“C’mon lazy bones! Time to get up!”
I groaned and pulled the sheets over my head. “It’s no good,” I thought, and pressed the button at the side of the bed. It tipped up, as usual, sliding me off it. I walked a few steps and sat down. Immediately a mechanical arm came out of the wall in front of me, and proceeded to lather my face. This done, it withdrew and another arm came out and washed off the soap. When this was over, I got dressed, thinking how strange it was that no one had invented a machine to help you get dressed.
I stepped onto the platform and again pressed a button. The platform slowly took me down to the ground floor, where my breakfast was ready. Three tablets were on the side. I swallowed each one with a gulp and wondered how on Earth those historic people could sit for about twenty minutes eating uncompressed vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins, whereas I’d just taken less than a minute to eat enough food to last for five hours. I went outside and mounted my mini-craft and hovered to school, having races with my friends on the way.
In the registration classroom I was just commenting to my friend about the Skateboard championship held last night, when in came the teacher. We went quiet immediately and proceeded to say our numbers, which would then be printed onto a computer card and fed into the computers in our classrooms for the lessons we would be having today. As the teacher rumbled out of the classroom, we trooped silently along behind it to the assembly hall. Here was the only place we would see an adult for the rest of the school day, and as usual we were given a lecture on something completely irrelevant to the present day. Of course, not everyone was listening as someone had brought his mini-projector and was projecting pictures of nude women onto the back of the chair in front.
We were dismissed and as my first lesson was biology, I went to the passage leading to the science block. As I stepped onto the moving floor, I suddenly remembered I hadn’t brought my text book. “Oh well,” I thought, “can’t turn back now.” As soon as I got into the classroom, I sat down and apologised into the microphone, and onto the screen flashed:
APOLOGY ACCEPTED NO. 5
I was relieved that I wasn’t given a punishment and the instructions for the lesson came onto the screen. There were four experiments to do, the instructions to which could be found in the text book. I took out my enlarger and my exercise book and enlarged it.
I finished all the experiments with ten minutes to go before the end of the lesson, and the ‘eye’ in the ceiling obviously must have seen that I’d finished, for onto the screen flashed a message saying I might leave the class. I, of course, did, and I headed for the mini-craft parking space which was the meeting place for me and my friends. I was surprised to see two of them there already. One of them looked a little shaken and when I asked him what the matter was he told me, “I’ve been in the punishment room!”
I didn’t question him any further as I knew I might arouse the unpleasant memories of what had happened to him. The punishment room was where your pet fears were done on you, as in the book by that author from history, George Orwell. I cast my mind back to the first day at this school and recalled my thoughts on why we had to write down out fears. To cheer my friend up, I and the other boy had a jousting competition on our mini-crafts.
The lesson in the afternoon was English, the first half was literature and the second half, language. In the literature part of the lesson, as I was enlarging my copy of ‘Twelfth Night’, the person sitting in front of me stiffened and then slumped back in his chair. He had had a mild electric shock. “For not bringing his book,” I thought. I was wrong for onto the screen came:
DID YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK, NO. 5?
“What homework?” I asked into the microphone.
THAT PROVES YOU DIDN'T DO IT
came onto the screen, and no sooner had I read it, than my whole body felt as if it was being pricked with pins. I, too, stiffened and slumped. “This is a bit harsh,” I thought, recovering from the shock. “A sadistic computer!”
The rest of the lesson was uneventful and boring.
The language lesson wasn’t much better because we had to write at least four pages on ‘My Favourite Lesson’. My essay could have consisted of ‘I haven’t got a favourite lesson’ but I thought better of it. I managed to write four and a half pages before I ran out of reasons.
The buzzer went and I said a silent hurray. The class left the block via the passage and the whole school was empty of children withing fifteen minutes. I hovered home and complained about school to mother.
“It’s a pity we still have the same old style of working that was used over a thousand years ago. That of having to write everything down with a teacher watching your every move.”
A good piece of work. Well done!
(c) M. Robert Gibson
First written 1977-11-19
Don’t forget, it was written by a schoolboy.
It is published here for purely selfish vanity reasons.