When the bell rang for the end of school, I took my time to walk to Miss Graven’s classroom. I met up with Luke halfway, and he offered me some gum. We weren’t worried about detentions. We didn’t care.
When we came to her door, I didn’t even knock, just strolled in, expecting the same old, boring routine that she always set out for me: wipe the whiteboard (which was always so dirty I couldn’t even finish the job properly); tuck the chairs in and straighten the tables; and then I have to write the same sentence over and over again – ‘I must not be late for lessons with Miss Graven’, until I fill out a whole side of A4 paper.
“Hello again, boys,” Miss Graven looked at us over her desk. “Ready?”
There was silence, apart from the noise of Luke and me chewing gum. I just set off to grab a duster and a board spray and lazily started scrubbing the board. Luke stood where he was.
Miss Graven opened one of her draws, took out a plastic bag and a ruler, walked over to Luke and held them out to him.
Luke looked at it in confusion.
“You know what it is, Luke.”
“No, I mean, what’s it for?”
I saw the glint in Miss Graven’s eyes, and a slight twitch in the corner of her mouth. “Since you absolutely love chewing gum so much, I figured you’d love a job to do with gum! I’m going to need you to remove all the gum from this room. Just kneel down on the floor, look up, and scrape! Good luck!”
“With a bloody ruler?”
“Of course, Luke! And I wouldn’t be surprised if you spent half the time scraping off all the gum from under your table, as you seem to spend half the time putting it there in my lessons!”
Just as Miss turned her back on him with a small smile, Luke swore, got on his knees, took one look underneath the first table, and his face wrinkled into a look of disgust.
At that point, I’d finished cleaning the whiteboard, and, since I couldn’t rearrange the tables as Luke was dealing with them, I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen. I was just about to write ‘I’, when Miss Graven stopped me.
“Sorry, Sam, you must be getting bored of that,” but she didn’t even look sorry. “Instead, I have another job for you: I would like you to reorder these books on this shelf in alphabetical order. Kids these days can’t be bothered to put them back in their rightful places.
“Now, I need to have a little chat with the Head of English. I will be back shortly. Don’t do anything silly or otherwise I will report the both of you.”
And with that she left.
After a moment of silence, Luke looked at me in his mischievous way, and whispered, “Should we leg it?”
I shook my head, surprising him. “I’d rather stay here with you, than go home to my awful mum. She keeps worrying and fussing, and it’s really starting to bug me. So no.”
Luke shrugged, and went back to his job.
I was pulling out all the books from the shelf in alphabetical order, then piling them up, until I got to a thick book that was wedged in tightly between two others, almost hidden in the corner.
“Oi, Luke,” Luke glanced up. “Help me pull this out, would you?”
He came over and we both tugged at it so hard, that when it slid out, we both tripped and fell backward, the book landing on us both.
It seemed to let out a large amount of dust into the air, forcing us to cough.
I slammed the book onto the table and reached out for the other books when Luke tugged my shirt sleeve.
“Look at it.”
The book seemed extremely ancient and the dark brown cover was ripped, but not so much that we could still see strange spirals and patterns across the spine and cover.
“What is this?”
“Only one way to find out. Let’s open it together.”
We took hold of the corner of the cover, and quickly flicked it open.
Darkness enveloped us immediately.
But not quick enough, as we still got to see the strange writing on the first page, written in dark red liquid.
We didn’t have time to think that we were in trouble.
To be continued.