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Deadliest Book Report in the History of 4th Grade

We realize we've been pushing the new Cracked.com book pretty hard since it came out. If you're tired of reading about it, GOOD. We've made a terrible, terrible mistake. Do not buy this book.

What follows is a report from the front lines of America's future: The classroom. All we will say on our behalf is that we didn't intend to start a revolution. Especially one that will, in all likelihood, be laughably easy to suppress.

Evan Keeler was in the 4th grade. Evan Keeler liked to play soccer. By the end of this story, Evan Keeler will be #1 on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. But for now, he is fidgeting in his chair, compulsively balling and unballing his fists, and cursing every dreadful moment that he has to wait to present his book report. Ball. Release. Ball.

"Evan, are you ready?" Mrs. Wilshire asked pleasantly. Evan felt the revulsion well up his throat when she gave him her weak little smile.

"Yes, Mrs. Wilshire," Evan stood abruptly and marched to the front of the room. He stepped up behind the makeshift podium, and slapped down a dog-eared copy of a red-tinged paperback, "I stole this book from my big brother's room. It's called You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News."

"Are you sure this is appropriate?" Mrs. Wilshire interjected cautiously.

"Oh yes, ma'am. Nothing has ever been more appropriate." His little fists clenched and unclenched. Ball. Release.

"This book contains a lot of information. A lot of facts that I have never heard before. A lot of facts that I really should have heard before. For example, remember when we were studying presidents last week? Show of hands, how many remember?"

A smattering of uncertain hands quavered into the air, followed by a few more, and yet more as the dim memory came back to the children.

"It's hard to remember, right? Does anybody know which president Theodore Roosevelt was? Mrs. Wilshire told us he sponsored the regulation of business, and he was interested in natural history. Nobody? Nobody remembers?" Evan glared over at Mrs. Wilshire, then snapped back to face the class. The meat of his thumb burned with fatigue, but he could not stop his hands. Ball. Release.

"Now what if I told you he was the president who had a black belt in Jujitsu? Would you remember that? What if I told he killed bears and lions and kept their heads in the white house? That's pretty memorable, huh? What if I told you he once got shot while campaigning and, instead of going to the hospital, got up and gave his speech with a bleeding bullet wound in his chest? Would you have remembered that? I bet you would. I bet you would have remembered a lot of stuff about presidents, if you knew things like that."

Mrs. Wilshire smiled over at him, that look she gave when she was pleased to see her children interested in learning. Ball. Release.

"So the question you have to ask yourself is: Why? Why did Mrs. Wilshire tell you all about his 'Square Deal' domestic agenda, and left out all the lion-killing, moose-riding, bulletproof martial arts master parts?!"

"It's not right!" Billy Jenkins slammed his little fist down on his desk, "we just had a test on presidents! I didn't remember anything! Why didn't you tell us, Mrs. Wilshire?"

"Now, Billy I -"

"Shut your lying mouth," Evan snapped, and to her own surprise, Mrs. Wilshire complied.

"How about when we were studying World War Two? Mrs. Wilshire had us memorize who signed the Treaty of Vis. What she neglected to tell us was that the Nazis invented a giant cannon that shot tornados at enemy planes...and it worked."

"You bitch!" Timothy Price screeched, "I fell asleep during history! I fell asleep when I could have been learning about vortex cannons!?"

"Children, that is quite enough," Mrs. Wilshire put her hands on her knees as if to rise, but Billy Jenkins was up before her, crossing the room in a series of great bounds. He slammed into her chest and she sat down, hard.

"He's not finished," Billy whispered savagely, tears streaking down his face and across his Naruto T-shirt.

"Thank you, Billy. We had coloring time on the first Wednesday of this month, just like every Wednesday. But that day was different. What happened?"

"My mommy," a timid little girl shifted in her seat and spoke up, "she took too much medicine and went to heaven."

"That's right," Evan continued, his voice a cold, dead fury. "Suzy's mom killed herself. You drew a portrait for her, didn't you, Suzy?"

The girl nodded, tears in her eyes.

"What color was her dress?" Evan's knuckles had gone white, gripping the podium.

"I didn't know what to color it. Mrs. Wilshire said there were plenty of green crayons, so I used one."

"Did you know blue has been proven to prevent suicides, Suzy? Maybe if Mrs. Wilshire had given you the blue crayon, your mom would still be with us. So why did you do it, Mrs. Wilshire? Why did you kill Suzy's mother?"

"Evan, please!" She cried, but more children were surrounding her now; she had not even seen them stand, but there they were.

"Kelly Henderson!" Evan cried out, his voice thick with rage and grief and madness, "you never want to go to Sunday school! I'm telling you now, Kelly Henderson: In one version of the bible, Jesus almost had control of an army of dragons!"

"No!" Kelly shouted, "I love dragons! Why? WHY DIDN'T THEY TELL ME?!"

"You wouldn't have found it boring?" Evan asked wryly.

"No!" Kelly responded.

"You wouldn't have hid behind the Circle K for two hours to avoid Sunday School if they told you about the dragons?"

"No!" Kelly screamed again.

"In this version of the bible, Kelly Henderson, Jesus Christ could also kill with a word. He used that power to explode a giant snake."

Kelly ripped the hinged top from her desk, and with a howl of desperate fury, winged it discus-style towards Mrs. Wilshire. It missed, just barely, and shattered against the far wall.

"Sam McGinnis! You like animals!" Evan called out, his voice rising dramatically like an evangelist.

"Don't," Sam pleaded, "I can't - I don't-"

"She spent an afternoon teaching us about the dodo bird, and why it went extinct. You liked that, didn't you?"

"It was okay, I guess," Sam was a skinny, sickly child, and he had problems making eye contact.

"The Maori had a story about a giant, man-eating bird that would attack their villages. Everybody thought it was a fairy tale - like dragons," Evan glanced over to Kelly, who dropped to her knees and punched the floor in impotent anger, "but it wasn't. It was called Haast's eagle. It was an eagle big enough to carry a full grown man away, and it was real."

Sam put his head in his hands, and let out a high, keening sound that soon turned into a guttural wail of anguish. When it was done, he turned and sprinted toward where Mrs. Wilshire sat. It took five of the biggest boys in class to keep him from clawing her eyes out.

The other children had reached their breaking point as well, and the blood from Sam's fingernails had sent them over the edge. They advanced upon Mrs. Wilshire, little fingers tearing at her dress, little feet kicking sharply at her bare ankles, little teeth sinking into the flesh of her arms, little eyes so full of hate, glimmering all around, those eyes, those little eyes...

She screamed, and was shocked to find there were words pouring out of her: "I didn't know! I DIDN'T KNOW! PLEASE! I DIDN'T KNOW!"

Evan put up a hand, and the children paused in their frenzy. He took a shaky step toward her, and another, quicker and quicker. He stopped two inches from her face.

"If you didn't know, you didn't know, please you didn't know" he said, his voice a singsong mockery of her own, "then why did we call you teacher?"

She could only sob in response. Evan turned away in disgust, and the other children smiled. Kelly Henderson swung the first blow, but not the last.

***

Mrs. Wilshire finished her story, and Detective Freely moved to pat her reassuringly. She flinched away at his touch, and shuddered in her thin blue emergency blanket. The school was a ruin around them, flame-gutted and shattered. Most of the blood had burnt from the walls, and for that, at least, Freely was grateful.

"And Evan?" Freely prompted her to continue, "what happened to Evan?"

"He led the vanguard in the assault on the riot police. He was first over the barrier. They told me he took three heads before just...just disappearing into the forest"

"Detective?" She looked up at him with fearful eyes. "Were they true? Those things that Evan said?"

"Yes," Freely answered gently, "It was all true. Now, if you'll excuse me for a moment..."

The detective stood and shuffled into the next room. He closed the door softly behind him, flipped open his phone, and punched a few numbers. A voice answered. Detective Freely spoke:

"Yes sir, it's the book again. Another school, that's right, sir. No sir, they're all still here. The National Guard has them quarantined in the gym, as per your request. I...Sir?" The blood drained from his face as he listened to the voice drone instructions. After a long moment of silence, he stammered out an answer. "Yes sir, fire teams at the South, East, and Northeast exits. Full containment. Understood. Scientia est taedium."

He flipped his phone shut, gave a curt nod to a man in a biohazard suit, then turned to gaze out the window.

"They're just kids. God damn you," he whispered through gritted teeth, "god damn you for what you've made me do this day. God damn you, Cracked.com."

You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook but whatever you do, for the love of the children and the future, do not buy the Cracked.com book currently available for bargain basement prices wherever books are sold online.

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Robert Brockway

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