Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chapters 31 thru 34


Daniel Fraser’s Dream:
Therefore I Am

     The Grim Reaper creeps along the rows, handing out death.  Well, not to everyone, but I know, when He gets to my desk, his scythe will fall in the form of my philosophy paper on Descartes, the one I slaved over for probably thirty hours and four different drafts, each one, according to the Grim Reaper (a.k.a Mr. Draper) somehow worse than the last.  
     I suppose I shouldn’t worry.  After all, I only need this class to graduate; Draper only thinks I’m the worst writer in the history of the world; if I get lower than a C+ on what he’s about to put down on my desk with the force of a guillotine blade, I’ll have to get 101% on the final just to pass, which, of course, is an impossibility; if I go home with the news that I’m going to fail Philosophy and therefore will have to go to summer school, my parents will yank my driving privileges for a month.  Life is good.  Life is just so damned good I can hardly stand it.
     Mr. Draper puts the paper on my desk face down, just as he has with everyone else’s.  I look around to see the various reactions as people turn theirs over:  Jimmy Sanderson pumps his fist.  Mary Rogers has tears in her eyes.  Jeff Freed high fives Peter Gibson.  One desk in front of me, Brittney Lowes mutters, “Crap.”  
     I rest my hand on the paper.  I can’t quite figure out why, but the situation seems incredibly ironic.  Here I am in Philosophy class--a course devoted to the discussion of the Big Ideas, the Magnificent Questions, the Transcendent Thoughts that have caused mankind consternation and contemplation since the dawn of time--yet I’m totally paralyzed by something as trivial as the symbol on the stapled stack of papers in front of me.  
     Oh, what the hell. In the great scheme of the universe, how much does it matter?  I turn over the essay.  C-/D+.  A slashed grade.  I hate Draper’s slashed grades, especially when both letters on either side of the slash mean the same thing:  failure.   In the great scheme of the universe, this may not matter much, but I’m thinking about the look on my parents’ faces when I tell them.  I’m thinking about the sweltering hours sitting in a summer school classroom.  I’m thinking about all this in my little universe, and I’m feeling sick.  The room, everyone in it, my desk, my paper--they all start to warp, then swirl, then fall to sudden blackness.
     I wake to find myself waist deep in yellow fluid.  Above me, the vaulting sky is orange-red with three magnificent suns hanging in it.  I am naked.  My body is greenish blue, shiny and sculpted. When I move my arms, of which I have six, the tendons and muscles ripple powerfully beneath the skin.  I feel something brush against my several of my eight legs.  When I look down into the warm, crystalline yellow, I see a creature undulating around and between my legs.  It is black and long, five times longer than I am tall.  It moves gracefully, assured of its power, yet, knowing that I am not its prey nor its predator, simply dodges and glides amongst my legs for sport.  
     You’re awake, a voice says in my mind, though voice is not the right word.  We do not speak here on Ronclave VII; we Ronclavians communicate telepathically, and though I recognize from whom the message is coming, I do not hear her voice.  The signature of her communication is more a flavor than anything else.  
     I turn to face her.  Upon first glance of her sublime Ronclavian features--her four finely-shaped nostrils, her symmetrically-sharpened teeth, her eyes pure yellow--the facts of my existence come back to me in a rush.  This female’s name is Beylume, and she is one of my 600 wives.  I am a high prince here, the first benevolent ruler in twelve hundred dreed.  The creature cavorting in the water is a gabbox.  Only three still exist on our planet.  All the others died off when the Great Infusion caused our ocean temperatures to rise by five degrees.
     The three suns above us we call The Lights of Credence. Beylume thinks to me, You dreamed, my Prince?  I think to her, Yes, a very strange dream. How long did I sleep?  Beylume replies, A short time, my Prince.  Less than five droplets.  Does it please you to tell me of your dream?  I begin to unfold to her the world I dreamt:  Earth, high school, grades, houses--but soon I think, Beylume, enough.  She bows and thinks, Of course, my Prince.  How strange that I, the Prince of the Ronclavians, should have dreamt of such a tiny place, a petty place, a place that, compared to my true existence here on Ronclave VII, mattered not in the least.  The dream and everything in it disappears in the ripples of our deep, clean Ronclavian sea.
Reality Check:  Dream 31
ü  Daniel Fraser’s Facebook status:  “Reality is overrated.” 
ü  Summer school roster, name 12:  Daniel Fraser. 

Brittney Lowes’s Dream:
Reality Me

     “It’s about fucking time you got here!” I scream at the film crew as they pull up to the front of the school.  I know how to do this gig.  I know exactly what is needed to make a successful reality show.  “Go big or go home.”  Actually, it’s more like “Go big or get canceled.”  And let me tell you something, now that a producer has finally recognized that I am a hot commodity,  I am not going to get canceled.  No way, no how.  
    “Where in the hell is makeup?  Do you people give a shit about your jobs or am I going to have to do this whole thing myself?” (The cameras are rolling; they’re always rolling.)   “And what are we calling this fucking show anyway?”  Rule one:  swear a lot.  Not that I normally do, but it helps with the drama. That’s the main point, of course:  Whatever helps with the drama, that’s what you do.  Per-i-od.  
    The producer is this short bald guy with sunglasses up on the top of his head, a totally dorky look, so whenever he’s talking to me his sunglasses are pissing me off, but that’s fine since--hey, what did I say?--it’s all about the drama.  The producer’s name is Brad, and he says, “Well, we, uh, haven’t quite decided on, you know, on what we’ll call the…”
    Now I decide to get totally sarcastic.  It’s a good look for me.  I go, “Oh, you haven’t decided yet?  Well, why don’t we go ahead and wait for--oh, I don’t know--a year or so?  We can just announce the upcoming show as ‘Not Yet Named.’  That’ll go over big…” and here I get super loud and in Brad’s face “...with all our fucking sponsors, don’t you think!?”
    “Hey, hey, it’s okay!  We’ll come up with…” Brad’s stuttering, but I interrupt him.  Another good tactic:  Interrupt everybody.  Be the star.  Be the center.  Interrupt.
    “Here’s what we’re calling it, Brad.  You might want to write this down so you don’t forget, okay?”  Back to sarcasm.  The thing is, I’m really good-looking, with a great complexion that looks super on camera and big boobs and a nicely-shaped ass and a model’s face.  So I can get away with sarcasm.  I can basically get away with any sort of attitude I want because I’m great on film.  And that’s not arrogant or anything; that’s just fact.  “We’re going to call the show ‘Brittney Schools School.’  Three words.  Did you get that?  ‘Brittney Schools School.’  Do I need to spell that for you?”
     “Got it.  ‘Brittney Schools School.’  Clever.  Brilliant.”
    “It’s not brilliant, Brad--it’s obvious, and if I have to be making all the decisions around here, you know what I’m going to be?  I am going to be one exhausted reality star, and that is not something you fucking want!  So grow a pair, Brad, and let’s get this show on the road!”  
    “On the road, 100%, yes!” Brad says.  He pulls his sunglasses down and starts shouting out orders to the crew that already knows what to do.  He’s just trying to make himself look useful.  Once we get established, which will probably only take the first couple of episodes, I’m going to make a big deal of firing him.  It’ll make excellent footage.  Not yet, though.
    “Okay, Brittney Baby, I’m thinking we first want to get some establishing shots of the school, some classrooms…” Brad starts to say.
    “Call me ‘Baby’ again, Brad, and the only thing you’re going to establish is how you’re going to surgically remove my foot from your ass.”  That line gets a laugh, so I have the crew take it again from a couple different angles before I pick up where I left off and tell Brad, “Get your background shit on your own time.  What do you think, I’m going to stand around getting sore feet while you’re getting pretty shots of the flag waving?”
    “We have a chair for you while we…”
    “The fucking chair is not the fucking point, you shit!”  It’s heavy, I realize, the swearing, but now and then you want to let out a sentence where every other word gets bleeped.  It’s just good television.  And of course you have to say the stuff so your mouth is moving the right way during the bleeps.  It’s not the real me, really.  It’s the reality me.
    “How’s my makeup?  Somebody get me a mirror!”  An assistant comes running with one.  I glance in the mirror and see that I look perfect, but I scream, “Get me some mascara!  Where in the hell is makeup, anyway?  Jesus, is anybody working around here?”  In about three seconds, I’ve got a bottle of mascara in my hands.  I look at it, scream “wrong color, you shitheads!” and throw it at the camera.  Good action shot.  I’ve got, like, a seventh sense for this kind of thing.  I was born for this.  
    “So, Brittney…” Brad starts to say, but before he can call me Baby or Honey or Sweet Rolls from Heaven, I take off down the hall, yelling for the cameras to keep up with me.  I don’t exactly know where I’m headed; I’m just trusting my instincts.  If you’ve got ‘em, trust ‘em.  That’s not bad, actually.  I turn and walk backwards.  Brad’s behind me, trying to keep up.  
     “Brad,” I say, “I think we might have my hook, my saying:  ‘If you’ve got ‘em, trust ‘em.’”  
   “Oh, that’s good.  I like that.  If you’ve got ‘em…. But what, exactly is the ‘em referring to?  Is that like a body reference?”  
   “What are you saying, that my boobs are the ‘em, Brad?”
   “Well, I didn’t, I mean, I wasn’t…”
   “Instincts!  Instincts!  If you’ve got instincts, you trust ‘em!  What do you think, I’m supposed to trust my boobs, Brad?  What does that even mean?”
    I’m liking the conversation.  It’s funny, it’s a little mean, it’s got some bite to it.  Putting together good footage is like putting together a good recipe--some spice, some sugar, some tang.  Surprise, that’s what it’s all about.  Keep the place hopping!  And of course, all the time I’m going back and forth with Brad, I’m looking for the right opportunity to get some heavy-duty conflict cooking.  Basically, I’m looking for a story, something with teeth and grit.  I turn the corner to find my opportunity crouched in front of her locker--Sarah Malleck.  She’s cute, in a slightly fat, slutty sort of way.  The perfect foil for my great camera look.  I take off running right for her.  Captain Obvious Brad shouts, “We’re on the move, people!”
    I get up next to Sarah with my crew of twenty behind me.  She looks pretty intimidated and confused by the whole scene.  Who can blame her?  I mean, just me coming up on somebody quick like that--that’s enough to intimidate anybody, but you add a film crew?  That’s some scary shit.  
     “What the hell?” Sarah says, standing up.
      “You bitch!” I scream at her.  Then I slap her full in the face.  I’m happy with the sound of the slap, even though we’ll want to enhance it in editing.
     “What are you doing?  What is the matter with you?” Sarah holds her cheek.  It was good hit. 
    “What’s the matter with me, slut?  Are you actually going to stand there and ask that question?”
    “What...what is this about, Brittney?  Why did you hit me?”  Sarah’s being way too reasonable, standing here and asking me questions.  I grab her by the hair and slam her head against the locker door, then throw her to the floor.  Somehow, she gets ahold of the front of my shirt and pulls me down with her so we end up in a tangled mass on the floor.  
     The shirt pull is really excellent; that segment will definitely go up on Youtube so guys can freeze it and try to get a good look at my boobs.  Nice move, Sarah, I’m thinking as I’m trying to get my hands on her neck and she’s struggling underneath me like a tuna just pulled onto the boat.  We’re both screaming obscenities by this point.  I can’t even keep track of everything I’m saying to her.  
    Next thing I know, Sarah’s crying, all curled up in a ball, not even trying to fight back.  This sucks.  Can’t have this--it makes me look too cruel.  A little cruel is fine.  People can love a bitch, but they’re not into a heartless bitch.  
     “Cut, cut!”  I yell to the cameras.  I crouch down close to Sarah, get in close to her face.  She really looks pitiful.  I don’t like it at all.
    “Hey, Sarah,” I whisper.
    “Leave me alone,” she whimpers.  
    “It’s a reality show.”  
    Sarah sniffs and looks at me, her eyes quickly clearing.  “What?”
    “I’m the star of a reality show called Brittney Schools School.”  
    Now Sarah’s totally with me.  “Oo, nice title.”
    “I know, right?”
    Brad clear his throat somewhere behind us.  “Uh, Brittney,” he says, “if this isn’t going to work out…”
    “Fuck off, Brad!  Just a give us a second, asshole!”  The asshole fucks off and gives us a second.  
    “You are so good,” Sarah whispers when we come back into our little huddle.
   “Thanks, but I need a villain.”
   “You mean…?” Sarah says excitedly, then points to herself and mouths the word “me.”  I nod.  “Oh, I am so the right person for this, Brittney!”
   “You think, bitch?” I say.
    “I know, bitch,” she says.
    “Remember last year when you hooked up with Greg Matherson when he was still mine?”
    “You want to go there?”
    “Let’s go there.”
    “Roll ‘em!” I yell.  Sarah screams and claws at my face.  I get up and knee her in the belly, then punch her over and over on the back of the head.  With each punch I say, “Don’t you ever, ever, ever come near him again, you whore!”  Sarah comes back at me with a great hair grab, and all the time I’m thinking my ratings are going up, up, up, and the life I was meant to lead has only just begun.  
Reality Check:  Dream 32
ü  Director’s note on Brittney Lowes’s audition sheet for the school musical: “Can’t sing, dance, act, walk.  Nope.”  

Dawn (Greg) Matherson’s Dream:

     I take a deep breath and walk through the door.  The halls are empty.  I’m late. 
     I couldn’t figure out what to wear. I sorted through all the clothes in my sister’s closet.  She’s off to college, but she left behind practically an entire wardrobe.  By the time I settled on the bright yellow skirt and the off-white top with the brocaded sleeves, it was already time to leave, but I hadn’t started my makeup.  I haven’t had much practice--just the sneaking times when I’ve played with Mom’s mascara or painted my toenails, then quickly washed it off.
     Mom and Dad had both gone off to work.  I was alone in the house, wearing my sister’s clothes.  They were a little tight--cutting in at my waist, cinching my arms up near the shoulders--but not too bad.  I might have hurried the makeup or just decided to forget about it, but I told myself, No.  Not today.  
     So I sat down in front of the mirror in the master bathroom, the one off my parent’s room, the forbidden one, and I chose a base that matched my skin color.  I blended it in as best I could.  Even though I had shaved as close as I could without cutting myself, the whiskers still made my face rough.  After the base color, I chose a bit of rouge for my cheeks.  Part of me wanted to hide behind the makeup, to make a mask of the stuff so thick no one would even recognize me, but again I said to myself, No.  Not today.  
     My hands shook when I tried to do my eyes.  I wish I’d had a girlfriend there to show me how, or to do it for me, or at least to calm me down when she saw my hand was shaking.  But I was alone, and so I put on the blue eyeshadow and the black mascara as well as I could.  There are smudges on the corners of my eyes.   I hope no one will notice.
     Under my sister’s clothes I wear a special bra and underpants I shoplifted from Macy’s.  I spent four hours at the mall the day I did it.  It’s hard to shop and not look like you’re shopping.  You have to pass through places, glancing to the side.  When you want to feel something or hold it up to yourself, you have to look around and make sure no one is watching, and then you have to do it very quickly.   I don’t normally shoplift.  I hope, after today, I’ll never have to do it again.  
     I go to the office to get a late pass.  The secretary doesn’t look up at me as I sign in.  My pen hesitates over the space where I’m supposed to write my name.  After a second, I put just my last name, then fill in the box where it asks for the reason for my lateness:  “Wardrobe Difficulties.”  I know that will get me an unexcused tardy, but it’s only my first.  I go back the where I need to fill in my first name, still unsure.  I clear my throat a little so the secretary will look up.  Her eyes widen.  
     “Hi,” I say.  “ should I fill this out?  I usually go by Greg Matherson, but, starting today, I want people to call me Dawn.”
     The secretary stares at me for what feels like ten minutes.  Finally, she asks me if this is a legal name change.
     “No.  It’s’s what I’d like to be called.”
     She takes in a deep breath, looks around to see if somebody else can handle the issue, and finally says, “Uh, put down Dawn and then, in parentheses, Greg.  For now.”  
     “Okay, yeah, for now.  Good idea.”  So I do that, write Dawn (Greg) next to Matherson in the name box, and the secretary gives me my pass. I head to class.  I’m glad I decided against high heels.  I definitely need more practice with them, plus I worried  about the sound they’d make as I walked through the hall.  I’m getting enough attention from the few people who walk by me.  I don’t need the loud click, click, click, too.  
     I’m ready for first period.  It’s Geometry, and Mr. Bluthen runs a tight ship.  I go in and hand him my pass, then walk to my desk.  I get plenty of strange looks, but nobody says anything for fear of Mr. Bluthen.  But as the hands of the clock bring me closer and closer to the real testing ground--the time between classes--my stomach churns with nervousness.  
     When the bell rings, I’m swarmed with the pent-up comments and questions I knew would hit me when I decided to dress outwardly as I have felt inwardly for years--like a girl.  “What the hell?” Ben Langley says.  “Are you trying to win a bet or what?”  
     “Dude, you are so whacked,” says Kristen Dickerson.  “Greg, what are you…”  
     At the mention of the name Greg, though, I turn and say (this I’ve been practicing):  “Please call me Dawn. From now on, I’d like to be addressed not as Greg, but as Dawn; and not as he, but as she.”  
     I’m bombarded with questions and comments as I leave the room and go out into the hall.  I know the news is spreading quickly; phones are out with people texting about or taking pictures of me.  I block out all of the static, though, when I see Marcus Deither coming.   
     This is it.  The look from the secretary doesn’t matter.  The whispered comments, the texts, the photos--none of those things matter.  The deciding moment is now, and the deciding person is Marcus.  He’s a friend, and he’s popular, and what he thinks about me has the power to dictate what the whole school will do.  
     Marcus looks me up and down.  I don’t know how to read his face.  Is he angry?  Sickened?  Or is he trying hard just to look like he doesn’t care?  Finally, he speaks.  “Dawn, huh?”
    “Yeah.”  Another reason not to wear heels this first day.  If I faint from nervousness, I won’t have as far to fall.
    “So, Dawn, you gonna be at soccer practice today?”
    “Try not to suck, okay?”
    “So you don’t want me to follow your example, right?” I say, trying to match his light tone.  Marcus makes a quick huffing sound, then walks away.  I let out a breath I feel like I’ve been holding since I was five years old.  After a few steps, Marcus turns around and says, “Hey, Gre...Dawn.”
    “You look pretty.”  The smile that comes to my face feels like it, too, has been waiting in me for years.  As I turn to walk down the hall to my next class, my body is light.  I am pretty.  Yes, today, I am pretty.   
Reality Check:  Dream 33
ü  E-mail from Principal Connelly to soccer coach:  “Chuck, Greg Matherson is no longer eligible to play.  He was caught shoplifting and charges were filed.   Come by my office if you want some interesting details.” 

ü  Items Greg Matherson reported missing throughout the school year:  his math textbook, his wallet containing $30.00, his iPhone, a set of markers, a box of cookies for a bake sale.

Ben Langley’s Dream:
Born Hero

     Third period, I’m taking my usual walk to the bathroom, killing time because Miss Tingdale is doing her usual lecture in health.  “Yada, yada, yada, herpes, yada, yada, responsibility, yada, three out of four teenagers.”  Fortunately for me, she doesn’t seem to mind or notice my extra-long bathroom breaks.
     I’m just leaving the bathroom, heading for class the long way around, when I hear this pop, pop sound like somebody’s busting balloons around the corner.  Then there’s panicked shouting.  I can’t hear what it’s about, but there’s a couple more pops and then doors slamming.  I’m just standing there near the cafeteria.  Four or five kids are hanging out in there, eating the last stale hash browns and breakfast burritos.
     A voice comes across the intercom:  “Attention.  This is an urgent announcement.   A dangerous individual is in the building.  Lock down mode.  Lock down mode.  Repeat:  a dangerous individual is in the building.  This is not a drill.  Everyone go to the nearest secure space.  We are in lockdown mode.”
            Suddenly, the cafeteria workers are coming out from behind the metal counters where they usually live and they’re yelling to the kids in the cafeteria:  “Get in here!  Lock down!  Get in here, now!”  In just a few seconds, the caf is empty, but I’m still standing out in the hallway.  I know I should have gone in with the cafeteria ladies, but for some reason I didn’t.  Somebody in the kitchen slides the wooden partition across the snack bar window.  It shuts with a bang and then the place is totally quiet.
            I hear the sound of boots coming down the hallway.  Clump, clump, clump.  I can’t see who’s wearing them yet--he hasn’t turned the corner--but I can hear the sound getting closer.  I duck behind a set of lockers.  It’s piss-poor cover, I realize, but it’s the best I can do.  I wait.
            He walks by me.  He’s wearing army fatigues and big, black boots.  I get just a quick glimpse of his face, and I think I recognize him as this little kid who goes down to the SPED office every morning.  But with his big-ass boots on and two handguns on his belt and a rifle in his hands, he doesn’t look little.  He’s standing tall, and I’m praying he doesn’t turn all the way around or he’ll see me and I’ll be dead.
            The kid goes into the cafeteria.  He takes aim with his rifle at the panel pulled across the snack counter window.  Even though I’m a good fifty feet away from the kid, the sound of his rifle feels like it’s ripping my ears off.   Splinters and smoke fly; four big holes appear in the wood, making a clear view into the kitchen and the assembly-line counter where you pick up your food.  I hear a scream.  Somebody moves, trying to stay low behind the counter, but I see the hump of their back from where I am, and psycho kid can sure as hell see it, too.  He fires off another shot that clangs against the metal counter, sending off a spark, and now the whole kitchen crew is screaming back there.
            The kid walks toward where he’s blown holes through the snack bar window, but he doesn’t get more than three steps when a different sound comes from outside—a police siren.  It seems to remind shooter-boy that he’s got more important plans than shooting the lunch ladies; he turns around and heads back out of the cafeteria, clumping along faster now, almost at a jog.  Maybe the gray sweatshirt I’m wearing acts as good locker camouflage or maybe the kid is too berserk to be focused on anything but who he’s planning to kill.  Whatever the reason, he doesn’t notice me.  He just heads toward the science wing.  My heart’s beating like a jackhammer.  A big part of my brain is screaming at me:  “Take cover!  Go hide under a table, you moron!”  
    I don’t hide.  I follow the nut job, ducking behind cover when I can.  Why am I following him?  Why, as I sneak along, do I look for anything that I might be able to use as a weapon? I pick up a field hockey stick that’s fallen out of a locker.  Why do I think I might actually be able to help in this nightmare?  Why am I ignoring everything I’ve ever heard or practiced about this situation?   
     I don’t know.  I’m going on instinct.  
    The psycho stops in front of the chemistry room.  Up and down the whole science hallway, everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to:  In every room, the shades are down; the lights are off.  The place is silent except for the faint sound of the police sirens outside.  
     The plan is that when some kid-hating lunatic from outside the school walks into a hallway like this and figures nobody’s around, he’s supposed to walk away.  Trouble is, this particular lunatic is from the school.  He knows the drill, and he knows somebody, probably a whole class full of somebodys, is crouched in the chemistry room trying not to make a sound.  The shooter rattles the knob on the classroom door.  Locked.  He steps back a few feet, raises his rifle and fires several rounds into the door, totally turning it into kindling.  From inside the room, a few kids scream, breaking the rules, but who can blame them?  Psycho-boy walks through the opening where the door used to be.  He flicks on the light.  More screams.   
    “Where is Mr. Gunderman?” he yells.  “I want Gunderman!”  Now, to tell you the truth, I’ve wanted to shoot Gunderman myself, but not really, not like this kid with the pistol in a holster and the rifle in his hand and murder on the brain.  From where I am, crouched in the hallway, I can only see Janna Terwilliger’s head.  She’s lying on the floor, but I don’t see any blood.  I’m hoping she just fainted.  I figure the rest are all huddled in a corner, no doubt pissing their pants just like I’m about to.  I hear a little squeak from inside the room, somebody saying something to Nutso Boy.  I can’t hear what it is exactly, but I have no problem hearing the shooter’s response:  “Don’t give me that shit!  Where the hell is Gunderman!”  This time I do hear the talking from inside the room.  It’s shaky as anything, but it’s damned courageous:  “Please.  I’m the substitute.  Mr. Gunderman isn’t here.  Please leave.”  
    It hits me. Suddenly, I know that this asshole is not going to leave.  No, he’s going to punish them all for not being Gunderman.  He’s going to open fire and mow down every living thing in that room.  It’s all going to play out right in front of me unless…
    I get to the doorway just when the shooter lifts his rifle and says, “You’re all going down.” 
     He gets off one round before I smash him in the back of the head with the field hockey stick.  He spins around.  The front of his rifle smacks me in the forehead, making me duck--a damned good thing since the kid’s finger is locked on his trigger and he’s spraying the ceiling with bullets.  I swing that stick for all I’m worth, catching him just below the knees.  He’s in the air for a second, then clangs to the floor, his weapons flying every which way.  Before he can even reach for anything, I smack him full in the face.  Game over.
    It’s all a swirl after that--cops talking and medical people swabbing at my head and kids and parents thanking me and people crying and reporters putting microphones near my face asking me why I decided to be a hero, and all I can say is, “I just did it.  I don’t know.  Sometimes you just have to do these things, right?”  Then lights are flashing in my face from the cameras and this girl is slipping something into my hand and more parents are thanking me and my own parents are hugging me and some guy is claiming he wants to be my agent.  
    Finally, I get a second to go into the bathroom.  Outside the john, I hear some reporter:  “Five injured in what would undoubtedly have been a much greater disaster but for the incredible courage of high school junior Ben Langley.”  After I take a long-awaited piss, I go to look in the mirror.  I lift the bandage over my eye to see that I’m going to end up with a lightning-shaped scar.  Sweet.  In my pocket, I find the piece of paper the girl put in my hand earlier.  It says, “I want to reward you for what you did.  Call me.  Zoe Chase.”  And her cell number.  Zoe Chase, totally out of my league Zoe-frigging-Chase?  I am so up for this hero jazz.

Reality Check:  Dream 34
ü  Stitches needed for Rebecca Haugstad’s gash in her forehead from a field hockey stick:  13.

ü  Accident report filled out by Coach Callahan:  “Ben Langley was swinging a field hockey stick inappropriately high and hit Rebecca Haugstad in the head.  Recommend he be disciplined for this completely preventable accident.” 

ü  Facebook message from Ben Langley to Rebecca Haugstad:  “Sorry.  Bad ninja move.” 

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