h2>Dating : The First Day at School
My first attempt at writing a CreepyPasta/SciFi story
If you are reading this and don’t understand some of the words all you have to do is wait a few years or decades and it will become clear. On the other hand, if you are reading this while sitting in the radioactive ruins of world war three, well… sorry ‘bout that… butterfly effect or something. But to business with a bit of “dear diary” first person exposition scribbled in a more than usually tedious class at primary school. I also have to apologize for past, present and future tenses sometimes getting mixed up. It’s hard to keep track of things from where I’m sitting. So…
I opened my eyes with a shock. Last thing I remembered, from a few seconds ago, was closing them briefly while sitting in a chair looking at a clear sky. I was about 100km from Seville in Spain on a late summer evening. Now, I was in bed in a room staring at wallpaper covered in cartoon images of primitive aircraft. It seemed vaguely familiar but I could not immediately place it. Then a door opened behind me and a woman walked in.
“Who the fuck are you” I said and immediately fell silent. One reason was the look of anger on her face, but more important was the voice — my voice. High pitched and squeaky.
“Get dressed and get downstairs, and any more of that foul language and you’ll get a smack. You can explain to your father where you learned that obscenity” she said as she dropped some clothes on the end of the bed, and departed.
I got slowly out of bed as the scale of everything around me became apparent. Or rather, my scale did. I looked at the hands and feet sticking out of my blue pyjamas, and as I stood up the mirror on the nearby wardrobe revealed that I was a child. Instantly I knew where this was. It was the house I grew up in some 70 years ago.
Now, I have had a number of lucid dreams before, but this seemed so… real. But then again, all dreams seem real at the time because the relevant critical faculties are still dormant. Lucid dreams can be a lot of fun once you take control, but it is a tightrope between falling into non-conscious dreaming or waking up. Better enjoy it before either happens, I thought.
I looked at the clothes. White underpants and vest, white button-up shirt, shorts, socks, a pullover and a school cap with… I looked closer… the crest of my old primary school on it. Since I didn’t want to waste time I just headed down stairs to meet mum and dad.
They were seated at the breakfast table. I stopped and stared as I saw them. Neither was as I remembered. There were obviously resemblances, but they were so young. I mean, mum must have been in her early 30s at this point and dad was a decade older. Still…
Dad looked at me sternly: “Charlie! Where did you learn that word your mother just told me about?”
“What can I say other than that 30 years on social media has been a bad influence? And my name is Charles, not Little Charlie” I replied. “Besides, this is my dream and you are the characters in it. What year is it?” They both looked somewhat bemused. They were quite realistic looking. I walked over to dad’s side of the table and lifted the newspaper he was reading from his hands, with a brief: “Mind if I borrow this — I need to check a couple of things”.
The Daily Mirror. I read aloud: “400 clash in colour riot” and “Police reinforcements were rushed to Notting Hill Gate last night as colour riots flared for the second time in 24 hours. Each time the riots began after gangs of white youths jeered at coloured people”.
“Well, that wasn’t very exciting. That’s just London pretty much any time over the next few decades…” I continued. “So, it’s Monday the first of September 1958. Let me guess — my first day at school?” Britain in the 1950s. Drab, grim, boring, colourless with only a handful of Teddy Boys spending their Saturday nights slashing seats at the local cinema, aka “flea pit”, to liven it up a bit. Nobody has any nostalgia for Britain in the 50s.
I stared down at the paper again, and saw exactly the same pictures and exactly the same text. Now when I have been lucid dreaming before I could never get text or pictures to stay the same. Whenever I would turn away and then come back they would have shifted into something else. This was rock solid.
I handed the newspaper back to dad and asked him to read the first paragraph, which he did in a rather hesitant manner while darting glimpses at me. It was exactly the words as I remembered them. Weird. And then my mother jumped in with: “How did you do that? How can you read?”
“It’s pretty easy” I said. “I could read by age eight and graduated from university 50 odd years ago. You know — all pretty standard stuff for a 73 year old man.”
“You are not 73 years old — you are 5” said mum. My rather typical sarcastic retort was somewhat curt and cruel. I just wanted to cut all this short and… change something. This was boring: “Whatever. Anyway, my real parents died years ago and you two are just distant echoes of a long forgotten day. And I don’t want any breakfast — I went off Weetabix in milk some decades back”.
“Go and get dressed — NOW” my father said angrily. I willed myself out of my pyjamas and into trainers, jeans and T-shirt. To no effect. I could not alter the dream, so I sighed and went upstairs and dressed in real time. When I came down my mother handed me a pair of lace-up shoes and offered to tie them for me. I refused and tied neat Berluti knots while complaining loudly about how I looked. Meanwhile, my father had left for work and as we went out of the front door my mother asked what a gimp was. I didn’t bother to answer.
I did enquire why she was with me, because the school was only a ten minute walk and I certainly knew the way through the village. But she insisted on escorting me to and from school at least for now, she explained. I refused to hold her hand. Instead, I marvelled at the empty streets. When I was here a few years back it was packed with parked cars. Now, there was hardly any traffic, and what cars were about were mostly black. It was quiet as well. I knelt down and pulled up a weed growing by the side of the road and examined it closely. The detail was amazing, and the smell slight but definite. I pulled off a piece and stuck it in my mouth. Bitter. Then my mother slapped my hand to stop me eating more of it and we walked on. Very few TV antenna visible either… Rock solid. I was starting to worry.
So we arrived at the school where I spent five mostly miserable years. Looking back, I was probably well into the very high IQ Asperger country although the diagnosis had not been invented at the time. I was just “quiet” or “introverted” or “a loner” with no social skills whatsoever and hence ripe for bullying, not wanting to join in games with the junior psychopaths. The teachers were not much better since corporal punishment was still a tried and trusted method of dealing with those who stepped out of line. A slap around the head, bare legs or a ruler across the hand. Or in exceptional cases of those kids with severe ADHD, known at the time as “Being a bad boy”, the dreaded cane. I suppose it was partially this experience that led me to take up martial arts in later life. The only physical activity, apart from sex, that I enjoyed.
But I was not that boy. I was not Little Charlie — I was Charles and that shit was not going down this time around. Even as I thought that, I mentally reigned myself in. I was acting… no… believing that this was real. It couldn’t be, but time was passing remarkably slowly. One old bit of crap folk wisdom about dreams is that they only last a few seconds while inside hours might pass. Not true. If hours were passing here, then they were passing outside, or wherever my body was. I could not wake up.
I led the way through the school gates, mingling with the other mothers and kids and headed straight for the main building. I walked up to one woman who I sort of recognized as a teacher and without waiting introduced myself: “Hello, are you a teacher here? My name is Charles Warden and I am one of your new student intake”. I held out my hand for her to shake it, which she did, just as my mother caught up and started talking with her. It turned out she was Miss Connor, and I seemed to remember we called all the female teachers “Miss”, whether they were married or not. The few male teachers were to be called “Sir”, including one utter bastard I remembered all too well. Fortunately I did not see him about.
It was only a small school so this year’s intake amounted to about fifteen or twenty, who soon gathered around. I looked at them, and did not recognize any of them. Meanwhile the older children were milling around waiting for school to start. I saw one boy with leg braces. Polio, probably. Had I been vaccinated? I needed to check that. This was an era when we were expected to catch all the classic diseases — chicken pox, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, rubella with maybe a dash of whooping cough thrown in for good measure. Most children survived. Some didn’t.
Suddenly a hand bell rang out and we were told to follow our teachers. As I walked forward with the rest I noticed a sandpit near the playground. I remembered a boy pissing into it. Probably not the first time that happened either. I did not want think about what the local cats got up to at night in its vicinity. I shuddered and made a note to give it wide berth. It was all coming back now, especially as we entered and I was struck by that chalk dust smell. Smell is one of the most primitive senses and can act as a very powerful trigger for memories. One of which being the “nit nurse” who would come around and check our heads for the eggs. I made another mental note not to touch any of the verminous little retards while I was incarcerated here.
Eventually we were led into a classroom littered with the incompetent art of bored pre-teens and told to find a seat. Some of them rushed to the front and pushed and shoved to get front and centre desks. I found one at the back next to a wall and settled in. Then we went through the routine that would become a ritual over the years. The teacher stands up, and says “Good morning children” to which we reply “Good morning Miss” before sitting down. Then the register is called. We practised the first bit about half a dozen times and when our name was called we had to put up our hand and reply with “Here Miss!”. The girls were called by their first name, and the boys by their last. When my name was called I raised my arm and shouted “Copacetic Miss”. I rather like that word, which I first heard used on the old 90s SciFi series Stargate SG1. She stopped and stared before asking what it meant. “It means in good order Miss” I replied. I was no doubt marked as a future troublemaker. How right she was…
Then we were on to the first activity of the day — drawing a flower, which she demonstrated by doing an unimpressive scribble on the blackboard for us to copy before handing us paper and crayons. As I got to work I mused that had these teachers any real talent they would obviously be doing something else. Now, my artistic skills can in no way be considered impressive although I did do art as a subject up to the age of sixteen. So I drew a tulip in three dimensions and coloured and shaded it. Pretty mediocre for a sixteen year old, but a work of genius for someone aged five, or even a primary school teacher. The finishing touch, of which I was rather proud, was labelling it “Tulip — perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophyte”. I sat back in a smug manner, arms folded. She came by a short while later and just stared at it. “So, you know your A B C’s”.
“Yes Miss” I replied: “I am also familiar with the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets as well.”
That no doubt gave them something to talk about in the staff room during their smoking break aka our playtime. Smoking — everybody seemed to do it here. Both my parents included. It was a disgusting habit that made everything around them stink. Back in the real world it was a dying vice. Then we were herded out into the playground for our 15 minutes of fun, and I made sure not to go near the sandpit. One boy came up to me and said his name was Tom. I told him my name and said I was pleased to meet him, and that now we had introduced each other he could go. I spent the remainder of the time standing around waiting for the bell. Then on to the second half of the morning where we practised drawing the capital letter “A”.
We were all released at noon and my mother was waiting for me at the school gates. On the way home she started asking me light hearted questions about the future with the kind of sceptical tone adults reserve for talking about the ambitions of small children. She even asked the classic flying car future question, to which I answered that instead we got a cyberpunk dystopia. That everything had turned inwards and we had retreated from the big into the increasingly small, where computers were ubiquitous. Imagine, I told her, if we took all the computers in the world today, multiplied their power by a thousand and compressed them into something I could lodge under my fingernail. That would be the least powerful of what exists. And we have a hundred billion of them all talking to each other across the planet.
Clearly the fantasies of a child with a rich imagination. I told here I was an engineer and scientist engaged in some work testing gigabit laser comms destined for deep space probes, with us bouncing it off a new retro-reflector the Chinese had placed on the moon. It meant nothing to her — just some jargon she didn’t understand.
Then I told her about my daughter who was a couple of years older than her, my two grandchildren both older than this body I was in, how I had met and divorced my first wife. And we kept talking about them. How we met, what her grandchildren were like, where they went to school and on and on through dinner. That’s what we called it back then, not “lunch”. We kept talking right up to the school again for the afternoon session. As we parted I simply said: “Today’s date is 20th August 2026”. As I turned to look back I saw she was crying. Even at my age, I still don’t really understand people.
Afternoon was a real treat. We had what was termed “exercise”, which on this occasion consisted of prancing about to music in the large hall and pretending to dance. Mostly the teacher played the piano, which rather impressed me since I have no musical talent at all, and she made it seem so easy. No missed notes either. The real highlight was a wind-up gramophone, complete with big acoustic horn. A real antique which would probably fetch more money now than it cost to buy when new. Loved it, especially when she put on a vinyl disc that she called “space music”, which was a collection of 1950s SciFi B movie excerpts featuring all kind of bleeps and, of course, the theramin.
Then finally out of school at four and back home where I was surprised to find my father. It seems mum had called him and he had come home early, apparently worried about me. Or maybe he was worried about mum.
“David”, I said, pointedly not calling him dad, “We need to have a private talk, preferably in the garden”, to which he agreed. We walked out onto the lawn where the previous year, or alternatively 69 years previously, we had stared up at the night sky looking for Sputnik, and I spoke again. “I have some things to say that you are not going to like. Whether you act on them is up to you but just on the off-chance this is all real…” I waved my hands around… “I owe it to the family. In just over a decade you are going to die of a heart attack. If you want to avoid that and get a few more years of life there are certain things you must do. These are quite simple. Give up smoking, walk at least two miles every day and if your stomach can handle it a baby aspirin every night. If you ever have chest pains chew two full strength aspirin to make them act faster. This is advice that the current medical establishment won’t make official for decades. By the way, mum lives to a ripe old age, but its lung cancer that gets her. That smoking thing again.”
He interrupted me: “Thanks for that Charlie — I know you mean well and I also know that something strange is going on with you, although I am not sure what exactly.”
I cut him off: “No shit Sherlock. Now here comes the nasty bit which you are definitely not going to like. Sometime previous to… well… now, you had an affair with a woman at work. To put it bluntly you were fucking your boss’s wife. Mum did not discover this until after your funeral. However the impact was felt early next year when your rather vindictive boss found out. You were laid off, made redundant, fired or whatever. I don’t know all the details. However, you were refused references and as a result could not get any kind of decent job. The family fell on hard times. So what you need to do, starting tomorrow is get a new job before the shit hits the fan. And just a general bit of advice — if you can’t keep it in your trousers at least don’t shit on your own doorstep.”
He was speechless for a few seconds, then said: “You really are an arrogant foul mouthed little bastard”. I looked at him and saw a strange mixture of anger, fear and awe. Then he quietly asked: “Where’s Charlie?”
“I don’t know” I said, and then added: “I don’t even know where I am.”
The evening meal was funereal. They tried to engage me in conversation but I was beginning to think I had said too much already. This was ceasing to be fun. Afterwards we went into the front room to watch TV. They sat down and lit up. Fucking junkies who had never heard of what second hand smoking did to children, but for once I kept my mouth shut.
The black and white TV sat in a cabinet, and to see the screen you had to open some doors. Still, we were proud to be one of the few people in our street to have a television. I remember people coming round to look at it. They turned it on and… waited an interminable time for it to warm up since it used valves aka vacuum tubes. As the picture emerged I was less than thrilled. “You know, if your eyesight was as bad as the resolution of that TV you would legally be classed as blind?” I said. “Shut up” came the reply.
Even though it was only early in the evening I was tired. The realism of the dream extended to my physiology it seemed, so I went to bed. Next thing that greeted my eyes was sunlight playing on cartoon aircraft. Bollocks — another day here. This is bad. I lay in bed and pondered a future where I had to live out this life again, with no surprises, just a tedious deja vu coupled with the hassles of growing up all over again. Nothing to look forward to except toothache and butcher dentists, diseases, teenage spots and nasty hormone imbalances. Even the hedonistic lifestyle was out of reach, with sex, drugs and (good) rock’n’roll at least a decade away, plus nothing much worth watching on TV for the next 40 years. Additionally, I was also beginning to suffer Net withdrawal symptoms as I felt frustration at being cut off from virtually all information. Little Charlie was fucked, and me along with him, and not in a good way. Time for desperate measures.