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(Time minus three days)

Ronald hated the walk from his room to the computer science building. How many times had he fantasized about simply throwing a cot in the corner of the tiny half-office that he shared with Oscar, the other teacher’s aide? It would eliminate so many problems and it wasn’t like he took up a lot of space.

But no. Department regulations and motion-sensing security systems wouldn’t allow it. Still, if it meant lying perfectly still for eight solid hours every night he was sure that it would be better than leaving the dorm. The cretins on football scholarships taunted him mercilessly. Some people might claim that it was the age of the geek but that was spare comfort when he was trying to fish his books out of the gutters for the nth time. He used alternate routes and odd hours but that only helped part of the time. Far too often, the best thing that he could do was keep his head down, walk quickly, and try to ignore them until they found another target.

He couldn’t be bothered to learn their names. One particularly large example of the breed seemed to single him out more often than the others. Ronald referred to him as Mongo, at least mentally. He was sure that saying it out loud would guarantee a beating. As it was, he only had to contend with a couple a month.

His steps quickened as he entered the science buildings. Here, at least, he could find sanctuary. He hoped that he would be able to find some quiet job somewhere that his genius could erect walls of intellect to keep out the rampaging hordes of idiocy. He would stay in that little cocoon until he created a program that would be worth millions and then he would retire to his own private island.

He even had an idea about the program. In his spare time he was creating a body-modification application. The programs used by the plastic surgeons and dieticians of the world to show their clients what they could look like were primitive in comparison; Ronald’s program used specialized algorithms that were so far outside the box that they might as well have come from aliens. He was sure that once the bugs were worked out that the program would become the industry standard. He could see applications in movies and video games as well. Want to play a warrior who is an idealized version of yourself? Can do! The future was bright.

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