So anyway, the other night was the peak night for my head cold. You know that night? The one where the fever is high and you ache and you know that it’s going to be a rough couple of hours and you are going to sweat and fill tissues and flop around. But by morning it will be better because you finally got to cooking the bugs dead. Everyone has a ritual for it, in my case I like a lamp on and all the instruments within reach. Tissues to the left, glass of water, maybe a paperback for distraction. That paperback. Jesus.
So hour three I’m sweating and the fever is on and I’m doing my job interview. Again. And again. I’m awake, but the interview is on.
So where do you think you will be in five years? How do you assure accuracy in your work? Please explain your current research in more detail. So where do you think you’ll be in five years? Can you give an example in your coordination duties where you handled a dispute between students? Your Current Research In More Detail. Five Years.
Desperately I reach for the paperback, which I grabbed pretty much at random. That paperback. Ye Gods.
Sphere, by Michael Crichton. Never again.
“Self insert academic looked out over the obligatory expanse of sea/jungle/moon/cow pats as the plane/helicopter/any damn vehicle ploughed further into unknown territory. A message had been sent from the hidden military base by military commander to summon self insert academic. ‘I wonder why they need a chimpanzee trainer / psychologist / projectionist at this far flung high tech military base that will be hit with a natural disaster on page 100′ he wondered. The military pilot was unhelpful while servile. ‘I’m only a vaguely sketched out cartoon of an airman, sir’, he called back over the intercom. ‘I’m only here to introduce a worrying aspect of the commander, that will become evident on page 200′.
“The attractive but reserved female biologist that happened to be listening came alive at the mention of intercoms. ‘An intercom (intercommunication device), talkback or doorphone is a stand-alone voice communications system for use within a building or small collection of buildings, functioning independently of the public telephone network. Intercoms are generally mounted permanently in buildings and vehicles. Intercoms can incorporate connections to public address loudspeaker systems, walkie talkies, telephones, and to other intercom systems. Some intercom systems incorporate control of devices such as signal lights and door latches’, she pointed out.
“Self insert academic wondered when she was going to crack.”
I think I kept reading but dozed, or maybe I skipped a bunch of pages. It was 3 AM.
“We’ve found an alien spaceship! But more than that, it’s been there 300 years! But more than that, it’s so deep underwater that you’ll have to breathe helium and live in a specially dangerous environment! You think that’s all? Nope – the spaceship is really a USA spaceship from the future! But it’s carrying an alien artefact! Which lets you control reality! And there’s a volcano … no that’s going too far, let’s just stick with being able to control reality.
“The token black guy who was really smart even though he grew up in the streets thought about what you could do if you could control all of reality. ‘Man, I hate eating calamari. I’m going to create a giant squid that’s going to attack the underwater base’ The biologist looked worried. ‘Squid have differentiated from their ancestral molluscs such that the body plan has been condensed antero-posteriorly and extended dorso-ventrally. What before may have been the foot of the ancestor is modified into a complex set of tentacles and highly developed sense organs, including advanced eyes similar to those of vertebrates. The ancestral shell has been lost, with only an internal gladius, or pen, remaining. The pen is a feather-shaped internal structure that supports the squid’s mantle and serves as a site for muscle attachment. It is made of a chitin-like material.”
What the. I can’t read this shit. Putting the book down, I let my mind wander.
So where do you think you will be in five years? How do you assure accuracy in your work? Please explain your current research in more detail.
Stick with it. Read the wretched thing.
“The giant squid attacked the underwater military base, throwing it back and forward like the grey gorillas did in Congo. All the badly sketched navy characters died, leaving only the central characters! ‘This is not a real squid’ cried the biologist! ‘The clues have been placed relentlessly over the last 50 pages! Maybe I should have noticed when other mysterious animals appeared without lungs or mouths!’ Self Insert Academic woke from his 12th unconscious chapter change. He realised something. ‘Maybe this has something to do with the token black guy climbing into the sphere and coming out again with a weird personality change! Let’s create a major anaesthetic out of stuff we found in the medicine cabinet and knock him out.
“They went to the cabinet where a helpful computer listed a bunch of scientific sounding stuff for a page and mixed it up and injected the black guy. The squid disappeared! But the military base was leaking and on fire! ‘How we will we survive another 12 hours in this base with the air running out and a large spaceship parked next to us, filled with air and food’, he thought. He noticed that the biologist suddenly looked beautiful, but there was some odd change in her personality. What could have caused that, he wondered?”
By now, the fever was pretty high. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.
“Thinking back over the horrors that taken place over the last week, they huddled around the table in the decompression chamber. The token black guy spoke first. ‘This book must never be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Think of the toll the plot holes, awful writing and jargon riddled bursts of exposition could cause to humanity’. The female biologist agreed. ‘We should forget we were ever in this book, we should create a different story, maybe the one with dinosaurs that sold pretty well’. And they all forgot about the sphere” – and I sure as hell wish I could too. As do the actors that got pulled into the movie version. I think every day of their lives they wish they could control that reality.
We have discovered cheesy bump mapped spheres from the future!
Around 5AM I slipped into unconsciousness. I dreamed that J.G. Ballard and Crichton were fighting a battle in hell. Downed airmen tumbling out of empty swimming pools, locked in violent struggle with gangly biological scientists. Each side had their own special kind of assertive blonde female doctor with buried sublimation attacks. The names of drugs were called out across the battlefield, insults known only to the obsessive acolytes that thronged the deserted ancient cities and plazas.
In the morning, the bugs were cooked.