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My Last All-Nighter

    I sat, pecking wearily at the keyboard, the air conditioner my only, unfriendly, companion, the only sounds the rattle of the keys. Yet another late night in the labs, after I swore on the family Bible that I would never procrastinate again. There I was at 3 a.m., working. Two cans of Jolt and a chocolate bar behind me, I had the shakes and was finally getting something done. Better late than never. Only six pages to go, and I had until nine. No sweat. Some more coffee when the Student Center opened up and everything would be cool.
    Yeah. Sure. This is not a problem.
    I sipped Jolt and stared mindlessly at the dungeon dimensions behind the screen, awaiting inspiration. A fifteen page story. Whoever heard of something like this, assigned right before finals? The tape on my Walkman ended, and I leaned over my bag to fish out a new one.
    That was when I noticed the five ninjas placed strategically around the room, in attitudes of carefully studied menace. Chortling to myself, I continued my search—hallucinations under high stress were nothing new, and this one promised entertainment. Ninjas, huh? Too many cartoons, maybe.
    "You," one said.
    Wow. They don't usually talk. I found AC/DC's Back in Black and turned up the volume. I was running out of Jolt and I didn't have enough change for another can.
    You bastard! You got my sister pregnant?! yeah, good, get a nice scene of violence in there.
    "Shut up already," I muttered, typing furiously. A decent sentence was a terrible thing to waste in the pits of my quickly-disintegrating mind. I found myself glancing around nervously. If I didn't get some sleep soon, it would be little green men from Mars. I backspaced to fix an error and found myself choking, black-gloved fingers gripping my throat rather uncomfortably.
    "You," the ninja repeated.
    "Aaack," I replied, tugging at the slowly tightening fingers. Okay, some strange things have happened to me, but being assaulted by imaginary warriors had not, to date, been one of them. I did all this work for nothing? was nearly my final thought, staring with forlorn and glazing eyes at the screen.
    "Do I have your attention now?"
    It sounded like someone from a badly dubbed movie. But, like I always say, when being choked to death by a figment of your imagination.... "Yes." He loosened his grip enough for the pretty colors to start fading.
    "You will come with us now."
    "Look," I swallowed, trying to get some kind of grip—oops—on the situation. Whatever it was. "I don't know where the hell you folks came from, but I'm trying to work here, I have a paper due tomorrow—uh, today—and it's really important. Like, to my grade, and therefore my GPA, therefore my graduation and my entire dwindling hope for a future. So, if you could all just crawl back into these ugly walls and go away, I'd be much obliged.
    "You will come with us. Now."
    I detected a certain emphasis which had been lacking in his earlier proclamation. Or maybe it was just that the air conditioner chose that moment to shut down. "I'd love to, especially if you've got coffee, but I can't."
    The next ninja drew his sword and brought it crashing down on the computer. There was a scream like a tortured cat and a hiss of static, a snap crackle and pop of circuits no longer intact before the thing heaved a sigh and died.

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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson