The Library

By Simon Hartwell

Action & adventure, Children's, Fantasy, Young adult

Paperback, eBook

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4 mins


The United States of America

Alex looked up at the sign then back down the long path to where his Mum stood.
She waved, and he waved back, feeling his eyes prick.
Get a grip, he thought.
He took a deep breath and stepped into the school building, the cool air instantly noticeable to the summer heat outside.
I didn’t cough. Maybe the warm air is good for me here.
“Hello young man, you must be Alex Powell? I’m Mr Cisco, the Principal. Come along, I’ll show you around and then introduce you to your classroom.”
Alex shook the Principal’s hand and followed Mr Cisco around the school, nodding his head at the appropriate moments.
The school looked great, nothing like the huge inner city monoliths, with their metal detectors, high wire fencing, and grim exteriors he had expected from the movies. No, the school in Danville was bright and modern, and he was looking forward to next term, after hearing all about the challenging programs and after school clubs on offer. All of them looked great, though he was a little disappointed to find the Forensic Club did not attend murder scenes, solve crimes and examine bodies but engaged in a variety of debates geared towards public speaking, which didn’t sound very CSI to him at all.
“I think it was a very good idea of yours to come in today, get the lay of the land so to speak. Ah, here we are, this is your classroom,” said Mr Cisco, opening the door.
Alex walked in, looking across at all the kids in the class, blushing under their scrutiny, as several comments were clearly audible.
“Who’s that?”
“Beats me.”
“QUIET!” barked the teacher.
“You ssssshh.”
“Would you both SSSSSHHHH! It may be the last day of term but I will not have talking in my classroom, is that understood, Katie? Chip?”
“Yeh, sorry,” said Katie, glaring at Chip.
Chip grinned back, which made Alex smile.
“Welcome, Alex, right? Welcome to the class. My name is Mr Edwards, your History Teacher.
Alex shook the offered hand.
“Class, Alex is from England and will be joining us next term. Alex, why don’t you take that desk over there?”
Alex nodded and moved to the empty desk, placing his backpack on top. He winced as the chair legs scrapped noisily in the quiet of the classroom and sat down with a bump, to a few giggles.
“Ok class; let’s get back to the lesson.”
Katie looked over at the new boy, her mind abuzz with curiosity.
A tap on her shoulder alerted her to a note about to be passed.
Hand down low; Katie reached as far back as she could until the paper was pressed into her palm.
Slowly, keeping her face intent on the board, she brought her hand up and onto her lap.
With several loud coughs, she unfolded the paper and spread it out on her lap.
“Are you ok, Katie?”
“Yes, fine, thank you.”
Casting her eyes downwards, she read the note.

That must be him 

Her fingers crawled over the desk, like a large spider, to her pen before she slipped the note onto her desk and scribbled on the paper. She folded it and dropping her hand low, passed it backwards.
That must be him.
Yes, but who is he?
Within a minute, there was a tap on her shoulder and the note was once again in her lap.
That must be him.
Yes, but who is he?
The New Boy.
Katie let out an exaggerated sigh. Of course he was the new boy, that was obvious, but who was he and why was he here on the last day of term?
“Are you paying attention?”
“Yes, Mr Edwards.”
“What was the year the Civil War ended?”
Kate looked at the board only to find Mr Edwards had covered the date with his hand.
Mr Edwards looked at her intently for a moment.
“Ummmpf, yes, correct,” he said, turning back to the board.
Her friends in the front row took their hands from behind their backs, each having shown one number with their fingers.
Katie looked across to her best friend in the whole world, Lucy, shrugged her shoulders and pointed to the young man sitting at the front of the class.
Lucy shrugged her shoulders in return and looked towards the back of the class where Chuck was sitting.
Chuck pointed at the new boy before lifting one arm, and dropping his head to one side, as if hung.
“Chuck! Are you having a fit?” asked Mr Edwards, eliciting chuckles around the classroom. “No? Then please refrain from the pantomime performance, and Katie, unless you want detention I suggest you turn around and PAY ATTENTION!”
“Yes Mr Edwards.”
A trickle of fear tingled down Katie’s back. Mr Edwards was the only teacher in the whole wide world who would give out detention on the last day of school! He was the only one giving an actual lesson. The noise of games and laughter filtered down the corridor and through the door to torture them as they sat and listened to facts about the Civil War. BORRRRING!
Katie jumped as another tap on her shoulder startled her from her thoughts. She reached backwards to retrieve the note.

He’s the boy who moved into Black House!
We’ll get him after school

That was as far as she got before the paper was snatched from her hand, tearing as it was pulled from her fingers.
“So what have we got here?” said Mr Edwards.
He walked to the front of the class, balling the note within his fist, his hand shaking with anger.
Everyone jumped in their chairs, silence descended on the room, no one dared move, dared breathe for fear of drawing the teacher’s attention on them.
“I will not abide bullying! Is that Clear?”
All the boys and girls looked at each other.
“Yes,” said Lucy, her voice faltering.
“Yes Mr Edwards!” chorused the rest of the classroom.
“Alex!” Mr Edwards snapped.
Alex jumped in his seat.
“Yes Sir?” said Alex.
“I hope you have enjoyed your day at school and I look forward to seeing you in my classroom next term.”
“Thank you Sir.”
“It is tradition here that a new boy or girl gets to leave a little earlier than the rest, so pack up your things and be off with you.”
“Yes Sir,” said Alex.
Katie looked at Lucy and shrugged. She had never heard of that tradition before.
“Straight home my boy, straight home you hear?”
Alex looked at Mr Edwards and nodded, a wave of sadness flowing over him as he walked across the room to the door.
“Go on lad, the last bell will sound soon.”
“Yes Mr Edwards.”
Alex opened the door and stepped into the corridor, his heart sinking. The day hadn’t gone as he had hoped.
Shouldering his backpack, he jogged down the corridor towards the main entrance. He didn’t know what was on the piece of paper but Mr Edwards was clearly warning him.
As he stepped into the bright sunlight of the afternoon, the last bell sounded behind him. Alex looked over his shoulder as the kids poured out of their classrooms, shouting and larking about, enjoying the moment that heralded the start of the summer holidays.
He took off at a run.
Back in Mr Edward’s classroom, the boys and girls still sat as Mr Edwards paced up and down. All eyes on the clock as the second hand ticked away.
“Okay, you may leave. Enjoy your holidays and I will see you all next term.”
Katie only heard “okay” before she was pushing her chair back, grabbing her bag, and joining the throng of kids as they pushed and shoved to get out of the door. She glanced again at the scrap of paper she still held within her palm.



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