I’m attending a seminar on pollution (specifically water & soil; mostly water) at the local St. Mary’s College satellite branch. The seminar is set up a lot like a kid’s science exhibit at some museum; there are transparent, interactive exhibits that we walk to as a group and our instructor (S.?) walks us through the various conditions (e.g., industrial waste, lawn run-off, etc.) that can cause these and where the particular scenarios are most common.
The final interactive exhibit is on the fourth floor in the African Studies annex. Our group moves through clusters of African students working on their various projects and then finally we arrive at the exhibit. It’s a cut-away of a riverbed. The water is murky and grey; it’s cloudy and smells sour and there are mutated fish swimming in odd patterns. Our instructor explains that this particular condition contains mostly excess “mental health” medicine (i.e., anti-psychotics) and that the situation is rampant in eastern Africa.
I accidentally drop my pencil into the water and am shocked to discover that the cut-away is not held in place by plexi-glass but by some kind of force field. I am able to reach into the water near its bottom (it is oddly viscous and too cold) and grab my pencil. However, when I pull it back out of the water, the pencil is limp and the graphite core has melted out.