Previously on Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog…
- No Time for Fast Talk — The first appearance of Derran Speckman. Also… maybe the last appearance of Derran Speckman. (I’d started wondering what would happen if someone actually tried to find a psionics institute in Traveller and this scene just sort of spontaneously manifested in my mind.)
- The Institute for Higher Learning and Mentalist Arts on Klesmer VII — If the previous post was sort of an inside front cover blurb… then this was something closer to being chapter one of the story to go with it.
Today we present… the first part of chapter two.
I woke up shivering, drenched in a morning dew. My head throbbed with a splitting headache. I was absolutely famished. I pulled myself up off the ground and limped out of the forest. It wasn’t far to the edge of it. There was a small strip mall on the other side of the street. I went to center of it and sat down on a park bench next to a fountain. I checked the newsnets for anything about Gorlock raids, but there was nothing. The most dangerous thing on the feeds was a tropical storm system that was mulling over whether or not to turn into a full-blown hurricane.
While I eyed through the headlines, I saw Dann walk into the specialty grocery store. He came out a while later with a baguette under his arm. I was relieved when he didn’t glance in my direction– I was slightly mortified about not making it into his program. I switched over to the local jobsfeed to see if there was anything I could do. I might not be getting any help with whatever was wrong with me, but I at least wasn’t going to starve. Thanks to the Robotics Accords, there was always going to be plenty of well paying manual tasks to attend to on Klesmer VII.
I accepted a job washing dishes at a nearby cafeteria and took out a contract for a small Imperium-subsidized apartment. Everything was normal for a while except for the fact that I became convinced that a Gorlock was living in my mirrors. I imagined that there was an alternate universe in them and that the Gorlock was threatening to some day come out of it and get me. I tried to ignore this obvious phobia, but eventually I put my parlor mirror down the recycler and taped over the medicine cabinet so that I wouldn’t have to look into it any more.
Anyway, the place where I worked I could see customers as they dropped their trays off for the dish room. One Cronday I looked up to see this girl heading towards me. I glanced at her for just a second, but soon found my eyes riveted back on her. Her jaw was crooked. She had a pronounced overbite. It looked like she had just about the worse case of scoliosis that I’d ever seen– she practically shuffled towards me. And I couldn’t stop looking at her– it was like when you pass by a gravcar accident. Really, I looked at her so long she could had me fined on the spot for a week’s pay just for violating the Creeper Codes that badly, but she just set her tray onto the chute and walked off without a word.
I couldn’t stop thinking about her, though. I just… wondered what she was like… practically all the time, too. I woudn’t have thought she’d have been my type, but something about the idea of her grew on me. A few days later I found myself filling out a Declaration of Preliminary Relational Intentions form along with a formal request for a limited exchange of social pleasantries. I was almost giddy as I specified the parameters: coffee, verbal interaction only, a neutral and public site… and a time limit of an hour and a half. I felt pretty bold. I think most guys would have gone for just an hour, but I kind of wanted to make a statement.
I triggered the application processing routines with an eyeblink and waited. After the first day of looking for a response, I’d written her off. On the second day of waiting, I decided that something on my public profile had messed everything up– probably the complete lack of a career. Or maybe it was the excessive amount of traveling for the past couple years that had triggered her sketchiness filters. I became convinced that she’d never even seen my request forms…. But on the third day, I got an acceptance code back from her. There was no message appended… she’d just checked the “okay” box and sent the forms back through the central mainframes. But I was thrilled and flattered and just all around goofily excited.
I could not wait to meet her….