This continues an excerpt from Mad Science Institute, a novel of calamities, creatures, and college matriculation. (type “J” to skip back one post; type “K” to skip ahead one post)
Mad Science Institute will be available 12/16/2011, but you can read the beginning here first!
“May I ask why you think so?” Now she was using her professor voice. It made her sound dethatched and objective, and Dean knew it would get him off track, just like always. He wanted to skip to his counter-proposal, but he decided he might as well show why her idea was a bad one before he brought up his own plan.
“Okay, for starters: why would you want me to take care of a bunch of college kids? I don’t know anything about teaching or colleges or whatever it is you need me to do. Can’t you find somebody else pack their lunches and wipe their noses?”
“They need someone prepared for emergencies,” she looked at the L.A.F.D. emblem on his blue t-shirt. “This group doesn’t need someone with an advanced degree, they need someone to keep them from causing disasters. Don’t sell yourself short: you’re smart, and with your military and firefighting background you’ve got an honorary Ph.D. in disaster control as far as I’m concerned. Besides, it should only be for a few weeks. I didn’t know I would need your help when I sent the offer to your cousin, but I thought with her there now, you might…”
He popped a salmon roll into his and studied her while he chewed. “A few weeks?” he asked. “Where will you be during that time?”
“I have to take care of some business. There’s a… professor. He wants something only I can find. But—never mind. I just need a few weeks to take care of it, and in the mean time I need you to watch over my students. Please.”
“No dice,” Dean said. “I’m going wherever you go. Besides, what do you expect me to do—lie on my résumé? In case you forgot, I don’t have a lot of experience teaching biology or whatever it is you need me to teach.”
“Don’t worry about that,” she shook her head. “It isn’t necessarily a teaching position. I get sole discretion in naming my replacement. It’s in our school charter. Here,” McKenzie rummaged around in her handbag and produced a pen and an old pad of yellow sticky-notes. “I hereby name Dean Lazarchek as my replacement at the Mechanical Science Institute. Signed: Prof. Denise McKenzie,” she wrote the words as she spoke them. “I’d prefer to write you a proper letter when we get some real paper, but this is all you really need.”
“I’m still not taking the job,” he said, handing the note back to her without even glancing at it. She folded his fingers closed around it and gestured that he should keep it anyway.
“You still haven’t given me a good reason why not,” she said.
“Because I’ve got a better idea,” Dean looked right into her green eyes. “Let’s get married.”
“What?” She almost choked in surprise. “Are you crazy?”
“I’m serious. As long as you’re running away, let’s run together.”