The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

“It’s not fair,” muttered Jack. He picked at his nose. “Why’d he have to go and choose us for, eh? Why are we the likely lads?”

Jack had a point. We were the only three having the dreams. We had checked in a rather roundabout way, of course, because the last thing we needed on top of all this was to get beaten up as well. None of the other boys were having the visions. It made us rather paranoid.

“I don’t know,” I said shaking my head, “but everyone will just think we’re barking mad. We’ve got to keep it amongst ourselves.”

“So what do we do?” asked Oscar. He was wringing his hands.

“We sleep in shifts,” I said, having nothing better to offer. “One person sleeps at a time while the others watch. If the person asleep starts to act weird, we wake them up.”

“How are we going to get to Oscar?” asked Jack, who seemed highly dubious. “We’ll get in trouble if we get caught.” Once lights were out, everyone was to stay in their own rooms, otherwise, a caning was guaranteed. And Mistress Moffat was a heavy hander at that.

“We’ll have to risk it. Moley still snores, right?” I asked Oscar. Moley, whose real name was Thomas, but who resembled a small rodent hence the nickname was a heavy sleeper. We could use that to our advantage.

“Yeah, so?” asked Oscar.

“You let him fall asleep first and his snoring will mask our footsteps,” I said, feeling slightly more secure in my plan. “We’ll take first shift.” I nodded towards Jack.

“How about when it’s my turn?” asked Oscar. “How are you gonna cover me?”

“Ain’t our problem is it, mate?” said Jack. “You’ll have to walk like the wind, you know Bruce Lee style.”

 “Oscar, you’re going to have to do your best,” I replied. “Moley should cover you as you leave your room, just like for us. You’ll have to wait until we get back to our room before you come over. Too many people up at once could raise an alarm.” It was like orchestrating a battle plan, but a very poor one.

“Fine,” puffed Oscar. “It’s all well and good until the fat kid gets it in the head.”

I shot Jack a warning glance. He kept his mouth shut. “Do you have a better plan?” I asked, my question directed at Oscar. “Cause if so, I’d like to hear it.” Oscar just looked at me plaintively, but he didn’t say a word.

“Good,” I replied, nodding my head. “It’s a plan.”

A week later, we were all worse for wear. So far we hadn’t had any more dreams, but we also hadn’t gotten much sleep either. By the time each one of us settled down and shut our eyes, it felt like it was time to get back up again. Jack had fallen asleep twice now in maths class and got his knuckles rapped. Oscar so far had resisted the urge to fall asleep in class, but that didn’t mean he got off unscathed. He’d ended up with marker all over his face one day at lunch when he’d fallen asleep before we got there. It took three days for him to get the marks off.

“I don’t know how much more of this I can stand,” said Jack one lunch time. He yawned.

“Yeah, me too,” said Oscar. He was sporting dark circles under his eyes that resembled bruises, purplish splotches mixed with an interesting shade of grey.

I knew I was worse for wear, too, although I tried to keep up appearances. “Maybe we can pull all-nighters instead,” I replied wearily. “That would mean we’d each get a full night’s sleep every three days.” Even when I said it out loud, it sounded like a bad idea.

Oscar and Jack groaned in unison.

“Okay, okay,” I sighed. “Yeah, it’s a rubbish idea.”

“What if we’re not the first ones to have the dreams,” interrupted Oscar. “What if there were others before us?”

“What do you mean?” asked Jack. He stared intently at Oscar.

“I mean what if a bunch of kids before us had the same dreams? What if there is a pattern or something?” said Oscar.

“He could be onto something,” said Jack, perking up.

“And how are we going to find out?” I asked, trying to be practical.

“The library,” replied Oscar. “They’ve got that new microfilm machine, don’t they? We could look up articles on Hallow Park.”

“It could take ages,” I countered.

“Yeah, so?” said Jack. “What else are we likely to do?”

He had a point. The longer it went on, the less social we were. We weren’t exactly pariahs yet, but we were getting there.

“Fine,” I sighed. “I’m in. So how do you want to play it?”

“I reckon our best bet is to skive off after third period. I’ve got independent study,” said Jack. He looked over at Oscar.

“Yeah, me too,” chirped in Oscar, grinning.

I groaned.

“You jammy bastards,” I uttered. “I’ll have to ditch English Lit. Arse.”

“Better you than me mate,” admitted Jack. “Burrows is a total nut job.”

“Yeah, thanks for that.” I scowled.

“No worries,” said Jack, adopting the same grin as Oscar.

I punched Jack’s arm and headed for class.

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