Practical Exercise

OK, I thought, I’m paying for four courses, the lectures, and, of course, library access.  What do I do?  And what did he mean about ‘completed with full credit’?  Dorrance actually has a remarkable number of letter grades, including four sorts of failing grade, but ‘completed’ did not ring a bell.  OK, I am supposed to have an academic procedures advisor, that being Professor Jackson.  He won’t tell me what to do, but he can at least tell me what is going on.

The History Tower

Jackson was a historian, studying the origins of the Common Tongue.  I’d thought to look that up. I hadn’t visited his office;  I had checked where it was.  I hadn’t imagined why I would need to bother him, but it had occurred to me that if I needed to speak to him I might need to find him very quickly.  I was, alas, right. 

The History Tower was at the north end of campus.  I took off toward it at a fast march, cutting east toward the edge of campus where there was less traffic, then following the perimeter road.  History Tower was deeply crenelated, with classrooms on the first two floors and faculty offices above.  The offices faced the sea; the back of the tower was the History Library.  History was nearly unique in having its own library, open to its faculty and advanced students.

Jackson’s office was five stories off the ground, half way up the tower.  I took the outer stairs, which had a landing with a view every eight feet.  If I were an artist, as opposed to having survived a drawing class, I would doubtless have been fascinated by the progressive change in perspective as I climbed the eighty feet to his office.  Seen from above, Academy roofs were a rainbow palette of colors and patterns.

Faculty offices were shaped like pie wedges, narrower near the central atrium, wider at the building’s outer wall.  Even by Commonality standards, the floors and walls were massively thick. Of course, the place was full of books. I gave a sigh of relief at seeing that Jackson’s door was open.

I found Jackson seated at a huge desk, quietly chanting something I couldn’t quite hear. “Ah,” he said, “Miss Triskittenion.” He hadn’t looked up, and I had yet to knock on the door.  “Please give me a moment, and I’ll be free.  I have another dozen lines of scansion to check.” He returned to his chanting. I dutifully waited for him to finish.

“Please come in,” He finally said, pointing at a chair.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” I said, “but there were difficulties with my Ethics class, and I’m not sure what to do.”

“Ah, difficulties.  Actually, after Brennan’s letter, I thought you’d be here this morning,” he answered.

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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