It was a dreadful, barren windswept January morning that made you feel like setting fire to your own underpants just to earn a brief respite from the monotonous despair. The summer was something that had happened to someone else a long, long time ago. The winter winds were a medieval instrument of torture that scourged any exposed flesh, turning white to red and red to blue. The days were shorter than this –> Sentence. The nights went on forever; a lot longer than this sentence even if you filled it with lots of useless inappropriate words such as porridge, ambulance and suppository.
But something was about to happen and if this was an interactive ebook there would be a little button for you to push that made a sound like this: ‘Dum-de-dum-dum-duuummmm!! However, because it isn’t remotely interactive you’ll just have to imagine it.
Nobody noticed Dan as he moved slowly into the school playground. Why would they? He was an unremarkable kind of boy. The sort of kid who wasn’t even a household name in his own household. Ginger hair. Freckles. A nose that never seemed to stop running (although even Dan could never exactly understand what it was running from). Nobody noticed as he picked up the largest stone he could find and lobbed it at a window with all his might. Lots of heads turned towards the crash of shattering glass but not a single person spotted Dan.
Nobody was looking when Dan went up behind Billy Crumpster and gave him a hefty kick up the fat, spotty backside which brought tears to the eyes of the hated school bully. “How’d you like that?” smiled Dan, remembering the years of misery that he had endured at the hands and fists of this walking lump of vitriol and blubber.
“Yooowwwwww’ howled Billy, as a few of his lump-headed cronies tried not to snigger. “If I find out who did that I’ll… I’ll… Murder them!”
Nobody seemed interested when Dan took his place at the back of the classroom to watch in silence as the despised Mr. Nicolas took to the stage. “How on earth did I land myself with an ugly bunch of cretins like you lot!” said the red-nosed teacher in his customary cheerful manner. “If anybody dares to interrupt me I’ll have their guts for garters!”
Mr. Nicolas was Welsh and taught French. Or was he French and taught Welsh? Nobody really knew. He was particularly fond of throwing things at his pupils. (By that I don’t mean he lobbed things at his own eyes. That would be stupid. I mean his pupils – the children whom he taught French or Welsh to.) Chalk. Rubbers. Pens. Razor blades. Grenades. Anything that he could get his hands on really. He thought that picking on the kids was part of his job description. If he managed to make one or two cry he considered it a perk of the job. Like many grown-ups he wore a wig – a really cheap one made of nylon that was fixed to his head with superglue from the Pound Shop. Mr. Nicolas thought that it made him look rather fetching in a Hollywood movie star kind of way. Which is why a look of sheer horror spread across his face when he suddenly felt a cool breeze waft across the top of his head and realised that his nylon wig was missing and that he no longer looked like Brad Pitt. “Stop that noise immediately!” he yelled, caught between trying to cup his hands over his shining dome and finding something large and blunt to throw at the roomful of giggling schoolchildren. “If I find out who’s nicked my hair system I’ll make their life a misery!” Adults call them ‘systems’ because the don’t like the word ‘wig’.
Dan had never had so much fun. At break he managed to block all the teachers’ toilets with bubble gum. The headmaster had to roll up his trousers to ungum them and ended up covered in teachers’ poo. At lunch Dan put salt in the sugar bowls and dandruff in the pepper pots that he got from the scalp of ‘Flaking’ Stevens in Year 5.
And nobody had a clue that Dan was behind this wave of mischief.
He was enjoying himself. In the afternoon Dan put chilli powder in horrible Mr. Grimes’ underpants. The PE teacher spent the next hour doing a peculiar kind of breakdance that made the cross country team wail with laughter. Finally he had no choice but to run for a shower that was boiling hot one minute and freezing cold the next. When the thoroughly miserable teacher eventually managed to wash away the chilli powder he was forced to put on a dress. Somebody had stolen his own clothing. Someone whose name happened to be Dan.
Dan had always hated school. It was a place of misery. A place where bullies bullied you. A place where teachers taught you that life might be bad now but you wait until you grow up. But all of a sudden he was having a whale of a time. During the afternoon break Dan set off the fire alarms and turned on the sprinklers in the staff common room. The teachers were deafened and soaked to the skin. And before the final bell sounded Dan had one last trick up his sleeve. As the soggy teachers attempted to rise to dismiss their classes for the day they found they were unable to move. Someone had nailed their underwear to their chairs. You can probably guess who.
By the time that the school began to empty there were a lot of happy smiling faces. Many of the children had never had such a good time. Some such as Billy Crumpster, for example, didn’t look quite so happy. Most delighted of all was Dan. And if anybody who knew him could have seen his face they would have agreed that they had never seen him looking so pleased with himself. For the first time ever Dan had actually enjoyed going to school.
Perhaps being dead wasn’t so bad after all.