Now, instead of ending it in dramatics by landing one atomic, consciousness-altering wallop like something you’d see up on the big screen at the cineblast, I prefer the subtler, almost feline method of peppering the prey with repeated, gentle slaps of my open hand. It subjugates them in a way that no haymaker ever could.
Just then, keeping to schedule, a sensor strolls into the nosh house and the mob scatters, burying their heads in their trays. I stop with all the comeuppance and let Pooch slink back to his chair, his face all stretched skin and rosy lumps. I pant, and collapse into the seat next to his, then lean over and whisper to him,
“Now we’re finished.”
He just nods. The good thing about making an example of someone is, if you do it right, you only have to do it once. I hold my hand out, inviting him. He begrudgingly rakes his fingers across mine in the universal gesture of brohood.
I kinda feel like a dick now.
I mean, this isn’t who I am, but here at The Fairchild Institute for Young Learners it’s jungle law, survival-of-the-fittest, know what I mean? You’ve gotta have the know on all the angles to win at this game. So I played lame, I possumed him a little. Truth of it is there probably isn’t that much difference between Pooch’s numbers and mine. But after everything that’s happened to me, I guess I’m just willing to take the pain.
The duty sensor on watch walks by our table, his silken robes dancing like a loose sail behind him. Apparently satisfied, he continues his rounds of the other sectors of the nosh house. Pooch looks sheepishly across the table to Alfa. The boy with the deep blue eyes and matching holo of hair shrugs at him.
“Wowza,” he says, as he claps his hands together once. “That was très unexpected.” He unzips a smile and points in my direction. “So what’s the know on you, spank?” His tall holo sways like a methane flame.
“Tig ain’t no spank, Alfa, he’s been around,” a tiny understud at the end of the table squeaks. Clearly my rep has preceded me at least a little. This stud’s holo is a close-cropped golden spiky that blazes in all directions. (He’s not that important to my tale so I’ll just leave his name out.)
Alfa raises his voice to mimic the understud’s, going an octave higher even. “He ain’t no spank?” he asks before returning to its normal baritone. “Then how come I never laid sights on him?”
Alfa raises a finger to his lips to shush the boy. “If he ain’t no brannyspank, let him share it himself.” He turns to me. “I repeat, what’s the know on you?
“The name’s Tig,” I tell him. “Tig Fynch. I got shipped down here from the north wing.” The table goes quiet. Alfa nods his head repeatedly.
“The hard arm, huh? What’d you do to get sent up there?”
The studs are glancing sideways at each other, but no one dares speak. I reach for a handful of curdmeal from Pooch’s tray and shove it in my mouth. “That sensor over there’s got eyes for us.” I give a stealthy chin waggle toward the hooded figure in the center of the room. “Any sensor hears I’m giving up the know on all things and it’ll be the age treatment for me, maybe you studs, too.”
Alfa offers a bitter teehee. “The treatment’s a kiddie scare, spank. If you’re trying to spook us, try try again.”
“It’s no false scare, believe me,” I tell him.
“So you say.” Alfa leans back in his chair and splays his fingers down on the table in front of him. “O-kee-dee, what’s your tale, Tig Fynch? Give us the know.”
I got him.
“Sugar it for me first,” I tell him.
Alfa sighs loudly. He twists his neck to look around the table and sees a collection of hungry stud faces giving him their wordless consent.
“O-kee-dee, Tig, you win,” he finally says, “Pretty please, give us the know.”
“That’s better.” I lick my lips. “So have any of you ever gotten high? I mean really high.” The studs bristle with the taboo excitement that can only be brought on by the promise of adolescent senseporn. Alfa’s eyes go wide.
“You know we haven’t,” he says. “Now enough with the bites, Tigger, give us the whole roll.”
I smile, though I swear I don’t mean to, and proceed to give up the know.