In the complete darkness of what he assumed was the next morning, Robert got up from some weird dreams, brushed his teeth, filled a cup with summoned water, and had a quick drink. He then stumbled downstairs and outside far enough away to squat down against a stone wall and relieved himself. Since he didn’t think to bring toilet paper, he summoned a steady stream of water and created an improvised bidet. When he was done, he covered his business with loose rocks.
Something would have to be done about the plumbing very soon.
He saw that he was one of the first people up in the cafeteria, so he conjured some light and set them shining down from the inoperable dorm ceiling fans. Pulling out the felt tip pen that he’d brought with him, he began to write out the sequence of rune for the light enchantment on the limestone tiles that he’d left out the day before.
Enchanting each tile took him about 10 minutes, and he had a stack of seven done by the time John and April arrived to do breakfast.
“You’re up early,” April said.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Robert said.
“Mind letting us into the kitchen?” April’s boyfriend John said.
“You guy needs a key to the kitchen. You can’t rely on Leslie and me.” Robert said as he let them into the kitchen.
“I’ll see if the regular head cook keeps a spare in his office.”
Robert nodded then turned back to enchanting lights. As he walked back to where he’d been sitting, bright lights filled the kitchen.
Robert continued enchanting while the couple put out some cereal and a couple of pitchers of milk on the table outside of the cafeteria.
A slow progression of people came through the room. They gathered cereal, looked to see if maybe there was more, ate quickly, and then either stayed or went off in their own direction. The pile of light enchanted tiles grew and grew. Darnell came over for a bit and reminded him again to try to write out all the rune he knew.
Suddenly, interrupting the calm, a very panicked and out of breath, Neil came running into the room. “Ahmed has been eaten!” He yelled.
“What the hell!”
“Is it coming for us?”
“What ate him?”
The handful of people in the cafeteria were panicking.
“Everyone else shut up. Neil, what happened,” Robert yelled.
“We were out by the lake, talking about how much of an asshat you are. Ahmed was in the middle of building his modified fish trap. I was in the cave part, having a cigarette. Then he said, ‘hey check it out something is in the water.’ I started to come over, and even from where I was standing, I could see that the water was moving oddly. I swear said, ‘Get back here, Ahmed, I don’t like this.’ But he didn’t listen. I tell you he didn’t listen. The dumb ass just stood there, pointing and staring at the water.”
“Then, it came out. A mother fucking slimy amoeba reached out and grabbed Ahmed. The thing, just the arm bit, must have been at least eight meters long. It wrapped around Ahmed before he could even say anything before dragging him into the water. Then I saw the damned thing’s whole body came to the surface with Ahmed thrashing around inside of it. I was sending holy smites at the thing, but they did nothing. Ahmed was there, and then he wasn’t. I’ve never seen anything like it. At least 20 meters long, opaque but closer to transparent, a huge glowing center. It was like Moby Amoeba. It surfaced, took Ahmed, and then it was gone.”
“Was anybody else hurt?” Robert said.
“Christ no, it was just Ahmed and me. I managed to outrun the amoeba, thank Go… I mean, Chert. Thank Chert. It wasn’t really trying for me. It just wanted Ahmed. Maybe Muslims taste better. Rob, we gotta do something. Call me Ishmael, but we gotta start making harpoons or something. We need to avenge Ahmed. Who knows when that amoeba will get us.” Neil yelled. He was on the verge of tears.
Robert got up from where he was sitting.
“You’re gonna do something?” Neil said.
“Not right away. Well, I’m going up to the Chapel to see if Ahmed made it back. Hopefully, he respawns okay.”
Leaving the stack of tiles, he had been working with on the table, Robert walked up the stairs and into the Chapel. The six catatonic people were still sitting there staring blankly ahead. Sophia was asleep. She must have stayed in the room all night hoping her sister got better.
Robert sat down in a pew, and Neil sat in a bench across the aisle.
“You know we’re still not good, and you’re still a son of a bitch for what you did Rob,” Neil said.
Rober shushed him, pointing at the sleeping Sophia.
Neil rolled his eyes but let it go for now.
It took about ten minutes of waiting but eventually a swirling mass of tiny lights formed beside the Species Stone which ultimately coalesced into a very threadbare Ahmed. His clothes were ripped and in some cases, dissolved.
Neil got up and hugged Ahmed. “You lucky, lucky bastard. You’re back. You Chert damned lucky bastard.”
“Ahmed. You look like shit.” Robert said.
“Feel like shit too.”
“Neil told us what happened. I wouldn’t mind hearing your version.” Robert said.
“Nothing to tell. I was building my fish trap for the slimes when WHAM! Out of nowhere, I get pulled into the water. Then I’m surrounded by acid because it burned everything, and I’m breathing it in, and I’m like trying to get it off me. Then I was back here.”
“You were eaten, Ahmed. By a 60 foot slime. It just came out of the water and grabbed you.” Neil said.
Just then, Sophia spoke up. “Will you guy’s shut up! I’m looking after my sister here.”
Robert looked over at her, she had major bed head, from sleeping on a pew. There was dark under her eyes, and her sleep couldn’t have been all that good even with the aura from the room. “I don’t think they care about the noise, Sophia. Besides, the stimulus might help. Anyway, I have an idea.”
Robert turned to Ahmed and said, “Do me a favor and touch the stone to check your sanity, Ahmed. When I died, it went down.”
Ahmed touched the stone and paused for a second before speaking, “It says 91 out of 230.”
“Being eaten is seems to be more traumatic than your brains bashed in by a friend. I only lost 20 points from Neil. But I think my willpower is also higher than yours so…”
“Says you. I’m a lot more strong-willed than you.” Ahmed said.
“Okay, I guess. Whatever. I’m just saying the willpower STAT might have something to do with things.”
Ahmed thought about it. “Any idea how to heal sanity.”
“Yeah smart ass, how do you ‘Heal Sanity’” Sophia said, making air quotes. “You pretend you know everything, but you know squat. If you knew everything, you would fix my sister.”
Robert sighed and ignored Sophia. Speaking to Ahmed, “Staying in here might help. There seems to be some kind of aura of peace. It’s the reason we put the sick people in here. I really wanted you out there with Joan trying to look into the plumbing problem. But maybe you should just stick in here and see if your sanity goes up. If it does, maybe time it with a stopwatch. Inside the room and outside the room.”
“What, like sit here in the dark and stuff?” Ahmed said.
“The stone glows. Besides you can spend your time experiencing the boundless joy of getting to know Sophia better.”
Sophia snorted with a certain amount of contempt.
“Can’t you at least make one of those light things on the wall like you did in the cafeteria?”
“Sure, why not. If the light goes out just fill it back up with Mana.” Robert said. Then he took out his black sharpie and drew the runes for the light enchantment on two of the walls before filling them with light Mana. When he was done, the room was infused with the warm flavor of light.
“There. Now I’m going to go back downstairs and continue making portable lights on tiles for everyone.” Robert said.
Neil decided to stay with Ahmed while Robert went back to the cafeteria.
A while later, Leslie, Sarah, and Akiko came in for breakfast together. Akiko glared at him but didn’t say anything. They sat at a different table than the one he was working at. Sighing, he realized that he had to get this over quickly before things got worse. He got up and went over to sit with the girls.
“Look Akiko I said some stuff yesterday to Neil that was a complete bunch of lies. I wanted him to get mad at me. Get him furious with me. And I wasn’t thinking about our friendship. For that, I apologize.”
“I’m sure that none of us know what you are talking about but even if we did none of us want to talk to you today. Go away Rob,” Leslie said.
“At least take a few of these.” Rob put down a small stack of the tiles he had been working on all morning. “Just fill them with Mana, and they will give you light. Better than wasting cell phone power.” And then seeing as they still didn’t want to talk to him, Robert thought it would be best if he left well enough alone.
As he was leaving, he heard Sarah say quietly, “Jerk-face,” but he didn’t turn around. Instead of getting back to work, he decided to look around, so he left the building. Up in the parking lot, a group of people was gathered around chatting. Robert recognized Gary and Darnell, so he went over to talk.
“Hey, Rob what’s up?”
“Having a shitty day so far, so I thought I would see what was up around the place,” Robert said.
Gary nodded and said, “We’re talking about the crafting buildings. We wanted to put them right here. But Darnell mentioned that you wanted them down the hill and over towards Westmount Road. Any reason why?”
“Mostly, the noise. If you set up your workshops near the dorms, it might disturb people. Also, I figure you can use the walls for raw materials or even dig into them to get more space.”
“Hmmm… those aren’t bad reasons.”
“Oh, and stay away from the lake. Ahmed got eaten by an amoeba this morning. He’s fine now. He’s in the Chapel resting. He was really traumatized.”
Gary looked confused, “Amoeba? Dinky little thing you see under a microscope in high school biology?”
“Naw. According to Neil, it was at least 20 meters long.” Robert said.
“Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick!” Gary said.
“That’s not exactly what I said, but I understand the sentiment,” Robert said. “I was wondering, does anybody have a portable voltmeter I can borrow. I want to try enchanting with electricity later this afternoon.”
Gary said, “I think Dan has one. I’ll ask him if I see him.”
“Dan… The guy with the really curly hair, right? Thanks. I’ll check with him too.”
Robert left the group and continued on down to the cave that led to the beach. Sending some light out over the water, the lake looked calm. Tranquil even. But he now knew that was an illusion. Who knew that the movies Piranha and Piranha 3D would ever become real-life cautionary tales?
The fish trap that Ahmed was building jutted out into the water. He’d set up two-thirds of a raised circle and interior basin. In in the area that was closest to the deepest part of the water, there was a gap, where Robert assumed that a flap or something could be installed to keep the slimes in.
There were a few slimes that were washed up on the shore. They all seemed fresh, and as he watched, one of them began to shine with the characteristic gathering of fireflies he’d seen when Ahmed respawned. Things clicked inside Robert’s head. Amoeba or slimes were dungeon creatures. Somewhere in this lake, they must have a species stone too.
On his way to the other side of the cave, he bumped into Joan who was lying on the ground feeling around in the grass on the other side of University Campus lane.
“What’s up,” Robert said.
Joan looked over at Rob then said, “I don’t know if I should be speaking to you. Leslie is pissed.”
Robert sighed. “She’ll get over it eventually. Hopefully. We’ve known each other too long for her to hold a grudge.”
“You should do something nice for Akiko. Get her some flowers or something.”
Robert gestured to the cave, “The nearest florist is kind of a long way away. But you’re right. I’ll think of something. So now that that is out of the way, what’s up?”
“Well, see those twigs on the lawn over there.” Joan pointed to a line of twigs that were sticking out of the dirt and ran to the Residence. “Those twigs are where the sewer main is. The sticks over there are for the water main.”
“The sewer main runs down to the road and into the sewage system, and there seem to be two sewage lines. The main one and a storm sewage line. Both of which run under the road.”
Joan looked over at Rob and said, “I’m thinking it would be fairly easy just to run the sewage lines into the river and have it wash downstream. Ahmed and I just need to dig down far enough that everything runs downhill into the river. Where is Ahmed by the way?”
“Oh, Ahmed was eaten by an Amoeba. Anyway, your plan sounds good. What about the main water supply?”
“Robert, don’t you think you should have lead with ‘Ahmed has been eaten by an Amoeba!’ Are we in danger? Should we be trying to protect ourselves?”
“Relax Joan, Ahmed respawned in the Chapel a couple of hours ago. He is a bit frazzled but no worse for the wear. Last I saw him he was chilling with Sophia and Neil. We will eventually have to do something about the Amoeba menace. They seem to live in the water, so as long as we don’t engage in many aqua sports, we should be fine. But then you know more about those slimy monsters than anybody. Don’t you have a big one in a jar?”
“Yeah. He’s on my desk. I forgot about Herbie with all this digging in the ground.”
“There you go. When you get a chance, find some biology people and do a study on slimes. Or do one yourself. We need to know more about them anyway. I can’t believe you named an amoeba Herbie though.”
“Hmmm, more work. At least this whole kidnapped to another world thing is keeping me busy. As I was saying, I don’t know what we’ll do for the main water. I’ll need to think about it.”
Robert left her and thought about exploring the pathway that seemed to lead out of the cave, but eventually decided against. There still was a lot to do, besides he probably shouldn’t go alone.
Instead, he headed back to the dorm. Up by the flagpole they had set up a hockey rink, and six people were skating on the ice that someone had conjured. He stood and watched for a while. One of them skated over and said, “Wanna join, Rob?”
“No, thanks. Shouldn’t you be, you know, working on something to make us safer?”
“Dude, you’re not my mom.” The hockey player said before skating away.
Robert sighed, not much he could do; in reality, he didn’t really have that much authority here. He could push and prod and maybe get a few of his friends to do things, but really beyond being the Resident Advisor who was he? Just a guy. Nobody important unless you got locked out of your room, or needed some advice about your courses, or were having girlfriend problems and wanted to talk.
Instead of going back to the cafeteria, he went to the maintenance shed. He’d seen some small panes of glass and had come up with a way to use them. Then he went back to the cafeteria.
The room was packed. People were scattered around the room, doing things as varied as chatting, playing cards, playing board games, and playing on their laptop. One girl who didn’t seem to have clued in was sitting by herself doing her homework. Or maybe she just really wanted to learn multivariable calculus.
Someone with light magic had summoned a light and hung it from the ceiling of the room. Robert idly wondered who.
The girls weren’t in the room. Nor were Neil and Ahmed. He hadn’t seen Huang and his peeps in a long time.
People turned to look at him when they saw Robert come into the room; then they looked away. One guy called out and said, “Hey Rob, we need more of these light things.” And a bunch of other people said “Yeah” agreeing with him. “Get to work ya bum,” someone called out.
Rob sat down at the table where he had been working on the tiles. The blank tiles were still there, but all the ones he’d made runes on were gone. It was too much to hope anybody would thank him for his work, though he supposed it really didn’t matter.
Instead, he took one of the blank tiles and drew out and then powered up the light runes he’d been making all morning.
“Mind if I grab that one.” Someone said, looking over his shoulder.
“Sorry, this one is mine,” Rob said. “I’m going to experiment with it. I’ll make you another one later.”
“Please, can I have that one. I’ve been waiting here all afternoon for some light for my room. My flashlight died a couple of hours ago, and I need light. Please, can I have that one.”
“I said later,” Robert said. “I’m busy.”
“Just a second. I don’t know you, but why don’t you help out. A bit. Find someone with earth magic, make a stack of these tiles. I will copy the runes you need to draw on the tiles, and you can grab a sharpie or felt tip pen and copy them out. Then we can find some to enchant them.”
“I’m too busy for that. We’re doing beer pool in the Moose room. Just make me a light. I can come back and get it when you are ready.”
Fuck that. Robert didn’t even know the guy who was bothering him. Sure he’d seen him around, and they’d talked maybe once before. And now he was the jerk. People were taking advantage of him. Fuck them all.
Taking one of the panes of glass, he thought for a moment, carefully composing a set of runes in his head. Amplification runes, light runes, projections runes coming together in a grand design that somehow seemed almost natural. Then he carefully drew out what he’d imagined onto the glass and infused it with Mana. The cursive script he’d drawn in sharpie glowed and then etched themselves into the glass.
Propping the glass he’d drawn on in front of the light tile he’d made, the pane of glass took the light shining into it and amplified it scattering it around the room at least 20 times brighter. It was a really cool effect, but not the one he wanted. The light was too diffused too unfocused. Just to be sure he used his light magic to send a beam of directed light through the glass and watched it spread out around the room. The light was far brighter than before, but it went everywhere. What he really wanted was to have the focused, traveling in precisely the same direction, just far brighter. A task that couldn’t be done with real-life physics.
So he tried again on the second pane. This time he was adding runes for focus into the script he was writing. In a way, run, crafting was like writing a paragraph. You had to describe the effect you wanted in as exact a way possible, using runes instead of words.
“Hey Rob, I brought that volt meter you asked Gary about, did you have a chance to write out all the runes you know in the book? It would be incredibly helpful.” Darnell said.
“Sorry Dude,” Robert said, “I just have so many other things to do. I forgot about it. I’ll work on it tonight before I go to bed. Promise.”
“Sure. What if I just leave you with some blank paper and you fill it out when you have a chance. A couple of the guys want to pick up rune crafting, and I need the book I gave you. I want them to read it and see if they don’t have to spend points.” Darnell said.
“It’s on my desk. Here are my keys. Lock up my room when you are done.” Robert handed, Darnell his master keys.
“Thanks. And remember. When you get a chance, write out what you know.”
When Darnell was gone, Robert once again got back to work on the glass. He focused his magic and began enchanting the script that he’d written. The runes in the glass lit up with magic light and before fading into permanence in the material.
This time when he shone the light tile through the second pane of glass, the photons that were not directed at the glass were dim, but those that traveled through the medium passed through like the noonday sun through a window.
Just to be sure, he used his own magic for a second time, sending directed light through the pane. It was like he was shooting a 100-lumen flashlight through the glass, but once on the other side, the light was traveling in the same direction just with the intensity of 10,000 lumens.
Satisfied he stopped sending out light magic and quenched the light tile he’d been using.
It was good that Darnell had brought the voltmeter because the next step of what he wanted to do this afternoon needed that.
Drawing out the runes he’d made yesterday for electricity but leaving out the mana storage runes, for now, he enchanted one of the tiles to emit electricity. Then he measured the voltage and current that was coming off the tile. The tile itself had almost no resistance, but as he thought about it several runes to create the equivalent of resistors, diodes, switches and the like occurred in his head.
The problem, of course, was that he was in school for computer programming and not electrical engineering. This sort of stuff was beyond him. It occurred to him that to get good at this kind of magic; he would need to study completely new areas.
Or he could get someone else to do it.
While these runes were in his head, he scribbled down on the back of a tile, the shapes for magic circuits. This wasn’t enchanting. Just notes on the only surface he had handy. He would transcribe them later onto paper for Darnell, and maybe someone else could come up with some great magic enchantments using them.
What he wanted was a constant source of electricity. And a way to stream that consistently to a point. He remembered it was 120 volts; he could measure 120 volts with the voltmeter. He could store Mana. And some runes let him control the amount of Mana coming out of the mana storage at different rates. He just needed to find the right sequence of runes to do it at 120 volts.
So he worked and wasted a small stack of tiles. It took him 2 hours, but eventually, he got what he wanted. One of his attempts failed. He accidentally must have made a tile that emitted over 200 volts, and it burst into flames the moment he powered it up. Eventually, however, he managed to attain a constant rate of 120 volts coming to two points. Still, he was suspicious. He didn’t know anything about electricity, and so he looked around the room and saw Gary, Darnell and a couple of the people he’d pegged as crafters sitting at another table discussing something.
“Darnell, Gary. Mind coming over here for a second.” Robert called out.
Gary turned around and called out “What?”
“I could use some help with some electricity stuff. Any of you know anything about circuits. And could you bring the rune book and some paper too? I wanted to write some useful ones out.”
Darnell, Gary, and two other guy’s Robert didn’t know over.
“Guy’s I’ve made this power supply. It puts out 120 volts at a constant rate when you fill it with Mana. Do you think it would work to power computers and stuff? Could we use runes like this as power sources in our rooms.”
“So cool, but no, it won’t work. What you got here is DC voltage. Wall outlets run off AC. You need to alternate the current. Still totally cool, and we can definitely use these ideas and sketches for something else that will work better.” One of Gary’s friends said.
“Good. I also wrote out a bunch of Runes that I should copy out. Stuff like switches, resistors, diodes, capacitors that kind of thing.” Robert said.
“Can you figure out the runes for inductors, transistors, and comparators? We would need those to make a decent inverter.”
“I don’t know. Can you describe what they do? I’m Robert by the way.”
“I’m Dan Li. You’ve been using my voltmeter,” Dan Li said.
Working together for over the next hour they managed to get a power supply working that generated a steady 120 Square Wave Volts AC at 60 HZ. Darnell sat with them copying out the runes and groups of runes they came up with into his book.
“It’s a square wave. It’s a start, but we’ll need to make a sine wave before we start handing these out. I wonder if someone took magnetism magic. I mean we can always enchant some iron like a magnet and then coil some wire and generate AC the old fashioned way. I mean I heard there was a river we could use to turn the magnets.” Dan said.
“I think I might as well copy out finished rune designs also so people can copy them from the book. This power supply will go nicely. There are a couple of people with Lightning magic and Enchanting.” Darnell said.
“Here, copy these out too,” Robert said and pushed over both panes of glass.
“Cool. What do they do?”
“Hold them up so I can shine a light through them,” Robert said.
And when Darnell held the two panes up, and Robert used his light magic, Darnell said, “Totally cool. One’s like a flood and the other like a spot.”
“I would like to think of them more like light amplifiers,” Robert said.
“Imagine shining a laser beam through one of these,” Gary said.
“That would be awesome. Guys I have a laser pointer in my room. We gotta try that.” Dan said. Then he got up and ran out of the cafeteria shining a light rune that was enchanted into a hand mirror in front of him.
“I don’t remember enchanting a hand mirror,” Robert said.
“Sally made it. She’s too light magic and enchanting too. Dark magic and Sound magic as well if you want to be specific about it.” Gary said. “If I’m being honest, it was her idea to start a crafter group. I just thought it was a good idea and helped organize it.”
Darnell was busy copying out runes onto paper. And Robert started drawing up a second power supply since Dan had already declared dibs on the one they’d just made. Eventually, Dan came back holding a tiny pointer in his hand. “My girlfriend off-campus has a cat.” He explained.
“Sure dude, off-campus girlfriend none of us have ever seen. Admit it you just like lasers.” Gary said.
“I really do have a girlfriend,” Dan said.
“Sure, you do.” Said Gary.
“Can we get past this unless your girlfriend stayed over last night. We are nowhere near her anymore.” Robert said. “Lets focus on the laser.”
Robert propped the magnifying glass pane up against a book, and then propped a limestone tile a few inches behind it. “Okay shoot the tile through the glass and let’s see what happens.”
Dan aimed at the laser. And as he was doing this, Robert saw a small label. It read. 7 Watt, 520 nm. Wasn’t that too powerful to use for on cats? Maybe Dan didn’t have a girlfriend with a cat. Perhaps he really did just like lasers. Honestly, did it really matter?
The beam shot out of the laser. At the speed of light, it hit the tile, burnt through it in a fraction of a section, continued across the cafeteria out the window and through the skull of a girl, Naomi, crossing between the buildings using her Galaxy smartphone to see. She didn’t have time to scream before she fell to the ground.
Of course, the guys in the cafeteria didn’t notice her and as she fell the continuous beam of light cut through her head in the direction of her fall, almost cutting off a third of her head.
The beam continued onward and cut a small hole in the next building, traveling ever onward until it started burning a hole in one of the limestone cave walls.
“That is so awesome,” Dan yelled as he looked at the hole in the tile.
“But where is the red dot,” Gary said.
“Green dot. It is a green laser.” Dan said, still shining the light through the glass. “I wonder if I can cut shapes.” And with the light, he cut a heart in the tile.
Naomi’s boyfriend Chuck had decided to run for help after her friend’s head was almost cut in half by unknown causes. Unfortunately, he decided to run forward towards the cafeteria. His running took him straight through the path of the laser beam which Dan was now waving around in a heart shape, and the light cut through his neck and cut his head off.
This Gary saw, and he yelled in a panic, “Dan, cut off the laser light.”
“Why? This is fun.”
“You just decapitated some guy out the window,” Gary yelled.
“Shit,” Dan said.
Robert, Dan, Gary, and Darnell ran out of the cafeteria. A crowd followed them. The two bodies lay on the ground, a pool of blood and brain fluid leaked around the bodies.
“Does anybody know if they used their gemstone?” Robert yelled.
Nobody seemed to know.
“It was an accident,” Dan said. “I didn’t think it would be that powerful. What do we do now?”
“Now we wait and hope that these two. Does anyone know their names, I don’t… now we hope that they used their gemstone and that they respawn. Hopefully, they respawn. After that, you have to be especially nice to them Dan, to make up for cutting their heads off.”
“It was an accident. I swear.” Dan said again. He seemed to be in shock. “I’ve never killed anything before. Not even a goldfish.”
A few more minutes passed and then a few more. Eventually, the two bodies dissolved into tiny lights, and then they were no more. Robert bent down and picked up Chuck’s wallet. It had $15 in it and his drivers’ license. Naomi’s smartphone lay on the ground too. The screen was cracked from the fall.
“Let’s see if they reappear in the chapel,” Robert said.
They walked back into the cafeteria and as they were walking Ahmed and Neil came out of the Chapel and said, “Hey guy’s something just killed Chuck and Naomi. They just respawned and are totally confused.”
“Dan blasted them with a laser,” Gary said.
“It was an accident. I swear it was an accident.” Dan said.
Robert looked over at Dan and said, “Go over and see if the two of them are all right. You got lucky. We need to come up with a system for testing dangerous things. At the very least, we need to find out who is vulnerable to dying and keep them away from risky stuff.”
Gary nodded. “We need a crafting area away from everything else. With testing areas everything. This could have been so much worse.”
Robert nodded. Then he called out. “Hey Ahmed, can I borrow you. I need your Earth magic.”
Gary looked over at Robert and said, “To build a crafting area? We aren’t ready for actual construction yet. We are still in the planning phase.”
“Naw,” said Robert, “I am working on my own project that I need Ahmed’s help with.”
Ahmed came over, and they walked back to the table where they had been working. “I need your help with something. A pet project. And I need you to do two things.”
Ahmed said, “What.”
Before Robert could answer, April stepped out of the kitchen and called out, “We will be setting out dinner in 5 minutes. Would some of you mind clearing off the tables we’ve been using to serve?”
“Why can’t you just let us into the kitchen. Like we used to.”
“Because we are Rationing the limited amount of food we have left. And we haven’t set up the service area yet to handle the small amount of food we are giving out. If you have a problem with this, take it up with one of the R.A.s Robert is right over there. I’m sure he cares a whole lot more than I do.” April said, and then she went back into the kitchen.
“I don’t,” Robert announced when eyes in the cafeteria turned to him. “What was I saying, Ahmed? Oh yeah. One project is probably going to be simple. The other might be harder.”
Darnell had finished copying out the runes into his book. “Do you mind if I take these?” he said. “I think Dan wanted to play with the power supply and try to make a cleaner sine wave, and despite nearly killing two people, I can’t imagine he won’t want to play with his laser some more.”
“Not today,” Robert said, “I made these two things for a reason. But he can have them tomorrow.”
Darnell nodded and then said, “I’m going back to the rest of the crafters. They will want to see these runes. Who knows maybe we can get a photocopy working with that power thing you and Dan made, and distribute this book of runes we’re putting together.” Then he went back to the group that Gary had already rejoined.
Robert showed the power supply prototype that he and Dan had made to Ahmed. “The first thing I need you to do is drill three holes right here, here and here, so that I can plug an outlet into this tile.”
“Then, I will need a plug,” Ahmed said.
"By the way. How's the Sanity healing?"
"Good. Almost halfway healed. Sitting in the chapel really does help."
They eventually managed to scrounge up a plug from the kitchen. Using the toaster to guide them, Ahmed drilled three holes in the tile into which the plug from the toaster fit snugly. Not only that, after a bit of tweaking of the enchantment and the runes, the toaster when it was plugged into the tile worked.
“Perfect,” Robert said. “Now for the hard task. I need you to use earth magic to change the surface of one of the building walls.”
“I need you to make the brick library wall that is facing the lawn smooth, flat, and as white as possible. Can you do it?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never used that much magic.”
“Look at it as an experiment. Dude I really need this. Can you help me?” Robert said.
“Might as well see if I can,” Ahmed said.
They walked out of the cafeteria together and crossed the lawn to the library. Walking to the other side of the building, there was a grey sand brick wall.
Ahmed raised his hand. The sand surface of the wall began to ripple and flow like water outward from a point as he watched the concrete between the bricks filled in from the bricks around it. Soon it was one smooth surface.
“I need to harden the bricks,” Ahmed said. “Just a second.”
Focusing his magic, the material of the brick seemed to change. Sand fused together on the wall until it had a texture almost like a milky glass. Soon the entire side of the wall was one smooth, paper-thin, matte glassy surface.
Ahmed however, almost fainted from the exhaustion. Robert helped him stay standing up. “Thanks, dude, I owe you,” Robert said.
“What’s all this for anyway? Some magic defense mechanism? If so, I don’t get it.” Ahmed said.
“You’ll see. I need one more bit of help if you are up for it. Would you mind helping me carry a table out here.”
“I’m damned tired from the magic, and now you want me to move furniture? What the hell, Robert. If Susan were around, I would be tempted to make up a saying from the Prophet to piss her off, but since it is just you and me, well… Fuck you, Robert.”
“That’s okay. I can get someone else to help me.”
They went back into the Cafeteria and Ahmed went to get some food. Robert used his keys to open one of the classrooms, and he and Markus carried a table out onto the lawn near the library where he and Ahmed had just been working. Then he went up to his bedroom and the moose room and gathered some stuff and after making a few trips, lay everything on the table. After making a few tests, where everything worked as he expected, he went back into the cafeteria.
Inside the cafeteria, most of the people who had suffered interuniversal kidnapping by dungeon forces most mysterious were eating.
Robert went to the front of the room and yelled out, “Hey, guys. Mind if I say something? I have a bit of an announcement.” The room quieted after he shouted the same thing twice more.
Speaking loudly, Robert said, “I know all of this has been hard on everyone. I like to pretend that I know what is going on, but I will admit that I am stumbling as blindly as all the rest of us. I have made mistakes. For this, I want to apologize.”
“But that isn’t all I wanted to say. I’ve been working all afternoon to give all of us a treat. Something we can do together. I know that this is a small gesture, but I hope that all of you will join me.”
“I have set up the projection TV from the Moose Room on the green outside the library. Ahmed was generous enough to smooth the surface of the library wall until it is perfect for a screen. And I have enough power off an enchantment I made to run my computer and the projector. In an hour and a half, I would like to announce the first official Far Away From Home movie night. Tonight we will be playing Mean Girls, and The Waterboy which I know are Akiko’s two favorites. And Neil, yes, if we run late we can play Strange Brew, though you’ve seen it what. Twenty times?”
“So grab a blanket and join us me. We’ll sit on the lawn to watch a couple of cinematic masterpieces. Hopefully, April and John can make some popcorn for all of us. It would be nice to do something as a group. I would bring beer, but I’m almost out. But if you have some and want to share…”
“Anyway. Thanks, everyone for your patience and understanding. I know these last couple of days have been hard. Hopefully, this will be fun, and we can do it as a group.”
He didn’t expect anything. There were so many cliques that had formed even back in Ontario. But when he stopped talking a couple of people started to clap. And after a couple of seconds, everyone was clapping or sighing in relief or just laughing. It was the happiest Robert had seen the group in days.
A little while later, Robert found himself sitting on the lawn, watching a still attractive Lindsay Lohan projected onto a fifty-foot wall. The pane of light was in front of the LCD Projection making the light of the movie incredibly bright and vibrant against the library wall. The power supply he and Dan had made kept the projector, laptop, and external computer speakers going.
People were passing around popcorn as they lay or sat on blankets in the grass. Almost everyone had come. Though Robert still hadn’t seen Huang and his group in a while.
Movie night was a definite success. They would have to do it again. Luckily he had an entire ten terabyte hard drive full of bootlegged videos. Otherwise, Neil would inevitably make everyone watch Anime, Japanese porn, and Strange Brew.
“Thanks for the movies, Robert.”
Robert looked over and saw Akiko.
“Akiko. I am so sorry. I shouldn’t have used you to make Neil angry with me. Can you ever forgive me?’
Akiko just gestured with her hands like it wasn’t necessary. “We should do this again.”
“I was just thinking that.” Robert said, then he smiled and said, “That would be so Fetch.”
“Good. Now stop trying to make Fetch happen.” Akiko said and then wandered off to where Susan, Leslie, Neil, and Ahmed were sitting.
Mean Girls ended, and as promised Robert started up The Waterboy. Just as Rob Schneider yelled out, “You can do it.” Robert heard a commotion coming from the dorm. He turned his head and saw Brent running towards them.
“They are coming! They are coming! I just respawned, and they are coming!”