Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spanner 5.2: Meet Your Friends While You Still Can

...from previous

Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 5: I Lerned Alot in Skool
Part 2: Meet Your Friends While You Still Can (Final Revision)

2 september 2014.
principal’s office.
Seven unwilling tutors face their employers: Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Colette, Cory Belmont, and, now being forced in, the Shelley twins. The door slams behind them. Shira meets Leila’s eyes; the bitterness drains out of Leila’s body and her skin turns red at Shira’s smile. Colette, nursing her resentment so she can blast it at their captor, does not notice them.

The principal is a nondescript middle-aged bureaucrat who exudes bureaucratic arrogance and always smirks. His assistants sit to either side. He clears his throat to catch their attention. “Ah, you must be the celebrity kids.”

Jennifer steps in front of Colette before she can unleash her j’accuse. “And you must be Principal Dean Principal,” she says calmly. “Your name is unforgettable.”

“That’s the only thing not forgettable about him,” says Shira. The tutors laugh.

“You think you’re so special. Well, we think you’re not so special. You are not Snooki and The Situation, and this is not a reality show. This is my show, and my word is the Law. Am I understood?”

Shira stares at Principal Principal strangely. “No.” The assistant principals stare at her.

He stands up. “And you must be Miss Shira Thomas, spawn of our company’s enemy. You will not get between us and our profit.”

“Hey, your company doesn’t need me or my mother to help you ruin education or your profits.”

“Don’t you make fun of me, Miss Shira Thomas. And don’t you so-called celebrity kids think you’re special here, because you’re not. We don’t believe in celebrity here, and we certainly don’t believe in the humanistic liberal communism that nearly destroyed Our Nation. We believe in God, Capitalism, Egoism, and Hierarchy. You just earn your college money properly by doing precisely what you’re told, and there will be no trouble. You hear?”

“We’re here to do our job and earn our tuition, not kowtow, and preferably without arbitrary interference. The legal liability is yours.”

“Then explain this.” Principal holds out a photograph. Shira swipes it from him. All eyes focus on her. Hope stands out from the pigeon-clouded Westlake Square crowd in olive-striped bright yellow tennis dress and half-height black boots that make her look like a third Williams sister; in matching outfit with the dress colors reversed, Shira cuddles her confidently with a satisfied smile, looking where she is looking, heedless of people looking at them. Principal smirks triumphantly. “Well?”

“A devoted daughter in a side hug with the mother she adores.”

“And sleeps with. Right?”

Shira laughs at him. “Get real, yo!” She waves the print in front of his nose. “You’re looking at real family values here, based on love, not dreary duty.” She spins on her heel and walks toward the door. With one hand on the doorknob, she shoots back a triumphant contemptuous smirk of her own. “Nice try, lion food.” Her Parthian shot smacks the smug smirk off his face; his assistants stare at him. She grins, then leaves with the print.

lobby. The Shelley twins hurry out of the office. Jennifer says, “I didn’t expect he’d be in a mood to throw a Challenge at us.”

“Hey, the new boss just gotta throw his weight around to show the slobs who’s boss,” says Shira. “Me, I just happen to have the chief union rep for a mother, so that probably makes me Principal Principal’s designated whipping girl for the whole year.”

Colette gasps. “Your mother’s the union rep?”

“’Fraid so,” Shira sighs. “It’s gonna be a fun year.”

“So what’s this ‘lion food?’”

Shira shushes Jennifer before she can speak. “One day two lions escaped from the zoo. They split up to increase their chances and avoid capture, but agreed to meet up after two months. When they met again, one was skinny and the other fat. The skinny lion said, ‘How did you do it? I ate a human once, and they sent a whole army after me — guns, nets, tasers, helicopters, you name it — it was horrible! Since then I’ve been reduced to eating mice, bugs, even grass!’ The fat lion said, ‘Well, I hid outside a government contract office and ate a fat juicy bureaucrat a day. And nobody even noticed!’”

Everybody laughs, including students overhearing nearby, except Jennifer and Connor, who told her the joke. “C’mon, you guys,” Connor warns. “We don’t have much time left till the guards pull us off to the rallies, so let’s go.” Jennifer pulls Shira’s arm, then pulls her into a hug. A chorus of girls answer with a squee.

Leila asks, “What was that?”

“The ‘Shiffer’ ’shippers,” Jennifer caustically replies. Into Shira’s ear she whispers, “That picture was a low blow.”

“Now you know how low they’re ready to stoop.”

“Gotcha.”

Shira turns to look at Leila, and their eyes meet — for the first time, they look deep into each other’s eyes — the moment Leila has dreaded and longed for has now arrived at last — Shira walking toward her, smiling at her, coming into her life — the vision blurs sparkles bubbles bursts with light through disordered tears—

—and she throws herself into Shira’s arms and holds her tight as Jennifer’s heart drops from a distance and onlookers gasp and catch their breaths. She softly sobs, “I hate you, Shira.”

“I love you too, Leila.” Shira gently kisses her on the cheek. Smitten girls squee; others groan and wail in protest; soon two cliques form, fighting and shouting. Shira, Leila, and Jennifer stare at the fangirl fracas, appalled. “Uh, Jen, would that be ’Shayla’ or ‘Lira’?”

“Go with ‘Lira,’” Jennifer says.

Shira puts an arm around each of them and directs them inside with a glance, and together they walk into the crowd.

cafeteria. Away from the monitors, past students frantic or lost in conversation, into the big lunchroom, the three girls walk together as friends. Across the room, a hard-faced man stares at them coldly. “She was supposed to be alone.”

Bart tells him, “Those are Kubota’s cousins.”

The man grimaces. “The ginger ruined my mission last night.”

“The blonde is Jennifer Blair.” At the shock of the name, the man whips his head around to stare at Bart. “Be careful, Mr. Bernkastel, or your next mission might be your last.” Bart walks away. Bernkastel is not pleased to see Mimi alive and approaching the cousins and Leila with two friends.

Polly holds her hand and that of another girl. “Have you met Mimi?”

Mimi gives her a huge smile. “She saved my life last night.”

Jennifer’s eyes and mouth go wide. Suddenly she hugs Mimi. “You were the one!”

Shira leans over to Mimi’s ear. “Jennifer Blair’s my cousin.”

Mimi gasps. Jennifer smiles sweetly. “Can I protect you too?”

“Oh thank you!” Mimi giggles as Jennifer kisses her on the cheek. Enraged at the sight of his nemesis kissing his escaped victim, Bernkastel storms away.

Polly puts her arm around her dark-haired friend. “Oh, and this is Nancy.” Nancy shyly waves.

“Hi, Nancy!” says Shira. Jennifer smiles and waves.

Karen and Colette hold their own against Charmian and her mean-girl posse. Rob baits Bart by openly flirting with Connor; fearing that Connor is as dangerous as his sister, Bart backs away. Handsome and sweet black star runningback Dexter Conway knows Connor and joins them. Shira glomps him from behind and plants a kiss on his neck. “Hey, beautiful,” he says.

She spins him around and purrs, “Hiya, gorgeous.” Boldly she kisses him. His female fans glare at her jealously. Leila looks her strangely; Jennifer nudges Leila and winks.

A pretty redheaded girl grabs Leila’s arm and tries to pull her away. She has Leila and Rob’s Irish accent. “Hey, Leila, let’s go, we got — ” She looks at who Leila’s looking at and gasps when she recognizes her. “You’re Shira Thomas!”

“Oh,” says Leila apologetically, “this is my sister Fiona.”

Fiona Shelley smiles at Shira and blushes. “Hi, Shira.”

Shira takes Fiona’s hands and smiles back. “I’m overjoyed to meet you at last, Fiona.”

Leila tells her sister, “Shira saved my life the other day.”

Fiona gasps, her eyes and mouth go wide — then she launches herself into Shira’s arms. “It was you! Thank you!” She kisses Shira on the cheek; Shira kisses her back and gives her a beautiful smile.

“Dear sisters,” says Rob, “we should deposit our stuff before it’s too late.” Shira hugs and kisses him, then gives Leila an extra long hug and a kiss on the cheek, then waves at all three. They wave back; Rob takes his sisters by the hand and leaves.

Cory joins the remaining group, followed by Colette and big Kio arm-in-arm. Off to the side, Fuyumi and Harumi are talking to their shy cousin Seika, who looks like a cute girl in his boy’s uniform. Cory asks conspiratorially, “You guys hear the rumor about the Slasher?”

Shira looks at him sideways. “Like what happened last night?”

“Rumor says SPEC hired him and he’s here.”

Polly lets out a bitter sigh. “Fig-ures.”

“Probably no rumor at all,” says Colette. “After all, they use military terrorists against peaceful protests, don’t they?”

“Corporates are known for being paranoid,” Connor replies. “But we can’t let ’em intimidate us.”

Jennifer frowns. “Looks like we’re gonna have to cover Karen’s back.”

Connor puts his arms around Jennifer’s and Shira’s shoulders. “Don’t forget we’re all in this together.”

Another girl drapes herself over Connor from behind. “Hey, cousins.”

“Oh, hi, Courtney!”

“Ready for trouble?”

Shira replies, “Still gathering up the troops.”

“Sky here?” asks Jennifer.

Courtney winks. “She says she’ll be at your club meeting no matter what.”

Shira?” Shira looks back to see Seika tugging on her sleeve.

Sei-chan!” The two hug each other and jump with joy.

“You two know each other?” asks Cory.

“We became friends when I was an exchange student in Japan,” says Shira. “His name is Seika Tachibana.”

“She’s a boy?” gasps Polly.

“Shira has a notorious weakness for pretty boys,” says Colette. “Pleased to meet you, Seika. I’m Colette.”

Shira puts one arm around Seika’s shoulders and gestures toward her friends with the other. “Seika, these are our friends Cory Belmont, Polly Parker, Kio Marques, and Colette Rosewater, and cousin Courtney.”

Harumi glomps her violently from behind and screams, “Iyaaaaaaaa!!!

Haru-chan!” scolds Seika. “Yamete yo!” Harumi sticks out her tongue mischievously at him (“bleeeeeh”).

Shira says, “And this is his cousin Harumi.”

Harumi lets go of Shira, bows to her new classmates, and says, “Yoroshikuuu!

The bell rings and the advertising goes silent, the signal for everyone to stampede out of the building to the stadium.

storage room. Past the open door the students flee toward Dictel Stadium, afraid of Spiekerman’s faithful Party militants herding them, fanatical and itching for trouble, all unconscious of the man watching them from the little desk inside. He is not the Head Custodian lording it over the janitorial office like a personal fiefdom. The channels on his non-brand smartphone: vanilla Darknet, NinjaTel, the Wilder Foundation intranet. Zac Finney, tall lanky and goateed, refugee from the Imperial Confederate Homeland, robotics engineer on strike against the all-devouring American war machine.

The call arrives on the Foundation channel. Hope Reston. “Hyel-lo.”

“Any trouble yet?”

“Principal Snarky dragged all the tutors into his office to tell ’em who’s boss. Other than that, nothing serious. Yet.”

“You know about Shira’s run-in with a Slasher last night?”

“SPEC hired this non-Guild guy as a teacher. Looks like a merc. May be our Slasher.”

“Keep a close eye on him, then.”

“Thurston told me keep an eye on Leila Shelley too. Between her and the merc, something big’s goin’ down.”

He sees two girls in berets stop in front of the open door. Shira and Jennifer turn to wink at Zac. And then they’re gone.

on to the next...

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Copyright © 2011, 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
Creative Commons License

[Revision 2, 6/26/11: New characters Nicole and Nancy introduced. Edited to fit Second Edition continuity.]
[Revision 3, 9/29/11: Nicole’s name changed to Colette (both short for Nicolette), now first introduced in 3.4. Edited to fit Third Edition continuity; text and continuity errors corrected.]
[Revision 3.1, 10/22/11: Corrected continuity errors in the Shira/Leila relationship line and text errors.]
[Revision 4 Final, 8/2/12: Heavily revised to fit Fourth Revision continuity. Second scene expanded to strengthen the Shira/Leila relationship line. New final scene added.]

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