Fiction Fantasy Middle School

I’m a tester. I’m essentially a human lab rat. But for tech, not medicine or skin products. I’ve been told I’m like a blue rat, which is actually a blueish silver in color, because those are a rarer color of rat. And that’s because I’m a kid tester. 

Twelve is the youngest tester allowed by law and you need parent permission. Most parents would never allow their kids to be testers, fearing what the tech might do to their previous child’s still growing brain. My parents, however, don’t know and probably wouldn’t care if they did know. I forged the permission form and snagged their drivers’ licenses, taking photos with my phone for the paperwork. But they really let me live my own life and don’t get involved much at all. 

It’s not that they don’t love me. They aren’t actively mean to me or anything. They just kind of treat me like a roommate. Not like a “best buds forever” kind of roommate, but the one you live with and tolerate and sometimes watch a movie or share a meal with.

It’s because of their absentee parenting that I’ve been a tester for more than a year already and just had my twelfth birthday. So I’m a favorite at the lab because I know what I’m doing, will really put the test tech to use and then give my honest feedback.

And I get paid for it. Really well, actually. If my parents did go the full roommate route with me, I could definitely afford my share of rent, utilities, groceries and everything. 

Anyway, this is all on my mind because I just left the lab with some new tech to try out and it always makes me think back to how I got started as a tester. And this actually seems like one of the cooler things I’ve been given to try out.

The tech is built into glasses. Which, I know Google and everybody has tried to make that work but their problem has always been that the glasses don’t look cool. Nobody wanted to wear them. And the tech in the glasses wasn’t exciting enough to make you say, “Ok, I guess I’ll wear these lame looking glasses because I really want to have my texts pop-up right in front of my face.”

The lab let me pick my own frames. I debated between those oversized dark square frames, the round callbacks to Harry Potter and the clearish plastic frames that everyone seems to be wearing these days. The lab technician lady said I should go with the round ones, so Hogwarts here I come!

Ok, so the glasses look sweet, but the tech is also super cool. It gives people an aura based on their general truthfulness. Green, of course, means a more honest person. Yellow, less honest, and red is Pinocchio’s cousin. That in itself sounds awesome, but there’s more. When you’re talking to someone, if they’re being dishonest, little sparks will fly from their colored aura. So it’s a real-time lie detector that only I can see.

The lab won’t let you test out the tech until you’re out in the real world, so I had to wait until I was outside to put on my glasses and give them a spin. I’m so glad I stopped there on the way to school this morning so I can test these out on the teachers and students of Sherwood Middle School ASAP.

About a block away from school, I stop and grab the glasses out of my backpack. I turn them over in my hands, really inspecting them now to be sure I won’t immediately be caught out as having some kind of tech in my otherwise normal-looking glasses.

They look good. I can’t find any flaws. Stylish, simple, comfortable, light weight. I’ll just have to convince my friends that I’m going for a new look with fake glasses. 

I pop the glasses on and look towards the steady stream of kids flowing into school. Whoa! Everyone is glowing just a bit. Not so much that I can’t tell who’s who or notice what they’re wearing. But enough to see that Jake Prendergast is a total liar about just about everything (no surprise there) and Nia Patel is not quite as honest as everyone thinks (a bit of a shock, to be honest).

I pop the glasses off and squint my eyes closed for a minute. Really, it’s a bit overwhelming to see in this new way and to be taking in yet another layer of information through my eyes. Then I take a couple of deep breaths, slide the glasses back on and finish the walk to school.

I can’t help but notice everyone’s truthful status as I look around. Kayleigh: truthful. Marcus: semi-truthful. Maddie: semi-dishonest. Horace: total liar. 

While not all the information is shocking, some of it is new. And it’s hard not to add new judgments about my classmates as I walk through the halls. 

I bypass my locker, just wanting to get to first period quickly so I can take a little mental break before the day starts. Just that quick walk through a sea of kids has my head spinning.

As I approach the door for Ms. Hannity’s pre-algebra class, I see her standing at the door with a mostly green aura. That’s good news, and makes sense. I know sometimes adults have to tell white lies to kids just to keep us in line, but I’m glad to see she’s a mostly truthful person.

“Good morning, Gabby,” Ms. Hannity says to me with a smile. “I like your glasses.”

“Thanks, me too,” I say in reply. Then I have a thought and quickly decide to test my luck before I change my mind. “Feel like a pop quiz kind of day, huh Ms. Hannity?” I ask a bit coyly, as I’ve done in the past trying to get her to divulge this information, which she never does.

“Hmm…” she says. “I don’t know… I guess you never can tell.” As Ms. Hannity finishes her sentence, yellow and orange sparks fly off her aura. 

I smile at her and head to my seat. These glasses are going to be a game changer.

June 17, 2022 16:09

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