Authors: Dayton Grey
Allea and a small handful of other students let out some yelps of excitement, and Sabien and Kumuki clapped and smiled at Allea.
“Okay all, lastly, for the Level Nine students only, don’t forget that your trip to the Museum of Our History is this week. Because none of you have been, be forewarned that it can be a shocking and emotional journey to see the history of our people, but at the same time it can be revealing and is crucial for the understanding of our world and the betterment of our society. Understood?”
“That’s us,” Sabien said as he nudged Geon. “Allea is Level Nine, too, the youngest in the class. There are four levels in this school, between nine to twelve. All of the professors teach multiple classes and levels. We don’t have the luxury of having one professor for each specialty. With technology and information today, though, it isn’t necessary to do that anymore.” The other students muttered in acknowledgement to Headmaster Ulie and were sent on their way to first period.
Just as Kumuki and Allea were splitting up to head to different classes, she grabbed Geon’s left hand and squeezed it. Somehow she had sensed that he was nervous about his first day and he felt comforted and less anxious right away.
“G, don’t worry. It’s going to be great. Sabien will look out for you.
“Yes, Miss Allea. As you wish.” Sabien smirked and gave a subtle bow.
As Geon walked down the long curved hall with Sabien, their LifeCuffs directed them to the next class with step-by-step directions.
“Next class, room seven. Turn left here. You have arrived.”
The door slid open and Sabien walked in, Geon right behind him. The classroom was as it looked from the outside, set up in a semicircle, with a flat clear-looking wall with digital images on it in the front and four rows of built in long, curved tables and chairs on slightly gradually elevated levels. At the edge of the long tables, running along the length of them, was a thin, clear board, raised about one foot above the desk. The students quickly found their seats and Sabien pulled Geon toward the back. As each student walked into the room, their cuffs beeped and their names instantly appeared on the far left side of the large clear board at the front.
When they sat down, their cuffs beeped again and entered into class mode, syncing with and projecting the day’s schedule and content on the thin clear board in front of their desks. A digital keyboard and other tools were also projected onto the desk in front of them.
“Watch this,” Sabien whispered mischievously, as he typed off a quick message to another student in the room. His fingers glided quickly over the projected letters of the keyboard, and his message of
Hey, Bonsi, you look electric today!
popped up on his screen. He pointed to a girl in the row in front of them and down to the left and said, “Watch.”
A very pretty girl with fair skin and long, straight, black hair stopped talking to the cute girl next to her and leaned forward to read the message as it beeped onto her projection. With a giggle, she pointed at it to the girl next to her and they both turned back to look at Sabien and giggled again. He smiled and raised his eyebrows a couple times and typed off another quick message:
Meet my brother, Geon. He’s still beta.
Geon smiled nervously not knowing what to do as the girls noticed him for the first time and whispered to each other and giggled again. Sabien put his arm around Geon and stared back at the girls, smiling and raising his eyebrows a few more times. Geon silently wished for the encounter to end quickly, but at the same time was strangely excited by Sabien’s brashness.
“That’s Bonsi and the cute girl on her left is Vaya. Bonsi is part Japanese and Central American. Vaya is Indian and French. She has an identical twin, too, her name is Vilu. Pretty much just as cute,” he said with a sarcastic wink. “Wait, maybe that
Vilu, I dunno.”
Geon laughed as the other students in the class typed off quick messages to each other and chatted quietly before the class began.
“Okay, CLASS LET’S SYNC.”
Geon looked down at the thin, handsome man sitting at a small table in the corner of the room. He slowly stood up and walked to the front middle of the room. He had a slight Central African accent and spoke with a confident tone. The class went instantly quiet. He was dark-skinned with sharp, pointed facial features and a thinly cropped head of coarse and curly dark hair. With a touch of a button on his LifeCuff, the center and right side of the board on the front wall behind him lit up with assignment information on one side and a freeform blank section in the middle, with the class name, professor’s name, and subjects of the day’s topics.
He walked over to the clear board and tapped a button signaling the commencement of class. On the left side of the board with all of the student’s names, Professor Tinashe clicked a button notifying the guardians of an absent student, and then turned to face the class. He wore a solemn expression on his face and moved and spoke with great deliberation. With his head down and hands crossed behind his back, he walked to the center of the room and said simply: “Watch the destruction.”
With a click of his cuff, the room went black and all four walls around the students lit up in a video of the sky, with a burst of light and a thunderous crack of lightning.
Dark rolling clouds flew around them as the booming sound of thunder shook the entire room and echoed from wall to wall. The sound of the booms reverberated from different corners of the room. The blinding flash of lightning scorched the surface of the screens and a few girls squealed in fear while others muttered “Wow!” and “Look at that!” in amazement.
Soon after began the soft
click, clack, click, clack
of hailstones, on the streets, buildings, and every susceptible surface around them. It grew louder and louder as the white crystals grew larger and larger and soon the deafening sounds of
CLACK, CLACK, BOOM, BOOM, CLACK, CLACK, BOOM
were echoing around them. The falling rocks began to pierce the glass of the buildings, homes, and PMVs in the city streets. People took for cover and those that couldn’t make it indoors were trapped under anything they could find.
Geon’s eyes were wide open and unblinking and he held his breath in shock and fear while witnessing the terrifying ordeal around him. It reminded him of when they ran from the flood, and the panic and awe that he felt that day.
The voice of a young girl yelled, “Mommy! Daddy! Please help! Over here, Daddy!”
A small girl was trapped lying face down in the street, nestled up next to a PMV. Giant hailstones crashed within inches of her, and shattered glass from the PMV was scattered around and on her body. She shrieked in horror while her parents sat curled up in the doorway of a restaurant across the street.
A man’s voice yelled out to her, “Keep calm, honey! I’ll be right there! Keep your head down! Protect your head!”
With that he looked to the sky, grabbed an umbrella like object from the restaurant and made a dash for it. The object seemed to have a hard coating on it, but it was still bending and flexing as each object made impact with it. He ran toward the PMV, dodging stone after stone and nearly having the umbrella-device ripped out of his hands with the force of the hits, finally reaching the girl. She jumped into his arms and held tightly as he tucked her head under his own to protect her and ran back to safety.
The screens faded to black and the sounds of the storm grew fainter and fainter until they were gone. They slowly lit up again, this time showing the grim aftermath of the storm. Property, PMVs, and city structures everywhere were destroyed. Metal and wood were gnarled and bruised and broken glass was scattered all over the ground. The wailing sounds and flashing lights of the EMVs could be heard all over the city, as they transported injured people quickly to the nearest medical clinics. People were crying, bleeding, and in grave pain. The earlier shrieks and cries of glee from the students were now silenced and only now the occasional sniff or sigh was heard in the classroom.
As the video faded out once again, the lights in the room turned on and the students sat up in their chairs again, some of them wiping their eyes. Geon was scared and saddened by what he saw and the reaction of the others in the room, and even though it was a video, it felt real, as if it just happened.
In a way, for me, it did just happen.
Professor Tinashe reached down behind his desk and pulled out what appeared to be a large hailstone in a clear box and passed it to the first student in row one. It was nearly the size of a human head, jagged and white.
“It doesn’t seem so dangerous now, does it class? But when you consider the journey it has taken, from miles up in the sky, and the force and energy that is obtains during that journey, well, all of a sudden it becomes a weapon of immeasurable fear and destruction.”
It’s like a cannonball falling from the sky.
“Okay, students. Let’s take a moment and talk about what you saw. How do you feel about this?”
A girl raised her hand in the front row and instantly her name at the front left board turned from red to green and popped up on each of their small desk screens as Angeline Toma.
“That was awful! I mean, I’ve seen small hailstorms, but nothing like that. I mean, it’s so
. People probably died that day!”
“Yes, Miss Angeline. People certainly
die that day.
people. This is something very important for you to all know. Proper planning equals better probability of survival. Say that over and over in your head. Does anyone know what I mean by that?”
Sabien raised his hand and spoke up. “I do, professor. What you mean is that we can’t necessarily predict the future. And we can’t necessarily prevent a storm like that or even guarantee survival. But with the right knowledge and tools, we can increase our
of surviving and that’s all we can really do.”
Geon nodded in understanding and Professor Tinashe smiled. “That’s right, Mr. Sabien. That’s all we can do. But a seventy-five percent chance of survival is better than fifty percent. And fifty percent is better than twenty-five percent. And two percent is better than one percent. How so? Because the difference in that one percent might be life and death. So if you can increase your odds of survival by even one percent, would you choose to live, or choose to die? Do you all understand?” The class nodded in agreement. “Okay, then, now let’s talk about
to survive in a storm of this magnitude, and what you should do when it hits. Because whether you believe it or not, this
happen in your lifetimes. Maybe many times. And I want to make sure you all live long, happy lives, okay? Okay, good.”
He proceeded forward with the rest of the discussion and material for the subject and Geon found himself listening intently, learning more and more about the new world around him. Before he knew it, the sound of “
” came from the speakers, signaling the end of this class. As the students all began to get up from their seats, Professor Tinashe made one final statement.
“This is the most important thing you will learn from me throughout this course. Remember, class, the world around us—
she has no emotion, no sympathy, no conscience, no restraint. When she strikes, it is with unrelenting and unbridled fury and power, her only goal is to achieve balance, no matter the cost. All we can do, as humans, is be prepared, and our only option, is react to
. Remember that, and it may one day save your lives.”
Those words rang in Geon’s ears and he felt suddenly short of breath as the memory of his parents and the destruction from that day flashed before his eyes.
We must be prepared for anything.
Sabien nudged Geon from the back, knocking him back into reality.
“You okay, G? Look like you’re a little lost. It’s the first class and I know Tinashe can be a bit much. But, he’s one of the best. Let’s get moving, okay?”
Geon nodded and feigned a smile. As the two of them walked to their next class, Sabien’s LifeCuff lit up and a shaky live hologram of Kumuki popped up above it. The hologram showed only one half of Kumuki’s face as he was standing slightly out of the range of the camera.
Sabien and Geon laughed in unison as Sabien muttered to Geon “Kuki still hasn’t figured out this whole video thing. What’s up, Kuki?”
“Hey guys! Y’all ready for the next class? We’ll meet you in there!”
“Okay, Kuki, we’re on our way. Save our seats.” Sabien’s LifeCuff turned clear again and he laughed and shook his head.