“Yo. Dude,” came Rusty’s familiar voice. “You still recovering from last nights game? Those were some wicked hits you took.”
Stephen could only grunt in reply, face still smooshed against the desk.
“I wasn’t sure if you were gonna get up from that last hit,” Rusty said, “But I guess that the price you pay for being star quarterback, huh?”
“Fuughh . . . eeww,” Stephen tried to reply.
“Easy now, tiger.” Rusty said with a laugh. “You know us running backs get banged up pretty bad as well.”
He was cut off as the last bell rang.
On cue the teacher, Mr. Shauk, came into the class.
“Sit down,” said Shauk, “I’ve got a treat for you kids today.”
A collective groan was the class’ mutual response.
“We’ll be watching a film on the history of inter-planetary disease transmission,” said Shauk, “Then tonight you will write a short thousand-word essay summarizing the main points of the feature.”
Another collective moan was the only response.
Shauk started the movie and hit the lights. Even in the darkness he could see heads going down.
“The essay will be worth ten percent of your final grades for the quarter,” said Shauk.
About half the heads came back up.
But Stephen wasn’t one of them.
Rusty tried shaking him again, but to no avail.
The last thing he recalled was the narrator’s droll voice announcing the film’s title.
“Hey! Wake up!”
Stephen blinked as he sat up.
Rusty had been shaking him again, only this time the room was oddly lit.
“What’s going on?” Stephen asked rubbing his eyes.
As he looked around again he realized that the film was no longer going, but it was still mostly dark except for the emergency back-up lights.
“Right after you crashed the lights went out, came one, then went out again,” said Rusty, “They’ve been out about five minutes now.”
The room was almost loud with the sounds of students murmuring while Shauk vainly tried to maintain order. As if sensing his distress, the announcement speaker chimed. It was the alert that the principal was going to make a critical statement.
“Attention students and faculty of Starside School,” came the wizened voice. “We are currently experiencing power supply issues throughout the entire southwest colony sector. If everyone would just remain in their seats, the mechanics and their helper bots are already working diligently to restore power. We need—excuse me, Ms. Piper. I’m trying to make—what are you doing? No! Stop! I—ARRRGH!”
There was only stunned silence.
“Now I’m sure everything is fine,” said Shauk weakly.
As if to answer, the automatic sealing shutters dropped in front of the door and windows, completely sealing off the classroom. The noise level began to rise as students were quickly becoming excited.
Then something slammed outside the door.
“No, Gabby stop—” came the voice of security guard Sue. She was cut off without even a scream. It was followed by the sound of something being dragged away from the door.
Instantly class erupted into a full blown panic.
Stephen was just taking it all in when Rusty turned to him and smiled.
“Good thing you’re dreaming, huh pal?” he said.
Stephen woke with a start just in time to see the ending credits rolling.