Sheldon Builds an Ark
“There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark,” quotes the reverend, “the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
Sheldon knows not to rise to it, but this is the second time. The first time Reverend Martin chewed out that verse in his lethargic funeral diction, Sheldon could barely contain himself. He sees the bopping, increasingly greying heads around him in the church accept the words and not a single eyebrow peaked at the mention of the ark. This time, the Reverend repeats the verse, injecting a solemn emphasis on the two and two. The assertion is so firm, Sheldon simply cannot bear it.
“And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.”
His mom mutters the words along with the reverend, with her son’s right hand clasped in a firm grip on her lap. She squeezes and Sheldon notes the subtle threat. He swallows, breathing slowly. Sheldon quietly reminds himself that in her company he can tolerate the opium of the masses.
As long as he doesn't inhale.
So he keeps his eyes on his knees, forcing himself not to think of migration patterns and wildly incompatible animal habitats.
And for Pete’s sake whatever happens, do not think of unsustainable gene pools.
Oh disbelief, he thinks miserably to himself, you are hereby suspended. At least until tomorrow when he should be safely back in Pasadena.
Sheldon shifts in his seat. The heat is unbearable and his body seems to be melting into puddles along with his mind. Meditation is direly called for. Nothing Vulcan or his mother will notice.
He could try calculating the parameters of escape in the event of a sudden zombie attack mid-sermon. Or infer the types and probability of all possible pathogens carried by the small East-Texan congregation and the likelihood of this biological death soup turning into the next black plague in the sweltering heat of this church. No that’s stupid. No risk assessment of any kind. The last thing he needs is a panic attack in a church.
“Thus as Noah trusted in God,” says the Reverend, exulted by his own statement, “so must we.”
Top tens. You can’t go wrong with a carefully considered list. Every top ten list in the world was forged during moments of inconceivable boredom.
Top ten favourite substances according to their interaction with water? Top ten published articles on the degradation pattern of leaves? Or top ten math formulas according to how pretty they looked on a whiteboard. Ooh good one.
First up, Euler’s relation; essential, simple and gorgeous. Combines all the important tools of math into one gorgeous stew. Beautiful. Sheldon sighs, a little love-struck. Next, perhaps Callan-Symanzik equation. Or the Minimal surface equation or Schrödinger Equation or Noether's theorem
The reverend drones on, the impassioned cadence of his sermon rising and falling around him, isolating Sheldon in an island of his own beautiful thoughts.
“The church is your ark,” declares the Reverend in a rising tone, inspiring some of the parishioners to clap enthusiastically. “It gathers the most extraordinary souls to the embrace of Jesus.”
Where were we? Oh yes, Weyl’s character formula … oh you sexy thing.
A sharp nudge in his side and Sheldon yelps out, startled half-way through his beautiful list. The sermon appears to be over and his mother is glaring at him.
“You weren’t listening were you?” she questions him, her sharp eyes narrowing at her squirming son.
“I was listening,” Sheldon says a tad defensively. He quite certainly was, but that wasn’t the same as paying it any mind.
“Sheldon Cooper, were you thinking thoughts that would make Jesus angry?”
He can’t imagine what Jesus could possibly have against Hermann Weyl, noted Mathematician, so he ventures a cautious … “No?”
The Reverend wanders over to them as they exit the Church.
“Hello, Mary,” he smiles pleasantly.
“Hello Reverend,” she greets in return. “Shelley managed to join us today, isn’t that lovely?
Sheldon grumbles, looking away, Pasadena and Halo on his mind.
“We’ve missed you Sheldon,” the Reverend says. “Did you enjoy the sermon? What are your thoughts on the story of Noah, Sheldon?”
“Patently ridiculous,” he replies promptly.
Mary tenses, ready to caution her son. This time, Sheldon isn’t so easily cowed. A question was directed to him this personally this time. Sheldon has to speak. If the Reverend understood the mind of a scientist, especially one as vital and transcendent as his, he would understand that it was a brutal unkindness to himself (and let’s face it, mankind) to stifle any opinion of Sheldon’s.
So he turns, excusing himself to the exiting congregation for the interruption and raises a hand. They stare at him in polite bemusement. A few of those more experienced in Sheldon Cooper’s past antics, have a kinder, more patient expression on their faces.
"I am sorry, but I will have to be honest” he shakes his head regretfully, “I know rudeness precedes enlightenment and you will thank me for disregarding social niceties in favour of necessary re-education."
He looks at the dumbstruck faces in the crowd and frowns. "Or in this case actual education."
“Let me enumerate the ways in which the story of Noah couldn’t possibly have happened,” he begins. “Number one, capacity.”
He somehow manages to get to point number three on his list of objections, before Mrs Cooper yanks his shirt back, startling him out of his arguments.
“Well well,” laughs the Reverend. “Always a delight Shelley. As always, let’s agree to disagree. Man can do a lot, I grant you that, but I’d like to see you build an ark Shelley.”
“Yes. Can YOU build an ark Sheldon?
“Can I?” huffs Sheldon.
It’s the last thing he will mutter to himself before falling asleep that night.
Can I indeed.
And who would I take with me?
The table is covered in printed sheets and pizza boxes. Sheldon’s eye runs over each name on the sheet. His hand occasionally draws a question mark on some of those names and a cross on others. For the last hour he had been trying to ignore the rowdy shenanigans of the impressively sub-ambitious youth of the Kardashian clan on TV.
Penny probably thinks he had been too distracted with his project to notice that she had turned Pizza Night into Reality TV Night. He noticed, the strikes would come later.
Howard and Leonard had initially objected to the Kardashian intrusion until Raj pointed out they could watch it ironically.
Hell even Penny who turned into an emotional wreck during every episode of America’s Next Top Model, had been watching the show with the same sceptical amusement as the boys. Sometimes.
After the show was done and Raj was satisfied he won the argument over which Kardashian should run for president (Khloe all the way), Leonard picks up a stray list from Sheldon’s pile.
“Still doing your passenger manifest for the ark huh? So who am I bunking with then? Neil deGrasse Tyson?”
“Yeah, who are you going to save from the big bad imaginary flood Sheldon?” asks Howard.
Sheldon frowns at the lists on the coffee table, tapping a red marker on his knee.
“Hmm, at the top there's me of course. Then you got your Hawkings etc. All the way down to 6890. I am still doing the math Leonard, but I don't see you sneaking on that list.”
“You're leaving me to die?” Leonard says, a little peeved.
“Hey I am positively heartbroken about it,” he says evenly, “but I don't make the rules.”
“Yes you do,” Leonard exclaims.
"Yes well, even if I bump off no. six-thousand-eight-hundred-ninety (and let's face it Dr Woodruff's last paper on the effects of excessive smiling left much to be desired), there are still forty-six candidates as well as the entire university population of New Delhi ahead of you on the waiting list. "
Sheldon shakes his head mournfully, unhappy at the cruel world and Leonard's stubborn inferiority that forced him to such decisions.
“You do realise my work is responsible for attracting the bulk of funding for the physics department?” Leonard reminds him.
Yes, that was true wasn’t it? Sheldon checks his list again to make sure that none of Caltech’s board of directors accidentally made it onto his list.
“That says nothing,” Sheldon mutters absently as he continued to organise his list.
"Hey what about me?" chirps Penny, hopping closer on the couch to peek at the list. He tries to nudge her knee away with his own, but she barely notices his subtle hint about spatial propriety.
"What about you?"
"Am I on your ship?" she asks.
"You mean my ark."
"Yeah your arkship whatever."
"You mean the ark that I'm building for the express purpose of preserving the very best scientific minds of our age, in the event of an acute persistent rise of sea levels effecting a global flooding of all major landmasses, immediately driving the human race to imminent extinction?"
"The ark that will house the very top of human achievement,” he clarifies again, “whose combined expertise will provide mankind with its very best chance of rebuilding civilisation? The ark that will stand as a testament to human excellence, to which as Reverend Martin would say, only the most extraordinary souls will be admitted?"
"Yeah," she said, smiling brightly.
He stared at her.
"No you're not on it."