Monday, 31 July 2017
Tuesday. Lunch time rolled on. The Upper School Dining Hall exploded into its usual lunch time commotion. Year Sevens mingled amongst the Year Elevens, bustling and shoving, pushing their way down the queue until they reached the veritable cornucopia of exciting food stuffs and- oh. Instead of baskets of crisps and trays of muffins, there was instead crime scene tape crisscrossing the shelves and large signs showing Mrs Monty carrying a machine gun under the angelic glow of Jamie Oliver.
An audible sigh arose from the kitchen and groups of students walked away, preferring to starve than eat healthily. As they walked, the Big D bumped into a couple of them, patting them on the shoulders and winking in all the right places.
Far away from this commotion, Steven, Sophie, Freya and Chris were sat eating their packed lunches. Steven had resorted to making crisps sandwiches at home so that his unhealthy food was hidden, whilst Sophie had printed out a fake wrapper for her KitKat that made it look like a nutribar. Freya and Chris just ate healthily.
“So, let me get this right,” Steven said, halfway through a Ham and Prawn Cocktail sandwich, “you were so worried for your safety you gave them fake identities?”
“Yes.” Freya said.
“But the identities you gave them were our identities?”
“So, you gave the scary, dangerous people our identities?”
Freya nodded. “I see where you’re going with this but, I just want to say, it’s totally unfounded.”
“I would have said I was Ellie Wright.” Sophie shrugged. “So, anyway, what were you saying about the Camel God?”
“They reckon he could give boons to people.” Chris said.
“He? Why’s he a he? Can’t they be gender fluid, androgynous or even just ambiguous?”
“Or, you know, female?” Steven added.
“I’m just going off what they said.” Chris shrugged. “Point is, they reckoned the God could give boons.”
“Boons.” Steven grinned. “Now that’s a Dungeons and Dragons word if ever I heard one.”
“What sort of boons?" Sophie asked.
“All sorts. Herculean strength, like Captain Jaffa Cake has, reality changing control, like the Summoner, Lucky Cat and Tempus have.” Freya explained.
“And she said improved intelligence.” Chris added. “Carpenter and Jordan must have had improved intelligence to build all their gadgets.”
“So we’re saying that we got our powers from an Egyptian God rather than a radioactive explosion?” Sophie asked.
Steven squealed. “I love our lives.”
“There’s just something odd." Chris said. “Apart from the Egyptian God and superheroic boons, obviously. Doctor Palmer, the lady Doctor Palmer, she said that the Camel God was banished.”
“We didn’t manage to find out, so I googled it and there was nothing. Nothing on the entire internet. Like the Camel God doesn’t exist.”
“We need to get into the museum.” Sophie said. “Shouldn’t be too hard, should it?”
“Not to a group of people with our gifts.” Chris said. "But it’d be easier still if we had Ali with us.”
Steven frowned. “Where is Ali?”
“Over in the hall with the Head Girl and the Big D.” Sophie sighed. “I can’t believe she’d abandon us like this.”
“I can kind of understand it.” Freya said, risking angered glances from her friends. “What?” She pointed to Steven and Sophie. “You two have each other, me and Chris train together and she’s, as much as I love her, she’s kind of the odd one out. Or, at least she would have a right to feel that way.”
“But I miss her.” Steven said. “We spent like twelve years together!”
“How much of that time did you spend arguing?” Sophie asked.
“Very good point.” Steven said and promptly shut up.
Mr Jensen wandered past, using Mr Marley’s catchphrase as his own. “Litter, litter, litter! Any more litter?”
Chris reached out to where the Behaviour Manager was holding two rubbish bags, one black, the other red. He looked at the apple core Chris was holding and shook the black bag. “This one here please, Christopher.”
Chris placed the apple core in it. “What’s in the other?”
“Unhealthy food.” Mr Jensen replied. “Not that any Jaffa Cakes would end up there, hey Sophie?”
Sophie sighed. “I’ll get detention if I bring you biscuits, sir!”
“Not from me, you wouldn’t.” He grinned and shook the red bag. “If it wasn’t for the promise of cake for the people who collect the most unhealthy food, I think I’d be eating most of the stuff in here myself.”
“Confiscate much, sir?” Steven added, nodding towards the bag.
“Oh yeah!” Mr Jensen said and opened the bag, tilting it to show them. Inside the bag, there were piles of forbidden biscuits, packets of crisps, chocolate bars- even a full jar of midget gems. “Loads of the stuff. I don’t know where the kids get it from; we’ve never sold any of this.”
“Probably bring it in from home.” Freya said.
“They don’t.” Mr Jensen said. “Myself and Mr Deterich were searching bags this morning on the way in. This Year Seven came in, empty bag except for his RE book. I caught him at the beginning of lunch with four bottles of Coca Cola, the two litre ones and all, as well as a massive tin of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. I said to him, I said, ‘Cameron! What do you think you’re doing?’”
“And what did he say?”
“Nothing.” Mr Jensen sighed. “His mouth was full of Pringles.”
A Year Eight wandered past, one hand deep in a packet of Doritos. Mr Jensen rolled his eyes and raced after them, his two bags swinging as he moved.
“I'm having to hide my Jaffa Cakes.” Chris sighed, returning his lunch box to his bag. “They’re in the bottom pocket of my bag and I keep accidentally crushing them. Do you think they’ll work the same if they’re broken?”
“You’ll end up with a torn cloak.” Steven laughed and then sighed. “I'm sorry but Ali’s really bothering me. Do you reckon I could go talk to her?”
Freya shook her head. “You’re best off letting her come to you. Then at least you know she wants to talk.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Steven sighed. “Still, if I see her later, can I invite her on our mission?”
“Yeah.” Freya nodded. “Sounds like a good idea.”
“Good.” Chris said. “Now, let’s work out how we can break into that museum.”
In the hall, meanwhile, Ali was collecting a plastic knife and fork from a tray by the stage. She stared up, towards the curtains where Mr Moose had emerged. That had been so strange, but perhaps not as strange as the sight she was seeing now. A pair of Year Sevens marched across the back of the stage and disappeared down the steps to the large room underneath. She’d never been down but Chris and Steven had taken some paper from their tutor group to the incinerator down there a few years back and they’d told her all about it. Apparently the room was cavernous and exceptionally cold, except for the ragged heat of the incinerator. It had, however, been the description of the immense layers of dust down there which had really put her off visiting; Asthma was worse than any super villain.
Having collected her cutlery, she began to make her way over towards the table where Charlotte, Julie and Desmond were sat. To the side of Desmond’s chair, Maximilian was positioned with their bags in his hands.
“What do you mean he’s taken the keys?” Charlotte hissed at Desmond.
“He saw me around the back, asked me what I was doing. I just told him that I was locking up for a caretaker. He said that was fine but that he’d need the keys. What was I meant to do?”
“You should have hidden the bloody keys! Or been more careful!”
“More careful? That’s what got us into this bloody mess.” Desmond sighed. “If you'd let me trust the Sevens with the keys, I wouldn’t have been there.”
“No, a Year Seven would have been and they’re even more useless than you.”
“But much smaller so he probably wouldn’t have noticed!”
“I hate Mr King so much.” Charlotte sighed. “Always getting in the way.”
“The man is bad but his namesake is good.” Julie said. “Sovereignty is a very important aspect of our society; it would be improper to lose it. Plus, all democracies are fundamentally flawed.”
“I’m sorry Mein Kampf,” Desmond interjected, “I didn’t realise we were in the middle of a bloody political broadcast. What are we going to do, Charlotte?”
Charlotte shook her head. “I don’t know. Let me think about it.”
At that moment, she caught a glimpse of Ali approaching and smiled, “Oh! Hi Ali! Want to come sit down? There’s a seat here, right next to me.”
Ali smiled and sunk into the chair. “Thanks, Charlotte. Everything okay, Big D?”
“Yes.” He said. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
“You just don’t look your usual chipper self.”
“She’s right.” Julie said. “You look as if you’ve just learnt the EU force energy saving light bulbs on us.”
“It’s nothing.” He said. “Just Additional Maths getting me down.”
“Oh, that reminds me, what did Mr Moose want with you yesterday?” Ali asked.
“What’s with the interrogation, Ali? This is the Assembly Hall, not Guantanamo Bay.” He sighed and pulled his phone out of his pocket, leaning into his chair. To his side, Max stood, still, unmoving.
“Ignore him.” Charlotte said. “So, still alright to come round tonight?”
“Yeah, I'd love to if that’d be okay.” Ali smiled.
“It’d be just perfect.” Charlotte replied. Her phone buzzed in her blazer so she pulled it out and opened Twitter. Scrolling through her Direct Messages, all but four of the options one sided conversations with Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, as well as the entire cast of Love Island, and reached the box at the top. Dessy Gil, @Th3_B1g_D. She clicked on the unread message and scanned it. She turned to Desmond, just across the table from her, and gave a covert nod.
He was right. Ali was the perfect solution to their little problem.
Monday, 24 July 2017
“Hey! Charlotte! Big D!”
Ali considered using her powers to catch up but decided not to. The last thing she wanted was for them to think she was any weirder than she obviously was.
The Big D, or Desmond as his parents called him, was an average height but incredibly thin boy with hair that definitely wasn’t ginger. Stood to this side was Charlotte Campbell, the school’s illustrious Head Girl. She turned around at Ali’s call, her recently re-dyed hair glittering in the circular sky lights carved into the roof. She seemed to sparkle as she smiled at Ali, her eyes glowed, almost radiant. She looked as if she should be headlining the Big Weekend, not walking down M-Block corridor.
“Are you alright, Ali?” Charlotte called, her teeth glinting in the light.
“Yeah, I’m good.” She said. “I was just thinking, we’re in the same lesson next so could I walk with you?”
Charlotte smiled. “I’d love that, yeah.”
They headed out of M-Block and began to cross the quad. A small Year Seven with incredible hair wandered up behind them and tapped Desmond on the shoulder. “Yes, Maximilian?” He said.
Another Year Seven sprouted from behind Maximilian, bending to allow Max onto his shoulders. The second Year Seven then stood straight, delivering Maximilian to the Big D’s ear height. He whispered something and the Big D nodded, turning back to the others. “I’ll join you in a second.”
Ali frowned as he wandered off, Year Sevens conglomerating around him. “Where’s he going?”
“Oh, you know Desmond.” Charlotte said. “Just his prefect duties; dealing with Year Sevens.”
Ali nodded, before realisation suddenly caused a frown to furrow her brow. “How come you’re not doing your prefect duties? Going to see Mr Andrews, I mean.”
“Oh. Well, that’s the thing about being Head Girl, isn’t it? You don’t have actually to do anything. You just delegate. Plus, why would I want to spend my Monday morning in a hospital? Smelling of wee and old people.”
“Not anymore.” Julie said, wandering over to join them. “They’ll get an extra three hundred and fifty million pounds a week now so I’m sure the wards will glimmer.”
“You’ll have to excuse Julie here.” Charlotte said. “She’s a big Brexiteer.”
“Even before the referendum.” Julie said.
“Really?” Ali raised an eyebrow.
Julie nodded. “Ever since my mum decided to leave this wealthy business man she was dating.”
“Work out well for her?”
“No.” Julie replied. “We now live in destitute poverty but it was the principle of the matter. Anyway, I need to be going to my Business lesson so I’ll catch you later. Bye guys.”
She wandered off and disappeared into L-Block. Charlotte sighed. “Alone at last.”
Ali nodded. “I just wanted to say thanks for having me around yesterday. It was so much fun.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it.” Charlotte said. “I just apologise for the mess that is my bedroom.”
“You have a lovely bedroom. 10 out of 10, would bedroom again.” Ali blushed a little. “That was embarrassing.”
“No, it was geeky.” Charlotte smiled. “Geeky and cute. I just wish I could find as many positive words for my bedroom. The acoustics are awful!”
“Maybe not for talking but for recording they are. I had to record a song in the bathroom the other day, as a result!”
“Oh, is that the one you put on Twitter? You sent it to all those models. And all those studios. And all those singers. And you put it in both group chats. And started a Twitter Moment of the replies you got.”
“Yes, well, if I don’t believe in myself, who will? Just a humble girl trying to make her dreams come true.” Charlotte replied, shifting the handle of her designer handbag up her arm. “Anyway, what about you? What do you want to do when you grow up?”
“Oh, I’m thinking of being a forensic scientist.” Ali replied. “Hey, I could post pictures of corpses I’m investigating and send them to different police departments!”
“How… delightful.” Charlotte said.
The Big D wandered over, devoid of Year Sevens now, as they hurried along the corridor to their Maths classroom. “Sorry about that. Duty calls.”
Ali looked in his direction. He looked a little sweaty, as if he’d had to do some heavy lifting, and his uniform was a bit dusty. Didn’t the cleaners at Gilliam High do anything all day? Far behind him, a few Year Sevens were munching on crisps, despite Mrs Monty’s instructions.
“Ah, what time do you call this?” Mr Fernando asked, stood in the door of their Maths classroom. Ever since Mr Jordan had become a rampaging maniac, Mr Fernando had taught them instead. He was currently wearing glasses, as he did all days but Wednesday when he wore contact lenses. This, in his own words, was because he was a cheap skate and he was going to get his money’s worth of something he had to wear on a Wednesday night for football.
“Sorry sir.” Charlotte smiled, her Head Girl badge glinting as they wandered past into the classroom. They all took their seats and watched as he closed the door and stepped over to the board.
“Yet again, Mr Jordan hasn’t set you any work to do.” Mr Fernando sighed.
Ellie Wright’s hand shot up. “That’s because he’s in a high security prison.”
“Yes, thank you Ellie.” Mr Fernando replied. “Now-“
“Oh my god, sir!” Ellie cried, her eyes lighting with rage. “Why are you pecking? All I did was solve your problem and you’re already having a go at me. Oh my. I’m not doing any work now.”
She leant back in her chair and pulled her iPad out of her bag.
Mr Fernando did nothing and instead said, “Everybody revise Loci. It’s definitely going to come up on the exam.”
The students sighed and pulled their textbooks out. As they did this, Charlotte turned to Ali and said, “Hey, I meant to mention it earlier but forgot. We’re all thinking of going around to my house again tomorrow night. Want to join us?”
“Yeah!” Ali grinned. “I’d love to.”
“You two!” Mr Fernando called. “You were late and now you’re talking in my lessons. Detention.”
The door creaked open. The sound of size seventeen feet patted against the floor. The doorframe cracked as a bald head broke through it. Mr Moose had entered the room.
“That was a harsh judgement, don’t you think, er, er,” the Big Man paused as he struggled to recall the teacher’s name.
Mr Moose raised a solitary finger in an effort to silence him. He then strode across the room, picked the lanyard from Mr Fernando’s chest, nearly strangling him in the process, and read the name that it display there. “Ah. Fernando.”
He returned to where he’d been stood, in the ruins of the door frame.
“That was a harsh judgement, don’t you think, Mr Fernando?” Mr Moose said. “A very harsh judgement.”
“Well, they have blatantly broken the rules twi-“
“Don’t talk when a teacher is talking, Fernando.” Mr Moose said. “Wait your turn. There’s a good boy. Now, let’s see. You’re quite clearly a football fan, Mr Fernando. Don’t worry; I am not a deductive genius but instead noticed the Arsenal stickers placed childishly across the front wall. Here is my offer to you: I will give you a season ticket if you drop your harsh punishment of these students.”
“Well, sir, those aren’t my stick-“
“May I reminder you that I’m the Executing Principal, sorry, Executive Principal of this school and that I will throw in your continued employment alongside the season ticket. It is an offer you cannot refuse, Mr Fernando.”
Mr Fernando nodded and bowed his head. “Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.”
“Correct answer.” Mr Moose smiled. Ali frowned. He hadn’t blinked once in the entire time he’d been in the room.
He now turned to the Big D. “Desmond, I require your presence. There are… matters to attend to.”
“Yes, sir.” Desmond said, standing and saluting.
“No need to salute. I am a teacher, a leader, an educational evangelist, a lover and an inspirer but I am not a soldier. Outside now.”
Desmond hurried out of the room. Moose went to close the door when he caught glimpse of Ellie on her iPad. “And you, Miss Female Student? What are you doing?”
“Aww, sir, why you peck-“ She looked into his eyes and silenced.
Mr Moose reached out his hand. “Give me your tablet computer.”
She handed it over.
He looked it up and down. “Do you want to hear a quote from Steve Jobs? Here it is: ‘Hey, Steve, I like your computer.’ You’re probably thinking, but why is Steve Jobs talking to himself? Surely that’s the first sign of madness? The answer, of course, is that he was talking to Steve Wozniak.” Mr Moose wagged his finger at the class. “Never assume madness. There may be some logic to it. That’s Shakespeare, that is.”
He turned on his heel and began to march out of the room, taking the iPad with him. The door swung shut, cutting off his musings on some sort of badge system to make identification easier.
“I don’t think he blinked once.” Charlotte said. “He could kill a Weeping Angel.”
“You watch Doctor Who?” Ali replied.
“Yeah, but don’t tell anyone.” Charlotte smiled.
Ali gave a contented sigh. Funny, good looking and a geek. And, all the better, Charlotte was a girl to boot. Ali gave another contented sigh, her eyes dreamy.
“Oh, she’s awful! She’s just absolutely terrible. God. I hate her. How did she even get the job? Should’ve been Freya.” The Head Boy rolled his eyes. “God. She’s just useless. Do you know how many Prefect meetings there have been since the beginning of the year?”
“We’re the only people who go to them, Gordon.” Sophie replied. “There’s one every other week.”
“Exactly.” He said. “Know how many- you’ve already answered question. Point is, she never bloody turns up! She’s in all the photos though. Takes all the perks but none of the downsides.”
“What are the downsides?” Steven frowned.
“Having to work with Mr Deterich.” The Head Boy laughed. “Not that I’m complaining about her never turning up, though. I mean, she came that time last month, you know when Mrs Monty asked to attend, and now thanks to Charlotte’s wonderful healthy eating concerns, we’ve got the Munch Policy!”
The minibus cycled over a pot hole, bouncing and sending Steven’s head smashing into the ceiling. He cursed under his breath.
“You need to shrink, you silly mush.” Sophie laughed, reaching up to rub his head.
“No, the bloody manufacturer’s just need to design things with average sized people in mind.”
“Steven, you’re six foot six.” Sophie said. “There are dwarves with more claim to ‘average sized people’ than you.”
Gordon, who was leaning over the seat in front of them, laughed. “You two make such a cute couple.”
Before Steven could even open his mouth, Sophie said, “Oh, no, we’re not going out. We’re just friends.”
“Yeah.” Steven said, resisting the temptation to sigh. “Just friends.”
“Ah.” Gordon said, catching the slight disheartening of Steven’s face. “My apologies.”
“Oh, don’t worry.” Sophie said, smiling. “Lots of people make that mistake, actually.”
“Yeah.” Steven sighed. “They do.”
“So!” Gordon cried, moving on very quickly. “Mr Andrews, hey? It’s so sad.”
“It is,” Sophie nodded, “He’s my favourite Physics teacher. Forget that. He’s my favourite teacher.”
“Mine too.” Gordon said. “He just managed to edge between severe and funny. Plus, he was really good at explaining stuff.”
“I remember I didn’t understand the Doppler Effect and then he came over to explain it to me and I got it in one.” Steven nodded. “He was fantastic. Hey, Gordon, I don’t suppose he ever did the thing in your class, did he?”
“You know, the old, arms out, like a crucifix.”
“Oh!” Gordon cried, nodding. “Yeah, he did! In our population, we call it the Andy Christ.”
Steven laughed. “Oh, whoever came up with that is a complete genius.”
Gordon beamed. “Well, I don’t want to brag but I’m afraid it was me.”
“You know, I think I like Gordon more and more every time we talk to him.” Steven said.
“Thanks Steven.” Gordon smiled. “If you ever want to join me on the roof, you’re more than welcome.”
“I bet that’s what he says to all the boys.” Sophie said.
Gordon blushed momentarily. “It gets so lonely up there but Mr King insists. Reckons the old Gilliam Flashlight needs to be fixed one day, and seeing that I said I’d worked in an Electrician’s Shop on my application, he thinks I’m the one to finally do it.”
“Did you work in an Electrician’s Shop?” Steven frowned.
“No, but my dad owns one so he said he’d lie for me if required.” Gordon grinned.
“That’s a bright idea.” Sophie laughed, and the other two groaned at her pun.
As that happened, the minibus pulled to a stop in the car park of the hospital. Whilst Mr Jensen, who was driving it, grumbled about the price of the tickets, the Prefects clambered off and headed up the steps to the ward where Mr Andrews was still in a coma.
Elsewhere, at the Museum of Ancient History, Mrs Lynne had a group of students gathered around her. “You’ve got free reign of the museum for the next two hours. Then, we’ll meet in the cafe for lunch before our Spartan Workshop in the afternoon. Have a nice time everyone.”
Freya and Steven headed off up a set of butterfly stairs, past a statue of Perseus holding Medusa’s head a loft. They wandered down a few corridors, past glass cases full of rusted swords and shields, and then turned right to a pair of large, open, wooden doors.
Stepping through, they found themselves in a huge hall. Various artefacts, including a book with a rather crude illustration of a camel on its open page, were displayed in glass cases around the room and that very illustration was reproduced on large banners hanging from the ceilings.
The centre piece of the room, and their attention, however was a large sandstone obelisk emerging from some form of sacrificial crypt, carvings of camels and various hieroglyphs drawn into the various surfaces throughout.
“Wow.” Freya whispered. “That looks like it’s straight out of the second season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures.”
“I’m going to pretend to get that reference.” Chris replied.
A woman with bobbed grey hair wandered over to them, a notebook in her hand that had so many slips of paper and Post It Notes emerging from it that it could have been one of Freya’s textbooks. “Hello there. Can I help-“
She paused. Chris frowned. “Are you okay, miss?”
“You’re… you’re from Gilliam High.”
Freya nodded. “School trip. Me and Steven here are doing a project on the Camel God. Could you help us out?”
“I’m so sorry,” she said, shaking her head and seeming to pull herself together, “I just… my son went to Gilliam High when he was younger. He recently returned actually but, well, he didn’t come back out.”
Chris frowned. “I’m sorry?”
“He was a Physicist. A very good Physicist, actually. He was doing a lecture and an experiment went wrong. He died in the blast.”
“Your son was Doctor Richard Palmer?” Chris said.
“Yes.” She said, frowning. “Did you know him?”
“I was in the lecture. He was a very good, well, lecturer.”
“Thank you, er, what did you say your name was?”
“He’s Steven, I’m Sophie.” Freya said, kicking Chris as he began to frown at her.
“Thank you Steven.” She smiled. “Come, let’s be quick. My husband should be around somewhere and, well, he’s a lot more vocal in his emotion. How can I help you?”
“We just wanted to know about the Camel God, Mrs Palmer.”
“Doctor.” She said. “Doctor Palmer.”
“Like your son?”
She nodded. “And my husband. A family of Doctor Palmers. Makes the post very exciting.”
Chris smiled. “So, what can you tell us about the Camel God?”
“What can’t I? Myself and my husband are this particular branch of Egyptology’s leading experts.” She said. “We led the archaeological dig of the vast majority of the artefacts in this room, including the construct you see straight in front of you.”
“What is it?”
“We’re not entirely certain but from the hieroglyphs we can decipher, we seem to think it was some sort of worship spot, used to celebrate the Camel God in return for all sorts of boons.”
“Boons?” Chris frowned.
“Boons.” She said. “As in gifts. Miraculous endowments of certain abilities or powers. A key factor of the Camel God’s mythology is that he endows those around him with abilities far beyond their limited comprehension.”
“What kind of abilities?” Freya asked.
“Well, all sorts. There are a set of scrolls in the far corner, known as the Clifton Set, that document the vast majority of the Camel God legendarium. In them, they feature almost demi-godlike beings given boons varying from Herculean strength to reality changing control to even such minimal abilities as improved intelligence. It makes fun reading. The Egyptians certainly had imaginations.”
“They did.” Freya nodded. “I was really interested in them when I was little but I’ve never heard of the Camel God before.”
“Well, that’ll be because of his banishment.”
“Banishment?” Chris frowned.
“Yes. As Norse Mythology has its Ragnarök and Christianity its Apocalypse, the legend of the Camel God concludes with banishment to- oh, dear Gods, here comes my husband. You better scoot along, children. From his face, I can tell he’s seen some of your classmates. Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions.”
With that, she rushed over to where an elderly man, with startling white hair, was beginning to blubber. Freya rolled her eyes at Chris and began to walk.
“Why did you give her the wrong names?” He whispered to her.
“Because there are too many coincidences in the air for any of this to be innocent.” Freya replied, suspiciously glancing around. “Come on, let’s go find Mrs Lynne.”
At the hospital, Gordon and a prefect with big hair and bigger teeth emerged from the ward and nodded Steven and Sophie in. They wandered into the room and over to the only occupied bed, holding Mr Andrews. His face was covered with the beginnings of a coarse stubble and his eyes were permanently closed. He wore a hospital gown and lay there, asleep, unwaking. There were no flowers or cards on the table at the end of his bed, except for one, as signed by the Prefect team.
Sophie and Steven sunk into their chairs, ready to begin the ten minute shift that Mr King had asked them to perform. Sophie reached out a hand and squeezed Mr Andrews, lying still on the bed with one finger being held by a pulse monitor.
After a few minutes, she began to sob. Steven decided that he didn’t quite know what to do. Normally, he was the one crying at nothing in particular. Frowning, he reached out and put his arm around her. “Hey, it’s okay.” He said, worried that he sounded like he was petting a hedgehog. “Just let it out. Let it out, Sophie.”
“He’s my favourite teacher.” She said, turning to him. Not entirely sure what he was doing, he reached an arm out and put it around her shoulder, pulling her in for a hug. “Don’t you worry, you silly thing.” He whispered. “He’ll be alright soon.”
“I hope so.” She said. “I love him so much.”
Steven hugged her, staring at the comatose teacher. Lucky sod.
Monday, 17 July 2017
Previously: Chris, Steven, Sophie, Freya and Ali were once five students attending Gilliam High School. But when an ex-student named Richard Palmer gave a lecture on radiation, they were all caught up in a terrible radioactive blast. Palmer died and Physics Teacher Mr Andrews rendered comatose. Chris and friends, however, found themselves imbued with incredible powers which were quickly put to the test by the onslaught of villainous teachers.
Last time, Ali was kidnapped by the dimension travelling Dreamweaver. Whilst the others went to rescue her, she became alienated from the group and, on returning to the Earth, couldn’t help but feel like a spare part. We rejoin the adventure a short while after Ali began to play with her new friends.
Sunday Morning. Not the time to be in school. The Summoner was pretty sure there were laws against it, or at least that there should be. There was a bed, a very warm bed, that he could have been lying in at that exact moment. Instead, here he was, stood in a Science classroom with three of his friends and an angry minator. He sighed. One day he’d get a lie in.
The callout had been simple enough. Every fast food restaurant on the coast had recently been robbed, not of money or nice things like chips but of beef and milk. Every report had suggested that a five foot tall woman with the head of a bull had been behind the robberies.
“Definitely not a bull.” Lucky Cat said. Years of Minecraft had led to her understanding the difference between various animals. “I say more a cow? Or a buffalo?”
“Beefalo!” The creature roared, spit flinging . “I am the Beefalo! And I will take back the terrible products you have stolen from my species.”
Captain Jaffa Cake looked at Tempus. “As we practised, yeah?”
Tempus nodded. “As we practised.”
Running towards him, he lifted a Jaffa Cake shield. She jumped onto it and he gave the shield a shove, sending her slicing through the air and towards the Beefalo. The creature screamed but she reached out her hands and slowed time. Its scream became deeper, slower. The spittle flinging from its jaws seemed to pause in mid air, suspended by her temporal powers.
She increased her focus, concentrating on herself and the wall behind the Beefalo. Snapping the creature back to normal speed, she sped time concerning herself to be quicker. Then she slowed the wall behind the Beefalo right down. The effect: She seemed to hit it a lot quicker than she in reality did. Regardless, the momentum carried and the wall exploded open, delivering the two of them into the room on the other side.
The Summoner walked over to Lucky Cat and patted her shoulder. “My condolences.”
Lucky Cat frowned. “For what?”
“I think we just saw Physics getting killed.”
Following Tempus through the hole they’d just torn in the wall, they emerged in one of the new classrooms built after the radioactive explosion a few months earlier. The walls of the room were white, the tables and stools pristine. Every surface was streamlined and complex in its simplicity. It was like walking into an Apple shop.
Captain Jaffa Cake wandered over to the Beefalo and knelt, his orange cape pooling around him as he did. “She’s unconscious, I think. Summoner, can you create some cuffs?”
The Summoner reached out a hand. A pair of cufflinks appeared in his palm. He sighed and reached out the other hand. There was a momentary glowing. The cufflinks seemed to burst, before the energy trickled into his other hand and turned into a pair of handcuffs. “There we go.”
"Thank you.” Captain Jaffa Cake said, taking the cuffs and locking the Beefalo’s hands together.
At that exact moment, the door to the room burst open. Reiteration Man, their gallant Computer Science teacher, burst through and into the room. “Ah! You got her, good work!”
He waved his hand and the wall they’d accidentally destroyed began to reform, bricks sliding into place, plaster reforming, smart board unshattering. Once it was done, he turned to the Beefalo. “Honestly, the prison is going to run out of space if we continue being as successful as we are.”
“Let's just face it, guys,” Steven said, “We are too good.”
They laughed as Sophie increased the probability of the Caretakers being lazy. As a result, when they’d last been delivering bags of paper to be incinerated to the incinerator next to S-Block, they’d left one of the large trolleys just outside the classroom. She wheeled it in and they hauled the Beefalo onto it, ready to take her down to the Cairns Cave to be secured before the police arrived.
Mr Phillips looked over the group of them and frowned. “Could Ali not make it?”
Pulling off her 3D glasses, Sophie shook her head. “Busy playing with a Ouija Board with the Head Girl.”
“She’s going up in the world.” Mr Phillips said. “The Head Girl is actually popular.”
“Are you trying to say we’re not, sir?” Steven asked.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t you say the other day you still wear Doctor Who pyjamas?”
Steven nodded. “No, you’ve got a good point there. We’re not popular.”
“I don’t like the Head Girl.” Chris said. “It’s nothing personal, I just don’t she is in any way qualified for her role.”
“I’m glad you said,” Sophie said, “because if I did, it’d sound like I was jealous I hadn’t got that role.”
“Hahaha. You’re the Prefect for Sitting In The Library At Break Times.” Steven teased, prodding her.
“Says the Prefect for Occasionally Writing Articles For The School Magazine That No One Will Ever Bloody Read.” Sophie replied.
“Ahem. I’m just going to stay quiet.” Freya, the Deputy Head Girl, said, a mischievous grin on her face.
“With conversations as exciting as this,” Chris said, “no wonder Ali isn’t hanging out with us today.”
Children of the atom, students of Computer Science, geeks misunderstood and stereotyped by the teachers and students they have sworn to protect, these are the strangest heroes of all!
Sunday creaked on and cooled into the dark tidings of Monday. Chris found himself out of his Captain Jaffa Cake suit and instead in the maroon of his school uniform, wandering down All Saints’ Road towards the front of school. He headed up the small path, passing through the green gates and taking a left down the main corridor towards the Assembly Hall. As he did, he caught a glimpse of his hair in the window. Finally, his experimentations with hair spray had worked! His quiff was near perfect, just as wonderful and dynamic as it was when he’d eaten a Jaffa Cake.
His eyes glimpsed the smart watch he’d received for Christmas and he suddenly realised he was risking being late to Assembly. He raced forward, jogging up the corridor towards the Assembly Hall. As he did, his eyes glimpsed the black arrows covering the walls and frowned. The last time he checked, even the worst elements of the school community weren’t so stupid they needed to know how to walk up and down a corridor.
“Hey! Chris!” He turned and Freya caught up with him. “Glad I caught you; better than having to go into the hall late and alone.”
“Are you alright?” He asked. “Not like you to run late.”
“Not like you either.” She frowned for a second, realising she was having to look up at him. “Have you grown?”
“I hope not.” He replied. “My mum made me go clothes shopping on Saturday. I really don't want to go again.”
“How many Christmas jumpers did you buy?” She laughed.
They approached the doors of the Assembly Hall and found about fifty students stood outside. Mr Jensen was stood at their head, guarding the doors to the Assembly Hall. “Sir?” Chris frowned. “What’s going on? Why are we all outside?”
“Head’s instructions.” Mr Jensen shrugged. “Says he wants everyone who is even the smallest bit late kept outside.”
“Oh great.” Freya whispered. “We’re late. This is singlehandedly the worst thing to have ever happened to me.”
“And we were fighting a Beefalo yesterday.” Chris muttered.
Inside the Assembly Hall, Steven and Sophie were sat next to each other about half way into the left column of the sea of blue chairs. Ali was far off on the other side, sat next to the Head Girl and Desmond Gilliam, grandson of the School’s Founder. Steven had been ready to rant about her choice to sit with them over him when Mr Deterich, the Head of their Year Group, stepped out into the space in front of the stage.
“Matilda! Matilda!” Mr Marley cried, gaining silence. “We are ready now!”
“Good morning Year Eleven.” Mr Deterich said, running a hand through the constantly receding, greyening, thinning ginger hair that partially covered his head. “I hope you all had a relaxing weekend away from the stresses of school work. Before we begin, I just want to say that attendance to Saturday School was shockingly low this weekend. I really expected more of you to come in. Of course, interventions are put on as an optional course for you so none of you are expected to join us, however, next weekend I expect half the year group to be taking part.”
Sophie turned to Steven and raised her eyebrows.
“Now,” Mr Deterich said, “for the Assembly proper, I now want to hand over to Mrs Monty to talk about the ‘Munch Initiative.’”
“No, no!” Cried Mr Marley. “I need to talk about something very shortly first.”
He wandered over to the space Mr Deterich was stood in, just between the two columns of chairs, in front of the main stage. It was Sophie’s belief that teachers stood there rather than on the stage because they wanted to be ‘down with the kids.’ The effect was that for the shorter members of the audience, the talkers were invisible.
“After the failure of last Friday’s Attendance Scheme, I have decided to introduce a new one to replace it.” Mr Marley said. “It’s very simple. In Tutor tomorrow morning, you will be presented with a report on your attendance outlining your Attendance Target. For example, Joe Bloggs gets his report and it tells him that he has a target of missing only three sessions this term because he had good attendance last term. However, Freddy Noname had awful attendance last term so his target may be to miss thirteen sessions this term. As long as he only misses his thirteen sessions and no more, he will be rewarded with a free raffle ticket. At the end of the year, once every student in the school has three raffle tickets, will pull out a lucky winner and see if anyone manages to win an iPod Shuffle.”
An audible ‘ooh’ went up. Sophie turned to Steven and frowned. “Does that mean they’re giving us licenses to skive?”
In the audience somewhere, Freddy Noname was blushing at having his awful attendance exposed to the school.
“Thank you Mr Marley.” Mr Deterich said. “When I was your age, I skived all the time and as a result, I got a well paid and morally rewarding job as a middle manager on the forefront of defining our next generation, as well as still being able to attend both Sixth Form and University. The moral of the story: Don’t skive, kids. Right, now for Mrs Monty.”
A short woman wandered up onto the stage. She was the Assistant Principal of the School but, besides wearing a lanyard that announced as much, it was hard to say what exactly that entitled her to do.
Getting to the top of the stage, she removed a remote control from her pocket and pressed a button. From the roof, the screen began to descend. It took two minutes to unravel the whole way and, as it got to the end of those two minutes, began to unravel a little too far and pool on the floor. She flustered at the remote control, just managing to get it to rise back up into place.
For a second, the projected image was of the words ‘HDMI1 Undetected’ and then there was a flash and a picture of a dead child appeared on the screen. His head had evidently been bashed in by a large blunt instrument and he was lying on the side of a road in a pool of his own blood.
“Can anyone tell me what the cause of death for this child was?” She asked.
No reply, until a new kid on the front row raised a hand. “Was it being hit by a car?”
"Aha!" Mrs Monty cried. “That’s what you’d assume but no! Let’s see another picture.”
She clicked a button on the remote and the next slide showed an alternate angle of the kid, revealing a hand previously hidden. He was clutching a packet of crisps.
“The correct answer,” Mrs Monty said, “is obesity. This child was killed by obesity. Do you know how many children die of obesity each year in the UK?”
Rhetorical question. No answers.
“The answer is some and I find that disgusting. Do you know how much sugar there is in a bottle of Tomato Ketchup? 2800 grams! If you were to take that in granules of sugar, you’d need four Ketchup bottles to contain it all. That’s a lot of sugar. That’s diabetes in a squeezable retainer. Now, as I’m sure you all know, the Lord and Saviour Jamie Oliver has proposed a plan to avoid this.”
She clicked the remote and the next slide appeared, depicting Jamie Oliver in glowing, heavenly light. Angelic wings folded out of his back and he stood overlooking a background that looked straight from the Sound of Music.
“He suggests that we, as schools, should cut down on the amount of unhealthy food being sold in our cantines. For that reason, as of now, we are outlawing all unhealthy food in Gilliam High. Here’s a little promotional video for our Munch Prohibition.”
She clicked a button and a video began to play. It showed a packet of crisps being placed on a podium. Then, the camera man began to walk backwards, the shaking image suggesting they weren’t just zooming. Then, they stopped, showing the Caretaker now, lifting the rifle he used to shoot seagulls. Placing the butt of the rifle against his shoulder, he began to fire and the video cut to slow motion explosions as the packet of crisps was torn apart by the bullets.
The video cut now, to show chocolate bars exploding, the rugby team tackling a nervous Year Seven carrying an ice lolly, a child having his face pressed against a glass window and his bag being torn open to reveal stashes of Cheese Strings and Baby Bels. The next shot was of the dinner ladies being fired, only to be replaced by the local Olympian, grinning and throwing Apples at people. The video ended with a Jelly Baby being placed in a Bunsen Burner. As it began to scream, a caption across the bottom of the screen read, “You will sound like this Jelly Baby if you are caught with Munch in school.”
The video ended. Mrs Montgomery smiled at her audience and then said, “The teachers will be vigilant in guarding this school from the horror of Munch. Every week, the top ten teachers to have collected the most unhealthy food will be treated with cake in the staff room. We are taking this seriously, Year Eleven. We want you to too.”
She bowed her head and then wandered down the stairs. There was an awkward silence for another two minutes as the projector screen rose again.
Mr Deterich stepped back out. “Okay then. Before we dismiss you to lessons, there’s a new member of the Gilliam Family that we need to introduce you to.”
Next to Ali, Desmond Gilliam looked terrified at the prospect of a sibling. Then he realised they meant a new teacher.
“We have got a new Executive Principal to look after the school on its journey out of Special Measures and his name is… Mr Moose. Let’s give him a cheer.”
Smoke began to pour of the sides of the stage. The curtains were hauled back. Spotlights suddenly shone across the room, building up over the stage. Stepping forth, out of the gloom, into the white shine was a man who was easily seven foot tall. He wore a pair of pale blue trousers with a brown blazer jacket that was somehow three sizes too big for him. The light twinkled across his head. Stepping out, he fixed his eyes on his audience. Despite the fact he wasn’t looking at anyone in particular, everyone got the distinct feeling that he was drilling into their souls.
“Hello.” He said, his Northern accent painfully strong. “I’m Mr Moose.”
Everyone stared at him, unsure what to make.
“I just want to say a few words before we go on this journey together.” He turned around and pointed through the far wall. “Once upon a time, I had a cousin. That cousin owned a dog. That dog was called Albert. I walked Albert once. He was a lively Cocker Spaniel and no mistake. As I walked him across the gala field just outside this very room, my daily recitation of a Shakespearean sonnet was interrupted by my sudden glance of this building. I found it a shining sentinel of education, a brilliant beacon, a glowing gateway, a stepping stone to a new and exciting future. I looked at this building and I said, I do wonder what that building is. Unfortunately, in the process of my musings, Albert escaped his leash and ran into the road, where he was immediately run over by a mosher on a skateboard. I ran over and screamed at this mosher, but he simply replied, ‘I’m a mosher,’ and kept skating. I was outraged, but more disheartened by the sight of my cousin’s poor dog, dying on the road. I knelt down and realised the dog didn’t have long to live, but the time it did have would be in immense pain. So, deciding to be a Good Samaritan, I grabbed its neck and squeezed the life out of it. I became a man that day and so, I find it very important to now be stood inside this building here, ready to turn all of you boys and girls, into men.”
Silence. Complete and utter silence.
He turned back to face the audience and pointed to the far door. “Now, destiny isn’t something that can be controlled. By definition, it's a celestial force out of the reach of the human man. When destiny comes a knocking, you better be ready otherwise it won’t help you on your way. You can’t be late for destiny, just as you can’t be late for Assembly. Unlike these rapscallions. Bring ‘em in.”
The door at the far end opened and about twenty or thirty students wandered in, Freya and Chris amongst their ranks. Mr Moose, his eyes yet to blink, waved them down the centre aisle, between the columns of chairs. “Now, these young people you see now are all disgusting. Don’t you find them shameful? They have been late to your assembly and think they can just cruise in, nonchalantly. That’s a good word. Nonchalantly. Point is, actions have repercussions. That’s Physics, that is. Their action of being late has the repercussion of making them terrible people who will never achieve anything. Looking at this lot, I bet none of them have ever got anything higher than an F in any of their exams. That’s science. Now, I know that we all hate them. I hate them too. Tell them how much you hate them. Come on. Let’s shout.”
The audience turned from looking at the parade of students to instead frowning at Mr Moose. Mr Moose stepped down from the stage with no effort at all and walked forward to the first student. Reaching out one gigantic finger, he thrust it into the student’s face and said, “You are a disgrace. A complete disgrace.”
He turned to the next student. “I hate you. You have stupid hair.”
He turned to the third student. “You’re an idiot. Your mum’s an idiot. Your kids will be idiots.”
He turned to the fourth student. “The Human Race doesn’t accept you.”
He turned to the fifth student and punched her.
He turned to the sixth student. “You’re so bloody stupid you're not even wearing the right tie! I wouldn’t trust you with anything. You make me sick. How did you even get into this school?”
The sixth student stared up at him, wide eyed. “I’m the Head Boy.”
Mr Moose ignored him and turned to the seventh student, grabbing them and throwing them to the floor. “That’s where your aspirations should be, you poisonous mushroom.”
He turned to the eight student and slapped them, but then grabbed their face between his gigantic hands. “I don’t have any bread but you’re still an idiot sandwich.”
Then he turned around and looked at the eight students he’d assaulted and insulted. “Now, I could continue but I’m very conscientious that you’ve all got a first lesson to attend. As a result of that, I’m going to return to an old maxim of mine. When in doubt, do what Jesus would do. As a result of that, I’m going to forgive each and every one of these students.”
He stepped forwards and grabbed the eighth student, squeezing them against his chest in a gangly hug. “You are forgiven. You were an idiot sandwich, but now you have the chance to prove yourself again.”
He repeated this for each of the students until he returned to the stage, clambering back up onto the top and turning to his audience. “Now, I’m going to wipe the slate clean with this school. We’re going to start again. Remember, be on time otherwise destiny will not take place. Let’s work together to build a new empire of clever students. Thank you, Year Eleven. Good luck with your A-Levels.”
He gave a bow and then retreated back into the gloom.
The audience all stared at the stage for a very long time, the curtains pulling to a close as the smoke machines pumped for a little longer and then Mr Deterich stepped out.
“Let’s go be world beaters?”
Emerging from the Assembly Hall, Chris and Freya hurried over to Steven and Sophie. Ali joined them. “What the hell was that?” She asked. “He punched Katie!”
“You do know why he’s working here now, don’t you?” Steven asked. His parents were teacher so he got all the gossip.
“No.” The others frowned.
“Well, at Windgrass, his last school, he had a student who was a drug dealer. He took all the student’s drugs and disposed of them safely then went and blew up the warehouse they were getting them from with equipment he found in the science department.” Steven said. “They gave him the Best Teacher of the Year Award for it.”
“He’s a maniac!” Chris cried.
“He’s a lucky maniac. The student’s dad owned this Wholesalers. Moose can get whatever he wants, whenever he wants, free of charge!”
Ali caught sight of Mr Jensen making his way over to tell them to go their ways. “Right, I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“We’re in the same lessons all day.” Freya frowned.
“Not today. You four have got trips, haven’t you?”
“Oh yeah!” Chris exclaimed. “I’d forgotten all about that.”
“What trip are we going on?" Steven frowned.
“Chris and Freya are going to the Ancient History Museum. Me and you are going with a few other prefects to visit Mr Andrews in Hospital.” Sophie said, rolling her eyes. Was she the only person who remembered anything?
“Oh great. That means the minibus.” Steven sighed, remembering the last time he’d nearly given himself a concussion in the low roofed minibus.
“Right, see you late.” Ali said and ran off.
The others made their way over to the lunch hall, where people waited to go on trips. Sophie and Steven made their way to join a few other prefects on the far side and Chris and Freya went over to where a History Teacher named Mrs Lynne was handing out small leaflets. She gave one to Freya and then checked the two of them off her register.
“I hate History.” Chris sighed. “It’s so boring. It’s literally a subject stuck in the past.”
“Wait a minute.” Freya frowned. “I don’t think you will be finding it that boring.”
“Look what the main exhibition is!”
Chris took the leaflet from her and read. A smile spread across his face. “Oh, that is interesting.”
“Isn’t it?” Freya said. “Time for us to know our enemy.”
The main exhibition was an exploration of the Legend Of The Camel God.