Chapter 6 from the book Nick Marvel and the war with the beast.... School Exercises


Chapter 6: School Exercises

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Nick Marvel was running as fast as he could… except that this time it wasn’t for his life (although Mrs. Vristheniou had repeatedly warned him that he was in danger, whenever he happened to report late for the assembly –which fortunately was not often).

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

He hurriedly looked at his watch… fourteen minutes past eight…

One minute later, the shrill, obnoxious school siren would be ripping through the air of that winter morning.

One minute to go…

Nicholas picked up his pace. The distance wasn’t significantly large. He could already see the building of the 8th High School, near the bend in the road.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

At that very moment, the siren suddenly blared out its warning, smashing the serenity of the otherwise peaceful environment… 50 more metres from that wide metal gate…

Nick Maravelias made a dash for the gate, as did another mob of boys and girls who were obviously delayed also, or hadn’t woken up early enough that morning.

The systems of military discipline had by now spread to the schools, given that every absolutist model of social reform or social change tends to impose its own principles beginning with the younger age groups, and more specifically, students.

“The Superior Guard has made sure he has trained the young generation with ‘perennial values’ –as he called them– and discipline was one of them,” thought Nick. Absolute discipline!

He brought to mind little Anthony –he always did, around this time every morning– who, in his desperate attempt to be on time, was caught mid-way by the school gate that was automatically closing just as the siren had sounded… He had to be transferred to hospital, as he had suffered multiple fractures to his ribs…

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Nicholas also brought to mind other stories from his father’s years as a student, then a college graduate, in the 80’s of the previous century, at a time when the student community used to go on absentee strikes together with their educators, who also used to protest in the same manner for their own labour and syndicate demands. Of course models such as these would be unthinkable nowadays, especially when there was the precedent of the dispersal of similar protests five years ago, when Larry Roten and his Guards –within the cadre of the New Age Reformation– drowned in blood the students’ mobilization in the U.S.A. at the time, known as the Underground Movement and reminiscent of the Great Massacre of Chicago. Following the massacre of a huge number of pupils, students, as well as parents and teachers, the instigators of the massacre (as Nicholas recalled) had been reprogrammed and were now “useful factors” of the New Age Change.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Nick Marvel passed through the massive school gate at lightning speed, together with a small group of children, and stood panting heavily when he managed to get to the school yard. Outside the now closed gate a group of Young Guards in their skin-tight uniforms and hoods were herding off the group of late arrivals to a nearby van, whose destination was the police station.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

During the first hour, the lesson was ‘Introduction to Law and the State Institutions’. It was the lesson that everyone found boring (not to mention abhorrent), given that it was a daily lesson and had absolutely nothing to do with even the slightest hint of any related knowledge; instead, it was an outrightly impudent and obvious propaganda in favour of the New Age, of its practices, its methods, and of its people who were striving to impose it. Thus, the first hour the lesson was ‘Law’ –the abbreviated name everyone had chosen to use; ‘Law’, Mrs Vristheniou's class.

Nicholas leaped up the steps in hurried strides, turned the corner of the building like a whirlwind and dashed into the classroom with the last group, just before the door closed behind them permanently.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Spread before him now was the School’s vast amphitheatre. That semi-circular area with its 2000-seat capacity -which could accommodate another five hundred students if the front auxiliary rows were supplemented with seats and lightweight, folding desks- was the Director’s and the School’s pride. From the highest circumferential aisle –where the entrances were located– Nick Marvel would have been able to admire that architectural masterpiece, if his mind wasn’t preoccupied with the Prayer and several childish anxieties…

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

The amphitheatre stretched out in a downward slope before him, in groups of 7 seats for each row of seats and interrupted by narrow stairs, each one metre. There were 11 such groups of seats in each tier, in each semi-circular row of the amphitheatre and therefore 12 lots of stairs over a total of 29 zones, out of which the last 19 were raised almost vertically and quite abruptly, allowing those seated on them a far better visual and acoustic experience.

Nicholas was well aware of the rumours that circulated… rumours circulated by those who attended the Arithmology lessons –one of the chosen lessons– that those numbers were not the result of the architectural needs of the edifice, but rather, were carefully chosen numbers which bore a special significance for those who were involved in the “Magical Art of the Use of Numbers” –often referred to as Arithmosophy.

Information had it, that the numbers 7, 11, 12, 19 and 29 were, according to the Arithmology Students, “charged with special characteristics”.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Honestly, how gullible and superstitious some people can become, when they distance themselves from the true Faith and the true God…

Nick began to descend the stair that led to the place where his Class was gathered –in the middle groups of seats of the 11th, 12th and 13th tiers. He chose the outer seat of the 13th zone, as the last of about sixty young, seventeen year old children.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

At a distance of about fifteen metres, at the base of the amphitheatre on the low, circular stage, Mrs. Vristheniou raised her hands to bring the classes to order then cleared her voice with a brief cough.

“Let us begin” she said, “with a ten-minute loosening as usual, before the commencement of the lesson”.

“Jenny dear, could you please lead the exercise?”

Jenny Omphalidou –Mrs. Vristheniou’s pet student– glided down the 20 steps with slinky moves, then climbed up onto the low podium next to the teacher. Jenny wasn’t Mrs. Vristheniou’s pet student only; she was also the Director’s -and practically of the entire lot of teachers of the High School- for a special reason: Her father, Radamanthys Omphalides was the representative of H.B.H. –Hallis Bros. Hellas– the Greek sector of one of the two major Entertainment Conglomerates of the world, which was mockingly referred to as “Half-wit Brothers” by the Underground Movement…

Jenny was a young, almost pretty girl; tall, slender, with the freshness of her 17 years, but unfortunately quite shallow and with no other interests except for fashion in clothing, in whatever ‘look’ was the latest, and in how to act… Ever since she was a little girl, with a mother whose orientation was limited to how she should dress, what kind of makeup she should wear, and how she should impress others with her external appearance, Jenny was provided with no opportunities for other role models. Nick recalled their first and last meeting, at the beginning of the 2nd year of High School, when Jenny –still a newcomer to the School, having transferred there from another suburb and obviously seeking to make the best possible impression, basically to impress those around her– approached him with the air of an old Hollywood diva –Ava Gardner (Nick had heard a lot about the actress, back during his parents’ time)– and suddenly turned to him with the unexpected comment:

“And you, cutie, what’s your zodiac sign?”

Nick Maravelias had been very much upset by that question. Upset, not because he found himself unable to reply; after all, he was very quick-witted. He had been upset, because he was looking at a young girl, who was gifted bounteously by God and yet misused all her charismas, literally bringing herself down.

“Do you know what a Zodiac is, Eugenie?” he had asked her. “In ancient Greek, the word ‘zodion’ denoted a small animal! I wouldn’t appreciate being regarded as a little animal...! I believe you wouldn’t either, Eugenie, if you realized what you believe in… what you’re dealing with…”.

Jenny stared at him. This was a different language altogether –one she had never encountered before and one that… quite honestly scared her somewhat.

“Unfortunately, there are people” he continued, “who truly believe in the zodiac signs... to the degree that they even arrange their everyday jobs, their relationships, their friendships and their collaborations on the basis of their astrological finds. This is a form of idolatry, as much as those poor souls don’t realize it. Instead of entrusting their lives to God’s infinite love, they have become dependent on impersonal powers, which is how they perceive the zodiac signs. Surely you wouldn’t want to end up like them?”.

She continued to stare at him, speechless, without interrupting him.

Finally, to her rescue hurried her two “besties” -Pat and Trixie- who carried the same mentality as her, and who had already become her closest friends and inseparable from the first day.

“C’mon, let’s go!” Pat swept her away from her difficult spot, remarking, “He hasn’t got a clue about these kinds of things!” Then she turned towards him and rudely poked her tongue out at him.

Nicholas had remained looking at them pensively and thinking to himself: “Young girls, just 17 years old! These were going to be tomorrow’s young wives and mothers… with what kind of brains would they be embarking, on that new phase of their lives?”

Deep inside him he felt grief. Grief, for a society that was being degraded day by day. An enslaved, captive society, moving only “between refrigerator and television” –as a well-known Bishop of the Church had noted characteristically, around the end of the previous century, when the Church in Greece was not yet officially under persecution.

“Between refrigerator, television and… mobile phone”, Nick thought to himself; the way that his father used to say in an amused tone of voice…

Of course that stance of his had cost him several weeks of teasing by Pat and Trixie, who, determined as they were to support their beliefs and their friend, considered it necessary to give him a hard time by “making sweet eyes” at him, circling around him with “oohs” and “aahs”, and giving him longing looks while also recruiting all the dictates of fashion in attire and makeup. But, having had a long past of psychological oppression in his younger years at school –both because of his chubby appearance and for the fact that he was brought up in a warm and caring family environment– Nicholas learnt that revenge was an unacceptable and impermissible response to mean, childish teasing (which was unfortunately far too frequent at school), and as such, he was now adequately equipped to calmly confront with understanding and love that unacceptable behavior by the two dimwitted girls…

That marvelous patience of his towards his schoolmates’ teasing and his tolerance, along with his unconditional support wherever and whenever there was need –even among his “enemies”, whom he never regarded as such– was the reason he had earned the nickname “Nick Marvel”; a name that had stuck to him from as early as Primary School and had followed him throughout his student years.

As for Jenny, a detail that had impressed him was that albeit being a “bestie” to those two other girls, she herself hadn’t actually shared in their behavior or attitude.

“Anyway, that story belonged in the past”, Nick thought.

Mrs. Vristheniou was now arranging Jenny atop the violet-coloured, feather pillows at centre stage.

The young girl had seated herself in the Lotus position –the classic Hinduist and Buddhist position for meditation, and such a favourite among the New Age faithful. She had left her shoes on the floor, below the stage, as it was customary in all the religions of the Middle and the Far East for followers to pray bare-footed. The same ritual is observed by New-Agers, in the belief that this is how they can achieve better contact with the alleged geomagnetic flow that passes freely through our body.

With eyes closed and arms loosely outstretched and supported to her left and right, Jenny now appeared to be deep inside her own world. The girl’s palms were turned facing upwards, the first three fingers joined together –supposedly channeling the “cosmic and body flows in an analogous harmony”. In a low voice, Mrs. Vristheniou began to orientate the rest of the Class in the surrounding tiers.

“Rest your palms on your knees… keep your back straight, with your spine aligned… like in ancient Egypt…”.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Nicholas persevered in his own inner work, mentally repeating the Prayer of the Heart.

“Take deep breaths… Again… Exhale slowly, in four stages…” The teacher persevered in her own attempts.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Again, deep breath... Again... exhale the same way… Eyes closed… You aren’t thinking of anything…”.

The confrontation continued… a secret war. Two different worlds, two contradicting and irreconcilable faiths, arrayed against each other… the eternal battle between the Light and the Darkness; the eternal battle between the Truth (which is a Person), and the personification of falsehood –the “lord of this world”.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Nicholas persevered with fortitude...

“Your body is relaxing... There are no tensions...”.

Oh, Mrs. Vristheniou... if only you knew...

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Now we shall all gently utter the primeval sound... Jenny first... After the third time, we all join in...”.

The girl’s lips puckered. The sound uttered gently seemed to reverberate in the air.

“ΟΜ… ΟΜ… ΟΜ…”.



That sound seemed to reverberate inside the cranial cavity, as the 60 children strived to attain harmony by uttering the “Mahamandram” –the “Great Mantram” of the Hinduist cult.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Nicholas Maravelias was battling on his own...

Nicholas Maravelias was battling against 62 people, all alone...

Nicholas Maravelias was battling for his faith, for his homeland, for his family –three values that had been so misunderstood, so corrupted, so pushed aside for at least half a century...

Nicholas Maravelias was fighting for the Truth. The Truth that was a Person –the Person of Christ... Jesus Christ from Nazareth... the crucified and resurrected Christ... Not the Christ of the Age of Pisces.... not the Christ of an astrological period.... not one among many, but the ONLY Saviour of mankind –the Saviour of the world, Who is the same Christ: yesterday, today, and forever more!

No, Nicholas was not fighting alone...

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

The OMMMs suddenly began to weaken, into a confused murmuring of jumbled words. The Class had lost its rhythm... Soon after, nothing was heard. Was it true? Was it Nick’s imagination?

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Barely two minutes had passed from the moment the “exercise” had begun, when Jenny Omphalidou got up abruptly –neither a normal nor a usual occurrence in a “self-respecting School”, as the Director used to say.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“I’ve suddenly got a splitting headache”, whined the young girl. “I can’t go on any longer... I don’t think I can continue with the lesson...”.

Mrs. Vristheniou helped Jenny to get off the stage and supported her while she put her shoes back on.

Meanwhile, a general mirth had overcome the tiers of students… laughter, jokes, teasing…

The meditation exercise had lost all its glory.

The Prayer of Christ had once again defeated Belial’s practices.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Everyone dismissed”, ordered Mrs. Vristheniou, as she guided her pet student away to the School Infirmary. Radamanthys Omphalides’ daughter was worth far more than the many lost school hours... perhaps even more than entire classes of students...

The rest of the school day passed monotonously and insipidly, and the siren that sounded the end of the lessons was a relief for many –both students and teachers.

With his school bag over his shoulder, Nick moved towards the school exit.

“Had Alexandra managed to cook something?” he mentally asked himself. It was fortunate -now that his eldest sister had finished school this year- that she was in a position to focus all her attention on the catering of their tiny family.

“Nick Marvel! Come here! I have something to tell you….”.

Nicholas stopped in his tracks. He was near the half-open door of the Infirmary, just a few steps away from the broad staircase that led to the courtyard.

“Nick Marvel! I need you… I need to tell you something!”.

The girlish whisper repeated itself, behind the half-open door.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

Nick Maravelias glanced quickly around him. No-one... so he pushed the door open with a decisive move and slipped unobtrusively into the room.

The Infirmary was spacious and well-lit; a room with a wide sun window, an examination bed against the one wall and two armchairs against the opposite wall, next to the door, and a small, wheeled cabinet with a few simple surgical tools and the necessary First Aid items. Sister Timothea was away. On one of the armchairs behind the door, there was Jenny.

“What’s up? What did you want me for?” Nicholas inquired in an abrupt voice.

“I have no idea why I’m doing this…” whispered the girl.

“What are you talking about? What exactly is it that you have no idea about, and why you’re doing it?” He was seriously annoyed and his manner was aggressive.

“I have no idea why I’m doing this…” repeated the girl; “especially after all those insults, last time…”.

Nick didn’t respond. He waited to see what other nonsense Jenny was preparing to spew.

“They arrested your folks… two days ago… isn’t that so?”.

He turned around towards her and looked at her full of anger.

“And how would you know about that? Oh yeah, I forgot… Radamanthys Omphalides’ daughter knows about everything…” he retorted sarcastically. “Because she has access to the upper echelons of the Government...”.

She looked at him, unshaken. She didn’t appear to be offended by his “jab”. It was the first time that Nick had seen her with such a serious look. He felt a twinge of regret.

“It’s just as you said,” replied the girl. “My father held a small reception last night. There were guests from the Armed Forces Ministry also. I heard them talking about your folks. They said that they planned to kill them. They said other things too. They plan to arrest all six of their children as well…. In two days from now - Tuesday afternoon, when you will be at the New Year’s Eve party. To avoid the possibility of scandalous gossip, they will say that you all left. You need to hurry. You must leave quickly…. I don’t know why I’m doing this…”.

Nick Maravelias stood there, stunned, gaping at her. He no longer had that usual dumb bimbo before him. In its place was a serious and respectable person who was unfolding its unexpected wealth of charismas, ideals and values; a person on whom one could rely –whom one could trust. He was certain that Jenny was sincere. Something inside him was reassuring him of that reality.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, the sinner…”

“Forgive me, Eugenia” whispered the boy. “Forgive my manners towards you. And... thank you!”.

In a split second, before she could catch the tears of emotion in his eyes, he about-faced and like a whirlwind vanished from the room, slamming the door behind him.

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