Friday, 2 August 2013

Getting Physical

Professor Stevenson walked up through the corridor towards his office. He was in a foul mood after a long and restless night. The physics department was still deserted. As this was the first day back for the undergraduate students after the summer break, he was sure the department would be very busy very soon. The sun was just creeping over the horizon, throwing long shadows over the worn floors. He crossed over to his office door, wondering if he would be lucky today. He tried to open it. No. He tried again, concentrating hard. Nothing happened. He sighed. He walked back along the corridor towards the library, with the aim to pass some time before the rest of the staff would arrive and perhapsgive him a hand.

He didn't like the new person he had been forced to share an office with. In fact, he couldn't remember ever having voted through the absurd suggestion of sharing offices with each other in the first place. Ridiculous. What was happening to the physics department?! Professor Stevenson was going to give the University Committee hell at the next meeting. But until then he was confined to one half of his own office, with the new faculty member taking up more space than was needed. A Dr O'Donnell. He had no idea what she could possibly know about ultrafast lasers, being so incredibly young, but apparently this one was one of the latest stars. He wished she would at least look at him. But instead she was obviously mocking him by carelessly resting her feet on her desk and reviewing a research paper whilst picking her nose, as if he wasn't even there! Outrageous. He made a symbolically loud sigh. She looked up at him. He smiled, but she just shrugged her shoulders and looked away.

He was on his way to the library. The morning had been unproductive, mainly disturbed by the arrogance of his new colleague. He loved the library. It made him feel at piece. He could collect his thoughts, and also secretly look up all his old research publications, dreaming his way back to more productive times. He could stay in the library for days at the time.

He had to rush to make it back to the lecture theatre on time. He loved the first lecture for the new batch of physics students. Their innocent faces, still eager to learn and willing to study - not yet seduced by the cheap beer in the student union bar and the freedom of living away from your parents. The students were already on their way in through the door when he arrived. He had to squeeze past a young boy to get in. The boy suddenly shrieked for no reason and Professor Stevenson had to give him an angry look. What nonsense. He walked up towards the podium. But Dr O'Donnell was already standing there. He was confused. Did she want to speak to him perhaps? Maybe apologise for her strange behaviour towards him?

'Welcome to your very first lecture as physics students. My name is Dr O'Donnell, and as many of you might have heard I will be teaching your Mechanics Course this term, as I am taking over after the untimely death of Professor Stevenson earlier in the spring…'

He tried to understand. But he couldn't. He walked back out of the lecture theatre, along the corridor, slowly walking towards to the library. He needed to think. The University committee was going to get hell for this.

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