Better than my life. Chapter 6


The sound of the alarm-clock was bad. I didn’t like it. It said it was time to go to school, and I didn’t like it, either. Well, I liked meeting Peter, but I was afraid of Mrs Pridey. She was our English teacher, and she was strict. And she laughed at my spelling. When she laughed other children laughed, too. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t like Mrs Pridey.
‘Get up, Alex! You’ll be late!’ said my mother’s voice.
She wasn’t angry with me. Her words were full of love, but I knew I had to get up.
We had a difficult test on that day. The test I failed. Strange, how I could know that I had failed the test which I hadn’t had yet. But I knew I had failed it, and that was strange. It was so strange that I got a headache.
So I had some cereal with milk, a cup of tea, and went to school. It was a ten-minute walk, and all the time my head wasn’t OK. Somebody in my head was building something with a big hammer. Was it a house they were building? Or were they breaking a house? Anyway, my head wasn’t OK.
The school security scanner was a grey metal box. You just walked through it. You put all your things on a special table with a small scanner and walked through the big one. Both scanners looked for things which you can’t have at school: knives and guns, books and food. But the most important things it looked for were memoflash cards. Some pupils in old days brought computer programs to school, and that was bad. It was dangerous for teachers and other children. A bad computer program could stop the school from working for a day or two. Some people said that sometimes such programs even killed teachers or pupils, but nobody knew that for sure. Not a word about it on Glonet. The only thing that we knew for sure was security. And it was very severe.
When I went out of the scanner Peter was waiting for me. He looked strange. He looked like somebody who knew a big secret and wanted to tell it. We went to the toilet. Security Glonet cameras were everywhere, but not in the toilet. That was the only place in the school building without those small black eyes. They looked at you all the time, you lived with that. Some people said the main subject at school wasn’t on the timetable. It was just this: to teach young people to live with cameras. They were called Big Brother. I don’t know why. There was an old saying “Big Brother is watching you”. It was very old, about five hundred years old. So Big Brother was somebody from the past. But it was also our reality.
When I said there were no cameras in the toilet, I was wrong. Because the cameras were there, too, but they were not watching. They were just listening. Anyway, we were told so. They were there just in case. And they were listening.
That’s why Peter’s voice was very low, when he said into my ear, ‘I have her passwords. All of them.’ I knew who he was talking about, and I knew what it meant. He was talking about Mrs Pridey. And he had all the passwords of her accounts – Glonet, school, apartment. I didn’t ask how he got it. Maybe his brother Paul, who was a very good programmer, did that. That didn’t matter. The thing that mattered was that we could pass the test easily. You just enter Mrs Pridey’s school account, find the test and then find “Railey, Alex”. Then you click on the box “Passed”, then you give yourself grade “A”. Then you do the same with “Gummings, Peter”. And that is it.
I read about ancient people doing strange things. Before they decided to do something they thought about it for some time. Even for a day or two. We were different. We couldn’t think about things for long. Good thinking was a minute. Usually we decided faster.
So I said ‘Yes. Let’s do it’. It took me about ten seconds to make a decision.