492: Appointed Hours

on February 28, 2011 in Uncategorized Chapters

In Which Mackenzie Is Paranoid But No One Is Out To Get Her

So, we had our slumber party after all… it wasn’t non-stop laughs or anything, but it was a better time than I could have expected or hoped for. It was what I needed, if not everything that I needed… and it was what I could get.

There were some digressions into serious topics. Dee, in particular, seemed pensive. I pointedly put off any talk about the distant future, i.e., our plans for the summer or next year. Anything much further past tomorrow was too far away for me to deal with at the moment.

This sort of inevitably led to lulls in the conversation, though, and the silence was more than just deafening… it was suffocating. It crept in through the corners of my mind like shadows in the corner of a room and threatened to drown me.

“I think that we should play a game,” Two announced in one of those lulls, to my immense gratitude. Under other circumstances, I might have wondered about what Two’s idea of a game was. She was very good at rules, but less acquainted with fun. “That is what people do at parties.”

Steff had a look on her face and I knew she was just aching to suggest something like spin-the-bottle… or some equivalent that had actually been played by people in the last twenty years… but she wouldn’t so long as Two was there.

I didn’t think she necessarily wanted to kiss Ian or Dee, but she wouldn’t mind making either of them uncomfortable at the prospect.

“What kind of game would you like to play?” Amaranth asked.

Two looked around the room.

“We could play musical chairs,” she said. “But we would have to take turns because there are only two chairs in here.”

I was glad that no one else was particularly keen on that idea, because I knew Two would shut down any suggestion to bring more furniture in, as that was against the dorm rules. An argument with Two wasn’t ever really much of an argument, both because she couldn’t easily be swayed on a point like that and because she wouldn’t nurse a grudge afterwards, but I didn’t want to have to listen to even that sort of politely stubborn dispute at the moment.

“Well… how about truth or dare?” Ian said. “I mean, that doesn’t require any furniture or equipment.”

“I don’t feel that we should be encouraging any risky behavior,” Amaranth said. “Also, I’ve seen that game turn mean-spirited really quickly, when you have people with different levels of boundaries.”

I didn’t doubt that she had… Amaranth traveled in the widest social circles of all of us, probably followed by Two, and she was the one most likely to end up in a room where truth-or-dare was being played.

I didn’t feel jealous to consider this, exactly. That is to say, I didn’t feel jealous of the people who had shared those experiences with Amaranth, those people who had shared Amaranth.

I did feel a little twinge of envy for Amaranth herself, though. I hadn’t exactly wanted to come to college and play truth-or-dare then have sex with everyone in the room, but the whole going out and doing things and meeting people… I’d expected more of that to happen.

“Ah, it’s not like anybody here would do a dare just to be mean,” Steff said. “We’re all friends here.”

“I’d like to keep it that way,” Amaranth said. “And that means keeping anyone from doing anything they regret later… and that includes making someone else do or say something they don’t want to.”

“Okay, how about two truths and a lie?” Ian said. “That way no one has to share anything they don’t want to. No pressure.”

“This game is of a confessional nature?” Dee asked.

“Sort of,” Amaranth said. “I suppose it can be… it’s really more of an icebreaker, usually. When it’s your turn, you say three things about yourself, two of which are true and the other one is a lie. The others try to guess which is the lie. And the one who guesses goes next, or else we can just go in a circle. I’ve read about it being done both ways.”

“Is there a winner?” Dee asked.

“We could keep score, I suppose, but not usually,” Amaranth said. “It’s a fun, getting-to-know-you sort of thing.”

“Interesting,” Dee said. “It puts me in mind of some of the exercises we performed during our pre-initiation stages. There, though, the goal was as much about self-knowledge and personal revelation as it was about communicating anything to others.”

“Guys, I hate to be the downer, but I’m really not sure I’m in the mood for revelations,” I said. “This just isn’t the night for that kind of game.”

“Well, maybe we should make tomorrow night game night,” Amaranth said. “That way we’ll have time to think up some things that we can all enjoy.”

“Stone soldiers?” Ian and Steff said at the same time.

“I’m not sure that everyone is equally interested in war games,” Amaranth said.

“Oh, come on, Amy,” Steff said. “It’s really right up Mack’s alley if she’d just give it a try.” She looked at me. “I mean, there’s the historical aspect…”

“History is more than just a series of battles,” I said. “I’m not actually that interested in military history in particular.”

“Right, but there’s also a strong fantasy aspect,” she said.

“Maybe we’ll give it a try,” I said. I really wasn’t too interested, but if nothing else, talking about it had filled the gap. Being annoyed over the war game fad that was spreading through the campus was better than the alternative, and it wasn’t like I was even all that deeply annoyed. This was a familiar sort of annoyance, and it was a pleasing familiarity.

It reminded me of trudging up the hill towards my house, when I was a little kid… I’d hated that hill, but I’d loved the feeling of trudging up it because it meant I was going home.

There was a thought worming its way around in the back of my brain, though, now that the subject of personal revelations had come up. I’d planned on seeing a mental healer that weekend, if possible. I hadn’t sent the a-mail inquiry yet for obvious reasons. The question was, would there be any point? It seemed like I could use that kind of help even more… but now on top of whatever difficulties my heritage posed to a subtle artist, there was a big glaring hole in the fabric of things that I really needed to talk to someone about.

But on the other hand, it wasn’t like my other issues actually were any smaller or less important even if they were metaphorically dwarfed by the events in the basement office. So, when the conversation began to run out of impetus the next time, I was the one who spoke into the stretching silence.

“I was going to send an a-mail to the mental healing center,” I said. “See if they can see me this weekend.”

“They do take walk-ins,” Steff said. “I mean, on the weekend you might be waiting for a while, depending on when exactly you walk in, but they don’t turn anyone away, as long as you’ve got a student ID.”

“I believe that’s exactly what Mackenzie is concerned about,” Dee said. “Being turned away.”

“Well, that is sort of always in the back of my head,” I said. “The fear that I’ll be turned away, I mean… except when it’s in the front of it. But I just… well, I want it to go smoothly.”

“They’re professionals, Mack,” Steff said. “You’re not going to be the first person they’ve dealt with who has freaky things going on inside her head. I mean, there’s got to be students with elemental natures, statistically… probably most of them are from families that have counted themselves as human for generations, so it’s not like the staff will have so much as an asterisk after a name to warn them.”

“Still, I’d rather they have the warning than not,” I said. “I’m not really interested in testing the abilities of a given healer to roll with punches, you know?”

“If it makes you feel better to have an appointment, then you should do that,” Amaranth said. “I mean, there’s got to be a limit to what anyone can do for you if you’re not comfortable with the process, right?”

“I believe that is an accurate summation,” Dee said. “It required more than one session before I was able to make any progress. Though part of that may be that my healer was strangely uncomfortable with nudity for someone who deals with people so intimately.”

“Well, I’ll try to keep my clothes on,” I said.

“Why don’t you go ahead and send the a-mail now?” Amaranth suggested.

“It’s the middle of the night,” I said.

“And tomorrow it will be the middle of the day,” she said. “This way, it’ll be waiting for them when they get in, first thing in the morning, and maybe you can get an answer that much quicker instead of having it hanging over your head all day.”

“I suppose so,” I said, and I took out my mirror. There was no question of going downstairs to use one of the gazing balls in the first floor ballroom… the Law goons had vacated the premises too recently for it to really feel like it was part of Harlowe and not some foreign embassy of officialdom.

I composed a message that I hoped was both polite and to the point. After some quick edits to get rid of some ellipses and otherwise clean it up, I sent off the following:

Hi. My name is Mackenzie Blaise and I am a freshman student who is having some issues I would like to talk about. I have some special needs due to extraplanar heritage that may affect my treatment. Would it be possible for me to come in some time this weekend to talk to someone?

Thank you.

I had been torn about leaving it at “extraplanar”, but realistically I probably could have just said my name and left it at that… it wasn’t like they would have read “Mackenzie Blaise, the half-demon” and gone, “Oh, so you’re that Mackenzie Blaise.”

“Well, that’s done,” I said. I’d only just snapped the mirror’s case shut when it let out a delicate chime that I’d never heard before. I almost dropped it… or rather, I did drop it, but Dee’s hand ended up between it and the floor. She handed it back to me without a word. “Thank you,” I said.

“You’re welcome.”

I opened the mirror back up and discovered that chime meant I had a priority message waiting for me. It said:

All students are welcome in our center, Ms. Mackenzie. What time would suit you best?

Theodora Lundegard, CMH, Ph.SA

I stared at it like I expected it to explode, except I was actually expecting something much worse. Maybe I was feeling a bit paranoid, but paranoia was not necessarily an irrational response after having demons and cannibalistic slavers and person-eating monsters and government agents taking such an interest in me in such a short amount of time. An instant reply at what was… if anything about the message could be trusted… close to three in the morning?

I felt a fleeting urge to reflect to Lee and see what he thought about it, except that it was three in the morning. I supposed I had my excuse to talk to him in the morning proper, though.

“Is something wrong, baby?” Amaranth asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s just… that was an awfully fast reply.”

“Don’t you think they have someone on duty twenty-four hours a day?” Amaranth asked. “If not in general, then… well, now?”

“I suppose it’s possible,” I said. “Do any of you guys know anything about a Theodora Lundegard?”

I did my best not to look right at Steff when I said it, which was my impulse. It wasn’t just that she went to the center herself… Dee did, too. Steff was the one who knew the staff of the physical healing center, and so my mind leaped to her… but I knew what it would look like.

“Yeah, she’s pretty much the official unofficial Harlowe healer now,” Steff said. “Both because her colleagues don’t want to have anything to do with us if they can avoid it, and because no one here wants to talk to anyone else more than once.”

“Is it really that bad?” I asked. I couldn’t imagine either branch of the healing center being terribly blatant about discrimination, given how such featured in my case against the school.

“Well, what’s ‘that bad’?” Steff asked. “I don’t mean they meet you at the door with a pitchfork and a torch… but, well… imagine how easy it is to open up to someone who can’t quite bring themselves to look at you, or who only wants to talk about your issues in terms of how you’re ‘adjusting’, or who responds to everything by shaking her head and apologizing and saying that she doesn’t really know that much about ‘you people’. Or someone who’s earnestly excited over everything you say because she’s always wanted a chance to treat one of ‘you people’.”

“Did you really go through all that?” I asked.

“No,” Steff said. “I got Teddi on the first go-round. But I’ve heard some of it from other people, and… well…”

She shrugged, like she couldn’t quite put into words what she was thinking, and was surprised at the need to.

“It is not difficult to extrapolate the sorts of difficulties people of all sorts may encounter in all situations where they are marginalized, once one has experienced some of them in some situations,” Dee said.

“Yeah, what she said,” Steff said.

“My experiences with Ms. Lundegard have been mostly positive, after some brief uncertainty over the issue of dress, and barring her unfortunate tendency to ascribe guilty feelings to situations in which I hold myself blameless,” Dee said. “But she means well, and she has helped me for all that.”

“She makes you call her ‘Ms. Lundegard’?” Steff asked.

“No,” Dee said. “But I am not addressing her, and I gather that she has introduced herself to Mackenzie using her full name. I find it likely she will grant permission to use the familiar form herself, but I would not presume to do so for her.”

“But you two trust her?” I asked. “There isn’t… you don’t think she’d be working for someone else? I don’t mean the university or the center, or whoever ordinarily signs her paycheck… I mean, the Law guys might have pulled out of here but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be interested in things that happen on campus.”

“Oh, Mack, she’s probably just got insomnia,” Steff said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the things she sees in her patients’ heads keep her up all night. I have a feeling that some of her patients have tried to think really disturbing things at her to see how easily she could be shaken up before they were comfortable telling her certain things.”

“I am confident that you can trust in her discretion,” Dee said. “She has a tendency to wonder about the physical logistics of intimate encounters involving more than two participants, but it isn’t something she would voice aloud even if you were to somehow notice her thinking that and invite her to ask her questions.”

“Wait… so, you’ve been in her mind?” I said..

“We have… overlapped, I suppose would be the best term. Most telepathic contact between telepaths is bilateral, to a degree,” Dee said.

“And you trust her, after seeing into her mind?” I asked.

“I trusted her before, obviously.”

That all sounded like good news… well, it wasn’t good news that there was only one mental healer servicing the campus who would see Harlowe residents and treat them with dignity, but it was good news that this one healer and not another one had popped up to answer my a-mail at three in the morning. That made a trap of some kind a bit less likely.

“Okay,” I said. “I guess I’ll go for the afternoon, in case I need to crash out and get some sleep.”

I sent back a reply asking her if I could come in and talk at three-thirty, and got a reply under a minute later saying that she would look forward to seeing me then.

“So that’s that, then,” I said. “I’m seeing a mental healer.”

Soon: Mackenzie vs. Teddi in the epic throw-down grudgematch YOU demanded talks about what bothers her.

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58 Responses to “492: Appointed Hours”

  1. Abeo says:

    Is it too late to demand that epic throw-down grudgematch?

    Current score: 2
    • drudge says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. All grudgematches are good grudgemtches.

      Current score: 4
    • Zergonapal says:


      But seriously, you can’t have a grudge-match if you’ve only met them for the first time 🙂

      Current score: 3
      • drudge says:

        You’ve clearly never held a decent grudge, have you?

        Current score: 1
        • VXC says:

          I was going to say “Grudge with a G, not a D”, but if I read your post as if it were with a D it gets really awkward.

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          • Chips says:

            What would “gecent” mean?

            Current score: 0
            • Rey d`Tutto says:

              Entymologistically, “gecent” owns “ge” and a common root “cent”, which in context of the two other forms (Ascent and Decent) involves moving up or down, in a relative context, as opposed to “1 of 100” (as in Percent).

              As I have seen “Xe” and “Ge” as pseudonyms for an indeterminate gender individual (think Metrosexualistic), the Idea i get is that “Gecent” would involve more or less appearance on the Gender-Bender scale, where a Small Gecent would be a woman with a Mustache, or a guy with Moobs, and a Large Gecent would involve female or male impersonators and the better Drag Queens.

              Current score: 1
  2. beappleby says:


    That was my instant reaction when I saw who replied to Mack’s text. I had hoped she would end up with Teddi, but it was just as likely that AE would put her with someone else, for a twist.

    Also, typo: means-pirited (truth or dare)

    Current score: 0
  3. Miss Lynx says:

    …and that’s besides the Little Aidan story this coming weekend.

    That made me do a bit of a double-take because Aidan is also the name of my three-and-a-half-year-old son, so that was who came to my mind first, before I remembered the character by that name.

    Though really, I suspect my Aidan would actually make a pretty entertining story subject – the other day, according to my ex-wife, he looked up at her and said: “I could use special diseases that are in poo to get rid of the government.”

    Current score: 2
    • tannenFuchs says:

      Priceless! I think I like that kid!

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    • Kaila says:

      Reminds me of my nephew. Well, the middle niece actually. The nephew is almost there, but his sister beat him to it.

      For example: At Girl Guides, she refused to swear to ‘Nanna’ Queen because Nanna Queen isn’t in charge of our country, the prime minister is.

      I don’t know whether to hope she gets into politics or not.

      Same way I don’t know whether or not to hope your son takes an interest in microbiology or not. Then again, I don’t know your government.

      Current score: 0
  4. Anita Latch says:

    Typo about a dozen paragraphs from the beginning,
    means-pirited .
    My first post after reading for two years. I appreciate that you continue to write this story. I joined on Facebook and occasionally post something there to encourage my friends to begin reading. I sent a notice/invite to every writer and poly/alt sex oriented person I know via fb.
    Thank you!

    Current score: 0
  5. Burnsidhe says:

    Oh, good. Also, yay, insomnia.

    Current score: 0
  6. Elisabeth says:

    Has Teddi met Mackenzie before to know she prefers “Ms. Mackenzie” over the standard “Miss Mackenzie” or is there some sort of inter-campus memo about what form of address the half demon prefers?

    Current score: 0
    • Rin says:

      Or perhaps it’s just because in text messages (or any written form of address, for that matter) the abbreviated form is usually used.

      Current score: 0
      • Elisabeth says:

        Ms. isn’t an abbreviation for Miss though, it’s a separate feminine form of address that came about so women didn’t have to distinguish between Miss and Mrs.

        The convention in the MUniverse seems to be to address non-humans as “Miss Firstname” rather than the human convention of “Ms. Lastname” and IIRC there was something in the story about how “Ms. Firstname” was a new thing that only Mackenzie uses.

        Current score: 0
        • erianaiel says:

          The use of a first rather than last name was because many of the non-human races do not use last names. Amaranth is an obvious exampled but dwarves do not seem to have last names either and it is uncertain how much, say, Celia’s people do (when not pressured into it by the missionaries).

          The following is from memories of what Mackenzie explained (and I really should use this as an excuse to read the story again from the beginning so I can find the part where she was having an interior monologue about the subject 😉

          The use of Miss for non-human women is a remnant of a subtle form of discrimination. It is a childish diminutive form of the way human women are adressed. Similar to how in our history male slaves were adressed as ‘boy’.

          Current score: 0
          • drudge says:

            I think it’s more of what Mackenzie already said, in that “We don’t know if they even use more than one name, or which order they go in, or how to *pronounce* some names.”.

            Never attribute to malice what can be explained by laziness.

            Current score: 0
            • bramble says:

              I think we can attribute it to both. Laziness, in not learning the proper forms of address for their non-human students; malice, in choosing to use the human form of address with connotations of childishness and immaturity, decades after using that form of address among humans has been relegated to actual children. That’s what Mac’s fighting against when she insists on “Ms. Mackenzie” over “Miss Mackenzie.”

              Current score: 0
            • drudge says:

              Or it could be the average member of the staff doesn’t bother researching the history of words. My first thought when Mackenzie requested the change was “but wait, she isn’t married…” not “This may make her seem more mature!” To someone who doesn’t know the whole history of the words, miss is basically just a way to indicate if someone is married or not.

              Again, laziness over malice. It’s easier to just assume they decided on “miss” because it’s easier than having the staff memorizing every honorific in the world and assumed the average university student didn’t start freshmen year already married.

              Current score: 0
            • bramble says:

              Except that they don’t call human students “Miss.” That’s the whole point. I’m sorry, but Miss vs. Ms. vs. Mrs. is not exactly some great esoteric science, and it’s not as if I’m expecting every staff member to know the proper Yokano forms of address for Sooni and the Nekos. The entire point of using “Ms.” is that you’re taking the woman on her own merits rather than getting caught up on who she “belongs” to (her parents or her husband). It’s equally valid for both married and unmarried women, the way that in modern usage “Mr.” is equally valid for both married and unmarried men.

              And it’s important to remember that this isn’t a case-by-case thing of staff members not bothering to learn things. It’s school policy to call human students “Ms.” and to call non-human students “Miss” for no reason other than that at some point, someone decided that the non-humans are not worthy of the degree of respect that the humans are.

              Current score: 0
            • Elisabeth says:

              “It’s school policy to call human students “Ms.” and to call non-human students “Miss” for no reason other than that at some point, someone decided that the non-humans are not worthy of the degree of respect that the humans are.”

              I disagree – the “Ms.” is used with surnames, and non-human students don’t always go by surnames.

              If someone called Dee “Ms. Daella” it would not work, you know? And what exactly would Amaranth’s surname be?

              “Miss” can be used with first names, outside of ToMU I’ve never heard “Ms.” used with first names.

              Current score: 0
            • bramble says:

              Is it possible, though, that that is because you have not met or heard of many women who do not have surnames or family names by which it is appropriate to address them, and yet use the western system of address? This shouldn’t even be an issue, as this has already been resolved with the male half of the student body and Mack is only trying to bring the treatment of the women in line with that. Non-human male students are already addressed as Mr. Firstname, as opposed to the more archaic Master Firstname. This is the direct analogue of calling the non-human female students Ms. Firstname as opposed to Miss Firstname.

              Yes what Mack is asking for is unusual. The point is that the only thing that makes it “wrong” is an ingrained culture of inequality. There’s no “rule” that’s being upheld by calling female non-humans “Miss” that isn’t already being ignored in calling male non-humans “Mr.”

              Current score: 0
            • Lunaroki says:

              “Amaranth” isn’t even really her name. Her real name is a set of sensory impressions which are not easily summed up in the form of a name. That is why when the two nymphs came to MU they decided to use the names of the grains planted in their fields as the names they would go by: Amaranth and Barley. Extending that naming convention would produce a perfectly reasonable last name for both of them: Field. So should they accept that as their last name one could address them as Ms. Amaranth Field and Ms. Barley Field.

              Current score: 1
            • Robert Bates says:

              just my own fyi on this lovely debate between you two women, but as a typically lazy american male that spends my work shifts pushing steel… I have to agree that Bramble has a valid point, but I in the end have to put my two cents in with Elisabeth… “never attribute to malice what can be attributed to lazyness”. Yes, it was, at some point, decided by the university staff to use those two specific forms of address for human and non-human females, however, the ‘honorific’ Mr. does have the advantage of working with either first or last names, under the ‘anglo’/Presumably-Pax systems, whereas, typically, Ms. doesn’t, especially at the time the tradition would have been institued (ie, in america, the 1950’s, et al, would be an appropriate frame of reference)… it was a matter of NOT wanting to OBVIOUSLY offend the non-humans ~at the time they instituted the matter~ per the then standard social conventions…. the fact that it’s still being used is NOT a matter of attempted segregation, in so much as Universities, like large governments, are just naturally resistant to change unless forced to do so… hence, the continuation of calling non-humans, who seem to, more often then not, only have a first name and no surname, Miss vs. Ms.

              Current score: 0
            • Arakano says:

              The “malice vs. laziness” debate is missing the point that laziness in not abolishing instituionalised malice is basically aiding in keeping up that malice. For example, if I hear rape jokes being made and am too lazy to speak up against it, I am thereby in a way perpetuating rape culture, too; if a school is too lazy to install ramps for wheelchairs, it does discriminate wheelchair-bound students by sheer laziness. Inaction in fixing something that is wrong may very well also be wrong, is what I am trying to say.

              Current score: 0
          • bramble says:

            However, in modern society – and it seems that the same is true in modern MUniverse society – the honorific “Miss” can carry connotations of childishness, immaturity, and incompetence; traditionally, it is used only for those women still under their family’s care and authority. This is a large part of why the masculine equivalent is no longer used – it’s simply not done to suggest that a man is incapable of running his own life, and should be allowing his parents to handle such things for him. That we can suggest the same of a woman… well, that’s a can of worms that I’m sure Shiel would love to open, but it has only tangential bearing on a discussion of the etymology of modern English (or Pax, as the case might be) forms of address.

            (Incidentally, while “miss” is certainly an abbreviated form of “mistress,” so is “Mrs.”, and “Ms.” only came into usage in the 1950s, as a derivative of the other two feminine forms of address, and is therefore also a form of “mistress.” While “miss” is certainly a good deal more respectful than many forms of address casually used on women, it’s still the formal mode of address that has some of the more disrespectful connotations.)

            Speaking purely from personal experience, as an unmarried woman in my early twenties, I use the honorific “Ms.” in academic and professional settings and in social settings where I wish to stand on my own authority, although I do accept the use of “Miss” when introduced with/by my parents (as in, “Mr. and Mrs. Bramble’slastname, and our daughter, Miss Bramble Bramble’slastname”). I’m probably not entirely politically correct in accepting even that use of the diminutive form of address.

            However, it does give me a bit more insight into Mack’s insistence on “Ms. Mackenzie” – besides the double-standard in addressing human and non-human students, I suspect she may be on some level troubled by the way the usage of “Miss” implies someone whose closest ties are to the family of her birth. She has no problem with being identified by her first name, but reminders that the only social tie she has that the authorities are obligated to acknowledge is the one with her grandmother? That makes her uncomfortable.

            Current score: 0
          • verbranden says:

            I am making this face at you very hard. >:|

            Current score: 0
    • probably a memo after the fact that Mack has made a big to-do about wanting to be referred to that way.

      Current score: 0
  7. Readaholic says:

    And now I wish I tweeted :). At least Mackenzie is now seeking tweatment. I hope she tweats herself to an extra large pizza.

    Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      For this night she might be more comfortable with eating something that is not crunching quite so much…

      Current score: 0
    • same here – as much as I love the story and I’d love to see the Wednesday update I can’t bring myself to get a twitter account just to contribute to the collective count.

      Current score: 0
  8. Oitur says:

    Just a typo report:
    “…when you have people have different levels of boundaries.”

    Current score: 0
  9. Zathras IX says:

    In which Mackenzie
    Makes an appointment to try
    Teddi on for size

    Current score: 0
    • Helen Rees says:

      so cute… I’m picturing Two & Mack in matching outfits, now…

      Current score: 0
  10. Perhaps its just foresight on the part of a mental healer, or the center in general.

    1. Recently a student from Mack’s dorm died.
    2. Recently Mack was launched willy-nilly into the labyrinth assorted related happenings.
    3. Recently Mack was to the center for a contraceptive ‘morning after’ type remedy / abortive measure.
    4. Recently Mack started her first year at university.

    Any one of these could be considered a root reason for her to seek at least verbal therapy with a mental healer if only for a basic consult. Any one of these could be considered MAJOR depending on the person. Put them all together, discounting even the evening with Embries, and various unknowns to the healing staff, staff in general or even the public in general and its a potent mix.

    Take into consideration that at least two of her close companions have been to see the same mental healer and Dee being telepathic describing the experience for someone telepathic as a bilateral sharing you could infer that Dee’s concerns regarding Mack could have spilled over. It is entirely possible that Teddi may have been anticipating hearing from Mack at some date and time and could even have set a special notification for herself should she (Mack) ever contact the healing center about mental healing.

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    • erratio says:

      I’m totally nitpicking, but there’s no way the mental healing staff would know about Mack’s morning-after pill, due to routine doctor-patient confidentiality. And as for starting university, there’s several hundreds (thousands?) of other students in the same boat.

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      • whoperson says:

        Not exactly – usually mental health is part of student health services and the student will have one chart (medical record) for health services. Any health provider treating a particular student will have access to the chart. It is true that staff NOT currently treating said student would NOT have access. If the example in this story were in our world (& in the US), Teddi would not have legal access to Mack’s chart until she made the appointment.

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      • True, there’s plenty of other students but it is not uncommon for there to be mental strain for new students since it is such a change in living situation. Not all students cope the same way. Hence why its on the list, though it is at the end because it is the most general of the reasons.

        As many as 1 out of every 3 college freshmen experience some degree of depression at some point in their first months at college. That number may vary based on where studies were performed and what the criteria for depression and depressed behavior were for each study but I’m sure that a 33% figure is pretty able to speak for itself. Depression has been on the rise for college students. The numbers now may well be higher than they were 3-7 years ago.

        Most likely there is an alert for HH students because of the murder. Perhaps since Teddi generally is the only mental healer who deals well with the HH students any a-mail from HH might get directed to her specifically, or a duplicate sent by their servers to make life easier. She might have been up, she might have her mail set to send her a page on her mirror if she gets messages from HH students, and she could be a light sleeper so the page may have woken her. Those are just some possibilities.

        Then there’s the fact that the healing center likely has their records filed in a centralized manner so that the healers can draw them up at need rather than having to track down a paper file. Mack’s likely has a flag on it with her preference for address, as well as for arcane rather than divine healing.

        The center may also have a list they update the healing staff with of people to keep an eye out for if they’re in for one type of treatment or another. While that list might not divulge why the student might come in it could serve as a ‘heads up’ that someone might need preferential treatment due to side effects, adverse reactions, or other reasons.

        Until Mack is actually seeing a doctor the only flags on her health record that someone looking at her charts would see would be the form of address and the special notice about special requirements for healing type.

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  11. Frank Roth says:

    Of course who’s to say there is such a thing as Patient-Doctor confidentiality? At least with a obvoius person of interest such as Mack? She is very high profile as much as she may hate the fact and the mental healing center probably has been expecting her to contact them anyway…

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    • Erianaiel says:

      We already know that Mackenzie asked the dean of the university to be adressed as Ms.Mackenzie and that she found it odd but for the sake of keeping her pacified agreed to it. She probably had it added to her student file just to make sure that all teachers and staff knew.
      She also had the excemption for the magical weapons policy added to her file, and early in the story Mackenzie commented that even though the adminstration was supposed to keep it confidential she expected the fact that he was part demon to be all over the campus before too long. Since it is highly relevant to her classes (not just to the medical center), this information must be in her file.
      When Ms. Lundegard received the request for councelling she most likely pulled Mackenzie’s file and found both the remark about the preferred form of address and the one about the precise nature of her extraplanar descent (assuming that the fall out of Mackenzie’s earlier mishap with the medical center had not already reached Ms. Lundegard through other channels. There were quite extensive policy changes a few days after Mackenzie was first warded in and then misplaced into the center of the maze and those likely also applied to the subtle healing department).

      Unrelated, but what might the abbreviation for Ms. Lundegard’s titles stand for?
      The second one would be Physician, Subtle Arts I think. but the first one?

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      • CMH the MH is probably mental health, C likely Councilor or similar I think.

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        • carson says:

          Certified, maybe. CNP = Certified Nurse Practitioner in this universe.

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          • beappleby says:

            Certified Mental Healer?

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  12. OhPun says:

    I think the simple explanation is that Teddi was with someone from Harlowe who prefers counseling at night. Afterward she was writing up notes (or whatever) when the a-mail came in.

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    • beappleby says:

      I like this idea.

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      • Robert Bates says:

        as do I… a very apt military acronym calls it to account… K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple, Stupid!

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        • Helen Rees says:

          I find that too familiar, and, indeed, military.

          Since we’re friendly strangers here, of a non-military persuasion (mostly, I think, unless I’m missing A LOT), may I introduce hattsoff?

          How about trying the simple one first, friend?

          So much more courteous…


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    • Elisabeth says:

      She might not even be in her office, if MU “mirrors” are anything like our smartphones. She could be at home brushing her teeth when her mirror went off.

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  13. Bolongo says:

    I’m actually slightly amazed that noone is considering the most obvious alternative: it’s an auto-reply.

    Of course, it would have to be a fairly smart script, linked to an appointment book, but that doesn’t seem insurmountable.

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    • beappleby says:

      That’s definitely a possibility. If Teddi has basically been assigned full Harlowe duty, there might even have been an autoforward to her voicemail equivalent from any call originating in Harlowe.

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    • I had considered that, actually. The telling part however is that Mack referred to herself by her full name, and the reply referred to her as Ms. Mackenzie as she prefers, not Miss Mackenzie and not Ms. Blaise which would be the likely auto fills for an auto responder.

      For me, that ruled out the possibility that it was an auto-reply.

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      • Arakano says:

        What is so damn impossible about the idea that they have a 24/7 readiness/emergency service?

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        • It isn’t impossible. I’m simply pointing out that it is unlikely in this particular instance that an auto-reply was used due to the use of an address form that is a particularity that is specific to Mack. Mack is the only person we are aware of on campus who prefers the Ms. (human address) to the Miss (non human address). The likelihood of that one instance being programed into an auto-responder is fairly low. If the response she’d gotten had addressed her as Miss Mackenzie or as Ms. Blaise then assuming it was an auto-response would be a more likely.

          The other plausible possibility is that AE is used to using Ms. with Mack that it could be a typo on something intended to read as an auto-reply.

          No need to be snippy. I’m not saying I’m right and others are wrong. I’m just pointing out how I’m reading it and the reasons why I read it that way. I’m sure that soon enough we’ll know one way or the other which side of the razor the hair we’re splitting falls on.

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  14. Burnsidhe says:

    Or perhaps it’ll be explained in the next chapter?

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  15. Shaun O'Braun says:

    She’s a telepath, presumably she has some sort of training/credentialing to be able to counsel students. Well, there have just been some really serious big fugly goings-on at *her* building, so based on how she was described, I would expect her to be chomping at the bit to find out more. She was probably praying that something like Mackenzie asking for counseling would happen.

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  16. Jennifer says:

    “I have a feeling that some of her patients have tried to think really disturbing things at her to see how easily she could be shaken up before they were comfortable telling her certain things.”

    I have a feeling that STEFF has tried to think really disturbing things at her to see how easily she could be shaken up before she was comfortable telling her certain things.

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  17. Mack should totally get into minis- er, stone soldiers.

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