The courtyard at Fall River University glimmered with the lights of faux gas lamps. Flies scrambled madly around the electric flames while below them students returned home from classes, played frisbee, chatted on the green.
Nathan Remender abstained from all of this. It had been a long day, one in a long string of dozens counting back to... Christ, he couldn't remember. How many times had he walked this same path back from the lab? How many people had he passed going about their lives in complete ignorance of the work he was doing? How many happy people watched him go, unaware that there treaded a man trying to change the world?
He waved the thought the away. He was a fool. As most people are. Problem was he wasn't entirely convinced he was a fool. He believed, deep down, that he was special, capable of doing something extraordinary. One of hundreds. Thousands, even. He knew this. No one who spent the amount of time he had spent obsessing over his work ever deluded themself into thinking they were the only one. The only delusion he was guilty of was convincing himself he was the outlier. The one who would actually succeed.
He was a fool.
A girl lay on the grass, her body propped up between her boyfriend's legs, half lying on him as he leaned casually against a tree. Had he ever been that young, Nathan wondered. That carefree? He'd spent his teens and twenties scoffing at those people. Time wasters, he considered them. But now, nearly fifteen years into his research, maybe he'd had it wrong, and it was him who had been wasting his time. Staring at computer screens, [pouring] over numbers. Rerunning results again and again, hoping to discover some previously unseen pattern.
In the movies of his parent's youth, plastics were the word. It's a Wonderful Life. The Graduate. That was always the talk that caught his attention. George Bailey had tried and failed to have everything. So, too, did Dustin Hoffman. It was George's obnoxious friend, [Heehaw?], that actually succeeded. He got out of Pottersville, he made his fortune, he went on extravagant vacations. So what if he was obnoxious? What did being belittled matter when in the end, you're the one who saved the day. Stop.
"Natty! Hey Natty!"
Speaking of obnoxious.
"Rob. What brings you out here today."
Rob hustled up to Nathan's side, a bead of sweat trickling down his forehead. It wasn't his style to run. Not unless there was an audience in needing of impressing. Freshman year their [econ?] professor had told them that all great leaders were just as good showmen as they were businessmen. Rob had taken the first part to heart and spent, it seemed, most of his energy developing that part of his craft. How the hell else would a guy with little to no knowledge of... well, anything, get the kind of grants he got.
Rob took a minute to catch his breath. His shirt was nearly sweat through. He had to tug on it to keep it from sticking. "Walk with me?"
"If you insist."
"Listen, I got something exciting to show you."
"Not interested in that kind of business, Bobby."
"What? Shut up. Listen, I think we've got something big going on."
Nathan shot his friend a sidelong glance. Since they were kids Rob was always going on about his next big idea. Lucy, Nathan used to call him. Coming up with one scheme after another. Which of course made him Ethel. Even in his comparisons, he still came out a little worse. "You've always got something big going on, Rob. What is it this time? A self driving lawn mower?"
"What? No. Nothing like that." Nathan caught a momentary pause, a hitch in Rob's in breath. He did that whenever an idea he hadn't thought of caught his fancy. Give it two weeks and he'd have a pitch ready to go. Not specs, or a proof of concept, or a team of people in mind to work on it. But without a doubt a full fledged promotional campaign was currently marching through Rob's head. "Not yet. Listen."
"I want you to come over to the lab."
"I've seen the outpost. Very impressive."
"Come on. Let's go to the lab. It's too warm outside anyway." The flies continued to buzz around the lamps. College kids continued lounging. A hackysack had been broken out. In the distance, a man called out before jogging between them, forcing them to the edges of the walking path. "Come on. We got air-conditioning."
"What's this all about. Really?"
Rob's lip curled into a smile Nathan had seen a dozen times. A hundred times. On his worse days he'd call it a shit-eating grin. And he had. But something about it this time told him there was more behind it than the usual Rob bullshit.
"What is it?"
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Location An outpost
Words Reach 800 words
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