347: Dream On

on January 30, 2009 in Book 12

In Which Mackenzie Does Not Waste A Class Period Fantasizing About Sooni

I wasn’t at all sure that I’d made the message stick with Feejee, but at the very least I’d given her some things to think about. I supposed it was up to her, whether she did so or not.

Sooni was absent from logic… it was mutual, I’m sure, but a little worrying.

Maliko was there, looking even more irritable than usual, which probably meant that she’d been told to go while Sooni skipped. If something was actually wrong, I’m sure Maliko would have shown some concern… or else not bothered to show up herself.

It was a little worrying, though, as I said. Sooni had already sloughed off her student senate responsibilities… what would happen if she stopped going to classes, too, in order to pursue her pipe dream of the moment? If she blew her shot at a foreign education, she’d be screwing Kai over, too.

I wasn’t sure why I was worried about that, though… Kai acted like any sign of sympathy from me was bitter poison.

I was disappointed that Sooni wasn’t there for other reasons. I was having a hard time picturing exactly how her tail would go when we were riding our motorcycle… would it flap out behind us, or would she have to tuck it underneath her or wrap it around her waist? I could picture her tail and how it moved when she walked, but I wasn’t quite sure how that translated when she was in a different position. I thought if I could watch her sitting down, it might give me a better idea.

But if she wasn’t going to bother to show up, I wasn’t going to bother wasting time thinking about her. I had my own problems. Naturally, I was worried about Steff… I’d looked around for Amaranth a bit after lunch, but she’d either been off to her own classes or over on the boys’ side taking care of her. The situation with Feejee was also very much on my mind. Even though I still had a full day to go before it, I was also “looking forward” to my next class with Callahan. I felt about that class the way I’d often found myself thinking about high school as a whole… not only was it a horrible ordeal when I was there, but when it was over I couldn’t even feel relief because I knew I’d just have to go back again.

Considering how much I loved learning and enjoyed other classes, it seemed to me that there was something terribly wrong when I found myself dreading a lesson like that. I wasn’t any kind of an elitist, but I wondered what would happen if they started giving special weight to teacher evaluations and complaints made by students who performed well academically. We were the ones who would know what sorts of things constituted a good teacher or a bad one, as opposed to one who just taught an unpopular subject or expected students to actually put forth some effort at learning.

A good teacher was somebody who knew how to inspire students. If Callahan inspired me to do something, it wasn’t to learn how to fight… take a hot bath, maybe, or curl up with a book, or crawl back into bed for a late afternoon nap. There were so many things I could have done with that hour and a half every other school day that would have been more pleasant and more productive than getting beat up for the amusement of a sadistic bully.

Also, the way Steff got all dopey over her was just disturbing. She wasn’t even attractive. Her skin was kind of tan-ish, but it was a dull tan, not a deep bronze like Sooni had. And she fought in skirts, which had to be a stupid thing to do and didn’t really give her any aesthetic benefit, since her legs were so short and chunky, not long and slender and with the perfect blend of softness and tone. There was something that was just plain off about her face, too. It was subtle… I’d never really been able to put my finger on it. Steff said it was a result of her mixed heritage. Her face was approximately like a human’s, but not quite.

Of course, it wasn’t the inhumanness that bothered me… Sooni’s face was slightly vulpine and I found it perfectly lovely.

Then it hit me all of a sudden that I was being a little stupid.

No, more than that… I was being a total hypocrite.

I felt horrible, just horrible.

Here I’d let myself be set up in some small way as some kind of anti-racist figure on campus, and I was thinking that a woman with orc blood was ugly. If Steff was to believed, I couldn’t judge Callahan on the human standards of beauty, anyway. I was being horribly racist and humanocentric.

Also, Amaranth would probably tell me I shouldn’t be judging people’s looks in the first place… and she was right. I was in the middle of class. The professor was outlining the principles we’d be following for the next block of assignments. I had better things to think about than a crazy bitch with no business teaching.

I wondered what her actual qualifications were. I could kind of accept that a combat teacher wouldn’t need to be some kind of academic giant and I could see why maybe they’d have to relax the teaching standards to get the best fighters, but was she really the best?

She could trip me up pretty easily, but as Steff had said of Gloria, that didn’t prove anything. She went around all “durrr, in real battle you get killeded dead, durrr,” but she looked to be all of like twenty-four or twenty-five… when exactly had she gone off and seen all these real battles that supposedly made her such a badass?

She was probably just an urban barbarian who’d seen one too many war movies. I imagined that if she were dropped into a real war zone, full of combatants who weren’t students and who had real weapons and battle magic, she’d probably piss herself with terror… and then die.

There was something kind of pathetic about the way she took such pleasure in fighting with college kids… it was probably the only way she could live out the sad little fantasies that kept her going. When you look out on a field that’s got a hundred people on it and know you could take any of them, it’s probably easier to feel like you’re some kind of ultimate warrior than if you have to go out into the real world and actually put your life on the line.

I pitied her, really.

Even better than seeing her dropped into a war zone, though, would be if I really had a motorcycle. I could just imagine roaring up, breaking through the enemy lines. Sooni could help scatter them with her green bolt spell, and I could even throw around some fire… I mean, I wouldn’t, in real life… but if there really was a war, that would be okay.

We’d get up to her right as she was being overwhelmed, and send the bad guys packing… and she’d look up in confusion, blinking at me through her tears, and I’d say something like, “Buck up, ‘Crybaby’… this isn’t the classroom.” Or maybe “school’s out”, since she’s probably never seen the inside of a classroom.

It would be best if Steff was there, too, because she could be holding guys off with her knives… and also because then she’d see how worthless ‘Jilly’ actually is.

Actually, this was starting to sound pretty cool, like for a show or comic book or something. It would be a team… I’d be like the main character, with the cool motorcycle and the fire powers, and Steff would be like the snarky antihero and the hand-to-hand expert, and Sooni with her magic would be the long distance support and the ditzy comic relief, and… after a motivational speech made her get over her big fat tears… Callahan would be the dumb, strong warrior-type.

The fact that she’d still panic when in real danger sometimes would also work for comic relief. She could have lines like, “A true warrior never runs from peril.” Then when she saw the villain’s minions, she’d start running away, and another character would go, “I thought you said a warrior never runs from peril.” and she’d be like, “There could be some peril over here!”

Really, the idea worked on a lot of different levels.

For it to really work as an ensemble, though, we’d need Amaranth for healing and to kind of balance everybody else out. She wouldn’t have to fight.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was almost as much potential in this idea as there was in my fan fiction. I mean, I wouldn’t write it so it was about me, exactly… but it would be a character who was sort of like me, and one sort of like Steff, and so on. There would have to be adjustments to make for a better story and stuff like that. The real life people would just be starting points.

On the subject of starting points, I’d have to do a lot of work to carry it beyond the basic idea. Would the stories take place in the real world but with a little science, or would the “motorcycle” be a magical facsimile, like the one in my wish assignment? I could just set it in a world where science holds sway over magic, but one of the things that had always bothered me about Mecknights was that the motorcycles were so rare when scientifically anybody should have been able to make them.

I wanted a reason for my motorcycle… I mean, the character who was sort of like me’s motorcycle—to be special.

So, some kind of real world analogue, then… and maybe it would be best not to explain where the motorcycle came from right away. It could be a secret… or a mystery, even to the characters.

But I’d still need an overall storyline. The idea had come from envisioning a battlefield, so probably a war of some kind would be involved… that would make it easy to come up with conflict and enemies to fight and stuff. The question was, should it be based on a real historical war, or set in a near future scenario with a new war breaking out?

There were definitely possibilities there.

I had to smile. To think that Callahan was stuck lording over a bunch of kids who would graduate and then go out and get better jobs than her while she stays behind with nothing but her dreams of glory and her delusions of being some great warrior while I was coming up with an idea that could very easily end up being my ticket to greater things.

She was only a little bit older than me, but the most she could look forward to was the possibility that if she stuck around long enough she might be allowed to coach the skirmish team instead of being stuck in the pit. I, on the other hand, had prospects… more than that, I had plans. There was my fan fic, which could easily become the springboard to a greater career as a writer. There was also my idea for making custom toys. That could be huge. Hell, there was even Sooni’s idea of making a clothing site together. That could definitely go somewhere.

And if I could turn this latest idea into a comic or animation or something, it could become the next Mecknights… or even bigger than that.

Of course, my euphoria was somewhat diminished by the knowledge that in a little over twenty-four hours she’d probably be hammering me into the ground… but I just had to put up with that for one semester and then I’d have my WP credit and I could get on with the serious business of being a student, and another three and half years after that I’d have my bachelor’s and be on my way. At that point even if none of my many possible projects had taken off, I could just stick it out for another few years to become a master enchanter and really bring in piles of money.

I had all that going for me. What did Callahan have? She was one step above the troglodytes I’d went to high school with, who were probably stuck quarrying stone and bagging groceries… jobs they might one day lose to an unintelligent automaton.

They’d all thought that they were so great, but I would bet anything bet that real life had been a rude awakening for them. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to go from thinking you’re better than everybody to realizing that the world doesn’t give a shit and you have to work for success like everybody else.

If I were petty, then when I was a master enchanter… or a successful animation creator… or a rich and famous writer… I’d go back home just once so I could see what everybody else had amounted to, or rather failed to amount to, and lord it over them a bit. But I wasn’t petty… and also it was probably a little dangerous for me to go around provoking people like that.

That was the fly in the ointment. No matter how successful I became, I would still be a half-demon.

But if I managed to succeed in life anyway in spite of that, that would really be saying something… I’d really have something to rub in everybody’s faces.

I was still mulling over the various creative choices for my concept… with an occasional thought about what kind of fame and fortune it could possibly bring… when the bell rang. I gathered up my things and headed for the door, wondering if I could enlist Steff to do some concept art or something. Actually, I thought that if I could get her to “doodle” a comic it would be a pretty damn good beginning, but I’d have to ease her into the idea.

I felt a soft whack on my side as Maliko passed me. Her tail had twitched, whipping into me.

“Excuse you,” I said.

She didn’t respond. She was looking down at a closed notebook in her hand, smiling.

“I’m so glad Sooni thought to ask me to take notes for her,” she said, purring. “It would be terrible for her if she didn’t have those instructions written down.”

“Instructions?” I repeated. An icy lump started to grow in my stomach.

“The instructions the teacher wrote out,” Maliko said. “For the project.”

“Project?”

“That he spent the whole class going over,” Maliko said. “He said it was very important. Half of our grade.”

Shit. How in the world had I missed that?

I raced back to the classroom, but the professor had already erased the board and was marking up some problems for another class. He looked back at me at the sound of the door opening.

“Did you forget something, Ms…. er, I’m sorry, I’m terrible with names,” he said.

“Um… I guess not,” I said. “Um… if I had a question about the assignment…?”

“If you can make it quick, I’ll do my best to answer,” he said. “But if it’s anything more complex, perhaps you should come visit me outside of class.”

Nothing complex, but… what is the assignment?

“Um… you know, never mind,” I said.

“Right, well, my office hours are listed,” he said, and turned back to the chalkboard.

Shit. Shit. Shit.


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13 Responses to “347: Dream On”

  1. pedestrian says:

    Tripping out again Mac? You’ve been a baaad girl!

    Current score: 3
  2. MackSffrs says:

    Besides missing whatever was assigned… Mack sounded really stupid that whole time, does she have some irrational fear or even phobia or maybe a complex about fighters in general? It seems like she even doesn’t like spell casters participating in skirmishes. And apparently all paladins are bad, even though that should at some point have been pointed out to Mack that that ought to be blasphemous to say.
    Paladins are not bad, they’re good? Fighters can defend? Disarming techniques? Protecting the innocent?

    Current score: 0
    • Kanta says:

      It’s basically the same way I’ve always thought about athletes. Ever since a soccer player beat me up in first grade, anyway.
      It’s probably the part of her character I can most sympathize with.

      Current score: 3
  3. Arkeus says:

    Mack has a real persecution complex about fighters and tends to get any opportunity she can to look down on them. Idiotic girl.

    Current score: 3
    • Anthony says:

      That’s not all that idiotic, really. Just ask anyone as intelligent as her how they were terated in high school. Her “persecution complex” is one of the most realistic aspects of this story.

      Current score: 8
      • Tuukka says:

        The fact it is realistic for Mack to have a complex does not mean she does not have one or that it is not idiotic to think like that.
        I am smart and was bullied but I dont look down on cops or soldiers.
        Further: ‘persecution complex’ is seperate thing from ‘jock complex’
        It is smart to think they are out to get you when they are.
        It is not smart to think fighters are all dumb losers.

        Current score: 3
        • Kanta says:

          But they are all dumb jackasses and I’m going to kill them all.

          Current score: 0
  4. Konso says:

    Mack is fresh out of highschool, and ripe with the imagination and thought processes that go with that. If any of you say that you’ve never had a fantasy about making it big and then lording it over people you perceived as enemies, then I say you’re a liar. Mack is a teenager still, stupid fantasies and ridiculous complexes just go with the territory. AE proves again that she truly understands how people think, and writes a very real character.

    Current score: 5
    • sanityoptional says:

      what if I don’t see anyone as my “enemy”? If I were immensely wealthy, I would be too busy buying things and destroying them to care about people who didn’t like me.

      Current score: 2
  5. Sher says:

    I can’t understand why Mack looks down on fighters. If she were intelligent, it would make sense, but she isn’t even that. I have yet to see her display any kind of academic aptitude outside of controlling elements and she comes off as extremely lazy and somewhat (more than somewhat) arrogant.

    Current score: 1
    • nobody says:

      Remember that she was never actually taught to look at enchantments and instead learned it by simply seeing a shop teacher in highschool use it, her anchantments teacher pointed out she wouldn’t have been taught that and was impressed she could only pointing out that it was inefficient and offering help with solving that problem for more advanced classes. Also while easily distracted she does put genuine and above necessary effort in her classes, such as her first enchantments assignment.

      Current score: 5
  6. Jechtael says:

    Huh. I’ve always been picturing Callahan as somewhere around her late thirties (I’m bad at estimating age, especially for people who have kept significantly more in shape or less in shape than average). She’s starting to sound like Season 8 Buffy Summers here. (Not saying it’s ripping anything off, just that Callahan’s way younger-looking than I’d expected even with the enhanced dwarven and 1/4 elf age resistance.)

    Current score: 0
  7. zeel says:

    Ms…. er, I’m sorry, I’m terrible with names

    Well of course he is! He doesn’t even have one!

    Current score: 2