Of Space and Bachelor’s Degrees Chapter 41

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Richard found that focusing on the world around him looking for dangers did have some benefits. For example, he took notice of architecture he had previously ignored, some of which was quite beautiful. Now that he took the time to look, he really appreciated. Of course, he would have appreciated it more if he wasn’t worried about things falling on him. Richard didn’t have much cause for climbing up near the tops of large buildings and standing on their balconies, but Richard planned to avoid that as much as he could. That said, it wasn’t that Richard actually found himself in danger that often. It was just that he could.

Upon talking with his grandmother some more, he gained a bit more insight into what could happen. For example, the cable holding up the i-beam shouldn’t have snapped… but there were always faults that got through manufacturing processes. Then, since there hadn’t been any problems, the workers didn’t feel the need to inspect their new cable, or missed the fault, or any number of other things. The extent of Richard’s curse wasn’t that a perfectly good cable would break. Rather, it could have been related the the faults being missed in production, as well as him happening to walk past right when it broke. If he wasn’t there, it should have broken anyway, maybe at a slightly different point in time.

It relieved Richard that he wasn’t actually the cause of such things. He already knew that… and of course, he couldn’t reasonably take responsibility for things outside of his control, but brains don’t always think rationally. In fact, it might actually be that Richard caused less trouble for other people, since some of the negative situations happened to him instead of happening more randomly. Then again, it was really hard to say what would happen if things in the past were different. Mostly, there was speculation, which wasn’t really a productive use of Richard’s time.

For all of his wariness, of the course of a few weeks Richard only managed to avoid danger at most a few times, and perhaps only once. He decided to not be afraid about going places, and had gone into the city several times… mostly for ice cream, since Susan liked that a lot. Richard couldn’t truthfully say it was only for her, though. Along the way, there were some near-misses with cars who apparently didn’t see or care about the lights. That, however, could have been coincidence and happened to anyone… and Richard had always been properly cautious when crossing streets.

The one thing Richard could be sure he avoided started with a branch falling while he was visiting the city with Susan. Now, being directly under a falling branch wasn’t extremely common, but it happened. However, it was extremely probably that some person would be nearby when a branch fell off of a tree in the middle of the city, just based on how many people would likely be around, even during times when most people were at work. This was the case for Richard. He heard the sound of the branch breaking, and quickly turned his head to look. It wasn’t actually close by, and was certainly not directly above him. Thus, he was perfectly safe from the falling branch, even though it was big enough to cause him serious injury if it had actually fallen on him. At that point, he almost turned to look away, but he didn’t. After all, he was working on his awareness… and the branch had not yet finished its fall. It was a good thing he paid attention, too, because of what happened next. The branch didn’t start some kind of unbelievable chain reaction. Instead, it simply landed on a power line below it, which snapped under the sudden weight. It seemed to then fall rather slowly… but instead of just standing there blankly staring at it, Richard was moving, and he pulled Susan with him as well. In the end, it was just a terrifying moment as the power line swept through where he had been walking. It only sparked for a moment as the power system determined there was a broken line, but the electricity hadn’t been the only dangerous part. The line itself had been moving quickly, and could have caused serious injuries. Perhaps it might have just tripped Richard or Susan, but it could have also done much worse. After his heart calmed down, Richard actually felt a little bit happy. He would have of course preferred that nothing had happened at all, but it was nice to know that he could actually avoid dangerous situations on his own, and didn’t always have to rely on others. On the other hand, he did still kind of wish that Jot and Hiroshi were around.


Richard had also asked Jot if he could teach him to use Ki. He wasn’t necessarily expecting any results from that. After all, there could be various reasons he would not be able or would not be allowed to teach Richard. Surprisingly, Jot’s response was positive.

“I can… though not just yet. The method I practice requires a strong body… and yours isn’t there yet. If you tried now, and were lucky, you’d get away with just being injured, but most likely you’d cripple or kill yourself.”

“Oh… sounds dangerous.”

“Only if you try too early. After that, it is safe. Though, my methods are intended for a Xevaronian constitution. Thus, even though I can teach you, I will err on the cautious side. Once you reach a similar level of strength of body, we can discuss whether it is a good idea to try. That is, assuming your new kind of muscles and bones can reach the required level.”

“I think they can… but I suppose we’ll have to see.”

“Also, your internal organ will have to be up to par. That will be… painful for you to test, but it should be safe, as long as I am the one doing it. Unfortunately, they aren’t like a muscle that you can train, so that might not be possible for you.”

“I’m… not entirely sure how to tell. I think the same thing I did to make my bones and muscles able to be tougher applied to all of me, but… I don’t really know what that means for other things. I feel the same everywhere inside though.”

Jot shrugged. “We’ll see. Until then, you’ll just have to get further beyond normal human limits.”

Richard sighed. “Yeah. It’s hard, though. I feel progress, but it isn’t fast.” Richard knew his strength wasn’t even at the limit for a normal human… but that was purely in strength. People who were bulky with massive muscles would certainly be stronger than Richard still, at least if measuring how much they could lift or pull or bench press, but Richard’s muscles were still slim. He felt himself getting stronger, and he felt himself getting more agile as well. Looking at Jot’s frame, he actually thought that was much closer to what he needed anyway.

“If it was fast or easy, it wouldn’t really be an accomplishment.” Jot smiled slightly. “You work hard and are making good progress. I think you can be proud… and hopeful for the future.”

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