“Pencils on the floor!” Mrs. Addison shouts, jolting Apollo from his test. Passing by his desk, she takes his test and rolls it up like a map. “Good to see you do the work instead of doodling like usual, Mr. Chambers. By the way, class, whoever gets the lowest grade will have to help Marcy in the library. She has bookworms and I promised to send her an expendable helper. Now, please take your regular seats.”
All of the students stand and move one chair to the left, none of them reacting when those already at the end fall through the wall. Sickening thuds can be heard in the ceiling, which seeps blood above Mrs. Addison’s desk. The ostrich standing by the board grabs a bucket to put under the drops before using its wings to wipe off the puddles. The creature’s feathers adopt a red tint as they absorb the liquid, which transforms it into a giant parrot. Staring at the students, the bird hovers in the air and waits for its master to give it a signal. The instant the teacher whistles, it soars at the students and grabs a young man in the back. He kicks and screams while getting dragged across the sandpaper-like carpeting. With a screeching song, the parrot veers out the door, which snaps shut and locks itself.
“I hope he isn’t afraid of bugs,” Mrs. Addison whispers, taking a seat on the front row of desks. Her legs stretch to abnormal lengths, so that she can put her feet on two students who massage her calves. “That will earn you extra credit. Now, I have some glorious news for everyone. It’s been a long time since I got to announce a new arrival. In fact, I don’t remember ever having to do it. She might be a little shy since the poor thing went through fire and brimstone to get here. Don’t hold your nose, Mr. Murphy, because I assure you that she had a bath first. Please come out and take the seat next to, Mr. Chambers. Oh, her name is Jennifer O’Connor. Probably should have said that first.”
Apollo abruptly realizes that he is back in his dream when he sees Jennifer walk out of a side door. Having never had a friend or family member appear in his recurring nightmare, the young man tries to wake himself up. All he receives is a dull ache in his groin, as if someone is grinding their heel into his crotch. Watching the unblinking redhead, Apollo notices a faint trail of smoke wafting off her skin. She is wearing a crimson dress that is singed around the edges and has to large burn marks around her lower back. Jennifer finally smiles when she sits next to him and clasps her hands in her lap. Tears flow down her cheeks until Mrs. Addison pops a bubble and a wave of heat dissolves the small droplets.
“Are you okay?” Apollo whispers while taking out his notebook. He yelps when their teacher leaps onto his desk and lifts him by catching his chin with her ruler. “I’m sorry for talking about of turn. She was crying and seemed upset. I didn’t want her to be scared and distract the class since you hate when that happens. Please put me down and I promise not to talk anymore.”
“Oh, I thought you were hitting on her,” Mrs. Addison replies, dropping Apollo back into his seat. She slaps a sucking candy on his desk and patiently waits for him to accept the tiny treat. “It’s spicy. Now, I will repeat one of my rules. There will be no sex in my classroom! I run a moral and clean ship here. Don’t make me teach with the black lights on because I’ll do it and ruin our fun. I swear, kids these days are like rabbits. Fluffy, adorable bunnies that you just have to hug until they crunch. Now, please open to page one thousand five hundred and eight.”
“There’s only three hundred pages in the book,” a nervous student in the front says.
With an angry growl, Mrs. Addison brings her ruler down with enough force to send most of his body through the floor. Only his hands remain and the quietly turn to the back of the book, which has the correct number scrawled in the corner. Not wanting the same treatment, the other students hurry to do what they are told. Two of them are too slow for their teacher, who snaps her fingers as she passes by their seats. One of the books grows teeth and leaps to gnaw on the flailing woman’s neck, which stretches to accommodate the attack. The young man watches his classmate continue to get mauled while his body balloons and floats toward the ceiling. Gently hitting one of the sprinklers, he explodes and sends a rain of gore splattering onto the front of the room. With a tired sigh, a six-armed janitor comes out from under the teacher’s desk and goes about cleaning the mess.
Jennifer mumbles incoherently and coughs up ashes, her hands blindly fumbling with her book. Deciding that he has nothing to lose, Apollo helps her get to the right page and puts a pen next to her quivering hand. He is about to call the teacher over for help when he remembers it is a dream, so he tries to calm his friend down by thinking very hard. A ripple runs through the room and Jennifer sits upright, the smoke flowing from her body coming out in thick plumes that cover the floor. Unsure of what he did, Apollo tries to undo the damage by wishing it away, but one of his classmates bursts into flames. Panic sets in and his mind wanders, every thought creating a vivid change in the scenery. Windows pop out of the walls to show grotesque landscapes while fake stars drop from the ceiling, their tips dripping glistening acid. Turning to Jennifer, he is about to apologize when her chair turns into a metallic Venus flytrap and slams shut around her. Tufts of his friend’s hair stick out from between the crystalline teeth and one of her feet remains on the floor. To Apollo’s surprise, the severed part shows no blood or bone, but has charred wood on the inside.
“Someone is getting ripe,” Mrs. Addison squeals with glee. Golden spires erupt from the floor and she dances among them as her clothes melt away. “Sadly, little apple, it isn’t time for the big event. I’m going to have to put you back in the crisper. Don’t cry because we’ll meet again very soon.”
Sensing that he is about to be attacked, Apollo tries to get out of his chair, but finds that his skin has fused with the arms. Thrashing about, he is unable to free himself before a blast of cold erupts from beneath him. He tries to scream as his body is turned into ice, but his throat closes before he can get the sound out. Frozen with a face of fear and agony, Apollo can only watch as Mrs. Addison takes a seat on his desk. Her brown hair grows around her naked body before separating and becoming a chocolate-colored dress. One of her eyes turns gold as she inspects her captured prey, a playful song slipping from her ruby-lipped mouth. Satisfied that he is contained, she pokes her student in the forehead and watches him topple backwards. Apollo shatters against the smoke-covered floor and his pieces fly in every direction, his eyes seeing only an approaching wall before he jolts awake.