Something a little like this…
Standing in the foyer of Bearbrass Hall, Otis Faroutman sneered as he massaged his concise trigonometry notes into his eyeballs, feeling the formulas firmly impress themselves onto his aching retinas. He had nothing to worry about. He had revised so thoroughly that he could recite the numberbet backwards. The other students had the thin faces of those whose world has been shrunk to a nightmare whirl of flashcards.
Faroutman’s right arm was a mass of bone and pulsating muscle protruding from his shoulder, the end result of years of handwriting practice. His calligraphy was so fine that he could draw perfect circles only a micron wide. Months earlier, Faroutman had paid for lodging in an abandoned prison by colouring it green with Derwent pencils. He would draw a green line straight up a wall, across the roof, and down the one opposite. This he would repeat millions of times. When the prison owners saw his adept pencilry, they swooned in aesthetic delight. Faroutman’s other arm ended in a bony claw that could barely clutch a rubber.
A bell as loud as thunder echoed throughout the dreary foyer, and from behind newly opened doors marched five invigilators. The Arch-invigilator listed the rules of the exam. ‘Anyone who makes any sound during the exam will have their heads shaved, and bald offenders will have hair jammed into their scalps. Puns triple scores, and drink bottles are forbidden except for urination purposes.’
Faroutman insolently wafted into the examination arena. Inside there were forty tables. On top of each one was an A4 sized tray of black ink. At the front of the hall was a stage, and in front of that was an open orchestra pit. Faroutman chose the table next to the giant eggtimer in the centre of the room.
The ace student sat down on a two legged stool and stared at the back of the exam paper. He expected a great questioning, an argumenting, and a conclusioning, and he also swore that there would be a reckoning! He turned it, and began to read. Shock was alien to his face. Instead he viewed the sheet with contempt. It had maths questions like ‘How few fire-flies should a fruit-fly fight if the fruit-fly would fright fire-flies?’ The most interesting English question was ‘If they all have stiff lips, how come they’re so articulate?’ The final question was the most threatening, but by Faroutman’s standards it was still prenatally simple. It was not a how question, or a why. It was a whif.
During Faroutman’s stay in the prison, he had gone through every possible potential permutation of all conceivable questions that could appear on the exam, and answered each one so validly that they began to looked silly.
Since Faroutman always maintained that complacency lead to constipation, he remained in a state of abject horror, clutching his Ashen Ash pencil in protracted agony. His special Ashen Ash pencil was a present from his late father. The pencil was carved from the core of the Ashen Ash, a thinking tree that had tried to conquer Canada during the sixties. It was only stopped by a renegade lumberjack who had her arms, feet and lower jaw replaced with axe heads by an inebriated surgeon in Maine. Faroutman’s pencil was all that was remained. Faroutman’s claw held a rubber he had created himself, out of the earwax of an aristocratic climate-change denier.
Before Faroutman began writing, a battle cry howled out deep within his ribcage proclaiming his desire to rewrite the Heavens themselves, so that he may become greatest VCE student of them all!
Yet not no sound, no atom of air, escaped Faroutman’s lips. He remembered the Arch-invigilator’s stern warning, and deigned to let his pencil do the discoursing. Hear that proud downstroke, that subtle left line! Who could question such a strong argument? Has there ever been a point made to eruditely, so valiantly! This wondrous melody of pencil on paper was the beginning…
All through that hour he wrote, going from contention to conclusion, resolving issues and answering questions, casting light on the obscure and exposing the false. Each tick of the eggtimer shaved yet one second from eternity. Yet each tick had a reply, the scratch of the devil pencil! Weather vomited itself onto the hall’s roof, a thousand bullets of hail. A volley of thunder illuminated the sky, for a second casting the room white. With mad passion, an army of crows smashed themselves on the western wall. The inhuman elements supported a pantheistic concept of nature as they warred in the heavens, mirroring the epic struggle between knowledge and foolishness beneath!
Nature claims that each storm must have a lull. Faroutman also lulled, his finite resources making his achievements shine so bright. Do not think that this marvelous symphony of truth and pencilry was easy for Faroutman! Every word he wrote slowly killed him, draining him of energy. Each full stop was like a stab in the heart, each comma a hiccup, and each exclamation mark the death of a loved one.
This was a strain, yes, but it was no surprise for Otis Faroutman. For what else had he trained those ten tedious months? A week in the Philippines, a night in Azerbaijan – no more than a month on one continent! Before he went to sleep every night, he would clutch the warm heart of his father and swear on the grave of Mighty Socrates that he would win this exam, win it so hard that the dictionary people would have to create a new definition of victory. When he drew a letter, Faroutman thought of the Komodo dragons he’d bred in Spain. When he made a full stop he remembered how he’d planked across the English Channel. Every semicolon reminded him of a textbook he‘d eaten! This exam was the real deal, a killion times more difficult than practice. This was the cause of the silence rule; otherwise Bearbrass Hall would ring the screams of students.
This is real great and all, but how the hell does it help me win my exam?
I’m getting to that! Besides a sincere apology and good knock-knock joke, an essay is the hardest thing to write. The word itself derives from the acronym SA, invented by the great sage Cuchalain to indicate a superfluous answer. The whiteness of the unwritten essay page is as intimidating as your dentist ex-wife’s glare when you show up late to pick up your kids from childcare. The greatest essay ever written is Finks, found written on the side of a New York public toilet in a substance modern science would rather not identify.
To write an essay one must first have an essay question one feels passionate about. Whether or not it heats the saliva in your mouth is the best criteria. Then, one must write out an answer to that question. Does that contention ring loud and true in your heart? Writing a good essay should be the only time in your life that you truly feel alive. An essay is like an insect in that it comes in three parts; introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction is where you first state your argument. The introduction an egg, it encapsulates everything your essay will be. Circumnavigate around the employment of corpulent and gargantuan words, this earthly sphere is devoid of witnesses who trumpet the praises of those ambitious auteurs who exploit grandiose phrases for their own sake and prophesy such sophisticated statements to precipitate in heavenly credit. The body consists of three or four paragraphs, each one corresponding to a term mentioned in your introduction. You are going to write an essay, you are writing an essay, you have written an essay. Allusions suck like that whirlpool in Odyssey. No one should be ashamed of their body (except for you), so make sure your essay isn’t. Really, essays are like your children, man. You create them in a moment of enlightened panic and forget about them, until one day an Emo Pentecostalist with a rusty crucifix piercing their lip knocks on your door and demands a decades worth of birthday presents. Finally, end it. Write the conclusion. Some people fall into the trap of rewriting their introduction in past tense, don’t be a sucker. (An essay was an insect in that it had three parts.) Copy the last line of every paragraph, then state your conclusion in past tense. Here is a checklist to make sure you’re writing your essay in the right direction; is your blood pounding? Are you experiencing breathing difficulty? Can you see the bones in your hands? Can you hear a low voice moan your name? If the answer is yes to all the above, don’t change a thing. If Faroutman had a mind to, he would have answered all of these questions pi thousand percent. Oh, and remember to plan your essay before you start writing. I knew a guy at neurosurgeon school who didn’t complete his final essay, but wrote out a plan before he started. He got an A plus and is now a neurosurgeon in Maine. Quotes are also important. ‘Quotes, er- are just, ok/Great, I, um think. Maybe. Pass the salt..’ There is a whole column in the marking rubric titled quote quota. Especially in maths. Clarity. Matter coherences. Clarity clarity. Clarity is the ideal concept most to have tantamount in one’s whimsy skull during the construction of a superfluous answer. Remember the bibliography. In the Poweltown Manual of Style you cite author’s favourite bubble-bath, publishing company, publication year, their porn-star name, DOI and their birth weight. Imagine, if you will, that your essay will have a comment section. Be don’t clear waffle. Remember, try your best at all costs, or I’ll come around to your place and beat it outta ya!
I think I preferred the other tangent.
The lull in Faroutman’s writing ceased as everything must. Faroutman’s writing lived on! Ignorance was a broken man weeping in the corner and Faroutman’s pencil was the chainsaw decapitating him. This thought enflamed Faroutman’s soul so incandescently that he stabbed the page with his pencil, emphatically stopping to his sentence, yet breaking the lead. If paper were alive, Faroutman’s exam paper would carpet the hall in blood. His heart stopped. Faroutman was fearless, but nobody said anything about chumtop. If fear is being nervous about the mountie chasing you with a spear, chumtop is walking down the hallway of your childhood home only to realise that your neck is in a noose, before the floor slides away to reveal a steep drop with fire tigers at the bottom.
The significance of the broken lead was due to the fact that pencil sharpeners were forbidden under exam conditions. In previous years there had been suicide attempts. Faroutman’s chumtop subsided when he remembered a drill he’d practiced during the study period. He stuck the Ash pencil into his mouth, and ground at the tip with his left molar. After he pulled it out, Faroutman was sure that no one but would him voluntarily touch the pencil ever again. Order had been restored to Faroutman’s stationary. The exam would continue!
He read the last question and smirked with justified righteousness. Faroutman barely pressed on the paper with his pencil before completely and correctly answering it. Now the rereading began. Everything he wrote was true. It seemed as is truth was defined by his prose. He facially embraced the ink tray on the desk, before making an impression on the blank side of the last page. If you get to your final VCE exam, this is how you’ll sign your work.
The inhuman incomprehensibility of the VCE exam had evaporated two thirds of Faroutman’s blood. His vertebrae audibly groaned as he walked up onto the stage, towards the desk of Metamax Ubercronos, the Arch-invigilator.
Metamax would spend the next two months in a drugged stupor strapped to a chair in a white room with no doors. Every VCE exam paper would be projected onto the roof of this room. Metamax would mark each one. It was who he am.
Before Faroutman could place his exam on Metamax’s desk, he heard the deranged humming of the fearsome Olinda Creek Paper Bat. It sprang up from the orchestra pit, and devoured the student’s exam in one gulp. Making use of his light-quick reflexes and reasoned judgement horned during those endless hours of writing in the dark, Faroutman waited until the bat swerved out towards the audience area. He threw his Ash Pencil at the Paper Bat, the long pencil pinning it to the stage wall. The Paper Bat… exploded!
Everyone knows that a Paper Bat’s entrails form the text of the last prose work it has eaten. The dread soul of the Ashen Ash Tree bound within the pencil also contributed, by arranging the intestines into readable order before disappearing to create the ultimate doom of mankind. These two unlikely factors resulted in Otis Faroutman’s exam being written on the left wall of the stage at Bearbrass Hall.
‘God’s balls!’ bellowed Metamax surreptitiously. Due to a punch-up at a Naplan riot, Metamax had been forced to replace his face with a paper plate. Picking up a rubber from his desk, he erased out his grey lead eyebrows and mouth line, and drew a shocked expression. The Arch-vigilator vaulted over his desk with a giant crayon, which he then used to make a rubbing of Faroutman’s exam on an old sheet of tarpaulin.
Just as he was finished, the eggtimer in the middle of the room started to bounce in an unearthly rhythm. The students stopped rereading their exams and began applauding. Some of the more energetic ones spontaneously break-danced on their desks while hollering in primal ecstasy. White clad men bearing stretchers entered Bearbrass Hall to convey the physically exhausted students to their homes.
Metamax lifted his sheaf of exam papers high into the ear like a thin midwife holding an obese baby, before slapping them back down on his desk. Faroutman felt a great heaviness leave his being. He fainted.
What kind of mark did he get?
Two months later.
‘The exam results have come in.’
Faroutman’s eyes snap open. ‘Tell me!’
The doctor sighed. ‘Ninety Nine point nine nine nine nine nine nine eight.’
‘You got the second best mark in the state.’
Faroutman had been banking on becoming the top VCE student.
Faroutman felt nothing as he drove the hospital’s ambulance to a nearby national park. No texture, no emotions. He registered nothing he walked barefoot down the treed path. Eventually he came to the foot of a great waterfall.
Faroutman fell to his knees and screamed ’NOO!’ He threw his father’s cold heart into the water. The waterfall became a waterrise.
That is exactly what you can expect from your final VCE exam!