Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 5: I Lerned Alot in Skool
Part 1: Sky Surfer Goes to School (Final Revision)
Part 1: Sky Surfer Goes to School (Final Revision)
Education is what remains after one has forgotten
what one has learned in school.
We don’t need no education...
Pink Floyd Junior Patriots of America
what one has learned in school.
We don’t need no education...
2 september 2014.
technosphere. Posted to LaFantoma99’s profile on 2 September 2014:
[Once again, Shira wears her black and silver school uniform. This time, from the evidence of the straps, she’s also wearing a backpack.]bangor high school. The early morning light reveals Bangor High as the kind of decaying American high school you expect to find in the heart of a dying exurb ravaged by the crash of 2008. Despite its closeness to Bremerton and its ferry to Seattle, it feels out of time in a world apart. Two things never change at Bangor High. One, its sports teams are traditionally so bad even Bremerton High can beat them. Two, its location directly across from Dictel Park has created an unfortunate tradition of adults invading the school from outside to beat up students. Even stationing security guards outside the entrances hasn’t helped the problem much, for these adults are gangsters.
I’m afraid I gotta remind you, school starts today. I’m not actually taking any classes myself, or I’d be wearing a different hat. But I hear school’s as bad as ever. We’re always hearing in the lamestream media how public schools are a Bad Thing. Well, guess what? The public schools are even more lame-o, only they’re privately owned by some predatory corporate raider who got his job ’cuz Gub’na Wally liked his horses! How’s that for irony?
Good luck, kids, and try to learn something real.
It’s the first day of the school year, and yet the teachers are not on strike. Students crowd in early so they can find their homerooms before the bell signalling the first class sounds. The Law decrees that every student in every school must wear a uniform. The students must buy their uniforms in advance, or they won’t be allowed in. Under the cruel “sink or swim” policy of Social Darwinism, poor students who can’t afford uniforms are banned from school altogether, though richer students and parents who have a conscience (unlike most Corporates) routinely cheat this rule by buying uniforms for their poorer friends. The boys wear uniforms resembling the Navy dress blues an officer like Will Becket wears when informing parents of sailors that their sons are dead; the girls, Japanese-style schoolgirl sailor suits with short sleeves and short skirts in the school colors, solid black with silver trim. One way to tell the In from the Cool is the word they use to mean uniform: the In Kids speak of “livery” like the English do; the Cool Kids go Japanophile and say “fuku.”
The students whose uniforms are approved are then identity-checked to see if they are registered. If they are found in the school registration database, the security guards allow them in. The process is cumbersome and time-consuming, so some students will unavoidably miss the introductory assemblies and possibly even their homeroom periods. Fortunately, no demerits are given for missing periods on the first day as long as students check in. The classes start tomorrow.
Some students are allowed to push their way through the crowd at the entrances without an identity check because their identities have already been verified beforehand. They are the athletes, cheerleaders, and student council members. The athletes have team patches or wear special scarves depending on their uniforms and the cheerleaders wear their own uniforms. The student councillors can easily be distinguished by a special addition to their uniforms: epaulets. Apparently someone in SPEC management infatuated with the military once watched Revolutionary Girl Utena and thought epaulets for the student council were a cool idea. The Councillors adore their epaulets because they Exude Authority. Everybody not toadying the Student Council knows they look silly as hell.
A few are not students at all. They are the tutors, distinguishable by their hats: instead of the usual boys’ captain hats and girls’ sailor caps, they wear berets styled after military special forces units. They are college students who spend half their school day as tutors and teachers’ assistants. The ones of high-school age may also be there because they play on at least one of the sports teams. Right now, one of them is flying in on her hoverboard.
The arrival of Shira Thomas is announced by the noise and airflow of her lifters. She hovers high above the crowd, moving slowly until she finds a patch of grass on the other side of a bush from the crowd so she can land. The more perceptive students notice that she’s wearing a black thong under her skirt. She lowers herself until she finds what she feels is the right altitude for her dismount. In one fluid motion, she flips upside down, turns the hoverboard off, removes it from her feet, catches it over her shoulder, and lands on her feet; she shows her thonged butt in the process, but doesn’t care. Several students cheer her fanservice dismount with both hands raised and all fingers out to signify “10”.
She walks past the shrub and threads her way through the crowd to the front door. One boy in Tournament insignia grabs her arm and attempts to drag her back. “Hey, you can’t go in without checking in!”
She takes his hand off her arm. “Excuse me, but I’m already checked in. I have to help set things up.” She squeezes back to the door. The guard scans the card hanging from her neck, the card registers with a bleep, and with a sweep of an arm the guard ushers her in.
middle school. It’s away from the gangs of Dictel Park, but it’s not free of bullies. As soon as they get off the bus, Elle walks with her cousin Melody toward the school, only to be blocked at the door by two other girls. The arrogant girl with long wavy blond hair says, “Who are you?”
“Elle Shears. My cousin, Melody Richter-Thomas.”
She hears her short-haired blond companion gasp. “I’ve heard the name. Lillian Fleer and Belle Shockley. We own this school, so keep your freak cousin on a leash.”
Melody, horrified and angered by the insult, tries to attack, but Elle gets in front of her. “I’m warning you. Don’t hurt Mel.”
“Or else what?”
“Or she’ll hurt you like you’ve never hurt before.”
Belle tugs on Lillian’s sleeve. “Have it your way. But make sure you stay in your place.” She turns and follows Belle inside. Elle and Melody look at each other, then walk through the door.
school lobby. The multiple monitors assault all comers with high-volume edutainment packed with political propaganda, product placements, and subliminal seductions from SPEC’s corporate sponsors. Shira willfully ignores the propaganda stream and checks her hoverboard in at the front desk where Jennifer waits to embrace her. “Leila’s here,” Jennifer whispers.
“Be extremely careful around her. I don’t wanna lose you.”
“Like Ollie tried how many times?”
Jennifer answers with a pained look.
Already a gang is threatening a boy in the cafeteria. Shira goes up to the scene and prepares to intervene as Jennifer watches on. The boy is almost unbearably beautiful (Jennifer: “Oooh!”), but he is not cowering. She can tell by his stance that he’s a martial artist. His angry challengers are not adult invaders but students wearing special hats and epaulets — not the ones student councillors wear, but marks of the Tournament Leaders, fiercest and highest-ranking of the jocks, led by the Head Boy: football captain and krav maga specialist Barton Green, intimidating younger brother of Stan the Moral Enforcer. Shira can’t keep her eyes off the charismatic pretty boy they’re picking a fight with. Unlike his captain-capped assailants, he wears the black beret of a tutor — and he looks almost exactly like Leila...
My god, he’s a beauty, she thinks. He must be Leila’s twin brother. Robert Shelley.
Bart’s accent: West Texas. Probably rural. It will get him high in the Synarchy. “Yo, pretty boy. You sure you ain’t a faggot?”
The pretty boy replies in his sister’s Dublin accent. “You wanna rape me, Tex? You gotta beat me first.” He flashes a mischievous grin and dances like a professional kickboxer.
“You shoulda entered the Tournament. Then I coulda smashed your pretty face official.” Shira
crosses her arms.
“Hey Barty, how do you like always having to look over your shoulder? Trusting no one ’cos everybody’s always trying to take you out or take you down? Somebody’s out there, waiting to stab you in the back and tear you down from your throne. Can you handle that, Bart? Can you?”
One boy behind the pretty one, smaller but more muscular, rushes him from behind. The pretty boy flicks out his elbow, hits his attacker’s nose hard, sends him back so he falls down. Always, he keeps looking into Bart’s eyes. The other boys step back, intimidated. “Nice try, Bart. Again?”
Bart hits his left palm hard with his right fist. “Well, Robert Shelley. Looks like I’ll have to smash in your pretty-pretty faggot face myself.”
Shira clears her throat.
Bart turns around and — steps backward in shock of recognition. She tilts her head and cocks one eyebrow, puzzled.
“You?! Stay the hell out of this, bitch!”
She answers his threat with a cockeyed smirk.“I think it would be a good idea for your imperious majesty to go back to your homeroom right now. And take your little band of Arschlecker with you, too.”
Bart’s gang, offended by the German slur, circle around Shira, ready to beat her up. Bart holds up his hand to signal them to stop. He stares at this impertinent and contemptuous young woman for a minute longer. Then, saying nothing, he leaves, and his boys follow him. The smaller boy, his number two, flips her off and barely restrains himself from calling her a bitch. Shira returns the gesture with a beautiful smile.
She looks back at Robert Shelley. He is staring at her in open-mouthed wonder. “You look so much like Leila,” she says. “You’re her brother, right?”
“So you’re the one! You saved her life!” He runs over and hugs Shira hard. That was quick, she thinks. Usually these pretty boys need their egos buttered up first... She puts her arms around him and hugs him back.
“You forgot to kiss me,” Shira says. Robert kisses her hard on the lips. They share their kiss for a seemingly endless moment. When it’s over, she gasps, “I think I’m in love with you already.”
He winks knowingly. “Rob. Call me Rob. You must be Shira. Leila tells me so much about you.”
“You’re just as beautiful as she is, Rob.” He smiles and blushes.
Both Shira and Rob can feel the jealous glare searing into their flesh. They look to the side to see Charmian Fleer furiously glaring at them, arms haughtily crossed. The jacket she’s wearing over her standard-issue black sailor fuku bears the epaulets of the student council; the insignia on the left breast pocket identify her as the council president.
A commotion gathers nearby: a jock loudly gloats as he kicks at a smaller boy with glasses; his girlfriend looks on smugly. The jock roars, “I’m gonna join the Marines and kill the enemy! I’m gonna be a man! You’ll never be a man! You ain’t nothing but a girl!”
“Excuse me,” Jennifer says. She walks over and punches the mean girl in the nose; the girl stumbles into her bully boyfriend.
“What did you do to my girlfriend?” the jock demands.
Jennifer punches his nose, audibly breaking it; he stumbles into his sobbing girlfriend. She leans down to his ear. “Right hook.”
He attempts a massive uppercut; in one motion she dodges and hip-assisted trips him into the mean girl so that he falls down on top of her.
Jennifer stares down at them contemptuously. “So this must be that Patriot cult we’ve been hearing about. All fists and no brains. Figures.” She recognizes the dreadlocked black girl staring at her from the shadows; she winks, and the girl winks back.
Charmian stares down Shira and Rob. “What do the rules say about inappropriate affection in public?” she demands in her lilting Southern-belle accent.
Shira pretends to be overjoyed. “Why Charmian darling, how nice to see you!” She crosses her arms; her smile disappears. “Say, weren’t you supposed to be going to an expensive private school on Bainbridge Island like a Real American?”
“Don’t think I won’t report you for this. I know you, Shira Thomas. Try anything foolish, and I’ll destroy you. I’ll even tell the police you’ve been sleeping with girls.”
“You do that, Charms darlin’, and I’ll tell the whole world you’ve been stalking me on the bus.”
Charmian gasps; she winces as if she’s been slapped. “Hmph!” She turns around and haughtily flounces away.
Shira blows a kiss back at her [“~mwah!”] and taunts, “I love you too, darling!” Rob fails to suppress a giggle.
Another girl, short, cute, and blond, approaches, staring in terror at Charmian as she leaves. Mimi. She turns to face Shira, eyes wide open in terror, and whispers in her ear, “Do you realize who that is?”
“Mimi! I’m so glad you’re here!” A genuinely delighted Shira hugs her, kisses her on the cheek, and flashes a cockeyed smirk of mixed amusement and annoyance. “Yeah. Princess Charmian Becket Fleer of Dictel, Incorporated, daughter of the dread Admiral Fleer and granddaughter of the scary Doctor Becket, whom I routinely whomp in chess. Me, I’m the daughter of ‘That Uppity Woman.’ Already it’s promising to be a fun year.”
Mimi continues to stare, first at Shira, then at Rob, obviously not knowing what to say. Rob whips out his phone to check the time. “Uh-oh, gotta go! See ya later!” He kisses Shira, picks up his backpack nearby, and leaves.
Shira looks back at Mimi. Her jaw has dropped. After a long pause, Mimi whispers, “Oh my god you kissed Rob Shelley — ” Shira grins at her as she runs off.
Shira feels the imprint of someone’s gaze. She turns toward the person looking at her and sees the dreadlocked black girl. She realizes the girl has been watching all along. Her accent: East London. “You’re impressive, Shira Thomas.”
“And you are?”
“Brandi Quinn.” The girl winks and then leaves. Shira watches her; but when she tries to leave, one of the guards grabs her, saying, “The principal wants you right now.” He drags her toward the principal’s office.
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Copyright © 2011, 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 6/25/11.]
[Revision 3, 10/19/11: Added new introduction to the School Arc.]
[Revision 3.1, 10/22/11: Edited podcast introduction to fit Third Revision continuity, corrected continuity errors related to the Shira/Leila relationship line.]
[Revision 4 Final, 8/2/12: Revised for style and to fit Fourth Revision continuity. New second scene added. High school setting changed from Bremerton to its fictional suburb Bangor for plot reasons.]