Chapter 42 of Primordial

Here's the forty-second chapter of my upcoming novel, Primordial: An Abstraction, regarding the exploits of a college professor who is sent back to school for practicing a "questionable mode of pedagogy" and writing a "toxic strain of theory." The book will be published in paperback and kindle editions on September 3 and is currently available for preorder directly from Anti-Oedipus Press.

42

“There’s going to be a fire drill today.”

“What?”

Timidly, tentatively, my roommate repeats himself.

“A fucking fire drill? Are you kidding me?”

“A fire drill,” he says. “Nobody knows when it’s going to happen. Everybody’s betting on when it’s going to happen. Some people are, like, I don’t know . . . scared.”

“Scared?”

He nods gravely. “Yeah. You know. Because of the sound. It’s gonna be loud.”

“Loud?”

He nods again.

“Are you fucking kidding me?”

He shakes his head.

I go talk to a Dean of something.

“What’s this shit about a fuckin’ fire drill?”

“Fire drill?” says the Dean. But he obviously knows there’s going to be one.

“Fuck your fire drill. If I hear a fucking fire drill today I swear to god I’m gonna burn this goddamn hellhole to the ground! Dipshit!”

The Dean plays dumb for awhile longer. Eventually I get him to promise there won’t be a fire drill.

When the fire alarm goes off, I’m sitting in ENG 801: Introduction to Graduate Studies.

Everybody screams.

“Stay calm!” exclaims the professor. “Stay in your seats, by God!”

Everybody stays in their seats.

The professor charges across the classroom towards the door. Students try to trip him and take out his legs. He’s light of foot in spite of a terrific belly. Nobody even touches him.

The alarm is loud. My roommate was right. I’m scared.

The door won’t open. The professor pounds on it and hollers for somebody in the hallway to open it.

Nobody opens it.

The students can’t stand it any longer. They leap out of their chairs and make for the door.

They press against the professor, squeezing him into the cold wood.

His cheek presses against the glass window in the door, emboldening a popped blood vessel.

He moans.

The lights start blinking.

The floor starts shaking.

We slide across it in slow time.

Unexpectedly, the professor collapses over a desk. I try to help him up. He shoos me away.

The fire alarm won’t stop.

There might be a real fire somewhere.

Somebody says they see a fire out the window. “A real one,” they emphasize.

We run to the window, trampling the professor. He begins to cough and choke. Long strands of plasma extend from his open mouth.

Next door a building is on fire. I don’t even know what building it is even though I have used several of the toilets inside of it.

Venomous flames hiss and buckle in every exploded window and doorway.

There are people on the roof.

They’re all on fire.

They screech and wail as they run back and forth like angry swarms of fireflies. Sometimes they crash into one another and fall off the roof.

The fire alarm keeps ringing even when the firemen show up, put out the fire, help the people, and go back to the fire station. Two days later it’s still ringing.

Then it stops.