2007-03-03: Mad Science


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Lee comes into Enlightenment Books to get Cass' interpretation of the stranger events of the fire. Dickensian Ghosts? Or Wall Walkers?

Date It Happened: March 3rd, 2007

Mad Science

Enlightenment Books

It's early afternoon on this Monday and Cass has finally gotten the store more or less back in order since the freak earthquake made her forcibly rearrange things. The store is mostly empty, but for the few hardcore readers with nowhere else to go. Cass sits behind her desk with a bunch of dried flowers in a vase, contemplating them in a serious manner. It's more like she's studying them as if to commit them to memory than idly watching them.

Lee comes in. He doesn't greet everyone with a rowdy declaration that they're all gullible dupes and/or X-Files wackjobs - it's not his family's store, after all. He approaches the counter. Up close, stitches in his scalp are visible beneath a flopped-over haircut. "Hey, Cass." he greets pleasantly. "How's business? Any of these dowsers call the earthquake beforehand?"

Cass straightens when she hears the door open. Seeing that it's just Lee and not a real customer, she relaxes a bit and doesn't give him her standard welcoming greeting. "Hey Lee," she replies pleasantly enough, though. "Nah, Tigerlily wasn't in…she's the one with the future telling and all." Once Lee's close enough, she leans forward. "Wowzers, Lee. What'd you do to your head? Did Nima whack you on the head with a lightsaber or something?"

Lee admits, "I sort of had trouble sleeping the night after the fire, and fell out of bed during a nightmare. Hit my head on something. It bled like crazy but I wasn't concussed or anything." Apparently the event affected him a lot more than he wanted to admit. "I always wondered if you got a break on insurance if you had people who could predict the future hanging around."

Cass tilts her head a little as she studies those stitches, but then shrugs. There's nothing she could really do about it. And since he seems to be fine, she'll let the concerned clucking pass. Nima's probably done enough of that. So, she'll move on to the joking. "See, my story was more interesting. Falling out of bed and hitting your head is more nursery rhyme fare. Getting clobbered on the head with a lightsaber is epic." Resting her elbows on the counter, Cass grins. "No no, they'd blame me for not taking proper precautions if they knew that Tiger could predict the future. They're here as my collateral."

Lee says, "Good point. Actually you can't hit anything with Nima's lightsaber, it'll break, so it's lame on top of being nerdy." Ah, there's the snark that makes it work. "Seriously, though, I wanted to ask you something. I have a vague idea of how you came to run this place…" She's dropped enough mention here and there. "…so I know it's not necessarily your thing, but…do you really think there's something to this supernatural stuff?" And he's not joking! He really does want to know!

Cass beams when Lee makes his snark. "Exactly." She can't help but needle Nima's brother. It's kind of like she picked it up from her friend. However, soon Lee's being serious and decidedly unsarcastic. What is that about? She thinks for a moment and then shrugs her shoulders. "I think there's more out there than what modern science can explain, definitely. Definitely moreso now than I did when I started working here under Tom." She gives a look around the store, but none of her customers are really listening to their conversation. "Why? This seems like one of those things you were making fun of before."

Lee says, "Well, you remember what I said about what happened in the fire. I talked to Maria, the girl who somehow got rescued? She was disoriented and a bit out of it, but she basically remembered the same things I did, and she says she remembers going through the wall." He shrugs a little. "I've never had something unexplainable happen to me before. Not just unexplained…" Because the disappearance of his parents certainly qualifies for that. "…but unexplainable. As I experienced it anyway. You know? I'm not going to end up one of these guys who wears flannel year round and puts newspaper articles up on his wall with red pen circling names in it, right?" he joshes.

Cass nods, perching her head in her hands. She's listening to this quite intently to Lee's story. "Through a wall, hm?" Her tone is thoughtful, as she's going over things and trying to connect them in her head. "I…don't think it's really that unexplainable. Or, really, it's explainable but the answer is one of the ones that you'd make fun of before. Or think is totally crazy." She pauses, wondering if she should continue, knowing Lee to be the serious one of the twins. But, he's here and asking for questions. She should help. "Here. One second. Lemme show you something." Heading to the bookshelf, she grabs a copy of Activating Evolution - really, she's single handedly making Suresh rich these past couple of weeks. Flipping through it, she finds a page talking about phasing and then holds the book opened to that page to Lee. "Funny, I always pictured you as one of those guys with newspaper articles on his walls. Flannel doesn't really suit you, though."

Lee says, "Ah, no." He looks the page over without much comprehension. "I'm a humanities guy. I could never handle the math and science stuff. I was sort of hoping it was a Dickensian ghost rescuing a fair maid. Even if she is a fourteen year old wearing a shirt that says 'No Chance' in glittery letters." He hands it back. "Mad science is as good as anything else, I guess."

Cass rolls her eyes at Lee, in a good natured fashion. "You slackers," she responds of the humanities people. "Dickensian ghosts can't really hold onto anything, can they? And they only warn of Christmases. Unless your girl was a Scrooge in need of some Christmas spirit, I think you're out of luck on that one. If you want the non-occult bookstore answer, your girl inhaled too much smoke and was imagining things. Lack of oxygen makes the brain do funny things." Taking the book back, she slips it back into it's place on the shelf. "And it's not really mad science as…okay, well, yeah, it's mad science. Theoretical science, if you want to be nice about it."

Lee says, spreading his hands, "I'm not criticizing. If that is what happened, then this guy had the idea before I even knew it was possible." He nods. "I didn't inhale that much smoke, and one minute she was inside a room with no external doors and barred windows, and the next minute she was outside, safe and sound." he says. "It's funny, though, I don't think she's told anyone but me about it. And she pays attention to me in class now." Gosh Lee, connecting with your students, what a concept.

Cass leans up against a bookshelf, making sure she's not in the way of other customers. "I know you're not. It's a weird topic. People walking through walls and all." She's not teasing here, she's being serious. "Aw, you've made a friend." Once again, not teasing, she's actually pleased that he's connecting with the students. "Well, then, you've got to ask yourself a simple question. What do you really thing happened? And once you figure that out, you can figure out the hows and whys."

Lee says, "There was someone in there with her. I heard him searching for her, I yelled directions to him. Once I got outside, I think I saw him getting away quickly, but I can't be sure, it might have just been someone else fleeing the area. African American guy." He says, "The high school girl who was with me, I remember a lot better, but I don't know if she was connected or just a special ed student visiting from another school who decided I needed help. I probably looked like an idiot standing there yelling at a fire. She also disappeared right after."

Cass thinks that over. "I think you can use the term 'black' again," she adds absently. Of course, she's no expert. "Hm. Well, I don't know. I wasn't there, so I can't say for certain what it is. But, if you think something strange happened, I'm inclined to believe you. You don't seem like someone who's going to make something like this up."

Lee says, "If I did, you can bet there'd be a punchline before I got this far into it…thanks for the help. Maybe it was some crazy science thing." He concludes: "I think I'm all right with not knowing. Is that weird?"

Cass shrugs. "I don't know about weird. It's just a personal preference. I can't deal with not knowing." She grins. "And, you're right. This would be the longest practical joke ever if that were the case. I think it was definitely some crazy science thing." Something having to do with genes if Activating Evolution is at all correct. "But if you do want to find more out about it, I'm trying to do the same thing of sorts." It's kind of an invitation to help without actually being an invitation.

Lee says, "You're trying to walk through walls? I would start with paper walls first. If you carry Kool-Aid and yell 'Oh Yeah!' when you come out the other side, it helps, I'm told." But he is interested, despite his jest.

Cass jabs at Lee on the shoulder for his teasing. "Just for that I'm going to construct a paper wall to walk through during one of your classes. And all your students get some Kool-Aid. But you won't." She snickers and pushes herself up from leaning against her shelves. Mostly because she notices a customer steadily glancing in their direction with an impatient look on her face. She steers the two more toward the back of the store. "But, no, not walking through walls. Finding out if people can really do it. And if they can, why. Or how many. And maybe helping them if they need it. I imagine it can be pretty freaky to figure that stuff out."

Lee says, "I imagine they'd come to a place like this looking for answers if it did happen." He did, after all. "So what's your strategy? New York Post classified? 'Real life X-Men call Enlightenment Books. No Weirdos.'"

Cass snorts. "If I said 'No Weirdos' I wouldn't get any takers." Obviously. Tucking some stray hair behind her ear, she grins. "I don't really have a strategy." That much is kind of clear. "I guess just a case by case basis. Maybe I'll put a sign in the window or something. Start group therapy sessions. I did major is psychology after all. Make my dad proud and put it use for something."

Lee seems curious, "Have other people actually come here with stuff from that book? Seriously, not just people that never got over the Ouija board they used at band camp."

Cass laughs. "Yeah, actually. That books become my best seller in the past couple of weeks. And maybe they're all Ouija fanatics, but they seem pretty interested in the topic. I'm not sure, though. I saw a girl turn a dried flower into a live one right in front of my eyes the other day. I can't really be picky about what I belive."

Lee nods slowly. "And it might have been a sleight of hand trick, but you think it was the real thing, like Maria might have just been overcome by the smoke, concussed, and confused, but I think it was the real thing." he says, trying to find the parallel to his own experience.

Cass nods her head to Lee. He's got it. "Yup, that's it. I believe it was the real thing. And you think that someone can walk through walls. So, I definitely think something is going on in this city. Maybe elsewhere. Who knows. And if it is, I want to know more about it." This is the most she's talked about the ideas she's been forming with anyone. Mostly because she knows Lee and trusts him.

Lee says, "I'll keep an eye out." He laughs quietly and looks away, then looks back. "There's one big problem with both of us believing this." he says. "You can tell it right away, right? I mean, you work here, after all."

Cass keeps Lee's gaze once he looks back at her. "Yeah, but you don't. And you believe it, too." That's got to count for something. "And just because I work here doesn't mean that it's less true. Or not true at all."

Lee indicates the Prophecy shelf with a nod of his head. "Every generation thinks - something special is happening now, something that's never happened before." he says. "They think, we're the special ones, we live when things will change forever. And it's just never true, or only trivially true." Ah, the humanities cynicism rears its head.

Cass frowns now. She'll see Lee's cynicism and raise him her own rose-colored glasses optimism. "I think you're wrong. Every generation are the special ones and do things that the generations before them have never seen before. Otherwise we'd never grow as a human race. The Wheel, Fire, Written history, the printing press, penicillin, electronics….they didn't happen all at once. We got this knowledge through learning from each other. Most people do see change in their generation."

Lee says, "But we have already had cellphones." Lee has a superior smirk sometimes, only long experience can tell when he's joking. "All right, all right. So let's say someone does come in. Like the flower girl. What's the next step?"

Cass snerks slightly and rolls her eyes. She assumes that he's joking. "Some would say that's going backwards." Then she moves on. "I'm not sure. I guess just get them talking. See if I can help. Like I said, it's not really a polished thing yet. Mostly just play it by ear."

Lee says, "Well, if there's something I can do…let me know. Surely someone's studying it somewhere. Even if it's not quite to the degree of a vanity press publishing someone's unfinished thesis." He still sees himself as an academic establishment sort of fellow. It's a bit sad, really.

"Dr. Suresh's book isn't an unfinished thesis. It's highly researched." Cass defends. Or so she thinks. She's not totally sure, but her father seems to think so! "I'm tracking that down, too. Just…if you hear of anything strange, let me know. I'm starting to try and keep track of everything. I figure it's all got to be linked somehow. Either that or it's just chaos theory and I'm screwed."

Lee says, teasingly, but also with an air of self-mockery "Don't worry. I did my thesis on Balzac, so I'll be able to find a connection to anything and anyone. 'It's his brother's wife's sister's former college roommate! Of course!'"

Cass puts a hand on her forehead and rolls her eyes to the sky, before grinning back at Lee. "With friends like these, who needs enemies." Laughing, she lets her arms fall back down to her sides. "I'll make sure to keep a look out for the brother's wife's, sister's, former…whatever. Should it actually come down to that, I'm calling you and blaming it all on you."

Lee says, "Please do. And you should probably recruit Nima. She believes anything and everything." he adds with a pained look that shows that despite the great affection he has for his sister, on many subjects he considers her a grade A crackpot.

Cass laughs. "I'm sure she'll be a willing participant. And enthusiastic." That's putting it mildly. "I've been meaning to talk to her about it, that's for sure." Cass has none of the reservations of her fondness for Nima and her crackpot theories. In fact, she quite enjoys them.

Lee says, "Oh, hey, speaking of, we signed up for Battle of the Bands during the Central Island Club Crawl this year. You going to come cheer us on in our quest for free drinks? With these stitches, my haircut is officially bad enough to be an indie rock god."

Cass beams at the idea. "Oh, that's sounds great. Count me in. I won't speak all day so I can scream appropriately for as long s I need to." She pauses and thinks that over. "Though, really, I should just stand in a corner and pretend that somebody kicked my puppy a couple times to fit in properly. I'm all about free drinks and making fun of other bands."

Lee grins. "Excellent. Either way will work, just be sure you rank us number one on the vote card. I'll make sure you get a wristband."

Cass laughs. "I second that excellent. And don't worry, it will be ranked number one as soon as I get it. I doubt any other band can match your awesomeness. Plus, I'm totally open to the bribery of a wristband granting free drinks."

Lee says, "Cool. Well, thanks for the help. Maybe I'll steal a glance at that book at some point. With a calculator and my school's bio textbook, certified evolution free by the Kansas School Board."

Cass snickers. "I don't think the calculator is necessary. But the bio textbook will be a help. As will a notebook. If you ever want to borrow it, just ask. I'll lend you one of the store copies." Her's is a bit too filled with notes to be usable by anyone else. "And any time."

Lee heads out back into the city.

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