Julee waited them out on the swings with her best friend, Trila. She dreaded going back into the classroom.
“We better go,” said Trila, the mask muffling her words to a breathless whisper. Her voice seemed halting as it drifted through the filter.
“I know,” Julee replied. “I guess I thought this year would be different.”
Trila shook her head and watched Julee as she sulked.
“The popular girls ignored us again. Just like last year. Strutting around the playground like they own it, all cool in their Gucci gas masks and Chanel fire-retardant jumpsuits. It’s not fair,” Julee whined.
She jumped off the swing and linked arms with Trila. Together they strolled toward the school entrance.
“Did you see Mally’s pink Marc Jacob’s weapon holster?” Trila asked. “I’d die for one of those.”
“Me too! I’m gonna save my allowance for one,” Julee replied.
The final bell rang as they reached the concrete double-door entry. It began to swing closed, just as they slipped through into the decontamination chamber. As the doors hissed shut and the spray cleansed their drab, unfashionable uniforms, Julee groaned, “We’re late again. Corporal Blith is gonna be mad.”
“Who cares? Maybe he’ll kick us out of Bomb Diffusing 3. It’s soooo boring!”
The spray shut off and an electronic voice announced, “Decontamination complete. Proceed to your regularly scheduled class. Please no running in the halls.” A single door opened into a stark white corridor where they removed their masks and stored them in lockers.
A booming voice from behind startled them, “Do you have a hall pass?”
“No,” they answered in unison.
“Report to detention in Sector Y,” the drone hall monitor said.
Fashion envy forgotten, the girls giggled as they hurried off to detention, elated that Bomb Diffusing was avoided for one more day.
3a : a protective covering for the face
3b : gas mask
3c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
3d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
3e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries
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