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The Weatherman

Saniya Heeba might have different day jobs in different parallel universes, but she hopes that she is a storyteller in them all. In this one, she is a student of physics who blogs about sciencey stuff when she's not writing tales of mages and dragons. You can find a little bit of everything at: saniaheba.wordpress.com

Three things happened when Arztak Jr. announced that he would be joining the University of Primitive Sciences in the fall. The mug his mother was holding slipped through her fingers and broke into two even pieces upon hitting the floor. The dinner set on the table bounced once, and then again, as his father's clenched fists pounded the table twice in quick succession. There was a slow rumble of thunder and it started to rain. Only the last of the three things caught the family's attention.
"Even the Gods disapprove of your decision," his father, Arztak Sr. said through clenched teeth.
His mother's hands, now free of the mug, flew to her face and she began mumbling the words to a very old song under her breath.
"Oh come on. This has nothing to do with the Gods. It was going to rain today anyway. The weatherman--" Arztak Jr. caught himself. The weatherman was a fugitive. It was a crime to listen to his radio broadcasts.
"The weatherman? You've been listening to the weatherman?! Is that where you got this idea to join that wretched place from? I'm taking away your radio this instant. My son, a criminal! Can you believe this?" His mother turned to Arztak Sr. aghast.
"It's not wretched," Artztak Jr. countered. "They study the Old Sciences, you know, before the war, before The Wisemen arrived. And there is some merit to a few of those ideas. Like predicting the weather. They chart the--"
"It's all lies," Arztak Sr. cut him off. "They say a thousand different things and when one of them comes true, they claim they know the minds of the Gods. You're going to study Alchemy, just like I did. Something that is logical and real. That university is only good for crackpots and Scientists." He spat out the last word with a hatred that was all too common in the New World.
"But you let me study Primitive Sciences at school! And even The Wisemen encourage it. That's why the University exists in the first place!"
Arztak Sr. got up from the table and walked to the house's only bookshelf. It had three books. The Revised History of the New World, A Beginner's Guide to Alchemy, and Hymns Revisited. He picked up the first and turned to face his son.
"You have read this book, yes?"
Arztak Jr. nodded. It was required reading in every grade.
"Then you know what happened to those who claimed to practice the Primitive Sciences?"
Arztak Jr. nodded again. They had made the Gods angry and were wiped out during the war.
"You also know why the University is allowed to exist?"
It was for "scholarly pursuit." Under the watchful eye of the Wisemen, the lowest of the New World's populace--those kicked out of their houses, or expelled from other Universities--read (and mocked) the primitive sciences. Of course, some like the weatherman claimed to practice the Primitive Sciences and became fugitives from the law.
"You will read this book again. And tomorrow, you will sign up for Alchemy." Artzak Sr. thrust the book in his son's hands and walked away. His mother shook her head, ashamed, and followed. The rain stopped and the sun shone approvingly.
Late that night as the Arztak household slept, Arztak Jr. sat propped under his covers with The Revised History of the New World. Midway through the book, he turned on his radio (he had snuck it back) and tried to find the weatherman.
"There is a hurricane heading toward Ann Beach. If you are listening to this, get out of there. This is an emergency." A familiar voice crackled through the radio.
It was quiet outside. Arztak knew better than to believe everything the weatherman said. And of course, The Wisemen would broadcast through all stations if there was a real hurricane on its way. Maybe his parents were right. Maybe the Primitive Sciences were just fairy tales. He yawned, closed the book and went to bed.
Outside, a single drop of rain fell.
The End
This story was first published on Friday, December 15th, 2017
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