Authors: Tricia Bennett
Polly began to feel very dismayed, but not, I might add, as a result of her teacher's voracious and very personal attack but rather because through the side of her eye she observed a large, fresh amount of frothy spittle merrily making its way down the lapel of her already badly stained school jacket.
A small and stifled, “Oh, yuck,” was all she could manage to mutter under her breath. Polly, horrified, stood glued to the spot, fighting off the strongest urge to race to the washroom as her whole body yearned to hurriedly strip of her blazer in order to rinse it under running water until all visible evidence had been washed down the sink. She could only take a deep gulp, for wisdom told her that to even momentarily take her eyes off Mrs. McGillicuddy at this point in the proceedings would indeed have grave consequences.
Meanwhile, her fellow pupils broke out into spontaneous laughter as they rocked backward on their chairs mouthing the word
to each other. Mrs. McGillicuddy remained oblivious as to why she had provoked such raucous laughter, but to be perfectly honest, she was far too deep into her personal tirade to really care.
“Yes, young lady, I have yet to understand your sloppy approach to biology, as well as every other subject in the school curriculum, and so you will face the consequences of your shameful disobedience by going over to stand by the wall for the duration of this lesson. Do I make myself abundantly clear? Or shall we argue this one further?”
Billy Blunkett, who was sitting across from her desk, discreetly pried open the lid of his desk and take out his long ruler. With the aid of a thick rubber band securely placed around the head of the ruler, he took aim. “Hey, Fester. Gotcha!” he shouted loudly as the elastic band flew at lightning speed through the air and hit her smack on the cheek before falling to the ground. All the class began to titter, as their absent-minded teacher had inadvertently and incorrectly called her Fester instead of Esther, and this mishap had now given them a nice, new name to mischievously plague her with.
Polly hung her head in shame as she rubbed her marked and stinging cheek before standing up to abandon her desk and make her way toward the back of the classroom. She sadly knew with the deepest assurance that long before the dinner bell rang, her cruel, new name would have made its way down the lengthy, gossip-filled corridors of the school and would by dinnertime be on the tongue of every crass boy in the school, who, while stuffing humongous amounts of slimy green cabbage down their throats, would only stop chewing to have a good laugh at her expense. Worse still, by midafternoon her new name would have gone far beyond the school gates, as it continued to travel on overfilled school buses and trains. By teatime, heaven forbid, it would surely be on the lips of every child back at the castle. “Psstâ¦ Polly Estherâ¦Polly Fester. Ha ha.”
Polly's already deeply depressed heart sunk further still as she went on to picture Gailey Gobbstopper chanting it over and over in the late hours of the night as she lay in the next bed, only an arm's distance away from Polly. “I might as well face the firing squad now, for my life is well and truly over,” she mumbled as in complete misery she took up her routine position of standing and staring at the blank wall in front of her.
As Polly stood mindlessly facing the wall, she broke into what was to be the first of many large yawns as she began doing the same thing as usual, to count every brick in the wall. She had done this same thing countless times, so it no longer held even the teeniest amount of fascination or excitement whatsoever.
Hello, wall. Here we are again, happy as can be. So what's new today? Shall we play “thick as a brick”? You make up the questions, and I'll try and guess the answers
So as Polly stood for what seemed an eternity making up endless silly and downright mindless games to pass away the time, the rest of the class quietly got down to the serious task of cutting into corneas and sticking pins through irises as they dissected the hideously slimy balls of flesh-covered matter. Polly could hear the neverendingly slow tick tock of the clock on the wall, something of an unusual occurrence in Mrs. McGillicuddy's normally chaotic lessons. Then, would you believe it? Just fifteen minutes before the end-of-lesson bell was due to ring, oversensitive Laura Jackson chose rather inconveniently to drop to the floor in a very alarming fainting fit. A shocked Mrs. McGillicuddy wasted no time as she raced over to where Laura lay flat as an ironing board on the classroom floor with Denise Bunter overdramatically slapping her exercise book in the poor girl's deathly white face in a desperate effort to bring her 'round.
All the class quickly left their desks and began to crowd 'round in the hope of getting the best view possible. “Cor, she really 'as gone pale! Like the blood's been sucked right out of 'er,” Druzilla Bostock observed, as along with the other pupils she attempted to inch nearer Laura's limp body, which still lay stretched out like a corpse on the classroom floor.
“Ouch! You've just stamped on me little finger,” Denise yelled up at the circle of concerned faces that were eagerly crowding in. “'Ere move back a bit. Give me a breather, for there's not enough room to swing a cat with you lot hovering over her like she's a goner,” she continued to shout.
“'Ere, miss, I think seein' all that disgustin' fluid squirtin out the eyeballs was just too much for her to cope with, for she's always been terribly squeamish, I'll have you know.” Amy Kershaw went on to helpfully inform Mrs. McGillicuddy, “Just five minutes ago she told both me and Denise that she was on the verge of throwing up everywhere. Go on, tell her, Denise. Isn't that what Laura told us?” She gave Denise an almighty nudge.
“Yes, it's true. That's exactly what she said,” Denise rather huffily confirmed, looking very annoyed that Amy had gotten in first when she alone wanted to be the chosen one when it came to relaying the full extent of the gory facts.
“So, miss, shall we call for an ambulance?” Denise excitedly asked.
“Ambulance? I sincerely hope that will not be necessary. After all, she's only fainted, so you can quickly dispel that thought from your mind, Denise dear,” Mrs. McGillicuddy snorted as she finally managed to force her way through the crowd of overexcited pupils to take a closer look at the poor girl and hopefully take her pulse.
Denise, who was still wildly flapping her textbook in poor Laura's ashen face, was clearly in no mood to listen to her teacher. To Polly it seemed she had long made up her mind that this unexpected crisis was going to turn into a very exciting adventure for her. “Well, miss, I can't get as much as a faint pulse, and her breathing sounds mighty peculiar to me. So, don't you think she might need her heart shocked back to life with those paddles that doctors use? I've seen it done on
Emergency Ward 10
. Do you ever watch that program? It comes on straight after
, and my mum and I think it's almost as good as
, 'cos it's very gory, as well as incredibly exciting. So please, miss, please tell me that I can go with her in the ambulance.”
“Enough, Denise! Here, now do as I say, and place these smelling salts directly under her nose. Hopefully this in itself will be enough to revive her,” Mrs. McGillicuddy instructed as she then began taking some deep breaths in a bid to stop herself from shaking like a leaf. Denise reluctantly grabbed the smelling salts from her teacher and began to wave them under her friend's nose. Much to Denise's obvious utter disappointment, Laura instantly began to moan, and then this was followed up with a series of loud coughs and splutters.
Seconds later found her sitting up straight, sipping cold water from a Styrofoam cup, and happily, apart from her watery eyes, there was not a hint to suggest that moments earlier she had been out for the count on the classroom floor. All this left Denise looking forlorn that the drama was almost overâand without any hope whatsoever of a dramatic race to the hospital in the back of an ambulance!
Mrs. McGillicuddy, on the other hand, looked instantly relieved as she watched Laura's cheeks return to their healthy pink color, as this surely meant there was no further cause for concern. However, she declared her decision to err on the side of caution and so personally escort Laura down to the nurse's sick bay just in case. “Listen up, all of you! I have to leave the room for five minutes. Please do me the service of remaining calm and quiet as you clean up after yourselves. Pelligrim, thank you for taking the initiative to collect up all the surgical knives and tweezers. Please leave them soaking in a bowl of soapy detergent.”
“Yes, miss,” Anthony Pelligrim swiftly replied. Mrs. McGillicuddy was about to advance toward the door with Laura in tow when something else caught her attention.
“Druzilla Bostock, kindly stop using the tweezers to pluck your eyebrows, for need I constantly remind you that these implements are the sole property of the school and therefore are only meant to be used for the distinct purpose for which they were originally purchased, namely that of dissecting small animals as well as other small insects? Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, perfectly, miss,” replied a blushing Druzilla as she hurriedly popped her mirror back into her schoolbag before contemptuously dropping the tweezers into the large receptacle that goody-two-shoes Anthony Pelligrim was now aggressively holding up to her face as he wormed his way around the desks. Druzilla then turned to face her best friend Eleanor Boodlebutt and in a loud voice said, “Well, if anyone could really do with the help of some surgical tweezers, it's got to be Miss “Bombshell” McGillicuddy. Perhaps the school should do us all a favor and invest in some large, oversized tweezers, as well as a mammoth-sized scalpel for her benefit,” she huffily stated through pouting lips as she tossed her long fringe to one side.
All those in the near vicinity who heard Druzilla's cheap remarks appeared to think them very funny. One brazen student even dared to stand behind Mrs. McGillicuddy as he mischievously held up a hastily drawn picture of their slightly off-the-wall teacher in a barber's chair ready and most willing to go under the knife. Luckily her teacher was partially deaf, so she carried on yelling her orders oblivious to the latest insults regarding her persona.
“Pelligrim, I am also giving you and Blunkett the responsibility of collecting all the soiled dissecting trays from the desks, for these also require cleaning. Please fill up a sink with hot water, and don't forget to add a squirt of sterilizing solution. I will get the next class to finish any leftover tasks. Do I make myself perfectly clear? I will be back in five minutes after I've assisted Laura here down to the sick bay.”
No sooner than the door was closed behind their teacher than total chaos broke loose as the boys seized the opportunity they had in all earnest been praying for. Polly turned around to see Ben Hogwhistle, who had earlier elected himself the official collector of all leftover and abandoned eyeballs, begin to lop eyeball after eyeball in the direction of the girls. Eleanor Boodlebutt was the first to let out a shrill scream as a disgustingly smelly eyeball landed smack bang in the center of her lap. From then on it was a scene of pure chaos as distraught girls ducked and dived from the slimy offensive weapons that were being hurled through the air at great speed and mainly in their direction. And this mass hysteria continued for some time as they ran around the room screaming with eyeballs stuck to their flowing locks or, worse, down the front of their blouses.
One missed its target completely, only to land stuck to the ceiling light that hung high above their teacher's desk. Billy Blunkett spied it first, so he quickly jumped onto the desk, trying desperately to retrieve the eyeball, as he wanted to throw it at Linda Trotsky as retribution for unforgivable past offenses in and out of the classroom. As he stood on tiptoe in an attempt to reach the shade, another eyeball landed with a splat on the light shade, making Billy even more excited, as he now had two potential missiles within his grasp. Sadly, even on tiptoe he was unable to reach the light, so he was forced to abandon ship. Jumping down from the desk, he then raced over to join the other boys, who by now were itching to get their hands on some of the leftover balls that Ben was rather selfishly hogging all to himself.
Sure enough, Ben soon found himself fighting off all the other boys.
“Aw, come on, Ben. Do the decent thing and share 'em, for we all want some fun as well,” they cried as they jumped him and then dragged him down onto the floor. With the weight of all the boys on top of him, the eyeballs began, one by one, to pop out of his trouser pockets, where they had been stuffed earlier for purposes of security.
As all hands went after the mischievous little blighters that were now slowly rolling across the floor, Anthony Pelligrim managed to pry one out of Ben's clenched fist. He then threw it as hard as he could toward Samantha Jackson, who, due to quick thinking, dove under the teacher's desk just in time to avoid all contact with eyeball.
But sadly, this was not to be the case where Mrs. McGillicuddy was concerned, for she had unwittingly chosen a most unfortunate moment in time to reenter the classroom. The gunk-filled eyeball soared through the air at great speed, almost shaving the very whiskers off her chin as it whizzed past, determined to reach its chosen target, which was the blackboard. It landed with an almighty splat. Their shocked teacher's jaw dropped farther still as she was forced to watch as the offensive material then slowly slithered down the full length of the blackboard before landing at her feet.
Then, as if things couldn't get worse, one of the eyeballs that previously had been stuck to the light shade finally released itself to drop down onto the arch of her glasses before plopping onto the floor to join the other squashed eyeball that already lay as stark evidence of the students' blatantly unforgivable mischief. What rotten luck this all was!