Authors: Susannah McFarlane
Tags: #BISAC Code “Juvenile Fiction: Action & Adventure / General”
It was lunchtime and Emma Jacks was standing underneath the netball goal. Waiting alone, she was getting flustered. Where was everybody? Hadn't she agreed with Hannah, Elle and Isi that they would meet here to practise shooting goals before netball practice started?
Emma watched as other kids ran past and around her, the noise of the school yard getting louder and louder as kids left their classrooms and came out on to the oval to play, to talk, to shout. Scanning all over the oval, she looked for her friends. She was sure she would see them rushing up to her any minute, Hannah looking serious and apologetic, Isi laughing about why they got delayed and Elle smiling. They were her best friends, her besties, and they did nearly everything together. Their latest project was netball: they were all determined to get into the school netball A-team, the St Cree Primary Wildcats, and they had promised each other that they would practise every chance they could. That's why Emma was there and that's why Hannah, Isi and Elle should have been there. But they weren't. Emma didn't know whether to feel worried, cross or sad, so she felt a little of all three.
They must come soon,
Where could they be?
âWhat's up, Emma?' said a not completely friendly voice. âGot no friends?'
Aaaaarrgghh, it was Nema, Emma's former bestie and now class mean girl. Why did she always turn up when something was going wrong?
âI'm fine, Nema,' replied Emma. âJust waiting for Han, Is and Elle. We're going to shoot goals before practice.'
âDon't think so,' said Nema.
How would you know?
You don't know my friends!
But instead she said, âThey'll be here any moment.'
âDon't think so,' repeated Nema. âI just saw them all talking with Laila and they didn't look as if they were about to go anywhere.'
Laila was the new girl. Actually, she was one of two new girls, and while Emma hadn't really had much to do with the other girl, Eve, she'd had plenty to do with Laila, too much. Laila had started the week before, just two weeks before the end of term, which was a little strange. No one knew why and Laila didn't seem to want to talk about it. What she did seem to want to talk about was everyone else, mainly behind their backs. She seemed to be able to find something to laugh at about everyone: Elle's glasses, Hannah's braces, Isi's rather messy handwriting and Emma's goal-shooting style. Emma had never noticed it before but apparently, according to Laila anyway, she did this funny flick of her non-shooting hand when she was shooting.
âHave you noticed Emma's left hand when she shoots?' she'd asked Nema one day. âIt's weird! No wonder she's not very good!'
Nema laughed but Elle, who had overheard Laila, interrupted, sticking up for her friend. âEm's the best goal shooter in the school.'
âI'd hate to see the worst,' scoffed Laila.
And that was how Laila seemed to be with everyone. Well, not quite everyone. She was nice to Nema, of all people. It was like Laila and Nema had known each other for ages, which was strange because they didn't live near each other.
âLaila is really good at netball,' continued Nema.
Emma wasn't really paying attention. She was still trying to spot her friends.
âI told you,' Nema said. âShe's with Isi, Hannah and Elle. They must've forgotten about netball.' And then with her trademark hair flick and cold smile she added, âThey must have forgotten about you.'
âWhat would you know, Nema?' replied Emma. âI probably just got the plan wrong. Actually, I did, we were all supposed to meet after school.'
But Emma hadn't got the plan wrong. Emma didn't get plans wrong, she had much too much training to do that. When Emma Jacks wasn't ten-year-old schoolgirl and confused friend of Elle, Hannah and Isi, she was Special Agent EJ12, field agent in the code-cracking division and Shining Star Spy of the Year of the
Emma had been on many successful missions and was responsible for putting some of
's cleverest agents into
detention, foiling their evil schemes. Isi had also recently joined
and together they had gone on a mission. It was IJ's first and EJ had been proud to help her friend. It was on that mission they had discovered Nema had also joined a secret agency but not
, the bad one. Emma wasn't that surprised Nema had joined
but she was surprised to see her back at school after she had been captured by
. Did A1 have a plan she didn't know about? There certainly seemed to be a lot of changes in plan going on at the moment.
Emma liked plans and she liked people to stick to them. She liked to be organised and she liked to know what was going on. And when she didn't know what was going on, she could get a bit flustered and upset. She would start to doubt herself and the things she thought she was certain about. Just like now on the oval. She knew that they were all supposed to meet at the goals to practise. But was Nema right? Had her friends forgotten about her?
The bell went. As Emma headed back to class her three friends rushed up to her.
âEm, where were you?!' Isi shouted out before Emma had time to say anything.
âWhy didn't you come?' said Elle.
âI did come,' said Emma. âWhere were you guys?'
âNo, I was there,' said Emma.
âWe were,' said Isi, looking a little confused. âWeren't we?' she said, looking at Han who was looking at Emma.
âEmma,' Hannah began, her voice calm, âwhy didn't you come to the oval?'
âBecause I was at the netball goal,' replied Emma, slightly exasperatedly. âBecause we were supposed to be practising.'
âThat's tomorrow,' said Hannah.
âNo, it's today,' said Emma. âAt least, it was supposed to be.'
âOh, I get it,' cried Isi. âEm, didn't you hear the new plan?'
âThe new plan?' asked Emma.
âMs Black changed the practice time and told Laila to tell everyone.'
âShe didn't tell me,' said Emma.
âOh, maybe she just forgot,' said Hannah. âIt doesn't matter, Em,' she went on, linking her arm through Emma's. âWe can do it tomorrow. I'm sure it was just a mix-up.'
âSuppose so,' said Emma, trying to look a little brighter but it was still bugging her. Why would Laila tell everyone but her about the change and why didn't Nema say anything? Were they in on it together? Why were they upsetting Emma's plans?
And then Laila walked past. âHi, Is, hi, Han, hi, Elle. See you at practice,' she shouted. And then, âOh, hi, Irma.'
âIt's Emma,' said Emma.
âOh, right,' laughed Laila. âWhatever.'
âSo, Is,' said Emma, âare we still sure it was just a mistake? And,' she whispered to her bestie and spy buddy, âshe's pretty chummy with Nema.'
âCome on, girls, the bell has gone!' called a teacher. âLaila and Nema, may I see you for a moment please?'
That was Ms Black, the new substitute teacher, who filled in when other teachers were away. She had been watching Nema and Laila. Emma also noticed Ms Tenga watching Ms Black talk to Nema and Laila. Things were getting complicated. Plans seemed to be always changing and nothing was as it seemed. Emma didn't like it, it made her flustered and less confident. She would be pleased when this term was over. She was looking forward to just being at home, blobbing around.
Just as Emma was putting her phone back in her locker for class, her phone went.
It was a text message from her mum. That was weird too, her mum never texted her at school.
What is it today?
thought Emma as she opened the message.
Gee whizz, lemonfizz! So much for blobbing at home. That's another plan out the window,
thought Emma but she had to admit that this change of plan was pretty exciting. Emma's family never won anything and now, out of the blue, they had won a holiday. They were going to Africa with all those amazing animals. How lucky!
But luck hadn't had anything to do with it.