The professor was an enigmatic old man. No one knew his real name, or anything of his origins; to everyone that knew him he was simply “the professor”. He told us all that he had come from the future, a mystical time, where people could fly in huge birds wrought from metals not even discovered yet. He told us of weapons that could shoot out projectiles faster than the swiftest eye could catch. Man-made horses, that did not require any care of feeding, that moved on wheels, were used. Indeed, he was strange, and scared the best of us at times with his fantastic tales.
Every night we would sit in front of a fire and listen to his fascinating stories of the future, and even of our own past. I guess he has travelled there too; when I asked him about it he would not reply, he would tell us that the past did not matter. And every night, we would fall asleep, deep in thought, running our own fantasies of the future in our heads. “Dreams” he called them.
In my early days, I would cautiously approach the professor’s hut, running my rehearsed question over and over again in my head. (You see, the professor was a mentor to us, and any queries I had, I would go to him for the answers.) I would reach the opening, clear my throat gently and politely ask if I could enter.
“Sure, you could enter, but do you want to?” was the usual reply I would get. I never understood what he meant by this, but I would always just smile or laugh and he would end up laughing too, so it was okay. Looking into his wizened old face, I would marvel as it disappeared under a blanket of wrinkles as his smile broadened.
“So, how are you today, Thesius?” he would enquire. I would exchange the regular pleasantries with him for a minute or two, and I was still cautiously shy around him it took a while for him to decipher my mumblings.
“Now, what would you like my guidance for today? I hope you’re not going to ask me how to make a “gun”. I’ve had five youngsters today already begging me!” He chuckled, his wheezy voice seeming at its limit. Sometimes, I really did think he would explode, his thin reddish face would deepen to a shade of violet as he laughed, his veins would pop out around his forehead, and his fists would clench in a shaking frenzy. But he would always stop instantly, and for a split second look frozen, then immediately regain his composure. It was uncanny.
Being used to his weirdness, I would take a deep breath and ask the professor my question. It was funny, because he would always murmur crazy things to himself as he thought. “Hmmm….” he would ponder for a few moments, either stroking his bristly, glinting silver beard or running his index finger along the bridge of his long, crooked nose.
After what was either a few minutes or a few hours, he would smile at me, and shake his head. “Thesius my boy, you never cease to ask the most interesting questions!” He would answer my question, and go beyond its scope. He would start talking rapidly, linking my question to other questions I had asked him before, he would make it seem like the answer I was seeking was so obvious from the start. I would thank him for his help, and feeling full of knowledge, I would leave his hut, with more questions than ever.