Freedom of Choice

By Carlos Goodyear All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Drama

Chapter 4

THE THING: Year Twelve

Texas

George Washington elementary

First Floor, room 12

Audio file 124-134

11:15am through 11:29 inclusive

Freedom of Choice . . .

Chapter Four:

Okay class, settle down. There are still fifteen minutes left before the bell goes off. Everyone open your text book and we'll begin to review pages 1 through 20 of chapter two of this week's homework. Everyone is doing their homework assignment, am I right? I --- can't --- hear --- you!!!

As this chapter explains, a popular theory in the scientific community proposes there's a remnant of unimaginably ancient matter slash energy predating the Big Bang currently bouncing around inside the Earth like a marble in a washing machine. This random movement, which started a few years before most of you were born, could end at any moment or continue until the Sun's death burns the Earth to ash and . . . THE THING . . . leaves to annoy someone else.

I wouldn't worry too much about that last part. The Sun should last another six billion years, or roughly the amount of time it'll take for the federal government to balance the budget and pays off the national debt. Trust me, both of these events will happen at the same time. You'll understand when you get older and become a taxpayer.

Now turn to pages three and four, class. This sequence of artistically rendered images illustrates how we believe . . . THE THING . . . came into existence. As the theory goes . . . THE THING . . survived the explosive birth of our universe because two brand new super massive black holes consumed each other while a fully active Quasar was stuck in the middle. The gravitational forces involved were so great it warped the newborn time-space continuum thingy and brought back something from wherever old universes go to die. There's a lot of mathematical mumbo-jumbo behind this idea, which, frankly, don't add up to a hill of beans.

Trust me again, kids. You are going to love quantum physics in college.

Since it's impossible to examine . . . THE THING . . . directly by any means, we can only surmise it is mildly influenced by nothing more, or less, than a planet-size gravitational field. It pretty much ignores all the other laws that give shape and order to our universe. If any of you kids can figure out why this is, I will personally paste the biggest gold star I can find into your composition book. Make that two.

Turn to page five, please. Now this image illustrates our best guess about what happened next. Somehow, for reasons no scientist one can think about without getting a blinding migraine . . . THE THING . . . merged with a much more mundane piece of space debris already en route to a collision with a blue green planet. Pay attention Vincent, that blue green planet is us. Yes, John? What does mundane mean? Good question. It's another way of saying ordinary or common. THE THING . . . we started learning about Monday is the exact opposite of mundane. Is there anything else? Fine, let's continue.

Way back in 2013 Chelyabinsk, Russia became the last place a large meteor made landfall that we know of. Except for generating oodles of out of focus amateur videos and breaking tons worth of window glass, its arrival wasn't all that noteworthy.

In all likelihood the object . . . THE THING . . . hitchhiked upon was a far smaller insignificant chunk of stone, metal and dust lost amongst the innumerable others that burn up in our atmosphere daily. If the meteor that slammed into the Earth sixty-five million years ago had been one of these far more common objects, there's a good chance dinosaurs would still be stomping around our backyards.

Stop pointing, Peter! Principal Lopez doesn't like that!

Instead of extinction . . . THE THING . . . as the school board and PTA wishes you to call this unknown visitor, has forced us to evolve our society in ways that would've been unimaginable only a few . . . stop crying Lucy! You're perfectly safe.

What's that, Tom? Couldn't anyone come up with a better name than . . . THE THING? Indeed, many people have over the years. In fact, my university professors spent entire semesters thinking up ever less complementary ones in more languages than I knew existed. I've been told I'd lose my teaching position at this school if your parents heard I taught you any. Since I need this job, that's not going to happen anytime soon!

Continuing on, no one at this school, and that includes students, teachers, and custodial staff has been affected since . . . THE THING . . . opened a tunnel into Mr. Vickers's life sciences classroom two years ago. The odds of that repeating anytime soon are very, very small.

I told you to stop pointing at Principal Lopez. You want another time out, Peter?

As I was saying . . . THE THING . . . rarely comes calling, but we must be prepared. Starting next week all the children in this class will be interviewed by the school psychologist. It's up to him to decide when we'll take our mandatory trip to city hall.

There each of your Kirlian auras will be compared to the data contained in the subcutaneous tags you were each injected with a week or two after birth . . . give me a break, Lucy! What are you crying about now? No, it doesn't hurt. Just lay you hand on the glass plate. If it turns any color other than green the guard will tell you what to do.

I repeat . . . your auras will be re-scanned and registered once more with the government. You will then be issued a permanent ID confirmation password. DO . . . NOT . . . LOSE . . . IT!!! I know it's pretty long and complicated, but take your time and memorize the whole thing. Put it somewhere safe afterwards and never, and I mean as in the rest of your life never, tell anyone other than your closest family members where it is. Better yet, get your parents to stash it away in a bank vault until you're old enough to be take care of a security deposit box key.

Getting a replacement number because of identity theft is a major hassle. And bad people can to all kinds of terrible things to you with it. The mandatory back of the neck adult-size bar-code tattoos and final paperwork can wait until you hit eighteen. Until then you're parents, guardians, or the court, will decide what to do if err . . . things become awkward. Let's hope it never comes to that.

Good grief, Lucy! What now? For the millionth time, the text book uses the word tunnel to mean how . . . THE THING . . . makes a link-swap between different people, animals, or things. It has nothing to do with the real tunnel the school bus goes through to get us downtown. Do you feel safer now?

Fantastic!

Staring is rude, Peter! Turn around and keep your eyes on the blackboard!

Speaking about numbers, does everyone have their emergency . . . THE THING . . . phone number handy? Good. Tell me, what are we supposed to do if we see someone, or something, suddenly acting confused or out of the ordinary? I'm talking to you, Jack. And put away that comic book!

That's right. You tell an adult to call that number and point at the possible . . . THE THING . . . victim, or victims, when the police unit arrives. Put your hand down, Peter. You're way too late. Lucy pointed at our former principal, Mr. Lopez a long time ago.

And there's the bell. Now close your text books and get ready for gym. We'll finish this chapter tomorrow and go on to the next Friday. Don't forget to feed the classroom mascots before you leave. Oscar? Isn't it your turn? Get going. There's more than enough fresh Romaine lettuce and diced tomato in the Ziploc bag under the terrarium for both of them. Don't forget to fill the water dish, too.

Now where's the teaching plan for my next --- what's up, Oscar? Wow, I didn't know a Box turtle could produce so many. That's a lot more than last time. Come over here, everyone. Help me count all the eggs Principal Lopez just laid!

Stop crying, Lucy!


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