Forward: Alright, let's make this quick. Here is the best summary of this: It's Mystery Science Theater 3000...in high school. Think manga-esque. At least give it a try, won't you?
I'm not sure the events that led up to its creation, but I do know it was 2am, there was doodling involved, and I essentially was the idiot that accepted the bet to write it.
He wasn't much to look at on a passing glance. But give him one second of your attention, and his mere presence would leave you floored.
Clayton Forrester, age eighteen, probably better referred to as Clay or by his nickname, "Dr. F". Senior year of high school for him was going about as well as every other grade had – socially abysmal, academically staggering. He spent most of his time in the science labs, taking two of the three AP sciences in one swing (he had taken the other previously as a junior) while cramming on the math. The open slots in his schedule were filled with the meaningless dribble required for a senior – family living was one, and then another English credit to wrap up the four needed – and the rest, study hall.
Of all the student body, there was maybe possibly kinda sorta one person whom he might call his friend – but that wasn't because he wanted to. It was because the kid followed him around like a slobbering puppy. An ugly slobbering puppy. So like…a pug? So ugly it's cute? Maybe, but for Clay? Just an annoyance.
The kid's name was Frank. He was also a senior, most likely seventeen (he wasn't going to go out of his way to find out), and for some reason, he tagged along with Clay whenever he could. This was bizarre in and of itself, as the science prodigy wasn't one to attract people (more like repel – and hard), but he had done it before. When he was a sophomore, a freshman named don't Laurence had been his comrade in doing some mischief around the school. Then, one day, Larry's family up and moved and he hadn't heard from him since.
Which sucked, because Frank wasn't much of an intellect. Kinda dumb, naïve, and just…well, not smart. He was always willing to be a lackey, though, which turned out to be rather useful if, per say, Clay got hungry. He could tell Frank to get him a snack from the vending machines and not have to lift a finger – and the poor dope would do it.
Even if he didn't have any true friends, there was one person in the school that he absolutely loathed. That was Joel Robinson, age eighteen – a stoner kid, most likely, if going by his always mellowed-out expression, monotonic voice, and somewhat long hair (not that Clay could say anything – his own reached well past his shoulder-blades and was always tied into a ponytail. Joel's only went to his chin, if that.)
Robinson was a loner much like himself, but was actually liked by people. He was off-kilter and odd, but extremely creative, thinking on a completely different track than anybody else. Therein lay the problem: He was a master inventor, tinkering with everything known to mankind, re-building and sculpting objects into spectacular new things.
The two were so similar, yet polar opposites. Clay dealt with the chemicals, Joel the physical objects. But the latter got more attention than the former, if just because of his more approachable personality.
It pissed him off royally.
"Why," he seethed, banging his head on the smooth black lab table. A beaker of distilled water sat on a hot plate in front of him, climbing up the boiling point. He was skipping out on lunch – again – to run this little test.
"Yeah, the tests were pretty good this time aro – Clayton?" Mr. Curtis, instructor of AP Chemistry, walked into the room, a bit surprised at finding his top student at the lab table. "What are you doing here? Isn't it your lunch?"
"Yeah. I'm not hungry, though" Clay lied, rubbing his stomach at the growl that croaked out. "I just…I really had to –"
"Get it, got it," Curtis waved off, sitting down at his desk, rotating the yellow apple in his hand. "I don't mind you being here, since I know you're not going to cause any harm, but…I'm concerned about your health. You look exhausted."
"It's my natural look," he responded, staring at the water in the beaker. "I'm always tired."
"Have you tried sleeping?"
"Once. I didn't like it much."
"I – I'm kidding, geez." Clay grinned – probably one of the few places he felt comfortable and welcomed enough doing so – brushing a loose strand of hair away from his face. "I don't know why. Just a thing, I guess." He peered at his wristwatch, the glass cover giving a very faint reflection of his face. There were clearly bags under his eyes – not terrible, but not really good either.
"So what are you doing?" Curtis asked, biting into his apple while he sorted a pile of scantron tests.
"I'm running some experiments on distilled water and seeing how it reacts to different things," he replied, not looking up from the notebook he was jotting in. "Seeing its properties upon boiling and freezing and the addition of basic ingredients…salt, sugar, that kinda stuff…"
Clay looked up, as if shocked by the question. "Because I…want to know what'll happen."
That was what science was all about, wasn't it? Experimenting just to see what would come from an idea, a hypothesis. It was there to scratch the itch in your brain about the what-ifs of the world around you. Did he really need a reason?
Well, truthfully, he did – after all, it was school equipment and such, and it was only by the good graces of Curtis that Clay was able to do such things and not get reprimanded. Still, he had a surprising brush with his conscious, and the concern showed by the teacher over him not eating was enough to make him uncomfortable and wanting to get out of that room.
"I'll be back after school to clean up. I'm going to get lunch."
"Alright, I'll take your word on that."
"This blows," Clay muttered, sinking his head into the calculus textbook. It was study hall, a period he shared with an…interesting mix of people.
First off, Frank was there, sitting in the desk to the left of Clay, doing his best to work through whatever grammar assignment had been dealt to him in English. In the back of the row of desks was Joel, his feet propped up on the chair across the aisle from him, leaning back with his notebook and seemingly drawing out some strange schematic or another.
In a corner on the opposite side of the room sat a trio of girls, chittering quietly amongst themselves and giggling every so often. In the center were the jocks, talking rather loudly between themselves about whatever-the-hell they talk about…Then there were the drop-out kids, heads down on the desks, sleeping off the booze from a weekend party…On the outer fringes, the quiet ones….And then off in his own corner, another boy that Clay held a low opinion of.
Grant it, there wasn't much to be angry about with this guy. Mike Nelson was his name, age seventeen – a group floater, it seemed. He played basketball during the winter, but otherwise laid low during the rest of the year. If rumors were true, he was also in the jazz band, but nobody was really certain. Besides, it's not like Clay knew other people's schedules. That would be a bit too stalkerish if such were the case.
What made Nelson intimidating was his height – over six feet and built to withstand a F5 tornado (which might prove useful, living in the Midwest and all). Yet he was hapless and a bit on the easily-duped side, and smiled in such a way that he could never be taken seriously and get away with kicking somebody's ass. No doubt he could do it, he just couldn't do it.
It was a shame. Take Nelson's body and Frank's brain, and you'd have the perfect henchman.
"If only…" Clay murmured, twirling his pencil under his thumb. Unfortunately, science hadn't quite gotten that far – well, real science at least. He remembered watching some movie, late at night, called 'The Brain That Wouldn't Die', in which a man took the decapitated head of his fiancée and kept it alive in…a pan. It was genuine 1950s pseudo-science.
"If only?" Frank wondered, glancing up from his notebook. "If only…?"
"If only you had meat for brains instead of lettuce," Clay spat, though not really impressed with the remark. He glanced off to the side and quickly sighed before staring back straight again. "I'm thinking, Frank. You might want to try it some time."
"Oh okay that sounds – hey!"
"That's wrong, by the way," Clay observed mildly, glancing at the paper underneath Frank's hand. "The object of the preposition is 'razor', not 'shave'."
Frank looked at the book, then the answer he had previously wrote, furrowing his eyebrows before erasing it and writing down what had just been told. "T-thanks…" he mumbled.
Clay looked at his own homework, roughly two-thirds of the way finished, sticking his tongue out briefly at the work. It was so trivial and useless to be doing the busywork…but he knew that if he didn't do it, he'd fail the class, which meant taking it again…which meant more time in school…The consequences were worse than the suffering.
"I hate this," he grumbled, setting his pencil down and taking off his glasses to rub his eyes. They were throbbing in a dull headache, but it was one he had had for so long that it had just melted into a regularity. With a defeated sigh, he slipped his glasses back on…
…and was a bit annoyed when one of the temples fell off and clattered against the desk.
"What the hell," he muttered, balancing the glasses against his face while picking up the fallen piece. "Why did you fall off…?"
Frank peered across the aisle, leaning out of his desk to observe. "Seems like the screw popped out," he said, noticing the empty slot where the tiny fastener would go.
"Just my luck," Clay seethed. "Now what am I supposed to do…"
"You could ask Joel if he can fix it," Frank suggested innocently. He was blatantly unaware of Clay's loathing for the boy – which wasn't exactly his fault, as it was something he just didn't share with others – and was taken aback by the deathglare given to him.
"Not a chance," Clay snapped, hands shaking slightly in anger. "I'll walk around blind before I ask him for help."
"Oh come on, you would not." Frank turned around in his seat and called out, "Hey Joel?" Clay lunged across the aisle in protest…but not fast enough.
"Hmmm?" came that familiar dazed voice. "What's up Frank?"
His face brightened with an idiotic smile. Clay looked away, furious and pushing down his internal rage. "Clay's glasses broke – like, one of the screws popped out…Can ya fix it?"
Joel perked up, setting his books down and dropping his legs from the seat he had them perched on. "Probably," he said, hefting himself out of his seat and rummaging through the various pockets on the baggy jeans he wore. He pulled out a zipped-up carrying case from one pocket, opening it up and withdrawing a small screwdriver, before reaching in another pocket and taking out a divided plastic box that rattled with screws, staples, thumb-tacks, and a tube of super glue. "Can I see them?"
"Yeah sure!" Frank snatched the glasses from a distracted Clay (distracted by his annoyance and brooding), who became aware of the situation a bit too late to do anything.
"Yeah…Yeah, basic tiny screw…I've got it, hang on." Joel popped open the lid from the box and flicked out a small screw, eyeballing the size. "…Can I see them?"
Begrudgingly, Clay handed him the glasses, hoping that his malice would turn into poison and that upon touch, the inventor would keel over. But life didn't work that way, and within moments a mended pair of spectacles was handed back to him.
"Thanks," he muttered with such spite that even Joel flinched a little. Without fanfare, he slipped them back on before turning back to his textbook and working out the next problem.
"He's kinda crabby," Frank mouthed. Joel raised an eyebrow, quietly pocketing the screw box while withdrawing the screwdriver case.
"I see," he said rather unconvincingly, unzipping the case and slipping the screwdriver into its sleeve. "Well uh…you're welcome, I…think."
Frank seemed rather pleased with himself as Joel returned to his seat. He turned to Clay, a beaming smile on his face. "Aren't you glad?"
"Honestly?" Clay pushed the glasses up his nosebridge, turned to Frank, tilted his head up, and widened his eyes. "I'm going to kill you in your sleep."
Thankfully, the bell rang.
Special thanks to Robyn, Beth, Anchan, Spooky, and Queenie for your cracktastic support and ideas.
And of course, much love to the Best Brains of MST3K!