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Professor Schmaltzenberger's Equation - Chapter 3

Posted by StarMountainKid , 09 July 2012 · 320 views

Professor Schmaltzenberger’s Equation – Chapter 3

After waiting for Dr. Reinhold to finish the call on his other line, finally a voice on the other end said, “Hello?”

The Professor hesitated a moment. “Is this Dr. Reinhold?”

The voice on the other end said, “Yes.”

“This is Professor Schmaltzenberger.  I hope you remember me.”

“Ah yes, Professor, of course I remember you. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Dr. Reinhold. Listen, I have something very important to speak to you about, but not on the phone. I must see you in person, it’s very urgent.”

“Yes, of course, Professor.” Dr. Reinhold replied, “How about Thursday?  Say, ten o’clock?”

“That would be fine, I suppose,” the Professor agreed. “What I have to discuss with you is very private matter. I don’t want anyone to know I’m coming. Can you keep it a secret?”

“Of course, Professor,” Dr. Reinhold replied, “our meeting will be completely confidential, if that’s your wish. I’ve been wanting to speak with you myself. It’s been so long since I’ve heard from you, where have you been?”

“That doesn’t matter. What matters is what I have to tell you. I’ll be there Thursday, as you say. By the way, what day is Thursday?”

Well, today is Wednesday, so it would be tomorrow,” Dr. Reinhold said.

“Fine, then. Where do you live?” Dr. Reinhold gave the Professor his address, which the Professor wrote down. Saying goodbye, the Professor hung up the telephone and sat back in his chair. “Now,” he said to himself, “we may finally get all this straightened out.”

Otto entered the room at that moment.

Looking up, the Professor asked, “Say, isn’t it time you made breakfast, or something?”

“No, Professor, you already had breakfast. I’m Otto, by the way,” he said, as an afterthought, closely watching the Professor.

“Yes, I know who you are, now,” the Professor said angrily. Getting up from his chair, the Professor continued, “I’ll go out for a walk, then. You can remain here, Otto. I need some fresh air.” This statement frightened Otto, as the Professor hadn’t been out of the house in several years.

“I don’t think you’d like it outside,” Otto suggested, “it’s rather cold, and you know how easily you catch a chill.”

The Professor could not remember ever having caught a chill, of course, so he dismissed the idea. “Nonsense, Otto. I think it would be good for me.” The Professor walked out of his study, down the hall and into his bedroom, Otto following closely behind. “Where’s my coat, Otto?” he asked, looking around the room. “If it is cold outside as you say, I’ll need that.”

Otto looked around the room nervously. “There may be one in the closet. Let me look.”  Otto brushed past the Professor and opened the closet door. “No, not a coat in here,” he said. “It’s probably best, anyway. You don’t want to catch cold, now do you?”

The Professor looked at Otto suspiciously. “Then I’ll just bundle up with this blanket.” The Professor pulled a blanket from his bed and wrapped himself in it.

“You can’t go outside like that,” Otto said. “What will the neighbors think?”

The Professor had not thought about the possibility of having neighbors. In fact, he had no idea what lay outside at all. He couldn’t remember the last time he had been out of the house.  This frightened the Professor a bit. What had he been doing all this time, we wondered? What kind of life was he leading? And who is this Otto fellow? The Professor sat heavily down on his bed. “What’s going on?” he said in a low voice. “Whatever it is, it’s going to end now.”

Wrapped in his blanket, the Professor got up from his bed and walked passed Otto. “I’m going to see what’s outside, cold or not.” He continued through the house until he reached the rear entrance. He hesitated a moment, then grasped the doorknob and pulled the door open.

What greeted him as he stood in the doorway was a small yard and a tall brick wall that towered over him. The Professor took a few steps into the yard and looked around. Otto appeared behind him. “Well, Professor, how do you like it out here?”

The Professor looked back at Otto. “I can’t see anything but this stupid wall!”

“Yes,” said Otto, trying to calm the Professor, “it’s here to provide privacy and security, that’s all. You know how you don’t like to be disturbed when you’re working.”

“Yes, but…where are we?”

“We’re in the same town you’ve always lived in, Professor, in the same house. Lucky for us, Dr. Reinhold lives just on the other side of town. Don’t forget, we have an appointment with him tomorrow morning.”

“I remember,” said the Professor, harshly. Gazing at the wall which seemed to surround the house, he added, “Otto, I can’t live cooped-up like this anymore. When I see Dr. Reinhold, I’m going to find out some things. Like who you are, and why I’ve been kept in this house for so long, walled-in like this!”

Otto adjusted the blanket around the Professor’s shoulders. “Now, now, Professor, you don’t want to get upset. You know you haven’t been well. Why don’t you go back to your study and do some work? It will calm your mind.”

“I don’t want my mind to be calm, Otto!” the Professor said forcefully. “My mind has been too calm for too long! I want some answers!”

The Professor turned abruptly and walked back into the house. Otto remained in the doorway for a moment, watching the Professor, with an ever so slight smile on his thin lips.

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