Short Stories

A Strange Bunch

I have no pity for Robert…but I can empathise with the dude to some extent. And while I didn’t base Robert off anyone – didn’t base any LAPH character off anyone, really – I did base his love of…well, you’ll see, off of myself. Unconsciously, by the way. I had no idea I’d done that until 2 years after I’d written a basic overview of notes on his characteristics.

April 26, 444 EoP. Friday 3:56

If there was one class in this school that Robert was actually looking forward to, it was Tedore O’Lest’s Basic Philosophical Codes.

According to its description, it was an elective (and year ones had only One Elective allowed) that dug into the philosophy, morality, and meaning behind various literary and historical works. The class would be discussion-based and the students would apply what they learned about philosophy and all the thinking-based work to the superhero field.

How, Robert didn’t know, but it just sounded fun and would be a good incentive to actually read more of his parent’s books…most of which they hadn’t brought.

Ignoring that gross oversight (on Jovan’s part…Robert had been ready to sacrifice clothing and technology for books), the class itself was quite pleasant. The teacher, Mr. O’Lest was a nice man—perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties—from the south parts of Northwestern. Robert noted that the teacher had a tendency to stutter at odd times yet had a clear passion about the literary/philosophic/theological arts. He was also Class 7’s Literature professor.

Basic Philosophical Codes has a small population, though. It had taken a little time for Robert to understand the difference between required electives, electives, and core subjects, but he had found out that while the required electives and core classes sported the same homeroom kids, the electives generally had a limit of forty people who could attend.

And Basic Philosophical Codes was one of the few classes that included all year groups, as Mr. O’Lest tended to switch texts and focuses each year. Even so, in this medium-sized high school that boasted four year groups and a total student body of around 500 to 700 students, this all-years encompassing course had…twelve people in total.

Better for me, Robert had thought on the first day of the class, where these twelve people were seated comically far apart from each other until Mr. O’Lest squeezed them together.

And despite the initial awkwardness and Mr. O’Lest’s propensity to never call anyone by name—how he went through with forgetting everyone’s name was a mystery—Robert’s hopes for this class actually…were fulfilled.

Kind of surprising, he’d thought with what could probably be called a grin (if you squinted, you could see his nearly translucent teeth). High expectations usually have low returns.

Jovan was pretty smug about that.

“See, I knew you’d like something about this school!” he told Robert after the class’ Thursday session.

There was a slight beep from the digital clock on the desk, indicating a changing of the hours—namely 3:59 to 4 in the morning.

Jovan had woken up due to a nightmare—or, more specifically, Robert had felt his brother tossing and had crawled down to Jovan’s bed, waking his brother up with the added weight and some soft humming. As for Robert, he’d just disregarded the fact that “the next day” existed and stayed up to read.

His brother glanced at the copy of Orilem’s Conception and shook his messy blond head, picking up the cup of tea he’d fetched for himself upon waking up. “Robby…why do you like this kind of stuff? Doesn’t it hurt your head?” he mumbled tiredly, sitting on the chair.

Robert sighed and placed the book down, wrapping his brother’s blankets around him despite his fatigue. “If it hurts your head, your head is defective.”

Much to Robert’s reluctant amusement, Jovan laughed good-naturedly and turned on the swivel chair to wink at him. “Oh, well, and here I thought it didn’t hurt your head because there wasn’t a head to hurt.”

Haha, hilarious. Some of us actually have to be students and read these things, Jovan, Robert internally retorted. He thought about saying it aloud, but instead settled for narrowing his eyes and grabbing Conception again.

But Jovan wasn’t done yet. Bouncing on the bed, Jovan’s thick purple night jacket smacked Robert’s face, earning a shout from a startled Robert.

“Ow, ears. Chill, Robby…I was just going to ask if you’ve made any friends yet in that class of yours,” Jovan said, swatting his brother’s bad temper away from him with a grin. “Come on, you’ve at least had to meet some like-minded nerds in there.”

“I don’t plan on making friends,” Robert mumbled, glowering pointedly at Jovan as he rubbed his nose. “And we’re all too antisocial to do anything but discuss in class and then leave right away. Mr. O’Lest really isn’t any different.”

He saw Jovan lean against the bed’s headrest and nod. “I like Tedore. People say he can’t remember anyone’s name, but he remembered mine, first try. He’s a nice guy.”

Concentration on the book broken, Robert lifted his eyebrows briefly and muttered, “Shocker. You like someone.”

“You get to like a surprising amount of people if you actually give them a chance and have the right mindset, Robby.”

“That’s what I’m avoiding, remember…” Robert was sinking into the world of Orilem’s theories.

A pillow to the face brought him back to reality—a smothering, black-and-white reality.

He’s too exuberant for someone who’s just woken up. But unfortunately, Robert’s glower at Jovan didn’t telepathically send the thoughts with them.

“Pay attention, Robby…it’s already way past your bedtime, anyway.” Jovan sighed, abandoning the tea to fall upon the other bed. “I know you’re trying to hate this school, you know. I’m not stupid to your schemes. And I know your classmates are pretty quiet in class…”

“Uh huh,” Robert yawned. He glanced at the book, still open on his knees, then at the time. 4 AM…I guess we both really couldn’t sleep, he thought.

“They have more to them than being superheroes-in-training and a lack of classroom focus, Robby. Give them a chance,” Jovan chided, poking Robert on the forehead.

Returning that poke with a look, which made Jovan smile innocently, Robert grumbled, I could kick him. He wants me to give a chance to the school, teachers, and now my fellow teenagers going through the same broody puberty I am. And yet, Jovan looked so tired…

Haunted, bright blue eyes that did their best to always stay cheerful and positive…and generally distracted the viewer from the bags that sometimes appeared under them. Jovan’s mussed up blond hair was the only indication that he’d just rolled out of bed, and Robert saw sweat still plastered on his older brother’s forehead.

With a sigh, Robert closed his book and yawned. “This is emotional manipulation,” he declared as his way of assent, but managed some revenge by unrelinquishing Jovan’s bed. “Wake me up in four hours.”

The sheets were still warm, lulling Robert to a quick sleep. He probably shouldn’t have stayed up to read half of Orilem’s thick book, but he hadn’t been able to help it.

Orilem had a lot of interesting theories about the beginnings of the world and the nature of beginnings themselves. Her stuff really resembled a lot of the things his parents had taught him, which made sense as they’d owned several copies of the old philosopher’s works.

His thoughts were actually lethargically spinning around his most recent read, fading to welcome the land of chaotic, unexplainable dreams. Even so, the last thing Robert heard and felt was Jovan’s light laughter and his hand messing up his hair yet again.

“Philosophers…what a strange bunch you are.”

Blah blah blah…duck, human, important stuff I don’t care about.

See you next time! :DD

©Lemon Duck, 2021. All rights reserved.

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