MISC: Faculty Lunch

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at eyrie.org
Mon Sep 20 16:34:19 PDT 2021

			      "Faculty Lunch"
		    copyright 2021 by Dave Van Domelen

     "Time is an illusion.  Lunchtime doubly so." - Zaphod Beeblebrox


     Vice Principal Watkins waved me over as the lunch lady checked my name
off the list he'd provided her.  A fifty-something man with a carefully
cultivated avuncular air, Watkins had decided that it would be a Good Idea
for faculty to eat lunch with him in the cafeteria once a week, rotating
through the teachers and some of the staff so that everyone had to be there
at least once, usually two or three times. 
     The idea was that the students would see the teachers in a non-classroom
context, plus faculty who didn't normally work together would get to know
each other.  To wit, I only recognized two of the other teachers already
seated there, and one I knew because he was also the football coach.  I mean,
our school wasn't exactly competitive, we weren't in Texas, but coach was
still a big deal, and I wasn't entirely sure what he taught.  Odds on social
studies, though.  I think his name was Brad Jackson, but that might have been
me just making up something stereotypical for him because I couldn't
remember.  The other one I recognized was a new English teacher, Jane Travis,
who was mostly stuck with the freshmen right now.  My own freshmen, in the
biology class I taught because I was technically qualified and the main
biology teacher was overloaded with the AP bio, spoke highly of Ms. Travis,
because she actually let them read manga and other pop culture stuff for
their book reports.
     I found my way to the table through the increasing crowd of students.
Watkins, having no class before lunch, was able to stake out his chosen table
before students showed up.  I'd heard that this tended to displace some of
the student cliques, with some rumors about that being a side goal of his,
not that anyone expected it to work.  Whoever "claimed" this table would be
back at it tomorrow, grumbling about teachers.
     "Ah, Mr. Tyrone, have a seat," Watkins rose slightly and gestured at one
of the two empty chairs left.  Addressing the rest of the table, he said,
"Mr. Tyrone is our chemistry teacher, mostly.  Mr. Tyrone, the rest here are
Ms. Travis from English, Mr. Benjamin from Art, Mrs. Graf from Physical
Education, Coach Johanssen who also teaches Economics," looks like I
remembered and guessed wrong on both counts, "and Mr. Ayers from Counseling.
We're just waiting on Miss Little, who I believe you already know."
     I nodded.  Tamica Little was one the Math teachers, and depending on the
desk lottery she was sometimes sharing a prep area with science.  I also
learned very quickly that she was already very tired of jokes about how her
name was ironic, since she was nearly six feet tall and had played college
basketball at her HBCU.
     "So, who are we kicking out of their spot today?" Ayers asked.  From his
tone, I got the impression that he didn't think much of displacing students
who had started to get comfortable in their groups.  Can't say I disagreed,
even if a lot of those groups were dysfunctional.
     "You know, I'm not really sure.  Last week I was all the way over
there," Watkins gestured at the far corner, "I couldn't see who sat here.
I'd rather not know in advance, really...keeps it from feeling like I'm
singling anyone out."
     Everyone craned around to see where the cliques seemed to have settled,
but it wasn't really obvious to me who was currently feeling put out.
     "I think we might have bumped the, um, outcasts?" Jane ventured.  "Is it
okay to call them that?  I see some of my more 'geeky' students wandering
around looking for a place to sit, and I think I caught one of the older
students with them giving us the stink-eye."
     I suppressed a groan.  That was going to suck for those kids...we'd
taken the only place they had, and they were probably going to need to split
up and find spots wherever a few were available.  As a recovering nerd
myself, I knew the pain of sitting alone in a crowd at school.
     Tamica had come into view, and Watkins waved cheerfully at her.  Turning
back to the table, he asked, "So, how's the year going for everyone?"
     Technically it wasn't quiet, since the general rumble of conversation
from several score high school students didn't allow for actual silence, but
no one wanted to be the first to speak up.  Understandably.
     Coach Johanssen decided to lead off, probably because he was already
used to vapid questions from the local press.  "Some promising kids this
year, we might even make it into the playoffs for the first time since I took
over the program."
     "Excellent," Watkins nodded.  "And your classes?"
     Before Johanssen could reply, Tamica reached the table and sat down.
"Hello every...WHAT THE F---!"
     As soon as she took her seat, a circle of light flared into existence
around the table.  I barely had time to register that a few students who had
been a little too close were shoved away from us before the circle became a
column and the entire world went white and LOUD.  I'd once misjudged a
reaction and been a little too close to a violently exothermal process, and
it had been a lot like what I was feeling as the light surrounded us.

     The brightness and the white noise roar slowly receded.  I was still
seated at the cafeteria table, my "healthy" lunch in front of me.  Not a
veggie out of place.  Everyone else was there too.
     But we weren't in the cafeteria, unless someone had very rapidly
     It looked like pictures of an alchemist's lab from the first chapter of
some chemistry textbooks, but as big as a volleyball court.  The circle which
had appeared around us was still glowing faintly, but was etched into the
stone floor and was more complex than a simple arc.  It was inlaid with
various symbols, some of which I recalled from reading about early alchemical
approaches to chemistry.
     "What.  The.  F..." Tamica started to repeat.
     "Welcome, Chosen Ones!" someone behind me spoke, conveniently
interrupting the shocked and angry-sounding math teacher.
     I turned around.
     To some extent, I was already expecting and dreading seeing a wizard of
some sort.
     I wasn't expecting it to be what looked like a bipedal capybara.  Ornate
robes, a staff still glowing with an inner light very much like that of the
circle.  No hat, though, pointy or otherwise.
     "Oh dear," he added, blinking and raising a monocle to one eye.  "You
seem rather older than the heroes I was expecting."
     Jane started laughing hysterically, nearly falling out of her chair in
the process.
     In a game attempt at regaining some level of control over the situation,
Watkins ignored the fuzzy wizard and asked, "Ms. Travis, are you in shock?  I
mean, it's understandable...Mrs. Graf, is there some first aid we could be
     "Hee ha hah...huh..." Jane wound down, wiping tears out of her eyes,
before Graf could reply.  "Oh, this is too rich.  You really shouldn't have
picked this table, Vice Principal Watkins.  Capy-sensei over there was aiming
at THIS table, expecting its usual kids, and we triggered the spell as soon
as the last person sat down."
     "Are you saying the wizard was kidnapping children?  Then we did the
right thing in taking their place!" Watkins looked accusingly at the wizard.
     "Oh no no no...I wasn't kidnapping them.  I was bringing them to their
     "We've been isekai'ed by accident," Jane grinned, and it wasn't a
particularly sane-looking grin.
     "Issy-wha?" I asked.
     Jane sized me up.  "You're what, forty-five or so?"
     "Um, close enough, why?"
     "You watched cartoons as a kid, right?  Remember the one where the kids
went on the amusement park ride and ended up as fantasy characters led around
by the nose a little Dungeonmaster guy?  That's an isekai.  But instead of
getting a bunch of imaginative misfit kids, the wizard got a damned faculty
luncheon.  And, if the tropes are being followed otherwise, I'm betting we
can't go back until we've Saved The World, am I right, capy-sensei?" she
gestured in the wizard's direction.
     "My name is Cornelius, not Cappisensay, but you have the essence of it.
I cannot breach the barriers between worlds again until the Darkness has been
purged, and I am afraid that I may have doomed us all through my flawed
     "Looks like the game has changed," Coach Johanssen muttered.  "Time to
step up."
     Time indeed.  As Zaphod Beeblebrox once said, "Time is an illusion,
lunchtime doubly so."  He must have had lunches like this...and without even
being a high school teacher.


Author's Notes: 

     Inspired by a Tumblr post about "What if instead of getting a bunch of
high school students, the isekai grabbed a bunch of high school teachers
instead?"  I decided to flesh out the How They Got There part, since the
original post did a good job of exploring the sorts of things that might
happen once they settled in on the job.
     Of course, "mis-aimed isekai" is hardly a new thing.  Alan Dean Foster's
1980s Spellsinger novel series was predicated on Clothahump the wizard trying
to grab a teacher and getting a student instead, for instance.  I do wonder
if the person who started the Tumblr thread (which I can't find anymore,
because Tumblr) was aware of Spellsinger?

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