The Apprentice’s Formula

The explosion was huge, much bigger than he expected it to be. It even moved the boulder he was taking cover behind. Easily weighing as much as his house, the large rock still tipped when his latest concoction went boom. He hurried back to avoid being crushed, but the boulder didn’t fall all the way over. It lost momentum and shifted back into its original position.

“That was a close one, Enifon.”

He looked over at Kolton, his apprentice. Truth be told, it was Kolton’s ideas that had made this new version more energetic than his previous formula. Enifon wouldn’t admit it, but Kolton was smarter than he was. The young man had passed him in knowledge long ago. If it wasn’t for the apprenticeship laws stating that Kolton had to serve as an apprentice for ten years before being able to practice as an alchemist, he would have struck out on his own by now.

“If you hadn’t added that fireflower root to it,” Enifon grumbled, “it wouldn’t have almost killed us.”

“Quit exaggerating,” the young man shot back with a grin. “It was close, but not that close.”

With a roll of his eyes, Enifon brushed off the dust and debris that the explosion had showered him with and walked out from behind the boulder. Kolton joined him and the two of them walked forward to survey the damage. It was impressive. There was a large crater blown into the rocky ground where the potion vial landed. Two horses could have fit into the new hole. He was suddenly glad that Kolton’s throwing arm had increased in strength during their time together.

“We’ve never made a crater this large at the quarry before,” the apprentice observed.

He was right. They’d made a hole that size in soft dirt, but never in solid rock. What did that mean for them? According to the law, they were supposed to report any advancements to the king’s men, like he had done when he’d developed the original formula. Last time that meant weeks spent in isolation, being interrogated until the kingdom’s own alchemists were positive he had held nothing back from them. It was an experience that Enifon was loathe to repeat.

Then again, he also didn’t want to withhold the information from the kingdom either. He’d seen what they did to the people they caught not sharing their discoveries. That was also something that he didn’t want to go through.

He wasn’t sure which way he wanted to handle the situation yet, but he knew he wasn’t going to make a decision yet. This was something he’d have to think over for a while first. “Go ahead and tell Falopp that we’re leaving,” he instructed Kolton, “then head home. I’m going to set off a couple of the lesser explosive bottles in case one of the others comes snooping around after we leave.”

Kolton nodded and walked away to find the quarry’s owner while Enifon pulled out two bottles filled with his original formula. Once he was sure that his apprentice was gone, he took cover behind the boulder and tossed the bottle into the newly made crater. He moved to toss the second one, stopped short, put it back in his satchel, and grabbed a vial of liquid fire instead. Enifon walked out from behind cover, stepped to the edge of the crater, and broke the glass container directly in the center of it.

Flames instantly filled the hole, rising up out of it in a burst almost as tall as Enifon himself and he took a quick step back. He hated having to use the liquid fire because of how expensive it was to make. It was necessary, however. He had to destroy any possible residues that the new formula may have left behind. Enifon liked Falopp, but he couldn’t be sure that the quarry owner wasn’t letting his competition inspect the ground after he left. Alchemy was big business and those who practiced it did whatever they had to do to make it. Enifon himself had once been able to reverse engineer a potion from a few drops left in the bottom competitor’s vial, so he knew it could be done.

As he watched the flames slowly begin to die down, he couldn’t stop his mind from going back to the problem of what to do with his new formula. A third option entered his mind: he could secretly sell the formula to the highest bidder and use the money to move to a different kingdom. He didn’t like this option either. While the coin would be nice, he didn’t want to move. His life was here. Starting over, especially at his age, wasn’t something he wanted to go through.

Still, if the money was good enough, it might be worth it.

Enifon didn’t get a chance to think about it any further. His right arm was grabbed from behind and wrenched painfully behind his back. On the left side of his neck he felt the cold steel of a sharp blade. He did his best to remain calm, particularly because he still had a bottle of explosive potion in his satchel. It would be satisfying to kill the person who was holding a knife to his throat, he didn’t want to die along with them.

“Give me the explosive formula,” a deep gravelly voice demanded.

“It’s common knowledge,” Enifon protested, confused. “Everyone has their own version of it now.”

“Not the old formula. The new one.”

If he didn’t have a knife at his throat, he would have shaken his head at himself for letting his fear make him temporarily forget about the new formula. Then he felt his fear begin to rise. He didn’t have the new formula memorized. It was written down, but it wasn’t in his notes. It was in Kolton’s. His apprentice had created the formula, so he had been the one to write it down.

The blade made a small cut, pulling him back into the moment. “Give me the explosive formula,” the voice repeated.

“I can’t,” Enifon shouted. “I don’t have it.”

“Then you’re of no use to me.”

“Wait! I can get it for you!”

“No need. I know just where it is” he heard as the man behind the voice sliced the blade across Enifon’s throat. The alchemist felt the warmth of his blood dripping down from the wound, but didn’t feel it when his body hit the ground. He looked up to see a shadow holding his satchel, keeping the contents of it safe. Just before his world turned black, Enifon heard his killer say, “It’s time for me to pay your apprentice a visit.”

RTotD: 21360

I’ve been working in a retail warehouse for the past couple years now and I’ve noticed a few things during that time that I’ve found confusing about the products that are out there. For example, they sell organic toilet bowl cleaning liquids. Why? Why is that a thing? If it’s not going in your body, why does it matter if it’s organic or not?

Another thing I find confusing, and also a little funny, is paper towel packaging. All of them, even the store brands, advertise the wonderful feature of Select-a-Size, or some legally worded variation of that. I want to shake the hand of the genius who created that revolutionary breakthrough in paper towel technology. It’s not as if we were able to choose how many sheets to rip off the rolls before they came up with that gem. Nope, it all shot off the roll at random lengths pre-Select-a-Size.

There, But Not There

I took my daughter to her indoor soccer game yesterday morning and we got there a little early. She huddled up with her teammates, laughing and gossiping (or whatever the hell teenage girls do). That left me alone with the other parents, none of whom I know very well. I don’t really have anything against any of them, but I haven’t been around them enough to be comfortable with them yet. So, I stood by myself until the game started.

As I was standing there, I looked around the place. All of the people there were either walking to or from somewhere, at the concession stand, or watching one of the games going on in the building. Except for one lady. She was sitting at the side of the field that Baby J would soon be playing at. She wasn’t watching the game, however. She was reading a book.

Now, I’ve seen parents with their faces in their phones for large portions of the games. I’ve even done it myself from time to time when my kid isn’t in the game. That’s different, though. A phone is something that people carry with them at all times, and would have with them whether they were at a soccer match or not. This woman purposefully brought a book to a soccer game. That means she knew when she left the house that she wasn’t going to watch it. Who does that?

Why even bother to show up at all? Especially since the parents, or other spectators, have to pay admission to get in. If you knew that you were just going to be reading the whole time, why not just stay in the car? That would be free.

Not only that, but I’d imagine that the kid probably wasn’t too fond of their parent doing this. Maybe it’s just me, but I think I’d be less angry at my parent for missing my game than I would if they had their nose in a book the entire game. You can make up excuses for an absentee parent if your teammates ask. Just tell them that said parent had to work.

There is no good excuse for them acting like a douche, however.

I’m Too Sexy For This Post

Revis Edgewater: Father, husband, author. Model?

A few days ago I saw a new person at work. I asked who it was and they told me it was someone from the corporate safety team. Ok, sure. Don’t know why anyone like that would need to be in with the rest of us at 4 a.m., but if they say so. I go about my business and do my normal routine until an hour or so later, when my supervisor walks up to me and tells me that they want to take pictures of me working.

Ummm…. what???

Apparently they’re putting together a new safety package for people to go over during orientation and they were there to take pictures of employees working. One picture of them doing things the correct way, and another where they’re doing things the incorrect way.

I told him that I don’t care if they take my picture, but I reminded him that I was on a timer. What I do needs to be completed by certain times or we get in trouble. As long as they don’t slow me down to the point where I’m running behind, I don’t care that they take pictures of me working. He says, “Great,” and hands me a waiver that I have to sign that allows them to take my picture. I shake my head and wonder what i gotten myself into.

The answer to that question is that I got myself into a photo shoot. They didn’t take pictures of me working. They took picture of me in poses that they put me into. I had to stand there for ten minutes while the guy and his “photographer” (aka his assistant who took the pictures on his phone) moved my hand around to try to find the perfect position for my hand to be in to present the right and wrong way to hold the handle of a pallet jack. No, I’m not making that up.

Eventually, it got to the point that I had to tell them that I needed to get moving or I was going to be late with my work. They told me that they had what they needed and showed me the picture before they moved on to the next thing. It wasn’t even a picture of me. It was just a picture of my hand on the pallet jack handle.

So, I’m not a regular model. I’m a hand model.

Things I Should Not Be Subjected To: Decorations

I’ve been trying to come up with an idea for something to post over the past week, but nothing came to me until last night. Our little town had their annual (except for last year when they didn’t have it because of COVID) Christmas parade. Everyone in town turned on their Christmas lights and watched the parade. Then we gathered at the police station for music, hot chocolate, and pictures with Santa. All in all, it was a fun night out with the family.

There was something I saw during the parade that bugged me, however, and that somehow clicked the part of my brain to make me remember this series of posts that my brother used to do way back when on Stuphblog. I think I did one or two of them too, but most of them were his. Still, what bothered me at the parade seemed like a good fit for the “Things I Should Not Be Subjected To” series, so here we go.

The thing I shouldn’t be subjected to is a certain type of Christmas decoration. Specifically, the reindeer antlers and red nose that people put on their cars. I dislike them. I dislike them very much.

I’m not sure why they bother me, but they do. They annoy the crap out of me. Maybe it’s because I, personally, find them to be incredibly stupid looking. Although, now that I think about it, I’m not really a fan of any car decorations. Bumper stickers, flags, antenna toppers? I don’t want any of them on my car. The antlers and nose are the worst, though.

So, if you’re somebody who has these on your car, please do me a favor and don’t drive anywhere near my eyesight. I really don’t want to see them ever again.

Ruining The Game

This past week was Rivalry Week in college football, where two rival schools play each other to end the regular season. One of the biggest rivalries in college football, if not the biggest, is the one between Ohio State and Michigan. They play each other every year during Rivalry Week in what has been dubbed The Game. This year was no exception as the two teams clashed on Saturday.

As some of you are aware, I’m an Ohio State fan. I was off work on Saturday. I didn’t have any family obligations during the afternoon. It should have been the perfect opportunity for me to watch my team play their biggest rival without any interruptions.

But I didn’t watch The Game. Just like I didn’t watch it last year. Or the year before that. In fact, it’s probably been 5 or 6 years since I’ve watched it. I just can’t do it anymore. When I think about The Game, or even the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan as a whole, it doesn’t excite me as much as it used to. It used to be fun. Now it’s just depressing, and the reason it’s depressing is that it’s filled with so much hate.

I’ve been out in public wearing Ohio State gear and been accosted by random Michigan fans. I’ve seen Michigan fans get treated the exact same way by other Ohio State fans. Imagine that. Strangers yelling and berating each other over something as ridiculous as liking a different football team. I’m certainly not going to hate someone just because they like Michigan. Most of my family, people I love very much, are Michigan fans. The fact that they wear maize and blue instead of scarlet and gray isn’t going to change how I feel about them.

On top of that, a lot of fans on both sides take the game far too seriously. They act as if The Game is a matter of life and death. It’s not. It’s just a football game. The universe isn’t going to implode if your team doesn’t win. Even my family can be guilty of this. Some of them, while intending it to be nothing more than good-natured banter, bring it up so much that I’m starting to think they feel that I have nothing more important going on in my life than my favorite college football team.

Now, I will admit that I used to be far more emotionally attached to the teams I rooted for. When one of my teams lost, I’d be in a bad mood for the rest of the day. Or I’d feel the need to defend them if someone said something bad about them, which would occasionally lead to arguments. Not only do I find such behavior pointless now, I also don’t have the energy to put in to caring that much about something that’s a recreation. Watching football should be fun, not stressful.

Maybe someday I’ll go back to watching The Game, enjoying the football and the tradition of it all, but I don’t see that happening when I feel so much negative energy from it. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, there is no rivalry and The Game is just that, a game like any other. Does that make me a bad fan? Possibly, but I’d rather be a bad fan and treat everyone with the respect they deserve than be a good fan who’s an asshole.

P.S. Congratulations to the Michigan Wolverines for winning on Saturday.