Fairwell to Oliver Twist  

Part 3 of the Netcromancer by M.J.Miello


When the tests were handed back in the following class, mine was nowhere to be found.

“Was there a problem with my test?” I asked Nicholas after class.

“With your test? No. But you are in the wrong class.”

“I am?”

“You’re going to waste a whole semester here.  Zee is putting you in his second level class.  He’s already worked out the schedule for you.  You may have to change your literature class though.”

“He can do that?”

“You can refuse. But why would you?  Zee thinks you have potential.”

“How does he even know who I am? He never actually teaches this class.”

“Don’t let that fool you.  Zee is a great professor and he can do a lot for you—if you are willing to play by his rules.”

“I bought all the books for that Dickens class. I already read 200 pages of Oliver Twist.”

“Return the books and watch the movie if you want to know how it ends. Zee already asked Dr. Kendic to over-tally you into her ancient literature class so that you can take his 2nd level comp-sci class.”

“Do I get a say in this?”

“Of course you do. You’re welcomed to stay in this intro class and spend the rest of the semester learning what you just demonstrated that you already know.” He threw my test down in front of me. “140” was written across the top followed by the letters, “BAC?”

“What’s BAC?”

“That is not something you get to learn in an intro class.”

So I did it.

“You’re behind,” Dr. Zee told me my first day of the second level class as if this were my fault.

“Do the programs you missed and tell me when you are two weeks ahead of where the class is. Preferably you will tell me this next class.” I laughed at this and then I realized he was serious.

I slightly resented this. I mean why did I have to work harder than everyone else?  It wasn’t like I didn’t have other classes. But I was intrigued to see just where this could go. I liked having a challenge to live up to. So I spent that weekend in the computer lab.

“I’m two weeks ahead,” I told him at the start of the next class.

“Good. Keep it that way.”

As the class started I was very confused. Everyone around me was beginning to write the assigned programs—the ones I had already written. What the hell was I supposed to do during the class time? I reached into my bag and pulled out the copy of J.R.R.Tolkein’s Silmarillion I always kept handy.

After 15 minutes Zee appeared behind me.

“Christopher since you obviously have a moment to spare would you do me a favor?” He led me over to another student’s work station. “Mr. Prescott here is having some difficulty. Would you give him a hand?”

I looked over the kid’s program and gave him some pointers. As soon as I finished Zee asked me to help someone else. Then the kid next to that student asked me to help him figure out what they had done wrong. At one point I looked up to see Zee sitting with his feet up on the desk in the front of the class, reading the New York Times.

From then on, I never had a relaxed moment in one of Zee’s classes. I didn’t realize it yet, but I was already working for the BAC.  My days of being a regular computer science major, brief as they were, were over.




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