…or “Friendships that Last a Lifetime”
First posted 09/12/10
In the organization I work for, someone I cared for has been double-crossed and killed. I can trust no one, not even my own partner. I go into hiding.
I know that she was working at a particular school while digging clues about something top secret, so I create a new background for myself and become a teacher at that school. They put me in charge of a different class than she had, it’s a 5th grade class.
I’m taking the place of a teacher who quit (that happens a lot here, it’s a rough school) so it’s somewhere in the first half of the school year. I use the first day to set some rules. I discuss different rules with the students while having in mind the rules I want. One suggests a rule I hadn’t thought of. (I really wish I could remember it, in the dream I liked it a lot.) We end up with five rules which are generally stated but we’ve discussed various specific applications of them.
Some days on my way to school, a pair of spies will find me and follow me. I make sure to dispatch them before reaching school to keep my identity hidden from the students. Sometimes it’s people from my organization. Someone has double-crossed me as well, but I’m much better than my friend was. So far, they can’t kill me.
A day comes when a pair follows me but from such a great distance I don’t know about it until I’m within sight of the school. I’ve already been seen by some of my students, I can’t turn around and take care of things. I don’t know what they’re thinking… maybe they think I won’t fight in front of the students. Or that they can take the student’s hostage.
Initially, they are very direct. While in my classroom, one bursts in and attacks but only attacks me. It’s like they don’t even see the room full of kids.
The kids are in shock, but some of them – the ones who live in rougher neighborhoods – over come it quick and start shouting encouragement. I’ve been a good teacher to them, the class feels a bond with me. The agent and I crash through the wall and fall down a cliff that wasn’t there this morning.
The next day I’m a little worse for wear but I go to class anyway. The wall is fixed, it looks like nothing happened. The only evidence are the memories of myself and the children. They want to talk about what happened, but I make this into a specific application of one of our rules. Only a few are upset by this, but they all obey. I feel bad about it, but there’s no reason for them to know. It’s better if they know nothing.
Another day, another pair of spies. These again wait until I’m too close to school to deal with them. They arrive at my classroom door with very official-looking things from the school district and order my class to go outside. This has me extremely worried. I can’t let anything happen to those kids…
I don’t have to worry about it though, when I go outside, the kids aren’t there. Somehow I don’t worry that they’ve been taken somewhere but instead I know they’ve run off of their own will. Gone into hiding, perhaps. But the agents, they’re upset. (Giving me confirmation that they didn’t do anything to the kids.) They want to know where I told them to hide in an event like this, but I explain the kids know nothing about me. They don’t buy it. They find a tunnel from the main building to one of the portable buildings. There is evidence of many someones going through it recently.
The agents go in to chase the kids through the tunnel. The kids have rigged spiders on strings to make it look like it’s infested with spiders. The agents see through it, but they don’t realize there are some REAL spiders mixed in. In the dark they keep getting bit by spiders.
When they make it to the building at the end of the tunnel, the kids have rigged another trick with fake and real bats. The agents shoot every bat, emptying their clips. If the kids had still been in the building, they surely would have been shot, but they had also rigged a fake wall in the tunnel making it smaller by three-quarters. While the agents were noisily batting at fake and real spiders, the kids were quietly crawling back to the main building through the one-quarter part of the tunnel they had cleaned and walled off.
When they get back the kids scatter, it’s what they agreed to do. Two stay behind, they had set it all up. I caution them about doing such foolish things in the future and give them a riddle. When they’re older, if they can figure out the riddle, then they will be of great use to the organization. I only hope I’ve weeded out the double-crossers by then.
There’s a high class party and I’ve tracked the trouble to the hostess. It’s Sarah Jessica Parker. My friend in the organization had discovered and meddled with a plot of Parker’s to make the whole world love her. There’s something in the food at the party that does things to people. Someone who says a disparaging word against her turns into glass cubes and crumbles to the ground. The cubes then turn into leaves and they look like a bush that’s been cut to ribbons by a food processor.
I escape out the back of the building into some water. I rig up some ropes for a trap, a very distinctive trap. It’s the same trap I found my wife in when she died. (At some point I have become a man, and my friend who was killed has become my wife.)
I’m hiding in the water, waiting for the trap to be found. It will be found, but not triggered, if the person who set a similar one before finds it. A close friend of mine and his wife find the trap. He recognizes it and pulls her away before it can get her. So he was involved, but not she. I press a button which activates the trap remotely, catching and hanging her. My revenge.
Red motion lasers begin sweeping the bay looking for me. One find me as I dive below the surface and swim for all I’m worth. Even beneath the water I can hear the P.A. system as Parker’s top scientist heckles me.
“You’re heading to the Flea Sea. You’ll never make it there alive.”
I know where I’m heading and I know it’s certain death, but I have to try.
The water starts getting very shallow. Too shallow to stay completely under. And there lies the danger. The fleas can’t get you when you’re under the water. But they land and begin sucking on any exposed part of you. I roll while I move through the water, half of me under water and half exposed. There have been tests done out in the Flea Sea, this is the longest way to survive, but even for that brief time half of you is exposed, fleas will attach. They die when they hit the water, but you’re always loosing a little blood.
The fleas are many sizes, none smaller than a gnat and some as big as golf ball. I’m very weak, but I make it to a settlement of people who are somehow able to live with the fleas. The fleas aren’t as attracted to them as they are people not born by this Sea.
I find a tanning house which also claims the lotion will keep the fleas away. I pay for a booth and strip down, surprised to find I’m still a man. I hear others enter as the spray tanning finishes. I grab a towel and sneak into an empty booth beside the one I was just using. I’m careful to wipe my footprints away.
They don’t find me and move on. By the time I’m dressed, I’m a woman once more.
As I walk the streets I realize the lotion is pretty effective, but it doesn’t fool the bigger ones. Luckily it’s easy to see those coming and I can flick them or step on them before they get a hold of me. Here, far from what was thought to be Parker’s reach, there are people who turn to glass then leaves at even a bad thought of her. Her reach is farther than we suspected.
I’m finally tracked down in a small diner. As they’re taking me in, I can hear some murmuring about the color of my skin. It makes them nervous. With so much biological warfare on Parker’s side, they worry I’m somehow booby-trapped with a virus. I sneeze a few times in quick succession to further their suspicions. Two of the people turn to glass cubes, but don’t transition to leaves.
They take me in, Parker is there with a close covey of “friends”. I sneeze.
Her “friends” wake from their hypnosis. Some turn to glass cubes, but two others try to run. They are her husband and their young son. They wanted to leave long ago. She screams in anger and frustration and the two begin to solidify becoming bronze statues. I hand the husband some ropes and a swing.
“This is the memory everyone will have of you for as long as this statue lasts.” I gesture to his son. “Why not make it a happy memory?”
I back away to a discrete distance and watch. He tells his boy he’s building a swing on this tree, would he like to help? The father’s courage helped calm the boy’s fears. When they both finally solidify, they have smiles on their faces and it’s a very touching scene of a boy helping his father build a swing.