Wednesday, 20 December 2017
Last Night At The Prom (part 3)
Paramore was playing and Steven and Sophie were dancing to it. Steven wasn’t the kind of guy who normally danced; he was too clumsy to walk most of the time, never mind dance, and he suspected that was the entire reason why Sophie had agreed. Regardless, they were having fun and laughing.
The song came to an end and they walked off the dance floor to join Freya and Chris at a table. Steven breathed heavily for a few moments. “Bloody hell. I need a lie down now.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you dance like that before.” Sophie said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him dance, full stop.” Chris replied.
“I don’t think I ever want to see it again.” Freya laughed.
“Charming.You’re all so charming.” Steven grinned. He felt a buzz in his pocket and quickly pulled out his phone. There was a text message waiting for him. “That’s weird.”
“What is it?” Sophie asked.
“A blocked number has just texted me saying, ‘Steven. Bring Sophie. Go to the right wing of the building.’”
“It might be Ali.” Chris said. “Pulling a prank with the blocked number.”
“That’s true.” Steven replied. He climbed up and helped Sophie up. “Come on. Let’s go see what she wants.”
Chris and Freya watched them go. Freya turned to Chris. “Do you think it’s a trick?”
Chris frowned. “What?”
“By Steven, I mean. To get her alone so he can ask her out properly.”
“Why would Steven ask Sophie out?”
Freya frowned. “Haven’t you noticed how much he fancies her?”
“Not really.” Chris said. “I mean, I just thought they were good friends.”
Freya started laughing. “You’re such an idiot.”
“Leave it off.” Chris grimaced. “I already feel an idiot enough in this suit.”
“It’s look really nice!” Freya cried.
“Thanks but… I feel like an overdressed monkey. Give me a jumper over a suit any day.”
“Or a large orange superhero costume?”
Chris shook his head. “I don’t think so. It’s like I said when we went to Dreamweaver’s world. The guy who wears the suit isn’t me. It’s Captain Jaffa Cake.”
“And it’s like I said to you.” Freya replied. “You are Captain Jaffa Cake.”
Chris smiled sadly. “I wish.”
Steven and Sophie wandered out of the hall and followed signs for the right wing. (Located with the cars, next to the Nigel Garage.) They walked into silence for a second and then Steven said, “So… it’s the end.”
“What?” Sophie replied.
“The end of school. End of GCSEs. End of everything really.”
“Or a new start.”
“True.” Steven nodded. “What’s next for you?”
“Sixth Form.” She said. “Another two years of putting off University.”
“Still planning to do Physics?”
She nodded. “Unless I drastically failed the GCSEs.”
“There’s no chance of that, I promise.” Steven smiled. “You were Mr Andrews’ favourite for a reason.”
She smiled a sad smile. “I wish everything that happened with him hadn’t, you know.”
“I know.” Steven said.
“He didn’t deserve any of it. He was such a good teacher and… why did it have to be him who was knocked unconscious and possessed by the evil Egyptian deity?”
“I ask myself that question every day.” Steven said.
“Can you imagine how much fun he’d have here?” Sophie said. “Dancing around and belting his heart out. Do you remember the Year Nine disco?”
“Oh, that was hilarious!” Steven cried. “I’ve never seen anyone other than you sing Mr Brightside so energetically.”
“He was so amazing.” Sophie said. A mascara blackened tear trickled down her cheek. “I miss him so much.”
“Hey! Don’t be sad. We’ll save him, don’t you worry.” He slipped his arm around her shoulder. “I promise.”
“Thanks.” She smiled.
“You’re welcome.” He said and patted her shoulder.
“So…” she began, trying to shrug off the tears, “what’s next for you?”
“Sixth Form I suppose.” Steven said. “Then a degree and a job, then it’s time to settle down and make a family with a woman I love.”
“I don’t know if Jenna Coleman would be willing to settle down with you.”
They both laughed and Steven shook his head. “I wasn’t thinking of Jenna Coleman.”
“No. I was thinking of someone much more beautiful.”
“Really? Who’s that?”
Steven felt his heart thundering. He’d been so sure about telling her. He’d been trying to build up the confidence for a good few months now, but now all the courage seemed to desert him. He sighed and removed his arm from around her shoulder. “None of your business, you gossiper. Let’s go find Ali, shall we?”
“Sure.” Sophie said and they disappeared into the Right Wing.
Freya and Chris, in the main hall, watched the lights from the disco machine dancing across the walls. Flashes of green, red, orange and now purple. The purple was almost hazy, and it exploded into view just in front of them. Ali in a stetson and cowboy outfit.
“What’s with the hat?” Freya frowned.
“It’s for the American theme of the prom.” Ali said.
“The American theme was just for the decor, you know.” Chris said.
“In Back To The Future, Marty McFly doesn’t dress like a fish for the Enchantment Under The Sea dance.” Freya pointed out.
“None of this matters!” Ali cried, throwing off her stetson. “Someone just nuked Gilliam High.”
“What?!?” Chris and Freya cried in unison.
“I don’t know, there was just a mushroom cloud and this massive explosion and… we need to find Mr Phillips now.”
The three of them raced over to the bar, where Ian was drinking heavily.
“Hey!” Chris cried. “Hi. Do you know where Mr Phillips is?”
“Search me.” Ian replied. “He was meant to be meeting me here an hour ago, but the last time he texted me, he said he was collecting some marking from work to do over the weekend.”
Chris’ eyes widened. “Oh bloody hell.”
“No.” Ali said. “No. That can’t be true. It can’t be.”
“Hang on!” Freya cried. She had a terrible feeling of creeping dread spreading over her. Something wasn’t right. Something really wasn’t right. “If Ali’s with us, who are Steven and Sophie meeting?”
The right wing of the hotel seemed abandoned. The floor was desolate, except for the space closest to the walls where abandoned furniture stacked up. Steven walked to the centre of the room, looking around, frowning. “Ali? Alllll-iiiiiii?”
“I don’t think she’s here.” Sophie said, wandering over to join Steven. “I don’t think there’s anyone in here.”
“How wrong you are.” A voice said, and suddenly a large pile of revision material fell from the ceiling and trapped the two of them against the floor. “I’m surprised you didn’t deduce I was involved.”
“How could we?” Sophie cried.
“You could have analysed the text. Go to the Right Wing? Politically, the Antithesis of the Right Wing is the Left Wing and the left wing was the political group supported by the residents of the council estate I tried to destroy. Thus, the only logical conclusion was that I was behind it all.”
“Obviously.” Steven said, rolling his eyes.
The Antithetic hovered out of the shadows, highlighter guns in hand. “You know, Steven, Sophie, I almost feel guilty for ruining your evening. It seemed you were having fun. It’s a shame that this is the end.”
“We’ll stop you, Antithetic.” Sophie said. “You don’t stand a chance.”
“How can you stop me when we’ve already won?” The Antithetic asked, grinning. “Do you know how Dreamweaver’s Doorway Aligner works?”
They shook their heads.
“It is fuelled by imagination. That was why he needed you to play Dungeons and Dragons to get it really working.” She smiled. “And what is this hotel full of? Teenagers imagining their futures. The Calculator’s Extractor Beams were designed to absorb Mathematical ability, but now it can be utilised to capture imagination. And once we have drained all the imagination in this building, we will have enough power to break into the Banished Dimension once and for all.”
“To quote Sammy on page 81 of my copy of Blood Brothers,” Steven said, “‘Oh f-‘“
“-lipping heck!” Ali cried. “The Camel God must be trying to break his army back in tonight.”
“We have to stop him.” Freya said.
They turned and ran back to the hall. Chris just watched them run, eyes beginning to drip tears. Mr Phillips… was gone.
Bursting into the hall, Freya and Ali ground to a stop. The music and light show had stopped. A single white spotlight shone down onto the stage. A man stepped towards the DJ, lifted him up with one hand and threw him across the room. Then, he grabbed the microphone and said, “Hello my friends. It’s so good to be back.”
Lifting his head, his face was revealed as that of Mr Andrews, but there was something in the eyes that was infinitely older and infinitely more evil. He grinned.
“Tonight, you will all be taking part in a little experiment to begin the end of days. My army shall come and sweep across this reality, and you shall be their key.”
“Mr Andrews?” Ellie Wright cried from the dancefloor. “Stop pecking! We’re trying to party!”
Mr Andrews smiled at her, and then two crimson beams leapt from her eyes and she exploded into a shower of grey dust. “Do not speak to me when I am addressing you all.”
In the dark depths of Hell, as reserved for the banally annoying, Ellie Wright said, “As if I’d ever speak to you. We’re not even talking.”
Back in the hotel, Mr Andrews began to grimace. “As I said in the beginning, let there be light.”
The full lights of the room flooded into life, revealing the constructs in each corner with huge Extractor Beams sat on top. Freya and Ali’s minds flashed back to the Sports Hall during the Maths exam all the way at the beginning of their adventures. They knew what was coming next.
Freya paused time and leapt in front of Andrews. “Stop this! Please! If you can hear me in there, Mr Andrews, you have to overpower this monster.”
“As easily as I gave you powers, I can take them away.” The time freeze abruptly ended and the students began to scream as Mr Andrews’ body grew. “And Mr Andrews isn’t here right now.”
His bones clicked and clunked, losing their shape and spreading out. His back arched and then the spine snapped, humps pressing out. His arms became legs, his neck extended, his skull cracked and pulped, reshaping to become more animalistic. The Camel God stared down on them.
The Extractor Beams shot into life.
“And now comes the beginning of the end!”