[Some backwater University, 554 words, Genre: Mind Fudge]
* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn
Kat sat in the university hall. It was one of those backwater universities. The sort of university that had no reputation to speak of. The presentation of the university degrees was not a celebrated event. The chain smoking lecturer, pounded with hours of stress with little pay, lit another cigarette. He started coughing. He was a horribly unwell man with red blotchy skin, a gut to match whose eyes popped and pulsated with a terrible migraine that he experienced from alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Kat had sparked tensions with her lecturer due to the lack of his professional conduct. However, she had found a happy medium to not talk back too hard. She still talked back to the bullshit that the lecturer had presented. The university course was, after all, nothing more than a bridging course. She had already completed the university degree in her home country. The only difference here was that she had to undertake an oath that she would not partake in any violent activities of war. This was not limited to, providing nursing care to both sides of conflict if a conflict were to occur. She could still do that and serve her country and any other country she chose to in future or past conflicts. The degree was a nursing degree. It made some sense, but very little.
She had had very little money in which to attend one of the professional or profilic universities and so had ended up at this one. This backwater dump. She despised it, but knew that this was her only option in which to gain her certificate that allowed her to practice nursing in her new home country. She could hardly believe it was a real teaching institution, but it had gained national accreditation and so she was forced to attend it. Whenever she pointed out the severe dilapidation of the building the classes took place in, all the other teaching faculty and students just simply smiled and nodded.
She almost lost her mind when one of the teachers presented a philosophy, completely irrelevant to the course material. It went something like this, “We cannot save the world and all of its people from death. Death is an inevitability. What we can do in times of trouble is look after the ones closest to us. Ensuring their survival through times of trouble, through non-violent means and even then, sometimes, we fail to do that. We must accept that as a part of fate or God’s will.” It went something like that, though more professional, pulling upon various philosophical sources and well researched. Though, essentially, that was the skeleton of what was presented.
The lecturer handed out the papers of accreditation. The one with the gut experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He was smoking a cigarette inside. As he walked around, he gave each student their papers and what appeared to be a leather water skin.
He arrived at Kat’s table, he handed her the papers, “Here’s your papers,” and then gave her the leather water skin, “And here’s your time machine.”
Kat exploded, “My time machine!? What the fuck is this? It’s just a water skin!”
“Oh, didn’t you know? All nurses get time machines.” The rest of the classroom started laughing around her. It would take her some time to understand what had happened.