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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2. Chapter Two

 

                                                                                 Two

The television crackled, then hummed, before it started a high-pitched keening.  Someone close to me chuckled.  Deep and throaty.

And it definitely wasn’t Brittany. 

I willed my attention away from the television and turned around - - and around again - - but found no-one.   I had definitely heard someone but the two of us were alone. 

Brittany groaned.  I knelt and helped her to a sitting position. 

‘Are you okay?’ 

She gazed at me glassy-eyed.  ‘Don’tletthebedbugsbite.’ 

That was what the thing on the television had said.  Freaked out, I skittered away.  ‘Pardon?’

Brittany blinked rapidly.  ‘I said, what happened?  Why am I on the floor?’

I gestured at the camera.  ‘You were doing your Save Our School speech and sort of collapsed.’

‘I did?’  She looked around the laboratory.  ‘I-I don’t remember . . .’  She stared at me.  ‘What’s going on?’

I pointed at the television, making a real effort to stop my hand from shaking.  ‘Did-did you see what was on there?’

‘No.’  Brittany twisted around and glanced up at it - - now dark and quiet.  ‘I guess it would have been me.’  She stood.  ‘But who cares about what was on the TV?  I collapsed.  What.  Happened?’

A good question.  But what was I going to tell her - - that I saw her image morph into some freakish-looking goblin that pushed its face out of the screen? 

‘Was I electrocuted?’ 

Brilliant!  ‘Yes!’

‘I was?’

I may have been a little too enthusiastic in my support of the electrocution theory.  ‘Yes- kind of.  But it was only a small shock.’ 

‘Really?’ She flexed her fingers.

I peered at her.  ‘How do you feel now?’

She looked at me strangely.  ‘All right, I guess.  A little tingly.’

‘Hmm.’ I nodded sagely.  ‘To be expected.’

‘Well, should I see a doctor?  Tell my Mum?’

‘If you want to.’ I shrugged.  I squirmed.  ‘But you seem okay to me.’

‘Oh, do I?’  She snorted.  ‘And you’re a doctor, are you?’

‘Obviously not . . . ‘

But before I could stammer any further explanation, she gasped and pointed at the camera.  ‘But I was broadcast, wasn’t I?’

‘Huh?  Oh yes.  Definitely.’  I twisted and flicked every knob and switch on the mixing board to the off position.  ‘But we should call it a day.’

‘Yeah.  Good idea.  Before you kill me.’

I gave a pathetic little ‘ha ha’.  ‘But seriously-’

‘Woo, that really sapped me.’  Brittany settled on a lab stool and sighed. 

‘Well, you were passionate.  And passion can sap your energy, so I hear.’

‘Don’t you think electrocution might have had something to do with it too?’

‘Yeah.  Of course, sorry.  And what you said was great!  Very strong stuff’

‘I felt really energised.  Totally positive.’ Brittany smiled.  ‘So I guess you did all right.’  She stretched her arms and rolled her neck.  ‘Just think about it, once you iron out the bugs we can broadcast our concert to millions of kids - - all over the world - - from Cairncross High.’

If only.  ‘We certainly can.’  Lying for love was intoxicating!  ‘Um, I have a favour I’d like to ask you, Brittany.’

She smiled at me.  ‘The man who just broadcast me can ask for anything.’

I felt my knees buckle.  Anything?  Crikey.  ‘Well, it’s no biggie.  It’s my Uncle Walter’s birthday tomorrow and I’m throwing him a party.  But it’s just him and me and I was wondering if you’d like to come.’

‘You want me to come to Uncle’s birthday party?’

‘Yes, please!’

‘And it’s tomorrow - - the same day as the rally?’

Suddenly I was gripped with a sinking feeling.  ‘Yeees.  But it is after school - - and rally - - hours.’

‘It’s very sweet what you’re doing for your Uncle, IQ, but I don’t think I’ll be able to make it.’

‘Oh . . . Okay.’ I shrugged.  Nonchalantly.  Very nonchalantly.  ‘Cool.  No worries.  Hey!  If you need a song to kick off the rally, I’m your man.’

Brittany looked pained. ‘I don’t know if the kids will really go for classical music.’

‘Classical?  Who said anything about classical?’ I squeaked.  ‘The only classical music I play is 1970’s hard rock.  Do you know the riff from Smoke On The Water?’  I mimed playing the keyboard.  ‘Or I can be funky.  Whatever you want.’

Brittany’s frown deepened.   It was an expression I associated with a concerned mother - - worried when her pre-schooler was eating ants.   I was not an ant-eater.   Brittany slung her backpack on her shoulder and headed for the door.  ‘You’re . . . I don’t know.  You’re a lot different from the other Eggheads.’ 

Egghead?

‘Oh.  Thanks,’ I muttered. 

‘You bet.’  She twiddled her fingers at me and grinned.  ‘See you at school.’  And she was out the door.  Gone. 

***

I tidied Uncle Walter’s laboratory, locked it and shuffled off to the kitchen to make dinner.  While cooking, I mulled over the events of the afternoon.  Nothing physical had happened to me in the laboratory.  I had witnessed some weird stuff on the screen, but who knows, maybe that was how Uncle Walter had rigged it.  The television and the VCRs could be part of a 3D/virtual reality game he was developing.  He had made heaps of stranger things in the past.  And as for Brittany collapsing, well, maybe she was over-tired or over-excited or both.  Being broadcast globally was too much for her.  Or maybe she had received a slight electric shock.  As regards to the voice chuckling - - that had to be part of the game - - and the green mist - - hey, there are a lot of unstable chemicals in the laboratory.  And that was that.  Sane, logical explanations for everything.   But all the same, I decided to stay out of the laboratory for the time-being.

I’d just peeled the vegetables and had the pasta on the boil when the back door crashed open and Uncle Walter bustled in loaded down with electronic gadgetry.

‘That was a big fat waste of time.’  He heaved string bags up onto the kitchen bench.  ‘A bloke goes looking for positive iodonic polarisers and the dill in the shop orders in negative iodonic polarisers-’ He stopped, mid-sentence, sniffed the air, then planted the Evil Eye smack bang on me.  ‘Have you been in my laboratory?’

I successfully sucked down the GULP that welled in my throat.  ‘The studio- Your laboratory?  No.  No. Of course not.  No!’

Uncle Walter continued to stare at me.  ‘Okay.’

I nodded at the bubbling pot on the stove. ‘It-it’s my Pasta Primavera tonight.  I hope you’re hungry.’

Uncle Walter licked his lips and nodded.  ‘You cook it, Jeremy, I’ll eat it.’  He started sorting through his shopping. 

In the hallway, the telephone rattled into life and my heart leapt.  It was Brittany calling.  It had to be.  She’d thought things over and realised that, yes, I was a musical genius.  Clever girl.  She probably wanted me to help with the rally.  Mood music.  Yes.  Perhaps I could even arrange some special effects.  I turned down the hotplates, hurried to the hallway and dived for the phone.

‘Hello, Brittany?’ I blurted.  “How are you-?’

A thin and reedy voice panted, ‘Hello Grand Keeper.’

‘I think you have the wrong number,’ I said.

There was no answer, except for shallow breathing.

‘Hello?’  I shrugged at Uncle Walter who had joined me in the hallway.  ‘They’re after a grand keeper?’

‘They’re what?’  He yelped, snatching the receiver from me.  ‘Yes?’ he barked.  But then his eyes widened as the person on the other end of the line spoke.  ‘If this is some kind of joke, it ain’t funny!’  He listened some more, his eyes widening further and then he suddenly slammed down the receiver.  ‘It can’t be,’ he murmured. 

‘Do you know the grand keeper?’ I asked.

Uncle Walter looked at me like I had just spoken a Guinness Book of Records number of expletives.  ‘This is none of your concern.’

‘All right.’  I held up my hands.  ‘Whatever, Unk.  Just cool it.’

‘Haven’t you got homework to do?’

‘Yes.’  I indicated my Pasta Primavera bubbling away to oblivion in the kitchen.  ‘I’m doing it after dinner.’

Uncle Walter waved a dismissing hand.  ‘No time to eat.’  He stared at the phone.  ‘It can use modern technology.’  He managed to sound impressed and afraid. 

I tried to steer him back into the kitchen.  ‘Come and have some dinner and tell me about your problem.’

But he shrugged away and stomped down the hallway to his laboratory.  He threw open the door and stood in the threshold, looking about warily - - as if he half-expected someone to be in there.  He marched in and bolted the door behind him.

After finishing dinner, alone, I went to my room.  Sorting through my school bag, I was alarmed to discover my chemistry assignment, some history notes and - - and this is a big ‘and’ - - a song of adoration I had written in honour of Brittany, were missing. 

And it was all thanks to Mitchell Hayman and his Pick Up the Homework game.

If anyone found that song sheet - - three verses and a lilting chorus - - my name would be mud for the next twenty years, minimum.  Not that I was embarrassed about my feelings for Brittany.  I just wanted to launch my song on the world on my own terms.

Some pages had flapped across the sports fields towards the beach and hopefully the sea.  If I couldn’t retrieve my song, I would rather it was destroyed.  No evidence of my feelings.  Nothing. 

As I tucked up for the night, I pushed all thoughts of television studios and weird faces and fainting spunky girls from my mind, but when sleep claimed me I dreamed - - vivid dreams of strange creatures and selfish wishes and the world collapsing.

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