• Published 12th May 2013
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Summer break, with much at stake. - My little pedagogue



A high school teacher and a lab technician undergo some alarming changes. A "Five Score, Divided by Four" side fiction.

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Chapter Six: So what now?

“So any ideas on our next move?” I snapped to attention at the sound of Sharon’s voice.

We had both been shell-shocked into silence, I had no idea how long I’d spent slumped on the couch in introspection following that spontaneous musical number… I’m pretty sure there was an episode of buffy the vampire slayer where this happened… well just the singing… without all the horse-bits.

I forced a smile, “Good question. I suppose we’ll have to look at potential conclusions of events based on recent projections, assess the likelihood of each, and make preparations for the anticipated outcome.”

Sharon stuck her tongue out, looking unimpressed. “That’s just a long winded way of saying you don’t have a fucking clue.”

I shrugged dismissively, she was right of course. “Yeah, that kind of language just makes me feel a little more in control I guess.” I took a deep breath before continuing. “That said, it still stands to reason to look at different ways this could turn out.” I stood and stretched, flicking out my tail reflexively… I still didn’t have control over it.

Sharon spat out a mouthful of my tail “Watch where you’re swishing that thing!” She then sat forward in anticipation of hearing what I’ve come up with so far… well she’s going to have to be disappointed, all I have is flaky guesses.

“Ok, let’s start with something preferable… Outcome one, we manage to reverse the changes.” I frowned before continuing “As it stands, this is extremely unlikely. Since we still have no idea what’s causing the changes, we can’t hope to engineer a solution.” Sharon’s face told me she wasn’t enjoying me sharing my thoughts… too bad, speculative logic isn’t always nice, but it tends to help out when you have shit-all to go on.

“Outcome two, this is some kind of werewolf… werehorse type thing, and it’ll come and go in a pattern… not ideal, but at least we’ll have some time as complete humans…” it was less than ideal… extended spells with this ears and tail ensemble would render me utterly unemployable as a teacher, but that was nothing in comparison as outcome three…

I took a deep breath before delivering the inevitable third possibility. “Number three… the changes are permanent. Since this is by far the worst outcome, I reckon we prepare for this one, and hope that we end up being pleasantly surprised.” I shrugged again, “not much, but I figure we need to do as much as we can now while we can still disguise ourselves… we don’t know how bad this is going to get… I think our priority is food, I don’t think we can process meat anymore, I tried yesterday afternoon, and nearly puked.”

“Disguises… so that leaves the implication that we’re keeping this secret, and not asking anyone else for help?” Sharon cocked her head in anticipation of my response.

I nodded in confirmation “I think it’s sensible to keep a low profile… this may be paranoia, and everyone might be massively helpful if we reached out… but revealing ourselves is at best, embarrassing… and at worst, potentially deadly… I’m pretty sure there’d be some scientists that would leap at the chance of studying a new metamorphosis in humans… now I’d be all for it, but I’m a little worried that someone might advocate vivisection”

“Vivisection? Well aren’t you a ray of fucking sunshine today?” Sharon quipped. There was a smile there, but I know Sharon’s usual smile, and this one was forced. Whatever coping mechanism works I guess. “So we need hats or a wig, the tail goes down baggy pants, and shades…”

“Wait, shades?” I didn’t even wait for the answer, it had prompted me to check Sharon’s eyes, and confirmed the irises were purple… the pupil was also unnaturally large… in fact the whole eye looked bigger… how did I miss that? I sighed into my palm. Damn, I liked my eyes; I used to have a nice stark ice blue colour that faded into a pale golden brown, to almost yellow at the middle of my iris… central heterochromia rocks! “What colour are they?”

“Green, but there’s nothing natural looking about them… You uh… look really cute actually.” I think that was an attempt to cheer me up, but I was having a hard time taking it as a compliment. “So uh… do you have anything for disguises then?” Sharon enquired tentatively.

I paced across the living room to my bedroom “yeah, I should be able to piece something together… wanna come with? You can pick out something that’ll fit?”

My room was always a mess. I never had the time to reorganise and pick through all of the clutter in my room. The taxonomy of dividing useful and junk items was something I always struggled with. That said, this meant I had a load of bizarre clothing accessories bought on a whim. Not low profile, but they’d cover us up.

“Carl… why do you have a technicolor wizard hat?” Sharon was now wearing the aforementioned hat along with a grin that suggested she thought I was going to be embarrassed at this revelation

“Glastonbury. Trust me, I’ve worn weirder shit when I went to see the rocky horror picture show.” I stuck my tongue out before returning to rooting through my desk draw for a couple pairs of shades. Perfect, there was a generic cheap-ass pair, and some mirrored aviators. “Shades here! Pick a pair.” I waved the shades before placing them conspicuously on my desk for Sharon to peruse.

“Dibs on the aviators!” Sharon called as she approached the desk. “So did you have a spell as a goth or metaller as a kid? Sharon had picked out a pair of baggies that would accommodate her tail, but they were a little eye catching thanks to an assortment of chains fixed to them.

“I still listen to the music, I just don’t feel the need to wear the gear anymore.” It’s completely normal for teenagers to wear conspicuous clothing to designate a subculture, adults don’t have the same craving for clarity of identity that kids do. I decided to keep this to myself though, Sharon didn’t need to be subjected to my ramblings on child psychology.

I was distracted from searching through my clothes by a collection of thank you cards accrued over the previous weeks… these were precious to me, even more so now that I might never teach again. I flicked through them and read the contents of each until one caused me to freeze “son of a bitch…”

“Come again Cheerilee?” Sharon had finished tugging on her pants and turned at my exclamation.

I flinched at Sharon addressing me “was that intentional?” I turned my attention back to my card

‘To Mr Lee, Learning is magic, your faithful student, Kyle Archer’

There was that damn pony doodle again… My concentration was broken by Sharon’s voice “Shit man, I’m sorry, it just rolled off the tongue!”

I shook my head. “It’s ok, but I think we might have someone who knows more about the transformation…” I tossed the card to Sharon.

Sharon took a second to read through the card “I don’t follow” she looked up to me with a look of confusion on her face.

I sighed “that pony is the one I’ve been having dreams about. Kyle might be able to tell us who she is… hell, he might even be going through the same changes as we are.” It was a long shot, and it risked Kyle exposing us, but any extra info might help us find a cure…

Sharon flicked her gaze from the card, to me, and then back to the card “you know… the eyes, hair and tail all match up… mister-lee sounds kinda close to cheeri-lee too doesn’t it?”

“Well Sharon doesn’t sound like Berr… your surname’s Barrett isn’t it?” I would comment on the absurdity of this logic, but I think we’ve long passed the realms of the mundane, and it was becoming hard to shake me with allusions to mysticism now.

Sharon nodded before snatching up a hat. “Well, I’ve got some stuff to pick up and bring round here, so I can grab some food while I’m out if you wanna go shake down this Kyle kid for info? I’ll need your car for the supply run if that’s ok?”

I pulled out my phone and booted up my school laptop. “Feel free, I’ll get Kyle’s number off the school records.” I called after Sharon “oh, wait…” Sharon paused as I retrieved the keys from my pocket “good luck Berry” Sharon caught the keys as I tossed them the length of the room to her… opening her mouth to comment on my choice of name, she instead smiled and decided not to bother.

“Take care Cheerilee.” Sharon disappeared out the door with my car keys, after a short rooting through the school records, I retrieved Kyle’s number, and he picked up on the third ring.

“Not sure if sales call… or new number…” suitably cryptic, that was Kyle alright.

“Kyle, its mister… Cheerilee…” Well that was an awkward slip of the tongue. “I need your help, if that promise about not spilling my spaghetti is still good”

…Smooth