the right-hand pipe. Will eventually found a welded shut grate and realized
he went the wrong way. Perhaps I can make time on foot.
Will jumped out of the grate and found himself inside the Ventilation Room.
Wow! I'll bet no one's been in here in years! Will looked around briefly and found a simple switch with several settings on it: 'OFF', 'LOW', 'MEDIUM', and 'HIGH'. The switch was currently set to 'LOW'.
Will, ever curious, flipped it on 'HIGH'. A loud background noise began.
Suddenly, Will was breathing fresh air. In CPA? The air was so fresh, it was like sitting in front of a fan on a cold day!
But Will had to concentrate on the task at hand. Will walked over to the exit, opened the door, and struck out into the corridor.
He headed in the general direction that Will suspected they went, but along the way he met up with Devon Day.
"Will! I've been looking all over for you! I have something important to tell you!"
"I saw them! The inner circle, as you say! They're headed down to the Cafeteria!"
"Shit! I have to catch them!!", Will shouted and ran to the Main Stairwell, down the stairs, and finally into the lobby. He arrived just in time to see a number of TSF operatives and the inner circle run out the door and into several mini-vans, which promptly sped off.
You... the leader... if I ever see you again... Will dismissed any thoughts of seeing the bunch again, and pulled out his Mission: Cheetah paper and a pen.
Mission: Cheetah (objectives listed in
order of importance)
1. To rescue Francene Cosman and
bring her back to the outside at once. This shall take priority over any
2. To shut down the execution
facilities of the TSF, and, if necessary, rescue the occupants of "Death
3. To rescue Ray Whitman from
the TSF operative assigned to him, and bring him back to the outside if
he so wishes.
4. To re-instate the legitimate Student's Council at CPA, and to that end, possibly
temporarily assume leadership
of it until said crisis is over with.
5. To rid the premises of the
TSF and all its operatives by whatever means necessary.
6. To return all hostages to their classes by 1530h on Friday ("Funday") to avoid nasty parental lawsuits.
7. To make certain Sackville High never hears of this incident.
8. To, if captured, make sure
captives do not read this mission primer.
happily scratched out 3 and 5. It looked to him like everything was starting
to turn out okay.
He turned himself around again, and headed up the stairwell. On the way up, he saw Devon running down.
"What's up?", he asked her.
"Mr. Whitman is trying to address the students, but no one will listen! We need you to address everyone into order!"
"Well, I'll try...", Will committed. He ran up the last steps and headed for the gymnasium. In the entry hall, Will decided to skip the gruesome sight of the injured and headed straight for the stage. There, he saw Mr. Whitman trying to quiet down the herd.
"SHUT UP AND LISTEN!!"
The students in the gym just kept on talking, fighting, ignoring, brawling, shouting, booing, you name it. No order whatsoever.
"Please, don't you kids want to go home?"
See second last paragraph.
"Don't you want to go home and eat? Sleep? Look, I'm sure you'll get the rest of the week off too! All you have to do is list-", he was pelted with a paper wad.
"Mr. Whitman, maybe I should address them.", Will suggested.
The principal stepped back with a nod, giving Will access to the microphone.
"Uh... hi!", he said nervously.
The crowd turned to look at the new speaker.
"Look, well... here goes. I, as your President Interim, suggest that we all go outside and wait for professional aid, like ambulances for some of you, School Buses, your anxious parents, your cars... we all need to leave this... dump and go home!"
The crowd lost interest and returned to their business of talking, fighting, ignoring, brawling, shouting and booing.
Devon finally caught up with him again. "You see, Will? The command structure of CPA has collapsed! We're dealing with total anarchy!"
"Surely you jest!", exclaimed Mr. Whitman. "What will we do?"
"Maybe we should just lay low and see what happens. Eventually things will sort themselves out. Besides, that way you can retain the title of President Interim for a little while longer.", Devon suggested.
"Hey! You're right!", exclaimed Will.
Will, the principal, and Devon chose that moment to leave the stage. The crowd did not miss them.
got up from the couch where he was sleeping, and left the Drama Room.
By now, the students had spread out from the gymnasium, finding their own niches. Will saw many people he knew, but he saw them in a strange way. They seemed to be grouped up by what Junior High they came from, just like in the gym.
He saw Devon and her friends conversing by the Cafeteria entrance. Will said "hello", but he was rejected.
Christina MacDonald spoke for the small group. "You're a 'four', vermin! We don't waste our time with 'fours'!", she explained crossly.
Will was not suprised, he had gotten that same reaction all day yesterday. The entire student body had been split up into those groups by the TSF a long time ago now, and Will suspected that that was the reason for the current situation and the anarchy.
Will was an exile in his own school.
One of his few remaining friends, Shawn Ahmed, walked up to him to talk. "There is nothing left. You might as well give up."
"Fine... all right, I give up. Hand me the paper."
Shawn had prepared a paper outlining Will's resignation from the Student's Council. Will signed his name on the blank. "I can't believe it. I swore I'd never resign in disgrace like this."
"Well, quite frankly, I'm suprised you lasted as long as you did. You're not incredibly well liked."
"Don't I know it. It seems like no one will talk to me."
"No... and now it also includes me. I have new friends now, and they're 'twos'. Sorry."
At that moment, Will lost his last glimmer of hope for CPA. It was lost. He knew that someday the whole mess would be straightened out, but not by him. Not by the person who had risked his life for CPA. The school he said he hated in Grade 10. The school where he met two of his former Objects of Affection (his current record). The school that voted him into a position of imaginary power!
Maybe Jer would fix things up. He was a 'one', but a really powerful one.
Will stood up straight and left.
But some scars are permanent. Angela Ritcey remained a robot of sorts. When the TSF was disbanded, she started trying to kill everyone around her because she herself might be killed (so she thought, thank goodness she didn't succeed!). She, through no fault of her own, was placed in the NS.
Will Matheson never returned to CPA. He officially transferred to Souris
Regional High School in Souris, PEI and lived out the rest of his high
school years (he didn't do so well in math, you know) in relative happiness,
but there wouldn't be a day that went by that he did not think of CPA.
the ending you have just read is indeed pessimistic, but what would have
happened if Will had chosen another way at the junction?
To find out, click here. Or maybe you've had enough and it's time to view the Afterword. I suggest you do, it's a good insight into this novella.
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