Now Children: a short story

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Teach First Grade in a mixed species class is never going to be easy! For goodness sake, don't mention the war: you might start another one in the classroom you'll never be able to finish!

Humor / Scifi
Malcolm Twigg
5.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:

Now Children

“Now children, who can tell me when the third Galactic War broke out?”

“No, Johnny, it wasn’t last Saturday night ... Well,I don’t care what your father says, and it’s very wrong to incite species hatred – poor Mr. Klatchner will have to go to a lot of trouble to rebuild his bar. Yes, I know he’s got lots of arms, but that’s hardly the point, is it?”

“Yes, that’s right Zanphorasta, it was in GC 2423 ...”

“... yes, it was Johnny. If we took the trouble to read our history books we would know wouldn’t we? Yes, we would ...”

“... and it was in the winter-time was it, Zanphorasta? Well, now, strictly speaking there are no seasons in space, Zanphorasta are there? Oh, I see. Standard Zanphorastan Time. Well, that only applies to Zanphorasta, of course …”

“… yes, I know that Zanphorastans believe there is only Zanphorastan time, and that nothing else matters but it doesn’t make sense, does it Zanphorasta? No, it doesn’t. It really doesn’t... and it was two o’clock in the morning was it, Zanphorasta? Yes, thank you for that ... Oh! On a Friday? My, we have been reading our history books, haven’t we?”

“Yes, we know you haven’t Johnny, and it isn’t silly why Zanphorastans only call one another Zanphorasta. It’s just their custom, that’s all.”

“... it isn’t really a silly custom Xankle 213, Zanphorastans know who they’re talking about – it’s the way they pronounce ‘Zanphorasta’. Well, I suppose everyone thinks that theirs is a better system, don’t they Xankle 213? Sorry? Oh, Xankle 214 – oh dear, I’m really going to have to sit you two apart you know. You all look the same to me.”

“Well, yes, I suppose Clones are the same, Xankle 21...something, but it is very confusing. Yes it is! Well it confuses me anyway! Now, back to the Galactic War...X’lttl’x! What are you doing? Well, please don’t!”

“In the Third Galactic War the main causes of the conflict ...was that really necessary Johnny? You’ve made little Kakkakayak cry now - you know how sensitive she is. No, she did not start it! Well, all right, Kakkakayak’s people did start the war, but it wasn’t Kakkakayak’s fault was it? She wasn’t even hatched then. Now kiss and make up. And don’t pull that face!”

“We all know now, don’t we, that racial tensions were the primary ... X’lttl’x! - Oh, I’m sorry Deborah, did I splash you? - X’lttl’x! Get down off that ceiling at once! I don’t care if it is comfortable. We don’t come to school to enjoy ourselves do we? Thank you. Now sit down and behave yourself. All right, hang down and behave yourself. Properly, please! We went to a great deal of trouble to build those bars on your desk. The least you can do is make proper use of them. And don’t sulk.”

“Racial tensions were the cause of ... yes, Jandala! What? Now? Why didn’t you ...? Oh, all right, Xankle two-one-whatever, go with him. You know what his sense of direction is like. No, you don’t have to hold anything you don’t want to! Just don’t take all day about it, we’ve got a lesson to finish here.”

“Racial tensions used to be the cause of much of the Universe’s ... Johnny! Don’t swing X’lttl’x - well, I’m sorry Deborah, you shouldn’t sit at the front - round and round on his bar like that, you’ll make him sick! Now go back to your own seat, Johnny, and sit there. Facing forwards, please, Johnny!”

“But that was until we all learned to be tolerant ... what’s that noise? Oh my goodness,who let the water out of Herrinck’s tank again? But he needs it, dear. Herrinck doesn’t breathe air like you or me. Now, be a good girl and go and fill it up again before poor Herrinck goes really purple. And say you’re sorry ...”

“... now, it isn’t nice to call names, is it dear? I expect that would quite upset Herrinck if he could hear you … Well, I care!”

“Now who can tell me what tolerant means? No, it doesn’t mean ‘putting up with something because you ain’t got no bleedin’ choice, like putting up with Mr. bleedin’ Klatchner,’ Johnny. You really are a cynical little boy, aren’t you? I expect you get that from your father. Cynical? Why don’t you ask your father? But you’d better spell it for him first ...”

“Sisestris! Where are you slithering off to? I’m sorry if we’re boring you. Wrap yourself around your seat again, please, and pay attention. And don’t poke your tongue out at me! I know very well it’s natural, but I also know cheek when I see it!

Now, despite what Johnny says, ‘tolerant’ means living together with fellow beings in peaceful co-existence. It’s only when that doesn’t happen that we get wars. And with so many different species in the Galaxy it’s very, very, important that we all get along.X’lltt’x ... yes, all right Deborah, move to the back if you must ... X’lltt’x! Get out of Johnny’s hair this instant! Yes, I know he shouldn’t have made you dizzy, but that’s no reason to take matters into your own claws! Now come back and hang on your perch again.”

“It seems incredible to us now, doesn’t it, that such an enormous war should have been fought over such a small incident? Can anyone tell me what that incident was? Yes, I know it wasn’t such a small incident to your people Kakkakayak, but you have to remember that you had only just been discovered and earth-people had been eating boiled eggs for breakfast for years and years and years and years ... Well, no, strictly speaking it isn’t cannibalism. Cannibalism is only when the same species start eating each other ... No, I don’t think that’s what Johnny and Deborah were doing behind the hover-lift sheds Sisestris, I think what Johnny and Deborah were doing behind the hover-lift sheds was something else that people shouldn’t do without good reason."

Kakkakayak! That’s a horrible thing to say. And anyway, Deborah wouldn’t lay eggs because she’s a human being. And she isn’t old enough.”

“Now look, you’ve embarrassed poor Xankle 213 and Xankle 214. Don’t forget, their mother was a petrie dish and their father a glass pipette - all this talk of relationships and ... and ... things ... quite upsets them. No, Johnny that is not the correct term to apply to the Xankles. That’s only when someone doesn’t know who their father is, although in your case I begin to wonder sometimes. I beg your pardon X’llttl’x? … just you go and wash your mouth out – 50 miles per hour and upside down indeed! I’ll have none of that talk in this classroom.”

“Anyway, back to the war, err, lesson. That was all a long, long, time ago, of course and since then we’ve all become friends, haven’t we? Yes, even with Mr. Klatchner’s people, Johnny. Mr. Klatchner can’t help it if he looks like a great big hairy monster can he? I expect you and your father look quite odd to Mr. Klatchner too.”

“We are as we are created, Johnny – no, I’m sorry Xankle 213, I didn’t mean that, it’s just a figure of speech. Mmmm. Well, it doesn’t do to harbour grudges does it Xankle 214? It’s no more your fault you haven’t got any parents than ... than ...Mr. Klatchner looks like an orang-utan with boils and more arms than is good for anybody. No, that isn’t prejudice, it’s simple observation, and don’t you dare class me in the same league as your father, Johnny. I didn’t burn down Mr. Klatchner’s bar. Why you can’t all be like Zod over there I do not know. He just sits there and never says a word.”

“No! That isn’t because Zod is a lump of granite, Sisestris, as you well know. Zod is a silica-based life-form. They just function differently from you or me. Their metabolisms are slower.”

“No! I will not have the label ‘retard’ thrown at Zod, Johnny. That just isn’t fair. Yes, he will hear! Eventually. And where do you think you are going with that chisel Sisestris? Come here and coil up at once!”

“I have never seen such a bunch of ... Now, as I was saying.It was only when the Council of Extra-Terrestrial Life Forms decided ... Well, it had to be called something didn’t it Kakkakayak? It would have sounded silly calling it the Council of Extra-Kklaka’kklaka’kklaka’n Life Forms, wouldn’t it?”

“I don’t think that’s supremicist at all, Sisestris – I happen to be rather proud of being a human being, but that doesn’t mean to say I regard other life-forms as inferior. But we did discover the Universe, don’t forget. Well that’s as may be, X’llttl, but beings who spend their lives upside down can’t have a very clear view of the way things are in my opinion! And I don’t care if you can fly, so could Kakkakayak’s people once ... and look what happened to them. No, Johnny, they did not ‘all get their bleedin’ heads smashed in’!”

“This is all getting out of hand.I’ve a good mind to let you all fight it ... Yes, Zod. Pardon? GC 2423? What about it? Yes, we know that! We did that twenty minutes ago! God give me ...! Class dismissed!

“And Johnny, is your father in tonight? I think we need to talk. We might have a lot more in common than I thought!”

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