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The Phenomenal Imagination

Of Emily Groundpepper


Mario V. Farina

Copyright 2017 Mario V. Farina

Smashwords Edition

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Mario V. Farina

Email: mario@mariofarina.com

"Your stories needs more zing, Emily," Professor William Donovan stated. "I didn't want to embarrass you during class," he added. "That's why I asked you to see me after class."

Emily Groundpepper was taking a course in Creative Writing at Jefferson Community College. She had yearned to write fiction ever since she had been a child. She was eighteen and had a job at the window of a busy Burger King. She was hoping to earn sufficient money enabling her to begin college at Eastern University in the fall. She felt she had sufficient natural talent to write engaging short stories that would sell.

"Thank you, Professor," she said. "Would you define zing, please. I'm not sure I understand what that means."

"I know it's a vague term," the professor stated. "Let's see if I can clarify. The stories you write are bland, mundane, humdrum. There isn't much going on. You need more fiery plots, plots with more imagination. Think, 'what if.' Let your mind run riot. Don't resist any thought because it doesn't seem logical or possible. In a story, anything you dream up is possible! You can claim anything and nobody dares criticize it because you're the author! You can make your stories prove whatever they allege. You need to startle your readers. Start with a situation or problem that immediately grabs their attention. Then tell what happens because of the situation, or tell how the problem is resolved. Am I making any sense?"

"I think so," Emily said. "You want me to create happenings out of the box! You want me to create characters that escape from the prison of my mind! You want me to dream up events and circumstances that have not taken place, but that I cause to happen, thereby validating them!"

"Exactly!" exclaimed Professor Donovan elatedly. "Do you think you could do this?"

"Yes," replied Emily without hesitation.

"We'll be meeting again Thursday," said Professor Donovan. "Would you please meet with me after class, and show me several short story scenarios that you have dreamed up between now and then."

"Yes!" Emily exclaimed excitedly. "I can't wait to start!"

After class on Thursday, Emily handed a closely-typed paper to Professor Donovan. The two were seated in his office. He was behind his simple desk; she, in a straight-backed chair facing him. The professor was only thirty-five, but an observer must have noticed him seeming to age ten years as he read from the paper, and his hair, which, already was slightly gray, was actually developing more gray strands.

This is what Emily had presented:

Scenario 1: The nations of the universe are having a contest to determine who is the most beautiful inhabitant in their community of worlds. Present, at the Hall of Worlds, are representative beauties from all participating lands. Attending are creatures that crawl, those that fly, those that bore, and those that swim. One of the attendees is a spirit who cannot be seen, but insists on being judged as a contestant. It is found that the being judged the winner is a living thing that looks like a giant ant with sixteen legs. The first runner up is the spirit. Many nations rebel at these selections causing a War of the Universe.

Scenario 2: On earth, propulsion power for spaceships has been improved to the point where it is possible to travel to the end of the universe. A trip is planned, and a spaceship actually reaches one end. There is a high concrete wall there with a sign that reads, "There is nothing beyond this wall. Do not attempt to go farther. Anyone caught on the other side of this wall, will be severely dealt with!"

Scenario 3: It is announced in Scientific American that the final decimal place of the value of pi has been found, however, no one, as yet, knows what it is. Mathematicians all over the world are agog with excitement as to when that digit will be revealed and by whom.

Scenario 4: a maniacal financier has found a way to garner all the money that exists in the world. There comes a time when he owns everything. Business comes to a halt. There is a law that forbids bartering. Many of the world's population are not able to eat and drink. A crisis looms that needs to be resolved. The financier will not cooperation to find a solution.

Scenario 5: Computers have taken over all activity on earth. Laws have been passed by computers that demand all humans become hybrids consisting of human cells and computer brains. A rebellion is being organized by humans to get rid of the computers. This turns out to be very difficult to do.

Scenario 6: A major pharmaceutical corporation has developed a pill that allows humans to live forever. However there is medicinal ingredients available to manufacture only enough of these pills for half the population of the world. A problem has arisen as to how it will be decided who will be able to avail themselves of the supply. Wars which have been dubbed the Pill Wars are breaking out throughout Planet Earth.

Scenario 7: Because of pollution, crops can no longer be grown in the earth. However scientists are working on a method to mechanically print vegetables using chemical components. There is a race to print enough vegetables enabling humans to live healthy lives.

Scenario 8: Civilization has progressed to the point where all government affairs are being handled by computers. However, there are still political battles as to who will be President. A plan is being developed so that a President Of The Day can be named. Though the job is mostly ceremonial, many are still trying to be named President.

Scenario 9: Technology has developed devices allowing experiences to be recorded and played back. As an example, a person being honored for an achievement, can enjoy the experience again and again by a process called Experience Recording. Some are attempting to allow this kind of recording be used for the punishment of prisoners. There is a battle concerning whether doing this would amount to administering cruel and unusual punishment.

Scenario 10: A method has been developed whereby humans can travel into the future by being frozen and encased in a hermetically sealed chamber for a period of years. At the designated time in history, the person will be revived. However, there is no method for returning that person to the previous time. This presents a problem that needs to be solved.

Scenario 11: A time has arisen when many foolish laws have been voted into existence. One outrageous law is that ghosts be forbidden to haunt houses. There is a fierce debate in Congress over whether such a law is constitutional.

Scenario 12: Identity theft of a special kind is being developed. An individual who wishes to do so, may allow other persons to inhabit his being for a brief time, providing a suitable fee is paid. That guest individual will be able to enjoy the pleasures of the person who lends his or her identity. A conflict is brewing whether the person lending the identity should limit the time period involved, and, if so, for what length the time.

After having read the document that Emily had given him, Professor Donovan stared at the person sitting in front of him, not uttering a word.

"Professor," Emily ventured, "Is there something wrong?"

There was no response. It seemed that the professor had been turned into stone. Not one eye did he blank, not one muscle did he move, not one breath did he take for many seconds. It appeared that he had been struck dumb by what he had read.

Emily gaped at him wondering if he had died. Finally, she observed him taking a breath. "I was worried about you professor," she managed to stammer. "Are you all right?"

"Y-yes, he managed to verbalize. It was just that . . . It was just . . . "

"Oh I know what was wrong, Professor," Emily said. "You just couldn't find the words to tell me in a kindly way. Despite my best efforts, I just don't have the kind of imagination I need in order to become a fiction writer!"

"It's something like that," murmured the professor.

Not one I

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