Monday, 31 July 2017

Love, Lies and Old Allies (part 3)

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?”
“Yes.” 
“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.”
“By who?”
“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.