Satire: Conquistador WHAP terrorizes tenth graders


Helen Beebe

Every day, AP World History seems to be right on our heels. Every day, it is a course that is a force to be reckoned with.

Note: I am a sophomore taking Bellaire’s AP World History this year. This is intended satire; this is not intended to attack the fantastic dedication of our Bellaire AP World History teachers.

You survive the grueling year of ninth grade’s HISD Advanced Biology, breathing hard as you wipe the excess “mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” and other shivers out of your system. Others weren’t so lucky.

Hands on your wobbly knees, you gaze toward the horizon, where sophomore year looms overhead.

Now wait a minute, what is that?

You squint at the dark shadow galloping towards you like a medieval knight—or was it Joan of Arc? You open your mouth, but before you could say “feudalism in Europe,” you were conquered by AP World History.

It throws you on top of its horse and races across the steppes, your shouts obliterated by the rushing winds of Central Asia. After an endless amount of time flying through the plains, WHAP stops the horse with a leather stirrup and shoves a large hunk of cheese and jerky into your mouth. You know you ought to be grateful for the nutrients, but it’s one heck of a tough bite to swallow.

When you get home from school, WHAP invites you to have some tea. You politely decline, bringing up the fact that you spent all of last night obsessing over a particular red notebook, but it insists, setting down a porcelain cup for you. It launches into a lecture so convoluted that it would have made the 130,000 bureaucrats proud. As terms like “filial piety” and “Neo-Confucianism” fly past your head, you struggle to nab the words onto paper so you won’t forget.

In your most lucid dreams, WHAP is there. Once you dream of camels and caravans and sizzling heat. Sand smothers and burns your bare feet, but your focus lies elsewhere. WHAP, adorned with gold trinkets, sits regally atop a camel. Behind WHAP is a massive caravan that snakes as far as the eye can see. You gasp, both from the astonishment and from the fact that you feel like a human skewer.

A man hobbles over. “Mansa, is this person bothering you?”

Not at all,” WHAP says. “In fact, bring me my gold.”

You squint as camels, hunkered down from generous piles of gold, seem to wiggle from the heat.
WHAP orders its men to unload the valuables at your feet. In less than a minute, you are cemented to the ground by ingots of gold. By now, you have mentally prepared yourself to kiss your feet goodbye, because there is no way they’ll live after this ordeal.

“Wait,” you shout. “I don’t need all of this gold!”

“Yes you do,” WHAP reassures you. “This was just practice for the short answer questions. Men, bring in two more camels for the multiple choice questions and the long essay questions.

You panic and attempt to wrench yourself out of this stake of gold, but your feet have become a conglomerate gooey mess. It’s terrible for sure, but you’re somewhat glad the nerve cells have been terminated. There have never been a worse time to know that your motor neurons have stopped functioning, you think sadly (Is this wholly scientifically accurate? Let’s just say I’m taking a few creative liberties in writing this. Sorry Mrs. Vu).

WHAP digs into a satchel and, before you could react, throws a handful of gold dust into your face. You hack and cough and sputter with indignation, but it’s too late. Gold is in your hair, eyes, and you most definitely snorted some too.

“That was for the document-based questions (DBQs),” WHAP said. It idly brushes off the flecks of metal from its hands.

By now, you are neck-deep in gold nuggets. You have lost all contact with the rest of your body. The end is nigh, you think.

“Wait,” WHAP said. “I almost forgot about this.” It sprinkles a substance that burns the remaining moisture on your face. “For all the charts and maps you’re assigned to prepare you for May,” WHAP winks.

You cannot bring yourself to say anything, both physically and mentally. WHAP pounces on your silence.

“You know, I have all of the world’s greatest riches–gold, salt, ivory. But you know what is the one thing mankind forgets to treasure the most?”

“Womankind,” you say in your half-dead state.

“No, it’s time,” WHAP smiled. “Time is the one thing you will never have enough of.”

At this final note, you scream, because of everything that has accumulated and toppled you over the edge. The heat, your melted feet, your bloody nose because of the dust you unfortunately snorted, and the gold that surrounds you like a makeshift tomb.

Gasping as you wake up, the ghost of the pressure stays. You sit up and scratch your head, wondering how in the world you will ever survive WHAP. Was dandruff ever this sparkly, you wonder. Your lips taste salty.

You text WHAP to meet you after school. You find it playing Clash Royale near the bus stop, its focus zeroed into the game.

“I don’t think we can continue this charade anymore,” you say. “We’re toxic for each other.”

“Hold on, lemme open this legendary chest real quick.” WHAP types a bunch on its phone and shoves it in its pocket.
“You’ve run me ragged,” you half-shout. “You always rush me, throw work in my direction, make me stay up far past my bedtime.”

“Was it really so bad,” WHAP said. “What about the time when we visited the Delhi Sultanate and you got to ride one of its war elephants? Or that time when we saw the skull racks in Mesoamerica?”

That was fun, you think sadly. But you shake your head; you have made this decision and can’t back out now.

“You’re the Roman to my Byzantine,” WHAP says. “If one of us falls, the other one will too.”

You scoff. “Yeah right, if anything, I’m the Byzantine because I will thrive even after you are gone.”

WHAP snorts and heads off.

“We’re over,” you say.

“No we’re not,” WHAP flicks its hand. “See you tomorrow.”

You open your mouth to answer, but nothing comes out because you look up to see a raging war elephant barging straight at you.