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Ancient History

Ancient History

The day they walked into the history classroom of Mr. Marcell would turn out to be one of the strangest of their lives. It was the beginning of seventh period, and students were slowly trickling into the classroom. First, there was that one girl who seemingly had nothing better to do than to make her way to class as fast as possible. She looked around for the teacher—perhaps wondering about a chart—before grabbing a seat in the second row. Then most of the other kids showed up: the dorks, the jocks, the basic bitches. So many basic bitches. What did they even do with their lives? And slowly, talking and laughing, they found seats. Finally, two seconds after the bell rang the perpetually late stoner kid wandered in, looking a little lost. He stood vaguely in the doorway for a moment before the transfer student almost ran right into him, who squeaked out something about being sorry and not wanting to be late on his first day.

The bell rang. After a minute of silence, the students looked around in confusion as they noticed several things about this classroom that were decidedly off. First, all of the shades on the windows were closed, nor were many of the lights on, leaving the classroom in a state of perpetual murkiness. Second, the teacher, this “Mr. Marcell” that none of them had ever heard of, was nowhere to be found. It was very strange for a teacher to be late on the first day of class.

Muttering darkly to each other, it was a long minute before anyone did anything. Finally, Cynthia, the student council president, took a deep breath and stood. “Well, the least we can do is open a shade. Make this at least a little less depressing,” she strode confidently to the far wall, largely consisting of smudged glass covered by cheap, half-broken shades.

But just as she reached out a hand to grab the cord, though it was hit or miss whether it would actually open the shade or just tangle hopelessly, a chair squeaked. “Don’t touch that, please,” requested a voice.

The students turned to see that a man was sitting in the usual swirly chair, reclining as his feet rested over the dull wooden surface of the teacher’s desk. Had he been there the entire time? He couldn’t have been, the students would have noticed, wouldn’t they? It was terribly dramatic. The stoner kid was impressed, for he was the only one who had seen the smoke that had snuck through the gap under the door and taken the form of—presumably—their new teacher.

Cynthia, however, had no time for meaningless drama. She had AP credits to complete, and tests to study for, because unless she got her A- in calculus up to that A, her life would be over. “Why shouldn’t I?” she asked.

Mr. Marcell smiled, though only half his mouth moved. “That, my dear, is a very dangerous question,” he grunted, leaning forward.

Tutting in disgust, Cynthia rolled her eyes. “That’s not a real answer. For a teacher, you’re being awfully vague.”

He laughed, and most of the children turned some shade of white. It wasn’t a particularly terrifying laugh, nor was it unfriendly, but there was something about it that sent shivers down all of their spines. The early girl, who had already finished writing two novels, if anyone had ever bothered to ask her, would have described it as “the laugh of a predator”. Oo, that was good. She’d have to remember that one. She scribbled it down in her notebook.

“If you must know,” Mr. Marcell drawled, “it’s because I find I’m rather sensitive to light. It’s a rare condition, I’m afraid.”

Not at all satisfied, but realizing that this was the most she was going to get out of him, Cynthia returned to her seat in a huff. She crossed her arms over her small chest, which she hated to admit how self-conscious she was about, and watched the teacher stand slowly from the desk with narrowed eyes.

“In case you hadn’t already guessed, I am Mr. Marcell, your history teacher,” he swayed a little, blinking as if he hadn’t eaten in far too long. Cynthia recognized it immediately from her one friend who intermittently starved herself... or was that two?

Either that, or he was high, the stoner kid guessed. He wanted to know where he could get some shit like that. “Now, I’m told that you are all darling students who were interested in taking an ‘advanced alternative’ to US history, but for now I’m reserving judgement. If you want my honest opinion, most of you look like little cockalorums to me.”

Cynthia could have sworn he’d glanced pointedly in her direction. Though she had no idea just what a ‘cockalorum’ was, she turned red and shrunk in her chair none the less. She was sure now that everyone was staring at her, but in reality, absolutely no one had noticed.

Yawning, Mr. Marcell ran a finger through his dark, bedheaded mop. The early girl couldn’t help noticing how sharp his canine teeth were. Her highly trained writing mind immediately thought vampire, but she shook it off. That was impossible, that was just shit she wrote about in her more ‘weird’ fanfiction. Stoner kid on the other hand, didn’t have a doubt in his mind. Fucking wicked, man, this was going to be awesome. He’d just have to keep an extra eye on his own neck, was all.

“History, history,” Mr. Marcell muttered, pacing a little. “There is an awful lot of it. Where to start?”

“Why not just start at the beginning, like a sane person?” Cynthia asked, raising an eyebrow. He stared at her, and she froze. She could have sworn that his eyes flashed red for just a second. But she shook off the feeling. That was ridiculous. She was just seeing things.

“Alright then,” he conceded, nabbing the textbook that she’d placed carefully on the front of her desk, much to her anguish. “Let’s see... according to the state-mandated truth—all hail big brother,” he deadpanned, which was met with silence. “Come on, 1984 people. Pick up a book sometime. Anyway, according to this textbook, the first civilization to exist was... hold on, that’s not right...”

He flipped a few pages back, then a few pages forward, all of the while balancing the large book on a knee as he sat on his desk. “It says that the first civilization was ancient Mesopotamia, but that’s complete and utter bullshit. They’ve forgotten all about Lemuria.”

“Umm...” Piped up a voice from the back, and everyone turned to stare at the new transfer student, who was just beginning to notice that between all of the spray tans and pale Midwestern skin, his was the darkest face in the room.

Mr. Marcell tilted his head. “Yes?” he asked as the transfer student almost lost his nerve. “You’ll have to speak up, I’m far older than my dashing looks suggest.” Cynthia rolled her eyes at his smirk.

“Isn’t... Isn’t Lemuria just a... a myth,” the transfer student choked out from behind thick glasses, which appeared to be steaming up from the sudden heat of his face.

Eyes widening like an owl, Mr. Marcell stood abruptly, almost speechless. “A myth?” he spat, pale cheeks almost threatening to show a shade of color. “Just a MYTH? What sort of hogwash are they teaching you all?”

By now, three-quarters of the students thought he was absolutely insane. Three already had their cellphones out in an attempt to call for help. Stoner kid just shook his head. That obviously wasn’t going to work. Of course, just as he thought this, all three cellphones immediately shut themselves off. “Portable telephones away, children,” Mr. Marcell said, and the students’ mouths widened. He hadn’t even been looking in their direction, “And listen up, because now you’re going to learn some real history.”

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