Chapter 3:


Curiosity Killed The Cat


Kothur found himself looking at the living room of his old childhood home. A familiar scene was playing out in front of him. All three of them were together: Reohn, Fehram, and himself. I think this must have been from over fifteen years ago. We all looked so young. I had both my eyes back then. Fehram was barely a teenager back then.

But why am I seeing this?

He saw his younger self lip sync to the song playing on the radio with Reohn pretending to play the guitar next to him. Fehram was snapping his fingers on the couch. The boxy radio with the broken antennae they tried to fix with tape sang in a static voice. They were all wearing clothes hand-sewn by their mom. Kothur smiled thinking about that day. It was nice when we all got along, wasn’t it?

Shouldn’t I get back? How long has it been? How many seconds? With a handshake there’s an acceptable pause, but I wasn’t shaking anyone’s hand this time, was I? His thoughts were all over the place.

What was I doing before this? I was in the staff room, right? I can’t just wait for this to be over; I need to get back.

Kothur tried turning around. He’d never tried to move during one of these. As he is now, he barely exists.

The light vanished, leaving him in darkness. All of the air seemed to escape his lungs at once. All of his senses were taken from him leaving him like a helpless animal. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t move.

Then it was over. He stood facing the open door of the staff room. Just as he last remembered he was. He looked down to his hands still in his pockets. What happened? He couldn’t really remember.

“What’s the matter?” Yinna asked behind him. “Nervous or something? You’re looking paler than usual.” She leaned towards his face. Her inquisitive look bothered him.

“I’m alright. Just stalling. I’ll be going now.” He hoped he sounded convincingly calm enough. He quietly left down the hall, trying his best to regain his composure.

His footsteps echoed out into the empty hallway with each step. He didn’t really know what to think. His heart was still pounding and his mind was in shambles from the whole experience. He definitely didn’t want to deal with whatever the principal wanted with him right now, but he carried on. There wasn’t much of a choice.

What even happened back then? Just wanted to think about a nostalgic memory? No, there was something that happened after that. He realized his eye was hurting. He continued walking, trying to ignore it.

The wood-paneled hallway eventually gave way to a long glass corridor that faced the empty grassy courtyard. It was always well-maintained and, best of all, peaceful. He stopped to admire it and face the sunlight. He felt the light warm the left side of his face. The other half feeling the same black cloth that always covered it these past two years. His worries were weighing on him. If only he could just evaporate away and join the dust floating around him.

This just isn’t going to be any fun at all. He sighed as he gripped the remaining bullet in his pocket. He had successfully kept it hidden from his brother earlier. I should keep going or I think I'll be late. The last thing I want is a lecture.

The long walk finally ended at the principal’s large heavy door. It was made of a fine wood with intricate details carved in it, a sign of high status. After knocking twice, always only twice, he heard a deep voice beckon him inside.

“You wanted to see me, Mr. Dunnock?” He said with overly-practiced politeness. While throwing away any other unnecessary feelings, he put on his best gentlemanly smile. The air here was stale and even more dusty than the hallways.

The principal was an older fellow from a generation of men that valued honor above all else. He would probably be around his own father’s age, though they wouldn’t have seen eye-to-eye on many matters. Mr. Dunnock was an insincere man, just the type that Kothur hated most. Kothur didn't think he really cared for people at all and just loved to feel important. It was exactly why he didn't want to take the principal position. He was afraid he would turn into someone like that. 

“Yes. Go ahead and take a seat.” Mr. Dunnock looked up from his thick glasses. His brown suit blended well with the wood-panels surrounding him. The large window behind him accented his robust features. The old chair creaked as he leaned back. “Are you doing well on this fine day?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Dunnock.” Kothur sat straight on the chair in front of the desk with imagined purpose. 

“The doctors tell me you are still doing well on their tests these past few years. Do you feel fine working? Is it not too tiring?”

“Yes, sir. I feel fine during the day.” Kothur put his hand on his chin. “I could probably shotput a troublemaker or two across the field.”

“That a boy!” He gave a hearty laugh. 

It always grated Kothur’s ears. He knew Mr. Donnuck didn't really care about his health at all. He hasn't even once referred to me by my name. 

“When you started here, I’ll be honest, I thought the top brass was crazy to let some guy in as a teacher. I couldn’t stand the sight of you and I told them I would find something to fire you over sooner or later. I sent you to every recruitment interview there was thinking you’d mess up at some point, but you exceeded every expectation I had.”

Kothur smile faltered slightly, not knowing what to say. I don’t like where he’s going with this. His hand gripped at his knee.

“You’ve successfully recruited around twenty students alone. That’s more than any teacher previously. How do you manage to convince them?”

He had to think of something quick. “I spend time gathering intel the day before and I feel I just have a knack at convincing people.” The second half wasn’t a lie at least. Though he felt that someone smarter and actually empathetic could produce the same results even without his eye power. He felt like he was cheating his way through his job.

“Yes, I do think you are quite gifted.” Mr. Dunnock leaned forward with another loud creak of his chair. “I’m going to be straight with you, I want you to take over my position as principal.”

Kothur was afraid of this. Even though principals of this school have only ever been retired veterans, he really was being recommended for the dreadful job. “But sir, I’ve barely been here two years. If you’re going to consider teachers here, Yinna is a much better candidate than me.”

The principal waved his hand. “You know as well as I do that the top brass would never accept a woman for this position. They specifically want you with the results you are getting.”

“None of my students have even become famous alumni.” Kothur gave a timid laugh.

“Not to worry. I have already approved that girl you brought in recently to take part in the soul project using dael technology we are running.”

Kothur’s hand twitched. “Soline? Wait, I thought that project wasn’t ready yet due to the fire a few years ago.” He really didn’t like this. He must have really been showing how uncomfortable this was making him as Mr. Dunnock started to lose his polite smile.

“You are aware there’s a war going on. We have no time to waste to beat those Rydes bastards before they come for us, wouldn’t you say?”

Kothur straightened his posture again. “Yes, sir.”

“Besides, it will be easier to have a test subject before it’s fully running. Science always requires trial and error, you know? It would look good for you if one of your students was the first to successfully complete it.” He paused to look Kothur dead in the eye. “The guys are the top are still looking for any excuse to get rid of you. Are you really thinking of turning down the offer?”

“No, sir. I really do appreciate the offer; I was just taken by surprise is all.” Kothur couldn’t return his stare as he replied.  

Taylor Victoria