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Death of a Professor

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Newton was never hit on the head by an apple. It is more probable that he saw the apple drop from the window of his room where he spent most of his adult life. Two hundred years after Newton’s discovery of gravity, the brilliant Algerian clockmaker Pierre Larseux applied Newton’s Laws in his humanoid robot. His beloved automaton could draw four pictures and write eight poems in three languages. After Larseux’s death his estate was divided between his children and the automaton was lost; until 1914 when it was anonymously donated to a museum. Historical mechanics quickly began fixing the automaton with special glue, copper gears and silver bolts. As soon as it was fixed the automaton jerked into action and began to draw. It signed each piece of it’s repertoire with the message WRITTEN BY PIERRE LARSEUX’S FANTASTICAL AUTOMATON. Bizarrely enough, after only a few weeks, the automaton spontaneously changed messages and instead wrote WRITTEN BY STEWART. Museum curators suspected a hoax but the townspeople insisted that the automaton had developed a free will and was asserting his independence. As a skeptic of all things not scientific I suspected the former.
These histories have little to nothing to do with each other. I relate them only because they were what I was thinking of during the piano recital. I was letting my mind wander as I am wont do in the presence of classical music. The campus had been abuzz with excitement at the return of recent alumna Lillian Solosolo: who had established herself as an extraordinary and respected pianist. Her arrival had overshadowed the annual faculty- student volleyball game which had taken place that day. I had been cajoled into playing on the faculty team yet again. Just like every other year the overwhelmingly superior student team won. Their tactic was to send ball after ball my way which worked because I haven’t a modicum of athletic ability. I was hit in the face several times. It hurt and one particularity hard blow shattered my spectacles. But I liked my students and what was a little fun at my expense?
After the game I showered, put on an old pair of glasses and went to hear Lillian Solosolo play. She had taken a basic chemistry course with me during her time as student at the college. Although Lillian did poorly she had always been pleasant to me. I was enjoying her rendition of Chopin’s “Raindrops” when I died. The autopsy report uncovered a small fragment of glass in my brain. More specifically, the prescription glass from my spectacles had shot through my eye and lodged in the momento-mori region of my brain. The momento-mori controls many bodily functions necessary for living such as hormone distribution, regulating eyelid temperature and most importantly, it controls heart rhythm. The conclusion Dr. Nicolaes came to was that I had died of a sudden heart capsulization caused by an abrupt severance of neural paths in my momento-mori.
I watched the autopsy from the ceiling of the operating room and I found my new situation rather convenient. Scientists love to observe and I am no exception, even in death. After I died I quickly discovered my ghostly ability to float and be invisible. I can observe things unseen and unnoticed for as long as I want. With my supernatural abilities I have been able to watch the formation of stalagmites, the comic mating habits of wombats and study the degradation of the polar ice caps. I have never been happier. If you can wait long enough, you can be witness to anything.





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