Monday, 21 August 2017
Love, Lies And Old Allies (part 6)
Gordon Mellor, Head Boy, sat on the library roof like he did most free periods. He had a book on electrics in one fingerless gloved hand, a screwdriver in the other and in front of him was the old Gilliam High spotlight. It was a monstrous thing, a huge iron drum with a glass sheet over the front of it. Over the last few months, he had replaced the metres of cable attaching it to the Mains supply and even placed a new bulb in. Yet, for some reason, it still wouldn’t turn on.
He didn’t really see why it needed to. Just another of Mr King’s colourful ideas, like a coffee evening for old people or different ties for different year groups. The only problem was, Gordon was Mr King’s Head Boy and that meant he had to make all those colourful ideas work. Or at least try to.
There was a sudden whoosh behind him. Gordon spun and saw Captain Jaffa Cake landing, cape flaring out behind him. Up front, the Captain didn’t seem nearly as incredible as he did in the pictures online; maybe the same height as Chris Rogers and with a similar quiff as it happened. Looking at him, Gordon wondered who could possibly be crazy enough to build their super-heroic persona around a type of biscuit. Unfortunately, the thin strip of orange material covering his eyes was enough to obscure any hope of divining an identity.
“You need to evacuate the school.” Captain Jaffa Cake spoke.
“There are dark forces at work under the stage.” He replied. “Myself and my team are heading down to deal with them but we don’t know how much collateral there may be. You need to evacuate the school.”
“What dark forces?”
“The Head Girl and her friends. They’ve been leading a Munch bootlegging system.”
"I never joke about my work.”
Gordon shook his head. “God, and I thought my biggest problem as Head Boy was getting this bloody spotlight to work. Don’t suppose you know anything about technology, do you?”
“I dabble.” Captain Jaffa Cake replied and wandered over, placing his Jaffa Cake shield down on the front of the spotlight as he had a look at the fuse box connected to its side. All seemed in good condition. He stood and looked at Gordon. “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
“Well, no, not as such.” Gordon said.
The Captain reached down and flicked the switch to fully Off. Then he pulled it up to On. A beam of light shot out of the front, projecting a white circle onto the wall of E-Block, except for the centre where the silhouette of a Jaffa Cake hung.
Gordon stepped over to the edge of the roof and stared. “You really do work wonders, Captain. Best of luck taking down the Head Girl. I’ll get the school evacuated.”
He turned to look at the hero but it was too late. Captain Jaffa Cake was gone. Gordon shook his head and pulled up his collars. “I knew he was going to do that.”
The Summoner and Lucky Cat marched up M-Block corridor. Someone must have left a door in the Upper School Dining Hall open because a wind was flaring the Summoner’s crimson cape and Lucky Cat’s blue scarves out behind them. Lucky Cat reached up and readjusted the 3D glasses on her nose.
“Be careful whilst we’re fighting them.” The Summoner said, flexing his arms. “I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“We’re superheroes, Steve. Getting hurt is part of the job.”
“I know but I suppose I just worry.”
“That’s really sweet.” She smiled. “That you worry about us all, I mean. But we’re all superheroes now. You just worry about yourself.”
Internally, the Summoner sighed. He wasn’t worrying about all of them, though, was he?
Captain Jaffa Cake leapt from the library balcony and landed, one fist to the ground, on the carpet next to them. He stood up and adjusted the new Jaffa Cake shield on his arm.
“You guys ready?”
“As ever.” Lucky Cat grinned.
The Captain nodded and raised his shield. “Let’s do this.”
The Summoner raised a hand. “What’s the plan? Me and Lucky Cat through the doors and you flanking round back?”
Captain Jaffa Cake laughed. “Doors are for people with no imagination.”
Running at full force, he smashed through the glass windows to the side of the door and arrived in the Upper School. The athletic looking cooks stood, muscles flexing. The Captain grinned and slung two Jaffa Cake shields at them. As the Jaffaery goodness exploded over them, they screamed and fell to the floor, trapped under the stickiness.
The Summoner and Lucky Cat trampled over the glass and joined him. The Summoner frowned. “That seemed too easy.”
“The battle hasn’t even begun.” Captain Jaffa Cake muttered.
They crept forward, heading down the queuing zone to the door leading to the back of the stage. The Summoner allowed energy to swirl around his hand, a sword forging from the pulsing light.
“Be careful.” Lucky Cat whispered. “You could have someone’s eye out with that.”
“I rather think that’s the intention.” The Summoner replied.
As they crept forward, Captain Jaffa Cake raised a hand and pointed to the sliding doors to his side. “I’m going to head up and over the stage. Meet you at the steps down to the room.”
The Summoner nodded. “Good luck.”
The doors slid open and the Captain darted through, leaving the Summoner and Lucky Cat to creep forward a little further. They reached the door and that was when they heard the footsteps. The Summoner cursed and raised his sword. Lucky Cat increased the probability of them being caught in the early morning sunlight awesomely.
The top of the door frame in front of them exploded open and, dusted with plaster, Mr Moose lumbered forward. He fixed them both with eternal stares. “Lucky Cat, I know I have form killing dogs but do not think I will refuse to extend my abilities to you.”
Lucky Cat raised her fists. “I see making you Teacher of the Year was a bald choice.”
Moose laughed, a sound like two gravestones being scraped against each other. “You think you’re funny and heroic. Soon, the only thing you’ll be is dead.”
“Don’t you dare touch her.” The Summoner said, holding up his sword. “I will gut you before you even have the chance.”
Moose reached out and grabbed the sword, bending it with nothing more than the tilt of his hand. “And how do you intend to do that, Summoner, when you cannot even protect yourself?”
Desmond stepped out from behind Mr Moose, grinning. “Hello friends. I do hope you’re not intending to do anything particularly nasty. Not whilst other students are in the school.”
The fire alarm began to ring. The Head Boy had evidently done his work.
The Summoner grinned. “Suppose there’s no risk of any collateral.”
“Moose,” Desmond said, “kill them both slowly.”
“You weren’t this much of an idiot when we played Minecraft together.” Lucky Cat said. “What changed?”
Before Desmond could reply, the Summoner turned to her. “Is there anyone you haven’t played Minecraft with? Apart from me, obviously.”
Moose took the Summoner’s distraction to his advantage, grabbing hold of the crimson cape and slinging him across the room. Desmond placed fingers on his forehead and thought, furiously.
The windows exploded open and swarms of Year Sevens raced through, swearing, shouting, insulting. For a second, the Summoner couldn’t help but reflect that back when he was a Year Seven, he wouldn’t have dared talk to a Year Eleven, never mind swarm over them violently, but then he was engulfed and there was no time to reflect.
Lucky Cat turned back from watching that, only to see one of Mr Moose’s boulder sized fists colliding with her face. She smashed into the kitchen’s empty shelves and slumped to the floor, watching through fractured 3D glasses as Moose approached. He laughed. “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am a soldier after all.”
Freya was beginning to thank her lucky stars that she hadn’t adopted the others’ hateful attitude towards cross country. She knew Julie was gaining on her but at least there was a small distance, thanks to Freya’s own athleticism. As she passed the car hire, a van began to reverse out onto the pavement. Freya froze time and allowed the van to remain blocking the pavement, giving her a chance to hide and forcing Julie to run around it.
As she did, there was a bright flash and it was no longer Usain Bolt pursuing Freya but instead a blood hound, its nose twitching against the ground, sniffing for the faintest trace of the time stopping girl.
Freya darted from her hiding place, over towards the overflowing bin next to the bus stop, hoping that the smell of rubbish in the summer heat might drown out her own scent. Unfortunately, the blood hound had seen her darting and so reverted into Julie’s shape and began to stalk forwards.
“What’s the weather like, down there?” One Year Seven demanded, punching him.
“How big are your feet?” Another asked and kicked him in the shin.
“You’re massive!” Another one cried and buried a knee in his stomach.
“Just call me a freak and get it over and done with.” The Summoner muttered and tried to heave himself up. He felt like Gulliver, covered with lilliputians, holding him down and restricting his movement. Cursing under his breath, he tried to summon something, anything, that might help him out. He considered summoning some seagulls but, besides making a pun, he wasn’t entirely sure how he could utilise them efficiently.
He took a deep breath and sat up with all his strength, forcing the Year Sevens off him and climbing to his feet. He summoned a baseball bat and swung it through his hands. He knew fully well that his cape was ripped and his mask askew but there were more important things to deal with, like the swarm of Year Sevens just in front of him.
There was a crash to his side. He turned in time to see the roof panel hitting the floor and a pair of Year Sevens swinging towards him on cables hanging from the ceiling. He jumped out of the way, allowing them to swing past him but unfortunately he’d forgotten the first rule of pendulums; they oscillate back the way they’d come.
The swinging Year Sevens bashed into him on their way back, almost knocking him to the ground. He felt one leap onto his back, wrappings its tiny fingers around his neck. He ran backwards, smashing them into one of the columns descending from the ceiling and then swung his baseball bat as a wave of the Year Sevens raced towards him.
A group of the little ones had tied their ties together to form a long rope, which they threw out and laced around his ankle, trying to pull him to the ground. He hauled himself forward and dragged them with him however, more Year Sevens clinging at his other leg, his arms. He swung his baseball bat out and felt the Year Seven it collide with grabbing hold and being lifted with the swing.
Three Year Sevens, led by Max, had taken pebbles from the gardens and tied loops around them with their ties. The first two swung the ties over their heads and then released their hold, allowing the tie and the pebbles to fly through the air and smashing into the Summoner, knocking him back a little. Max swung his but not high enough, the stone slinging around and bashing into his own face.
The Summoner saw Moose hit Lucky Cat and tried to race to her aid but he couldn’t. The Year Sevens were swirling all over him, clinging to his arms, his legs, his neck, his back, pulling him down, forcing him into the floor. He could barely breathe, never mind move. He felt a warm rivulet of blood beginning to swirl down his face from where one of the rocks had hit him.
Cursing, he dropped the baseball bat and reached out a hand, pointing it to a spot far away from him. Despite the pain and the little fingers digging into him, he concentrated all his energy, all his thoughts, willed himself to summon the one thing he thought might help him.
There was a bright flash one hundred metres outside the Upper School Dining Hall. A fidget spinner appeared. Every single one of the Year Sevens stopped and stared, eyes wide. Then they released the Summoner all together and leapt out of the window, racing towards it.
Grinning, the Summoner brushed himself down and began to stride towards where Desmond was, his grin suddenly gone.
“There’s no point trying to hide.” Julie said, pulling a knife out from her pocket. “I’ll find you and I will make you LEAVE life.”
“How am I not surprised you’re a psychopath?” Freya asked, forced into the bin behind her. There was nowhere to run now, except perhaps to hide behind the clear glass of the bus stop.
“What a horrible thing to say.” Julie replied. “And there was me thinking we were really good friends in Primary School. What happened to make you such a snivelling Remoaner?”
Freya smiled, trying to be brave in death. “Typical Brexiteer. Always lying to yourself. We were never friends.”
Julie raised her knife. “You shouldn’t be so horrible to me, Freya.”
A bus pulled up to their side, the hot air from its vents buffeting their hair. It wasn’t enough to stop Julie lunging forward with her knife. Freya leapt to the side, the knife burying itself in the bin, but there was still nowhere to go. Freya found herself trapped between Blackpool’s single Market and a large bus. She was being threatened by a woman who no longer had a weapon and was expected to be scared. Freya decided there was no reason to be; she had her friends to back her up, even if they weren’t immediately to hand.
She looked at Julie with hard eyes and said, “Come and do your worse.”
Julie screamed and charged. Freya stepped out of the way like a matador and grabbed her ‘primary school friend’, spinning her around to face the bus. Then she clicked her fingers and froze the bus in place.
Julie went to strike Freya but as she did, her eyes caught the side of the bus. It was advertising a new Tom Cruise movie that looked like pretty much every Tom Cruise movie. There was, however, writing on the side of the bus that declared the movie the best film this decade.
Freya grinned. How to deal with a Brexiteer? Give them a bus full of lies to get distracted by.
Leaving Julie transfixed, Freya raced back up All Saints’ towards Gilliam High. She had friends to help out, unlike your average Brexiteer.
Mr Moose swung another punch that sent Lucky Cat smashing through the glass display where there used to be hot dogs and was now instead salad. “I hate this school.” He said, hauling her up and punching her into the tills. “I hate the teachers, I hate the rooms, I hate the way you can’t tell anyone apart because there isn’t an easily understandable badging system.”
Another punch sent stars racing across Lucky Cat’s eyes and, although she had the full intention of becoming an astrophysicist, at that exact second it wasn’t appreciated.
“I hate the ways the corridors work! Badly organised corridors lead to disasters like Hillsborough.” He said and kicked her stomach, sending her flying up into the ceiling. A few roof tiles clattered to the floor as she smashed into it. “But you know what I hate the most? You know what really, bloody annoys me? I hate the students.”
He swung out his fist, the size of a Christmas turkey, and hit her in the cheek. She smashed into the water machine, leaving a dent in the metal but stumbled to her feet. Spitting blood at his feet, she raised her fists and said, “One thing you clearly haven’t learnt about Gilliam High is that they teach bouncebackability. I could do this all day.”
Moose screamed, banging his fists into his chest. He ran forward and grabbed her, holding her in in just one hand and leaping out of the window, glass shattering in all directions. Clambering up the drain pipe to his immediate left, he climbed onto the roof of the Upper School Dining Hall and held Lucky Cat aloft. “Look at this building! Isn’t it pitiful? Isn’t it disgusting? Give me my old school any day!”
Drones began to swirl around them, flashing their lights to try and distract Moose. Mr Phillips piloted them from B.E.S.S.I.E., swarming them around Moose’s head. This only vexed the Executive Principal more, however. He threw out his fists, smashing the drones as they soared through the air, knocking them back.
Tightening his grip around Lucky Cat until she almost couldn’t breathe, he began to climb up the side of the assembly hall, onto its roof. There was a large chimney, which he grabbed hold of and began to haul himself up, the drones coming for another round of flashing light. Throwing Lucky Cat over his shoulder, he swung out that hand and grabbed the drones from the sky, crushing them between his fingers.
He climbed to the top of the chimney and stood, roaring, banging his chest with his fists. The students who had evacuated during the fire alarm saw him and began to scream, terrified for the student he had thrown over his shoulder.
Lucky Cat caught sight of the spotlight, the Jaffa Cake still on the front. She willed her powers into use and changed the probability of its support suddenly snapping. The weathering the plastic support had taken over the years began to take an effect, all the years of being blasted by salty winds and beating rains finally becoming too much. The plastic cracked and the spotlight fell, swivelling in her direction and shining light into Mr Moose’s unblinking eyes.
He stumbled from the top of the chimney and fell, tumbling and tumbling. Lucky Cat closed her eyes and willed the probability of a soft landing to increase. She got that soft landing but at Mr Moose’s expense. She bounced off him as he fell, his head smacking against the tarmac road and knocking him unconscious. Behind her, she could hear the crowd of students shouting but she didn’t have time for them.
Leaping to her feet, she hurried up the steps and through the kitchens, back into the Upper School Dining Hall, just in time to see the Summoner hit Desmond with such force, it knocked him out. Turning to see her, the Summoner’s face lit up with the biggest smile. “Oh my god! Are you alright? I thought Moose was going to kill you!”
“I could have said the same about you and the rabid Year Sevens.” She smiled.
The doors at the far end of the lunch hall opened and Freya hurried in. She’d just had time to change into her outfit, pulling her steampunk goggles over her eyes. “Are you two okay?” She asked.
“Good.” She replied. “Now, let’s remind this cow of the power of the Student Leadership Team.”
A few minutes earlier, Captain Jaffa Cake had hurried down the steps into the room under the stage. For a moment, he was overtaken by the smell of sugar that the assorted munch had a
massed and then he got to business.
Charlotte was stood on the far side of the room, grinning. Ali was stood at her side, blissfully contented. He reached out a hand. "Ali, come over here. Get away from her.”
“She won’t do as you say, Captain Jaffa Cake.” Charlotte said. “She’s under my influence now.”
“What have you done to her?” He demanded.
“I’ve just made her happy.” Charlotte smiled. “It’s my power. I make people happy.”
“You might want to use power next time you play in assembly because God knows your guitar playing doesn’t do it.” He replied.
“You think you’re so clever, so funny. You’re just a stupid little geek who doesn’t have enough of a life to not attend prefect meetings.”
“There so many negatives in that sentence it was almost an emo.” The Captain replied. “I don’t understand what your plan is here, Charlotte. Do you just want to make money or do you have some sort of evil scheme going on?”
“I’m killing two birds with one stone.” She smiled. “By recruiting Ali to my side, I get to increase the efficiency of my little operation here and destroy the Gang, just as the Camel God ordered me.”
“So, you work for the Camel God too, huh?” The Captain said.
“Yes.” She smiled. “And he will return to this dimension, ready to take control of it as prophesied.”
“The prophecy.” The Captain suddenly realised. “His return with be heralded by four messengers. Yourself, Julie, Desmond and… Moose?”
“Not Moose.” She said. “I entranced him with my singing but he has no powers of his own. No, the fourth messenger is your dear Flish. Now she is on our side and she will do as I tell her.”
Captain Jaffa Cake turned to Ali. “Did you hear that? She wants to use you, Ali. She doesn't care about you. She just wants to use you.”
Charlotte laughed. “Talking isn’t going to achieve anything, Captain. She’s under my control now! There’s nothing you can do.”
“Oh really?” Ali asked from her side, shaking her head as if to try and wake herself up. “Your singing may have entranced me, Charlotte, but don’t ever think that it has the power to destroy friendship. I thought we had something.”
“We do!” Charlotte cried, suddenly panicking. “We do! We have way more than you could ever hope to have with him or the others!”
Tempus, Lucky Cat and the Summoner hurried down the steps to join them.
Ali laughed. “That’s the thing, though, Charlotte. As you prove whenever you try and sing with others, you just don’t know what a perfect harmony is.”
Swinging out a fist, she knocked Charlotte to the floor and then turned to the others. “God that felt good! Are you guys alright?”
“Just.” The Summoner said. “Worried we’d lost you then, Flish.”
Ali grinned. “As if you could be so lucky.”
The Captain picked up a roll of masking tape from the side and placed a length over Charlotte’s mouth to stop her singing. Then he stood and turned to the others. “Let’s get out of here before someone comes to investigate, hey?”
They all agreed that was the best option and began to head up the stairs. Ali was the last out. She took one last look over her shoulder and internally sighed. She wasn’t bothered about the bootlegging or the lying, about the danger Charlotte had put the Gang in or the fact she was working for the Camel God. Ali was bothered about the fact that those moments in front of the fireplace had all been one huge manipulation.
She hung her head and wandered out from under the stage. She was beginning to understand how Taylor Swift had made a career out of singing about heart break.
After Credits Scene:
Far away, at the town’s only hospital, a nurse was doing her rounds. She checked each of her wards one by one, reading notes at the end of the bed and administering any drugs she needed to. She helped an old man download a Glen Miller album onto the iPod his granddaughter had leant him and chatted momentarily with a young woman about the correct order to read the Discworld books. Then, she made her way to the final ward.
This one always gave her the shivers. Probably because it was entirely empty except for the one bed. She walked over and checked the notes. “No sign of change, hey, Mr Andrews?” She sighed and placed the notes away. Lifting his head up, she plumped his pillows and then lay him back down, turning around and making her way back to the door.
As she walked, the lights overhead seemed to flicker. She frowned and turned. Nothing. Very strange. She turned again and continued walking to the door. Now, lights began to flash a thousand different colours, like there was a disco going on. She turned and saw the commotion. The very air at the end of Andrews’ bed seemed to be warping, seemed to be stretching, revealing a chasm, a vortex, of glowing, shifting, psychedelic explosions. And from the centre of this incandescent phantasmagoria, a translucent camel seemed to float. It made its way through the air, the portal behind it beginning to close, and hovered momentarily over Mr Andrews. Then he dived into his mouth, disappearing as if sucked down in one deep breath.
She hurried over, the hairs on her neck and arms standing on end from the build up of static in the air. “Mr Andrews?” She called. “Mr Andrews? Are you alright?”
Suddenly, his eye lids opened. But they weren’t the eyes of a normal man. They glowed, orange irises in the centre of black orbs. He fixed the eyes on her and a grin began to spread. He climbed out of the bed and stood. She instinctively backed away. “Mr Andrews?”
He reached out a hand and grabbed her neck, beginning to squeeze it. She felt the air being forced out of her lungs. With superhuman strength, he lifted her from her feet and held her in front of his face. “I am not Mr Andrews.” He whispered and threw her across the room.
She crashed into the far wall and slumped to the floor, her neck already beginning to blossom with bruises. He walked along the ward to the bank of windows at the end. They shattered as he reached out a hand.
“Then who are you?” She shouted.
Stood on the edge of the window sill, surveying the world he would soon conquer, he raised his arms into a crucifix. “I… am… the Camel God.”
Then he fell forward and was gone.