Center of Center (4)
a serialized novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora
In front of the Student Union, a Divided student palms a Styrofoam clamshell takeout container and a plastic-lidded cup. The student with black bangs wears a hooded parka almost all the way down to the knees of a pair of jeans. A gust of wind lifts the container off the student’s hand. The student tries to reach for it, but the other hand’s cup gushes soda. Stir-fry swirls in the air and then plops to the sidewalk.
I don’t laugh. I can’t replay a vid-scroll for the student to spot the mistake about to happen. Nobody can save that from happening. I can’t do anything but watch the moment pass from my driver’s seat.
The Patroller sirens reverberated through Voci Hall’s double-pane lofty windows. There was no U-comm connection to the wall-screen in my no-distraction classroom. The hinges of the door folded out into the hallway.
My classes were on the building’s second floor. I couldn’t lead my students to an exit without taking the stairs. Someone could come up as we tried to go down.
I did not know what to do with a gun, with the spray of bullets, with the flesh of these students who were children of some parents out there away from this threat that was here. I told Amanda and Kyle to stay in our classroom and to stay away from the windows. I’d find out what was happening.
Dr. Paul Boyle, the Director of the Communications Department, office was on the second floor like my classrooms. When I first arrived in Center I went there to meet Dr. Boyle in person. We had only seen each other during my holo-link interview that was mostly a one-sided conversation about how Dr. Boyle knew Pop’s work at Lost and respected anyone who had also gone to Bellow.
I stood at the threshold of Dr. Boyle’s open office and asked if he had heard what was going on. I wanted to know what I should do. He just said his digi-cuff gave an alert that the Polis Patrol had stopped someone on campus.
Dr. Boyle said we just had to wait and see. In the meantime, I should calm my students and carry on with class. I didn’t say that the person might be my student and I might be at fault.
CENTER of CENTER is a serialized novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora. Go here to start at the beginning. Paid subscribers have access to every installment of our serial fiction.
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