That was the sound of my nose breaking as I hit the floor.
“Next time, listen to us,” Thomas Drake snarled from above me, “When we say do something, you hop to it,”
“ Y-yes, Sir,” I answered feebly. He gave me one last glare and walked away from me, followed by his companions, all no doubt taking the piss out of me. I slowly sat up, my heading pounding and sweat dripped between my shoulder blades.
“Are you all right?” a voice said. I looked at my friend, the first person I had met at Horston Academy. Sean Patel was sixteen with doe-brown eyes; he stood at the same height as me, but he was broad-shouldered while I was thin and wiry.
“Do I look all right? I think I’ve broken my nose and my best friend disappears when the going gets tough,” I replied, anger clouding my eyes. I put my head between my legs as sadness overwhelmed me, and then anger resurfaced as I berated myself for letting the head of the Council beat me.
“I really don’t think you’ve broken anything Hoby, it’s just bleeding,” Sean said; at least he had the decency to look sheepish
“Here,” a tissue was placed in front of my face, and that voice came again. “I warned you in the summer what the school was like. Drake has controlled the school since he was in the eleventh year; it’s just official now.”
“Give it a rest, Em,” I replied, tilting my head up and putting the tissue against my nose. I looked at her leaning against a metal post, my cousin and I were the same age though we sometimes acted like brother and sister; we were different in appearance and attitude. Looking at her today, she wore black jeans, held on her skinny hips by a belt with a red t-shirt that read ‘I ain’t ginger, I’m angry’. She scuffed the ground with converse covered feet. Her long red hair cascaded down her back as she flipped her head at me. She was a very pretty young woman, or at least that’s what I’d been told.
“You’ve got to admit that’s hot,” Sean said, eyes trailing after the trio.
“He’s an evil bastard,” I returned vehemently, then my voice softened, “but his girlfriend, now she’s great.”
“Come on, lil cousin, before the bell rings,” Em laughed at me and offered her hand; I took it and stood up. I dusted off the jeans I wore and followed the pair after picking up my bag. Horston Academy was a non-uniform school, one of a few in the UK.
Chatter greeted us as we entered the classroom for the Form room. Em, Sean and I settled at the back of the class. At least here, the Council would not bother me. Moments later, Mr Bennett stepped into the room, his hands on the shoulders of what appeared to be a young boy. He had mousy brown hair, green eyes and was short, probably a couple of inches over five feet. He had an unblemished face and seemed oblivious to the ravishes of puberty.
“Class settle down, today we have a new classmate. Nathan Williams is fourteen and has been moved up two years; his father is in the RAF and has just transferred here from Germany,” Mr Bennett explained. “Nathan, why don’t you join Mr Mathews, Patel and Miss Stacey at the back.”
“All right,” came the reply, barely above a whisper. He walked between the rows of double tables and settled in a chair next to me. Sean was on his right sat next to Emily.
“G’day, Nathan,” I chirped, putting on an Australian accent. He still looked down, but a smile tugged his lips. “I’m Hoby Mathews; this misfit is Sean Patel, and that ginge is Emily Stacey, my cousin.”
“ Please call me Nate,” he returned; his voice had barely broken.
“Tell us about yourself?” Sean asked.
“I just moved from a place called Düsseldorf with my father; my mother died two years ago, and I have no brothers or sisters.” The three of us stared at him; he spoke casually as though he was talking about the weather. Something snapped inside me; I am not usually emotional, but this young lad seemed to be playing my heartstrings. I felt something for him; I wanted to be the older brother the boy had never had.
“Well, now you have three new friends. I’ll be your big brother if you want?” I said a little sheepishly. Emily stared at me; she knew me better than anyone on this planet.
“Thanks, I’d love that,” He said enthusiastically, “ Can you tell me about the school?”
“Horston academy is home to 1,221 students, some who board and others that don’t. It has a grand 235-year-history and is one of the top schools in Britain,” Sean rattled off; the boy really was a geek but my best friend.
“That was in the brochure, but I want to know about the school,” he said, and I knew exactly what he meant. Did anyone get bullied? I looked past him and met Emily’s cerulean eyes.
“At the start of last year, the Dean began a Social experiment called The Council. It consists of nine 12th and 13th formers, five boys and four girls, deciding everything for the school except for the teachers. Thomas Drake is the head of the Council, and he rules with fear, he can decide who is expelled, what punishment a student will get and even what clubs can be formed,” Emily explained, she had been attending the school since she was ten while I have only been attending for three weeks.
“Personally, I think the Dean is too lazy; even most of the teachers are scared of Drake though he cannot do anything to them. I have heard the teachers that oppose Drake get fired,” Sean said conspiratorially.
“Has anyone opposed him?” Nate asked, looking from my face to Sean’s.
“All the students are too scared to do it,” answered Sean just as the bell rang for the first bell.
“Don’t worry about it, just stay out of their way, and you will be fine,” Emily said and put an arm around his shoulder, leading him from the room.
“Mr Mathews, are you listening to me?” the voice spoke with a hint of annoyance, waking me from my daydream of lying in the Florida sun.
“Yes, Sir,” I replied, flicking hair from my eyes. I flashed the teacher a dazzling smile. “I always listen in your lessons Mr Azzac.”
“Make sure you do,” Mr Azzac, the science teacher, replied. I heard a snigger came from Sean as I got told off, but ‘ole, Mr Azzac did not bother me.
“As I was saying, the Virus has been an age-old enemy of humans since the dawn of time. Genetic engineering, although relatively new, has given a process in which to pick apart viruses and study their evolution and origins,” The bell rang, and Mr Azzac sighed, “I expect the homework by Monday. Please do not leave it all to Sunday.”
“I can’t wait until after the break,” Patel said. Noises filled the corridors as children from 8-18 filtered through, getting their books and getting ready to go home. Several of the day students made their way to the car park, meeting parents or walking into the local town where they lived. Sean and I started making our way to the dorm rooms. As seniors, we were allowed off-campus in the evenings as long as we were back by ten.
“My god, Patsy, this place is starting to get boring,” I spoke vehemently, using my nickname for him; after three weeks of dealing with the Council, I was ready to go to Military school as my Dad suggested.
“I quite like the place; it has a fantastical history,” Sean replied, smiling at me. We turned the corner and found Thomas Drake flanked by two Council members, both Rugby players. On his knees was Nate, with tears trailing down his face. His books were strewn across the floor, and his canvas bag was ripped. On either side was a semi-circle of students. Behind Drake was Alissa Stewart. She was beautiful, a heart-shaped face was framed by dark brown hair, and soulful blue eyes watched the scene with distress.
“Tom, he’s only a kid. Let him be,” she pleaded.
“ Come on, little faggot, lick my shoes,” Tom growled, ignoring his girlfriend. Sean glanced at me, and his eyes widened; I was gritting my teeth and glaring at my fellow sixth former. I had kept my head down for the last three weeks, but seeing them go after my brother. Something just seemed to snap; no longer was I going to be pushed around by him and his cronies.
“ Drake, leave my brother, or I’ll rip your balls off,” I shouted. He looked up, surprise etched across his face, but that quickly dissolved into anger. I could almost imagine his brain patterns; who the hell is he to challenge me?
“Mathews, didn’t we have this conversation this morning?” Drake sneered. I stepped forward until I was face to face with him. We were exactly the same height, except he had the physique of a rugby player, and I had a runners build. It did not mean I could not fight.
“Well, you punched me, and I acted like a pussy,” I returned, “however, I would not call that a conversation.”
“ You funning me?” He asked, annoyed.
“ Oh yeah, Drake, I’m taking the piss out of you,” I stated to the laughter of the student body, “now you’ll leave Nate alone, or I’ll teach you a lesson that you’ve had coming for a long while,”
“This is my school; I can do whatever I want,” He said, turning in a wide circle.
“Actually, it clearly states in the rules that the Council leader can be challenged by another Sixth former,” A small voice said at my back. I smiled, knowing Nate had done his homework today.
“Really?” I asked, acting shocked, “Perhaps it’s time a new Council was chosen,”
“I’ll speak to the Dean; rules can be changed,” Tom said, his eyes flickering around nervously. He knew he was losing control of the school and the student body.
“The Dean cannot change the rules; he created them. It says any new changes must be approved by the Board of Governors and the teachers,” Nate added, now standing by my side. I glanced at him, staring defiantly at Drake.
“You little shit, reckon you know everything,” He took a step forward. I sidestepped in front of Nate grabbing Drake’s arm and swinging him around my foot placed strategically behind his. He tripped and landed on his ass. The crowd roared with laughter.
“Tom, I suggest you leave the younger boys alone. However, I will be challenging you for a new Council,” I said, catching Emily’s eye in the crowd. She smiled and gave me the thumbs up. He looked around wildly and quickly stormed out of the circle that had surrounded us.
“I don’t think he’ll be bothering us anytime soon,” I said, catching Alissa winking at me before disappearing with the dispersing crowd.