Authors: Dayton Grey
“Well, well, well. He cleans up nice, eh gang?” Sabien smirked as Geon walked in wearing grey pants with a white shirt and black jacket.
“Oh, my little Geon! You look perfectly handsome. Come give Mama a kiss!”
Geon smiled and walked over to Mama V who grabbed him intensely and pulled him close for an embrace and a kiss. Geon noticed she smelled a little fishy and also like something else, something pungent but also pleasing. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. As he joined Allea and Sabien at the table, he noticed them both staring at his hair.
“Uhm, G. Is that SaniGel in your
Geon sheepishly replied, “Um, yeah. I didn’t… I wasn’t sure… what it’s for.” As he ran his fingers through his hair and the thick clear fluid dripped off of him.
Sabien and Allea both tilted their heads back and exploded with laughter. Geon grew more embarrassed by the second as he tried to save some face.
“I thought it was like hair product
! It came out of the ceiling! So what is it then?”
The two of them continued their raucous laughter with no reply to the now burgundy-faced Geon.
glad I’m providing entertainment for you two!”
“I’m sorry, G, I don’t mean to laugh at you,” Allea said while trying her best to restrain her obvious delight in Geon’s discomfort. “SaniGel is meant to be rubbed into your skin, not hair. It’s like lotion! It protects your skin from UV rays and other toxic elements in the air. We promise we won’t laugh at you about it.”
won’t laugh about it, Allea!” Sabien shouted, still laughing hysterically. “I’ll be laughing all the way to school about it!” Sabien exclaimed in delight.
Geon sheepishly smiled as Mama V interrupted just in time. “Now vere is that rascal Kuki? Late again, I see! Mama V gonna teach him a good lesson about tardiness in this house! No fruit sauce for Kuki today!”
“Mama V, what’s cooking over there? It smells great!” Geon said, trying his best to feign sincerity.
“HAH! Looks like we have another funnyman in our house now. You think I was born yesterday, you precious rogue! I know when you are trying to get on Mama’s good side. This is the same ‘ol mishmash as we eat every day, okay? Mama know all your tricks already little boy, okay?”
Geon laughed and asked for a bowl of her finest sludge.
“Vit fruit flavor or no? We have arrrazberry!”
Geon looked at Allea and Sabien puzzlingly and mumbled with a smile so only they could hear him, “I have no idea what type of fruit that is…”
“You mean raspberry, right Mama V?” said Allea, without looking up from her hologram.
“Dat’s vat I said! Arrrazberry! Dis vat we have. Arrrazberry!”
The three quietly laughed at Mama V’s pronunciation efforts and Geon replied with a smile.
“Sounds fine, Mama V. I’ll try it.”
She squirted the sauce into the bowls and brought them over to the group. Then she turned and put her large hands on her hips. “Where is the other one? He’s alvays late!” She went thumping down the hall and banged on the bathroom door. “Kumuki! You gonna be late dear! This mush not gonna eat itself, you know? That’s it now! No fruit sauce for you today!”
“Hey, Mama V, tell him to power up and assemble,” said Sabien.
“Vat’s dat mean?”
“Don’t worry about it Mama V. He will understand. Just say it.”
“Okay Kumuki…you power up and assemble ya, okay?”
The three laughed uncontrollably at Mama V’s attempt to fit in with them. Geon smiled, already feeling comfortable around her.
She’s nearly fifty years older than us, but seems to make every effort to try to relate to us and be a part of our lives.
The bathroom door finally slid open and Kumuki came stumbling out, one shoe on, one shoe in his hand, pants open at the top, and jacket dragging on the ground in his other hand. He turned the corner and came face to face with a stern-looking Mama V and three grinning faces. Geon couldn’t help but laugh at his disheveled appearance. On top of being so disorganized and jumbled, Kumuki had a constant look of surprise on his face that seemed to add to his confused disposition.
“Hey, y’all, sorry to keep you waiting!” he croaked as he hurried over to the table and squeezed in. He grabbed his bowl of mush and started eating quickly, his head ducked down over his food.
“Morning, Kumuki!” Allea pleasantly announced. “I trust that you had a nice, long, leisurely steamjet?”
Geon and Sabien laughed and Sabien patted Kumuki on the back. “Glad you could make it, buddy! We were all a little worried about you. Those Excelerators can be tricky sometimes!”
Kumuki looked up from his bowl and smiled awkwardly and went back to eating. He finished quickly and the four of them got up and made their way toward the door.
“Have a nice day my dears! Don’t forget to alvays be true to you and think for yourself! You have beautiful brain so don’t vaste it!”
“Okay, Mama V,” they chimed. “See you tonight!”
The foursome walked out of their home and onto the city streets, ready for another exciting day of school.
As they walked from their home to the Glidewing station, Geon looked up at the sky. There was not a single crack through the permamist through which direct sunlight could be seen or felt.
“Some sunny day, eh?” Sabien asked. “We always get false predictions of sunny days. CARE thinks it gives us hope. But really, it just annoys me.”
Geon looked at Allea, surprised she didn’t have a response to Sabien’s comment.
As they continued on toward the station, Kumuki tapped a few buttons on his LifeCuff and started playing music. It was a synthesized blend of rhythmic beats and instruments, with occasional sounds of an electronic voice speaking strange words over the music. Hard to make out and not really pleasing to the ears, Geon wondered how Kumuki could even stand to listen to it.
He seems to be enjoying himself though
, he thought.
Maybe it’s an acquired taste.
The streets were fairly quiet that morning, and only a few PMVs rolled passed them on the way.
As they turned the corner and hopped on the altinator, Allea signaled to Kumuki by drawing an imaginary circle above her head.
“Kumuki, put your cuff in halo mode,” she said.
“Oh yeah, I forgot ‘bout that!” With a click on his cuff, the music was instantly muted to outside ears and could only be heard by him.
Geon tried to mentally prepare himself for his first day back at school. As he looked down at his left hand, he hoped that the other kids wouldn’t treat him different. He wanted to just blend in, and he felt comforted by the thought that his three friends would be there with him. Smiling, he corrected himself in his head.
They aren’t my friends. They’re family.
A voice from the ceiling announced, “Next stop, zone three, sector eleven. The Memoriam Vale School. Have a positive and productive day!”
Geon stepped off the Glidewing car and saw that a number of other teens his age got off as well. There was quiet talking and quick walking from all students toward the school grounds. Geon made abrupt eye contact with a black-uniformed CARE Enforcement Officer in the corner, who carefully watched each student walk by, hands crossed behind his back and a stern look on his face. On his chest was a logo, an image of the planet surrounded almost completely by a red letter ‘C’.
Why does that logo look so familiar? I know I’ve seen it before.
As the students rode the altinator down to the ground level, Geon got his first glance of the school grounds. It was a large oval-shaped structure that was lifted off the ground on large blocks, similar to their home. The structure appeared to be comprised of multiple smaller semi-circular prefabs. The outside had no windows. It looked intimidating and ominous to Geon.
“Sabe, what’s the deal with the building?” Geon asked with curiosity. “It’s like,
big building? Or is it
“Keen observation, my young friend. The school, like all schools, is an oval-shaped building comprised of smaller semi-circular, pre-fab structures. Each structure is a single classroom. You see the medians between the structures?”
Geon nodded, looking at what appeared to be a folded layer of metal between the sections.
“Well those are the flexible connectors. The school can be as small as four classrooms, or as big as maybe twenty or even more. Ours has twelve. If they’re in an area where there are a lot more students, they drop another classroom in place and extend the oval. And if they’re in an area where there are
Sabien’s voice trailed off and Geon saw him staring blankly at the school. He knew what Sabien was saying so he didn’t ask him to explain.
“Also,” Allea jumped in. “The center section of all the schools is always known as the Commons. It’s the general meeting, studying, and eating area for each school. They use the same material as the median connectors to build a floor and roof in there, depending on the size of the overall structure. It’s really a brilliantly customizable design.”
“It’s also hurricane proof!” Kumuki added.
“Yes, thanks Kumuki,” Allea nodded. “The rounded design is intentional to serve as an aerodynamic stormproof safe house in case of hurricanes, tornadoes, etcetera, thus the lack of outer windows.”
“Great minds like mine need protecting, you know? C’mon all,” Sabien said. “Let’s get moving or we’ll have to contend with Headmaster Ulie’s angry looks all during morning assembly.”
The group hurried into the building. A scanning bar like the one in the Glidewing station scanned their LifeCuffs and greeted them upon entry into the building.
The four walked quickly through the curved hallway around the building, which had projections of nature scenes on the outer facing walls and classrooms on the inner facing side. Geon noticed that none of the students were carrying any books. In fact, there weren’t any books to be seen
. The students were all either chatting with each other or working on their LifeCuffs.
A voice in the walls chimed, “Three minutes to morning assembly. Please proceed cautiously to the Commons.” With that, all the remaining students rushed around to the back of the building and then into a hallway that took them into the large, round, center room. The space had a metallic domed ceiling made up of triangular pieces that extended up past the height of the classrooms. Long rectangular tables with built in benches were evenly distributed in a ripple pattern from the outside toward the middle. Each bench had a number of E-Pillars built into the centers of them as well. In the very center was a raised round white platform, with overhead lights shining brightly on it. The rest of the room was dark in comparison, with no natural lighting. They squeezed into some seats toward the back and stared down toward the center.
“That’s him, G,” Sabien cautioned to Geon quietly while gesturing toward the stage. “Headmaster Guntan Ulie is not a man to be messed with. Keep your head down and stay out of his way. He seems nice and harmless but trust me, he has a hard side. Plus, there are rumors about him being involved in…
Geon nodded but had no clue what Sabien was referring to. He looked to the center of the stage, which was surrounded on all four sides by students. In the middle was a tiny man with an unyielding frown on his face and a permanent crease on his forehead in between his eyes. He was bald on top with brown hair thinly covering the sides of his head. He wore a formal suit, comprised of grey pants, white shoes, and a long white coat with many buttons and a stiff rounded collar, short on the sides and tall in the back. He stood with his hands crossed behind his back and tapped his foot anxiously. The four hurried toward the back of the room and got into their seats as the meeting began.
The lights over the seats dimmed gently and the center stage lighting increased and a hush fell over the students.
“Good morning, all!” he said as he slowly paced around the stage. “Thank you for your timeliness and let us all be grateful for this beautiful day. As we do every morning, we have some agenda items that need to be brought to your attention, as well as some announcements to be made. So, let’s get started. Professor Keiran, are we still having problems with the, uhm, the sleep thing.” He turned and looked at the row of professors that sat in a semi-circle directly behind him. A tall, skinny woman with bronze skin and shiny grey hair sat upright and tilted her head to the side, trying to decipher what he was trying to say.
“Ahhhh you mean the REMpod? Yes, number two is still malfunctioning,” she said with a nervous twitch of her face. She seemed worried about giving bad news to the headmaster.
“Yes, yes. The REMpod! I’m not myself today I regret. Okay, students, stay out of REMpod Two on your breaks, else you fancy yourself oxidized into a bubbly mush, okay?”
Some of the students quietly giggled as he continued down his list, going over general school rules and announcing upcoming events. Geon whispered to Sabien about having REMpods in school and Sabien whispered back, “Scientists at CARE have found that taking short naps during the day in a pod will greatly increase your energy and productivity. That being said, none of us does it except Kumuki on occasion, because Mama V has always discouraged it.”
Headmaster Ulie continued on. “Okay now… today is the first day of JetSurf practice, so those who signed up, thank you for your support and let’s go get those trophies this year!”
Kumuki screamed unintelligibly and clapped his hands as he looked over at Geon and Sabien. Many students cheered and gave each other back-fives.
“JetSurf?” Geon said puzzled by the excitement in the room.
Sabien only nodded in response with a huge smile on his face. “You’ll see.”
“Okay, students. In addition, the lab will be open for use throughout school hours and after school for extended hours from this point forward, from four to eight. For those of you participating in this year’s TechSci Concours, we are here to support your efforts. Please use this invaluable collection of brains sitting behind me. Remember, the winning project from our school goes on to the zone competition, and then on to regionals, and then global from there! Let’s bring back a victory this year!”