He’s been taking this form for the last week – he always says something like “the more hands the merrier,” or tells us how “handy” it is. It seems to make paying attention that much more difficult, when he inserts puns into our lessons. “Many hands make light work,” he’ll mutter, as though he were talking to himself, as though we don’t notice him looking around the classroom for some response; the same reason he wears that ridiculous hat – hoping someone will mention it, that we’ll strike up a conversation.
Never look up from your notes. If he catches your eye he’ll smirk, come walking over for some “one-on-one time.”
I look up at the blackboard, but he mistakes it for a question. He sidles over, his intention clear. “You see, my dear, the cephalopods are possible the most important ingredient.” He takes my bowl and wooden spoon, pushing me aside. “Watch and learn, little one, watch and learn.”
I hate it when he gets pontifical during a lecture, the way he patronises us – like we’re children, cooking up our first little universe. “Mmmmm…you have to balance out your worlds, you need to add these layers to spice it up for the natives. Give them some history!”
You need to start off small, start with simple proteins in a chemical soup. Build up to the self-replicating agents – he can tell if you cheat, adding more complex vectors before their time. He can always tell, and the first they’ll know about it is the sky aflame, a meteorite hastily assembled and sent on a collision course.
He wiped out my reptiles last week, made me start over.
He takes the spoon in hand and starts stirring in the cephalos. I wanted to put them in a bit later on, wanted to have something different to take over from the apes, even though the syllabus insists that the proper order is Fish, Reptiles, Small Mammals, Intelligent Apes, Rodents (technically just small mammals again.) We have to wait until after the rodents. That’s when we’re allowed to freestyle.
My fingers itch to get back into the mixture, “I can handle it Professor!” I insist, and reluctantly he steps aside.
“Yes, very well, but don’t let me catch you cheating. You know the dough needs to sit for seven days before you can inject intelligence.”