Monday, March 4, 2013

Prompt: Public Statues as Mind Control

Jenny’s head felt wrapped in cotton, her ears ached, and her throat burned. But her mother had no pity. If you weren’t throwing up or burning up a thermometer, you went to school. Jenny grumbled as she pulled on her favorite red fuzzy sweater and matching boots.

As she shouldered her backpack, her mom poked her head out from the kitchen. “Don’t forget your earbuds. There’s a good podcast on 21st century political scandals that you should listen to on your way to school. Jenny rolled her eyes and grabbed her buds. She waved goodbye and headed down the stairs to meet her BFF Zander, who walked with her to school every morning. She tucked the buds in her ears and tapped them on. A piercing whistle made her flinch and jerk them out again. She tapped them off, then back on, and tried again. There was static, but at least no whistle.

“Huh. That’s weird. I’ll have to get Mr. Bateman to check them out,” she thought as she waved hello to Zander.

“Hey, you listening to the scandal podcast?” he asked.

“Naw, my buds are acting weird. Is it any good?”

Zander rolled his eyes in answer, and she laughed.

As they walked down the street, Jenny paid more attention to everything they passed than she usually did. Zander was listening to the podcast, but she still just heard static in her buds. After a couple of blocks, Jenny noticed there seemed to be some sort of rhythm to it, and she looked around curiously. The static grew louder as they approached the corner of 121 Comm Ave, then faded as they passed the building. It was one of Jenny’s favorite building on their walk, because of the cool carvings along the façade over the two-story arched doors. It reminded her of the ancient civs art they studied, like Egypt and Greece. The more you looked at the carvings, the more there was to see. She liked the cats peeking out behind people, rolling on the ground or standing on two legs.

Zander was still caught up in the podcast, oblivious as usual. Since she wasn’t listening to it, they couldn’t maintain their usual running commentary. As they neared 118 Comm Ave, the static in her buds suddenly cleared, and Jenny heard someone say, “Status caution. Students approach.”

She frowned and looked around, but didn’t see anyone nearby. As they passed the building, the same bored voice said, “All clear. Status norm.”

Jenny paused, and Zander walked on a couple of steps before he noticed. He turned back to her. “You okay? What’s up?”

“I don’t know.” Jenny was looking around for something to explain what she had heard. There was no one within 20 feet of her and Zander. Could the voice have been talking about them? She felt a shiver down her spine and hurried to catch up with Zander. She looked up and noticed more carvings on the walls along 118.

Jenny started paying attention to the wall friezes as they continued their usual path down Comm Ave. There were designs about every three buildings, which spread out to one on each corner and one in the middle of each block. As they passed each one, the static in her earbuds rose, then faded. She didn’t hear any more voices until they reached the busy corner of Comm and Delancey. They crossed over to the Metro entrance on the middle island, and Jenny noticed the carvings around the wall of the fountain, just as the static hummed again and she heard, “Ped traffic. Status norm.”

She jumped and looked around. Zander pulled a bud out of his ear and stared at her with a concerned frown. “What’s up? You are jumpy as a cat today.”

Jenny pulled her buds out and held them up. “I don’t know, Zander. Something weird is going on. Let’s go, I want to get out of here. I mean, I want to get to school.”

Zander gave her an odd look, then shrugged. As they rode down into the Metro, Jenny noticed all the carvings on the walls. She shuddered. As they scanned their passes, the security guard leaned forward. “Miss, you don’t have your earbuds in. Is there a problem?”

Jenny stared up at him for a moment in shock. She held them up and said, “I think they need new batteries or something. I’ll get them checked when I get to school.” The guard nodded and waved them on. Jenny’s fingers trembled a little as she tucked them back in her ears to avoid any other notice.

They lucked into seats on the train, and Jenny pulled a notebook and pencil from her backpack. She wrote a note and handed it to Zander.

“I think people are checking up on us. Through the earbuds. Don’t say anything. Leave yours in your locker at lunch and meet me down at the track.”

Zander’s eyebrows lifted as he read it. He nodded, folding the note and tucking it in his pocket. By the time they reached the school, Jenny could predict the static surges by the statues and building artwork they passed, and she heard three more “status” reports. Fortunately, none of them seemed to be about her. Yet.

Dogs in house:

Rachel Portman, Chocolat soundtrack

March word count:

No comments:

Post a Comment