Adam Papercut: Uncertain Times

Adam Papercut: Uncertain Times

By SF Hades

One Week After T.H.A.N.O.S. And The Infinity Folds

Dane Jackson 

Huh, I thought, Wheeler seems awfully crowded.  I was obviously tuckered out, I was a bit behind on my school work because of that vacation, I missed maybe two weeks, so I didn’t think all that much of it.  After all, things change all the time. 

Guillermo Valenzuela tipped me off.  During those, say, twenty to thirty minutes before class, I bumped into him. I recognized him. Obviously, my brother rambled about him alot. He was, after all, one of the few people my brother even knew. 

Speaking of which, ever since Jason got out of juvie, he’s honestly become a pretty good person. Sure, we bicker, and he has the same set of beliefs, but he’s being homeschooled, so the war didn’t affect him so much. 

Guillermo seemed awfully jumpy, likely because he had met my brother, whom I was the spitting image of. “Oh, I’m so sorry, really, my bad, Jason.” He said, as he kneeled down and picked up my books. “Oh no, no, I’m not- yeah, I’m not Jason.” Guillermo looked me up and down, and then blushed for a moment. “Oh, oh, my mistake… Dane?” He asked, slightly unsure. 

“Yeah, Dane.” I said, and he offered me a handshake, “Oh sorry, I don’t do handshakes, sorry.” He backed away, ever so timidly. He tried to walk off to his classes. I stopped him first, he couldn’t leave just yet. I needed answers. “Say, Guillermo, whatcha doin’ here in Wheeler? Ya finally transfer to the right school?” 

He began to look angry, but, again, just ever so slightly. Jeez, this guy was stoic. “Well Dane, there isn’t really any other option, is there?” He asked, perplexing me. Like, really, really, perplexing me. 

I tried to look for Amias and Charli, they’d always help me out. They were my friends. Amias was leaning against a wall, he had gotten shockingly skinny recently, and he now wore a Naruto shirt underneath his JROTC vest; he was talking to two kids. Wheeler’s Hall Monitor and another kid, Noah Buckets. Amias was talking really fast, rapidly moving his hands, he had a crack in his glasses, making me question why he hadn’t replaced them. Noah looked like he cracked a joke because Amias and Adrian began to laugh. 

I made my way towards him, attempting to get Amias’ attention.  He didn’t see me, or he was ignoring me, both have happened before. Once it was at the same time, too. 

I snapped my fingers in front of him. “Hey Amias,” I began before Noah asked a very appropriate question, “Ayy, who’s this guy?” He asked. “Oh my bad, Dane, Noah. Noah, Dane. Adrian, Dane. Dane, Adrian.”

“Yeah, yeah, pleasure to meet you guys and all that but uh Amias, care to explain the whole- ” the bell rang, “Hey I need to get to class, tell me later, would ya?” he asked as he ran off, well, more of a jog. I’m just really slow. I made my way down the hall, and I realized, yes. Something was definitely wrong. 

My first class had Charli, who was sitting with someone I wish I didn’t recognize. It’s not that I didn’t like her, from what I hear she’s a great person. It’s just she shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t be at Wheeler. 

This person was, of course, Ms. Tilly Waterson. Her and Charli were in an intense conversation, and a file was in between them, it looked like it had a finger puppet of Spider-Man on it. I sat down next to Charli and tried to look at the file. “Classified.” She said, holding her status as Agent of F.O.L.D. close to the chest. 

“Charlotte, what did I tell you? F.O.L.D. is dead, nothing is ‘classified’ anymore.” 

Uh, what? 

Curiouser and curiouser.

I shared my concerns with the two and Charli filled me in. Apparently, Charli has just a really effective nickname, F.O.L.D.’s been shut down, and Tilly, Charlotte, and a small group of others have been figuring out just what to do with the files. They couldn’t destroy them, they’re Madison County’s history. Like it or not. 

On one hand, they’re able to be traced back to F.O.L.D., and she’s very adamant on no one in the future bringing it all back. They’ve been going through and redacting what needs to be redacted. 

And- and Kirby High School has been shut down. 

Thoughts were swirled around in my head like a hurricane. I remembered what the case file on me had said, the one that Charlotte had added on when submitting it to Tilly, was she going to redact her name now, too? And there was one other thing. I was supposed to be the hero. I was supposed to be the one who stood at the final gates of all heck and stopped all six members of T.H.A.N.O.S. effortlessly. I could’ve done more. I should’ve done more. I felt helpless, like someone had slid the world out from under my feet. 

Why is everyone acting like this is for the better? Things shouldn’t have changed, the war was fine as it was, it didn’t affect me, frankly, it didn’t affect a lot of us. 

I could see the walls inching closer, and I thought for a moment. What if Jason was right? He wanted to end the war by using a computer with a rather cursed history and bring it as a peace treaty. A surrender. The only thing is, Kirby should’ve been the one to surrender. They started all of this, they stole our monkey. You don’t steal our monkey. Kirby should’ve apologized for their faults, Wheeler should accept and it would all be easy peasy nice and cheesy. But no, we have to up and throw the students of Kirby into my school, which is just stupid. 

Those absolute morons. This will continue the war. FOLD should’ve known, Charlotte should’ve known, Amias should’ve known from JROTC. Heck, Thanos from the comics tried to decimate half. Everyone should’ve seen this happening, how could we, as a collective, be so stupid? 

When I got home I tried to find more about Guillermo. Why? Why not? It seemed I no longer had anything else fun to do. Through light stalking, I managed to find his non-private Instagram account. It appeared that he dabbled in web design, he even designed a fan post for The Dark Knight. A campaign poster for Harvey Dent. I decided to give this guy a DM, and in a spur of the moment question I asked him something, something I never really expected to ask. 

“Hey Guillermo, since next year Wheeler will be without a class president, would you mind making some campaign posters?”

About Three Months Later… 

Dane Jackson 

Well, we had finally returned to Wheeler. After the especially long summer vacation,  I had only talked with my friends through Discord, because of lockdown and all that. Charlotte was ecstatic, I think she’s my campaign manager now, but who really knows? I’m not really sure what I’m doing. Guillermo’s been excellent, his posters were amazing, he talked about a power struggle he had with Garth Graham. I’ve even had Amias go on Discord servers and post some of Guillermo’s posters, someone said they read like nineteen fifties post invasion propaganda, which is always a plus. 

Before the school year even started, people knew I was running. That’s what good marketing can do for ya. I talked to my team and I asked them what they wanted. Charlotte asked to reorganize origami, which I declined on doing. Amias asked to lift the origami ban, which I wanted to do badly but doubted I’d be able to do. What Guillermo said really hit me. He said I needed to use this position to eradicate bullying, completely. And also to not come off too strong, to not get too greedy with my power, he fought with some kid Garth over power for like the first month of school, he offered to be Head of Marketing and a Campaign Advisor. 

However, I didn’t want to become like our last president, all evil and stuff.  Nor did I want a heated rivalry, like Garth and Guillermo had in that first month. I mean, this is like a real election. I thought for a moment, well, I told myself, those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. 

Time for a history lesson, I suppose. 

During my lunch period, I snuck off to her locker and slid a note into it. I told her to me at Wendy’s, the universal place of meeting. 

She sat down, wearing sunglasses, her hair was down to her shoulders. She used to have her hair dyed a bright shade of pink, but lately she’d let her natural blonde take charge. I have to say, her makeup was on fleek. 

“So, Mr. Jackson,” she said, “I heard about you. You want to run for class president, right?” 

She asked, I tensed up. She said a few words and yet she said them with such demeanor I couldn’t help but stiffen, out of both respect and fear, she looked at me and softened. 

“Oh sorry, I scared you?” She asked, tilting her sunglasses down. “My bad. I’ve been working on that.” 

I awkwardly smiled, and realized that I hadn’t said a word. “No, no, don’t worry about it, I know how it is. So, I just wanna ask, how were you elected, I mean, yes, the means of your candidacy were a little bit out of whack, but surely you have something.” She tapped the table and looked up as she bit her lip. “Well, good campaign posters come in very handy, do you have anybody on your team who’s good with graphic design?” She asked. 

“Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. Guillermo Valenzuela.” I told her. 

“Oh I know him, isn’t he like the swim team?” 

“Yeah, that guy.” 

“Huh,” she said, “I didn’t take him for a designer.” 

“People surprise you like that, I guess.”

She scoffed,”Yeah, no kidding. What else…  ooh. I have something. ” she finally decided.

“Yeah?” I questioned. 

“There’s a ton of issues this school has, touching on them in a speech can be really helpful, with Kirby closing down there’s still quite a few grudges held, .” Suddenly she got a call, “Oh speaking of that right now, I need to talk to one of the former members of the student body right now, I need to help Shelby with her new job.” She finally said. “Hey Shel, what’s up?” She said, I mouthed to her, “Hey, I need to go.” And she nodded, vigorously. When I got home, I began to write my speech up and I think I thought up something that was really good. 

“Now as most of you know, I was locked in a closet for three hours, just last year, during those days one idea kept coming to me, about tomorrow. If we keep fighting for today, then tomorrow will be better. It kept coming back to me and deep down I knew, as hungry as one gets down there, things always get better. Now why am I telling you this? Well, my fellow students, my point is this. When circumstances are challenging, or frightening, asking ourselves what our school ‘is’ is pointless. Because all we will see, when we look around at the classrooms, and hallways, will be our own fears, our own instructions. Our own demons. But if we stop looking to the present and the past, and instead we look to the future. If we ask ourselves what can be, what will be tomorrow… then we’re asking the right question. Because to hope, to dream, to predict, is to shape the school yourself, rather than to be shaped by it. So, thus, if I am voted as your class president, I will work to solve the problems of this school, and fix many of the broken systems. So please, look past what Wheeler was, what Wheeler is, but for a moment, look at what Wheeler will be

“Now what I ask of you, students, is to vote for me. Vote for Wheeler’s future. Because I promise you, if we can do that together, a better, brighter, Wheeler Academy will be here for us, because it’s no longer about us, it’s about what we leave behind, because like it or not, this batch of students will change Wheeler in ways none of us could have ever imagined, so, please, a vote for me for is a vote for Wheeler’s future.”

 The moment I removed my pen from the paper I smiled. I had a speech. Nothing could go wrong, could it? 

Boy, do things go wrong 

Dane Jackson 

As the title of this chapter implies, things went very, very, wrong. I had Amias gather together as many people as possible and a relatively large crowd had formed, maybe thirty or so people were there. I told them my speech, and I followed up on it with some of my plans for what Wheeler will be.

It’s fascinating, really. The easiest way to get votes is to be the very first option made available. Hivemind practically takes over from there. Things were looking good, until the attempted assassination. 

Halfway through the speech, eggs were thrown at me. I honestly never really liked eggs, the yolks particularly. Ugh, I hate their texture and how they both moisten and dry my lips, and the flavor doesn’t really help either. 

Anywho, I dislike eggs, but I’ve never had enough experience with uncooked eggs to develop a well thought out opinion. Well, I mean, not until the moment in question, duh. Eggs being thrown at you can very quickly change your opinion on them. 

I looked at the perpetrators in question, and I mentally chastised their choice of masks. Bug masks, why did it have to be bug masks? I asked myself, surely, Jason couldn’t have caused this, he’s been doing better, and also none of the men had the signature Jackson height. So I mean, yippee, I figured out one person who it wasn’t. Now I have six billion, nine hundred ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine other people to interrogate, give or take a few million. 

Maybe it was Amias, he wasn’t there in the room, shockingly, maybe it was Charlotte, she’s been claiming to be ‘worried for my sanity,’ which is odd. Given that not having sanity is the literal antonym of insanity. Maybe it was Guillermo, maybe he didn’t like those comments I made on Kirby a few months back. I have no clue. Everyone is a suspect. No one can be trusted. 

Nonetheless, I was sent to the Nurse’s office, because I had egg in my eye, how sad. The greatest leader in this school’s history, reduced to nothing with egg yolks in his retina. The nurse had to get it out and she worried that it may be infected, but I shrugged it off. She handed me a tardy slip, because the bell had just rung, and sent me on my way. 

Waiting outside the door was Charlotte, her eyes looked slightly bloodshot and she was frowning, she quickly smiled and flicked one of my dark locks. “You have an egg in your hair.” She said, on the brink of laughter. “Very funny.” I told her, mumbling. “Why didn’t you go to class?” I asked her, to which she responded with a shrug. “I don’t know Sherlock, maybe it’s because I actually worry for you?” And she stopped at my classroom. “See ya at lunch.” I told her, and she smiled. “Ditto.” She simply responded, in truth, I didn’t want her to leave. I wanted her to stay right beside me, maybe we could go to Red Lobster. That would be fun. I wanted shrimp. 

Class was just boring, people began to stare at me more. I couldn’t tell if that was good or bad, some of the Kirbians awkwardly looked at me, like they were thinking, Jeez, is this what Wheeler looks up to? But I pushed those thoughts down, I had no room to even consider any possible failures. This had to work. I made a mental note to share this Google Document with Charlotte, Amias, and Guillermo next time we got on our computers. They were the people I had to trus, as much as I didn’t particularly want to. 

Ok what

Amias Hill 

Dane had me on a task, one in which I planned to do. I had to find out more information about this new “OrgAhnialation Wave,”  as Dane dubbed it. I always stay after school, because of JROTC missions again, y’know, it’s funny. Almost all of my importance is just staying after school. 

I had talked with our friend, Howard The Duct-Tape, and he came to the conclusion to sneak into “The Negative Room,” or so Dane, again, dubbed it. Accessing it is the hard part, given that it’s not been entered since the late eighties. There’s rumors that during war times people created secret networks right below the teacher’s noses. I had always brushed off these rumors as another folktale but they were my best bet. Now where could I find an entrance? I find myself asking. I peeked into the Janitor’s closet, and sighed sentimentally. I picked up an old sheet of paper, it looked like it had been there for a year. It read:

“Dane’s Guide to Surviving in a Janitor’s Closet for a Couple Hours While Tied Up

By Dane

Don’t be afraid to eat a rat.

Phones give off light. Light gives off heat. So, if you have your phone with you, hold it in your mouth and use it to cook stuff.

If it comes to it, you can get a small meal out of your knee. (WHICH I DEFINITELY DIDN’T DO.)(MAY I REPEAT I DEFINITELY DIDN’T.)

Write notes to your loved ones just in case you die.

Learn how to headbutt properly.”

I laughed, but when I picked the paper up there was a loose tile, and a dead rat with a ripped off tail. I had to stifle back a gag. Eww, it looked like it’s skull was caved in, I kind of push-poked it out of the way. Next to it, there was a small hole in the ground, not enough for me to fit through, but it gave me the right leverage to lift up another tile, and I had a hole big enough to hop in, it was very clearly a tunnel. There was also a tunnel. 

I began to crawl down, eventually dropping just beneath Wheeler’s floor, a corridor big enough for me to maybe fit if I squated. I figured this was part of Wheeler’s old basement that they tried to seal up after not really having a use for it. I began to walk forward, the only way for me to go, it was awfully warm in there, and it stunk. Like something was burning. On occasion, I saw some weird things. Origami Yondus, Starhawks, and many others would occasionally be found on the floor, there were a few ladders, one I climbed up and it appeared that there was a doorway here, one that had been recently sealed up, a crack was still there, and all it did was allow me to peer into the library. Thanks, really helpful. 

On other occasions, I would find small weapons. Nothing all that dangerous, maybe a nerf gun or a super soaker filled with ink, maybe even a suked up RC car… or two. Eventually I began to hear chatting, it was coming from somewhere in the tunnel, I slowly travelled the cavern and the chatting slowly turned into an audible conversation. 

“Have you smeared Jackson’s face?” One voice said, it was deep and seemed vaguely older than me. 

“Relatively, but rest assured. Everything is going as I- as we planned.” A small, meeker voice said. 

“Relatively?” The deeper voice asked, now sounding annoyed. 

“It’s nothing, there were certain unexpected variables.” The smaller voice pleaded. 

“Of course, there’s bound to be variables when saving Wheeler from itself. We need to make him squeal, while we still can. Remember what Jackson has done, to the both of us.” He paused, and I felt an eerie silence. “Wait. Someone is here, listening in.” And I heard the smaller voice behind me say, “Hello, Amias Hill.” Then, at that moment, from both sides of the tunnel, people in bug masks barrelled towards me. I gulped, and tried to push past as many of them as possible, I very narrowly did, however, as I climbed up the ladder back into the Janitor’s closet my leg was grabbed and I ended up losing my left shoe. My Mom got very mad at me for that, so thanks. Whatever you did to these guys must’ve been bad, because I think you just made a cult form. You also made me lose my shoe, so it’s personal now. 

Huh

Charlotte Storm

I called up Tilly, and I told her about the catacombs. Wow, never thought I’d say that sentence. She was stunned and wondered how F.O.L.D. had never found out about this. She told me her theory. She thinks F.O.L.D. agents created those catacombs as a secret hideaway, I refuse to believe that. 

Anyways, Dane called up a meeting the next day after school, involving me and Amias, it was the first time the three of us had just been alone since Jason was defeated, I pulled out a cassette tape, one I had swiped from F.O.L.D., right before Kirby was all walled up. I pressed record, from henceforth Dane will be Subject One and Amias will be Subject Two, my speech is in normal, Subject One is in bold and Subject Two is in italics. 

     Ok, yes, Amias, you sit there and Charlotte go right there, m’kay? Alright now that the seating is settled it’s time to begin our first meeting. Charlotte, did you bring the clipboard? [I pull out a clipboard with the itinerary and hand it to Subject One]  Alright, thank you. Ok so the first subject is my meeting with Seyla Solstice. 

     How did it go? 

    Fairly well, gave me some pretty good advice, and I couldn’t have managed to write down my speech without her help. 

     Oh that’s nice, speaking of which, should I post your full speech online, so that way your plans could be heard?

    Yes, that would be very helpful actually. 

     Ok, and what else do we have? 

Funny you should ask Amias. Next Topic: The Strange Escapades of The OrigAhnialation Wave. One thing I have learned is that my brother has no relation to this organization, except for a namesake. I have interviewed him, an interview I will soon add to the Google Doc. 

     Very well. So Amias, what have you learned? 

      Well not much, except that there’s about ten members. They’re following a leader, so eleven, the voice of the leader  is definitely not Jason, it was much deeper. They have some history with Dane, and want to quote un quote ‘save Wheeler from itself’ 

     Dane, idea what any of this means?

     I will rarely say this, but I haven’t the slightest clue. And my final statement is that in the coming month, i.e. this November, I plan to hold another conference, one dedicated to revealing the plans on the new directions I wish to take Wheeler. Any other notes?

    Nay 

   Nay

    Well then fair enough, may god bless Wheeler Academy, meeting adjourned. 

***

Dane decided to walk me home, one of the few romantic gestures he has given me in the past months. The moment was perfect, holding hands and due to, y’know, living in New York, the sun had already gone down. We talked about our favorite shows and our recent affinity for the Dark Knight Trilogy, and planned out a future, someday he wanted to live in the big city, Manhattan itself, he says that even though he’s only in his junior year of High School certain schools are already offering him scholarships, and that he might even accept one next year,  which surprised me. He never brought that up. I was about to question him on it when I was shoved onto the ground. Almost immediately I could tell my nose was bleeding, Dane stepped back for a moment then balled his fist. He was about to punch this guy, the guy didn’t look strong at all, he looked like anyone could take him, the night seemed to be illuminated by a glow in the dark Kirby hoodie that he wore. 

I ran towards him, I punched him and fell to the ground but then jumped back up and spit on the ground. “Oh, there’s some fight in you.” He said, “I like that.” Dane smirked, like the perfect movie quote came to him. “Well then you’re gonna love me.” He said, punching the guy in the nose, blood trickled down his nose. He smirked, he acted like he enjoyed this. “Oh, tough guy, wanna go?” The kid asked, Dane stepped a bit closer and fixed his posture, his face was less obscured revealing to the former Kirby Student that he was dealing with the soon to be class president, but it seemed he already knew who Dane was, knew who he was good and well. Dane punched him in the gut and onto the ground, kicking him once more while laughing. Dane spit on him, and I frowned. 

“Don’t do that.” I told him, “Don’t stand up for you? Don’t stand up to Kirbians like them?”

“Dane, trust me, you’re the only person in the world who still says Kirbians. Do you think they need to be singled out or something?” I asked him. 

“Well, as a matter of fact, I do. Think about recent times, disregarding Jude, all of the recent extremists have been on their side, Leonard Broderick, that green kid’s scathing emails. Wheeler has been pushing over for far too long, someone has to help.” He told me. 

“Dane, ” I touched his arm, “this isn’t what helping is, you’re sounding like a phyco.” 

“The levels of irony in that statement are just insane.” He said. He opened his eyes wide and I saw how bad they looked, “Ever since I came back from the vacation I have slept a total of fifteen hours. You have no clue how stressful this is, do you?” 

“Dane, go back home. Get some sleep,” I looked at his watch, “It’s past my curfew anyways, just go home, please.” I told him, and he looked at me, I looked at his arms, and he had dug his nails into his skin. 

“Seeya tomorrow Dane.” I told him, and I walked away. 

Vengeance 

Dane Jackson 

“Dane! Look at the election results so far!” Amias shouted as he dragged me to the bulletin results. The rival, Jerimiah Clinton, was behind by forty eight percent. I jumped up in happiness and quickly high-fived Amias. I ran for Charlotte and found her after five minutes of searching. I kissed her and wrapped my arms around her, pulling her to the bulletin board, “Oh… cool.” She said, 

“Wheelerites!” I began, starting off my second conference, this time I had more people rallying at my side. All cheering my name. And it was amazing, Guillermo gave me a thumbs up from behind the curtain, whispering to me  and I had stepped out into the auditorium, there I was, using an outdated term, ‘Wheelerites’, no worries, no one would care, “I have one question for you. Who is the boldest class president in Wheeler history? Some would rightfully say Seyla Solstice, but I disagree. I believe I’ve won this election, and by a lot, so you might want to put me on that list.” I began to walk around the stage, I took my microphone off of it’s stand, the projector projected a digital image of the American flag, but folded from origami. “I think I’m the boldest, I think I’m the best. Who was willing to use the banned arts and craft form that you love oh so much in their very own campaign, but through his own words got away with it?” I thumb pointed at myself, “This guy.” I said, I gave a smug smirk. “Who has saved your school, single handedly from tech thief’s? This guy!” I looked at Amias, he frowned, I haven’t the slightest reason as to why.  

“Now, my fellow friends and neighbors, I have some news, a sad reality that we overlook. Kirby isn’t dead just yet. Some extremists still hold on to hope, but this is the end of Kirby. The end of bullying. When I am elected, that false hope will be stomped out. At this very moment, some of Kirby’s scum lie to you, lie to you all, lie to you in saying that the spirit of Kirby still lives on, it doesn’t. 

“The kingdom that we have built will prove it, all remaining Kirbians will bow before Wheeler, and Wheeler shall bow before I, and I will lead Wheeler to greatness. And if I am voted in then people will remember this week, the election week, as the last day of Kirby!” I said, screaming. I went back behind the curtain and looked at my team, Guillermo wasn’t there, nor was Amias. Merely Charlotte. 

“Is this the impression you really wanna make, Dane?” She said, 

“Whaddya mean?” I asked back. 

“This… all of this isn’t right. You were supposed to unite Kirby and Wheeler, not make things worse. Are you sure the power isn’t getting to your head, or something?” 

“Why, Charlotte, whatever do you mean? I need more, if I could get the votes then I’ll get more. I can’t handle any questions right now, look, we can talk later. Please… just leave.” 

“Why? Do I make you uncomfortable? Remind you of who you used to be?” 

“You know what? I’ve done nothing illegal, I have my rights, and my ‎‎conscience is clear. Isn’t there a principle of nature? Survival of the fittest?” 

Charlotte just walked away. At the moment, she’s not particularly useful. 

I sat down on a rack of equipment. Suddenly, I felt a hand be placed on my shoulder. I heard heavy breathing from up above me. I looked up, and could faintly see the outline of a bug mask. They put a bag over my head, and that’s when I lost consciousness. 

Yo Hold Up Where The Freak Is Dane 

Amias Hill

After the speech, Kirby’s ex-students and Wheeler’s students were divided. Small protests erupted, and in the middle of it all, Dane was missing. The next day, Tilly sent me an email. 

It was a screenshot of the recent Google Forum presidential ballot. Dane was behind, not by an insane amount, no, but noticeable, until I rechecked the shaft I had discovered. Wheeler’s secret tunnel. The rat’s tail looked shorter, the shifted floor panel had been moved once more, I climbed down the latter, and I peered at the walls. 

They were dirt walls, held up by planks of wood. The wood was dotted with blood and the dirt had finger marks running through it. Someone had been here recently. 

I went to where the lair was, the lair I had almost infiltrated, I climbed up the ladder and saw that I was in a storage closet, a blinding fluorescent white light illuminated the room, Dane was sitting in a chair, blindfolded and gagged, whilst handcuffed, a sticky note was attached to his head. I walked up to him, peeled it off ‘oop’ it read, I wondered what that meant. I took off Dane’s gags, his restraints, and as I undid his blindfold a mask fell onto my head, the eye holes were tinted yellow. 

You know that feeling when your brain tells you to stop doing something, but your body doesn’t get the memo? That’s what happened to me, I undid the last bit of his blindfold and he whirled around. 

In the matter of a nanosecond he punched me in the jaw, spun around and roundhouse kicked me in the legs, tripping me. In that nanosecond I realized what was happening. The mask placed on my head was that of an Annihilus mask. I looked at Dane, I saw the pure rage in his eyes, he raised his fist, and I tried to take the mask off, but he put it back on my head and pressed down on the mask, near my mouth in an attempt to remove oxygen flow from my mouth. It was working, he kept punching, beating down on me, his look of rage turned to one of happiness, enjoyment, pleasure. He wanted to do this. 

“Please… please stop.” I mustered, then I whimpered. 

“Oh, are you feeling sad?” He asked, he pushed me onto the ground and knelt beside me, placing his knee on my chest. “Are you gonna cry? Good, and y’know what? I wanna see it.” He said, he peeled the mask off my face, raising his fist to punch me. He removed the mask and he flinched, his look of glee turned somber once more, as if his best friend just broke his favorite toy, “Amias, how could you?”  He asked, and he didn’t plummet his fist down, but I pushed myself out of the way and ran for the door. It was locked. I looked at the ladder but standing there was a small young man in a bug-like mask, on his hand rested a finger puppet of guess who? Annihilus. “Howdy.” He said gently. This was the ringleader if I’d ever seen him, his voice matched up perfectly with the boss I had heard before. In his hand was his phone. He had recorded the entire fight. He had seen Dane snap, he had seen the worst of him. This was his plan. “Seeya later.” He said, climbing up the ladder and sealing up the trapdoor for the catacombs. 

No way out. 

Dane hunched over on top of a cabinet, I followed. He flinched; I realized that I may have had some explaining to do. I pointed upwards at the trap door, where the mask had fallen out of, he looked towards it and I told him that the mask fell out of there and landed on my head, he seemed skeptical but nonetheless, he bought it, and he told me his masterplan. 

We were to wait here until fourth period, Charli is meant to walk by here on the way to her class, we pound on the door but due to it being locked she’d have to get a teacher and it would all make a big commotion, so first we’d have to work on defeating OrigAhnialus and his wave. 

We’d get Charli to call him. We’d anonymously slide a phone number out from underneath the doorway, she’d instinctively call it and she’d find him, Dane has already told him the plan on what to do if he ever goes missing. 

The fourth bell rang and the moment we heard Charli talking with Tilly we pounded on the door and slid the number underneath, Tilly offered to call it herself but Charli felt that instinctive urge, luckily. She’d call it after school, meaning he’d arrive on the last day left for voting, the day where the final speech is held. 

We have no time to spare. 

Well, well, well, *evil laugh* 

 Jason Jackson 

Around 4:30 I was moping around, I was one of the very few whose Mothers had me doing online classes, as per my request. 

Dane told me about his plan to run for class president, and I must say, I’m proud. 

B-But Jason? I hear you asking, Bruh, you were OrigInalus. Just because I was an evil supervillain doesn’t mean I’m not perfectly fine as of now. 

Anywho, the moment I got my call I ran upstairs to Mother, I asked her if I could go in person, tomorrow, she asked why and I made up some excuse about my teachers wanting me to come because I’m behind on work. She bought it, and I waltzed right into the school with a fake ID. 

I know why the OrigAhnialation Wave is doing what they’re doing. It’s because of me, what I did, I was a jerk to whom I believe is their leader. Jeremiah Clinton. The rival, he’s running strictly to beat Dane, to get back at me. 

The final speeches were to be given, it was my turn to defeat OrigAhnialus, so that Dane’s location can be revealed, the teachers come get him and he can return, and even apologize for his deeds. 

***

“Well… looks like my opponent couldn’t make it…” Jeremiah said on the debate floor, I stood up in the middle of the silent auditorium and Jeremiah’s confident smile turned into a frown. I marched right up to the pedestal marked “Jackson” and he lunged at me, he snapped so easily. It’s funny. 

In Detention, we were alone, we could talk, and little did he know I had a recorder instantly relaying information to Charlotte. “So…” I said, “I always wondered why you picked up the mantle of OrigAhnialus if you hate me oh so much. Who in their right mind would take the identity of the man who so mercilessly bullied you?” I asked. 

He was already fuming, “I took up the name to own what you did, to show that I’m in control.” He said. 

“Oh, I admire bravery.” I said, “but let’s look at the facts here, the lost tale of Adam Papercut, Dane brought me down, under some very true accusations of theft, but obviously that was it. Until it wasn’t.” I said, trying to taunt him. I wanted him to admit it. Admit his wrongs, so that Dane can get back out and onto the floor. All we needed was to get a teacher’s key into the storage closet. “I want you to look me in the eye Jerry, Joe, Jilly, Jel-O, tell me that you haven’t become just like me. I remember the words you said, you had found out about my theft and tried to expose me, you tried to be the hero, but you and I, we know better, don’t we? You and I now know the bitter sweet pain among us, as I was beating the bejeezus out of you, I pleaded, I cherish those words. ‘Stop’ you said, ‘Stop, please, I’ll be your henchman’ and look at you now. You are my henchman. Wearing the mask, fighting my enemies, all that. You’ve become the very thing you swore to destroy.” I finally said and he snapped once more, he jumped towards me, screaming. “This is it! This is why I wanted to beat your brother! I already have, I’ve won and you’ve lost! Understood?” He screamed, “You’ve been nothing but a jerk to me!” 

I smiled. 

“You’re right, so I guess one more jerkish thing wouldn’t hurt.” I said, pulling out the cassette tape. I made a run for it and passed it over to Charlotte, Jeremiah got on his phone and made a call, within seconds people busted out of the classrooms in bug masks, the teachers screaming their names. Charlotte quickly ran into one of the opened doors, she handed the cassette tape to one of the teachers and the teacher pressed play, the whole thing played and the teacher buzzed the office, word had spread within a matter of seconds. 

Jeremiah Clinton has been expunged from the class president election, his opponent, Dane Jackson, has not yet reached the one hundred and seventy votes needed to win. 

The schoolwide email shocked me. Dane hadn’t won just yet. 

THE INFINITY WATCH 

Charlotte Storm

I ran for the storage closet, key in hand, and as I unlocked the door, Dane and Amias, both hugged me, I told them what had happened. Dane’s smile turned into a glare of determination. “Hey, so uh, remember Abraham Lincoln?” He asked, “No, I have literally no clue who that is.” I said. “Well, I have an idea. Who did I originally diss? Kirby. Kirby hates me. I need a cabinet of Kirbians, people to watch over me, people to stop me from abusing this power.” 

“So you want to enlist former Kirby students, why do you think they’d trust you?” I asked, trying to be reasonable. 

“Oh, I highly doubt this’ll work, but uh, bring me…” he paused for a moment. “Bring me, uh… Garfield Graham, Duncan Anderson, and Guillermo Valenzuela.”

“On it” Amias said, and me and Dane walked together into the auditorium. The student had been called back to the debate zone, but instead of two pedestals there was merely one,  labelled “Jackson”, I took a seat backstage and he walked up the stairs and onto the stage. I gave him a thumbs up from behind the curtain. 

“My fellow students of Wheeler, I have few words, a rare sight. I realize that what I said about Kirby was wrong, it had been a rough few weeks but that’s- that’s no excuse. I’m sorry, truly. I don’t want to dwell on my enemy, he’s out now. I want to dwell on the future, what Wheeler can be. Wheeler has for far too many years antagonized the students of Kirby and vice versa, but that is over now. T.H.A.N.O.S. wanted to end the war by closing Kirby, they wanted this to be their win, but for us, the students to win, we need to do something far too many of us have forgotten how to do. To forgive. We must forgive past mistakes, both personal issues and mistakes in the greater scheme of things. It’s a flawed system for the students of Kirby. I don’t want there to be any bias, nor I don’t want full power, so I had my friend Amias bring me some of Kirby’s greatest former students. I present to you my Infinity Watch, Duncan Anderson, Garfield Graham, and Guillermo Valenzuela,” At that moment they all stepped out from behind the curtain, some looked worried, some were nervous, heck, so was I, but I continued on, persistently, “they are as much your leaders as I am, with your vote we don’t just get a brighter future for Wheeler, but for the students of Madison County as a whole. So in these final hours of voting, my name may be on the ballet, but you’re voting for a council. A collective. I said it before, I’ll say it again. You’re voting for the Wheeler I dreamed of, the Wheeler that is one dream away.” He bowed and walked backstage, where me and Amias were waiting for him. 

“Nice speech, man.” Amias said to Dane. Someone tapped Duncan’s shoulder. Dane looked at Duncan Anderson, “You know Guillermo really well I mean, Guillermo probably invited Garth, I’m incredibly honored and all, but why pick me?” he asked. 

“Well how can I skip out on the Master of the Folded Arts?” I said, “Also, I just wanted to ask… how does your casefile end?” 

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” 

“Yes… that’s why I asked.” 

The principal walked in. 

“Hi kiddos,” she began, “Excellent work, voting’ll be closed at three, results at five, check your Emails, let’s hope you make that one seventy, but you still have classes to take and teachers to see, so get going.” She said, “Oh Dane, you stay behind.” and I could see the hair on Dane’s arm go up. 

Answers

Dane Jackson 

“Dane, you’re an exceptional student,” she said, “You have pretty good chances of graduating valedictorian, but that’s neither here nor there. I just have to say, “Excellent job, Papercut.” 

“Wait how did you-” 

“Take one to know one, just thought I’d tell you a good job.” She air patted me on the back and sent me off to class more confused than before. 

Later that day, me, Amias, Charlotte, and my cabinet all gathered together at my place. We awaited the results which would be posted on each homeroom’s Google Classroom. Then the notification hit. 

I had gotten, I kid you not, the vote of everyone in Wheeler, no one even skipped out on voting. 

I had one in Wheeler’s first ever landslide, Amias shouted “Yes!” and started a Zoom meet with Noah and Adrian, they applauded me. Now that I had won, I had a few things to do. 

I went to the principal and convinced her to make a stronger anti-bullying program, so no more kids could come up like Jerimiah. 

When I visited the JROTC headmaster, I convinced him to bump Amias up to head captain. 

I made amends with my brother, he told me he was proud of me. 

I decided to seal up Wheeler’s war whole, it’s better left forgotten. 

I made Guillermo captain of his swim team. 

Me and my cabinet held our first ever meeting, and afterschool I met up with Charlotte. 

“Hey, I got something for you.” I said, pulling out a small box. “Don’t freak. It’s just I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. The Origami Ban. If I, the class president, is caught actively breaking the school’s newest rule there will be problems, but I don’t want Adam Papercut to be left behind, just as the casefiles read, I don’t want the legacy of Adam Papercut to die out.” I opened the box, she put her hands to her mouth, “N-No, I-I can’t.” She said, 

“Yes, you can, and you deserve to.” 

“N-No but- I-I don’t know what to say.”

“Um I don’t know, thank you?” She laughed, and picked up the puppet, she placed it on her finger. “To paraphrase Adam Warlock,” I began, “My past has been a failure. I welcome its end! You have succeeded in releasing me — the ultimate avenger. Let it be known: Adam Warlock, the warrior, returns!” She smiled. 

“Thank you.” She said, 

“You’re welcome.” 

And there you have it. Yeah, I’m not Adam Papercut anymore. Do I want to be? Not at all, honestly. 

I’m happy. But not everyone is. While giving Charlotte Papercut was a decision stand for, I didn’t want her to have to be an outlaw. I didn’t want any of them to be outlaws. I wanted the students to be free to Express themselves as they so choose. 

Which brought me to my meeting with Dover McLeash and Allison Weeber. Both of them were buzzed into the office while the principal and I were conducting a meeting. The principal said she needed to talk to these troublemakers, and I told her to take a seat.  I wanted to handle them myself. She reluctantly agreed. 

So there they sat, Dove was trying his hardest to look punk, wearing a bandanna and sunglasses, whilst nodding his head to nonexistent music. Ally, on the other hand, wore merely a purple sweater and managed to look rebellious in it. She was impatiently tapping her finger on the desk. I took a seat. 

“So… you folded, you know that’s against the rules, do you not?” 

“I mean… you did…” Ally noted. 

“Let me finish.” 

“B-” Dove said, “But you asked her a question.” 

“Is he always this dense?” I asked Ally. 

Ally nodded. 

“Look, I’m not here to rag on you guys, quite the contrary. See, I’m drafting a manifesto, and I want you to help me draft it up. I’m thinking of a new method, what if we try to talk things out? I do have pull now, you know? So… you willing? Also, Dove, can you lose the bandanna and stuff?” 

Dove rushed to take off the bandanna and sunglasses, taking his leather jacket off at light speed. Allison nodded in agreement. “So… is that a yes?” 

“Yes.” They both said at once. Or, well, it was more a ‘yep’ on Ally’s end. 

“Excellent.” I excitedly shook Dove’s hand. 

The Innaguatorial Address

By Dane Jackson 

There was… still one thing left to do. I had to give my inauguration address. 

“Students of Madison County, I- I had a long and somewhat self centered speech planned. But I realized something in the last few weeks. With where Wheeler is at the moment, that’s the last thing you guys need to hear. Instead, I’d like to talk to you about one of my best friends, he once told me that a house divided cannot stand at all. Another before me said that both sides should explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. And those quotes always stuck with me, because they rang an inner bell. Because, for far too long, issues have divided us. Wheeler versus Kirby. Students versus Teachers. Old age versus new age, and this has gone on for far too long. 

With Kirby as a school gone, that doesn’t mean Kirby dies, just as it doesn’t mean Wheeler opens up to the enemy, if anything, we shouldn’t antagonize each other. We are, after all, children of Madison County. 

Yes, I know, these roots of hatred and discontentment are deeply entwined in the world that our forefathers cursed upon us, and I won’t be able to unify things fully in the first one hundred days, not even before I graduate. But, what we leave behind for our younger brothers and sisters, for our sons and daughters, for our grandchildren, and so on, we’d be bringing a better Madison County, a better New York, a better America. For once in this school’s almost century long history, we care not to dwell on the past but on the future, on what will unite us, not has divided us. 

And so I’d like to say a few words. To Amias Hill, and Charlotte Storm. These two were my best friends when times get rough, and quite frankly, I’ve been a jerk to them. So, thank you two for putting up with me. 

And finally, I’d like to thank Principal V, for she understood. She understood the division and unity, and she understood what needs to be appealed and repealed. She understood what brought us together and divided us. She understood that from the conception of both schools, we’ve always had one common interest: the art of origami. She understood her faults, that yes, it’s divided us in the past, but it’s also brought us together, so… it’s without FURTHER ado, it is my pleasure to announce that the Jackson|Graham|Anderson|Valenzuela Administration, with help from the school board, is appealing the ban on origami.” And that’s how liberty was reborn. With thunderous applause. 

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