This story is by David J. Brown and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
The professor disappeared so completely, even our memories of him were quickly fading; growing faint like the legends he taught about.
Most of us enjoyed Professor Anthony Hill’s classes. Not just because it was about mythology. The way he taught, it was as if he believed the creatures existed, but that wasn’t all. It’s hard to to put a finger on it. There was freedom in his classroom; your mind was allowed to wander into territories other teachers were quick to shut down. Not just wander, sometimes your mind was lead into the woods of the unknown.
“What if?” Was Professor Anthony’s favorite saying.
My name is Ben, a student at University of Idaho. There is a lot to this story, and I will give you a quick synopsis, which includes Professor Hill’s letter.
Rumor had it, the university didn’t like the way Professor Hill taught. Of late, he had veered off course more than usual, and had attracted a larger than normal attendance to his classes. Some to poke fun, but most to feel the freedom of the mind unlocked.
At the last class before his disappearance, his normally fluid handwriting was stiff as he wrote, “Bombus terrestris”.
“The Bumble Bee.” He paused. “As late as 2055, people still believed this aerodynamically-insulting bug existed.” The professor showed a holographic image of a monstrous insect.
“The poor bug’s downfall was that it’s weight to wing ratio could not be explained by science, and like the Sasquatch, despite proof of it’s existence, was voted out of our reality.”
He finished the class with. “Bummer, huh? It sucks to live where everything is explained.”
A week went by, the police had searched his home and found nothing to indicate foul play. It was unlike him to leave his class hanging. He loved to teach.
After helping with the ‘Relativity versus belief of the observer’ project, the professor started to trust me.
The police found me at Bucer’s coffeehouse Saturday morning and asked me to come to the station. They questioned me about how well I knew the professor.
“He’s single. No kids. Parents are dead,” the detective said. “I guess that’s why he wrote this to you.” He handed me a letter with my name on the envelope. The envelope had been opened, and the letter inside was hand written.
“A letter?” I glanced at the officer. “Who writes letters?”
“Strange old professors, I guess. Does it mean anything to you?”
Here’s the letter:
June 6th, 2087
If you are reading this, then the following is true.
Last year, I was on my way to class when I encountered an insect of surprising proportions. As is customary of creatures of mythology, the image I captured with my i-View was blurry and the web couldn’t identify it. I had to search the books.
It was a Bumble Bee. It is as unlikely as a Dragon to have existed, yet, there it was. It landed on a dandelion nearly bending it to the ground. It was magic before my eyes.
I know the Bumble Bee is real. I have held one. In fact, during my last class the swelling in my hand was from a Bumble Bee sting.
I received the suspended tenure notice after that class, which accelerated my experiment. I love my class, but my truth was being threatened. Keep my job and finish a boring life, or chase the Bumble Bee down the rabbit hole.
Four leaf clovers. You knew they existed; I had never seen one. You believed it so strongly, you promised me you could find one in the next five minutes. We went out in the lawn, and you found one. In the same way, I can find a Bumble Bee.
I tried to show Ms. Hennigen (the entomologist). She was adamant it couldn’t exist, and she was correct in her world. The Bee would not show itself.
My belief became reality, which created a way for the Bee to come to me. Where did it come from? Could I go there?
I believe there is a way into another world. I don’t know if I can get back. Apparently not, because you are reading this. Don’t worry about me, I am not asking for help. I want to clear things up, and leave you some mystery.
I am giving you my library; real books with pages. Written words hold many secrets.
If I found the path, then anyone can. If I never make it back, I wish you the best.
Life should be filled with wonder. Maybe you will find a way down the rabbit hole, and we will meet again.
Professor Anthony Hill.
It wasn’t that strange, coming from Anthony. His reality had fringes, not edges. It seemed likely for him to drift out of this existence and into another.
“What do you make of it?” The detective asked me.
“Is this all that was in the envelope?” I asked.
He pulled a small glass vial with a black plastic cap out of a briefcase, and set it on the table. I picked it up. It appeared empty at first. Then I saw it. A transparent, tiny insect wing.
“That fell out of the envelope.” The detective said.
“Did you run it through a bio-spectrometer?” I asked.
“Of course. It doesn’t exist.”
I smiled as I choked back a tear. A little ‘wonder’ for my life.
I write this on real paper in the backyard of the professor’s home. The clover is blooming, and would you look at that……….