Episode 3 - The Paradox
[20 minutes, 4307 words] When a university trip goes wrong, very wrong.
This is the third and final episode of my serial story about Prof. Benjamin Hawking and Edwana.
Once you are done with this, You should read the first chapter and the second chapter. Don’t worry, it’s not chronological.
Professor knocked on my door. “Edwana, come out. We’ll get late for the excursion.”
“Let me get ready.” I replied.
“How in the world are you not dressed yet.”
“I am dressed, just grooming myself, something that you haven’t done in your entire life.”I replied as I frantically combed my hair.
“Combs are just inherently evil. One investigation found out that the comb was used as a murder weapon. Ever since I haven’t touched a comb.”
“What?” I asked, popping the door open.
“And it gives me a wild look that the ladies dig” professor Hawking justified.
“That makes literally no sense.”
Natasa interrupted, “You know what makes literally no sense, that we are behind schedule by 300 million nanoseconds.”
“That sounds bad.” I complained.
“It is BAD. VERY, VERY BAD.” Natasa said.
“Still, we are late and we better get going.” Natasa replied before she ran away.
It was the top of a mountain and the view was breathtaking. The sun shone and the valleys and hills below were spread like a vast, green tapestry. The white-tipped mountains in the distance, contrasted with the evergreen shrubs in the foreground and made it seem like a living painting. Birds flew above us and their cries echoed into the valleys below. The fresh air and the light smells of flowers and wild grass suffused the air with heavenly joy.
We were not there. We were inside a restaurant, on the way to the above mentioned place. I was sharing a table with Natasa, Rick, Joshua, professor Hawking and Dr. Merrita Slavic, our new drama teacher.
Natasa ordered a Caesar salad and a diet soda, reflecting her healthy lifestyle. Rick ordered a steak, fries and extra pickles, making everyone smile with his enthusiasm. Joshua ordered a pasta dish, with garlic bread, seeming content with his choice. Professor Hawking ordered a club sandwich with a pot of tea. Dr. Merrita Slavic ordered a bowl of soup and a glass of mineral water; she was always conscious of what was entering her body. As for me, I ordered a sandwich and a side of potato wedges.
The bartender walked up to the table and kept a tray containing seven shots. “Hawking, You alcoholic genius. Never told me you were coming here.”
“You both know each other?” Natasa asked.
“This son of a gun never told you. He saved me from being sent to the gallows.”
“You did?” We all chorused.
“Come on, it was not that big of a deal.” professor was trying modesty for the first time.
“This guy proved that I had not sadistically murdered a person by proving that I was selling drugs in the different part of town.”
“You still went to jail.” Rick pointed.
“Well, I was not hanged. Also I was left with parole within three years, all thanks to your bloody brilliant professor. That’s why I give him, and all those accompanying him complimentary Bloody Mary shots.”
“Even when they are college kids on an excursion.” Professor remarked.
“Especially then.” The bartender said before going away to serve another table.
“Well, the shots are good. The vodka is prime. The flavor is on the mark and the syrup, chef’s kiss.” Joshua praised.
“Well, you are obviously not allowed to drink during a college excursion.” Professor Hawking snatched the tray before Joshua could take another.
“Well, guys, I’ll take a leave.” Dr. Slavic said.
“Wait, where are you going?” professor asked.
“Just to the other tables. Finding out what other people are doing.” Dr. Slavic replied as she left. professor stared at her brunette hair with a red steak before she was out of his view, sitting next to the economics professor.
“You OK.” Joshua asked.
“Sure, why?” professor replied.
“You obviously have a crush on her.” Rick remarked.
“We all have seen that.” I added, “You are generally more than eager to send away people…this is not the case with Dr.Slavic I see.”
“OK, first of all, I do not feel threatened by the Economics department. Its just glorified high school statistics. And second, I don’t have a crush on Merrita. We're just friends. Look, it would not be smart if we got together. I mean work and relations don’t go that well together...” professor was rudely interrupted by snoring sounds made by Rick.
As soon as professor paused, Rick said “What? You done? Great. Why don’t you go check out table number four. Our assistant neurologist is single, and she would like a guy like you.”
“I would rather call them phycologists”
“That explains why you are not in a relationship.” Natasa remarked.
“You know what will loosen things up a little. If professor drunk the shots.” Rick suggested.
“Drinking is for people wanting to drown out their sorrows. and pirates.
“That very clearly explains why you have no dates.” Natasa further added.
“It’s psychological. Also drinking will not help. This brain never shuts down.” professor replied.
“Everyone says it before they do shots.” Rick replied.
“Edwana, can you tell them all that they are being stupid, moronic and immature?”
“Group, you’ll are being stupid, moronic and immature.” I paused, “And professor you should do the shots.”
After that we all started to cheer, “chug! chug! chug!”
professor drowned one shot, “Nothing can stop my brain.”
The neighboring table joined in, “chug! chug! chug!”
professor drowned the second shot, “I told you, my brain never halts.”
All the students joined in, “chug! chug! chug!”
professor drowned the third shot, “My brain is bulletproof.”
The faculty joined in, “chug! chug! chug!”
professor drowned the fourth shot, “This brain, dear mortals, is no ordinary brain.”
The dean stood on a table and cheered, “chug! chug! chug!”
professor drowned the fifth shot, “This is the greatest brain on the planet, nah the universe.”
The entire place was cheering, “chug! chug! chug!”
Professor drowned the final shot, “Alcohol doesn’t effect me.”
Then things went south, and professor lost all memory of it.
Natasa and I were sharing our hotel room. And the room was nice. It was a cozy and quiet place with two single beds and a small table in between them. The walls were painted a warm shade of yellow, giving the room a cheerful and inviting atmosphere. The beds were covered with thick, soft blankets and colorful pillows, making them comfortable to sleep in. There was a large window that allowed natural light to flood the room. The carpet was fluffy, and the curtains were decorated with a delicate pattern. The furniture was made of sturdy, polished wood, and the paintings and artwork adorning the walls added a pleasing flair. The air in the room was still and comfortable, creating an ideal resting space. Then the silence was disturbed by professor knocking at our door, loudly.
“What? How? Why? Who ?” He asked.
Natasa opened the door and welcomed inside a hung-over professor. His t-shirt, which I assume he wore after waking, read, ‘Criminologist, We do precision guess work based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.’
“WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT?” He shouted.
“You made a scene.” I replied.
“All thanks to the greatest mind in the world, nah the universe.” Natasa giggled.
We both then filled professor on what happened last night.
Just after professor was done with his shots, the bartender came to collect the shot glasses. “You drank them all?!” the bartender remarked.
“Yes, servant to my whims.” professor shouted at the top of his voice.
“You are very funny when you are drunk.” The bartender said walking away.
Professor surveyed the restaurant. “Where is Merrita?” He asked.
“Dr. Slavic left a few minutes ago.” I replied.
Professor violently pulled out his phone and started dialing.
“Who you calling?” Rick asked.
I snatched the phone from professor. “That’s not a good idea, drunk dialing never is.”
“I am not drunk.” professor calmly said. “You are drunk when you vomit. And this brain has been vomit free since 34 years.”
He then snatched the phone and proceeded to continue dialing the number.
“It is still a bad idea.” Joshua remarked.
“No, no, go one. It’s a great idea. That's the entire point of getting drunk. You do things you would never do in a million years if you were sober.” Natasa explained.
“Says who?” Joshua asked.
“Every girl-friend you ever had.”
By then professor had already called Dr. Slavic.
“Hello, Merrita. It's Benjamin Hawking.”
“Hello, Merrita. It's Benjamin Hawking”
“Hi, Benjamin. Sounds like you're having fun.”
Professor climbed on the table, “Did you know that I have never been drunk since the last 34 years.”
Dr. Slavic replied“Listen.. I can't really talk right now.. But 34 years in incredibly impressive.”
“But I have been figuratively drunk for the last (when did the prof see her for the first time), drunk on you”
“That’s weird and sweet in its own way. See, Benjamin...”
“See, You don’t need to go with the economics department. They may have better understanding of money but they are nothing, nothing against the multi PhD holder Dr. Benjamin Hawking. Also a fun fact: I am very good at darts. I can defeat anyone. anyone.”
“I think you are way too drunk. Bye.” Dr. Slavic cut the phone.
“Why are we letting professor drink and dial?” I asked.
“Take a chill pill, Edwana. professor is having the time of his life. Let him have it.” Natasa dismissed me.
“That’s the answer. At least someone appreciates the fact that I'm doing and not thinking. And now I will challenge the sports guys to basketball.” Professor said before walking in a drunken fashion to the sports table and challenging one of them to a game of darts.
I was mesmerized by professor's confidence and enthusiasm, and so was everyone else. We all gathered around the dartboard, while professor threw the darts. He won the game, having scored a perfect round. Everybody cheered, and the bartender proposed a toast to professor, to celebrate his victory. Professor gulped a few more shots.
“Was that necessary? He is not making smart decisions.” Joshua and I complained
“Exactly. It's like, what's he gonna do next? I don't know, but I want to find out.” Rick replied as he left the table to see the next game of darts.
“What happened then?” professor shouted.
“I don’t know!” I shouted back. “Nor do I” Natasa added.
“There is no way I fractured my wrist playing darts.” professor argued.
“Ask Rick and Joshua. They were there. We both left.” Natasa said ,opening the door.
“So no one knows who this brunette with a red streak is” professor was annoyed.
“Repeat that.” I asked.
“So no one…”
“Just the hair.” I clarified.
“Brunette hair with a red steak.” professor repeated.
“It’s Dr. Merrita Slavic. She has brunette hair with a red steak.” I deduced.
“No way!” professor and Natasa both shouted.
Professors eyes widened. He turned to me and said, “You just got promoted , Sherlock.”
We all laughed heartily and cheered.
Suddenly, professor’s expression changed. His forehead creased, and he said solemnly, “Alcohol doesn’t effect me.”
The moment was filled with mixed emotions, as we all knew what was coming next. I put my arm around professor and quietly said, “Come on
“Who else in the university has brunette hair with a red steak?”
“Rick, What? How? Why? Who?” professor knocked loudly at Rick and Joshua’s door.
Rick opened the door <doing weird things>, “Hey it’s professor Hawking!” Joshua exclaimed.
“The greatest drunk darting mind of our time!” Rick cheered.
“What happened last night?”
“You beat every single twat in the entire sports department in darts, while you were as drunk as a bee on a rum flower!” Joshua told.
“How did I sprain my wrist?” professor asked.
“Could be the dunk bullseye through the bar wood.” Rick asked
“The basketball coach challenged you to throw a throw through the wooden beam suspended near the ceiling.” Joshua explained.
“If I remember correctly, the place had a high roof.”
“That’s where the dunk came in. You stood on a chair and jumped like crazy and violently threw the dart. It hit straight on the bullseye.” Joshua continued.
“The crowd went wild. It rained rum and root beer.” Rick added.
“I remember clearly that when you made the throw there was a loud sound. I thought that it was the dart creating a sonic boom. In retrospect, it could be your wrist cracking.”
“Which subject you are majoring in, Joshua?” professor asked.
“Gastric Science, why do you ask?”
“Cause if you took physics I would have jumped out of the window and you had better followed me” Professor exclaimed.
“That was rude.” They both complained.
“What is rude is me finding a Xixuthrus terribilis carcass in my pocket.” professor complained back.
“A what in your pocket?” They both asked.
“A Xixuthrus terribilis, a species of beetle, native to Fiji. Incredibly rare, and if the carcass is illegal obtained, a big pain in my ass. I am too hungover to even think of insults.”
“Oh that! The Entomology professor betted it against you in a game.” Rick informed.
“Which Entomology professor?”
“Why is Entomology professor” Joshua jumped in.
“What do you even mean?”
“Never mind it was a marvel reference. Anyways what is entomology?”
“Study of insects, and their effects on other organisms, including plants, animals and humans.” professor replied in a very condescending tone.
“Oh yeah I totally knew that. Its about insects and shit” Joshua remarked. “I was just...”
“I think it was Dr. Bozenhider Lowry.” Rick recalled.
“Dr. Bozenhider, Why do you exist?”, Professor wildly knocked on Dr. Lowry’s door.
“Dr. Hawking, What a pleasant way to wish morning!” Dr. Lowry said, opening the door.
Dr. Lowry was an elderly man, bald on the top with a rim of white hair around his head. His nose was long and pointed, and he had thick glasses perched on it. He had a kind, twinkling smile that lit up his face.
“Why is there a Xixuthrus terribilis carcass in my pocket?”
“Because I bet it against you.”
“Enough of pleasantries. Why did you bet the Xixuthrus terribilis against me in darts? Do you know that the carcass of one of these is illegal obtained.” Professor shouted.
“Because I lost it in a bet. How very decent of you to come here to rub it in my nose!”
“I am not here to rub it in your face, besides I barely have the memory of last night. I was way too drunk. As I was saying...”
“Oh come on you liar! You think I am as blind as a blood ant?! A drunk man cannot land a bull’s eye through the narrow space between the plank and roof while jumping from an arm chair.”
“Lucky coincidence” Professor Hawking interrupted.
“Don’t try to teach me about probabilities, Hawking. I am your senior. You don’t even know why the fricking bulls eye is called the so. Dr. Lowry said, slamming the door.
Then from behind the door, Dr. Lowry whispered, “Bulls Eye is called Bulls eye as in ancient archery one of the biggest feats was to shoot an arrow through the eye socket of the bells skull without damaging anything else from a standard distance.”
“Wow! I actually didn’t know that.” professor remarked to himself.
Dr. Lowry opened the door and yelled, “Of course you didn’t. You won’t know the color of my lab assistant’s ex-girlfriend even if it was right in front of your eyes.
Taken aback, professor walked away from Dr. Lowry’s room. “Yes, the brunette with the red streak!” professor exclaimed, he realized. Finally, he had the answer he was looking for. He had to admit, Dr. Lowry was good at trivia.
Professor crumpled and threw away the twelfth sheet of paper. Everyone stood around him, in my and Natasa’s room. “We know that I hurt my hand hitting a ‘dunk dart shot’ and won the Xixuthrus terribilis from Dr. Bozenhider Lowry. Then I came to the hotel, next morning I wake to find myself in bed with a woman with brunette hair and a red streak.” Professor recapped.
“Which by all means is Dr. Merrita Slavic.” Natasa pointed.
“We don’t know that yet.” professor said.
“How many times do we have to go over this?” I sighed.
“Just read your t-shirt, Professor” Rick said, “All data leads to Dr. Merrita Slavic.”
“Exactly” We all shouted.
“And by following the recipe for risotto, you will not end up with ravioli.” Joshua added.
“What?” I was puzzled.
“He is going over the same data and looking for a different conclusion. That’s like trying to make ravioli by looking at the recipe of risotto.”
Professor hushed everyone and shouted, “Okay guys. Let’s call Schrödinger’s lady. We cannot know if she is Merrita or not unless we wake her up. Till then she is in a suspended state between Merrita and Not Merrita.”
“We can simply break this state. Like we can do in the case of Schrödinger’s cat without opening the box.” Joshua explained.
“How?” I and Natasa asked together.
“That’s not possible.” professor argued.
“We can kick the box if it is alive then the cat will squeal otherwise its dead” Joshua explained.
“Professor, Language.” I corrected.
“This guy has no idea of physics. Schrödinger’s cat is just an analogy, a thought experiment to explain Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics more exactly Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. And even if it was a real cat, who in their right mind will kick a box with a cat inside it.” professor complained.
“So you're telling me that Schrödinger’s cat is not about an actual cat?”
“So my physics teacher lied to me all my elementary education?”
“I wouldn’t call it lying, so as to say.”
“I have been betrayed!” Joshua cried.
“Joshua, I’ll explain everything to you later. Can we please focus on the matter at hand, who is the Schrödinger’s woman?” Natasa interrupted.
“Oh, about the woman. We can just call Dr. Merrita. If she picks the phone, we know that she is not the sleeping woman. Or else...” Joshua advised.
“But she is Dr. Slavic. Who else can she be?” I pointed out, “Our plan worked. professor and Dr. Slavic are together and way faster than it would happen if he kept his brain working.”
Everyone, but professor, nodded in agreement.
“Time to kick- I mean wake up- the Schrodinger’s woman. Also I just realized that ‘Schrödinger’s woman’ makes it seem like I am saying that Schrödinger owns that woman so before the feminists lynch us, we should stop using that phrase.” professor said as he went towards his room.
He had only reached the door when his phone rang. “Hello, who’s speaking?”
“Morning Benjamin. It’s Merrita, my phone is in my room and I was just done having buffet so I called using the hotel landline.”
“What?” professor flinched, “Hey, Merrita, how are you?”
“What?” We all gasped.
Dr. Slavic said, over the phone, “Benjamin, I think you and I should have a talk about the things you said over the phone last night. Do you mind if I come to your room for a chat?”
“If professor Slavic is on the phone, then who is in the bed?” Natasa whispered.
Professor immediately replied “Yeah, sure, come on over.” and then followed it up with, “No, wait, don't, no.”
However, Dr. Slavic had already cut the call at the end of the first statement.
“I am too hungover to think about a creative curse! Merrita is coming over!” professor shouted.
“The wait is killing me. We have to find out who Schrödinger's woman is, before professor Slavic comes over.” Joshua pointed.
Then someone knocked on the door. The woman in the bed.
The woman in the bed, slowly stepped into the room. She was a tall brunette with a red streak, with bright blue eyes, wearing a black t-shirt with blue jeans. Her hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, and her skin had a slightly red tinge from the sun.
“Trudy. My name is Trudy.” And then Trudy filled us in.
Trudy, was a neuro-scientist at the university, and her friends were sitting on a table in the extreme end of the bar.
They were doing their annual ritual of brain-storming for their upcoming studies, when Trudy heard a somewhat loud discussion about ‘Bulls Eye’ between two strangers at the other end of the bar. The conversation was about an ancient archery technique of shooting an arrow through the eye socket of the bell’s skull without damaging anything else from a standard distance.
“It was that guy?” One of the other girls asked.
“Not Dr. Bozo, it was his lab assistant.” Trudy said controlling her emotions.
“Oh! Come on. That guy is not worth your tears. I'm just surprised you didn't end it sooner. He was not worth you. You are a grade A neurologist and he is some lab assistant of some insect professor. ” One of Trudy’s friends commented.
“I know! I just can’t believe that I lost three years of my life with that kind of a guy. The very next guy I see will be better than that guy.”
“I wanna date every single woman in this place!” professor shouted as he landed a bullseye.
One of the friends chuckled, “What sort of clowns end up as Professors here?”
“He is kind of cute.” Trudy defended professor Hawking.
“Maybe then you should go take a shot at him.” One of the friend’s suggested.
“OK” Trudy replied, and then shouted, “I wanna date you too!”
“What?” professor asked.
“I wish I had your guts, getting up and making a complete idiot of myself.”
“Then do it.”
“I don't know. I could sure stand to do something stupid. But what?
“I'm stupid, do me.”
“And I have a PhD in every subject. Including looo...ve”
What followed was a drunk, cheesy conversation ending with them exchanging numbers.
After a few minutes after the number exchange,
“I need to make one more call.” professor announced pulling out his phone. He then drunk dialed Dr. Slavic, or he assumed so.
“Hello, It’s me Benjamin Hawking.” professor said.
“Hey there.” Trudy responded, she was already in a cab driving to the hotel.
“Look, who are we kidding? You and I are both attracted to each other. We're young, we're drunk, half of us anyway. And we only get one life.”
“And then I came over.” Trudy ended the flashback.
“Damn it, So you never realized that...'' Rick was saying when there was a loud knock on the door.
Joshua peered through the keyhole, “It’s Dr. Slavic!” He panicked.
“Trudy, You need to hide.” Natasa told her.
“Why? Is his girlfriend on the door?”
“Is he married?”
“No!” Natasa was getting frustrated, “She is.. It’s complicated. Just hide.”
“Hi. Merrita” Professor said as soon as Joshua opened the door.
“Oh, I didn’t know that all of you were here.” Merrita said.
“Um, sorry I kept calling you like that. I was very drunk.” professor said.
“To be honest, they were not that different from your normal calls.”
“Let's go get a snack or something.” I said.
“I love to snack.” Joshua said, ever-ready for food.
“I'm good.” Rick replied.
Natasa shot him a death stare, before she proceeded to pull him out.
“Come on, those calls weren't that weird.” professor said, quite wrongly.
Dr. Merrita Slavic coughed sarcastically and pulled out her phone. She then played a call recording. professor in the recording from the phone said,“Merrita! Come hang out! OK, I am done being nice. I'm gonna make this sound until you come hang out.”
Then we heard professor buzzing like a broken bread toaster.
“And that goes on for three-and a half minutes.” Dr. Merrita added.
“Without a breath?”
“Pretty sure that’s a world record. Are you, by any chance, a Guinness world record officiator?”
“Benjamin, please don’t do this. Please, we are friends and colleagues and now you're making it all confusing.”
“No I'm not. I just turned off my brain for one night. Nothing's changed.”
“So, you moved on, nothing’s changed between us.”
Dr. Slavic exhaled loudly. “I saw your room. It was unlocked. You were not there. That’s why I knocked here.”
“What are you trying to imply?”
“Why do you have me say it? You clearly had cheated on me with someone last night even though we aren’t in a official relationship I just assumed that you liked me unless I misread the signs which I am pretty sure I didn’t.”
“WHAT!” A noise came from the bathroom. Trudy opened the door and came running out. “You said you were single! Why did you sleep with me even though you liked someone else!”
Trudy then picked up a glass of water and threw it on professor’s face.
“I will never understand women”, Joshua said as he peeked in with Natasa and Rick.
“Get some sleep, Benjamin. You had a long night. And don't feel bad, I've woken up with worse.” Dr. Slavic said before leaving.
Professor left Trudy a message but she never called him back. That's just how life works sometimes. You turn off your brain for a night, and all you're left with is a bad hangover, a broken wrist bone and two women with incredibly changed opinions about you. Anyway with exception of Trudy explicitly cussing at professor at any given chance and Dr. Slavic trying to avoid as much as eye contact with professor, it was a great trip.
THE CRDITS ROLL
Written by: Arjun Agarwal, Kush Agrawal, Rishita Kinra
Based on How I Met Your Mother’s The Pineapple Incident written by Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and directed by Pamela Fryman.
The cover image was AI genarated by me using Midjourney AI. The end credit header was made by me in Krita.
Thanks for reading,
Thanks for reading Arjun’s Newsletter! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.