Bringer of the Fall, pt. 5

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The late morning sun shone wanly over the campus as he made his way to the lecture hall. He had to take a longer route than usual due to campus construction.

Ralph was still muzzy-headed from a fatigue that even a second coffee hadn’t been able to dispell. Ironically, this saved his life. He stumbled over a curb and fell to the pavement; had he continued walking, the enormous, heavy iron girders that fell from the building above him would have smashed him to paste when they landed with a deafening crash right where he’d been going.

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The day after that he was plenty wakeful; shaken and scared out of his wits, he’d done little after lecture but sleep. And so it was that when a car sped by at a fantastic speed, nearly killing him, he’d been alert enough to notice that it had swerved toward him, not away from him. Only a swift step out of the way had kept him from becoming road paste.

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The third day after he posted the notes passed uneventfully until he got back from lecture. A small white-wrapped box sat outside his door, a note card set on top. “An admirer.”

He carried it in, puzzled, and was about to open it when a faint, acrid chemical smell made him stop. He had no idea what the smell was, but it made him acutely aware of his impression that the car the day before had tried to hit him. What was it they said? Twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action. Shaken all over again, he grabbed a few things and left the tiny apartment as fast as he could. When he looked back a few minutes later, a thread of smoke wound its way to the sky from the building.