the names, searching for the one he knew would be among the list.

“Hmm, Avery, my boy.”

Professor Hikkins double-clicked the e-mail. He liked this particular student, but the boy caused him no end of trouble. When the screen flashed, he read the student’s message.

Hey Prof –
I’ve been away from class the past few weeks, family emergency and all. My grandfather passed away and my sister just got admitted into the hospital also. We have a very close-knit family so we’ve all been staying together for each other. Anyway, I’m back now so can I get the lecture notes from you? And are you going to be in your office tomorrow? I’d ask you questions in class but you never seem to hear me. Talk to you Thursday – A

Hikkins waited a moment before answering the e-mail. A sudden, delicious thought popped into his head. He almost discarded it, but then he decided to test his newfound ability with this particular ploy. Clicking the reply button on his screen, the professor typed his response.

Mr. Stesson –
Perhaps you need to speak up to be heard. I suggest you talk at maximum volume whenever you’re in class. As a matter of fact, why don’t you yell at the top of your lungs in my classroom? That way I’m sure never to miss your questions.
Prof H

Hikkins very nearly sent the message to the boy. Over the years his actions had become so robotic that clicking the send button occurred without any hesitation. Just before he clicked it, he wiped away the message in exactly the fashion he had before. He tapped out another message, a standard response to an e-mail about struggling family members. After sending it, Hikkins scanned through the rest of the messages in his inbox. He marked thirty-seven for deletion, answered another twenty, and then shut down his computer for the night. He gathered up his things and left the office.

* * * * *

The next morning, the sky appeared as a soft, cobalt blue blanket. Hikkins stood on the sparse patio of his undersized townhouse, sipping decaffeinated coffee and waiting for the newspaper delivery woman. No matter how hard he tried, he simply could not convince the paper’s offices to place a reliable delivery person on his route. Receiving the paper anytime after six o’clock in the morning simply ruined his entire day.

Upon arriving at school, Professor Hikkins placed his car into one of the small parking slots in the faculty lot. He retrieved the day’s necessities and walked toward the beer building. After visiting his office for a brief moment and leaving what he didn’t need behind, he exited his office, left the building and walked to his early class. Statistics at seven in the morning, what could the administration have possibly been thinking? He shook his head while entering the building. Glancing left and right in the hallway, he spied a few students sitting in the labs.

Hikkins walked into his room, Academic Hall 420, precisely ten minutes prior to the start of class. He unpacked his satchel as students continued filing into the room. He glanced up every few minutes, although he didn’t need to, really. He knew exactly who showed up, what time they appeared, and where they sat. He knew that Avery Stesson would arrive five to ten minutes late, as he always did.

Hikkins visibly shivered while wondering if the boy would fulfill his instructions this morning. With jittery fingers he dropped a dry erase marker on the floor, something he rarely did. He spied a number of students looking at him as he stooped to retrieve the writing instrument. As he straightened, he saw Avery walking toward the door of the room. Cuddling next to a favorite female, the handsome young man seemed to be sharing a private moment. He whispered something into her ear while chuckling harmlessly. Hikkins watched as the two students crossed the threshold of the doorway. A second later the quiet murmurings of the early morning statistics students vanished in the wake of a thunderous roar.

“THEN I PUT HER PANTIES OVER MY HEAD AND PRETENDED I WAS A SUPERHERO!”

Everyone in class, including professor Hikkins, stopped dead in their tracks. No one made a sound. Avery looked at the shocked young woman next to him. Everyone else in the room looked at Avery. The young man tried his best to recover, but the damage to his reputation was irreparable. He did the next best thing, trying to act nonplussed by moving casually toward his seat.
“I’M SORRY, PROFESSOR!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. “I’M SORRY I’M LATE, I MEAN I’M SORRY I’M SHOUTING, I MEAN, I…”

The young man bolted from the room, hastily knocking down everything in his path.

Hikkins stood there, completely aghast. It had happened again. Somehow, the suggestions he typed from his computer altered the behavior of the student receiving the faux e-mail. Even though he never sent the missive, indeed, even though he wiped away the words before sending the authentic message, the student obeyed his every command.

Professor Hikkins barely made it through his morning class. Half of his psyche shook with an irrational panic, for he suddenly controlled some sort of bizarre cyber power that altered student behavior. The remaining half couldn’t wait to get back to his office and answer more e-mails. He nearly giggled with delight a few times in class just thinking about what he might do when he got there, and to whom his next magical message might be sent. After finishing his class, he raced from the room, without a thought for the disposition of Avery Stesson.

Students standing in front of the beer building threw a few puzzled looks toward the diminutive professor hurrying toward the front entrance. They watched professor Hikkins throw one of the doors open and bounce his satchel off the opposite door while running toward the elevator. He screamed his intentions to those riding in the elevator. A few students standing inside the car reached out and stopped the doors from closing. Hikkins breathlessly expressed his appreciation, at the same time wedging himself into a corner of the tightly packed car. He counted the seconds as the elevator rose slowly, deposited its charges on the second floor, and then as it slowly inched up to the third level. He flew out of the car, ignoring the protests of the students standing closer to the door.

Professor Hikkins ran down the hallway toward his office. He could barely contain himself. As he approached the series of small offices to the side of the main hallway, however, he saw something most peculiar. A pair of technology service representatives backed slowly out of his office, wheeling a cart filled with a variety of computer components and peripherals. They turned and greeted the professor as he stumbled up to his office door.

“May I ask what you’re doing here?” asked Hikkins.

“Two year interval lease replacement, sir,” answered the technician closest to Hikkins.

“Wh-what?” stammered Hikkins. “What did you say?”

The two technicians looked at each other briefly, one rolling their eyes a little. “This week we’re changing out all the computers on this floor, sir. You have yourself a brand new Dell, professor.”

“One hundred sixty gigabyte hard drive,” said the second technician.

“One gigabyte processing speed,” said the first.

“Two gigabytes of memory.”

“A total of eight external memory ports.”

Mr. Hikkins dropped his satchel at his feet. He stepped into his office and looked at the sparkling new monitor resting on his desk. Shifting his eyes somewhat, he glanced at the computer sitting in its sleeve underneath the desk. His knees sagged. He grasped his forehead, brushing the sweat from his brow.

“Are you alright, sir?” asked one of the technicians.

“I, I must have my old computer. You must bring it back and install it in my office. Immediately.”

“Sorry, sir,” said the technician. “Can’t do that. They took all the computers away last night.”

“Surely you can locate the old one,” said Hikkins.

The two technicians laughed, sharing a private joke. “Afraid not, sir. The old computers are all stored in the computing assistance offices.”

“Certainly it wouldn’t be too difficult to locate one computer,” asked professor Hikkins, a nervous tick developing in his right hand.

The laughter began anew. “There’re hundreds of CPU’s down there, sir. If you like, you can go down to the second floor and search for it, but if you haven’t put some sort of personal symbol on it, you’ll never find it, believe me. They’re being prepared for donation at this very moment. Student volunteers are clearing the hard drives and server connections as we speak.”

Professor Hikkins drooped slightly, falling into his chair with a thud. His head fell into his hands, propped up loosely on elbows resting on the office desk.

“Sir?” asked one of the technicians. “Are you alright, sir?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Please, just leave, I mean, carry on with your duties. Thank you.”

Professor Hikkins waited until the technicians’ footsteps led him to believe they had reached the elevator. Raising his head from the desk, he looked at the monitor sitting quietly in front of him. Convinced that his newfound power had departed with his old computer, the diminutive man depressed the power switch on the CPU anyway. He watched with one eye as his new computer cycled itself, coming to life in front of him.

In a matter of seconds, the monitor glistened with a simple desktop arrangement. Professor Hikkins glanced low and to the left, sighting the internet icon on the taskbar. With a lifeless hand, he moved the mouse over to the small “e” and double-clicked. The program flashed onto the screen in less than a second, the cursor blinking in the login text box. With one finger, Hikkins lazily typed his login and password. He let his thumb fall onto the enter key, activating the e-mail program.

The list of messages filled the screen immediately. Hikkins glanced at the line of incoming notes, not really paying attention to any of the names in the column. At the very top, however, he recognized the name of a student he had in class three or four semesters ago. This particular young woman had given him no end of trouble, and had protested vehemently after he assigned her a failing grade for the semester. She had filed a protest with the Dean’s office, which had been swiftly dismissed after he presented evidence of her poor attendance and performance. It had been an ugly episode in his teaching career, one that hadn’t been repeated since that semester.

For the life of him, he couldn’t fathom why she might be writing to him after all this time. He moved the mouse over her name and double-clicked. The e-mail opened immediately. Professor Hikkins’ stomach turned over as he read the sickening message.

Professor Hikkins –
How’ve you been? I’ve been working crappy jobs while trying to finish my education. I still haven’t been able to graduate because you failed me that semester. Oh, and by the way, I’ve been working in the computing assistance office this term. Right now we’re formatting drives and severing network connections in the old computers. So guess what? Your old computer fell into my lap. I had a lot of fun tearing it to shreds, the way I always imagined I might rip you to pieces some day. Anyway, seeing this old CPU reminded me of what a prick you are, so I want to e-mail you before formatting the drive and say thanks a bunch for the F and that I hope the next time you walk into your classroom all your clothes fly off. – Marcia

Mr. Hikkins lifted his eyes to the wall clock in his office. His limbs shook as he realized his next class began in fifteen minutes.
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Old 09-11-2009, 08:20 PM   #2
dreams
It's about the umbrella
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Loved that little professor!! I almost choked on my tea at the end....

for sharing.
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Old 09-12-2009, 12:30 AM   #3
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Very cool story. Thank you for sharing it. I couldn't have guessed the twist at the end. What was your inspiration?

BTW, I've attached an lrf copy of the story that I made to put on my liseuse (I can't stand reading much off the computer). I hope you don't mind, Kevin Gerard.
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File Type: lrf Professor's Payback - Kevin Gerard.lrf (18.3 KB, 103 views)
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Old 09-12-2009, 11:34 AM   #4
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Thanks for reading!

My inspiration came from 10 years of teaching in the CSU. Students are wonderful but can be taxing at times. Some of the things I read or hear are pretty amazing.

Next short story - Reincarnation Assessment - it's twisted but I love it!
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Old 09-12-2009, 11:57 AM   #5
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Enjoying the show....
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Great story. I enjoyed it thoroughly!! Thanks for posting....hope to see more of your writing soon!
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Old 09-15-2009, 03:53 PM   #6
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So, where do we go from here?
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:45 PM   #7
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THAnks for posting!
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