Authors: Cathy Hopkins
Tags: #General Fiction
An image of my funeral flashed through my mind.
Tigsy would be there, of course, wearing something
fabulous with great big black shades. She’d be followed
by Coco, whose fur would have been dyed black for the
occasion. My little Coco. She’d miss me.
Oh, what should
I asked myself. I looked to the left then to the right.
Where should I go? Which way? How long can a
person actually last without fries and a milk-shake and a decent
I plonked myself onto the ground. I so wished I
could talk to Tigsy. Or Poppy. At the thought of Poppy,
I felt overwhelmingly sad. She loved me. She really did.
She followed me around from the day she was born.
Her big sister. Her hero. And then the very time she’d
needed me most, I’d let her down. I stood up and
slapped my arms to keep warm.
Mustn’t think about her.
Mustn’t. Mustn’t. Too too painful
. And then I wondered if
these were the painful feelings that Mr O had warned
me about in his note, the ones that the Moon would
No. No way. He couldn’t know about my sister or
about what I really felt deep, deep inside
And then I heard the roar of… what was it?
. Where there was thunder, there was
lightning. I might get struck by it if the storm came
closer. But no. It wasn’t thunder. It was… I could see
a headlight coming up the drive. It was a motorbike. I
made up my mind in an instant. I couldn’t stay out here
in this weather a moment longer. I’d have to revert to
plan B to escape. The fact that I hadn’t got a plan B
was beside the point. I’d come up with one all in good
time. For the moment though, I needed to get dry.
I hopped out of the trees and flagged down the bike.
The rider slowed down and came to a stop. As I
approached, I saw that it was the cute boy-babe
“Been running away, have you?” he asked.
I nodded. “Five stars for observation.”
He ignored the sarcasm in my voice. “Ready to go
A rivulet of rainwater dripped down my forehead
and along my nose as I nodded again.
“Hop on,” he said.
I did as I was told and a second later, just as Hermie
revved the bike, a man stepped out from behind a tree.
“WaaAHH!” I almost leapt out of my skin with
fear. And then I saw that it was that idiot from last
night. The one who thought the sun shone out of his
“Morning, Mr O,” said Hermie.
“Morning,” replied Mr O. He looked very dapper
in a fabulous long black leather coat and black
Matrix, I thought as I recalled
the outfits in the movie. I had to hand it to Mr O, that
although clearly out of his mind, he did have a certain
sense of style. Not that I was about to let him know that
though. He looked as if he had a big-enough ego as it
was without me paying him compliments.
“I… I… You were there, behind me, all the time?
I didn’t hear you.” I said.
He flashed his grin. “I was playing a part. Don’t
forget that I am an actor.”
“And which part was that, then? A tree?”
Mr O looked offended. “Of course not. I was being
the invisible man.
thought I’d done it rather well.”
“Bu… why didn’t you let me know that you were
there or try to stop me?”
“I had to let you get it out of your system, Leonora.
You’re a Leo. A fire sign. They never take things lying
down, so you were bound to try to escape at least
“I wonder why? And why were you following me?”
He pointed at himself and then at me. “Me
guardian, you Zodiac Girl, remember? What kind of
guardian do you think I am?”
“Oh don’t start with the Zodiac Girl thing again...”
“But I have to. I am here to watch over you. Like the
sun over a garden of flowers ready to bloom.”
“Erg. Pardon me while I puke,” I said. “You don’t
need to bother. I don’t need you.”
Hermie took a sharp intake of breath as if I’d taken
a step too far. He glanced at Mr O. I noted that the
vein in his forehead was throbbing again. He looked at
“Tough little minx, isn’t she?” he said. “Leo, Leo,
lovely Leo.” He took a few deep breaths then turned
to me with a cheerful expression that looked well fake.
“Okay, little madam. Off you go. Go back and get dry
while I go and… spread a little light around. Yes, that’s
what I’ll do.” With that, he turned back off the path
and disappeared into the trees muttering something
about having “Never seen anything like her in my life.
Ungrateful little ma...”
Seconds later, I was roaring back up the drive as the
sun rose behind us.
Back to the hotel from hell,
as I clung on to Hermie’s waist.
After Hermie dropped me off, I went straight to the
dining area. I sooooo needed some breakfast like I’d
never needed breakfast before. Plus I needed to keep
my strength up for later when the right moment for
escape presented itself. My stomach was making
strange gurgling nosies, I was so utterly starving. I’d
even eat a green apple if there was one. And that
wholemeal bread too, if they didn’t have croissants.
But they were bound to have croissants. Everyone
I vaguely remembered where the dining room was
from my tour with Mr O and soon found the others in
there gloomily tucking into what looked like beige
gloop in plastic bowls, while Selene stood behind an
enormous pan on a table at the back of the room. She
was dressed in a long silver dress and looked like a fairy
queen and well out of place in the dismal room where
the air smelt of boiled cloth.
Ah, happy days
, I thought
as I glanced around.
“Eew. What is that disgusting stuff?” I asked Jake,
who was sitting nearest the door.
“Boiled glue,” he said.
“Porridge,” said Lynn.
“Tastes like glue,” said Jake and he faked his teeth
being glued together by it so that he could only chew
in slow motion. I almost laughed, but then
remembered that I was very,
cross and unhappy.
At that moment, Dr Cronus came in and Jake
immediately put his bowl on his head, made himself go
cross-eyed and started making a noise like a police car.
Porridge dripped down his forehead.
I almost laughed again. I could get to like Jake.
Poppy would have liked him if she’d been here. One
of the best things about her was that she was a giggler
and always laughed easily, even when people’s jokes
weren’t that funny. She’d have been on the floor at
The doctor glanced over at him, but didn’t even blink
“Most amusing, boy,” he said. “It’s not working
though. I know that you’re as sane as I am.”
“Which isn’t very sane,” I whispered, “because
according to Mr O, all the staff here think that they’re
planets, so basically, they’ve all outluned you.”
“Umbongo banana,” said Jake and leapt up onto the
table and went into a monkey impersonation. I hoped
that he was still doing his madness act because, if he
wasn’t, he was
Dr Cronus seemed to be counting that we were all
present, then he left the room. I went over to the table
where Selene was dolling out the gloop.
“I’ll have a chocolate croissant and a hot chocolate,”
“Will you now? Yes. Well, that
nice, but we
don’t have anything like that. This is all there is.” And
she picked up a ladleful of porridge then let it slop back
into the pan with a splot sound.
Although the gloop looked disgusting, my stomach
was rumbling so much that I decided that I had to give
this once. I had had porridge once in a hotel in
Scotland and, if you put enough sugar and fruit on it,
it can taste
about all right.
“Okay, give me some, but with loads of maple syrup
and cream and some peaches.”
“I can’t do that,” she said. She put the lid on the pan
then reached below the counter, found a plastic cup,
filled it with water from the tap behind her and
handed it to me.
“Your breakfast. Tap water.”
“Er, excuse me. Reality check. I don’t drink tap
water. Okay, I did last night, but that was all you gave
me. I don’t drink just any old brand of water, but
water? And from a plastic cup? I only drink from china
and crystal. Now cut out the antics and give me some
porridge and put it in a DECENT bowl.”
“Suit yourself,” she said and put the cup back down.
“Isn’t there any hot chocolate or cappuccino or
something hot?” I asked.
Mark snorted behind me.
“Get ’er,” said Marilyn and went into a mimic of me.
“Oo get me an ’ot chocolate, slave. Oi, ’edley Bent. Sit
down and shurrup, you poncy git.”
“You’ll get a cup of tea if you’re lucky,” said Lynn.
“I don’t want tea. I
porridge,” I said
through gritted teeth, although a part of me
couldn’t believe I was demanding a bowl of what
looked like slug slime.
“Say please,” said Selene. “It’s nice to be nice.”
I rolled my eyes. “Please,” I said wearily.
these people, they don’t half take life seriously
“No,” said Selene.
“No? But… I just said please.”
“Mario said no breakfast for giving him cheek
earlier this morning and that you have to learn respect.
It’s in your birth chart. Major lesson to learn. That and
must get in touch with her real feelings and not hold
everything in until there’s an explosion.”
“Oh really? You think that I must learn respect, do
you? Get in touch with my feelings? I don’t think so. I’ve
seen birth charts. They’re all lines and squiggles and
angles in a circle. Nothing about respect and no
breakfast for naughty Leos. Come on Moonface, give us
“No. Can’t. No porridge.”
Behind me, Marilyn laughed. I didn’t like being
laughed at and she was beginning to annoy me. Before
Selene could stop me, I lifted the lid off the porridge
pan, ladled out a bowlful and scooped some up into my
hand. It felt
gusting, like puréed snail
it was cold,
but I didn’t care. I turned around and hurled it at
Marilyn. It hit her, splat, right in the face and began to
drip slowly over her forehead.
“I’ve HAD enough of you,” I said. “You might
talk rot about being a murderer and you might
scare some weedy stupid people, but you DON’T
“Warghhhh, splah… wur…” Marilyn blustered
through the lumpy goo. She wiped a little from her
eyes while the rest slid down her cheeks and onto her
navy fleece. “Right, posh ponce. You asked for it.” She
stood up and was about to come towards me.
With the fingers of both my hands, I beckoned her
to try it. “Bring it on,” I said as I reached in and
armed myself with another handful of gunk and
looked at Selene. “Hey. You said to get in touch with
my feelings, Moon Girl.”
“Oh. Oh dear. I should have known,” said Selene.
“New moon. At an awkward angle to Mars. People’s
emotions are always heightened. There was bound to
be some kind of fight. Oh. Er… come on now, dears.
I threw a handful of porridge over her too and
watched with satisfaction as it dripped over her
forehead and onto her lovely silver dress.
So what? What
a stupid thing to be wearing in a place like this,
I thought. And
anyway, she had been annoying me too, with her lovey-dovey
manner, ever since the moment I’d clapped eyes
“Yahay! Food fight,” yelled Jake, and in a split
second he was standing next to me filling his hands with
Dr Cronus appeared at the door. “What’s all the
commotion? I—” Splot. Jake hit the old man with
porridge on his arm then punched the air with glee.
“Result! Excellent.” Old Croniepoo dodged out of the
way and out the door. Selene followed swiftly behind
“Chickens,” I called after them, then I tucked my
hands under my arms and did a little chicken dance.
Jake joined in with me.
“Bec, bec, berk, berk, perk,” we clucked.
In a flash, the others were at the table and all of them
had handfuls of porridge which they were chucking at
each other like it was a snowball fight. For a moment,
it almost felt like fun and reminded me of a time when
Poppy and I had had a food fight. It was when she was
six and we’d thrown chocolate cake mix around. Even
Mum and Dad joined in. That was when we were still
a happy family. That was a long time ago.
Splat. Splat. Splot. Porridge was being fired
And then we heard the door blast open and a very
I stopped mid hurl and glanced over to see a very
angry-looking Mario standing there. He was dressed in
a wet suit complete with snorkel
flippers, and he was
carrying a megaphone. He looked so totally ridiculous
that I burst out laughing, but the others stopped what
they were doing immediately.
“STEP AWAY from the porridge,” said Mario
through the megaphone. “STEP
I couldn’t stop laughing, but the others didn’t seem
to find it as funny.
“Mouldy bananas,” groaned Lynn. “There goes our
hot water for the next week.”
“Yeah,” snarled Jake, then he looked in my
direction. “And it’s all your fault.”
Marilyn pointed at me. “Yeah. She started it, sir.
She’s the troublemaker.”
I gave a little curtsey and held up a handful of
gloop. “Yeah. Because I AM ZODIAC GIRL, don’t
you know? A rare honour I’m told. Anyone like to see
what I do as an ENCORE?”
“Out,” commanded Mario. “
of you. Assemble in
Jake, Mark, Lynn and Marilyn filed out. I stood my
ground. I wasn’t going anywhere.