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High High and the Holy Grail
A long time ago in a country far, far away²far for some of us at least²there was a table. The table was circular in shape; a few would go so far as to call it round. Around it sat many knights with noticeably perfect posture. Most wore well-kept beards and were adorned in fine leather that sported their family crests. ³There is word of it, my lord,´ said Galahad. ³It is your destiny to find it, Galahad,´ said Arthur. ³For you sat in the chair that only he who would successfully seek the grail might sit in and survive.´ ³I will set out tomorrow.´ Lancelot clasped Galahad on the shoulder. ³God be with you, son.´ Galahad left the next morning. He donned his armor, mounted his horse, hefted his shield, and rode into the distance alone in his quest. It was an epic tale. Many foes¶ lances splintered on his red and white shield and were dispatched by his fell strokes. Galahad searched far and wide, close and narrow, and everywhere in between, but still the grail remained beyond his grasp. It was not until one night, more than a year into Galahad¶s journey, that God blessed him with a dream. It was a sacred and holy dream, and when Galahad awoke he remembered none of it. Yet, somehow, Galahad finally knew where he was going. Just a day later he found the ruins of an ancient castle. The forest had claimed the stonework, but Galahad cut his way into what might have been the grand hall. There, sitting atop a pristine pedestal (for the grail had the power to keep its pedestals pristine), was the Holy Grail. Galahad could tell that it was the Grail, for it emanated some sort of Graily feeling. He never would¶ve known by the looks of it, though. It was made of some sort of clear material and had a
mildly textured surface. Wary but excited, Galahad approached. He reached out a gauntleted finger toward the extraordinary object. Finally, he grasped it. It was much sturdier than he had expected. Definitely not glass. He tapped a finger against it, and it made little sound. He was sure that if he were to drop it, it would not break. He prayed. Galahad returned to Camelot with the Grail. There, he presented it to Arthur in a splendid ceremony. When Galahad unveiled the Grail before all the Knights of the Round Table, there was a powerful silence. What sort of object was this? The knights had expected something beautiful beyond compare. Some thought Galahad a fool, others thought he was trying to deceive them, but any who neared the Grail could feel its power. No knight thought himself worthy enough to drink from the Holy Grail, so it remained in the castle untouched. Day after day it sat upon its pristine altar. Knights and kings were born and died, and as the glory of Camelot slowly faded away, so did knowledge of the Grail. At some point it was moved and after that, forgotten. The Grail surfaced and was lost over the next centuries, never staying in one place for very long. There were so few pure enough to find and handle the Grail that it was nearly impossible for the courts to maintain control over it. For years it was lost. It seemed, over this great length of time, that the Grail missed being found. The stringent requirements for its recovery were lessened, or perhaps it had always been coincidence that only the pure had found it before. Soon, it began to surface again. Christopher Columbus drank from it on his voyage to India. It helped him miss completely and discover the wonderful land of America. Paul Revere drank from it before he rode out to rally the troops. Ernest Shackleton stumbled upon it in Antarctica before making his miraculous journey home. It turned out that the Grail did not grant immortality. Instead, it simply blessed whoever drank from it in whatever way the drinker needed blessing. The day that Professor Jones found it,
the Grail was lost in the collapse of that great mountain. Because it was now so far beyond reach, the Grail¶s limitations lessened yet further so that almost any man could drink from it. Somehow (I¶m guessing there was tectonic activity involved) the Grail made its way back to the surface. The Holy Grail. A relic from God. Who knows where it now lies? -
³Another A+, Simon!´ announced Drake as he pushed his glasses higher in a manner he¶d so often seen on TV. ³Me too,´ said Simon. Simon didn¶t wear glasses. After all, he had an image to attempt to create. And you get used to contacts. His somewhat greasy red hair did nothing to increase his attractiveness, however. The two were acing their junior year at High High just like they¶d aced every other year. High High was a fairly typical High School, for a private boarding school anyway. As such, it doesn¶t really merit a lot of description. Normally a little exposition about the setting should take place, but let¶s skip it over. All you need to know is that there were kids there. There were young ones and old ones, smart ones and well, not so smart ones, cool ones, unpopular ones, athletic ones, preppy ones, and a lot of others. The usual range. The town surrounding High High had an elevation of over a mile and was thus aptly named ³High.´ There were a fair number of jokes about its name despite the fact that almost none of the students used drugs. Anyway, Simon and Drake were proud of their accomplishments at the school, but there were certain downsides to success. The two, of course, were not thoroughly accepted, and poor Simon had never had a girlfriend. ³What do you want to do today, Simon?´ asked Drake.
³I¶m tired of studying for that chem test«´ mused Simon as the two walked back to their rooms. ³We could study anyway?´ offered Drake. ³Mmm.´ Simon almost considered Drake¶s proposition. ³Why not play some videogames? Girls don¶t seem to dislike that so much anymore.´ ³Hey Spaz,´ said Rex as he ran into Simon¶s shoulder. Luckily Simon held onto his books and had no glasses that could fall off. ³Sorry about your face.´ ³What?´ said Simon, shaking his head in confusion. ³Because it¶s ugly, that¶s why.´ Rex let out a roar of laughter that was imitated by his entourage. ³Yeah. And so is yours,´ said Greg to Drake. He gave Rex a high-five and the two walked on with a few hopefuls dragging along behind. ³How is that guy going out with Sarah Sneiver?´ asked Simon. ³Dunno,´ said Drake as he thumbed through some of his papers. ³No, really? How is it possible? He¶s stupid. Absolutely stupid. Why is it that rippling muscles are so important?´ Rex did have rippling muscles. He was the star of the football team, of course; they¶re always the stars of football teams, and when the Junior class was forced to play dodgeball in the gym as a bonding activity, Rex always managed to hit Simon in someplace painful. ³I¶m telling you,´ continued Simon. ³He¶s this close to failing out of school and yet he¶s adored. It¶s the age-old conundrum.´ ³Yeah. Yeah. Don¶t worry about it, Simon. Someday it¶ll pay off.´ Simon sighed. ³Let¶s hurry back. We¶ve only got an hour before dinner.´
³I¶m sorry, Stumbly,´ said Roth. ³There be no more food.´ Roth¶s hair was a mixture of black and gray that came to his shoulders. His beard was split in two braids that fell halfway down his chest. An eye-patch hid the gaping hole where his left eye had been. Stumbly, his little brown monkey, looked up at him pitifully. ³I said I¶m sorry.´ Roth turned away. He sighed and his shoulders sagged. ³It was so much better in the old days. I miss the wealth, the women, the excitement of it all.´ Roth¶s clenched his fists. ³Damn that vile Delacruiz, mutinous bastard!´ Roth turned to face Stumbly again. ³Oh, what¶s the use? It won¶t bring me ship back.´ Roth leaned down and extended his arm. Stumbly ran up it and onto his shoulder. ³We¶ll find shelter for the night. Maybe tomorrow we¶ll find a bit of food, eh?´ Roth walked through the scattered grasslands, thinking about how not too long ago he had been one of the last feared pirates in this modernizing world. He hiked, looking for any sort of overhang or cluster of trees that might protect him from the wind that howled in his ears. From atop one hill he could see a city in the distance. He wondered how he would get his ship back so he could leave the god-forsaken land. ³At least I have you, Stumbly, and me life.´ Stumbly rode his shoulder complacently. Finally Roth stopped searching. There was simply no shelter to protect him. When the sun had fallen below the horizon, he curled up on the ground, Stumbly cuddled tightly to his chest, and simply let the wind buffet him. He slept little, and his hunger gnawed at him. -
³Hey Sarah,´ said Rex. ³The guys and I are gonna go chuck the ball around. Wanna come watch? I¶m sure you¶ll be impressed.´ Sarah was, of course, extremely beautiful. Blond hair, perfect complexion, skinny, all that. ³I guess.´ She shrugged. ³Kiss first?´ Rex leaned in and gave Sarah a sloppy but eager kiss. She smiled kittenishly and followed him out to the field. The twilight sky looked down on a fun but slightly overcompetitive game of pick-up tackle football. ³Sarah!´ chirped Alice. ³Oh. Hi Alice!´ Sarah got up from her grassy seat and hugged her friend. ³What¶s up?´ ³Oh,´ said Sarah. ³Just watching Rex play football.´ ³Wow. Thrilling.´ They both laughed. ³He really is dreamy though, isn¶t he?´ ³Yeah,´ smiled Sarah. ³C¶mon. Let¶s go grab dinner.´ The two stood up and headed toward the dining commons. Bored of videogames, Simon and Drake were just sitting on their loveseat. ³This seat is kinda small,´ said Drake. The seat was small. All part of Simon¶s plan. If somehow he could convince a girl to watch TV with him, they¶d be forced into extreme proximity. Simon grunted some sort of agreement and continued to daydream. ³Hey Simon,´ said Drake. ³Wanna go to dinner?´ ³What? Goat thinner?´ Simon gave Drake a strange look. Drake sighed and stood up. ³Dinner time.´ Dinner at High High was a bit chaotic. All four-hundred students ate there at once. The food was decent, but the lines were ridiculous. Plus, in the name of change, High High¶s Board
of Kitchenware replaced everything from trays to forks every single year and put them in a new place. The students had to learn where everything was and compensate for the new shapes and sizes. Anyway, people basically just stood in the horrendous line until something savory but unrecognizable was splurshed onto their plate. After that they grabbed whatever veggies they wanted from the salad bar and then carried their tray to the drink station. They¶d grab a cup, fill it with a delicious beverage, and bring the whole shebang to their table. The tables were divided into groups, of course, and why shouldn¶t they be? People at the school had different talents and enjoyed being around those similar to them. Simon and Drake sat with the other nerds. Well, they sat with the ones that had a decent grasp on basic social skills. Many of the nerds just ate alone in their rooms. Because of this, Simon and Drake¶s table was always uncrowded. There were the jocks, headed by Rex. They laughed and yelled and made wild gestures. The girlfriends of the jocks sat at the table next to theirs. Some had tried sitting at the jock table, but it was just a bit too crude for their tastes so they sat together and enjoyed a more dignified meal. There were the athletes that thought themselves above the jocks, the smart kids who also managed to have a lot of friends, the kids that rotated between the various circles but weren¶t too close with any of them, the gossipers, the kids who hated everyone else, and many more. That night Rex had a Pasta-with-Red-Sauce-and-Meat (pointedly vague) dish, two carb bars provided by his coach, and four glasses of Gatorade. It was a fairly tasty meal, he thought. In fact, it might have been the best thing he¶d ever eaten. Nothing had ever reenergized him like that. That night he really hit it off with Sarah; in fact, they made out until the girls were kicked out of the boys dormitories. After she left, he actually studied a bit for his chemistry test the next day and fell asleep with a smile on his face. 7
³I can¶t walk that far, Stumbly. I¶m older than I used to be.´ Stumbly ran ahead toward the suburb. ³You blasted monkey. Ye¶ll be the end of me, you will!´ Roth hobbled after his pet until finally he could hobble no more and sat down. When Stumbly noticed that his master had stopped walking, he returned and sat next to him. ³I just don¶t like this here land. I should be surrounded by water, I should.´ Roth sighed and let his head sag. Finally Stumbly got back up and started walking again. ³I don¶t even have me sword!´ called out the captain, but the monkey continued and Roth had no choice but to follow. Eventually the pair made it to a small mall on the outskirts of town. Stumbly walked through the doors of a Restoration Hardware. Roth thought it looked strange, but he too entered the store. ³It¶s a monkey!´ was the first thing he heard. The voice was shrill. Roth winced and attempted to locate the source, his hand fumbling at his empty scabbard. Normally he would be ready to cut down whatever could make such a hideous noise, but alas, no sword, remember. Finally Roth saw her. She had thin blond hair that waved down to the base of her neck. It looked like it had been mildly died. She was a bit plump and looked to be in her 50s. She wore a red coat that reached her ankles, tied in the center, and had six large, black buttons. She had some sort of leggings beneath it and had long white gloves that covered her elbows. Roth stopped fumbling at his scabbard. ³Somebody call the police,´ she screamed! Roth stepped forward. ³I do be sorry, ma¶am,´ he said bowing. ³He¶s me monkey, and he has a knack for mischief.´ Stumbly ran over to Roth and climbed to his shoulder. Roth straightened. ³He meant no harm, I¶m sure. Could we make it up to ya?´ ³Well I never,´ said the woman. ³What on earth are you? A pirate? Get a job! People like you are ruining the world for the rest of us. I moved to the suburbs to get away from your sort.´
With an exaggerated hurrumph, she turned and walked out of the store, her small handbag swinging on her wrist. ³I¶ll have you know that I¶m²´ he shouted. ³Oh, it¶s no use, Stumbly.´ The woman was already out of earshot. ³Well now look what you¶ve done,´ said the man in the fancy clothes behind some sort of barrier. ³Get lost,´ said the man before remembering himself, ³«sir, or I shall have to call the police as that fine woman suggested.´ Roth stared at the man as he picked up a black device and put it to his ear. The former pirate captain shook his head and left. Women never escaped him! For some reason, that horrible lady enticed him more than any other ever had. ³Hmm,´ he said as he wandered the pristine streets. -
Rex had felt completely refreshed at breakfast and was almost looking forward to his test first period of the day. No, he couldn¶t be looking forward to a test. Rex shuddered as he walked toward room 304 of the Prinkler Building. Really Rex just didn¶t feel the normal dread that an upcoming test brought on. He had no urge to plea sickness and run to the nurse. His stomach felt normal and he wasn¶t planning on finagling his way into a seat behind Simon. He figured that he knew the material well-enough, and it was only multiple-choice. He¶d be fine. Rex came out of room 304 of the Prinkler Building feeling, for the first time in his life, that he¶d actually done well. He was jazzed, to say the least, though he¶d never admit that he used that word mentally from time to time. Even though he was proud of himself, he didn¶t really contribute in any of his other classes. By the time dinner rolled around again he¶d decided
that it had all just been a fluke. Sarah didn¶t seem that interested in repeating the night before, either. ³Did you see Rex in chem today?´ asked Drake. ³Yeah,´ said Simon. ³Normally tests make him sweat more than football does. Not like it matters. The football team always boosts our grades. I would laugh if one of them broke the curve. Well, laugh or cry. One of the two.´ Drake laughed, obviously averse to crying. ³Hey Simon, here comes Sarah. Gonna use one of your trademark moves?´ ³No. She¶s got a boyfriend. Plus, that boyfriend could beat me up, and if she likes him, I¶m sure she wouldn¶t like me.´ Drake shrugged. ³Suit yourself.´ Simon gulped anyway and cast his eyes down so that there wouldn¶t be that awkward moment of being too far away to say µhi¶ but close enough to make direct eye contact. Simon¶s breathing came faster the closer she got. ³Hey Simon,´ said Sarah as she passed by. She waved. She nodded her head. ³Hi Drake.´ ³Hiya!´ said Drake, waving, a grin crossing his face. Sarah smiled back pleasantly and walked on. ³I believe that¶s where you respond politely,´ said Drake. ³Simon?´ Drake waved his hand in front of Simon¶s unseeing eyes. ³Helloooo.´ Simon shook his head. ³Oh. Whoops.´ ³You do have a way with the ladies.´ Drake ruffled his brown hair and pushed his glasses up pseudo-sexily. ³Oh, shut up,´ said Simon. He laughed. ³I suppose I do need to step it up a bit.´ ³Try words next time,´ said Drake. ³I hear they work.´
Simon rolled his eyes and the two wandered slowly to the dining hall. ³You¶re late!´ chirped the dining lady. ³Once more and you two will get yourselves a detention!´ Sarah overheard this. ³It wasn¶t their fault, Mrs. Winkerspitzel,´ she said overdramatically. ³My overwhelming charm left them a little stunned in the hallway, I think.´ Sarah laughed and flashed Simon a smile. Unfortunately, Mrs. Winkerspitzel was not a lover of humor. ³That¶s it!´ the crone said, her face turning red. ³Detention! All of you!´ ³What?!´ said Sarah. ³That¶s ridiculous. I didn¶t do anything!´ ³You were rather full of yourself,´ said Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³I was just jok²³ ³Try to be more modest and ladylike. Hmph!´ The woman crossed her arms. Simon and Drake groaned. They were annoyed, but luckily nothing dining related went on your permanent record, so it wouldn¶t affect college apps. Sarah sighed and gave Simon and Drake a look of why is this woman even here? No one really knew her function. They supposed it was generally to keep order, but really she just put everyone on edge and thus increased the likelihood of chaos. Sarah walked past the pair and sat down with her friends. ³I¶m sorry,´ called Simon. She gave him a look of exasperation accompanied with that lazy hand flip that everyone took to mean Meh. It¶s not important. Then Simon turned to Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³The lines are still horrendous. Would it have mattered if we¶d been on time?´ ³Simon Wesley Hurnburger,´ she began, ³We have rules for a reason, and it is not up to you to choose which rules to follow. Do you want murderers to roam free, Simon?´ ³No, but I don¶t see²³
³Murderers, Simon!´ she nearly shouted. ³We all must obey what laws the wise have created! It is either that or anarchy, and I am no anarchist! Now go! Get your food before I give you a second detention.´ Simon grumbled incoherently and stood in the long line with Drake. Something savory but unrecognizable was splurshed onto their plates. They grabbed whatever veggies they wanted from the salad bar and then carried their tray to the drink station. They took cups, filled them with delicious beverages, and brought the whole shebang to their table. ³I can¶t believe this,´ said Simon, as he took a swig of milk. ³It¶s just not fair.´ Drake agreed. ³We were two minutes late. Oh well, at least the milk is good tonight. Really good.´ ³You know, you will be in the same room as Sarah for two hours straight. That¶s not bad,´ said Drake in an attempt to cheer his friend up. ³I didn¶t think about²³ Simon cut himself off. ³It doesn¶t matter. They don¶t even let you talk.´ Just then Mrs. Winkerspitzel walked up to their table. ³I just remembered,´ she began, ³that we¶ve designed some new school uniforms.´ The students were required to wear uniforms at all times. They were really rather drab. The girls¶ polo shirts were cut a bit too large and managed to conceal every curve, making them look like rectangular blocks. The guys¶ shirts were always too small and looked terrible on all but the most muscular of them. ³We need two students to model them in front of the tolerance board, and strangely no one has volunteered. I thought that since you and Sarah both earned yourself a detention,´ she glared at Simon, ³that you should be the models. Oh,´ she turned to Drake. ³I suppose you¶re free to go. Just don¶t be late again.´
Drake smiled. ³Of course not! Never!´ ³What?´ said Simon. ³This is so unfair.´ ³I don¶t care what you think is and isn¶t fair, Mr. Hurnburger. You and Sarah will meet me in wing of the theatre tomorrow at one o¶clock precisely.´ ³The theatre?´ asked Simon. ³Of course! Though you don¶t look like them, you¶ll have to act like them.´ Simon looked confused. ³Real runway models, of course,´ she said. She was gone before Simon could complain again. ³Oh God,´ he said. ³Now I have to humiliate myself in front of her. There goes any hope of ever going out with Sarah Sneiver. I¶m going to look ridiculous.´ Simon sighed. ³Oh well.´ After dinner Simon found it hard to stay angry for some reason. He destroyed Drake in every videogame they played, and he slept easily. -
It was morning. ³There¶s not a tree to be found anywhere in this here town,´ said Roth. ³People and their homes.´ He spat the final word. ³And not a single man to sell me a sword.´ Stumbly didn¶t seem to mind too much. Instead, the monkey walked alongside the pirate contentedly. ³Aren¶t ye hungry, you furry beast?´ At this, Stumbly ran into someone¶s extremely small yard and hopped over a fence. ³Hey!´ shouted Roth. ³And just where do you think yer goin¶? Ach, blasted monkey.´ Roth walked toward the house. ³I know I could do with a bit of food.´ Roth watched as Stumbly, arms full of food, slid open one of the front windows and hopped out. ³Stumbly! Yer a better monkey than I thought.´ Stumbly handed him an apple which Roth promptly bit into. ³Yar, that¶s delicious. And I suppose they¶re all at work? I¶m
proud.´ The two continued down the street. ³We should find a better source of food than this, though.´ Finally Roth spotted a large cluster of buildings. ³Those don¶t look like homes, Stumbly. I wonders what they are.´ The two wandered onto the premises. The younger children ran from them while the older ones tried tactful avoidance. ³Be there any food in these parts? Or a sword mayhaps?´ shouted Roth. A young child, too frightened to run, answered. ³Just down that way,´ he said, pointing, ³and on the left!´ His voice cracked. Roth nodded and walked away. Just then a bell rang. Roth fumbled at his empty scabbard again. ³Blast,´ he muttered. At the sound of the bell, all the youngins hurried in the direction he was going while making sure to give him a wide berth. When Roth reached the building they were all heading toward, he swung open the doors and saw, to his delight, that the kids sitting at tables had trays and trays of food. ³Aye!´ he said, scaring those closest to him. ³We¶ve hit the jackpot, Stumbly.´ Stumbly hopped off his shoulder and ran past the line toward a vat of the savory and unrecognizable something, jumped onto the counter, and began alleviating his hunger. Roth followed, glaring at those in the way with his one good eye. ³I claim this here food in the name of pirate captain Roth,´ he bellowed. ³Now Mr. Roth,´ said Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³This is not your food to claim! You cannot just come barging into a private establishment and take whatever you like. I¶m afraid that I¶ll have to ask you to leave. It¶s either that or anarchy!´ she said hysterically, crossing her arms. Roth ignored her and started taking as much food as he could hold. ³I don¶t know what you think you¶re doing, dressing up like a pirate and coming in here, but it¶s not funny!´
³Dressing up? Lass, I am a pirate, and I¶m not used to such bad treatment. Why, if I had me sword«´ Roth had gathered enough food. ³Now where is«´ he muttered, looking around. ³you!´ he said, pointing to a particularly frail child. ³Where is the rum?´ The child shrugged and pointed toward the drinks. Roth walked there and filled a cup with a strange mixture of sodas (he didn¶t really understand the machine). He quaffed the entire glass at once and smiled. ³Aye. That¶s good stuff.´ As he walked back to the tables, he spotted her. The woman from the store! She was talking to a strange red-headed boy. ³You¶re mother sent this to me to give you to, Simon. I¶m sure it¶s very nice. I hope you enjoy it.´ ³I¶m sure I will, Aunt Ethel. Thank you.´ Simon¶s mom sent care packages all the time. She wanted her son to have the best education possible and somehow had decided that High High could give it to him. She missed him terribly though, and often sent him scrapbooks and candy that was a bit stale from traveling through the mail. It was a good day, even if Ethel¶s outfits were always bright and ridiculous. At least she hadn¶t mentioned one of her crazy conspiracy theories. Aunt Ethel had a supernatural explanation for everything. Roth walked up to the pair and set down his tray. ³Greetings, Ms. Ethel.´ Before she could protest, Roth took her hand and kissed it gently. ³Oh my,´ she gasped. ³You¶re the pirate?´ ³Aye. Captain Roth, until the mutiny. Me traitorous first mate Delacruiz took it into his head that we should leave the general pillagin¶ behind and find us a real piece of treasure, whatever that means. He drew up plans to search for every historical, mythical, and holy artifact that he¶d ever heard of! Ridiculous, it was. I told him to keep his crazy ideas to himself, but he¶d already turned the crew against me! What was I to do? They took over me ship and turned me
ashore. I found meself here without sword, ship, or«companion.´ Roth met her gaze as he spoke the last word. ³You mean you¶re a real pirate?´ ³Aye,´ said Roth. ³Last living descendant of Blackbeard. People don¶t fear pirates like they used to, but my father was a pirate just like his father before him, and as unconventional an occupation as it might seem to some, it be my life.´ ³I knew there was still a great pirate lord!´ yelped Ethel excitedly. ³Roth, I¶ve done rather a lot of research on the line of Blackbeard, among other things. I just couldn¶t shake the idea that pirates had finally died out.´ ³To hear someone that finally believes. ¶Tis music to me ears.´ Stumbly hopped onto his shoulder. ³And that¶s not just some stray monkey, is it?´ said the woman. ³It¶s a pirate monkey.´ ³That it is.´ ³Oh my! This is all so thrilling. I thought you were just some strange man who wandered the malls. But you¶re so much more. I seem to recall that when your monkey frightened to me you mentioned wanting to make it up to me somehow. I would be honored to take you up on that offer.´ ³Ah, good choice, lass,´ said Roth. ³Ye won¶t regret it.´ Simon watched all this, the confusion on his face increasing every second. He kept thinking about just how absurd it was for his Aunt to leave the dining hall with a strange pirate. He kept replaying the scene in his brain. For some reason it just didn¶t bother him. In fact, he was happy for his aunt. And though people had been intrigued by the scene, he realized that his aunt¶s actions didn¶t really reflect on him.
Simon¶s aunt smiled at Roth and the two exited the dining hall, Stumbly catching up to them after stuffing his cheeks with some of the dining hall food. ³That was strange,´ said Drake. ³Maybe they¶re meant for each other,´ said Simon, shrugging. He tried to clear his mind, and to his surprise, found that it worked. Breakfast passed otherwise uneventfully. ³And that is what caused the big bang,´ said Professor Stephenson. The bell rang. ³Don¶t forget your lab reports due on Friday!´ ³I thought we didn¶t know what happened before the big bang,´ said Drake. ³Oh well,´ said Simon, unconcerned. ³I think it was just one of those generic lines that professors end lectures with.´ ³Uh oh. The dreaded eleven o¶clock is rapidly approaching,´ said Drake as he glanced at his oversize wristwatch. ³Dreaded eleven?²´ said Simon. ³Oh, right.´ Simon continued in stride. ³It¶s not so bad.´ ³Are you kidding me?´ Drake laughed. ³Last week you got a concussion. A concussion! From dodgeball!´ Simon looked skeptical. ³Concussion! Dodgeball!´ ³Yeah, I know. But what are the odds of that happening again?´ ³The doctor said you shouldn¶t do anything for two weeks! Don¶t you remember?´ Drake was exhasperated. ³And then the school didn¶t believe your doctor¶s note because you¶d complained about dodgeball injuries so many times before«because you¶ve had dozens of them« Dozens!´ ³I have a good feeling about today,´ said Simon.
Eleven o¶clock came. The last few hours had held plenty of gossip about Simon¶s aunt and a pirate, but Simon didn¶t mind. If anything, people had suddenly noticed him. The juniors changed into their gym uniforms and entered the court room, err, well, the room with the court in it, you know. They didn¶t even have to pick teams anymore. Everyone knew how they¶d get chosen. Early on, the coach had tried to make the teams fairer, but he gave up after the first few months of his job. The only thing he wanted to be sure of was that the students were forced to play dodgeball in the name of exercise. These kids needed exercise, and dodgeball was the way for them to get it. If he had to let the teams be uneven in exchange, well that was a worthy sacrifice. The whistle blew. The game began. Simon, usually one to hang on the back wall the entire game, was surprised to find himself sprinting toward one of the six balls that lay in the middle of the court. Rex, of similar speed but far more intimidating, raced toward the same squishy blue ball. Knowing that he would win, Rex smiled. Nobody ever beat Rex to the ball. Just then, Simon dropped to the ground and slid on his back with his feet forward. Rex stumbled and Simon got to the ball first. He managed to twist his body sideways so that he wouldn¶t cross the line. By now no one else was playing the game. Simon rolled onto his stomach and grabbed the ball with his right hand in one fluid motion. Just before he flew past the line he used his left hand to push himself into the air and backward. It didn¶t seem physically possible. In fact, the entire period of physics the next day was devoted to figuring out what Simon had done. As he whished back through the air he hurled the ball at the dumbfounded Rex and hit him squarely in the face. Simon landed on his feet, his knees bent and his right hand on the ground to keep him balanced.
No one moved. Simon looked around. The coach was the first to regain his senses and he blew the whistle again and rushed to Rex. ³Rex!´ he hollered. ³Are you alright?´ Rex groaned and clutched at his bleeding nose. ³Everyone take the rest of the period off.´ Simon was happy enough about that and went to change. Drake followed. ³Holy carp,´ said Drake. ³Like, the mother of all carps. That was amazing.´ ³Yeah, it was, wasn¶t it?´ said Simon. ³I told you it would be fine. Psh.´ Simon did the meh, no big deal hand motion and the two friends laughed. ³Giving the jock jerk a bleeding nose. Nothing is more beautiful and cliché than that.´ At lunch, Simon could tell that everyone was looking at him. Gossip travels fast around a boarding school, or any high school for that matter. Most people had even forgotten about the pirate. And then, when Simon thought that he would probably go on being the center of attention forever, someone in a suit came in and gave Candy McFee a brand-new home entertainment system. She took the last sip of her Dr. Pepper before jumping up and screaming with delight. ³What is going on?´ said Drake. ³What is going on?´ ³Repetition is a very good oratory skill, Drake,´ laughed Simon. Drake chuckled. ³But really, Simon, what is going on?´ Simon certainly didn¶t know. ³Oh shoot. I¶ve gotta get to that stupid clothes thing.´ ³Be beautiful,´ said Drake, affecting a lisp. Simon rolled his eyes. ³And remember«words.´ Simon sprinted toward the theatre wing. He spotted Sarah when he was almost there. ³Hey Sarah!´ he called.
³Oh, hi Simon,´ she said as she turned around. She waited for him to catch up. ³So your aunt and a pirate, huh?´ Simon gulped. ³I¶ve always wanted a pirate for an uncle. Just think of the Christmas presents.´ ³Man. I want a chest of gold every Christmas.´ ³I think I¶ll stick with a chest of flesh. Otherwise you¶d never make it through airport security.´ Simon laughed. ³I suppose. How do you think Midas dealt with that?´ Sarah laughed. ³These are the questions, but we better hurry and get this stupid thing over with. I can¶t believe Mrs. Winkerspitzel is making us do this.´ The two continued toward the theatre. Simon didn¶t say anything as they passed the next building. ³Sarah, I¶m sorry.´ ³Oh, don¶t worry about it Simon. It¶s not your fault. Remember, I¶m the one who µcharmed you into immobility¶ or whatever I said.´ Sarah laughed. ³Really, you don¶t have to be sorry.´ ³Thanks,´ said Simon, smiling. ³Look on the bright side,´ he said. Sarah¶s eyebrows went up. ³Bright side?´ ³Yeah! We get to do this modeling thing. Everybody¶s jealous of us now.´ ³Oh«yeah«´ said Sarah. She laughed. ³You¶re ridiculous. C¶mon.´ The two of them ran the rest of the way to the theatre. They bounded through the doors and into Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³Goodness! Be more careful children. Only anarchists are so hasty.´ ³Mrs. Winkerspitzel,´ said Simon. ³I don¶t think you know anything about anarchy.´
³What?!´ she said, the effort in maintaining her calm obvious. Her face was instantly a very bright red. ³And you have a funny name. There, I said it.´ Sarah choked back laughter. ³You think that¶s funny, do you missy?!´ said Mrs. Winkerspitzel, turning on Sarah. ³Anarchists, the both of you! Now get backstage and change into the new uniforms before I really lose it!´ The two of them sprinted backstage. ³Oh my God, Simon!´ Sarah whispered, as well as someone breathless from running can whisper. ³I can¶t believe you said that.´ ³Neither can I,´ said Simon. Simon looked at Sarah as she picked up the new uniform. ³I guess being around someone so beautiful just makes me do crazy things.´ ³Simon, are you flirting with me?´ said Sarah, smiling. ³Flirting? I don¶t even know how.´ Simon threw his arms up in a helpless, wasn¶t-me, expression. Sarah laughed and took off her shirt. ³Whoa!´ said Simon. ³I¶m just changing,´ said Sarah as she pulled down her skirt and stepped out of it. She had a perfect body. Simon had never realized just how perfectly tanned she was. And though he was embarrassed to even think about it, he saw that she had perfectly proportioned breasts. He reveled in his thoughts and then cringed at them. ³Bu«´ he said. Her skin was perfect and she didn¶t have a scrap of body fat on her. She wasn¶t too skinny either. She was just«perfect. Simon gulped. He stood there, staring. She surpassed even his imagination. Simon knew that he would remember this forever and secretly thanked Mrs. Winkerspitzel for giving him detention. As Sarah bent down to put on the new skirt, her blond hair fell in front of her in what Simon thought was the most beautiful motion hair
could possibly make. And her hair complemented the cleavage that was even more prominent when she was bent over. Sarah paused with one leg in the air hovering above the plaid skirt. ³What? Never seen a girl in her underwear before?´ ³Actually«´ said Simon, smiling nervously. Sarah laughed. ³You really are a nerd, aren¶t you?´ ³Well«´ ³A nerd that likes to give one-word answers.´ Sarah laughed as she pulled the skirt over her smooth legs. Suddenly she¶d put on the polo shirt and the moment was over. Simon couldn¶t tell where the time had gone. ³You¶d better change too,´ said Sarah, smiling. ³You wouldn¶t want to get another detention because of my µsupernatural charms.¶´ Sarah laughed again. She had a beautiful laugh. She had a beautiful everything. Simon was smitten. Sarah started to walk back toward the curtain beyond which stood Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³Rex is a lucky guy,´ Simon muttered to himself. Sarah didn¶t turn around, but she smiled and took a deep breath. Simon changed quickly, happy that Sarah wasn¶t there to see his rather less-than-perfect body. The grey wool pants were much less comfortable than the khakis that the guys currently had to wear, and the polo shirt was an ugly sewage green. ³Simon. Good, you¶re changed,´ said Mrs. Winkerspitzel. In her anxiety about pleasing the tolerance board, she seemed to have completely forgotten Simon¶s remarks. ³I know I don¶t have to remind you that in just a few minutes the entire tolerance board, and that means several of our biggest donors, or well, several of our moderately sized donors that donate a large number
of dollars each year«oh where was I? Just go out there and in the name of democracy and all things good, look your best.´ ³How am I supposed to look my best in this?´ asked Simon, the puke shirt pinched between his left thumb and index finger. ³It¶s cute on you,´ said Sarah, winking. She laughed. Simon realized that she¶d been laughing a lot. He drank it in, thinking that he could never get enough of it. Sarah, of course, managed to looked stunning in her new plaid skirt and light blue polo, but as soon as Simon walked on stage there were mingled gasps from the tolerance board members in the audience. ³It¶s hideous!´ shouted a fat white man with more than one chin. ³Boo,´ said another. ³What were they thinking?´ ³Oh my!´ yelped Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³Backstage with you Simon.´ Simon laughed. What a fiasco. Because his stay in the limelight was so short, he managed to make it backstage in time to once more watch Sarah as she changed. It was just as wonderful as the first time. ³Isn¶t that considered rude?´ she asked, smiling while Simon stared. ³Plus, I thought you¶d have gotten used to it by now.´ ³I could never get used to you, Sarah,´ said Simon. ³I think you would surprise me every single day.´ Sarah smiled. The two of them chatted as they walked back to the Becker building where they both had their next class. Simon could not remember a word of the conversation; he was too amazed by his good fortune. His usually clear mind was clouded with happiness. ³Well, I¶ve gotta go,´ said Sarah. ³English calls.´ She stuck out her tongue. ³Oh,´ said Simon. ³Yeah. Have a good time.´
³I already have been,´ she said. She smiled again, waved, and headed down the hall. Simon was blissful, absolutely blissful, but the day was wearing on, and for some reason he didn¶t quite feel the same. He was still incredibly happy, but he just didn¶t have that same confidence he¶d had earlier. ³Weird,´ he muttered. Normally he couldn¶t detect subtle emotional shifts like that. ³Probably just hungry for dinner,´ he said to himself. ³Or lovesick,´ said Drake, laughing. ³I guess I do understand what you see in girls, Simon, if they can make you feel the way you look.´ ³Hey!´ said Simon, surprised out of his stupor by his friend. Drake slapped his friend on the shoulder. ³Lighten up. Ready to get our beautiful chem tests back?´ ³Always,´ said Simon, slipping back into nerd-friend-mode. -
³Oh, Roth!´ screamed Aunty Ethel. ³I¶d always heard«Roth!´ ³Heard what, lass?´ said Roth. Stumbly was not in the room. ³That«that pirates were good lovers, but my GOD! Roth!´ Stumbly waited patiently outside. He¶d been through this before. Don¶t get him wrong, he liked being Roth¶s pet. Where else could a monkey find such adventure? And what other profession would allow a mischievous monkey to steal and be praised for it? There were a lot of perks, and Roth was really quite caring for a pirate captain. Waiting outside bedrooms was just one of the downsides. Oh well. Stumbly shrugged his little monkey shoulders. Finally the door opened and Roth came out. ³Ah, Stumbly. Yer a good monkey. I appreciate yer understandin¶.´ Stumbly would¶ve rolled his eyes if he¶d understood the gesture. Roth sat next to his monkey.
³Roth, dear.´ ³Aye, Ethel. Captain Roth, not µRoth dear¶´ ³Oh, sorry Captain Rrrroth,´ Ethel said rolling the r¶s and shaking her head. ³Mrreow!´ ³Stumbly, I think this be the luckiest day of me life.´ ³What¶s that Roth?´ asked Ethel. ³Luckiest day of me life. All because of you. If only I had me a shiny new blade and a boat that could match the speed of the Scimitar. Oh, how I miss that ship.´ ³Luckiest day of your life, you say?´ asked Ethel, obviously interested. ³Aye. It¶s so.´ ³Hmm. Did you do anything unusual today?´ ³Quite a few things, actually. I¶m looking at one of them. Why are ye askin¶?´ said Roth. ³It¶s just. I¶ve read«things. Things about luck,´ said Ethel. Her eyes gleamed with possibility. ³Did you maybe read an enchanted tome?´ ³Nay, nothing of the sort.´ Ethel paced. ³Put on a mysterious ring?´ ³No.´ ³Come into contact with a sorcerer of any kind?´ ³No.´ ³Pull any swords out of any rocky material?´ ³No.´ ³Drink any magic potions?´ ³Aye, whatever that bubbly is that comes out of that blasted contraption. I¶d ne¶er tasted anything like it in me life.´
³You mean soda?´ Ethel laughed. ³No, that¶s very common. I can¶t think of anything else, but I still believe you were somehow enchanted. I¶ll figure it out yet. Just wait.´ ³For you, I¶d wait years. In fact, I have waited years.´ ³Oh Roth.´ -
³How is that possible?!´ said Drake after Chemistry. ³An A. A! A! Not A+. A.´ ³I have no idea. I can¶t believe that Rex broke the curve. Rex of all people.´ The two friends headed toward dinner. ³I know!´ said Drake. ³Well,´ said Simon, thinking. ³He could¶ve gotten lucky. It was multiple-choice.´ ³Yeah. I thought that too, but remember how he wasn¶t sweating. He was confident.´ ³Hmm. You¶re right,´ said Simon. ³Do you think he was cheating.´ ³He couldn¶t¶ve!²³ ³I love that contraction,´ said Simon. ³Simon! This is serious. He could not have cheated. No one had taken the test before and Professor Wilkins wrote it that morning! There was no time for anyone to see it beforehand.´ ³Quite the detective, aren¶t you?´ ³Simon. I¶m worried,´ said Drake. ³This is my first A, and I got it because of Rex. Rex!´ ³You know Drake, everybody seems to be getting jhor lucky break.´ ³Jhor. I can¶t believe you actually use that word,´ said Drake. ³Drake,´ said Simon, ³the English language needs a neuter third person noun that refers to people. Jhe, Jhem, Jhor is it. Get with the future.´
³Forget the future, you¶re right about the lucky break. Rex was gonna get kicked off the team if he didn¶t get an A in Chem! That girl wins that TV speaker menagerie. You and Sarah hit it off. Ethel met that nice«pirate? Well that¶s a stretch, but it¶s happening!´ ³We¶re smart, you and I,´ said Simon. ³Agreed,´ said Drake. ³We¶re going to figure this out.´ Meanwhile, at a slightly different location, Rex was showing off his A+. ³Now who¶s the smart one? Big Simon and Drake dethroned!´ ³Yeah Rex!´ said Greg, supportively. ³Almost sounds like you¶re jealous,´ said Sarah laughing. ³Suddenly intelligence matters along with muscle and good looks?´ ³Of course it matters,´ said Rex. ³Just not as much.´ He winked at her. ³Congrats, though,´ said Sarah. ³Your lucky break.´ She gave him a kiss and wrapped her arm in his. After a bit of silent walking, she said, ³How did you do it, Rex?´ ³Sarah, I have no idea.´ She gave him a look. ³No I didn¶t cheat if that¶s what you¶re thinking. And I didn¶t study much either. I just somehow knew the answers to all the problems.´ ³Hmm,´ she said. The group entered the dining hall. The students that had gotten in line first and already received their savory something on their generic plates and delicious vegetables in generic salad bowls and tasty drinks in generic cups were sitting at the tables. Bill Jelks could never resist eating before he got to the table. He stabbed some sort of meat, gobbled it up, and washed it down with some Coke. In his soda-drinking haste, he didn¶t notice someone¶s backpack on the floor. Sarah and Rex watched as he tripped over it and
plummeted to the ground, tray and its contents flying through the air. ³Gurg!´ he yelled. Bill Jelks was not a light young man. His love for food made that an impossibility. He threw his hands out in front of him but crashed to the floor anyway. Bill Jenks, was in fat²sorry, fact²so heavy that his right arm punched through the floorboards into the ground below. ³Ow,´ he said and winced. Bill flexed the fingers of the right hand. They worked fine. In fact, contrary to his most recent statement, he wasn¶t in any pain. ³Bill! Are you ok!?´ asked Stacy Gierson. Stacy, too, had a love for eating. ³Oh poor Bill.´ ³I¶m fine,´ Bill said and met Stacy¶s eyes. They were filled with worry. Bill was overjoyed that someone would actually worry about him, but before this emotion could fully set it, his hand felt something. ³Huh?´ ³What is it, Bill?´ asked Stacy. ³I don¶t know.´ Bill held onto whatever it was and forced himself back onto his feet. In his hand was a dirty but genuine silver necklace. From it hung a large diamond. ³Oh my god, Bill!´ said Stacy. Watching this event, Sarah realized how often she¶d been hearing people say µOh my god¶ lately. It was a bit disturbing. ³Is that a diamond? Is that real gold?´ asked Stacy. ³I«I think so«´ said Bill. He looked at her. She looked back. ³Here,´ he said, holding it out. ³It¶s for you.´ He smiled. ³Oh Bill, no. I couldn¶t! It¶s too beautiful. It must be worth a fortune!´ ³And you¶re worth more.´ ³Bill!´ Stacy threw herself on him in a fierce hug.
Later that day Bill researched various diets and actually found one that worked for him. He and Stacy started it the next day. Other activities they did together helped to burn calories as well. -
The next day after breakfast Jared Tooly, who, for longer than anyone could remember had been a near-suicidal wreck, found God. By the end of the day he was a Catholic who felt nothing but kindness and love for the world that he had previously despised. At lunch Becky Dulock finally had the courage to try out for the women¶s softball team and had a stellar outing. She played excellently and instantly bonded with all the girls on the team. At dinner Theodore Espian, the outcast that claimed that he was some sort of Duke, found that he was the sole heir of a distant royal in Europe that had just died and left everything to him. The next day Nikki Byrd got a short story published in a decently circulated magazine and Jeff Blanesmer forgot to take his asthma medication only to find that he had no symptoms whatsoever. That night Tommy Curts finished a table for woodshop that would later win Best of Show at the county fair and spur his career as a master craftsman. Jocks started beating nerds on tests and nerds starting beating jocks in pick-up games. Cheerleaders were getting outslutted by preppy girls who had suddenly started being able to interact with guys, and the creative writers were solving complex theorems. Everyone was beginning to notice. How could you not? Over the next week the school¶s average GPA rose by an entire point, many students found love, others success. Many accomplished the one thing that had always been holding them back. Some completed assignments just in the nick of time. And the usual social standards were collapsing to the students mingled horror and elation. The faculty met to discuss the unusual success of an otherwise usual student body. Parents congratulated children timidly over the phone, impressed
that their offspring could do so much. Sometimes little things happened that wouldn¶t be realized until later. Sometimes it was blatant. The students were blissful beyond belief, that is, when they were succeeding. But on days that were normal, or would have been even good another time, the kids felt a sort of loss. And what of those students who hadn¶t gotten lucky? No one knew what was going on; it seemed so random. Some began to question the legitimacy of their success, but not many, for their joy overshadowed their fear. -
³Ethel! There be a letter for you.´ Roth had taken the liberty of checking Ethel¶s mail for her. She thought it was sweet. ³Thank you, captain,´ said Ethel as she sauntered up to the monkey-shouldered man. ³She kissed him as she removed the letter from his hand. ³Oh. It¶s from the school. I hope everything is alright.´ Dear Parent, I write to alleviate any concerns you may have had about your child being unusually successful. I give you my word that the tolerance board is working in conjunction with the dean and myself in an attempt to alleviate the problem. We promise you that everything will return to normal soon. In the meantime, for the continued safety of your child, we have created a group for those who feel that they have been thriving against all odds and need psychiatric help. Do not be concerned. The problem is under control. Thank you for your continued donations. Sincerely, Headmaster Bernstein
Headmaster Bernstein ³Oh my,´ said Ethel. ³I knew it! I¶ve heard of something like this, but it happened long, long ago. No. It couldn¶t be.´ ³Couldn¶t be what? I¶ve seen many a thing that couldn¶t be.´ Stumbly ran off Roth¶s shoulder and picked up the letter. ³Bugger makes me think he can read sometimes.´ Roth put his leg on one of the kitchen chairs. Ethel was ignoring them both. She was rummaging through the bookshelf. ³I know I read about this. I just know it!´ She rummaged a bit more. ³Ah ha! Here it is!´ She pulled out a dusty, faded book and blew the dirt off the cover. ³I told you.´ She held it up for Roth to see.´ -
³Simon, what is happening?!´ said Drake desperately after turning off the TV. They had been watching a news story about how one of their classmates had just discovered a new species of insect whose secretion was an excellent treatment for shingles. ³And why haven¶t I done anything special?´ ³Drake. It¶s all just random, that is, if there is an µall¶ at all,´ said Simon. ³I know,´ sighed Drake. ³I just wish I could do something wonderful. Or meet someone wonderful. Or discover something wonderful.´ ³Drake, you will. I promise. Let¶s figure this out.´ ³We¶ve been trying.´ ³I know, but so far we¶ve tried to find a common theme between all these things. What if there is no commonality? What if everyone is just getting lucky, being blessed, receiving good karma, whatever you like to call it?´ said Simon. ³What if?´ asked Drake.
³There has to be something causing it! What could cause something on such a widespread scale?´ ³Aliens?´ suggested Drake. ³Let¶s forget aliens«just for now,´ said Simon. Drake shrugged. ³There¶s disease, but I don¶t think any disease could cause good luck. It¶s²I know this sounds crazy, especially since we¶re scholars you and I, but it¶s²just got to be something supernatural.´ ³Simon«´ ³I know. I know. But it¶s got to be! What else?´ Drake thought. ³I don¶t know.´ ³Alright,´ said Simon. ³I know it sounds crazy, but I bet it¶s some kind of lucky charm. Like a four-leaf clover or a piece of the true cross.´ Drake laughed then quickly sobered, err, like humor sobered. ³You¶re serious?´ ³I am. It¶s something that random students are coming into contact with.´ ³That¶s just crazy enough to be true,´ said Drake. Then he considered his words. ³If that line of reasoning so often used in movies actually ever works out.´ ³Oh it does,´ said Simon. ³Trust me.´ ³Alright,´ said Drake. ³Say it is a lucky charm. Where would it be? In the sugary cereal?´ ³You¶re not taking me seriously,´ said Simon. ³Why can¶t you just²Drake! That¶s it! Cereal!´ ³Huh? Now you¶re trying to tell me the little Lucky Charms leprechaun is granting us all good luck.´
³No no no, but Drake, think. The dining hall. It¶s the only place all of the students have to go! That would explain why it¶s been happening randomly to all sorts of different people!´ ³Um«Simon.´ ³Do you know of any magical cutlery, or plates or«Oh my God!´ There¶s that infernal phrase again! Sorry sorry, back to the story. ³It can¶t be!´ said Simon. ³Oh my God!´ ³What?! What?!´ asked Drake as he bolted up from the couch. ³I¶ve read about this before«´ said Simon as he turned to his computer screen. -
³Hey Rex,´ said Greg as trotted back from catching a short pass. ³How much have I told you about King Arthur and his knights?´ ³Very little,´ said Rex, ³and I want to keep it that way. Knights are not cool, remember? You¶re not supposed to talk about them, Greg.´ ³Yeah I know, but, well, it¶s just that, you know everything that¶s happening?´ ³Of course I do. Everyone does. Why would you even ask?´ ³I think the two things may be related,´ said Greg. ³Um, Greg,´ said Rex. ³King Arthur lived over ten thousand years ago. Someone hasn¶t been paying attention in history. How could that possibly affect what¶s going on now? ³Listen,´ said Greg. ³I know this is hard to believe, but the legends speak of magical artifacts.´ ³What the hell are you talking about?´ ³Well«´ began Greg. -
³Aye! It¶s getting clear now, it is! That God-gifted goblet gave me grace to greet you!´ exclaimed Roth after Ethel had finished the story. ³It¶s true. I¶d thought that Galahad was the last to hold the Grail, but apparently it isn¶t so.´ ³Well then we must go to the school at once! I don¶t care if I¶ve lost me sword, I¶ll take the Grail from them all the same! Come, Ethel. Come, Stumbly.´ ³Oh what adventure!´ cried Ethel as Roth pulled her from the house. ³I never dreamed!´ ³We¶ll take your ship,´ said Roth. ³Of course,´ said Ethel as she unlocked the SUV and the three of them climbed in. -
³I can¶t believe it,´ said Drake, ³and yet I do. It¶s the only thing that makes sense. Actually, it¶s one of a long list of things that doesn¶t make sense, but I still believe it.´ ³That day I hit Rex with the dodgeball, when I got that blissful detention with Sarah² Drake! I must¶ve drunk from the Grail that day. I wondered what that strange Graily feeling I was getting was. Now I know!´ ³That¶s right! I never thought!´ said Drake. ³We have to go find it before anyone else does. They could break our curves forever!´ ³Without it I might not be able to woo Sarah!´ said Simon. The two sprinted out of the room. -
³You mean after Sir Galawhatever found the Grail it somehow ended up at High High?´ Greg nodded. ³And that¶s why I managed to pass Chemistry?´ Greg nodded again. ³By
Hercules!´ cried Rex. ³We have to get that Grail! Without it who knows what will happen? One of those damn nerds might end up stealing quarterback from me! We can¶t let that happen! And I need it to pass my classes!´ ³You¶re right!´ said Greg. ³Let¶s go.´ ³I thought I sensed something Graily that night,´ said Rex. ³I should¶ve known.´ -
³What I just don¶t understand is,´ began Aunt Ethel as she drove toward the school at highly illegal speeds. ³is how the Holy Grail,´ said Drake as he and Simon ran toward the dining hall. ³The Holy Grail could have gone unnoticed for so long.´ ³I mean,´ said Greg to Rex as the two dodged wandering students, ³it¶s The Holy Grail! Isn¶t it pure gold or something?´ ³Aye,´ said Roth as he stroked Stumbly. ³Perhaps it does not look the way the legends make it out to look?´ ³Or maybe it could even change shape,´ said Simon, panting. ³No. It can¶t be.´ ³No matter what it looked like,´ said Rex. ³You¶d think someone would have sensed it somehow. It¶s supposed to be Holy.´ ³Ooh Ooh Eee Eee Ah Ah Ah!´ said Stumbly as he scampered excitedly from one of Roth¶s legs to the other. ³It can¶t look just like any other cup,´ said Drake. ³That would be preposterous!´ he crashed into an underclassman and the two spilled to the ground. Drake recovered himself and continued his run. ³We have to find it,´ said Rex. ³No matter what it looks like.´
Rex and Greg could see the doors to the dining hall just ahead of them. Down another hall came Simon and Drake. Roth, Stumbly, and Ethel jumped out of the car they¶d just parked in the closest parking lot nearest and started to run. ³Out of my way, the lot of ya! Before I slit yer young throats!´ called the pirate captain. Rex, being healthy and athletic, reached the door first and gave it a mighty tug. It didn¶t budge. ³Why, Mr. Arling,´ said Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³Dinner isn¶t for another,´ she glanced at her watch. ³Twelve minutes. Though I appreciate your commendable effort to be punctual, I¶m afraid you won¶t be able to get in until precisely seven o¶clock.´ ³I don¶t think you understand the importance²´ ³There¶s more at stake here than you know²´ ³Ee Gods, vile woman! Let us in²´ Mrs. Winkerspitzel was immune to the battery and placed herself directly in front of the door. ³No one goes in until seven o¶clock.´ The three factions waited in a triangle, each point equidistant from the doors. Simon licked his lips, trying to keep his courage up while shifting eye contact from the pirate to Rex. He didn¶t look at his aunt. The fact that she was there at all and with a pirate no less was something Simon didn¶t want to think about. He ran his hands absentmindedly through his greasy, red hair. Drake pushed up his glasses, the glare behind them powerful. Rex and Greg kept their arms crossed and flexed, attempting to use their manly guns to intimidate the others. But even they quailed slightly under the gaze of Captain Roth. Roth¶s lone eye did far more than two could have. He twirled his fingers in his long, braided beard. Stumbly took turns staring from atop the left and the right shoulders.
Each of them could feel the sweat pool on their backs and slide slowly down to their waists. The sun moved slowly toward the horizon. As the hour approached seven o¶clock, students began to gather near the doors, but they kept their distance. The unspoken competition was palpable. A slight breeze worked its way between the buildings. Those involved shifted their weight slightly. ³I hope it¶s good tonight,´ said Alice. ³Me too,´ said Sarah. ³What is going on?´ asked Alice. ³I have no idea.´ The two friends stopped in their tracks and watched the strange gathering. ³Reminds me of µThe Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,´ said Alice, laughing. ³But which is which?´ asked Sarah, smiling. ³Yeah. I suppose they don¶t really fit into the categories.´ ³Ah ha! And seven o¶clock it is!´ chimed Mrs. Winkerspitzel. ³Go on in, dears, but orderly like. We don¶t tolerate anarchists in our midst.´ She unlocked the doors. All six humans and one monkey ran inside, shoving, cursing, and fighting to get to the cups first. Each one (Stumbly included) grabbed a stack of cups. They all went to different soda, water, juice, or milk dispensers and poured the tiniest sip into a cup. ³Nope,´ said Drake. ³Don¶t feel anything.´ He tossed the cup away. ³Blast it all! This cup is worthless!´ shouted Roth as he threw the cup into a wall. The students who had no idea what was going on, which was most of them, held their trays and stared, too frightened to do anything more. Mrs. Winkerspitzel was running worriedly from person to person trying to get them to stop their rampant display of anarchy.
³Greg, why aren¶t we finding it?´ said Rex as he drank sips of Gatorade from three different cups. ³I don¶t know!´ replied Greg as he chucked a cup to the side. ³This is all too much for me,´ muttered Ethel as she took a very timid sip of iced tea. ³I still can¶t believe the Holy Grail could actually be one of these worthless, opaqueish, plastic cups. It just seems so ungodlike,´ said Simon. ³Well who are you to say what¶s ungodlike?´ asked Drake. Simon shrugged as he drank some lemonade and tossed the cup aside. Stumbly was working the hardest of all of them. He would grab a cup, holler monkely, fill it with some water, and pour it into his mouth with his little monkey paws. He too, had not yet gotten a Graily feeling. ³I can¶t believe this,´ said Sarah. ³They¶ve lost it. Completely lost it.´ Alice agreed. ³Looks like fun though«´ Sarah ran to the drink station, wedged herself between Simon and the pirate, and began drinking from various cups. ³Why are we doing this?´ she asked. ³One of these cups is the Holy Grail!´ shouted Simon. The mixture of his loudness and proximity made Sarah wince. ³Oh,´ she said and downed a sip of sprite. ³Almost all the cups are gone!´ shouted Rex. ³And it¶s getting hard to keep your balance with so many rolling around the floor.´ ³Nope,´ said Drake, drinking frantically from another before letting it fall. As the number of cups remaining dwindled, the drinkers¶ intensity increased. Some people were cheering them on. Others balked at their behavior and stared. Some had decided to skip dinner and went back to their rooms.
³Nothing,´ muttered Ethel. ³How can I not have found it!?´ cried Roth. I wonder if the Grail really is one of these cups. It seems rather unlikely, thought Stumbly. ³Don¶t sense anything from that one,´ said Simon as he tossed it behind him. ³Oh crap!´ he shouted. He felt the Grailiness just as the cup left his fingers and hurtled through the air. ³Why the cry, lad?´ said Roth one-eying him. ³No reason,´ said Simon uncalmly as he tried to back toward the cup. Stumbly beat him to it and grabbed it. Rex tackled the little monkey and the cup skittered toward the door. Aunt Ethel was there already, having grown weary of the searching process. She picked it up, but Drake, full-out sprinting, arrived and knocked it out of her hands. Sarah watched with confusion. The cup flew through the door and onto the grass outside. ³All of you who consider yourself nerds´ shouted Simon, ³we must have that cup!´ A dozen or so nerds set down their trays to heed their lord¶s call. ³Let us go! Stop at nothing!´ The group of them ran toward the lawn. Roth clotheslined one. He picked up another and threw him onto the ground, tripping two more in the process. ³The cup be mine!´ he shouted. ³No one crosses the Dread Pirate Roth!´ Rex, impressed by Simon¶s call to arms, shouted himself: ³Jocks of High High. With that cup we can control both field and classroom! The nerds can be vanquished once and for all! Vanquished? I think that¶s the right word«We must get that cup!´ A dozen or so jocks set down their trays to heed their lord¶s call. Sometimes Stumbly had it. Sometimes one of the nerds managed to get a hold of it before a jock tore it from his hands. Then Roth would elbow the jock in the face and he would let go of
it as he flew to the ground. Sumbly might manage to retrieve it, but someone would bump into him and disturb his balance. Someone might get ahold of it next only to be benched cleverly by a pair of nerds. In this convoluted manner, the cup moved to the garden. ³That¶s it!´ said Simon, realization dawning on him as the battle progressed over the vegetables. ³We need the nerds to be blessed! Drake, help me with this hose.´ Together Simon and Drake unraveled the hose. ³Nerds!´ he shouted. ³If any of you gets the cup, toss it to me!´ It just so happened that a nerd had very recently acquired the cup. He tossed it to Simon. As it flew through the air, Drake turned the hose on full blast and pointed it at his friend who caught the cup and deflected the blast of water into the air. Drake and Simon tilted their mouths toward the sky and both managed to swallow a decent amount of the now-blessed water, but by the time they were done, the rest of the nerds and jocks and Roth and Stumbly had all managed to get mouthfuls. Then a jock had the brilliant idea to tug the hose. This pulled Drake into Simon. Fortunately, Drake¶s fall sent a tremor through the dirt that redirected an earthworm that would later feed a bird that Drake would notice, and that would make him decide to be an Ornithologist. Simon, feeling extremely dexterous, vaulted off the falling Drake and spun through the air. Roth, regaining the limberness of his youth, caught Simon one-handed and through him the ground, but Simon managed to twist his body and land running. Rex having foreseen how all this would play out, already had his hand in the perfect position to snatch the cup from Simon¶s hand when he was just being hit by Roth. Drake, his perception heightened, saw what Rex was doing and threw a well-timed rock that knocked the cup from his hands to one of the nerds that had inherited the ability to catch almost any projectile. Unfortunately, one of the jocks, his IQ temporarily increased, had realized by piecing together little hints that the nerd had dropped over the years
that he had an overwhelming fear of rats. The jock called out that there were rats everywhere; the nerd lost his composure and the Holy Grail slipped through his fingers. Roth had been knocked into a shed and caused it to collapse, but in the rubble he noticed what looked to be a perfectly crafted scimitar. He swung at the jock that was trying to pick up the cup, but a nerd with newfound strength slammed into Roth and caused his swipe to miss. ³Everybody stop!´ shouted Sarah at the top of her lungs. ³Look what happens when everyone is blessed!´ The battle ceased, the cup balanced precariously between the outstretched hands of Roth, Simon, and Rex. ³You¶ve all been consumed by your greed for something that could give you everything you want, but that¶s an impossible goal! You should want the challenge too! And if everyone were so blessed, as you are now, nothing could be accomplished! Everyone¶s luck would counteract everyone else¶s. Simon,´ she said, facing the shamefaced redhead, ³don¶t you want to know if the way you made me feel about you was real? Rex,´ she turned to him. ³don¶t you want to know if you could actually pass a test? What¶s the point if a goblet does it for you? And what about my luck? I somehow managed never to drink from that cup. Does that make my life meaningless? Of course not! You people just couldn¶t stand the idea of going from a great life to a good life. And the great life wasn¶t great anyway!´ ³Sarah!´ called Simon. ³Wait.´ But she was already walking away. Meanwhile, Stumbly had snuck onto Roth¶s shoulder, and, with a flying leap, he snatched the cup. He landed and took a small sip of the remaining holy water²just enough for a monkey²and then handed it to his captain who drank the rest in one long draught. ³Sarah!´ Simon yelled, chasing after her. ³Sarah! You¶re right. I¶m so sorry.´ She turned and glared at him. ³You say that now, but are you really? You¶re telling me you wouldn¶t do it again?´
³I wouldn¶t. Sarah, you amaze me. I¶ve never felt this way about anyone before, and I would never want the Grail to make someone reciprocate that feeling. It¶s too sacred. The feeling, not the Grail.´ Sarah sighed. ³Simon. I just don¶t know«´ ³Oh my God!´ shouted Simon as so many had shouted before him. ³Well it¶s not the end of the world,´ she said. ³I was still considering.´ ³No, Sarah, look!´ Simon shouted again and extended a shaking arm toward the sky. Back at the garden all the blessed onlookers watched the storm approach. The sky darkened and clouds formed overhead. In the distance was a giant hurricane that curled from sky to ground in a wake of deadly wind. It had formed only a minute before and in that amount of time had blown from the sea almost all the way to the school. ³What¶s that, Simon?´ asked Sarah, her voice shaking. She was referring the giant brown something that swirled in the tornado¶s midst. ³I don¶t know. We have to find cover!´ Simon grabbed Sarah¶s hand without thinking and pulled underneath a fairly sturdy awning. A few seconds later a gigantic ship crashed onto the school grounds killing no one. Everyone in the vicinity, being blessed, managed to deftly avoid it. ³Ah! It is me ship! Or one like it.´ The ship looked as if it had just been built. Despite its strange journey and crash-landing it had not a single scratch upon it. Sarah and Simon emerged to view the strange boat. ³Simon,´ said Sarah. ³Yeah?´ ³Thank you. You saved me.´
³Save your thanks. I was still blessed by the Grail. Let¶s see how I do tomorrow.´ Sarah kissed him. ³Just for being willing to try,´ she said, and smiled. She didn¶t realize that Simon still had just a trace of holy water on his lips so she didn¶t notice her increased perception and clarity of mind. Stumbly looked around, frustration clear on his little monkey face. He grabbed the Grail from Roth and tried to get a few more drops of water out of it, but none came. Blast it all, he thought. Stumbly threw it to the ground. What about his blessing?! Were monkeys not people too? He began to howl. And then²what was that? Stumbly howled again. He heard it clearly this time! Could it be another? Stumbly cast his gaze up at the boat and saw a beautiful girl monkey standing on the edge of the ship. Her protruding snout and oversize eyes were the most perfect things that Stumbly had ever seen. And that fur! It couldn¶t be more brown even if it had wanted to. The way she scratched her back with her arm and stuck her tongue out at the same time²oh, she was perfect. Stumbly grabbed the Grail in thanks and raced monkey-like to the boat. ³Aww. It warms me heart so to see me monkey find love. Find love just like I did, isn¶t that right, Ethel?´ ³So right,´ she said and hugged him. ³I can¶t believe I was right for once.´ ³That you were.´ Roth followed his monkey to the ship. ³From what I see, Simon,´ said the pirate, waving his sword in the air, ³your school has had blessings enough. I¶ll take this here Grail to sea and guard it as me greatest treasure. Every great pirate captain must have a mystical treasure in his chamber. And I think ye¶ll be getin¶ the girl on your own. And as for the rest of you lot,´ he shouted waving the sword yet more wildly, ³that beauty had it right. You divided into yer groups for a reason. And you¶ll have ter work at the things yer not talented at. Get used
to it. That be life, mates. That be life. Simon, spray me.´ Simon left Sarah and pointed the hose at the newly reappointed captain. The water splashed into the cup and Roth drank deeply. Soon a tornado similar to the first carried man, woman, male monkey, and female monkey back to sea. ³NO!´ shouted Rex. ³I don¶t want to go back to failing!´ He chased after the tornado a few steps before stopping and clenching his fists. Sarah had never realized how angry Rex got before, but she said, ³There are other ways not to fail, Rex. You don¶t have to rely on that thing.´ ³What do you know? You¶re smart and beautiful and everything. What do you know about it?!´ Sarah glared at him. ³And you¶re the one that tried to talk us out of using the grail in the first place! This is all your fault!´ Sarah¶s glare deepened. Was he always this horrible? ³And Simon!´ said Rex, turning on the spot. ³You will not µget the girl¶ as that pirate put it. Come here, Simon. This ends now.´ ³Stop it, Rex!´ Stop it!´ said Sarah, stepping up to him and pressing her hands firmly against his chest. ³Stop,´ she whispered. Rex¶s shoulders slumped. The grail was gone. The energy seemed to go out of the students. There was a bit of a hush and realization dawned on them. Simon sighed. ³I suppose things will go back to the way they were,´ he said, looking at Sarah. She turned away from Rex and met Simon¶s gaze. ³It¶s ok,´ he continued. ³I understand.´ He walked toward his friend. ³Come on, Drake. Let¶s go back to our room.´ ³Do you really think that, Simon?´ asked Sarah. ³That this didn¶t change you at all?´ ³No, Sarah,´ said Simon. ³I¶ll never look at things the same, especially not you. After that day in the theatre how could I?´ He laughed.
³Well,´ said Sarah, taking a last glance at the fuming Rex. ³I won¶t look at you the same either. And I kinda liked that kiss«´ She smiled. Simon gave her a sideways glance as if to say, ³Are you saying what I think you¶re saying?´ Sarah nodded and ran to him. They embraced tightly for a breath before the urge to kiss overcame them. Simon knew that nothing would ever be so wonderful. Incidentally, Sarah felt the same way. And so ends the most recent chapter in the tale of the Holy Grail. Its blessings and curses brought peace to High High. Sarah dated Simon the rest of the year and they had no plans of breaking up after that. Rex, having lost his girlfriend to a nerd, gained a new respect for their type. The jocks and nerds became much more peaceable. Sometimes the nerds even helped the jocks study for tests, and the jocks taught some of nerds how to throw a ball semi-decently. Roth and Ethel became the most feared, and possibly only, stereotypical pirates in the Pacific. Later that year Drake and Alice really hit it off and started dating. And since being nerdy wasn¶t so bad any more, Greg was finally able to enjoy his love of knights. A lot of other good stuff happened too, despite the fact that the grail was no longer at the school. -
³Nothing that exciting has happened since Shackleton,´ said Galahad. ³Sometimes I wonder whether I should have created it at all, friend,´ said a voice. ³I think so. Just look at the good it has brought the world.´ Galahad gazed down at the school through the clouds. ³I suppose it has. I suppose it has.´ ³I wonder where it will show up next?´
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