This is a transcription of the recordings of a bug placed in the office of the principal (a Mr. Christopher Harris) of Lacuna’s K-12 school. This single building serves the entire city, and is the only public school in the entire metropolitan area. Almost all Lacuna children attend it for the entirety of their period of mandatory education. The school is officially named “Lakeside Academy”, but all of the students and even the faculty refer to it as “The Tower”. This is because the building is very tall: thirteen stories, plus the basement, and made out of old local limestone. Each grade level has its own story, with Kindergarten on the ground floor along with the cafeteria, kitchen, and theater. The basement holds the library, as well as various storage spaces, common areas, and faculty offices, including the principal’s. The conversation recorded here is of particular interest, because it is between principal Harris, Megan Penn, and her daughter, Subject Delta (aka Dawn), and casts some light on the pace of Delta’s development.
[Sound of knocking]
Principal Harris: Come in. Ah! Mrs. Penn! How are you this evening?
Megan Penn: Miss.
Harris: I beg your pardon?
Penn: It’s “Miss Penn”. There’s no “Mister”.
Harris: Ah! I see. My apologies… But now, to business. Do you know why we’re all here, Dawn?
Subject Delta: Because I told too much truth?
Harris: Ah… yes, something like that. Mrs… pardon me, Ms. Penn… Dawn’s teacher, Mrs…. Miss! Harken… what’s come over me today? Anyway, she came to me this afternoon in tears. It seems your daughter had somehow found out about her recent divorce. There’s a fight over custody as well as property… a very unpleasant business. In any case, Dawn seemed to feel it was appropriate to share that information with the entire class. Dawn, Ms. Harken told me that you said some very nasty things to her and that you were even laughing about it! What do you have to say for yourself?
Delta: That’s not fair! I thought everyone already knowed it! Besides, she was screaming at me for something I didn’t even do, just because he had been screaming at her earlier!
Harris: Hmm… well, that as may be. But what you did was still wrong, Dawn. That was her private business.
Delta: [muttering] Hardly…
Harris: What was that?
Delta: I said it weren’t her business no more when she started shouting it inside my…
Penn: That’s enough, young lady!
Harris: Well… I don’t think we’re going to get much further between the three of us. I’ll go fetch Ms. Harken, so we can hear it straight from the horses mouth… ah, so to speak.
[Harris gets up and leaves, the door closes.]
Penn: Now what have I told you? The first month of school, and you’re already getting in trouble!
Delta: I’m sorry mommy! I couldn’t help it! I just needed to use the bathroom, and she started yelling! She was saying I was trying to skip out of class, and I wasn’t even! And the whole time that man was screaming at her in her head. It was so loud, I thought everyone could hear it!
Penn: We’ve talked about this, Dawn. Other people don’t hear or see or know things the way we do, and they can’t know that you know, or they’ll be afraid, and when people get afraid they get mad, and then they could hurt us.
Delta: I know… it’s just so hard… everybody’s always talking, even when they’re not… and I can’t concentrate. Everyone thinks I’m bad at school even though I always know all the answers, and Ms. Harken always yells at me. She thinks I’m not paying attention… and, well… sometimes I’m not. Sometimes she says interesting stuff, but most of the time she’s pretty boring, and they make you sit still forever and ever and she just talks and talks and talks. But usually I’m listening to her silent voice, at least, or someone else’s… Or else I’m walking the Wyrdworlds… or watching the little people play. Or doodling. Are we really the only ones who can see them? I mean, did you see the Goblin doing handstands on Principal Harris’ head? And the only reason I laughed at Ms. Harken is ’cause there was a Gnome on her desk pulling faces at me!
Penn: I know it’s difficult, sweetheart. Of course I saw the goblin, I still do… he’s the bluish-green one with the red hair and four arms, right?
Penn: But Principal Harris didn’t, and so we have to pretend we don’t either. It’s never easy to pretend to be someone you’re not, but we’ve got to. If we make ourselves known, They might find us, and then they’d try to take you back to the Bad Place.¹ You don’t want that, do you?
Delta: [whimpers, then whispers] No, mommy.
Penn: Don’t worry, honey, I’ll never let them take you back there. But we both have to be careful. We have to keep our secrets.
Delta: Like sneaky spies?
Penn: Just like that. Now shush… Harris and Harken are coming back. Don’t worry, just let me do the talking. I’ll get us out of this…
Ms. Janet Harken: There’s the insolent little brat! I demand she be punished for her disrespect and insubordination! I want her suspended! Expelled!
Harris: Now, Janet, there will be consequences, but I don’t think there’s a need for…
Harken: There is every need! It starts with this, just little things, and then they don’t listen to a word you say, and laugh at you behind your back, and disrespect you every chance they get, and then one day they just leave and…
Harken: You’re her mother, aren’t you?
Penn: I am… and don’t worry Janet, everything will be alright.
Harken: What? What on Earth are you talking abou…?
[At this point, Megan Penn begins to sing. The song is very melodic, and might even be called beautiful, but uses a very odd rhythm structure. The “lyrics” consist of sounds that resemble speech but do not correspond with any known natural language. In fact, they bear most resemblance to forms of glossolalia and “gibberish”. The song continues for about three minutes, rising steadily in volume until it crescendos and descends. When she finishes, for a moment there is complete silence, and then she clears her throat]
Harken: …is exactly what I mean! I love teaching, but sometimes it just gets so overwhelming, and between the new school year and the divorce… I just snapped, I suppose. I hope you can forgive me, Dawn…
Delta: It’s OK, Ms. Harken. I know you didn’t mean it.
Harken: Oh thank you Dawn, you don’t know how much that means to me. You’re such a sweet girl… and so bright, too! I… I loved reading your last essay! Keep up the good work! I’ll… see you in class.
Penn: [Whispers] Dawn, cover your ears. Hey Harken!
Penn: Tell that two-timing sonofabitch to suck it.
Harken: [laughs] You know, I really, seriously will. Thanks Megan.
Penn: Sure thing, sweetheart.
[Harken leaves, door closes]
Harris: Well, Ms. Penn, I hope everything has been resolved to your satisfaction?
Penn: Everything is quite satisfactory, thank you Christopher. Come on Dawn, let’s go home. Say goodbye to Mr. Harris.
¹ Presumably the Washington facility.