Thursday, 26 May 2016

Maths Vs The Gang: Dawn of Heroes (part 4)

It was one week since the incident on the Bridge and besides a hastily deleted group chat- entitled the Avengers League- not one word had been said. There had been no further call outs for Captain Jaffa Cake, Tempus, the Flish, the Summoner or Lucky Cat. The Heroes of Gilliam High were done.
The council, who normally enjoyed ignoring the existence of the high school, decided to act regarding the ruins of S Block. Despite having had a radioactive explosion take place, the block was in surprising good shape. Most of the furniture in the class room where the blast had taken place was replaced and all the glass had to be swept up off the floor whilst new panes were put in their place. As Chris got out of his Dad's car and crossed the road towards where Steven was waiting, he noticed that the building looked better than it had before. Only Gilly High could be improved by a radioactive explosion.
"Oi! Mate!" He cried, rushing across the road. "What're you doing here so early?"
"I'm meant to be meeting Sophie." Steven said. He adjusted his Maroon Blazer and wiped a speck of dust from the top of his badge. "What're you doing here so early?"
"I got an email from Mr Philips last night. He wanted me to come in extra early to go over my Computer Science coursework."
"He never emails me." Steven said.
"Probably because you haven't started your coursework." Chris leant in slightly, looking over his shoulder to make sure nobody was approaching. "You haven't used your powers, have you?"
"No! Of course not! Well, not for superheroics."
"What've you used them for?"
"It's a long way to walk from the kitchen for a glass of lemonade." Steven grinned.
"So much for great responsibility."
"Hey you guys!" Sophie cried, hurrying up. She too was wearing the Maroon uniform that had been associated with Gilliam High since first it was opened by Desmond Gilliam all those many years ago. Much to her annoyance, however, she was wearing a skirt instead of trousers. "Nice socks, Steven."
Steven looked down at his green and red socks, displayed where his trousers were too short. "Summoner themed, of course."
"Do you own anything that isn't?" She asked. "Chris, what're you doing here so early?"
"I could ask you the same thing. I didn't think you got up until after the school bell went."
"Someone needs to suggest that to Freya." Steven said, not at all envious of her abilities.
A red car drove passed. The two front seats were taken up by the school's pet student teachers. In the driver's seat was the Spanish Biology teacher Mr Jast, who struggled to fit in the tiny smart car due to his gigantic, cage fighter's build. In the passenger seat was Sophie and Chris' maths teacher, Mr Jordan. The smart car pulled to a stop and the doors swung open. He climbed out and wandered towards them, staring over the bush. He looked more like a lost child than usual. "Hello, er, you three. Are you all prepared for the Maths exam?"
"It's not for another month, sir." Steven said. The school might have been closed but it didn't stop exam timetables from getting sent home. Freya, Steven and Sophie, who all took the same options, had almost two months of exams. He reckoned one minute was too much.
"Yes. Good. Yes." Said Mr Jordan and wandered off to do whatever it was he did. Not marking our books, that's for sure.
Sophie pulled a face at Chris and then quickly lunged forwards, closing the zip on his bag. "Why are you in so early?"
"Mr Phillips wants to see him." Steven said.
"He never wants to see me." She said.
"You guys are made for each other." Chris sighed. "See you in assembly."
They watched him wander off, disappearing momentarily behind the massive build of Mr Jast, and then they began walking towards the other entrance to Gilliam High. "He just said we're made for each other." Steven grinned.
"Shut up." Sophie said.

A good forty five minutes of sitting in the Upper School Dining Hall passed and then it was time to go to assembly. Mr Jenson, who was professionally known as everyone's favourite teacher, was stood in the doorway and he grinned as he saw them. There was a gloom and misery to the school that he just seemed to banish by existing. "How are my two favourite students?"
"Have you said that to every student you've seen this morning?" Steven asked.
"I don't know whether I should be offended or not!" He cried. "Hurry up and get in."
They strolled through the doors as they heard him cry, "How are my two favourite students?" to the next pair who approached.
"You know when you get a sense of Déjà Vu?" Freya asked, appearing to their side.
"Yeah. I bet he's been saying it all morning." Steven said.
"No." She said. "I mean, I feel like I've entered the assembly hall at least three or four times already this morning."
"Were you helping them put out the chairs?" Sophie asked.
"You're so funny." Freya said. "Are you coming to sit down or not?"
"Yeah, sure." She said. "Bye Steven."
"Missing you already." He said.
"Shut up." She said, trailing after Freya.
The assembly hall was half empty- or half full if you asked an optimist- so finding seats was easy. Regardless, Steven trekked all the way to the very front of the room where Ali was sat, twiddling her thumbs. The stage was a few metres in front and already a horde of IT technicians were fussing around Mr King's old laptop, trying to hook it up to the projector. Steven sat down, sliding his rucksack under his chair. "Why do we have to sit at the front? I hate being sat at the front. I feel like I'm in everyone's way!"
"I know."
"Oh." He realised. "Are you still annoyed about Bert?"
"Just a little bit."
"I thought you liked animals."
"I like dogs, Steve. I like fish. You dumped a flipping baby elephant on my doorstep!" One of the technicians looked at her funnily so she lowered her voice. "You didn't even ask first."
"I thought you'd be happy about it." He said. "I'll come get it at the weekend."
"It's a bloody Monday." She said.
"I know. You may get to love him by then."
"Not likely. They stink to high heaven and I'm meaning the chimneys of high heaven! It's a good job I've got a teenage brother because otherwise my parents would totally have noticed."
"Sorry." He said.
"Hey, guess what." Chris said, sitting down next to them.
"Mr Phillips has adopted you?" Steven said. He turned to Ali. "Mr Phillips asked to see Chris."
"He never asks to see me!"
"What is wrong with you all?" Chris said. "And anyway, no. He gave me an ITV Little Nibble."
"That is plain favouritism." Steven declared.
"Says the guy who is every other teacher's favourite." Ali pointed out.
"I'm not Mr Jordan's favourite." Steven said.
"You're Mr Jenson's." Chris laughed.
"Matilda!" Screamed Mr Marley, climbing onto the stage. He was a lanky man who looked as returned from the grave as his Dickensian counterpart. "Matilda! I am ready now! Matilda!"
"One day, there's going to be a student called Matilda and she is going to be so confused." Ali said.
"Matilda!" Marley screamed. Finally there was silence. He looked across the room. "Callum Spanner, stop chewing."
"I'm not chewing, sir." Callum Spanner said, evidently chewing.
"Do you think they chew during RSC productions of Matilda? When me, Mrs Marley and our daughter went to see it, we all stopped chewing when the show began. Matilda!"
"Thank you, Mr Marley." Said Mr Deterich, who was yet another rung on the increasingly convoluted ladder of superiority. He wasn't stood on the stage but instead on the wooden floor in an effort to be down with the kids. Due to his height, the only parts of him that were thus viewable to the majority of the Year Group were the tufts of his slowly degingering hair. "I'm glad you're all back with us. You've had an impromptu holiday but now we're back in school. This is where the hard work begins. You were working hard before, now you're working extra hard. The work's gone from being a wimpy year seven to a professional boxer. That's how hard it is. But if David Haye can win a fight against someone, you can revise! It is important, no, it is imperative that you don't let your behaviour let you down, though. I know it's just 1% of the year group, it's not even that, but I know that it isn't the majority. You're good kids, good bright kids and you need to act like adults. So, boys and girls, it's important and imperative that you work with me to help me work with you to help you work with the teachers who are working with me to help you! We're here for your education and to get you through your exams. If you're not going to work hard and learn in school, you're not going to work hard and learn anywhere. Do you think employers twelve months down the line are going to want people who can't buckle down and fight professional boxers? No, I didn't either. So, come on, let's work together to revise at home and really take your learning into your own hands. Us teachers can only do so much. It is completely up to you and on your shoulders alone to get through this exam season. You're only children, I know it's a lot of pressure, but you're responsible young adults now. You can do this and we're here for you if you need us, to help you revise and prepare. We're all together in this."
Chris looked at Steven and mouthed, "I'm very confused."
Steven looked back and mouthed, "So is he."
"Right," Mr Deterich said, "I think that's it for me. Mr King has got an excellent assembly lined up for you but we're experiencing some technical difficulties. Just stay still and quiet whilst we get it working."
It's a well known fact that, if you tell a group of fourteen and fifteen year olds to stay still and quiet they'll explode into a shower of commotion. That's exactly what happened. Mr Marley leapt back onto the stage and began screaming again. "Matilda! Matilda! I am ready now!"
Eventually the hall quietened and Mr King got his computer working. He was the Assistant Principal of the school, a squat, red faced fellow who didn't at all look like an English teacher but spoke and read like one. For a person such as Steven, who loved books but hated English lessons, it was a hard call of whether or not they got on.
He smiled and then gestured to the screen the projector was streaming towards. Slowly, a picture of Martin Luther King Junior materialised on the white canvas. "This man," Mr King announced, "is none other than Martin Luther King Junior. He once said, quite infamously, I fear I may have integrated my people in a burning house. He said this because he was worried the great vision of America that he had wasn't necessarily the one that his people would be brought into. What was his answer to this potential problem? Was it to stop the integration? Was it to stop the Civil Rights movement?"
He paused for dramatic effect, but every ounce of his existence screamed dramatic effect so the effect of the silence was a reduction in drama. He smiled. "Of course not. He sort to put out the fire. Inspirational man. But what more can we expect from the very man who once said, I have a dream!"
It is universally accepted that when Mr King does his Northern American accent, half of all North Americans present begin to doubt their own heritage and the other half become ridiculously offended. Luckily, Gilliam High School was by no means exotic enough to have any North Americans present and so no offence or cultural identity crises were undertaken.
"I too," Mr King continued, breaking from his American accent, "have a dream. I have a dream that this school can rise from the metaphorical ashes of its accident and look towards the future. When Martin Luther King Junior saw his burning house, he declared war on the corruption and social unbalance that had set it on fire. When I saw my burning science block, I declared war on science."
There was a pause only broken by the sound of Chris pulling yet another face at Steven.
"I declared war, I should probably clarify, on bad science. We have repaired the damage done to S-Block and filled it with state of the art equipment. This Friday will see the grand reopening, with the ribbon to be cut by none other than celebrated mathematician and scientist, Professor Joseph Eagling!"
The ten students in the room of almost three hundred who knew who that was got very excited. Five of them had radioactive anomalies.
"Before I hand back over to Mr Deterich, I just need to make some announcements." He said. "First and foremost is that, whilst Mr Andrews is in hospitable recovering from the explosion, his role will be filled in by Mr Bartholomew. I'm sure I'm not the only want wishing Mr Andrews a speedy recovery. The other announcement is that exam season is starting soon and so interventions are starting today. You should have received an intervention timetable during the break so make sure that you're attending. We're doing everything in our power to help you but now the real power is in your hands. Mr Deterich?"
"Yes." Mr Deterich said, leaping back out. "Mr King is right. We have given you every opportunity and now it's up to you to get ready. You're on your own but we're here to support you. Let's dismiss from the front and the back please. Hurry along to lesson."
Ali, Chris and Steven stood up at the front of the room. "God bless this school." Ali said, rolling her eyes.

They had English, where Mrs Carpenter was a bit odder than usual, and then History. Break time passed at a snail's pace, large droplets of rain shooting through the air and smashing into the glass roof of the link corridor. Steven watched the rain and tried to summon some sunshine. It didn't work. He was a superhero, not a miracle worker.
The bell rang and, whilst Freya, Ali and Chris went off to Science, Steven and Sophie began the hike to Maths. They had seats together near the back of a classroom neither of them had been in since Year Seven. Mr Jordan looked up at the stream of students who strolled through the door. He welcomed about half of them but only one replied. There was a starter up on the board and it stayed there for a good forty five minutes. Sophie and Steven got it done in about five and spent the next forty chatting.
"Minus B plus minus the square root of B squared minus four A C over two A." Steven grinned.
"Oh I do love it when you talk dirty to me." Sophie laughed.
"Are you two going out yet?" Asked Ellie Wright from the next table. She had enough oxygen inside her head for it not just to be the colour of her hair that led to her being described as a peroxide blonde. She wore ear phones playing some awful barbie pop and her phone was plugged into the wall.
"No." They both said instantly.
"Are you speaking?" She asked.
Steven and Sophie exchanged bemused looks. Sophie looked back to Ellie. "We were before you rudely interrupted us."
"Oh my god. That's so cute. It's going on Snapchat." She took a selfie and began typing a caption.
"How is it cute?" Steven asked. "Me and you are speaking."
"Oh my god. What are you even trying to suggest right now? I'd never speak to you. Oh my god."
Steven frowned.
"Then what do you call this?"
"This is talking." She said.
"Someone got a thesaurus for Christmas." Sophie muttered.
"What's the difference between talking and speaking?" Steven asked. He may as well as have opened the flood gates of Hell.
"Oh my god. You two are having me on. You're taking the mick. You're trying to tell me that you don't know the difference between talking and speaking?"
"We don't know the difference." They both said.
"Oh my god." She said. "Oh my god. I'm going to tell you the difference."
"Great." Muttered Sophie.
"Right, so, when a boy and girl talk, they're talking, right. Then they start getting close and that's when they get to know they like each other. Then they start speaking."
"But weren't they speaking before hand?" Steven said, frowning.
"Oh my god." She said. "You are so stupid."
"Ellie!" Snapped Mr Jordan, seemingly appearing from nowhere. "Have you done the work?"
"Oh my god sir." She cried. "I can't believe that. Why do you just presume I haven't done the work? Oh my god. That is total favouritism right there."
"You were talking."
"Oh my god. So is Jack."
"Jack's done the work."
"No he hasn't."
Mr Jordan turned. "Jack? Have you done the work?"
"No." Jack said, not looking up from where a couple of other students were wrestling on the floor.
"Jack, do the work." Mr Jordan said.
"Oh my god, sir. Why are you having a go, sir?" Ellie demanded. "Don't be horrible to Jack, sir."
Mr Jordan turned to Steven and Sophie. "Have you two done the work?"
"Yes, sir." Sophie said.
"We finished it about forty minutes ago, sir." Steven said.
"Did you find it easy, sir?"
"Catastrophically easy, sir." Steven said. "So easy that it made falling off a cliff look difficult."
"Good, right, yes, good." Mr Jordan said and wandered off.
Steven rolled his eyes. A chair sailed overhead and with it came the smell of tobacco. He didn't need to look over to see a few of the students were smoking. "When will this lesson end?"
Fifteen minutes later, the bell rang. The students stood, gathered their bags and pushed what remained of their chairs under what remained of their desks. As they filed towards the door, Mr Jordan said, "Can I have a word with Alex and John, please?"
Alex and John were the two brightest kids in the class and, quite annoyingly, they knew it. They stepped out of the queue of students and let the door swing closed. "What is it, sir?" John asked.
Mr Jordan smiled and stepped over towards his computer. His smile wasn't the amused type that usually crossed his face whenever a student swore at another student but instead the type that could only be described as devious and determined. "I've got some extra maths problem for you."
Outside on the Maths Block corridor, Sophie and Steven continued walking. Sophie thought she heard a scream from behind her but she couldn't see anyone screaming. Nothing odd at all except for the flickering of lights in the opaque window on Mr Jordan's door. Probably just a faulty bulb. Probably.

Sat in a cave not so far away, someone watched Sophie and Steven descending the staircase to the lunch hall. He laughed to himself, his eyes fixed on their faces on a grainy looking monitor in front of him. "Soon. Very, very soon."

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