Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 34

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XXXIV

Richard had been pretty much healed for two weeks. After one week of very light exercise, he’d then started on a slightly more strenuous program. Everything felt fine, but he was working his way up to the level of effort he had been putting in before. At the current time, everything felt easy, but Richard didn’t feel like spending time healing again if he went too far. Richard was just glad it had been something he could heal from, though he wasn’t really sure what would be too much. He might be able to recover from anything, if he didn’t die. However, he didn’t want to bet on that. He also didn’t think he needed to be in a rush. Nothing had happened lately that put his life in peril, but that should be normal. He contacted his grandmother to ask her, and she indicated effects of the curse wouldn’t necessarily happen quickly, as the first two times he almost died. Then again, there was also nothing to say that mortal danger couldn’t happen back to back.

Susan also joined Richard in his exercises. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but it wasn’t what he saw. She was normal. She wasn’t a strong Xevaronian like Jot, nor was she a very fit human like Hiroshi. She got tired after a reasonable amount of exercise, then had to rest. Like normal people. Not like Richard, though, because he didn’t have to rest much. This was especially true after the lighter exercises. As for Elena, she wasn’t interested in much exercise. She got enough to stay healthy, and the rest of her time was devoted to studying. Richard studied too, but not as fervently.

—–

Richard finally got in contact with his mother regarding Susan. More specifically, she was finally responded to his inquiries. Where had she come from? Richard knew people didn’t just appear. Even though he had recently experienced some strange things, he knew that was still true. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t find out what was going on immediately. Instead, he was told that she was coming to visit again… and then there would be a real family meeting.

—–

Richard was tired of waiting. It might have been better if he didn’t know he would be getting an explanation soon, but now he couldn’t stop thinking about it. Richard could certainly say he liked Susan. She definitely felt like family, even after a short time, but he still didn’t like not knowing where she came from. Plus, Richard felt like he needed to sit down and have a conversation with his parents anyway, because there were questions he had about them as well.

However, the time when he would be able to ask was still a few days away. Thus, Richard came up with the best idea he could think of for helping to pass the time. He went to get ice cream. Technically, Richard supposed other types of desserts would be just as good. However, Susan had never had ice cream, and she was intrigued by the thought of eating something very cold, instead of the normal room temperature or hot food she was used to.

The particular place they were going to was within walking distance of the campus. This made it convenient, because they could burn off the calories from eating the ice cream by walking there. Of course, Richard knew they only burned a very small percentage of the calories they were going to eat, but it was still a good excuse. Besides, they didn’t do it every day.

Fortunately for Jot, there were some flavors suited for a Xevaronian palate. That is, they were only flavored in a minimal manner. He still had to order a large quantity to feel like he had ingested anything, but that wasn’t a big issue. “You know,” Jot said, “Some people might point out that eating junk food isn’t particularly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Thus, you should only have very particular desserts, made to be more health conscious.” Then Jot took a huge spoonful of strawberry ice cream from the bowl in front of him. “I say that is pointless. What really matters is self control. If I eat food that is slightly healthier than junk food every day, I am much worse off than if I only occasionally indulge in a real treat.” Jot took another big scoop. “Of course, the most important thing is actually sustaining eating habits that are at least moderately healthy… which is pretty easy as a Xevaronian. We process everything pretty well.”

Richard didn’t respond except with a nod, since he was licking his chocolate ice cream from a cone. It was a much more moderate amount, because he wasn’t currently in need of the massive amounts of calories he had sometimes consumed.

Elena was eating mint ice cream from a bowl with a spoon, though for very different reasons from Jot. Jot needed a bowl because the quantities he wanted couldn’t fit on top of a cone, while Elena just wanted the elegance and precision of a spoon.

Meanwhile, Susan was really enjoying her raspberry ice cream. After the first taste, she had been delighted and taken a big bite… and then gotten brain freeze. Richard laughed, but also told her to press her tongue to the roof of her mouth to warm it up. That helped… but only until she ate too fast again. Eventually, she figured out exactly how fast she could eat it without causing herself brain freeze… too often.

In contrast to that, Hiroshi was the slowest eater of the whole group, mostly only licking the ice cream where it was already melting. Richard did admire that he managed to keep both his hands and his face perfectly clean.

Richard was glad he had suggested they get ice cream, because he felt much more relaxed, and wasn’t even thinking about the upcoming talk with his parents. However, he wasn’t so relaxed that he didn’t notice a strange twang, and then a clanging sound above him. He only barely started to look up, when he suddenly felt himself moving rapidly. He also heard a loud screech, like bending metal. His eyes continued upward, finally seeing the construction going on  nearby, where a steel cable appeared to have snapped, dropping an I beam that Richard could barely see. Surprisingly, Richard wasn’t unconscious. No wait… he wasn’t even hurt. However, upon looking in front of him Richard felt less relieved at his own safety.

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