Nerd War by Nathayle
Three down, two to go. And the next one would be easy.
Erin Travis – Coach Travis, as she preferred – checked another name off her list: Mr. Tim Edwards, advanced math. Cassidy Evans was in Edwards’ calculus class, and after the last round of grades, she was near failing. Cassidy was a starting forward on the Yokohama High field hockey team – a senior captain – and with her team in a position to make the state tournament, well, this just wouldn’t do.
So. Her tightest skirt, an extra blouse button undone. A little flirting, a little threatening. Both Edwards and Mr. Stevens – a history teacher – gave in to her feminine wiles, and Mrs. Turner, the only woman on her list, was easy to blackmail. Extramarital affairs will do that.
Such was life at Yokohama High.
Erin herself had benefited from this system: at least twice during her career as a star field hockey player, the coaching staff had intervened with Yokohama’s teachers to keep her playing. Now, two years past graduation, she took up the task.
She checked her list again. Next up, is Dr. Forrester, chair of the science department. His new grading policy had two of their players in jeopardy. Erin smiled. Forrester was a rail-thin, balding man near retirement who wore bottle-bottom glasses whom Erin had hated as a student. He returned the feeling, particularly now that she was a coach. This would not only be easy: it would be fun.
“Dr. Forrester,” Erin said casually, knocking on the open door. Forrester’s hunched shoulders were turned away from her.
“Miss Travis,” Forrester replied without turning around. “I’ve been expecting you.”
“Coach Travis,” she corrected. “You were?”
“Of course,” he said, finally turning around. “The latest grade updates are out. I expected that you would visit to intimidate me into letting your players compete. That is why you’re here?”
“Intimidate? That’s a very harsh thing to say, Doctor.” Erin walked in and closed the door.
The classroom was typical: desks in neat rows; overlapping whiteboards mounted on ceiling rollers; walls covered in pictures and announcements and other disorganized odds and ends. The afternoon sunlight coming through the windows made the overhead lights unnecessary. A second door – to the laboratory in the back – stood slightly ajar.
“I would never try to intimidate you,” she went on. “I’m just hoping you’ll see reason.”
Forrester was chuckling. “Yes, of course, dear. See reason.” He drew the last word out sarcastically.
Erin sat on the edge of a desk, crossing her legs to let her skirt ride up. Maybe Forrester would just enjoy the view for a while and accept the inevitable.
“Two of your students, Doctor, Lisa McFey, and Anna Trebilski. Your new grading policy has put them…”
“They’ve put themselves,” Forrester said angrily. “Neither has completed the lab project assigned them last month, despite my generous extensions. Both received failing grades on their last exams.”
“Doctor Forrester,” Erin said severely, “these girls are…”
“No,” Forrester interrupted.
There was a pause. “Excuse me?” Erin said.
“I said no, Miss Travis,” he replied, emphasizing the title. “I will not change the policy, and I will not grant exceptions. Your answer is no. Good day.” Forrester turned back to his desk.
“Do we have to have this talk again, Forrester? Really?” Erin stood, slapped her clipboard onto the desk. “You wouldn’t want me to bring Coach Halverson in here, would you? You know how much we hate the word no.”
Forrester chuckled again. “Of course. That’s why you never use it with the male coaches.”
Erin strode forward and grabbed the older man by his collar, spinning him around and nearly lifting him off the ground, but momentary anger made her careless. Before she could say anything, Forrester sprayed something – something sharp and sweet-smelling he’d taken from his pocket – into her face.
She stumbled back, eyes watery and blurred, nose and skin stinging, and suddenly couldn’t keep her balance. She fell to one knee, dizzy.
Forrester chuckled again and sprayed her again in the face, even though her hands were clamped over her nose and mouth. She shut her eyes tight, tried not to breathe, but could feel the pinlike tingling everywhere the spray touched her bare skin.
His chuckle turning into a cackle, Forrester sat on the same desk Erin had used earlier. “What do you think, dear?” he asked. “Just a little something I put together in the lab. A sedative, a muscle relaxant, mixed with a special enzyme I came up with myself.” He reached forward and sprayed her yet again, on the face and arms.
“It not only interferes with your ability to function, your reaction times, your hand-eye coordination. It also has the interesting effect of increasing your sensitivity to pain. I’ll demonstrate,” he said, reaching toward her again and pinching her arm.
Yes, he pinched hard. Yes, hard pinches hurt. But, Erin knew, they didn’t hurt that much. She shrieked as though she’d been stabbed and yanked her arm away – or tried to. Her body would barely respond. As if she were drunk, wanting to do something and actually having it happen were suddenly…separate things.
She lurched clumsily away from the older man, fell to her side, but couldn’t pull herself out of his two-fingered grasp until he let her go.
“Hurt?” he asked, smiling and adjusting his glasses.
Indeed, it had.
“Come in, come in,” Erin heard Forrester say. Raising her head, looking through the forest of metal desk legs, she saw the lab door swing open. Two pairs of feet – one male, wearing the gray slacks of Yokohama’s uniform; one female, and fat, with black stockings covering enormous calves.
“You see, dear,” Forrester said, turning his attention back to her, “we are sick of putting up with people like you. Particularly here at Yokohama. Only the strong survive, might makes right. All that ********. People like me, people like my assistants, here, we are physically weaker, and that means we simply have to take whatever people like you feel like dishing out.”
He stood. Two pairs of hands took Erin by the arms and lifted her from the floor, setting her on her feet. Two pairs of arms wrapped tightly around hers, holding them behind her.
She knew what was coming. Forrester put one hand on her shoulder, cocked his other hand into a fist. “Now we’re doing the dishing,” he said and punched her in the stomach.
Erin whoofed, gasping as he drew back and punched her again, and then again. At any other time, Erin would have laughed at the idea of Forrester punching her. Hurting her? With her muscles? Her abs? Ridiculous.
Not now. All her hours of training and exercise were worthless to her now. Her muscles simply refused to tighten.
The two holding her stretched her out again, and Forrester again leveled his right fist at her abdomen. Once, twice, a third time, and she doubled over until her captors nearly lost their hold.
“Once more, please,” Forrester said, breathing hard. Erin was pulled straight one more time and lifted her head enough to see Forrester aiming his next punch at her face. A jab to her nose snapped her head back. She gasped out a choking scream at the long, sharp needles of pain.
Forrester shook his hand painfully. “Well, that is exhilarating,” he said. “I believe I see the attraction, as distasteful as it may be.” He wiped the sweat from his forehead. “But I believe I need a short rest now. She’s all yours.”
The boy let go of her arm and stepped in front of her – the girl wrapped a full nelson around Erin’s shoulders and neck. She was tall – Erin’s feet barely touched the floor.
The boy’s name was Phillips, Erin knew. Short, skinny, carrot-colored hair. A decent athlete – ran track and cross country, but a social oddball with no upper-body strength at all. Something of a leader a**** Yokohama’s nerd caste. Erin herself had held him down once, three or four years ago, while two other girls stripped his pants before shoving him into the girls’ locker room. He wasn’t technically a student anymore – he’d accumulated the credits he needed to graduate – but he stayed on his final semester to work as a lab assistant.
That meant the big girl holding her was the other assistant. What was her name, Erin thought? Elephant…something?
Phillips tore open Erin’s blouse. Buttons flew: no magnetic clasps for her anymore – not since graduation. He tugged twice on her skirt, pulling it to her hips, then pushed her bra up over her breasts.
Erin looked down at herself – round breasts over a flat, muscular stomach. She’d been in this position before: there was that feud with the girls’ soccer team that lasted over a year. Then the feud with the boys’ soccer team. The brawl that erupted when they’d found the baseball team using their sticks to hit rocks onto their practice field. The “penalties” were assessed by hall monitors and other upperclassmen until she’d established her own reputation. Countless personal fights – play and real – and vendettas.
Yes, she’d been here before, and put others here, too.
Now, though…she squinted at the boy in front of her, trying to focus, and remembering again: Phillips. Right. That’s Phillips.
Then he went to work, throwing jackhammer straight punches to her abdomen. Over and over and over.
Each punch plunged into her body, easily penetrating her muscles. After the first few, she could no longer respond with any sound – a gasp of breath, sometimes, between punches. That was all. Her leg came up involuntarily – a subconscious attempt at protecting herself. He’d switched now, using one fist instead of both, taking aim for each punch, hitting her low, then high, then right on her belly button.
Finally, he stepped back, grinning. The full nelson loosened until Erin slipped groaning to the floor.
“Your turn, Ellie,” he said. Both of them took Erin’s arms and pulled her up, this time shoving her against Forrester’s desk, laying her flat. Phillips went to the opposite side, holding both Erin’s wrists over her head.
Ellie. Very tall, very fat – her black sleeves pushed up to her elbows, straining against the meat of her arms as the rest of her shirt strained against her body. The line of her cleavage was four inches long before it disappeared under her neckline. Her legs, tree-trunk-thick, showed pasty white between her uniform skirt and knee socks.
Ellie Elephant, she thought. That’s what it was. Erin remembered taking turns with four other girls, back in her student days, trying to see if they could actually punch through all that fat. They hadn’t held her – simply ordered her to stand still and take it.
The desk was cold under Erin’s ********. Ellie hesitated, then threw a pair of clumsy punches – arms and wrists bent, curving in from the sides and glancing off Erin’s stomach.
“Straight on, Ellie, as we practiced,” Phillips told her. “Lean into it.”
Ellie looked up at him, still unsure of herself, but moved up a step and aimed one straight down at Erin.
Pfwooof, went Erin, air forced from her lungs. Her legs came off the floor and her shoulders strained painfully as her body responded to the punch. A smile flicked across Ellie’s face.
“That’s it, do it again,” Phillips said. “That’s it, dear,” Forrester echoed.
She punched again, driving Erin onto the desk. Then she stepped up, pushing her bulk between Erin’s legs, and drove a huge fist deep into her stomach, leaving it there a few seconds to hear Erin fight for air.
Through blurred eyes, Erin saw it happen. She’d seen it before: a timid player, lacking confidence, suddenly realizing she had the ability after all. Understanding, in one brief but shining moment, that she can do it, and do it well.
That’s what she saw, dimly, in Ellie’s face. A lifetime of mockery suddenly washed away, in the realization that she…could…fight.
“Give her to me,” Ellie said, reaching for a fistful of Erin’s hair. She yanked the woman off the desk and sent an uppercut into her chest just as Phillips let go of her wrists.
Erin had ceased to struggle – had lost the ability to struggle, in fact. Ellie held her by her hair, not allowing her to sink to the floor, while she continued pummeling her body from underneath. “Hnnh,” Erin wheezed, her voice suddenly high-pitched and weeping. She whoofed, and choked, her body lurching with each punch.
Finally, Ellie took her hair in both hands and swung her backward, sending her hard to the floor, slamming her against Forrester’s desk. Grabbing her hair again, lifting her to a sitting position, Ellie slammed her knee into Erin’s chest, sending the desk back several inches. Readjusting herself and Erin, Ellie rammed with her knee again, pressing her thigh into Erin’s face, banging the back of her head against the desk.
Erin slumped to her side as Ellie let go, and was dimly aware of the big girl kneeling for one last attack. Two more punches connected with her chest, then one last one to her stomach. She convulsed, and what was left of the veggie shake she’d had for lunch hit the floor.
She slowly became aware of a face very close to hers: Forrester, grinning and chuckling.
“I know what you’re thinking, dear,” he said. “Or at least, what you will think soon. You’ll want revenge. I know.”
“Just let me warn you, Miss Travis. We have more of this solution. Much more. You wouldn’t want it finding its way, oh, through the air ducts, or into the water coolers, the day your team has a big game, would you?
“And I’ll warn you as well, dear: this isn’t the only thing we’ve whipped up. We have other surprises, too.
“Or, you can let bygones be bygones, accept your beating and let us be.”
He looked up. “Finish her,” he said, disappearing from her field of view. Erin felt a hand grab her hair, others take her arms, and lift her into a semi-standing position again. Ellie’s face replaced Forrester’s, a feral grin across it.
“Or maybe we won’t need any of those tricks,” she said, “now that I’ve found out just how much fun this is. Maybe now I go get even with more of your jock ******* myself.” Stepping back, she slammed her fist into Erin’s stomach, came back with a cross to her cheekbone that nearly sent all three of them down.
The last thing Erin heard before losing consciousness – one of them, must have been Phillips, saying in a vaguely familiar cartoon voice: “Begun, the Nerd War, has.”
She came to someplace wet, uncomfortable, and smelly.
A trash bin, she realized. Assholes dumped me in a trash bin. She began to struggle, trying to find footing to get herself out.
“Hey, what are you…” she heard a voice, authoritative, but surprised, from above her. She looked up: a head, silhouetted against the afternoon sky. Great. Somebody saw me here.
“Travis,” the voice said, surprised. “Are you all right?” A pair of male hands reached in and took her arms, helping her straighten and climb out of the bin.
She stumbled as her feet hit the ground, her head still unfocused, legs unsteady, her whole body feeling like she’d…well like she’d been through a beating. It would be a few days, she knew, before the aches began to fade. Her ego would take longer.
Her helper was staring at her chest – she pulled her now-buttonless blouse closed. “Coach Natelski,” she said, recognizing his “Yokohama High Wrestling” t-shirt before recognizing his face.
“Got in a fight, huh? Who with?”
“Rather not say,” she croaked, then cleared her throat and tried again. “Nobody special, no big deal,” she said.
He grinned. “Well, I’m sure you’ll take care of business.”
Maybe, she thought. Under normal circumstances, she’d have had little trouble, even with all three of them. But now, with that spray…if the Elephant’s new confidence was for real…
Who knew what they might do, if she tried to retaliate?
She shook her head angrily. I’m not being intimidated by a bunch of nerds, am I?
She looked across at Natelski, a shorter man, stocky, with a wrestler’s build, and realized: “Say,” she said suddenly, turning toward him and relaxing her grip on her blouse. “You teach Health, right? Don’t you have some of our players in your class? Micki Pender, to be exact?”