The Voice Outside

  Many of you probably do not fully appreciate the import of the Fallen, in not just the development of humankind and other finite alien species, but in all of the omniverse. Their effect is virtually ubiquitous; indeed, their influences are so deterministic, that I have often surmised to myself that the "fall" of the Fallen, and all their suffering, was not entirely their choice. Indeed, it appears as if the angst of these beings, and the subsequent manifestations thereof in the omniverse, may not be just unfortunate coincidences, but an intentional design element of the omniverse. And yes, I am suggesting that the expulsion of the Fallen from the Heavenly Host may have been the Creator's plan from the beginning.

  But that is not the issue here, the point is, as a finite being, one of the greatest challenges that we face is attempting to understand the forces that affect our lives, our destinies, our decisions, and our thoughts. For the crux of these things determine ultimately our “spiritual core”, and therefore, who we are, were and shall be.

  And like most people, I grew the most as a person when I went to college. For me, one of the many things that college did for me was to open my mind and afford me the ability to dissect my thoughts and peer into my psyche. Or if I may borrow from sci-fi literature, college taught me how to run a “self diagnostic”, to use android terminology. At first, I thought nothing of the skill, for it was one I was born with, but had never really used consciously -- which of course, makes all the difference. But as my training progressed in college, so did the intricacy of my self diagnostics, and in time, I was able to identify portions of my psyche that I did not previously know were even there. Now while some of you think you see where this is going, let me stop you – we are not going to those places just yet, but I only mention the skill because it is important to understand a certain phenomenon.

  And to that end, I remember quite clearly that cold night during my freshman year in college. I was working on a program for my C++ class, and like many students from smaller locales, i.e., Georgia for me, I found myself continually playing catch up, and in all candor, I had become quite annoyed with it. However, I am a fighter, and so I did what one does when faced with a challenge, I trained for it. And for C++ class, that meant many an after hour logged on the UNIX mainframes at the science center.

  Moreoever, at that point in my life, I was just beginning to comprehend the great disparities in the world. During the course of the previous months, I had met more people like me than I ever imagined possible. But as I looked closer at my classmates, I found that we were not so alike. Indeed, many of them were simply "better" than I was. And I envied many of them for it; their lives had been so different from mine, no poverty, no loneliness, no anger, no regret, and no questions of self worth.

  Take, for example, the guy sitting next to me. He lived in Matthews, and that is only important because I met him at the housing office. He was in front of me in the line. And while I was there to question the dean about the overwhelming splendor of my dorm room (I had hardwood floors and a stone fireplace), and how in the world did he expect me to pay for, much less furnish, such a place, Kip waited in line to give the dean an earful because he did not get to live with me at Hurlbut, the dorm his grandfather had built for the school a lifetime ago.

  In all fairness, Kip was, or rather, is not a jerk; although I have chosen a "jerk" episode to introduce you to him. But for the sake of brevity, I will describe Kip by sterotype, in that Kip was a typical New Yorker. He was born into an old, successful family, with powerful friends, and clear goals in life. Kip knew who and what he was and where he was supposed to be in life at any given moment, and more than that, Kip had something that I had never observed before, he had not just the social power to achieve his dreams – i.e., money and personal capital – but Kip was, in his own right, powerful - i.e., regardless of where Kip had been born, he would have risen to the "top". He possessed a razor sharp intellect and a quick intuition. He did not quite have my mental “hardware,” but his mental “software” was vastly superior to mine due to his superior schooling and better competition. But at this particular juncture, it was a wash, in a fair fight at least. However, Kip also matched me physically, with an physique that rivaled any athlete's. He was a little bigger than a "classical" warrior should be, but there was no doubting that Kip was an alpha male, par excellence.

  And yes, if you hadn't guessed already, I hated Kip.

  But that night, Kip and I had something in common, we were both working late on a Friday night to catch up on a rather challenging problem set. But unlike me, Kip had better things to do, and had not let me forget that difference between us as he had literally griped all night long. “Dude, I gotta be at the faculty club in like 30 minutes for this dinner with my dad and the endowment director. I wish dad would just stop giving people money, because we are not getting our money’s worth when I live in Matthews and you live in Hurlbut.”

  “Kip, man, get over it,” I replied. But like all good New Yorkers, Kip rarely got over anything until it went the way he wanted. That noble perseverance, or hobgoblin doggedness, depending on one’s perspective, was an interesting trait -- one I had considered imitating. “Ok dude, I am signing out. Let me know if you get the function to call itself and pass a variable without creating a stack overflow on successive iterations.” I nodded, despite my envy of Kip, I admired him as a rival and genuinely enjoyed being in his company. “Alright, and have a good time man, I would love to be able to dress all up and go to the faculty club as a freshman.” Smiling, Kip sarcastically said “Righttttt...” as he grabbed his suit coat and scarf and ran out of the room.

  Meanwhile, I shook my head and continued to work, hoping to make some progress on the self calling function, when I suddenly noticed that Kip had left his tie on a chair by the printer. But the funny thing was, I had not noticed that Kip had a tie, and I had definitely not observed Kip leave his tie, precisely because I never actually saw Kip go by the printer to leave his tie. Presumably, he must have printed out his invitation for the dinner, and in rushing out the door, had put his tie down to pick up his other stuff, and never reclaimed the tie.

  However, now that Kip had left the tie, I did notice that the tie was absolutely beautiful. Silken, with a beautiful paisley mix of colors, nothing like the dull monocolored, heavy clip on ties, or rather tie, that I had brought with me from home. Damn, Kip’s tie would match anything. I mean, a tie like that would make an entire outfit. I bet Kip had lots of these ties. I mean, he carelessly left this one. He probably didn’t even need it! If that tie were mine, I would never leave such a tie behind.

  And so on and so on crowed my inner voice. But unlike my conscience, this voice, was not in my head, but rather, clearly in my ear. Never had I felt such intense pressure, a pure desire, no need, to claim, well, steal. To take that tie. It was palpable. My stomach tingled, my hearing muffled as blood rushed to my head. I needed to get that tie, and quickly. Something was wrong. I needed to decide. To get that tie. I needed to hurry. Hurry! I looked at my hand as it quivered in anticpation of holding that tie. It was truly a surreal experience.

  But before I could act, Kip walked back into the lab. “Oops! Forgot something! See you later dude.” And Kip and his beautiful tie left the lab. What the fuck was that? Dazed, I jast sat there, shaking in my chair. Not only had I not seen Kip bring or leave the tie, but I also had not known he was returning, yet the growing urgency of the need to take that tie in the seconds before Kip returned was undeniable.

  Holy shit Batman, I had been tempted, but for the first time in my life, I knew it.

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