For the Doha Writer’s Forum-
In 500 words, you are cursed every Wednesday to endure a tragedy, but on Thursday no one remembers. Convince a friend to help.
I’ve gone slightly over the word count and this was one of the toughest ones yet, but here goes my attempt. I’d like to add that these characters weren’t inspired by anyone in particular. I don’t really secretly harbour a deathwish on some of you, no honestly!
The rhythmic pounding of my alarm is relentless. I fumble around in the dark trying to switch it off. I forget where I am and what day it is until it dawns on me. Shit. It’s Wednesday again. I hate Wednesdays and Wednesdays hate me. I lay there and breathe my first sigh of the day. I think about calling in sick but I know it’s only worse if I don’t go in. The one good thing about Wednesdays is that its always school sports day, I’ll wear what I like because no one remembers tomorrow anyway. Dry cleaning bloody suits every week would get kind of expensive after a while too.
For the past two years, I’ve been working for the Santa Muerte school for the over-privileged. Most days I’m just a regular 5th grade teacher but on Wednesdays I guess I’m something different. Typically it involves saving children from being attacked by wild feral dogs, extra-terrestrials, lightning strikes, impaling themselves on javelins, falling aircraft debris and peanut allergies. Last week, my smug boss Dave comes in, sipping too loudly on his coffee. ‘What’s up Ali? Do anything nice last night?’, ‘No asshole, I was too busy getting a shot for tetanus and rabies from those bastard dogs that chewed my leg off’ My leg is fine by the way. Even though I’m in insufferable pain on the day, every Thursday I heal completely from my injuries. In fact, I think I’m immortal, but only on Wednesdays from noon to 3pm.
It doesn’t matter how many times I go through this (53 at the last count), even though I know everyone will be fine tomorrow, I still hear the screams, the hysteria and the fear in everyone’s faces. Yes, I admit, I did enjoy that time the aliens vaporised the vice principal for talking too much. Ok, it was kind of funny when that portable toilet crushed Joe, the annoying PE teacher. It was quite a fitting end for someone who was always so full of shit. My friend Joel, the only one who doesn’t think I’m crazy when I talk about this, figured it out. If I don’t try and save everyone, my week will only get worse. I can’t try and cancel sports day or the events are twice as bad the next week. I’ve already changed schools and it happened at my last school too. Some kind of gypsy curse has afflicted me and I don’t know how to stop it.
Before I know it, its 12:30 and the students come out to warm up. I shove a 4th grade boy headfirst into the grass, saving him from being speared in two by a stray javelin. He looked at me bemused until I pointed the sharp stick inches away from his face. I run across the field and scoop up 4 2nd grader girls playing hopscotch, moments before a pick up truck breaks through the school fence and careers into the ditch at the bottom of the field. I pull the driver out and move him at a safe distance before the car blows up right on cue. Then the wild dogs come charging in, I have my scope ready but it’s hard to get a clear shot in with all this panic and chaos. I fire two tranquilizer darts through the fire that slows them down. The third wild dog makes a beeline towards Dave. I always put a couple of slices of salami in Dave’s blazer jacket in the morning of the event. He’s like clockwork, leaving it behind when he makes his coffee and as he has no sense of smell, he never figures it out. It’s just too easy.
While the dog devours Dave, the ground rumbles beneath us. All of the students have now been escorted inside by the remaining teachers guiding them towards their classrooms. I call out to the senior management team, pointing in a way that suggests they may have missed someone on the other side of the field. A few of them inevitably escape to save themselves, unwittingly running straight into the path of on incoming asteroid. The few remaining rush over to Dave, who whispers his last words ‘I don’t even eat Salami, I’m a vegan’.
I wake up on Thursday, my bloody clothes still in a heap waiting to be washed. I get into school and I see Dave with his asshole grin, slurping away at his espresso. ‘What’s up Ali? Do anything nice last night?’