Foreclosure: Write a poem or short story about someone who has lost or is about to lose their home.

Author Note: A third teaser piece for the planned collaboration Science Fiction Project, I’d recommend you read the other teasers first. I’m really enjoying using the prompts to get to know the character and the world more. I’ll be aiming to write a full first draft of this novel during Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2017, so please let me know what you think in the comments below and on social media!

The letter lay amongst the other scattered papers on his desk, the word ‘Foreclosure’ screaming at him in bold, red lettering. His secretary was always nagging him about his mess, but he knew himself well, the chaos helped him to think, his mind constantly making connections between new ideas, new theories. Granted, his office had become messier since living in it, multiple coffee cups were dotted around the room, take-out cartons left where they had been finished and his once neat leather sofa was now strewn with his shirts and ties. His one suit jacket hung neatly by the door, putting this on immediately made him presentable for his lectures.

A knock on the door brought him to the present. ‘Yes, come in’ he called.

His secretary, Irene, popped her head around, she tried to hide it but a disapproving look still crossed her face as she glanced around. She had promised him that she would say nothing until the divorce was finalised, she felt sorry for him that his wife had finally left, he hadn’t been so surprised. He had been accused too many times of being married to his work more than her, he couldn’t blame her for leaving.

‘I’m heading off for the night Professor, is there anything you need before I go?’

‘No Irene, thank you.’

‘You could come for dinner if you like, Bob is making Fajitas, the kids favourite, there’ll be plenty for one more’.

As nice as Irene was, he could think of nothing worse than spending an evening with her husband and their two children. Their last conversation had been a debate about evolution….debate….trying to convince someone that didn’t believe in evolution was not really a debate, just a pointless exercise, and one he did not want to repeat.

‘Thank you, that is generous, but I really must work tonight.’

The look on her face told him she knew better than to argue with him, but considering that he had rarely made it home to have dinner with his own wife…ex-wife…she shouldn’t have really bothered asking.

She nodded a goodnight and closed the door behind her.

As he sat in the quiet, he tried to return his thoughts to the algorithms he had been working through before being distracted by the foreclosure letter. The new research he was conducting was going well, but something just wasn’t adding up. There was nothing more vexing than a calculation not being right, but he had gone over this time and time again and could not find the mistake anywhere. He was renowned in the fields of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy, using his knowledge to combine the two, but recently….recently things had not been working. He knew he was on the cusp of something, a huge leap forward in their understanding of the world, even the universe, but something just wasn’t right, there was something he was missing.

‘Coffee’ he said aloud ‘I need coffee…great…now I’m talking to myself.’

The corridor was dark, lit dimly by the moon through the windows. For a university it was not a bad place to work, he was able to keep mainly to himself, he gave lectures twice a week and the rest of his time was spent on his research. With full access to the lab equipment and research library he got more achieved here than he would working from his own space.

The rest of the staff hated the coffee from the staff room, they often ignored it for their Starbucks coffees, he wasn’t so fussy, coffee was coffee. He pushed the button for a Cappuccino twice and waited for his large mug to fill.

The foreclosure letter was still worrying him, he knew he couldn’t live in his office forever, it was only a matter of time before someone found out and reported him. The thought of having to deal with getting his own place exhausted him, he had no time for the mundane aspects of life, all he wanted to think about was science. He knew to most people he would sound arrogant and…well…a bit of an ass…but he had spent too long trying to fit in, he had tried relationships, even marriage, it just wasn’t for him. He knew how much more was out there, how much bigger the world was, it was his worst fear to be ignorant to that, to be content never looking further than the town he lived in, remaining stuck.

The machine beeped and he took his mug, before heading out into the corridor again. Holding it close to his face, he breathed deeply, even the smell made him feel better. As he made his way back towards his office, he noticed a pool of light in the corridor…his door was open. He locked it every time he left it, a habit he had never once broken. Panic filled him, his life’s work was in that room. He quickened his pace and barged in through his own doorway.

Three men stood inside, all dressed in military uniforms, two stood slightly back from the older man in the middle, clearly he was in charge.

‘Who are you? And why have you broken into my office?’

‘My apologies Professor, we knocked and there was no answer, we knew you would not be long so thought we would wait inside’ The man was putting a lot of effort into his voice to sound gentle, he was not use to this type of situation. The medals on this jacket showed he was well decorated, he was probably much more at home in the field than in a University.

‘Surprising that you would come here looking for me outside of work hours, it is…’ he paused to look at his watch…’7pm after all’.

‘Yes, indeed Professor…yet…here we find you.’ There was a glint in his eye, this man knew more about him than he was letting on. ‘Forgive me, I should have introduced myself. I’m Colonel Matthews.’ He held out his hand.

‘Do not worry yourself with formal introductions, I may be a civilian, but like you, I’d much rather just get down to business, I struggle with small talk. Why are you here Colonel?’

The Colonel let out a laugh ‘Very well Professor, in that case, I won’t mince my words. I’m here to hire you.’

‘To hire me? Well, as you can see, I’m already employed, thank you though.’ He moved past the men and around his desk, shuffling the papers to find a space for his coffee.

‘I’m sure the University have been very kind to you Professor, but trust me when I say that we can offer you…something extra…a missing piece, if you like.’

A missing piece…how did they know there was something he was missing from his research, it was not published, he had barely spoken about it to anyone….wait, no, he was jumping ahead of himself, they couldn’t possibly know about his research. However…he looked up at the Colonel who just gazed back calmly. ‘Tell me more’ he asked, intrigued.

‘Professor, the knowledge we have is of the highest security grade, the only way you will learn any of it is if you accept the job offer and come with us now.’

‘Accept the job offer? You’ve barely told me anything’ he laughed ‘you expect me to just accept?’

‘I appreciate your concerns, but trust me when I say this Professor, you want this job.’

‘Do you have any details at all? Where will I be going? What will I be doing?’

‘Professor, I’ve not been authorised to tell you anything, but I will say this…forget everything you think you know about the world…you’ve been lied to.’

Prompt taken from Think Written: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Image taken from Pixabay (Free Stock Photos)