A Better Lecture

Doc follows Mark towards the auditorium stage. They hike up the short set of stairs at the leftmost side and cross to the podium.

Professor Schoefield greets him, hand extended. "A wonderful costume. Very authentic. What is your name?"

"Captain Mark Daniels from Detroit, Michigan."

The professor turns to Doc. "No, no, this is all wrong. Your costume is a hodgepodge mess from the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Perhaps you just prefer outdated fashions?" He shows off his color changing plaid suit a bit. The crowd chuckles at the irony. "What is your name?"

"Dr. Lucas Shaw, but just call me Doc."

"Ahaha, I see! Your costume is of the famous historian! Very good job, indeed. Why you have got it right down to the hair color. My, you two seem to be in very good characters. Excellent participation. Now, Captain Daniels, if you will tell us of your life and times?" He steps back from the podium and extends his hand towards it, offering Mark the position.

Mark steps behind the podium and nervously grasps its sides. He looks out into the crowd. There's probably three hundred students sitting out there in various states of interest, mostly none at all.

"I, uh," he hesitates. Then he grasps the situation. "Alright, listen up, you weak livered hog swagglers. You're all about the laziest sacks of sasparilla I've ever seen. Back in my day you youngn's would be out plowin' fields or bailin' hay or fightin' injuns. There weren't no fancy hover seats or toilets for you to be loungin' around on all day. We worked for a livin'. There weren't no holobooths, neither. When you get shot, you stay dead. "

Mark rants on like this for a while. He's found an outlet, and, damnit, he's going to use it. He tells some rude stories about wenching in Toledo, hunting down Native Americans, horseback riding in the swamp, etc. But he focuses more on the state of this future society as he sees it. "Sure, you might eat better than we do, but thats because we had to hunt down our own meat and raise our own crops. I can't fathom the ranch y'all have where you get so many cows you can eat beef every god damned day. It's a wonder y'all aren't five hundred pound ogres. Oh, wait, there's one. Damn, son, go for a walk."

The crowd responds well to his speech, laughing. They take his insults well.

"Man, what happened to y'all in the last 300 years? Buncha fat-ass, half-breed nigger-injun sons-a-bitches," Mark continues.

This excites a mixed response from the crowd, a sort of "whoah," mixed with laughter. The general consensus is that he's putting on an act, however, and doesn't really mean it. Doc knows he means it. The crowd finally decides to break out into laughter as a whole and applause.

The professor claps beside him. "Very good! A truly authentic perspective, and you've done your research. This will be noted on your records. Very, very good." He retakes the podium and turns to Doc. "Now, class, this student has assumed the persona of the famous archaeologist Dr. Lucas Shaw, last of the time-travel researchers. Let me see if I can get a picture."

The professor fiddles with some controls on the podium, searching for digital images of Doc. Within a few moments, Doc's Smithsonian ID card photo is towering twenty feet into the air behind him. Doc never liked that photo.

The professor adjusts his glasses, but seems unable to resolve his eyesight enough to figure out that he's standing next to the very man. "Quite a good likeness, no? Yes, very good costume." The attentive students in the front row are taken aback, but seem to be questioning their own eyes.

One girl in a sorority sweatshirt and short shorts raises her hand. The professor takes her question. "Uh, did you, like, say time-travel?"

"Yes. Back in the late twenty first century, the Smithsonian made several very, very expensive, very dangerous excursions back in time for the purpose of collecting valuable artifacts and research. This was prior to the Causality Preservation Treaty, of course, when wormhole technology was in its infancy. After Dr. Shaw disappeared mysteriously, it was deemed too dangerous."

A student next to her raises his hand. "Uh, what do you mean disappeared mysteriously?"

"He was just gone one day after checking in to his office. Causal research theorists say that through his time traveling adventures he somehow inadvertently caused his own non-existence."

"How would we even know about him, then?" asks the male student.

"Well..." the professor is at a loss. "Something about destabilizing his wave functions or timeline, or chronosynclastic infundibulae. I don't know, I'm not a temporal physicist."

"Could he have, maybe, gone forward in time? To, like, say, now?" the sorority girl asks, examining Doc intently.

"Haha, impossible," the professor laughs. "I do not know much about wormholes, but I do know they can only lead backwards in time."

The male student continues to argue. "What if someone from now broke the treaty and opened a wormhole to then and pulled him here?"

"Well, I suppose, I mean..." He adjusts his glasses again. He looks at the picture of Doc on the monitor in the podium. He looks back at Doc. "Nonsense. It couldn't be. Very good reasoning, you two, but I'm afraid it's just not possible. The most likely answer is a very good make-up job."

The two students roll their eyes synchronously. The professor turns back to Doc. "Yes, the likeness is remarkable. Are you professional actors? Did the University send you in to liven up my classroom? If so, I'm appreciative. I never was much for giving lectures. Please, do give your speech, I apologize for the delay."

The professor stands back and offers the podium to Doc.


ERR said...

Mark Perform Speech 15 (16-1) vs. DC15, Success. XP+15

Doc said...


"Thank You Prof. Schoefield. I have always been facinated with the life and times of "Doc" Lucas Shaw, as well as the mystery of his disappearence. That is what inspired me to study history in the first place. I won't bore you with a long speech, but let me say that the study of history is nessasary so we don't repeat the mistakes of the past. Thank you."

Don't take my eye off of Mark for a second, and try to get away from the stage as politely, but as quickly as I can.

Where the hell is Steve and Thunderhorse? We have been here for hours. Can I check my I-browse to see if it has some record of what is happening to them?