Copyright 2000 by Eric J. Juneau. All rights reserved.
This story is in no way intended to infringe on the established copyrights and trademarks of Monolith Productions, Inc. It is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended for sale. It may be freely distributed providing that no alterations to the story are made.
This story contains adult language and graphically violent content. It is not intended for readers under the age of 13. Reader discretion is advised.
The characters and incidents portrayed and the names in this story used herein are fictitious and any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person, living, dead, or otherwise, is purely coincidental and unintentional.
Fool, you are already dead.
I Live Again
by Eric J. Juneau
Call me Caleb.
With a C.
I think it's with a C.
Not that I've seen it spelled any other way. It's just hard to remember anything now. Things aren't like they were before. I'm not the same as I was in the beginning. Something happened along the way, something changed. And I ended up like this.
Let me start at the beginning. I lived in Kilward, Texas, which wasn't exactly the best of neighborhoods. I was eighteen years old and a senior in high school at the time of my untimely end. Like a lot of overpopulated, underfunded high schools like mine, we were neatly divided into preps, punks, gangsters, nerds, and jocks. And, lucky me, I didn't fit into any of those categories. So I was sort of a loner, didn't talk a whole lot, didn't draw attention to myself, didn't hang out with a lot of people. I was the guy in class you never saw. Now that I think about it, I wish it had stayed that way.
Every other person in this school already got out of this prison half an hour ago. Just because I missed Algebra a few times they put me in this goddamned remedial group. When I was told I had to start attending this after-school class, it was pretty much the last thing I wanted. But unless I did it, I wouldn't be able to graduate, which was the last thing I wanted... more so.
I tapped my pencil on the desk a few times, where I had seated myself in the back. The rest of the kids were talking about drugs, parties, who they scored with last night, or some other topic that would have made them a candidate for a spot on Sally Jessy Raphael.
Damn, where the hell is that teacher. I want to get out of here. If you're going to make me stay after school the least you can do is get here on time. Once that final bell rings, that's when it's my time. I could be at home, watching TV, playing video games, getting something to eat, instead of rotting like a corpse here. I felt like banging my head against the desk just so I'd have something to do.
I pulled out my CD player to appease my boredom. My Bush CD should still have been in there. I pressed play, and found it was. The lugubrious music of the heavy alt-rock settled my restlessness. Thank god for the man who invented the Discman. I don't know whether it was meant so other people couldn't hear you or you couldn't hear other people, but right now, I was enjoying was the latter reason.
3:03. Damn, where is that guy.
The teacher walked in then, moving up the middle row of desks. I turned off my CD player because I thought class was finally going to get started. I thought we were going to get some blood-shot eyed, buzz-cut, military gym teacher. Boy, was I wrong. They stuck us with the gayest teacher I had ever seen. He had sandy-brown hair in a little rat-tail. His face held tiny round eyes, and he wore a disgustingly pink V-neck that looked like cotton candy. Looking at him, I almost laughed out loud. He was probably one of those guys who care more about feelings and self-esteem than doing good in school. He looked completely disheveled, carrying a cluster of papers and trying to balance his briefcase. He dropped his pile on his desk and looked up at his students.
"Good afternoon class, my name is Mr. Bledbaum, and I am happy to be here."
Direct hit. Love the way he said happy.
"I apologize for my tardiness, I was helping a student with an assignment. Now, I know you're all uneasy about your first day in this new class with new people so let's start with a little 'get-to-know-you' exercise," he said as he started rummaging through his folder.
Oh, god, what does this guy think, we're in kindergarten or something? There are people in here that'd bust a cap in his ass if he looked at them wrong. And I'm sure there's not a single person in this class who doesn't know someone else.
"First, I'd like to go over my class rules with you."
Class rules? He really did think we were in kindergarten.
"Rule one, be respectful. Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the rights of others. Rule two, its all right to feel sad sometimes, but the best thing in life is to try and be happy. Happiness is what makes life all worthwhile. Rule three, no swearing. Speaking negatively leads to thinking negatively."
Oh, these get better and better.
"Rule four, no 'can'ts' or 'don'ts'. In our world, there should be no such ideas. And finally, rule five, do your best. The best is all we can ever do.
"Now, I want you to turn to the person next to you and have a five-minute conversation, interview the person like you were a newspaper reporter, ask them what they like to do and so forth. I'll be watching you to make sure you're all talking, I don't want to see anybody alone. OK? Get started."
I hate these icebreaker activities. They're like first-grade games or a motivational speaker retreat. People were already talking, well, more like clumping into their little cliques of four or five and picking up where they left off before he walked in. I had no doubt no one was doing what he said.
And myself, all alone. Big surprise to me.
For the hell of it, I turned to the person next to me, just to see who it was.
And I saw Her. She was beautiful: fine, short hair that just brushed the nape of her neck and could only be described in color as black cherry. Hypnotic, seductive, luminant green eyes, trimmed with dark eye shadow. Skin perfect and pale to compliment her black t-shirt. She also had an anarchy symbol, drawn in marker on a white piece of cloth pinned over her heart, and loose dark blue pants that ended in combat boots.
"What?" she said.
I just smiled like an idiot. I tried desperately to think of something to say back before she thought I was retarded.
"Hey, I like your shirt." Oh, bravo. Great opening line, dumbass.
She looked puzzled for a second and said, "Thanks." I think she was confused that someone would compliment her. "My name's Sophia."
"What are you listening to?"
I hadn't even taken my headphones out, I realized. "Oh, my Bush CD," I said as I pulled out the sound plugs from my ears.
"The first album?"
It wasn't, it was Razorblade Suitcase, but I still said "Mm-hm." I don't know what possessed me to lie.
"Machinehead kicks ass, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, that's got a great rhythm on it."
"Have you listened to the new album?"
"Yeah, I liked that one too." I was just Mr. Yes-man at this point, a quivering blob of jelly under her gaze. It took all my strength to maintain my composure.
"They're one of the only groups worth my spit these days. Now you have to deal with Celine Dion every second. I hate these fuckin' divas who think they're making good music when it's just corny shit. If I have to hear that Titanic song again, I'm going to find a gun and blow my head off... or her's."
I laughed with some slight anxiety. "You think she's more annoying than Hanson?"
"Ugh," she groaned in disgust. "You know what I'd like to do. I want to put Hanson, the Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, and anybody else who I hate into a pit, and let them sit there until they start killing each other."
"Interesting," I smiled, trying to hide my concern for the brutal nature of the conversation.
"Who'd you put in there?" she asked.
I stammered, "Shania Twain I'd probably drop in the mix. That song makes me throw up every time I hear it." It's not often I'm asked who I'd like to kill.
"OK, class," the shrill voice of Bledbaum interrupted, "Now take out a piece of paper and a writing utensil. The assignment is to write down some things that you desire the most in your life. Stuff that you don't have, tangible or intangible."
No, goddammit, I'm still talking to her, go back to masturbating under the table or whatever you were doing before.
"You're going to share these with the class so be honest."
Stupid bitch, I thought as I took out a piece of paper and stared at its blue horizontal lines blankly. What the hell is with this shit? How does this help us learn Algebra?
"Number one, mmm..." Sophia muttered, "A passing grade so I wouldn't need to be in this bullshit class."
I smiled at her and went back to my white, lined paper, having no idea what to put down. A bigger house would be nice. I guess I could use a nicer car too. A nice spacious pick-up so I can take Sophia to the park and...
No, no, don't start thinking that, too far, too fast.
Back to work. What else is there in the world that I want? Come on, there's got to be something. This is why I hate writing assignments.
"All right class, pass your papers up."
Oh, good. And I had all of two things on there, I thought as I handed my paper up. Why didn't he give this assignment when I had a little more time to think about it?
"Hey," Sophia whispered to me, "How many did you get?"
"I only got three."
"You think he's going to be grading this?"
"He better not."
I looked to the teacher who was perusing the papers. He began writing on the board: money, family, fame. "These are the categories I'm seeing," he said. He continued writing: basketball player, musician, movie star...
"I see there's a lot of items like becoming a famous movie star, singer, sports star. And earning varying amounts of money, a million dollars, a billion dollars," he continued as he dragged the chalk across the blackboard.
"Hey, you forgot a hooker for Mitch," some kid from the back said. The class laughed, Bledbaum ignored it.
"All right, why do we value some things more than others, anybody?"
"They... cause they make us happy?" a student said.
"OK, that's good, that's good, they make us happy. Every one of these items could make us feel good inside."
I was barely able to stop myself from laughing. This was the stupidest shit I'd ever heard.
"Things like money are tangible things. We depend on their presence for an emotional effect. This makes them bad at instigating good positive feeling. Over a long term, they don't exactly give off much real emotion."
What? The hell they don't. Money can give emotion in dozens of ways. There's envy, jealousy, pride, greed. It changes the way people around you feel, how they act towards you. This guy doesn't know what he's talking about.
"Things like the items under family are good. These are people-oriented things. It's important for us to be around people. That way we can develop ourselves properly and be a happier, healthy person."
Uh-huh, OK, sure, whatever.
"Values are what leads us to the roads of our future. An ever-twisting road filled with grooves and curves in the pavement. Some of us get to where we're going and some of us have to stop somewhere along the way. For what we value, life shows us the better way to go on the road of life. It is... a compass to guide us on our journey to success..."
The guy talked for the next half-hour about how values make us what we are, or something. I tuned most of it out. My mind was busy with thoughts of Sophia and wishing Mr. Ambiguously Gay would shut up.
"What time is it?" he looked at his clock and then at his watch. "Well, I guess we've covered enough today. Tomorrow we'll start the basics of Algebra."
Covered what today? I was just glad this class was over. Now I could talk to Sophia again. I turned to her and saw her hasten out the door quickly with bag in tow. I wondered where she had to go in such a hurry. Oh well, nothing to get worked up about. At least I'll get to see her tomorrow.