forcedApril 26, 2008
The following is a little abomination that crept out of my fingers the other day when I decided to do a little writing. I apologize in advance.
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Hernan crammed notebooks, digital recorders, blank discs and his laptop into the fine suede bag he used as a briefcase. Hurried breathes beat out of his mouth as he scrambled to pack a larger matching bag with enough clothes that he calculated would manage for two weeks with minimal time in a Laundromat. Nothing came to mind when he tried to parse out what he might be forgetting, and with that, he bolted the front door of his apartment and sped down the hallway to the elevator.
He mashed the button repeatedly, knowing that it both wouldn’t make the elevator move any faster and wouldn’t ease his sense of urgency to leave town as quickly as possible. In due time, addled and frustrated, Hernan climbed aboard the empty car, his arms full of luggage.
He considered whether he should call into work before he left. Not one for long term, or really any, kind of absence from the rigorous seven to seven work schedule he’d maintained since the end of his internship some six years ago, Hernan determined that it would be highly irresponsible to disappear from a place where he’d been so present. Though, short reflection helped him change his mind. Daily, he entered the research and conference rooms at the University library at 7am, creeping over tomes of mid-19th century journals, government reports and industrial reviews, then teach a class in the classroom two floors below him to a small collection of undergraduate students who needed to fulfill a humanities credit with 19th Century Music and Dance History. Hernan purported he knew nothing catastrophic on the subject, but agreed to continue teaching it to continue his research. The university paid him little, and he expected as much in return. However, they had left him be, with only two sections to teach, one in the morning, one at night, with all the time in the world on either side of the classes to devour the contents of the library.
Until just now, just moments before he’d climbed on this elevator, it had all been for naught. No progress, no discovery. Nothing spectacular to further the initial reason why he began his study. Tome after tome he could pour through, only to discover what so many scholars had discovered before.
Hernan clutched his bag tightly as the last few years replayed in his head. The elevator doors opened into a dimly lit concrete hall lined with black doors, leading out into the back parking garage. He clutched his bag as tight as a mother in danger clutches her baby and runs. Hernan ran, jamming his shoulder against the contrary door at the end of the hall, taking a sharp stab from the corner of his suitcase in his ribs. The open light of day blinded him temporarily as he fell through the door, dropping his bags. Notebooks had spilled on the ground. He picked them up one by one, examining them to be sure they were all intact.
Some of the notebooks were his: personal notes on the things he’d found. The vast majority of the hundred or so he’d managed to smuggle from the library archives belonged to a James T. Coldridge and a Felicia Vanderburg. Each contained detailed daily entries dating as far back as 1832, before the first gas powered vehicle showed up in Savannah, Georgia. A marvel at the time, befuddling many.
The journals, extensive in their explanation of a plan to reformulate the distribution of technology over the next 150-years, did little to qualm Hernan’s research into why no one, no institution, no foundation or scholar, could pin point an inventor, developer or discoverer for any major technological stride in the time since the journals had first been written. Coldridge’s and Vanderburg’s scrawling black lines on what looked to be seemingly ancient paper with modern paperback covers perplexed Hernan immediately upon finding them. However, the words inside gave way to an underground government plot and far superior technology to anything he’d witnessed in his time on earth. He barely understood most of the jargon in the books.
Hernan tossed his bags in the back car seat, slamming the door, climbing in and jamming the key in the ignition. The faint sense of betrayal crept over him as he drove his car, completely devoid of origin point in its creation, out onto the godless freeway.