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      All that evening Erick had noticed how Holly was looking at him with a deep gaze that had bothered him, but she had managed to put off all talk of their future together beyond the Institution. Since that night, each conversation that he had tried to steer towards the issue, Holly had more deftly steered away from it. Perhaps Holly had been cataloging her memories of him that night and had made her own decision about the future.

      Now Erick was out of time and Holly herself would be departing in little more than a month. Less than a year ago he could not have imagined the rest of his life without her being a part of it, but they had drifted apart and he hadn't even noticed. As Erick turned and headed out into the hallway, he doubted that he would ever see Holly again. He deliberately left behind those images that only months before he had thought he would always cherish.

      Erick made his way down the labyrinth that interconnected the Institution's huge living quarters to the front entrance overlooking the Diamond Field. When he reached the lobby, he stood before the huge glass doors. Erick looked out over the Field and wondered how anyone could believe that young men and women could be satisfied for six years with only this small, unroofed patch of land. The open ground of the Diamond Field was spotted with several fountains, flower gardens and grass patches. This was considered a sufficient stand-in for parks, fields and forests for the students.

      The Diamond Field filled the area that lay between the four enormous buildings that formed the Institution. Directly opposite of the Barracks, as the living quarters had come to be known long ago by its inmates, loomed the Hall of Edification, where nearly all classes were held. To the right of the Barracks was the administration building, which was commonly known as the Pantheon, a temple for the gods of the Institution. To the left of the Barracks rose the Coliseum, which housed food and other services along with recreation. The style of architecture that dominated the Institution could be described, as Erick remembered from one of his classes, as Gothic, gray and ominous.

Absolut Paradigm

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