Blue glows from potential parents.
Ghost stared vacantly up at the sky. Every now and again he trembled.
‘What’s wrong with you? What did you see?’ asked Davina with genuine concern and kneeling beside him.
Ghost’s eyes remained fixed on a point beyond her. He simply shook his head and murmured.
Davina grabbed his jacket and jerked him to his feet. She then dragged him towards the school. ‘Ghost talk to me!’ she pleaded.
He couldn’t, he was still in shock.
As Ghost and Davina neared the school they noticed a large crowd had gathered. A commotion was taking place and students stood about in clusters with their arms folded. Ghost’s lower lip trembled, no doubt more trouble was brewing.
‘What’s going on today?’ Davina muttered as they neared the school. Ms Kirk stood with the other teachers studying a number of massive holes that had been ripped out of the walls.
The remaining younger students, who were pretending to do their chores, glanced accusingly at Davina as she walked by.
When Ms Kirk caught sight of Davina, she turned aggressively towards her and scowled with her hands on her hips.
‘Did you do this? Is this your handy work?’ she demanded.
‘How could I? I was in the woods,’ Davina replied.
‘Oh you were in the woods were you? Why were you in the woods when the woods are out of bounds?’ questioned Ms Kirk.
‘I didn’t know they were out of bounds. I was never told…’
‘Or maybe you were told but you don’t remember?’ Ms Kirk replied in a mocking tone.
Davina gritted her teeth and clenched her fists.
‘Come here and tell me what you think this is?’ said Ms Kirk slapping her hand against the wall.
Davina propped Ghost against a boulder and took a closer look. All the teachers stared on miserably, each anticipated her explanation.
Davina glanced up at the wall – five massive chunks resembling bite marks were quite apparent.
‘I don’t know miss,’ Davina replied nervously.
Ms Kirk peered hard into Davina’s eyes; she was having none of it.
‘I don’t know miss…’ She mimicked. ‘Of course you don’t! Well how do you explain that these odd occurrences only began when you arrived?’
‘Davina I told you if there was any trouble you would be out! You are very close to being ousted. Now tell me what you know about this!’
Davina crossed her arms in defiance.
‘Well?’shreiked Ms Kirk, losing her patience.
‘Ms Kirk I have no idea. It looks like large bite marks.’
‘What on earth could make such bite marks in stone?’ blustered Ms Kirk.
‘A dinosaur?’ retorted Davina mischieviously.
‘Don’t be ridiculous child! Now I expect you to find me an answer by this afternoon. Oh and don’t think you’ll be going anywhere.’
‘But what about the line-up?’
‘Oh no child… not for you! You won’t be in that line up, not until you explain what’s going on here!’ spat Ms Kirk.
‘But what if I don’t know?’ asked Davina with concern.
‘Then you’ll be here for the rest of your life!’
‘But I thought you wanted me out?’
‘I do… but not until I find out precisely what is going on!
Incidentally, at six o’clock this evening you will report to the head of corporal punishment. There will be twenty lashes for this behaviour.’
‘But I didn’t do anything!’
‘They all say that! Thirty lashes! Now I suggest you bite your tongue before it becomes one hundred lashes!’ said Ms Kirk smugly.
Davina’s eyes welled up; stinging tears trickled down her cheeks. She could not win! Davina sought out Ghost but he had abandoned her.
‘Now go and rake the grounds. Clear those piles of stones and keep away from the line-up. Do you hear? Don’t even consider attempting to sneak in.’
Davina nodded sadly and picked up a rake. She hated that school!
Out on the grounds, Davina sobbed while she raked. She couldn’t stay at such an awful place… she had to escape because time was running out.
A bell sounded when numerous cars entered the locked gates of the Nadim compound. Davina watched all the other children run excitedly inside to get ready for the line-up. As much as none of them wanted to admit it, they all wanted out.
Half an hour later, Davina sneaked around the back of the building and peered through an open window. In the main hall the children were lined up according to height. Each wore their name in big colourful letters on their chests. Davina watched intently; all the nasty pieces of work were well groomed and appeared smiley. ‘They say they don’t want a nice home… liars!’ she muttered.
As each potential parenting couple walked the line, each child put on their sweetest face. Davina shuddered; it was like watching people choosing a puppy. How could this go on? At that moment Davina was glad she was having nothing to do with it. She intended to make her escape in a planned way. She leant against a window frame and watched an elderly couple pause next to one of the younger girls and point. Ms Kirk put on her best fake smile and said ‘Good choice.’ The parents made their way to the end of the line looking satisfied.
Davina watched another set of potential parents arrive at the line. They wore small, dark glasses. When they walked the length of the line they shook their heads. Something about the parents made her feel something gnawing at her stomach. What’s more, a blue glow shone from their chests. They walked the line again and checked a list they carried. It seemed that none of the remaining kids fitted their specific criteria.
Davina crept to a side window close to the blue-glowing couple and found a better angle to listen.
‘Ideally we want a boy and a girl. Is this all you’ve got?’ asked the woman in dark glasses. She had huge hands and long curling blue nails.
Ms Kirk wrung her hands and appeared to be sucking something sour. ‘There is one other boy. He is a little strange. I could get him for you if you like. I personally wouldn’t touch him with a barge-pole.’
‘We would like to see the boy,’ urged the bizarre woman, unbuttoning her black, silk coat to reveal a black lace dress. Her companion murmured his agreement.
A few moments later, Ghost was led in like a prize cow. He was still trembling and kept his head down. When the eye-glass wearing parents weren’t looking, Davina watched Ghost scan the pair. The woman was all wiry with a pigeon chest and a huge false smile spanning her greasy face. Her mousey hair was chin length and curly. The man on the other hand had long, floppy, hair and seemed to be in a bit of a daze. From the way Ghost reacted Davina sensed he had noticed something ‘wrong’ with them too.
The potential parents looked Ghost over; they lifted his arms and checked his teeth. ‘Okay he fits the criteria, we’ll take him.’
Ghost looked utterly horrified and went to struggle.
Ms Kirk caught him by the elbow, ‘Ghost, you will have a nice home to go to. Now I suggest you behave!’
‘But…’ resisted Ghost, trying to edge away.
‘No buts. The choice is not yours!’ said Ms Kirk sharply.
Davina gasped in horror. Her only ally was being removed. How would she find out what he had seen in the forest?
‘And we require a girl,’ said the man with the blue glow, as he studied a piece of paper. ‘We have been given specifics on this one. She is acrobatic with dark hair…’
Ms Kirk examined the paper, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to help you with this one. That is quite a specific set of criteria. I would advise you to look over the other children and choose one that runs close.’
‘Ms Kirk we have been told to get these exact specifications,’ the man replied sharply.
‘Unfortunately I can’t help you. Anyway who has set such specific criteria?’
The pigeon chested woman glanced mysteriously at her partner. ‘I can’t disclose that.’
‘But these children are for you aren’t they?’ asked Ms Kirk, her suspicions suddenly aroused.
The was a drawn out silence while the couple fidgeted.
Ms Kirk’s eyes narrowed.
‘Ms Kirk you know who we are. We have tolerated numerous children from this school. Now if a child like this comes in, we wish to be informed immediately.’
Ms Kirk put on her fakest smile and nodded. ‘Of course I will,’ she said through gritted teeth. She clapped her hands and the line-up dispersed.
‘Right all of those children who have been selected please come to my office. We have forms to fill in and have agreements to make. All the rejects return to your chores! Do you understand? Quick – quick!’ She said with a clap.
The group of successful parents and children jostled towards the door of the great hall. Those who had not been chosen hid their disappointment and returned dejectedly to their duties.
Ghost reluctantly hung back. He had noticed Davina by the window. ‘Excuse me, but could I see that piece of paper?’ Ghost asked his would-be parents. The female parent passed him the paper. He read the criteria and glanced towards Davina.‘I know someone like that, but you’ll have to tell me why you want her.’
The parents knelt down and gazed into Ghost’s eyes. ‘I am afraid we can’t tell you, but we have been asked search for a very special young lady who was lost. If you know anything – we would be incredibly grateful.’
Ghost instinctively did not trust them, but there was no way he was going alone! There was something about Davina and she had to get out of that school. Ghost sighed and nodded towards the window. The two would-be parents followed his gaze and breathed a sigh of relief. The girl staring through the window was precisely who they had been sent to capture. They had succeeded in their mission.