She scribbled furiously. She often scribbled furiously. And she was muttering to herself. She often muttered to herself. But not this loudly.
“Why the fuck do they get to judge me. DO THEY THINK I LIKE SMASHING IN HEADS?!”
She paused in her muttering.
“Well…I mean…I don’t. But I do like the sense of accomplishment. I accomplished something. I mean, sure it didn’t work, but it was to protect them. That was brave! That was brave, dammit! Why the hell is it that Barbie and Kate can be so fucking brave about spilling blood for rituals. I know thousands of rituals. I’ve never spilt blood for one. I mean, I’ve gone through it hypothetically dozens of times. And I’ve used human blood from the blood bank. But not my blood. FUCK!”
She stabbed her antique, Occitan letter open down into the desk blotter. It pierced through her 18-month calendar and left a neat, ½ inch gash, right alongside 20 other similar gashes. She glanced down at her phone, to the text message she wanted to send. The recipient field said “Barbara / Barb”. She still couldn’t bring herself to call her Barbie to her face. “When you get close to people, that’s when you realise that they’re already gone. Or that they really aren’t that close to you.” She put her head into her hands and sighed, her elbows edging away the piles of papers around her on the desk. “I just want them to see me as impressive. I’m committed and brave, too. I have success, too. I mean, I have a PhD, after all.”
She scowled down at her blotter and grimaced as she tugged the letter opener out of it. She lifted the paper and peered at the cavities underneath. “Hate having all these holes under my calendar pages,” she muttered. She stopped short suddenly, the lifted pages trembling in her hand. “Oh my god,” she said. “That’s it. That’s the answer. If we make partial symbols all over campus, each made of pertinent points, like a connect the dot set up, and we spill blood over them all at the same time….that’s how we could make a portal big enough to bring a whole weather pattern over from the other side. Maybe even the whole manor. And then the symbols would be made of blood themselves, so they’d be even stronger. Grooves creating blood channels, and all of them interconnected. That’s it, that’s how we do it!!!”
She jumped up from the desk with the letter opener still in her hand. “This!” she exclaimed loudly, “Maybe this will be a profound enough idea to get their attention. Stupid Picley, always getting all the attention for doing nothing! Well stick this in your eye, Pickle-eye. I have solved our conundrum. That’s why there’re symbols all over the campus. Hah!”
She heard a creak in the hallway behind her. The door to her office was closed, so she couldn’t be sure, but the hallway typically creaked only when someone was walking by. She frowned, her lips pressed tightly together. It was a bad habit of hers, shouting out loud, especially when she had discovered something novel. But her work occurred so late at night that usually no one else was around to hear her. She waited, frowning, the letter opener brandished at an angle towards the door. But she heard nothing else, and after several minutes of waiting she turned and went back to her desk. She sat down, replacing the letter opener with a gleaming fountain pen. Soon the only sound was that of her scribbling furiously.