Friday Flash Fiction: The Question
On the third thursday of his physics class at the University of Oklahoma Andrew sat in complete silence as Dr. Parker explained yet another concept that was somehow beyond his reach. He knew that this would be one of those classes that would be difficult to maintain a moderate grade, a grade that would be acceptable in his upper poverty level household.
He drew random pictures on a yellow legal pad.
The lecture hall, found in Dale Hall on the south oval, was populated with sparse amounts of students, and since Dr. Parker did not take roll Andrew was beginning to wonder why he had decided to come to class today. He determined that he would probably have a better chance of passing if he at least occupied a seat.
In mid sentence, Dr. Parker was interrupted by a disheveled student, his sandy blonde hair wild and unkempt, a wad of papers jutting out of a thick textbook under his arm, shuffled into the room from the back. The door banged loudly, and the student made for some welcome entertainment for Andrew and the small percentage of students bored out of their minds.
Dr. Parker cleared his throat, continuing with his lecture and his slickly prim Keynote presentation, each slide background on the overhead projector a clean and perfect tribute before the god of lethargy.
The papers continued to shuffle and crinkle from the middle of the lecture hall as the student late to class worked to settle, but did not seem to realize the increasingly hardening expression of annoyance that Dr. Parker displayed. It was noticeable in little glimpses; a blink here a sniff there, a hard stare at one point that lasted for a full two seconds.
Andrew began to make note of this on his yellow legal pad, doing his best to sketch the student and the professor in a heated battle for the most prized sack of peanuts in the history of peanuts. Why peanuts? Andrew did not know.
And then the hand shot up.
Dr. Parker stopped, his little clicker thingy flipping over and over in one hand.
“Entwood, sir,” said the student, pushing his thick, wire rimmed glasses up onto his nose. “I have a question about theoretical physics that needs to be answered, but the question is…”
“Mister Entwood,” he laughed aloud. “This is merely physics one-oh-one. You are going off into lah-lah land, young man. Perhaps you could save your —“
“Sorry, sir, but I must ask an important question. It needs to be asked.”
Dr. Parker set his small clicker thingy on the low table that stood near the brown faux wood podium, found a blue plastic chair and sat down.
“By all means,” he said, snickering heard from the room somewhere. “Ask your question.”
Silence, and then —.
“Dr. Parker,” Entwood hesitated, clearing his throat. “I theorize that there is some danger involved in asking the question, and therefore I would rather ask it in a more private setting —“
“—Then why did you raise your hand, Mr. Ent—“
“There is not sufficient time, sir. I must ask it. It is my destiny to ask it. It is the question.”
Dr. Parker, now red with rage, stood tall on the platform.
“Mister Entwood. I would appreciate if you would not disrupt my class in such a way. I would ask that you would leave immediately. You came in late, and you have done nothing but caused trouble since you arrived with your noise and your insolently vague words.”
Entwood stood as if he were about to shout something back, but only took a deep breath and then exhaled something that did not sound like words as much as screeching, a deafening roar of a sound that pounded against the walls and began to tear apart the very fabric of reality.
Entwood had asked the question.