Ben felt like a prisoner in his own stupidity and the teacher’s stare and her glass’s glare made him feel like one of those off-planet captives that come into port wearing titanium shackles and holding a bullet in their mouth. Ben knew it wasn’t a real pullet, only shaped like one. Ben also knew they tasted terrible. He looked up at the teacher and grimaced a smile that told her everything she already suspected. Ben was too stupid for her class and this school and too dangerous to be anywhere else. He scratched harder at his head with blood-caked nails.
With each step, Ben’s head started to smoke. He wrote down all the numbers listed in the problem, but he didn’t know what order they went in. He wrote down all the names, from Harry to Mark (there was a Ben in there too, and he thought it was a sign. It was not), but that didn’t enlighten him, not one bit. Ben’s teacher stared like she always did when Ben started scratching at his scalp, digging out the knowledge he was so sure was inside (it wasn’t) or making a hole for it to enter (it wouldn’t). Ben whimpered.
I was working on a drabble last week, just as an exercise to get the writing juices flowing, when it turned into something else. Seven hundred words later I had a series of drabbles that were converging on a possible story and, since I'll be launching a serialized story this summer (on Amazon Vella), I thought I'd add a smaller serial here. I'm not sure I'll go past the original 700 words, but the commitment by you and I will be small, at least. :)
Ben thought long and hard, which, to a normal person, would have been a short wonder, but for Ben, never one to be normal or short, was a hot, thick think. The solution was right in front of him, he thought, but the solution was far away in the distance smoke, unknowable to a guy like Ben. For a normal person, the distance smoke was within reach. For Ben, it lay outside his whole existence. Ben didn’t belong in this class. He didn’t belong in this building. Those in the know knew that he didn’t even belong on this planet.