Alternative Learning

His dad didn’t want him in the local public school anymore. Probably because every time his dad asked him what he’d learned at school, his answer was “nothing.”

So today, Jay was going to the new, special school that had just opened across town. His dad drove him and made sure to tell him that he’d better learn something. Or else.

From the outside, it looked just like his old high school. Nothing special about it at all, except the sign out front. It was all LED lights and lasers. It said “New Haven Alternative Learning.” It had a laser light show built in that cast pictures of books, beakers, and other school-related stuff on the plain white walls of the school building.

The first half of the day was simple orientation. It was boring and pointless, in Jay’s opinion. His favorite part of the day, any day, was lunchtime. The new school had fancy, gourmet food. Jay didn’t even know what most of it was, but it looked amazing. They even offered him seconds on his lunch, something that his old school never did, and he didn’t even have to pay for it.

The second half of the day, Jay finally got sent into the main populace of the school. He was scheduled for biology, English, and history in the afternoon.

In biology, his eyes were droopy, but it was alright, because the biology teacher announced that today they’d be watching a short film.

The film was stupid, and boring, and Jay noticed that most of his classmates were already falling asleep. He let his eyes fall closed in an extra long blink. He might have dozed a bit, if he had to tell the truth, but he woke up just in time for the alarm bells to signal the end of the period.

English was much the same, even down to the professor saying they were having a movie time. Just like in the biology class, his eyes drooped and he fell asleep.

While he slept, the principal, a jovial fellow in a rumpled pair of slacks and button-up came to check on him.

“Ms. Lewin, is our new student fitting in?”

Ms. Lewin, the trim blonde English teacher, smiled softly at the lowered brown-haired boy and replied, “He seems to be, Mr. Arthurs. Seconds at lunch certainly appears to have lowered his defenses and encouraged his sleeping.”

“Good, good,” the principal said, turning to leave. “Continue, please.”

“Yes, sir,” Ms. Lewin said. Then slowly, carefully, the woman inserted the long, thin needle into the base of Jay’s head. The knowledge serum flowed into his brain, leaving the imprint of an entire English lesson all at once.

When Jay returned home from school, when his dad asked him what he’d learned that day, Jay told him everything, from how to determine genetics to how to conjugate a sentence, and the major battles of the Civil War.

None of them noticed the three tiny, red dots already beginning to fade just at the base of Jay’s skull.

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