Sunday, January 30, 2022


Bucon the Gamemaster tossed books across his teacher's desk, furiously shuffling papers from one spot to the next while his body shook with nervous energy as his charges entered the class. Beneath his Pandemic "Where-Anywhere-Where All-of-the-Time" Black Mask, he gritted his teeth through a tight, maniacal smile. "Yes, come in," he muttered quietly, "laugh while you can."

"Good morning. Good morning. It is great to see everyone today." The Gamemaster turned to the ancient smartboard to introduce today's deadly challenge to the class. "We are going to continue with our examination of pronoun usage as we prepare for the upcoming SAT."

An air of indifference emanated from the crowd of teenagers. They continued the socializing that began when they sat down with their newly-formed Classcraft teams. "This is pretty easy," a few chuckled from the back of the room. Many sat with their arms crossed, moving slowly to begin class. Their insolence infuriated The Gamemaster; his anger erupted.

"I have noticed that you have become overconfident! You think that you have mastered these skills and are no longer afraid of failure!"

"But you want us to be proud of ourselves when we do something really well, right?" Ava bellowed from the side of the room, looking at her team for support.

"Ah, yes. Pride," Bucon the Gamemaster waxed philosophically. "But, I believe we have read, 'A man must conquer pride, not kill it.' Who was it that said that?"

"Oh, gosh! The Seafarer!" Abie and Jackson said in unison, with Jackson adding contemptuously, "How can we ever forget that?"

The Gamemaster revealed a picture of a ferocious Bluebeak Ganet on the smartboard. "I believe it is time for a boss battle. I was awake for hours last night creating this battle to take all of you down a peg or two."

The Gamemaster did not expect student tears and gasps of trepidation at the sight of the vicious Bluebeak Ganet, nor did he anticipate their frolicking laughter. He reacted accordingly by yelling, "Do you see this beak? It will be dripping with blood after it rips those smiles off your face. The Bluebeak Ganet is about to destroy you! Now close your Chromebooks and put away your notes."

The teams all looked at one another and laughed. "BOSS BATTLE!" they yelled, their war cries shaking the walls around them. The Gamemaster smiled, realizing that they had fallen so nicely into his trap, a trap that would rattle them to the core of their very being. 

And so it began, another titanic battle for the ages, reminiscent of Beowulf and Grendel.

Team by team, the students took turns meeting the Bluebeak Ganet on the field of battle. One correct answer, one swing at the Ganet; one incorrect answer, one swing from the Ganet. Health points fell from both opponents like blood dripping from wounded animals in a battle for their lives. The Gamemaster embraced the carnage as the students who once believed they were so knowledgeable grew frustrated with the empty treasure chests of their brains.

"Do we use a possessive pronoun there or an objective one?"

"Wait! There is something different when we use neither-nor 
and when we use and. Mr. Bucon, is there a difference?"

"Using her there just does not sound right? What's the rule again?"

"OMG! We are going to fall in battle! How much health do I have left?"

The Gamemaster relished their cries of futility. Bucon should have been angry that his students did not recall the basic rules of basic pronoun usage in basic sentences. Still, he was elated, laughing aloud at their inability to work together to find the correct answers. He was going to be victorious as the Bluebeak Ganet appeared unstoppable.

But, then there was a shift in the balance of the force. Overconfident knuckleheads grew serious. They bickered until they all agreed on the rules. They trusted one another when once they doubted. One sentence is all that they needed. 

"Just admit that you do not know the answer. You can keep guessing, or you can actually know the right answer. You act as if you know it all, but you do not," the Gamemaster laughed at the students, taunting them to doubt themselves yet again.

"Her?" Deanté asked quietly.

"Big football player," the Gamemaster confidently muttered to himself.

The class looked back and forth, unsure if their classmate was right.

"Are you asking or telling me, Deanté?" The Gamemaster chuckled aloud this time. He wanted to rattle him. He will doubt himself. "Asking or telling, Deanté?"

Deanté sat up a little. "Telling. HER!"

The Gamemaster stood still in the quiet of anticipation. He absorbed the silent energy pulsating throughout the room, realizing that he had just envisioned the future outcome of this battle. He tapped the smartboard and revealed the answer: her.

"You will NOT answer the rest of these correctly." The classroom cheers overpowered the "damn" that the Gamemaster groaned when he turned away from them. He could not let these students see him angry and defeated.

They did, though. They answered every single question. The roomful of juniors thrust their fists into the air for the victory over the Gamemaster and his Bluebeak Ganet. Some stood and gave others on their team high-fives. 

Bucon the Gamemaster was angry. He tossed his smartboard pen atop his desk, took a seat in his swiveling office chair, then began to stare blankly at the computer screen which still showed the teams' victory over the Bluebeak Ganet.

One of the more loquacious students, Hayden, did not take this opportunity to practice the humility the Seafarer espouses. "Mr. Bucon! Why are you so angry?" He laughed and laughed. This was his chance to take Mr. Bucon down a peg or two, right? 

"I am not angry, Hayden!" Bucon snapped. "I just worked really hard on that boss battle and thought it would beat all of you!"

The class roared, "Well, we showed you!"

Hayden was not done, of course. "Mr. Bucon, you know this is like you are Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, and we are the rebels!"

"What? No, I am not!" Bucon shot back, offended by the notion that he is some kind of evil sith lord. "I am the teacher here! I am the good guy! I am trying to get you to understand this stuff, but you don't listen!"

"But if you think about it, you made this big boss battle to destroy us, and you failed. Isn't that kind of how Star Wars goes?" Hayden can be really insightful and persuasive when he wants. 

"No. Wait." Bucon began to show signs of losing the discussion. "This is like The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader defeats the rebels and sends them running. I am the rebels, but I will be back."

"Yeah, that's what you think," someone else added from the back, "but this was more Return of the Jedi. The Emperor loses and is really mad still and dies. That's you!"

"Think about, Mr. Bucon," Hayden whispered discreetly. "You really are the Emperor - you know, the Gamemaster - and we really are the rebels."

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