Authors: Cathy Hopkins
Tags: #General Fiction
“Later,” she said then walked back up to the other
end of the room.
Later what? Is she going to kill me in my sleep?
as the door opened and two boys came in. One was
dark, tall and lanky with round shoulders and a
pinched expression on his face. The other, short one had
red hair tied back in a ponytail and a friendly face. They
surveyed the mess on the floor then looked accusingly
at me. I did a half lip snarl back at them to show them
that I was tough and not to be messed with.
telling me that we share with boys?” I
Lynn shook her head. “No, they’re in the dorm next
door, thank God. Mark and Jake. Meet our new
I gave them a royal wave to let them know that I
wasn’t intimidated by them either. The dark one
shrugged and turned away while the red-haired one
knelt on the floor and starting howling like a dog.
“Cut it out, Jake,” said Marilyn. “No need to keep
up the act in ’ere when it’s just us.”
This nightmare just gets worse and worse,
I thought as I
glanced over at Lynn and hoped for an explanation.
“Jake’s playing the nutter card,” she said.
‘Yeah, he’s hoping that by acting insane, he might be
Good idea, Jake
, I thought.
I should have thought of that
I looked over at Mark, who had gone over to the
window and was staring out into the black night.
“And Mark has taken a vow of silence,” said Lynn.
“Hasn’t spoken for over a week now.”
You guys have been here a week!”
By the window, Mark had pulled a little notebook out
of his pocket and was writing something. When he’d
finished, he came over and held up the paper in front
Keep out of my way and I’ll keep out of yours. If not, you’re
“Oh, how sweet, another threat on my life,” I
gushed. “And sooooo nice to meet you too… loser.”
I stuck my tongue out at him. He scowled at me and
went back to the window.
Selene popped her head round the door. “Lights
out in five. Boys, back to your dorm,” she said then
“But I haven’t eaten anything and I’m HUNGRY,”
I yelled after her.
Selene’s hand appeared around the door and
dumped a paper bag onto the floor. It was the bag that
contained the apple and the sandwich that she’d given
“No WAAAAAAAAAAAAY,” I yelled. “What part
of NOOOOOO WAAAAY don’t you understand?”
Mark, Jake, Lynn and Marilyn all seemed highly
amused when the same arm appeared around the
door, a little lower this time and took the bag back.
“Nollucks,” said Marilyn. “I would ’ave ’ad that.”
The boys left the dorm and, two minutes later, the
lights did go out.
I sat in the dark for a moment and could hear Lynn
and Marilyn getting into their beds.
“Er, girls…” I said. “Er… has anyone said anything
about you being Zodiac Girls or anything about
planets being here in physical form...?” I trailed off
because it sounded insane.
“No. Why?” replied Lynn. “What you on about?
You’re mad you are.”
“Oh nothing. Forget it,” I said.
Maybe the planet
nonsense is a special kind of torture they’re saving just for me,
thought as I groped my way to the bottom of the bed,
grabbed the duvet and snuggled under it. I kept the
horrible clothes on because I was freezing.
As I lay there and stared into the dark room, my
mind played over the past couple of hours. It had been
unreal. All that baloney about me being a Zodiac Girl?
What was that about
? I thought as my stomach growled.
Mr O had kept saying that it was a rare honour.
Honestly! A rare honour to be put through this mortification and
no supper either? If this is a rare honour, Mr O could shove it where
the sun don’t shine. This has to be the second-worst day of my
I closed my eyes and tried to shut out the nightmare
scenario. I was starving hungry and I’d never felt so
lonely. I was also beginning to get the feeling that there
wasn’t going to be any room service bringing my chips
“Tan tah tat ta TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.”
It seemed as if I had only just closed my eyes when
noise blasted into the room. Like someone
was playing a very LOUD trumpet a quarter of an inch
away from my right ear. I came to with a jolt. I wasn’t
sure where I was. For one gorgeous second, I’d
imagined that I was back in my room in St Kitts. Coco
curled up on the end of my bed. Staff on hand outside
to carry out my every whim. But no. It was dark in the
room and I felt confused. It didn’t smell like home. It
smelt like… boiled onions and bleach with a trace of
A light came on. An overhead
bright light. And
all illusions were shattered as the previous day came
back to me. I was in hell with a bunch of losers and our
captors were psychos who thought that they were living
embodiments of the planets.
“OhmigoooooooooOOOOOOOOOD,” I groaned.
“This caaaaaaaan’t be haaaaappeniiiiiiiing.”
“It can and it is, so zip it, posh girl,” said Marilyn as
she blinked sleepily in the next bed. “It’s bad enough
’ere without you whining on.”
Next to her, Lynn moaned. “I haaaate mornings,”
Marilyn stumbled out of bed with a scowl on her
face. I looked at my watch and saw that it was five-thirty
in the morning. I’d never in my life been up at that time
in the morning! I snuggled further down into the bed.
They’d have to drag me out if they wanted to get me
up. For one thing, it was so cold in the room that I could
my own breath and, for another, now that I’d slept
a bit, I felt my fighting spirit return and I had to plan
out my course of action.
My fellow inmates fell out of their beds and out the
door, which surprised me as neither of them had
seemed like a pussycat the night before.
“Where are you going?” I called to Lynn.
“Bathroom then breakfast then chores.”
“Hmm. Sounds like a fun day. NOOOOOOT. So.
To get up and join you or not to get up? Hmm. What
a difficult decision. Er… switch the light out when you
go, Lynn, and ask one of the psychos to bring me a cup
of tea in a couple of hours.”
Lynn curtsied. “Why sure, Your Royal Highness,”
she said, “and I’ll ask them to turn up the heating too
“Oh yeah. Would you? I’m amazed that we didn’t all
die of hypothermia in the night.”
I turned over and, when she didn’t turn off the
light, I pulled the duvet further over my head. As I did,
I noticed a note written on bright yellow paper flutter
onto the floor. I picked it up and glanced at it.
Mars is in Capricorn at the moment and Saturn in Aquarius
(that’s Mario and Dr Cronus in case you weren’t listening
yesterday, Leonora). The day will start with an intense
confrontation which you could learn from. Back down if you have
any sense. And the Moon may bring up some painful memories.
Remember what you resist, persists. Bye for now, kiss kiss, your
guardian, Mr O (a.k.a. the Sun)
“The confrontation starts with you, saddo,” I said as
I ripped it up into little pieces. “And I’m not backing
A few minutes later, I heard footsteps and someone
yanked the covers off. It was Mario. He was standing
at the end of the bed, legs astride, hands on hips.
“Hey! Do you mind?” I said as I grabbed for the top
of the duvet and tried to pull it back over me. “It’s like
a fridge in here.”
Mario looked at his watch. “You got ten seconds,
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” I said as I lay back down
and turned away.
“Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… better get up,
“Or else what?”
“Oo, so bite me,” I said, but actually I felt torn
because I was hungry. On the other hand, I didn’t
want to give in too easily.
I leapt up. “Okay, okay. Keep your hair on.”
“Keep your hair on,
. You will address me as ‘sir’
from now on.”
“You have to be kidding. I have never called anyone
‘sir’ in my life and I’m not about to start now.”
“I’m sure there’ll be a lot of things you’ve never
experienced before gonna happen here. Getting up at
five-thirty for a start.”
“Yeah, yeah. Sir. So what happened to Brother Sun,
Sister Moon and all that rubbish?”
“That’s for the others. I prefer you call me ‘sir’.”
“Oh, get a life, soldier boy. Now, tell me where to go
A flash of annoyance crossed Mario’s face and I saw
him bite his cheek as if biting back what he’d really like
to say. “I’ll tell you where to go, but first you give me
some respect, girl.”
I did a jerky dance around the bed the way that I’d
seen the cool rappers do on TV, then I put my
forefinger and middle finger together and pointed at the
floor, “Okay, my man, get down, get cool. Yo. Respect,”
I said in my best street-rapper accent.
Mario wasn’t impressed. Or amused.
“You know who I am, girl?”
I nodded and did a mock salute. “The planet Mars.
Here on Earth. In physical form, SIR!” And then I
couldn’t help but snigger. I mean, how utterly absurd!
If Tigsy was here, we’d both be on the floor laughing
our heads off.
Mario scowled. “According to your birth chart, I am
here to teach you some respect for others Miss Hedley-Dent.”
I began to do my rapper dance around him again.
“Yo, get down…”
“Right, that’s it,” he said. “No breakfast.”
I straightened up and stuck my bottom lip out. “Am
“You will be.”
I stuck my tongue out at him.
“And that just earned you… no lunch either.”
I stuck my tongue out at him again.
He turned to go and pointed at the door. “You’ll
learn. Bathroom out to the right.”
After he’d left the room, I ran to the window to see if I
could see where I was, but it was still dark outside.
I was bursting to go to the loo, so I went in search of
the bathroom. I didn’t have far to go as I could hear
the sound of water. And screaming.
“What’s going on?” I asked when I opened a door
and saw Marilyn by the sink.
She jutted her chin towards a door. “Shower. Cold.
Lynn lost her ’ot shower privilege yesterday for giving
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You have to
“You said it, princess.”
“But that’s inhumane.”
“Innit? But try telling that to Mario,” she replied.
I don’t care that it’s still dark outside.
It will be light soon enough
. I quickly used the loo, ran back
to the dorm, put on my boot-camp trainers, grabbed
the duvet and wrapped it around myself. It would help
keep me warm when I was outside because I was
was going to stop me.
I tiptoed out into the corridor and crept out to the
front. Miracle of miracles. The door was open!
I glanced behind me. No-one was about, so I
opened the door and slipped out. It felt like I’d opened
the door of a fridge, it was so cold out there and dark,
and far away in the distant sky, I could see the Moon.
As my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, I could
just about see my way. I thought back to what Selene
had said last night about the word “lune” meaning
Yeah, I must be mad to be doing this but, whatever, I have
just found my inner lunatic,
Keeping my back to the wall, I crept along until
there was a window. There I fell to my knees so that,
if anyone was looking out, they wouldn’t see me. I
crawled through some shrubs – not easy with the
stupid duvet – and down to a path that led down
through some woods. Along the way, I felt a nail break.
This is just the end!
Can things possibly get any
I just pray that no-one I know ever finds out about this!
Once I’d reached the path, I stood up and looked
around. I couldn’t see any lights in the distance or sign
of habitation at all – just the black silhouette of trees
and hills as far as the eye could see. Mr O had said that
it was remote, but there was
to be something
somewhere if I went far enough. There had to be.
A quick glance back to ensure that I hadn’t been
spotted, then I headed for the trees.
I ran for about fifteen minutes, keeping parallel to the
path leading away from the boot camp, but I made sure
that I was hidden by the trees.
Thank God that there’s a
little bit of light from the Moon
, I thought as I panted
along next to the path, which seemed to go on for ever
and ever without actually getting anywhere. I cursed the
fact that we’d arrived in the dark last night, as if it had
been daylight I might have been able to gauge exactly
how far I was from people. And rescue.
I ran on, stopping for breath every now and again.
It didn’t look as if anyone was following, so I slowed my
pace. I so wished I had eaten that sandwich and apple
last night. I was
I will probably die soon
Then they’ll all be sorry
“Starving with broken nails, thanks a lot, Mum and
Dad,” I yelled at the sky, then realized that maybe that
wasn’t such a good idea. Someone might have heard
me. I thought about all the chocolate bars I’d stashed
in my suitcase and my mouth watered. I was
sooooooooo hungry and thirsty. A spot of water
splashed down on my face. Another spot. And another.
And then the heavens opened and it began to rain.
Oh very funny, God, yeah
add to the fun and make it rain,
why don’t you
? I thought as I made a dash under the
thickest branches I could see to shelter. But it was to no
avail. It was December and the trees were bare. The
duvet I had wrapped around me wasn’t waterproof, so
was soon heavy with rain. A wave of anger flooded
through me. Cold and hungry and thirsty in the dark
and NOW WET! How
my mum and dad
to me? I was going to die. I knew it. I was lost in the
forest in the middle of nowhere. Like Little Red Riding
Oh God, I hope there aren’t wolves around
, I thought.
Oh God oh God. I might get eaten by wild animals and then crows
will come and peck at my carcass. And no-one will miss me until
it’s too late. Mum and Dad think I’m at the boot camp, tucked
up in my dorm, not lost in the middle of nowhere. Oh God.
They’ll read about my death in the paper. Hah! THEN they’ll
be doubly sorry. Oh yeah