Challenge #01679-D218: Dangerous ReadingsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  2 years ago 


[Person #1] rolled their eyes. “Just get on with the research you’re not even meant to be doing, [Person #2].” -- RecklessPrudence

Certain words are signs of certain doom. These include, "I think I know where I went wrong," in experimental laboratories, and "hold my beer," anywhere that humans tend to gather. In the libraries of Vastarixus, the words are. "Oooooohhh... Oh! Oh this is so cool!"

Grand Librarian Farltha hurried as fast as her old legs could carry her to the source of the excited voice. Not to shush them. though that was on the agenda, but to find out what they had discovered and, if possible, stop them.

Just as she thought. Barkley.

Every place of learning has one or two of them. Students whose names become italicised owing to their reputation. For the Jasons[1] of this world, it's because of their panache at getting into, getting out of, and doing the things that no regular student should be able to do. But, once in a rare while, you get the kind of student whose boundless enthusiasm for learning is both a joy and a terror to behold.

That... was Barkley.

She was, of course, surrounded by tomes from the restricted sections. A privilege she had earned by reading and providing in-depth analyses of every other book known to the libraries of Vastarixus. And, the committee of educators had to agree, it was better than seeing what she'd get up to if she was bored.

Daisy Barkley was making notes as fast as she could write, which was very fast indeed. So fast that she had invented a pencil that was all graphite, so she could keep writing no matter what. She was referring to four books at once with her clean hand[2] whilst the other one, nearly black with graphite, continued writing.

Farltha waited just inside Barkley's field of view. Even if something was going to explode, it never hurt to let a student finish their thought.

"Oh, hello," said Barkley. As bright and seemingly innocent as a sack of new pennies falling from the highest tower. "I was trying to find out about relative decay rates in various climates, but then I found Stygian..."

Oh Gods and little fishes. Stygian.

"...which lead me to remember something by Catafalque about the combinations of certain chemicals and metals. Um. Long story short," her clean hand gestured at the long story, "I think I may have figured out a way to propel a man all the way to the moon."

"And bring him back?" prompted Farltha.

Barkley frowned. "Why would I want to do that? The first dozen ought to provide enough deterrent."

Farltha rolled her eyes. “Just get on with the research you’re not even meant to be doing, Barkley."

[1]: Sincere apologies to any innocent Jasons. If such people exist.
[2]: There were drawbacks.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / pterwort]

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