Walking into the classroom, right away, you knew there was some kind of mistake.
The heads that craned around to look at you were hideous, to put it politely. You count a total of ten people sitting at the small desks, ten people that, in your opinion, are too many. The teacher welcomes you in with a wave of her hand, beckoning you to take a seat among this carnival sideshow. You don’t want to, but you really have no other place to go. You have to get this thing sorted out. At least the teacher’s face doesn’t make you want to choke on your own vomit.
You fleetingly look over at a man with half of his face cleaved away, exposing raw bone underneath his severed cheek, red tissue looping underneath his closed, and probably missing, right eye. Next to him, a woman sits twirling a pencil on her stumped fingers, whistling slightly through the porthole of a mouth in her shrunken and dilapidated head. To your left, up near the front, is another woman, tall, and not too bad looking from behind. She has a nice ass, you notice. But you don’t think there’s any way in the world you can get past the gashes weaving up her arms, around the front of her neck, and twirling around her face. It almost looked like her body was the Grand Prix for knife racing. She smiles at you, the lines around her mouth peeling back to open up more, a dribble of pinkish fluid that couldn’t quite be called blood seeping out. You smile back, casting your eyes downward so you don’t scream.
“Ok, class, we have a new member with us today. Would you like to introduce yourself?” the teacher asks you.
You stand up on shaky knees, avoiding the knife chick’s stare, trying your best to avoid the fizzing blob seated just three seats over, unable to discern if it’s a man or a woman, or either. You could kill the bastard that sent you here right about now.
“Hi, my name is...Brian.” The teacher gives you an inquisitive look; she knows it’s not your real name. But, much to your relief, she curtly nods and gestures for you to continue. The least these freaks know about you, the better. And it’s only just one class, one measly little hour...
“I transferred here from Bridgeton,” you continue, again another lie, “and it’s a...pleasure...to meet you all.” You sit back down in your seat, wiping the sweat from your forehead and swallowing the lump in your throat.
“Ok, well, welcome...Brian.” The teacher says, turning around to face the blank chalkboard. She begins the night’s lesson, arithmetic, and you can’t help but sigh in relief as the ten eyes (possibly more, possibly less) of the other students move away from you and focus on her back. She speaks in a squirrely voice, but articulates her words well, and doesn’t rush the lecture until she’s positive everyone has understood what she’s talking about.
You sit there in the uncomfortable chair, rapping your knuckles on the smooth wood of the desk as the minute hand draws ever closer to 9:00 p.m., as the teacher goes on and on, plowing through math, delving into history, and finally finishing up with some English grammar. Like you don’t know how to speak good. The whole time, the freaks listen intently, scribbling down notes, nodding their misshapen heads, drooling, sputtering, wheezing, shaking, moaning.
You pray to God that none of them have something you can catch.
When the bell mercifully rings, you jump up out of your chair, wanting to leave the room before the others can even come close to you, rushing to the bathroom, where you’ll be safe until they have all departed. You’ll talk to the teacher then, and find out who is responsible for such a horrible mistake.
You lock the door. Turn on the faucet, feel the cold water on your hands. Splash it on your face. Feel a light tingle, almost pleasant, but not entirely. Look up into the cloudy mirror.
You almost surely would have screamed at that point, but that’s when your mind switched over to me, who is quite used to the nightmarish visage of my reflection. For a moment, I don’t know where I am, which I’m also quite used to. But then I see it’s a school, talk to a pretty teacher that kindly gives me the day’s notes, and cheerily tells me that she’ll see me next Wednesday.
“Okay...I’m Tyler, by the way,” I tell her.
She smiles at me, nodding her head. “I know.”