Authors: Jack Simmonds
A Ghostly Detention
are all here to repair this glorious stadium back to its full heritage,” Magisteer Simone prowled around the front of the crowd of second years who had collected a short space away from the destruction. “I will repeat, no magic, no moaning and no whimpering. You will take orders from myself and Caretaker Ingralo.
She pointed to the filthy slob of a man behind her, who grinned, cigarette ash falling down his front. “Detentions will be granted for anyone who doesn't do as they are told.”
Hunter, who was standing just in front of me and Robin turned and whispered, “I think I’d rather do detention than this!”
“This is as much a learning experience as anything else…” Simone grinned again, revelling in the disgusted looks she was receiving from all around. Behind us, back in the school I could see faces at windows, checking out what was going on. I felt a little ball of jealousy squirm. Why were they in there, all warm, and we were out here in the cold and drizzle and grey of a late September evening? It wasn't fair.
“Miss? Miss?” called Kenny McCarthy with his hand up. “Why is it only the second years have been chosen to rebuild it? Why not the other years? It would get built quicker if they helped, especially the seventh years!” he fired off quickly, before Simone could stop him. Mutterings of agreement circled.
After a very loud and uncomfortable dressing down from Simone, in which she made at least five people cry, including Kenny McCarthy, we proceeded with the build. As we interspersed into our groups of three and set upon our own tasks of clearing the wood into sized piles where Simone had specifically stated, I saw Tina with her own form, she had seemed to make much better friends with them this year. I should have been glad, pleased for her, but… I wasn't. I couldn't help my eyes drifting across to the curly, if not dampened, white hair of Zara, carrying a big log. Robin nudged me in the ribs. “Come on slacker, me and Hunter are not doing all the work!”
“Your bloody right we’re not!” said Hunter giving me a deep stare before attempting to pick up a huge wooden rafter.
By sun down I was absolutely exhausted. I couldn't tell if this was real or a dream anymore. We had lugged countless wooden logs across to the mounting piles. Simone and Ingralo just marched around and barked nasty commands. Hunter was getting visibly angrier the more Simone passed us, and I thought we may have to hold him back from launching himself at her. The darkness set in quickly, small lamps popped on all around us but barely illuminated the sodden wood logs. They became heavier and harder to pick up. The biggest ones that had been left until the end were a six person job at least. After each one was put on corresponding pile, I had to stop and catch my breath. My arms were on absolute fire. My thighs felt like they were made of biscuits — like they could crumble at any moment, and my stomach was so empty I was looking at the grass and wondering if anyone would notice me take a chunk of it! Brian Gullet feinted as he and his form carried a large log to the pile. This should have been the impetus for Simone to call time on it. But no, she just smiled and called him a weakling. Ingralo picked him up and splashed icy water into his face until he awoke. We witnessed the sun going down behind the floating island and the thick forest. The lights in the school popping off as the clock struck five past ten. Only the light blue glow of the ghosts floated past the windows now. We slipped around the sodden, muddy grass, over the large wood splinters. Back and forth, back and forth, the piles of wood mounted higher than the hills.
I couldn't even remember anyone saying stop. The elation that should have flowed at those words was stuck, dampened by the impending despair of this horrible situation. I just remember following everyone. Tripping and sliding back up the hill to the school. The ghosts snapped angrily at us as we trailed mud all the way up the corridors. I traipsed after Robin and the other boys, none of us speaking. We quickly washed. Hunter stood under a shower with all his clothes on, eyes closed. I couldn't move my arms. The cold and wetness that had seeped all the way through, seemingly to my bones, would not budge. The hot water burned my hands, which were wrinkled, pink and sore, especially after Robin did an anti-splinter spell on them, removing the numerous barbs of wood. Like zombies we climbed into bed. I just about managed to pull off the wet material that clung to me. Thankfully, it was a Saturday tomorrow, so we could sleep in.
UP! UP! UP!
Cried a loud, shrill voice scaring the life out of me. My bedsheets were swept from beneath me, flying into the air. Freezing cold air hit me like a wall, as I shot up with a start.
“W-w-what’s g-going on?!” I cried shivering uncontrollably. The blue pulsing light of a ghost was whizzing round our room doing the same to everyone.
“AHH!” Graham cried, clutching himself as his sheet rose high into the ceiling. The fire was unlit, and my breath was visible in front of me. The unfriendly ghost seemed to be emitting an icy coldness. Simon screamed and fell out of bed, followed by Jake who jumped up and tried to swing for the ghost. But it simply blew freezing cold air at him. Jake stood, stunned, as ice crystals formed on the end of his nose.
“What’s going on?” Robin called at the ghost, as he jumped into his dressing gown. “Just tell us!”
“Magisteer Simone says your all LAZY! It’s SIX o’clock, and you should be
he pointed out the window. “She said the wind has blown the logs down, so you have go out there early and sort it all out!” cackled the ghost, who had pointed ears and an evil face.
“No, no, NO!” Hunter cried despairingly. “This is not real, it’s a nightmare!”
I reached out at the fire and clicked my fingers, an orange flame burst into the grate. “Leave us!” I called at the ghost. “We will be down shortly.”
“NO!” It screamed shooting an icy breath at the fire which went out immediately. “You go
With every part of my body aching and with very little sleep we went back out into the freezing cold Saturday morning and carried on.
But it didn't take long for the gruelling schedule to take its toll. By midday, Hunter was at his wits end. “I’ve never been this hungry in my life,” he moaned, pulling at the big log that was stuck on a tuft of grass.
“YOU!” called Simone marching over to Hunter. “What are you doing with that? Keeping it as a pet?” she smirked.
“No,” said Hunter affronted, his face contorting with rage.
Simone raised her eyebrows as people began looking over. “Then
are you simply standing there caressing it?”
“BECAUSE I’M KNACKERED AND STARVING YOU EVIL WITCH!” Hunter bellowed. What followed was a tirade of swear words and screams from Hunter, the like of which I have never seen or heard before. He was enraged. “… AND YOU ARE A SAD, UGLY, SOUR FACED, MONOBROW COW…” Hunter finished and took stock of everything he’d just said as a stunned crowd of second years barely moved as silence befell.
Simone smiled, her face shaking with concealed rage. I was scared of what she might do. Her one eyebrow had turned a puce green round the edges. “Detention,” she said simply. “After you’ve done working here, you’ll go to an
all night detention
. I think that should teach you to speak out of turn to me.”
“Oh sod this!” said Hunter, slamming down the log, which narrowly missed Simone’s foot and marched off up the hill.
“Oh no you don't!” cried Simone, raising her hands at him. Hunter’s feet left the floor and he dangled upside down, flailing around in the air like a useless fish. Slowly, he sailed through the air, limp and useless back next to the log with a resigned look. Thud. He hit the ground, and proceeded to lay there, in the wet grass. He really was the most stubborn person I’d ever met. He only got up and back on with the work once Simone charged up a big black cloud to follow him, striking him with thunder every time he slacked. Hunter muttered something about going to the Lily and complaining about Simone being racist, whilst glancing up at the cloud with contempt.
A few weeks passed. Things had calmed tremendously. Hunter still walked around with a face like a teenage troll. Most probably owing to the fact that he had to go straight to detention after every session of the stadium rebuild. I didn't envy him at all. At first he refused point blank to go, Simone even threatened to fetch the Lily, so now Hunter had to be escorted by a two ghosts. Robin and I barely spoke during the rebuilds, in fact hardly anyone spoke, we were all still in a state of shock. There was some talk though, at lunch which was allowed — a quick twenty minutes grudgingly granted to us by Simone, with a tray of sandwiches brought out by some ghosts. One boy Aaron, who was from London on the Outside, started talking about the ghost that had woken us up with freezing air. Apparently it wasn't a ghost at all, but an
, set on us by Magisteer Simone. Everyone’s disgust of her increased a hundred fold.
“What I would do to get a chance to spell her,” said Hunter through a half grimace, half face full of egg sandwich.
It became easier though. Something I never thought I’d say at the start. The aches and pains slowly became less painful. The logs became lighter and the days shorter. Our lessons suffered, no doubt. Yearlove and Partington were definitely worried and would ask us if we were sure we were okay every ten minutes — for Ellen and Joanna had repeatedly fallen asleep in Yearlove’s lessons. He didn't disturb them mind, but summoned some blankets. Partington was frowning around at us each morning in form. I had about twelve plasters in various positions, eight on my hands, three up my arms, and two big ones on my leg and face. Don't ask. He would come round the desks inspecting our hands, a pair of magic tweezers clicking in his pocket — the anti-splinter spell had been so overused by Robin and me that it had stopped working.
“I’m fine Sir honest,” said Graham, as Partington turned on him and asked him how he could carry on with that many splinters in his hands. “You get used to it!” said Graham proudly. Partington just sighed and shook his head gravely.
I’d settled into a rhythm. I like rhythms, routines and order. That’s why I get excited about timetables. It’s a structure, I like to know where I am and what I will be doing. Even when I was at home in the summer holidays, I would write myself a daily timetable. That’s just how I work. So when things come up that upset my rhythm, it upsets me. And I had settled into this routine of:
Getting up early at six o’clock with the boys.
Lighting a fire.
Grabbing something to eat from the Chamber.
Going straight out to work on the Stadium.
At eight o’clock we would go to form with Partington (who would complain about how tired and malnourished we looked).
Then depending on our timetable we would go to lessons, or go back to the stadium.
Lunch time we would get a tray of sandwiches to quickly much on (while watching the other years frolic in the sun, which had all of a sudden decided to come out — jealously watching them play Riptide or just laze around doing homework. How I wished I could laze around doing homework now!).
The pattern continued with a lesson, back to building, lesson, back to building. All lessons finished, back to building until nightfall when Simone would let us leave at around ten o’clock to grab some cold dried up dinner, yet most of us just went straight to bed.
I would go with Robin and the other boy’s in our form to our bathroom and wash in the showers before heading to bed.
Yes, she made us come and work on the Riptide stadium during
our free time. This meant that during off periods, where we had no lessons, we would have to go straight to the stadium. Kindly, our other Magisteers relented from giving us too much homework. Ingralo stayed at the stadium at all times, leaving Mr. Jenkinson a ghost of enormously boring proportions in charge of cleaning the castle with a team of randomly chosen pupils. Ingralo had a small canvas tent near the stadium with a big comfy sofa in it. Jack Zapper and Bernie Boppet sneaked inside it and stole one of Ingralo’s very large iced cakes, sharing portions of it round to us starving workers. “He’s got a mountain of the things!” said Jack.
Strangely, I looked forwards to Thursday and Friday afternoons when the Swillow’s had lessons. It meant that Tina, who had become very friendly with them, would come and speak to us. “Decided to come and see us now have you?” I joked.
“You keep saying that!” she said, her golden face contorted into a dark frown. “If you’re going to be like that I’m off…” she said, flouncing away again.
“Typical isn’t it,” said Robin, who shared my soft spot for Tina. “You save a girls life, and what do you get in return?” I sniffed, I was thinking the same thing.
The stadium was actually getting somewhere. The base of the seven quadrants had been erected, which was immensely hard work. Simone had repaired the broken splintered wood with magic and replaced the ones which were too broken with wood from freshly fallen trees, cut to size by Ingralo. It involved using massive ropes to pull them into place. But now we were climbing up very tall ladders and laying wood in sections across the quadrants. It was dark under there, for the huge waterproof drapes covered the top of the stadium, blocked most of the light.
I had a bad feeling in my stomach. Simone had forced me to go up the ladder to the middle of the immensely high quadrant. It was terrifying. Standing on a wooden slat, in the darkness, very high up, I took the wooden beams being passed up to me. Hunter at the bottom, passed them to Robin, he to Bernie Boppet, him to Jack, then to Jasper Gandy, to Simon, and eventually to me. Above me was Graham, Jess, and Jake, like me trying not to move for fear of falling off the massive drop. All around the other quadrants the same thing was happening.
But then the worst possible thing happened — as I took the huge wooden slat from Simon and pulled it up, heaving it to Graham, I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye. Something small and black had danced across my vision below — I looked closer, but whatever it was had gone.
. Suddenly, a huge wooden rafter on the end of a rope swung out of nowhere. And it was coming straight for me at a dizzying pace. I hardly had time to notice what was happening.
“AVIS!” Robin cried. As screams echoed all around the stadium.
To avoid being hit I stepped back
onto thin air. My heart leapt into my mouth, as I fell backwards off the quadrant. I flapped, clawing at thin air. Panic flashing before my eyes. The drop below opened up as I began to plummet hard towards the ground.
My heart leapt into my throat. I fell, surely to my death, as screams of horror erupted all around me.
Everything passed by in slow motion. Dropping down past Simon, Jasper, Jack, Bernie and Robin… their horrified faces plastered across my retina as wind wailed past my ear.
Just past them, on the ground, hidden by shadow and darkness something was darting away. A small, hunched figure under a dark ragged cloak was watching, grinning.
The ground approached fast. I clutched myself, bracing for impact.
As I was about to hit the ground, I suddenly felt soft something cushion me. Then I bounced off, like a trampoline and sprawled through the muddy floor gasping for breath before falling face first into mud. Icy water brought me back to my surroundings. Magisteer Simone’s livid face bared over me.
“Stand up!” she barked. I did, my legs felt wobbly. I looked up at the drop and shivered. “WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?” She screamed in my face. The sound took a little longer to reach me as my ears were still ringing from the fall.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“He didn't do anything!” called Robin, who was descending the ladder as quick as he could.
“Didn’t do anything? Can you please tell me who cast that spell then?!” she cried, looking around at everyone. My dizzy head managed a glance around at the perplexed faces.
“Honestly Miss…” I said wobbling again. “I didn't do anything.”
“LIAR!” She cried. “I saw you. So did Ingralo. You used magic to try and make the build go quicker. You thought I wouldn't notice?”
I didn't know where to start. “But honestly, I didn't do anything…”
“And it’s your own fault, nearly killing yourself!” she said judging me and what she could do next.
“I saw…” but I stopped. It sounded ridiculous didn't it? I saw a tiny, hunched figure running away.
She sighed pleased with herself. “I don't care what you saw. You will do detentions.”
” I cried, too weary and tired to properly argue.
“Miss!” someone cried. “Avis didn't do that.”
“It wasn't him,” said Robin rushing to my side. “There was a flash miss, a blue one, over there…”
Simone and Ingralo looked at each other, then laughed! “Ha-ha! How amicable! Lying for your friend like that. You foolish boy. Avis, extra detentions for having liars as friends.”
I couldn't believe it. Two months of detentions for something I didn't even do. But I was too weary to argue. Too tired and dazed after the fall to properly state how unfair this was.