Obey is a four-letter word.

Christoff stood at attention with the other eighth-graders in his class. They were currently lined up in a square of six rows, five students in each row, all lined up on the practice field outside the main body of the school campus.

Mr. Jonas, their activities teacher, marched back and forth before the first line, Christoff’s line, the man’s shiny whistle jangling on a chain across his pristine white T-shirt marked with the blue-spear logo of the Patriot School for Wayward Children.

The man adjusted his blue ballcap and then blew his whistle, the sound shrill and telling in the morning silence around them.

“What is the meaning of your life!” sang Mr. Jonas in a drill-sergeant’s metered tone.

“To serve and to obey!” sang back the class, including Christoff.

“What are the three rules of your life!” sang Mr. Jonas.

“Obey, obey, obey!” sang the class.

Mr. Jonas blew his whistle one more time and then swiveled sharply to his left, and the class followed suit, every student swiveling to match his motion.

They all turned to view the small group of people watching them, that group consisting of several large men in black suits and black shades, but the man leading that group was an older gentleman in an expensive grey suit, a man with greying hair around his temples, rectangular spectacles upon his hawkish nose.

Two of the men in black suits held large cardboard boxes within their arms, but Christoff did not know what was in these boxes, though he was curious to some degree.

“Attention!” yelled Mr. Jonas.

Christoff stiffened, hands at his sides, waiting in automatic heed of that order. He was now at the back of the square in the last line, as his position was always number one when facing west, but now he was facing north, so his viewpoint had changed.

The important-looking man in the grey suit nodded once as if giving his approval of the professionalism of Class Three.

“Proceed,” said the man in a blank, disaffected tone.

“This is Mr. Alexander Patriot!” yelled Mr. Jonas in his drill-sergeant tone. “He is the owner and C.E.O. of the world’s largest pharmaceutical company in the world! He is a multi-billionaire with connections all over our looovely little planet, and he is the one that provides the food for you little blank slates every single day of the week at our happy little school! He provides your clothing here!

“He provides your instruction here! He provides this wonderful school for you! You will treat him with respect! You will worship the ground he walks on! You will obey his every word if he gives you a command!…Am I clear, children!”

 “Sir, yes, Sir!” yelled the class, including Christoff.

This important man, this “Mr. Alexander Patriot,” stepped forward and nodded once.

“You are an important contribution to this world,” he said firmly. “You have drive, you have initiative, you have commitment, you have purpose, and most importantly, you obey. Those without these five principles cannot succeed in today’s modern society. We call these people “losers.” You do not want to be losers, kids.”

He nodded once towards Mr. Jonas.

“Let’s show them what happens to losers, Mr. Jonas,” said Mr. Patriot.

Mr. Jonas stiffened and nodded in reply.

“Sir, yes, Sir!” he said quickly.

Their activities teacher swiveled on his sneakers to point the class towards the west end of the practice field, and the class followed suit.

Christoff waited at attention, his hands at the sides of his blue gym shorts, his figure standing proudly in his own pristine white T-shirt with the blue-spear logo of the Patriot School for Wayward Children displayed upon it.

He was fourteen now, but he was also the oldest in his class, just in front of Dasheena, who was a mere month younger than he was. They were grouped by age, so Christoff was the leader of Class Three, and he was proud of that fact. He would not fail Mr. Jonas. He would not fail the Patriot School for Wayward Children. He would obey.

The class waited in obedient attention as a light-grey bus with black markings drove onto the practice field, that bus driving in from the west.

“Here come the losers, children!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “Carefully observe their mannerisms, markings, and disobedient behavior so that you do not end up like one of them! Am I clear, children!”

“Sir, yes, Sir!” shouted the class.

“Their speech is foul, their behavior is foul, and their very presence is foul!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “They do not what, class!”

“Obey!” yelled the class.

Christoff enjoyed yelling “Obey.” He enjoyed obeying. It was his favorite part of existing.

“They do not what, class!” yelled Mr. Jonas again.

“Obey!” yelled the class.

“They do not what, class!” yelled Mr. Jonas one more time.

“Obey!” yelled the class.

“These scum of the earth engage in pointless violence!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “They defile their bodies with permanent ink markings! They partake in unsafe drugs and consume vast amounts of alcohol! They engage in sexual relations before entering the holy sanctity that is matrimony! They rob, rape, and steal! They murder and molest children! They are society’s losers, and you are not losers, class! You are not losers because you do what, class!”

“Obey!” yelled the class.

“You do what, class!” yelled Mr. Jonas.

“Obey!” yelled the class.

“One more time and louder!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “You do what, class!”

“OBEY!” shouted the class.

Christoff could feel his adrenaline spike in excitement. He could see Dasheena out of his right peripheral, could see her dark hands trembling at her sides as she vibrated with that same excitement, a tempo of primal essence steeped in blood rush.

The light-grey bus pulled up and parked before them all. The doors of the bus swiveled open, and four large men in black, protective riot gear stepped out, each armed with shotguns, each with black helmets and clear visors to protect their heads and faces.

Christoff did not know what was going to happen, but he could feel something important building up inside him, building up inside everyone in Class Three.

A line of ten men in orange jumpsuits walked off the bus in single file, those men chained together in handcuffs. All of them were different, of course, some tall, some short, different ethnicities amongst them, some bald, most of them with tattoos, but they all exuded that greasy aura of “loser” about them, and just being within eyesight of them made Christoff shake. It made his vision turn red.

Mr. Jonas swiveled to his left to point the class’s attention back towards Mr. Patriot.

The wealthy and powerful man nodded once to the class before addressing them again.

“This is an important day for you all, children,” said Mr. Patriot. “This is the day where we compare your mettle with that of the common loser…You are above the rabble that infests our society!…

“Now, Mr. Garret and Mr. Parnsborough will provide you with your declaration of obedience. This declaration is a contract with society. It is a contract that promises you will be a law-abiding and productive citizen that will contribute to the health and well-being of our nation and, therefore, our entire world.”

“Did you hear him, class!” yelled Mr. Jonas.

“Sir, yes, Sir!” replied the class.

Two of the large men in black suits that had accompanied Mr. Patriot, the two men holding the large cardboard boxes, walked through their class, both men handing out something that had been previously stored within their boxes, handing out one identical mystery item to each student.

One of the large men handed Christoff a long, black, metal cylinder, and Christoff eagerly took it, resting it in both hands, the ebony cylinder laid horizontally across his palms, just like everyone else. He held the cylinder this way because he felt that he was supposed to hold it this way, though he did not know why.

He stared at the back of Dasheena’s spotless white school shirt, and she stood at attention, true, but he could tell she was trembling with barely contained rage, just like he was. These “losers,” these men in orange jumpsuits, enraged Christoff to no end because they did not obey, and he inherently knew this, as did Dasheena, as did the rest of the class.

“What you hold in your hands is the key to our project,” continued Mr. Patriot. “This is your declaration of obedience.”

“I gotta declaration for ya!” yelled one of the men in orange jumpsuits.

The other men in orange jumpsuits laughed, and Christoff struggled to ignore them. Mr. Patriot ignored them altogether, visibly unconcerned with their presence, a testament to Christoff that the man was truly powerful.

“All of you come from poverty-stricken, abusive, neglectful, and broken homes,” continued Mr. Patriot. “You were all flagged by your previous schools as being “high risk.” That “high risk” flag was an indication that you would all become losers one day, but by declaring your obedience to society, all of you will now be successful in life. You will all be winners…In fact, you could even become a giant among men like me.”

“That’s not what your wife said last night, Patriot!” yelled the same heckler as before.

The men in orange jumpsuits roared with laughter.

Christoff could not contain the swiveling of his own head to view the perpetrator in question. He swiftly turned his head to the left, but he was not the only one. The entire class broke protocol and swiveled their heads in unison, every student searching with burning eyes of hatred for the heckler that kept interrupting their school patron.

The perpetrator was a large bald white man with a short black mohawk on his head. This man was big, over six-feet tall, and he was a mass of muscle with a concrete block for a face. Christoff had absolutely no fear of him, though. This man was a loser, and losers were only good at one thing: losing.

The laughter from the line of men in orange jumpsuits died down as they looked upon the burning hatred radiating from the square of students before them. Christoff could sense a spike of fear from some of them, a black aura of doubt seeping forth, but this did not surprise him. They had every right to be afraid.

“Attention!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “Eyes on Mr. Patriot, children! He is not finished!”

The class, including Christoff, swiveled their gazes back upon their benefactor.

“This is your shining moment, students!” said Mr. Patriot in a louder voice, a voice filled with strange, tremulous excitement. “Thanks to years of research in developing the special vitamins you are given every day, and thanks to your special training here at the Patriot School for Wayward Children, you are a cut above the common rabble, a stab above the normal John and Sally citizen, and you are certainly, most extensively, a slice above the losers of society!…You are all winners…You will be the backbone of our great nation, for you…are…society.”

Mr. Patriot spread out those last three words for emphasis, and Christoff let those final three words sink into him, embracing them, letting them merge with his soul. He felt compelled to stand at the ready for action, and he could tell that the rest of the class was ready as well.

Mr. Patriot nodded once toward Mr. Jonas.

“Proceed,” he said with a cold smile.

Mr. Jonas immediately swiveled to his left again to face west toward the line of chained men in orange jumpsuits.

“Attention!” he yelled.

The entire class swiveled to mimic his motion.

Mr. Jonas stepped backwards toward Mr. Patriot, towards the group of men all dressed in black.

The guards from the bus moved away from the line of men in orange jumpsuits, clearing distance from these “losers” of society.

“You…are…society!” yelled Mr. Jonas.

Christoff straightened once more and felt a rush of adrenaline flow through his veins. The entire class vibrated like a taught piano wire, something Christoff could sense so much as see. The special training he had received here at the Patriot School for Wayward Children was burning in his blood, and he was ready to show off that training. He could tell the rest of the class was ready to display their skills as well.

“Embrace your declaration of obedience!” yelled Mr. Jonas.

Christoff acted without thinking. He gripped the black cylinder within his hands and pulled it apart at the center, withdrawing the carbon-steel blade within it. The unsheathing of the blade was multiplied by the sound of all thirty weapons being drawn at once, a loud and audible “SHING!” that echoed throughout the practice area.

“Eliminate failure!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “Go!”

He blew his whistle and made a chopping motion toward the line of orange men in jumpsuits.

Christoff shouted along with the rest of the class as the square of students charged in unison at the line of chained men, these “losers” that had infected the world with their toxic presence.

Christoff paired with Dasheena as they covered more ground than the others, both running ahead of the class, their legs hammering a tandem beat, their footsteps mashing grass as they dashed forward. They both leapt upon the nearest chained man relative to their starting position, and then chaos erupted, chaos and blood.

Christoff sank his blade deep into the man’s chest as Dasheena stabbed into the left side of the prisoner’s neck. Blood sprayed in all directions as the two students swiftly and brutally made short work of this “loser,” stabbing, cutting, and slicing as their blades sank deeply into mortal flesh over and over again.

A third student, Gerty, a short, skinny girl with blonde hair, stabbed into the man’s legs and groin as this loser in orange screamed out a bloody death rattle. Christoff had not even noticed her with them, but this did not surprise him. It was Gerty’s duty to obey.

The ten chained men in orange fell in rapid succession, three students on each, knives flashing with blood spraying, but the largest of them, the musclebound man with the short mohawk, fought to keep the class off of him, but his desperate struggle was to no avail.

The class moved as one like a school of ravenous piranha, closing in on the heckler from all sides, their blades sinking into his muscle and flesh as easily as scissors cutting through paper. The last prisoner cried out a loud, high-pitched wail as he disappeared beneath that eddy of students and knives, and then there was silence on the practice field, silence save for the class’s own heavy breathing.

Christoff reacted to the sound of the whistle, his body moving automatically. He ran back to his previous position to stand at attention before Mr. Jonas, briefly realizing that his spotless, white, school T-shirt was no longer spotless, or for that matter, white.

His clothes and skin were splattered with the dark red of human blood, and one brief and subtle inspection of his two nearest classmates showed them to be models of the same horror show. Dasheena’s clothes were in no better condition than his were, and even Gerty’s blonde hair was crusted over with sanguine splotches here and there.

This bothered Christoff, but only for a second, and he did not know why it bothered him. It was a pulling of something from deep inside, a remembrance of a prior time when this would have bothered him, should have bothered him, but ultimately, he cast these doubts aside. It was his duty to obey.

Mr. Jonas swiveled to face the stern, yet somehow mocking, form of Mr. Patriot, and the class swiveled in imitation of his action, moving as one like that proverbial school of fish.

“With this declaration of obedience, you are now productive members of society,” said Mr. Patriot with a cold smile. “We will continue to monitor your progress…Mr. Jonas…onto advanced training.”

Mr. Jonas swiveled to face the class and blew his whistle, and the class swiveled to face him in response to that shrill call.

“We will head to the showers, you will be issued new uniforms, and then we will start advanced training!” yelled Mr. Jonas. “It is time to start learning firearms and electronic espionage!…Attention!”

“Sir, yes, Sir!” yelled the class.

“What is the meaning of your life!” sang Mr. Jonas in his metered, drill-sergeant tone.

“To serve and to obey!” sang the class.

“What are the three rules of your life!” sang Mr. Jonas.

“Obey, obey, obey!” sang the class, including Christoff.

Christoff enjoyed yelling “Obey.” He enjoyed obeying. It was his favorite part of existing.

Obey Copyright © 2022 bloodytwine.com Matthew L. Marlott

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