Napoleon: LockdownMature

I don't know what I'm going to do without Martha.

It's raining quite hard outside. Rousseau, Voltaire and The Tactics of Napoleon Bonaparte for the Armchair General sit on the bed. I'm looking at the drops racing down the grey window and thinking about how the rain came at such a wonderful time: perfectly on accord with the assembly we've just had about Martha's holiday. Feldman repeated several times that she's gone to the Maldives, and she doesn't know when she'll be back. Another Professor mentioned India, and yet another said Turkey.

Everyone asked when she'll be back. Salvador asked why she hadn't said she was leaving. Antoinette asked if she'd taken her mobile with her. Wolfy asked if he could speak to her over the phone.

The answers to these questions were so unsatisfactory I'm not even going to think about them.

For now I want to be alone. I want to stay out of everyone's way, especially Gandhi's. I know he's going to come after me one of these days. Now I've no Martha to stand behind me, I'm going to have to do this alone.

Apart from the contradictory answers as to her destination, and the professors claiming that the airports don't allow electronic devices on planes, something which I know isn't true, they've also told us to have extra PH classes. It adds to my suspicion and insecurity. Why extra PH classes? Why aren't we carrying on as normal, if she's really going off on holiday?

The rain is stopping, and after-rain air freshens me when I open the window. I reluctantly take up my books - Rousseau, Voltaire, The Tactics of Napoleon Bonaparte for the Armchair General - and trundle out of the room.

I love Rousseau. Voltaire, not so much. The Tactics is abysmally written. No book grips me or appals me, as it usually does. I have lost the ability to feel any kind of emotion.

It is a sad state of affairs when one's affection is centred on an individual. This loss will create me into a total misanthrope, I know it. I hate all human beings, I have always hated them, the other clones have always treated me as the runt of the group, there is nothing left in this world for me...

I crash into Hitler. Rousseau goes flying. Voltaire bounces off a wall. Only The Tactics lands right on Hitler's left foot, causing him to yelp.

"What the hell were you doing?" I snap. "Get out of my way."

"Sorry," says Hitler. "Hey, Nap. Did you hear about Martha?"

"We all did, Hitler. And I prefer 'Napoleon', thank you."

"Well, I prefer Adie," he says shyly. He gives me a watery smile. I do not smile back.

"Well, Adie, what are you doing here?" I ask him. "This isn't even your department. Or have you gotten lost?"

"No," Adie replies. "It's just that...don't you think it's all so odd?"

"What's so odd?" I retrieve Voltaire.

"About how they're making us do extra PH classes."

I stop from picking up Rousseau, to think about this. "What of it?"

"And the assembly on Martha. It's like they're trying really hard to make sure we believe them."

I've seen exactly the same. He's right.

Nevertheless, it did come from Adie, so it's questionable. "Well, what do you want to do about it?" I sneer.

For a second he doesn't say anything. Then, he bursts out, impassioned, "Don't you just hate this place? Isn't it awful? How I envy Martha for leaving, if she even left at all!"

I whirl round. "What the devil do you mean?" I shout in my surprise. In the corner of my eye I see Wolfy coming down the corridor, as he always does, his arms full of rolls and rolls of paper, a thoroughly miserable look in his face.

Adie moves closer to me. His brown eyes lock with mine. It creeps me out, like the rest of him. "I have a theory," he tells me.

"What's your theory?" Wolfy interrupts. He takes us both by surprise.

"I don't think she went on holiday," Adie says gently to him. "Well, she did, but not to anywhere on earth."

"You mean she's -"

A door is unlocked. A professor storms out. He looks angry, red-faced, heated, like he has heard everything we've said. His reaction debases me completely. "To your rooms," he orders us.

"Why?" we chorus.

"No questions. To your rooms. You're grounded. Grounded," he repeats, glowering at us, and we obediently split up.

I'm in my room again. Rousseau and Voltaire and The Tactics of Napoleon Bonaparte for the Armchair General sit on the bed. It has begun raining again. Everything has become as it was before.

Except it isn't.

The End

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