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You know what Friday is...

This is another of the new stories. Here's the playlist and note that due to some of the subject matter, it is Not Safe For Work.



7 - In Dreams Begin Responsibilities

(free image from Pixabay)

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities by Richard Murray
This, first version : Richard Murray, October 2017.
© Copyright 2017 Richard Murray.
Richard Murray is asserting his right to be identified as the author of this story.
This story is not to be republished anywhere else in any form (electronic, paper, or otherwise) without the prior permission of the author.

It was a Monday, a boring boring Monday. It wasn’t the beginning of term so nothing to look forward to, nor was it the end of term, so nothing to look forward to. It was in the middle, it was the beginning of the week, it was PE day. All in all, there was remarkably little going for this day.
I woke at quarter to seven. The alarms had been ringing for half an hour now. In my usual style, I was to get up bright and early and make up a killer schedule for my turn at the morning presentations. I felt undeniably bad. Everything ached. I guess Benjamin’s party and the laced lemonade took their toll. Still, he’d deferred his birthday until Saturday night, and on Monday half the senior block still felt bad. We didn’t do any video, it worked so much better as a party that people would talk about in awe for years, and that they’d do. I thought about the party for another five minutes, then remembered I was on-air in ten.
I leapt out of bed, and collapsed to my knees. I simply wasn’t built for such morning enthusiasm. I put my school uniform on over my pyjamas and went to the bathroom to arrange my hair. It’s not that I’m vain, it’s just my hair has a great line in that “just woke up” look.
The morning shows were all handled by one person now, which meant no effects, few video inserts, and little in the way of camera changes. It was up to me to talk to the camera and give people a reason for getting up. James was fast asleep. We took it in turns to present the morning show a week each, so we sometimes had to wake up and sometimes we got to lie in.
“WAKE UP YOU LAZY BASTARDS!”, I shouted, leaping at the camera, “I’d love to give you a reason why, but I can’t. It’s a Monday. The weather forecast isn’t worth repeating and the shipping forecast is more depressing yet. The fourth and fifth have PE in two hours, right after breakfast, marvellous. But the faculty expect you to get up bright and early, and since they own your asses, you’d better do it!”
Considering that maybe I needed my morning cuppa, I turned the camera around and whispered, “Maybe I’m being lazy, or maybe I’m being incredibly artistic... Either way, let’s watch the rain... rain!”
I slowly zoomed in on a puddle and the output monitor showed a puddle with rain drops splashing into it. Silently I walked to the control panel and faded out the studio sound. Then I flicked the kettle on and slumped into the chair and stared at the monitor on the desk, as mesmerised as all none of my viewers would, or should, be.
I skipped breakfast. The Monday fry-up didn’t sit well with me early in the morning, and certainly not on PE day. Besides, with all the recent discussions about mad cows, our breakfast now included these grisly grilled burgers. The sort of things you could snap in half with an audible ‘crack’. It kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
No sooner than I’d made it to the hall for assembly, I turned and saw James suddenly lean forwards and puke his guts out. It brought a whole new dimension to the concept of disgusting. Half of it landed on himself, and the rest pooled on the floor between his legs. Nearby kids shifted away as quickly as they could. Then people started to laugh at him. Assembly time was always the time you hoped and prayed your name wouldn’t be mentioned. You could probably get caught snogging the ugliest teacher, even one the same gender, and the general reaction would be less traumatic than simply being mentioned in assembly. All those who rebelled, cheated, or beat other kids up, they suddenly regretted their actions at eight forty five in the morning.
James had been sick.
And now he was being laughed off the floor, as Matron helped him to his feet and guided him away.
Nothing changes. The althletic types played rugby. The no-hopers such as myself were driven miles away and dropped off in the middle of some woods, and told to run back. As usual I forgot to bring my games kit, so I was taken in my uniform. As the bus drove away, I made a pretence of running like hell. As we rounded a corner, and the minibus faded from view, I drew up next to a tree and sighed.
Jonathan and Daniel came up beside me.
“Where the hell are we?”, Daniel asked.
I shrugged. The PE tutor’s only direction was to point in the way we’d been running. I didn’t know the route, each time he did this we went some place different.
“Well, might as well head back?”, I said.
“What? Run?”, Jonathan asked.
“Not likely. Look at the rain? Jeez, look at me!”, I said, “Maybe I’ll just walk back, be in time for morning break.”
“What lesson would we be missing?”, Daniel asked. He was in the fifth form with me. Jonathan was in the fourth.
“Maths”, I replied.
“Then it’s decided, we walk.”
“Hang on!”, Jonathan said, “I’m missing biology. I like biology.”
“Well, you can run back then? Might make it in time, catch up with the others?”, Daniel said.
Jonathan considered this for all of a second before smiling and saying, “Then it’s decided, we walk.”
I staggered in the back entrance at ten past eleven and snuck up the study block stairs. At the first floor, the door flung open smacking me aside. A former prefect (until he got caught abusing his privileges in order to victimise younger kids from minority backgrounds) came out, said something very rude, and leapt down the half flight of stairs in one go. I rubbed my arm and carried on up towards my study. I walked into the bathroom opposite and stood in the shower, enjoying the warm water. James walked in and leaned against the sink, talking to me through the slightly mouldy shower curtain.
“This sucks, generally, everything.”
I poked my head around the curtain, “Hey James. You should be glad you missed PE. It was... bad.”
“I heard. Can’t keep anything private in this crappy place.”
I simply nodded. James would be in a bit of a bad way for a while, following what happened earlier.
“You okay man? It’s not like matron to let you out so quickly.”
“I told her I had to go push some buttons. Said the station might pretend to be automatic, but somebody’s gotta be there to kick it every so often.”
“James, that programming we did was sterling...”, I began.
“Nah!”, James cut in, “I’ve not been near it. She gave me ‘til half eleven so I’ve bought myself some time. Get away from that bloody place.”
“It’s that bad?”
“Tell me about it, that daughter, Amy, it’s not surprising she’s got a bladder problem. Every five minutes it’s ‘Would you like a cup of tea’? She’s so sweet I can’t shout at her, but one of these times I’m gonna tip the last cup on her head. Isn’t she supposed to be at school?”
“Teacher’s training day. Anna’s around someplace too.”
“Some thing the state schools do every now and then. Get the teachers up to speed on stuff.”
James gasped.
“Nah, I’d put money on it being political. They probably have to memorise pointless changes to the curriculum and learn the latest set of ‘Words to say to abusive children that want to stab you to death with a pencil’.”
James giggled.
I went back to washing myself off, and noticed that James was still watching.
“What? Did I miss a bit?”, I asked.
“I’m just remembering the time the Junior House Mistress read some article about anorexia in one of those boring girlie mags, and then went on this huge anti-anorexia crusade.”
“Oh yeah, I got it then didn’t I?”
The Junior House Mistress had apparently decided I was anorexic because I skipped meals and didn’t eat much at the meals I attended. After frog-marching me through the lunch queue and getting me a large plate of lamb chops (mostly fat and bone) and veg (if you can call boiled-to-death cabbage a vegetable), I was sat and ordered to eat while she watched. I sat and looked at it. ‘Eat it!’ she said, more sternly this time. She then gave me this mini lecture about starving people in other countries. ‘Maybe’, I replied, ‘if some people are so hard up for food, the world could do without Jobsworths like you trying to force feed me something I don’t want.’ She looked angry now. If looks could kill... Actually, she’s kinda ugly so that statement works on several levels. ‘You will eat this food’, she said. I shook my head. Then the most amazing thing happened. She actually took my fork and scooped up some of the green slime masquerading as cabbage, and aimed it for my mouth. Only a second or two later, I lifted up the plate, the contents aimed at her head.
We both sat for a few seconds in shock, as did everybody watching. Then she wrenched herself out of the seat with enough force to crash the table into the wall, tip two kids out of their chairs, and put eight glasses of water in the laps of their respective owners. The lamb, meanwhile, bounced as it hit the floor. The cabbage splatted, like a handful of wet toilet paper flung at a wall. She was screaming and shouting but her voice had gone all high pitched and her words ran together. None of it made any sense. Later I was called into the Headmaster’s office and asked for an explanation. I told him I didn’t always like the food so I ate my own. And standing in that queue was the worst thing. He told me I’d have to apologise and do some detention time and chores. I’d have to be seen to be punished, else food would end up thrown all over the place. The door was knocked upon and the Junior House Mistress walked in, clean. Before either of us could say a word, she laid into me. The Headmaster turned to me and said, ‘You can go now’. I never did get detention time, and nobody knows what was said after I left, except the Junior House Mistress left me well alone. It’s good to have a headmaster on your side. Unlike the guy before who would have had me publicly hung, had it been possible.
Anna chose that moment to walk in. She looked at me and raised her eyebrows. I slammed the shower curtain closed. I know that both girls don’t seem to mind if I’m around while they are showering, but I mind them being around when I am showering. Because, you know, boy girl thing?
Anna shrugged, turned, and walked away, muttering something under her breath.
“Yeah, uh, I’ll let you finish”, James said, excusing himself.
I skipped into my study at nineteen past eleven, shirt undone and a towel on my head. Anna was sitting on the comfy chair reading something that looked ridiculously complicated.
“Hey”, I said.
“I’m gonna be late. Didn’t even get my tea.”
Anna motioned to a cup sitting by the computer.
“Take your time”, she said, “IT teacher has stormed off home in a huff... again. You have two free periods.”
I sat down.
“Of course, the PE teacher wants to kill you and technically you have a week of detention for missing maths, but he’s probably forgotten about you already.”
“Thanks”, I said.
Anna took the towel and began to massage my head with it.
“Interesting wake up call this morning”, she said, “I’m surprised you didn’t get told off for your language.”
“Me too. I guess it proves nobody was watching.”
“Amy was.”
Lunch was pasta surprise. That meant those little pasta shells with whatever was salvageable from previous meals. Today, for instance, we had tuna and little bits of crunchy burger. That was followed by tapioca. Gloopy frogspawn. I loved tapioca, though the sludgy semolina was my favourite dessert, so I endured the queue. I hate hot tuna, well, actually I’m not to keen on tuna anyway, so I asked for the vegetarian option. The cook turned the big metal baking dish around and scooped from there, slapping the vile mixture onto my plate. I could see tuna pieces and dark things that I guessed were the burger bits left over from breakfast.
“This is the vegetarian option?”, I asked.
Her snarl told me the answer was yes.
I was given a miserable little portion of tapioca. I knew I’d need to go for seconds, which may or may not be given, and there may or may not be any left. I’ve been at this place over four years and I swear it makes no sense to me. Big portions are routinely given to people who will only toss them in the slop bucket, while people who actually like the stuff get the randomly smaller portions. You’d have thought the logical thing would to give it to those who wanted, and not to those who didn’t. But, on the other hand there are some people who would want it even if they’ve no plans whatsoever to eat it.
SIBA was running on automatic while I was having lunch. Automatic consisted of a view out of the window, and whatever mix tape happened to be in the player at the time. Unfortunately what was in the player today was James’ Guns and Roses tape, which was an open invitation to ‘crank up the volume’. The staff tended to prefer something more sedate during lunch time. Still, James used it as an excuse to get out of sick bay again.
I went up at ten to two and nudged James, who was resting his head on his hands watching the spools of tape going around. I grabbed my briefcase and headed downstairs for physics. James went back to the sanatorium, fearing the lurking cups of tea.
“People, today we learn about Mr. Maxwell”, the physics teacher announced. He waited while the usual jokes about coffee played out.
Eventually he grew annoyed and flicked on the projector. An information page was displayed on the wall behind him. At the top it said “TURN TO PAGE 147”. Instantly there was silence. Once his lessons began, he expected absolute attention. Anything else resulted in detentions. His detentions were particularly grime because he’d just sit there and stare at you for the whole hour. We guessed he was unhappily married, to be able to actually sit in with your detainees and stare at them. Every other teacher either left us and checked in from time to time, or did some chores of their own like marking papers. One or two would pass out the papers to be marked and call out the answers, so they’d get done more quickly. This guy? He just sat. And stared. If the creep-o-meter went from zero to ten, this was an easy thirteen.
After Physics came English Lit. I found the Lit. part of English Literature intensely boring. Last term we read some good stuff. John Christopher’s Empty World, one of my personal favourites. While I wanted some J.G.Ballad, the class vote went to William Gibson’s Neuromancer. The teacher wasn’t too pleased by some of the language or situations, but it was obvious that he didn’t understand the book, or the genre. It amused us when we’d get a laugh or discuss something about the plot and the teacher would just look confused. Sadly our other books were by the verbose and pretentious Bard. We once ripped apart the dying scene in Romeo and Juliette, and then rewrote it in the style of a horror-comedy, and performed it in that style typical of late seventies and early eighties American programmes such as Laverne and Shirley where EVERY SINGLE LINE OF DIALOGUE IS SHOUTED (so the studio audience can hear). The teacher simply frowned and called us philistines. James and I concluded that there must be something genetic. Those with dubious sexuality wax lyrical over the iambic pentameter of the dialogue. The rest of us yawn and wonder when the character would eventually die. I mean, we’ve watched plenty of movies. People get shot or stabbed or run over by golf carts. They make an “uuurh” sort of noise. Then they are just another name scrolling by in the end credits. They don’t get shot, stabbed, run over by a golf cart, and then deliver a touching final speech running to dozens of pages of text. It’s just so bloody pretentious.
The final lesson of the day was, as I’m a fifth former, Careers Guidance. This consisted of a pseudo­psychologist type asking us loaded questions but not generally being smart enough to interpret our answers. I think he’s already categorised us: most likely to collect dole; most likely to spend life drunk; most likely to ask if we want a diet coke, classic coke, maxi coke, caffeine free coke, diet caffeine free coke, mocha-double-espresso-one-shot coke, or a cherry coke; most likely to blow up stuff; most likely to be somebody’s butt monkey while inside; most likely to self-terminate... I always said that I had no idea what I wanted to be. I’d try stuff that sounded interesting until found something that was... interesting, I mean. Some of the most interesting people I know didn’t start out knowing exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. Half of them still don’t.
At four, SIBA came back on air and resumed playing music. I realised then that James had loaded up Iron Maiden for playing. Oh well. I went to see James in sick bay. He was sitting on the bed playing scrabble with Amy. Amy was wearing her school uniform which struck me as odd, maybe she forgot and got dressed as usual when she woke up this morning?
I glanced at the board. A selection of words like “green” and “day” and “surprise” (mega score for using all of her letters), and a selection of rude and/or morbid words that could only have been James’.
“Hey”, I said.
“Hey”, they replied.
Amy turned around and sat cross-legged on the bed, the skirt of her pinafore pulled up behind her. I could see her underwear. She does that a lot, but she’s not the easy sort. More the cute fluffy sort. I wonder if she even knows she does it.
Supper, or dinner as I call it, was at six. Spaghetti bolognaise. Those beef bits again, but now they’d been puréed to make them edible. I elected for pasta with no sauce. I telephoned my mother and gave her the rundown of what’s been going on. ‘Nothing much has happened, it is pretty boring really’ is what I said, and what I say on most telephone calls. At five to seven I hung up the phone and began towards the back stairs. The Kitchen Manager (or Head Cook) popped her head out of the kitchen door and offered me some macaroni cheese, the vegetarian option. I agreed so she handed me a Tupperware container of hot food. The container was about the same size as a piece of A4 paper, and an inch and a half deep. It was filled. A layer of yellowy orange grease sat on top of the slimy pasta mess. Mmmmm, nice.
Prep time, or homework time - we called it “prep” which was short for preparation - was at seven. I sat in my study and opened my English book. I tended to put off prep until the day (or even the morning) before it is due. I am supposed to write an original essay on “what it means to be me”. This was courtesy of the replacement teacher, as it did seem a bit too deep for our regular teachers.
Nine o’clock, I was staring at a blank piece of paper. Eventually I wrote “I am me because nobody else is me”, and at the bottom I added a footnote “PS: If you think I’m slacking, I jut sat here for two hours solid thinking about this.” Seriously, what the hell am I supposed to write? It isn’t as if I have experience of not being me.
Then I decided to take a break from reality. I rummaged around the video selection and picked up a pile of videos. Gremlins? Nah, not in the mood. The Never-Ending Story? Too cheesy. Next down was The Empire Strikes Back. I never got what was so great about Star Wars. Or Star Trek for that matter. I tossed that video aside and looked at the fourth choice. Dune. Now there was a movie I completely failed to understand. Judging by reactions, many people failed to understand what it was about. Sixth choice. Enemy Mine, another from Wolfgang Petersen, and a perfect choice. I slipped that into the video deck and started to watch it.

At ten, Anna walked in with a cup of tea from the urn down by the kitchen.
“Hey”, I said, “You could have made a cuppa here? At least my tea is a known brand”, I said, pointing to the catering sized pack of Tetley.
“Hey, this was just a quick fix. I don’t really get you Brits and the obsession with tea and weather.”
She sat down and recognised the movie immediately.
“Good call”, she said, “Are you broadcasting this?”
I shook my head. “James is probably playing that MeatLoaf video to make everybody wonder if they’ve been abducted by aliens from the planet Rock today. This is just for me. And you too, if you want.”
Anna wanted.
I remembered that I said I’d go pay a visit to James, so I left Anna when the credits started to roll. Anna was the kind of girl that watched all the credits, marvelling at the insane number of people involved in getting a movie made. Unlike many people, she understood what a “2nd A.D.” or a “Foley Artist” actually were. There was one movie where she burst out laughing because the nanny was listed as “Child wrangler”, and the on-set teacher was the “Small-person educationalist”, and other such bizarre things.
James. He was sitting in bed watching some daft and hammy drama about a bunch of doctors, or nurses, something to do with them being amateur detectives? I wasn’t really paying attention. James muted the sound. I noticed three cups of tea on the window sill. And a wet patch on the floor.
“I did it. I poured a cold cup of tea over her head. She ran off giggling. Weird girl.”
I tried not to smile. “Did she get the point?”
James indicated a cup of tea on the bedside table.
“Oh dear.”
“Come”, he said.
I followed him down to his study, where Anna joined us. As a fourth former he was not really allowed a study, but due to his involvement with SIBA he got one. He liked it. He could lock the door and have some private time with his Stripping Blondie videos. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t Blondie, just some girl that looks vaguely like her and mimes badly. But, hey, a girl on a video taking her clothes off is a girl on a video taking her clothes off. Does it really matter who it is?
“I’m going to call upon the black arts”, James said.
“Um, what? Gonna need some backstory here?”, I asked.
James didn’t reply, so I patiently waited.
He guided me and sat me down on the floor. He took some sort of crushed herb out of a bag and tossed it onto a plate, then set fire to it and blew the fire out. It sat, smouldering, spewing pleasant smelling smoke.
“Any words of wisdom, Anna?”, James asked.
Anna thought for a moment, and said “Well, it’s a sad reminder when your organ grinder comes to you for a rent, but all you’ve got to give him is the use of your side show tent.”
We both stared at Anna.
She shrugged, “Knopfler? Dire Straits? You have heard of them, right? Greatest guitarist ever ever?”
“Ah, that explains it!”, I said, mostly to shut her up. Organ grinder? What the hell is an organ grinder?
James then made a circle around me with some table salt.
“That’s gonna be hell to clea...”, I began.
He shot me a withering glance and put a finger to his lip and said “shhh”. Then he placed four red candles at the cardinal points, checking them with a compass. Finally he lit the candles and stepped into the circle. From his back pocket he pulled out a pungent sprig of thyme and handed it to me. “It’ll protect you from the spell”, he said. Before I could reply, he began to chant. It sounded like Latin, but I have a suspicion that he was making it up. I glanced up and noticed Anna had wisely slipped away.
The end was pretty dramatic. After wittering fake Latin for about five minutes, he pulled a short broadsword from somewhere about his person - how could I have failed to notice that? He swung it around and hollered “Tae ergo estes a dio!” and all the candles blew out. By themselves. Spooked already. I looked up and realised the smoke was filling the room. James stepped out of the ring and dumped the rest of the bag of the herb onto the plate.
“You done?”, I asked.
“What’d it do?”
“When I wake up tomorrow, it’ll be Monday. I’ll know not to go to the hall. Those bastards won’t laugh at me.”
I tried to get up, but decided I really couldn’t be bothered. So I just said “Cool”. James and I looked at each other a moment, then we both burst out laughing.

I don’t remember retiring to my study, but I guess I must have, because I woke up with a headache. Probably that crap James had been burning. It was, again, cutting it close. This time I woke early at twenty to seven. Remembering yesterday, I stumbled out of bed with much less gusto. Firing up the computer, I looked at my messages. Nothing new, just the ones I’d read yesterday flagged as unread. I guess some programming mistake... no, I checked that code twice. I asked the FileStore for the time and it told me it was Monday. Okay, dodgy backup battery or something. I’ll need to get that fixed or it’ll play havoc with the messages that are sorted by date. It was raining, again. Still not feeling like talking, I dug up the LP version of Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds and set it to play, then set up an extreme zoom shot out of the studio window, looking at a puddle. At the stroke of seven I started the turntable and flicked the On Air switch.
I skipped breakfast. It smelt like another fry up. I was hungry though, so I dug up a slightly stale loaf of bread, half a box of Kipling Apple Pies, and a diet coke. I think diet cola is hideous, I’d rather the non-diet version, but beggars can’t be choosers. To my extreme annoyance, I then found a six-pack of cherry cola lurking behind the video stack on the shelf. I guess I hid it there - my own private stash - then forgot it was there... If only I’d seen that before I drink the diet one.
No sooner than I’d made it to the hall for assembly, I turned and saw James suddenly lean forwards and puke his guts out.
“Ah man”, I said to him, “you’ve got it bad. You got a tummy bug or summat?”
He give me this filthy stare and was lead away by matron, who was fussing all over him. Everybody was laughing. Sods.
As I was preparing to go to a double chemistry, Daniel took me by the arm. “Where’r you offta?”
“Double chem”
“God, I wish. PE now.”
“What? You yanking my chain?”
“Nah, serious.”
Reluctantly I followed him into the changing room. There was everybody else getting changed. It wasn’t a wind up. Damn, I hate it when the schedules get changed and nobody bothers to tell me. Okay, maybe it’s my fault - there were a dozen emails from the headmaster that I never bothered to read this morning. I guess one of them mentioned the schedule change. But to change to a double PE. That so sucked. It so totally did.
Alas, I didn’t have my games kit. At least I had an excuse although the games tutor looked at me like I was out of my mind. Not that he cared, he just piled us into the back of the minibus and took us to...
...the exact same place we went yesterday. For, like, the first time in recorded history, we went to the same place. I guessed that if we couldn’t be bothered any more, neither could he. After all, this has to be our fiftieth or sixtieth run-back, I guess there’s only so many places we could be taken. As the bus drove away, I made a pretence of running like hell, but stopped as soon as the bus had made it around the corner.
Jonathan and Daniel idled up beside me.
“Where the hell are we?”, Daniel asked.
I shrugged. Things were getting a bit odd now, did Daniel suffer from attention deficit disorder? Lack of concentration? Poor memory? All of the above? “Well, might as well head back?”, I said.
“What? Run?”, Jonathan asked.
“Not likely”, I said, “Didn’t run yesterday, don’t plan to today.”
“Yesterday? Uh, okay. Anyway, what lesson would we be missing?”, Daniel asked.
“Dunno, it’s all changed and I never bothered reading the memo... assuming there was a memo”, I replied.
They both gave me The Look. I’m not sure why, but I know that The Look is given when somebody is especially weird.
“Don’t feel like running, so, I guess it is decided, we walk”, Daniel said.
“Hang on!”, Jonathan said, “I’m missing biology. I like biology.”
“Well, you can run back then? Might make it in time, catch up with the others?”, Daniel said.
Jonathan considered this for all of a second before smiling and saying, “Okay, it’s decided, we walk.”
I staggered into the back at ten past eleven and snuck up the back stairs. At the first floor, the door flung open smacking me aside. That former prefect came out, said something very rude, and leapt down the half flight of stairs in one go. I rubbed my arm and carried on up towards my study. I walked into the bathroom opposite and stood in the shower, but I didn’t turn the water on. James walked in and leaned against the sink.
“This sucks, gnerally, everything”, he said. Noticing I was still dressed he added “People normally get undressed first, you know?”
I pulled the shower curtain fully open, “Hey James. You should be glad you missed PE. It was pretty tragic.”
“I heard. Can’t keep anything private in this crappy place.”
I simply nodded. I closed the shower curtain and got undressed. “You okay? It’s not like matron to let anybody out so quickly.”
“I told her I had to go push some buttons. Said the station might pretend to be automatic, but somebody’s gotta be there to kick it every so often.”
“Nice excuse”, I said.
“Yeah, it’s bought me ‘til half eleven”, James said, “Get away from her frigging daughter. Not surprising she has a bladder prob...”
“She sure likes her tea”, I cut in.
“Dammit, tell me. Every five bloody minutes. I swear I’m gonna tip the last cup on her head. Ain’t she supposed to be at school?”
Feeling seriously peculiar now, I decided I didn’t feel like explaining. “Day off, some school thing or other.”
“Mmm, well, I’ll leave you in peace now.”, James said.
On a hunch, as James opened the bathroom door, I shouted “Hey Anna!”
Anna popped her head around and said “You heard me coming, huh?”, then left, closing the door.
I finished at twenty past eleven and ambled into my study. Anna was sitting on the comfy chair reading something that looked ridiculously complicated.
“Hey”, I said.
“I’m gonna be late. Didn’t even get my tea.”
Anna motioned to a cup sitting by the computer.
“Take your time”, she said, “IT teacher has stormed off home in a huff... again. You have two free periods.”
“Yeah, well”, I replied, “The PE teacher wants me dead and I’ve got a week’s worth of detention for missing maths, only he’s probably forgotten by now.”
Something in Anna’s eyes faded a little.
“I, uh... never mind”, she said.
I waited for Anna to massage my head, then realised I’d not washed my hair so it didn’t have a towel around it.
“Interesting wake up call this morning, starting a performance that there wouldn’t be time to listen to and broadcasting a puddle getting rained upon. Very... very.”, she said.
“Yeah, very.”
Lunch. I looked at it. I didn’t bother asking for an option. The cook snarled anyway.
I went up at ten to two and nudged James, who was resting his head on his hands watching the spools of tape going around. I grabbed my briefcase and headed downstairs for physics. James went back to the sanatorium, fearing the lurking cups of tea.
“People, today we learn about Mr. Maxwell”, the physics teacher announced.
“Done this”, I said.
“Oh?”, the teacher asked.
“Yeah, duh, yesterday!”
People started to giggle.
“In case you somehow failed to notice, yesterday was Sunday. You had no lessons then, certainly you did not have Physics and you did not learn about Maxwell.”
“No. Not another word.”
“Page 147”, I mumbled.
He flicked on the projector. An information page appeared on the wall behind him with “TURN TO PAGE 147” in big letters at the top.
I paid attention in Physics, the evil eye was on me so I had no choice. I ambled along to English Lit. and used that forty minutes to ponder what was going on. Certainly everything indicated that Monday had happened again for me, and everybody else seemed to not realise. But, dude, reality check - “Groundhog Day” and “12:01” are movies. That kinda crap doesn’t actually happen! My déjà vu was strong, but then maybe I was coming down with something and it only seemed like everything had happened already. I experienced that before when I had a heavy cold, that odd reluctance to take part in anything because your mind feels just a little out of step so it is as if everything has already happened once before.
Careers Guidance.
“Alrighty then”, the slimy I-wanna-be-in-a-real-job tutor said, “What I really want to know is what do you want to do when you leave school?”
I shrugged. I hated that sodding question. We got it once every other lesson. “Dunno”, I said, “something with computers?”
“You don’t plan for a career in television?”
“Well, I guess it would have been exceedingly cool to have been Graham.”
“Pardon? Who?”
“Graham, the cameraman on Treasure Hunt.”
With a few carefully chosen words I swung the discussion around to the size of Anneka’s bottom. I rather suspect few of them knew who I was talking about, and even fewer had even watched Treasure Hunt on TV, But, hell, talking about practically anything would be better than “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and since this was a boy’s school, obsessing over female anatomy was pretty normal.
At four, LATV resumed playing music. I realised then that James had loaded up Iron Maiden for playing. I ejected it mid-song and dropped in a hip-hop tape, “Freedom Of Speech” by Above The Law.
I ran full speed to see James in sick bay. He was sitting on the bed playing scrabble with Amy. I switched the television on to SIBA and turned up the volume. After a few moments and numerous obscenities, I flicked the TV off.
They both stared at me glassy eyed.
“You really asking for trouble now”, James said.
“Hell yeah.”
James’ eyebrows levitated almost as high as Amy’s. They looked like Penfold.
“Wanna know a little secret?”, I asked.
“Shoot”, James replied.
“Next up, Sugar Walls. Then then a song by Berlin about Sex, then AC/DC’s You Shook Me. Kate Bush’s Sat In Your Lap, then Dildo Desire. And finally the infamous I Touch Myself.”
“You... uh... we... it...”, James said, more or less lost for words.
“Hey, it’s a boy’s school, right? We need to get everybody a-masturbatin’!”, I said with a big smile.
“Are you quite feeling okay?”, Amy asked quietly.
“Damn fine”, I replied, walking out, leaving them speechless.
I skipped dinner, or supper as they call it. Even though by my reckoning it hadn’t happened yet, I remembered eating that entire container of macaroni cheese and, well, I couldn’t face it again. Hell, I still felt full. Or, should I be feeling full later? I slipped up to my study and stayed there.
At seven o’clock there was a knock at the door. The Head Cook let herself in and handed me a big tupperware container.
“Here”, she said, “I noticed you didn’t show up for supper.”
I smiled weakly and thanked her. After she left, I wondered if I could lock the door somehow.
Eight thirty. I had drilled a hole in the door and installed a new Yale mortice lock, stolen from the tool shed. Nice. That ought to do it.
I saw my English essay and wrote “I am me because nobody else is me”, and at the bottom I added a footnote “PS: If you think I’m slacking, I jut sat here for two hours solid thinking about this.” That was a lie, I spent the time the other day, the not today day. But hey, I did spend the time.
Knowing that Anna would turn up in a while, I pushed The Never-Ending Story into the video deck. No point watching Enemy Mine a second time. I smiled to myself when I remembered that this was also a Wolfgang Petersen film.
On cue, Anna walked in with a cup of tea from the urn down by the kitchen.
“Hey”, I said.
“Hey, nice lock, you have stuff to hide?”
“Just myself”, I replied. Anna sank into a chair and burst into tears.
“This part, it always gets me.” The boy was shouting and screaming as his horse was sinking in the Swamp of Sadness. I felt like that every Monday.
After Anna composed herself, she looked over at my computer. The Mailman icon was the bulging postbox. She clicked it.
“Do you ever bother to read your mail?”, she asked me.
“Depends who it is from.”
“You have thirty seven messages from the headmaster, and another eighty two from other members of staff. Most seem to be quoting bits of songs. Oh my, it seems... wow... these lyrics are quite pervy.”
She burst out laughing, “Somebody seems to have been playing a lot of songs about masturbation. Was that James?”
“No, me.”
“Wha? Huh?”
“Funny, that’s about what James said.”
“Why? For God’s sake!”
Anna fluffed herself down and walked out, slamming the door behind her. For once I got the most bizarre feeling. She was really upset at me and I couldn’t care less.
Well, it was spell time. So I walked to the sick bay to collect James. As we walked back, I said, “James, the spell worked.”
He looked at me.
“Serious. This is my second Monday.”
“Yeah, right.”
“Straight up, man. I just wish we’d repeat a day that didn’t start with double games.”
He didn’t believe me. So he cast the spell anyway.

I woke up. Flicking on the TV and looking at teletext confirmed it. Monday. Again.
I got out of bed at two minutes to seven, staggered into the studio, and dumped my interesting song selection into the player. I flicked on the transmitter and pushed the sound fader until the sound was distorted and the VU meters rapped against their end stops, staying mostly in the red.
Then I went back to bed.
Assembly. James would be sick. Yeah. Whatever. I got myself up at ten to nine, then remembered it was a double PE. Damn. My bed looked so inviting.
Three days running, three times I forgot my games kit. Only this time as we were herded into the minibus I said “No”
“WHAT!?”, the games teacher ranted.
“No”. Duh, it seemed pretty obvious really.
“Get. In. There. NOW.”
I shook my head.
He walked off, kicked the ground, walked back, asked “Why not?”
“You’re going to take us to Sandy Lane and drop us off so we amble back, like we’re stupid enough to actually run. It’s a total waste of my time. God, it’s a total waste of your time.”
His face turned bright red, then regained it’s normal colour. He turned to the people in the bus and said “Anybody agrees with him, step out of the bus”
Three kids leapt out. Two more crawled out, keeping to the sides hoping they wouldn’t be eaten. Five remained. Daniel had come out. Jonathan remained.
The teacher got in to the minibus and waved us away. “If you are so inclined to not even want to bother taking part in these activities, get lost. Go away. I don’t care what you do, just don’t do it around here.”
He backed up from the parking space and departed, getting up to fourth gear by the end of the small car park. He swung around onto the road, nearly clipping the offside mirror on the fence around the basketball court. The six of us just stood there, mouths agape.
I made it to maths. This was actually a Cool Day. Every so often the maths teacher would dispense with maths and whip out his guitar. He had this whole New Orleans jazz thing going. The general concensus was that it didn’t sound quite right with a guitar. So he ran out of the classroom and returned a few minutes later with a sax, which he could play. And play well. Damien played quitar, the teacher played sax, and we all sorta made sax-like noises and drummed the tables. It sounded like some sort of procession for the day of the dead.
We had such good fun we didn’t pack up until five past eleven. I headed up the back stairs at ten past. As luck would have it, I was two seconds early - the door flung open. I could see the former prefect had actually kicked it open, true to form as a thoughtless asshole. I didn’t care who it was, I rushed up before he’d even seen me and headbutted him in the face then slammed the door on his legs as he flailed backwards and crashed to the floor. Ah well, it’ll only hurt for another twelve hours and forty nine minutes.
When I got to my study, James was there. As I expected. He was probably waiting for me to return and followed me as I went to have a shower, only there was no need to do that this time. I slumped into my chair and stared at the wall. James was looking at the complicated book that Anna was reading, and asking if I understood any of it. I ignored most of the what he said after I told him I hadn’t ever looked at the book, and he kept on asking me questions anyway.
Presently, Anna arrived and took the book from James. She looked at me awhile then asked “Uh, you okay?”
I glanced up, then resumed staring at the wall.
“He’s been like this for the last ten minutes or so”, James added.
“Tell me about it”, Anna said.
I shrugged.
“How are you feeling? Something?”, Anna asked.
“You’re getting away from Amy’s constant cups of tea”, I said while pointing at James. I swung my finger to Anna and said “and you are going to tell me the IT teacher has gone off in a strop and I have two free periods.”
They both stared at me.
“And you, Anna, you’re also supposed to tell me that the PE teacher wants me dead and that I have a week’s worth of detention for missing maths, only you won’t now because things happened differently this time. But, whatever, screw this.”
I got up and walked out, slamming the door behind me.
... this time?”, Anna asked James once I’d gone.

I’m sure exactly where I walked. Out the study, down the stairs, out the back gate. Round the damn forest and over the damn hill. I must have clocked up a good few miles by the time I returned at nine. Some paranoid teacher had called out the police, and they promptly took me into a classroom for questioning.
“Well”, I explained, “I went to get some stuff right in my head and, well, after walking awhile I figured I was doomed to do this over and over and no amount of thinking would fix it.”
“Do what over and over?”, a cute policewoman asked.
“Pardon?” The gruff looking partner had entered the conversation.
“Monday. Over and over and bloody over.”
“I’m not sure I...”
“It’s a spell or summat, I dunno rightly, I just know every time I wake up it is another bloody Monday. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bed. I’m bored and hungry and annoyed and I’ve got, guess what, Monday. Again. Tomorrow. Starting with a double PE. Oh. Joy.”
I stood up.
“Now, just you wait a minute”, the paranoid teacher said, “That is no way to speak to...”
“Aw, stick a sock in it you dozy bint. You - policeman, or woman, if you want to arrest me or something, I’ll be in study 10. But there’s no point. There’s only a few hours of today left. And soon it’ll be Monday. Again.”
I walked out. Went to bed.

I had made a generic morning tape in case of emergencies. So I woke at half six, set the tape to play at seven, then I went back to bed.
A worried Anna woke me at nine forty. “What in God’s name are you doing in bed?”
“I’m taking a day off.”
“You can’t do that!”
“Oh no? Watch me.”
I rolled over and went to sleep.
The games teacher. Marvellous.
“No can do.”
Eyes bulging, he asked, “Why not?”
“I’m taking a day off. I do remember telling Anna that.”
He was known for pulling kids around by their hair. He wasn’t the only teacher that did, he just made it extra painful so it was something to be feared. He reached for my hair.
My leg shot out from under the duvet, my foot grinding into his crotch. He made an “oof” noise and doubled over. I leapt out of bed, pivoted on the chair, then kicked him square in the face. He sunk to the floor, which was kind of pathetic given that I was barefoot and my ungraceful far-from-athletic kick can’t have been much worse than being slapped with a dead fish. I skipped down off the chair and realised I was stark naked. Hastily pulling on something, I warned him if he ever touched me again, I’d kill him. I used much worse language, but the message was the same. To seal the deal, now I had my schoolshoes on, I sunk a foot into his crotch. I walked out of the room and pumped my fist into the air. It was not a big deal, it would all be erased in a little over fifteen hours. But for all us little guys sick of being pushed around by this bully, for years I’ve wanted to fight back. That kick in the balls was worth every bit of the next fifteen hours of hassle I was surely going to receive.
As I walked to sick bay to see James, I began to think that this repeating day lark wasn’t all it cracked up to be. I have got James to thank for that.
Amy had just brought in fresh tea. I saw three mugs on the window sill. Mmm, James was right. James waved to me as I entered, Amy sitting on the end of the bed holding a selection of board games.
“Yo, dude...”, I said.
“Hi”, James said, staring into this new cup of tea.
“You’re planning on casting some sort of spell tonight. You know, to make Monday again?”
“Uh, well...”
“You can’t. In fact, you’ve got to reverse it.”
“Say what?”
“This is my... God, I can’t remember what Monday this is any more. I’m not even sure if the real Monday should be counted or not.”
“Um, hello?”, Amy said, “Aren’t you supposed to be in class?”
“You’re a headcase. Worse than me”, James said.
I shrugged.
“Look, James, I need you to reverse your spell.”
“Get real. I’m casting the spell to make my Monday come back. If you screw something up, then that’s your problem, dude.”
“So what, you’re going to go ahead and do it tonight?”
“Most likely, yes.”
I turned and walked out of the sick bay. To the left was the small kitchen. I picked up a frying pan and flipped it around by the handle several times. Then I saw an old pan. Rectangular, slightly ribbed, black, and cast iron. I picked it up. It was heavy. Sweet.
“James, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”
I lifted Amy off the bed and tossed her roughly into the corner. I advanced on James and raised the pan.
“Oh bloody hell”, James said, hurling himself out of bed. James ran to the kitchen and yanked open the drawers.
“Isn’t there a goddamn knife in this place?”, he shouted.
“You’re looking for a butcher’s knife?”, I asked.
“Would you leave one where any number of students could get to it?”
I raised the pan. James hurled the drawer at me, scattering cutlery all over the place. I glanced down and noticed a lethal looking wine bottle opener. I flipped it into the air with my foot and, without looking up, I caught it and flicked it in James’ direction.
“Gah!”, he shouted. I glanced up and saw blood soaking into his shirt. I’d got him in the arm.
“What the hell is the matter with you?”, he shouted.
He reached for the frying pan I had discarded and felt it. It was light, but it felt pretty solid.
Leaping onto the counter, then running across the stove, he came at me. And got in a pretty good smack across the side of my head. I slumped to the ground, stars whizzing around my vision.
James dropped the pan. “Oh crap, bugger! I’m sorry, crap!”
My eyes flicked up and stared at him. “It’s okay.”
“Thank god, but you kinda got me with that pointy thing.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Tomorrow I’ll wake up. It’ll be Monday. Again. So, hey, beat the crap out of me, ‘cos now it’s my turn.”
I grabbed his injured arm and twisted it, using it to spin him into the wall.
“What kinda psycho are you?”, he shouted.
“The kind you'll wish you never messed with.”
With that, I swung.
Blood was pouring down the side of his head. The pan was dented in the middle. I should have guessed that a cheap metal pan wouldn’t take too kindly to sudden shocks. I tossed the pan away and reached for something else as James picked up a greasy pan and smacked me aside the head with it. I rolled over and pulled down the oven door. James came at me again so I ducked under the oven door. He hit it, smashing the glass window and breaking the handle off of his pan. I grabbed a piece of the thick glass, reached up, and shoved it into his stomach. I heard screaming. Amy had come to see what was going on. Matron appeared and shouted for her daughter to fetch two large prefects, then remembering Amy was one of the only two prefects, amended that to two large teachers. Seeing her daughter was unlikely to do anything except keep screaming, she dashed off herself. I reached for the piece of glass in James’ stomach and pushed it. James screamed in agony. I was concentrating so much on the piece of glass that I didn’t see him pull the skillet out of the oven.
Light. Dark. Blue light.
Darkness. I feel like I’m floating.
More light. It comes and goes. Bright. White.

I rolled over and stared down the side of my bed at the flat brown carpet. Instinctively I touched my head. I felt much better, having taken out some aggression on James. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really his fault - I still think this magic stuff is a little hokey, but you have to admit, it was good to whale on somebody and not have to worry about repercussions. I rolled back and stared at the bunk above, thinking. This goes further than that. There were no repercussions. I wasn’t even sure if I’d died last night. I briefly had a vision of bursting into assembly and mowing down everybody with one of the world’s most popular automatic rifles, the M16-A6. Then I revised my idea. It lacked finesse.
It must be a man thing. I had no actual desire to kill everybody I go to school with. Some were my friends, most were simply unknown to me, faces in the crowd. And, besides, mowing down classmates is just so damned American.
I looked at the clock. Five past seven. SIBA should have started five minutes ago. I got up and hobbled into the control room. With a few flicks of various switches, I had the transmitter running. I plugged in a CCD camera and patched it into the control unit. We hardly ever broadcast from here, having taken the time to build a nice studio in the next study.
I slumped in the control chair and stared at the output monitor.
No repercussions.
Anna came in, wondering why we were broadcasting dead air. I asked her to deal with the panning and tilting of the camera. Then I placed James’ baseball bat behind the desk, cued up the tape player with The Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself”, and flicked The Big Switch.
Our token viewer would see me standing one leg on the chair, the other on the control panel. I was singing, badly, making just about every rude gesture imaginable.
Just as the song was coming to an end, I reached for the bat, then leapt off the chair, flipping head over heals in mid air. To my amazement I actually pulled that off. But if I hadn’t, I could just try again tomorrow. I brought the bat down onto the tape player. The song stopped abruptly as the cassette door popped open. I swung again and again, pulverising the plastic casing of the tape player. Part way through I removed the mains lead so as not to blow the fuses, that would be bad as we’d go off air and the televisions in the upper study block would all go off.
Finished with the tape player, I lobbed the bat through one of windows.
I slumped into the office chair and pushed myself across the floor and began to spin around, paying no attention to Anna’s expression that was somewhere between shocked and scared.
“Well guys. Today is Monday. For real. This must be my fourth or fifth. At least. The beauty is that I can do anything I want. The other day I nearly died. But it doesn’t matter. In a few hours it’ll be Monday again for me. You’ll not know of what I’m doing now. Only I’ll remember.”
I stopped spinning, glad that I was speaking into a radio mic.
“So, here’s the deal. Whatcha wanna talk about? The airwaves are open to any old crap that takes my fancy. Call me, I’ve got a phone hooked to Sunnyvale Three Four Eight. Mail me. Shout at the hole in the window. Whatever, start talking.”
The phone on the desk purred quietly, so I picked up and pressed a couple of buttons on the control panel to patch the phone into the studio audio system.
“Well, I was wondering if you might give us the answers to our maths homewo...”
I disconnected the called with a furtive poke of a button.
“Do I care about lessons? Get a grip dude!”
More purring. More button presses.
“Hello young man. This is Nancy down in the village.” Nancy was backed up by a loud squealing.
“Nancy, sweetie, could you turn your TV down a little?”
She did so and the squealing faded away.
“Cheers. So, Nancy down the village, what’s on your mind?”
“Well, I, er, I find it a rather preposterous idea that your Monday keeps repeating. I’ve heard some excuses for not going to your lessons but that one should win an award.”
I shrugged. “Can’t be bothered to try and prove it. You see, James did some mojo and caused the problem in the first place and it’s been near impossible to convince him it worked and that it went wrong.”
“You have been fooling with the black arts, young man?”
“Black, white, pastel coloured? Give us a colour and we’ll fool.”
I cut Nancy off before she had a reply. Purr, click.
“Yeah? Wasson your mind?”
“Dude, you hot for that Anna chick or what?”
I looked across at Anna.
No repercussions.
“Damn right I am. Who wouldn’t want a chick like this around?”
I stood up, took the camera from her hands, and then kissed her. Full of slobbery kiss like in the movies. She flinched, as if unsure how to respond, but she didn’t run away.
“Okay guys, looks like there’s some unfinished business here”, I said, groping Anna and flicking The Big Switch to the off position.
The next two noises I heard was a wolf whistle through the window, and a slap so hard the other side of my face felt the shock wave. Anna stormed out, mumbling something about “How could I hurt her so much”. It was strange hearing Anna talk in the third person, that’s usually Amy’s role, but hey, boobies.
I realised that I was just like every other sleazy dude her mother often complained about.
I realised that I no longer cared.

The door slammed open so hard the hinges snapped clean off and the door tumbled to the floor. I glanced up at where the lock should have been, then remembered that it would have vanished the night after I put it on. It was the chemistry teacher. Anna’s mother. If her face was any redder, she’d die of a heart attack.
“Dumb stupid luck!”, I muttered.
I was grabbed by the collar and dragged all the way down to the chemistry lab.
“I am slightly more relieved that you were not having intercourse with my daughter”, Abigail said bluntly, “but this nonsense stops now.”
“Whatever”, I said.
“Air, fire, earth, and water, I bid your attendance.”, Abigail, the chemistry teacher, said. On the lab bench was a beaker of water, a small burning anthracite, a lump of dirt, and a balloon.
“Aren’t you supposed to call guardians of something?”, I asked.
“The guardians of the watchtowers of the cardinal points. That’s an anthropomorphism. Please, I implore of you, break the spell that is causing this boy’s Mondays to repeat. Eternal gratitude.”
She turned to me. “It is done.”
“That’s it?”
She nodded.
“Eternal gratitude? What about the salt, the big knife, ominous Latin chanting, or even dismissing the four whatsits?”
“That is ritual magic. This is real magic.”
“In real magic, you simply call upon the spirits in whatever form you believe them to be. You lay your request in plain language. None of that pseudo-Latin nonsense. Then you sit back and wait. If they determine your request as worthy, it will be so. If not, then nothing happened.”
“How do they know when you are done if you don’t dismiss them?”, I asked.
“You should only ever ask one thing at a time. And, most of all, you should never be so arrogant as to imagine that it is you who gives them permission to leave. That is assuming that they turned up in the first place. If you are an unworthy person, they won’t come when you summon them.”
“What if we are unworthy?”
“We might be. I tend to view unworthy people as those who call the spirits to descend a vile plague on their neighbour’s sheep, but that is only my perception of it. Maybe James insulted them.”
“He didn’t dismiss them. He did something with a sword and all the candles went out.”
“Oh dear.”
“That’s bad?”
“It’s not good. The candle flame, symbolic of life and vitality.”
“What now?”
“When you wake, you may remember what happened, you may not. Anna won’t. I’m fairly sure I won’t. I’ll leave you with a warning, in case you remember. I forgive you for anything you may have done, or been about to do, to my daughter. In your situation, you’d have begun to think you’re invincible. However, if you try any of that again, I’ll kill you. Not magic. Just me. And a very large solid object.”
With that, Abigail produced a rag soaked in something from a tupperware container in a nearby drawer and placed it over my face.

I sat up. There was a tube in my arm. A dark haired woman wearing a lurid green knee-length dress was examining somebody to my left. The woman glanced over and seemed to jump out of her skin at seeing me awake.
“Stay there”, she panted.
In under a minute three nurses returned, followed by Anna and the headmaster. The nurses prodded and poked me, shone lights in my eyes, and discussed things in long complicated words.
“Get out of it!”, I shouted, batting them away.
They retreated. Anna approached. The headmaster muttered something about phoning my mother, and he departed.
Anna kissed me. “I missed you”, she said.
“You missed me? What happened?”
“James cast a spell, you remember?”
“Yeah, I vaguely remember.”
“As his closing act, he lit up a bowl of cannabis. Four pounds of it, at once. Half the school got high from the smoke. You, in the same room, hallucinated yourself into a coma. I was so worried about you.”
“A coma?”
“Yup. Ten days now. Your mother stayed by your bed for the first eight days. I stayed with you for the last six with the headmaster fluffing around. I sent your mother home, she wasn’t looking too good from it all.”
It was morning. A Friday morning. Mom had come back, hugged me a lot, and then gone home again for probably the first decent night’s sleep in over a week. I didn’t sleep at all. I had a lot of disconnected thoughts. Something to do with James - did I hurt him? And lots of PE lessons.
Anna and Amy came in at half four, after their classes had finished. Anna sat on the end of the bed and fluffed down her uniform. Then she pulled out a binder and a photocopied piece of paper.
“What do you think of foreigners?”, she asked.
“Right, hello, I’m fine!”, I muttered sarcastically. “Foreigners? No feelings either way. It depends upon the person.”
“Would you prefer people from France or Greece?”
“Don’t care.”
“Are you not worried about England losing it’s identity because of the immigration?”
“That’s crap invented by crazed royalists and editors of trashy newspapers”, I replied, “the British still complain about the French while we drink Italian wine and German beer. These countries went through both world wars and invasions left right and centre and yet the French are French, the Germans are German, and so on.”
“Well, I...”
“I’m not really pro-foreigner or anti-foreigner. People are people and it’s better to judge based upon the person, and not generalise that ‘Everybody from here is like this’. We could name a dozen French stereotypes...but then we could name a dozen Scouse stereotypes too.”
“So you don’t have, say, national pride?”
“Funny question to be asked by an American.” I knew from Anna’s expression that I’d offended her.
“What’s England got to be proud of? The NHS? A good idea being screwed up by a hopelessly pathetic policy towards the nurses that actually get the work done. Water boards on an island with coastline in their county complaining they can’t keep up the supply in the summer. So called ‘fat cat’ bosses getting obscene amounts of money for managing badly. Will my exams be marked correctly? Heck, will I even get the right bits of paper? We used to make a lot of stuff in this country. Hell, we used to have coal mines. Now look at what we have. A select few pocketing lots of money while everybody lower down the pecking order suffers.”
Anna said nothing, she just kept writing stuff down.
“Why did you choose me to ask anyway?”, I asked.
“Because you are important, you run SIBA.”
“I’m like a media person?”
“Therefore my opinions are more valid?”
“Yes”, but this time she didn’t sound like she believed what she was saying.
“Oh, Anna. Me, famous celebrities. When we spout about whatever half-assed opinion forms in our brains, we are doing just that... spouting. Just because I’m a small-time celeb that runs some obscure not entirely legal television station doesn’t mean that suddenly I’m the authority on, well, anything. My opinions might be more easily shared because I have access to a transmitter. This doesn’t mean I’m any more right or any less wrong than the next guy. Or you, Anna. How would you respond to your questions? Would you take into account my replies, or would you make your own mind up?”
“I guess I should not ask you the last question”, Anna said.
“What it is?”
“Are you slash are you not a royalist, subquestion, why?”
“Oh boy. Does your teacher not like you or something?”
Anna shrugged, “Why?”
“That’s a hell of a question to get you to ask somebody. What will it be next week? Justify why you support your given political party?”
Anna rummaged in her papers, “Actually, yes.”
I sat up and pushed the pillow behind my back. High up on the wall was a television.
“Hey, pass me the RadioTimes would you?”, I asked Anna, pronouncing the name of the magazine like "rah-dee-oh-tim-eez".
“There’s nothing on, already checked. And we’re too far away to get SIBA.”
“Who’s running it?”, I asked.
“Amy and Chris. They’re playing a lot of Minogue and some sort of children’s programme with little round robots and spaceships that blow up a lot.”
I wasn’t impressed by the music choice, but hey, Terrahawks was perfectly okay in my book. I reached for the remote and turned the TV off.
“How’s the food?”, I asked Anna.
“You can identify some of it. But it’s not so much better than school food. And don’t ask about the tea.”
I sighed.

The end.




I am having difficulty with the final story, which is due to be ready <ohcrap>next week</ohcrap>. It was supposed to be released this week, but I decided to buy myself some time by writing another story. Unfortunately it took a little under a week to write this, so I'm not sure I bought myself any extra time... however there's now an extra story to enjoy, so it's all good...

What I wanted to do in this story was to consider the idea of a repeating loop, done ever so brilliantly in the well-known film "Groundhog Day". Only this time the main protagonist is a fourteen or fifteen year old boy at a boarding school realising that if his Monday keeps repeating, well, hey, no repercussions!

Be honest, which one of you, were you running a pirate TV station in a boarding school, with no repercussions, wouldn't relish the idea of playing every single song about masturbation and sex that you could get hold of? In a place where certain toilets were "known" to have copies of Penthouse in a plastic bag taped to the cistern lid, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

There is a glaring anachronism in this story. This story is set in an unspecified time between the previous (September '89) and the final (June '90). That infamous song by the Divinyls was released in November '90 which was actually after I left school. But, come on, it was too good an opportunity to miss. It's the same year, so it's close enough.

The title of this story was chosen because it has a certain relevance to what goes on within the story. Please don't think I'm literate enough to read some story from 1935. No, I'm modern enough to know it's the title of an episode of My So-Called Life and I'm cool enough to have watched its original broadcast on C4, the repeats several years later, and bought the DVD box set. Best damned programme aimed at teenagers there ever was, and "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" is the title of the final episode.

Speaking of final episodes, that is coming next Friday. See you then...



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