Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Science fiction  ➡  Short stories

Mannis Cracks the Bell Curve

Mannis Cracks the Bell Curve


A.E. Fortier





Cover Image used under Creative Commons. Original image, “circuit_town” from Tim Simpson found at Flickr with the following link: www.tinyurl.com/jdk856u




Mannis stood over the body lying in front of him and lit up a cigarette. The body, one of two found at the location, had been dead for sometime before anyone bothered to call the authorities. Most of the blood available, coming from the open head wound, had pooled at the victim’s feet. The keyboard sticking out of both victims’ skulls was what perplexed Mannis most about this crime scene.

It was not the part where a teacher and student had both been killed in the classroom—and none of the remaining children had seen anything. It was that the weapon of choice was keyboards. First off, he had no idea how someone would be able to get the plastic device lodged into a human skull. And second, where the hell had the perp found a keyboard?

“Where did the keyboards come from?” He asked the nearest student vigorously working on her desk screen.

“We keep them in a cabinet. Locked up in the back of the classroom. The teacher used them for a history lesson once.” The student replied without looking up from his screen.

Mannis walked to the cabinet at the back of the room. It was already slightly ajar, and Mannis pulled it open the rest of the way. A grouping of mice, keyboards, monitors and all sorts of ancient computer junk were piled up on the shelves. Mannis grabbed one of the mice and turned it around in his hands.

“I can use one of these.” Mannis mumbled to himself, tucking the item into his pocket and turned back to face the class.

“Who can get into this?” He looked at the group while pointing his thumb at the cabinet. All of them were still working on their desk screens. “And why the hell are all of you still working? You all know that there are two dead bodies laying around here. Maybe you could wait until they’re at least moved out of the room?”

He pulled his cigarette from his mouth and pointed it at a young girl in the middle of the class.

“You, girl, stop working and answer my damn question.”

The girl stopped what she was doing and waved her hand over her desk screen to turn the thing off. She looked him straight in the eye and crossed her arms.

“You can’t smoke in here; this is a school.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked up and down his disheveled appearance. He wore cloths far out of time, a long wool coat over a knit sweater and khaki pants. They were all lacking the current chips to track vitals and change the color of the clothing and other wondrous things that technology could do for clothing in the future.

“I’m a cop, I can do whatever I want, now tell me why all of you are still working.”

“Do you not know where you are?” Her tone was the most sarcastic possible. “This is the Ivan Preparatory School, it is the best school in the world. We have to keep our grades at a constantly high rate, or we will get kicked out. So, we don’t have time to stop just because a student and a teacher died.”

“This place is like hell, isn’t it?” Mannis looked around the beige walls, devoid of any windows or posters. There were screens, though. Screens displaying math, history, and every other topic you could think of. Cameras too, there were an abundance of cameras. No wonder these kids were working so hard, they were being watched by an eye in the sky.

“Do you know how much I will get paid when I get out of here?” The girl waved her arms around to emphasis her words. “I will make more money than you will ever see in your entire life!”

“Yeah, great. I’m very broken up about you and your earning potential being so much greater than mine.”


Mannis left the room and found the administrator who had made the initial call. The man was sitting at his desk, head laying back. If Mannis didn’t know any better he would think that the man was sleeping. He wasn’t. The man was using his neuralnet, probably finding some porn to calm himself down—judging by the tent going on in his pants.

“Hey.” Mannis sat down in a chair across from the man. The man didn’t move, his head still slumped back.

Mannis tapped his foot on the floor. There was nothing between the two men that he could hit to get the administrator’s attention. His desk was holographic, and it would only appear if the man called it up.

Mannis grew tired of waiting after a few seconds of no response. With nothing around him, he took out his pack of cigarettes and threw on straight at the man’s forehead. The man’s head shot forward and the cigarette fell into his hands.

“Wha?” The man looked first over at Mannis and then swiped his hand over the area in front of him. A holographic desk appeared, covering up the embarrassing remnants of his neuralnet fun. The man straightened himself up in his chair and coughed. “What can I do for you?”

“There’s cameras in the room.”

“Um, yes. There are cameras in every room.”

“Do I really need to lead you where I’m going?”

“Oh. Oh, yeah.” The administrator plucked at a few keys on his desk and then looked at one spot for a long moment. Mannis assumed that there was using his chip to interface with the desktop. Mannis not having one himself, could only guess. “Hmmmm.”


“Well, go ahead and interface with the video feed here.”

“I can’t.” The administrator raised an eyebrow.

“Oh.” He said in a ‘You’re one of those people’ tone.

“Show me.”

“Sure.” The administrator pressed a button on the desk and a screen appeared on the desk and started playing static.

“Is that it? Just static?”

“Yup. Not sure what’s going on. All the cameras in the room showed static during the murder, last thing we have is this.” The screen switched to a view of the teacher showing off a keyboard and a mouse, and the class looking on in amusement.

“Did the cameras go out?” Mannis asked.

“No.” The screen changed again to a view of the class working, two dead bodies covered with white sheets at the front of the room. “They’re showing up fine now. I think it has to be that someone hacked into the cameras and deleted the footage.

“Who could do that?”

“Oh, any of the students. They’re all very smart.”

Mannis took the now finished cigarette out of his lips, dropped it to the ground and stamped it out. The too-smart-for-her-own-good girl made a sound of disgust, she was about to start back up with her work before Mannis stopped her.

“What happened here, I know that you are all so very hard at work, but a double homicide had to of gotten your attention, right? Now, there’s no video feed according to your administrator. He seems to think that one of you killed the feed and

No response came from the girl, who could do nothing but look around the room.

“I think you are hiding something.” Mannis turned from the girl’s desk to look at the rest of the class. “In fact, I think you are all hiding something.”

Ivan Preparatory School, was like the girl said, one of the best schools in the world. It housed only the children of the richest people on the globe. It was one of the few schools that still employed human teachers, where as the cheaper schools would either feed their students through their neural chips, or teach them with an automated teacher. This was one fancy school, and it was extremely competitive.

Mannis stepped to the front of the class and looked at the teacher’s desk. The thing was a thin piece of metal running across two legs. There was nothing on it besides a small holo-screen. Mannis tapped the thing and typed in a few universal police commands. This would have been much easier if he had a neuralnet chip, but he was ‘one of those people.’ One of the few who had fought in the war and signed onto the new government, with the exception that they didn’t need to have the new chip installed.

Mannis was able to call up the seating chart and the rankings. The boy who had been killed was number one on the academic list for not only class, but also the school. That would inevitably get him his top choice for secondary school—an important factor in where you went to school. The smart-alec girl was second to the boy on that list. She also had a name that was very familiar to Mannis.

Mannis waved his hand over the holo-pad to deactivate it and then looked up at the girl, still hard at work over her desk.

“So this kid was pretty smart, huh?” He asked her.

“Was he? I wouldn’t know.” She mumbled, still focused on her work.

“I thought you would have, you being the runner up here in this class.”

Her head jerked up from her holo-pad, immediately disconnecting the link and shutting it off.

“I shouldn’t have been.” She said, leaning back and crossing her arms. “I should have been first, he was…”

She cut herself off.

“He was what? You kids are so obsessed it’s made you crazy. In my day we didn’t care about who was what, we only cared about what we were doing.”

“Well things have changed old man.” The girl said. “Freemont changed things with the revolution, changed things for the better..”

“That is debatable.” Mannis took out another cigarette and lit it up. “What would you know about Freemont anyway? He was dead three years before you were probably born, those little implants he gave the entire world ended up killing him.”

“Those little implants have changed the world! My grandfather was a great man; he was just too busy looking after the world to take care of himself. His implants got old, and he didn’t do anything about it till it was too late.”

“You are getting all red in the face.” Mannis leaned down to stare her down at eye level. “So why did you do it? Why did you kill that boy and the teacher? Was he doing better than you, was that teacher not listening to you throw around your grandpa’s name. Did you scare the rest of these kids into helping you? Were they scared of your grandpa’s name?”

“It’s my name, too.” Her face turned a darker shade of red.

“Yeah, but at least your grandfather did his own dirty work. You had to scare these kids into killing those two for you.”

“We didn’t help her.” A boy in the back row mumbled. Both Mannis and the girl turned around to face him.

“Shut up Trev.” The girl yelled, causing the boy to shrink down in his seat.

“No Trev, please continue.”

The little boy took Mannis’ direction and kept going. “The teacher wouldn’t give her the grade she wanted, so she broke into the cabinet, got one of the keyboards and killed him. Then she told us all to keep quite, or her dad would send them to an old world camp.

“Jee wouldn’t listen though, he called the police, so she killed him too.”

“I said shut up Trev!” The girl yelled. With surprising speed she jumped from her chair, ran across the room and began to strangle Trev.

“Hey,” Mannis yelled, taking another drag off his cigarette while crossing the room towards the pair without any sense of urgency. “Knock that off.”

The rest of the students had stopped their work and began to evacuate the room. Mannis grabbed one of the boys before he could get out.

“What’s wrong with her?” Mannis asked.

“She’s been taking stimulants, trying to increase her brain capacity to keep up with Jee. Something about them and the implants she has though, there was a reaction, she is like super strong now.” Mannis let go of the boy who promptly scurried out of the room.

“Huh, that must have been how you put the keyboard through their heads.” Mannis grabbed the girl by the back of her shirt, ripping her grasp on Trev’s neck.

“Get out of here,” Said Mannis, looking at Trev.

The girl thrashed about in his grasp, trying with all she had to get free.

“You don’t know who I am,” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “I am the granddaughter of Freemont, the revolutionary who pulled us from chaos and into the light of tech…”

She promptly passed out before she could finish as Mannis hit her on the side of the head with the butt of his pistol.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that all before.” Mannis looked over at the boy, rubbing the spot on his neck where her hands had just been. “You alright?”

“Um, I think so.” The boy said, before bursting into tears. “This is just so much, I don’t know how much more of this I can—“

“I don’t really care, kid.” Mannis said, observing the room around him. “This is going to be a shit ton of paperwork.”

Thank you for reading! If you liked my story, please look for more of my works at www.absurdlypolitical.com and www.thirddonkey.com



Mannis Cracks the Bell Curve

  • ISBN: 9781310687495
  • Author: A.E. Fortier
  • Published: 2015-12-22 03:05:16
  • Words: 2274
Mannis Cracks the Bell Curve Mannis Cracks the Bell Curve