Exams. Short Story.

“Ok, are you ready?”
“I think so.”
“Wow, way to sound confident.”
“Yes. I’m ready.”
“Good, remember intention counts. Right, start whenever you like.”
James took a deep breath, then released it slowly, trying to focus on centering himself. He gripped the whiteboard marker tightly, then started to draw, muttering under his breath. When the drawing was finished, he tipped the board backward, so it was facing the ceiling. He took one quick glance around the room at the others, some looked bored, some looked interested, one or two looked sick. Thomas, the teacher, nodded encouragingly and smiled. James started to speak, slowly and carefully. They were warned about speaking quickly for now, wouldn’t do to stumble over any of the words. As he finished he felt a crackle of electricity race over his body, then a faint shock as it left him and entered the drawing on the whiteboard. The entire thing glowed briefly, then with a faint “pop” a small demon appeared in the centre of the drawing.

“Yes master?”
James sighed in relief. He was halfway there, even if the next part didn’t work, he’d still pass.
“Tell me the true name of Jack the Ripper.”
The class around seemed to perk up a bit. The room went hazy, everything blurring. James knew he was speaking, saying something, but what it was he didn’t know. He reached out and swiped a finger through the drawing, erasing it and sending the demon back to wherever it was that James had plucked it from. The room snapped back into focus, everyone looked a little confused, Thomas clapped his hands once, drawing everyone’s attention. “I’d like to congratulate you James, you passed. I had to cast a little memory distortion on you all, the knowledge is, unfortunately, classified for the moment. You’ll all find out what it was later, don’t worry. For now though you get full marks, for both the summoning and the control of the summoned demon. Perfect. Now, who’s next…ah, yes, Annabelle, please step forward.”
James stood back from the whiteboard and passed the marker to Annabelle, feeling excitement bubble up inside. He had done it, really done it! Not just in theory, but actually done it! He had hoped he’d be able to summon something, but he never actually expected to do such a good job.
He watched Annabelle work, interested in how she did it, she was going to pass of course, everyone knew that. Her and Toby were well at the top of the class. Annabelle summoned a lesser demon, going for something a little more flashy, she had it predict the results of an upcoming sports event, James wasn’t sure what kind as everything had gone hazy. When the room snapped back into focus, Thomas was speaking again, “I’d like to remind everyone that it is only possible to do such predictions once every few years and even at that, only for inconsequential events. Should you try to do it for larger things, or for betting purposes, the demon will require a trade and usually they’re not very nice. I’d just like to remind you about what happened to Timothy Masters.” The class, as one, shuddered. That had not been a fun lesson, though the warning ones never really were. No one wanted to see reconstructions of people with their organs ripped out and strewn about the room. Of course some joker in the class had cast a subtle spell to make everything corporeal. The smell hadn’t left the room, or the students for weeks. James had known the joker pretty well, they all had, but now they remembered little of him, except he was stripped of everything, including his memories and sent to live in some mental ward. They didn’t take kindly to those kind of jokes at the academy. What James did remember was the lecture they received afterwards, three hours in a stuffy hall, being shouted at by the almost apoplectic headmaster, screaming at them that they were all adults and they should know better and how they all could have died. Personally James didn’t think it was very fair, after all the poor sod who did it was long gone by that point.
James snapped back to attention as the final student went up and completed the ritual, when they were done, Thomas stood before the class, “I would like to congratulate you all for passing basic demon summoning. All of you have done very well, your grades will be released once the future predictions prove to be true or false.”

The class filed out of the room, everyone feeling a little tired. Summoning did that to you and though James, and the class, had been told that the better they became the easier it would be, James secretly believed it wasn’t true, after all, half of the teachers were tired all the time and the other half were running on coffee. James made his way through the halls to the cafeteria, passing groups of people as he did so, most chatting about their exams. He envied the fourth years, they were finally done and off to work in the real world. Ok, sure, he got paid for this and afterwards he’d land himself an exciting, and very well paid job, but something about being back in school irked him. It was like a strange mix of school and college. There were few students in the entire school, which added a layer of oddness to it. There were maybe a hundred students in total, with the classes kept as separated as possible to prevent anyone trying to go ahead of their skills. They had all been regaled by horror stories of what would happen if you tried to move ahead too quickly.

James had a tray of food and sat down, picking at it. He was more tired than hungry, but he knew he should eat. It was always recommended that they carry a chocolate bar around with them, just in case. One exam down, only twelve more to go. Then, assuming he’d pass all of them, onto second year. He glanced around the room, at the other people there, a few were chatting, but most were studying. Exam time was stressful for everyone. He finished his food and grabbed a book from his bag, might as well get a jump on the next thing. Sighing, he opened the book, just one more exam and he could go have a nap. At least the next one didn’t have any summoning involved.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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