Pamela legged it down the hall, reaching the circle of girls, she panted, ‘she’s coming you better put it away’. All five girls slowly turned to face Pamela, they all rolled their eyes before ignoring her and went back to what they were doing. At the same time as Pamela whispered loudly, ‘this is not a drill’, heels could be heard attacking the marble floor not far away. Quick as a flash, the girls had thrown the banned-from-school item out of the window, pulled down their skirts and made themselves look as presentable as possible. The sound got nearer and louder, and now gliding down the corridor was Miss Gladstone. She was the head mistress of Keenton High boarding school for young ladies, and was well-known for serving harsh punishments and showing very little emotion to anyone or anything. It was always best to avoid Miss Gladstone, even her good days were bad ones. I suppose if you were looking to find a good point about her, the head mistresses clothes were always neat and stylish; her face always fresh, and there was never a hair out of place in the tight bun on top of her head. The only fault in her appearance, which she seemed not to notice, was there was always red lipstick on her teeth. The room seemed to get a little colder when she was about. The girls formed themselves in a neat row, with over the top smiles plastered on their faces they all said in unison, ‘good morning Miss Gladstone’. Miss Gladstone studied the girls one by one, with no facial expression what so ever she replied, ‘yes isn’t it just… What are you lot doing loitering the halls?’ Before any of the girls could even open their mouth to respond, Miss Gladstone had moved towards the window, leaning out of it she asked ‘can any of you smell smoke?’ Martha or Marty, as she liked to be called, mouthed to the others ‘didn’t you put it out?’ Marty was the ‘leader’ of the gang, she was known as the toughest girl in the school, she answered to no one, the only person who ever got in Marty’s way was Madison Lake. Madison Lake was head girl, she categorised Marty and her friends as ‘burden on society’ and made it rather difficult for them. Madison was the girl who got anything she wanted. Marty was always getting herself in to trouble, half the stuff she would get away with if it wasn’t for Madison!
Marty ran her fingers through her glossy jet black hair, her big dark eyes widened, she mouthed ‘Did you’? Some of the girls shrugged, the rest were anxiously watching Miss Gladstone. She inspected the window with a face suggesting she had just smelt a load of dog muck, her perfectly polished nailed finger slid across the frame. In one swish movement, the girls formed another line facing her. As she turned back around, she let out a yelp, ‘you mustn’t creep up on people like that girls.’ They all suppressed a giggle, ‘sorry Miss Gladstone’. Satisfied with her inspection, she nodded. There were a thousand other things she needed to do, so the head mistress turned to go. Before she did so Pamela had gasped and put her hand to her mouth, the rest of the group followed her gaze. Sitting just out of view was a burning cigarette; just as they all made a grab for it, the curtain set a light.
As Miss Gladstone was still in sight, Marty whispered ‘shhh don’t say anything we can deal with it ourselves’. Reluctantly the panicked girls nodded, they gathered round in a frenzy trying to snuff it out. Pamela stood there anxiously wanting to attend to it, but couldn’t get near enough. Pamela wasn’t as mischievous as the rest of the gang, she only hung out with them because Linda did. Linda and Pamela were cousins, her mother had insisted she go to the same boarding school as Linda did. In fact her mother always insisted Pamela do whatever Linda did, as Linda could do no wrong in the family’s eyes. Miss Gladstone had nearly turned the corner when the whole curtain erupted in flames, ‘Marty do something’, Gemma cried. Gemma was Marty’s best friend, she was a combination of smart and gorgeous at the same time, something plain Pamela was envious of. Marty didn’t have to do anything, as a second later the fire alarm above went off. Miss Gladstone spun round alarmed, her face switched from anger to panic to rage, ‘What the hell have you girls done’? Pamela couldn’t wait any longer, she decided to go in search of a fire extinguisher or a large quantity of water.
Everyone was frantic, Miss Gladstone who had lost all composure was screeching ‘PUT IT OUT’, while Marty just stood there stunned. Janey was trying to fan away the flames with her math book, in seeing this Gemma yelled ‘how is that supposed to help’. ‘Well it’s more than you’re doing’. Janey was the girl who spent more time in front of the mirror attending her long eye lashes and curly blond hair, then in front of books. A small crowd had gathered by now and was getting larger, realising this Miss Gladstone shouted, ‘if everyone would like to make their way out of the building and line up in your tutors’. She hated things that weren’t on schedule, now all the girls would be off time table and too excited for the rest of the day. Nothing like this had happened in years, was she getting lazy on the job, she thought to herself. She shook the worrying thought from her head, she had to put the fire out that was the main priority. ‘When I said everyone out, I mean you too Martha Lanes’. Miss Gladstone put a hard grip on Marty’s shoulder and hurried her along the corridor, ‘follow everyone else, I’ll deal with you later’. Marty swallowed hard, slowly heading towards the front of the building, her mind was whirling with different excuses and lies she could use later. As she was in a world of her own, she didn’t even realise Pamela and a tall dark stranger whiz pass.
Pamela had sprinted down the hall as soon as Miss Gladstone was aware of what was going on, she needed to find something to put that fire out now. She blew her light brown fringe out of her eye, her slim yet muscled calves contracted with every move she made. Pamela was a swimmer not a runner, ‘why on earth would anyone run voluntarily, it’s just wrong’, she panted to herself. Never very good under pressure, Pamela lost all train of thought, she was dashing back and forth like a ping pong ball. Did this school not have one fire extinguisher, she thought to herself while tripping up a couple of stairs. Pamela was about to leg it up another set when something red caught her eye, breathing a deep sigh of relief she grabbed for it. ‘Oh gosh… OWW’, Pamela cried out in pain. She hadn’t anticipated it to be so heavy and dropped it on her big toe. Trying to put the pain to the back of her mind, she scooped it up. ‘Do you need some help with that’? Being quite small for her age, this man towered above her, he had very dark hair and tanned olive skin. ‘Um yes please… follow me’, thrusting it in his arms Pamela made for the stairs. ‘Sorry but you wouldn’t mind telling me what’s going on’? Pamela carried on down the maze of corridors she had made her way through on the way there, annoyingly she noticed about three extinguishers she hadn’t seen. Not really thinking about it or the consequences of telling this stranger, she blurted out, ‘well the girls bought a ciggie off one of the gardener’s and decided to smoke it in the hall, then I said Miss Gladstone was coming so they threw it out the window but they didn’t realise it had landed next to the curtain and now the curtain is on fire’. Just as she let out a long breath, he quickened his pace.
The fire had started to spread to the other side of the window pane, Miss Gladstone didn’t know how long the fire brigade would be. She was about to say to the teachers who stayed to help, to exit the building when the curtains were blasted with white foam. Unfortunately for Miss Gladstone and Mrs Obbie the music teacher, they also got sprayed by the foam, the empty fire extinguisher fell to the ground. The stranger whipped out a white handkerchief from his blazer pocket, ‘I’m so sorry’, he cried, flapping his handkerchief in their direction and slipping on the foam. Miss Obbie, who older than the rest of them, fell over and brought Miss Gladstone, Pamela and the tall dark stranger over with her. It was quite a sight, they all tried to grab hold of the window pane, which of course was covered in the foam. Mrs Obbie started to laugh, her laugh was so loud and infectious Pamela started to join in. In fact everyone did, every one apart from Miss Gladstone who was simply horrified. Mr Bourne, a bald middle aged thin man managed to get Mrs Gladstone standing. He then also got everyone else up, he was a very serious math teacher who thought everything was a waste of time… unless involved complex algebra questions no teenage girl could understand. Wiping foam off of her glasses, Mrs Gladstone asked ‘and who might you be’? Flicking foam of his shoe, the man straightened up, in his deep British voice he said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you Miss Gladstone… I’m Alex Navarro I am an inspector come to take a look at how the school is doing and if there are any improvements that need to be made’. Pamela closed her eyes and frowned, damn she thought I’ve just ratted out my friends to the inspector… oh and the gardener, that’s just brilliant. She quietly made her way out of the hall to go to her room. Turning the corner she sighed, ‘I should have gone to public school’.
Miss Gladstone’s head started to ache, inspector? She couldn’t remember an inspector, was she losing her touch? Or maybe it was all a dream, tomorrow she would wake up and everything would be fine. Behind her back she lightly pinched her arm… nope well she was pleased she could tell the difference. An inspector now, of all the days in the year he had to pick this one, oh we are set for closure now. Brilliant and just as I was set to get a rise, oh Martha Lanes just wait till I get my hands on you. Putting on her sweetest most reassuring smile Miss Gladstone gestured down one of the long corridors. ‘Ah of course, Mr Bourne you must show Mr Navarro to his room so he can freshen up, then inspector you can come to my office when you’re ready’. Without another glance at any of them, Miss Gladstone turned towards her chambers, she would get someone to deal with the mess later. The first item on her ever-lasting check list, was to have a nice long bath and a stiff whiskey.