Chapter 57

The days on the Lander campus slipped by and finals season went into full swing. Students in the HCP were expected to maintain at least a C average in their normal courses, so even though many would have preferred to let schoolwork fall by the wayside, the Super community found itself stressed out and studying hard. Adding to the anxiety of the freshman class was fear of the unknown, manifesting in terror and rumors regarding their end of semester exam in gym. Coach George had announced it would take place on December 17, the day after all normal finals were wrapped. Anyone who didn’t show up was assumed to be dropping out of the program. Different students were dealing with this looming challenge in different ways. Some were hoarding information, rumor-mongering in a desperate attempt to find anything that would give them an edge. Others were throwing themselves into their other classes, working hard in a sort of cosmic trade-out for the class they wished they could be preparing for. Some, though, had altogether unique coping methods entirely.

“I really don’t see how having a Quantum Leap marathon is an appropriate way to spend the last Saturday we have for studying,” Vince said as Nick rearranged the furniture to allow for more viewers.

“I still have a math final. Isn’t quantum a mathy word?”

“Seriously, Nick.”

“Look, people need to chill out today,” Nick explained. “Research shows that relaxed people test better than stressed out ones. I’m offering that opportunity in the form of classic sci-fi television. No one is making you partake in it.”

“Except that you commandeered the boy’s lounge,” Vince pointed out.

“You’ve got a room and a library left,” Nick countered. “Though you more than any of us could use a day to do nothing. You’re worrying so much I think your hair has started to shift in hue from silver to white.”

“Funny,” Vince said. “How can you be so calm about all this? In four days we have to take our semester final for gym, a test that’s going to determine if we’re still in the program after Christmas, and no one has any idea what it entails.”

“Oh, plenty of people know what it is, they just aren’t telling us freshmen. I can only assume it’s what constitutes hazing around here. Psychological torture, if you will,” Nick said. “Besides, every test we take will be determining if we’re still in the program. Better to learn how to go with the flow now and save yourself from an ulcer by the time we’re juniors.”

“We could be spending this time studying for our other tests at least,” Vince said.

“Buddy, this whole last month has been almost nothing but study group and reviews. I don’t know about you, but I am burned out. Me rereading the same crap today isn’t going to do a lick of good. Spending some time with my friends, though, that one might have some positive effects. Given the two choices, I’m going with the one that involves time travel and popcorn,” Nick said.

Vince laughed a bit in spite of himself. “I don’t know how you do it, Nick. You’re the only person here who can just roll through things so carefree. I’m seriously beginning to believe that’s your actual power.”

“Just an easygoing guy, I guess,” Nick lied. “Let things fall where they may and do the best you can. Take our gym final, for example. Sure, I don’t know what’s coming, but neither did any other class before me and they still seem to have students graduating.”

“Far fewer than we do currently, though,” Vince said.

“So maybe this will weed out a few more of ours. And maybe I’ll be one of them. If I thought spending the day holed up in my room agonizing over the possibilities would help then I’d... no, even then I still probably wouldn’t do it. That’s beside the point, though, since it doesn’t help,” Nick said.

“Too bad. I’ve logged some serious hours pursuing that strategy,” Vince quipped.

“Never too late to change horses,” Nick said.

“Until the race starts,” Vince replied.

“You’d be surprised some of the things I’ve seen happen on a race track,” Nick said. “That will have to wait for another day, though, because I need to finish moving all this crap before the others arrive.”

“Who all is joining in your little festivity, anyway?”

“Mary took her last final yesterday, so she’s down. Hershel, Alex, and Will all said they’d be coming. Alice has said she will ‘stop by’ but wouldn’t commit to any more than that. Oh, and I think Will’s sister might come,” Nick said, ticking off the attendants on his fingers.

“Her name is Jill. It’s one letter off from Will, why is it you can’t ever seem to remember that?” Vince asked.

“Because my brain is just too damn chocked full of knowledge to take on anything new at this point. See what I mean about needing a day off?”

Vince raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, you win. Put me on the list, I’ll spend my day watching television with you guys instead of expanding my mind.”

“If you’re looking for mind expansion, I’m pretty those guys who play Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn and listen to indie music keep some on them,” Nick informed him.

“Huh?”

“Never mind, should have known you wouldn’t get that joke, Boy Scout,” Nick said. “So you going to invite your woman?”

“Nah, she’s visiting her parents this weekend,” Vince said.

“Oh, that’s cool that they live close by,” Nick commented.

“They live in Seattle,” Vince said.

“Right. Forgot to adjust normal expectations, my mistake,” Nick said. “Well, if you’re staying then you can help me with the couch.”

“Sure,” Vince agreed. They went to each end of the couch and hefted it up. As they were inching around the room a thought struck Vince.

“If everyone is coming why aren’t we doing this in the main common room?”

“Because Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport occasionally come through there and I thought they might be a bit of a buzzkill on our day,” Nick said in a strained voice.

“Hey, they aren’t that bad. They’d always been really nice to us,” Vince said.

“Not denying that, but they’re adults. Today we’re blowing off legitimate work to piss the day away having fun. That is most definitely adolescent behavior and I feel it will be more enjoyable without any judgmental gazes being cast our way from the kitchen.”

“I thought you said this was a valid stress management technique to improve test performances.”

“Oh Vince, you can’t believe everything you hear these days. Now let’s get to the video store before someone steals my idea and checks out the first season.”