Middle School, P.M. (With Janie), flash fiction by Jim Meirose
Ho, yes! The big boss alarm bell yelled across the cafeteria in its heavy baritone, Lunch away, lunch away, down, and gone; and the Disney-style knockoff rotating stage only Janie could see, and that always struck her funny, revolved with a shudder and slid she and the other three friends who had just finished lunch away into the appropriate respective classrooms of the entire three thousand identical classrooms in the nearly planet-size fully automated middle school, and for the rest of the afternoon she listened not even to a single word from the loud blank hole of a teacher; why the hell to listen, hey; when it makes no difference what she learns or not because it’s already decided what her remaining sixty or seventy years of life will spend its time doing as she rides happily along atop it, rattling through one year at a time.
The class buzzed by, and she must have been in post-moltskin shock, because none of her pores were open enough to soak in whatever the teacher had been talking about these through the seemingly few-dozen days from the end of lunch to the class dismissed bell. Janie did not notice what had begun happening deep inside her where she could not see, as she proceeded further into her twelfth year; the speeding forward dragging invisible moments started pulling her along in much the same way a big ten-ton dredge is pulled along a noxious black mud slightly polluted river bottom, sucking up swaths of feet-thick scum of brand new knowledge into her head, too much, too fast, really, so her inner spinning double counterweight steam engine style extremely complicated governor apparatus installed by God to protect his machinery as he learned more about through trial and error of created-creature technology, went to work.
This governor, the type which had snatched the arms right off many a sleepy maintenance man back at the sooty slimy dawn of the steam engine, who had made the mistake of dozing on the night shift, while leaning over on the hot filthy engine frame in the back where the cruel red-eyed fatboss wouldn’t see, and as the merciful anesthetic sleep covered them, their relaxing arms accidentally lowered toward, closer, and into the snappy steel blurry-fast whirl of the governor’s multiple rods pulleys and weights heavily spinning and whipping around, which took the arms off instantly, splashing gouts of blood exploding over the surveillance cameras that they really didn’t have back in those early days, but that we will assume did for the purposes of connecting together this fast moving unstoppable roll of text you are reading, but never mind, that’s okay, just get the picture; the blood rendered the camera’s recording quality much too poor for release to the public, but it didn’t matter.
In those days gory live dismemberment films were destroyed by the police anyway after it had been decided based on them and any other hard unmentionable physical shredded stinking evidence gathered at the crime scene not to be named or shown to children never, ever, never, no, but which needed to be kept on ice to stop all rot until the trial was settled, and other testimony expert or otherwise including that of the through no fault of their own newly crippled maintenance laborer, sometimes referred to in Law and Order or Judge Judy reruns as the plaintiff, filtered out every one of the impossible to be remembered facts and details and whatever that flood in onto the developing twelve year old.
So, voila, the governor performed as designed to boil everything down to a few simple facts to actually be consciously realized by Janie, these being that her parents were in no way Godlike, but were nutty, embarrassing, and blind; blind, embarrassing, and more and more nutty, and the bag provided for free for her to funnel this incoming gross-flow of knowledge into as a good-luck courtesy, blew up to bursting and required replacement with more robust models as these simple facts about her parents ballooned into such a giant swirling mass that Janie’s mind protected itself by abandoning the process of bagging up the exponentially increasing knowledge, and internally pushed big red buttons turned big red knobs and pulled long red levers in the control room near the bottom of her brainstem in the deepest dimmest most elemental lizard-thinking-machine place in her brain, to start fashioning words from the expanding mass of gory dripping spattering knowledge, and to have her speak out the facts in thousands of different combinations of words and phrases to her also increasing peer-group, that her parents God bless their hearts, were totally blind, nutty, and embarrassing.
When she shared this she was surprised that this matched the way all of her peers regarded their parents, and so forth; this was the completion of another full circle of the mental development of the whole pre-adolescent human horde. Whew! And this only step one of—too many to come. Growing up is a sonofabitch! But the inventor of the steam safety valve must have progressed since that great day, to sainthood; but how many children must have expanded and expanded and finally exploded, lives wasted in vain, until someone woke up and decided it was time to mutate some DNA patch into place to install such a safety device, the results proving that again, as in the automotive world, thank God, it’s true they don’t make them like they used to, God. Thanks again.
Jim Meirose‘s work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Calliope, Offbeat/Quirky (Journal of Exp. Fiction pub,), Permafrost, North Atlantic Review, Blueline, Witness, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. His E-book “Inferno” is available from Amazon. Underground Voices. His novels, “Mount Everest” and “Eli the Rat”, are available from Amazon. “Mount Everest” has been adapted to a play by a leading west coast playwright. Click www.jimmeirose.com to know more.
© Jim Meirose