40 Minutes of Madness
The students sat silently in their last class of the day, catatonic with worry for their absent English teacher. None could summon the courage to speak, awed with the thoughts as to what horrific events had transpired to keep the usually so punctual man from his class, as well as hoodwinking the institution into not sending an uncaring substitute. It was at this point that one of the weaker willed members of the class broke down into tears, yelling "It's just not fair! He was so young!" While usually in this situation, this act and shout would have attracted sceptical glances and questions related to sanity, everyone was simply too sick with worry to find such an action out of the ordinary. All but one of the hardened, and quite obviously emotionally stable adolescents were in some state of teary reflection, varying between a quiet, almost meditative grieving, to unrestrainedly loud and broken claims that "he had so much left to do!" To an outsider it may have appeared that the English teacher was quite a hero to this class, which to the same outsider may have appeared rather strange.
The one boy who was not reduced to tears refrained from doing so because his mind was distracted by what he believed to be a horrible travesty of justice, perhaps even more pressing than the unexplainable absence of the English teacher. He was perusing the 2006 edition of 'The Grammarian', noticing with an increasingly furrowed brow the equally increasing places where his honour had been mutilated; his name had been wrongly spelt! While this was not a new experience for the boy, whose name was spelt and pronounced incorrectly so often that he was beginning to forget his name himself, it was the sheer magnitude of these spelling errors that shocked and angered him. The boy privately wondered whether the editor decided to compose his name using a randomly selected bunch of letters from a Scrabble bag. More publicly, he shouted, "My name does not have a question mark in it!" his outrage finally overwhelming the natural impulse to keep such a tragedy quiet. Instantly all sobbing and wailing ceased. What followed was no less than fifteen gasps, three high pitched squeals and a less certain number of glares. The students' resentment at being distracted from their morbid grieving was surpassed only by their outrage, for the boy.
The English Teacher, contrary to the beliefs of the boys, was in no mortal peril at all. However, all thoughts of English classes had earlier flown from his mind at such a pace that would have astonished a commercial Boeing, yet not fast enough to cause an F-16 to do more than shrug indifferently, wondering why it had wasted its time when it could have been watching the cricket. The English teacher had been excited as he walked to his class, conjuring up jokes that he would later recite to his students and claim spontaneity, when he was rudely interrupted by a maintenance officer in his buggy. He asked the English teacher, who glanced at his watch, pretending that his potential tardiness was an issue, whether he would like a lift to the vending machine, enthusing that the extreme Autumn temperatures would interrupt his teaching if he did not rectify his dehydration with a Pepsi.
The English teacher was in two minds, but clearly tempted by the thought of an icy, if overpriced, drink. The Pepsi's fate was sealed when the maintenance man began to reel off his veh...