Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 15
Stories
Body Language
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Lo'ihi Rising
by Geoffrey W. Cole
Sweet as Honey
by Bradley P. Beaulieu
Aim for the Stars
by Tom Pendergrass
Folk of the Fringe Serialization
Pageant Wagon
by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card Audio
Aim for the Stars, by Tom Pendergrass
Read by Orson Scott Card
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Get out of Gym for Free
    by David Lubar
Get out of Gym for Free
Artwork by Lance Card

"All right, you toads -- line up!" Mr. Odzman screamed.

"What's he so angry about?" I asked.

"I heard he's always like that," my friend Curtis said.

"This is going to stink." I got in line in front of the bleachers with the rest of the class. It was the first period of the first day of middle school, and we had gym. I figured the gym teacher would be tough, but he looked like he was about to bite off someone's head and spit it onto the floor.

"I know what you worms are thinking," he said. "You're thinking gym is going to be awful. But you're wrong. It's going to be worse than awful."

He paused to stare, one by one, at each of us. As his eyes met mine, I felt all of my organs contract into fleshy spheres. Even my lungs constricted.

"But you're wrong about something else, too," he said. "It won't be bad for all of you. One of you is going to get a break. Whoever wins the free-for-all gets to skip gym for the rest of the year. Sound good?"

We all nodded. It's hard to nod and tremble at the same time.

"I wonder what the rules are?" Curtis asked.

We found out a couple seconds later.

Mr. Odzman walked over to the door that led to the locker room. "Last man standing gets out of gym. I'll be back in ten minutes to see who the winner is."

He step to the other side and pulled the door closed. I heard a bolt slide into place.

Last man standing? I looked at Curtis. "He's got to be kidding."

There was something dangerous in his eyes. I leaped back as he swung a fist at my head. All around me, kids had exploded into action, punching or tackling whoever was nearest.

Curtis staggered toward me, thrown off balance by his missed punch. I bent over and rammed my head into his stomach. He grunted and toppled over. I started to straighten up, but I felt a sharp pain in my back. Maybe using my head as a weapon wasn't the best idea.

Groaning at the pain, I straightened up. Curtis managed to stand, too, but only briefly. Someone flew past me and tackled him. I spun around, trying to spot any attackers.

The fight didn't last long. I got knocked down real hard and twisted my knee. I couldn't get up.

Bobby Soames, who's been lifting weights since he was five, won the battle. He was the only person standing when Mr. Odzman came back in.

"Very good," he told Bobby. "You get out of gym for the year. The rest of you, I'll see you next week. Unless you're too injured to take class. You don't need a doctor's note. I'll take your word for it."

Too injured? I staggered to my feet and tried to take a step. I felt like someone was using my knee as a knife holder. It would be weeks before I could walk without pain. All around me, kids were limping, groaning, and moaning.

As we stumbled into the locker room, Mr. Odzman walked over to his office, plopped into his chair, and put his feet up on his desk. "He looks pretty happy," I told Curtis.

"You'd be happy, too, if you didn't have to do any work."

"I guess so. I think we're all going to bring notes." I headed for our next class. As I reached the hall, a chilling thought hit me. "Curtis?"

"What?"

I pictured gas fires, powerful acids, toxic fumes, and broken glassware. "You don't think it will be like this in science class, do you?"

Curtis sighed. "I hope not."

I looked ahead of us, toward the science lab, where a plume of smoke poured out the door. Kids were crawling out into the hallway, crying and moaning. It was going to be a long day.


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