by Ian Bentwood
The bell went. Class started but only seven of the twelve expected students had arrived. No surprise. Suddenly, Jezebel teleported into her seat at the front.
“Sorry, I’m late, Sir. The wormhole was 5 minutes late materialising today.”
“That’s okay. Better late than never.” My standard reply to the tardy students.
“Class, does anyone know if Shandy will be attending today?”
“I saw him an hour ago encased in ice and struggling with the defrost homework spell. I don’t think he was listening to you yesterday.”
“Thank you, Collier. I hope that will be a lesson to you all to listen carefully AND to do the homework! It might save your life one day.”
At that moment the door burst open and Jennifer came running in breathlessly.
“Sorry, I’m late. My mum didn’t want me to attend your class and I had to wait until she went into recharge mode so I could escape. I don’t know how long I can stay before she finds me.”
“Today’s class is only one hour. Surely you can stay that long?”
“Jennifer, are you in there?” Her mum’s bodyguard’s stentorian voice filled the class-room.
“Quick, hide in the cupboard, Jennifer.” Jennifer ran to the protective screen encased in a force-field behind an invisibility shield. I quickly flicked the activate button and Jennifer and the cupboard disappeared. The bodyguard marched through the door, not bothering to open it and had to duck as the ceiling was only 2m high.
“Where’s Jennifer? Tell me now or be vapourised.” He pointed a huge weapon at me.
I calmly pressed the ‘freeze’ button on my whiteboard and selected ‘doorway’ and instantly a spray of liquid helium at -268 degrees covered the bodyguard. He looked up in horror and was about to say something when he shattered into a million pieces and was quickly removed by the extractor fan.
“Okay, Jennifer, safe to come to class.”
I pressed the return button and the cupboard rematerialised and Jennifer stepped out once again, unscathed by the experience.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Quickly take your seat, Jennifer. We are already late starting class.”
Jennifer straightened her hair and sat in her seat and switched on her computer.
“Today’s lesson is self-defence. Here on the Space-station, as you know we are in a war zone, so helping your parents protect each other is the most useful skill I can teach you. The weapons on your desk have been provided by the school. Each have several programmed settings, which I have summarised on the white board behind me. I have arranged for an alien attack in a few minutes and you will have to choose the correct setting to kill each alien. If you have completed yesterday’s homework reading, you will know the strengths and weaknesses of each of the aliens, so will be ready for them. Any questions?”
“My parents don’t like me playing with weapons. The school should have been notified.” Dove looked scared.
“Okay, Dove, I understand. I’m sorry I forgot. Okay, you are excused. Please wait in the canteen.” Dove got up and left the classroom.
I looked at my watch, “Where are they? It’s just so difficult timetabling alien-attacks to fit the class schedule. They are so unreliable.”
At that moment the whole side of the building disintegrated in a cloud of smoke and dust as the first aliens blasted their way into the class-room.
“Class, attack!” I shouted over the noise.
“Well done, Callisto, excellent choice!”
“Oh, no, option 7 for the Bogettis, Jennifer, not option 6. They are immune to lava-sprays. You really should have studied harder.”
“Oh sorry, Jezebel, is your gun not working? Here, have another. I will complain to the manufacturer tomorrow.”
“Well done, Chris and Robin, excellent choices.”
I fired off a few volleys at the remaining aliens as Judy and Jeff were struggling.
“Okay, Well done, most of you! Please sit down again. You’ve passed the self-defence exam with excellent grades. Don’t worry about the bodies, the cleaners will be earning their salary later. Now you can see the value of homework and listening very carefully to my teaching. Clearly Lindsey didn’t study hard enough. Could someone pass our sympathy to her parents? Don’t forget your homework tonight on the subject of surviving in sub-zero climates. Okay, class dismissed.”
I heaved a sigh of relief at the class ending and I had only lost one student. A good day! Such is the life of a space-station teacher in a war zone.
Ian Bentwood is a retired UK lawyer and engineer who has caught the writing bug from his new author-wife, and this is his first published short story. Ian has a particular interest in science fiction and science fantasy, particularly related to aliens and speculating about what might happen if they visited Earth. Since retiring, Ian moved to China where he is hosting numerous English Corners and otherwise helping local people improve their English and teaching about western culture, while making friends and learning about the Chinese culture.