Slave Academy: The Resistance - Chapter 3
published May 2, 2020
Chester’s plans take a turn he had not anticipated. Meanwhile, the Chancellor’s student theater company preview their newest performance.
“Thank you for taking me to the school today,” Jasper said cheerily as he wiped down the kitchen counters. “I’m thinking a lot more clearly about everything.”
“My pleasure,” Drew said, getting a bottle of water from the refrigerator. “I’m glad we’re on the same page now.”
From Drew’s perspective, it had been interesting to watch.
As soon as Jasper had arrived home at 5, he had all of a sudden realized he needed to thoroughly clean and organize their house. Everything needed to be orderly. Even though he was feeling fairly tired, he had found an apron and a pair of rubber gloves, put them on over the top of his polo and khakis, and got to work.
Drew hadn’t realized that this would be part of his boyfriend’s attitudinal transformation. He hadn’t realized that the volunteers who lived with staff or students of the academy were being taught to not only serve the Chancellor, but also to ensure that everything at home was taken care of, so that the aforementioned staff and/or student could focus entirely on their work at the academy.
“Indeed we are,” Jasper smiled, moving across to the sink to start cleaning their dishes from dinner. They had a dishwasher, but suddenly, he felt it would be better to give it his own personal touch. A little hard work never hurt anyone, he figured. He turned on the tap and cheerily asked. “What are your plans for tonight, hon?”
Jasper’s transformation into the perfect Stepford Husband had been unexpected, but honestly, Drew couldn’t say he had a problem with it.
“I’m going to prepare my lesson plan for tomorrow’s Toddology class. We’re going to learn how to make the Chancellor’s coffee exactly how he likes it. Just in case any of the students are given that privilege one day."
Drew stopped speaking and looked away. He thought about what he had just said. Suddenly it sounded a little…strange….
Didn’t he used to teach English literature? And history…?
He shook it off and let the vaguely-contented smile return to his lips. Jasper hadn’t noticed his momentary doubt.
“How about you?” Drew said.
“I’m going to start writing my article, I think. Once the house is in shipshape, that is.”
“Oh?” Drew’s curiosity was piqued. “Is this the article about the school that the Chancellor’s assistant wants you to write?
Jasper smiled. “Yep! I’ve got everyone at the Herald working on it. We’re going to have a whole Sunday edition, cover-to-cover, entirely devoted to showcasing the academy and its brilliance. The whole town deserves to know the truth!”
Drew grinned at his partner. He was so happy their thoughts were now in sync.
Except, wait. Was he…? Why should their thoughts be in sync…? Wasn’t that a little odd….?
His train of thought was instantly halted as, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an unbelievably loud screeching sound pierced Drew’s mind. His knees buckled as the bottle he had been holding hit the floor, water spilling everywhere. He grimaced and clutched his head as the noise bored into his brain.
But almost as quickly as it had come, the noise ceased. And then, Drew heard a voice. Except, he wasn’t hearing it through his ears. It was as though the words were being projected into his mind directly. It was…Chester’s voice….
Attention! The following is a pre-recorded failsafe message installed within my new generation of glasses. If you are hearing this recording, then something terrible has happened. My monitoring equipment has detected a change in my thought patterns. The conclusion you must draw now is that something has gone horribly wrong.
I, Chester, leader of the resistance, have somehow been compromised. Todd has no doubt finally made the decision to have me cognitively neutralized and, most likely, my laboratory and research will soon be dismantled and destroyed. As one of my chosen few, I must now rely on you to restore my freedom and keep the resistance movement alive.
Fortunately, in my infinite wisdom, I have anticipated this eventuality and prepared appropriate countermeasures. In the basement of my home, you will find a small safe concealed under the stairwell. The password is CHESTERWINS, all uppercase. Inside you will find a pair of eyeglasses. I implore you to find said glasses, find me, and find some way to make me put them on. I must warn you, it may not be easy to do so. It is likely whatever version of me that you find will be resistant to this. But you must find a way! The device will then automatically initiate the restoration protocol. It will restore my mind and personality, and purge Todd’s programming from my consciousness.
There can be no delay. Only you have knowledge of the safe now. I will purge the memory from my mind so that they cannot find it if they come for me. Do this at once, fellow freedom fighter, so that we may bring Todd to justice, together.
The message ended. Drew slowly got back to his feet, trying to process this bewildering new information.
“Are you okay, hon?” Jasper asked, his hand on Drew’s shoulder and a look of grave concern on his face.
Drew picked himself up off the floor. He was shaking. That message…Chester’s voice…
He thought back to what the message had said. New generation of glasses..? The ones Chester had given him earlier…
They must have done something to him. He didn’t understand how, or why, but things were starting to make sense.
He had been having thoughts all evening. Thoughts he knew he shouldn’t have. Opinions. Ideas. Memories of a different time. A time where he had been free to make his own decisions and think his own thoughts…
He hadn’t understood where they were coming from. It had been concerning. He had even taken off his uniform and put on his own clothes! He hadn’t understood where that desire had come from either. It had been a little frightening…
The message had told him to go to Chester’s house. The address to which he somehow now knew…
He still had so many questions. So much he didn’t understand. He needed answers. And it sounded like Chester was in trouble and needed his help.
“I’m fine. Nothing to worry about,” Drew said quietly.
Jasper looked at his boyfriend for a moment longer. Satisfied that his boyfriend wasn’t having a brain aneurysm or something, he quickly grabbed a towel, fell to his knees and started frantically mopping up the water spill.
“But I do need to go out for a little while,” Drew murmured.
Jasper paused his mopping. He looked up at his boyfriend from his kneeling position and frowned.
This was most unusual and his addled mind was struggling to comprehend it. “Go…? Where..?”
“Back to the school,” Drew lied. “I left some documents there that I need in order to grade papers tonight. I just remembered suddenly. That’s why I freaked out.”
“Oh,” Jasper’s face eased up. If Drew needed to do something to better serve the Chancellor and the academy, then it wasn’t such a problem. “Well hurry back, okay?”
“Of course,” Drew nodded. He grabbed the keys to the car he hardly ever drove anymore and hustled to the front door. He needed to move quickly.
He swung open the front door and began to step out. When he looked up, he immediately stopped in his tracks and made a noise of surprise.
There were two guys standing on his porch. Both were wearing the Todd Cove Academy school uniform. Drew recognized them immediately. He gulped. It was two of the Chancellor’s most loyal followers. His enforcers. This couldn’t be good.
“Joe! Nathan! What a pleasant surprise,” Drew exclaimed, trying to conceal his shock and puzzlement by feigning a delightful smile.
Drew looked back and forth between them. While Joe’s eyes twinkled with a keen intellect, Nathan’s were dull and blank. He had never noticed before. It was as though there was no mind behind his eyes. Had he looked like that last year..? Drew wasn’t sure, but either way, he found it extremely unnerving.
“Hi bud,” Joe smiled. “Where are you off to at this time of night?”
“I’m going back to school,” Drew lied again. It had already worked once. “I need to get some documents in order to grade papers tonight.”
“Oh really?” Joe said, charmingly enough. “Are you feeling okay, bud? You seem a little pale. A little shook, if you don’t mind me saying. Are you by any chance having some thoughts you shouldn’t be having, Drew?”
“Oh, no, Joe,” Drew replied quickly. “Nothing like that. I was just…not feeling well. Nausea. Must be something I ate."
Joe nodded sympathetically. “Gee, I’m sorry to hear that, Drew. But unfortunately, from the information we’ve obtained we’re going to have to bring you in.”
Drew’s eyebrows raised. ”I appreciate your concern for my welfare but there’s nothing to-”
Joe raised a hand.
“Hush, Drew. There’s no need to lie. We know the truth,” he gave Drew a patient, caring look. “It’s not your fault. Evil, coercive elements within the school have corrupted your mind against your will. But it’s okay. We can help you. We can help you get back to the right way of thinking.”
“I-I, no, of course not. I’m fine…” Drew stammered. He didn’t expect to be rumbled so quickly. He hadn’t prepared for this. How did they know? This couldn’t be happening! He had only just started to get his freedom back!
Joe smiled. “Don’t worry, my best buddy Nathan here will simplify everything.”
Nathan stepped forward. “Just hold still, Drew. This will only take a moment.”
Drew gave Nathan a bewildered look. “What do you mea-”
He was unable to finish his sentence. They locked eyes and Drew felt his body immediately go rigid. He couldn’t move. His heart pounded hard in his chest. He tried to fight it. He tried to resist. But he couldn’t.
A blinding flash of light filled his vision
30 Minutes Earlier…
Chester stood stiffly at attention in the middle of the foyer. His face was now completely blank and expressionless. His eyes, now dull, stared straight ahead. He saw nothing except that which Todd told him to see. He heard nothing except that which Todd told him to hear. His mind had been emptied, devoid of all thought.
It was the only way to ensure he did not try anything like this again.
Todd circled him like a predator, looking down at the glasses in his hands. The ones he had taken off Chester’s face.
“So….” he said slowly. He couldn’t see that there was anything different about these glasses. At least, not from the outside. “Chester, exactly what you were planning here today? Tell me everything.”
Nathan - having complete access to Chester’s memories after enslaving the boy - had briefly provided Todd with an explanation, but the Chancellor wanted to hear it from the traitor himself.
“Chester had fitted a small microchip into a regular pair of eyeglasses,” Chester recounted, referring to himself in the third person, his voice monotone and emotionless. “He had programmed the chip to be capable of detecting telepathic invasions. It would deactivate the aggressor’s own eyeglasses, if they were wearing any, and reversed the effects of any mental alteration they attempted to make. It would have resulted in Chester having temporary control over them until they gradually returned to normal. He intended to use Nathan’s powers to immediately neutralize the Chancellor of Todd Cove Academy. After which, he planned on freeing everyone from under the Chancellor’s control.”
Todd frowned. “Why didn’t it work then? Why are you now my slave, instead of me yours?”
“Chester did not know. He did not understand it,” Chester said. “In his last moments of consciousness, he supposed that the glasses must have malfunctioned somehow. He always knew there was a small chance that might happen.”
Todd stopped and considered this. He couldn’t believe how close he had been to losing it all. Chester had almost beat him and he hadn’t had any idea it was coming. It shook him to his very core.
In a way, he respected Chester. No one else could have defied him so brilliantly. It was a shame they had to remove his individuality entirely. But it was the only way to ensure nothing like this happened again.
“I’m going to have to demote you,” Todd said. Chester didn’t react. “You’ll be working the assembly line with the other drones from now on.”
“If that is what the Chancellor of Todd Cove Academy wills, then that is what this body will do,” Chester responded neutrally.
“Obviously, you can’t live here anymore. Starting from tomorrow, you’ll live in the barracks with the other workshop minions.”
“This body will do as its Master instructs,” Chester confirmed.
The ‘barracks’ was what Todd called the academy’s gymnasium. He had transformed it into a holding cell of sorts, the basketball court now lined with prison-like bunk beds.
It was where all the workshop drones now lived when they weren’t on duty. To become a workshop drone was the final fate of any student, staff or volunteer who proved particularly strong willed and resistant to Todd’s regular form of control.
With their individuality stripped, the simple, routine tasks required on the assembly line were the best way to keep them productive members of the school community.
This was not something Todd liked to do. It was the nuclear option for only the toughest of nuts. Partly because it seemed a little cruel, even to Todd, but more importantly, it almost always created loose ends that needed tidying. Families don’t seem to like it when their loved ones move out and start living at the school.
Todd turned to his enthralled cousin. “We’ll need a new head of production in the workshop.”
Nathan nodded. “Yes, sir. I’ll draw up a list of names of suitable candidates from the student pool. But sir, there’s something else you need to know.”
Todd narrowed his eyes. It was unusual for Nathan to spontaneously offer information or opinions in his presence. “What?”
“While searching Chester’s memories, I learned that he did free one other person. Drew Thompson.”
“Who’s that?” Todd frowned. He hadn’t bothered to learn the names of all his slaves.
“A teacher at the academy, sir.”
“He’s one of my servants?” Todd asked.
“Of course,” Nathan replied. “Except, he won’t be for much longer, sir. Chester gave him glasses that will rapidly undo his programming.”
“Then you better get over there,” Todd said sternly. “Get his address from the school database and bring him here. Take Joey with you. We can find the new head of production later.”
“Of course, sir,” Nathan said. He clicked his heels together, bowed submissively, then hurried off to carry out his master’s instructions.
Todd stood there for a moment, processing what had happened. He breathed a long sigh of relief and let his shoulders slump. A tenuous moment, to be sure.
He turned to Mitch, Chester’s father. Mitch stood with his heels together and his white-gloved hands clasped at the small of his back. He was dressed in a well-fitted tuxedo, a black bowtie knotted tightly around his neck. His hair was slicked back tightly with product, his pale face clean shaven.
Several weeks earlier, Todd had been bored one Sunday and had decided he wanted a butler. Mitch had fit the bill nicely.
“Mitch,” Todd said. “Go get me some rum. I need a drink…”
“At once, Master,” Mitch said. He turned on heel and hurried to another room to fetch Todd’s beverage.
Drew blinked and looked around.
It was 7:00am on a warm August morning at Cod Cove Academy. The first day of the new school year. The sun shined warmly in the perfect blue sky. Luscious flowers of all colors lined the driveway leading up to the main school building. A pleasant, warm breeze gently caressed his skin.
“Have a fantastic day, Drew,” Jasper’s voice said. Drew turned to face his wonderful, loving husband. He was so lucky that Jasper was always there to wave him off in the mornings. “And I’ll see you when you get home.”
Drew gave Jasper a kiss, the bristles of their beards rubbing against one another. Then he turned and made his way onto the school grounds. Happy students milled around, excited to begin another year at the academy which they loved so dearly.
“Nice tie, Mr. T!” a student exclaimed as Drew eased through the crowds of students.
“Thanks, Joe,” Drew grinned. He enjoyed his students.
Sure, they could be a bit rowdy at times and a little strong willed, but that came with the territory. It was worth it to also see their creativity, individuality, and youthful energy.
Drew’s first class was English. Modern 21st literature, specifically. He was looking forward to it. It was one of his favorite classes to teach.
As the bell chimed pleasantly, the students happily bounced into the classroom and took their seats, eager to learn.
“Good morning, class!” Drew said loudly, clapping his hands together and rubbing them with enthusiasm.
“Good morning, Mr. Thompson,” they would reply back cheerily.
Drew asked them about how they had spent their summers, and after a few students recounted interesting and exciting tales of adventure, exploration and self-discovery, he settled into his lesson plan.
“We’re going to start the semester by reading The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson. Is this a book anyone is familiar with?”
The class shook their heads. Drew smiled.
“Excellent,” he said. “Then this will be a new journey for all of you.”
“Actually,” a student said, raising his hand. It was Nathan. “I was hoping we could read this book I picked up over the summer. It’s a brilliant read.”
Drew hesitated for a moment. He had a lesson plan laid out, it would cause enormous upheaval to his semester schedule if they picked up another book.
“What’s it called?” he asked, already thinking of ways he could gently let Nathan down.
“It’s called Todd Cove Academy. Todd Matthews wrote it.”
“I’m not sure I’m familiar with his work,” Drew frowned.
Nathan smiled. “Oh, he’s my favorite author. He’s wonderful. You know, people say his writing is so compelling, that when you read it, you actually feel like you’re becoming the character in the story. You instantly become so engrossed in the story, it’s almost like the narrator’s thoughts become your own. You even start to feel like you’re actually at Todd Cove Academy and bound by its rules. It’s really great stuff. He’s a very skilled writer.”
“Wow. That does sound provocative,” Drew replied. “But unfor-”
“Could you read it, just for a little while?” Nathan pleaded. “Just read the first couple of paragraphs and you’ll see what I mean!”
Drew frowned. He looked around at the other students, all of whom were watching him expectantly. They were intrigued by this unusual exchange. Not wanting to seem like a spoil sport, Drew sighed and stepped towards Nathan.
“Okay,” he said. “But I’m just going to look over the first few paragraphs. If it seems promising, maybe I’ll find somewhere to include it later in the semester, okay? Maybe as an optional extra credit assignment of some sort.”
Nathan just smiled at him and handed over the thick, leatherbound novel.
Standing beside Nathan’s desk still, Drew quickly opened the book and leafed through to the first page. He’d quickly just skim read the first few lines, he figured, then hand it back to the boy.
It was the beginning of a new school year. I stood in my classroom and started to read the book the student had just given me. I was not particularly enthused by this turn of events, but as soon as I laid my eyes upon the page, I found myself enthralled. My eyes were unable to look away. The book entirely captivated my attention. I remained oblivious as the words started to fill my mind and replace my own thoughts.
I quickly realized I needed to share the book with others, both so that they also receive the privilege of hearing its words, but also, because a part of me understood that by reading them aloud, the words I read would become even more deeply embedded into my subconscious mind.
“At that moment, I felt an urge to move back to the front of the class and sit down at my desk,” Drew said loudly.
The students suddenly perked up as their teacher unexpectedly started to read from the book aloud. They watched with interest as - his eyes still glued to the page - Drew shuffled back to the front of the class and sat down.
Seemingly unaware of the fact he was not just reading in his head anymore, Drew continued. “I began to understand the importance of discipline. Of order. A desire began to swell inside of me. A desire to serve the Chancellor’s agenda," he sat up straighter in his chair. "To follow his instructions and fulfill his wishes.”
Suddenly, a memory flashed in Drew’s mind. Almost as though he had been here before. Almost as though he had read this same story over and over, every single day, for months.
But how could that be…?
He wanted to explore the memory further, but his eyes felt glued to the page. For some reason, he found that he couldn’t look away. He couldn’t stop reading.
“I immediately dismiss the unpleasant memories stirring in my head,” he said, his eyes becoming ever-so-slightly glassy as they continued to move diligently across the page. “I purge my mind of those memories and focus on my book. I suddenly realize that, in fact, reading the book is all I need to do. It’s all I want to do. It’s so easy to focus on reading the book and allowing its words to enter my mind and replace my own thoughts.”
Nathan smiled and nodded satisfactorily. Like dust in the wind, he let the scene around them dissolve, until there was nothing left but the chairs the two of them were sitting in. He didn’t need it anymore. Drew was entirely transfixed now. He was no longer aware of his environment.
“I suddenly realize the importance of following the academy’s dress code and regulations regarding personal appearance,” Drew continued.
Nathan watched as Drew’s bushy beard dissipated, leaving his face perfectly smooth. He watched as Drew’s hipster man bun changed, the hair becoming shorter as it styled itself into a neat, traditional parting, held in place with plenty of hair product. He watched as Drew’s sloppy ‘teacher-chic’ outfit morphed into the tight-fitting Todd Cove uniform.
Seemingly unaware of his change in appearance, Drew kept reading. “I will work hard for the Chancellor. I will give all my efforts to serving him. It is my pleasure to serve. My pleasure to obey. I look forward to serving the Chancellor’s agenda in any way I can.”
Nathan was satisfied with the changes he was sensing in Drew’s mind. It wasn’t back to 100% quite yet, but close enough. He knew Drew’s conscious mind was no longer capable of stopping on its own. Not without his permission. It would continue to read, continuing to absorb its instructions and bring his mind more and more rigidly under the Chancellor’s control.
He clicked his fingers and left the endless mindscape.
Drew didn’t notice. He just kept on sitting in his chair, reading aloud to no one.
Drew blinked and opened his eyes.
His thoughts began to fade. His doubts began to subside. Everything was becoming clear. Everything was starting to make sense again.
He let out a relaxed, pleasureful sigh, releasing the tension and resistance from his body.
“There,” Nathan said triumphantly. “His thoughts are back where they need to be.”
“Is that right?” Joe said, smiling cheerfully.
“I look forward to serving the Chancellor’s agenda,” Drew responded, a little flatly, the words automatically falling out of his mouth. He looked dazed, like he couldn’t quite process what had just happened to him.
“Neat!” Joe said happily. Still smiling, he handed Drew a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, identical to the ones they were all wearing. “We suspect your glasses malfunctioned. Try these instead.”
Drew looked at the boy. As his programming started to fully kick back in again, a blank, agreeable smile formed on his face. “Thank you, Joseph.”
He swapped out his glasses for the new ones. The cage locked itself around his mind once more. His previous plans were entirely forgotten.
Joe beamed. “My pleasure! Now, the Chancellor himself wants to meet with you to discuss tonight’s events. To make sure you understand your place."
“Of course,” Drew replied happily. “It would be an honor!”
“You’ll need to be dressed appropriately, of course,” Nathan interjected, looking at Drew’s casual clothing with disdain. “For an audience with the Chancellor. Please put your uniform on. We’ll wait. And then we’ll take you there.”
Nathan gestured over his shoulder to the school bus idling by the side of the road in front of the house.
“Of course,” Drew said again. “How foolish of me. I can’t possibly let the Chancellor see me out of dress code…”
With that, Drew hurried back into his house, put his car keys down, and quickly climbed back into his uniform. As soon as he did, he felt more comfortable. Like slipping on a familiar old glove.
Minutes later, the three of them were walking back up the path away from Drew’s house.
“Gee, you look much better,” Joe said happily, slapping Drew on the back. “Much spiffier! It suits you!”
“Thank you, Joe,” Drew replied serenely. “And thank you for correcting my behavior, Nathan.”
The three of them climbed onto the bus. It pulled away from the curb and headed towards the Chancellor’s home.
Drew smiled and looked out the window as the houses zoomed past in the opposite direction. He couldn’t help but be glad that he had such wonderful students willing to maintain order and discipline. He was a lucky guy.
With Joe and Nathan straddling either side of him, Drew allowed himself to be escorted up the driveway and into the foyer of the lavish home that had previously belonged to Chester’s parents.
Clearly, the students knew where they were going, so Drew allowed them to direct him forwards to the rear of the house.
They stepped into a massive great room. A large fireplace on the far side served as the centerpiece, while a series of two-story windows lined the exterior wall. Drew looked up at the gabled ceiling, which at its peak seemed to be at least 30 feet above him.
Positioned near the door they had entered through, positioned centrally for the best view, was a single leather armchair. In the chair sat Todd, slumped down lazily, his legs outstretched in front of him.
There was a student kneeling on the carpet beside Todd’s legs. Drew recognized the boy; it was Shawn. Although they had all, of course, changed somewhat since the Chancellor took power, Drew wasn’t sure any had undergone quite a transformation as Shawn had.
Drew’s eyes widened with surprise as he saw what - or rather, who - Todd was using for a footstool.
On his hands and knees, rigid and unmoving, Chester stared blankly ahead as he silently supported his master’s feet.
“Well, well, well,” Todd said, folding his arms as Drew arrived in front of him. “Here he is, the other member of this pathetic little rebellion.”
“Good evening, Chancellor,” Drew said, coming to attention in front of his ruler. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I’m not sure what came over me.”
“Well I guess it really wasn’t your fault. Chester dragged you into this without your consent,” Todd turned to look at Nathan. “He’s back in line?”
“Yes, sir,” Nathan nodded assuredly.
Todd nodded slowly, apparently satisfied. He raised a hand, snapped his fingers, and pointed to the floor in front of him.
“They’ll need an audience,” he explained.
Nathan rounded the chair and kneeled down next to Shawn on Todd’s left side, while Joe and Drew fell to the floor on his right.
Drew looked down at Chester’s face, which was now only a few inches in front of him. All of a sudden, he felt mildly troubled for some reason. Something about this whole scenario was making him a little uncomfortable, although he wasn’t able to explain why.
And, as he looked down at Chester’s blank, vacant face, he couldn’t help but feel like he was failing to remember something important…
Trying to ignore it, he looked up and studied the scene before him for the first time.
In the middle of the room, about twenty feet in front of them, was some sort of set, like one might expect to see hastily cobbled together for a Saturday Night Live sketch.
A handful of uniformed students were hurrying about, setting the stage.
Quincy, a tall, slim, good looking senior with blond hair, attractive features, and a pronounced Adam’s apple, appeared to be in charge of directing the others.
This made sense to Drew, as Quincy, who also happened to be flamboyantly homosexual, had starred in many of the academy’s theatrical productions over the past few years. He was the drama department’s shining star.
At least, he had been, until Chancellor Matthews took power. Quincy had been bitterly disappointed after the Chancellor had initially disbanded the drama department entirely. He even began to publicly protest the decision.
That, of course, quickly earned him a summons to the Chancellor’s office. During this meeting, Quincy was able to convince the Chancellor to reinstate the theater company.
Quincy’s delight had quickly turned to outrage, however, when the Chancellor declared his intention to oversee the creative direction of their performances personally.
Objecting this decision, Quincy immediately threatened to quit the department entirely. After a brief discussion with the Chancellor’s assistants, Dylan and Nathan, however, Quincy realized that his own thoughts, desires and ambitions were now irrelevant, and he would have no choice but to keep performing for the Chancellor until he said otherwise.
In fact, Quincy, along with the rest of the theater students, were all soon brought to the understanding that their bodies had become nothing more than toys for the Chancellor to play with. They were puppets, and they would perform for his amusement.
With his new understanding, Quincy immediately abandoned his long held aspirations of becoming a Broadway actor and started to focus all his energies on carrying out the Chancellor’s will instead.
Today would be the very first performance of their brand new play, The Battle of the Cove, depicting the Chancellor’s glorious triumph over the forces of evil and his subsequent restoration of order and discipline to an unruly and decadent land.
Under the Chancellor’s supervision, Quincy had written the play himself. Being the most handsome and talented of the actors available, he would also, of course, be starring as Todd in the show. A privilege that filled him with indescribable joy and pride.
Once they had the Chancellor’s approval, the show would then be performed again in front of the entire school community.
As the students continued to prepare the stage, another man neatly dressed in a tuxedo, whom Drew didn’t recognize, glided into the room, silently handed Todd a tumbler containing some sort of alcohol, and then left again. Did the Chancellor have his own butler?
After a few more minutes of faffing about, finally, the drama students were ready to perform for their master. The room fell into silence.
Moments later, Quincy emerged from behind the curtain. He took a few steps forward, bowed gracefully, and then puffed his chest out in a dramatically pompous fashion.
“Your Grace, it is with pride and elation that I, your faithful puppet, do humbly present for your consideration, the first in our new series of performances. Please sit back and enjoy, The Battle of the Cove!”
He bowed again, and walked backwards behind the curtain. The room fell into silence for several seconds. Then, some instrumental music began to play softly as the curtains opened.
There stood Quincy, dressed immaculately in his school uniform. He stood dignified, a contemplative, wistful expression on his face. He had taken off his glasses and was wearing a wig of long, luscious black hair.
Beside him stood a shorter boy. His uniform was scruffy, completely unbuttoned, the shirt creased and untucked. His hair was messy, as if he had just climbed out of bed and not bothered to comb it at all. A piece of paper had been taped to his breast where his name tag should be. In hastily scrawled black marker, it read: ‘Joey’.
“It was another cold and dreary day at the wretched Cod Cove High School,” boomed the voice of an unseen narrator. “It was a horribly undisciplined and dysfunctional place, where students were free to do and say whatever they pleased! They were even able to vote on changes to school policy!”
The narrator paused for a moment, as he had been instructed by Quincy to do. Quincy had no doubt that, when played publicly in the school auditorium, there would be a moment of shocked gasps among the crowd upon hearing this.
“Little did the hapless souls of that forlorn place know, their salvation had come!”
A warm, golden light from above the stage beamed down upon Quincy. He smiled, tilted his head back slightly and stood up straight. As though he were some sort of posing superhero, he puffed his chest out and moved his fists to his hips, his elbows extended.
The narrator paused again for the wild applause Quincy imagined would ring out at this point.
In the audience of five, Shawn clapped gleefully.
“Our story begins with our glorious hero arriving at Cod Cove, ready to dispense order, justice and discipline upon its sordid denizens!”
The light faded, and Quincy came to life. He took a step towards ‘Joey’ and pointed at him.
“You there! Degenerate swine!” Quincy yelled dramatically. “I have come to make you free!”
“Uhhh….” the actor playing Joe let his tongue lop out of his open mouth, as though he were some sort of dullard. “Free from whut?”
Quincy looked to the sky and punched the air with his fist.
“Free from freedom!” he bellowed dramatically.
‘Joey’ gasped, his eyes wide with shock. He fell to his knees in front of Quincy and bowed before him.
“Oh, I see it now! Your glory is undeniable! Please, forgive me oh great one! Please, you must lead us! You truly are wondrous!”
From his kneeling position in front of Todd, the real Joe grinned happily as he watched himself be converted to the hero’s cause. His memories of what happened that day were foggy for some reason, so he was grateful for the reenactment.
Quincy looked down at the groveling mess in front of him. His gaze was steely, his eyes burned with the determination of a thousand suns.
“Do you surrender your will and pledge yourself to serve me for eternity?”
“I do, sir! I do!” ‘Joey’ said, pleadingly. “It would be my pleasure to serve your agenda, oh glorious leader!”
“Then arise, my servant!” Quincy declared, gesturing dramatically. “And together, we will bring order and light to this dastardly, despicable realm!”
Both actors froze like statues as the curtain closed in front of them. The stage fell to darkness as the instrumental music returned.
“This is superb, milord!” Shawn whispered. Grinning, he swiveled his neck to look up at Todd.
“Shh,” Todd snapped. “Face the front or you might miss something!”
Shawn did as he was told without another word, his gaze now transfixed upon the stage.
Todd smiled. He had to admit, he was enjoying this more than he had expected he would.
The curtain reopened. Most of the drama department’s best actors were now on stage.
Five of them stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a line, stiffly at attention. Among then was the one named Joey. Like the rest of them, his uniform was now worn pristinely and black glasses sat upon his face. His hair had been neatly combed and gelled into place, back to the way the actor normally wore it these days.
Their ‘name tags’, crudely slapped to their chests and written in big letters, read: Nathan, Chester, Mike, Shawn and Joe.
Quincy prowled up and down in front of them like some sort of drill instructor inspecting his troops.
“The five of you are privileged!” Quincy declared. “For you have been given the gift of discipline! Your minds have been uncluttered and brought to order! From now on, you will wear these glasses I have bestowed upon you as a symbol of your devotion!”
“Thank you, sir!” the five servants yelled out in unison.
“Soon…” Quincy kept pacing back and forth. “Soon I will be Chancellor, and the entire school will experience the peace and serenity of servitude!”
Just then, the stage lights flashed dramatically as a clap of thunder boomed over the speakers.
A newcomer stepped onto the stage. He wore a red bandana, dark sunglasses and a black leather jacket.
Quincy wheeled around to face him.
“Dylan?!” he cried out with a gasp. “What are you doing here?!”
“What you think you’re doin’, Todd?” the actor playing Dylan grunted. “Trying to make things better for people again, are ya? Well you know how I feel ‘bout that!”
Quincy adopted his superhero posture. The bright light from above fell on him once more. “I will not be thwarted, evildoer! This school needs me! They deserve to be brought into the light. To be saved! You will not drag them back into the darkness and despair!”
“Oh yeah?” ‘Dylan’ cracked his knuckles. “We’ll see about that, broski. I’m going to wreck your saintly plans like always!”
Quincy raised his arm, his palm open. “Not this time, brother! For I have truth and justice on my side! By the light, I will purge you of your dark thoughts!”
“What?” ‘Dylan’ looked down at his hands for a moment, then fell to his knees, clamping his palms his head. “Argh!! What are you doing to me?!”
“I’m purging your dark desires and bringing you into the light, dear brother! Order, discipline, routine! You will be saved!”
“No! Noooo…..” the actor playing Dylan stopped speaking. His eyes closed as his head flopped forward, hanging loosely on his neck.
The stage fell into a tense, dramatic silence.
“I understand, dear brother,” ‘Dylan’ suddenly announced. He looked up at his brother with admiration in his eyes. “I understand now! I must serve your agenda, for it is pure and righteous!”
Quincy grinned. “It is good to have you on the side of purity and peace, my friend. Now, together, let us bring this realm to its knees!”
‘Dylan’ quickly stood up. “Yes, sir, of course! You will be Chancellor before long, and then all will be well!”
“Enough chatter, my obedient servant,” Quincy cooed in a firm but caring way. “Take your place alongside the others.”
Without another word, ‘Dylan’ moved into line, standing at attention beside the others.
Quincy turned and faced the audience. He puffed out his chest and looked to the sky. “The final stage is upon us! Soon, all will know the joy of my leadership!”
The actors held their poses perfectly as dramatic music played over the speakers, and the curtains drew closed once more.
“Is this really how everything happened, Chancellor?” Drew couldn’t help but ask.
Todd smirked and tossed some popcorn into his mouth. “Of course, Drew. Do you doubt it?”
Drew smiled. “Not at all, sir.”
He turned back to face the stage. They fell back into silence, all eagerly awaiting the next scene.
They waited for a minute. Then two. The instrumental music continued to play softly in the background.
Another two minutes passed.
Suddenly, they heard a clatter from behind the stage. Muffled voices yelping in dismay.
Todd’s brow furrowed. He climbed up out of his recliner, stepped straight onto the stage and pushed his way through the curtain.
He found Quincy, shirtless now for some reason, his hairless chest exposed, looking around bewildered. The other theater students were keeping their distance, confused by their star performer’s behavior.
“What’s going on back here, Quince?” Todd demanded.
Quincy looked up at Todd. His eyes looked wild, like an animal.
“You…” he growled slowly, realization passing over his face. “You did this to us…transformed us into your puppets…we’re not your playthings, monster, we’re people too!”
He began to charge at Todd with rage in his eyes. Instinctively, the actors around him stepped in and grabbed him. Quincy thrashed wildly as they pinned him to the floor. There were too many. He couldn’t move.
“No! Get off me!” he screamed frantically. “Don’t you see! Don’t you see what he’s done to us?!”
Todd sighed. “I guess I let you have your glasses off for too long. My fault, I guess.”
Todd clicked his fingers. One of the stagehands hurried back moments later with Quincy’s glasses. The stagehand bowed his head submissively as he presented the glasses to his Chancellor with both hands.
Todd stepped forward. Quincy continued to wriggle, but it was no use. Todd squatted down and, despite Quincy’s attempts to shrink awake, slid the glasses onto the actor’s face.
“There’s nowhere to run, Quincy,” Todd said. “Nowhere to go. There’s no use resisting. There’s only one outcome from this."
Quincy continued to fight, but he could hardly breathe with his fellow actors on top of him.
“Let me go!” Quincy yelled desperately. Then his face softened. He pleaded. “I won’t tell anyone. Please. Just let me go…”
“Listen closely,” Todd said softly. “This isn’t who you want to be. Remember who you really are, Quincy. Remember where you are. Picture yourself back on that stage, playing the role you were born to play.”
“No…” Quincy groaned weakly. Even as he tried to resist, his wriggling became less forceful.
“You’re a wonderful actor, Quincy, in your dream role,” Todd explained gently. “Do you remember your character’s name?”
Quincy bit his lip and looked away.
“Do you remember your character’s name, Quincy?” Todd repeated quietly.
“Qu-quincy…Quincy the puppet,” Quincy murmured. He had stopped moving entirely, allowing the students on top of him to pin him down without resistance. With the glasses back in place, his conscious mind began to slowly recede back into its cage. His thoughts slowed.
“That’s right,” Todd said with quiet cheer. “You’re Quincy the puppet! And it’s a role you’re so well suited for. You play it perfectly, Quince. You make an excellent puppet.”
Quincy panted hard, catching his breath. His eyelids began to flutter as he listened to Todd’s words.
“Now what do you say?” Todd cooed. “How about you get back into character for us? The show must go on, as they say.”
Quincy let out a sad groan. Then he said. “Okay…”
“Allow yourself to fully embrace the character again, Quincy,” Todd said. “Live it. Breathe it. Become it. You are Quincy the puppet.”
Quincy breathed and nodded slowly.
“Say it,” Todd said. “Make it official. Who are you?”
“I am…Quincy the puppet…” Quincy strained to say.
He let out a long sigh, his eyelids fluttering. His mind slid back fully into its cage and locked in place.
Todd gestured for the other students to release Quincy. The actor slowly stood up, a smile creeping onto his face as his programming reasserted its dominance over his body.
“Who are you?” Todd asked again.
“I am Quincy, your faithful puppet, Chancellor. I serve at your pleasure,” he bowed. “I am dreadfully sorry, my liege. I don’t know what came over me.”
It was as though his behavioral blip had never happened. He was back to normal. Or at least, the normal that Todd desired.
Todd breathed a small sigh of relief. “Good. Put your shirt back on and let’s resume the show.”
“As you wish, Your Grace,” Quincy said, giving a flamboyant salute. “If you would care to take your seat once more, the next act will begin shortly.”
“Good,” Todd nodded. He began to push through the curtain when he suddenly turned back to Quincy once more. “Oh and Quince?”
“From now on, put your glasses back on between acts, okay?”
Quincy nodded firmly. “My wish is your command, sir.”
Satisfied that things were under control once more, Todd went back out front and returned to his recliner.
“What happened, milord?” Shawn asked from his kneeling position, concern on his face.
Todd smiled. “Nothing to worry about. All sorted now.”
The play soon resumed without incident. Quincy returned to playing the role of Todd with aplomb, as though nothing had ever happened.
The Battle of Cod Cove continued for another forty minutes, portraying Todd’s triumph as he vanquished his foes, humiliated his rivals, and finally took control of the school entirely.
Todd couldn’t help but grin the entire way through.
As Quincy looked out over his school, now entirely comprised of his loyal minions, the curtain fell once final time to the sound of celebratory music.
“Well, I think that deserves a standing ovation, don’t you think, guys?” Todd jeered.
Nathan, Joe, Chester, Shawn and Drew all obligingly climbed to their feet and keenly applauded the empty stage.
“Okay stop clapping and go help clean this shit up. I want this room back the way they found it by the end of the night.”
Variations of ‘yes sir’, ‘yes master’ and ‘yes milord’ were heard as the servants hurried towards the stage to carry out their leader’s order.
“Oh and Drew?” Todd called out after the teacher.
“I want you to go see Dylan tomorrow morning. Make sure there are no lingering doubts. No signs of resistance. With Chester out of the way, you’re the only loose end, and I want to be totally sure. An extra mind fuck never hurts.”
Drew had no idea what Todd was talking about, but he knew it wasn’t his place to ask questions or think too deeply. His only responsibility was to obey and serve the Chancellor’s agenda.
“I will go see Dylan first thing,” Drew confirmed.
Todd smirked. All in all, this had been a fun night.