The Future Diary
Chapter 1: Game Set
It's something every kid does, or at least, every kid I know.
On your birthday, they set the cake in front of you, gleaming with sugar and frosting, and a cluster of candles on top, so colorful that they look like sweets. And they always say the same words: "Now, blow out the candles and make a wish."
It seems a little silly now, when you look back on it. Snuffing out each candle, blowing away each flame, and you'll get your wish? It seems silly, childish, pagan almost, like some kind of ceremony or ancient rite.
But when you're a kid, you don't think about stuff like that. You believe what the adults say. "Blow out the candles and you'll get your wish." So you do what they say, your heart beating with the exhilaration of this magic. And what did you wish for?
I guess it would either be something simple, like maybe a new toy or a puppy, something shiny or fun that isn't really out of your reach. Or maybe it's something preposterous, something that you sort of know won't happen but you hope for anyway. One time, I wished that my brother would turn into a dried-out lizard.
Or maybe it's something a little sad. "I wish Daddy would come home."
But sometimes, I sort of wonder what it is that adults wish for. When you get to be thirty, forty, fifty, when you see the tall candy candles replaced by the thick white numbers, when the parties are reduced from lots of friends and kids you don't know to just your family, then just your spouse, then, maybe, just you, what it is that you wish for. Adults blow out the candles, too. I've seen them do it.
I used to think that maybe it was just a show, a performance for the kids. "Look, Mommy blows out her candles, too!" Something to prove that the magic really is real.
But now I think that that can't be. Everyone has wishes. Even adults. Especially adults.
So what do they wish for?
Maybe it's just something simple, like more time, more birthdays, a higher number on those white candles. Or maybe it's the opposite, no more birthdays, no more candles. A life without markers. Because when you get to be an adult, the passage of time just makes you sad.
I used to think that the concept of wanting more time was foolish. I don't mean in terms of deadlines or due dates or anything like that. At least, probably I don't. It's just, people are always talking about time as if there isn't enough to go around. "There aren't enough hours in the day." "This year went by too fast." "I ran out of time."
"Seems like it was only yesterday."
That always seemed silly to me. Time isn't actually a thing, not a physical essence that exists. It's a measurement of events. Your life is filled with things, not years. Wishing for more years without knowing what's going to be in them is stupid. Cowardice.
That's how I used to think. Before.
"Alright, settle down class. Let's get this drudgery over with."
The morning spring sun shone through the windows as the students murmured down with a collective groan into their seats, as Mrs. Krabappel (actually Mrs. Krabappel-Flanders, now, but that was too much of a mouthful for the kids to bother) tiredly wrote the date on the chalkboard: March 25. This done, she turned to face the class, only glancing up at them briefly to make sure they were still conscious. Most of them looked a little ruffled, and their eyelids drooped heavily. Many of them had their heads resting sideways on their desks, their eyes shifted up toward Mrs. Krabappel like a furtive animal in its den. She didn't really blame them, though. She didn't, as she would say, feel too hot herself.
"Well, welcome back, class," she said. "I hope you all enjoyed your Spring Break."
From the second row, somebody gave out a huge jaw-cracking yawn. Several others followed suit.
"Wake up, Nelson!" called Mrs. Krabappel, knocking a ruler against her desk. From the second row, Nelson Muntz bolted upright, blinking as if in surprise.
"Look, everyone," Mrs. Krabappel went on, "I know it sucks being here. Especially after Spring Break. Especially after mine." Mrs. Krabappel grinned a little lecherously on that last word, in spite of herself. Someone in the class whistled.
Mrs. Krabappel cleared her throat, obviously pleased. "Yes, well," she said, "Anyway…"
Bart grinned and leaned over towards Milhouse, whose desk was right next to his. "Yeah, I hope she had a good time," he whispered, smirking, "After all the noise she was making all week." Milhouse giggled, holding his hands up over his mouth.
"Bart!" shouted Mrs. Krabappel, making both boys sit at attention. She hadn't heard what Bart had said, but she had a pretty good idea. "Not today, mister! I'm warning you!"
"Sure thing, Edna," said Bart, pointing and clicking his tongue.
Mrs. Krabappel grimaced and turned back to the rest of the class. "As I was saying," she said somewhat testily, "The first day back from a break always sucks. And it's going to suck even more once you know what they're making us do." A few of the kids sat up straighter, looking up at their teacher with confused eyes and raised eyebrows. Everyone caught the word, "us," in that sentence. Mrs. Krabappel groaned and sat down at her desk, twisting her fingers together. The class waited.
"Everyone pay attention," said Mrs. Krabappel, "Because I'm only going to say this once. You're getting an assignment today, and it's going to last until the end of the school year."
Immediately, a wave of protestations rose up from the class (undercut by a single, "Oh boy!" from Martin Prince).
"That's not fair!"
"You gotta be kidding me!"
"That's so gay!"
"What the hell do you take us for?"
"We just got back!"
"Oh, everyone shut up!" snapped Mrs. Krabappel. "Believe me, I'm not any happier about this than you are, but I have no choice. Everyone in the fourth grade is doing this, so just bear down and accept it!"
Martin Prince raised his hand. He didn't speak right away but waited patiently, his arm straight as a soldier at attention, his eyes bright. Mrs. Krabappel stared at Martin with a kind of dread before saying, "Yes, Martin?"
"What sort of assignment is it, Mrs. Krabappel?" he chirped. "Is it a book report? Or a study on microscopic marine life? Or an anthology essay?" He seemed to get more and more excited with each possibility. Behind him, Nelson was pounding his fist into his hand rather hungrily.
"No, no, it's nothing like that," replied Mrs. Krabappel. "Your assignment is to keep a diary. You have to keep track of it and write in it everyday until summer break."
"A diary?" repeated Bart, making a face.
"Diaries are for girls!" called Nelson derisively.
"Eh heh, yeah," agreed Milhouse, his eyes shifting a little.
"Well, apparently, they're for snot-nosed little kids, too," said Mrs. Krabappel. In the front row, Sherri and Terri giggled, tickled by the implication that you could either by a snot-nosed little kid or a girl.
Martin raised his hand again. "What should we write in the diaries?" he asked.
"Anything," Mrs. Krabappel answered. "Anything about your day that strikes you as important. And if nothing strikes you as important, just write anything. I don't care. Just write."
An uneasy muttering was going through the class. Writing every day until the end of the year? That sounded like torture.
"And there's one more thing," said Mrs. Krabappel. "You have to write your entries on your cell phones."
"Easy!" chimed Sherri and Terri. Everyone else looked puzzled. Mrs. Krabappel, meanwhile, had stood up and was writing a number on the board. Everyone craned their necks to look. It read, "77621." Mrs. Krabappel turned back to the class and tapped her chalk under the number.
"Type this number down into your contact list," she said, "And text your diary entries to it, one every hour as long as you're up. If you use this number, I'll be able to see your entries on my laptop. They don't have to be anything long, just a sentence or two is good enough. Just write anything that catches your eye or that you're thinking about."
"Why do we have to do it like that?" someone asked.
"It's to make sure that you're actually keeping up with your diary entries throughout the school year, instead of writing them all down the night before it's due like I know some of you would." She turned to glare at a very specific spot in the class. Bart looked up at his teacher as innocently as possible.
"This is stupid," said Nelson.
"I know it's stupid!" snapped Mrs. Krabappel. "I know that, but I don't have any choice! If you have a problem with it, take it up with Principal Skinner!"
Just then, Sherri raised her hand. "Mrs. Krabappel?" she half-asked, half-called, as is the way of students, "Does this mean we can text in class?"
Mrs. Krabappel glowered at Sherri, as though she had been dreading this realization and was irked that it had come so early. "Yes," she said through gritted teeth.
Immediately, like a magic trick, every child in the class whipped a cell phone seemingly out of nowhere and began tapping away merrily. "Only your diary entries!" called Mrs. Krabappel, over the chorus of clicking keys. A few of the students were giggling, still breathless over this unexpected privilege.
Milhouse was looking around rather nervously. He bit his lip and began typing on his phone, still grimacing. Bart was also typing into his own phone, snickering to himself. "Perfect," he said, grinning. He clicked "send" and leaned over to Milhouse's desk again. "What are you writing about?" he asked.
Milhouse didn't answer, so Bart peeked over his shoulder and looked. He frowned. "'9:45 – Richard is passing a note to Lewis? Nelson's backpack strap broke earlier and he's taped it back together using duct tape?' Uh, what is this, Milhouse?"
Milhouse blushed and lowered his cell phone under his desk. "I didn't, um, know what to write…" he said.
Bart made a face. "Aw, c'mon, Milhouse," he said, "You could send anything right to Krabappel! This is the chance of a lifetime and you're wasting it!"
Milhouse scowled. "Since when do you get so excited about writing?" he snapped.
"Since never," answered Bart breezily, "But writing about stuff like that? Who care's if Nelson's strap is broken?"
"Hey, shut up!" snapped Nelson, who had apparently overheard.
Milhouse looked away uncomfortably. "I don't know," he answered. "I'm just… writing what I see."
Bart looked at Milhouse for another moment before shrugging and sitting back down at his desk. "Whatever," he said.
"Alright, class, that's enough," called Mrs. Krabappel over the clicking (which, she thought, had gone on longer than it should have), "That's enough. Everyone send in your entries and put your phones away. I don't want to see them again for at least another hour." Everyone spirited their phone away with a quick change of hand and looked up at the clock, making a note of the time. From somewhere in the room, one person's clicking could still be heard.
"Martin, that's enough!" called Mrs. Krabappel. "Put your phone away!"
"But, I need to finish my diary entry, Mrs. Krabappel!" Martin replied earnestly.
"It's long enough; just send it in!" she ordered. Martin assented and the whoosh of a single message's flight could be heard. "And from now on, Martin," Mrs. Krabappel continued. "Try not to send me a novel every hour."
"I'll try, Mrs. Krabappel," said Martin, sounding a little bit sad.
"Great," said Mrs. Krabappel. She leaned back in her chair and sighed. "The rest of the year's going to be brilliant," she said bitterly. "I can just tell. Alright, class, now that that nightmare's over with, open up your textbooks and turn to page 435…"
The class resumed.
"Alright, class. That was the bell. You might as well clear out of here. Oh, and remember there's a pop quiz on Friday."
"Miss Hoover? It is really a pop quiz if you tell us about it?"
"I don't know, but it makes them easier to grade."
The class was apparently satisfied with that and began the shuffling and clattering of children packing up for the day. Lisa slid her rather heavy textbook into her backpack with the satisfied smile of a day well-spent learning. Though all of her classmates, and her brother, had enjoyed the Spring Break and had dreaded it end, Lisa had suffered throughout, as she usually did. It wasn't that she didn't have fun, it was the nagging feeling that she'd had throughout that she was wasting her time, and after a week of no additional educational input, her mind felt starved. Now that she was back in class again, she felt almost as she had been fed again after a long fast.
The hastiest kids in the class were almost halfway out the door when Miss Hoover suddenly said, "Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Class, I've graded your tests from two weeks ago. Please come by and pick yours up from the pile on my desk."
The class immediately swarmed around Miss Hoover's desk, their hands grabbing at the pile of papers like hungry mouths. Lisa rushed to the front and squeezed herself into the pack, wanting to grab her own test before the barrier became too thick. She particularly dreaded getting there after Ralph, who always lifted each paper up one at a time as slowly as possible as he searched for his paper and occasionally missed his own name and had to start over.
Lisa's eyes shifted back and forth amidst the frenzy, as she tried to look for an opening. Arms continued to reach in like the necks of snapping turtles, and the papers kept shifting around. Several times when Lisa thought she spotted her own paper, an arm came by and swept it out of the way again before she could get a proper look.
At last… There! Lisa saw the gleam of an "Lis" in her own neat handwriting. Quickly, she reached in and snatched it up, before it could vanish into the sea. Having thus succeeded, she quickly detangled herself from the dwindling mob and stepped away from the desk to look at her grade in relative peace. And what looked up at her in shining red ink was…
An A… minus? Lisa stared, feeling as though the classroom was tilting slightly. Had her eyes deceived her?
Nope, there it was, clear as day. "A-" Circled in the same red pen. Lisa looked down the paper, her brow furrowed. Where was the mistake? What had she done wrong?
"Oh," Lisa groaned, irritated. There it was. She wanted to smack herself. The capital of Bangladesh was Dhaka, not Krakow. And the Nile River ran north. Not south. How could she be so careless?
Lisa looked up at the students around her, many of whom looked unhappy too. Other students didn't seem to care, crumpling their tests and dropping them into the recycling bin after only a quick glance. The only one who seemed pleased was Ralph, who walked out of class with a vacant smile on his face, his paper flapping in his hand by his side. Lisa didn't really notice any of this, though. She was waiting for everyone to leave.
As soon as the room was empty, Lisa quickly moved back to the desk, where Miss Hoover was still sitting. Miss Hoover didn't seem to know Lisa was still there. She sighed to herself before reaching into her desk and pulling out a small flask. She was just unscrewing the lid when Lisa said, "Um, Miss Hoover? Can I have a word with you?"
Miss Hoover jumped in her seat and fumbled with the flask in her hands before barely catching it with her wrists. "Gah, Lisa!" she exclaimed, quickly shoving the flask back into its drawer and slamming it rather hastily. "What are you still doing here?" she asked. "School's over. Go home. You'll miss the bus."
Once upon a time, talking to a teacher alone would have made Lisa shy. But Lisa was far beyond that stage now. "Oh, this will only take a minute, Miss Hoover. I wanted to talk to you about my grade." She held out her paper to Miss Hoover, upside down so she could see it.
Miss Hoover glanced down at her paper briefly. She didn't seem to get it. "What about it?" she asked. "You got an A. Very good."
"An A minus," said Lisa, drawing out the word, as if that would explain everything. "This isn't the standard that I hold myself up to."
"Of course it isn't," said Miss Hoover bitterly. She seemed to get it now. "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"
"Well, I was wondering if there was anything I could do to make it up."
"There's nothing to make up," said Miss Hoover. "You aced it."
"Barely," said Lisa, looking down.
"Lisa, in this school system, 'barely' is good enough."
Lisa shook her head. "No, that shouldn't be. If I've messed up, then I need to fix it. Please give me something to do for extra credit."
Miss Hoover swept her arms open over her desk, exasperated. "I don't have anything to give you! We just got back from a break! Go home, already!"
"Oh, I'll take anything you can give me," Lisa said, nodding earnestly. "I'm not picky."
"Please, Miss Hoover?" Lisa pleaded, her eyes as big and doleful as she could muster.
Miss Hoover looked down at Lisa, who had clasped her hands together under her chin in a perhaps melodramatic display. She finally sighed, having, perhaps, known from the beginning that this was a lost fight. "Alright, alright," she muttered, defeated, "Let me see if I can find something."
Lisa's eyes brightened expectantly as Miss Hoover tiredly reached down below the top of her desk, fumbling for one of the lower drawers. Having apparently found the one she was looking for, she pulled it open and lifted out a single spiral notebook, evidently a spare that a student had dropped. She held this out to Lisa.
"Here," she said, handing her the spiral. "This is something the fourth graders are doing. You could write a diary."
Lisa looked up at her teacher, puzzled. "But Miss Hoover," she said, "I already keep a diary."
"Then!" Miss Hoover clenched her teeth and began rubbing circles on both temples with her fingers. After a moment of this, she sighed and said, "Then, write something in this one that you wouldn't normally write. Make it different. Write in it everyday and then turn it into me at the end of the school year. That will be your extra credit. Okay?"
"Yes, ma'am!" said Lisa happily. "I'll do it. Thank you, Miss Hoover!" she called as she ran out the door.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Miss Hoover muttered. She waited a second to make sure that Lisa wouldn't come back with another inane request, before unscrewing her flask again and taking a good, long swig.
That night found Bart in the upstairs hallways of the Simpson house, tapping away on his cellphone still, snickering to himself. He hit "send" with a final, evil smirk, turned the corner, and realized that he was in the doorway of Lisa's room. He stopped in the doorway and watched Lisa for a moment, looking bemused about something. Lisa was sitting at her desk, writing in her diary. She always used blue pen for her diary because the diary was nice, wrapped up in fake leather with a thick spine and yellow paper, and she hated putting pencil dust into something she felt was so fine. She was writing with her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth, completely absorbed in her work. Finally, with a final loop of an "l" and cross of a "t," she smiled to herself, satisfied, and closed it. This done, she reached into her backpack, beside her chair, and pulled out the green spiral that Miss Hoover had given her. She flopped this open on her desk and began writing in it with the same blue pen.
Bart's expression was a strange mix between amusement and pity. "I still can't believe you're writing two diaries," he said.
"If you're just going to stand there and make smart comments, you can leave," said Lisa. Not angrily. This was simply how the two of them talked to each other, with quips and stings.
Bart, of course, didn't leave, but simply leaned against Lisa's doorframe, his arms folded. "So, what are you gonna do? Just write everything that happened to you twice?"
"If you really must know," said Lisa, not looking up, "I'm making this diary different from my normal one."
"Uh huh," said Bart, smirking.
"See, rather than write about everything that happened to me today, like I usually do, I decided to make this diary about overcoming obstacles."
"Really?" said Bart.
"Really. See, every time a problem comes up, I write about it, and then I'll write how to get past it. I call it my Student's Diary," Lisa finished.
Bart burst out laughing. "Your Student's Diary? That's rich. How much of a geek are you Lisa?"
"For instance," Lisa went on, using her same scholarly tone, "Right now, I'm writing, 'My brother is being an obnoxious boob.'"
"Ooh, I'm an 'obstacle,' huh? Scary!" Bart laughed.
"To – solve – this," Lisa continued, articulating as she wrote, "I – should – poke – his – eye – with – a – pencil – while – he's – as – sleep."
Bart stopped laughing. He looked a little worried. "C'mon, Lisa," he said, "You wouldn't really do that, would you?"
"Then – I'll – dump – water – in – his – sheets – so – that – he – has – to – wear – the – trainees – again."
"Alright, alright, I'm going!" fumed Bart, throwing up his hands and storming out. Lisa smirked and placed the final period on the end of the real sentence: I'll ominously threaten to do things to him while he sleeps.
This done, Lisa looked out the window for moment before moving her pen to the lower half of the page. "8:35 pm," she articulated, "I see that Dad is up in the tree house, trying to fix that broken support beam. I should probably warn him about the loose floorboard, so that he doesn't fall."
Lisa then pushed back her chair, jumped to floor, and started for the window. She lifted it open and called into the night, "Hey, Dad! Watch out for that loose floorboard!"
"What?" Homer called back.
"The floorboard, Dad! Watch out for the loose floorboard!"
"What loose floor – AUGH!" There was a crash, and Lisa saw her father break through the floor of the tree house and land in a heap on the ground.
Lisa winced. "You okay, Dad?" she called.
In the dark, Homer shakily raised his arm and gave a weak thumbs-up.
Lisa went back to her Student's Diary, as Marge rushed out into the backyard "Note," she said aloud as she wrote, "I should probably tell him stuff like that sooner."
The next morning was a bright and sunny one. Martin Prince was heading down the sidewalk, a slight lift in his step, his backpack over his shoulders and his eyes glued onto his cellphone. He was typing rapidly onto its keyboard, words leaking from his fingers like ink from a pen. He had never been particularly good at texting, but now he was quickly getting the hang of it. He had decided that he rather liked this diary assignment after all. What a treat, that Mrs. Krabappel would get to look into the fascinating head of Martin!
"March 26th, 8:47 am," he read aloud. "The air is crisp and clear! It's been a whole five days since the vernal equinox and yet the daylight hours and the nighttime hours still seem to be in perfect balance. But of course, the nighttime hours are actually five minutes shorter, by my calculations. On the television this morning was the verdict on the Springfield Library vs. Krusty case. The judge decided on a $50,000 fine, but in my opinion, it should have been delayed, as bringing a live monkey into the courtroom is probably a conflict of interest."
Martin continued typing, making a note of everything around him and waxing philosophical about all of it. And as he rounded the corner into the wall of fences facing the empty street, a single silver car pulled out from where it sat on the curb expelling clear smoke, and pulled after the boy, keeping several feet behind his heels.
This car was unremarkable in every way. It looked banged up, sort of, but had no defining marks to speak of. It had no dents, no bumps, no tape. It seemed a little dirty, but no one would be able to say where the dirt was. The only thing that could perhaps describe the car's dull quality was its age, but even that was uncertain. The car was old, but not enough to be valuable. The color was not bright, nor was it excessively dark. A dim sort of sheen hung over it, over the old silver paint, that seemed to mask it from eyes, that clouded it from gazes. The only thing that was even remotely noteworthy about it was that its windows were tinted, but even this quality was not excessive, with a faded gray tint instead of black, and no one would think much of this, with the summer and its heat not too far away.
This car pulled out and followed Martin, who was writing a soliloquy about the spring sky and paid the car no mind. He was used to the sound of engines running, of tires crunching the gravel in the street. He heard such sounds everyday. Even the slam of a car door, like the one that was sounding through the air just now, didn't disturb his preoccupied mind at all.
Having finished the paragraph he was writing, Martin looked down and noticed a row of flowers that someone had planted in a patch of grass beside the fence, as though in an attempt to add some decoration to the solid wall of weathered wood. Martin stopped in front of the flowers, in raptures. "Ooh, daffodils!" he exclaimed. "That's worth writing about!" He lifted up his cellphone and tapped rapidly onto it, smiling gleefully. If only someone had planted some tulips during the winter season!"
If Martin had looked up, perhaps he would have noticed the person coming up behind him, walking casually but softly, occasionally looking around to see if anyone was watching. Perhaps he would have noticed that this person was coming right for him, that the car behind him was still running, was still unlocked, ready and waiting like a carriage. Perhaps he would have noticed this person pulling a rag out of his pocket.
But Martin didn't notice any of this, not even when the person was right behind him, looking down on him. The person didn't move but stood watching Martin type, his fingers moving rapidly. Finally, Martin nodded, pleased with himself, and hit "send."
This was what the person was waiting for.
As soon as the message zipped away, the person whipped out the rap and pressed it against Martin's face, clamping a hand over his nose and mouth. Martin squealed but that was all, and quickly his eyes dulled, and his head fell back, and the strength fell out of him as he fell back into the person's arms, unconscious. His arms slowly drooped and swung limply by his sides, and his hand loosened, releasing his cellphone onto the ground. The person pulled Martin up and quickly stomped down on the forlorn cellphone and begun grinding it under the corner of his heel. The person continued doing this, in an almost desperate frenzy, until the cellphone lay in pieces, existing only in gleaming glass and plastic and leaking fluid. Carefully, the person picked up the pieces with the rag and slipped the entire bundle back into the pocket from which the rag had come.
This done, the person carefully propped the unconscious Martin up on one arm and, gently, almost tenderly, gathered him up into his arms, cradling him like an infant. The person then walked back to the waiting car, opened the back door with one arm, and placed Martin carefully inside, laying him across the upholstered bumps and ridges of the backseat, before getting in the car and driving off.
The whole thing only took a minute, and nobody in the neighborhood saw it.
Survival Game! Press Start (S)!
I have no idea what possessed me to write a Simpsons adaption of Mirai Nikki, but once the idea came into my head. I couldn't get rid of it. The last thing I need is to start another fan fiction, the absolute last thing I need, but I wanted to go ahead and start it when the idea was still fresh. In a way, I guess this is sort of an experiment, to see how successfuly my writing is if I go ahead and just launch into it, without having everything figure out. Eh heh. Wish me luck!
Like it says in the synopsis, this is based off the anime, Mirai Nikki, which intrigued me from the very first episode. Um, this story will have spoilers for the anime, so if you haven't finished it, maybe you shouldn't read this. That said, this won't actually follow the anime exactly (It can't! These are Simpsons characters!), but it will have similar plot points, set pieces, etc., so take that as you will. Also, I'm not putting this under "Crossover" because it's not really a crossover. None of the Mirai Nikki characters will show up in it, and nobody would be able to find it! I learned that the hard way through Springfield Bioshock (which you should still totally check out because I work hard on it, and it's basically the same thing, Bioshock with Simpsons characters).
Um, I had more to say but I can't remember it. Well, when the game starts and the participants become known pick your favorite team and root for the winner! Who will be the victor of the Survival Game?