Tales from Ohio Academy #0

A story by Andrew Perron

Clarence Grzanowski wasn’t doing well in Chemistry. But Clarence Grzanowski had two things: amazing shapeshifting abilities, and a Plan!

Clarence stood by the sink in the bathroom of his dorm room. He closed his eyes, cleared his mind, and pictured the principal of the school. Middle aged, Middle Eastern, middle-of-the-road. Bits of gray hair, and some wrinkles…

His astounding powers would let him shift his skintight suit into some appropriate clothes, too. He would probably be wearing, like, a boring suit and a boring tie… yeah, that was pretty much it…

He opened his eyes and looked in the bathroom mirror. Gray eyes under bushy brows looked back. A perfect duplicate!

Now to put his Plan into action!

Clarence opened the dorm room door a crack and peeked out. Time to act natural. He stepped out and walked in as dull and as suit-wearing a way as possible, down the hall and out the fire door.

He ran across the square to the Schwartz Annex, head flipping back and forth, watching out for anybody who would realize the principal wasn’t supposed to be in this place at this time. There were a few other students around, but heck, if he saw the principal running around somewhere, he’d probably just think he was doing principal things, right?

“Mr. Ahmadi, what are you doing?”

…right?? Clarence stopped and sloooowly turned around. Oh, it was Kayla, from the junior class. Well, this was just a minor hitch in his Plan! “Oh, I was just… keeping physically fit. Can’t expect my students to work out if I’m not willing to work out too, ha ha ha!”

“Oh… ha ha.” She had one eyebrow raised.

“Ha ha. So yes, you’d better get back to class, young lady!”

“Well… I would, but classes have already ended for the day.”

Oh yeah. That was kind of why he’d come out in the first place. “Ah, well then… I had better get along! Ha ha! Goodbye, young lady!”

He jogged to the Schwartz Annex, turned the corner, and collapsed against the wall. Well. He had handled that rather nicely!

He turned, tripped over his own feet and scraped his legs on the pavement. Ow, crap, crap, Mr. Rodriguez said he needed to practice moving with a different center of gravity, owwww…

Okay, okay. He pushed himself back to his feet, glancing from side to side. Nobody saw that, right? Right. He closed his eyes and pushed his knee cells back into place, the scrapes disappearing. Okay, good, let’s keep going.

Two more steps and he made it to the side door. He slipped carefully in and closed it behind him. Almost there. Third door on the left.

Step, step, one. Step, step, two. Step, step, step… three! He opened the door quickly, slipped in, closed it behind him, and turned around.

Ms. Andersen, his Chemistry teacher, was sitting at a desk, looking at him with an odd expression. “Fariad. Pleasure to see you… and could you tell me what’s going on?”

“Ms– ah, that is,” what was her name WHAT WAS HER NAME “Gertrude…” He sat down in the chair across from her, folded his legs, unfolded them, and sat back, hands very seriously folded on his lap. “I’d like to talk about Clarence Grzanowski’s grades.”

She looked him up and down and said, “I see.”

“You see, he’s a good kid. Not a perfect student, but I think the score you gave him on your last test was rather harsh; with some encouragement and perhaps the chance to earn some extra credit, I feel he could be an exemplary student.” It had worked! He felt extremely confident in his disguise, and in the fact that Ms. Andersen didn’t suspect a thing.

Ms. Andersen sighed. “Clarence, I know it’s you.”

…oh. The form of a middle-aged principal melted away, and a very embarassed teenage boy in spandex was left sitting there. “um. sorry.”

“You know, you could have just asked for extra credit.”

“sorry. um.” Clarence coughed into his hand. “Uh… what gave me away?”

She sighed and smiled, standing up and walking around her desk. “I’d like to say that it’s because most young shapeshifters, when they’re copying the form of a specific person, make it too consistent. They forget all the tiny little imperfections that real human beings have – sort of like cheap CGI. Any teacher who’s worked with shapeshifting Extras can spot it like that.” She snapped her fingers.

“Oh. Wow.” Clarence rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess I have a lot to lea– wait, you’d like to say that?”

“Well, yes.” She took off her glasses, cleaning them on her blouse. “In this case, I didn’t really need that. Because frankly, Clarence? Next semester? You might want to consider an acting class.”

And that’s how Clarence Grzanowski got detention.

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