Authors: Jack Simmonds
Tina pushed peas and mash around her plate, deep in thought. Robin was making awful noises as he walloped down sausages and mash with hefty portions of onion gravy. “Slow down mate, or you’ll give yourself indigestion.”
“So… hungry…” he said in between swallows.
Tina shook herself from her dreamy expression. “So what was this thing that you wanted to tell us?”
“Oh yeah,” I said, as Robin looked up putting his knife and fork down, as a bit of mash on the end of his chin fell into his lap. “At home over the summer…” And I told them all about escaping from Ross with the Seven League Shoes (which I had hidden in my bag upstairs), and then coming face to face with my Granddad who I thought was dead. Tina was frowning as I continued to explain that he gave me a channeller which lit the room up and then, he and the room vanished.
“Show me it,” she said. I reached under my shirt and pulled out the thin, black marked, golden metal channeller. “Hmmm,” she hummed inspecting it closely. “Looks like it’s a part of something else doesn’t it, the way the jagged metal forms this shape? And this rune will mean something. Typical we don’t study runes yet. At least if the room lit up, it’s meant for you,” she winked.
“But what about my Granddad?”
“What about him?” she said distractedly.
“He’s supposed to be dead?”
Robin burped. “You sure it happened, could it have been an illusion?”
“He gave me this channeller didn’t he? So it can’t be.”
Tina sighed. “Anyway, sorry I can’t help. I’m just going go and speak to my friends,” she said, standing and pushing her mash and peas away.
“Ok, well I’m going up to bed now, it’s been a long day,” I said. “Coming Robin?”
“Sure,” he said clutching his stomach. “Think I did eat it a bit quick actually.”
As we left I saw Tina go, not to her own form table, but that of the Swillows. I didn’t know she had any friends in the Swillow form?
Robin and I traipsed out of the Chamber, pushing open the big oak doors, before coming face to face with Graham, Simon, Jake, Jess, Dawn and Florence who stood (just about), looking like zombies and dripping with sweat.
“Er, you do know dinners nearly over?” I said trying to hold back the smirk, they didn’t look so cocky now.
“Yes, well, we’ve only just made it out of the class haven’t we?” said Graham through pursed lips.
Jake waddled forwards toward the Chamber door. “Yes, if one person cannot do all ov’ the press ups we all do more!” he said shooting a glance at Dawn, who looked shell shocked.
Robin smirked. “Treat yourself to some Mango Perry — oh no you can’t, we just finished it,” he said, before spluttering with laughter.
Graham shot Robin a murderous stare. “I’m not aching enough to come and box your ears!” he said. Jake stood in front of the doors and looked at me pleadingly.
“Oh fine,” I said opening the door for them. “Night all.”
nearly fell asleep as I brushed my teeth, nearly accidentally squeezing Moss Moisturiser on my toothbrush instead of Spider Leg Toothpaste,
, can you imagine? Robin looked disgustedly at my black toothpaste before pulling out his vile minty smelling stuff that you Outsiders use. The boys bathroom was big and long, with white and black tiled floors, long rows of sinks and mirrors, followed by five bathtubs next to each other with a magic curtain that pops up when you get in (so no one can see you in the nude). As well as a long wall of grubby toilet cubicles, with a soggy old looking mop going from one to the other wiping the floor fruitlessly. Opposite them was a big display cabinet full of magical washing bits like Bernard’s Butterfly Lotion, Vampy’s Blood Hair Wash and Shaun-John’s Own Spider’s Eye Face Wash, amongst others. There were also large iron metal grates along the bottom of the walls, where the excess water flowed out — and, as me and Robin found out last year — one of them led, via the underground river, all the way to the Library. As I recalled, the loose grate that gave easy access was the one nearest the display cabinet. After washing I was just about to leave, before I turned and saw Robin, with his shirt off, checking himself in the mirror.
“What on earth are you doing?” I said, trying not look at his pale posterior.
He was turning and trying to check his back. “Think all those exercises have done some damage to my back.”
Robin was so white and pale that he resembled some kind of transparent fish, you could almost see all his organs. “Put it away before you blind me,” I chuckled.
“Oi! Don’t say that, I don’t like taking my shirt off in public, you’ll ruin my confidence…” he scorned.
I couldn’t help but let out a long and extremely satisfying
noise as I got into bed and stretched. It felt better than anything. The soft crisp sheets, the lighter than air pillow and mattress, the laying down of all those tired muscles. Robin was asleep and snoring almost immediately, but I lay wallowing in the beautiful relaxed feeling that now swept over me. The orange embers sparking lightly in the fireplace, casting a dim orange glow around the room as the lights outside the window from nearby towns flickered in the distance. I wondered dreamily about Tina — something seemed different about her this year and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Before I knew it, the white haired girl from the Snare’s form jumped into my mind — a small wriggling feeling in my stomach writhed. Sweet sleep gently drifted over me. Even when the others slowly limped into the room and went to bed, I hardly stirred.
A channeller pendant just like mine waved in front of my face in a hypnotic fashion. My Granddad’s gaunt, lined face turned twice around on it’s axis and began laughing silently at me, his mouth opening black and huge, like a tunnel. Then Tina, standing at the end of the tunnel, in the light, looked up and saw me, but then, she looked straight through me as if I wasn’t there. Before, a giant crashing sound echoed around us, as the tunnel rumbled and fell on top of her and she disappeared in a flash of smoke. And then screaming…
I woke with a start and looked around. Everyone was sitting up in bed peering through the darkness. “What is it?” I said through the gloom.
Jake leant forwards. “‘Der was a noise outside, did you ‘hear the
“I heard it! Nearly scared me half to death!” Hunter cried.
“Came from over there,” Robin pointed out the window. I shook the dreamy sleep away and pulled my legs out of bed. Or I tried to. They were thick with pain, I couldn’t help but yelp.
“What is it?” said Dennis pulling his sheets closer.
Simon snorted. “Not another ghost was it?” He was a git, just because a ghost had scared me in my sleep last year, he never shut up about it.
“No. If your gonna get out of bed, do it slowly…” I said, slowly edging myself out from the covers.
“Where are you going?” said Graham.
“To see what the noise was.” The dorm above us must have heard the noise as well as small thuds echoed about our room. “Come on.” I said to them, marching over to the curtain and gently drawing it back. Jake and Robin joined me — just off in the distance the lights leading down the path to the Riptide stadium were lit… illuminating utter devastation ahead. We all gasped, plumes of dust were spilling into the air over huge piles of strutting wood.
…” said Jake in a terrified voice.
Hunter jumped up, before yelping. “What is it?” he called.
“It’s…” I couldn’t say.
Robin, who was blinking rapidly at the sight without his glasses on cried: “The bloody Riptide stadium has collapsed!” Simon and Graham, still in bed, looked to me and Jake to confirm, maybe they thought Robin couldn’t see properly without his glasses on.
“It’s completely demolished,” I said.
“Is anyone out there?” said Simon. I scanned around but couldn’t see anyone.
“What’s the time?” said Jake, looking at the clock on the fireplace. “Nearly
,” he said, as if this added to the mystery.
Simon sniffed. “Who would be out there destroying the Riptide Stadium at four in the morning? Surely they’d have been spotted by the Occulus’s?”
“Doesn’t have to be someone from the school does it?” said Dennis before whimpering something about preferring the girls dorm.
Graham came over to the window now. “Who says someone demolished it?” he said. “It was mighty old, might have just fallen?”
“Hmm,” I hummed. “Could be. There was a lot of magic holding it up I reckon.”
Simon threw off his covers and charged over, thinking we were winding him up. Dennis was shaking his head
“That can’t be true. They wouldn’t let hundreds and hundreds of children into a stadium that was in danger of collapse!”
I felt myself nodding along with the others. But it wasn’t long before the blue light of ghosts gently swam into our room.
Off to bed
…” droned the most expressionless ghost I’ve ever seen. “Come on now, away from the windows and back into your beds.” We did as it said, before another two ghosts drifted into our room and began singing soft low lullabies. I don’t know how it worked, but rather embarrassingly I was out like a shot.
The next morning it was all we could talk about. The curtains opened promptly at seven, revealing, in the new light of day, the utter devastation of the collapsed Riptide Stadium. We had to strain to be able to see it over the hill in the distance, but stone pillars and wooden struts stuck out from all directions. The dust had all but vanished now, but around the grass on the hillside were scattered bits of debris.
“Do you reckon this means we won’t have to play Riptide this year?” said Dennis, rather excitedly.
Jake, who was scowling, huffed. “I ‘ope not! I’ve been looking forward to it all summer.”
When we got to Partington’s classroom he immediately announced that there was an assembly that all second years must attend. “Why only second years?” said Dawn. But Partington just shrugged, nonplussed.
Florence dumped her bag on the table. “Did you hear the crash last night?”
“Of course,” said Dennis. “It was so scary!”
“I am surprised Avis didn’t scream like a girl,” droned Simon. “Because the ghosts returned, three of them this time. I seem to remember it was only one that scared the daylights out of you last year, when you screamed like a girl.” He laughed forcibly, as a few people in the class tittered lightly. Remembering what Tina told me the previous year — I smiled sweetly, even though my blood was boiling and all I wanted to do was spell Simon through the window.
“They were pretty the ghosts weren’t they?” I said sweetly. “Sure I saw one of them wearing a lovely
,” I said raising my eyebrows at Simon’s sheepish face. Robin, Graham and Hunter sniggered, even Partington was smirking and I revelled in the moment as Simon tried to hide his red face with an AstroMagic Chart.
As we walked to the Chamber, we passed several higher year forms, but the strange thing was, none of them were talking about the collapsed Riptide stadium, or looked worried about it. “Perhaps they are glad, I kind of am,” Robin whispered. “Might mean we won’t be humiliated again, if we don’t have to play.”
Once inside the Chamber, we saw Magisteer Simone prowling around the front, smiling to herself. Nearly all the second year forms were in here already and had taken the tables near the front. Tina’s form, the Hubris piled in, followed by the Swillow’s. Tina was walking next to… Jasper Gandy? The boy who had told us all about his dead Dad in Yearlove’s lesson? After them was the Snare’s, led by my brother Harold looking proud, taking a seat as close to us as he could. Git. Although I did notice the white haired girl glance over at me, I think, but then she rather dreamily looked away. A confused mass of feelings bubbled inside my stomach like a complicated potion. It was too much to think about on a cold September morning. I wrapped my robe closer around me, and sunk back down in the chair as Magisteer Simone began.
“I am sure you all heard the commotion in the night,” she raised her eyebrows slightly and smiled viciously to herself. “No one?
. When we checked, you all had your faces plastered to the glass windows like labradors…” She barked over the top of our heads, I saw the first line of people directly in front of her, rub their faces as they were seemingly plastered with a thick layer of spittle. “In an
the Riptide stadium collapsed. We don’t know why, however, foul play has been ruled out. It is after all, a very old building of near four hundred years. And…” she said, turning on the spot and grinning evilly. “Someone must be charged with the rebuilding of it. As the school’s budget is tied up in other things we must come up with an alternative. And… as your Mental and Physical Training Magisteer I thought it suitable to volunteer
services.” It took a second or two, before muttering broke out.
“What’s she talking about?” — “She means us? We have to rebuild a stadium?” — “She’s gotta be kidding, I aint doing it!”
People cried out, voices rising higher as they realised our new reality. The second years would be rebuilding the Riptide Stadium!
Simone raised a hand. “This would… QUIET!” she cried, waiting for silence. “This would serve two objectives: getting the stadium rebuilt, and… teaching you all the very serious and practical mental and physical training you all need to be truly helpful, practical Wizards.” Caretaker Ingralo, with his belly hanging out from his shirt and a cigarette perched in the corner of his mouth, entered quietly from the back of the Chamber. “Myself and Caretaker Ingralo will be overseeing the project and the rebuild will be taken in stages through your lessons and, if needs be,
.” More talking broke out as Robin looked to the heavens with an exasperated expression.
“When are we gonna have time to do homework?” he muttered through clenched teeth.
Hunter huffed loudly. “Just when you thought you couldn’t hate her anymore!” he said before falling off his chair with a loud crash.
Simone held up a thick hand once more. “I forgot to mention, even thought it’s obvious
will used whatsoever in the rebuild. If anyone — QUIET!…If anyone is caught using magic, it’s an instant
. And I assure you, my detentions will be a whole lot worse than rebuilding a stadium…”
As we upped and left I saw Tina talking fervently with Jasper about the situation. Then, Harold, my brother and his form stood and walked out. The girl with white hair talking to her small ferrety looking friend — “I know,” said the short girl, their faces close. “She’s evil. But there’s nothing we can do, we can’t get out of it Zara.”
Zara? That was the white haired girls name. Zara.