“Really! Uh, okay, we do have some paper work but I feel I should warn you first before you decide. You will be working with Dr. Eldon Rook,” he said leaning slightly forward.
“Yes Sir I am aware you mentioned him in class. I can’t help but notice he shares the same name as the science building,” I noted. Dr. Deacon leaned back.
“Yes, Dr. Rook is actually the person who donated the money to outfit and remodel the building for our university. Well, his inheritance did and still does. It’s kind of strange, he was a wealthy man around town-always a bit eccentric in his scientific pursuits. He did finish his doctorate but lacked lab experience. He always sought to go on expeditions. Seasoned scientists wouldn’t take him because of his inexperience. So he would find himself on less credible trips and frankly I think it has not only damaged his reputation but his scientific studies.”
Dr. Deacon leaned forward again and took a tone of sincere concern. “ Mr. Pirch if you feel you have the ability to overcome the damage to your reputation being Dr. Rook’s lab assistant will do then, I will gladly recommend you to his service. However, I strongly advise you not to take this position. We are required per the endowment agreement, that he always be allowed access to the facilities and supplied with a lab assistant of our choosing.”
I had to ask, “How many lab assistants has he gone through?”
Dr. Deacon pulled down his glasses and looked over them with some concern. “He has been through only a few, about five or six but their stories of odd experiments have kept other students from volunteering. Every year I put it out there and at least one out of town student decides to take a stab at the job. Usually they quit in about a month and my obligation is fulfilled for the year. Pirch, you would be doing me a favor taking this position despite what I have told you. You need only keep it for a week at most for the university to keep its endowment.”
I thought in silence for a few seconds wondering what stories I would hear if I asked around, “ I’ll take it. But, I want to talk to at least one former lab assistant. Is there someone close that I could speak to?”
“Why yes, Pirch there is. His name is Douglas Prather and he is actually coming by for some academic counseling in about two hours from now. Would you mind stopping by then?”
I stood up ready for some lunch, “ No problem Dr. Deacon.”
After a quick lunch, I decided to take a walk around. I admired the grounds and thought back to that night in the forest when the beast in the trees visited me. the experience had always haunted me. Was it real or a dream? Maybe a mixture of both. I remember what my Grandfather said to me after I told him what I saw. “Many men see their spirit animal and it guides them in life. The boar, the bear, the hawk they all have unique direction. What you saw is the other, the outside. You may have to answer it’s question one day.” After a quick glance at my watch I made my way back to Dr. Deacon’s office.
“Ah! Pirch come in we were just talking about you. I have already informed Dr. Rook that you would be joining him for the semester. Douglas here was just relating some of his stories to me about his time with Dr. Rook.” I stepped in and sat down next to Douglas shaking his hand vigorously. He jumped right into the conversation. “Pirch, I would talk you out of this if I could but Dr. Deacon here has threatened my grades.” He said this with a knowing look towards the Dr. “The truth is that some of the details about my service to Dr. Rook elude me. I don’t really remember exactly what Dr. Rook is studying. What I do recall is one experiment in particular the one that caused me to quit. Dr. Rook had been going on and on about the shape of a chemical reaction and how it could focus certain forces in a desired direction. The whole thing had the look of witchcraft with intricate circles and a black stick he used to draw them,.” Douglas’ expression took on this uneasiness as he was describing the scene. “Then he opened a cage of some kind and that is about the time I had had enough!” My eyes widened. “what was in the cage?” Douglas shrugged. “ I don’t know. I had turned and decided to leave the whole lunacy to its conclusion. I sent Dr. Rook an email later to let him know that I would not be helping him anymore. You know what he replied back to me? and I quote ‘No you will not do.’ Can you believe it? Pirch, I’m happy that the university gets to keep its endowment, but I’m not happy for you. Good luck to you..” Douglas stood said his goodbyes and left the room. I turned and looked at Dr. Deacon. Before I could decline the offer, he suggested we go meet Dr. Rook right now.