Monday, 24 July 2017
Love, Lies and Old Allies (part 2)
“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.