The United Confederation of People With Too Much Time On Their Hands
a Chronicle of the Experiences of Students
Learning about Living on Planet Earth
We present for your perusal, the account of the second semester of the senior class of James K. Polk Middle School. The principle characters are the writers of a 'School Survival Guide', a collection of tips designed to help students. The events described take place after Season 3: Episode 10: "Hallways and Friends Moving".
We are legally obligated to inform you we have no creative rights to anything we are writing about.
Chapter 1: Separation
"Some people just want to watch the world burn. In order to stymie them, we have covered most of the world's surface in water."
Principal Alistair Wright had hit pay dirt. He looked over the resume in his hands again. She had credentials. She had references. She had certification. She had experience. All in all, she was a far cry better than his 3 o'clock who had filled out the application in eye liner.
For the past three days Principal Wright had been interviewing replacements for the position of... whatever. The word came down from the superintendent that a new State Law required them to teach one more elective than they were currently offering and all his teachers were overbooked as it was. He had drafted an add for anybody that could teach anything at a reasonable rate. So far, the best candidate had been a loan shark, who at least had the shortest criminal record.
Then she had come in. She was now seated in front of him across his desk. She was wearing a dress made in neon fuchsia, patterned with dancing panda bears. Her bright red hair could only be described as an explosion. In the face of the only actual teacher that had applied for the position, he was willing to forgive some eccentricities.
"Tell me," said Alistair, "Why did you leave your previous position at," he checked the resume, "Walkerville Elementary?"
"I left after my last class graduated." she answered. "I went to visit family in The Greater Andaman islands for a few months. When I came back I decided to teach older students for a change of pace."
"A change of pace is always healthy." said Alistair. "Personally, becoming principal was a spur of the moment decision on my part. So, if hired what class will you teach?"
"I thought you had an opening?" she asked.
"We do, but it's for a teacher, not a subject." Alistair answered.
"Ah," she thought for a moment. "Basket Weaving?"
"We don't have a wicker budget." said Alistair
"Ventriloquism?" she offered.
"The Teachers' Union is opposed to that." said Alistair.
"Satanism?" she ventured.
"That is being covered by Mr. Alhazrad." said Alistair
She was quiet for a moment. "How about I teach them everything and see what sticks?"
"We need to bill it as something. What should we call it?" asked Alistair.
"Heuristics." she said. "The knowledge gained from experience."
"Perfect!" said Alistair. He stared writing something down on his note pad. "Winter break ends in another week. Can you start then?"
"Certainly," she said already on her way to the door.
He took another look at her resume. "How do you pronounce your name?"
She turned back and leaned against the door frame. "Frizzle," she said. "Valerie Frizzle."
James K. Polk Middle School was being invaded by Zombies. Zombies that did not want to be there. Winter break had just ended and the reluctant students were shipped back to their classes for the new semester. Most of them were there in body only. One student in particular had come in with a bleeding, broken heart.
Ned Bigby came wandering in like the Zombie that the other Zombies worried their child Zombies would become if they didn't get good grades in Brain Eating 101. He was as woebegone as a Polar Bear in the Kalahari desert. He was as desolate as Jewish Easter Egg. All in all, he's looked better.
The reason for his funk was, quite naturally a girl. "Not just any girl!" he'd tell you, "Suzie Crabgrass. The Girl of my Dreams. My One True Love." he'd say. He would also launch in to the tragic tale of how he had told him, before winter break began, that her father had accepted a job out of state and that her family was moving far, far away. He would then tell you about the last romantic week they'd spent together before he'd waved her off in her moving van.
At present, Jennifer 'Moze' Mosely was trying to bring him back to the world of the living.
"C'mon, snap out of it!" she said, dragging him to homeroom.
"Suzie used to snap..." Ned said forlornly.
"Yeah, she could snap, and breathe, and occupy space." she made it into the classroom and planted him in the seat next to her. "I miss Suzie, too. She was my best girlfriend." she stopped and thought. "In fact, she was my only girlfriend." She sat down in her seat, death spiraling into depression.
"All right, pay attention." Mr. Sweeney called from the front of the room. "For the first day of school you will be choosing which electives you want for the rest of the semester." he began passing out schedules. "You will spend half an hour in each of the electives offered so you can sample all of them. At the end of the day, you will choose the two you wish to take."
Mose looked at the schedule she was handed. She didn't even recognized some of the classes that were listed. Since when did the school offer 'Satanism'?
"Maybe this will help you get out of your funk. All these electives you're bound to find a new hobby you'll like." Moze said to Ned.
"Suzie had hobbies..." Ned groaned. Moze buried her face in her free hand.
For the rest of the day, groups of students shuttled from one class to another. Each teacher did their best to sell their elective.
The Psychology teacher told them about how they could use the power of suggestion to rake in money at fund-raisers.
Mr. Chopsaw showed them a china cabinet one of his students had built the previous semester. Moze was instantly sold on the class, despite the fact that she was the one who had built the cabinet.
The Art teacher showed them the 3D rendering software the school had just bought. Cookie was mesmerized by the beauty of sculpture in a no mess environment.
In Life Sciences they were introduced to the new babies that made realistic crying sounds and produced imitation urine and fecal matter. The class didn't attract any applicants but the chastity club did see an enrollment up-tick.
Shortly after lunch, Moze and Ned were by Moze's locker getting some down time before they had to head to the next elective on the list. She had taken to just dragging him around since he didn't really have the will to move. She couldn't really blame him. He had waited forever to go out with Suzie Crabgrass and now there was a ponderous state line and an extra time zone separating them. A part of her wanted to throttle him until the memory of Suzie Crabgrass fell out of the back of his head, but another part of her was cherishing the hope that somewhere out there was a person that would miss her this much if she was gone.
The bell rang. "C'mon," she said pulling him in the direction of their next class. "This next class is in room 102. I've never even been in room 102." She finally found it and took her seat, putting him down in his.
Eventually, everyone else filed in and was seated, but there was no sign of a teacher.
"This class is called Heuristics." asked Missy. "What are heuristics?"
In answer to her question, a sledge hammer came crashing through the chalkboard at the front of the room. Every one jumped up and ran to the back of the room, it even broke Ned out of his stupor. The sledge came through a few more times making a larger hole until a person could fit through it. Then, a person came through it.
It was a woman wearing pink safety goggles and a periwinkle jump suit. She had frizzy red hair that was just barely subdued by a rubber band.
"Good afternoon class," she said taking her goggles off. "Welcome to Heuristics. I am here to give you knowledge that you can apply to every waking moment of everyday life."
They all gaped at her from the safety of the back of the classroom. She must have been used to this kind of reception, because she continued unimpeded.
"For the rest of the semester I will be giving you tips, so to speak, that you can use in life. I've lived a long time and made many mistakes. In the interests of not wasting the time I spent, I learned from those mistakes. I'll tell you what I learned from my mistakes so you don't have make them yourselves. You can make your own mistakes. Then when you learn from those mistakes you'll know more than I do. Then you can pass on what you learned and what I taught you. If we continue this tradition from one generation to the next eventually we will yield a race of all knowing humans."
The class still hadn't relaxed their defensive stance. Cookie was inching toward the door.
"You may all take the rest of class time to mull over your decision." she said, and she went back to hacking at the wall.
Ned sat outside at the lunch tables staring at the elective enrollment form he was supposed to be filling out. After pulling him around all day, Moze had left him somewhere that he wouldn't be in any danger while she went to get her cabinet from Mr. Chopsaw. If he was more attentive he would wonder how she was going to fit it in her back-pack.
He wasn't attentive because all he could see was Suzie. Everything reminded him of his lost love. Everytime he closed his eyes he could see her face. He kept hearing her voice in the wind. Even right now he could hear her calling his name... Ned... Ned...
"Ned!" he jumped, realizing the voice was very real. The mallet-wielding red head from Heuristics was sitting across from him. She was still covered in debris from the wall that once stood at the end of her room.
"How is the weather in wonderland?" she asked him.
"Dark and cold." he answered. "and there's no Suzie in it."
"And there's no sunshine when she's gone?" she asked.
"There will never be sunshine again." he said.
"Actually, I can guarantee that the Sun will come out tomorrow." she said. "Love is like having a sixth sense."
"What do you mean?" he asked
"When you love someone," she answered, "you feel things you didn't feel before. Things you couldn't feel before, or even dream about feeling. For the rest of your life you're going to care about people and feel new things. There's the familiar comfort you feel when you're around friends. The flying sensation you feel when you're slow dancing with someone you're falling for. Then there's the earthmoving phenomenon you experience when you hold your child for the first time."
"And then there's the downside," she continued. "The pain betrayal and loss cause is deeper and more exacting than anything else."
"So," said Ned, "you're saying that I shouldn't care so I don't feel bad again?"
"No." she answered. "I am saying you must care. The feeling of flying high is what makes life worth living. The pain you feel is the cost of your heart getting stronger from the trials it is overcoming. As you climb up and down the highs and lows of life your heart will grow stronger every day. I have seen whole nations changed by people with strong hearts."
"Your homework," she said pulling a book out of her jump suit, ", is to continue being sad, but more productively." she handed him the book. He opened the book to find all the pages were blank. "You are to take what you feel and turn them into words. Once your feelings are in a more articulate form your brain can give your heart a hand in getting out of your funk."
She got up and walked toward the school. "See you tomorrow!" she called back.
Ned stared at the blank book and the more urgent blank enrollment form. Then, he put pen to paper and got to work.
The next day at school, Ned was back at the same picnic table, writing. Since yesterday, he had filled up a quarter of the blank book. He'd written about there last day together, what he missed the most, his favorite memory, or whatever had crossed his mind at the time. The mallet-wielding red head had been right. Putting your emotions on paper did make them easier to deal with.
"You're writing tips again?" Moze asked as she sat down next to him.
"No, I'm using someone else's tip." he said. "'Write out your emotions so your brain can take up the slack for your heart.'"
"Whatever you're doing, it's good to see you out of Zombie mode." she said. They were both quite for a while. Ned stopped writing.
"Thanks," he said.
"Why?" she asked.
"I wouldn't have even bothered moving yesterday if it wasn't for you." he replied.
"No problem," she said hugging him with one hand around his shoulder. "You have to do the same if Faymen gets extradited to Brazil, you understand."
"Deal" he told her.
Cookie came up carrying his schedule.
"I got both the Electives I wanted: Heuristics and Art." Cookie said happily. "I was afraid of her at first, but she told me about the time she was lost in the London Underground and had to build an echolocation radar out of four cockroaches and a paper clip."
"I got the ones I wanted, too," said Moze. "Heuristics and Wood Shop. The way she handled that sledgehammer was poetry in motion."
"I'm in Heuristics and Home Economics." said Ned. "Good tips are worth their weight in gold."
"How much does a tip weigh?" asked Moze.
"More than a hint but less than a sign." Ned answered.
"What do you guys have first period?" asked Cookie.
"Heuristics." said Ned an Moze together.
"Same here." said Cookie.
A few minutes later they were all in Room #102. The wall that had been destroyed yesterday had been replaced by a single giant panel of black glass.
"Good morning class," said a voice from the back of the room. In walked an explosion of red hair. The body it was attached to was wearing an electric green dress patterned with juggling platypus.
"Welcome to Heuristics." she said as she walked to the front of the classroom. "For the semester to come we will be learning the cheat codes for life on earth. You are required everyday to bring a notebook, a right handed pencil, £70 in change, and a selection of cough drops. I also give extra credit if you can bring in a Snark, no points if it's a Boojum." When she reached the black glass wall she touched her hand to it and pictures sprang up where her hand was and moved across the surface. She reached out and touched one of the icons that had come up and a class list was displayed. It dawned on Ned that she had turned the wall into a giant touchscreen.
"My name," she said, turning suddenly to face the class, "is Ms. Valerie Frizzle. Thank you," she gestured to all the students, "for taking my class. Now, I'm going to tell you how you can find the parking space closest to the door without having to drive around the lot."