A Time’s Edge Sampler: Do You Believe in Fate?
An excerpt from Time’s Edge, Chapter Two: Do You Believe in Fate?
ON THE THIRD floor of the same building, Professor Albert Artolli paused outside the closed door of his office. Light was glowing beneath the bottom of the door.
It was after four o’clock on a Friday, a time when the science hall was usually deserted. He eyed the door, realizing there were only a few possible explanations for a light being on in his office at that hour, none of which he particularly liked. No one should have been in his office, unless…
The professor thoughtfully stroked his beard, staring at his reflection in the dark glass of the door. Gray steaks ran through his brown hair and beard, and his blue eyes were framed by wire-rimmed glasses. He knew his old-fashioned vest and jacket made him look like a professor from one hundred years earlier. He smiled slightly and grasped the doorknob.
The professor opened the door abruptly, drawing a startled exclamation from the young woman who sat at a desk in the office.
“Oh, it’s you,” she said in relief.
“Who were you expecting? A monster?” the professor asked sharply. He wasn’t particularly pleased to see her there.
“No, not a monster, exactly.” She looked at him with a frown, wondering, he knew, about the tone of voice he had used. He sighed and shut the door.
“Kate, what are you still doing here?” he asked.
“I’m finishing some reports for Dr. Riley.” She gave him that I-have-a-feeling-you’re-up-to-something-look he knew so well. “What are you doing here?”
“I left some files here that I want to work on this weekend.” He headed toward his desk. “Fortunately, I remembered them before I left campus.”
Her dubious look told him she didn’t entirely believe his tale.
He sighed again. Kate had been his secretary for the past six years. She worked for him full-time and went to college part-time. She was now twenty-four years old and in her senior year, a beautiful woman with dark brown hair falling in waves over her shoulders and large eyes of an unusual color—not quite blue, not quite green, but a bright shade that was a combination of the two. He had known her since she was a baby and often felt she was his own daughter. Unfortunately, that meant she also knew a lot about him, such as the fact that he generally didn’t come back to the office on a Friday afternoon.
“I had a hunch you might still be here,” he began, deciding that an offensive approach would bring him less trouble than explanations. “You should have left here over an hour ago.”
“I hate the thought of leaving unfinished work,” she replied. “I’m not doing anything tonight, and I prefer to keep busy.” Then she shrugged. “Besides, I felt I should stay.”
The professor shot her a sharp glance. He had not missed the significance of her remark. “Is something wrong?”
She said slowly, “Do you believe in fate, Al?”
He raised his eyebrows. “That depends on what you mean by fate.”
“Do you think some things are meant to be? That some people are destined to do certain things or to meet each other?”
The professor sat down in his chair, frowning slightly as he weighed the question.
“Fate, as you called it, isn’t carved in stone,” he said at last. “Everyone has a destiny, but how they fulfill it is their choice. Some even choose not to fulfill their fate.”
“How can you escape fate?”
“Because fate doesn’t really exist. No one is fated to do anything. Everyone simply makes choices.” He frowned thoughtfully. “I do believe everyone has a greater purpose or destiny. But that isn’t fate. It’s not certain. You can choose to walk away from your fate.”
“Then why don’t more people do that? Why do people accept their lot?”
“It’s easier,” the professor said with half a smile. “Making a choice is often difficult and many fear to make the wrong one.”
“So they make none?”
“Yes. But that in itself is a choice.”
“I see.” She pondered for a moment. “But accidents happen. There are things that aren’t choices but random events, and they affect your life. Isn’t that fate?”
“No. They are, as you said, random events that are the result of a choice or, perhaps, many choices. They may not even be your choices, but they can affect you nonetheless. No one lives in a vacuum. We all affect each other by our actions.” He eyed her curiously. “Why the sudden concern about fate?”
Kate stared down at her desk for a moment. Then she raised her head and looked directly at him. “Something is coming. I know it.”
He nodded as if she had said the most ordinary thing in the world.