The teacher announced his arrival by slamming the door hard enough to rattle Sirrap Community College’s exterior windows. Thirtysomthing and well-built, he sported thick black eyeglasses and an ill-fitting tweed suit coat with a Starfleet arrowhead as a tie tack. With the chap air conditioning struggling–and failing–to hold back the bitter South Carolina July raging outside, sweat beaded visibly on his dark features.

“Greetings. this is ENGL 127: Introduction to Creative Writing, and I am your instructor.” The pose he struck, legs spread and arms clasped behind his back, was textbook military. “Some of your husbands or fathers may know me as Drill Sergeant Poindexter from the base just up the road. They probably do not know me as a published author, perhaps because all my writing has been published under various pseudonyms! But if any of you have ever read The Girdle of Mistvale, credited to Swain Longbottom, or The Asteroids of Megas-Tu, credited to Jackson Roykirk, you’ve read me.”

There was some murmuring among the students but no reply.

“Repeat after me: “This is my pen. There are many like it, but this one is mine.”

Dutifully, fearfully, the students squeaked out the phrase.

“My pen, without me, is useless. Without my pen, I am useless. I must guide my pen true. I must write straighter than my enemy who is trying to critique me!”

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