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chapter(the_second)

chapter(the_second)

Jesse Patrick Bohanan

...of Heaven is a Parallel Universe.

Sophia observed all, and saw that all was good—at least for the most part. It was a uniquely autistic characteristic to be unusually well-attuned to other beings' emotional output. So it was with Sophia. It was also a uniquely autistic characteristic to be unusually inept at deciphering the best course of action when dealing with other beings' emotional output. So it was with Sophia. But she adapted as best she could to this emotional imbalance.

Empaths, if ever they were to evolve in any potentiality, would quite likely evolve directly from the descendants of such autistics who bred with neurotypical beings. The offspring would, over a series of such breedings, eventually result in that unusually special individual who was both emotionally attuned and skilled at reacting to emotions. Perhaps such beings do exist in one potentiality or another, but our unfortunate lack of a true four-dimensional understanding limits our knowledge of such an existence, even within our own perceived linear potentiality.

Sophia had observed this possibility as well. She shrugged it off as something not worth dwelling on and went about her day-to-day life as a systems analyst for the University of Z. Perhaps if she had dwelled on it further, she would herself have become such a special individual, an enlightened one; but perhaps she would merely have degraded into the essential chaos that is depression and anxiety incarnate. We will never know within this parallel—"we" meaning the humans of the present day.

To those who read this tale from a time far-flung: "Tell us not the potential results of our unpracticed actions. It would only serve to damage our already fragile psyches to know of the potential successes and failures we have not experienced."

As Sophia pulled into the staff parking lot, she noticed a bird nesting in the shrubs planted between the staff lot and the faculty lot. It was a raven, a large bird, unusually large to be nesting in such a small shrubbery. As she put the car in park, she stared at the raven, and it stared back, straight into her soul. Some say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and considering the fact that the optic nerve lies exceedingly close to the neural network that is the brain, this may be a fairly accurate assumption. Sophia considered all this, removed the key from the ignition, opened the door (all the while staring into the eyes of the raven), and entered the parking lot proper.

The bird did not move. It merely stared. Sophia grew in bravery and lessened in comprehension. Such as it was, she approached the raven, only to watch it remain immovable. She moved closer still, reached out her hand, and... The bird fell, straight to the ground, in an ungraceful heap of feathers and bone. It was dead, decidedly. But how it had managed to remain perched in such a fashion while dead was quite beyond Sophia's, and my, knowledge. It was Monty Python-esque in its very existence, yet there it was. It was so, at least within the parallel Sophia resided within.

Sophia walked toward the Pynchon building, mentally preparing herself for another strenuous day of coding. Her job was not, decidedly, the most exciting at the University, but it was enjoyable, at least to one such as her. She ignored the passing stares from a few of the more conservative members of the student body and stepped up the stairs to the door. A student, walking faster than she, deliberately slopped his coffee cup's contents all over the front of Sophia's blouse. He laughed, and said to his compatriot, "See how small they are? I guess that's all he can manage to fake." His companion laughed as well, and the two walked into the building together.

Sophia had trouble restraining herself all the while. She had taken self-defense training and considered kicking them both in their man-parts. But that wouldn't be very ladylike. As it was, she knew not what to do with herself. As was intended by her crude assailants, her tiny breasts and nipples were visible, even under her brassiere. Her white blouse was stained brown with coffee. And she hadn't even made it into the building yet. She was halfway between screaming and crying, and made up her mind to return to her car.

The raven's dead body awaited her outside her car's door, just as before, only now it lay on its side on the ground rather than perching majestically on the shrubbery. Sophia frowned a slight frown at the bird and entered her car. She pulled off her blouse and bra, wiped her chest off with a towel, and changed into a replacement bra and blouse that she retrieved from the back seat. Sophia had come prepared. Incidents such as this were relatively rare, but they did happen, and ever since the first occurrence, she had always carried a change of clothes in her car with her.

Once changed, this time into a pink ruffled blouse that still adequately matched her black midi skirt, Sophia exited the car and once again made her way up the stairs to the Pynchon building. This time she entered without incident. By the time she reached the IT office, she was on time, but just barely so. Sophia sighed a sigh of relief, silenced her personal phone, turned on her work phone, and changed the device connected to her smartwatch to the work phone. Routine, pure and simple. Humans are apt to fall into routine when circumstances are otherwise challenging. For Sophia, the process was calming, soothing, cathartic even. As such, her coworkers wouldn't have guessed that anything negative at all had happened that morning had they not already been informed by campus security.

Informed as she was, Marion, Sophia's only female coworker, expressed her sympathy. "Security let us know, hon'. Don't worry. The two assholes harassing you have already been taken into custody. After the administration finishes with them, I don't think they'll be coming back here—ever."

"Thanks, Marion. I appreciate the info." Sophia smiled at her coworker and sat down to examine the latest batch of code in the bug tracker. While not everyone at the University of Z was kind to a transgendered individual such as herself, the majority of the faculty and staff were nice enough. Her fellow IT professionals were among the most accepting on campus, and the University administration was, of course, mandated by state law to weed out discrimination of any sort and punish any offenders. Sophia had that much going for her, anyway.

The universe, fluctual as it is, had more in store for Sophia than she would have ever hoped for or desired. Whether those things lying in wait were for good or ill is a matter of perspective. But the universe didn't care: All events, in and of themselves, simply are, and are acceptable to the multiverse.