There was a loud, repeated engine noise outside. The windows had not been closed; Lawrence, who was sitting exactly underneath it, wailed and covered his ears.
“Why on earth does Crystal have to arrive in a helicopter?” he yelled, slamming the glass shut. It continued to vibrate from the swishing rotors, and Lawrence caught a glimpse of a young, brown haired girl stepping out before he slouched back into his seat.
“I don’t know,” replied a voice from behind him. Lawrence wheeled around, almost coughing when he recognised the voice.
“Hey, dear, I didn’t see you coming in.”
Kevin smirked. “I know that. Help me with IT.”
“Why? What are you doing?”
“This itinerary for CAS week. We’re supposed to present it in a few months’ time.”
“Really?” questioned Lawrence, spinning Kevin’s laptop around and staring at the screen. Sure enough, there was a detailed plan, with estimated costs, transportation ideas and cleverly designed tables. Everything was so typical of Kevin; the organisation coupled with the complete lack of enthusiasm.
Kevin was a skinny, bespectacled boy. To Lawrence, there wasn’t anything special about him – he was talented, intelligent, and rather annoying, but somehow his gifts were directed away from worthwhile matters and into less important aspects of life, including rather… well, unreasonable actions.
“I’m going to change some bits,” yawned Lawrence, tapping away at the keyboard. The screen flashed as the commands were interpreted and interest was added to the presentation.
The bell rang – a short, interfering pitch. Everyone burst into conversation, slowly making their way out of the room as they headed for lessons in groups. Lawrence, who had English minutes later in the same room, simply sighed as he tugged out the reluctant books and spread them out neatly on the table.
As the class poured in, Lawrence watched the ticking clock. In two minutes, most of the class arrived. In three, the class was waiting for Ms Tandy to turn up again. In five, everyone was in deep conversations and sitting around on tables, laughing loudly.
The shout was directed at Hilary; a dark skinned, haunted girl that knew more than she should. As far as Lawrence could tell, the black-haired woman’s mind was filled with revolting thoughts, and he had coined the term ‘horror-ible’ for her and most of her work. It was the rimmed glasses that caught Lawrence’s attention, however. Normally, she would wear black glasses that made her otherwise normal face more attractive, but today she sported a brand new green pair that almost made Lawrence throw up.
He hid the motion by pretending to have dropped something, trying desperately to not look at Hilary’s face.
“What?” she demanded. She was never in a good mood. Nobody knew why; she was always that reserved, frustrated, and cold. Really cold.
“Nothing…” said Lawrence, as the class roared with laughter about something.
Just as his head remerged into the space above the tables, Crystal walked in, looking as dignified as ever.
Lawrence couldn’t stand it. He walked up to her in a few steps, crossing past a squawking Kate as he approached her.
Raising his arm, he slapped her across her face open handed.
The door opened at that very instant, and the class took a breath as one as Ms Tandy walked in. Lawrence felt a surge of adrenaline sear through his veins as Crystal collapsed, holding onto her cheek.
This was going to be ugly.
But Ms Tandy only raised her eyebrows and said, “What just happened?”
Lawrence was relieved that Ms Tandy didn’t see – however, from the satisfied smirk that crossed her face for an instant, he realised that she approved of the act.
“What did I do to you?” yelled Crystal, wounded.
“Don’t worry, this wasn’t anything personal. I just slapped you because you’re a stuck up, pompous, rich, spoilt brat.”
Lawrence returned to his seat as the door opened for the final time.
Stefanie poked her head in, a large, rounded face with long hair that billowed in the breeze. For some reason, there always seemed to be a breeze around her, even the stillest of places.
Lawrence saw that Kate, her best friend, opened her mouth to speak, but was overruled by Ms Tandy getting to her feet again.
“Settle down, settle down. Right, now, I thought that we might begin our day by finishing off the last scene of Romeo and Juliet…”
It was very boring work, reading through Shakespeare, so within twenty minutes a dull stupor had dominated the atmosphere and half the class had already fallen asleep. Indeed, those destined to do so first have already dozed off several minutes ago.
Lawrence alone seemed to be able to resist the sleepiness’ charms. He knew that many wondered why, and several had come up with possible, although unlikely, theories, but the actual reason would remain hidden.
The entrance opened as Evan walked in, looking exhausted.
“Oh, welcome back,” said Lawrence, getting to his feet. He put the cup down and stepped around the workplace to the far door. “We were wondering when you were going to turn up.”
Ethan turned his head to look at his twin. “Yeah, I thought you might have got lost or something.”
Evan shot him a dark look. “I can get around much easier than you, brother.”
Lawrence saw him shrug through the dim lightning. “I see,” said Ethan. He tapped the desk and a cup appeared.
“Now, Evan, the next time you tramp off on a mission, you tell us, okay?”
Evan sighed as Lawrence took hold of his heavy coat. “Sorry about that. But it was an urgent call and had to respond.” He stepped forward, and Lawrence lifted the black coat onto a hanger, which disappeared into the wall. “I’ll leave a message next time, okay?”
“Promise?” asked Ethan.
“Well, that’s settled then,” said Lawrence briskly. “I’m late for my booster injection, so I’ll just leave you guys alone.”
They all knew what he actually meant, but none of them said a word as Lawrence stomped through a hidden set of doors.
And Lawrence knew what Evan and Ethan did when they were alone.
A sudden clatter brought Lawrence to his senses. His ears pricked up, and his natural instincts instructed him to turn his head, his eyes rolling to search for the source of the noise.
Crystal scrabbled on the ground, the contents of her expensive designer handbag spilling onto the dark blue carpet. Nobody bothered to help her, although most of the class were startled awake by the noise and were now shaking their heads.
Lawrence coughed loudly, secretly pointing at the clock. The class saw his motion and their eyes automatically turned towards the large clock on the wall, which informed them that there was another ten minutes to the end of their English lesson.
“Okay, you should have finished most of your analysis now…” began Ms Tandy.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Something vibrated in Lawrence’s pocket. His hand dived into it, searching for the object as everyone stared at him.
He fumbled with the pager for a second before depressing the ‘read’ button.
Lawrence’s blood pressure spiked as he scrolled through the incoming message. His hands clenched around the small black object.
“Excuse me,” he said desperately, quickly putting all his books into his bag and dashing out of the door. He felt every single incriminating look, but his mind was not on the class anymore – even Ms Tandy’s yell of protest failed to bring him back into the classroom.
He tapped away the pager, sending back a message to base.
This was not good. Not good at all.