“There’s an emergency in the cafeteria!” Principal Partridge screamed as he burst through the door of James R McFranklin’s office. “The lunch lady doesn’t have enough time to prepare the food, the children have turned the tables into a castle that reaches through the ceiling and up to the clouds, and the district inspector is visiting in half an hour! Help me, James R McFranklin!”
James R McFranklin, the coolest teacher, sat in his tall backed chair with his feet on his desk. His hands were behind his head and a pair of sunglasses shielded his eyes from the glare of the school’s neon lighting. His tweed jacket and beige trousers exuded the very essence of teacher-dom, but he did it with class. Class and panache. And pizazz. “I’ll get right on it,” said James, and swung his feet off the desk before casually strolling, some might even say there was an element of strut involved, to the door.
As he strolled/strutted down the corridor, the principal flitted around him like an enraged bird. “Damnit, James, can’t you go any faster?” he said.
James R McFranklin stopped dead and spun on his heel to face the principal. “Hey, Partridge,” he said in his deep, gruff voice, “your shit might work on Grody or Mannerson or even O’Donald, but if you speak to me like that again I’ll snap off the school flag pole and ram it so far up your ass the kids will be saluting to you every morning, you got that?”
Partridge slunk back. “Gee! Golly! I didn’t mean no harm by it, Mr. McFranklin. I guess there’s just a lot of stress on me right now. I’ll not let anything like that happen again.”
“See that it doesn’t.” James R McFranklin, the coolest teacher, turned back down the corridor and kept marching towards the cafeteria.
When he got there, the kids were wild. It was even worse than the principle had led him to believe. The table fortress spread up into the clouds now, and kids were clambering all over it. It looked like some areas had even divided into factions, conducting battles against each other in the upper reaches of the tower, the wreckage tumbling down towards the cafeteria floor. As McFranklin watched, a passenger jet hit the tower half way up and exploded, knocking out hundreds of tables and chairs and causing the upper sections to sway back and forth. He shook his head. This would be the first thing to take care of.
A group of kids were stood at the base of the tower organising the building efforts. Chairs were being dragged out of cupboards and lashed onto tables, which where then passed up to begin their journey to wherever they were needed. One of the children was complaining to some others about raids on the convoy of tables pushing them behind schedule.
“Right!” James R McFranklin shouted, “I want all this nonsense to end right now! I want whoever is organising this to tear the whole damn thing down, rearrange the tables and make the whole thing presentable again!”
Silence reigned in the cafeteria. The convoy of tables had stopped. The construction further up the fortress ceased. James R McFrankling stood there, arms folded, waiting for the children to make the next move.
And make the next move they did. A table came hurtling down from the lofty heights which the fortress had reached. It was aimed perfectly to strike James R McFranklin, the coolest teacher, and crush him under the steel and plastic construct its being. Mr McFranklin stepped aside, and the table hit the floor with a loud, splintering echo. The children in the cafeteria remained silent as the noise of the impact reverberated off the walls. James R McFrankling stood still as the splinters of chipboard fell around him. Dust was thrown in to the air, but, as it settled, James R McFranklin was still stood there, glaring up at the children massed above him. Nobody spoke.
“Right,” he said, and set about climbing the table monolith.
Minutes felt like days, and the minutes that felt like days began to feel like years. He kept planting one hand in front of the other and continued up the table fortress, rising into the cold air and feeling his lungs gasp for oxygen that simply wasn’t there. As he approached the first faction’s stronghold, he grabbed a table leg that jutted out from the central mass.
“What the fuck are you going to do now, you shit stain?” a voice yelled down at him. “Think you can make it passed all of us? Think you can keep climbing whilst we beat the shit out of you? This is our turf, you pussy. You’ve stumbled on to the wrong fucking section of Table Mountain.”
“Table Mountain?” said James R McFranklin. “That’s the worst fucking name I’ve ever heard, and I’ve read Year 7’s fantasy short stories for twelve years in a row.”
He pulled the table leg, and a deep rumble vibrated up through the fortress. The few faces he could see above him began to look uncertain as their foundations loosened. As the shocks grew worse, the first of the children fell, his body spinning down towards the cafeteria floor as a scream burst forth and was lost in the crystal clear air through which he fell.
James R McFranklin, the coolest teacher, smiled as he recognised the look of fear and panic which spread amongst the other table militants. They’d lost the first of their number and they no longer felt invincible. The tremor that followed that convinced even more. Dozens of children began falling from the fortress, tables and chairs plummeting after them. Those that remained fled downwards, trying to escape the slaughter below.
Within seconds, the upper reaches of the table fortress were deserted. A single figure remained, hatred burning in his eyes as he stared at James R McFranklin. He held a table leg in each hand. As McFranklin realised what was about to happen, the figure jumped, hurtling down through miles of air at terminal velocity, one of the table legs poised to strike McFranklin right between the eyes.