Ever since Carlos Los Angeles tried to kill him self, all the teachers and all the students were so much nicer to him. Jhad O’Leary couldn’t quite understand why, considering that suicide was a crime and Carlos had attempted to commit it. After Jhad O’Leary had tried to steal the principal’s ride he’d been kicked out of school for a couple weeks. It didn’t make much sense.
Jorbos Nine High School (An Ion-Mart Sponsored Educationing Facility) had over five thousand students. Jhad O’Leary was the loneliest of all of them. He hated every moment he spent in that school. The place made him want to break things. The average class had a size of over two hundred, so he could have easily skipped out without his absence being detected, but he had nowhere better to be. Besides, he may not have had many friends, but the people he knew were all in school, so this beat the alternative.
It was on an elevator ride from Politics class on the seventh floor to the Business And Economics stadium on the tenth that he first overheard people talking about what had happened to Carlos.
Like Jhad, Carlos was a Human, but both came from wealthier families than the average, so they’d both gone to upper class schools and Jhad had known him since he was very young. They’d never really been close, but when he heard two Yudo girls gossiping about him in the elevator Jhad cocked his head and listened.
“I heard he left a note and everything,” one of them said in that mumbling way that Yudos talk. “His mother found it when she got home from the hospital after visiting hours. It said that nobody at school ever appreciated him and he felt like nobody would miss him if he were gone.”
“No way. And that’s why he tried to hang himself?”
“Totally. Professor Mointraivel said it was like, a call for help. When he gets back, we should have a party to show how much we actually do care.”
The first thing Jhad had felt was disbelief. Carlos actually felt ignored? If popularity were measured by size, Carlos Los Angeles would be a moon compared to Jhad O’Leary, the human. Carlos was on some sports team. Carlos had had girlfriends. Carlos got good grades. Jhad O’Leary had it way worse than Carlos and he didn’t want to die. But Jhad did want help.
Carlos’s life was saved by the fact that the ceiling he’d hung his noose from was made by a company that always came in under budget by making crappy buildings. Though he’d broken both legs, Carlos was back to school in a week.
When Carlos got back, there was a party. Not that Jhad had gone, but he’d heard about it. And he had also seen a big crowd gather around Carlos in the hall to see him the day his legs were restored.
So, it was that about a week after Carlos’s attempt, Jhad was sitting in the back of his Trigonometry class and pushing his notepad around as if it were a racecraft when he noticed the teacher had spoken to him.
“Yes, you up there in the back,” Professor Kayk Aytann said. “How would I solve the problem on the screen?”
Jhad blinked. He had no idea what the problem was. There was a six in there. And one of those square root signs he was pretty sure. He honestly had no idea. “Uh… do you divide?”
Kayk Aytann blinked. “Well… no. Anyone else?” Then he turned to other students and solved the problem. About ten minutes later the professor had assigned the class to do something and then made his way up the steps to where Jhad was sitting. He was a Fodwath; a furry guy about Jhad’s height who spoke in a gentle voice. He asked “You seem to be having trouble. What is your name?”
Jhad was impressed. It had been years since a teacher had taken interest in his troubles without being asked. And years since Jhad had bothered asking for that matter. He told Kayk Aytann his name.
“Ah yes,” was the reply. “You didn’t do very well on the last examination, did you?”
Jhad was again impressed. Out of Aytann’s thousands of students he remembered his exam by name. Indeed Jhad had done very poorly on that exam. After failing to understand the first five questions, he’d resorted to writing song lyrics in the answer boxes and explaining that one of the math terms always got this one song stuck in his head.
The professors offered Jhad some advice: “Educating the youth in an important aspect of society that uses up a lot of resources. We really should not be wasting these resources on the ignorant. You should stop coming here.” He then walked back down the stairs.
Jhad decided to skip his next class and go to the school’s food court. Normally he did not have an off period because any chance he got to take one was instead filled with classes he had failed in the previous term and needed to make up. He rarely saw that food court. But today he went there and bought a bag of “Green Chunks” and took a seat across from the Star Taco, where a line was forming. Jhad wanted to make some kind of cry for help like Carlos had. But Jhad didn’t want to be dead and even attempting it didn’t seem like a good idea. He had to think of something else.
That was when Kurdiflax sat down next to him. Kurdiflax was a tall, red Toborian student who Jhad knew from the shuttle rides to and from school. He spoke to Jhad on occasion, which was nice, but Jhad was surprised to have him actually sit next to him.
“How’s it going?” Kurdiflax asked.
“I dunno,” Jhad mumbled.
“You hear about Carlos?”
“The Cyberspace Newsprograms heard about his suicide attempt and how he likes life now and they got a copy of his note and now they’re going to have him on to talk about his life as, like, an inspirational motivator or something.”
They spoke for a little while longer, but when Kurdiflax’s girlfriend came back from the washroom, he left to sit with her. But the conversation made Jhad realize something. The suicide note. It had gained the sympathy of all who read it and made them feel for Carlos. If Jhad used a note like that in his cry for help, he would be surrounded by well wishers before he knew it.
Jhad didn’t want to kill himself, but he was keenly aware of a constant desire he had when he was in school. He wanted to smash something. The idea of something shattering under his will seemed like it would be a wonderful way to relieve his negative emotions. And the windows always seemed like they would shatter so well. Most windows were made out of unbreakable plastic, but that was not the case of the school’s crest sunlight over the lobby. It’s yellow and brown panels were made out of some sort of glass. It would easily shatter if, say, a flying craft were to drive into it.
He wrote a note. It explained how he felt isolated, ostracized and unimportant and hoped that this act would change everything. He pinned the note to a door in the lobby, then snuck into the parking area. He stole the principal’s ride and flew it until it was directly atop the school’s crest sunlight. He turned it off and it fell. It smashed into the lobby and not only shattered, but the floor beneath it buckled under the impact.
Later, in the principal’s office Jhad squirmed in the hard plastic chair as his parents appeared on the Talkmotron and conversed with the principal.
“Yes, Sir,” the principal said. “We have a note that proves the whole thing was premeditated.”
Jhad had sprained his shoulder and bumped his head on the control panel. It had taken the security clones three minutes to get him out of the mangled wreck of the car. He’d been immediately taken to the office, interrogated and yelled at. He was thinking his plan may not have worked.
“I propose,” the Principal said, “that he be expelled for the duration of the school year and be made to work so he can pay off the damages on his own. After this he will be forced to make up the lost hours by attending classes during the vacation month.”
Jhad wished he were dead.
Patrick D Ryall, the D is for Alarm