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The Hieroglyphics Teacher Strikes Back

For some background (if you wish), read:

The Hieroglyphics Teacher

The Hieroglyphics Teacher Makes a Discovery


This can’t be happening, Ben thought. There was an artificial copy of himself (which he had named Ben Two) out there who was planning on making an army of other magically animated robots to help him take over the world, or at least help him do less work. As Ben Two’s creator, Ben couldn’t help but feel slightly responsible for the situation.

Ben had let Ben Two teach all his classes for him while Ben just sat home and played computer and ate Pizza Pockets. But now he would have to go out and stop Ben Two.

But first he played an hour of World of Warcraft and had a couple Pizza Pockets.

The first place he went was the police station.

“Hi, I’d like to report a . . .” It wasn’t a crime, really. “I’d like to report a situation. There is a simulacrum teaching my classes.”

The police officer on duty gave him an easy-going, if totally uncomprehending, smile.

“It’s a magically-animated robot,” Ben said.

“…who’s teaching your classes for you,” the officer finished. Ben nodded. “And who exactly are you?”

“I’m the hieroglyphics teacher for the archipelago. But I also practice alchemy. I made the simulacrum.” The officer was staring at him in such a way that Ben felt compelled to keep giving information. “Then I told him to teach my classes for me, but now he wants to make more of these robots to replace other people.”


“And I’m worried. There has to be a law against that or something.”

Finally, the officer looked down. “Okay then, so where is this robot-thing now?”

They took the police boat over to the island where Ben’s classes were that day. Ben felt incredibly awkward as he followed the two police officers into the school and into the classroom where Ben Two was teaching. The students were watching a movie with hieroglyphic subtitles. They all gasped to see a copy of their teacher walk into the room, identical except much more disheveled and overweight.

clone card

“Excuse me, sir, but this man says you’re a copy of him,” the officer said.

Ben Two stopped the movie. “Actually, I created him,” he said. “Thank you for returning him to me.”

“That’s crazy,” Ben said. “I’m obviously not the simulacrum. Do an X-ray on us and you’ll see.”

“Would you submit to that?” the officer asked Ben Two. Ben Two shook his head. The officer turned and shrugged at Ben. “Sorry, we tried.”

“But who would make an overweight robot?” Ben protested. This all seemed like a bad dream.

“I was curious to see if I could,” Ben Two said. “I also programmed him to believe that he was a human and I was a robot.”

The officers nodded. “Well, you sure did a good job with that part.”

“But why would anyone do that?” Ben asked, becoming almost hysterical.

“My life lacked zest,” Ben Two said in a contemplative tone.

“I’m sorry to have disturbed you, sir,” the officer said. “What should we do with this thing?”

“I’m a human!” Ben screamed. “Quick, watch me eat something.” Then he remembered that he had made Ben Two able to eat as well. “He can’t go to the bathroom though. Come and watch me go the bathroom!”

“Oh dear, its modesty circuits are malfunctioning again,” Ben Two said. “That happens sometimes. Just drop it at home and I’ll fix it when I get home.”

Ben was dragged off by the police, screaming, “I’m not an it. I’m a human being!”

In the police boat, the police officers poked around for Ben’s off-switch for a bit, then just knocked him on the head a few times. They dropped him off at his house and posted a guard outside.

It really was like a bad dream. He went to get some Pizza Pockets out of the freezer and heard a giggle. He looked up to see the fridge smiling at him.

Fridges are not designed to smile at all, but somehow the blocky, metal appliance gave off the unmistakable impression of smiling.

“Oh, great.” Ben said. “The Elixir of Life…”


“Yep, it spilled,” the fridge said. “The eggs are bouncing around inside me like crazy and I think the butter is crying softly in a corner. Do you want to look?”

Ben was sure that he didn’t want to look, but he opened the fridge door (with another giggle from the fridge). The inside was a sea of activity.


(to be continued…)

The Hieroglyphics Teacher Makes a Discovery

Here is the first of the Hieroglyphics Teacher stories.


Ben, the resident hieroglyphics teacher for the Costa Meh archipelago, was not adverse to work. However, when he was given the option not to work, he took it. It came the night he created a simulacrum called Ben Two that looked and sounded so much like him that no one noticed when it went in and taught a class for him. Soon it was teaching all his classes for him.

It was about two months later that Ben discovered a very small detail: Ben Two did not know hieroglyphics. Ben discovered this when he was looking through his briefcase and came across a worksheet.

“Hey, these sentences don’t make any sense at all,” he said.

“Yeah, I know,” Ben Two said. “I just make stuff up and tell the kids that it’s right.”

“You can’t do that!”

“No, it’s okay,” Ben Two said. “They totally believe me. It’s not a problem.”

For the first time, Ben began to feel twinges of guilt. These combined with the creeping realizations that his life wasn’t as good as it had been and created the seeds of some Grade-A remorse. He had created Ben Two so that he wouldn’t have to stay after school and could work on his alchemy experiments. But now Ben Two was teaching his classes (and teaching them gibberish) and Ben was just playing computer games and eating Pizza Pockets. Ben Two had also somehow gotten a girlfriend (something Ben had failed to do in several years) and seemed to be taking over.

“I think maybe I should start teaching my classes again,” Ben said. “I can’t have you teaching them nonsense.”

“You can’t yet,” Ben Two said. “You’re about 20 pounds heavier than me by now. People will wonder how you gained all that weight overnight.” He sat down in front of the TV and lit a cigarette.

“You smoke now? How can you smoke? You’re a simulacrum.”

“Well then, I’m the only one who can do it safely,” Ben Two said. “At least I’ll never get cancer.”

“But you can’t even enjoy it.”

“It makes me look cool.”

“But no one’s here to see you.”

“You are. Don’t I look cool?”

“No. Can I at least look at the package that came today?”

Ben Two blew a cloud of smoke into the air. “I’d rather you didn’t. I have my fingers in a lot of pies right now.” He pulled out a stack of bills in a plastic bag and threw them to Ben. “Here. Go buy yourself something nice tomorrow.”

Ben went to his room. There was $500 in the bag. He didn’t know where it came from, but that nagging feeling that things weren’t right kept increasing.

Ben Two did not have to sleep, but he did get restless and usually went out for a swim around 3am. As soon as he was gone, Ben got up and opened the package that was sitting in the hallway. It was full of alchemy equipment and supplies—very much like something he would buy himself. But why would Ben Two want it? As he was looking through it, he realized that these were supplies for making more simulacra; it even included a bottle of the Elixir of Life.

Also, there were guns in the bottom of the package; big guns that looked designed to fit inside a body cavity. Ben took the Elixir of Life and hid it in the safest place he could think of: the fridge.

The next morning, when he came out for breakfast, Ben Two was waiting for him at the kitchen table. He was smoking five cigarettes at once and the air was hazy and thick.

“You opened my package,” he said.

“So what? This is my house, after all, and you bought it with my money.”

“Actually, since I’m the one working now, it’s my money. Where’s the Elixir of Life?”


“I dumped it down the sink,” Ben said, knowing this was an obvious lie. A liquid that turned inanimate objects into living creatures was not something you wanted to put into your average sewer system. “What were you planning to make?”

“I thought I would switch some of the principals at the schools with copies,” Ben Two said. “They’re always making me do things I don’t want to do, like teach. It’d help if they were on my side.”

“And give them guns?”

“Why not? It seems like an obvious upgrade. I’m surprised you didn’t give me guns that could shoot out of my fingertips or something.”

“But how are you going to build them? You don’t know anything about alchemy?”

“Sure I do. I know everything you do.”

“Except hieroglyphics.”

“Yeah, except that. I guess that was a glitch in the process.”

“I’m going to try to stop you, you know.”

“Okay, have fun with that.” Ben Two took the five cigarette butts and threw them into the sink. “Well, I’m off to work. I guess if you don’t give me back the Elixir of Life, I’ll have to order some more. Luckily, I know a guy who can get it to me fast.” He picked up the package and walked out the door.


(to be continued…)

The Hieroglyphics Teacher

Ben was a teacher who worked in an archipelago. He had his own boat and would putter around from island to island, teaching hieroglyphics at the local schools. He taught at a different school every day of the week.

You learn your Bird Leg Bowls and then go from there.

You learn your Bird Leg Bowls and then go from there.

This was just his day job, however. His real dream was to become an alchemist. He had a small alchemy kit he carried around and when his classes were finished, he would experiment and do his quiet research at a nearby bar or coffee shop.

One day, he was at a school on Sunny Island and had finished all his classes by lunchtime. One of the teachers came up to him.

“We want you to stay until the end of the day,” he said. “You are a teacher and that’s what teachers do.”

“Okay,” Ben said. “That’s fine, but where should I go while I wait for the end of the day?”

“Anywhere you want,” the teacher said.

This sounded like a great thing, except the school was so small that there was nowhere to go. Ben went first to the library. He had just set up his alchemy set when students began to trickle in. Immediately, they crowded around him.

“What’s this?” one asked, picking up a glass bottle.

“That’s Aqua Fortis,” Ben said.

“Can I drink it?”

“It will kill you in a very painful way.”

“What’s this?”

“That’s Sugar of Lead.”


“Of lead. That will kill you too.” Eventually Ben packed up his equipment. He wandered from room to room, looking for some place to sit. He ended up in a storage room, crammed between boxes of abandoned pencil stubs and the costumes from the school’s Cthulhu Day program.


“I need somewhere else I can go,” he thought, “like an alternate dimension where I can do my work.”

“…Or, some sort of simulacrum to sit here for me,” he added, after a moment of contemplation, in which he realized he had no idea how to open another dimension. For the next few weeks, he worked on his replacement until the fateful night when he poured the Elixir of Life into its head and brought it to life. It looked just like him, spoke in his voice and seemed reasonably intelligent. He still couldn’t turn lead into gold, but this was good for the time being.

From then on, he would bring the simulacrum (or Ben Two, as he called it) to school with him, then set it loose whenever classes were over and he could sneak out. This worked well, but it was difficult to carry Ben Two to school and dangerous to walk into school with it. Finally, one day when Ben was feeling especially tired, he sent the thing to teach his classes for him.

No one noticed.

From that day on, he sent Ben Two to teach all his classes, while he stayed home to work on his alchemy. That was the plan, at least, although he ended up just playing World of Warcraft and eating Pizza Pockets all day long.

One day, he was walking to the store to get more alchemical supplies and Pizza Pockets when a beautiful woman ran up to him and threw her arms around him. She gave him a big kiss.

“Ben, thanks again for last night. I had a great time.”

“Sure thing,” Ben stammered. He had never seen her before in his life. She gave him another kiss and then left.

That evening, Ben was waiting when Ben Two came home. The simulacrum came in, flipping through the mail.

“I saw a woman today,” Ben said. “She said she had a good time with me last night.”

Ben Two looked up. “You saw Gloria? Crap, why did you leave the house?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit suspicious to have you at the store while I’m at work? Anyway, you’ve gained a lot of weight. From now on, just give me a list and I’ll get whatever you need.”

“Yeah, okay,” Ben said.

“Also, don’t open any packages that come here. I’ve got some stuff going on.”

“Like what?”

“Don’t bother yourself about it, okay? I’m out there making a better life for both of us. You’ve got your hobbies here. Just stick to them, and ramp the curiosity down. This is everything you’ve wanted, right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Ben said. He was trying to work out if this was all a good thing or a bad thing.


(to be continued)

The Blair Witch Project it ain’t, but still…

One of the fun bonuses of teaching English in Korea is the chance to teach English camps. I’m only partially sarcastic there. While it does mean more classes to teach once the vacation has started (often with no extra pay), the camp curriculum is often more relaxed and as long as they are well planned, they can be a lot of fun. The one I just finished was at a middle school where the kids were very enthusiastic and a lot of fun to teach. On the second day, we went through movie genres and a few sample scripts and then I got them to write their own movies. They wrote the scripts, practiced them, and then I recorded them on my phone and edited them later. Their English level isn’t super high, but they tried hard. Anyway, here for your viewing pleasure are two of the movies they made. They are about a minute long, each.

1. Number 1: This is a ghost story about a top student who has died and comes back to haunt the 2nd place student in school.

2. Stupidman and the Zombies: This is a zombie comedy where apparently the zombies and normal people can switch quite quickly. I can’t say I totally understand it, since they didn’t explain it to me.

The production values aren’t great, but it was a good activity and gave the students more fun and a better sense of accomplishment than just doing grammar exercises. I had them vote for the best movie in several categories. “Number 1” won hands-down for best acting, all for that scream. There was a third movie too, done by an all-boys group, that had to do with gambling and a lot of people getting shot, but they didn’t want me to post that one.

The Phonology of “Baby Teacher”

I am a teacher and in my teaching career I have probably taught thousands of students. And of those, quite a few have called me Baby Teacher.

As you may or may not know, I teach English in Korea. Normally, Korean students called their teachers seonsaeng-nim, which, like the Japanese sensei, just means “teacher”. If they need to distinguish between teachers, they add the teacher’s last name before it, as in “Kim seongsaeng-nim.”

I have my students call me David. That is the opposite of the norm here, since Koreans usually only call friends and social inferiors by their first name. I wouldn’t do that if I was teaching in North America, but over here, foreign English teachers are outside all the rules of normal engagement, so it doesn’t really matter. However, a lot of them still stick “teacher” on the end of my name to mimic the Korean style.

So how does “baby” come into it? It has to do with Korean pronunciation rules. First of all, Korean doesn’t have a “v” sound, so my name automatically becomes “Dabid”. As well, Korean doesn’t have any syllables that end with a “d”, so my name gets stretched to three syllables, as in “day-bi-deu”. This means the second syllable is now open, which in Korean means that the “i” gets changed to an “ee” sound, and we end up with “day-bee-deu”. Take off the last syllable and it’s suspiciously close to “baby”.

Of course I correct them and they usually do it just to be brats. Still, I’ve gotten used to it. I’m sure I could be walking down the road in America and if an elementary school student yelled “Hey baby!”, I’d probably just smile and wave.

This is what came up "baby teacher" in an image search. Source.

This is what came up for “baby teacher” in an image search. Source.

The Rust Queen – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Sandra Crook

copyright Sandra Crook

The Rust Queen

My favorite teacher was Miss Ferrous, but we just called her Rusty. She had a tattoo that said “Rust Queen” on her arm.

We once took a class trip to the junkyard. We shot rats with a shotgun and Rusty showed us how thermite could burn through an engine block. We collected all the cool-looking scraps and dragged them back to school, where Rusty showed us how to weld. I made a scrap-racer and named it The Rust Queen, after her.

Even today, it sits on my porch, a tribute to the best kindergarten teacher a boy could ever have.

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