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The Secret School Prize

Matthew Morris | Sherri Oliver

It was twenty minutes into the lesson and Mrs Miller was sat at the front of the class, perched upon her old, creaky wooden desk. Her long, lifeless hair ran down her face as she read aloud an excerpt from ‘Of Mice And Men’.

So far it was a perfect situation to let my thoughts wander, but soon she would ask around the class, most likely selecting the more unwilling looking students to take over. First up to embarrass themselves among their peers was Stacey Paterson; an obvious choice as she appeared to be somewhat of an undiagnosed narcoleptic, either that or she had developed an extremely intelligent form of learning in which one can simply absorb information, storing it securely whilst asleep. Stacey was by no means a popular kid in school, but her ghost-like presence and genuine lack of care seemed to prevent her from the wrath of abuse some of the other ‘unique’ kids received.

She began by wiping the saliva connected between her sleeve and mouth, clearing her throat and muttering under her voice “fffffsssaaake”. The slow, broken speech was delivered with a total of one tone and I could already feel my eyelids starting to give. Even Mrs Miller could barely hide her boredom listening to Stacey’s terrible rendition and my brain had decided it was time to relax; my back arched out, my elbows embraced my desk, and my thoughts were soon to form my dreams.

Only a few minutes had passed and I was already awoken by a knock at the classroom door. A tall, jolly looking man entered wearing a three-piece brown suede suit; a timepiece hung from his jacket pocket and I could have sworn I saw a monocle draped from his lapels.

“Edward? Please follow Mr Derby; you are excused from this class.”

I didn’t recognize this man and I wasn’t sure what he’d want with me; I hadn’t done anything wrong as far as I could remember and he certainly didn’t look worried or angry.

Mr Derby led me outside into the school grounds, the morning sun lending a sepia light to the scene and I stepped inside his car.

“Mr Derby, what is this all about? Am I in trouble?” I asked.

“In trouble young lad? Of course not! Didn’t your teacher tell you? You’ve won the secret school prize!”

“The secret school prize? I’ve never heard of that!”

“Ha-ha oh boy, that’s why it’s called the secret school prize!”

We took a few sharp turns and at the speed Mr Derby was driving, we were quickly gathering dust along a forest track. At this point I wasn’t as excited as I was confused, and my surroundings didn’t help one bit. Up ahead looked to be an enormous old-fashioned carnival, all in tact with large brightly striped tents, children holding giant clouds of candy floss and parents laughing, dancing around and taking part in even the youngest of kid’s activities. As far as I was aware, there was never a 1950’s themed amusement park in my town, and even if there was, I don’t think I would have thought to visit it.

How wrong I was to think that though. The fare was full of happiness; lovers held hands as they perused the attractions, and the grown ups didn’t have a care in the world — everyone was doing exactly what they wanted to do.

Mr Derby parked the car and as I stepped out, he smiled, looked me in the eye and said, “Have fun kid, there’s no time limit, just let me know when you want to leave.” My back was turned to him after a motorized go-kart sped past and stole my attention; but soon I realized and I span round shouting “But I don’t have your num…ber.” He was already gone and I was left with nothing to do but to explore this mysterious funfair.

There didn’t seem to be a price for any of the rides or games and I quickly began to experience one after the other; from shooting ducks with rifles with real ammunition to lazing on a boat, paddling through tropical rain forests.

The fair was unlike any I had visited before, and even though there seemed to be dangerous qualities among the rides, it didn’t matter. Everything worked well, and everyone trusted each other.

The star attraction of the park was a 100-mile roller coaster, racing through the galaxy experiencing planets in between. I was equipped with a laser gun and told I’d need it to fend off alien enemies along my journey. The combination of roller coasters, space travel and laser guns was all too much for me and my heart was beating faster than I could say, “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!”

As I sat in my seat, clenching the padded barrier and bursting with excitement, I didn’t even have to time to question what on earth I’d been doing for the past eight hours or even where I really was.

The traffic light in front of my carriage changed from red to amber; this roller coaster was about to be possibly the most fun I would have had to this date and I couldn’t believe how long it was taking to turn to green.

Suddenly my eyes twitched, and I felt a rumble in my seat; was it part of the ride? Was there supposed to be turbulence before it even began? I looked quickly behind at the other passengers as to say, “Is this supposed to be happening?” but each one stared blankly at me until their faces blurred upon recognition. I was desperate to take off, and scared that something was wrong. The light turned green but everything stood still; the place went dark and I couldn’t hear anything. I felt lightheaded, almost sedated and against my will I fell asleep, only to wake to;

“Edward! Do you think it’s acceptable to fall asleep in class? Please, take over reading from chapter three.”

About Matthew Morris

Matthew David Morris, born in Scotland 1989, only recently discovered his passion for writing poems and shorts. As a musician and songwriter he found himself increasingly aware of the fun to be had whilst writing lyrics and that it wasn't only words for music he enjoyed composing. He spent his last year living in Berlin, Germany where he wrote a number of his poems but in fact 'The Secret School Prize' was written in an old apartment in Vilnius, Lithuania where he spent some weeks visiting his partner whilst on her work placement. Matthew now lives back in his home town as to spend more time with his loved ones whilst dealing with the loss of his father.

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