On Monday, October 21, at 4.53 p.m. Professor Samuel Miller lost his voice. He could remember the time exactly because he was just quoting a famous passage from William Blake’s Jerusalem: The Emanation of The Giant Albion when his glance fell on the big clock that hung on the right-hand wall of the auditorium. At 4.53 p.m. Professor Miller still managed to say: "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not ..." The rest of the sentence, however, was reduced to an eerie grunting sound that startled several of his students in the back rows who had either been playing with their smart phones or sleeping off their respective hangovers from yesterday’s parties. The students’ indifference, incidentally, was understandable as Professor Miller was far from being one of the most exceptionally gifted of speakers and, frankly, a lecture about an early English Romantic who had written obscure poetry and had supposedly also been mad was definitely less appealing than the latest version of Temple Run.
When Professor Miller’s vocal chords failed him he tried to clear his voice several times but everything he could utter was a krrchch, krrchch sound. Now it was Professor Miller’s turn to be startled, really startled after the only mild initial surprise; and after having tried in vain to find his lost faculty of speech again the learned man krrchchxxcused himself and stormed from the lecture hall--sweat pearls beading his brow as some close observers later unanimously confirmed. All of a sudden the abandoned students awoke collectively to life and discussed the exciting incident they had just had the pleasure to be a part of in a way their professors would have liked them to discuss the most intricate problems of philosophy. The rumor that Professor Miller suffered from a rare disease--possibly a form of vocal chord cancer that had developed spontaneously--was later intensified by the fact that the venerable scholar just was not sighted any more. It was as if the earth had opened her greedy mouth and swallowed Professor Miller, unwilling to release him from her unfathomable depths.
Meanwhile, Professor Miller tried everything to recover his lost ability to speak. As soon as he reached his home on the day he got stuck with the Blakean quote he went to the bathroom and gurgled salt water in order to cleanse his tonsils from the probable occupation of a dreadful assembly of bacteria that had decided to conquer his vocal chords with the seditious aim to lay them in shackles (Professor Miller’s hypochondriacal leanings allowed him to think very graphically). After he had repeated the procedure several times to no avail the scholar was forced to admit however that this particular approach to regain his power of speech was very likely to end in a cul-de-sac. Being a reasonable man who knew when he was defeated he stopped gurgling altogether. Instead he decided to go to bed early and hoped that sleep would work the miracle the saltwater...