Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 21: High School Banned
Part 2: High Tension
Part 2: High Tension
27 october 2014.
Shira’s apartment. The windows to Shira’s bedroom: replaced. Source of payment: the reward money for catching rapists Vince Corson and Beck Skeever. Slasher Hunters present in the living room: Shira Thomas, John Peck, Lars Izquierdo, Brandi Quinn, Arisa Saionji. Ayla Izumi, fresh out of hospital, sits on Hope Reston’s lap; Hope holds her in a tight yet comforting embrace.
Peck says, “Alan Fleer is dead.”
Brandi says, “He went out in the worst way possible.”
Arisa adds, “The Fearsome Foursome are now the Terrible Trio.”
“Not so fast, guys,” says Shira. “Remember Ward Tremayne? Luke Everson replaced him almost before the body went cold. You probably expect General Peterson to replace the late Admiral Fleer, but I’m hearing ‘Rat Bastard’ Litton.”
“Maybe that’s why they discarded Corson and Skeever so fast?” asks Lars.
“More like rapists are a political liability in a system that fetishizes Puritan morality. That’s why they were so eager to get rid of Fleer.”
“Even if we’d caught Fleer,” says Peck, “there’s no way we could have collected on him. He was too connected.”
“He was too high up in the hierarchy,” says Brandi, “too important to the men who rule.”
Shira holds up Arvid’s SD card. “Don’t you guys forget I still got dirt on Brinkman and Everson. If the whole System’s going down, no one man’s safe, no matter how high he climbs.”
Black Tower. The men who rule Seattle look down upon the city they hate. Cascadia Governor J. Walter Brinkman, Shepherd-Mayor Luke Everson, COPCO Cascadia Section Chief John Cameron Becket, and state Secretary of State Randolph G. Litton stare down upon Seattle Public Education Corporation CEO Peter Ross.
“You are forcing Honey Sue Falconer on me?” asks Ross. “Didn’t you already put her in jail for adultery?”
Brinkman smiles down at him. “Think of it this way, Pete. You can use it against her. You can keep her in line.”
“You’re forgetting that the school she works at is the one Shira Thomas attends as a tutor for college credit. Miss Thomas has a reputation for, shall we say, getting her way. How can you say Ms Falconer won’t be her tool rather than mine?”
“Well, why don’t you blackmail her?”
Litton interrupts. “You forget, Wally, in my trade Shira Thomas has a reputation for turning bad reputation to her advantage. You can throw all the crap you want at her, and she’ll still come out smelling like a rose.”
“That makes her the real threat, then. We have that half-Jap cousin of hers. But as long as she remains on the loose, she’ll find some way of getting the filthy rabble back out on the streets sticking their tongues out at us. Pete, you must do everything you can to make sure that protest does not happen on Halloween or ever. We can’t let that woman make fools of us yet again, and we can’t afford to give the rabble yet another excuse to force that election on us. You hear?”
“I’ll need a lot of help against her,” says Ross, “and even then there’s no guarantee we can stop her.”
school library. Team Bremelo hold their first official club meeting since Friday’s victory. Present in addition to the members who took part: Polly, Connor, Brandi, Marina, new member Debbie, and observer Colette. The librarians keep working but still listen in.
“Five more days till the demonstration,” says Colette.
Shira says, “That still means four more days for things to go wrong. Don’t forget there’s still a lot of people who have it in for us, starting of course with the bitter remnants of the Student Council and Valiant Team.”
“Don’t forget Falconer,” says Debbie.
“You mean she’s back? Well golly gee, I didn’t know she had such a death wish in her.”
“Actually,” says Jennifer, “all the principals are back. The company told Spiekerman he’s just a Party hack, so they unfired the faculty he fired.”
“That explains it. Sucks to be Mort.”
Colette says, “But that still puts us in a bit of a conundrum here. Sure, you’re the Tournament Leaders now, but didn’t you guys build your reputation on being against the Tournament Leaders?”
“You know what’s even funnier? By the Rules of Tournament, I’m the Head Boy.” The others laugh.
“Just think about it, guys. We’re the opposition. We’re against SPEC and CPMC. COPCO’s rumored to have a grudge against us. We’re not pliable Party hacks like our predecessors. And you, Shira, represent everything America’s supposed to stand against.”
“Yeah!” exclaims Debbie. “The Head Boy is a girl. The Great White Hope is brown and a ginger. The school prayer leader’s an atheist. The moral exemplar’s a bisexual slut who everybody says’ll do anybody.”
“So what did the late Mr Jobs say before Spanner killed him?” asks Leila.
Everybody stares at Shira and Jennifer. Jennifer asks Shira, “You know if anybody got what he said out of all that noise?”
“Contradiction is truth, he said,” says Shira. “The evolution of the free market advances through contradiction and creative destruction. So far, so Austrian....”
A slight sly smile comes onto Leila’s face. “Our situation is nothing if not a contradiction. The Great White Hope is brown, the Head Boy is a girl, the Tournament Leaders are Populist rebels, the incoming Student Council’s rumored to be planning a hostile raid against SPEC...”
Kio adds, “Don’t forget our new girl Head Boy’s the daughter of the Teachers Guild leader, the SPEC’s archenemy.”
“Yes, this week’s going to be very interesting indeed.”
“It’s the week of living dangerously,” says Rob.
Colette rolls her eyes and sighs. “Tell me about it.”
homeroom. In Mr Whitmer’s office, Shira kisses him deeply as Leila watches on. She looks back at Leila and winks. Leila smiles wanly.
“I guess this polyamory thing’s still pretty hard to swallow.”
“I’m not still sleeping with him, actually,” says Shira, “but he still needs me for more reasons than just love.”
“Leila,“ he says, “I know how much you love her, so I won’t get in the way of you two.” He lets Shira go so she can kiss Leila. “But don’t you two forget, the Party considers premarital sex to be just as bad as pedophilia. That goes double for lesbianism.”
Shira winks. “Fortunately, though our principal’s as asexual as ever, the vice principal’s earned herself an adultery charge. As long as we can blackmail her, we can still make room for ourselves.”
“What about Brinkman?”
“If he continues to try to force my girl on that rich crook he likes... well, he knows damn well what we did to Fleer.”
“Just don’t get yourselves killed, please.”
“You know that’s how I play.” Shira gives him a quick kiss, then she and Leila are out the door.
period 1. Jennifer looks around the classroom. She sees students desperately distracting themselves from what they perceive as crushing boredom. Some have allowed themselves to fall asleep. The remaining few reverently listen to Mr Smith’s increasingly absurd preachings as if they were in Sunday school. Then there’s the three tutors: Shira, Leila, and herself. Leila is yawning. Suddenly she stands up and proclaims, “There’s nothing left to learn in this class.” The students perk up.
A shocked Mr Smith barks, “Leela Shelley! Sit down, shut up, and show some respect!”
“It’s not like we haven’t already learned all of this in Sunday school. I mean, it’s all on TV all the time.”
“Mind your business or get out — Leeeela!”
“Leela Leela Leela Leela!” When he notices the students laughing helplessly, some falling out of their desks, he grows red with embarrassment. “Stop laughing at me, you idiots, or I’ll have you all reported!”
Jennifer whistles. The laughter stops. “I assume you know about the ‘Word of Knowledge’?”
Several students stare at her perplexed. “What’s that?” asks Leila.
“That’s a divine revelation so complete, no further learning is possible.”
Kelly shouts, “What does that have to do with anything, Blair?”
“Consider. You can’t educate the faithful or indoctrinate the faithless. That’s why the school company’s going bankrupt.”
Students gasp, groan, cry “What?”
“Am I seeing your pattern right?” asks Leila.
“Yes you are.” Jennifer winks at her. “As of next week, school’s out forever.”
Bangor Jail. As soon as they take Karen out of solitary, they escort her to a cell in the general population. Her escorts notice she does not show the usual signs of psychological damage and conclude she must be one of those meditating types who tend to get out early for good behavior. She finds herself in a cell with two companions. One looks like a streetwalker brought here on prostitution charges and has brighter hair than Shira’s. She says in a distinctly Russian accent, “You must be that political they always talking about.”
The other is a dirty blond with brown roots showing in her choppy cut. “You mean the one Fleer tried to torture to death?”
“Yeah. That one. You are Karen. Right?”
“I am Irina. Not ‘Natasha.’ Irina.”
The blonde says, “‘Natasha’s’ slang for Russky whore. The Russkies are big in the prostitution biz. By the way, I’m Liz. Liz McPhail.“ Liz thumbs at Irina. “She’s Martin Lansky’s niece, by the way.”
“Martin Lansky, of the Slasher Hunters?” says Karen. “I thought he was Israeli.”
“Lot of Russians move to Israel,” Irina says. “Uncle Martin did, my father stay in Russia and join gang.”
Liz adds, “The Russkies and Kikes have a bit of an incestuous relationship. Except for the Black Hundreds. They hate Jews and blame ’em for everything. They call themselves Nazis and team up with the Wogs against the other Russkies. Got it?”
Karen says, “I’m not really a prisoner.”
Irina and Liz look at her like she’s out of her mind. “What?”
“Technically I’m a prisoner, that much is true. They can bind my body all they want, but they can never imprison my soul. For too many people, it’s the other way around: they carry their prison with them. So are you free despite your prison, or imprisoned despite your freedom?” Karen smiles sweetly at her cellmates.
A light goes on in their eyes. They stare wide-eyed at each other. Liz says, “Girl’s got a point.”
lunch. All the students try to eat their lunch, even Team Bremelo. The first distraction comes when Antwaan Rockamora and his band of Mokes invade to pick a fight with the Bremeloes, not realizing how much they improved their fighting skills to win the Team Challenge. The Mokes are fortunate to limp away with nothing more than broken bones.
No sooner than the Bremeloes get back to their bento boxes than the second distraction comes. A band of smelly long-haired Nihilists decides on a whim to do a school invasion of their own. They find themselves confronting a high-school fight club laughing at them. Shira says, “Give ’em some drugs.” The bribe works. Satisfied they have enough Ritalin and Oxycontin, the Nihilists slink away.
The Bremeloes finish their lunches faster to make sure their food won’t go stale by the time the next distraction comes. Sure enough, almost as soon as they finish, it does. Falconer announces, “All rise for the company CEO!”
The students rise from their tables. The Bremeloes and the Student Councillors rush to meet him. Flanked by two armoured bodyguards, the fat man in the expensive suit is unmistakably Pete Ross. He stops to stare at Shira Thomas. His enemy’s daughter. She smiles ironically.
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Copyright © 2011 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 2, 10/8/11: The first three scenes heavily modified from the original Chapter 21 opening in the first draft; everything else is new material.]
[Revision 2.1, 10/9/11: Completed the unfinished Bangor Jail scene, adding Karen’s missing dialogue.]