“Are we gonna be able to test it anytime soon?”
Aidan leaned against a bookshelf, arms propped up behind his head as he watched Micah Kingsley crouch down, obscured in part by a dusty gray lab coat as he tinkered with the machination on the table that looked vaguely like a small, boxy radio.
“I do not intend to test until it is precisely and pointedly perfect,” Micah replied, rotating his tiny screwdriver an extra ninety degrees.
“Isn’t that, like, what testing is for?”
“Only if you’re not a genius like myself,” Micah replied.
“Okay, but I just hope you’re gonna be able to finish it in about fifteen minutes. A genius like you wouldn’t want his permanent record tampered with, would he?”
Micah paused, glancing up at his bespectacled bro. “Whaddya mean?”
“What, you forgot? The parent-teacher-student conference?”
“That’s today?! Okay, change of plans,” Micah said as he flipped a couple of switches, causing the box to whine and his friend to jump. “We’re testing it once.”
The gymnasium after school was home primarily to athletes that wanted to get some last-minute practice time in, slackers who wanted a place to chill and gossip before getting picked up, or -- interestingly -- cheerleaders who enjoyed doing both. The gym teacher himself tended to be asleep in his office at around this time, making it truly easy for any students still stuck there as the afternoon dragged on to do as they pleased without fear of retribution in the educational sense. As far as hangout spots went, the gym after school was a wholesome, judgment-free place; all were welcome within its halls, and all could be privy to its unique cultural quirks.
It was here that the light din of cliques chatting amongst themselves, rubber soles and rubber balls squeaking on the floor, and enthusiastic exclamations of cheer all intersected, only to be curiously interrupted as one of the four large sets of double doors creaked open. Ms. Cynthia Wraith, the fair, young literature teacher stepped inside with a slight bit of respect for the setting she had just entered, as if walking into a church. She certainly didn’t mean to deliberately interrupt this student bonding session after school hours.
Regardless, as a new teacher, she still had a responsibility to convey an air of professionality and relative power over the students, upon which she needed to have a sort of authority. Ms. Wraith stepped in, heels clacking over the gym floor, and announced to a room which had, for the most part, quieted down. “Is anyone here in Micah’s science class?”
Maybe a fourth of the room -- around six people -- drolly raised their hands.
“I wish I wasn’t; you know how hard it is to catch the teacher’s attention with him in the class?” One of the girls sitting against the wall sighed, exasperated. “I could have a genuine question about the laws of relativity, meanwhile they’re fawning over Micah because he’s breaking them.”
There were general murmurs of agreement as the students more or less complained about Micah’s overachieving tendencies before Ms. Wraith cut in, “Well, does anyone know where he is? Apparently, science was his last course today and he hasn’t shown up for the PTA conference, which should start in five minutes once his mother gets here.”
“Mom? So he didn’t just spawn into existence from mitosis?” someone said.
“I heard he was in the library trying to put the finishing touches on his time dilation device,” another pointed out.
“Hey, you’re kinda cute,” a third person said.
Most people fixated on the time dilation line. Not everybody knew exactly what it was that Micah did all the time, but they did know that when he did something, it was sure to be interesting.
“Well then I suppose I’ll look for him there,” Ms. Wraith said, closing the door behind her as she headed back down the hall. Without looking back, Ms. Wraith could hear the doors open back up again as a small contingent of students started following her. She could only sigh and pick up her pace. It’s not as though they were breaking any rules, but Ms. Wraith did not enjoy being the target of scrutiny, and even more so when she was just the vehicle to achieve a perceptibly more interesting purpose.
The box was now shaking, blue electricity emitting itself from every crevice and frying the outlying walls that Aiden and Micah pushed themselves up against. Its whir got ever so louder as Aiden tried to yell over it, “This is crazy! Micah, this is frickin’ insane! You’re--”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before.” Rather than fear, Micah’s face was neutral, tinted aqua in the writhing light, yet beneath the glow of his glasses, his eyes glowed in a different manner. A glee of some sort. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth when the door burst open, and in poured a cadre of students with Ms. Wraith at the helm.
“What in the blazes?!” she exclaimed, hands on her hips as the students behind her swarmed into the small backroom. “What on Earth is this?!”
Micah’s glee ceased, and he suddenly dashed forward in front of his contraption, arms spread out to protect it from the incoming rabble. “Hey, hey, hey! Careful! You can’t mess with it!” he yelled, his backside burning a bit from the blue sparks.
“Never mind the contraption, we need to get you kids out of here before there’s some sort of nuclear meltdown!” Ms. Wraith reached for Micah’s wrist and was summarily slapped away in return. Indignant, she barked, “Did you just assault me, Mr?!”
Micah began to sweat, and it wasn’t from the electrifying heat. He cared about his permanent record, and assaulting a teacher was at least worth a suspension. And yet, if anybody tampered with the device, it could have disastrous repercussions that even he couldn’t foresee. He looked into Ms. Wraith’s nostrils as he reached for a possible rebuttal, “Uhhh, it-it’s just--”
Aiden’s voice and pointing finger led Micah’s gaze to another student traipsing nonchalantly into the glowing maelstrom, straight up to the box, on Micah’s left side. “Cool…” he said, almost hypnotized as he raised a finger to touch it.
“No!” Micah yelped, lunging for the student and his hand. He impacted with a bang, bringing the pair tumbling down in a fall that not only sent them to the floor, but briefly created a chaotic field of flailing limbs that affected everything near it. Including Micah’s device.
The impact was minor, but it was enough. Blue sparks turned red, then yellow, then pink. The cycle continued for less than a second before all lights ceased completely. Yet static remained in the air.
The crackle raised the hairs of everybody up high as scared whimpers surfaced from most.
“What did you do?!” Ms. Wraith gasped, as the box began to once again emit light. A solid glow, bright enough to fill a football field, leaked out of the mechanical seams of the box, blinding everybody with blue until finally a BURST of a blue shockwave, upending the bookshelves, blowing open the books, and circulating through the entire school.
Sharon Kingsley sighed as she stepped out of the car, exasperated after a long day of being worked to the bone, exploited, advanced upon, and generally victimized in that concrete safari known as corporate America. To make matters worse, tonight looked like she was going to be taking work home with her, or else that’d be a cut to her pay.
The toned woman’s flats landed in tepid, grime-infused water, only serving to increase her frustration. A tempered groan escaped her as she shut the car door.
And still… her son Micah. The young man was more than a genius; he was caring, consistent, and diligent. He did everything he could to make his mother happy, and even further, he knew exactly what he wanted from life, which was even better. Micah was the ideal son. A chance to celebrate his achievements was, perhaps, not a bad thing after all.
Sharon walked up to the school, stepping inside after pulling open the double doors.
Before her, the school had all the signs of a school that was specially open in the early evening. Lights on, banners up, a sign-in desk and table before her. Usually such a thing was manned by a staff member or two, yet nobody was there.
Looking around, Sharon spotted a small bench and decided, “I suppose I should just sit down. And… wait.” She stepped to the bench, turning and relaxing, letting all of her weight slowly compress as her tensed up energy released itself. The creaks of the old wood scraped out their screams as she totally loosened her taut muscles. It was a benign experience but was also enough for a euphoric smile to escape her lips. Sometimes, it was the little things in life.