003: Dreamschool

(The third installment… this is where the merged idea starts to come in)  Needless to say, (c) 2011 Lydia DeWolf keep your hands to yourself, children! 😉

Most kids were selected for Academia Oneira after a rigorous testing process.  They competed with each other, with their teachers.  With nonsense, most often.

Dreamschool was a misleading name.  It wasn’t housed in lofty, pleasant buildings, among misted mountaintops or along a majestic coastline.  It was located on land flatter than the prairie, fit only for growing miles and miles of cotton.  The most dreamlike quality it had was the way the tufts of fiber would break free during harvesting and collect like warm-weather snow along the roadways.  To go there was to go back in time, to somewhere tractors still rusted and petrol-station owners used a sideways Z letter when they needed an N in their signs.

It looked old, too, built all of brick and wonderfully bland.  It looked as if Baptists had built it, and they probably had.  Tame and sensible, valuing what went on inside rather than outside, with very little ornamentation.

There were six or seven main halls filled with classrooms and simulators, most with impressive snow-white columns and still unfitted with gutters to catch the rain.  Inside, they’d been changed when Dreamschool’s founders moved in.  Gone were the drop-tile ceilings and thin gray carpeting the original builders would have installed.  Tall doors of dark-stained wood matching floors took their place.

Like the students’ minds, the bones of the structures were solid and ordinary, but consistency was by no means a virtue.

Since Dreamschool served as a military base as well, the dorms and barracks were one and the same, at one end of the sprawling green campus, built of cinderblock against the seasonal storms.  Tornadoes had touched down enough times over the 800 years the place had existed that these were state-of-the-art.  Invincible.  Inside, they were polished white and pristine.  They were inspected twice a day, and brutally.

The only truly modern-looking part of the school was the testing and sciences building—or compound.  It resembled a large, complex molecule, made of shining acrylic bubbles and chrome jointing, connected by encased walkways, sealed against the outside by airlocks.  They kept it normalized, they kept it monitored.  As you walked the halls, the soft voice of “Janis” reported the temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and gaseous components of the air.

Everyone loved Janis, whoever she was.  We would answer her when her automated messages came across the speakers, as if she were our old friend and colleague.

“The time is 20:30pm,” she would inform us, gently.

“You don’t say!” we’d reply in the gap.  “I don’t suppose you’d happen to know the temperature?”

“The temperature is exactly 22 degrees Cels—”  For as long as anyone could remember, there had been a skip in the temperature report, a scratch from the original recordings.

“Thanks, old girl, you’re a brick!” someone would say.

Dreamschool’s motto was Logica est ferramenta: Logic is a strong instrument.  We used to translate it, “Logic is a tool,” which was probably more in line with the level of respect given to consistency and syllogism.  At Dreamschool, if you could make anything make sense, you were right.

I was never tested to enroll.  They never fed me the pictures and words and asked me for whatever story I could cobble together from them.  I was born into it, bred for it.  My father ran the place.  I was the medium.

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