Read No Rules Online

Authors: R. A. Spratt

No Rules

BOOK: No Rules
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About the Book

What if every clue points in the wrong direction?

Friday Barnes has been deported to Switzerland! With their in-school detective gone, Highcrest Academy has descended into chaos. Someone's fired all the teachers!

The Headmaster claims it wasn't him, and suspicion soon turns to Ian Wainscott, but Friday won't stand by and let her favourite nemesis take the blame. Apart from being innocent (probably), he's seriously good-looking. There's also the problem of the new vice principal and his questionable teaching methods. It's hard to take someone seriously when they wear tie-dyed t-shirts.

Can Friday save Ian's scholarship? Can she find the prankster before they bring down the school? Can she run the cross country? She's certainly going to try … to do the first two, anyway.


To Violet and Samantha

Chapter 1

Where We Left Off

Friday was in a good mood as she entered the dining hall at Highcrest Academy with the Headmaster, her best friend Melanie Pelly, and Ian Wainscott, the most handsome boy in school. The Headmaster had promised Friday an extra serving of dessert for helping Highcrest avert their latest near disaster. An impostor had impersonated a member of the Norwegian royal family and gone on a school-wide theft spree.

But Friday and her friends never got to eat that ice-cream.

As they walked in, Friday's Uncle Bernie was there waiting for her, and with him were a man and a woman wearing dark grey suits and sunglasses.

‘Who are they?' asked the Headmaster.

‘The big scruffy man in the creased suit is my Uncle Bernie,' said Friday.

‘Perhaps soon to be Ian's stepdad,' added Melanie.

‘He is not!' said Ian.

‘And the other two,' said Friday, ‘given their suits with a high polyester count and ostentatious wearing of sunglasses, I deduce are some sort of government officials.'

‘Friday!' exclaimed Uncle Bernie as soon as he saw her. ‘I'm so sorry. There's nothing I can do.'

‘About what?' she asked.

The woman pulled an identification card from her pocket. ‘I'm Agent Torres from the Department of Immigration. Are you Friday Barnes?'

‘Yes, that's me,' said Friday.

‘Then you'll have to come with us,' said Agent Torres.

‘Why?' asked Friday.

‘You're being deported,' said Uncle Bernie.

‘Hang on, I'm headmaster here, I'm responsible for this child,' said the Headmaster.

‘All the paperwork is in order,' said Agent Torres. The other agent handed a sheaf of paperwork to the Headmaster. He started flicking through it.

‘On what grounds can you deport her?' asked the Headmaster. ‘She hasn't committed a crime. Well … not one that's been proven, anyway.'

‘We're deporting her because she's not a citizen,' said Agent Torres.

‘Yes, I am,' said Friday.

‘Is it true you were born in Switzerland?' asked Agent Torres.

‘Well, yes,' conceded Friday.

‘And you have never applied for citizenship or even a permanent residency visa?' said the agent.

‘I was a baby,' said Friday. ‘I assumed that was all sorted out when my parents brought me home … Oh no, my parents! They never filled in the paperwork, did they?'

‘No, they didn't,' said Uncle Bernie. ‘If I'd known about it sooner, I could have done something.'

‘The Department of Immigration has been writing to them, phoning them and even visiting them
repeatedly over the years,' said Agent Torres. ‘They have ignored all our correspondence. Dr Evangeline Barnes and Dr Rupert Barnes are no longer residents of the country. You are a Swiss citizen who has been illegally residing in this country for twelve years. You will be deported today.'

‘But …' protested Friday.

‘If you want to appeal the decision,' said Agent Torres, ‘you'll have to take it up with our embassy in Geneva.'

‘But wait until Wednesday,' advised Melanie. ‘We've got PE on Tuesday and we're playing dodge-ball. You'll want to miss that.'

The agents grabbed Friday by an elbow each and started leading her away. Friday got one last glance at her friends before she was ushered out the door.

Melanie turned to the Headmaster. ‘She will be back, won't she?'

‘I hope so,' said the Headmaster, rubbing his head in anticipation of the headache he knew he was about to get. ‘It's hard enough running this school. Who's going to figure out all the weird hijinks that go on if Friday isn't here?'

‘I'm sure it will all be sorted out in just a couple of days,' said Uncle Bernie.

Chapter 2

Lounging in Transit

Friday Barnes had been living in the transit lounge at Zurich international airport for three weeks. This was actually nowhere near as unpleasant as it sounds. Usually people loathe time in a transit lounge because they are anxiously awaiting a flight that has probably been delayed and they have an inherent phobia of flying.

But Friday had taken up residence. Technically, she wasn't a citizen of anywhere. The Swiss authorities
would not let her through border control, so she was stuck. Friday couldn't go home because she didn't have a passport or visa. And she couldn't leave the airport and go into Zurich because the Swiss government didn't acknowledge her citizenship.

Again, this sounds like a deeply unpleasant limbo to a normal person, but Friday was far from normal. She was having a very pleasant time. She was able to earn a nice living by acting as a translator for confused travellers. She got plenty to eat in the first class lounges run by the different airlines, because they would each exchange access to their lounge for her translating services, or get her to fix their computers. She even received letters care of Mr Tanaka at the airport's sushi bar, so Melanie was able to write to her.

Dear Friday,

I wish you would hurry up and get yourself re-imported home. School is not the same without you. In biology this morning Mr Poshoglian actually asked me a question. He would never do that if you were here. He is normally so busy avoiding eye contact with you that he never notices me.

Ian misses you. Of course, you can't tell from anything he says or does, but it's true. I think he's up to something. It's a shame you're not here to nip it in the bud before he gets himself into trouble.

I've got to go. I can barely keep my eyes open. I don't know how people in the olden days coped with letter-writing. Handwriting is exhausting.

Bye for now,
Melanie xxoo

And unlike Highcrest Academy, the transit lounge had free internet access, so Friday was able to keep in touch with her Uncle Bernie, who was doing all he could to get the embassy to take action. Friday was video-chatting with him.

‘You'd think the child of a Nobel Laureate would have an easier time getting a passport,' grumbled Uncle Bernie. ‘But the hard part was getting someone from the embassy to make the three-hour drive from Geneva to Zurich Airport to sort it all out.'

‘Petrol is expensive,' said Friday reasonably.

‘You're a twelve-year-old living in an airport,' said Uncle Bernie. ‘Where's their compassion?'

‘I'm having a perfectly nice time,' said Friday.

‘Don't tell them that,' said Uncle Bernie. ‘They'll never get you out.'

‘I'm fine,' said Friday. ‘You're much more upset than I am.'

‘I just feel so guilty,' said Uncle Bernie. ‘If I hadn't been rude to the receptionist at the embassy that first time I rang up, they wouldn't have put me on the no-fly list and I could have travelled to Switzerland to meet with the embassy officials myself.'

‘It's all right,' said Friday. ‘It's only been three weeks. I'm learning so much here in the airport. It's wonderful to have the opportunity to try out so many of the languages I've been studying.'

‘Friday, you're not meant to be enjoying yourself,' said Uncle Bernie. ‘If you were hysterical and weeping, it might help motivate some people.'

‘Sorry, Uncle Bernie,' said Friday. ‘Hysterical and weeping just isn't in my nature. I don't think I'm in touch enough with my emotions. I'd prefer to suppress everything, then let it all well out in six or seven years' time when I buy a puppy dog.'

‘Friday Barnes, please report to immigration control. Friday Barnes,' said a voice over the airport PA system.

‘I think I'm being paged,' said Friday.

‘Entschuldigen, Friday, they're calling you!' called Alexander the barista from the coffee shop. ‘I hope this is good for you, yes?'

‘Me too,' said Friday. She spoke to the webcam. ‘Sorry, Uncle Bernie, I've got to go. I'm being paged by immigration control. This could be it.'

‘That's wonderful!' said Uncle Bernie. ‘If they interview you, remember, whatever you do – don't be yourself. Try to act like a normal person.'

‘I'm not going to make promises I can't keep,' said Friday. ‘Bye, Uncle Bernie, I'll let you know how it goes.' She logged off and grabbed her duffle bag.

‘Here, take a cookie for luck,' said Alexander.

‘Thanks,' said Friday as she gathered up her things, grabbed the cookie and jogged towards the passport check lines.

‘Friday,' called Gunter the immigration official. He waved happily from the kiosk near the security check. ‘They've finally got a bigwig out to see you.' Gunter opened a gate so she could enter the office area.

‘What sort of bigwig?' asked Friday.

‘Some suited man from the embassy. Perhaps they're going to spring you from here,' said Gunter.
‘I'll be happy for you, but I'll be sorry to see you go. Marika has been doing much better at school since you've been coaching her in maths.'

‘Skill in mathematics is so good for a girl's self-esteem,' said Friday.

‘Anyway, he's waiting in interview room one for you,' said Gunter. He led Friday through a private door into a corridor flanked by interview rooms.

‘Herr Quigley, here she is,' said Gunter. ‘You should snap her up for your country quickly. We might have a tough citizenship process here in Switzerland, but it's only a matter of time before someone realises what an asset she is to any nation.'

Friday stepped into the room. A serious-looking man in a grey suit was sitting at the interview table checking messages on his mobile phone as he made notes on a writing pad. Friday's files were sitting closed on the table. This was the man who could decide Friday's fate and everything about him said ‘bureaucrat'. He was neat, bland and conservative.

‘Yes, all right –' said Mr Quigley, then his phone started ringing. ‘Excuse me, I have to take this.'

Friday looked at Gunter and raised her eyebrows.

‘Good luck,' said Gunter. He patted her on the shoulder before he left.

‘No, no. I'll be back there as soon as possible,' Mr Quigley was saying into the phone. ‘Tell him I'll call him back … Okay, tell her I'll call her back … A four-foot-tall ice sculpture can't just go missing. It's got to be somewhere. Just tell them all I'll call them once I finish this meeting and I'm back in my car.'

‘You shouldn't talk on the phone while you're driving,' interrupted Friday.

‘Shhh,' said Mr Quigley, looking up at Friday for the first time. Then someone on the other end of the phone evidently yelled in his ear because he flinched. ‘No, not
, there's a girl in the room talking to me.'

‘When you talk on the phone while you're driving, you are 34 per cent more likely to have or cause a traffic accident,' said Friday.

‘I have a hands-free set-up,' said Mr Quigley, holding his hand over the mouthpiece as he spoke to Friday.

‘That's only marginally safer,' said Friday. ‘True, you can use both hands to drive the car, but you are still distracted by the conversation, and unlike a conversation with a car passenger, the person on the other end of the phone doesn't instinctively stop talking when you reach a point of critical decision-making – such
as when you're changing lanes in high-speed traffic or making your way through a busy junction.'

‘I've got to hang up,' Mr Quigley said to the person on the phone. ‘I think this meeting is going to be more difficult than I imagined.' He put his phone down on the table. ‘Now, Miss …' Mr Quigley checked his file. ‘Scheunen, Freitag Scheunen.'

‘My name is Friday Barnes,' said Friday.

‘Yes, well, technically that is your alias,' said Mr Quigley, double-checking the details in his paperwork. ‘Since you have no passport, your only official record is your birth certificate and it's got you down as Freitag Scheunen.'

‘That's German for Friday Barns,' said Friday. ‘Freitag means “Friday” and Scheunen means “barns”, as in the large farm buildings. But I'm Barnes with an “e”.'

‘The German version is your official name,' said Mr Quigley.

‘I'll be sure to change it officially as soon as I get home,' said Friday.

Mr Quigley's phone started ringing again.

‘Excuse me,' said Mr Quigley as he picked it up. ‘Hello. Ahuh … No, I'll speak to him myself
when I get back. I don't know! It will go quicker if people stop calling me all the time! Okay … okay … I hear what you're saying. I'm sorry I raised my voice. No, there's no need to file a complaint with human resources. I promise it won't happen again.' Mr Quigley put his phone on the table.

‘Why don't you turn it off?' asked Friday. ‘We'll deal with my problem quicker than you'll be able to get back to your crisis at the embassy.'

‘I can't turn my phone off,' said Mr Quigley.

‘Why not?' asked Friday.

‘It would be irresponsible. I'm secretary to the Ambassador. I have to be on call 24/7.'

The phone started ringing again. Friday snatched it up, turned it off and laid it face-down on the table.

‘Hey!' exclaimed Mr Quigley. ‘That's government property. If you're applying for citizenship, this isn't helping you.'

‘No, perhaps not,' said Friday. ‘But how about I help you? I think it will be the quickest way to get you to focus on my problems.'

‘What?' said Mr Quigley.

‘If you've read my file,' said Friday, ‘which I doubt you have because you are clearly of the belief that you
are too important for such a menial task. But if you had read it, you would know that I have been very successful as a private detective.'

‘You're twelve years old,' said Mr Quigley. ‘I read that much of your file.'

‘Yes, which is what makes my success at solving crime so impressive,' said Friday. ‘Tell me about your problem. I bet I can help.'

‘I can't tell you about embassy business,' said Mr Quigley. ‘It's confidential.'

‘You see, this is an example of why you're deluded about your own self-importance,' said Friday. ‘I actually know what your problem is because I've read six different newspapers this morning. They are provided for free in the transit lounge.'

Friday reached into her bag and pulled out six folded newspapers.

‘All of them, even the English language papers, feature a story about a priceless jade necklace that was stolen from your embassy in Geneva last night. The necklace was originally looted from China during the Opium Wars of the nineteenth century. Your ambassador was going to present it to the Chinese ambassador at a formal dinner this evening as a
gesture of goodwill to a growing trade partner,' said Friday. ‘It's not a secret. It's news.'

‘I'm not discussing it with you,' said Mr Quigley.

‘Why not?' said Friday. ‘What have you got to lose? I'm not going to tell anyone. I can't even leave the airport. And if I did tell someone, no one would believe me because I'm just a twelve-year-old girl.'

‘Let's just fill out your paperwork and I can begin trying to process it,' said Mr Quigley, taking a set of forms out of his briefcase. ‘We've located your parents now. They're at a university in Estonia. Once we have all your information, we'll get them to fill out the forms.'

‘If you do find them, you'll never get them to fill out the forms,' said Friday. ‘Certainly not properly. They couldn't even give my name to the birth registrar. It would be much better if you simply issued me with an exigent circumstances passport.'

‘We can't do that,' said Mr Quigley. ‘That's only for the most exceptional circumstances, for political refugees and defectors.'

‘I am exceptional,' said Friday.

‘You're certainly not exceptionally modest,' said Mr Quigley with raised eyebrows.

‘I'll prove it to you,' said Friday. ‘I'll find the necklace.'

‘You're not allowed to leave the airport transit lounge,' said Mr Quigley.

‘That will be the bit that proves I'm exceptional,' said Friday with a smile.

‘I haven't got time for this,' said Mr Quigley, reflexively glancing at his phone even though it was turned off.

‘Really?' said Friday. ‘You haven't got time for a fifteen-minute conversation with me that could result in you finding the necklace as soon as you get back to Geneva?'

Mr Quigley hesitated. He was clearly warring with himself.

‘I've solved bank robberies, thwarted smuggling operations and uncovered escaped convicts,' said Friday. ‘Your problem is well within my skill set.'

Mr Quigley sighed. ‘You're not going to shut up until we do this, are you?'

‘No,' agreed Friday happily.

BOOK: No Rules
8.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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