Weaver

All Jeremy ‘IQ’ Wiggins wanted to do was impress Brittany Hope, a girl from school with ‘his’ home television studio. He did impress Brittany, but also inadvertently released a monster capable of consuming the hopes and dreams of every kid in the world. The television studio was actually an intricate cage Jeremy’s Uncle Walter used to keep the monster under control - - and the world safe. When Uncle Walter disappears (maybe eaten) it’s up to Jeremy to save the . . . world!

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1. Chapter One

 

One

The first surprise was finding Brittany Sumers sitting on the fence outside of my house.  The second surprise was that she knew my name.  Well, sort of.

‘IQ!’ She bounded towards me.  ‘You’re home.  Cool.’

I shrugged, nonchalantly (at least I hoped it was nonchalantly).  ‘Of course, I come here every day after school.’

She checked her watch.  ‘But you’re late.  School finished ages ago.’   

‘Ah, yes.  Slight problem at the sportsground.’  

Brittany’s flawless brow creased into a frown.  ‘You don’t play any sport.’

‘No.  But thanks to Mitchell Hayman and his cronies, I got to play the ‘pick up your homework’ game.  You know, windy day, vast expanse of open ground.  What better way for the geek-about-town to get fit.’

Brittany slowly shook her head.  ‘Those guys can be real jerks.’

I waved away her concern.  ‘Don’t worry, I used an old SAS trick - - I begged and screamed.’

She laughed.  It was deep and throaty.  ‘Oh, IQ you are retarded.’  She reached out and touched me gently on the arm.  ‘I hope they weren’t too rough.’

Brittany’s touch was like electricity.  I shivered.  ‘I toughed it out.’  I led the way to the front door.  ‘So, what can I do for you?’  

‘We-ll.’  She twisted a finger through her long black hair.  ‘I was hoping to take up your offer to use your television studio.’

‘My television studio,’ I croaked.  ‘Ah, yes.  That old thing.’

Point One:  I don’t have a television studio.  My Great Uncle Walter has a laboratory and in it are some technical gizmos that very closely resemble the components of a television studio.  

‘You mentioned it at one of our meetings.’

‘Uh huh.’ 

Point Two:  I thought she’d hadn’t even noticed I was part of her committee.

She smiled.  At me.  ‘And I really, really appreciate all of your help with trying to stop the school from closing.’  

‘Oh, you mean the loudspeaker I’m repairing?’

‘Loudspeaker?’  Brittany frowned again; bit her bottom lip. 

I nodded at the family junkyard, hunkered down behind the house.  ‘The one I found in the yard?  Remember?’ 

‘Um . . .’ 

She didn’t.  Terrific.

‘Yeah, yeah.’ Brittany nodded.  ‘The loudspeaker.  That could be handy at the rally.’   

‘So old man Livingstone’s given you the go-ahead?’  

‘I saw Headmaster Livingstone this afternoon and he said I can hold the first Save Our School rally at lunchtime tomorrow.’  

‘Tomorrow?  That soon?  Wow . . . ‘

‘Which is why I need to make a broadcast today.  Now.’  She stepped back and squinted at the junkyard.  ‘Where’s the studio?’

‘It’s in the house.’  I unlocked the front door.  This could lead to big, big trouble.  But then again, it was just Brittany and me.  Alone.  I turned and smiled brightly.  ‘Come on.  Let’s broadcast you.’

***

Break and enter would have probably best summed up my actions when we went into Uncle Walter’s laboratory.  Okay, it was true I had the key (after I had taken it from its secret hiding place), so technically I wasn’t breaking in.  But guests were definitely not permitted to enter.  Uncle Walter didn’t even like me being in there when he wasn’t about.  It was his private space, but even the staunchest defender of Private Spaces would have relented on this occasion.  This was a noble cause and it was worthy of rule breaking.  

‘Check it out,’ Brittany cooed.  ‘This room is so cool.’ 

That was an understatement.  Uncle Walter’s laboratory consisted of several old, but very powerful, networked computers.  There were banks of colour and black and white television sets tuned to international news and current affairs channels.  Short wave and CB radio sets on which Uncle Walter whiled away many nights talking in obscure languages.  A comprehensive chemistry lab.  An extensive library of leather and cloth bound books from many years ago and a large collection of vinyl music (very old tech, but very cool).  So, yes, Uncle Walter’s laboratory was indeed, cool.

‘Wow.’  Brittany pointed at the far wall.  ‘Are you using all of those DVD players?’

‘Actually, they’re VCRs.’

‘No way?  I didn’t think you could still buy them?’

‘Oh yeah.’  The huge bay of VCRs was possibly the most puzzling aspect of my Uncle’s laboratory.   ‘All ninety six are in use.’ 

‘Ninety six!  What do they do?’

‘Well . . . they, um, they play an intricate role in the studio’s one-ness.’ 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what role the VCR’s played here, but I did know they were all interconnected, routed through a single computer/mixing board and fed into a large, rusty, old travel trunk.  The trunk was so incongruous - - being utterly unscientific - - and I had asked Uncle Walter about it on numerous occasions.  Each time, to each question, I received the same answer: ‘mind your own business’.  

A large video camera, mounted on a tripod with roller wheels was wired up to the trunk and the VCR’s.  If that didn’t suggest Television Studio, I don’t know what did. 

When I’d learnt of Brittany’s crusade to save our school from closure, I decided to join her action committee.  I had admired her - - from afar - - for fourteen months and three weeks (yes, from the very moment I’d started school in Cairncross).  After one of her Save Our School meetings, I couldn’t help but mention she’d have no problems going global with the aid of my television studio. 

In my defence I should point out that I didn’t think she would (a) remember I mentioned it.  (b) remember me.  (c) want to use it.

And now, I couldn’t refuse her request.  I’d go down in her estimations and most likely be labelled a liar or a big-noter or worse.  No.  If my reputation at school sunk any lower I would be classed as a subterranean student.  Terms like geek, nerd and poindexter would seem endearing compared to the possible labels that would be attached to me.

If my television studio could somehow assist Brittany (and, hopefully, earn moi her undying gratitude), then who was I to deny her access?  

I can’t see anyone closing the school,’ I said.  ‘That wouldn’t make sense.  Railton is miles away and its school is smaller than ours.  And more kids go to our school.’

Brittany smiled.  ‘Someone’s done their homework.’

‘Of course!  I’m behind this cause one hundred percent.  Be cool, there’s nothing to worry about.’  

Brittany gave a hollow laugh.  ‘You wouldn’t say that if you heard the things Mum’s told me.  She reckons being on the council is a real eye opener.  The government wants to use the school grounds and the Youth Centre for some hush-hush project.  And there’s supposed to be a mystery investor interested.’  

‘Yeah?  Well the government, the council and mystery money men aren’t going to kick us out of our school - - not if we’ve got anything to say about it.’  Suddenly I felt very passionate about saving the school.  Oh yes.  If I had my way I’d show Brittany just how passionate I could be.  I smiled to myself, and then realised she was looking at me.  

‘Why have you gone all red?’ 

‘Um, just a little hot.’ I moved behind the mixing board and flicked a couple of switches.  ‘Shall we make you a star?’  I pointed at a television in the heart of VCR’s where Brittany’s face bloomed into focus.

She glanced up and did her best to stifle a squeal.  ‘Where will I be broadcast?’

‘Oh.  Um, random channels.  It’s pretty scattergun.  But the range is extremely wide.’ 

‘Cool.’

‘Yeah.  Maybe even international.’  I checked my watch.  It was almost four fifteen.  Uncle Walter would be home by five, perhaps earlier.  ‘Are you ready?’

‘Sure.’ 

To be broadcast to an audience of one.  But then again, what did I know?  Maybe Uncle Walter’s television studio actually was capable of a broadcast. 

I positioned myself behind the camera. ‘Annnnnnnnd you’re on.’

Brittany faced the camera.  ‘A statement by Brittany Sumers on behalf of the kids of Cairncross High School:  Tomorrow there’ll be a rally at our school where I’ll be talking about our rock concert - S.O.S.- Save Our School.  This is going to be a lot of fun.  But let’s remember the reason behind the concert - - it’s our way to let the world know we don’t want our school closed.’ 

As Brittany’s passion increased, her nervousness disappeared. 

‘The authorities say that the decision is made.  End of story.  Cairncross High will be closed and we’ll have to get on a bus and travel two hours to Railton every day.  Then two hours home again!  I say ‘no way’!’ 

As I watched, Brittany’s image became bolder - - her cheeks glowed, her eyes widened, her brow flattened and expanded, but then her face became too wide and it started pushing against the screen, distorting it out of shape. 

But she kept on talking.

‘We’ve all got to pull together.  We can organise a concert.  Get the media involved, get everyone involved and save our school.  Cairncross High won’t close - - I won’t let it!’ 

From the corner of my eye, I saw a thin green mist mushroom from the trunk and disperse into the laboratory.  But I was drawn back to the screen as Brittany’s face continued to change.  Her long hair receded, her mouth, so small and rosebud-like, stretched into a cruel slit and her whole head began to vibrate violently.

‘And if anyone thinks they can stop me, they better be ready for a fight.  I’m not going to lose just because some politician decides we should go somewhere else to-’

Then the words were a gargle of noise, the face a blur as it permeated silently through the screen and into the laboratory.  It no longer resembled Brittany. The head was elongated and pointy, the ears large and floppy; the nose was narrow and sharp.  The eyes were oval, with rheumy edges and thick black lashes.  They bore into me.  The slit of a mouth, squirmed into a thin smile as the face inhaled the green mist. 

‘Don’tletthebedbugsbite-don’tletthebedbugsbite-don’tletthebedbugsbite’

I fumbled across the mixing board for the on/off switch and pushed it to off.

The picture dissolved into a wash of static.

Then Brittany screamed and collapsed onto the floor.

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