Oh, and the Travelers blog tour is going strong! Come catch me here:
http://www.susherevans.com/--Guest post on why sci-fi is the best
http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/--Guest post on what I'd change if I could time travel
your textbook kind. Not here. Some of the students seemed excited about this. It wasn’t as if the assignments were boring. Far from it. But it was also difficult. Tedious. And left him feeling drained.
Hah. Drained. He’d have to remember that.
Tonight’s work involved something that made him distinctly uncomfortable. His professor, the older one with nose hair that needed trimming, had squawked about “the eternal need to belong, to integrate.” So tonight, they were supposed to do just that. Find a group, and using what they’d learned over the past two lectures, figure out how best to infiltrate the group.
The girl sitting next to him, the one who took copious notes and who wouldn’t even look at him, even when he dropped a pen—on purpose—under her chair, smiled as she made a large note in her planner. That was probable what got their teacher to keep assigning things like this, decade after decade. Girls like her. Who liked this kind of thing.
He hadn’t been the only one to wonder about the assignment, listening in on other students as they filtered from the classroom. Quite a few were already bemoaning the assignment. Several were attempting to figure out a way to lie and pretend they’d done the work. Not that they’d succeed. Not here.
He’d heard stories of students who’d tried to cheat. Someone said there was a plaque with their ears stapled to it somewhere in the office. Urban legend, for certain.
But now, with evening darkening the windows and every other possible task for the next two days of class completed, there was no other choice but to figure out how to best complete the assignment.
Grabbing his wallet, and ensuring he wasn’t wearing anything that might give him away, he made his way out of the dormitories. Campus was mostly dark between the ivy-coated buildings (“Oh, it’s so nice! Very collegiate,” his mother had said when they’d toured the campus when he’d been dropped off last week. His dad had given him a half-hearted shrug. It was his fault he was here, anyhow.). The gates opened to the street, and after some time exploring the internet, he’d found several coffee shops nearby.
Chances were that most of those had already been staked out by his classmates.
Staked out. Hah. Another one to remember.
He figured he’d head a little further away. Google said it would take fifteen minutes to get there, but after two wrong turns, it took more like a half hour.
The restaurant/bar had advertised live music tonight, with the promise of no cover and a good time. Hopefully enough people would be present to try out his skills. That was all he had to do, right? Try? Or would his grade be based on how well he managed to Infiltrate? Why hadn’t he thought to ask that before?
The front of the little place lit up the sidewalk and posters plastered the glass. The thrum of music sounded from inside. Outside, enough smokers congregated to ensure there would be people inside.
His lungs constricted in the cloud outside the door and he decided against his first thought to try and work them. Nope, no smokers. He couldn’t imagine asking for a cigarette anyhow—it would be such a poser move.
Okay, so this whole exercise was about being a poser. But still. It was different.
Inside, he looked around, sizing up the sea of faces, the band on the small stage on the back left. They were belting out something that at least had a decent beat. The woman singing, well, he’d heard worse.
Infiltrate. Infiltrate. How was he supposed to do this again? The lectures over the past few days had covered finding common ground with someone. Starting a basic conversation.
It had all seemed so simple in principle. Now the detailes felt hazy and the purpose even more ridiculous.
Then his stomach rumbled. A hand over it, almost by instinct. No, not ridiculous. Necessary.
Want to know what happens next? Check it out here!