Before more than a few seconds had passed a kid materialized beside Calvin, he matched his gate, unkempt and seemingly unwashed orange hair waiving around like a pom pom as he walked.
“C to the Alvin,” he snickered, “another day of intense Geekdom ahead I assume?”
While Calvin was thinking of a response, another kid materialized on the other side of him, his long black hair matched his black trench coat - his hair also looked like it hadn’t been washed in years.
“So what’s the word Calvin? Did you think more about our little proposition?” he sneered even more than the first kid, a wide grin spanning almost the entirety of his thin face.
“Uh, Nick, I didn’t think you were serious - he’s a teacher, I’d get expelled if I got caught.”
The two boys looked at him simultaneously, a look of “so what” clearly imprinted on both of their faces. The orange-haired boy leaned in, “it’s not that hard Calvin, all you need to do is hack into the system and change our grades by one letter - we’re not asking for A’s here, we just need to pass - nobody’s going to notice.”
At school Calvin was known for two things, being a huge geek, and being possibly the only kid who could hack into the school computer system, so maybe he was really only known for one thing. This had turned into a dangerous combo when it came to bullies and their requests. So far Calvin had been able to thwart all the ludicrous requests sent his way, but this one had been particularly hard to shrug off since Nick and Jay were the two biggest bullies at school.
Luckily he had reached the classroom door so he had a good excuse to exit the conversion, “I’ll think about it guys,” he said sheepishly, reaching for the door.
“Do or do not, there is no try,” mocked Jay in what could only be described as a terrible excuse for a Yoda voice.
Calvin looked back at them as he opened the door, they were both making faces at him, Nick slowly moved his hand across his throat as if to indicate Calvin would be in big trouble if he didn’t do what they said.
About half the kids in his class were seated as Calvin walked in and b-lined it for his desk. The moment he sat down he felt something hit him on the side of his head. It still made absolutely no sense to him why they needed to have haptic feedback enabled while they were in school - it felt like a cruel joke being played on him since all it ended up being used for was digital spitballs bouncing off his head. He’d stopped looking for the culprit(s) a long time ago - it could have been just about anyone at this point.
A countdown timer floated mid-air above a desk at the front of the room - Calvin glanced up, only three minutes and twenty-three seconds to go. More kids piled into the room until every desk was full, at the thirty second mark an old song started reverberating through the room - “It’s the final countdown.”
Mr. Drayer was one of those teachers who must have been one of the cool kids when he was younger (or possibly the exact opposite), and for some reason he thought playing old rock music that was hip long before his time somehow would maintain his cool-factor in front of a bunch of teenagers. Obviously he was wrong, but the class humored him because he was a good teacher, or at least a better teacher than most.
With a whoosh sound Mr. Drayer appeared at the front of the room, he wore dark blue jeans and a white button down shirt, his long lanky arms already in motion as he started speaking. “And good morning everyone! Who’s ready to learn!”
A low groan could be heard throughout the room. Mr. Drayer motioned upwards with his palm and a semi-translucent globe started slowly rotating in place. Today we’re going to talk about a place that I know you would have all loved to go in real life - I'm talking about Hawaii. As he said the word "Hawaii" he broke into some strange, slow rhythmic dance - the room instantly transformed - the floor was sand, palm trees spread throughout, one accidentally sprouted on top of one of the students, the crash of the ocean could be heard.
Calvin had heard about Hawaii, about beaches, the feeling of sand on your feet. Someday haptic sensors would be good enough to simulate the whole experience, for now he’d have to just hear about it from his grandparents.
The temperature in the room had gone up easily thirty degrees, it was hot and Calvin could already feel sweat dripping down his back in real life. Did Mr. Drayer really need to make it this realistic?
“This is Hawaii, it used to be one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, clean air, beautiful beaches, and remote enough that it was one of the last places to become too toxic to visit. I went there as a kid, my parents had saved up for ten years to go, flights had become so expensive it really was a once in a lifetime experience.”
The other kids were sweating just as much as Calvin, some of them were starting to look exasperated. Mr Drayer noticed as a concerned look appeared on his face.
“Too hot? I was just trying to give you all the full experience but okay,” he looked up, and waved his index finger in the air, clearly doing something on his heads up display, the temperature instantly dropped back to normal.
- ALERT -
Mr. Drayer was still deep in his “why Hawaii is so amazing but all of you will never experience it's true majesty” speech when the words "ALERT" in all red appeared in the center of Calvin’s view. Notifications like these only came up when there was an actual emergency and they usually meant something really bad was happening, or had already happened.
“Okay class, don’t panic, let’s see what it is,” Mr. Drayer tried his best to look cool and calm but a clear look of semi-panic had already formed on his wrinkled face.
CONTAINMENT LEAK - NEIGHBORHOODS 186, 187, 188 - PREPARE EVACUATION PROCEDURE IMMEDIATELY
Crap. Calvin had heard about containment leaks but he had never actually experienced one. He lived in Neighborhood 188 which meant - he had to go, immediately.
“Any students in Neighborhoods 186, 187, and 188, please calmly remove your VR headset, exit your pods and find your parents, they will give you further instructions - everything is going to be fine,” his voice was shaky during that last part.
Whoosh. Calvin removed the VR headset and gave himself a second to adjust to reality. A loud piercing alarm sound was clearly audible, his door swung open as his Dad launched in wearing a full hazmat suit, “Calvin - we need to leave, put this on,” he handed him a matching suit.
Okay, maybe this wasn’t just another Tuesday.