The Unknown Object
Coach Don Goldberg ambled down the hallway, heading towards Room 201. He looked at his watch. It was almost 4 o’clock. Normally, he would already be in the faculty parking lot, getting in his car and going home. It was, after all, fairly unprecedented for a teacher to schedule a P.E. department emergency meeting. Especially on a Monday.
And yet, that’s just what the new P.E. teacher, John Hudson, had done. Without even bothering to consult with the head of the department (Goldberg himself), no less! Just a few hours ago, Hudson had sent out a WhatsApp message to everyone in the physical education department, even the trainee teacher—‘All hands on deck! Urgent situation, we must meet TODAY, no exceptions, at 4 PM in Room 201. It is a SERIOUS EMERGENCY.’ Goldberg had sent Hudson a separate message asking what the hell it was all about, but hadn’t received a reply.
Don Goldberg didn’t much like John Hudson, and it wasn’t just because the man had the gall to schedule meetings without permission from his department head, though that didn’t help. He’d heard rumors about how Hudson had behaved at his previous school. There was no hard evidence, but people talked, and his colleagues at Central High had all warned him that Hudson loved to hang out around the girls’ locker room, and paid especially close attention to the more attractive teenagers in his class. Some students had complained that Hudson sometimes seemed to stare at their cleavage, and that he made surreptitious recordings of practice games on his phone.
Of course, Hudson had ready explanations for everything, and it was true that he was a harsh taskmaster, so the argument he made, that the girls were upset because he was so strict, might have some validity to it. But Don Goldberg had been a teacher for almost thirty years, and something about Hudson just rubbed him the wrong way. So he’d made sure that, when Hudson began working at Lansdale, he was teaching all the boys’ classes and had no club responsibilities that might put him in contact with any of the high school girls.
John Hudson had hated that, and hated Don Goldberg for making that decision. P.E. teachers had warned Don that Hudson was already talking about making a direct appeal to administration next year to get his classes reassigned. But Don was friends with Jonah Carter, the school principal, and there was no way he would allow that to happen.
He chuckled, absentmindedly running his hand over his gray buzzcut. Fuck John Hudson, he thought to himself. And if I ever get any hard evidence that he’s misbehaving with the kids in the school, I’ll run him out on his ear if it’s the last thing I do.
“Speak of the devil…,” Don muttered under his breath. Hudson was pacing in front of Room 201, as though impatiently waiting for people to arrive. Don didn’t understand why this particular room had been the one chosen for the meeting—it was far away from the P.E. team’s office, and was one of the more isolated places on campus. Quite frankly, it had been a pain in the ass to get to. Another thing to be annoyed about.
Hudson had been looking towards his right, but as soon as he heard Don’s footsteps, he turned to face him.
“Ah, Coach Goldberg, you’re finally here—everyone else already arrived,” Hudson stated, matter-of-factly, though Don felt he could detect traces of sarcasm in his tone.
Don didn’t even try to hide his annoyance as he walked up to the tall, balding P.E. teacher.
“Hudson, what the hell is this about? Why didn’t you reply to my messages? And what makes you think you can schedule a meeting without authorization from your department head?”
“I would normally never even think of going over your head, sir,” Hudson said, and Don couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or sincere, though it was probably the former. “However, you’ll soon see just how important this meeting actually is.”
Hudson moved to open the door, but Don stood firm.
“And why the hell is the meeting here? Why couldn’t we just meet in the main P.E. office?”
Hudson sighed, then opened the door slightly, and spoke to someone who was just out of view.
“Could you come out here and explain to Coach Goldberg why the meeting is being held here?” he said. Don tried to peek in and see who Hudson was addressing, and then he heard the clacking of heels.
A very pretty, though serious-looking, young blonde woman stepped out of the classroom. It was Ms. Davis from the history department. This served to confuse Don Goldberg even further—why the hell was a history teacher in a P.E. meeting?
“Good afternoon, sir,” Ms. Davis said, and she flashed him a radiant smile. She really was quite a lovely young woman, Don thought to himself. She reminded him of his late wife, God rest her soul.
Ms. Davis put her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, meeting in this classroom was my idea—I just thought…your office is a bit too small to fit both the P.E. and history departments.”
“Both departments are meeting? Ms. Davis, what’s going on?” he asked, confused, though he allowed himself to be led into the classroom by the young woman.
“As Mr. Hudson stated in his message, it’s an emergency meeting—it actually concerns one of our students. Do you know Timothy West, Coach?”
“West? West…yes, I think I know his sister. She’s on the track team, isn’t she? She’s a great competitor. But what about him?” Don asked. Mr. Hudson opened the door, and Ms. Davis led Don inside.
What Don saw in the classroom bewildered him. Seated in the various chairs were all the teachers from both the physical education and history departments—over a dozen faculty members in all. For a moment, nothing seemed particularly unusual, until he focused on the faces of the various teachers. It was then that Don realized that something was deeply, deeply wrong with them.
Some teachers had their eyes closed, as though sleeping, while others had their heads tilted. One older woman had a dribble of drool falling down her chin and onto the desk she was seated at. Another middle-aged man looked as though he were about to fall out of his chair. Everyone looked drugged, completely out of it. What had he just walked into?
Don heard the door slam behind him, and he turned around, only to hear the ‘click’ of the lock. Hudson had locked him in! He looked at Ms. Davis. She had stepped back towards the center of the classroom, but was still smiling at him, as though oblivious to what was happening.
“What the-what the fuck is going on? Hudson! Let me the hell out of here! I swear to Christ, I’ll have your head on a fucking platter! What did you do to everybody?!” he shouted, as he started to rattle the doorknob. When that didn’t work, he started to kick at the door.
“Stop that, Coach. That’s school property.”
“Huh?” Don spun around. The voice had come from behind, but it hadn’t belonged to Ms. Davis. It was the voice of some teenage punk.
Don had been so distracted by what he’d seen when he came into the room that he hadn’t even noticed the teenager standing in the corner. He had unkempt brown hair, and was slightly chubby. He was dressed in the Lansdale school uniform, and it only took a beat for Don to recognize him—this was Timothy West. Heather West’s older brother. The reason for this emergency meeting, according to Ms. Davis.
Now, Don was a strict teacher, but he was one of those educators who had gotten into the profession for the right reasons—because he genuinely cared about the wellbeing and the upbringing of young people. So it was for that reason, perhaps combined with his innate dislike of John Hudson, that led him to immediately presume that the teenager in front of him was being ordered around by the same man who had just locked him in the classroom. He couldn’t really believe the kid in front of him was responsible for what was going on.
“Kid, I don’t know what in God’s green Earth is happening, but if Hudson is making you do something—“
“You’re under a misapprehension, Coach Goldberg. Mr. Hudson’s not in charge here—I am,” the teenager said. It was only then that Don realized the teen was holding something in his hand, a cheap-looking plastic toy gun.
“I heard from Mr. Hudson that you’re friends with the principal?”
“Huh?” Don didn’t understand the sudden change in topic.
“He said he heard some gossip about it from some colleagues. Are you?”
“W-well, I suppose, yes, but what—“
“Just what I needed to hear. I’m going to need you to arrange a one-on-one meeting with him,” the teen smiled and raised the toy gun towards Don.
“Are you crazy? Look, son, I—“
The last thing Don Goldberg heard before the world went black was the sharp sound of static emanating from the toy gun.
“That’s everyone, Master,” Ms. Davis (Hannah, he corrected himself). “With Coach Goldberg, you now have the entirety of the physical education and history departments under your control.”
Tim did a quick head count. Thirteen teachers, counting Hannah and Mr. Hudson. Not bad, not bad at all. Of course, this was just the beginning.
Tim plugged in his smartphone to the set of speakers he’d brought with him to the classroom. He’d purposefully chosen it, as it was one of the most isolated rooms in the entire school. They weren’t likely to be interrupted here, especially not at this hour, but even if they were, Mr. Hudson would be standing in front of the entrance to ward off any possible interlopers.
“Alright,” he said, and then read off the list of the teachers’ names. “I want you all to listen to the following recording and take its commands to heart. Nod if you understand.”
All the teachers, mind-controlled and helpless, gave hesitant nods.
Tim pressed ‘play’ on the phone’s audio app. His pre-recorded voice began reading out the guide to obedience, amplified by the speakers. He surveyed the classroom in front of him—all these figures of authority, all these people who’d once had control over him, who he’d been so scared of, were listening carefully to his words—his orders. He saw Mrs. Greene, his old, grumpy, white-haired history teacher from last year who constantly harangued him and embarrassed him in front of his classmates for not handing in his homework on time—her chin was coated in drool, her eyes unfocused. She’d never humiliate him again, that was for sure.
Tim looked at his watch—in about forty minutes, he would have all the teachers in the room eating out of the palm of his hand, metaphorically speaking. And once that was done, he could use them to control other teachers—he knew some of the teachers were heads of committees with teachers from other subject areas, or had personal relationships with other staff, like the principal and Mr. Goldberg.
Tim did a quick calculation in his head—he’d been particularly lucky today; even if he held these ‘emergency meetings’ every day, there was no guarantee he’d be able to get such large numbers of teachers to show up. Still, if he could get an average of ten staff members a day under his control (not just teachers, he reminded himself—janitorial staff and secretaries too), he could have the entire adult population of the school as his slaves in just a couple of weeks.
Of course, the whole reason for doing that was not just to enslave the teachers or administrators at the school—the history and P.E. departments were a fairly unattractive group of middle-aged men and women, Tim reflected, with Hannah as the sole exception. No, these teachers were just a stepping stone to his ultimate goal—the creation of a harem of the most attractive girls in the school (and maybe outside of it, if any of the school staff had attractive family members).
When Tim had first gotten his hand on the mind control gun, one of the most frustrating things had been wandering around the school, looking at attractive girls and knowing there were such limited opportunities to catch them by themselves and zap them with the device. Plus, even if he were able to catch a girl unawares, the guide to obedience took almost an hour to ‘program’ a mind-controlled subject, and what was the likelihood that he’d have an hour to spare in the middle of a school day?
That was why he had begun by controlling his own family members. Whatever lustful, incestuous feelings had been awakened within him had been an unexpected side effect of the reason he’d started mind-controlling his mother and sister in the first place—they were targets of convenience.
But as much as he had enjoyed the past weekend, and loved having them both as his women, Tim wanted more. He wanted a harem of attractive girls at his command, and the fantasy had only gotten stronger once he’d had two women at once (never mind that those two women had been Mom and Heather). He wanted to come home after a long day of school to find dozens of girls in sexy lingerie waiting and ready to comfort and pleasure him in any way he could think of.
It was an extremely childish desire, but if he had all the teachers at his command, it was one he could make happen. The idea that these girls might be independent beings with their own hearts, minds, and loved ones, didn’t even enter his mind.
Tim sat at the head of the classroom, and, as the recording played, he opened his laptop and plugged in the USB drive Mr. Hudson had given him that morning. There was a single file, but it was a large one. He clicked, and waited for it to load. Once it did…
There it was. Alphabetically organized. Every single girl in the school—names, photos, all the possible personal information he could need, including information on their parents (including whether they were married, divorced, or single), home addresses (and home phone numbers), and even pictures (in some cases, just official school photos, but if there were any voyeur shots, Hudson had included those as well). Each student had their homeroom listed, as well as all their teachers, and any clubs or other organizations they belonged to. Mr. Hudson had even helpfully noted if the students had any other siblings at school and cross-referenced them.
Mr. Hudson must have spent the entire weekend making this file, Tim realized. He was glad the P.E. teacher was taking his duties so seriously. This was everything he needed. All he’d have to do is scroll around until a particular girl caught his eye, then contact one of that girl’s teachers (assuming they were under his control), have them set up a one-on-one meeting with the girl…and Tim would be waiting, mind control gun in hand.
As the recording droned on, Tim began reading the file from the top—and making mental notes whenever a girl struck his fancy.
Doing schoolwork had never been so much fun.
Doing schoolwork sucks, Eddie thought to himself. He was in a little room on the third floor of the city library, looking at microfiches of documents written by a long-dead scientist.
The funniest, most drop-dead hilarious part of it all was that the documents he’d looked at so far were all written in German, making them completely useless for his research project.
Over the weekend, Eddie had gotten a head start on the assignments he’d received in order to not fail his classes due to his suspension. He was still grounded, not allowed to leave the house, but he was hoping that his parents would see how dedicated he was on doing a great job on all the work his teachers had given him.
He’d even done that big task Ms. Davis had assigned on the Peloponnesian War, using online resources and the school’s digital library. Unfortunately, there was one last task left to do, and it had turned out to be an unexpectedly complicated one.
Oskar Müller—that’s the guy he was supposed to research. Well, at least that’s what he thought—the handwritten note wasn’t particularly clear, and Eddie was starting to think that maybe it wasn’t homework after all, that maybe Ms. Davis had put the paper in the stack of homework by accident. There wasn’t much information about the man online—just that he was apparently kind of a kook, had tried to scam the War Department with some bogus invention, and had then hit it big on the stock market or something.
There was so little real, useful information to work with that he’d momentarily considered asking his mother to take him to the school so he could ask Ms. Davis about the assignment. Except, he’d been too scared to do so. His parents were already talking about military school. What if they thought he just wanted to meet Ms. Davis to ask for an extension or to get out of doing some of the tasks he’d been assigned? They might get even more pissed off.
So, he’d decided to ask his mom to drive him to the library instead, on the off chance that there would be more research material there. She’d been glad to do it—it turned out she was going to Mrs. West’s house that day to do yoga (which just seemed to Eddie to be totally out of character for his mom, but he didn’t comment on it, for fear of ruining her mood), so she couldn’t stay home to monitor Eddie anyway. She’d even insisted on going in to the library with him, as though she were worried that he was planning to run off somewhere.
Besides, when he’d asked the assistant librarian, a guy named Mr. Wilford, about Oskar Müller, the man’s reaction made Eddie think that maybe Ms. Davis was giving out some sort of assignment related to the scientist.
“Well, we do have a collection of his papers which were donated to the library by his widow, not that I think they’ll do you much good. But, it’s odd…You’re the second person from your school to come ask about Dr. Müller in the past few days,” he stated, scratching the side of his head in confusion. “Was he in the news or something recently?”
“Not that I know of, it’s just that, my history teacher…she gave me an assignment,” he shrugged.
“Well, it’s a shame our senior librarian took off on vacation just this weekend—I think she was the resident expert on him. I have no idea when she’ll be back,” Mr. Wilford shrugged apologetically.
“That’s a shame! Do you have any information on this Mr. Müller? My son and I would be very appreciative of any assistance you can give us. We’re not really…library regulars,” Mom said, smiling feebly. Eddie blushed in embarrassment. She was always hovering over him, as though he were completely useless.
Still, her presence had helped immensely. Eddie’s mom could be very charming when she needed to be, and Mr. Wilford had not only reserved a room in the stacks for Eddie to use, he’d also explained how to use the microfiche viewer, how to use it to print out pages, and even gave him some tips on scanning the pages in and converting them to PDF format on his computer.
Not that it helped much when everything was in German, Eddie grumbled to himself. There were hundreds of microfiches, and Mr. Wilford said he was pretty sure at least some of them were in English…he just wasn’t sure which ones. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Still Eddie had to go through them, one by one, hoping at least one of the microfiches would have something of use.
He was going to be here all day, he sighed, and looked at his watch. At least the library was open until nine. At which point his mom would pick him up and take him home.
“Oh, well, maybe I’ll find something interesting,” he said, speaking to himself, then rolled his eyes at his own misplaced optimism.
Fat chance of that.
As Tim walked home after school, he couldn’t keep the grin off his face. He’d found so many potential candidates for his harem in the file Mr. Hudson had made for him, that he wasn’t sure where to start first.
Well, that wasn’t quite accurate. He had a good idea where to start—he just knew he’d have to wait until he’d taken over more of the school’s staff before beginning. He couldn’t afford to jump the gun and risk getting caught. That blow over the head his sister had given him had taught him that much.
Speaking of his sister, he’d let her do her practice and follow her regular after-school routine for the rest of the week. He couldn’t afford anyone getting suspicious about Heather not going to her track practices, especially when she had an upcoming interschool competition so soon. A competition that would be filled with beautiful girls from other schools as participants…a competition that Tim had decided he’d be attending.
Just to cheer on his sister when she competed, of course. And her friends—Tricia, Jenny, and Samantha.
Everything was going great. The physical education and history departments were both under his control. Tomorrow, he’d instructed some of the teachers he’d enslaved (he no longer hesitated to refer to it as that—that’s what they were, after all) to call a meeting for all the senior high homeroom teachers in Room 201, meaning that by tomorrow evening, Tim would have another dozen or so teachers under his control.
Tim continued his journey home, musing to himself and remembering some of the more attractive girls whose profiles he’d perused, but then suddenly stopped as he approached his family’s driveway.
There was a car parked out front, a 2010 blue Prius with a bumper sticker that said “Cats are awesome!” in cute lettering, with the web address for the local humane society underneath. The vehicle seemed familiar, but Tim couldn’t quite place it. Did it belong to one of Mom’s friends? Or maybe the parents of one of Heather’s track teammates?
Tim paused and realized his heart was beating a bit faster. If his mother had had an unexpected visit, would she have opened the door stark naked? He suddenly realized he wasn’t sure how he’d phrased the command for his mother and sister to be nude when indoors. Had he told them to get dressed whenever they had outside guests, or had he just thought about it but forgotten to verbalize that particular part of his orders? And how would that person react when they figured out Tim was ordering his mother to walk around naked inside the house? Would they just think she was some weird nudist, or would they realize there was something more sinister going on?
“Fuck,” Tim muttered under his breath, and ran towards the front door, grabbing at his keys as he did so.
His hands shook, and it took him a couple of seconds to fit the key into the front door keyhole. He had an oddly familiar feeling in the pit of his stomach—was he about to get smashed over the head with a trophy again, he wondered? Who the hell knew what awaited him inside?
With trepidation, Tim slowly opened the entrance and stepped through the doorway.
What he saw made his heart skip a beat.