Halloween 2022 IF,  Interactive Fiction

Halloween I.F. – “Body of Work” – Day 2

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For a moment, the looming pressure of the monograph almost won entirely because Augustus didn’t want to be working on it. Getting it out of the way might feel like a victory. But, he had to admit, it wasn’t going to be something he could just get off his plate. He was only about 20,000 words into what he had tentatively titled Conjuration Bias: Looking Beyond a Planar Dichotomy, and no matter how much Beekeeper fussed at him, the next 60-80K wasn’t going to be done for a month or two at best. He could sit down and plunk out the next chapter at any time, given that he knew that it was just going to be a lengthy digression into the definition of the planes in dichotomy of ‘interplanar’ and ‘extraplanar’, and academic trends were something he could talk about for ages without even thinking about it. Any Doctor of Conjurations could.

But his personal research was about what lay outside that dichotomy. And while he could likely do this whole monograph without having to get into the weeds of the things he was actually researching … what if he discovered something? What if he genuinely had a breakthrough and figured out what was out there? What if it was not just our plane and the spiritual realm outside it, but instead our plane and its reflection are but two sides of a coin, and a coin only exists in a larger system of barter.

It’d be easier to commit to talking about mere theory if he didn’t know that more existed. But he did, even if he couldn’t remember the specifics, even if he’d spent years scrambling to try to rebuild the parts of his mind that had been absolutely shattered, or stolen, or locked away by his presumed experiences when he was younger. But he knew there was something there in that gap he could feel in his mind, not unlike prodding the space in the gum where a tooth ought to be, and if he found that out—well, the monograph would be an afterthought compared to what he’d found, surely, but it would still benefit.

That had been how Augustus had met his husband originally—he’d searched for someone who was deeply involved in these things, and had found someone equally interested in wondering if the binary planar system was actually two parts of a whole and thus sat within a larger context. Certainly, Em was interested in it for other reasons—much more interested in the implications that the “two” planes, as partners, could be parts of a single thing and treated as such from a magical perspective, but Em was passionate about the pursuit of mysteries and about providing knowledge for others when finding that knowledge seemed impossible. 

For a moment, his resolve to work on his own research today trembled. Even thinking about Em made Augustus want to contact him. He could justify it, he knew; he could pretend that he’d called to talk about research. But if he wanted to actually get any work done today, he shouldn’t call. The ritual to allow them to contact each other took significant time, and he knew that he’d get distracted flirting and lose the rest of the day. And would that be such a bad thing on Restday? Maybe not. But he had already gotten dressed and started to think about work, so perhaps it was best to ride that urge to the end.

Thus decided and only a little sulky at himself for his own decision, Augustus shrugged his jacket on and headed to his office to give him better access to his research library—and to his workroom, if he found he needed it for any practical tests. It wasn’t a long trip; he lived in the magisterial housing just outside the campus, a cramped series of stone townhouses, sweet little things with gardens out back that were mostly used by the professors to spy on their neighbors. Hopefully, there’d be new reading material in his office by the time he got in; his research assistant, Li Yujin, had promised to try to track down some additional books Augustus had been having trouble sourcing. Yujin was quiet and unobtrusive, but generally good at getting him information before he needed to chase them about it. If Augustus had put them to work finding more personal research materials … well, it was close enough to his professional studies that he doubted Yujin had yet noticed.

Augustus hoped he wasn’t coming in for nothing, though, and pondered what he should do if he came in to find no new materials there. He had plenty he could read there without having to bother Yujin, but he could also use the bell system set up through the university to see if they were currently in their room. It would be rude to interrupt Yujin on Restday, but he could at least find out if they hadn’t got around to it yet, or if someone had already borrowed the papers and thus it would be impossible to get hold of for a time, or if they’d found something else they wanted to source at the same time. Any of these options would allow Augustus to make his own inquiries— 

Yet he needn’t have worried about that at all, because when Augustus entered his own office, he found Yujin standing behind Augustus’s desk, drawers open and papers spread out. 

Yujin jumped at Augustus’s sudden arrival and straightened quickly, reaching up to push back long strands of black hair that had escaped their braid—had they been there for a while? “Professor! I wasn’t expecting you to be in today!”

[What should Augustus do? (describe in comments)]

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  • t

    How dare they distract you from the work that you’re doing instead of calling your husband by behaving suspiciously in your office

    You could be calling your husband with this time if you weren’t going to use it to READ some MANUSCRIPTS

    You’d better be WHOLLY BLAMELESS and have brought some NEW BOOKS, Yujin

  • AvelineReynard

    “even if he’d spent years scrambling to try to rebuild the parts of his mind that had been absolutely shattered, or stolen, or locked away by his presumed experiences when he was younger”

    hey augustus i have some. concerns? questions?

    Anyway. Clearly don’t jump to conclusions with Yujin. Figure out what’s going on, but honestly, being polite 🙂 and acting like nothing is weird 🙂 while also trying to figure out what they were doing is like, going to be a way funnier outcome and cause psychic damage if they ARE up to no good.

  • Vikarmic

    Is there a likely reason Yujin might be looking through your papers? They are your research assistant, after all; there’s a certain amount of access to your paperwork that the position implies, even if they really should have asked you first. They simply might not have wanted to bother you on Restday either. It’s certainly a bit odd under the circumstances, but simply asking them about it should clear things up. No need to be confrontational about things; part of your responsibility to your RA is to help them learn how to navigate a research position, so this might end up as a teachable moment of some sort.

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