Whaling Conclusion

 

Part 3- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/whaling-part-3/

“This sure is food.  We sure are getting food and in a lunch line, because that’s what high school kids do to lead into a story,” Lucy said, scooping a big ole helping of high school glop food onto her tray.  “Let’s go to the cafeteria and eat it.”

“Boy, it sure will be nice to eat without certain creepers leering at us the whole time, judging us for our eating habits,” Beth said, introducing the topic of conversation.

“Yeah, what a fat creep,” Lucy said.  “I bet Dan’s home now, eating Cheetos and crying himself to sleep.  How hilarious.”

“You sure about that, Lucy?” Carrie said, because she was also there.  “I seem to recall you voting against the suspension.”

Lucy shrugged.  “I did, because I didn’t think the offense warranted it, but it doesn’t mean I’m not glad it happened.  I don’t like the guy.  I just think it was overreach.”

“Mm-hmm,” Carrie said, glaring at Lucy.

“I was wrong, obviously.  If anything, he should have been treated more harshly.  I just didn’t realize how much I was being victimized.  He should have been expelled.  Actually, he should have been raped by a rhinoceros repeatedly, then flayed alive.  That’s how much I think he should have been punished.  The kid looked like a rapist.”

Carrie smiled, apparently placated.  “And what, pray tell, does a rapist look like?”

“Why are you talking like an 1800s rich guy villain?  And I don’t know.  I assume a Russian guy in a jumpsuit.”

“Why Russian?”

“Because if I say black, everyone will lose their shit.”

“Of course, they would.  It would be extremely racist.”

“Which is why I said Russian.  I’m basically paraphrasing something my grandfather said but substituting Russian for black.  No one cares if you’re racist against Russians.”

“Wow.  You’re grandfather’s a racist.”

“I know, but he’s old.”

“That doesn’t make it alright.  You can’t use old age as an excuse,” Carrie said.  “When you hear an old person say something wrong like that, you need to correct them because as a young person, you have all the answers.”

Lucy shrugged.  “Why bother?  He’ll be dead in a few years anyway.”

“Where’s your grandfather live?” Beth asked.  “Does he live down on Cedar Creek?”

“Yeah, like three houses down from that insane woman,” Lucy said.  “At least I assume she’s insane because she’s super nice and super friendly, and sane people aren’t friendly.  Sane people are bitter husks of humanity who are completely jaded by their 21st birthday, which is convenient since that’s when you can start drinking like a normal person.”

“Hey, ladies. How’s it going?” Juan Conner said, coming up to the table where they were sitting.

Carrie looked up and smiled.  “Hey, Juan.”

“You look beautiful today.  Mind if I sit?”

“Not at all.  And thank you.”

“Anyway, I think it’s really cool what you’re doing with the whole bullying thing.  Getting rid of fat losers like Dan.”

“Thanks.”

“I didn’t quite catch the whole story, but I’m sure he deserved it.  Trying to hit on someone as beautiful as you folks.  What was he thinking?”

“Well, we do what we can to try to make the school a safer place for people like us,” Beth said.

“Oh, hi Beth.  Anyway, Carrie, we have a game Saturday.  Afterwards, some of the guys are having a party.  I was wondering if you’d be interested.”

“Sure, Juan.”

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Whaling Part 3

“Alright, I think we’re all here.  Let’s get started,” Carrie said, seated at a table in the library with Lucy, Beth, Vince Daley and David Starger.  I don’t think I need to describe what a library table looks like, do I?  It’s long, wooden, and table-like, but not like super long.  You know, like approximately 24” X 36”.  Made from hardwood, probably with some vandalism scratched into it from years of use.

“Wait, where’s Dan?  Shouldn’t here be here?” Lucy asked, looking around.  “He is the reason we’re here, isn’t he?”

“We don’t need him.  We’ve got, like, six people here already,” Beth said.

“That wasn’t the point.  And there are five people here.”

“I know that, Lucy.  I was exaggerating to make a point.”

“You exaggerated from five to six?  That’s a really weird thing to exaggerate,” David said.  “It just makes it seem like you’re bad at counting.”

“Don’t math-shame me with your toxic masculinity.  Right, Carrie?”

“I’m not certain you’re using either of those terms correctly,” Carrie said.  She turned to Lucy.  “And Lucy, Dan isn’t here because we want to create a safe environment in which you can tell your story.  We don’t want him to be able to revictimize you.”

“Makes sense.  Except I wasn’t really victimized,” Lucy said.  “All he said was that I was beautiful.  Which is true, so…”

“Of course, it is.  All women are beautiful,” Beth said.  “We’re fierce goddesses who deserve to be worshipped.”

“Silly me.  I thought we were people.  But, anyway, yeah.  I don’t really think he did anything wrong.  He just kind of, you know, complimented me.”

“And was it welcome?” Carrie inquired, because inquired is a different word than asked, and apparently that makes it better.

“Ew, hell no.  He’s fat and gross.”

Beth gritted her teeth.  “Let’s not fat-shame.  It’s insensitive to other people who might be sensitive about their weight.  We don’t want to have to punish you for it, too, okay?”

“Oh, right.  Sorry.  I forgot how seriously you take this activism thing.”

“Of course, I take it seriously.  It’s my job.”

“What’s your job? I didn’t know you had a job,” David asked.

“Activism is my job.”

“What does it pay?”

Beth looked confused.  Which was kind of normal for her, so I guess Beth looked normal, then?  “It doesn’t.”

“Then it’s not really a job, is it?”

“David, don’t belittle or denigrate Beth’s accomplishments.”

“I’m not, but it’s not a job.  It’s a hobby.  I do theater and stuff all the time.  Takes about 20 to 30 hours a week, but I don’t call it a job, because I don’t get paid.  Just because you spend a lot of time on something doesn’t make it a job.”

“Are you finished?” Carrie asked.  “Okay, so I think we’re ready to vote.”

“Wait, did you already talk to Dan?”

“We don’t need to.  As the bully, in this case, the procedures dictate that he doesn’t need to tell his story.  His word is unreliable.  Yours is the one we believe.”

“But I didn’t really say anything.”

“You don’t need to.  The fact that you are here says enough.”

“I’m here because you forced me to be.”

“All in favor of suspension?”

Four Ayes spoke out across the table.  Carrie wrote the vote down in a notebook, which I hope people are still actually using, or else I’d look like an old fucking fart.  “Opposed?”

“Uh…nay?” Lucy said.

“Alright.  Ayes have it.  We’ll recommend suspension to Principal Schwartz by the end of the day.  Meeting dismissed.”

Whaling Part 2

“Well, according to the judge, driving around a school zone in a windowless van that says ‘free candy’ is probable cause…look, I can’t help you any further.  You’ll have to take it up with the judge.  The school board, then.  I don’t care.  Basically anyone who isn’t me would be fine,” Principal Schwartz said, shaking his head and hanging up the phone as Carrie knocked and entered his office.  “Yes, Ms. Grant, how can I help you today?  Another pound of flesh for me to rubber stamp?”

“Kind of…what was that about?”

“Oh, nothing.  Don’t worry about it.  Private, confidential school business.”

“I see.  Anyway…”

Principal Schwartz let out a long, exaggerated sigh.  “One of the parents was calling to complain.  Well, as you know, tonight are parent teacher conferences, and one of the fathers is court ordered to stay 300 feet away from the school.  The mother isn’t happy about having to pick up the slack, and was complaining, because she’s a harpy hell-bitch.”

“That type of language is probably not something you should be using, considering the reason for my visit.”

“I don’t know why you’re visiting.  You haven’t told me.  Anyway, due to confidentiality, I can’t tell you that it’s Perry Davidson’s dad, but I kind of suspect he did it on purpose.  Having to stay away from schools?  How is that a punishment?  That’s more like a reward.  Shit, I’d take that any day.  No more parent teacher conferences for me.”

“Um, sure.”  Carrie looked at Principal Schwartz strangely.  “Are you drunk?”

Principal Schwartz exaggeratedly rolled his eyes.  “No, I’m going to deal with your parents sober.  Anyway, what do you want?”

“We had a situation in which one of the male students was harassing some of the female students.  He needs to be made an example of.”

Principal Schwartz shook his head.  “Great.  What’d he say?”

“He called Lucy beautiful.”

“That’s it?”

“It’s not that, per se.  He was hitting on her.  It was more in the context,” Carrie said, struggling to find the right words.  “It was kind of making her uncomfortable.  And other people.  We have a right to eat our lunch without being harassed.”

“Alright.  Did Lucy indicate that she was uncomfortable?”

“With her nonverbal cues, kind of.”

“Did he stop afterwards?”

“Yeah, but that’s not the point.  It never should have happened in the first place.”

“Fair enough.  If it upset Lucy enough for her to file a complaint, I’ll certainly listen to her story.”

“That’s not…I don’t think that will work.”

“Why not?”

“Lucy wasn’t really upset,” Carrie said.  “She didn’t like it, but she kind of just shrugged it off.  Beth seemed more upset than anyone.”

Principal Schwartz laughed.  “That makes some sense, actually.  Anyway, if Lucy isn’t complaining, there’s nothing I can really do about it.”

“What about our agreement?”

“Still applies.  But I’m certainly not taking direct action,” Principal Schwartz said.  He looked nervously at Carrie.  “Who’s the student?”

“Dan Johnson.”

“Oh, thank God.  I was afraid it was going to be somebody important.  Seriously, Dan Johnson,” Principal Schwartz said laughing.  “Anyway, I can’t do anything without a formal hearing and complaint, but he’s not important enough to defend.  Nobody will care if he gets tossed out or whatever, so just do whatever and send me the recommendation.  I just can’t act directly without going through the proper procedural safeguards.”

“Okay.  What safeguards do we need to follow?”

“I don’t care.  I’m allowed to defer to special boards in some cases, which is what I’m doing here.  You guys can create your own rules, or no rules.  Whatever.  Like I said, with a guy like this, nobody’s going to care enough to look into it.”

Whaling Part 1

“So, Teri’s been suspended?” Julia Sensabaugh said, basically filling the gap between the last episode and this one.

“Yep,” Carrie said, taking a bite of her generic school lunch.  “We made the recommendation, and Principal Schwartz followed it.  He seems to care about doing the right thing.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?”

Carrie shrugged.  “The Council didn’t think so.  I think it just seems harsh because we’ve tolerated this type of ignorant behavior so long that when we respond to it appropriately it seems harsh by comparison.”

“Well, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know exactly what happened, but I trust the Council to make the right decision,” Lucy said, also sitting there eating lunch, since it seemed necessary to include a central character to connect the spin-off to the main plot, in that there is any main plot.  “At the very least, I’m happy that we have a movement dedicated to addressing this problem.  It’s been festering beneath the surface for far too long.”

“Hello, ladies,” Dan Johnson, a chubby new character, said in a manner that really was less douchey than you’d expect from someone using that exact phrase.  “May I sit here?”

Lucy sighed.  “Sure, Dan, go ahead.”

“So, how it’s going today, ladies?” Dan said, apparently believing that if you say ladies enough times, you magically transform into a ‘70s porn star.

“It’s going like a day, Daniel,” Lucy said, unsure if Dan’s name was actually Daniel, but also not caring.  “How’s it going with you?”

“Oh, you know, you know.  Same old, same old.  Players got to play.  That’s the thing about dating when fat.  Beth knows what I mean.  When you’re a little chubbier, your game has got to be on fleek,” he said, because that’s what I assume kids say, and I wanted something that sounds incredibly stupid.  “I’m pretty much at the point where I just walk up and say ‘hey, ladies, who’s angry at their father and insecure enough to fuck this whale?’  Fifty percent of the time, it works every time.”

“That’s…really gross, Dan,” Lucy said.

“Haha, the beautiful Lucy Fontaine, breaking my balls.”

“Yeah, you know, maybe don’t focus on her looks,” Carrie said.  “That’s a little outdated.  If you want to complement Lucy, find something else.  Maybe her wit, or personality.  A woman’s more than just a face.”

“Okay, okay, fair enough.  Ladies, this is my friend Lucy.  She isn’t sexy or beautiful, but she has other traits.  How’s that?” Dan said, laughing jovially like a holly jolly idiot.  “Not woke enough?  This is my friend Lucy.  She’s smart, witty, and looks like a fucking troll.”

Lucy smirked, but valiantly managed to fight the laugh so as not to reinforce Dan’s behavior, while Beth gritted her teeth.  “Well, I guess I should be going,” Dan said conveniently, standing up and exiting the scene.

“Ugh, what a pig,” Beth said as soon as she thought Dan was out of earshot.  “He’s so fat and gross.”

“I know,” Lucy said, kind of giggling.  “I can’t believe he thinks of himself as a ladies’ man. At least he knows he’s a whale.”

“It’s not really fair to make fun of him for being fat and awkward.  You realize that makes us the bad guys in all this, right?” Julia said.

Beth and Lucy paused, before Lucy responded, “Julia, I understand what you’re saying and I agree, but I don’t like it, so I’m going to ignore it.”

“Fair enough.  It is fun to make fun of that fat loser.”

“Julia has a point, though,” Carrie said.  “The way he acts is pretty sexist.  Maybe we ought to do something about him.”

“She’s right,” Beth said quickly, jumping in.  “It’s not fair of him to mansplain fat dating to me.”

“Nah, he’s harmless,” Julia said.  “He’s not sexist.  It’s just the way he talks.”

“It’s the way he talks because he’s a horrible sexist,” Carrie said.

“Yeah, but he’s a good person.  It’s not like he harasses or molests anyone.”

“Not harassing or molesting anyone isn’t enough to make you a good person.  It’s a bare minimum.  It’s a condition necessary but not sufficient.”

“I agree,” Beth said.  “He’s always man-spreading his fat ass all over the place.  And body-shaming.  It’s man-sgusting.”

“Alright, well, now you just sound like Frida Waterfall,” Julia said.

“Beth may be overdoing it on the man-labeling, but she has a point,” Carrie said.  “He was pretty blatantly hitting on Lucy.”

“Having that fat pig call me beautiful was pretty creepy.”

“Right.  Women have a right to eat lunch without being hit on.  That behavior is inappropriate.  I think it’s time to refer this to the Council.”

Case One Part Two

“But I didn’t mean anything by it,” Teri Baker said, explaining herself in the principal’s office.  “I just didn’t know.  I don’t know anything about Africa.  I was trying to find out.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Beth said.  “The way you said it was offensive.  It came across as very racist.”

“No, it’s okay.  I can’t be racist.  I’m a Democrat,” Teri said, pulling out her voter ID.

“Let me see that,” Carrie said, taking the ID from Teri’s hand.  “Teri, this isn’t going to help your case.  It says Nazi.”

“Is that bad?” Teri asked, shrinking her face up in a way that was even stupider than her question.  “I don’t know what that is.  I just thought the name sounded cool.”

“Okay, look, Teri’s ignorance aside, that sounds like that’s all this is,” Principal Schwartz said.  “Ignorance.  It doesn’t sound like she meant anything by it.  She was just being stupid because she didn’t know any better.  Because she’s stupid.”

“That’s even worse,” Carrie said.  “Racism is one thing, but there’s nothing worse than an ignorant person trying to dispel their ignorance using sloppy, imprecise language.”

“That’s worse than actual racism how?”

“Because we can bully people who are just ignorant, since they want to fit in and do the right thing,” Beth said.  “Which in turn, makes us look better.  Right?”

“That’s not at all how I would phrase it,” Carrie said.  “Look, we all agree that we have to have a zero-tolerance policy regarding racism, correct?”

“Of course,” Principal Schwartz expressed his platitudinous agreement.

“And, even if she didn’t mean anything by it, other people took offense to it.  And if other people were offended, you need to punish her for what she said, to show that you take the issue seriously.”

Principal Schwartz sighed.  “Even though she meant no harm by it?”

“Right.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s more important that the school take a hardline stand on this.  It doesn’t really matter whether Teri was right or wrong, so much as the message it sends.  That’s why she needs to be punished.”

“I suppose I could order sensitivity training,” Principal Schwartz said.  “That addresses the problem and would help her avoid any future mistakes.”

“With all due respect, Principal Schwartz, that really doesn’t go far enough.  You need to think of the victims.  She needs to be suspended, or they will think you don’t take this seriously.  Probably even expelled, so they don’t have to see the person who victimized them anymore.”

“What?” Teri said.  She looked as if she was about to cry.  “Please, no.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”

“Can we get her out of here?” Beth asked.  “Having her here is upsetting to me.”

“Teri, please step outside,” Principal Schwartz said.  “We’ll let you know when a decision has been reached.”

“But how can I defend myself if I’m not here?”

“You don’t need to,” Carrie said.  “Beth and I were both there.  We know what happened.  Don’t worry about it.”

Teri stepped out of the room, and Principal Schwartz leaned across the table.  “Look, a suspension seems a little harsh.”

“I understand, but look, remember, as a public servant, we pay your salary.  You work for us.”

“In one sense, you’re right.  As a government employee, I work for the taxpayer.  In a much more real sense, I don’t.  I work for the government.”

“A government that is beholden to political pressure.  If need be, Principal, we will go over your head.”

Principal Schwartz laughed.  “Do you know how hard it is for a government employee to get fired?  You are aware of the teacher’s union, aren’t you?”

“And how long do you think the union will stick by you when they hear you are defending a racist?”

“Please.  We both know that isn’t true.”

It was Carrie’s turn to laugh.  “We do.  They won’t.  Nobody will take the time to look at the facts of the case.  All they will hear is that a student made racist comments, and you neglected to punish them for it.”

“You really think anybody’s going to have that strong an opinion without knowing what actually happened?”

“It’s never stopped people before.”  Carrie shrugged.  “Learning facts and being fair is hard.  Forming a knee-jerk opinion based on a headline is easy.  What do you think people will do?”

Principal Schwartz sighed.  “Look, I think I have a solution.  You have this Anti-Bullying Council, right?”

“We do.”

“So why don’t I just cede to you the authority to deal with this?  You seem to be the experts in the area, so I’ll delegate the authority to develop and enforce rules to address the problem.  When an issue like this arises, you have a hearing and decide on a punishment.  Sound good?”

“Great.  But how can we suspend or expel a student?”

“Technically, you can’t.  But I can.  You come to a decision, and I’ll rubber stamp anything you decide.”

“Really?  Why?”

“Because it allows me to wash my hands of any responsibility.  Look, these cases are complicated and difficult to sort out.  More so, people tend to get very upset, and develop strong opinions, even when they aren’t aware of the facts.  The type of opinion you can’t reason with.  The type of strong opinions that could cost someone a job.  Therefore, it’s in my interest to insulate myself as much as possible.”

“So, you’ll suspend Teri?”

“If that’s what you decide,” Principal Schwartz said, picking up the phone that was ringing because I need to end this story, and because it became a lot heavier than I’d intended for it to be, so I wanted to reintroduce a touch of levity.  “Hello?”

“I’d like to call in a bomb threat,” the voice on the other end said.  “Yeah, um, I’d totally like to call in a super real bomb threat because I don’t want to work.  I used ten pounds of manure.  Does that sound right?  Anyway, I used the right amount of manure or whatever it is you use to make a bomb.”

Principal Schwartz sighed.  “Rock, is that you?”

“No,” the anonymous Rock voice on the other end said.  “Yes.”

“Rock, you can’t keep calling in a bomb threat every time you want a day off school.  Just fake sick like the other students.”

“I don’t like makeup work, so tough cocks, titty-master.  I’m calling in a fake bomb threat, so you have to take it seriously.”

“You just told me the bomb threat was fake.”

“Shit,” Rock said.  “You still have to evacuate and call school, right?”

“Yes,” Principal Schwartz said.  He hung his head defeated and put the phone back on the hook.  “We have to evacuate.  Rock called in another bomb threat.”

“Well, it is Terror Tuesday,” Carrie said, gathering her things.  “That seems like something we should probably take care of.”

Principal Schwartz shrugged.  “Eh, what are you going to do?”

Test Case Pt. 1

“It was pretty lame,” Teri Baker said, describing her weekend as she sat at the lunch table, and because I have to introduce a new character to keep from reusing old ones for a new plot line.  “Nothing was really going on, so I just hung out and screwed around on the computer while my brother played some Mario game.”

“Ugh, I hate those games.  They’re so anti-woman,” Carrie Grant said, because God knows there’s no topic of conversation that can’t be turned into a rant.

“I guess,” Teri shrugged.  “What woman dreams of being rescued by a plumber?”

“What woman dreams of being rescued at all?”

“One being held prisoner by a giant turtle?”

“Why can’t she fight back?  The game reinforces all the rules of the patriarchy.  A weak woman who can only sit around waiting to be rescued by a man, women being taken against their will and used as nothing more than trophies.  It’s disgusting,” Carrie ranted, unaware that she was trying to use a game about plumbers trying to rescue a princess from a giant talking turtle in a kingdom of mushroom people that, for some reason, has a human princess to make a real-world political point.

“Mm-hmm, whatever you said sure is accurate,” Teri said, totally taking Carrie seriously and not just agreeing with her to shut her up, even though it’s something everybody does every day.  If you notice everyone seems to agree with you constantly, it’s not because you’re right.  It’s because you’re an asshole.  Teri turned to Beth.  “So, how was your weekend?”

“It was alright,” Beth said, eating something sensible and healthy, because I’ve learned from Tumblr that all fat people constantly eat very little, and only healthy things, with nothing more than an occasional, three-time a day cheat snack, and are somehow still fat, while skinny people eat donuts and other junk and don’t gain weight because human bodies are magic.  “I caught up on some school assignments and watched some (fill in whatever crappy TV show teenage girls are watching these days.  I can’t be bothered to look it up).”

“What assignment?  I don’t recall having anything this weekend, and we’re mostly in the same stuff,” Carrie asked.

“That extra credit for Mrs. Adams.  The pen pal assignment.”

“Oh, cool.  Yeah, I didn’t do that.  How is it?”

Beth shrugged.  “It’s pretty cool, I guess.  I’m writing to some girl named Ode in Nigeria.”

“And…?”

“She’s alright, I guess.”

“How do you speak to her if she’s in Nigeria?” Teri asked.  The other two looked at her as if she was stupid because, well, let’s face it, it was kind of a stupid question.

“Over the internet?”

“No, but like, do you speak Nigerian?”

“Oh, no.” Beth answered.  “I see.  They speak English in Nigeria.  At least, she does.”

“Oh,” Teri said.  She returned to her food before looking back up.  “Do they teach about American slavery in Africa?  Do they have school in Africa?”

“Teri!” Carrie scolded.

“What?”

“You can’t say that.”

“But I don’t know…”

“It doesn’t matter.  That could be seen as racist.”

“What? How?”

“Because it is pretty racist,” Beth said.  “I think we’re going to have to report you.  As president of the Anti-Bullying Council, I can’t ignore this.”

“But I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Doesn’t matter.  You can’t say something like that and get away with it.  We’ll see you in court.  Or, you know, whatever we’re doing with these things.”

Valkyrie Conclusion

Previous- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/valkyrie-part-2/

“Wow,” Jacob said, staring at the computer screen with Rock and Tyson.  With Rock and Tyson next to him.  Rock and Tyson weren’t on the computer screen, is what I’m trying to clarify.  Whatever.  Fuck you.  “I don’t remember any of that.”

“Alright,” Tyson said.  “That solves it.  I think I’ve figured this thing out.”

“Right.  The helmet makes you drunk,” Rock said.

“It looks like the helmet sends you back in time to the consciousness of another human being,” Tyson said, ignoring Rock.  “Since your body and brain don’t go back, once you remove the helmet you no longer have the memories of your experience.”

“So how does the helmet work?”

Tyson shrugged.  “Not really sure.  I’ve kind of lost control of the science behind it, and any explanation I could give would be window dressing intended to obscure the ridiculousness behind it.  There’s only one thing you need to worry about.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s cool as shit, bro,” Tyson said, sticking his tongue out and hold his hand for a high-five, because that’s how nerds think cool people act.  When neither Jacob nor Rock responded, he reverted to his nerddom.  “Fine.  But it allows us to have a little bit of fun.  Kind of like the universe jumping helmet.”

“Right,” Jacob said.  “But if you don’t understand the science behind it, isn’t there some risk that it’s dangerous?”

“I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“Really?”

“Of course not.  I’m not the one using it.”

“Let me rephrase.  Should I worry about it?”

“Probably.  But don’t think about it,” Tyson said.  “Instead think about this.  All this stuff that I’m letting you use is really cool, and you’re getting to use it free of charge.”

“All I’m saying is that letting someone use something without understanding how it works seems incredibly unscientific.”

“Not really.  Scientists do it all the time.”

“Like when?”

“Pretty much all of neuropharmacology.”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“That’s why I’m using it as an example,” Tyson said.  “Look at it this way.  You use drugs all the time.  Do you know how they work?”

“Yes.  We had a class on it.  And are you really trying to use drug abuse as an argument for safety?”

“No.  I’m pointing out that, safe or not, you do things you think are cool and fun.  Why should this be any different?”

“Good point,” Jacob said.  “Well, I’m sold.  Rock, you ready to bounce?”

“Wait.  Aren’t we going to see how this movie ends?”

Tyson sighed.  “It’s not a movie, Rock.  It’s World War 2.  You already know how it ends.  At least, I hope you do.”

Rock laughed.  “Sure, I do.  Japan gets destroyed, right?”

“There you go.”

“So, it’s the one with Godzilla in it.”

“What?”

“Yeah, Godzilla hates Japan,” Rock said, inexplicably lecturing the future valedictorian.  “To be fair, if I walked out of the ocean and into Japanese culture, I’d probably try to destroy it too.  Not ancient Japanese culture, like the samurai and geishas and what not.  Hating that would be racist.  I’m talking about modern Japan, with the tentacle porn and used schoolgirl panties.  That stuff seems to justify destroying Tokyo.”

Tyson sighed.  Jacob said, “You know what, Rock, you do you.  Whatever.  Anyway, we should get going.”

“Wait.  Where are you guys going?”

“Ariana Grande is in town for a concert, so we’re going to go wait outside her tour bus.”

“How do you know which one is hers?”

Jacob shrugged.  “I assume it’s the short one.  Thanks for setting me up for that one, by the way.”

“No problem.  I had no idea you two were fans, though.”

“We aren’t.  But she has a largely female fan base, so it seems like a good place to pick up chicks.”

“Right.  You know that’s rape, right?”

“Dude, come on.  No, it’s not.  How is it rape?” Jacob said.  He looked at Tyson for a moment.  “I mean, sure, statutorily it probably is, but dude, come on.  Who cares?”

“The courts.”

“Come on.  Statutory rape isn’t really rape.”

“I’m sure that the judge will find that argument very persuasive,” Tyson said, turning back to his helmet.  “Anyway, you two have fun.  I’ve got some more tinkering I want to do, because that’s what smart, scientist types are supposed to spend their time doing.  Tinkering.”

Valkyrie Part 2

Part 1- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/valkyrie-part-1/

Conclusion- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/valkyrie-conclusion/

 

“Jacob, can you hear me?”

“What?  Tyson, is that you?  Where the hell are you?”

“I’m speaking to you through your headset.  I added a communication system, so we can talk while you’re wearing the helmet.”

“Damn it, Tyson, what did you mean I’m going to die?” Jacob asked, suddenly realizing he was wearing a Nazi uniform, which generally isn’t a good idea unless you’re Prince Harry at a party.  Actually, even then, it’s a bad idea, so I’m going to go ahead and make the sweeping generalization that wearing a Nazi uniform is always a bad idea.

“Yeah, I also said don’t worry about it, but I guess you’re just ignoring that part.”

“Hey, Jacob, it’s Rock.  Remember, if you say anything racist, follow it up with ‘I mean that in a good way’.  I have a theory that that will let you get away with a lot more.”

“What?” Jacob said.  “I’m surrounded by Nazis.  I don’t think I’ll have a problem.  Besides, why would I want to say anything racist?”

“I don’t know, dude.  I’m not the one wearing a Nazi outfit.”

“Fuck you,” Jacob said, looking down at his attire.  “These are kind of nice, actually, except for the whole swastika thing.”

“They’re Hugo Boss,” Tyson said matter-of-factly.

“Really?  Sweet.  I’ve always wanted to get some Hugo Boss gear.  I’ll have to remember to pick up a couple spares before this is over.”

“They’re still Nazi uniforms, Jacob.”

“Oh, right.  Anyway, what do I do?”

“Again, don’t worry about it.  Boy, you’d think the young super genius that developed a freaking time travel helmet would be given a little more credit.  I have thought these things through, you know.”

“Yeah, but you also view us as expendable guinea pigs, so forgive me if my confidence in you is a little shaky.”

“I don’t view you as guinea pigs.  Anyway, you are currently occupying the body of Colonel Heinz Brandt, so just go with the flow here.  Do what comes naturally, and everything should play out fine.”

Jacob scratched his nuts.  “By play out fine, you mean we save Hitler?”

“Well, maybe fine isn’t the right word, but yeah.  Pretty much.”

“Colonel Brandt, would you care to make a donation?” a cute, young, but still Nazi secretary asked Jacob-Brandt as he entered the facility.  It was in this moment that Jacob learned, much to his relief, that Nazi uniforms were a major turn off to him.

“Ugh, no.  What stupid bullshit are you taking donations for today?”

“It’s to help our wounded veterans.”

“Oh, sorry.  Sure, I’d be glad to donate.  I thought you were raising money for some crap I don’t care about, like the homeless or kids with cancer.  I’d love to help our veterans.”

“Uh, you know she’s a Nazi, right, Jacob?” Tyson’s voice came through the speaker.

“So?”

“The veterans are Nazi veterans.”

“Well, now I’m just conflicted.  I know veterans are good, and Nazis are bad, so I’m not sure what you get when you combine the two…holy shit, it’s Hitler.”

“Really?  Good, you’re in the conference room.  What’s he saying?”

“I don’t know.  He’s speaking German.”

“Which you can understand.  Same as last time, or the Nazi secretary you were speaking to literally two seconds ago.”

“Well, then maybe he’s just speaking really angry, then.  I can’t tell the difference.  And who the hell left this damn briefcase here?” Heinz-Jacob said, kicking a briefcase out of the way.

“Jacob, focus.  I didn’t send you back in time to flirt with secretaries.”

“What?  Who was flirting?”

“You gave her money, didn’t you?  And the only reason to donate to a cause is to try to score points with the cutie asking for the donation.”

“That’s not true.”

“It’s kind of true, dude,” Rock piped in.

“Shut up, Rock.  What’s that noise?” Jacob said, referring to a loud bleeping sound as his vision went dark.  Suddenly, the words ‘GAME OVER’ flashed repeatedly in front of him.

“Oh, that.  Yeah, I thought those graphics would make this whole thing a little more your wavelength.”

Valkyrie Part 1

“Good call, Tyson, my man, pulling us from whatever craziness is going on with that whole bullying plot-line,” Jacob said, resting his hand on Tyson’s back.

“So, what should we do with the rest of the day?  You want to go see a movie, or go get hammered, since as teenagers we will certainly have easy, free access to an unlimited amount of alcohol at all times, unless we have to use the pursuit of alcohol as a way to get into shenanigans which will undoubtedly result in lots of zany laughs, significant, immediate personal growth, and absolutely no criminal records or long-term consequences whatsoever?”  Rock asked, using a question mark because, despite the long tangent on which he went off, he remembered that the sentence was still fundamentally a question.

“What are you guys talking about?  I pulled you away for a reason,” Tyson said.  “I think I’ve figured out what was wrong with my time-travel helmet.”

“Oh.  Sweet.  We’re doing the sci-fi thing again.  You going to go this time?” Jacob asked.

“Please.  An intellectual putting himself in the same physical danger he advocates for others?  This is sci-fi, but it’s not that sci-fi.  No, you’ll be going.”

“Alright.  But what did you change about it?  Remember, it didn’t work last time.”

“That’s the thing.  I think it did.”

“What?  No, it didn’t.  I think I’d remember going back in time.”

“No, you wouldn’t.  That’s the thing,” Tyson said.  “Your body is a three-dimensional object, so it can only move across spatial dimensions.  Therefore, when you went back in time, only your consciousness went back, not your body.  However, since your memories are nothing more than a function of your neurological activity, and your body didn’t travel back, when you returned to the present, your body had never gained the memories from your trip to the past.  So, even though you went back in time, you couldn’t remember, because you occupied a biological entity at this point in time that didn’t.  Make sense?”

“Not at all,” Jacob said.

“Wait a minute,” Rock said.  “If that’s true, wouldn’t Jacob’s very consciousness be nothing more than a neurological accident?  If his memories are just the result of brain activity, then doesn’t it stand to reason that consciousness is just a byproduct of the brain structure that’s given us the intelligence to rise to the top of the food chain?”

“Perhaps, but we’re going to have to ignore the fallacy of mind-body duality here to try to make this work.”

“I have no idea what you two are talking about,” Jacob said.  “Anyway, what’s your plan to get around, well, whatever we’re getting around?”

“I’m going to attach a camera to the helmet.  You won’t remember, but we’ll be able to record your experiences and watch them back.  At least then, we’ll know if it worked.”

“Seriously?” Rock laughed.  “That’s your plan?  Wouldn’t the camera be subject to the same physical limitations…”

“Rock, go look at boobs on the computer.  So, put this on, and when you’re ready we’ll send you back.”

“Cool,” Jacob said.  “Can I go see dinosaurs this time?  I want to see if they’re really covered in feathers, or what the deal is with those guys.”

“Uh, no.  To understand exactly how this work, I need to send you to an occurrence with a couple of, uh, distinct parameters.”

Jacob shrugged.  “Such as?”

“Doesn’t matter.  Don’t worry.  The point is I’m sending you back to July 20, 1944.”

“Cool.  The moon landing.”

“What?  No.  That’s not even…July 20,1944 in Germany.”

“Cool.  The German moon landing.”

“Jesus Christ,” Tyson said, shaking his head.  “No, Stauffenberg’s attempt to kill Hitler.”

“Hitler!” Rock said, excitedly, from his boob-filled computer.  “I love that guy.”

“What?”

“Yeah, you see, what I like about Hitler is…”

“Rock, let me just stop you there,” Jacob said, cutting him off.  “If you’re starting out with the words ‘what I like about Hitler,’ you’ve already lost the conversation.”

“Whatever, dude.  You like Bowser.  I like Hitler.”

“How is that even a comparison?”

“You have your favorite video game villain, I have mine,” Rock said, defensively.  “The guy’s been in multiple games over the years, and does a brilliant job at taking the complexity of war and simplifying it into a good vs. evil thing, so you not only get to kill people, you get to feel good about yourself while doing it.”

Jacob and Tyson looked at each other.  “Uh, Rock, you realize Hitler was a real guy, right?”

“What?  Don’t be a doofus.”

“He’s right,” Tyson said.  “Did you really not know that?”

“But he’s so cartoonishly evil.  With the goofy mustache and everything.  What was he like in real life?”

“Cartoonishly evil.  Mustache and everything.”

“Hmm.  I guess it’s good we’re going to try to kill him, then.”

“Right,” Jacob said.  “Go America.”

“Well, not exactly.  It wasn’t us who tried to kill him.  It was Stauffenberg.”

“Right.  Who’s Stauffenberg?”

“A Nazi.  I mean, technically, no, but he was a German military officer, so close enough.”

“Dude thisHitler  guy must have really sucked,” Rock said with a laugh.  “If you have Nazis looking at you and thinking ‘this guy is nuts,’ you know you’re pretty far gone.”

“He was Hitler, Rock, so yeah.  He kind of sucked,” Tyson said.  “Anyway, to go back, you’ll have to observe from the perspective of someone who was there.”

“Cool,” Jacob said.  “So, who am I going to be?  Someone awesome, I’m sure.”

“A Nazi.”

“Crap.  A lot of Nazis in this one.”

“It takes place at a German military meeting in 1944, so yeah, there are going to be a lot of Nazis.”

“Can I at least be a cool Hitler-killing Nazi, like Stauffenberg?”

“No.  You’re the Nazi who saves Hitler’s life.”

“Like the Nazi secret service?”

“Kind of.  But you do it unknowingly and accidentally, more like a Nazi Forrest Gump.”

“Weak.”

“Then you die.”

“What?  Wait a moment…”

“Bye, Jacob.”

Part 2- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/valkyrie-part-2/

 

The First Meeting

“I now call to order the first meeting of the Anti-Bullying Council,” Beth said, banging her gavel on the table in the library.  She had a gavel, because of course she had to have a gavel.

“Thought there’d be more people here,” Carrie said, looking around.  “Did you put up flyers or anything?”

Beth shook her head.  “No, why would I do that?  I’m the President.  I don’t have time for that.”

“Did anybody?”

David and Vince shook their heads.  “I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  It’s our first meeting.  The group will grow as people see the good work we’re doing.”

“Right.  Anyway, on with today’s agenda.  We need to first find a way to fund ourselves.  We aren’t made of money.  We aren’t Republicans, after all,” Beth said as she snorted.  She was met with blank stares and shrugged.  “What?  Aren’t blatantly partisan, left-wing comments the same thing as jokes?  No?  Hmm, Jon Stewart misled me.”

“As a club, we should have funding from the school,” Carrie said.  “Being a new club, we won’t necessarily have a budget, but we should be able to put in a provisional request for any specific events, and possibly get a short-term budget approved.  We’ve officially registered with the school, right?”

Beth winced and shook her head.  “Ooh, I didn’t know we were supposed to do that.  Sorry.”

Carrie shrugged.  “It’s okay.  I’ll take care of it.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty good with this kind of thing.  Leave it to me.”

“Good, thank you,” Beth said.  “Or I could go out and raise my skirt for the money.”

“I think we might need more than $5,” David said.  Beth stared daggers at him.

“What are you implying?”

“Nothing.  It was a joke.”

“Are you saying that I’m not worth as much as a skinny bitch?”

“Look, let’s just move on,” Carrie said.  “David, that’s not cool.  You should be aware of your male privilege and the impact that social norms have on women’s self-image.  Now apologize to Beth.”

“I’m sorry,” David said

“You really should be more of a feminist.  You know women need help defending themselves from the patriarchy.”

“Sorry again.”

“So, now that that’s all out of the way, what are we going to do?” Beth asked.

“What do you mean?  I thought you were the President,” Carrie said.

“I am.  But I’m looking for ideas.  How do we stop bullying and let everyone know that there’s a new sheriff in town?”

They all stared around the room blankly.  Eventually, Carrie spoke up.  “Maybe an awareness campaign?”

“I think people already know what bullying is,” Vince said.

“No, but let people know about the club.  Let them know that they have someone they can come to if they’ve been victimized.”

“Yes.  Perfect!  Let everyone know about us,” Beth said.

“Exactly.  Once people know they have someone they can come to, we can decide on a case by case basis how to proceed. I’ll have to talk to Principal Schwartz anyway when I fill out the club forms.  I’ll see about hanging posters, and maybe getting a provisional budget for that.”

“Great.  Good first meeting.  We’ll meet back here in a week, after Carrie has had a chance to take care of all the paperwork.”