Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 5: I Lerned Alot in Skool
Part 3: The Grand Introduction (Final Revision)
Part 3: The Grand Introduction (Final Revision)
2 september 2014.
dictel stadium. The Bangor High band march around the field playing the school fight song as the drill team run their flags intersecting them in intricate patterns. Colette stakes out her position above the outcasts along with Kio, the Tachibanas, and French exchange student (and Jennifer’s lab assistant) Sana Ibrahim in the upper deck, where they can hear themselves over the din and bombast below. Shira and the Blair and Shelley siblings join them; the three girls pack themselves close together. Seika asks, “Why does this school have to have a ’grand introduction’?”
“Normally this would be time for homeroom,” Colette explains, “but on the first day of school the administration announces the top of the school hierarchy.”
A huge half-naked and muscular male athlete strains to carry a huge flag bearing the Dictel logo to the center of the field. The announcer gushes, “Now let’s honor our Sponsor: Dictel Corporation, America’s Defense Leader™! Dictel Is America™!” The stadium crowd cheer, but the outcasts and dissidents remain stonily silent. The flag bearers, band, and drill team run to the sidelines; eight mobile platforms, each bearing one of the students in epaulets, autodrive in and assemble in the middle of the field. Cranes bearing spotlights and PA speakers surround the platform.
The tutors are appalled. Sana exclaims, “All this just for the student council?”
“But of course!” replies Jennifer bitterly. “They have to prove they’re superior enough to be the student council!”
“They pay for it themselves,” Colette adds. “Even the council positions are by auction.”
Jennifer puts her arm around Sana. “That’s how elections are done in America, by auction or bribe. It’s not like this country’s democratic or anything.” Sana shakes her head sadly.
The announcer booms: “Introducing! Representing the best of America’s youth! The Bangor High School Student Council! Give your heartfelt standing ovation to your leaders!” The students below them obey; they stand and cheer as loud as they can — but there’s something strained in their acclaim...
The exchange students stare at the scene in undisguised horror. Fuyumi says, “This is like North Korea!”
Jennifer says grimly, “Welcome to the United Corporate Socialist States of America.”
The introductions begin. “First! the class presidents!” Four figures move to the center of the platform; the others surround them near the edges. “Freshman Class! Lady Bird Penner!” She looks like a Southern belle. She waves an aristocratic fan.
“Sophomore Class! Michael Rodchenko!” He is stocky, smug, slightly brutish-looking, typical of his clan.
“Junior Class! Christian Fleer!” Unlike her older sister, her hair is short and black with the bangs fashionably dyed pink. Rumor says she is as cruel as her father, the Admiral.
“Senior Class! Robert Marshall Brinkman!” He is tall like Connor, but his hair is black like Rob’s. They notice Leila directing a hateful killing glare at him; he might even have noticed.
As the sustained applause resumes, the class presidents make way for the others. “Treasurer! Rachel Brinkman!” Bob’s sister, almost as languid as Leila but with long hair and librarian glasses.
“Secretary! Lucy Wilkinson!” Her long blond hair tied up crownlike, she waves to her audience like an adored pop idol.
“Junior Patriot Representative! Kelly McLendon!” A small girl sporting Junior ROTC female officer’s uniform, red scarf, long brown braid, and a fanatical expression waves two flags high: the Star-and-Stripes of the American Empire and the Stars-and-Bars Party banner.
“Vice President! and Student Body Liaison! Deborah Becket!” A girl with short blond hair, as small as Kelly but with the fierce arrogant aura of a warrior princess, swings around her lacrosse stick like a Holy Crusader’s broadsword.
Kio comments, “That’s two Fleers, two Brinkmans, and Jack Becket’s kid. So where’s the Everson?”
Leila snaps, “Don’t ask.”
“And finally! President of the Student Council! Charmian Fleer!” At last Charmian is front and center, princess-monarch of this school, looking more like a queen than a mere student councillor. A flag bearer runs the Crusader-mascot flag to her; she slings it over her shoulder to strike a heroic pose. This time the cheering is sincere; she is spectacular.
Six small personal helicopters launch from the sidelines and fly toward the platform. “And! introducing! the fighting defenders of our school! Team! Valiant!” They land in a circle surrounding Charmian; one comes up to her: Bart. “Led by Team Captain! Tournament Champion! and Head Boy of this school! Barton! Green!” He takes the flag from her and waves it heroically; she embraces him from the side. They are the center of all attention by design, one of the two official couples, and they bask in the spotlight — yet there is a tension between them that everyone notices.
A calmer and more authoritative announcer takes over. “You will now leave in orderly fashion to the Nike Sports Arena for a rally to honor Nike’s contributions to our company’s sports program.”
campus walkway. Connor and Rob scare away all challengers with a glare. But Shira and Jennifer get harassed all the way from the football stadium to the basketball arena. Team Valiant’s Scotty Walker growls at Jennifer, “You were trying to turn me into a fag when you hit me with my girlfriend, weren’t you, Blair.”
“You could do that all by yourself, Scotty,” Jennifer blithely replies. “I think you’d be bottom.”
She dodges his punch and stops her fist just short of his broken nose. He stands paralyzed for a split second. “Eep...” Then he scurries away.
Rex Corson, ranked third on the team, sneers at Shira, “You don’t look American. I bet you’re down with the evil Fag Agenda.”
She gives him a scornful sideways look. “So black babies come only from fags? How mighty white you are, massa.” He looks at her like she’s crazy, then dashes away.
Lucy Wilkinson sweetly condescends to Jennifer, “You think you’re a hero, Blair. But you’re no hero. Heroes don’t lower themselves to help the undeserving.”
“Or maybe I’m an evil hero who takes on all Challenges because — horror of horrors — I like people? I must have killed fifty-two Slashers out of hatred of the Good.” Shocked at Jennifer’s scorn, Lucy scampers away.
Deborah Becket snarls at Shira, “Charmian tells me you’ve been messing with her. Now don’t go messing with my cousin, you hear?” Infuriated that Shira is blithely ignoring her, she grabs her by the shoulder and spins her around. “Are you messing with Charmian?”
Shira fixes her eyes with a seductive look and leans uncomfortably close. “Debbie darling,” she purrs, “if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.” She smiles.
Debbie shrinks back, blushes furiously, giggles nervously, and flees.
The cousins stare at each other. Shira rolls her eyes. Jennifer shrugs. They resume walking to the arena.
gymnasium. All SPEC sports teams and facilities are run by Nike under contract in perpetuity (read: until the companies have a falling out over compensation). The spectacle in Bangor’s Nike Arena contrasts with the solemn procession that preceded it. Swooshes adorn the walls and stands like crucifixes in a Catholic church looking over the festivities ominously, the price Nike extracted for upgrading the gym and fields to professional quality. The marching band plays the Nike Corporate Anthem behind a large platform bearing what looks like the altar of a church dwarfed by a giant Bangor Crusaders team flag.
Appalled by the spectacle, Sana says, “It almost feels like we’re in China.”
Jennifer grins. “If they were speaking Chinese instead of English, I’d have to pinch myself or I’d think I died and went to the Bees’ Nest.”
“Hey you guys,” says Shira, “everybody knows America refuses to be outdone in Corporatist tastelessness even by the Chinese.”
“If Mad Ave can out-propagandize Goebbels,” says Colette coldly, "Speer’s a walking target.”
Shira pats her on the shoulder and grins wickedly. “Stick around, girl, and you’ll see the whole street suffer a heart attack.”
The deafeningly bombastic standard announcer booms, “You in the stands! The time for mocking is over! Let’s raise our voices for America’s corporations, number one in the world! Let’s scream our throats raw for the greatest name in sports™, NIIIII-KEEEEEE!!!!!" Shira and Jennifer join their voices to Connor, Cory, Rob, and several of their friends letting loose long loud “ows” quickly answered by the Junior Patriots’ “yee-haws.”
The video on the walls flash the giant word “quiet.” The cheerleaders rush onto the stage before the altar to stage a complicated routine that ends with the head cheerleader tossed into a somersault from the top of a human pyramid into the interlocked arms of four in front: Karen Kubota earns the most heartfelt cheers, boys howling, girls squeeing. Charmian glares at her with open resentment. The varsity team captains are rushed on as the announcer calls their names with highly trained overenthusiasm: football: Bart Green (linebacker); wrestling: Beck Skeever (Bart’s second); baseball: Rex Corson (Bart’s third: Seika: “I bet he’s the catcher.” Jennifer: “Ding ding ding! He wins the Cheezy Prize™!”); girls’ lacrosse, Dorian Fleer (with her cousin and team enforcer Deborah Becket); soccer: Russell Longmuir (forward) and Lindy Corson (goalkeeper); basketball: Jamal Robinson (center) and Marlette Walker (point guard); softball: Courtney Richter-Thomas; track and field: Marcus Creel (decathlon) and Ciera Walker (sprinter). Bangor High has other sports, such as gymnastics and swimming, but they are not prestigious enough in the eyes of the prestige-obsessed School Administration for their captains to earn a presence here even at sports-hungry Nike’s request.
Now it’s time for the altar call. Evangelical pietism may be imploding in America, but its spiritual spectacle has still left such powerful traces that millions of lapsed Evangelicals put the energy not thrown into spreading the gospel of the Nation by force into turning corporations into cults and meetings into holy-rolling revivals. The six principals and the Nike and Dictel corporate reps shoo the captains to the side; the principals take their positions before the altar as the corporate reps climb the platform behind it overlooking them; all raise their arms in a victory V.
And then the school-emblem backdrop falls to reveal — a terrifying twisted tangle forged from Reebok stripes and Sony “S From Hell” in idol gold and sickly pink light, somehow coming closer growing larger; the thing opens its crocodile jaw to unleash a loud harsh Godzilla roar —
Panic on and around the desecrated altar, panic on the floor below, screams fill the arena; while in the upper reaches of the stands the students howl with laughter. Shira and the fellow perpetrators around her roll in the aisles laughing so helplessly the guards find it easy to scoop them up —
detention. Several armoured guards throw Shira, Jennifer, Colette, Polly, Sana, and Leila into a cell in the girls’ wing of Bangor High’s Student Detention Center or miniature jail, nicknamed the “Doghouse.” Once the cell door is locked, the security goons storm out, leaving John Nike and John Nike to keep watch. “You’re in the Doghouse now,” the brand evangelists sing badly.
Angry and hurt, Leila slaps Shira. “What the hell did you do that for?”
Shira shocks Leila by taking her hand, kissing it, resting it on the cheek she slapped, and holding her close. “My dear Dorothy, you forget reality went bye-bye two years ago.” Leila struggles away and flees to a dark corner.
Colette struggles to catch her breath. “Shira, that was genius! Where’d you get the idea?”
Jennifer winks. “We used to collect scary logos on YouTube. We call ’em ‘Scream Gems.’”
Sana sighs. “I thought America was supposed to be this free country.”
“More like land of the freak and home of the knave,” says Jennifer scornfully. “Freedom’s so yesterday’s fishwrap.”
“Instead,” says Shira, “we’ve got...” She points at the John Nikes. “...that.”
John Nike the elder yells, “It was bad enough you Mento-bombed our Cokes. But did you have to desecrate our brand? Do you realize what the brand is to a corporation?”
John Nike the younger echoes, “The brand is the life!”
“That was unforgivable!”
“Way uncool, babes.”
“Forget it, John Nikes, we’re not drinking your corporate Kool-Aid.”
They gasp at the insult. An uncomprehending John Nike the younger says to the elder, “Is this chick for real?”
The elder scornfully replies, “Nooooo.”
From the cell’s darkest corner, a male voice says, “You’re as reckless as ever, aren’t you... Shira.”
Recognizing Dave Whitmer’s voice, Shira gasps. Colette asks, “You know him?”
“Yeah,” Shira replies. She gestures for the man to join them. “Interesting place for a reunion. So how’d you get ’em to throw you in the girls’ wing?”
“Vice Principle Falconer’s a tad oversensitive,” says Dave. “She doesn’t like being blackmailed.” He looks at the John Nikes and sighs. “You know, it must be an easy and pleasant life living at second hand, thinking someone else’s thoughts, carrying out someone else’s will, liberated from individuality, conscience, and the burden of freedom. To live, die, and kill without guilt because one is not oneself but a vessel for something greater: a hero, an idea, a god, an organization... a brand.”
The elder John Nike sneers, “Oooh, I think we have a ‘cultural critic’ here.”
Shira smirks at the John Nikes scornfully. To the girls she says, “Most of you don’t know about the dark side lurking behind every brand.”
The John Nikes squeak. Dave says, “I see you’re still heedlessly destroying everything in your wake, Shira.”
“Hey, if you don’t live dangerously, you don’t live at all.” Shira winks.
“I may have to stop you.”
Shira’s smile disappears. “I’ll destroy you too if you try.” She stares at the John Nikes. “That goes for you too. Try anything stupid, and my lawyer’s gonna have tons o’ fun with your company.”
The John Nikes petulantly storm off. “Hmph!” The elder declares, “That’s it! We’re telling!”
She waves. “See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!” She goes back to pull Leila out of her dark corner into a tight embrace. She gazes deeply into her beautiful violet eyes. Seductively she purrs, “Leila darling, would you like to live dangerously?”
Leila struggles out of Shira’s embrace, then stares at her wide-eyed. Tormenting emotions battle in her eyes and trembling body. Everybody stares at Leila, then at Shira.
“Oh boy,” says Polly grimly, “this is gonna be an awesome school year indeed.”
Zac Finney, the janitor, comes by with they key and unlocks the door. “So what did they throw you girls in here for?”
“Laughing,” says Jennifer.
“At what we did to their logo,” Shira adds.
Zac nods his head. “Don’t you girls let ’em know about it, ’kay?” They nod. He opens the door, and they follow him out.
hallway. Leila’s locker is next to Shira’s. Debbie’s is on the other side, Jennifer’s underneath. Shira and Jennifer are already attending their open lockers when Debbie arrives. She crosses her arms and stares down at them. Annoyed by Jennifer’s strong North Cascadian accent, she complains about it in her blunt Imperial accent. “The ket is in the beg. It is such a dreg. Here there be dregons. Can’t you people speak proper American?”
Jennifer giggles. “Oh no. We’re just the civilized natives you barbarians so gloriously subjugated.”
Shira stares back at her. “I thought ‘funny’ wasn’t in the royal Becket vocabulary, Debbie.”
“You’re nuts, Thomas. totally crazy.”
“Like a fox.” She winks.
“We hope you’re not in our homeroom, Debbie,” says Jennifer. “One Kelly is disruption enough.”
“The two of you together would cause a lot of heart attacks in the teachers.”
Debbie storms off. “Hmph!”
Leila arrives, staring back at Debbie. “What’s with her?”
Shira smirks. “Somebody needs to knock that chip off her shoulder.”
Leila rolls her eyes and sighs.
Shira and Jennifer slam their locker doors and shrug. They walk with Leila to homeroom.
middle school. Lillian and her mean-girl posse surround a disturbed-looking Melody. “We gotta teach you who’s boss, freak.”
Elle runs as fast as she can. “Don’t do it! She’ll kill you!”
“This is none of your business, Shears.”
“She can pull a whole Blake Island in under a minute! She’s that dangerous!”
Melody says, “She’s right.” Lillian and her posse stare at her. She takes another deep breath to calm herself down.
Lillian says, “Okay, Thomas. I’ll Challenge you one-on-one after school. Okay?”
“Okay.” Melody stands up.
Elle says “Don’t—” Melody silences her with a hard glance.
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Copyright © 2011, 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 6/27/11: Added character of Nicole, replaced Polly and Shira’s “narration” with hers, removed HTML lists, edited plot to fit Second Edition continuity, corrected text and continuity errors.]
[Revision 3.0, 9/29/11: changed Nicole’s name to Colette to fit Third Edition continuity.]
[Revision 3.1, 10/13/11: Expanded Jennifer’s first lines.]
[Revision 3.2, 10/22/11: Corrected continuity errors in the Shira/Leila relationship line and text errors. The “yandere” thread foregrounded in Book 2 starts here.]
[Revision 4 Final, 8/2/12: Original Revision 2/3 "introduction" scene massively revised and split in two with separate new sports-arena settings. New transitional and final scenes added.]