Friday Barnes

 

Friday’s Roommate

 

Friday Barnes walked through Highcrest Academy’s giant metal gates and looked around. There was a lobby door to her right and in front of her were students playing and laughing. Many of them wearing designer brands. Friday looked down at herself. She was wearing a brown cardigan and jeans. She asked the receptionist in the lobby the way to the Year 7-8 girls dorms. The receptionist was a pretty young woman with a blonde ponytail precisely positioned and was wearing a bright red blouse with a white skirt and black stilettos that were at least five inches high.

Friday walked past all the rich students and got many stares while doing so. She trudged past the school’s giant polo field with her heavy leather suitcase (she had packed many books) and her black backpack (that looked like it was going to explode) on her back. She then passed the swamp that had a small pier down one end and pretty flashing lights hung across the electrical poles. The school truly was very pretty. In the distance Friday could see two large redbrick buildings that were at least two storeys.

Friday walked through the redbrick building that had a sign on the door that read Year 7-8 Girls Dormitories. She thought that she had entered heaven. There was a spiral staircase in the middle and lines of heavy, wooden doors down the wall. There was also a chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a single plain white door that had a sign on the door that said, ‘dorm supervisor.’

Friday had no idea how she was going to find her room when she discovered that the doors had golden signs nailed to it that read the names of the students living there.

When Friday had reached her room, she cautiously pushed it open. To her surprise her room was beautiful. It had creamish sort of carpet made of thick wool that made you want to wriggle your toes in and two well-made beds with a white quilt spread. There was also very modern yet well-functioning furniture (Friday loved furniture that worked, at home she would normally have to use tools to pry open her draw) and two large walk-in-wardrobes.

The two beds were placed against one wall with bedside tables in between, there was two wooden desks and a chest of draws next to it.

Friday dropped her suitcase on her bed and stared out the large window. The view showed the rather pretty swamp, the perfectly mowed polo field and in the distance, the kitchen garden and a flowing river that lay in between.

‘Gorgeous!’ Friday said.

‘Yes, pretty isn’t it?’ a girl asked.

Friday jumped and spun around. She saw her roommate in the doorway, smiling. Her smile was dazzling. She had perfectly straight teeth, golden hair in bouncy curls and she was lugging on three large suitcases.

‘Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,’ the girl said. Her voice was quiet and airy. She made you want to fall asleep.

‘Oh, that’s fine,’ Friday said. ‘My name is Friday Barnes and I think that I am your roommate.’

‘Do you realise that you are named after a weekday?’ the girl said.

‘Yes, I do,’ Friday said.

‘Just checking,’ the girl said. ‘I find it very common for girls to be named Madison and not realise that their name to also the name of the fourth president of the United States.’

‘What’s your name?’ Friday asked her roommate.

‘Mine?’ the girl asked, as if the question was shocking. ‘Melanie Pelly.’

‘Pleased to meet you,’ Friday said.

‘Are you saying that out of a social conversation?’ Melanie asked.

Friday thought about this for a long second and eventually said yes.

‘Which bed do you prefer?’ Melanie asked.

‘I don’t mind,’ Friday replied.

‘Neither do I. My mind will wander off anywhere I am physically, so I don’t mind. In fact, I’ll give you the bed by the window, because it’s nice,’ Melanie said.

‘Thank you,’ Friday said, surprised by her roommate’s kindness. ‘You don’t seem to be mean and ruthless,’ Friday said, pointing that out.

‘No, they are not my adjectives,’ Melanie agreed.

‘So, have you been here before?’ Friday asked.

‘Oh yes, I did eight months last year,’ Melanie said.

‘Why only eight?’ Friday asked.

‘My family took me to a trip in Africa last spring holidays and I got bitten by a tsetse fly and came down with sleeping sickness,’ Melanie explained.

‘So you’re doing Year 7 again?’ Friday asked.

‘Yes, I don’t mind though because I wasn’t really paying attention first time round,’ Melanie admitted.

‘We’d better head down to the dining hall. My dorm advisor said that we only have three minutes till dinner starts,’ Friday said as the girls scurried off.
The Dining Hall

 

The dining hall at Highcrest was on the other side of the school, which meant that the girls had to walk all the way past the swamp, polo pitch, swimming and the Year 9-10 dorms.

‘Isn’t that the way to the dining hall?’ Friday asked Melanie because she had disappeared behind a gap in the bushes.

‘Yes, if you want to go the long way, but this way is a sneaky shortcut,’ Melanie said, her poking out the bushes.

‘Ok,’ Friday said, following her friend.

She too disappeared in the bushes. Behind the perfectly cut bushes was a tall clock tower with a face that glowed yellow at night. Melanie circled around the clock tower and other buildings and eventually reached the dining hall. When they entered, there was only a few students.

‘Brilliant,’ Friday said, admiring the arch-shaped windows that different colours of glass on it and pictures of mermaids and Jesus. There was a buffet going along one wall full of delicious food.

‘Yes, beautiful isn’t it?’ Melanie said. ‘But the food is better. Mrs Marigold is the best cook Highcrest ever had. She often wanders around the school looking for mushrooms or herbs growing in the gardens.’

And Melanie was right. The food was delicious, much better than what Friday had at home. At home she often had two minute noodles or cold lasagne that was at least three weeks old. It was absolutely scrumptious, the carbon chemistry in the mash potato was almost perfect. The look of the food was perfect too, the right portions and a great balance of veggies and meat.

 

Miss Harrow

 

The first lesson that Friday was biology with Melanie. The teacher was Miss Harrow. The biology classroom was very large and had a whole aviary of different species of rare birds along one wall and high benches and stools. At the front of the classroom was a whiteboard and smartboard and a desk that had papers and files all neatly arranged.

The biology class quickly passed and that became Friday’s favourite subject, mainly because the teacher was great and very knowledgeable. She was also very pretty with brown hair and kind green eyes.

The day passed as usual, Melanie mostly slept during maths and geography with Mr Maclean.

The girls had gone for a stroll after dinner that day and saw Miss Harrow crouched by the swamp with a large bag beside her. The bag looked old and rugged and torn.

‘Hello, Miss Harrow,’ Friday said.

Miss Harrow looked startled and stood up.

‘Hello, Friday and Melanie,’ Miss Harrow said, smiling.

‘What are you doing?’ Melanie asked.

‘I’m collecting samples of phytoplankton for tomorrows class, I don’t suppose that you’ll been in it?’ Miss Harrow said.

‘Yes, I will be. Will we be studying zooplankton?’ Friday asked.

‘Of course,’ Miss Harrow said.

‘Good, I’ll be looking forward to that then,’ Friday said.

Miss Harrow smiled.

‘I was never allowed to keep zooplankton at home ever since my father drank some in a cup of water,’ Friday continued.

‘That wouldn’t have been good,’ Miss Harrow said, showing concern.

‘It wasn’t,’ Friday agreed.

‘Well, I’d better get going then. See you in biology,’ Miss Harrow.

‘Bye,’ Friday said.

‘And girls, don’t stay out in the swamp for too long, especially when its dark, it can get quite spooky,’ Miss Harrow warned before walking off.

‘I wonder why she was lying,’ Melanie murmured, not speaking anything till now.

‘What?’ Friday asked. ‘Melanie, what was she lying about?’

‘Oh, that the swamp is creepy at night,’ Melanie replied.

‘But how do you know that she was lying?’ Friday asked.

‘I don’t know how, it might be because I never pay attention to the important stuff. I remember the useless stuff like how Miss Harrow gets new birds every Tuesday and how she has weird brown fur stuff stuck in her collar,’ Melanie explained.

‘Interesting,’ Friday said. ‘Let’s get going.’

 

The Greek God

 

The next day, the first class was geography. It was a useless subject because nowadays everything could be done in two seconds of a smart phone. There was a time when being able to read maps was a special skill. Now it was dumb, just like the teacher who teaches the lesson.

Mr Maclean was a teacher who knew nothing about his subject. Most of the lesson he just makes his students rate his smile.

Suddenly, in the middle of Mr Maclean’s ‘aren’t I brilliant’ smile, the door burst open. In the doorway stood a Greek god. But obviously it wasn’t because it wasn’t Greece and it wasn’t a god.

It was really just a boy that was very handsome. He had luscious blonde hair that dangled in his eyes, piercing blue eyes and the most dazzling smile ever. He was truly gorgeous and very lean and athletic. He was very tall too.

‘Sorry, sir,’ the god said.

‘That’s quite alright, Wainscott,’ Mr Maclean said.

‘I had a stomach ache, but I didn’t want to miss my favourite lesson,’ the boy said, smiling (which only showed the slightest trace of smugness in it).

‘Are you sure that you’re ok, Ian?’ Mr Maclean asked, showing a small amount concern.

Ian smiled and nodded. Then he strolled (his stroll was more like someone walking on the catwalk) towards Friday. Her breath quickened and her heart skipped a beat.

He ignored her and sat down on the chair next to her. She sighed.

‘How can someone be so handsome?’ she wandered out loud.

‘Who? Oh, you mean Ian? Yeah, I guess. Maybe apart from his scar on his eyebrow, but still,’ Melanie said. She had been staring out the window.

‘Now that Wainscott has found a seat, I can show you a little secret,’ Mr Maclean said. Friday’s hand immediately shot up.

‘Yes?’ Mr Maclean said.

‘You can’t show us a secret, you can tell us a secret,’ Friday said.

‘Yes, whatever,’ Mr Maclean said.

‘What is it?’ Mirabella asked, she was very curious.

‘I have your IQs,’ Mr Maclean said.

Everyone rolled their eyes.

‘Yes, we know, Ian is a genius,’ Mirabella said.

Ian smiled his smile.

‘Who? You mean Wainscott, no he’s second,’ Mr Maclean said.

‘WHAT?’ Ian asked, clearly shocked, angry even.

‘Balm’s is our new top dog. He is your competition for the next year,’ Mr Maclean said. ‘Balm’s put your hand up.’

Friday shyly put her hand as her face flushed red with embarrassment.

‘Oh, are you Balm? I thought that you were taller, and a boy,’ Mr Maclean said, sniggering with the rest of the class.

‘My name is Friday BARNES,’ Friday said, disliking Mr Maclean more and more.

‘Really?’ Mr Maclean asked, squinting at the piece of paper he was holding.

‘Should you be wearing reading glasses, sir?’ Friday asked.

‘No, no. My eyesight is 20/20,’ Mr Maclean said. ‘Oh yes, it is Barnes, sorry.’

‘So, here is our new top dog, he-I mean she will be your competition for the rest of the year,’ Mr Maclean said while Friday rolled her eyes.

‘May I borrow a pencil?’ Ian asked her, smiling. ‘I seem to have forgotten mine.’

‘Of course,’ Friday said, gesturing towards her messy pencil box.

The class had finally chimed down for about fifteen minutes and had started studying maps and writing down answers when suddenly Friday’s pencil box exploded, smoke billowing out.

The whole class screamed, including Mr Maclean. Only Melanie and Ian stayed calm. Although, Melanie is always calm.

‘WOW! What an interesting pencil box. Where did you get it from?’ Melanie asked.

‘I didn’t do it! It was imploded,’ Friday exclaimed.

‘OUT! GO TO THE HEADMASTER!’ Mr Maclean said, pointing his finger towards the door.

‘But I didn’t do it!’ Friday said.

‘GO! Unless you want detention,’ Mr Maclean threatened.

Friday slumped out with Melanie and Ian tapped her on the shoulder.

‘Would you like your pen back?’ he asked, holding out a biro, smiling.

Friday’s eyes locked with his. Friday suddenly knew who had done it. His smile was not handsome anymore, it was mean and she knew that he had done it.

Friday wandered past Mr Spencer’s classroom, he was the teacher of science for the Year 9s and she saw as she passed to the Headmaster’s office with Melanie, the words Benjamin Franklin scribbled on the whiteboard.

 

The Screaming

 

It was the middle of the night when Friday was woken up by two voices screaming.

Friday unconsciousness was sleeping while her consciousness was being coached by Russian. She found it easier to learn a language by listening to it while you sleep. Over the past few years she was able to learn Chinese, Japanese, Icelandic, German and French and was okay at Polish and Scandinavian.

‘AAARRRGGGHHHH!’ screamed the voices.

‘What was that?’ Friday asked, bolting up.

‘Was that me? Sometimes I scream in the middle of the night when I suddenly remember that I have a math assignment due,’ Melanie said sleepily.

‘No, it was definitely someone downstairs,’ Friday said. ‘Let’s go and investigate.’

When the girls reached the first storey of the dormitories, there was already a few dozens of students curious about what happened. There were two boys in fourth form panting by the door when Mr Franklin, the dorm supervisor appeared.

‘What is going on?!’ he demanded.

‘We saw it!’ Benny, one of the boys, said.

‘Saw what?’ Friday asked as she pushed her way to the front of the crowd.

‘The beast! It had pointy teeth and fur everywhere,’ Sam, the other fourth form boy said.

‘Yeah! Even the fur that fell off was creepy,’ Benny said, holding up some strands of brown, muddy hair.

‘Don’t be silly, swamp-yetis don’t exist,’ Friday said.

‘Yes they do and you’ll be screaming your head off too if you saw one,’ Benny said.

‘Yeah right,’ Friday muttered.

‘What were you doing out here at this time of day-I mean night,’ Mr Franklin asked.

‘We were buying a phone,’ Sam admitted while Benny hung his head.

‘But phones are against the school rules,’ Melanie pointed out.

‘That’s why we were buying it in the middle of the night,’ Sam said.

Suddenly Ian appeared by the doorway, panting.

‘Wainscott? What are you doing?’ Mr Franklin asked.

‘He was the one selling the phone to us,’ Benny said.

‘Thanks for your discretion, I categorically deny it all. I am here because I heard you young boys screaming and was concerned,’ Ian said.

‘Ahuh, as if,’ Friday said.

‘You two can go and see the Headmaster tomorrow morning at 8, and you too, Wainscott,’ Mr Franklin said. ‘Now everyone back to bed!’

No one moved, they all wanted to hear the story and the boys seemed to want to tell it too.

‘Otherwise I will leave this door open for the swamp-man to come in,’ Mr Franklin threatened. Then all the students shuffled out as the sky started crying (in other words, it started to rain).

 

The Storm Bruise

 

No one had seen Benny or Sam for the past week. Rumour spread that they had been suspended and Sam went on a skiing trip in Switzerland and Benny went on a cruise to Australia. Ian stayed for two days because his story was so much more convincing, mainly because he’s handsome. It’s hard to tell when a person is lying if they are handsome. But after two days, he too had mysteriously vanished.

Friday and Melanie were down by the swamp, sitting on the pier and talking about anything that came to mind when a boy in Year 8 ran up to them. His name was Nigel and he was good friends with Melanie.

‘Friday!’ Nigel called.

‘How can I help?’ Friday asked him.

‘Do you know Parker Stevenson?’ he asked.

‘Yes, why?’ Friday asked, curious.

‘Oh, he fell asleep in the rain on the polo pitch,’ Melanie chimed in.

‘Really? I know Parker is dumb and I know polo is boring but I don’t find it that boring,’ Friday said, frowning.

‘You’d better and see him,’ Nigel said.

‘What’s the payment?’ Friday asked.

‘Payment?’ Nigel asked. ‘Well, I’ll let you steal anything from our room, such as Spiderman comics or a Star War’s light laser!’

‘I’m not a nerd, I don’t like Star Wars anyways,’ Friday said.

‘At least not that type of nerd,’ Melanie said.

‘Or maybe $100. Parker’s grandma gave it to him for being the first boy in their family for growing over the average men’s height,’ Nigel said.

‘How tall is Parker?’ Melanie asked.

‘171 centimetres tall,’ Nigel replied.

‘But the average height of a male is 175 centimetres,’ Friday said.

‘And he’s not as tall as Ian. He’s at least 180 centimetres,’ Melanie said.

‘Yes, well, his grandmother is 86 years old so she’ll be going by the 1930 statistics,’ Nigel said.

‘Done,’ Friday said, shaking hands with Nigel.

‘Where is he right now?’ Melanie asked.

‘In sick bay, he’s been tested for hypothermia,’ Nigel said.

They passed Mr Pilcher’s (the school’s gardener and caretaker) shed and Friday couldn’t help listening to the animated conversation going on inside.

‘There’re just a few sweet peas,’ the Headmaster said soothingly.

‘JUST A FEW SWEET PEAS? JUST A FEW SWEET PEAS!?’ Mr Pilcher yelled.

‘I’m sure that whoever took the rod and string from your shed will return once they had finished with it,’ the Headmaster said. ‘Would you care for a chocolate biscuit?’

The yelling stopped and Friday couldn’t make out what Mr Pilcher said because he had food in his mouth.

When they reached sickbay, Parker was lying on a bed with his door fully open and a smile of his face when they entered.

‘Hello, Parker,’ Friday said as Melanie went to sit on the chair beside him.

‘Hello, Friday, Nigel and Melanie,’ Parker said cheerily. He was the exact same as he was before, having hypothermia or not.

‘I heard that you fell asleep in the rain,’ Friday said as Parker nodded. ‘Do you remember why?’

‘No, not a thing. All I remember is hearing some thunder and then falling asleep,’ Parker said, still smiling.

‘How do you feel now?’ Nigel asked.

‘Just slightly sore on my thighs but I guess that’s what you feel like when you fall asleep in the rain with no blankets. And my wrists really hurts, I suppose I must have landed on my hand when a fell to the ground, sleeping,’ Parker replied, shaking his wrist.

‘What a nice bandage,’ Melanie said, pointing at the bandage on his index finger. It had nice and cheerful smiley face on it.

‘Yes, very happy, how did you get that?’ July asked.

‘Dunno, I did poke my curry pie a lot yesterday because it was hot. Maybe I got a curry burn,’ Parker said.

‘Parker, where’s your dorm key?’ Friday asked suddenly.

‘In my jacket pocket,’ Parker replied, pointing to his jacket, that was drenched, and hung on the back of the chair. Melanie was closest so she reached inside on of the pockets and shook her head.

‘There’s no key,’ Melanie said, turning out both pockets.

‘Maybe the polo team took it?’ Parker suggested.

‘Why would they take it and why are they out on the fields that early?’ Friday asked.

‘That’s because Ian has gone off somewhere and they need to work hard it they are going to win the match,’ Parker said.

‘Plus, Ian is their best polo player,’ Melanie added.

‘Hmmm, tell me Nigel has anything gone missing lately from your dorm?’ Friday asked.

‘No,’ Nigel said.

‘No lightweight paper or cloth?’ Friday asked.

‘Oh! My Spiderman poster went missing after dinner yesterday but I assume that a bully took it as a prank,’ Nigel said. ‘Last week someone took Parker’s homework as a prank and they must’ve thought that the Spiderman’s poster was his.’

‘Parker, do you remember anything at all?’ Friday asked again.

‘No,’ Parker said.

‘I remember you being worried about an assignment due with Mr Spencer,’ Nigel said.

‘No,’ Parker said, thoroughly confused.

‘The one where you had to conduct any experiment and write down what happened,’ Nigel prompted him.

‘Oh yes!’ Parker exclaimed, realising. ‘I was worried about that and the assignment due on Benjamin Franklin that I had to turn in tomorrow.’

Suddenly the Headmaster stood in the doorway.

‘Barnes, what are you doing?’ he asked.

‘Just investigating Parker’s mysterious sleep,’ Friday said.

‘There’s nothing mysterious about it. The blithering idiot just fell asleep in the middle of the polo field and once he recovers he’s going to get detention for three weeks,’ the Headmaster snapped.

‘No, Parker did not fall asleep. And before I continue I say that you call an ambulance right away or get him examined by a cardiologist,’ Friday said.

‘I just have a sore finger,’ Parker said, holding up his index finger.

‘No, well technically you do but the sore finger is a sign of something much more serious,’ Friday said. ‘He was struck by lightning.’

‘WHAT?’ the Headmaster blustered.

‘Cool,’ Nigel said.

‘How do you know?’ Melanie asked.

‘First of all, I walked past Mr Spencer’s room yesterday and I overheard him telling you that you had to do any experiment you wanted. Since the Year 8s have been studying Benjamin Franklin, the politician and scientist, the first experiment that came to your mind was the kite one. Benjamin Franklin tied the string to his key and then made a kite with lightweight paper and rods, therefore explaining the missing Spiderman poster and the rods and string from Mr Pilcher’s shed. Then, because Parker heard rain yesterday, he ran out onto the polo fields and flew his kite, but like most other people who have tried this, the kite was shot by lightning, the electrical surge travelling down the string of the kite and into Parker’s finger, hence the blister. Now the surge would have travelled through his veins and he feels nothing at all but sore and achy, a sign that he was struck by lightning then he collapsed,’ Friday explained.

‘Oh God, I hope you’re wrong!’ the Headmaster cried, dialling on his phone.

‘Here’s your money,’ Nigel said, fishing out $100 from his pocket and handed them to Friday.

 

The Case of the A++

 

Friday and Melanie walked through the door of their ancient history class, there Ian was already setting up a presentation. He had come back but not in the dramatic way Friday thought he would. Ian was also very tanned. The watch mark on his left wrist showed the colour of a pale blonde boy’s skin in winter. There was a chatter amongst the class.

‘Whenever you’re ready, Mr Wainscott,’ Mr Braithwaiter said as he leaned back on his comfortable looking armchair, ready for a nap.

‘So, some of you may have been wandering where I was in the past week,’ Ian began. But honestly, no had cared where he had gone.

‘I was in Egypt,’ Ian continued, stopping to let the class chatter off again.

‘Shut it!’ Mr Braithwaiter said, he was disturbed while imagining what dinner would be.

‘I was helping my cousin, Jack, on an archaeological dig on the site of Ramses the Great,’ Ian said. ‘Here is a photo of me.’ He held up a photo of a large statue and at the bottom was Ian, on the foreground. He looked like a dot on the floor.

‘I spent five days digging and found nothing, but on the sixth day, I found this.’ Ian held up a coin to his eye level, next to his scar. He held up a photo of him crouched up against the statue and holding the coin up to his eye level.

‘And here it is,’ Ian said as he passed around an old coin that had a picture of Julius Caesar on it. ‘I was allowed to take it home to show you.’

‘Ha!’ Mirabella, the bully, cried. ‘Ian has definitely topped your tedious speech on J.K Rowling, Friday. He’s sure to get a A++.’ She continued on obnoxiously.

‘He deserves a A++,’ Friday said.

‘Thank you,’ Ian smirked.

‘If he’s given points for lying badly, but for history he should get a F because he made three critical mistakes,’ Friday continued.

‘He has?’ Mr Braithwaiter said, snapping out of his zone.

‘Yes, first of all, Ian couldn’t have been at the archaeological dig at Ramses the Great because the site was flooded. To explore the site would require scuba gear,’ Friday said.

‘I can scuba dive,’ Ian argued.

‘I’m sure you can. But do you have a time machine? Because you’ll need one to prove your other fact. Julius Caesar was long dead before Rome took control of Egypt,’ Friday pointed out.

‘Old Roman currency must still have been in circulation,’ Ian protested.

‘True,’ Friday conceded. ‘But you made one more crucial error.’ She stood up to confront Ian.

‘What are you talking about?’ he asked defensively.

‘This,’ Friday said as she licked her thumb and ran it down the side of Ian’s cheek. She looked at her thumb, it was as brown as leather.

‘Ewww,’ the class chorused.

‘He’s wearing fake tan, an extremely good fake tan. But you made one more mistake. In the photo, you are holding the coin up to your right eye wear your scar appears to be and you watch tan along your right wrist, but here you are in real life with your scar on your left eyebrow and your watch tan along your left wrist. You faked the photographs digitally and put on fake tan to lend credibility to your story but you forgot about mirroring the image,’ Friday said.

‘She’s right,’ Mr Braithwaiter concluded.

‘I hate you,’ seethed Ian as he stormed out of the room.

‘That’s not like Ian,’ Friday said.

‘He was cheating on a history assignment, we’ve all done that, well apart from me but I would’ve done it if I had the energy,’ Melanie said.

‘Yes, but he had slipshod research. Ian enjoys being devious, he likes getting the little details right and this is not like him. And where was he last week? He obviously wasn’t somewhere digging in Africa so where could he have gone? Ian has something much more problematic going on in his life because he didn’t get the details right. I wonder. This is all very curious,’ Friday said.

 

The Mystery of the Perfect Cliché

 

Friday and Melanie were down by the swamp. Friday was observing moths that were sleeping on a log. Melanie was down by the pier, swinging her legs about while watching Friday discover new things.

‘Hello!’ Daisy Johnson said.

‘Whaa!’ Friday screamed as she fell in the mud.

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,’ Daisy said walking over to join Melanie on the pier.

‘Are you alright?’ Melanie called out while leaning over to whisper to Daisy, ‘She’s in a whole new world when observing creepy crawlies.’

‘No, I’m not all right!’ Friday snapped.

‘Sorry, I just didn’t want to ask ‘do you need help,’ because then you might say yes and I don’t really want to help,’ Melanie said, making way for Friday to jump onto the pier. It would’ve gone well if her rubber boots haven’t gotten stuck in the mud and she fell over again.

After half an hour of getting herself up, Friday finally straightened up and looked at Daisy. Neither Friday or Melanie has ever spoken to her before, not because she was mean, just because she was very neat and precise. Daisy liked having all her clothes ironed and organised and her hair in a perfect bun.

‘So I assume that you need my help because none of the students here have voluntarily talked to me unless you need my help, and also because you chose to approach me in a swamp out of all those places so that means that you are urgent and also because you have a slight wrinkle on your skinny jeans today, so that means that you are in a rush and nervous. And also that your bun is slightly lopsided. So I must conclude that you need to hire my professional services,’ Friday said.

‘Yes, you are correct,’ Daisy said, fixing her bun. ‘Would you mind terribly if I hold my nose while we talk?’

‘Of course, let’s go back to my room and discuss what your problem is,’ Friday said. She wanted to dust herself off but really that would do no help because there was too much mud covering her (I guess mud is good for the skin). She needed a high-pressure hose to get her clean again.

‘Judith Wilson has beaten me in the last three home economics classes,’ Daisy said.

‘Really? Do you need coaching?’ Friday asked.

‘No!’ Daisy said. ‘I’m the best person at home economics!’

Friday wasn’t sure if that was something to be proud of, if she told her parents that, they would write down many things that she should be ashamed of.

‘Explain from the beginning what’s been happening,’ Friday said.

‘Last term, Judith, like all other girls, didn’t do very well at home economics, her pastries were dry and her cakes her limp. My work, by far, was the best. I got a A++ for everything. But from this term, her cooking suddenly improved,’ Daisy explained.

‘Last week, she made a Swiss roll that was perfect and the week before that Judith made a fruit salad that didn’t just look amazing, it was delectable,’ Daisy continued.

‘Maybe she practised her cooking during the holidays,’ Friday said.

‘No one can improve that much, and besides, being a good cook is not about practice but attitude,’ Daisy said. ‘And even if you copy someone’s recipe it won’t be the same because of your attitude. It has to be in the blood.’

‘I’m gaining more and more respect for home economics. Maybe I shall try it next year, there seems to be lots of chemistry and physics involved,’ Friday said.

‘We’ve got another assignment due tomorrow,’ Daisy said. ‘It’s a quiche, I’m going to make a goat cheese and spinach one. It’s mouth watering. No one can beat that, unless they cheat,’ Daisy said.

‘But you make your assignments in class, don’t you?’ Friday asked.

‘Yes,’ Daisy said.

‘Then surely you can see what Judith is doing?’

‘No, I’m at the front row, Judith is two rows behind me,’ Daisy said with a sigh.

‘What do you want me to do?’ Friday asked. ‘I can’t take all middle period off to watch your cooking.’

‘Just be there at the end. The finished quiches will be brought up to the class and judged by Miss Piccone, that’s the perfect time to denounce Judith!’ Daisy said.

‘Ok, but there will be a payment,’ Friday said.

‘Sure, no worries. What do you want?’ Daisy asked.

‘Ummm,’ Friday began.

‘How about jewellery?’ Daisy offered.

‘Nah,’ Friday said.

‘Clothes?’ Daisy asked, eyeing Friday’s discount red sneakers.

There she had touched her nerve.

‘What about money?’ Daisy asked, desperate now.

‘I like the sound of that,’ Friday admitted. ‘What’s your maximum?’

‘Oh, $1000,’ Daisy said.

‘Ok, I’ll get you back on top with home economics for $500,’ Friday said.

‘Deal. Thank you,’ Daisy said formally before walking off.

 

The Quiche-off

 

‘Why do you need money?’ Melanie asked her. The girls were outside the home economics classroom.

‘Because the tuition here is $20,000 and board is an extra $12,000. If I’m going to be next term, I’m going to need all the money I can get,’ Friday explained before slipping into the back of the classroom.

The classroom was very big with six workbenches, all with sinks, cooktops and ovens and microwaves. It had large windows looking out onto a tremendous garden and one bench at the front of the class.

‘Daisy and Judith, please bring your quiches to the front of the classroom,’ Miss Piccone said.

Daisy nervously walked to the front, with her lovely looking quiche. She wanted to win because her face looked anxious and red. Judith strided to the front, her quiche beautifully made with asparagus and plump sweet peas on the side. Judith’s hair looked messy and dishevelled, there was flour all over it and her hands too. Daisy was the opposite, her hair was neat and her bun was still perfect, there was no flour anywhere on her but her workbench was covered in it though.

Miss Piccone sliced through Daisy’s quiche.

‘Nice texture,’ she said before putting some on a plate and into her mouth. She chomped for a long time while Daisy looked at her nervously.

‘Good balance on the goat cheese and veggies,’ Miss Piccone said, still munching.

Judith on the other hand looked smug and obnoxious, like all the other failed girls in the room.

‘Could do with a tad more salt, though,’ Miss Piccone finally said. Daisy looked crushed, she hung her head and nodded, taking the criticism on board.

Miss Piccone sliced through Judith’s next and laid it on a plate.

‘Stunning!’ Miss Piccone exclaimed. It was really beautiful.

‘Is that truffle oil?’ Miss Piccone asked.

‘Yes, I was inspired by the garden. I picked everything by hand myself this morning,’ Judith replied, looking smugger than ever.

‘An inspiration!’ Miss Piccone said, putting an even large spoonful into her mouth.

‘Delicious! Girls you should all try this. You could learn a lot from this,’ Miss Piccone said, her eyes closed as if she was savouring every bite.

‘Not so fast!’ Friday declared. She and Melanie had been standing in the corner of the room. ‘All the girls can learn from Judith is how to cheat.’

‘Excuse me! Who are you?’ Miss Piccone asked. ‘And what are you doing here?’

‘I’m Friday Barnes and I’m here to investigate the mysteriously good cooking of Judith Wilson,’ Friday said, stepping forward.

‘You saddo!’ Judith said to Daisy. ‘You hired a detective because you couldn’t cope of coming second?’

‘Daisy may have a unhealthy and irrational desire to be better than everyone else at cooking,’ Friday agreed.

‘Miss, Friday needs to go to sickbay, her brain has been unhinged,’ Judith said while all the other girls sniggered.

‘Girls!’ snapped Miss Piccone. ‘You know making fun of someone’s mental problems is against school rules.’

‘But I’m trying to help, she doesn’t belong here, nor outside a charity shop. Her brown cardigan is a cry for help,’ Judith said.

‘I wish I brought a voice recorder,’ Friday said. ‘Judith is putting on an impressive display of teenage verbal bullying clichés.’

‘You mean she’s a cow?’ Melanie asked.

‘I wouldn’t use such a crude term, no matter how accurate,’ Friday said. ‘But her abuse is enlighting. It is a typical response to lash out and attempt to demean your accuser when you’ve been caught cheating.’

‘What are you talking about?’ Miss Piccone asked. ‘There’s no way someone could cheat in home economics. They make their food right here in front of me.’

‘Improbable, but not impossible,’ Friday said. ‘Certainly if the entire class was in on a charade.’

‘What?!’ Miss Piccone exclaimed.

‘I believe that the entire class has conspired to beat Daisy at home economics,’ Friday said.

‘But that’s delusional,’ Miss Piccone said.

Friday eyed the entire class, they looked unusually smug for a group of people who have just failed an assignment,

‘I know,’ agreed Friday. ‘But there’s no one more petty and delusional than a teenage girl. And when you get a whole group of them together, their pettiness and delusion combined to form hysteria, and once teenage girls whip themselves up into a hysterical frenzy they are capable of merciless act. The Salem witch trials are a prime example.’

‘Miss, she’s bullying me,’ Judith complained. ‘I want to call my father for him to consult a lawyer.’

‘No one will be consulting a lawyer,’ Miss Piccone said. ‘And this whole thing is ridiculous and just wild accusations with no evidence to support it.’

‘Ah, but I do have evidence, and I’m sure I’ll find more once I investigate,’ Friday said.

‘You’ll be finished at this school,’ Judith said. ‘No one will talk to you ever again!’

‘Hardly anyone talks to her now,’ Melanie said.

‘You do,’ Friday pointed out.

‘Yes, but I’m your best friend, and besides, no one talks to me either, so if I don’t talk to you then I’ll have to go back to talking to a wall. And that is always a very one sided conversation,’ Melanie said.

‘Girls, just get on with your evidence,’ snapped Miss Piccone.

‘Yes, of course,’ Friday said. ‘Judith, you said that you picked everything by hand this morning and asparagus in your cliché, but asparagus is a spring vegetable. It will not be ready until another eight months.’

‘So? I used canned asparagus,’ Judith said.

‘You’re digging yourself into an even bigger hole of lies,’ Friday said.

‘Canned asparagus looks nothing like the asparagus in your cliché. It’s smaller and more yellow, not long and green,’ Daisy said.

‘Next I draw your attention to Judith’s hair,’ Friday said. ‘You’ll notice that it is covered in flour.’

‘So?’ Miss Piccone asked. ‘The girls made crusts from starch. They had to use flour.’

‘Not all of us are clean freaks like Daisy,’ Judith said. The other girls sniggered and Daisy looked hurt.

‘I can understand someone getting flour on their hands and aprons and face even. But how you get it on your hair and back. Unless, obviously, that someone had deliberately sprinkled it there,’ Friday said.

‘Why would someone sprinkle flour on someone else’s hair?’ Miss Piccone asked.

‘To make it look like she’s been cooking,’ Friday said. ‘When she obviously hasn’t been. Judith just merely reheated a dish from home.’

‘That’s absurd!’ Judith cried.

‘Next, look at Judith’s dishes at the workbench. They are so clean, whereas everyone else has eggs or pastries on theirs,’ Friday said.

‘So I did my dishes? Got a problem with that?’ Judith said.

‘No, you couldn’t have done your dishes because your hands are covered in flour, and even if you wore rubber gloves, the flour would’ve rubbed off,’ Friday said. ‘Your dishes are clean because they were never dirty in the first place.’

‘That’s all just circumstantial evidence,’ said Stacey, who was Judith’s best friend.

‘Yes,’ agreed Friday. ‘Miss Piccone, I assume that the girls know what they will be cooking ahead of time?’

‘Yes, I give them a list of everything that they are going to make next term before the holidays, so that they can practice,’ Miss Piccone replied.

‘Interesting,’ Friday said, she was obviously deep in thought. ‘So if Judith bought a made good from home, where would she store it?’

‘In the deep freezer, perhaps?’ Melanie suggested.

‘Good deductive reasoning, Melanie,’ Friday said, as she walked over to the deep freezer in the corner of the room. Melanie was glad that her listening was paying off.

Friday reached her hand into the freezer. It was very deep. Her full arm had disappeared into the freezer until she pulled out a box.

‘What’s your cooking assignment for next week?’ Friday asked Miss Piccone.

‘An apple pie,’ Miss Piccone replied. ‘But don’t open that, that’s Purrcy, out dead school cat.’

‘Do you believe in reincarnation?’ Friday asked,

‘No, of course not,’ Miss Piccone replied.

‘Then how do you explain Purrcy’s transformation into a perfectly good looking apple pie?’ Friday asked, lifting the lid and inside the box was a beautiful apple pie.

‘I suggest that if you contact a maid or chef at Judith’s home, they will know something about this,’ Friday said.

‘Girls, I don’t understand,’ Miss Piccone said, thoroughly confused.

‘We only did it as a prank,’ Judith said.

‘You’ll all be sent to the Headmaster,’ Miss Piccone said sternly as the class shuffled out angrily.

Daisy happily handed Friday $500 from her apron pocket and skipped gleefully away.

 

The Swamp

 

When Friday returned with Melanie to their dorm, Friday discovered that all of her brown cardigans were gone. She immediately went into a panic attack. Friday was not the type of hysterical girl if their nail fell off and she did not have a teddy bear or a snuggle blanket but her brown cardigans were like a teddy bear.

‘There’s only one place that they could be,’ Melanie said, realising the situation.

‘Really? Where?’ Friday asked, holding back tears.

‘The swamp,’ Melanie replied.

Friday turned to the window found that Melanie was one hundred percent correct. The swamp was right in front of the junior girls dormitories and she could see clearly that her brown cardigans were placed, neatly folded, on top of a bush in the middle of the murky swamp.

Friday ran out the room with Melanie close behind her. She skidded to a halt in front of the swamp. Her eyesight was not best, mainly from too much reading under covers with a torch.

‘How good are you at swimming?’ Melanie asked.

‘I’m ok at backstroke but it takes me at least an hour to float,’ Friday said.

‘I would offer to swim out and fetch them for you but I don’t want to,’ Melanie said.

‘I understand, they were pretty dreadful, weren’t they?’ Friday said, admitting it.

‘I didn’t like to say so, but yes. And even if you do get them back, you won’t have to worry about staining because they’re already brown,’ Melanie agreed. ‘You can borrow some of my clothes if you want.’

‘Thanks, Mel,’ Friday said, even though her friend was taller than her and much skinnier.

‘Wait!’ Friday exclaimed. ‘Is that some writing on the mud?’

Melanie peered at where Friday was pointing, ‘Yes, it is.’

‘Can you read it?’ Friday asked.

‘2 FB FRM IW,’ Melanie said. ‘What does that mean?’

‘To Friday Barnes from Ian Wainscott,’ Friday explained, sighing.

‘Never mind, I’ll use the $500 from Daisy to buy new clothes,’ Friday said, walking back to the dorm.

‘How?’ asked Melanie. ‘We aren’t allowed internet access so you can’t order online and the nearest shop is at least forty kilometres away.’

‘My Uncle Bernie gave me a ham radio. I’ll radio him to buy me some good clothes and deliver them for me,’ Friday said.

‘Does your Uncle Bernie have a good taste?’ Melanie asked.

‘No, but he does have a better taste than me,’ Friday admitted.

Friday was eating her breakfast when a Year 9 boy ran over to her, carrying a rather large brown package.

‘I wonder what’s inside,’ Melanie said, peering over Friday’s shoulder to see.

‘It must be the clothes I asked for,’ Friday said as she tore open the package and she was right. There lay four brown cardigans, four grey t-shirts and three pairs of jeans. There was also another package in the package. It was a box that was wrapped in bright red wrapping paper and a note stuck on the top.

Dear Friday,

I hope you are ok at your school. These are the clothes that you have asked for. And it is essential for all great detectives to wear a silly hat, so I thought that you would need this.

Love,

Uncle Bernie.

 

Inside the box was a green pork-pie hat.

‘I thought that he would get something nice for you,’ Melanie said.

‘Uncle Bernie likes the way I am,’ Friday said, putting on the hat. It was too big and fell down to her eyebrows.

‘People will think that you are eccentric wearing that,’ Melanie said.

‘And they will be one hundred percent correct! I love it,’ Friday said.

Again, it was the middle of night when another scream went on downstairs.

‘Again?’ Friday asked Melanie.

‘Yes, do you think it’s the same boys?’ Melanie asked.

‘No, the pitch is too high and its going on for a much longer time and there seems to be more than three voices,’ Friday replied before rushing downstairs.

To her surprise it was Mirabella Peterson, Julia Kales, Bethany Wilton, Sophie Jackson and Hayley Dorson. All the girls were heiresses to millionaire fathers and even though they were in the middle of the night, their face and hair was perfect. Make up was not allowed but even at night, Mirabella and her friends wore foundation, concealer, eyeliner, fake eyelashes, fake tan, lip stick, blush and eye shadows.

‘Not again?!’ Mr Franklin said, exasperated.

The girls just kept on screaming.

‘We saw the beast!’ Julia said breathlessly.

‘Why do you girls go in the middle of the night to look for fictional characters?’ Mr Franklin asked. He was an old man in his fifties so his mind did not think like a teenage girl.

‘Because of hormones in a teenage girl’s brain makes them do these strange things,’ Friday said. No one had noticed her until now.

‘Because untamed men living in the wild are dishy,’ Mirabella said knowledgably.

‘Yeah,’ Sophie agreed.

‘You six go and see the Headmaster tomorrow at eight,’ Mr Franklin said, glaring at them all.

‘Me?!’ Friday exclaimed, shocked. ‘What did I do?’

‘You’re too knowledgeable for your own good,’ Mr Franklin said before slamming the door of his room. The crowd that had formed walked off sulkily.

 

The Headmaster’s Office

 

When Friday reached the Headmaster’s office, the five girls were already waiting on the bench by the door. The bench was small and Friday could not fit.

The door to the Headmaster’s office opened, he beckoned Mirabella’s friends to come in.

‘You stay out,’ he said before slamming the door behind him.

It was all quiet for a long time. He’s trying to bore them to death, Friday thought. Then it got louder and the Headmaster’s voice vibrated through the hallway. Friday could catch words such as ‘ashamed’ or ‘disappointed’ and ‘suspended’. He ended it with a few loud thumps on the table. Then the door swung open and the girls stepped out, not looking at Friday. Their eyes were red and watery and their mascara had leaked.

‘You! In here,’ the Headmaster said, pointing to Friday. She obediently obeyed.

‘What’s going on?’ he asked.

‘I don’t know,’ Friday replied, surprised that it wouldn’t be shouting.

‘Really?’ the Headmaster said. ‘You seem to know everything.’

‘Well, no one can because new are constantly discovered and it is quite difficult to know all the digits of pi as well…’ Friday said before realising that the Headmaster wanted her to shut up.

‘I have suspended 19 students in two weeks, by the end of the month there will be none left.’

‘But you don’t know when to close your mouth,’ he said, rubbing his temples. ‘I have suspended 19 students in two weeks, by the end of the month there will be none left.’

’19?’ Friday exclaimed.

‘Yes, all the girls from home economics too,’ the Headmaster explained.

‘I was very good at shutting up before I attended the school. It’s many because people ask too many rhetorical questions and I’m terrible at figuring out when a question is rhetorical. I used to be able to go without talking for weeks,’ Friday said.

‘I need you to find out what’s been happening at the swamp,’ the Headmaster said.

‘What’s the payment?’ Friday asked.

‘Payment?!’ the Headmaster asked, shocked.

‘Yes,’ Friday said.

‘Well, you do pay your own fees, don’t you,’ he said, considering his thought. Friday was surprised that he knew this when Melanie didn’t.

‘Yes,’ Friday said.

‘I’ll give you a free tuition, including board, for next term, if you get the “beast” in my office in 24 hours’ he finally said.

‘Deal! I’ll have the criminal at your office at dawn,’ Friday said.

‘If you do, I’ll be very cross, make it nine o’clock, I need my sleep,’ the Headmaster said.

‘Fine,’ Friday said, before turning to leave then halted. ‘Would you mind if I waited by this bench until recess because I have woodwork right now and the subject is really boring,’ Friday asked.

‘GO!’ the Headmaster barked. And wisely Friday left.

 

‘So are you going to catch the beast?’ Melanie asked once Friday told her everything.

‘Yes, of course. The mystery is irresistible,’ Friday said.

‘But when?’ Melanie asked.

‘Tonight,’ Friday replied.

‘Didn’t the Headmaster tell you not to go to the swamp at night?’ Melanie asked.

‘Nope,’ Friday said, grinning. ‘And I was hoping that you would join me?’

‘But what happens if I get carried off by the beast?’ Melanie asked, her voice quivering.

‘That won’t happen because I’m going to be there,’ Friday said assuringly.

‘But what happens if you get carried off by the beast?’ Melanie asked.

‘That won’t happen either because I’ll just bop them on the head with a stick,’ Friday said.

‘I didn’t know you knew taekwondo,’ Melanie said.

‘No I don’t,’ Friday admitted.

‘Then how do you know how?’ Melanie asked.

‘I borrowed a book from the library on Kendo, I’ll know all about bopping people on the head by tonight,’ Friday said.

‘Ok! I’ll do it!’ Melanie said with a smile.

‘Girls, you’re ruining my nap,’ Mr Blackmore snapped.

‘Sorry, sir,’ Friday and Melanie said in unison.

‘Get on with your sanding,’ he said.

‘Yes, sir,’ Melanie said.

Friday looked around, she saw Ian sanding on a workbench behind her. He didn’t seem to be listening, apart from that his ears were pink.

 

The Yeti

 

Friday’s alarm rang at exactly 12:56 pm. She woke up Melanie and the two had headed to the swamp. Unluckily the Headmaster had put teachers on duty all over to school to stop students from catching the beast. The girls had just reached the front door when they were blocked by Miss Harrow.

‘Hello, Miss Harrow,’ Friday whispered.

‘What are you girls doing here?’ Miss Harrow asked in an angry mood.

‘Catching the beast,’ Friday said.

‘Urgh! How many students I’ve caught and stopped tonight,’ Miss Harrow muttered.

‘Can we get past please?’ Friday asked.

‘No, you may not,’ Miss Harrow said.

‘Why not?’ Friday asked.

‘No one will be sneaking anywhere tonight, unless you’re sneaking to your bed,’ Miss Harrow said.

‘Let me get this straight, you’re not going to let us past because you are in an uncharacteristic mood and you seem very angry, which is not like you,’ Friday said.

‘Yes, that is correct,’ Miss Harrow said.

‘Fine, Melanie lets go,’ Friday said, dragging her best friend behind her.

‘So are we going to sleep?’ Melanie asked hopefully.

‘No, of course not, I was lying,’ Friday said as they reached their room.

Friday went over to the giant window and opened the sash, she poked her head out and saw Ms Spritz sitting on a chair right under her.

‘Close that window!’ she yelled.

‘I’m just getting some fresh air,’ Friday said.

‘I don’t believe for a second now close that window!’ Ms Spritz yelled. Friday reluctantly closed the sash and began thinking, she could hear Melanie snoring behind her.

‘I’ve got an idea!’ Friday exclaimed loudly, shaking Melanie to wake up violently.

‘Huh? What?’ Melanie asked, still dazed.

‘We’re going to cut a hole in the roof,’ Friday said. Melanie looked up.

‘The ceiling is so tall and we’re so short,’ Melanie complained.

‘Not if we move the chest of draws and place the chair on top,’ Friday said.

‘Fine,’ Melanie said.

It took at least an hour and a half for the two terrible at sport girls to move a chest of draws and stack a chair on top without falling over. Although, Friday did only fall off the chair twice and only bruise her left knee once and cut open her wrist, but in the end, they were able to do it.

Friday unscrewed the air vent and poked her head out. The roof was not very pleasant, it smelt of rat poo mainly because it was rat poo and mud and a heap of compost. Friday handed Melanie a rope and told her to hold onto it very tightly.

Friday then leaped up onto the roof and looked around, she walked a couple of steps and almost slipped five times because of the slippery roof tiles.

‘Ok, your turn,’ Friday said, turning to Melanie.

‘Actually, on second thoughts, I’ve decided not to do this,’ Melanie said.

‘Why?’ Friday asked.

‘Because if we get expelled or suspended that means I’m going to have to pack everything up and you know how much I hate packing things,’ Melanie said.

Friday sighed.

‘Sorry, Friday. You’re the best friend that I’ve ever had but I really, really don’t want to do this, so I’m going to get back down from this chair and go to bed and sleep,’ Melanie said.

‘Fine, but if I do go missing tell the Headmaster that I was looking for the swamp yeti,’ Friday said.

‘Ok, I’ll write a note of that and put on my bedside table to remind myself. Sorry, Friday,’ Melanie said before her head disappeared from view and Friday was all alone by herself and rat poop.

Friday tied the rope around some weird stick and abseiled down. At first she only took mini baby steps but as her confidence grew she did larger leaps. By the end she had gotten too confident and banged her head on the wall.

She dashed to a bush and peered about. She could see Miss Finnigan, the library assistant.

Miss Finnigan looked dreary and tired and her shoes looked very expensive, not the type that she would have unlimited supply of because of her salary. Friday decided to run to the next bush and immediately regretted because the bush was at least seventy five meters away and she was not good at running.

Miss Finnigan had caught movement on the corner of her eye and turned around. She looked left and right and bent down to tie her shoelaces. She wasn’t wearing any shoelaces but was very good at charades, pretending to do a double knot. Once she had straightened back up, Friday was nowhere in sight because she had collapsed behind the bush. Miss Finnigan turned around to look the other way and began walking.

Friday knew that she was safe. There were no teachers in sight and she began strolling across the swamp. Sometimes she would stumble and fall. Depending on how much she had hurt herself, her ‘ows’ and ‘oofs’ would be loud enough to wake up a bear during hibernating season, not to mention a swamp yeti.

Friday continued to walk and suddenly a large, terrifying figure jumped up from the swamp and roared. Friday did what she had learnt in Kendo and leapt up with a stick and screamed on top of her lungs, ‘HIIIIIYAAAAAHHHHHH!’

The beast immediately fell down. Friday was just going to make a citizens arrest when she stopped mid arrest.

‘Ian Wainscott? Is that you?’ Friday asked, peering through the large amount of mud on his costume.

‘How’d you find out?’ Ian asked, pulling down a mask.

‘Your wristband,’ Friday said. ‘It has your name sewn on it.’

‘My mother,’ Ian muttered.

‘You’re lucky, my mother can find out about space time continuum but she can’t sew, and even if she could she would never sew a name tag for me,’ Friday said.

‘Thanks for the invitation to your pity party, I’d rather not attend,’ Ian said sarcastically.

‘Oh no, I’m not inviting you to a pity party, I’m inviting you to the Headmaster’s office so you can make a full confession,’ Friday said.

‘No,’ Ian said.

‘Fine then, I’ll dob on you then,’ Friday said.

‘You’d rat?’ Ian spluttered. ‘Of course you would, you don’t care whose life you’ll ruin do you?’

‘No, because you are a beast and you have been scaring students to hell,’ Friday said.

‘I’m not a beast,’ Ian said.

Friday glanced at him up and down. ‘Your hairy costume does not seem to contradict to that statement.’

‘Fine, I’m dressed up as a beast tonight, but I swear it wasn’t me the other nights,’ Ian said.

‘Then why were you dressed up tonight?’ Friday asked.

‘Because I overheard you talking to Melanie in woodwork that you would be here and I wanted to scare you,’ Ian said.

‘But why?’ Friday asked.

‘None of your business,’ Ian sneered,

‘Clearly it’s my business since I’m the one you’re trying to frighten,’ Friday said.

‘Well then I’m not telling,’ Ian said stubbornly.

Friday was interrupted because on the far side of the swamp there was a shuffle of leaves.

‘Let’s go and investigate,’ she said, tip toeing across.

‘Why should I?’ Ian said.

‘Unless you want to go back to your dorm and sleep but where’s the fun in that?’ Friday said and soon Ian followed.

‘There seems to be more than one beast,’ Ian said, peering over the top of a bush.

‘That’s not a beast, that’s Mirabella and her friends, her suspension must be over and also because beasts don’t giggle,’ Friday said.

‘Aarrgh!’ Mirabella cried.

‘SHHH!’ Julia and Bethany said.

‘I just got some spider web stuck in my hair,’ Mirabella complained.

‘EWW,’ the girls chorused.

‘How can they be caring about spider webs when they should be caring more about the spiders in the spider webs than the webs and what about leech bites?’ Friday said.

Ian shrugged, ‘Girls are stupid.’

Friday looked at him. ‘You don’t really mean that do you?’

‘You don’t count as a girl-,’ Ian began but was cut short by and actual beast coming out of the swamp. It was much larger and much scarier than Ian.

‘WOW!’ Ian exclaimed. ‘There really is a beast in the swamp!’

‘Of course there is and now I know exactly who it is,’ Friday said as she said that, rain started pouring down. ‘Let’s go and wake up the Headmaster.’

‘Ok, I don’t like being in the rain,’ Ian said, he did not want to dally this any longer.

‘Watch out for the tree ro-,’ Friday said.

‘WAAGGH!’ Ian cried as he stumbled across a tree root.

‘oot,’ Friday said, finishing her sentence.

‘Is it broken?’ Friday asked.

‘I dunno. I don’t have a medical degree,’ Ian snapped.

‘Does it feel broken?’ Friday asked.

‘Urgh, do shut up and help me up,’ Ian said.

And Friday did be quiet.

And so did Ian.

Because they were both grabbed by their collars from behind and a sack forced on their heads.

A few moments later Friday found herself tied to a rickety chair with Ian behind her, too also tied up to a chair. She could tell that she had a sack over her head along with a blind fold and her hands were tied together.

‘It must be three in the morning, in another five hours the Headmaster will realise that we are missing and by nine he would’ve sent out a search party to find us and it would take them at least an hour because the place we are at seems to be very isolated,’ Friday said.

‘I refuse to sit here with a stinky sack on my head listening to the most annoying girl for seven hours,’ Ian said.

‘That’s harsh,’ Friday said. ‘There are much more annoying people than me.’

‘Pff,’ Ian said.

‘Just give me a moment to think,’ Friday said.

He was silent for a full 74 seconds.

‘Come up with anything yet?’ he asked.

‘No,’ Friday admitted. ‘and I knew I shouldn’t have been reading about Kendo when I should have been studying escapology, these ropes are seriously tight.’

‘There’re not ropes but plastic zip ties, the police use them when they don’t have enough handcuffs to go around,’ Ian said.

‘Oh,’ Friday said.

Friday heard Ian rocking back and forth on his chair.

‘What are you doing?’ she asked.

‘I’ve got an idea, just give me a sec,’ Ian said.

Friday heard Ian rocking again then followed by a woosh in the air and a crack and a thud as Ian fell to the ground. After a moment, Friday’s sack was ripped off her head and her blindfold undone. Ian was still fumbling with the zipties.

‘What did you do?’ Friday asked, standing up.

‘A backflip,’ Ian said.

‘But you were tied to a chair,’ Friday said.

‘And that’s how the chair broke, it was rickety to start with, my full body weight combined with physics was enough to finish it off,’ Ian said.

‘Wow, impressive,’ Friday said, amazed.

‘Yes, I know, now let’s get out of here,’ Ian said, hobbling over to the door because he had sprained one ankle. He lifted his good leg and gave the door a kick that would’ve made a donkey proud, then collapsed to the floor writhing in pain.

‘Ow!’ he cried.

‘The door opens inwards, to kick the door out would mean that you would have to kick the whole frame out,’ Friday said.

‘Why didn’t you tell me that before?’ Ian asked angrily.

‘Well, it didn’t occur to me that you, being very smart, would kick it because there is a window over there that we could easily smash through,’ Friday said, picking up the leg of the broken chair and smashing the window. Then she picked up the unbroken chair and climbed out.

‘Hey!’ Ian cried. ‘What about me? I’ve got injuries!’

‘Yes, I know that, just hang on,’ Friday said before dropping down and landing with a loud ‘oof!’

A minute later, Friday had kicked the door open and strolled in.

‘See? That’s how you kick a door open,’ Friday said as she went to help Ian.

‘Yes, yes. Just help me up,’ Ian snapped.

‘You’re Jane with the sprained ankle and I’m-,’ Friday began.

‘I get the reference,’ Ian said, cutting her off as they limped out the door. It turns out that they were kept at Mr Pilcher’s shed.

 

Back in The Headmaster’s Office

 

‘There they are!’ Miss Harrow exclaimed, pointing her finger to Friday and Ian who were trudging along the footpath. They entered the Headmaster’s office a few minutes later.

‘What have you been up to?’ the Headmaster asked.

‘Looking for the beast,’ Friday replied.

‘Didn’t I tell you not to go looking for the beast at night?’ the Headmaster asked, irritated.

‘No, you never did,’ Friday said.

‘So are you the beast?’ he asked, turning to Ian. ‘I know that your family has some financial issues.’

‘That’s not your problem, that’s no bodies problem!’ Ian yelled.

‘What I’m asking is are you the beast?’ the Headmaster asked again, growing angry.

‘No, Ian is not the beast, he has too much sense of humour,’ Friday said.

‘Really?’ the Headmaster said.

‘Yes, because the beast is Miss Harrow,’ Friday said, pointing dramatically to Miss Harrow.

‘What?!’ Miss Harrow exclaimed.

‘That is preposterous!’ the Headmaster cried.

‘The evidence all fits,’ Friday said.

‘It was Melanie who put me onto it,’ Friday said.

‘I did? I didn’t realise I was so clever,’ Melanie said, who they had not noticed was there till now

‘Yes, you said that you didn’t want to skip biology because Miss Harrow always gets new birds on Tuesdays,’ Friday said.

‘So?’ Miss Harrow asked.

‘She’s a biology teacher, what’s wrong with that?’ the Headmaster asked, shocked.

‘Have you seen her collection, she has rare species such as water birds or endangered parrots,’ Friday said.

‘Yeah, so?’ the Headmaster asked, not keeping up.

‘If new ones were appealing then where are the old ones going?’ Friday said.