Maxwell Cody, a fourth year teacher known as Mr. Cody at school, scraped the last bit of melted ice cream from the bottom of his cup. Just a while ago, he was at school and had just spent three hours after school doing nothing productive in his classroom but only thought about giving his students “upgrades”. His student Oliver, for one, came to his class with an unfortunate lack of number sense - he was in dire need of a “math” upgrade. Then there was Leo who had trouble sensing how others perceived him. As a result he had no filters and no borders. Was it a lack of socialization? Perhaps he needed an “empathy” upgrade. There was Mariana who was highly vocal. When her friends took a break from listening she just talked to herself. When they decide to engage again, they continue to get bombarded with one way conversations and realize why they took a break in the first place. Actually, she wouldn’t need an upgrade - a vocal chord “downgrade” would be more suitable. Then there were those who needed a “spelling” upgrade… yes, if only it were that easy. Sadly, there were even some that needed a “happiness” upgrade. Mr. Cody imagined himself as a tinkerer of some sorts… fixing and upgrading little robots, one by one.
He walked over to a trash can near a sign that read, “Ponchello Cinemas”, threw away his ice cream cup and decided to wait in the arcade for his movie to start. The movie theater and the arcade, whether he was with company or not, proved to be a good way to unwind from the tensions of work. He put three nickels into an arcade machine. This one was an alternate reality game that used a cyber visor to project images around him. No one was playing it because it cost three nickels instead of the usual one. Upon placing the cyber visor over his face, he felt the new world take root. He stood before a castle. He walked in and climbed a tower that did everything to invite him except actually say the word “enter” to him. Atop the tower was a treasure chest. There were no booby traps and no one stood in his way. He wondered how this game could be that easy. He opened the chest and found a statue, fitting perfectly on the palm of his hand, of a penguin chipped out of, what looked like, synthetic wood. Attached like a faithful beard, a pear-colored tie hung proudly in front of the penguin. Mr. Cody picked it up wondering what it was for, then placed it in a satchel that he could easily access. His time was up and he did not have another three nickels but it was time for his movie anyway.