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September 2021 Ficlet Challenge
Cygnus Bazza
Thanks very much for that, GMM! Always nice to know someone gets some fun out of these! Just time for another... Surfing around the Imaginary World Wide Web today, I happened upon a rather curious website. I’ve copy-and-pasted the intriguing homepage:

St Arship the Liberator’s School for Challenging Children (and Staff)

Headteacher: Mr Roger Blake

School motto: ‘Do As I Say, Not As I Do’

Headteacher’s message to parents:
“A warm welcome to our website! Here at St Arship’s, our mission is very simple – though admittedly it can change slightly from week to week, and it’s all a bit broad-brush and short on medium-term specifics. Nevertheless, you can be 100% confident that I take education seriously. As do many of my staff. Underpinning everything is my commitment to imbuing those in my charge with a love of liberty and a spirit of independence, while simultaneously ensuring they still know how to take an order from their obvious superiors. A narrow tightrope, certainly, but one I’ve spent a long and wobbly career walking along. I actively encourage excellence in others (within reason) and proactively extend the hand of welcome to misfits of all kinds (staff as well as students). I very much look forward to meeting you during our upcoming Open Day, providing Mr Restal can get the school gates open in time. (Long story but we’ve been having a few problems since Mr Gan headbutted them on one of his ‘bad days’.)”

Latest School Headlines:
- Mr Avon, Head of Computer Science, released from open prison – again
- Mr Tarrant, Head of Sport, to pose for PTA’s new fund-raising ‘Fit Guys’ calendar in inappropriate magenta mankini
- Miss Stannis caught by speed camera doing 140mph in school minibus on way back from Year 9 hockey tournament
- Successful start for Mr Restal’s wildly popular after-school Lock-Picking Club
- Mr Travis to lead voluntary quarry-studying weekend field trip for Year 10 geography students with no lives
- Mr Gan’s headaches continue to deteriorate; classes to be taken over by affordable supply teacher (agency is sending a Miss Mellanby)
- School secretary Mrs Sue Lynne down and safe after perilous fund-raising parachute jump last weekend in hostile weather conditions
- New School Counsellor, Ms Cally Auron, to join us in January (consultations via appointment – fast-track telepathic booking system now available)
- School Dinner Lady moving on to pastures new. Mrs ‘Serve Alan’ as she’s affectionately known (because a Year 11 called Alan is always first in the queue - he LOVES her rissoles and potato smiles) has decided to change career direction. Apparently, even preparing school dinners hasn’t sated her desire to cause lots of innocent people harm and suffering.
Ansd here is the first of my little efforts with piccie by the lovely Lurena.

School for Scoundrels

“That young man will go far,” the Tutor remarked.
“Yes, but only if he turns his mind to working for the Federation,” his colleague replied.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, haven’t you heard him? Wealth is the only reality. Somehow, I don’t think the Federation is ready for Master Kerr Avon….”

“Can you do it, Avon? I mean, I don’t want to have to go through another year of…”
“Keiller, have I ever let you down? I can manipulate your results...”
“Not too much. They’ll know otherwise.”
“They won’t know, trust me. And how about you, Tynus?”
“Well, yes, if you could. I mean being able to draw doesn’t exactly qualify me for any high powered employment in the Federation…not like you. You don’t even have to try.”
“Annoying, isn’t it.”
Kerr Avon sat at the computer station, a remote almost forgotten entry into the College's mainframe. Looking nervously over the top of the monitor were his two unlikely cohorts.
They weren’t particularly bright, not like him, but they could prove useful when he decided to try out his banking fraud. Nothing too big, just enough to test the water, so to speak. But right now, he was going to help them lift their rather lowly grades up to a higher level.
“What if you’re found out?” Keiller asked.
“I won’t be.”
“You could tell them,” Tynus began, “and then we’d be for it.”
“I will not be found out, but if I am, then I certainly won’t mention you two.”
“Good, “they both said together.
“And both of you owe me, remember.” Avon’s dark eyes fixed their gaze upon the two co-conspirators.
“We’ll leave you to it,” said Tynus.
“You do that. This may take some time.”

Keiller was still uneasy. As he and Tynus walked away, he felt the need to confide his fears.
“You know, sooner or later he’s going to go too far.”
“And when that time comes,” Tynus smiled, “I shall be so far away that even the great Kerr Avon, darling of this educational establishment, won’t be able to find me.”
“But he’s planning something. You heard him. We owe him.”
“Then I suggest that make your escape as soon as he gets his fingers burned. As I intend to do.”
“Escape to where?”
“That would be telling.”

The Tutor stared at the young blonde haired woman seated before him.
“I am only informing you of my concerns about him. He is very bright…very bright indeed.”
“And you feel that his intelligence will not be for the Federation’s benefit?”
“I think he should be watched... Maybe I am imagining all this.”
“You have done well to inform us. Security of the Federation is tantamount. When do you think he may cause us concern?”
“Not yet. I feel that he will wait, until the right moment.”
She smiled at him.
“Then I should make sure that I am around at that right moment, shouldn’t I?”
The Tutor met her cold grey eyes.
“Yes, I think you should, Ms Grant.”

Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!

sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
Now for the next prompt and a lovely piccie by Lurena again!!!

Legs Eleven!!

“Hi, Vila.”
It was her again, sitting on his desk.
She really shouldn’t do that, he thought to himself, but he still found his eyes staring at her knees.
“I really like you, Vila…”
“You do?”
“Hm, I do. You like me, don’t you, Vila?”
He swallowed, suddenly aware that everyone else in that class was staring at him, awaiting his reaction.
“You know, you would make me very happy…”
“I would?!”
“…hm, yes.”
“How would I make you happy?”
Was it getter warmer in this classroom?
“Well, I could do with some help with the exam next week. If I don’t pass…well you know how it is with us Delta grades.”
It’s safer, thought Vila, being a Delta Grade is so much safer. All right, mundane, but decidedly safer.
“Well you see, I don’t think I’m going to pass and get out of this dump. But I could, with your help...”
She oh so carefully hitched her skirt up another inch.
Vila swallowed again. She obviously knew that he was very attracted to shapely legs…
“What do you want me to do?”
“Well you know that safe n the head teacher’s room…well we…I know that the exam papers for next week are in it. All you have to do is break into that safe and let us…me have a look at them.”
“But his office is locked…”
“Since when has that been a problem…for a genius like you?”
One of the other boys; the much taller and bulkier boys, sidled over.
“He always leaves his window open.”
“What? But it’s high up the wall!”
“Don’t worry about that; we’ll give you a leg up. Won’t we lads?”

“You’ll never amount to much, Restal. And stop daydreaming.”
It was the head teacher, hurriedly snapping the blinds shut and blocking the view of the young ladies hanging around outside.
“It was you, wasn’t it?”
“I’ve no idea what you’re…”
“Breaking into my safe and leaking the exam papers. How did you reach that window up there? Who helped you? What did they offer you?”
“You know me, sir? “
“Yes, that’s the problem. I do know you. Let me guess, they threatened you, right?”
“It wouldn’t take much to scare you. That’s your problem, Restal, you’re a coward. Only you could open that safe. So how come you didn’t pass that exam? Eh? I don’t know why you do it. Act a coward, make out you’re not bright…yet I know that you are exceptionally intelligent.”
“That’s how I intend to stay alive, sir. Being a Delta Grade is a lot safer.”
“You know, you’ll never amount to much. You’ll end up in some dull, repetitive job, not seeing the Galaxy. There’s so much out there and you’ll never get to see it. Now get out.”
“Yes sir.”
She was out in the corridor; waiting for him. She smiled.
“Thank you, Vila.”
“You passed?”
“And it’s all down to you.” She leant forward and kissed his forehead, then turned on her heels.
Vila sighed. That was another problem; shapely legs slowly walking away out of his life!
Cold.....you don't know the meaning of cold.
Cold is when you have ice on the INSIDE of the window!!!

sues stories http://sjlittle.w...
sues youtube channel http://www.youtub...e54/videos
sues book shelf https://www.media...ne%20Shelf
rebel run video http://www.youtub...prqS-XZtLo
Lara and Sue's Stories http://lectorisal....webs.com/
Massive kudos to PurpleCleric for a superb prompt this month, it has really got the writers’ creative juices flowing and I have loved reading these.

And now for something completely different. Cygnus Bazza, you said I had to finish it. Much against my better judgement, here is part 1:

Parren cautiously entered the barn and approached the body lying splayed out on the ground. He had seen the man’s picture a dozen times in their briefings; it was definitely Carey, and he was definitely dead this time. Parren heaved a sigh of relief.
There was a door at the other end of the barn, which Razik was supposed to be watching. As Parren headed towards it a scuffle broke out outside. There was panting, bumping and a string of startled expletives, followed by an outraged yelp and more swearing. The door was unceremoniously kicked open and Razik appeared, dragging a dishevelled bundle. He tossed it across the floor where it hit the wall with a dull thud and gave a muffled cry.

“I’ve just found this one hiding outside,” he said disgustedly, inspecting his bruised hand. “The little rat bit me. I thought they’d killed the rest of the family last time.”

“Obviously nobody was keeping count.” Parren took a step closer. In the bad light he couldn’t see much, but the figure on the ground appeared to be a little girl, crouching where she had been thrown, looking at them both through the long fronds of her tangled blonde hair. Suddenly she scrabbled about at her side and jumped to her feet, a steel catapult raised at arm’s length, the sling pulled back ready to fire. Both men laughed.

“Feisty, isn’t she?” Parren stepped smartly forwards to one side and snatched it from her hands. She struggled to keep it. Razik hit her across the side of her head with the back of his hand. She fell against the wall again.
“Nice epitaph to have,” he said shortly. “Kill her.”

Parren’s good-humoured smile died on his lips. “What?”
“You heard me. Kill her.” Parren went very still. Not again,he thought. Not again, not after the last time... Razik sensed his hesitancy.
“Don’t go soft, Parren, you know you’ve got to do it.”
“She’s just a kid-“ he protested.
“Don’t be so stupid, man, look at her! She’s already trouble, and you’ve just shot her father. In ten years’ time she’ll be the one putting a hole in you, do you really want to take that risk?”
Parren hardly heard Razik. He was reliving the last time he had been part of a raid like this and had been ordered to kill a child. That little boy’s cries of terror and anguish as he tried to rouse his mother’s motionless body would never leave him, and the memory made his blood run sickly cold. This child wasn’t making a sound. She just stood against the wall, watching them both deciding her fate. No fear, just a strangely solemn expression only betrayed by a slightly defiant pout. On the contrary, Razik was the one who looked discomfited, or was that just Parren’s imagination?
“You heard the Commander’s orders,” he said curtly. “Get on with it.” He spun round and marched out of the barn. Parren turned to the girl and raised his rifle. Undaunted, she stared unnervingly into his eyes. He wavered.
“Do you want to die?” He didn’t even know why he was asking. Her voice didn’t even tremor.
“No.” She said. “Do you?”
He hadn’t been expecting a question at all, let alone this one. How could she know what he was thinking? Surely she wasn’t old enough to understand the penalty he faced? But in his mind the wails of that other child still echoed.
He made up his mind.
“No.” He said. He dragged her to the door. “Can we get out this way?”
“The fence is falling down over there. My brothers used to sneak out that way at night...” Her voice cut out at the memory of them.
There was, oddly, nobody outside. Razik’s voice could be heard from the other side of the barn ordering the others to search the farmhouse. They ran to the fence. He stopped, cupped his hands and helped her to climb up and over. He hauled himself up after her, and in a moment they were running into the sparse trees at the edge of the wood.
Cygnus Bazza
Heavens, GMM - that's dark... I feel mildly traumatised (in a good way!), and it's only part 1. Is this a 13-parter, just like B7 used to be??? I'll have my therapist on standby when I read the next instalment... Good work!
Lol, Cygnus Bazza! Maybe best to give therapist a call, then... apologies for imperfections, I wanted to finish it on this particular date.

Part 2

Several hours later, once Parren was sure they weren’t being followed, he decided they would stop for the night, and built a small fire. Soolin, unsurprisingly for her background, had proved very adept at foraging. She had gathered fruit and stuffed it into the pockets of her oversized, clearly hand-me-down tunic as they went. She had asked Parren for a pen-knife at one point, but he had no intention of being that stupid. She shrugged and turned from him, and proceeded to gather a large fungus by digging it away from the tree root with her sharp little fingers. He had added to their supper by shooting some small rodent out of a tree. It was fast, but he was faster. Now he was sitting on his own, eating the last morsels of it in the company of his own thoughts. Soolin had got up and wandered away into the dark.

What now? He wondered. He wasn’t really sorry he had deserted; these last months his occupation had felt more and more like a troublesome millstone. All the parts of it he had once been so enthusiastic about had reduced down to a dull succession of trivial, futile, and morally questionable tasks. He had had enough. But what was he going to do about her? To keep her with him was untenable. In truth, he barely spent any time puzzling it over. There was only one thing he could do, and that was to let her make her own way from here. He would find a settlement somewhere and leave her there.

He felt a little guilt bleeding through him at the idea of abandoning her, but his brain quickly set to stoutly defending his actions. His best move would be to find work as a mercenary soldier, and he couldn’t do that with a little girl in tow. If she stayed with him they would both be worse off. On her own she stood a chance; She was sharp, resourceful, thankfully not given to complaining- maybe somebody could take her in to help on their land. At any rate she could forage, she wouldn’t starve. And hang it all, hadn’t he already done enough for her? He had saved her life, for web’s sake, what more could he do??

A small but disconcertingly close thwack!, a tingling in his fingers and the sudden disappearance of his apple brought him back to the present. All that was left of it was a dribble of pulp and juice on his fingers. A little squeal of glee from the edge of the firelight and Soolin slipped back into view. Her catapult gleamed in her hand. Parren foolishly checked the pocket he’d been keeping it in, even though it evidently wasn’t there any longer.

“How did you get that?”
“While you were getting the aim right to shoot that tree rat. It was easy!” She crowed. “It took you ages to shoot it, too.”
“And I suppose you could have done better?”
“Maybe...” she said, with an impudent little giggle. “What’re you going to do now you’re not a federation soldier?”
“Probably get work as a gun for hire.”
“Can I come too?” Soolin asked eagerly. “I’m going to be a gunslinger when I grow up. You could teach me to shoot a rifle-“ Parren couldn’t hold back a scornful bark of laughter. She scowled.
“Just because I’m a girl...” she muttered.
“It’s not just that,” said Parren, still smirking. “It’s because you’re a little girl, a kid, and where I’m going I will have to kill people. Dangerous people who will try to kill me. And you’ll have to see them die. Do you really think you could handle that?”
“I’ve seen my whole family die!” She retorted with angry tears in her eyes. Parren stopped, but she didn’t. “I could be your partner, easily! I’m quick, I’m a good shot, I can get into places you couldn’t, I’m good at hiding- your stupid soldiers didn’t find me the first time because I can fit into places they wouldn’t even think to look. And nobody would ever suspect me-“
She had a point there, he thought. How many people afraid of assassination would suspect a pretty blonde girl? In truth, she had made several good points.

“If something goes wrong and we have to go on the run I would drop you. You’d be on your own,” he warned curtly. She nodded. “All right,” was all she said. “Does that mean you’ll do it?” She was holding her breath.
“I haven’t decided yet,” he replied edgily; then, as an afterthought- “What’ll you do if I say no?”
She chuckled.
“That’s easy. Wait for you to fall asleep, steal your rifle and shoot you.”

Damn you, Razik,he thought. I hate how you’re always right.
“Now I need a volunteer. Someone small…” The description could have fitted any occupant of the room; but somehow every pair of eyes, including that of the speaker, instantly turned to look at one in particular. “Restal! Vila Restal. Come along; hurry up.”

A tiny figure edged nervously from behind a tiny desk, roused from whatever daydream had been distracting him.

“Come on; don’t just stand there. We need someone to go and help Mai. She’s stuck in the toilet.” Already harassed, the infant teacher took her smallest pupil impatiently by the hand.

“But I can’t!” wailed Vila, finding himself being towed out of the classroom. “I can’t go in the girls’ toilet!” His protest was to no avail; he was not let go until they were there.

“Now, go on. You just need to crawl under there and help her with the lock.” The teacher pointed to the gap under the cubicle door. Vila looked at the floor; dirty, damp and grey. Toilet floors had germs on, and germs made you sick. His mother would be cross if he was sick. She had been last time. She had pretended not to be, but he had heard her, when he was supposed to be asleep, telling next door how he still kept coughing even after she had got real medicine from the doctor. He hadn’t meant to, but… He didn’t want her to be cross again. It was bad enough being abandoned daily in this complex full of people who all seemed to want to shout at him.

“I won’t fit,” he said, over the howls of the imprisoned Mai. “I’m quite big, really.” He stood, hopefully, on tiptoe. “See?”

“I’m-not-havin’-a-boy-in-here…” Apparently Vila wasn’t the only one with misgivings.

“Then you’ll stay in there,” retorted the teacher, to renewed desperate sobbing. “Go on, Restal, what are you waiting for?”

“I can’t,” said Vila again. “I… I’m not very well. My tummy hurts. I feel sick.”


“You won’t want any sweeties for helping Mai, then.”

Vila hesitated. Nobody had mentioned sweets before. He looked more closely at the cubicle door; there was a red flash on the lock. That meant someone was in there. If he could make it turn green, the door would be open. He poked the coloured spot experimentally; it wobbled as his small finger fitted into the slot. With an expression of great concentration, he wiggled it a bit more; slowly, the green flash began to appear. He almost fell as the lock gave way, but was steadied by a tear-streaked child a head shorter than himself, who suddenly emerged and grabbed him round the waist.

“You saved me!” she cried. Vila smiled awkwardly, then turned red as Mai kissed him. He hurriedly scrubbed a sleeve across his face.

“Can I have the sweeties now?” he asked appealingly, trying to ignore Mai clutching his hand.

“Well, if you’re sure they won’t make your tummy ache worse…”

Vila shook his head eagerly.

“…then we’ve just got time to get them before gym.”

“Oh. But… oh.”
Cygnus Bazza
GanMiniMe wrote:

Lol, Cygnus Bazza! Maybe best to give therapist a call, then... apologies for imperfections, I wanted to finish it on this particular date.

Phew - I think I can now safely emerge from the darkened room, remove the cold compress and cancel the booking for three weeks' seaside convalescence! Great yarn, GMM - class!

I reckon SP deserves a substantial blast of audience appreciation for daring to escort us to the dystopia of a school toilet and ensuring everyone emerges relatively unscathed (apart from the enduring mental scars, of course)! I'd also like to think Mai had been stuck in there from Monday to Saturday, as is traditional.
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