|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
The Error In The Text
“This is based on a true story.”
“Do not fret, class,” The Awkward Professor croaks, his combover hardly covering the glimmering bald spot that is his scalp. “We will go over any problem you want, any problem at all! Even the ones on the upcoming test!”
He looks out over the classroom-style lecture hall and sees the apathetic and uncaring faces of the twentysomethings, with a few sixtysomethings thrown in for good measure, that make up his cell of the student body. Literally nobody is paying attention; half the class is asleep, about a quarter are flirting with each other, and one kid’s even lighting up a pipe in the back of the room. This is one of the better responses The Awkward Professor has gotten from these eager young minds, he’s actually and unsarcastically thrilled right now.
“UHM, ProfesSOR, Sir!” one student gripes in only the most nasally of voices that was practiced in a mirror the previous night, his hand shooting up into the air like heroin into the vein of a junkie, illuminating the darkness that is the collective mindstate of an 8 AM Wednesday class. “There is, and I know you’ll find this hard to believe, I know I did, but there is an ERROR in the textbook!”
The Awkward Professor’s skin turns an entire shade paler than it already was upon hearing these words. “Y-y-y-y-y-yes, Royan? Could y-y-y-y-y-you please elabora-elabora-elaborate on this?”
Royan’s mouth contorts and swirls itself into an almost sinister smirk, the corners of his lips stretching far beyond the confines of his face, as he says, “But of course, Sire! On page fifty-seven, Test Your Knowledge problem number nine, parts dee and eee, sentences four and two, words twenty-seven and thirteen-point-five. There are…” pausing so you can wait for it, not his classmates but you, “ERRORS!”
The Awkward Professor, starved for human interaction, matches Royan’s smile as he flips through his custom Professor’s Edition of the textbook titled Probably Problems of Probability, written by none other than Elixerious Rapapappa.
Note: this is a 1980s Power Ballad History class.
Upon finding the errors, The Awkward Professor shrieks a harpy-like call of joy, exclaiming, “Excellent question, Royan!”
Royan did not ask a question and he knows it, but the boy jumps to the front of the class and kisses The Awkward Professor’s feet anyway, the taste of classroom-floor grime just the lickety-hit he needed to get himself back in the desk.
The Awkward Professor continues, “You see, kids, and I know you will find this hard to believe because both Royan and myself did, BUT, no matter how serious or imperative a college class is, especially one of this caliber…”
The student in the back who was smoking the pipe has since rolled a joint and formed a powwow.
“…and irregardless of how brilliant and socially-inclined the professor who wrote the book is, there can, and will always be, at least one error. In fact, in this case, there are four!”
The Awkward Professor’s smile grows approximately three-point-one-four times larger, and the class, if they were paying any attention at all, would be able to tell that the man (if you’re in a good enough mood to call him that) is very excited to say what he is about to say.
“How many pages are in our textbook?”
Not a single soul, human or otherwise, raises their hand. The Awkward Professor dies just a little bit more on the inside. “Well, I could count all of the pages, but that might take a while because, well…” he trails off. A string of drool forms on his bottom lip as he stares at the open textbook in his hands. He slurps it up.
“Or…” as he removes his glasses in an attempt to create some sort of dramatic effect, “…we could call in… an expert.”
It’s hard to describe in words how he pronounces the word expert, so there ya go. Royan’s Capri pants shrink up to his kneecaps at this comment; it’s finally happening. His CHANCE.
The Awkward Professor is smiling very hard now, harder than he ever has before, so hard that it doesn’t even look like he’s smiling anymore. Seriously, he’s just showing off his yellow-brown teeth that are, at this stage of his life, barely attached to his gums anymore. He begins speaking, “Softly,” to himself, although the remainder of the class that’s still giving him the time of day can hear his words as if he was speaking directly into their ears. They are quite confused as to why he keeps saying the word softly over and over again, but they let it slide as one by one they stand from their desks, slowly but surely assimilated into the powwow in the back. In fact, of all the organizations that promote coexistence at this liberal arts college, this powwow is the most inclusive; humans from all corners of the globe, wearing all types of religious head gear and carrying all flavors of existential baggage, they all come together for one reason: to smoke some Cannabis while this unqualified man attempts, at the nineteenth college that he paid to hire him, to influence the youth of America.
Finally, the broken record that is The Awkward Professor fixes itself and whispers, “Em-App Major”.
Suddenly, The Awkward Professor leaps towards his desk at the other side of the room in an attempt to dive for his bag, but he lands three feet short and smashes his face into the ground.
“CLASS!” he screams from the floor, attempting to spit out all the crumbled tooth bits he just removed from his gums. “YOU ALL NEED TO KNOW!!!”
Literally everyone in the class, besides Royan of course, has joined in on the powwow. The room is becoming increasingly hazy by the minute, smoke detectors are going off like fire alarms, but The Awkward Professor just pretends he doesn’t notice. ‘They’re just kids,’ he thinks to himself, ‘let them have their fun.’ Royan pulls out a World War I military grade gas mask and straps her on, ready and paying attention. He has been waiting all semester; nay, all year; nay, his entire life; nay, THE ENTIRE TIMELESS EXISTENCE OF HIS IMMORTAL SOUL for this moment. His CHANCE!!!!!
“PROFEssOR!” Royan’s hand shoots up, another parrot-voiced beacon of light for the Awkward Professor in his time of need, the only one in this class that none of the human students give a single rosebud of a shit about.
The Awkward Professor’s eyes begin glowing yellow as he chants, “Yes, Royan! Be my sal-vAY-SHON!”
Royan stands up, his back cracking like a whip. The sky darkens, but nobody in the class notices because the blinds are stapled to the wall. The ground begins to shake, but the administration installed earthquake-proof resistors beneath the footings of the structure. The light bulbs all explode at once, the plastic diffusion plates catching the glass and preventing the powwow from being interrupted. The Awkward Professor, still laying on the ground, allows Royan to step up on his back, the man feeling his organs being impaled by the spiked soccer cleats Royan wears every day to class and loving ever internally bleeding second of it.
This school doesn’t even have a soccer team, and Royan walks with a cane due to some unfortunate lumbar issues.
“Now…” they both say in unison, “…we combine our powers and become–” The ground’s shaking intensifies and birds begin to drop out of the sky, dead. “–the conduit.”
The lights come back on. Royan is lying dead on the floor. The Awkward Professor is hanging from the ceiling by his tongue. The powwow pauses whilst the smoker digs through his pockets for a cigarillo, all the grasshoppers scattering at the lack of grass to hop to. Probably Problems of Probability, laying open on the floor, takes on a ghastly green-yellow glow as a ghostly figure materializes above it. With a blunt rolled, the rest of the humans are pulled against their will towards the supplier like high school students are attracted to the memes about moths being attracted to lamps. If either rosseforP drawkwA ehT or his surrogate clone nayoR had functioning eyes, they would see that the plan they formulated in a cave over two trillion years ago has been thwarted by a guy that never even enrolled in the school to begin with.
The spectre of Rapappa waves its hand over the tome as letters, numbers, and ancient Wiccan runes begin to ascend into the air, spinning around the room like the Unown from that one Pokémon movie way back in the day. Amazingly, two or three kids stop smoking and witness whatever the fuck is going on here, but it’s not immediately explained to them, so they think it’s fake news. The spectre rearranges the symbols to his liking and puts them back in the book before proclaiming but a single question: “Agreed?”
The class agrees, not knowing what they’re agreeing to and not caring because tHiS iS aMeRiCa, ThE hOmE oF tHe FrEe! and they can say what they want without consequence because fReE sPeEcH.
The book explodes into a plume of light, blinding the beet red eyes of the student body.
When the light fades, the Awkward Professor is back in the front of the room with a whole new set of sparkly white teeth in his maw, and Royan is sitting in his front-center desk in a pink polka-dotted pinstripe suit.
“Now that the typo is corr-eck-ted,” The Awkward Professor says with an angelic smile, emphasis on the eck, “are there any other homework questions?”
“I fucking hate college.”
“Well yeah, I can see that. But how is that based on a true story, exactly?”
“It’s not, that’s the joke.”
“Oh… well, okay, but I’m still not sleeping with you.”
“Uh… kay? I wasn’t gonna ask you to, so…”
Flustered, she says, “Well… neither is my gay roommate!”
“Yeeeaaahhh… wasn’t gonna ask him either…”
“So why did you show me that weird fucking story in the first place?!”
“I don’t know, I thought it was kinda wacky.”