Mathias had NO idea what he was going to do about tonight. He had nothing to share...nothing to contribute to the others. He was seriously beginning to regret ever having joined the group in the first place.
He could see them all in his mind's eye and it was a vision that left him with a sour taste in the back of his throat. They would all have made so much progress and he would be the odd man out...again...still.
In his defense, Creative Writing was his minor, NOT the driving reason that he was here in the first place. Electrical Engineering was to be his focus. When your father was a graduate of the most prestigious engineering school on the East Coast, great things were expected of you.
Mathias had a definite talent for the intricacies of engineering. He had talent for it but little passion. What he DID have passion for was writing. He enjoyed the visceral, tactile sense of putting pen to paper and creating something unique and personal.
Engineering did not feed that hunger in him. Engineering was all about foundation. It was about taking the lessons of the past and applying them to the present. It was solid, consistent, established science. It required a certain degree of creativity, no doubt. But the bottom line was that it was all about taking the new and resolving it with the old. It was about applying tested existing solutions to new problems.
Mathias needed more and he had pursued it with his father's grudging support. He could imagine the cynical pleasure his father would take in hearing that the boy was finally going to give up his "scribbling". It was time for his son to pursue "real" learning. Mathias' cheeks burned red with shame.
Two days ago, his faculty advisor had implied that, perhaps, he take a semester off from his minor. She was quick to assert that he could always take it back up next year. Mathias knew it was a feeble attempt to not discourage him, but it did have an impact.
He KNEW he wasn't cutting it with his writing. Oh, he had completed all of his assignments but that was not the issue. His professor offered only lackluster feedback . He chided his student often about growing, expanding...about reaching deeper inside to tap his well of creativity.
Mathias had no explanation to give. He doubted the old coot could understand the pressure he was under. He was expected to not only perform, but to excel in his engineering courses. His inclusion in a summer internship at Macey Applied Technologies was his father's dream for him. Mathias own dreams were a secondary concern at best.
The members of the writing group were supportive of him. He couldn't make them understand how...galling that support was. Yes, he was thousands of words behind the rest of them on his novel, but that was okay, they maintained. Not everyone could be a prolific, dedicated writer all at once. He was doing VERY well for someone with so little writing experience.
He fumed thinking of the platitudes they trotted out so readily. He HAD ideas. He HAD plots and exposition and conflicts and all of the elements of a truly great novel. They were right there in his head. He just lacked the time to give them their due.
The hours of theorums and advanced mathematics and applied structural physics left him so very, very tired. His thoughts were disjointed, scrambled by the time he set it aside and tried to write. The story would not come. The creativity would not flow. By the time he stumbled to bed each night, his Great American Novel had only advanced by a paltry few hundred words. By the cold light of day, they seemed so lame they were scarce worth keeping.
It was 6:45. He needed to hurry if he was going to make it to Stamford Hall on time. The group had a dedicated study carrel reserved for every Wednesday night at 7. Though he had written less than a single chapter since the previous week, he WOULD be there tonight. He had a surprise for his fellow writers...a most unexpected surprise.
He snatched his battered leather satchel and filled it with his notebooks, pens,and such. The last item he placed inside with gentle care. He had bought it awhile ago but had only decided today to share it with the group. Boy, would they be surprised!
His mind was cold, analytical and dedicated to the problem-solving skills of engineering. The whimsical, fictional make-believe were all banished and subsumed. This was a surprise that required careful planning.
The gun was a revolver...so only six rounds to work with. He reasoned that he would have no opportunity to reload...a valid premise. That meant six targets at most. He calculated the variables and postulated the element of surprise would be a favorable factor.
Six rounds and twelve group members...Hmm. He contemplated his target priorities. Caroline...definitely Caroline. He smiled, picturing her head exploding in a cloud of blood and brain. Now THAT was more than dystopian enough to characterize the mewling cow's writing.
Sadie and Ted, of course. Through the ticker for her. He imagined the heavy slug would be a nice metaphor for those trashy bodice-rippers she obsessed on. Ted would, most likely, take one in the back while he tried to shield the others from harm. That would be fitting of the crappy cop thrillers he favored. How fitting indeed!
Mathias lamented he had not devoted more effort to this decision. He supposed the rest would come to him at the right time. After all, he WAS a very creative man if given half a chance.
This is the eighth story recycled for Vault Cleaning. It was originally posted Nov. 4, 2011. The picture has been added as part of the cleaning process. This particular post was chosen with an eye toward the impending nanowrimo campaign.