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In honor of the impending witching season (and also of NaNoWriMo 08!), I bring to you a short story.  Although, my use of poetic license and of monikers may be liberal, the majority of the following narrative is still mostly somewhat true.  Or at least partially based on a true story.  Or truly based on a partial story.  Or something… The point is that it did actually kind of happen.  And in 3D.  Enjoy! 😀

One mild yet sunny day, not quite yet in the ides of autumn, a group of scientists were toiling away in their shady basement laboratory.  The lab was so vast, and buried so deep within the university, that soft and numerous drafts were experienced daily by its inhabitants.  It could have passed for a dungeon.  Perhaps it was one.

For weeks, these chemists, biologists, and clinicians had been slaving away.  Food. Water. Pooping. Sleep.  All of these things had become unnecessary.  Luxurious nothings from a former life.  Adaptation? Evolution?  Epigenetics?  Whatever the cause, there was no time to try to pull logic from rapidly fading memories.  From dreams.

8:00 PM.  The Deadline.  And quite literally so.  For in every pseudo-dungeon, there lies a pseudo-dragon.  Perhaps there are places on this earth, tangled within the superstring, where an exception exists and defies this rule.  However, the Cartesian coordinates for such a locale were clearly not the same as those for this one.

As the researchers scurried, much like their mice did in their cages down in the room below, to collect and collate their data, the Dragon skulked out of its opulent chambers and into the harsh sterile glare of the main room.  It sniffed visibly (as if someone had just put an open bottle of beta mercapatoethanol under its nose), thinking of how little the lighting up here did for its Prada clothing.  It’s gold jewelry.  It’s sizable cloud of self-importance.  It thought to itself (and then proceeded to share the thought aloud) that the lighting did almost as little as the peons running about it’s domain.

Accustomed to such helpful commentary, the peons continued with their work, not daring to meet the Dragon’s soulless gaze.  Rather, they kept their eyes on the clock. 4:13. 4:28.  The soft hum of machinery just barely masking the whispered prayers.  Fervent pleas to the gods of science and technology.  Pleas for good results.  Success.  Tenureship.  Escape.  One researcher looked up, perhaps to his deity.  Were those cobwebs he saw? Or just the workmanship of the spiders.  Haphazard algorithms?  Or very deliberate designs?  Like their data.  Like every action which they were performing now.  Working as one seasoned perpetual motion machine.  Dragon observed, offering little physical aid and even less moral support.

5:00 PM.  The final paper.  Compiled.  Reviewed.  Edited.  Corrected.  Consecrated and sent.  A communal sigh.

6:30 PM.  Response Received. “Manuscript Rejected…” Dragon reads aloud calmly, yet shaking with unimaginable fury.  Despite the tendrils of fire escaping its nostrils, the room temperature seems to have become sub-zero.  Everyone tries to play dead.  To make no sudden movements.  To make no movements at all.  But in a room frozen with fear, their warm breath is as visible as liquid nitrogen…

To Be Continued…

If we are still alive later this week… 😀

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