That Befall Preposterously (~FFA, ~BHM, Romance, ~~WG, multi-part)

Discussion in 'Recent Additions' started by bayone, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. Jul 4, 2018 #61

    bayone

    bayone

    bayone

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    Chapter XII
    ( I’m in need of some escapism nowadays, so I’m going to try and take the story up again.)

    Turn melancholy forth to funerals;

    The pale companion is not for our pomp.


    “Feeling better?” Donald asked, after washing down his second piece of pie with a swig of coffee.

    “The only thing that still upsets me about this evening,” said Sally, slightly wired from her pumpkin spice latte (the shop brewed very strong coffee). Pete, the barista in the glasses, had apologetically mentioned a few minutes earlier that they were about to close, and Mary, the cashier, had added that they didn’t actually have to leave until the doors were locked, but would it be all right if she started shutting down the espresso machine? So Sally and Donald shrugged their Hallowe’en costumes back on as all about them the staff placed chairs upside-down on the tables and moved the milk and cream to the refrigerator in the back. Sally was glad they’d got their drinks in paper cups.

    “I’m just sorry,” she continued, “that we never got to paint the crosswalk. I’ve still got the spray cans of course, but the police have seen our costumes, so they’re not much use as disguises now.”

    Pete, wiping down the countertops nearby, made a surprised noise, then blushed a vivid pink that was noticeable even in the dim light.

    “Sorry, couldn’t help overhearing.”

    “We have this idea to install a crosswalk,” Donald explained. “There really should be one at the corner by the student centre, for practical reasons, but the city’s never put one there.” The barista’s round face split in a delighted grin.

    “Alex,” he shouted at the gloomy customer, “these people are guerilla city planners!”

    “Impractical!” growled Alex from the other end of the counter, “and, in the grand scheme of things, useless.”

    “Never mind the grand scheme of things,” said Pete, “On a purely local level—”

    “Do you need any help with it?” Mary interrupted, to Sally’s great relief.

    So it was that ten minutes later, Sally, Donald, and the staff (and customer) of the Magic Moscow Coffee Shop* were shaking cans of spray paint and laying down masking tape on asphalt. Pete and Alex (still arguing about utility and micro- vs. macro-interventions) watched for cars or passers-by, but despite it being Hallowe’en night, the corner was quiet.

    “Everyone’s partying in the residences,” Donald commented.

    “It’ll fade, you know,” said Alex, as he gazed sadly at their finished work. “Even faster than the paint the city uses.”

    “I’m hoping it will have made the point by then,” said Sally, who thought the crosswalk looked pretty good, even if there was no mistaking it for an official one. She yawned. “I’m afraid your coffee is wearing off.”

    “I’ll walk you home if you like,” said Donald. “I mean, I guess that’s what I was doing anyway when we stopped for coffee.”

    Sally, surfing on an ebb-tide of adrenaline and sleep deprivation, felt bold enough to link her arm through his as they set off. Donald did not appear to mind.

    The pair slowed their walk as they drew near (the women’s residence), and Donald cleared his throat nervously:

    “Well,” he began, “thank you for a lovely evening of crime-fighting and crime-doing; and, erm, feel free to tell me to bugger off if I’m barking up the wrong tree; in which case I’ll never mention the subject again; but, if I have got the right tr— “ He stopped and ran one hand nervously through his red hair. “Look,” he said, “would you like to kiss goodnight?”

    Sally looked up at him and stood experimentally on tiptoe.

    “Yes,” she said, “but we’d better go over to those steps so I can get enough height.” She led him to the building entrance (Tie up my love’s tongue, bring him silently) and tried the first step, then climbed onto the concrete bollard (?) beside it and flung her arms about Donald. Before closing her eyes she noted with pleasure that the engineer’s double chin was even more pronounced when he bent his head downward to kiss her.

    Donald’s lips were warm, and soft, and he tasted of coffee but not unpleasantly and anyway so did she, and he was holding her very carefully as though he feared breaking her. Sally pressed herself closer, wanting to sink into his cosy, ample self.


    *Daniel Pinkwater forgive me, or at least please don’t sue.
     
  2. Jul 4, 2018 #62

    Chubhandles

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    Yay!!! I’m excited that this is back!
     
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  3. Jul 5, 2018 #63

    Tad

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    The great white north, eh?
    Me too!!!
     
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  4. Jul 12, 2018 #64

    bayone

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    Chapter XIII

    After kissing on the steps for a while, Sally and Donald had moved to enter the university residence; and hearing the lobby elevator doors opening, had then ducked into the nook by the mailboxes in order to kiss some more. This manoeuvre, however, had restored the problem of their disparate heights.

    “Mmm just a moment—“ Sally mumbled to Donald who was awkwardly bending over her. He’d unzipped his Godzilla costume to the waist once they were indoors. The t-shirt beneath had no caption, but simply a cartoon of a platypus playing a keytar.

    Placing her hands on the granite counter by the mailboxes, Sally did her best to jump up and seat herself on its projecting corner; seeing what she meant to do, Donald lifted her up with a grunted apology and set her lightly upon the stone ledge.

    Turning herself so that she was, as it were, seated sidesaddle on the corner of the counter, and blushing a little at her own audacity, Sally lifted Donald’s prominent belly and placed it across her lap. Now she could now pull Donald close enough to her side that, if he turned his head a little—

    “Is this all right?” she whispered. Donald leaned in and replied with a very firm kiss.

    ————————

    Eventually, Sally and Donald moved locations from the mailboxes to the elevator, and from there to Sally’s room, where, half-sitting, half-lying on Sally’s bed, it was much easier for her to lean across the engineer’s large, well-padded frame.

    “All that rehearsal has paid off,” observed Donald, between kisses. He inclined his head and gently touched the tip of his nose against hers, and smiling, closed his eyes.

    Sally caressed his cheek and suddenly pictured a science text she’d seen as a child, in which dots, representing galaxies, were placed on a balloon, representing space, which was then inflated to demonstrate the universe expanding. She wondered whether Donald’s freckles would stretch or spread apart if he continued to grow. Or would new freckles appear to fill the gaps?

    She stifled her giggles in his shoulder; moments later, she felt his plump fingers stroking her hair, and tensed involuntarily.

    He noticed, and drew his hand away.

    “I’m sorry.”

    “No, it’s all right. Only my hair’s very tangly.” Donald placed his hand gently against the centre of he back.

    “Is this better?” She murmured assent and they stayed like that for a while.

    ————————

    “Do you need to kick me out before your roommate comes back?” asked Donald, nodding in the direction of Nadia’s bed on the other side of the room.

    “She’s hardly the kind to force me to wear a scarlet letter. Want to stay over? Does the slime mold need feeding in the early morning or anything?”

    The engineer chuckled and Sally felt his body jiggle deliciously against hers.

    “Not till later in the day. I should get back to my room early enough to get some proper clothes on though. Can’t walk around in a Godzilla suit in the daytime.”

    “True enough,” Sally yawned. “I’ll set an alarm.”

    ————————

    Sally had once read a comment online that even the most pleasant sound, if you make it your morning alarm, will become despicable; and that was certainly true of digital birdsong on the morning of the thirty-first of October. Even waking in the arms of a bearishly amiable young man was not a complete consolation. Donald, for his part, groaned and tried to hide his head under the pillow until Sally murmured:

    “The sooner you get up, the sooner you can come back and meet me for breakfast,” whereupon he almost jumped out of the bed.

    ————————

    Twenty minutes later Sally, in the dining hall, was checking local news on her phone.

    “I don’t see anything about the crosswalk yet,” she told Donald as he sat down with his loaded tray. “Perhaps no one’s noticed.”

    “Well, it’s not yet nine in the morning, on a Saturday after a Hallowe’en party. Half the campus isn’t even awake yet, I expect.”

    “There’s the football player who was Mecha-Godzilla last night,” Sally countered, pointing to him with her spoon. “I guess I should find out his actual name sometime.”

    Football-Mecha-Godzilla walked by their table, talking on his phone:

    “No,” he was saying, “It must’ve been the other Godzilla who stopped the muggers.”
     
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  5. Jul 21, 2018 #65

    bayone

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    That Befall Preposterously, Chapter XIV
    There were always rehearsals on Saturdays.

    People were using the crosswalk, Sally noticed, without comment, and as though it had always been there. The drivers were observing it too.

    No one commented either when she and Donald walked into rehearsal holding hands. Today they were working on the reconciliation between Titania and Oberon. Sally and Donald took their positions on the floor, Donald sleeping with his head in Sally’s lap.

    “You do wonder why I go back to Oberon,” she asked. “I mean, you’d think finding out he’d had his minion roofie me and set me up with some donkey guy would make me more upset with him, not less.”

    “I think you’re going to have to play it as “Titania’s not human, and doesn’t react as a human would,” offered the director.

    “Or Titania’s playing along until she can take the kid and run,” muttered Donald from her lap, his eyes still closed. Sally mussed his hair. To the director she said,

    “We could try playing it as ‘Titania’s going to get her own back at some point.’”

    The scene moved on. Titania and Oberon left the stage, and Sally took a seat at the side of the room to watch Bottom wake up, entirely human again and trying to remember, much less make sense of, what had happened. Donald broke off:

    “I don’t— it feels like this is turning into a “how much did I drink last night?” gag. It should seem a bit more…?”

    “Supernatural?” asked the director. Donald shut his eyes tightly and ran a hand through his hair. He tried the words again:

    “I have had a most rare vision.
    I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
    say what dream it —- oh, it’s the “Double Rainbow” guy.”

    Everyone laughed, and Donald’s eyes flew open.

    “No, seriously. I mean, that video is funny, but the guy really is having some kind of experience.”

    “The kind 19th-century Romantics would kill for,” Sally piped up from the sidelines.

    “Yeah,” Donald continued, nodding at her, “and it’s not his fault he can’t put it into words very well.” He added quietly, “Man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream. Do you guys mind if we take a break and I watch the video for a while?”

    “It’s about break time anyway,” said the assistant director. “Fifteen minutes, people.”

    “Want to get coffee with me?” asked Sally as Donald fumbled with his phone, “or should I bring back for both of us?”

    “I’ll come with you,” said Donald, scrambling to his feet with a grunt. “walking helps me think.” He seemed to be having some difficulty getting the phone back in his pocket. “Guess it’s time to admit I need bigger jeans,” he said ruefully as he gave up and zipped the phone into his knapsack; “these are too tight to use the pockets. Why’re you looking at me like that?”

    “Nothing,” Sally smiled, and linked her arm through his.

    Pete was behind the coffee shop counter this morning, though even surrounded by excellent sources of caffeine, he didn’t look fully awake. He brightened visibly, though, as the pair came in, and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.

    “The crosswalk seems to be working.”

    “Anybody ask where it came from?” Donald wondered.

    “No.”

    “Good, then no one will suspect us,” Sally commented. “Medium roast in a medium cup, please. To go.” The barista picked up a paper cup and slipped a cardboard sleeve on it.

    “And yourself?” he yawned to Donald. “Excuse me. Didn’t sleep much last night.”

    “Also a medium medium roast. Erm, and I think I’ll get a cinnamon roll with my coffee.”

    “Beautiful.”

    They made it back to the student centre with ten minutes to spare, and Donald curled up with his video of the double rainbow. Sally watched over his shoulder as the man behind the camera asked himself in a wondering tone “what does it MEAN?” crying and laughing with excess emotion.

    The director and his assistant returned with their coffees, and the scene resumed:

    “I HAVE HAD A MOST RARE VISION” Donald roared; then clapped his hand over his mouth, as if startled by his own volume. Everyone else certainly was. He laughed soundlessly for a moment, then continued in a whisper:

    “I have had a dream.” He gave a nervous little giggle. “Past the wit of man to

    say what dream it was,” he continued in an almost-conversational tone, then laughed again: “Man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream.”

    Burying his face in his hands, Bottom took a deep breath, trying to regain some semblance of calm. “Methought I was–“ he began; and halted. “There is no man can tell….what.”

    The room was silent as he struggled to his feet and tried pacing. Walking helps me think, Donald had said.

    “Methought I was —-“ he tried again to remember. “and methought I had—-“ He stopped and laughed at himself again, and there was a wistful catch in the laughter this time. Now he stopped pacing, and looked out at them:

    “But man is but a patched fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had.” The delivery was entirely serious. Then he yawned, and continued to himself in a faintly singsong voice:

    “The eye of man hath not heard,
    the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste,
    his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream
    was…”

    Sally watched with her chin cupped in her hands as Bottom decided to get Peter Quince to write a ballad of the dream that he couldn’t remember, and she suddenly thought of something small and fluttery she’d seen a few months earlier. Had there been a…. a bat, in her room? At the start of term?

    And then she forgot again.
     
  6. Aug 3, 2018 #66

    bayone

    bayone

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    Chapter XV

    but, O, methinks, how slow This old moon wanes!

    Hallowe’en proper came and went. Donald and most of the other students in his residence celebrated “Discount Chocolate Day” on November second; he sent Sally photos of the jenga tower they’d built out of fun-size candy bars.

    The student and local papers reported on the new unofficial crosswalk, but did not speculate on who might be responsible, other than Banksy. The city tried to decide whether to scrub it off or paint over it, and in the meantime it continued to be used by pedestrians.

    Dress-rehearsal and tech run approached. Poppies were pinned to coats.

    Mid-way through November Christmas decorations started to go up. In both Sally’s and Donald’s residences, the students simply added them to the Hallowe’en decorations, which had not been taken down after October. After someone put a Santa hat on the plastic skeleton that occupied the broken armchair in the women’s third-floor common room, Donald added a cardboard sign that read “HAPPY XMASWEEN.” He and Sally had a lengthy debate about whether or not to place an apostrophe between the Es.

    They’d taken to spending their time together in Sally’s room rather than Donald’s, after Sally had mentioned that Gordon gave her the creeps.

    They’d turned Sally’s twin bed into a sort of divan by heaping all the cushions against the wall at one end; and Donald was curled up against them while Sally was curled up against him, he being as soft as the cushions and a great deal warmer.

    “It does seem weird,” Sally yawned, “to put on Dream at this time of year.” Outside the windows the weather was grey and attempting to freeze drizzle into sleet. Donald looked over her shoulder:

    “It does look more like Hamlet weather out there.”

    “Or Lear. Definitely weather for freaking out on the heath.”

    “Maybe next year.”

    “You’d be good as Kent.”

    “That’s the guy who tells Lear what an idiot he’s being?”

    “The same. He’s my favourite, because—” Sally paused to think about it. “Everybody in that play goes through hell, but Kent’s one who has to do it totally sane and sober. There’s this bit where Lear’s mad, Edgar’s pretending to be mad, and the Fool is mad more-or-less as his job description; and they’re all screaming and ranting; and then there’s poor Kent – the designated driver.”

    “And that’s how you see me?”

    “You have a very solid core.” Sally felt Donald’s chest and belly heave in a sigh that breathed warmly past her ear, and realized she had mischosen her words.
     
  7. Sep 1, 2018 #67

    bayone

    bayone

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    Chapter XVI

    “If I’ve a solid core it’s awfully well-buried.”
    Sally turned about in time to see a wistful and embarrassed expression cross Donald’s broad, soft face.

    I actually prefer... I hope that isn’t too weird....

    The appeal is in the combined impression of softness and strength

    ...at once heroic and endearing


    I mean, it’s your body, you can do what you like, but if you were thinking of losing weight to please me I assure you it’s quite unnecessary

    All the explanations and apologies she’d rehearsed, had rehearsed even before she’d met Donald, for she’d long known that if she ever found a man to her tastes, and he responded likewise, that this was an inevitable conversation— all of that blanked out of Sally’s mind, and she shivered as she said:

    “Oh my lovely boy.”

    Donald, it seemed, noticed the shiver more than the words. He murmured:
    “This is the best time of year for a fat man. In summer I melt, but on a day like this I feel like a polar bear or a seal, all snug in myself. But you must be freezing, even in here.” He stretched out his arms. “Never let it be said of me that I was not a nice hot-water-bottle for my girlfriend.”
    He was, too, and Valentina relaxed into that great pillow of a stomach and let him tuck a fold of his voluminous hoodie around her.
    “There you go,” he said. “Warm as if you were the dining-hall pass in my shirt-pocket.”

    There was a knock at the door to Sally’s room.
    “Are you decent in there?” came Karen’s voice.
    “No!” called Donald.
    “More or less,” Sally contradicted. “What do you want?”
    “Can Colin change the sign on your skeleton? He wants it to say BE GAY, DO CRIME.”
    “If he wants to do crime, why ask my permission? Isn’t that kind of against the whole spirit of the enterprise?”
    “Ok, I’ll tell him you said yes.”

    “That was weird. Where were we?”
    “I was pointing out the advantages of a hefty boyfriend.”
    “And I was about to say that I don’t really need convincing.” Sally almost chucked Donald under his chins, lost her nerve and patted his cheek instead. The message appeared to get through, for he smiled, took her hand and kissed it; his eyes shut. She admired the way his sandy lashes delicately brushed his round cheeks.

    When they were able to speak again, Sally asked:
    “Ready for opening night?”
    Donald propped his head on his hand.
    “I was born ready; it’s showtime; and all the other action movie cliches that make slightly more sense when you’re talking about an actual stage performance.” Sally yawned and stretched.
    “How about ‘Let’s get out of here?’”
    “Do you have a destination in mind?”
    “Just the common room. I’ve got a few packets of hot chocolate mix left in the cupboard. And I’m curious as to what Colin’s doing to that gay, criminal skeleton; hardly his type, I should say.”
    “Well,” said Donald, “you’re one to talk.”




    (I’m not sure what Colin’s up to either, but it’s something to do with this meme:
    https://medium.com/somedayfunnies/b...nist-skeleton-cartoon-from-1800s-aa3e3a6471a1 )
     
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  8. Sep 23, 2018 #68

    bayone

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    Is all our company here?

    For all Sally’s comments about opening night, this was only the dress rehearsal. In the black-box student theatre, the set was still going up, but the people in paint-spattered clothing seemed unhurried and unfazed as they made last-minute touchups. Someone’s phone, placed in the corner with a knapsack standing guard on either side, was serenading them with a strangely eclectic playlist: as Sally entered an orchestral work ended with a flourish and an electric bassline began to throb. The production designer, a woman with a Louise Brooks bob and a Louise Brooks face to go with it, was toying with a brush as she contemplated a backdrop that lay unrolled on the floor. She exchanged a few words with her assistant, a man with butter-coloured hair and wire-rimmed glasses.

    “Are they going to have it ready in time?” Sally asked doubtfully.

    “It’ll be all right,” said Donald with some confidence. “I saw ‘em go through this last year, with the set painters drifting around calmly like chain-smoking angels while everyone else was tearing their hair out. The scenery will be done just in time, but it’ll be done.”

    * * * * *​

    “This suit mine or yours?” In the green room, people were checking inside costumes for their names on strips of masking-tap. Anna, the costume designer, had opted to outfit the human characters, and the fairy royalty, in vaguely 1920s outfits; Puck in handpainted leggings that made him look like a scruffier version of Nijinsky in L’Apres-midi d’un Faune; and the rest of the fairies in tights under wisps of cobweb (painted cheesecloth) with crowns (twigs, dried and artificial flowers, and Christmas ornaments, all hot-glued to headbands).

    “Ready to hold still?” Colin was unpacking the washable felt-tip pens. Just before the dress rehearsal, Anna and the director had decided that Titania should initially wear a shawl over her dress until her seduction of Bottom, at which point she would drop it to reveal arcane designs all over her bare arms and legs. Sally, remembering Karen’s Hallowe’en costume, had suggested Colin draw them on.

    “Should they be more like tattoos or mendhi, or do we want to go for trompe l’oeil scales or feathers?” he asked, as Sally pulled her sweater over her head.

    Anna was leafing through a large book with “The Grammar of Ornament” printed on the cover.

    “Maybe some of this Celtic-type stuff?” She showed him a page. “And in blue, so it looks like woad.”

    “Is woad light or dark blue?”

    “Go for both and we’ll see which looks better under the lights.” Colin uncapped a pen with his teeth and began tracing spirals and triskelions on Sally’s shoulder.

    * * * * *​
    Up in the booth, the head lighting tech brushed a strand of curling hair from her eyes as she twiddled switches and knobs on the control board. She brought up the stage lights and the set (almost completely dry now) came to life. Outside it might be winter, but within the little theatre breathed a convincing if artificial summer night. The Christmas lights became fireflies and the dollar-store silk flowers looked convincingly dewy. The slick tinsel ornaments were changing into something older and weirder.

    Sally sat quietly in the green-room with everybody but Duke Theseus and Hippolyta, who were already onstage for the opening scene. She pulled her shawl around her shoulders, over her beaded slip dress, and smiled silently at Donald in his bow-tie and the 46 Tall (she’d snuck a look at the tags) seersucker suit Anna had somehow located for him. The actors were under strict instructions to remain quiet backstage, but he winked at her.

    Nearby, Colin was checking his phone; he hurriedly stowed it in the knapsack at his feet as the stage manager entered, and Sally stifled a laugh. At least he didn’t try to put it in his tights, she thought.

    Egeus, Hermia, Lysander and Demetrius left to wait in the wings, and the rest of the cast relaxed and spread out a bit more (it was a very small green room.) Shortly after, Helena got up to join Hermia onstage, as Egeus and Hermia’s suitors filtered back. The Mechanicals began checking their costumes and getting up to go on. Donald lifted his chins to straighten his bow tie, and gripped the lapels of his jacket. With a wave to Sally, he slipped out the door after his fellows and moments later she heard Bottom enthusiastically attempting to help Peter Quince direct that most lamentable comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe.

    Her entrance was coming up. She nodded at Colin and they went to the green room door with Oberon and another fairy close behind. Puck and the fairy were to converse briefly, introducing the situation; she let them by and took a deep breath in the dark. She could hear the dialogue clearly now through the canvas flats, though with no audience every line was met with silence. The mechanicals filed into the wings; Sally readied herself to be something other than human. The backstage smelled reassuringly of flat black latex paint. She stepped onstage and the light blazed about her.
     
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  9. Oct 22, 2018 #69

    bayone

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    Chapter XVIII
    It was strange how little Sally could feel or remember of the next two hours, but the memorized words and motions seemed to play out automatically whenever she was onstage, and whenever she was off she was waiting to go on again and couldn’t stop to think in case she missed a cue. She and Donald, the other actors, and the crew all revolved around each other, parts in a mechanism constructed centuries before.

    Afterwards the co-directors gathered everyone for the usual notes: a few cues needed to be faster, a few lines needed to be spoken slower.
    “Remember, when and if we’ve actually got an audience and you get a laugh, to wait for them to finish before saying your next line, otherwise it’ll get lost. That’s the advantage live theatre has over movies and tv. Ok, you can go change out of your costumes now.”

    “Everyone going to the Jolly Roger?” Sally asked Colin as she pulled on her coat afterwards.
    “Looks like. You and Donald coming? Marco’s got an evening class so I expect you two to distract me from my loneliness until 9:30 or so.”
    “I think we can manage that.”
    Donald came up, tugging his sweater down over his midsection, and gave Sally a hug.
    “Jolly Roger?” he asked.
    “Jolly Roger.”
    “Oh, I’ve got something to show you.” He held out his phone. Sally examined the image on the screen, which seemed to be of a map.
    “What am I looking at?”
    “My slime-mold campus map. Notice anything? Hang on.” He loomed over her shoulder and zoomed in on the student centre.
    “You added our cross-walk,” Sally exclaimed.
    “I didn’t add anything. That’s where the slime mild grew a connection. Just like the student body, it thinks that’s the most logical place for a crossing.”
    “He’s a keeper,” said Colin.

    (Just a short update this time; I’ve been juggling this plus two non-WG stories on AO3, and it may all go on hiatus shortly because I’ve decided to try writing for Yuletide this year. Will I survive? Stay tuned.)
     
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  10. Nov 1, 2018 #70

    Tad

    Tad

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    The great white north, eh?
    Yay for yhe slime mold!

    And I hope you make it back to this story at somr point, in the meantime good luck with the other projects!
     

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