The Eight-Years Class

I was going to post a bit of my cyberpunk story, but I haven’t written it yet. I did, however, expand on my snippet from my previous post! It’s a bit more of a beginning of what I hope will be a short story to novella length adaptation of Johnny Grey, now officially called The Species.

***

The Eight-Years Class

The principal’s hands were shaking. His blue skin darkened to purple. He was incapable of sweating. When he was born, his gene-providers wanted to decrease the scent their offspring let off. It was decided that their son would not sweat, since bowel movements were a Government-mandated function. Instead of sweating, the principal sneezed. One shaking hand clutched his handkerchief, as another extended it toward the lady from the Council.

The Council lady squeezed a bottle of disinfectant, rubbing it into her clean white hands. Her long limbs moved gracefully under her rainbow colored dress. She grasped the principal’s hand. There were slight vibrations up her arm as the principal attempted to shake her hand. When she removed his hand from her grasp, she disinfected herself again.

Her large multicolored eyes impassively scanned the corridor. It was like every other provincial school. The same brown lockers lined the same yellow, linoleum floors. The same announcements played over the over school’s intercom, announcing the beginning and the end of classes. The same Indoctrination Materials were used by instructors with the same education, who were taught in the same Council-accredited colleges. She didn’t really see the corridor.

There was something different about this school though. Something that made this school stand out from all the rest. It wasn’t the teachers. She had audited each of their personal profiles on her tablet. There were blemishes on some of their profiles, but nothing that standard surveillance wouldn’t fix. It wasn’t the teaching materials. She had made sure that this school had the most up-to-date lesson plans sent directly from Capitol City. It wasn’t the architecture of the school. That had been approved by the Government years ago!

“I’m sure you are aware of why the Council sent me to your school, Mr.-” she looked down upon the anxious little man. He straightened his tie as she checked for his name on her tablet.

The principal gasp before launching into an explanation or an apology, the lady from the Council wasn’t too sure which one. “You-were-sent-here-to-investigate-the-statistical anomalies-in-our-Eight-Years-class,” he said exhaling.

“Mr. Mason!” the lady from the Council looked up from her tablet. “Yes that is correct, Mr. Mason.”

“I assure you, Agent Penfield,” Mr. Mason continued to speak as she made her way down the corridor to the Eight-Years class, “Provincial School #1128 offers the best learning environment in all of the Nation.” The lady from Council was still deciding if he was apologizing or not. “It’s exactly the same as the all the schools.”

The principal sneezed more the closer they got to the classroom. Council Agent Penfield disregarded his nervous tick, but found it worrisome that Mr. Mason was a defective leet. It probably explained why he had chosen to become the principal of a provincial school instead of seeking a better profession as a lawyer or a Congressman. One had to wonder what the conversation between gene-providers and genetic counselor was like the day he was conceived.

As they walked down the hallway, she considered activating her Collar master control on her own Collar, which her programmers had set for students and faculty of the school. It would teach him not to sneeze when he is nervous. She also held the authority to do it. Her long fingers slid over the silver disc around her neck. It was a natural movement for her that the little defective man didn’t notice. Her finger briefly hovered over the blue button for the master control.

“Ahhh,” the principal exclaimed. “Choo! Here we are room number #303.” He blew his nose. “The Eight-Years’ room.”

In the class room, she saw a sea of blue heads. The teacher was a blue. Her students were blue. They all had standard issue Collars and wore the school uniform. They were listening to a story about a Baptist witch that ate two good little blue children that had trusted her lies. All the members of the class seemed generally frightened of the prospect.

They all seemed to react in unison to the tale, except for three students, who sat randomly along the edges of the blue crowd. There was a red girl in a different school uniform- a recent transfer student, who was constantly touching her Collar. Agent Penfield could hear the girl squeak, indicating that like her programmers this girl was a gearhead. In the back of the class was a bored blue boy, who unlike his peers was wistfully looking outside instead of listening to the dangers of witchcraft. Finally, there was a grey boy, who raised his hand after the story was over. Penfield had never seen a grey before. It was never a color chosen by gene-providers.

“Tell me Mr. Mason,” she began, “why have you not instructed your teacher to punish those three outliers yet?”

The principal sneezed. “We’ve been having discipline problems with them since they were enrolled,” he told her, blowing into his handkerchief.  “No other school will take them, so we’re saddled with an immigrant gearhead, a stupid par, and whatever that is!”

“Who is the immigrant?” she asked Mr. Mason. She could check her tablet, but she enjoyed hearing about the students from the school’s faculty instead. “I didn’t know Blue Nation was accepting emigrants from the Kingdom of Red.”

“The Senate recently passed a bill allowing a limited quota of red nationals,” Mr. Mason finally stopped sneezing as he explained that “the majority party felt that it would look better if we permitted those seeking freedom from red oppression to live as non-citizens in our country.” The Council maintained an interest in Blue Nation politics, but Agent Penfield always lost interest in discussions over which party would win which election or what new laws had been passed.

“That girl moved here three weeks ago from a border town,” Mr. Mason continued. “Her gene-providers repair drones for the war effort.”

“Is it safe to assume that they are licensed by the World Power?” Agent Penfield asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Mason smiled. “All of their paperwork is in order.”

“My records tell me she has been sent to your office for attempting to tamper with your school’s cleaning drones.”

“Unfortunately,” Mr. Mason sighed remembering how the girl had gotten a cleaning drone to sing nonsensical songs that disturbed all of his classes. “The blue boy in the back is a par,” he offered Agent Penfield, attempting to change the topic. “He’s the son of our province’s Senator.”

“Yes,” she brought up the boy’s profile on her tablet. This school had two defective leets and she was currently speaking to one of them. “They say he has a tendency to dream in the day time.”

“I’ve been told his father that it won’t happen again!” Mr. Mason exclaimed, bowing in apology to both the Council and the Senate. “‘No offspring of mine will have dreams,’ the Senator told me during Community Day.”

“You don’t have to go any further,” Agent Penfield stopped him before he could launch into an anecdote about his brief brush with Capitol City politics.

“Tell me about the grey one,” she pointed to the boy, who was still raising his hand. The teacher had already moved on to another story, but his hand remained raised. He was merely ignored. Agent Penfield wondered how discipline had gotten so lax at this school.

“He’s a John Grey,” the principal explained. It was a name given to unknown persons. The term was rarely used, however, since the Collars tracked the world’s population. Agent Penfield remembered that the Council’s genetic design complimented the global tracking system, allowing geneticists to continue experimentation once new sub-types had moved into production and into the hands of genetic counselors, who sold these designs to the masses. An individual’s progress was watched since birth by the female gene-provider.

The classification “John Grey” should have been removed from the cultural lexicon.

The boy was continued to raise his hand expecting some kind of attention. Agent Penfield could not stand his defiance anymore. He may not know it, but he was disrupting Mr. Mason’s instructor. She swiftly activated her master control. They boy clutched his bald, grey skull.

“Thank you, Mr. Mason,” she said smiling. “Keep me informed of your statistical anomalies.”

The principal sneezed out a “yes ma’am” as the tall, white Council agent marched down the corridor, showing herself to the exit. The inspection of the Eight-Years took less time then he imagined.

The Council was nothing if not efficient.

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