The Piper 7

images-667

Liam could not remember when he had last slept.

Maybe it had been years. Who cared?

What he did know was that when others chose to close their eyes, he wandered.

Everything had taken place as he had been told. He had a sanctuary of his own that had been provided with a computer. The had a chance to catch up wit homework and the present world. He was a boy who should have been give the chance to do well. Now he would seize the opportunity.

Liam attended school on a drip-feed basis.; whenever he needed to feed, he dripped. If all went well, he would become a bricklayer or something else that would require him to work with his hands rather than his head. Good physical labour would be his saviour, either that or a stint in the army. The boy who sat in front of the computer knew that the army would be his destination, but it would be an army that answered to him and not one that fought wars on foreign soil for the betterment of all.

This Liam was a very different the Liam that had been recorded in the records that the  school and social serves had.

At first, it had been the television with its late shows stretching off into the morning. He would then sit through the endless nonsense of chat shows and re-runs. Sometimes he would watch The Learning Channel and that was more rewarding. He found himself drawn to programmes about history, physics and especially religion. He loved religion and would pity those who now chose to ignore it.

If there was one key to the secrets of everything, then the Internet would provide it.

Since its beginnings, men had worked tirelessly to give their knowledge for free. At school, the teachers placed restrictions on access to this, believing that the boys would try to find sites for sexual yearnings. Many of them appeared obsessed with the female form, naked and defiled and Liam thought this was good, but he didn’t waste his time on such matters. Liam was a learner. He had always been one yet showed nothing of this to those who called themselves teachers or adults. Liam learnt in secret, scouring the world for everything that could be of use to him.

Since he had moved in with The Leatherman, Liam had grown in understanding. The body in the armchair had fascinated him. Its controlled preservation was nothing short of a miracle that awaited his own coming. During darkness, when only the light from his monitor fell across the room, he felt the eyes, long since turned to dust, watching him, pleading for release. Time would come.

Somewhere along the way, he had mastered many skills that enabled him to quietly contact others who had been waiting for him. He established websites that reached out insidiously across space, drawing in those who too didn’t sleep. Many were young like himself, but a significant number were older and some were very old. They had been waiting for him and word was spreading of his arrival like echoes in a sewer.

Soon, his nerves tingled,soon.

Liam had recently taken to wandering the streets. Moving like a shadow along the unwanted hours that people threw away. He loved the illicit mutterings of this time, of the groans of sleepers, the scuttle of feet belonging to creatures that ventured out beneath sight, the plotting of acts whose names could only be whispered. Liam was a nefarious tourist, glimpsing a kingdom that could soon be his. The Piper had been right. Everything was turning towards his promise. Everything was moving along the lines that had been drawn so very long ago. Everything, that was, until the two new boys turned up.

He knew of them before they had arrived. He had been warned many years before but had forgotten.

There are those who will not follow you. They are afraid of you, but they will stand against you. If you let them live, they will attract others from both sides of the void. You must find them before they find themselves. I have tried. There is something protecting them, something stronger than I have encountered before. You must break them.

Now those words flooded back, filtered through his plans and forced him to act. The night was his and he moved with the assurance of a nocturnal. He developed his other senses for detection. Sound and smell became his allies as he moved about the streets. He had checked the obvious routes, but someone had been at the school files and had ensured that there was no address for the boys. He had decided to have them followed, yet they seemed to pre-guess his plans and always managed to avoid their pursuers. It had never occurred to Liam that they would come with their own assistance. If you want something doing well, do it yourself.

Anyone who may have been on the same street as Flowers at this time would probably not have seen him. They would have heard the rush of movement as the floor became alive with sleek, dark bodies, but they would not have sensed their death. The city was alive with the whisper of vermin and a flood of expectation. Where he walked, there was a vague tune which entranced them to the core. A shared memory was being revealed and their gatherings were moments to rejoice.

This was what had been foretold, the bringer of The Piper, and now he wanted something from them. He wanted those who would stop what would happen, he wanted to end the line of those who had inherited the hesitancy of the lame boy so long ago. He wanted the Resistors.

images-674

Before long, he would have them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hull And High Water

“the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

“events as yet unseen”

He had been shaken from sleep by a hand belonging to some thing that he could not comprehend. The hand had come at the end of a particularly tempestuous week with the warmth of new hope being chased by the storms rising up from the ground. Now he wandered on the keyboard of his life, choosing words that might describe the things that he may have seen.

The pre-deluvian world was coming to a close. He had not considered this as he started out upon his journey at the start of the week. For him, the clouds had parted and a languid ray of acceptance had thrown down his path. Some inner voice had whispered that his struggle was done, that it was time for him to put down the sword, or the pen, and just live.

And, in that moment, he was content.

He had carried the bundle of content to the place of learning. The content was wrapped up into a tight roll on the back of his bike as the sun arose. He cycled surely yet found time to appreciate the little things that nature had thrown into the fields along the way that he went. “Enjoy the little things,” the voice had whispered and he was even more content. It was only when the great road arrived with the faces of those inside that he took another moment to consider. Yet he, and his roll of content, found shared warmth.

In this manner, he navigated the first of the week’s days. The day of the moon was the day of the sun. For others, Monday was not so fair; tragedy had been visiting in its randomised reasoning and its victims bore the marks of its unwanted gifts. He tried to keep his roll of content to himself as to show it around could have been to invite envy or worse.

“Chairo,” the voice had whispered, “chairo.”

It was all Greek and his tongue did not stretch to it. Yet upon tasting the word, he rejoiced. He had reached the place of contentment and it had been with him all along.

“Chairo,” he sang as his peddles turned for his homeward journey. There was some sunshine within him, some cloud too, some warmth, and some cold.

Chairo. 

When he reached home, he stabled the bike and set about creating a feast for the family. He searched and searched the kitchen, the pantry and the cupboards until he realised that all the food had been eaten. He searched the house for signs of any of the three bears that may have wandered in, but none were to be found. The only thing left for the ‘feast’ were eggs. He counted them and was content that a meal could ensue.

Chairo!

That night, he slept with contentment. All the house slept. And the following morning rose with another sun. His wife and he were exhausted from deep repose and they questioned the reason over morning tea.

When time came for his daily journey to begin, he again brought the bike from the stables. He set off with a hummed tune that was to slowly disappear before he reached the gates of learning. During the day, he did not need to do battle with his wards who appeared to have tired of the struggle. Once again, he was content. But it was at that moment, that he realised with cold concern that he had left his tight roll on the bed that he had risen from.

“Chairo,” I said with more than a little caution.

Then the afternoon arrived and with it came a message. In those days they were called emails rather than the voice of God. The email promised much but was blackened when it reached his heart. He was to be tested for his ability to perform the tasks that he had performed so well for so long.

Chairo was the furthest thing from my mind.

The night, his displeasure oozed from him like liquid from a wound. He did not sleep well having used poor words to speak to his wife. She also shared his cobbled rest.

The next morning he left the bike in the stables and used the car. He took a cloud into the staffroom to share with the people there. He had fallen from a false state and was being punished for his carelessness.

Still with anger at his previous night’s work, his wife accepted apologies and gifted him with another email. It was the words that he had been waiting for, but thought that he would now never receive.

Chairo! Another place of learning in another kingdom wished to speak to him. All was well.

It was later in the afternoon that he discovered a plot by one member of my school to unsettle him. False words, wrong insinuations, damning connotations about his teaching.

He had little time to build an ark, but build it he would.  

images-668

Chairo… 

 

The Piper 6

images-667

Liam could not remember when he had last slept.

Maybe it had been years as he could not recall ever having slipped from the paltry reality of the world of waking. What he did know was that when others chose to close their eyes, he wandered.

Everything had taken place as he had been told. He had a place of his own that had been provided with a computer that had been thoughtfully linked to the Internet. They had provided it as a means of allowing him to catch up with his schoolwork. His situation was specialand he needed to be reintegrated into both school and society. He was a boy with a certain amount of intelligence who had been forced down the paths of illiteracy and innumeracy like so many others. His reading age was estimated to be between the ages of eight and ten but the computer would help him.

Liam attended school on a drip-feed basis allowing him that unthreatening path back to their straight and very narrow understanding of educational opportunities. If all went well, he would become a bricklayer or something else that would require him to work with his hands rather than his head. Good physical labour would be his saviour, either that or a stint in the army. The boy who sat in front of the computer knew that the army would be his destination, but it would be an army that answered to him and not one that fought wars on foreign soil for the betterment of all. This Liam was a very different Liam from the one they thought their records knew of and understood. This boy was seizing upon everything he could as a means of gaining an appropriateeducation.

At first, it had been the television with its late shows stretching off into the morning. He would then sit through the endless nonsense of chat shows and re-runs. Sometimes he would watch The Learning Channel and that was more rewarding. He found himself drawn to programmes about history, physics and especially religion. He loved religion and would pity those who now chose to ignore it.

Later, when he had been given a computer, there was the Internet and this was where he could find everything.

If there was one key to the secrets of everything, then the Internet would provide it. Since its beginnings, men had worked tirelessly to give their knowledge for free. At school, the teachers placed restrictions on access to this believing that the boys would try to find sites for porn and their lack of faith was continually rewarded. Many of them appeared obsessed with the female form, naked and defiled and Liam thought this was good, but he didn’t waste his time on such matters. Liam was a learner. He had always been one yet showed nothing of this to those who called themselves teachers or adults. Liam learnt in secret, scouring the world for everything that could be of use to him.

Since he had moved in with The Leatherman, Liam had grown in understanding. The body in the armchair had fascinated him. Its controlled preservation was nothing short of a miracle that awaited his own coming. During darkness, when only the light from his monitor fell across the room, he felt the eyes, long since turned to dust, watching him, pleading for release. Time would come.

Somewhere along the way, he had mastered many skills that enabled him to quietly contact others who had been waiting for him. He established websites that reached out insidiously across space drawing in those who too didn’t sleep. Many were young like himself, but a significant number were older and some were very old. They had been waiting for him and word was spreading of his arrival like echoes in a sewer. Soon, his nerves tingled,soon.

Liam had recently taken to wandering the streets. Moving like a shadow along the unwanted hours that people threw away. He loved the illicit mutterings of this time, of the groans of sleepers, the scuttle of feet belonging to creatures that ventured out beneath sight, the plotting of acts whose names could only be whispered. Liam was a nefarious tourist, glimpsing a kingdom that could soon be his. The Piper had been right. Everything was turning towards his promise. Everything was moving along the lines that had been drawn so very long ago. Everything, that was, until the two new boys turned up.

He knew of them before they had arrived. He had been warned many years before but had forgotten.

There are those who will not follow you. They are afraid of you, but they will stand against you. If you let them live, they will attract others from both sides of the void. You must find them before they find themselves. I have tried. There is something protecting them, something stronger than I have encountered before. You must break them.

Now those words flooded back, filtered through his plans and forced him to act. The night was his and he moved with the assurance of a nocturnal. He developed his other senses for detection. Sound and smell became his allies as he moved about the streets. He had checked the obvious routes but someone had been at the school files and had ensured that there was no address for the boys. He had decided to have them followed after school yet they seemed to know something and always managed to avoid their pursuers. It had never occurred to Liam that they would come with their own assistance. If you want something doing well, do it yourself.

Anyone who may have been on the same street as Flowers at this time would probably not have seen him. They would have heard the rush of movement as the floor became alive with sleek, dark bodies, all gathering to feel the sensation that had been written into their genetic code. The city was alive with the whisper of vermin and a flood of expectation. Where he walked, there was a vague tune which entranced them to the core of their instincts. A shared memory was being revealed and their gatherings were moments to rejoice.

This was what had been foretold, the bringer of The Piper, and now he wanted something from them. He wanted those who would stop what would happen, he wanted to end the line of those who had inherited the hesitancy of the lame boy so long ago.

He wanted the Resistors.

birds-of-a-feather-300x197

Before long, he would have them.

 

 

 

The Piper 5

images-664

Nightmares happen.

The young man had woken with a start. He was in that instant that sleepers recognise, that moment when they wake surprised by the strangeness of their surroundings. The boy was waking up on a bus that was a long way past the place he was meant to get off. Nightmare!

He must have gone way past where he had intended to be because he didn’t recognise anything. Before he climbed off the vehicle, he asked the driver where he was and received a reply that he had been dreading. He was near St Agnes, in the West Lake Park estate, and this was not an area for an outsider to be in at this time of night.

With the bus heading off into the wet splash of the darkness, he pulled his hood up around him and crossed to the other side of the road. From there, he would walk until he found another bus stop that would take him back. The driver had told him that one would be along within another fifteen minutes or so. Fifteen minutes felt like a century.

The road he was walking along looked like any other council estate road in the city. He knew from experience that some places were decent and safe whilst others were best avoided. This one fell into the category of ‘AVOID AT ALL COSTS’. Another thing he knew about was the evidence of gang markings in the form of graffiti.

The gangs used this method as a form of marking their territory; it meant KEEP OUT. Of course, they were happy if someone wanted to cross into their turf as this meant that they could lay down another marker that usually meant a severe beating that would be filmed on mobile phone cameras. These shots would then be uploaded to an Internet site where the prowess of their gang could reach a wider audience. The boy was not a gang member, but he was not from around these parts. If he was lucky, he would be on the bus back to where he was supposed to be. The streets were empty of people and he hurried along looking as inconspicuous as he possibly could.

To his relief, he spotted a bus stop that had a shelter where he would be able to wait until he gained his escape. He did not see the things that were watching him from the darkness and was not able to hear their alerts and communications.

He looked at his watch. There was no timetable to read as it had been the subject of a sustained campaign of vandalism. Marker pen and spray paint had been used with limited effect whereas the latest strike had resulted in something entirely more permanent; it has been torched. Somebody had doused the thick plastic casing in some inflammable liquid or other and had set light to it causing the plastic to give way to the intensity of the heat and run in unrelenting rivulets along its surface.

Now, as the boy stared at the charred results, the timetable not even a distant memory, he wondered how long he would have to wait. At least the rain had provided him with cover.

A long shiver ran down his spine and he pulled his coat around him. He tried not to think of the things he had heard about. The gangs here were legendary. The stories that surrounded them were stuff of dark mythology and their quoted exploits were too much to even contemplate. He tried not to think about this, but they came back to him, seeping through his consciousness and quietly drowning any optimism that still remained. He looked at his watch again and the hand did not appear to have moved. In the corner of his vision something did move and caused his head to swivel quickly towards its perceived location.

There was nothing.

He looked once more, but found the darkness had become impenetrable. Just the dark, he thought without finding comfort. If he could not see into the darkness, then the darkness could not see him or into him. Odd that last thought.As he sat, his mind imagining the arrival of the bus, last rescue, a dark circle was forming around him. Slowly, imperceptibly so, it began to draw itself towards its focus.

He looked at his watch and tried to pull the minute hand along by squinting his eyes. This way, the whole thing went blurry and he could make the time anything he wished. He was doing this, adopting a Chinese face, when he felt something brush against his leg. He jumped.

With his eyes open now, he took moments to adjust to whatever was left of the light… The rain was still pelting down, cutting away his long view of the street. He suddenly felt really alone and shivered from something that was now more than cold. Something else brushed past his leg, something bolder, something without fear. He looked down towards the floor and thought he saw a rising tide of black water. Must be from the drains. Drains must be flooded.He didn’t have chance to recoil before some other thing barged into his calf followed by another and another. Must be stuff washed up from the sewers.His legs were now deeply rooted in a living stream of blackness. The whole area around him was moving, swirling in angry eddies of intent and he felt fear, a fear that he could never have imagined, and it gripped him in its ancient hands.

He was drowning in the torrent, being carried or dragged along by its relentless progress, when he reached out and saw the approach of someone who would save him.

“Help,” he almost screamed before a black form ran into his mouth and bit completely away, with razor sharp teeth, his tongue.

“What’s wrong? Rat got your tongue?”

Before he disappeared beneath the deluge, he saw that the person before him, the one who he had hoped would be his rescuer, was not really a person at all.

Only a shape; or a shadow.

images-666

The darkness grinned as his motionless body was pulled down through the more than welcoming opening of the drain.

 

 

Hades And Hull…

images-660

A little After-Lesson Feedback. 

Not for some time have I had a day such as this.

Indeed, if such days became common currency then I will never set foot in such a circus that I have been setting foot in for these last twenty five years. 

When students decide to bully teachers by undermining their every word, not following instructions that have to be repeated time after time after time, and other teachers purposely seek to destroy one’s professional reputation by taking it upon themselves to purposely conduct clandestine interviews with students and support staff alike (as to the effectiveness of one’s teaching), hey it’s one Orwellian scenario too far.

Big Sister has been watching me. 

The problem with teaching these days is that it has strayed too far from any creative or instinctive approaches; well that’s the case in many to the schools I have recently worked in. One would have thought that the essence of excellent instruction lay in one’s ability to photocopy resources accessed from the TES or to stand by and activate a powerpoint (purchased from the TES) whilst reading out what it says, point by point with a little emotion.

I truly thought that powerpoint-teaching had had its day.

I am a good teacher. Some students and fellow staff think that I am an excellent and inspirational teacher. I am just happy with good. I am not searching for outstanding, neither do I wish to be adequate as my ego could not handle that. The Big Brothers and Sisters of this new world order are seeking to create all teaching in their mould; a plastic one that will serve to reproduce infinite teachers and ‘Learning Episodes’ in the Model T manner. Every one exactly alike.

I stand my ground with all who wish to drive me into the realms of the robotic instructional drones. I do not rebel against them, but I do not conform. It has been, and will be, my downfall. Bring it on!

My cry for something better than the monocrap that is being served to a whole generation of students and my attempts to give them good and wholesome fair, will most likely fall on deaf ears. I will be a crank and a cynic and they will attempt to place me in the school stocks for liberal ‘rotten-vegging”. But I will never drink from the well that these buggers have to constantly dip into. I will never allow bullies big and small to make my world a worse place.

images-659

I shall have my plenary in this life or the next.

The Piper Episode 3

images-655

The family spent the weeks of the summer trying to convince themselves that this was home.

Only their mother seemed happy at the change of environment. Michael was stoical (that was a word he would have liked to use), Pete was indifferent in the way only a four-year-old could be and Chris was merely somewhat annoyed. The two eldest boys had time to investigate their new environment and took daily excursions out and about the close vicinity. They didn’t want to venture far as they were not prepared to leave their mother alone for too long. Although she had made massive strides of late, the boys shared the knowledge of the darker times but never openly spoke about it. However, their circle of discovery was forever widening and soon they found themselves in the area where their new school would be. A sign read West Lake Park and Chris thought he had heard of it.

“Fancy taking a look?” Chris had suggested.

Seeing no harm in that, Michael had agreed so they ploughed on through street after street of houses that bore an unnerving similarity. They put their radar on, knowing that this could be dangerous territory and once or twice spotted other teenagers giving them curious looks, weighing them up, working out their purpose. Eventually, they came to a sign that announced the school that they would be attending in a few short weeks and followed its directions.

 

Set back from the road, protected by its own bus terminal, the building rose from the ground in a grey stare. It was originally a school built for the children of people who expected more from life. Time, however, wears dreams down and buildings have a habit of reflecting that. St Agnes had fallen from grace. Its walls had taken on the make-up of the late twentieth century’s obsession with carbon fuels. Once stone, now blackened, it offered little encouragement. Saplings, planted to bring life to the grounds had been snapped and broken. Smaller names scrawled on walls in an effort to escape detection now fought with much bolder graffiti.

Mud prevailed where grass originally grew and formed trails on most days that could be traced throughout the building. Huge fistfuls of it hung from windows and ceilings. The bike shed encased a carpet of cigarette butts and sweet wrappers. Even the school name had been party to a touch of modernization as the sign standing outside the gates boasted Sh.AGNESS. It was to this place of learning that Michael and Christopher made their way one wet August morning.

“Looks lovely,” Chris muttered.

Michael couldn’t disagree. What he saw was a rundown comprehensive that only retained the name of a school because there was nothing else it could call itself.

“Shagness. What a great name.”

Christopher and Michael had not expected much more from the school. Even though they had come from a different part of the city, they had heard of it and its reputation. In particular, Chris had heard of how Shagness could produce some of the dirtiest football teams in the entire county and how their travelling support would go out of their way to intimidate the opposition and its teachers. After most games, anyone daft enough to have parked their car within the vicinity of the conflict would find tyres slashed, windscreens smashed or just a calling card of Shagness scratched into the paintwork. St Agnes was anything but saintly.

The brothers had decided to check the place out before the start of term. Their expectations were not to be disappointed. As they stood behind the spiked metal fence that surrounded the school, they shared a thought for the nice leafy comprehensive they had had to leave.

“We can’t afford to keep the house anymore,” Mum had said. “I don’t know how it happened but your father’s life assurance policy didn’t cover what we owe. If we don’t sell, then the bank will repossess.”

They had all had a terrible time since the accident, their mother, in particular, taking the brunt. She had never been the same since his death and the anti-depressants the doctor had prescribed only kept the demons at arm’s length. Now the demons were real and in the guise of moneylenders. Something had gone wrong. She was sure that they had done everything to guard their future. She knew, or thought she could remember, that they had taken out life-cover for both of them and that they were more than covered in the event of the unimaginable happening. But the unimaginable had happened and the life assurance had seemingly become a figment of her imagination.

In their rush to sell the house, they finally struck a deal with a man who said he wanted to develop it into flats. After each survey, he found something new that needed to be done and bartered down the price. When their mother had attempted to stem the leak in the projected capital, he threatened to pull out of the deal. In the end, he got what he wanted at a price he could never have hoped for. The Andrews’ family became downwardly mobile and found rented accommodation in another part of the city which most people did not even wish to drive through.

“Can I help you lads?”

They turned around to find that there was a man speaking to them.

“School doesn’t start until Monday and then it’s only for teachers. It’s unusual to get students trying to get in any earlier unless they’re wanting to set fire to the place.”

The man who was speaking to them was probably in his early fifties. He had shoulder-length wavy hair that had once been brown but was now giving in to the ravages of grey. He had what was left of a summer holiday tan that would keep him in a sense of. There was a rotundity around his middle that well-being for the first six weeks of term spoke of his appetite for good food and wine. At just under six feet, Graham Hunter was the epitome of what the general public would see as a teacher.

“We were just looking,” Michael answered. “We are new here and both of us start on Tuesday.”

“In that case then I’ll be pleased to welcome you to St Agnes’s Comprehensive School. As you may have gathered, it is an institution that has seen better days, but who is to say that better days are not just around the corner? Anyway, Aggy, as I like to call her, has been around for over forty years and has been home to me for much of that time. My name’s Mr Hunter and, for all my sins, I’ve been teaching History here for over a quarter of a century. I might even be seen to be part of the history of this place myself, but I’d challenge any court in the land to prove it. Pardon me asking, but you look familiar, are you Chris Andrews who had trials for United?”

Chris looked up surprised and nodded.

“I thought it was you. I’ve seen your picture in the paper. From what I hear, you’ve got a lot of talent.”

“I’m okay,” said Chris shrugging his shoulders in the way that he often did to ward off praise.

“He’s better than okay,” Michael chipped in, “he’s brilliant.”

“Yes I’ve heard that. Just be careful and keep it under wraps for a while. There are some very small-minded lads here who pride themselves on quashing talent. They won’t like it if a new kid turns out to be something special. And you,” he said turning to Michael, “must be his brother. You have the same look about you both.”

“Yes, I’m Michael. I’m his eldest brother and am not very good at football.”

It was Chris’s turn to pipe in.

“Michael is the brains of the family. He writes brilliant stories and is probably going to be the one who will be really famous.”

“A writer. Now that is something. I always thought that I would be a writer, but I never quite made it. I’ve had a few short stories published but nothing more. I thought that I had the great novel within me and that teaching would allow me to flourish my literary pen and carve a name for myself. Alas, it doesn’t appear that it is ever going to be.”

Both boys felt an instant liking for the teacher in a way that they had not felt for a long time. He was easy to listen to and hard to dislike. If nothing else, he promised to be something worthwhile at their new school.

“Now I’m not supposed to do this, lads, but I’ll give you a tour of the place. It’s always better without the teachers and the students.”

When they got back to the gates, a small group of local lads had gathered. Some were riding their BMX bikes in lazy Es obviously eating up time. Others had positioned themselves on the seats of the bus shelter and were engaged in a mixture of smoking and spitting, mainly they were waiting.

“The smoke signals have been going up,” Mr Hunter sighed resignedly.

Michael looked at him and asked what he meant by that.

“You haven’t met them yet, but that is a welcoming party from the local estate. They like to think of themselves as a crew or a gang. Unfortunately, they are waiting for you.”

“Why?” asked Michael perturbed.

His younger brother looked at him no longer amazed by his lack of street knowledge.

“Because we are on their territory, in their manor and we didn’t have an invitation.”

Again, the look on his older brother’s face illustrated confusion.

“Chris is right,” said the teacher. “The school is right in the middle of gangland and this one belongs to a group called the WLP, West Lake Park, the name of the estate. I think it would be better if I gave you a lift home.”

By this time, the members of the gang had spotted them and were starting to turn around.

“Hunter, are those your boys?”

“Are those your rent boys?”

Each of the group took the lead from the previous and added their own take on the enquiries before the teacher led the two back towards the car park. The name-calling intensified and reminded Michael of the noise a pack of hyenas made after they had surrounded their prey.

“I would say don’t worry about them, but that would be silly. Be very careful of those lads and don’t be caught out by them. They are like a pack of animals and I shudder to think what they could do or have probably done already. When you come to school, always make sure you take the bus or get a lift. Never, and I mean never travel through the estate on foot. Do you promise me that?”

There was genuine concern written across his face as he asked this and the brothers nodded with a yes chorused from between them. All understood, the teacher opened the doors of his vehicle which was a partly restored VW camper van. Transport from another age. The gang was outside lining the exit throwing taunts and accusations as they left. One lad, in particular, wore a twisted expression of contorted aggression.

“That, as you will find out, is Mr Podrall, one time leader of the merry men, now second in command to a usurper named Flowers. The other lad is new to the school and is, I know I shouldn’t be saying this to you, a very dangerous character that makes the rest look like Telly Tubbies.”

His passengers laughed at that, but got the picture. The VW pulled away onto the main road leading out of the estate and with that, another chapter was about to be written about lives that were to be anything other than ordinary. 

images-656

Their narrative was following an unseen course.

 

 

The Waking Dread…

images-652

A pulse of excitement ran through me yesterday as I looked at my phone and saw that an email had arrived in my inbox.

RE: English Position, it promised. My heart raced as I saw the thing that I wanted for the future offer itself to me; with the slight obstacle of an interview.

As another teacher was talking to me, I was nodding my head as if I was an active participant in her conversation. As she continued, my mind struggled to focus in the same manner that my fingers were struggling to open the attachment.

Disappointment fell on me. It was one dreaded moment of my new reality that I never wished to meet.

My invitation to interview was for the school that I am currently doing supply at. I had popped the letter of application in a number of weeks previously and had not heard anything since. I thought I was safe. My initial excitement had been for one of the schools in Spain that I had applied to, but I am obviously an old log, trapped in a lumberjack’s log-jam whilst slowly rotting away with the other old logs.

So there I was being invited to interview at a place that I have been teaching at for almost six months. I was asked to bring my passport, police checks, and qualifications. I was asked to be there at 8.30, prompt. I was told that I would be teaching a sample thirty minute lesson and would be observed. I don’t quite know how many Fs their are in HOOK, but I felt that I had been landed.

This morning, I woke at 4am and stayed awake. My wife was not speaking to me for something that I inadvertently said before we went to bed. When I got out of bed, I knew that this was my last chance to be abnormal.

images-653

Dread is sitting beside me as I write.

It’s got a dark smirk of victory wiped across its face.

“Welcome back, boy.”