Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Exams (07/26/04)
TITLE: The Final
By Kevin Kindrick
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Through a shiny, golden door in the front wall of the room, the examiner entered. I was filled with apprehension. Would I pass the final exam? Would I finally graduate? What would happen if I failed?
The examiner walked up and down the rows, slapping a thick folder with a student’s name embossed in black onto each desk. He approached my desk, looking at me with sheer glee; a shudder passed up and down my spine. He dropped the exam on my desk and the room quaked. My name on the front of the folder seemed to crawl.
Finished, the examiner returned to the front and said, “Welcome, class. This is your final exam; it will cover everything you have learned and done throughout your career. Take all the time you need to answer each question. When finished, bring your exam to me and return to your seat,” with a sneer, “Good luck.” Sinking into the big chair behind his desk he propped his feet up and said, “Begin.”
We picked up our pencils, opened the folders to the first page and collectively gasped. I don’t know what the others saw, but my first question read, “Essay: In 250 words or less, explain why, in the 11th grade, you got drunk at a Halloween party and spent the next three hours in a back room with the captain of the cheer squad.” I gulped. I had completely forgotten that. How did he know? Had he been watching?
The pencil nearly slipped from my clammy fingers. As a bead of sweat dropped in slow motion from my forehead to the paper, I wrote, “The party was my friend’s idea. I only meant to have just one beer, honest! But the first one was really good, and I was still thirsty…”
A seeming eternity and several hundred personal essay questions later, I closed the folder. Hands trembling, I walked to the examiner’s desk and set it atop the growing pile at his feet, then returned to my desk and waited.
Some time later the final test topped the pile, the final student dropped sighing into his seat and the examiner sat up. Taking only moments to scan each test, he marked a large black “X” over the name as he completed it. When finished, he said with an evil smile, “You’ve all failed, follow me.” He opened a small, black door beside the golden one and the room quickly filled with sulfurous fumes and the heat of a forge. As we stood to obey him, the door we had entered through slammed open behind us.
A commanding voice shouted, “Stop!” Turning, we saw a Man wearing a white suit with a blood-red tie.
“D-D-Dean,” stuttered the examiner, “I was just escorting this failed class to the, uh, st-st-study hall…” his voice faded to an imperceptible mutter.
“I know exactly what you’re doing, you filthy creature,” the Dean interrupted, “I will have none of it. These are not yours.” He walked to the front of the room and my heart filled with a peace I had never known. He read the tests in an instant, placing each on the desk in front of Him. “All of these students have passed,” He stated – I nearly collapsed from elation – “these grades must be changed.”
Removing His tie He held it over each test in turn and squeezed. A few red drops fell to each test. He held the tie over my test and I saw that when the drops landed the black “X” through my name was replaced with a golden circle. He turned to the examiner saying “Torment these poor souls no longer, return to your domain.” The examiner walked through the black door which then slammed shut behind him.
The Dean turned to us, His smile filling the room with joy, and said, “Congratulations. You have all passed this test. You are tired, come with Me and I will take you to a place of rest.” He opened a small, as yet unnoticed door in the corner of the room and led us into the Light beyond…
© Kevin Kindrick, 2004