Andrew Horthuck and Barry Johansson were not what you would consider the “sentimental type.” And so, on that fateful day in September when they chose to revisit their old Elementary School in Ferguson County, staff should have been more skeptical of their intentions. These two high schoolers were (as their records show) both rambunctious and disorderly types of which most teachers hate (and should) not to mention conformed users of many substances that would under most standards (not just mine) be considered extremely illicit.
However, they were let in anyway.
Nobody remembered these kids! Nobody checks records! Nobody cares about anything! And so they were let in, free to roam all around the tiny halls they once terrorized all with a free excuse to skip school to smoke pot. And all the other teachers just thought them so dear. So quaint. What beautiful, beautiful souls these were- those who took precious time out of their own illustrious high school careers in order to rally the coming generation of new learners!
They were sitting in the empty school gym, talking. Andrew spoke first- he had sort of fuzzy, orangey hair like those detestable cheese products shaped like balls.
“Man… you like, remember any of this?” He mumbled.
Barry responded- he was the better-looking of the two by sheer technicality (both were ugly) due in no short part to his having basic hygienic practices memorized (Andrew lacked this.)
“Yeah, dude… it’s like… man, all the memories we shared here.”
“I remember hating this block the most… all the other kids laughed at me because I couldn’t do the exercises… ugh. I wish I could’ve been like you.”
“Hey, I may have been athletic, but that didn’t last. It gets harder and harder to keep up with the real athletes as school goes on, you know. Cause like, eventually, come high school, they’re just like… getting ready to go into sports for real, yeah?”
“I hate them either way.”
“Me too dude. Me too.”
The two sat in silence for exactly twenty-one seconds. Barry continued.
“But you know what made up for it? The teachers, dude. The teachers. They were all so nice here.” He said.
“Yeah, mostly. Ms. Fielder was always good to me. It’s a shame she quit.”
“Mhm. Sheesh, I wonder why… They have it so good here.”
“You’re right. And even though I hated gym, at least the coach wasn’t a total ass.”
“Uh-huh dude, he was chill. I don’t think there was a single teacher here I didn’t like.”
“R-really? Cause… hm. Hey, did you have a lady teacher or a guy teacher for 4th grade math?”
“Uh… lady, I think. Why?”
“It’s fuzzy, but… I remember the dude one- uh- I had him, you see- being seriously creepy. Like, pants-shittingly terrifying.”
“You shit your pants, dude? Haha.”
“It’s a figure of speech! That was third grade.”
“So what was his name?”
“The teacher, what was his name?”
“You know, I don’t remember…”
They continued just like this for one hour and forty-four seconds without so much as mentioning the use of a controlled substance. This was when it became clear to me that they knew they were being watched.
“Hey, Andrew…” Barry nearly whispered.
“Yeah?” Andrew responded inelegantly.
“Do you remember Shizu?”
His words took me off guard, but thankfully, it wasn’t too hard to suppress my laughter.
“Shizu… oh. Shizu.”
“When was it… fourth grade? I feel like she was in the same science class as us…”
“Yeah. We were good friends. She didn’t care that I wasn’t strong or that you were. She was just a good person.”
“Just makes it all the more effed up.”
“…Hey, maybe this is a tad dark, but do you think-“
Right as planned, the lights went out.
“B-Barry?” Andrew muttered, terrified.
“Andrew? Woah, what’s goin’ on, man… power outage?”
“Must be… we studied these last year, it’s pretty common around our area- Ah!” The boy steeped back away from the center of the darkness.
“What is it, dude?”
“I think I just heard a- a sound-“
In the pitch-blackness of the outside-wall-less room, the boys both shook and trembled. They couldn’t see anything. But I could see it all. I imagined their faces in my head. They were so scared. So very scared. And yet they wouldn’t thank me. No matter how scared they got, they wouldn’t thank me. They wouldn’t thank me even though I was making this the very last time they would ever be scared.
“B-Barry, I’m worried.”
“There’s someone in here with us… I know there’s someone in here with us…”
“Relax, dude. Wasn’t the breaker box in this room? Maybe someone’s pranking us. Let’s just go turn the lights back on.”
I did not consider myself angry until he spoke those words. It was fair until he spoke those words. That isn’t fair. He shouldn’t remember that. There’s no way he could have remembered that.
And yet, I was forced to accept that he did.
So I retreated, and crouched down back where I had started.
You might be luckier than me. You might even be stronger. But you are not smarter.
“But- Barry, it’s still pitch-black in here! I can’t see a thing! How are we gonna get to the box?”
“Relax, relax! Come on, just hold my hand. We’ll find it somehow. Memory, don’t fail me now.”
Footsteps. I heard their metal footsteps going down the bleachers. Down the bleachers and towards the breaker box. Towards me. Yes. That’s right, I thought. Go there.
And then, they turned.
“Barry, where are we going?”
“Just a second… I think it was this way, actually.”
I grinned. I retracted my previous thought. Nobody was luckier than me. The original plan would work. The fun one. I reached my hand up to the box.
The lights came on. They started talking immediately. Too loud to hear me get up. Too loud to hear the axe dragging across the floor.
“Barry, what’s going on?”
“Andrew, Jesus, calm down! The lights just fixed themselves is all! Man, that scared me…”
“Y-yeah… but… I wonder what the sound I heard was…”
Then, just then, Andrew turned around.
While I’m not the gym teacher or the janitor, as a member of the Oakheart Elementary staff, it’s my duty to clean up any mess I see. And after all, I’m a lot better at the job than either of those aforementioned idiots. Of course, before I disposed of all that trash, I did wind up inspecting it, just for peace of mind’s sake.
Only one of the boys was carrying a pencil (Mechanical- less effective) and neither had tissues. They almost deserved to die just for that. Though the strangest thing was that no matter how hard I searched their pockets and bags there was not an ounce of any sort of drug or medicine. These two really had just come here to see their old teachers and talk to my students.
But after having to listen to their infuriating voices for so long, I didn’t really care. I walked back into the teacher’s lounge, and took a bite out of the kiwi I had been saving.
The one thing that all insane people have in common is the failure to understand that they are, in fact, “insane.” It is not something they can understand, due to their insanity. Through lacking sanity they become unable to comprehend insanity as a concept in the first place. This is, to say, that they are insane.
I am the exception.
I am very much insane and very much aware of it. My name is Charles Sagan and I am a forty-three year old elementary school teacher in Ferguson County Georgia who enjoys the taste of salted bread sandwiches and kiwi fruits. I am “insane” due to the fact that I take actions that others (you) are incapable of taking because of your social programming not to act as such. I am insane because even though I did receive the very same social programming you likely did I was able to ignore it. It is not that I could not understand what was taught to me or that I somehow misinterpreted it- in fact, nor was it that I covered my ears screaming over the instructions given to me by the grown-ups and television programs of my time.
I just chose not to follow them.
And the explanation for why I can do that and you can’t is because I am insane.
I am crazy, I am a lunatic, and I am coming to kill all the lousy, ignorant children you have ever known or will ever conceive.
I am Mr. Sagan.
This is my confession- to myself.