It was a stormy afternoon. One of those final warm and windy days of summer, where overworked mothers and their excited kids spend their time crammed in bookshops waving school supply lists longer than the sword of Sir Aragorn, King of Gondor.
Me, I didn’t feel concerned.
Yep, I’m like that: when it comes to chores, I prefer to get rid of them as quickly as possible. So the 96 page workbook with Seyes ruling, the two A4 ringed binders with their twelve pocket dividers and the Join The Team English textbook had been quietly waiting for me for ages, along with the rest of my kit, in a box stowed under the shelves where my complete Goosebumps, Harry Potter and The Pendragon Adventure collections proudly sit.
This gave me a lot more time to enjoy my hobbies. And one of my hobbies, I bet you’ll never guess, is REA-DING. As soon as a good book passes within my reach, especially a science fiction or fantasy one, I latch onto it and only let it go when I have chewed and digested each and every one of its pages.
I had spent as much of my summer as I could devouring a few classics I had taken from my dad’s library and promised myself I would read. You want the titles? Say, for example, From Earth to the Moon, I Am Legend, or The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde…
That afternoon, I had tried to immerse myself into The War of the Worlds, but I was falling asleep. (Granted, the all-nighter I had pulled the night before to read The Body Snatchers in one go had not helped.) Sat at the kitchen table, I had collapsed on the page, at the exact moment when the barrel unscrews and the Martian points the tip of his tentacle for the first time.
Nestor woke me up loudly.
Nestor is the closely shaved lapdog with UFOs for eyes that Julie, my adorable little sister, got for Christmas as a surprise gift from Aunt Lucie. He is ugly as sin and I often amuse myself by calling him Scabbers, like Neville’s rat in Harry Potter, but Julie doesn’t seem to appreciate the joke.
Nestor was barking at the top of his lungs, like he does whenever a car parks in front of the house. It took me a few seconds to resurface, put my glasses on upright, and understand what on earth I was doing in the kitchen with a stiff arm and a book page painfully printed on my cheek.
The key squeaked in the lock, and I remembered: my mum had left me in charge of the house. She had gone shopping at Swan Walk, the neighbourhood shopping centre. Awesome! With a bit of luck, she would have bought the book I had asked her to, Stoneheart (a story about statues which come to life), paid for with my hard-earned pocket money.
I heard my mum speak to Nelson and wipe her feet, so I took the opportunity – at a speed mightily close to that of light – to stack the dirty dishes into the sink. (Make sure you clean up before I get back, I could still hear her saying.) When the door opened, I was standing at attention, smiling, ready to welcome my mother with a: Hi Mum, how was your shopping?
She came in and froze without saying a word. She stared at me with an expression I had never seen before, let a few seconds go by, and asked this terrible and yet extraordinary question:
– Who are you?
And without waiting for an answer, she continued:
– How did you get in? What are you doing in the kitchen?
(Go to PART 3)