Dimensional domestication

You move into a new apartment and discover it’s already been rented out…across four dimensions and beyond. Talk about timeshare.

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The day we moved in, we found there were many who lived in the same house with us. We probably should have read the brochure more thoroughly. It was gelda’s fault, she always skims through the pages. She thought it was mine, typical minorian, always laying the blame on the other person that is all they teach them on their planet. My parents warned me,

Marry a dorian

Fuck a detorian

And kill a minorian

My parents were racists, that was quite obvious. But spending all your life on dorian does that to a person. But enough of that, if we were moving to the house of mirrored dimensions we may as well have read the brochure. The house was cheap for a reason since we were sharing it with creatures from every dimension in the known and possibly some parts of the unknown universe.

They would flicker in and…

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“Years of Change”

Mrs.Teash sat at her desk, a slim metallic and fully computerized work center. A small bulb-like object in the corner of it projected a holographic image that spread on the desktop. On one side of the image, rows of file, folder and application icons could be seen; on the other, the program she had been using lay open.

Furniture that’s smarter than you, thought Mrs.Teash. She readjusted her finger-caps, and slowly but determinedly, pressed the close button of the application. It disappeared immediately.

She took off the finger-caps as her first grade class appeared on the classroom monitor. The doors opened automatically and a computerized voice instructed the children to walk in a straight line. The children took their seats and looked intently at Mrs.Teash.

“Good morning, class. Your substitute Human Studies teacher shall be here shortly.”

The children nodded politely.

Mrs.Teash took her BriefcaseX90, a small portable data storage/access unit that was wirelessly integrated with her desk, and left. As she did so, a yellow-haired, light-skinned teacher entered.

Would I have been able to tell that if I had not already been informed?, Mrs.Teash thought to herself.

The door closed behind her.

She began walking swiftly through the empty, spotlessly clean halls. The need for lockers had been eliminated now that every desk had an Internet-enabled computer integrated in it. She turned into the hallway that led to the re-education classroom. The rapid technological advances in the recent decades had caught quite a few of the older teachers unawares. Re-education was supposed to correct that.

She bumped into Mr.Kulida, the mechanic.

“Good morning. Problem?” Mrs.Teash asked.

“Routine check of the maintenance bots.” He answered.

Why don’t the bots check themselves?, she wondered.

Suddenly, she had reached the re-education room. The doors automatically opened to reveal a group of older men and women sitting in rows. A teenaged boy stood at the head of the class. He had pierced ears, gelled hair and clothes that looked like they’d been stampeded on by wild horses.

Students teaching the teachers, thought Mrs.Teash dryly and smiled.

The boy glared at her as she took a seat.

“I’m tryin’ to tek a class here, why do you have to mess wid dat?” he asked through clenched teeth.

Amazing, I actually understand him, Mrs.Teash thought.

“Yo, chill. All o’ deese da same dude.” A voice called out from the back.

Mrs.Teash turned and saw that the boy’s two aides were leaning against the wall at the back of the room.

The boy was silent for a moment before saying:

“Yeah, kay. So you all know dat you will be able to tek de classes only after completin’ re-education, an’ da progress don’ look gud people.”

“The Progress doesn’t look good.” corrected one of the teachers.

“Hey lady, I’s da best in English in ma class, you ken’t correct me.” The boy said severely.

The teacher said nothing, but her face turned red with anger.

“Look geezers, dis da language dat goes on da Internet.” said one of the aides.

“Yeah, an’ da Internet makes de world go round.” said the other one.

All three teens laughed.

“Don’t you children have manners?” asked another teacher indignantly.

“An’ don’t you have to retire?” sneered an aide.

“Yo dudes, stop messin’ wid ma students. People, put on dem finga-caps an’ tu’n on yo’ wo’k centa’s.” said the student-teacher.

The class did so even though a few took slightly longer than others, much to the annoyance of the boy who went around mumbling “retire da lot”, “get da new crop o’ teacha’s” and “senile idiots”.

“Ok people. Today we handle IMing.”

A teacher sheepishly raised a hand.

“Uh…what?” he asked nervously.

The boy stared at him, surprised, before hurriedly saying:

“Instant Messaging. You will use dis to tok to yo’ students instead ov actually tokkin’ to dem. Quicka, mo helpful an meks use ov da monitoring capabilities dat are in yo’ wo’k centa’s. Mo efficient.”

One of the aides was explaining, somewhat rudely, to an old teacher where the program was located.

“Once you open de program, you’ll have to keep in mind dat a certain lingo is used. Fo’ example, how will you write dis line: ‘Your work is due for checking people.’ ?”

No one answered. The boy sighed and said:

“Teash. An’ mek it gud, I don’ wanna waste ma time.”

Mrs. Teash wrote painstakingly into the Text area of the messaging program: ‘ UR wrk s du 4 chckin ppl ’. “Yea, gud. Don’ write in caps tho, dat counts as shoutin.”

Mrs.Teash sighed. She hated using the English language in this way. She hated being insulted by a bunch of kids who couldn’t even talk properly. A re-education certificate was mandatory for all teachers above 50, however.

Things weren’t really great even when I started teaching ,but I’m sure they mustn’t have been this bad, she thought. I should leave this job.

“Kay people, yo’ wo’k centa’s have video monitorin’ capabilities. You ken use dat to keep an eye on de students. Dat lil button  dere is for opening da video monitorin’. Iss always on tho. Dat wraps up our class.” the boy said.

“Don’t we have ten minutes left ? You could tell us about those visors on that shelf there.” said a teacher.

“Yo gramps, we got lives.” said one of the aides.

“Yea, an ma BX90’s been beepin’ for da last 5 minutes.” said the other one who was examining his BriefcaseX90.

“So iss settled. I’ll tell you ‘bout dem brain-caps – yeah, dat’s what de’re called – next class.”

Some of the teachers grumbled, but everyone got up and began filing out of the classroom while the aides started an animated, incomprehensible discussion with the boy who kept glancing casually over at the teachers.

Mrs.Teash began walking back to her class. School was nearly finished, for junior classes at least. I wonder why parents still pick up their children in person, when they could just as simply program their cars to do so?, Mrs.Teash thought.

Nonetheless, Mrs.Teash found a parent waiting outside the classroom. “Aren’t you the Human Studies teacher?” he asked.

“Yes, and their class teacher. I’m coming back from a re-education class.” she answered.

“Oh.” he said. Then he added with a shrug, “Guess that must be one of the robotic Subs, then. Heard they’re really good. Well, whatever gets my kid an A+.”

Mrs.Teash nodded quietly.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to –” he began hastily.

“It’s ok. They are quite good with the children.” Mrs.Teash said in a casual way. Yet, she couldn’t help feeling a little disheartened. Perhaps they really don’t need us anymore, she thought.

“Say, that reminds me, why do you suppose they’ve regrouped subjects like Languages and Human history into the collective group called Human Studies? As if we’re little bugs that are to be studied under microscopes or something. And why are most Human Studies teachers robots?”

“Perhaps it becomes very difficult to study your self and maybe that’s why we have robotic teachers of the subject. And as for the re-categorization, well, I’m sure you know that subjects like AI Studies are also taught from grades three and onwards?” Mrs.Teash replied.

The man nodded. As he did so, the class doors slid open and the students began filing out in a straight line. Some of them said goodbye to Mrs. Teash and greeted the parent, but most were quiet. The father went to his son, a boy named Johnny, and both of them left. Mrs.Teash stood there quietly.

Things really have changed a lot. The students seem fine, that teacher seems to be managing perfectly.

Mrs.Teash had a crushing feeling of being useless.

Outdated. Obsolete in rapidly advancing world where everything is disposable. It’s only a matter of time before the school board realizes that the re-education classes are a waste of time and funds. Happens every time they get machines to do jobs previously done by humans. Happened in agricultural and industrial sectors, why should the Education sector be any different?

She felt a tug at her sleeve.

“I just wanted to say, I don’t like being taught by the substitute teacher…she doesn’t smile the same way you do.” the child said shyly before walking away quickly to join the others.

Then, slowly but surely, a smile appeared on her lips.

Perhaps some things never change.  

“We Are Not Alone!”

I was alone on the balcony. It wasn’t really what I would call ‘spacious’ but it was large enough to hold me, my telescope and the other odds and ends that I required. I looked at my watch, a glow-in-the-dark type. It was almost one in the morning. I had school tomorrow but this was my Passion. I loved space. I could spend hours looking through my telescope and have more fun doing it than other people would have doing, well, other stuff, I guess.

Anyway, I knew that I should be sleeping but I just couldn’t tear myself away from my telescope. I spent another hour or so using it. Finally, I knew if I didn’t go to bed then, then I wouldn’t be able to go to school. So I started packing up my things. I glanced up at the sky one last time. And that’s when I saw it.

Something streaked across the face of the moon. Intrigued, I dropped my things and peered through the telescope. Sure enough, it was something. A meteorite, maybe.

I tried to zoom in. And that was when I blacked out.

Mrs. Jamal flicked the light switch in her daughter’s room. Just as she’d suspected, Ambar wasn’t in her bed. She turned around, thoroughly disgruntled. To her surprise, Ambar was standing right behind her.

“Greetings, female progenitor.” Ambar said stiffly.

“Oh, for a minute there, I thought something had happened to you!” Mrs. Jamal said with a sigh of relief, “I did hear something, you know.”

“Incorrect. The cacophonous audible vibrations were merely created by our felis domesticus.”

“Who?” asked Mrs. Jamal, puzzled.

Ambar looked at her incredulously for a minute, then her eyes widened with understanding.

“Kitty made the noise, Mother.” she said.

“Oh, okay. Go to bed, honey, you have school tomorrow.” Mrs. Jamal said and went down the hall. Ambar watched her go till she’d gone inside her bedroom. Then Ambar went inside her own room.

At breakfast time, the family trudged downstairs to find that Ambar had already made breakfast and laid it on the table. Ambar, however, was nowhere to be seen. Her own place had been cleared, so they assumed that she had already eaten.

They were half-way through their breakfast, which was quite good, when Ambar came downstairs. She was already dressed for school.

“Oh, Ambar, you’re ready?” Mr. Jamal asked. He didn’t seem too happy about it; perhaps the thought of leaving a delicious breakfast to drive someone to school on a chilly winter morning was especially painful for him.

“Yes…Father.”

“Ok.” He mumbled and stuffed a piece of generously buttered (low fat butter, of course) toast in his mouth. Then he started to look around for his shoes, but realized that Ambar had already gone out. The sound of a car being started came from outside. He gave a yell and ran outside. Sure enough, Ambar was sitting in the drivers’ seat.

“Ambar, you can’t drive! You don’t know how!” he yelled in surprise.

“Noted.” said Ambar and turned off the engine.

“It was an incorrect assumption on my part and shall not be repeated.” she said.

“Huh?” said Mr. Jamal.

“Sorry. My bad. Won’t happen again.”

Mr. Jamal looked at her, eyebrow raised.

“Yeah, well, move over.” he said.

Ambar obeyed. Mr. Jamal got in and drove her over to school.

Ambar walked into the school building and paused. Her face contorted, as if she were concentrating on something. Then she walked over to her class. She sat down in her place and folded her hands in her lap, while keeping her back, and her gaze, straight.

“What’re you doing?” a girl asked.

“Correcting posture for optimum mental alertness and effect, thereby increasing maximum reception capability.”

“What?! You’re planning a wedding ?!!” the girl exclaimed.

“I’m sitting straight.”

“Oh.”

The teacher walked in and the lesson began. Ambar listened attentively, took notes diligently and raised her hand numerous times to answer questions correctly. The teacher was surprised, but happy. The other students were just surprised.

When recess finally came around, Ambar took out a physics book and started reading. Her two best friends, Sehrish and Moeed, came over.

“Hey Amb, have you forgotten your two best mates?” said Sehrish.

“Mates?”  asked Ambar and looked up. She looked at them intently.

“Yeah, we’re your mates, of course.” Said Moeed.

Ambar turned to Sehrish, pointed to Moeed, and asked,

“He’s a mate?”

“Duh! And me too!”

Ambar narrowed her eyes at Sehrish and asked,

“How can I possibly breed with you?”

Moeed and Sehrish gaped at her.

“B-breed ?” they chorused and blushed.

“Positive. I am quite certain that you two affirmed yourselves as my mates.”

“We meant ‘friends’, Ambar.” said Sehrish, still blushing.

“Friends?”

“Yeah.” mumbled Moeed, blushing and staring down at his toes.

“Comrades? Yes, that is quite acceptable.” said Ambar.

But Sehrish and Moeed walked away quietly.

That evening, Moeed was sitting quietly in his room, reminiscing. Just thinking about what Ambar had said made him blush with embarrassment. Suddenly, he thought he heard Ambar calling him, faintly, as if from far away.

“Help…me…Moeed…abducted…park…aliens.”

“Ambar?” he called out.

No answer. He called out again.

No answer. He tried a third time.

“Well get going you idiot!”

The park was dark and creepy. It was, after all, almost mid-night. Moeed tip-toed quietly, trying to figure out where Ambar could be. Suddenly he bumped into something.

“Ahhh!” screamed Moeed.

“Ahhh!” screamed Sehrish.

They stopped and looked at each other in surprise.

“Ambar told me to come here.” Moeed said.

“Me too!” said Sehrish.

“She called you ‘Moeed’?!”

“No, airhead!” snapped Sehrish.

Moeed made a face and opened his mouth to speak. But, suddenly, they heard a strange noise coming from some way off. They hid in the bushes and looked out onto an open space, where a strange, disc-shaped object was standing on three thin metallic legs.

“A flying saucer? How clichéd.” Sehrish said, rolling her eyes.

“I think we should rescue Ambar, who’s probably in there.” said Moeed.

“How do you know?”

“Dumb stories like this one always go like that.”

Meanwhile…

I was strapped to a metal table. Three green, slimy aliens, with tentacles and huge eyes, were looking down at me.

“Oh wow. Kidnapped by sideshow freaks.” I drawled.

The alien in the middle yelled something incoherent.

“Oh, you don’t expect me to believe that you can’t actually talk, do you?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“Very clever, pathetic human! You have discovered that we talk and that we are planning to attack your pathetic planet and enslave it’s pathetic inhabitants.” said the alien in the middle.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, you see we really need to-” began the alien on the right. The other slapped him on the head  with a slimy tentacle.

“You idiot! Don’t tell the pathetic human that! Now as I was saying, pathetic human, you have discovered more than is good for you and now we must eat your brain!”

“Well, actually, I prefer ice-cream.” said the alien to the left.

“Shut up, you fool!” barked the alien in the middle. He was probably their leader.

“I like ice-cream too!” I said happily.

“You do?” asked the alien on the left, gleefully.

The aliens on the sides, and I, started chanting,

“I scream, you scream!

We all scream for ice-cream!

Ice-cream! Yay!”

“Shut up, all of you! Klazor, Zork, stop fraternizing with the prisoner!” yelled the leader.

We all stopped.

“Sheesh. Kidnapped by aliens who have a grumpy leader. Y’know, leader alien, you’re so crabby! You’re a crabby patty!” I said.

The aliens gasped.

“How’d she find out his real name?” said the alien on the left to the alien on the right, in a not-so-quiet whisper.

“Zork, shut up!” whined the leader.

“Sorry!” said Zork.

The leader turned to me and said, “Ignore the foolish one’s banter. I am Thaydor, the Vanquisher of numerous galaxies!”

“Really? I always thought his name was Patty.”

“ZORK!”

“Whoops! Sorry again, Pa…no…Thaydor.”

Thaydor turned to me once again and was bout to say something when Klazor wondered aloud, “Numerous? I thought he only conquered two.”

“Klazor!”

“Accept my apology, Thaydor.”

“You’re not a very good alien invader, are you?” I said. Thaydor looked at me with a pained expression and said, “Hey, cut me some slack, it’s my first day on the job.”

“What ?!” Klazor screamed in surprise.

We all looked at him.

“Are you quite finished?” Zork asked.

“I never began.” Klazor said indignantly.

Suddenly, Moeed and Sehrish stumbled through a doorway which had been conveniently left open.

“See! Ambar really is here!” said Moeed, triumphantly.

Thaydor gaped and asked, “How did you find out?”

“Oh, Ambar told us using telepathy.” said Moeed.

“Impossible! How could she possibly-”

“Have telepathic powers ?” I finished Thaydor’s sentence and sneered evilly.

I started laughing in a sinister way: “Mwahahaha!”

Then I stopped.

“Actually, Zork here brought me your communicator.”

“Zork!” cried Thaydor and Klazor.

Zork giggled nervously and said, “ I had a perfectly good reason!”

“What?” asked Thaydor.

“She promised me ice-cream!” whined Zork.

Thaydor shook his head solemnly.

“Now all we have to do is kill these aliens and then we can go home!” chirped Moeed.

“How do we do that?” asked Sehrish.

“Well, I always carry a baseball bat with me. In dumb stories, you hit an alien with that and it dies, no matter how strong it appeared to be!”

“Why do you carry a baseball bat?” asked Sehrish.

“Don’t ask.” Said Moeed. Then, with a war whoop, he ran forward and bashed Thaydor’s head.

Nothing happened.

Thaydor grinned, showing lots of sharp, white teeth. Commercial break:-

“For minty-fresh breath and gleaming teeth, always use Colgate!” – Thaydor.

“Oh, we do!” – Everyone else says in unison, while giving extremely toothy grins.

Back to the story:-

“Ha! We’re no that easy to kill, y’know!” said Thaydor menacingly.

Moeed looked stunned for a moment. Then he said, “Well, time to use my handy-dandy pail o’ water!”

He took out a bucket full of water.

“Oh, so you always carry a bucket of water with you as well?” asked Sehrish mockingly.

“No, only on Wednesdays.” Moeed said matter-of-factly. Then he emptied the bucket on Thaydor.

“Ahh! I’m melting!” screamed Thaydor as he melted into a pool of green slime.

“Gee. That’s too bad.” said Klazor, not very sadly.

Zork nodded solemnly.

“Well, we’d better be going now.” said Klazor, positively beaming.

“Don’t forget to write!” I said, smiling. Moeed and Sehrish had un-strapped  me by now.

“Oh no. We use e-mail.” said Zork.

“Ok. Then here’s my e-mail address.” I said. I wrote down my e-mail address on a piece of paper, which Moeed just happened to have. I used my own pen, though.

Commercial break:-

“Dollar pen: never leave home without it…no, seriously.” – Ambar

Back to the story:-

We walked out and the flying saucer took off. We were walking home when we met a girl who looked exactly like me.

“Has Klazor taken off without me?” she asked.

“Hey! I think this alien was pretending to be you!” said Moeed.

“Your keen sense of observation astounds me Moeed.” said Sehrish, sarcastically.

“Uh, yeah, sorry, they have.” I said to the alien.

The alien groaned.

“Oh, why does this always happen to me?” she whined. Since the alien looked like me, for the moment, I assumed that it was a ‘she’.

“If you run, maybe you can still catch ’em.” said Sehrish.

“Really?” the alien said, relieved.

“Nah, I just said that to make you feel better.” Said Sehrish, non-chalently.

The alien gave a small sob and continued running. We went on walking.

“I can’t believe those aliens thought that no one would notice my abduction. I mean, I could practically see the green slime on that thing! You guys had already realized that I’d been kidnapped, right?” I asked.

“Well, actually, we hadn’t.” said Sehrish.

“Yeah, we thought you were acting crazy like you always do twice a week.” said Moeed.

“Mondays and Thursdays, to be precise.” added Sehrish.

“WHAT?!” I yelled.

They looked at each other and then said, together, “Right. Of course we’d noticed.”

I nodded and we walked home in peace.

 

N.B. This story was later published in Us Magazine.