Thursday, June 23, 2011

FICTION: Higher Learning by Joe Mynhardt

“Stupid astronomy,” Stacey Saunders said as she removed the books from her locker. Why had they forced her to come to this school in the first place?

The flow of students moving down the hallway consumed her. Their faces already seemed so familiar to her, yet she still felt like an outsider.

Halfway down the hallway a boy bumped into her and, without even noticing her, opened a door to her right. Stacey peered over his shoulder and into the boys’ bathroom.

In that brief moment she peered inside a muscular boy dressed in a red blazer handed a small plastic bag to the younger students. It was Johnny, a trouble maker who already started mocking the way she dressed. It wasn’t her fault she was different.

She wasn’t surprised to see him dealing drugs. Probably carried a gun under that red blazer. A part of her wanted to report it, but she knew that would be social suicide.

Stacey entered a medium sized auditorium furnished with long wooden desks ascending in tiers to the back. She crossed the front of the class and took a seat at the far side of the first row where she could watch the other students. Johnny took a seat in the second row.

Mr. Harper, a middle aged barrel of a man, barged into the auditorium with his dark brown suit more wrinkled than usual. Without glancing up he reached the podium and threw his bag down, his face red and flustered. He paged through a book and scowled as he pulled at the extra skin of his neck.

Stacey’s classmates continued to chatter.

Mr. Harper grinned and walked to the door. “You know what really pisses me off,” he said as he closed the door.

The class fell quiet. Only Johnny snickered.

“I’ve been working here for two damn years.” Mr. Harper grabbed a key from his pants pocket and locked the door.

Stacey rubbed her moist hands on the side of jeans.

The students glanced at each other.

Mr. Harper returned to the front of the class and pulled at his neck again. “For what? To be replaced? I did what they asked. I moved to this pathetic place. Did research, collected data. But no. I don’t make a difference, they say.” His voice drifted to a whisper. He slammed his fist onto the podium. “Dammit!”

Johnny burst into laughter.

Mr. Harper pointed a finger at him. “Here’s your damn difference.” His hand pulsated bigger and bigger until it burst open, a volcano of blood spewing into the air.

Johnny’s shriek was cut short as a vine-like, grey tentacle shot from Mr. Harper’s arm and pierced his forehead. Johnny’s body shuddered for an instant before blood spewed freely from the cleft across his skull.

The students jumped up and screamed, yet Stacey, her heart pounding, remained seated.

She watched as they stumbled up the stairs toward the back of the auditorium. She couldn’t believe what was happening. And although she wanted to interfere, she knew she couldn’t.

Mr. Harper grabbed onto the flapping skin of his injured arm and peeled it back to reveal a pale tentacle underneath. He continued to pull at his own skin; over his shoulder, his neck, his face, and then the rest of his body. Screams of ‘alien’ echoed through the auditorium as Mr. Harper threw the last of his skin onto the floor, blood bubbling from its folds.

The alien, its bony body covered in grey rubber-like skin, approached the students.

“Stay back!” the boys shouted in their attempts to protect the girls.

The alien stepped onto the first tier where the captain of the Football team tackled it. A tentacle arm curled around the boy’s throat, lifted him off the ground and with a snap flung his body across the entire auditorium and into the chairs.

A crowd of students stormed forward with an array of scissors, pens and steel chairs. Others continued to bang on the door.

The alien swatted the first wave of students with his tentacle, sending their bodies soaring through the air.

One of the boys jumped onto its back and lowered a metal object with tremendous force into the alien’s eye. Green fluid gushed from its eyeball and sprayed over one of the other boys. The fluid bubbled and boiled through the boy’s clothing and into his skin, eating away at his chest even after he had collapsed.

The alien’s tentacles seized the boy on its back. With a ripping sound it wrenched the boy’s head from his shoulders. Most students turned and ran.

Stacey nodded – it was time.

She turned her attention to Johnny’s limp body and jumped over her desk. Warm blood coursed over her hand as she reached into his blazer and felt her fingers curl around the handle of a gun. She checked that it was loaded and made her way through the clutter of severed limbs and pools of blood covering the floor. Most of the students stood back at the sight of the gun, the rest Stacey pushed out of her way.

The alien stood before her and roared at her presence.

“It’s your own fault,” she said as she raised the gun. I have no choice, she said to herself.

The alien carried a look of confusion at first, then charged forward.

Stacey remained focused on her target, took a deep breath, and fired.

The bullet pierced the alien’s head and ripped off the back of its skull. With a cheer from the students and a spray of green ooze the alien dropped to the floor.

Stacey turned to the gaze of the other students; some cheered, others sobbed.

She removed the key from Mr. Harper’s pants and smiled. She should have no problem fitting into the popular circles now. Her superiors wouldn’t dare replace her like they did Mr. Harper, as long as she didn’t break her cover.

1 comment:

Joe Mynhardt said...

I've also got a fan page on facebook for anyone who enjoys my stories. You'll find it under Joe Mynhardt's short stories.