Monday, 4 December 2017
Last Night At The Prom
The clock on the dashboard, which was Steven’s phone in a special frame, read April 31st, 23:45.
“Steven, what time is it?” Chris said from the front seat.
“Eleven forty five..” Steven replied from the passenger seat.
“Don’t you mean twenty three forty five?”
Steven shook his head. “Nope.”
“But I thought you liked the twenty four hour clock?”
Steven sighed. “Not this again.”
Chris grinned. “Because, I didn’t think you could understand the time unless it was in the twenty four hour clock.”
“Like the time I told him to get to my house for eight thirty.” Sophie said from the middle seat in the back, where there was the most leg space. “And he asked which eight thirty.”
“That is a perfectly valid question!” Steven cried.
“Not when you’re only coming round so we can walk to school together.” Sophie replied.
“Would you all stop bullying me?” Steven said. “I like the twenty four hour clock. It cuts down on confusion.”
“Because there’s nothing confusing at all about having the number seventeen mean five.” Chris said.
“You know you guys could cut down on any confusion at all by just buying watches.” Freya said.
“Steven can’t read the time on a watch.” Ali interjected. “He used to get really upset about it at primary school.”
“Thanks Ali!” Steven cried. “Share all my deepest dark secrets, why don’t you?”
“You’ve got your seat pushed so far back, I’m almost flat between it and my chair.” Ali replied. “I can say whatever I like right now, okay?”
“Can you all stop squabbling please?” Mr Phillips’ voice said over the radio. “It’s giving me a headache.”
Inside the high security prison, Mr Phillips took his finger away from his ear and gave a meek smile at the prison guards. “Not you. I was talking to the others.”
The prison guards didn’t smile back. They didn’t have a lot left that they could smile over.
The car pulled to a stop and a computerised voice said, “Please exit the vehicle.”
“Thanks Bessie.” Chris said, patting the actuator connected to the steering wheel. Originally designed for the purpose of accessing Wookiepedia, which was blocked by Gilliam High’s Firewall, the Brilliantly Engineered Strategic Super Intelligence Engine had fast been utilised for various tasks, from playing music over Discord, tracking down super villains and basically whatever the plot demanded. In this case, that meant driving the car.
Chris bit his Jaffa Cake and then climbed out of the car. Between beginning to move out of his seat and exiting the car, there was a miraculous flash and his muscles increased ever so slightly. Besides that, he stayed mostly the same. His quiff was always mighty, his jawbone always chiselled. The orange cape flowed down from his back and Captain Jaffa Cake led the Gang towards the Prison.
The Summoner and Lucky Cat were quick to follow, respectively pulling their mask and 3D glasses into place. Behind them came Tempus and the Flish, silhouetted against the headlights like it was the end of a Joel Schumacher Batman film.
The prison loomed up out of the concrete ground like someone had looked at Hogwarts and wondered how to make it more gothic. All it needed was a threatening crash of lightning and the distant cackle of a cannibalistic witch and the transformation would be complete.
Not in keeping with the neoclassical pillars and gothic spires was the huge hole in the wall. The heroes scrabbled through it and saw on the other side Mr Phillips, in full Reiteration Man garb, stood alongside the prison guards.
“Jesus, they’re kids.” One of the guards said.
“Kids who are evidently better at your job than you are.” The Summoner ventured. “Reiteration Man? Is the situation as bad as we thought?”
The oldest hero nodded. “It is. All the villains are gone.”
The heroes looked up and down the hall. The cages were empty, the bars bent out of the way by inhuman strength. The cell marked Jordan, D. was abandoned. The cell marked Carpenter, C. was empty. The cell marked Coin, J. was desolate. But the cell marked Moose, X. was still occupied.
“He hasn’t said a single word.” The prison guard said.
The Flish exploded into a purple haze and reappeared in front of the cell. “Mr Moose?” She whispered. “Can you hear me?”
Those powerful eyes, the ones that could have drilled into her soul not long ago, were instead now vacant, staring long past her.
“Mr Moose?” She said, a little louder now. “Sir? Can you hear me?”
Mr Moose cocked his head to the side with enough force to make her flinch. Then his eyes slowly swivelled to her. “Hello?”
“Hello.” Ali said. “Mr Moose, I need you to answer a question.”
“What is it?” Mr Moose asked.
“Do you know who was behind this?”
Mr Moose stared at the wall behind her long and hard. Then he nodded.
“Who was it, Mr Moose? Was it Charlotte?”
The evil Head Girl had been taken to court to account for her crimes, but when the jury heard that she’d got through to Boot Camp on The Z Factor, they decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and a suspended sentence. Despite the Gang’s best efforts, her whereabouts was unknown.
Mr Moose shook his head. “No.”
“Then who was it?”
Mr Moose stared at Ali long and hard. Then he said, “It was the Camel God. I saw him floating.”
Ali turned to the others, who all turned to Mr Phillips. He nodded. “Bessie has downloaded an app onto my smart watch that can monitor radiation levels. The cells are infused with the same levels of radiation as Mr Andrews’ ward.”
A couple of months earlier, the Gang had investigated the mysterious disappearance of Mr Andrews, and listened to the testimony of a nurse who claimed to have seen a ‘camel shaped phantom’ fusing with him.
“That’s handy.” Chris said. “That Bessie would have the exact right utility to tell us exactly what we need to know.”
“It’s almost like there’s some sort of teenage god writing the course of our lives, inventing lazy plot contrivances to fill in readers who might have dropped the ball since the last instalment of our adventures, as if this small adventure was some sort of long form prologue before the real adventure kicked in.” Replied Steven, thinking about how his unrequited love storyline with Sophie was due a resolution some point before the finale.
“Nah. Sounds a bit vague and in-jokey to me.” Freya replied. “Back to the matter of the Camel God though. If he has helped this lot escape, then that means he’s assembled his Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
“Imagine that.” Sophie said. “The Calculator, the Antithetic and Dreamweaver, all teamed up behind the deistic powers of the Camel God for one final showdown.”
“We might be all that stands in the way of the end of the world.” Steven realised.
“We won’t let it come to that.” Captain Jaffa Cake said, turning to the prison guards. “Don’t worry, gentlemen. We’ll resolve this shortly. These people are our sworn enemies. Whilst they’re free, we won’t stop. There will be no stone left unturned. No hiding place unchecked. We’ll scour the town if we have to. The country. The Earth. We’ll hunt them down with such force and ferocity that they’ll wish they were never born. If they go to hell, we’ll pursue them there and take marshmallows. If they leave the planet, we’ll be on the first plane to NASA. I swear on all that is holy, on the power of the Jaffa Cake and the force of Justice that nothing will stop us. Nothing will stand in our way.”
“Oh Jesus Christ.” Mr Phillips cried. “It’s gone twelve!”
“That’s zero zero, Steven.” Sophie whispered.
“So?” Ali frowned.
“It means it’s May.” Mr Phillips replied. “You’ve got your GCSEs to prepare for at the end of the month. You can’t be out here solving crimes and fighting for justice. You need to make cue cards!”
“Damn.” Sophie said “Our Kryptonite: an overwhelming fear of failure. Right, well, they’ll have to postpone the end of the world. We have exams to prepare for.”
And so the heroes went off for two months to cry and be stressed and drink too much coffee. Here follows a short series of moments from those two months.
Freya completing a past paper, looking pleased with herself, and then turning to a pile about three times the size of her for the next.
Chris typing at a keyboard, laughing manically at a pun.
Ali watching a teen drama on Netflix.
Steven at the shops, trying to decide which cue cards to buy.
Sophie highlighting something furiously.
The Antithetic filling her tanks with acidic highlighter fluid.
Chris in a Graphics exam, frowning at the paper’s demand for a new exam board logo.
Freya in an English exam, raising her hand to ask for more paper.
Ali getting to the end of the Physics Unit Three paper and wondering where the hell Physics Unit Three was.
Freya in an English exam, her hand still raised as she waited for more paper.
Sophie in a Maths exam thinking how easy it all was.
Steven in a Maths exam thinking how bloody difficult it all was.
Freya in an English exam, grinning as one of the pensioners had finally noticed she had her hand up.
Chris stood outside the Computing exam feeling smug he did it a year early.
Steven staring out of the window of the French Listening exam wishing he was somewhere else.
Dreamweaver staring through a window to a pandimensional somewhere else, and grinning.
Freya watching the invigilator manoeuvring their zimmerframe towards her.
Ali in a Maths exam thinking that it could be worse.
Ali in an Additional Maths exam thinking, “I had to go and jinx it.”
The Calculator fixing up his equipment that would allow him to drain people’s mathematical ability into his own mind.
Freya’s face breaking into a massive grin as the invigilator reached her.
Steven in an RE exam looking at a question on the degree of determinism in pantheism, as suggested by Baruch Spinoza and thinking that Film Studies looked like quite a nice subject at Sixth Form.
The Camel God tapping into the pantheistic web and drinking in the belief of the world. His body glowed and grew, his power increasing. He was becoming ready.
Freya feeling her heart break a little as the invigilator stepped past her and gave a pen to the person behind, before beginning to head to the back of the hall.
Exam season came to an end, the last exam English Language Creative Writing. The Gang walked out of the hall with their heads all held high, apart from Steven.
“What’s the matter?” Sophie asked him.
“I tried to be edgy in my narrative and I don’t think it worked.” Steven sighed.
“What did you do?” Ali asked.
“Well, I tried to write a montage sequence, like you’d see in movies, but I don’t think it really translated that well over onto the written page.”
Sophie shrugged. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. And anyway, it’s over now regardless.”
“Not just his awful writing.” Chris said. “Exam season is over!”
“I’m going to sleep for a thousand years.” Freya grinned.
“Hopefully you won’t oversleep Prom.” Chris said. “Otherwise you won’t get to see my awesome suit.”
“You just know Chris is going to rock a suit.” Ali said.
As the others walked on, Steven grabbed Sophie’s arm and pulled her back. “Hey, there was something I was meaning to ask you, but I was putting it off in case we didn’t survive the exams.”
Sophie laughed. “Yeah? What is it?”
He looked down at his feet for a second, cringed a little inside, and then said, “Do you want to go to Prom with me?”
“Obviously.” Sophie replied.
Steven’s eyes lit up. “What?”
“Well, obviously I want to go.” She said. “You’re dad’s giving all five of us a lift in his minibus, isn’t he? Why would I turn down a free lift? Come on. Let’s catch the others up.”
Steven watched her run off and sighed. Then he ran after her and the Gang walked on.
And somewhere else, in a dark room, another gang was assembling. The Calculator. The Antithetic. Dreamweaver. They were ready. They were weaponised. They were staring at their leader.
Mr Andrews, the Camel God, began to laugh. “And so begins the End of Days.”