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Authors: Pam Harvey

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BOOK: In the Deep End
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There was only one way out—back the way she’d come. Hannah sped down the corridors, running as fast as she’d ever run before. Through the office and into the mouse room. Hannah paused, her chest heaving. There was something different about the place. She listened—trying to ignore her pounding chest. The mice. She peered into one of the cages. They were gone. All of them. Someone had been here—maybe was
still
here. She glanced around the room, left then right. It was empty.

She turned back to the cages. None of them had floors. Someone, or some automated system, had slid the floors of the cages away. Hannah peered into them. The mice would have disappeared into the black void she was looking at. But disappeared to where? The tunnels, she thought, suddenly remembering the mice they’d encountered in the green tube.

Without another thought, she raced to the door and opened it. She’d never been more relieved to see her bike.

All I have to do now is take this swipe card back, she thought to herself, her breathing slowly returning to normal. But that was going to have to wait till morning.

Hannah touched the card in her pocket and headed home.

Chapter 9
Teasdale Secondary School: Wednesday morning

Hannah rode her bike to school alone the next day. She’d slept with the swipe card under her pillow and dreamed all night that she was sliding down a tunnel with an avalanche of green ice cream cascading down after her. When she got to school, only a scattering of people were there. Good, she thought. I’ll be able to get into the classroom and put the card back.

But it wasn’t as easy as that. She was so early that the room hadn’t been unlocked yet. Hannah stood staring in through the glass at the empty room and rattled the door handle angrily. In ten minutes, most of the other kids would be arriving and the last thing she wanted was to get caught with the swipe card in her bag. She turned the handle hard and pushed against the door.

‘I think it’s locked, Hannah.’

Mrs Kent, the librarian, was walking along the corridor with a box of books. Hannah smiled at her. Mrs Kent was the sort of teacher who never had to yell and always seemed pleased to see a student.

‘Hi, Mrs Kent. I was just trying to get in to get my Maths book. I think I left it in my locker yesterday.’ Hannah surprised herself at how easily she was lying. ‘I really need to get it before class so I can get my homework done.’

Mrs Kent stopped beside Hannah and looked up and down the corridor. No other teacher was in sight. ‘I’ve got keys somewhere,’ she said, trying to balance the box with one hand and feel in her jeans pocket with the other.

‘Can I hold those for you?’ Hannah reached for the box and Mrs Kent gave it to her.

‘Got them.’ The librarian unlocked the door and smiled at Hannah. ‘I’ll wait here while you get it. Then I can lock up.’

Hannah looked at Mrs Kent over the box of books. How am I going to put the card back if she’s watching? she thought. She tried to think of some emergency that a librarian would have to go to straight away (an invasion of bookworms?) but couldn’t think of anything
that would send Mrs Kent packing. ‘If you just flick the lock at the back, the door pulls closed already locked. I can do that if you want and then you don’t have to stay.’

Mrs Kent took the box back. ‘Oh no, I’ll wait. I don’t mind. I might do a quick sort of these books I’ve got. I think some of them belong in here.’ She walked into the room and put the box on the teacher’s table.

Great, thought Hannah. I can’t put the card back now. She moved into the room and pretended to look in her locker for the missing Maths book.

Mrs Kent was piling the books up on the table, looking at the spine of each one before stacking it on the others. Hannah slammed the door of her locker, sighing loudly.

‘Can’t find it?’ Mrs Kent paused and looked up at Hannah.

‘Maybe Mrs Stevens put it on her table.’ Hannah walked to the front of the room.

‘I didn’t see anything here.’ Mrs Kent frowned and glanced around the neat table top. Her books were the only items on it.

‘She might have put it in her drawer.’ Hannah moved closer to the table.

‘Let’s have a look.’ Mrs Kent pulled the drawer open. At the same time, Hannah turned slightly, her heavy school bag knocking into the pile of books and sending them sliding onto the floor.

‘Oh! I’m so sorry!’ Hannah put on a horrified expression and leapt around the table to pick the books up. She wedged herself between the drawer and Mrs Kent.

‘It’s okay, really. It was such a wobbly pile.’ Mrs Kent bent down and started gathering books in her arms. By the time all the books had been picked up, the drawer was safely closed, its treasure returned and Hannah had lifted the box off the table.

‘Did you find your book?’ asked Mrs Kent, locking the door as they left the room.

‘No,’ said Hannah. ‘But that’s alright. Someone else probably got it for me.’

‘I hope so,’ said Mrs Kent. ‘I hope it hasn’t been stolen.’

‘Someone might have borrowed it,’ said Hannah with a serious look on her face. ‘Borrowing’s alright.’

‘Only if it gets returned.’ Mrs Kent wriggled her fingers goodbye and made her way up the corridor again.

Hannah smiled. Thanks to you, Mrs Kent, it is returned.

The rest of the day at school seemed long. Hannah couldn’t concentrate and stared out of the window a lot. She’d been so keen to get the swipe card back into the drawer that she hadn’t thought a lot about what she’d actually seen at Explore! Now it was going around and around in her head. What
was
going on? It looked like Dave Kelly’s score had been changed. Who had changed it? And why? Why would anyone want Dave Kelly to represent the school in a competition like that? Maybe it was his parents or his brothers who’d changed the score?

Hannah shook her head. There would be no way his hard-working parents and chook-loving brothers would bother setting Dave up in a competition like that. She glanced over at Dave, sitting up the back still looking pleased with himself. Or would they? The
Whatever, Wherever
prize money would help their farm.

‘Hannah Williams.’ Mr Gifford’s voice cut through her thoughts. ‘I’m having trouble
getting you to concentrate today. Can you tell me the answer to the question I just asked?’

Hannah felt her face redden. ‘I’m sorry, Mr Gifford. I didn’t hear your question.’

‘Probably doesn’t know the answer,’ someone muttered behind her. ‘Not as clever as we thought.’

Hannah stared hard at the front of the room as Mr Gifford asked someone else for the answer. She was in two minds about telling the whole class that Dave Kelly’s test had been rigged and that she was the rightful winner of the competition. Hannah glanced behind and found herself looking at Andrea Simpson, sniggering with Darcy Lane.

Angus didn’t wait for Hannah after school. She didn’t blame him. He’d had cricket training at lunchtime and she hadn’t had a chance to talk to him about what she’d seen. He probably thought she was angry with him like she’d been angry with Gabby. E.D. had been hanging around but she didn’t want to speak to him without talking to Angus first, so she’d just left him to eat his lunch.

Without thinking about it, Hannah found herself going towards Gabby’s house. It was a
ten-minute bike ride out of the way but that was okay. Gabby will be home training, thought Hannah.

She was right.

Gabby was in the pool, swimming her heart out. Pat wasn’t there and Hannah sat herself in a chair and watched. Gabby kept doing laps, using a float between her knees to make her arms work harder. After five minutes, Hannah stood up and waved at her but Gabby didn’t stop. Unsure that she’d been seen, Hannah sat down again.

Gabby’s pink and white phone was balanced on the arm of the chair and Hannah picked it up idly, flicking through to text messages. The last one was from Ling:
I believe in you Gab yr an awesome swimmer.
Hannah put the phone back on the chair.

She stood and waved after another five minutes and then realised what was going on. Gabby had seen her—probably ten minutes ago—but she wasn’t going to stop.

‘Fine, then,’ yelled Hannah at the water. ‘I hope you dissolve! I’m going home.’ She hoisted her bag onto her back and walked away.

Gabby reached the end of the pool and went to turn. She glanced in Hannah’s direction to check that she was still waiting and saw nothing.
She stopped. Hannah was just disappearing through the pool gate. Quickly, Gabby hoisted herself smoothly out of the water.

‘Hannah!’

Hannah kept on walking. Maybe she hadn’t heard.

‘HANNAH!!’

Hannah stopped and turned around. The girls looked at each other.

‘Well…’ said Gabby.

‘So…’ said Hannah.

‘I’m sorry,’ they said together. And they both laughed.

‘I didn’t mean anything the other day,’ said Gabby, stepping forward and giving Hannah a watery hug.

‘Yuck!’ Hannah shook the drips off her. ‘I know you didn’t. I was just feeling a bit grumpy. The competition and all that.’

‘Yeah, I know.’ Gabby grabbed her towel from where it was hanging on the fence. ‘Believe me, I know what it’s like to lose a competition.’

‘But I didn’t lose, Gab. Listen to this.’

Gabby listened carefully, taking in Hannah’s story of the night before. They sat in silence for a moment afterwards.

‘So something’s not right,’ Gabby said slowly.

‘You’re telling me.’

‘What do the boys think?’

‘I haven’t told them yet.’

‘I’ll go and ring them to come over.’ Gabby stood up. ‘I think we need all our heads together on this one.’

As she walked inside to use the phone, Hannah smiled. There was one thing about Gabby—if she wanted things to happen, they happened. Hannah glanced at her watch. She gave the boys eight minutes to be here.

It took them five minutes. But they cheated—they came across the paddocks on E.D.’s motocross bike.

‘I am so hot,’ Angus said as he pulled his helmet off.

‘No wonder,’ said Hannah, looking at the motorbike jackets the boys were wearing.

‘New gear,’ said E.D., proudly brushing the front of his black jacket. ‘Pump brand. Cool.’

‘No, hot.’ Angus pulled his off and flung it over a chair. ‘Your mum thinks we’re safer with these on, but she hadn’t counted on death by overheating.’

‘Easy to fix that.’ E.D. winked at Hannah, pulled his jacket and boots off, and, without another word, jumped into the pool.

Hannah had to take Gabby away for a while until Angus hauled E.D. and his soggy clothes out of the water. ‘He jumped into my pool with his clothes on!’ Gabby was gasping. ‘They’re covered in grease and he jumped into my pool!’

‘Did you want him to take his clothes off?’ Hannah said.

Gabby looked like she was going to faint. ‘No way. That would be
worse.

‘Well, then. That’s alright. Your pool will be fine.’

When they got back, E.D. was lying on the front lawn drying himself. Angus was trying not to laugh. ‘So why have you dragged us over here?’

Hannah launched into her story again and the smile left Angus’s face as he listened. ‘Let me get this straight,’ he said after Hannah had finished. ‘There’s something going on at Explore! First we have Andrea turning up there instead of going to the pool for training.’

‘It doesn’t look like she trains at all,’ muttered Gabby, angrily.

‘Then we have vicious guard dogs to stop anyone else getting in.’

‘Not that vicious,’ said E.D. from the grass, ‘if you have cabana sticks.’

‘And now we’ve got competition results that look like they’ve been fudged, a secret file that was about to self-destruct and a café with some weird-looking stuff out the back.’ Angus frowned. ‘There are a lot of things here that don’t make any sense.’

‘Do you know what the strangest thing is?’ Gabby said, turning her back to E.D. and looking at Angus.

‘What?’

‘We have Andrea winning swimming races that she shouldn’t have won. And Dave winning competitions that he shouldn’t have won.’

‘And,’ said Hannah, leaning forward, ‘they both have a connection to Explore!’

‘They need watching,’ said E.D. with his eyes closed. ‘Watching very closely.’

‘For once, E.D.,’ said Hannah, throwing Gabby’s wet towel at him, ‘you’re right.’

Chapter 10
Teasdale Secondary School: Thursday morning

It was easy for Hannah to sit near Dave Kelly at school—he was in most of her classes. It was different with Andrea Simpson. Andrea was in the other form and Hannah only saw her in LOTE.

‘It’s okay,’ grumbled E.D., ‘I’ll watch her. She sits in front of me. In fact, I can’t see the board half the time because of her.’

‘That’s because you’re slouching in your chair,’ said Angus with a grin.

‘It’s just so
boring
,’ said E.D. ‘I can’t help slouching. I just seem to slide down in my seat without even noticing.’

‘And you fall asleep.’ Angus punched his friend in the arm.

‘I’m always tired,’ E.D. said. ‘I live a hard life.’

‘You?’ Angus laughed. ‘You’re not the one who gets up before sunrise to help train racehorses.’

‘You’re right on that. I’m the one who stays up late fixing cars!’

‘Alright, alright. I get it.’ Hannah stood up as the bell went. ‘You guys just watch Andrea and I’ll keep an eye on Dave.’

In Science, Hannah sat herself directly behind him. That was easy to do because, for the first time in his life, Dave sat in the front row. The class behaved themselves in Science because Mr Gibney was always doing experiments, some of which didn’t work so well. Most Science classes ended with some sort of bang and a lot of stuff spilt everywhere.

Mr Gibney stood in front of the class, looking even happier than usual. ‘Hello, troopers. Today I’ve got a tricky little experiment for you to do. And it means working out the correct formulae first before you go mixing it up. I’ll hand out the sheets now and let you have a look.’

Hannah watched Dave get his sheet. He bent his head over it and read it closely. Ha! thought Hannah. He probably doesn’t even understand it.

But Dave was the first one to start writing. Hannah looked at her sheet and chewed the end
of her pencil. It was a simple chemical equation that Mr Gibney had given them, but Hannah knew that if it wasn’t worked out properly there’d be no chemical reaction and the mixture would look like water. If it was done right, the liquid should go a brilliant blue.

‘If you think you’re ready,’ said Mr Gibney, ‘choose a partner and start the experiment.’

Hannah finished her calculations and looked around the room for someone to partner. No one else had finished except Dave.

‘Hannah,’ said Mr Gibney, ‘go with Dave.’

‘But—’ Hannah started to protest then thought again. How better to watch Dave than to do an experiment with him? She left her seat and went over to him. ‘How did you go, Dave?’

Dave held out his sheet for Hannah to look at. She stared at it in surprise. In neat writing, with no cross-outs, he’d filled in the answers exactly the same as hers. Hannah looked at him closely and was surprised to see that Dave was smiling.

‘Didn’t expect that, did you?’ Dave said quietly. ‘Things have changed. Thought I was dumb, didn’t you?’

Hannah checked his paper again. There was no doubt about it—Dave had done the whole sheet correctly. She looked at him.

‘How come you’ve never done anything smart before?’

Dave didn’t get offended. He just grinned. ‘Wouldn’t
you
like to know?’

By lunchtime, it was beginning to be a drag watching Dave Kelly all the time. After Science there was Library and LOTE. He named the capital cities of sixteen American states without batting an eyelid. Then he recited a whole poem in German. Everyone in the class was amazed. As the bell went for lunch, a crowd gathered around Dave and walked out with him. Hannah was left alone, chewing her pen and frowning. This is not happening, she thought angrily. No one goes from being unknown to popular in one week. No one gets that smart so quickly.

She ate her lunch in the library, hiding behind the fiction shelves marked S—Z. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see Angus and E.D. but suddenly there was a whole lot more to think about. Through the window she could see Dave still surrounded by a group of kids, laughing and throwing a ball. He caught it and kicked it across the yard, landing it among a group of year 10s who turned around quickly. Dave high-tailed it
out of the yard, leaving the rest of his group standing there to face the older kids. Hannah smiled to herself. Suddenly being smart didn’t make you popular with everyone.

Hannah slipped out of the library and trailed Dave again. He was walking by himself towards the oval and she kept well behind. He went over the bank and onto the grass. Hannah waited a few minutes before following. There wasn’t anywhere to hide on the oval. She wasn’t sure what she was going to see if she kept watching him but she couldn’t think what else to do. She noticed Angus and E.D. down near the far corner of the footy field. It didn’t look like they were following Andrea—maybe they could take over and watch Dave.

‘There’s Hannah Williams,’ said a voice beside her.

Hannah looked across the bank. A group of boys from year 7 were sitting on the grass.

‘Yeah,’ said Darcy Lane. ‘She used to be smart.’

Hannah stopped. ‘What do you mean,
used
to be?’

‘Not so clever now, are you? Dave’s cleverer than you.’ Darcy laughed and the other boys joined in.

‘Don’t you think it’s strange that Dave is suddenly so clever?’ Hannah crossed her arms and looked at the boys.

‘Oooooh! Hannah’s jealous!’ Darcy stood up. ‘Hey, Dave! Come over here! Let’s have another competition and see who wins.’

‘Yeah, right,’ said Hannah. ‘And who’s going to ask the questions? You, Darcy? You wouldn’t know the difference between a triangle and a rectangle.’

Darcy went red and stalked over to Hannah. ‘Just can’t help yourself, eh?’

From the corner of her eye, Hannah saw Dave Kelly join the group, along with a whole lot of others. She felt a hot flush of anger and stared at Darcy. ‘Get lost, Darcy. I don’t have to talk to you.’ She began to walk away but was blocked by Darcy’s gang surrounding her. ‘Give me a break,
boys
,’ she said in disgust.

‘Not so smart now,’ Darcy said. He gave Hannah a shove and she nearly fell.

‘Leave her alone, Darcy.’ Angus stepped out of the crowd to stand next to Hannah. ‘She’s done nothing to you.’

‘Sorry, Angus. I didn’t mean to touch your
girlfriend.
’ Darcy grinned nastily. ‘I think I ought to tell you, though, she doesn’t like
you
any
more. She’s got the hots for Dave.’ Darcy pushed Dave forward and he stumbled into Angus.

‘Get off me!’ Angus yelled and shoved Dave back. Dave reeled into Hannah.

‘Love birds!’ Darcy shrieked and the crowd started laughing.

‘So, what’s going on?’ E.D. appeared next to Angus, his hair pushed back from his eyes. He stared at Darcy. ‘Are you pushing my friends around?’

‘It’s okay, E.D.,’ Hannah said loudly. ‘They’re just morons!’

‘Why you—’ Darcy stepped forward to have a go at Hannah and found E.D. standing in front of him.

‘I wouldn’t do that if I was you,’ said E.D. dangerously.

‘Push off,
Emilio.

It wasn’t clear who swung the first punch but suddenly it was on. Angus grabbed Hannah and pulled her right away while shouts of ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ started up. The crowd grew bigger as E.D. and Darcy pushed and shoved each other.

‘Stop it!’ yelled Hannah. ‘Someone will get hurt!’

‘Let them go,’ Angus said. ‘E.D. can look after himself.’

‘This is stupid,’ said Hannah, twisting away from Angus’s grip. ‘Darcy’s just an idiot and E.D. will get into trouble.’

Trouble came quickly. Suddenly the crowd began to melt away until just E.D., Darcy and a stunned-looking Dave were left in the centre of the fight. ‘Cut it out!’ roared Mr Benson, stepping into the arena and risking a punch himself. ‘Get up!’ He reached down and grabbed the boys by the back of their shirts. ‘You lot are going to the principal’s office. This is ridiculous behaviour!’ He started walking, dragging E.D. and Darcy with him. ‘You come too, David Kelly!’

‘But I wasn’t fighting…’

‘You’re involved, I can see from the look on your face. Get moving.’

‘But…’

‘If you “but” me again, you’ll be in detention for the rest of the week. Now move!’

Hannah watched as E.D. disappeared across the oval with Mr Benson, Darcy and Dave, her face turning crimson.

‘What was that about?’ said Angus, looking at Hannah. Her eyes were puffy.

‘Nothing, really. They were just teasing me.’ Hannah dropped her head. Angus saw a tear drip to the ground.

‘They’re teasing you because you didn’t win the competition, aren’t they?’ Angus shook his head. ‘Well, they don’t know you very well. You’re the smartest kid in our year.’

‘Used to be,’ said Hannah, wiping her eyes. ‘Not that I care about being the smartest. I’m just so frustrated with everything.’

‘No, you still are the smartest.’ Angus patted Hannah on her shoulder. ‘Don’t you worry—we’ll get to the bottom of this.’

E.D. sat outside Mr Taylor’s office with Dave while Darcy was dragged in by Mr Benson. E.D. rubbed his cheek—Darcy had landed some decent hits. He glanced across to Dave. ‘Congratulations,’ he said.

‘What?’ said Dave. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘You’ve forgotten already?’ E.D. shook his head, then wished he hadn’t because it made his jaw ache. ‘The competition?
Whatever, Wherever?
Remember?’

‘Oh.’ Dave laughed nervously. ‘Yeah.’ He stared at the door of the principal’s office.

E.D. shrugged and slunk down in his seat. At least I’m missing Maths, he thought. Maybe even LOTE, if I’m in really big trouble.

It wasn’t long before the door opened and Darcy came out, a surly expression on his face. He looked over at E.D., who stared hard back, and walked down the corridor.

‘Now, boys,’ said Mr Taylor. ‘Your turn. Come in.’ He stood aside to let them in, then shut the door. ‘Disappointing to find you in here. Especially you, David.’

‘I didn’t do nothing.
Really
, Mr Taylor.’ Dave’s voice was quavering, as if he was on the verge of tears.

‘I’m sure you didn’t, David, so I won’t keep you long. Just long enough to warn you to keep away from trouble in the future. We don’t want our school contestant to be…inconvenienced in any way.’

‘What?’ said Dave.

‘He doesn’t want you to get hurt, mate,’ said E.D., rolling his eyes.

‘Thank you, Emilio. That will do.’ Mr Taylor frowned at E.D. ‘We don’t want anyone hurt. Just be careful. Now, off you go.’ The principal walked over to his door and opened it for Dave.

Dave smiled at E.D. in relief and made for the corridor outside. He stopped in front of Mr Taylor. ‘I’ll come back after school to get…’


That
will do, David.
Go
to your class.’

E.D. didn’t turn around, but it was easy to tell from the tone of Mr Taylor’s voice that he was suddenly furious. There was a shuffling of feet, and Dave was off down the corridor after Darcy.

E.D. was kept for another ten minutes while Mr Taylor rattled on about notions of fair play and physical violence and responsible settlement of arguments. E.D. nodded when the principal took breaths but he wasn’t really listening. Mr Taylor didn’t look angry any more, more like he was going through the proper things to say to kids who’d been in a fight, but he had been angry. And all because of what Dave had said.

The main trouble, thought E.D. as the principal gave him a week of lunchtime detention, is that I don’t understand what Dave Kelly said just before he left. Or what he was trying to say.

And when he told Angus, Hannah and Gabby after school, they didn’t know either.

BOOK: In the Deep End
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