Lanuleta University - Psychology
Where I Have Plenty To Think About
Fortunately, Psychology was my only class in Longbloom Hall. This was good because it was on the far side of campus from the dorms. My other classes were in the much-closer Dixon Hall.
Once outside, I grabbed a coffee from the nearest cart vendor. Aside from being the furthest, Psychology was also the earliest for me, and it let out too late for breakfast and too early for a decent lunch.
Still, as I stood there and sipped, I considered whether to head back to my room for noodles or wait on the cafeteria or the café serving anything that wouldn't require I use actual money.
After some thought and the voice going on about needing to "learn the layout", I took a walk around the center of campus. There were about five main roads that divided things up, and it was about a square kilometer in size (according to the info on their website and including land for future development).
The new athletics center had just been finished, and my roommate, Bern, was excited for that.
All the senior residence halls were on this side of campus. And they looked nicer than mine. The library was at the end of a long brick pathway lined with trees. To my left was the Activities Hall. It was small, but Bern told me they had a very special kind of karaoke. I could only hope that meant reenacting rock songs with the presence of a magically-enlarged crowd.
The voice hummed a couple of songs to herself which I would never ever attempt to sing.
I burned some time by rechecking my empty mailbox and watching a game of chess played with fuzzy, living pieces that behaved like kittens. One guy told me Dr. Kellemann made and donated it. I couldn't help but smile as the bishop stretched and groomed itself.
They never moved from their boxes unless picked up, in which case they seemed to freeze until they were set down. When a piece was taken, one tackled the other like they were play fighting.
I grabbed a copy of the events schedule. I noticed an 'Improv Night' marked, as well as a 'Magical Hypnosis' show by the Psychology Club.
I read and walked around a classmate who was levitating a heavy-looking backpack behind him. Another seemed to have a degree of control over time. Or it was just an accelerated mental skill. But he was reading a textbook with blinding speed. Now there was an aptitude I wished I had.
I was tested first when I was about three for my primary magical aptitude. The study of genetic magical proficiency was still iffy (at least that's what mom always said). It involved a lot of trial-and-error and interviews.
I tested with no aptitude whatsoever. Not a blip of magical ability. Not a single, innate natural talent. Lucky me. Those kinds of people existed and tended to rely heavily on technological magic to make it in society. But they were at a huge disadvantage.
My parents freaked out like I'd been born without a head or something. I even got the attention of the government for a while. A lot of groups were interested in the nature of magical phenomena since it was first triggered. Dad theorized they just wanted to figure out how to turn off abilities in those who might be dangerous.
But then, the voice showed up.
*To save you from being an evil, military experiment.*
Something like that. She predicted a number sequence in one of their tests. It was good enough to classify me as a "spirit-channeling magician non-specific Class D-8".
*Although I'm not a ghost, ya morons!*
It was enough to make them leave me alone.
Mom still worried though, as she always has. She tried working with me to see if there was more to my primary abilities. Or if she could nudge along my secondary and tertiary abilities, assuming I had them.
Almost all people had one thing they were born with and kept for life. Half had a secondary skill sometimes derived from the primary or learned. And one-in-ten had another one, sometimes as strong as their first, from training. That's why I was here. Because, despite mom's best efforts, all I got was the one voice in my head.
*Are you writing an essay on magical history? Pay attention to the world around you!*
I'd written plenty of them though. I liked to make the point of technology overcoming powers. Example: A criminal robs a bank with the ability to manipulate the air to squeeze people. Tries to rob rather, because a pair of anxiety-sensing turrets blasts him unconscious before he can even squeak out a breeze.
And, despite all the mind readers, wars still popped up.
*Feed us! Come on!*
I focused on the café at the top of a small hill. It was round and glassy on all sides with small, floating sculptures as part of an art expo.
Inside, the line wasn't too bad, but I sighed at the meal points required just for a sandwich. I was just about to turn around and wait at the main cafeteria for lunch when I saw Nasira sitting off to the side by herself. She was eating a fruit salad and a burrito without her eyes leaving the book set on the table.
I swallowed and grabbed a local paper from the rack by the coffee creamer station. The president was on the front page. I rolled my eyes and noted that he only got elected because his primary ability was a magically-soothing voice. With a thought, the paper shifted to a number of music and video game articles which were more to my taste. I glanced over the top of the paper at Nasira.
*What next? A fedora, trench coat, and shades so you can be even more conspicuous?*
Better than trying to find words I could possibly say to her.
"Say, that's a nice-looking burrito. What kind is it?"
"Nasira, right? Whatcha reading?"
"What's a nice book like you doing with a girl like that?"
"Hi….uh…excuse me…I need to turn tail and run screaming for no reason..."
I buried my head even deeper into the paper.
*I'll admit introductions are tough, but you already met her and know her name. Just go up to her like a friend/classmate and you'll be fine.*
Try that going up to the neighbor…
She didn't say anything to that.
I could just see myself. A confident version of myself. Not the jerk with the pick-up lines. A self-assured me knowing just what to say and not second-guessing it.
She looks up from the spell her book has put her under. She thinks a minute and gives a little smile. It doesn't take much before the other me is sitting opposite her. We talk first about the class, then about each other. Before the end of the conversation, the other me knows what dorm she lives in and has gotten an invite to study together.
The real me just got a burrito kinda like the one she was eating and grumbled about how many points it cost.
I watched a guy over to one side pull all the heat from his ice cream to keep it from melting till the last moment. The girl opposite him breathed on her food till it was steaming. They sure seemed like a match.
*One steamy and one frigid? You think that's a match?*
At least they're together.
*They could be siblings!*
I watched as Nasira stood from her seat and covered a long yawn. She cracked her neck and collected her things. I stood as well. But I decided not to follow her.
I left a little later and walked through the green areas of campus till I came to the founder, Lanu's, bronze staff. It existed in place of Lanu's body (which often shifted between male Lanu and female Leta) and resembled a classical wizard's staff. The structure evoked both a Venus mirror and a Mars shield in a rather tree-like, natural way. A symbol for all genders…and for a co-ed, magic-training student body.
The staff was next to the administration building and right across from the meditation building. I walked by the sports field and made my way up Radagast Lane.
From there, it wasn't a long walk to the main freshman dorms. They were among the oldest buildings on campus. I had to imagine they didn't think their endowment would be as good as it wound up being because the dorms looked at least twice as old as they actually were.
The building was a nearly-perfect (if you could call it that) square out of the 1970s. And it had an odor which wasn't particularly offensive on the surface. Rather, it smelled like they had used all the magical cleaning possible to cover up the most reviled smell in the world. They'd done a good job, but it was only covered up. That meant, sometimes, right when you least expected it, you would catch a scent out of the corner of your nose. Just enough to make you feel horrified but, right when you tried to identify it, it was immediately gone.
I could only imagine it was a liquid technology experiment that had been left over the summer and had cast its spell on the entire complex. I also imagined that the cover-up was only a mental trick to make people think they didn't smell it.
My room was up a claustrophobic elevator or four sets of creaky steps. It was right in the dead center of the building so that no way you took to it was any closer than the other.
I unlocked room 256, stretched my neck, and glanced around to see which of my roommates were in at the moment.
Bernadette was stretched out on the couch with an inflatable hat making lemonade for her. The second Bernadette was munching on peanuts. The TV was set to a soccer game with a screaming crowd.
*Same place as always.*
I brushed back my long, black hair and leaned against the wall. "Hey, Bern. Did you have your Magical History class yet?"
Together, they chimed in, "Hey, Michelle!" Then the relaxing Bern let the other speak, "We just got back from it. The professor kicked total ass. Should be fun."
The Berns both had the same, sleek muscular body honed by competing with each other.
I peeked in the door at the end and found Shawn wrapped in her covers and clutching her (what we all called) "light-stick" close. I was surprised she could hold the light into a 'saber'-like form, even while she was sleeping.
And I knew from earlier that Quinn had a music class. So, I set my bags down on my bed and took a long look in the mirror.
I couldn't believe I'd sat there and just stared at Nasir. I should've approached him or something.
I posed a bit in the mirror. I felt somewhat pretty. At least I wasn't crushingly-shy like the boy in the little 'experience' Kellemann had closed on. And I wasn't a chick who was begging for it like in that opening head-trip.
But I really liked Nasir. And he was gorgeous.
And…I had my hand on the door to my room.
I hadn't even entered. And my name was Miguel, not Michelle.
I put my key in the lock and looked around. Both Bernies, male, were camped out on the couch and doing just what I'd seen a minute before…as Michelle.
I said the same thing and got the exact same answer. Looking in Sean's room revealed a light-stick-hugging sleeper and Quinn's bed was made but empty.
After setting my bags down, I sat on the end of my bed and considered what exactly I had experienced.
*Don't ask me. I didn't cause it. Why would I? It didn't have cute guys. Although if Nasir was still like last time…*
With all the magic floating around, strange little happenstances weren't so odd. But it'd been a long time since I'd experienced something so cohesive. I could only guess it was some sort of residual from this morning's psych lesson.
I plopped back on my bed and rubbed my eyes. I didn't look forward to trying to write about visions of being a girl.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.