Kiersten’s Adventures

Christy Radosevich

Chapter 7: Schoolhouse Rock

Kiersten managed to withstand about a week’s worth of classes with minimal excitement. Despite everything that had gone on in her life recently, the winds of change had temporarily let her slip into a doldrum. Her assignments were excitement enough, she figured, even though they weren’t that difficult to accomplish, especially in the company of Ickis, Krumm, and Oblina. She enjoyed scaring probably more than any of the other students in the academy… and had a higher success rate as well! She was rather dismayed that she couldn’t sit with her new roomies in class; it did get a bit long and dull after a while. The Gromble’s lectures, as Ickis had warned her, had gotten monotonous real quick.

This particular day, she was trying her best to pay attention, slouching down in her chair and drumming her pencil in a fairly annoying beat on her notepad. Finally, something perked her earfans up.

"Who can tell me why humans travel in groups?" The Gromble looked almost too eagerly to his students, bending his bone pointer between his claws until it creaked with the stress.

Snaf raised his hand and said, "Because they’re sticky." Kiersten chuckled.

"No. Sloolup?"

"Because they’re lonely?"

"NO!" The monster professor groaned and called on Oblina, hoping for a correct response.

"They feel that there is safety in groups. The more humans there are, the more secure they feel."

"Yes, thank you Oblina. Now…" The dragon raised her claw high over her head and waved it to make sure she’d be noticed in time. "Yes, Miss Kiersten?"

"That’s not entirely true."

"Why, as a matter of fact, it IS. It even says so on page three hundred fifty-two of your Monster Manual, WHICH, APPARENTLY, YOU HAVEN’T BEEN READING OR YOU WOULD KNOW THIS!"

"I read it. I just don’t agree with it." Muttering went up from the rest of the students in the lecture hall. Kiersten could tell she’d just made a bad move, but she continued anyway, hoping to make a case for herself. "Most of the time, humans do not move in groups for security, though that is the case sometimes. ‘Safety in numbers,’ they call it. But that usually only applies to cases when there is danger about. People are more likely to get attacked when they are by themselves. They get in trouble out in remote areas and need help sometimes. But otherwise, I’m going to have to agree with Sloolup. Humans, like monsters, are very social creatures. We enjoy each others’ company and input on certain situations. And if we’re not around other humans, we’re lonesome."

The Gromble raged. Kiersten muttered and "oops" under her breath. "The Manual is the MOST ACCURATE book about humans THAT THERE IS! Much as I appreciate your occasional input, Miss Kiersten, in this case I DID NOT ASK YOU YOUR OPINION!"

"It’s not an opinion!" she shouted back, eyes beginning to burn red at him. "Maybe your dusty old book isn’t as accurate as you think!" The classroom went silent. Even the Gromble didn’t have a response for that comment. He just stood there, looking enraged to the point of explosion.

"DIZZLE!" he finally shouted, causing the monster to jump out of her seat. "Escort Kiersten to the Snorch."

Dizzle seemed almost frozen in her spot, as was every other monster in the room. The only motion in the room came after nearly a minute. Ickis timidly raised his claw.

"What is it, Ickis?" the Gromble snarled at him.

"Um… your Grombleness, sir… I… I think that Kiersten may be right. She is a human, after all…" he tried to phrase carefully.

"DO YOU DOUBT MY ENTIRE TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?!?" he yelled, stomping his two front feet on the hardwood floor for emphasis. Ickis sank under his desk. "DIZZLE! Take these two to the Snorch! NOW!" The three monsters in question bolted for the door, not willing to face the whole of the Gromble’s wrath.

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"Confidentially, Kiersten," Dizzle told her as they walked slowly down the halls, "I think you’re right, too. The Gromble’s just too proud to admit that the Manual could be wrong."

"Thanks, Dizzle…" The dragon’s ears and head drooped a bit. She dreaded going to the Snorch. From all she’d heard from Ickis and the other monsters, being Snorched was the worst fate a monster could endure! Nothing in human society short of the Salem witch trials could describe the torture misbehaving students—like herself, she noted—had to go through! She was not looking forward to this.

"Uh-oh… it sounds like opera night again…" Ickis moaned. "We’re gonna die!"

Kiersten remembered Ickis and Oblina telling her that the Snorch’s favorite method of torture was to use human music, the more classical varieties of which no monster could stand! "Hmmm… ya know, that could work! Dizzle, can we swing by my locker real quick?"

"Umm… I dunno. That’s usually against the rules, and if anyone finds out, I’ll get Snorched too… but I guess it’d be okay as a last request. Sure."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence…" she muttered in return. Kiersten knocked on her locker’s door. The small monster inside swung the door open. "Yeah? What? Class isn’t over. You shouldn’t be here."

"I know, locker. I’m getting Snorched. I need my boom-box and tapes, quick."

The locker monster handed over the required items. "I smell trouble coming with this one. Been nice knowing you." The door shut.

Ickis smiled. "I get it! Fight music with music, right?"

"Badda-bing. Here, Icky. These are for you," she said, fishing a small packet out of her backpack pocket. "My dad always had me keep some around for emergencies."

"What are they?" Ickis asked, tearing the package open and eating the plastic.

"Earplugs."

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Ickis and Kiersten laughed and chatted just as they would at any other place in the school. Ickis wondered why Kiersten was taking her first Snorching so well. For some reason, he wasn’t as frightened of the Snorch himself this time! He hoped, for both of their sakes, that whatever she had planned worked… or they’d really be in trouble!

"Ah, look, Snorchie.. eet ees our good friend Eekis," Zimbo sneered sarcastically at the two monsters sitting in the waiting room. "End Miss Kiersten azzz waeill. Waeilcome to the Snorch’s lair," he buzzed evilly, shifting his position on the Snorch’s head.

"Zimbo. Can’t say it’s a pleasure to see you again. Heya, Snorch!" she grinned widely. "How’s it goin’?"

"Auuwugghh," the Snorch rumbled, also appearing to smile through the two inverted tusks at the corners of his mouth.

"He sez, ‘fine,’" Zimbo translated. "Eentu de chaember, eef chu pleazzze."

The two students walked into the main room in front of the towering monster, Kiersten being careful to keep the radio out of his line of sight, quickly stashing it under a chair as she sat down. She switched her tail around nervously, exchanging looks with Ickis. The Snorch and Zimbo were busy preparing their torture mechanisms… opera music, of course. Ickis made sure neither of them was looking his direction and popped the precious earplugs into his sensitive ears. Kiersten selected a tape from her collection and slid it silently into the cassette player with a hind foot, then used her twitching tail to crank the volume up to full blast and check to see if the Bass Boost was on.

The Snorch ambled up, still wearing his typical green suit with purple polka-dots, but also sporting a horned Viking helmet with fake blond braids streaming form the sides. He carried a decorative spear in one hand and a trash can lid in the other. Kiersten tried to hold back her laughter, but failed miserably, giggling herself off the bench and onto the floor. "Arrrruuaaugh…" said the Snorch.

"He sez, ‘Aii wud not be laughing eef Aii were chu,’" translated Zimbo.

"I’m sorry… I’m sorry…" the dragon sniffed, trying to compose herself, wiping a tear away from her eye. "Please, continue." She remained sitting on the floor.

Ickis braced himself, for effect more than from fear, grateful for the earplugs. The Snorch drew in a deep breath, but before any "singing" escaped his throat, Kiersten slammed a claw down on the play button.

"HAAAAALELUUUJAH!!! HAAAAALELUUUJAH!!" screamed the speakers, resonating through the room with such force that things began to rattle as if they were actually caught in a 4.5 earthquake. This wasn’t the only side effect of the loud music: Zimbo and the Snorch were both mortified. Zimbo passed out almost instantly, toppling off the larger monster’s head like a tumbleweed in the wind. He was followed soon after by the Snorch, who fell backwards in a stiff heap, squashing the little buzzing flyer.

Kiersten snickered triumphantly and fast-forwarded the tape to the end of the Hallelujah Chorus, turning the volume back down to its normal level. "Ding-dong, the Snorch is dead," she proclaimed proudly to Ickis, who pulled the plugs out of his ears.

"Boy, I didn’t hear a thing! Wish I’d had some of these earlier!"

"Keep ‘em," she grinned as Little Richard came on her boom-box, singing "Casper, the Friendly Ghost." "Ever learn to dance, Icky?"

"Not officially," he shyly admitted. She grabbed his claws in hers and they spun in a tight circle around the Snorch’s lair. He was pretty good for a beginner, Kiersten thought. He picked up the spin especially fast, and she snapped her wings in to flow with them.

Other students began peeking into the room, startled by the unfamiliar—and definitely not the Snorch’s—music. Kiersten eagerly invited them all to join in the fun. Within minutes, they had started a full-blown dance party. The volume was worked upwards as more and more monsters congregated in the large room.

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The Gromble began to wonder about the increasing amount of noise coming from the Snorch’s quarters. He had already sent several students to check and report back to him. All had gone; none had returned yet. He was about to send another student when… Wait! There, it had stopped. The others would probably be back shortly. Whereupon he would most likely send them right back for their own Snorchings.

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Someone let out a startled gasp. The music was shut off. All motion in the crowded room suddenly ceased. The Snorch was beginning to come around. Kiersten coolly strode forward and helped the big lug to his feet. She motioned for Jigger to turn the music back on and "Banditos" began to play.

"Care to dance, Big Guy?"

"Bleaarrghh!" the towering monster replied, smiling. Kiersten proceeded to teach him a few moves. He wasn’t the best dancer by far, but he was having fun, and that was all that mattered to anyone. The crowd applauded, encouraging them.

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"Oblina, Krumm, go try to find the others, and REMEMBER to REPORT BACK! I’m tiring of this little game very quickly." The classroom was nearly three quarters empty by this point. If these two didn’t come back, he was just going to have to check the situation out himself. "As for the rest of you, open your Monster Manuals to page five fifty-eight and READ!"

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Oblina and Krumm stared unbelieving into the mass of monsters in the Snorch’s lair. The entire place was jumping! Even the Snorch and Zimbo were in on the fun!

"Hey! Oblina! Krumm! Over here!" Ickis fought his way through the mob to welcome his roommates to the party.

"Ickis, what is going on here? The Gromble keeps sending scouts, but no one is returning," Oblina explained.

"Well, it was kind-of an accident, but Kiersten managed to start a dance party in here… She played some really horrible human music and knocked out the Snorch and Zimbo and…"

"I knew it! I knew she was behind all this! I told you from the very beginning that she was going to be a troublemaker!"

"She’s not that bad," Krumm mumbled, defending his friend and getting into the groove of things.

"KRUMM! Stop that! We have to report back to the Gromble!"

Just then, Kiersten loped up. "Hey guys! Glad you could finally make it! Come on in. Someone brought a case of motor oil, but it’s going fast, so if you want some, it’s over in the corner."

"Thanks!" Krumm said happily and sneaked that direction before Oblina could catch him.

"Follow me, Oblina. I’ll put on ‘500 Miles’ next. You’ll absolutely love it!"

"But…" she gasped, "…the Gromble said that we would be Snorched if we did not come back! More than half the class is gone, and worse, they’re all here, at a party YOU started during class hours!"

"It wasn’t my fault… it just kinda happened on its own," the dragon grinned toothily. "Besides, the Snorch is having just as much fun and will get just as much blame as the rest of us here. See?"

Oblina’s jaw dropped as the Snorch dipped one of the other monsters at the end of a song. "All right, you’ve convinced me," she muttered. "Besides, what’s wrong with a little fun now and then?"

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The headmaster smacked his forehead with a gloved hand. Sometimes he wondered why he even tried sending students. "Class is dismissed. The four of you will be exempt from next class’s assignments." The students cheered and headed out of the room at top speed, before the Gromble could change his mind. All of them headed straight for the Snorch’s to see for themselves what was up.

"What in the world is going on here?" he grumbled to himself, stomping out of the vacant lecture hall toward the Snorch’s place.

What was that racket? HUMAN music?! Oohh… that human! She was driving him to his wit’s end!

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"And I-yi would walk five hundred miles, and I-yi would walk five hundred more just to be the man who walked a thousand miles to fall down at your door…" The music blared as the students formed an enormous ring and jogged in and out in time to the music. Laughing screams were heard over the music as part of the ring squashed out of proportion and collapsed in on itself. The Gromble stood at the door and scowled as he saw Oblina, his best student, trip and land on the Snorch, both laughing boisterously.

Before he even saw her coming, Kiersten had grabbed him by the arm and hauled him out onto the makeshift dance floor. Some students gawked and others cheered as she began teaching the old monster some moves. "Follow my lead," she told him, swinging in and out, then leading him into a Pretzel. As if that hadn’t made him dizzy enough, she crossed her arms, grabbing his gloved claws. "Lean back, and don’t let go!"

"Miss Kiersten, what…"

"Clockwise!" The dragon snapped her wings in flat to her back and leaned her full weight back, beginning to spin to the left. The Gromble had no choice but to do likewise. The students around them formed a ring around them, giving them enough room to whirl in, and clapped to the beat of "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me." The circling got faster and faster as their own momentum carried them along and added to their speed.

"I can’t hold on!" the Gromble yelled as his feet began tangling together, even though he’d already picked up the front two and was now balancing on his back ones. Faster and faster… his hands began to slip away from Kiersten’s.

"No! Don’t let go!" she screamed at him too late, sailing backward and away from the professor. The Gromble flew backward into the wall of students, meeting with a somewhat soft landing as they collapsed under him.

The room went dead silent. Some monsters stared at Kiersten, who was trying to stand back up, lacking the balance to, but most at the Gromble, who lay dazed at Snaf’s feet. They all knew they were in trouble.

The Gromble waited until the room had stopped spinning and then sat up (to the relief of the monsters under him). He tried to suppress the urge, but… what the heck.

To the students amazement, the old headmaster busted up laughing. "Ha ha ha, hoo hoo, ha ha haha! I haven’t had this much fun in CENTURIES! Ha ha, hee hee hee! Thank you, Miss Kiersten," he chuckled. The monsters around him helped him to his feet. He was hardly able to stand between the dizziness and his continued hysterical laughing.

Ickis darted up to Kiersten, who had also recovered from the comical escapade, as "Hey, Pachuco!" came on the radio. "May I have this dance?"

"I’d be honored, Ickis."

The mob cheered wildly as they took the floor and executed several difficult spins and throws. The dance ended with a perfect dip from Ickis as Kiersten extended her wings, legs, and tail. The crowd roared with excitement. Even the Gromble couldn’t help but applaud them, getting in on the fun.

"Are you sure you’ve never danced before?" Kiersten asked him as he tilted her back up to her feet.

"Well, maybe once or twice… but I’ve watched a lot."

"Geez, Ickis! Most humans I know can’t dance that well!"

"Well," he said cynically as he caught his breath, "I’m not a human, am I?"

"You’re sure not… Whew! I’m pooped," she sighed. "Hmm… sounds like my box could use some new batteries."

Ickis perked his huge ears up. "Sounds okay to me."

"YOU, Mr. Monster, don’t know what to listen for. That thing’ll permanently warp my tapes if I don’t give it some fresh Energizers soon! I think I have some in my pack, back at the room. Wanna come with?"

"Sure," he replied. "I could stand a little cool air."

"Gah, know what you mean!" Kiersten gasped, fanning herself with her wings.

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The halls were quiet and deserted except for the two of them and the faint echoes of the party. The coolness felt wonderful after being in the "dance-room" full of monster body heat.

"Ughh… who knew this would last so late?"

"Well, not like any of us has ever done this before… we’re lucky to get a decent party going once a decade or so."

"Geez… you guys are really deprived," she said, fishing through her backpack pocket for the two remaining copper-tops.

Ickis watched her from his bed as she flicked her tail back and forth, getting irritated with her bag and the elusive batteries. She’d brought so much excitement to his life lately… he didn’t even mind doing his assignments, so long as it meant being around her. And the important thing was that she liked him! How many times had the others ignored him or not invited him along because he was clumsy or shy or looked like a bunny rabbit? Why, if he had a rat for every time….

"Ready?"

"Uh.. yeah," he said, hopping off the end of the bed.

"Wow.. it’s so quiet in here with everyone out at the Snorch’s," she observed. Ickis just stared at her as she glanced around the empty hall, the dim light gleaming of her scales. "Dontcha think?"

He wondered, did she love him, deep down? He knew about the drawings in her diary… she had said that she wasn’t sure if it was a crush (or a squish)… but could it be?

"Yo, Ickis… anybody home in there?"

"Kiersten, I… You… If…" he stuttered, and not finding the words instead leaned forward to kiss her. She met him with surprise but not resistance, and kissed back. The two eventually separated, gazing deeply at each other, equally surprised and entranced. Kiersten ran a gentle claw up to the back to his head, and drawing him in, they embraced and kissed again, this time with more and surer passion. Claws ran across scales and skin, the sensations new to both of them, until they broke again wordlessly. The dragon blushed a deep red beneath her green muzzle-scales.

Cutting the silence between them short, Kiersten looked up to the hall clock. "Holy CRAP! My tapes are gonna be in shreds by the time we get back there!" she groaned, heading off down the hall.

Ickis lagged slightly behind, giving himself a moment to celebrate. "Yyyyess!" he whispered, emphasizing the word by pulling his elbow and fist down to waist level. As he rounded the corner into the main hallway, he heard Kiersten give a happy little squeak and dance victoriously down the corridor.

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