gone_byebye: (Arkham)
When the influenza of 1919 rolled over the county of Essex in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, it left unnumbered dead in its wake. That was no surprise; death traveled in the Spanish Lady's train as surely as night followed day. Indeed, it was a leveller the likes of which no-one had ever seen before, outdoing even the Great War in its equity of destruction. For a thing had come to pass during the time of the War, a thing which no-one gave much thought to before, and could not be bothered to pursue after. Of all the counties in the Commonwealth, Essex was the least touched by the Gold Star- and that was because, if one made the effort to search, of the fact that of all the counties in the Commonwealth, Essex sent forth the fewest sons to the War.

Not that the young men of that part of the state were lacking in patriotism. Far from it! No, many a lad went off to volunteer, some of them in the armies of other countries in the days before America would give them the chance. Their young men were as willing to go of their own accord as any other. But that was the thing, you see. They went of their own choosing. The hand of the draft board fell lightly indeed upon the county, young men's numbers scarcely ever being called; and in some towns that hand was not felt at all. Kingsport was one such. Dunwich, another. Innsmouth's queer clannish folk never so much as heard a recruiter's voice, and that was just the way they liked it. And as for Arkham town, well, they'd given volunteers, hadn't they? If the government didn't call on them to send more than they wished to give, they weren't about to object. Keep the lads at the university or by their parents' sides, that was just the way it ought to be.

No one noticed, or rather, if they did, they kept their own counsel. A young scientist of Polish extraction who nonetheless hung his shingle as an engineer in the city of Providence calculated the statistical likelihood of such a thing happening, and found the chances of its being accidental so far beyond the pale as to be effectively impossible; but he only told an old friend and fellow graduate of Miskatonic, and if Ray Stantz of the Orme Library thought there was anything to Laszlo Spengler's calculations, he never did say.
gone_byebye: (Arkham)
I have to be crazy to even be contemplating this, Ray thought as he slouched down in his seat at the back of one of Miskatonic's engineering classrooms. At least it's a good kind of crazy.

He couldn't remember the last time the first day of the school year meant anything to him from this side of the desk. Not that he had done any teaching at Melcene, since Senji was one of those professors who mostly did research rather than taught and Ray had been his assistant, but still. University life was the same for faculty the multiverse over. For students? Not so much. Ray was the oldest of the students in Ephi Nokes's Dynamics and Vibrations course, though having tested out of the introductory classes in Mechanical Engineering he was at least among students within striking distance of his own apparent age. It didn't spare him the odd looks, but at least the selection of sophomores and juinors were mostly mature enough to refrain from snickering at the figure they only knew as one of the Orne Library's staff.

As the last of the students filed in just shy of the official starting-time, Professor Nokes looked up. "Thank you all for coming," he said in his dry New Hampshire accent. "I do appreciate your promptness. Perhaps that might be improved upon in future. Now, let us begin..."

Nokes leapt straight into the sort of problem that Ray remembered all too well from his days at Columbia, starting with the case of a mis-tuned turbine engine's rotor vibrations. It took Ray a while to dig the specifics of the cases they'd worked on at Columbia out of his head; he hadn't been a mech. e. major, unfortunately. He'd have gone for the electrical engineering course of study if he hadn't been worried about what he might do to the time stream by trying to integrate the concepts he had from home into the class material. Pabodie had sworn up and down that the mechanical engineering courses here were the best to be found anywhere. Ray was pretty sure that was an exaggeration, but at least it meant he'd be in a less dangerous position if he let something advanced slip. He started covering his notebook's pages with notes on Nokes' lecture and did his best not to get looked at.

Somewhere around the introduction of a single cracked blade as an experimental variable, the words, "Excuse me, Professor, but you're wrong" jerked Ray out of his academic reverie. He knew that voice. He knew that voice-

No. No he didn't. The dark hair, yes, the nose, yes, but the jawline was all wrong and the young man was far too short even sitting down to be the man Ray remembered. And his accent was just a bit off, the sound of somewhere in eastern Europe intruding into his otherwise carefully cultivated American speech patterns. But oh, God, if it hadn't been for those little elements then the student arguing with Nokes about the possibility of applying an alternating frequency/time-domain method to the calculations instead of performing a traditional time integration computation could have passed for Egon Spengler in a heartbeat.

Ray scarcely got any notes taken for the rest of the class. When it was over he ran for the halls; the list of students registered for the course had been tacked to the wall outside, but Ray hadn't bothered to look at it. Now was another story. He ran his finger down the list swiftly, and stopped, and stared.

And had to bite his knuckle not to laugh, because directly above Stantz, R. was the name Spengler, L.

This was going to be an interesting semester. He could tell already.


gone_byebye: (Default)
Raymond Stantz

February 2014

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