The Temp

First, the reality.

From a departmental memo titled “Prevent the spread of influenza A(H1N1)”:

“How to organize and prioritise the most important tasks at the unit if a considerably large number of staff members fall ill during the late summer or fall?”

Then, the fiction.

* * *

I sauntered in, grinning slightly, in a slightly upsettingly demented a way. The students — well, those seven that had braved the disease-swept streets to come here — turned to look; a few shivered in recognition.

One such was near the door and flew; I let him go.

I let my new staff fall to the table with a clatter, turned, and smiled like a shark in an aquarium full of cripples.

“Good morning everyone. I am adjunct staff member Lastname, and I shall be replacing your regular lecturer for the duration of his… indisposition.”

I dwelt a bit, silently, on the image of that arrogant lark of a professor Grimmjow in the throes of a good bout of fever — curious, that; usually he caused chills only in other people.

“Now, to business. There shall be—”

“Er, sorry?” A student in the back row; I didn’t recognize the face. My shark smile slipped. “I was wondering if—”

“Enough.” From sharks to snarling wolves, then. I grabbed my staff and held it up for the myopic cretins to see. “Adjunct. Staff. Member. Lastname. I believe I mentioned this important detail.”

“Er, your Infernal Highness—”

Adjunct staff member!” Out of the animal kingdom, and into the skies as a Stuka, screaming as it fell towards a giant explosion. There was a nice rippling flinch in the crowd; very good as now everyone was surely awake. Soiled, maybe, but awake, certainly.

The student thought for a bit, then timidly tried again. “Your Abysmally Infernal Highness…” I nodded acceptance. “I was just thinking, um, I’m new and I wonder if this is the Life of Fungi seminar or not?”

Well, I guess he didn’t expect the answer to be laughter. Or maybe it was just the sight of my dental equipment; I’m told that when I laugh I show entirely too many entirely too white, long and sharp teeth. Apparently some think this a cosmetic fault; I see it more as a disciplinary tool. Let them have nightmares of my teeth if they say something foolish enough to make me laugh.

“No, you blind worm!” By the expression on his face he didn’t expect that either. “No, you worthless cretin! This is not your boring little biology seminar, but the awful and utter glory of nonlinear differential equations and their derivatives in n-dimensional spaces of even n larger than two!”

He edged towards the door already.

“And there is no escape! Seize him, my minions!”

My minions looked at me with their little student mouths hanging open; meanwhile the bio-cretin got to the door and vanished with a whimper.

Most clearly I needed to stress on my mathematical minions the importance of obeisance. I let my mouth fall open with amusement, and considered the glorious days — weeks — maybe even months — ahead.

“Dear minions, my name is Martinet Lastname, adjunct staff member” — after one final shake of the staff I thrust it to my back holster with what was carefully practiced to look like casual ease — “but you can address me merely as ‘Master’. In return I expect your immediate and unquestioning loyalty. I shall now proceed to prove why this is the best state of affairs for the both of us.”

A silence behind me as I picked up a piece of chalk and started to write.

“Let U be the set of all desirable things. For the duration of this course we assume that U contains only the item ‘Lastname’s satisfaction and approval’. Now, from that assumption the following lemma easily follows —”

* * *

Not that that’s an image of me — I have NCO training and thus am already over the power-mad prick phase of leadership.

“Class! Attention! Ease! Attention! On my command… integrate! Faster! Can the boy on third row be falling behind… faster! Pencils down! Attention! Integers! Odd! Even! Odd! Even! Odd! Even! One two three!”

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