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University Blues


"He hasn't been at class all week..."

"I heard she quit working at the library..."

"Now where's that TA of mine?"

"I'm sorry, but she's not feeling well..."

"You know," said Lore, looking up at the full branched tree in an isolated patch of the university, "I've always liked this tree. I think it reminds me of Palm a lot. It must have been imported here a long time ago."

No one said by who. No one wanted to say.

"I can see why you like it here. It's easy to forget," said Hugh.

She nodded. "You know, all my life I've always wanted to be like Alis Landale, but being a hero is harder than I thought. And now I don't know if people will ever know what we've done."

"I don't think anyone will believe us," said Kenneth. "If the university won't admit anything then there's nothing we can do."

"Security cleaned up the mess," added Dana. "It's like the chimeras never existed."

"I wonder..." said Lore. "No, I don't want to. It's enough now, I think, that the monsters are gone. No one else is gonna die."

Kenneth sighed and dropped down on the grass beside the tree. "Yeah, but I can't help experiencing the feeling that one dark night I'm gonna wake up at home and find the secret police at my door."

"You mean they really exist?" said Dana.

"Dunno. After all this I wouldn't doubt it."

Hugh nodded, thoughts wandering to his doctoral project. After the battle he discovered that the hold on the articles he requested had been lifted. Somehow he found the timing a little too convenient, and it ran chills up his spine. But he would finish his project nonetheless. After all, it was how he used his knowledge that really mattered, and he would never create something as Vanden had done.

"Are you ever gonna go back to class, Lore?" asked Dana. "It seems like you've been here all week."

She smiled. "My TA's here. I can use him to catch up."

"I meant back to secondary school!"

"Hey, uh, Dana," said Kenneth. "I've been thinking... how about dinner sometime?"

"Why, is that a request for a date?"

"Go for it!" said Lore.

The three laughed, but some part of it was hollow. Hugh knew as well as they that it would take some time to recover from the shock they had taken.

"Hey, can I come too if I drag Hugh along?"

"If he's interested, sure."

"Heh. I kinda think he needs the dragging, personally. Have you ever seen the guy leave his office?"

"I am not that bad."

"Sure you are!"

Lore laughed, a brightness returning to her eyes. At the very least, for now, they could be certain that their world would never again see monsters such as those.

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