Galaxy University

Galaxy University
Campus 514


by Thadd Presley


“You in a jam,” she asked teasingly. Then, she waited for me to respond. When I didn’t, she continued. “You want if I should help you or something?” I was struck by her thick accent. It was rough and strong and sexy. It had me interested in her from syllable one.

I always wondered how a simple thing like an accent could prejudice someone in our mind. I suppose it was written into our DNA. Either that or I could be a shallow person. But, I felt it was more than that and if she gave me half a chance, I believed I would find many reasons to want to know her.

 “Hey, are ya listenin’ ta me? I don’t have much time for lunch. I need to be –”

“Yes, yes. I’m listening, but give me a moment. I’m thinking on how to –”

“How to What? It doesn’t take this long to laser scan a lunch tray.”

“I was just about to get to that. First, though,” this is when I looked up at her. “I was trying to figure out how you might help me.” She blinked at me and I waited a beat before continuing. “That’s what you asked right? If I wanted your help?”

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“Yeah, OK.” She smiled. “You got me.”

I melted a little bit.

“So, tell me how I can help?”

My mind whirled. Just her playing along with me was more that I would have dared dream about with a girl like her. “So many things come to mind.” I opened the top of the Compu-Server and unplugged the motherboard from the power supply without looking up at her. I knew if she saw how nervous I was the illusion would be broken. I wanted it to seem as if I could talk to her this way for as long as she wanted. Because, we all knew that I talked to girls all the time and innuendo-laden banter was natural for me.

NOT!!

The cafeteria was full as usual.The eleven-fifteen lunch crowd was already cramming themselves into every possible inch behind the eleven-oh-five crowd. Which was usually not a problem, but today the new Compu-Servers were glitching and not accepting the Meal Card.

Already chaos had erupted in line.People were cramming their face with macaroni salad and hamburgers before paying, the school’s security drones were buzzing in all directions getting video of every infraction, and the human security was just beginning the mistake of physically taking food from hungry people.

Just as a drone passed my station. I got an idea. “I know how you can help?”

“Yes. Yes. Anything” She was not comfortable with the break down of lunchroom etiquette.

“Come with me. We will eat off campus.”

“You could do that?”

“Yeah, I can eat anywhere I want after my shift ends in nine minutes.”

She smiled. “I mean leave these people here with no chance of paying for the lunch they’ve eaten?”

“Oh yeah. I wouldn’t worry about that. There’s nothing I can do about the glitch in the Compu-Servers anyway.” I casually slapped the base of the computer and watched the touch screen wobble. “There’s nothing in here except cables. All the software is in the…” I pointed up. “You know.”

“Be careful.” She touched the screen and settled it’s wobble. “That’s not yours.”

A drone flew close to my head and someone spoke to me from the speakers. It was a male voice. “A level three infraction has been documented. You are charged accordingly and will report to the Commons Area for sentencing at Eighteen hundred hours.”

I smiled at myself and tried to look unworried. “I’d like to report a problem with…”

The drone spoke in anticipation. “I have informed Control that you are having problems with the interface. A two hour mandatory community service of Compu-Server training has been scheduled.”

I looked back at the girl and asked. “Would you like to go eat with me?”

“Right now?” She smiled. “No. I couldn’t.” She blushed a little and smiled again.

I reached under the small podium that held the Compu-Server and reached for Standard Procedures Notebook. Once I had it, I opened it to the first page and read the scripted announcement to the starving students. “On this notebook,right here, you need to Print your name, School Number, and list all that crap you just ate. On this, right here.” I raised the notebook over my head and shook it. “If you fail to do so, the drones will know and Control will charge you with theft. Remember, it is Station Five-Fourdeen Policy to prosecute any and all infractions. If a cartoon milk is missing at the end of the day, the oxygen to air ratio will be reduced to make up the difference in cost.”

The crowd booed and the drones buzzed. I saw it as a good chance to make my get away and took the woman’s hand. My actions were not my own. I was just feeling it, feeling her, and coupling it with the emotions her accent gave me. I felt chills up and down my spine. “Are you ready?”

“What?” Her eyes got wide and I saw a gleam of excitement in them.

“If they get hold of me, I’ll be trapped her all night making reports and looking up Student Numbers.”Of course, I’d have to do it all in the morning. There was no getting away from the responsibility, but it seemed rebellious to leave in the middle of a panic and take her with me. It was a spontaneous way to make the day more interesting and a good excuse to hold her hand. “I’ll take you to a five-star restaurant with an unfiltered window looking toward the galactic center.”

“Alright. It’s a deal.”



Copyright Thadd Presley — All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Jack’s Apartment (part 6)

Jack’s Apartment
Part 6
by Thadd Presley

He stood in the stairwell that led up to the fourth floor. Looking down over the metal rail, he mentally counted the flights he’d passed. Was he on the right floor? Each landing looked the same. But, the door which opened on the fourth floor was painted green, where all the other floors had white doors. But, there was no door at this landing. He hadn’t seen a green door on any of the landings all the way up. He was lost, but that was impossible because there was only one set of stairs. He looked up, surprised to see that  the stairs climbed higher and higher.

There wasn’t but four floors in this building.

Panic struck him then. Where was he? The wrong building? His eyes filled with hot tears. The feeling of loneliness suddenly encased him and pushed closer and closer, farther and farther into his mind. He was overwhelmed; he needed to find the door to his floor or the door to the street. If he was found in the wrong building, someone would think he was trespassing. The cops would be called and his probation violated.

His mind screamed the fact that he was alone in the world. He’d killed the only woman who’d ever loved him. Being alone had never bothered him before; it was the way he wanted it. But now the desire for someone to care for him, to love him; it overwhelmed his mind and flood his blood with fear. He would do anything to have someone love him, anything for a companion to sit through the evenings with him and read.

The climb up the flights was not a particularly bad one; he enjoyed walking, and this was a source of some much-needed exercise and another good habit he could take up. He assured himself that the next landing would be his. But, the stairs went up and up.They seemed to be never ending.

Before having to stop and catch his breath, he climbed twenty flights and never passed a single door.
He turned and began to start down when he saw the door. But, it wasn’t green, nor was it in the right place. It was one flight below him. He knew it wasn’t there before, but none of that mattered now. As long as it lead to a floor and to someone who would direct him in the right direction.

As he walked down the steps, dread began building up inside of him. By the time he stood in front of the door, he was afraid to open it. He couldn’t just stand there. He had to go through the door. He built up his courage and just as his hand touched the knob, it became the locked door in his apartment.

We are waiting, Jack. We need you.

To turn around and start back down seemed impossible.It would only begin his journey all over again, and he knew he couldn’t leave and abandon anyone, not again, especially if someone needed his help. Meaning if he could help them, he would.

“Who’s there,” he called and listened as his voice echoed off the concrete walls of the stairwell.

His hand was still on the doorknob.

We need you, Jack.

He jerked his hand away from the cold brass.

A moment passed, and he knocked on the door, then banged on it. “Hello,” he yelled and then listened as his voice echoed again and again in the endless stairwell. “Who are you? Where are you?”

Help us.

“I will, just….”

Just what, he thought? How could he help anyone when he was the one lost?

Everything in him wanted to help, whether it was the homeless at the food ministry or orphaned children in another country. It was in his nature; at least, it was a part of his new nature.
He put his ear to the door, listening for movement. He was suddenly aware of the silence. The terrible feeling of loneliness returned. He wanted to help them. Whoever they were. He felt, he needed their companionship as much as they needed him. After all,wasn’t he trapped as well? He pressed his ear to the door harder and listened with all his might.

Boom, Boom, Boom

The door rattled with thundering knocks which caused him to jerk his head away. His foot came to the edge of the steps,and he rocked on the edge for a moment; for a millionth of a second he floated there, not knowing if he was going to go over or keep his balance. Then, as gravity would have it, he tilted too far and started to fall….
The slow, tumbling fall into forever brought him back to the real world with a jolt.

Rubbish Day (part 3)

Thadd Presley

They were racing side by side, nearly eighty, west-bound on Crossville Highway towards the community of Deer Ledge when the Honda’s wheels lost traction and spun the car into the shoulder. It began to fish-tale wildly.

Jerald’s heart leaped into his chest.

 Just when it seemed the G-forces was going to take the car into a roll, a stroke of remarkable luck sat the car down hard. It swerved back into traffic, not far behind Jerald.

That was close enough for Jerold. He slowed to a normal speed and put his mind back on the task at hand. How this had gotten out of control, he didn’t know. But, it had gone too far and nearly ended the very important visit to his daughter’s new house in Crossville.

The visit was already going to be a bad situation and require a good helping of courage and decisive action. He was imperative he remained clear-headed. Not a word of his introduction could be out of character or his daughter would suspect his motives before he got the chance to fix her situation once and for all.

Once and for all, he thought.

Yes.

ONCE because it was only going to take one time; and, FOR ALL, because he was doing it for everyone’s benefit.

Tears blurred his vision, as the thought of his daughter and possibly the shock of the near accident washed over him.

This was the reason he couldn’t get sidetracked. Any emotion would give him away. Any emotion, especially combined with the immense anger he had toward his daughter’s boyfriend, would be too much to control.

He shook his head, as if knocking down the thoughts that were beginning to stack in his head. He saw no need in letting them gather together and psyched him up before he needed their motivation.

So,needing a moment of peace, he pulled off the highway onto a narrow dirt road the locals referred to as Rocky Hollow. It was a rough drive on his Porsche, but he’d been down it before and was sure he could get in and out without much trouble.

As Jerald swerved his way around and through mud puddles, dark clouds blew in giving the woods a dark, fairy-tale atmosphere. A massive rock quarry lied ahead where he planned to park and walk off the tension growing in his back and shoulders.

He used to visit the quarry as a teenager and swim with friend, but he hadn’t actually been all the way to the ledge in over ten years. He’d smoked his first cigarette and drank his first swig of whiskey here over forty years ago.

He knew the area well and was looking forward to seeing the water again,but just as he got to the end of the hollow where it opened up enough for the sunshine to show through, he realized just how much it had changed.

At some point, the county had drained the water from the quarry and allowed everything down there to grow up into a neat contained forest.


Rubbish Day (part two)

There weren’t many Porsche in this condition. Ever since James Dean wrecked and killed himself in the same car, they were prize possessions and most were repainted, reupholstered, and otherwise ruined by zealous owners in an attempt to copy the car Dean drove on that fateful day.

Jerald could have driven any of his cars, but he chose the Porsche on this day because he was on an important mission. Perhaps even a dangerous mission. The weather was nice, the sun was shining, it was not too hot, and the Porsche gave the day – and his life – a nostalgic feel. Today, Jerold was taking his life back from the all the indecision he had surrendered to over the last two decades. He was taking charge of everything and making sure he was in control of everything that happened to him.

When the Honda suddenly jumped up it’s speed in an attempt to pass the Porshe, Jerold swerved aggressively and cut it off. “You shall not pass,” he said to no one and laughed a little. The Honda sped up and tried to stay on his bumper, but it was easy or Jerold to pull away from it. He gunned the motor a tad and looked in the rear view.

The Honda tried to pass again, but at the last second Jerold gunned the motor and pulled away easily. The Honda had no choice but to follow at a distance. It had no chance against the Porsche.

Of course, the young man driving the Honda couldn’t have passed the Porsche even if he had a faster, more powerful car. Jerald was a much better driver.

It amused Jerald, as he watched the driver grow visibly angry, but he didn’t want to put any of the other drivers in danger, so he did not taunt the driver. He did not want him to become any more aggressive than he had been. That was exactly the opposite of what he wanted.

Jerald kept his eye on the Honda in the rear view and thought of an endgame. This couldn’t go on for much longer or they’d both get hurt or go to jail. The driver showed no signs of slowing.

Then,unexpectedly, the driver flipped Jerald the bird and sped toward him.For a moment, it looked as if the Honda was going to ram the rear of the classic, but at the last second it backed off.

Maybe,he backed off because he thought better of it or maybe he was a coward. At any rate, and with a sigh of relief from Jerald, the cars did not collide.

Jerald pressed the clutch and revved the engine. He easily left the Honda in a cloud of black smoke. After that the Honda never gained an inch that Jerald didn’t offer.

Rubbish Day

Rubbish Day: part 1

from the storming and suffering thoughts of:
Thadd Presley

 Jerald watched the quick little Honda in his rear view mirror as it weaved dangerously through traffic. Twice the boy behind the wheel cut in front of the cars he passed too quickly, nearly hitting the drivers not paying close enough attention. Every time the Honda bolted ahead, another car came close to a collision. Each time they successfully forced their way in front of another vehicle, or forced someone onto the shoulder, the driver and his long-haired passenger laughed.

Jerald decided they’d taken their dangerous game too far when they cut in front of an unsuspecting old woman causing her to push her brakes too hard. The car behind her swerved onto the shoulder in a bold effort not to hit her. It was all too close for comfort.

As the two men sped away from the moderate traffic jam they created,Jerald stayed ahead of them watching and waiting for them to make their move. They were a few car length behind, the moment they set their sights on him. But, Jerold wasn’t a Sunday driver. He was ready for them. He loved his car and he knew how to drive it.

Cars had always been one of his passions. He’d spent more than a few weekends of his life on the dirt track at the Warzburg Speedway. He and his daughter shared love for numbers and math, but cars were what made his world go around.

He happened to like the particular car he was driving on this day more than any other. It wasn’t his only car and it wasn’t his most expensive car, but it was the one that he dreamed of owning for the longest. This was the car that began it all.

He was fourteen when he saw the 1955 Porsche Boxster 550 in a magazine his father kept in the bathroom. The page was bent in half to mark the place and a circle was drawn around the name at the top of the page. From that moment, the Porsche meant more to him than any other car he’d ever owned or wanted. He dreamed of buying it and giving it to his father, but the coal mines were adverse to dreams. A cave-in and a small underground explosion closed Jerald’s dream forever.

He still bought the car when he found one.

Of the other cars Jerold saved and worked for, the Porsche took the longest to find. It was a life-long dream and a heartbreak come together all at once.

Jerold’s car collection stood at eighteen. Most of them were bought and restored just for him by a local mechanic and friend, but the Porsche was different. It’s condition was not spectacular when he found. It was found on Craigslist and it needed more than a little TLC.

From the photos, there was no doubt that it needed a paint job. But, it was the original 1955 paint, the same color as the one in the magazine, and that was the way it was going to stay. It was exactly the way, he always dreamed it would look.

The brakes, belts, and tires were the only things changed on the car;give or take a filter and a fuse here and there, it was the same car it had always been. Not a cherry by any means, but he loved it.



Copyright Thadd Presley — All Rights Reserved

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Jack’s Apartment (part 5)

Jack’s Apartment

Part 5

by Thadd Presley

During the meeting with the landlord, she told him that the fourth floor had been used as storage area for years. She talked a bit about her father passing away and leaving the building to her.“My brother got the money, and the yacht, and the hotel. All I got was this run-down place.”

“But, why was the fourth floor empty?”

“He had plans for it, I guess. He was always a dreamer. Fact is, he won the building in a high-stakes poker match during one of the worst years of his life. He lost everything and bet everything he had on a single card.

“As you can see, he won.”

Jack smiled. He liked to hear stories of people making good on a hunch. Jack wanted to ask about her brother, but she didn’t give him a chance to ask.

“My father was deeply into drinking, gambling and he didn’t go to church until he meet Adam and found a better path in life.”

Jack thought it was a lot of information to be telling a stranger. But, they had someone in common through Adam and that made them far from strangers.

“There could be rats or bats or anything up there,”she told him. “I haven’t had anyone in to clean the place and I haven’t actually been up there in over a year.” She looked out over the river that passed in front of the restaurant where they had lunch. “When you get your room finished, we’ll see what we can throw away, but you might find treasures up there.” She smiled. “I think the last tenant of the fourth floor was in his early seventies.He was a bit of a pack rat. He kept everything and I’m sure you will run into it.”

 “Treasures would be great,” he said and assured her he wouldn’t steal anything. He was afraid if he stole from her or lied to her, drugs and death would surely follow. He wondered how much Adam had told her about his situation. “I don’t need anything fancy, just a job and a quiet place where I can get used to being with my own thoughts again.”

She smiled at that and explained again that room wouldn’t be suitable for human occupation until he gave it a bit of love and care.

He liked that she used the word “love.” It gave him a warm feeling of acceptance, a thing he hadn’t felt in a longtime.

*     *     *     *     *

We need you, Jack , the voice snapped again,sending a frosty bolt of lightening down his back, forcing him back to the present. It seemed to come from all around. Goosebumps sprang out on his arms. The urge to pee suddenly returned, and he quickly turned from the sink, which continued to run nothing but cold water,and faced the toilet.

 Once finished, he washed his hands and made his way to the kitchen, only looking into the living room to check the heater. In the kitchen, he knew he couldn’t stay and that he was going to call Adam. But, not quite yet. First he made a sandwich from the leftover macaroni and carried it to the warmth of the couch where sat down.

He used his foot to pull his small electric heater toward him and watched the locked door to open any minute. Listening for the voice, trying to steel himself against it if it happened again. He thought if he sat and waited, he would know exactly where it came from, but even before he finished his sandwich, he started to doze.

His dreams began immediately.

Secret Lyrics 2

Secret Lyrics (part 2)

In all things thou undertake
to do or think
use the gifts given unto you,
without rashness or severity,
having a reverence
demeaning yourself peaceably
to the profit of yourself
and your neighbors respectably.


Live to yourself
and the Muses
avoid the friendship
of the Multitudeness:
Be covetous of time,
it is beneficial to all men.
Use thy Gifts,
be thou ever vigilant

Jack’s Apartment (part 4)

Jack’s Apartment
(part 4)
by Thadd Presley

He shivered. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so rattled. The sound of his voice calmed his nerves a bit, but he knew sleep wouldn’t return. For the time he could only sit and look at the door.

After a long silence, sitting in the red gloom of the heater’s glow, he listened for something to happen. A trip to the bathroom was beginning to become urgent. If not soon, at least before he could sleep. He wasn’t old by any means, but the drugs had done a good job wrecking his system. He knew he wouldn’t make it the entire night without a couple pit stops.

It took another five minutes and mighty strong convincing from his bladder to get him to leave the warmth of the heater. The gas on the fourth floor was turned off, so the only warm room in the apartment was the living room, and only in the vicinity of the heater.

He tested the floor with his bare feet and found it absolutely freezing. But it had to be done; there was no stopping nature. In the old days he would have used a bottle and tossed it in the morning, but he didn’t have a bottle, nor did he feel like living that way. After giving up everything in his pursuit to live a new life, such things now seemed out of character and would lead him right back to the past. He felt that a new life demanded new actions.

He crossed the room, only thinking of his urinary duties, when he heard the high-pitched, quick voice again, like the snap of a rubber band.

Jack.

Hearing the voice again and being awake when he heard it shook him to his bones. A bit of pee squirted down his leg and he had to squeeze everything together so he didn’t piss himself completely.

He walked faster and felt the burning urgency.

That voice was not his imagination, he nervously realized. “You heard that with your own ears,” he told himself in a whisper, “and it called your name.”

He turned and looked at the locked door.

Fear tried to grip him, but he fought it. He no longer felt alone, but he couldn’t let whatever it was scare him out of his apartment. What would Adam think if he called and said he couldn’t stay in the apartment because he was scared? He smiled in spite of himself, thinking how easy it was to frighten yourself. How many times did he do it as a child? Every night? Whether it was something under the bed or in the closet, something always seemed to be out to get him. And as he got older, the monsters just got scarier and more dangerous. A simple dream or a spooky moment had a way of sending the blackest fear upon him. It was worse now, since Caroline.

Help us, Jack.

This time he jumped hard enough for his feet to leave the floor. It was louder, closer, and there was absolutely no denying that the voice came from behind the locked door.

With a flick of his hand, the light in the bathroom broke the darkness, and he saw himself in the mirror. He didn’t like the look in his eyes and looked away. He turned on the water. It was as cold as he knew it would be.

As he waited to see if the water would get warm, he tried to push the idea of ghosts away. But, there was no mistaking that he’d heard the voice. It called to him three times.

The fear forced its way into his mind.

He let the water run and listened as it gurgled down the pipes. If it started to run red, he warned himself that it would only be rust. Not blood. That only happened in movies. Old pipes sometimes have rust in them.
The urgency of getting to the bathroom was gone, replaced with fright.

Dirt

Dirt

by Thadd Presley

Hubert jumped his Huffy and felt invincible. The dirt ramp ruled. Everything was perfect. The street bully was grounded and chicken casserole would be for dinner. The next jump would break his personal record.
The record was five feet, nine inches and marked with a pink chalk line. Hubert was sure he would hit six feet, easily.
Legs pumping harder this time; up, down, like pistons. His eyes on the ramp. Blast off, in three, two…
Then, from the bushes came something fast: “Arrrhhhgg!”
He jerked away from the sound. The handle bars twisted, the bike flipped. Hubert tasted dirt, face first.
“Got you!” The boy was bent double laughing so hard. “Oh, I got you.”
From the ground, Hubert yelled: “Thought you were grounded!”

Secret Lyrics


Whosoever would know Secrets,
let him know how to keep
secret things secretly;
all will be revealed unto thee

and to reveal those things
that are to be revealed,
and to seal those things
which are to be sealed:

and not to give holy things to dogs,
nor cast pearls before swine.
Always Observe this Law,
the eyes of thy understanding shall not be blind

to understand secret things;
keep secret things secretly
and whatsoever thy mind desires
will be revealed unto thee.