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(A 13-part story)

by Devin McTaggart

Part One – Senior Year (McKinley High School)

The difference between where I thought I was going in March of ’97 and where I ended up after all of it at the end of ’01 couldn’t have been further apart. Every step along the way was a bit more past the pale than I’d already been, and when I look back, it’s only by looking at it in very small doses that I can sort of vaguely see how I got from there to here.

Let’s start with me. My name’s Joshua Turner, but most folks call me either Josh or JT. When our story begins back in March of 1997, I was a senior at McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Canton. I don’t blame you. While it’s the eighth largest city in Ohio, it’s got a population of around 80,000, and on top of that, it’s shrinking. According to the census, back in 1970, we had a population of 110,000, which should tell you just how desperate people are to get the fuck out of Canton, Ohio. I know I certainly was.

The problem was that it wasn’t likely I was going to go far from there when I graduated. A thing to tell you about me is that while I like to think of myself as pretty smart, I’m what’s called an ‘engagement learner’ these days, meaning that rote memorization without application is a little like being waterboarded for me. I just don’t learn well that way. As such, showing off my intelligence back in the 90s hit more than its fair share of hurdles. My teachers liked to claim I wasn’t applying myself well enough, or that I hadn’t ‘done the work,’ but really what it came down was that my brain didn’t work the way they were used to, and they didn’t know what to do about it. I was well-liked by most of my teachers, but they generally said the same things over and over again at parent-teacher conferences – “He just needs to try harder.”

As such, most of my college applications had been either rejected, or accepted without any sort of offered financial aid, which, for a kid whose parents ran a mom-and-pop shop on Main Street, might as well have been a rejection. Some of the student loan companies were sniffing around me, but even at a very young age, I learned to smell a predator a mile away, and those people were sharks who were only interested in having kids in eternal servitude to the interest rates, something I wasn’t going to get caught up in if I could help it. The problem was that if I didn’t voluntarily slap the collar around my neck, I was going to end up at Ohio State in Columbus, and that wasn’t far enough from Canton in any way, especially since my girlfriend, Miranda, had been accepted to UCLA, and was getting a full-ride scholarship, all expenses covered.

I’ll never forget the day my life changed, March 12th, 1997. It was a Wednesday and Senior Prom was only about three weeks away. Miranda had told me the night before to come by her place and pick her up like an hour earlier than I normally did, as I was her ride to and from school, the one advantage of having a car, even if it was a crappy electric blue Geo Prism. It was still pretty cold outside, so I was a little surprised she came out of her house wearing her black, white and red cheerleader outfit, although she had on leggings beneath the skirt, and it was the long sleeve top not the short sleeve one (or the vest one, which was even hotter).

“Morning, dear,” I said to her as she climbed into the car, slamming the door shut behind her.

“Head over to the school, but turn off before we get there and pull into the nook,” she told me, reaching to crank up the heat in the car even more than I already had it turned up. Miranda was the shortest member of the Bulldogs cheerleading team, so she was always the one they threw up into the air and stacked at the top of the pyramids. She jokingly liked to call herself my little pocket rocket, barely over 5′ tall as opposed to me, just barely under 6′. She had hair the color of hot cocoa that I don’t think I ever saw her have any way except in a ponytail that hung down to her midsection, and deep green eyes, warm and soft.

We were an odd couple, I knew, what with her basically being one of the school all-stars and me being the habitual underachiever. She was on the academic team, a cheerleader and in nothing but advanced placement classes, while I was often scrawling stories in my notebook in the courtyard in between classes. And yet, she’d made a point of getting me to ask her out when we were both juniors, and we’d been a couple since then. She was a good Catholic girl, though, and didn’t want to lose her virginity until we were married (which meant I was still a virgin as well), or at the very least until we were engaged, not that that was anything we were talking about. In fact, since I’d gotten the rejection from UCSD, things had grown pretty tense between the two of us, because she kept telling me that while she loved Büyükesat Escort me, she wasn’t going to pass up UCLA for me, because the opportunities out there were just too great for her to overlook. The last few weeks had been pretty tense, and I sort of suspected she was calling me to pick her up early to break up with me, although I figured the nook would be one weird ass place to do it.

The nook, as it was known, was a little pull off spot where an alleyway turned behind a building into a loading dock that was never used as far as anyone could tell. It was a space big enough for a couple of cars to park that was always nearby but just out of sight, so it became the makeout point for most of the kids in the high school. Considering we were swinging by early in the morning, I didn’t expect anyone to be there, and I was right.

Once the car was behind the curve, she told me to put it into park, which I did, and then to slide my seat back as far as I could get it, which I also did. I asked her what was going on, but she put her fingertip to my lips to shush me, and then began to unbutton my pants. We hadn’t talked the whole ride from her place to here, so this certainly wasn’t what I had expected.

She fished out my cock and proceeded to give me the best blowjob she’d ever given me. It was slow and deliberate, taking time to let her tongue really explore every inch of my shaft before shoving her face down hard, keeping it there for long moments before drawing back up again. Gone was the sexual shrinking violet that she’d been when we’d first started fooling around and in her place was an aggressive, almost domineering sexual creature, hellbent on trying to swallow my dick whole.

The pace went from paced and tempered to rampaging and rushing in a heartbeat, as if she had sensed some sign of weakness, some vulnerability she could exploit, and suddenly she was thrusting her face into my crotch with a voracity completely unbeknownst to me before that very moment. There was a resolve and dedication to the experience that made me utterly unsure what to do with my hands or where to look, as this girl was basically fucking her own face up and down onto my dick, one hand cradling my balls, the other latched onto my shoulder for leverage and support.

“Shit, Meer, I’m not gonna last long like this…” I told her, but it seemed like for the first time ever, she truly didn’t give a shit. I’d never come in her mouth before, because she’d always told me that it was degrading towards women and that she hated the taste and she would’ve hated herself for how she would’ve felt afterwards, so being the good boyfriend that I was, I went along with it. “Meer, fuck, you need to pull off,” I warned her. “I’m gonna…”

Her hand on my shoulder lifted up and slapped over my mouth to silence me as she hummed eagerly, almost deliriously, on my cock, and those vibrations did more than their number on me and before I knew it, I was drenching the back of her throat with a week’s worth of pent up jizz, her tongue almost seeming to savor the taste of me, making sure to scoop it all up, her fingers forming a seal against her lips, to keep all of it in there even as she slowly pulled her head back, lapping up all of it. She didn’t sit up straight until she’d licked up every last drop of my cum from my shaft, and until after she’d tucked my cock away and rebuttoned up my jeans.

“Start driving to the school lot, Josh,” she finally said to me, as she pulled down the sunguard in my car, flipping open the back of it to expose the mirror so she could check her make up in it while I drove us to school.

Once I pulled into the school parking lot, the penny dropped.

“Look, Josh,” Miranda said to me. “This has been fun and all, but at the end of the day, I think we both know it’s not going to work out. I’m going to California, down to LA, and you’re going to stay here in Ohio. Long distance relationships never work out, and I kinda feel like we’ve been drifting apart the last few months anyway. You’re always so stressed and you never want to talk about it and I don’t know what to do about it.”

I remember thinking in that moment that yeah, she was right, I never wanted to talk about it because when I had talked to her about it, she told me it made her sad to listen to and she didn’t want me to talk about it any more, so why couldn’t she make up her fucking mind about the whole thing.

“I wanted to give you something good to hold onto, one final nice memory for us to part on, but I think this is where we call it quits. I’ll swing by your house on Saturday when you’re at work and drop off all your stuff. I’ll always love you and treasure what we had together, but my mind’s made up on this, so let me have some space and don’t think you can talk me out of it, okay? It’s for the best. You’ll see. Anyway, goodbye Josh.”

She hopped Elvankent Escort out of the car and closed the door behind her, nearly running towards the school while I sat there crying my eyes out for a little bit. It had been my first real major relationship and I’d felt like I fucked it up, but I spent most of the rest of the day with my friends, who immediately dogpiled on how they’d never liked her, how she’d always been too stuck up for our crowd, that she was a spoiled little rich girl, that she had no art or poetry in her soul… you know, all the usual shit your friends try and use to cheer you up.

I mean, I also found out a few weeks later that she started dating Wesley Lovington less than a week after she’d broken it off with me, and reports were that she fucked him on Prom night, whereas I was stuck going stag after my best friend had threatened to drag me to Prom in whatever I was wearing that night if I didn’t just go with the bunch of them. I felt like a fifth wheel – me, my best friend and his girl, her best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend – but they did their best and I tried to enjoy myself, and besides, by that point, my head was a million miles away from giving a shit about Miranda Purdue.

So, I told you all that so you can understand where my head space was during the other event of that day, which was way more relevant to our story, although Miranda does pop up again way later.

McKinley had a six period day, and my fourth period was spent being a teacher’s assistant to the English professor. Mostly that meant I double checked tests, but I also had to keep an eye on the computer lab while students from the school newspaper and student yearbook were working on their projects, making sure nobody broke or stole anything. I was in the English computer lab when Mr. Richards, the Journalism/Creative Writing teacher, came in with an odd look on his face. “Hey Josh, I need you to head down to reception. There’s a recruiter who’s come quite a ways to talk to you personally, and I think you should take the meeting.”

I remember how odd I thought the phrase ‘take the meeting’ was at the time, since I was basically so desperate to get out Ohio that I would’ve been ‘taking meetings’ behind the dumpster if I thought I could raise the cash to get the fuck out of the state. “Oh?” I said, gathering up my things. “Sure thing, Mr. Richards. Who are they with?”

“Some new startup school out west, but it all sounds quite remarkable, and they are only interested in speaking with you. Nobody else in the entire school. Made the trip out here just to talk to you personally.”

Now I was very curious what was going on. “Why me?”

“The woman said she read your short story that made it into state’s high school literary competition, and it inspired her to come talk to you.”

“…but I came in third.”

“Hey, go talk to her yourself,” Mr. Richards laughed. “Opportunity knocks but once and all that.”

“Yeah yeah, I’m going, I’m going,” I said with a return laugh, tossing my backpack over one shoulder, like I always did. Teachers used to give me shit about it, how I was going to pull my back one day if I didn’t wear the backpack on both shoulders like it was intended.

My short story published in the Power of the Pen competition, “At The Root,” was about the power of an idea, and how an idea could take root and change the world, even when the originator of the idea was completely lost to time. I anthropomorphised the idea into the main character, and made it talk about how it had drifted from host to host like a virus, sparking change, revolution and even just social unrest by sparking the smallest and most minor of things. At the end of the story, the idea tells the audience that who knows where it will strike next, but no one will realize it’s struck until years of work has happened, and the idea virus has already gone through two or three other hosts.

It had finished third, which was very good, but not first, because the judges said perhaps I was being a little too ambitious, reaching too far with some of my suggestions and how they had impacted the world. And hey, third place means I beat out several thousand other entries, so I was just happy with how I’d done.

I remember thinking how strange it was that that story would bring someone out just to see me, so I was completely unprepared for the meeting that followed. I went down to reception, only to be told that the visitor was waiting in one of the counseling rooms just off the principal’s office. (The only reason I even knew we had counseling rooms was that one of my friends, Blake, had been visiting with one of the counselors regularly about his anxiety problems.) They told me to just go and that I should stay in there as long as it took, even if it meant I would be late to my next class, which I also remember finding weird at the time. Beşevler Escort This was a whole lot of deference being given to someone hadn’t even scheduled an appointment, or wanted to see any student other than me.

Inside the counselor’s room was a very well dressed Asian woman in her 50s or maybe even her 60s, her black hair done up in a meticulous bun and large, heavy framed glasses over her eyes. “Ah, you must be Mr. Turner,” she said to me with a matronly smile. “I’m Dr. Karen Igarashi, and I was wondering if I could take a bit of time to talk to you about what I think you should be doing in the fall. Take a seat?”

The little room was barely more than a box, a tiny circular table in the center of it with a couple of seats on either side, not really enough room to pull them back far enough to do more than turn them so you could sit down, but by this point, all the cloak and dagger shit had scratched an itch in me that I didn’t know I had, so I sat down and smiled. “Hey, you came here just to see me, so that must mean something good, right? Where are you from, anyway?”

“Good! Polite and courteous but also direct and straight to the point. Just as your teachers seemed to indicate you would be,” she said, a certain tone of satisfaction to her voice. “I am the dean for a brand new institution of higher learning starting up in California this fall with a very select group of students, and I’d like you to consider being one of them.”

“Start with the name of the institution and then move on to the pitch.”

She chuckled a little, giving a nod. “Yes, exactly. I am the Dean for the California Academy of Radical Potential.”

“C.A.R.P.?” I asked, trying not to laugh. “I’d make a fish pun, but I’m absolutely certain you’ve heard them all by this point with a name like that.”

“Carp are one of the hardest fighting fish there are, so yes, the school mascot will be the Fighting Carp, but I think it’s the Academy itself you should be more interested in. We’re inviting a very select handful of students to come and be part of the foundational first class. I am anticipating to have a freshman class of around a hundred students, all gathered personally by me from around the country, people who excel in particular fields, each of whom will be tutored and fostered to become even greater and more effective than they already were.”

“You said California,” I said to her. “Where in California? Near LA?”

“Much further north,” she replied. “A coastal town called Montara, about half an hour south west of San Francisco, and about an hour north west of San Jose, so almost 7 hours drive from Los Angeles. California’s quite the long state.”

“I’m one hundred percent certain I can’t afford it,” I told her.

“Forgive me for asking, Mr. Turner, but how can you not afford free?” she said with an almost rakish grin. “The selection process for CARP is so precise that, should you pass this interview, you would be given room and board on campus for all four years, you would pay no tuition, and in fact we would pay you a monthly stipend, so you would have money to venture off campus from time to time and enjoy things like museums, concerts, festivals and the like.”

I remember suddenly sitting up and resolving to take the meeting a great deal more seriously, because this had gone from ‘yeah right’ to ‘tell me more’ within the span of two sentences. “Monthly stipend?” I asked.

“As I said. You see, the educational program you’d be going through at CARP is rather… intensive, and in some ways a little unorthodox. I and a number of other scientists have built a new structure and form for education, but it’s only truly going to work if we bring on exceptional and radical students, those who are unshackled by traditional thinking, and we give them all the tools they need to excel while still keeping them on the rails we need them to be.”

“What kind of rails?”

“So, obviously there would be several conditions to the full-ride scholarship that we would require you to adhere to, but I don’t think any of them would feel that oppressive to you.”

“Let me make those decisions for myself. What kind of rails?”

“Of course,” she said. “And I’m glad to see you taking an active hand in this. For all four years of your education at CARP, you would live on campus, in student housing, including during the summers. There will be a reduced classload for the summers, but there will still be a handful of required classes. We will have vacations and breaks, but at no point during the four years of your time with CARP should you expect to spend more than a single week away from campus, although considering how beautiful our location is, overlooking the Pacific coast, I think you will find that entirely manageable.”

“I mean, summer breaks are pretty important,” I said. “Students need time to unwind and de-stress, as classes can put a lot of pressure on us.”

“Agreed, which is why classes for the first year are only four days a week, with a three day weekend, which you can spend on campus or heading anywhere within range of us, as long as you’re back in classes promptly again on Monday.”

“Fridays off?” I said. “Damn, this all sounds very good. What kinds of things do you intend CARP to be known for?”

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