Skidding round the corner, Harvey Hunter panted for breath. He had charged out of the conference room, door banging in his wake, and was now running for his life.
The other members of SPLAT, he noticed out of the corner of his eye, were also fleeing. Fleeing from the 'grey ladies' and the people in brown overalls. As the rest of the group darted around the dome, Harvey's vision zeroed in on the entrance. From what Dinah and Ingrid had told him, the design of the entrance was of Hunky Parker's face, which had caused Harvey to shudder in horror.
To think, he had liked watching the programme… An alternative to Eddy Hair…
'Now I know that there are subliminal messages in each show… No wonder, without the messages, NO ONE would have watched it! It's CRAP compared to the Eddy Hair Show!'
Goofy grin plastered onto his face at the recollection of fond memories involving his favourite programme, Harvey almost stumbled over his feet. Managing to regain his balance, his hand delved into the pocket of his trousers, fingers groping for his inhaler. The other hand shoved his fair hair up into a quiff, the sweat pooling onto his forehead the cause of his cringe.
Only a few hours ago, the dome had resembled a ski resort, with machines blasting freezing cold air everywhere, and hypnotised holidaymakers clad in winter gear, trailing their equipment behind them. Harvey had glimpsed the 'chill room', and this brief memory sent another shudder racing through his sweltering skin, heart slamming against his ribcage in pure terror and goofy grin vanishing from his features.
However, now, the inside of the dome was similar to a beach, particularly in terms of the temperature. Sun loungers and tropical plants were dotted around the dome, the holidaymakers relaxing in their Hawaiian shirts and string shorts, sandals flopping every time their feet slapped the sand.
Harvey wrenched his asthma pump out of his pocket and dove behind one of the sun loungers that were conveniently placed on the upper area of the dome. He administered his inhaler, successfully hiding from view, gaze intent on his brother, girlfriend, sister and friends.
Each one of them were using their individual attributes to the best of their abilities, and Harvey watched in amazement as his best friends in the whole wide world evaded their pursuers, almost effortlessly.
'Better than I did.' This thought brought on feelings of worthlessness, stirred up by the actions he had taken. He had fled from the conference room, due to how terrified he was, and who could blame him? After learning that you and your friends were going to be placed into the 'chill room', inevitably leading to death, wouldn't you run as fast as you could away from your fate?! Even at the risk of being exposed, and potentially caught?!
Harvey shoved his inhaler back into his trouser pocket, cheering to himself as the rest of SPLAT managed to group together and climb onto a platform, finally out of reach for the 'grey ladies' and the overall clad workers to grab them. Knowing that in order to get there, he would have to sprint across at least half the width of the dome, Harvey slowly pulled himself up, hands cupping the edges of the sun lounger.
Below, the pursuers were gathering together the hypnotised holidaymakers, and Harvey felt his fear shoot up. The more of them there were, the less chance he had of making it to his group, and it meant that the rest of SPLAT had less time on the platform before they were dragged down, presumably kicking and screaming.
Which meant that Harvey had to move now. Otherwise, the five children on the platform would be sitting ducks and he would simply be watching them, too scared to even make a sound or move a muscle.
'If I can't get to them, then I could always distract the hypnotised. Draw them over to me, so the others can escape…'
It was a selfless move, but Harvey was such a kind hearted and caring boy that, for once, he didn't dwell on his own safety. He just wanted to make sure that his loved ones achieved freedom from this hell hole. So, acting on impulse, Harvey sprang to his feet, opened his mouth and darted out from behind the sun lounger, fully preparing to scale down to the bottom level and distract the hypnotised from his group.
Unaware that a large hand was flying towards him from behind…
The boy in question stopped dead, forehead creased in confusion. SPLAT were waving their arms frantically at him and Ingrid, the source of the shout, was screaming at him to 'WATCH OUT!'
"Huh? Sweetie, I don't get what you me-"
Suddenly, something slapped over his mouth. Eyes bulging, Harvey started to frantically struggle, hot breath tainting the cold flesh of the large hand clamped over his mouth. His screams came out muffled, but they were drowned out even more by the screams of SPLAT. Harvey heard Lloyd roar:
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM!"
Saw the pulsing veins in Lloyd's forehead, the nostrils flaring. To Harvey, his older brother resembled a bull, but now was not the time for jokes. Now, was the time for getting free.
He couldn't hazard a guess as to who had captured him, as he was too caught up in terror, but the startling realisation came clear when pale lips swarmed up to his right ear, hiss ghosting against the lobe of his ear.
"You made a very critical mistake, Mr Hunter… Running from your old Headmaster, my, my, I see that your manners have still not improved."
Headmaster. 'Oh CRAP.'
Utterly petrified at who he had been caught by, Harvey stilled, whimpering against the man's hand as the Headmaster smiled creepily and purred into his ear:
"Shall I bundle you up in a carpet? I am sure that you enjoyed being so wrapped up. You must be used to it, bundling up during the winter months due to how weak you are. So, let us bundle you up in the carpet and ship you off to Burkina Faso. That is where you were meant to go, thus you shall go there."
A smirk quivered at the Headmaster's bloodless lips.
"I presume you do not know where Burkina Faso is? You stupid boy, shall I tell you? Nod if you want me to do so."
Slowly, Harvey nodded, having remained as still as a statue during the Headmaster's gloating.
"It is in Africa, you fool. Which means that once you arrive there and the residents unravel you, they shall have a set meal. Indeed, those starving little Africans will tie you up and roast you, then once you are tender enough, they will skin you and eat your corpse."
The whimpers increased, fear addled sweat pooling around his body on top of the additional sweat from the heat. Bile rose up in Harvey's throat, and he thanked the hand that was gagging him for stopping the vomit from gushing out of his mouth. His struggles renewed at this sickening threat, his muffled shrieks of terror and pleas of mercy falling out of his mouth at a rapid pace.
The other children bellowed at their nemesis to 'LET HARVEY GO!', but in response, the Headmaster simply smirked triumphantly at them. Now that the boy was fearful enough, he could stop with the threats and deal with Harvey Hunter. In a way that would hopefully traumatise the boy so much that the little brat never interfered in his plans again.
Chuckling sinisterly, the Headmaster took his hand away from Harvey's mouth, then proceeded to tuck the child under his arm and march towards the ground floor, satisfied that all eyes were on him. Originally, he had planned to place the six children into the 'chill room' so that he could kill them and never have to be bothered by them again, but now, he considered that too easy.
No, it would be better to hold the boy hostage until the troublesome group conceded defeat and promised to allow themselves to be escorted off of the premises without any fuss, and stay out of his plans for the rest of their pathetic lives.
Besides, he didn't really want to get his hands dirty, or bloody in this case, regarding the youngest Hunter boy.
As the Headmaster marched towards the conference room, a bucking and squealing Harvey under his arm, the rest of SPLAT were frantically stitching a plan together, all too aware of the imminent danger that they faced the second they climbed down from the platform. Ingrid was near tears as she watched her boyfriend be carried out of sight, and this burning desire to make the Headmaster pay suddenly fuelled her to take a running leap off of the platform, arms and legs cartwheeling as she dropped towards the ground.
Mandy screamed at Ingrid's sudden descent, but her along with the others, breathed out a sigh of relief as she landed safely. Lloyd cursed as Ingrid streaked through the doors leading into the conference room, muttering:
"Never thinks that one… LET'S GO!"
With a roar, Lloyd led the charge. One by one, they dropped down and raced towards the conference room, the abundance of grey ladies, overall clad workers and now the hypnotised holidaymakers joining in with the chase, hot on their heels.
Lloyd, Dinah, Ian and Mandy skidded to a halt besides Ingrid, their eyes widening in utter horror at what they saw. They barely noticed that their pursuers had caught up to them and were swarmed behind them, their dull eyes drifting onto their leader.
The Headmaster was atop the stage, clenched hands gripping Harvey's shoulders. The second youngest member of SPLAT squirmed in the Headmaster's clutches, whimpering and letting the tears run down his face freely. As the children gazed up in horror, the Headmaster smirked, beginning to purr his new outlandish scheme that he had concocted in his mind whilst carrying the troublesome child into the conference room.
"It is evident that you want HARVEY back. So sentimental, you children, always sticking together as part of a group. Your precious group. The group who keep RUINING MY PLANS! Well, I can play that game as well…"
Solid plan formed in his mind, the Headmaster's smirk turned cruel.
"You want your friend back, and I want my plans to go off without a hitch. To proceed without any interference, let us say, once Harvey is with you, you will all leave the area and return home. Never to interfere with any aspect of my planning again. Do we have a deal?"
Five frantic nods down below caused the Headmaster to chuckle, his tone dropping to one of danger.
"How noble, sacrificing all of your hard work to save the most worthless little boy I have ever encountered!" He tutted at the whimper, before suddenly manipulating his hold on Harvey so that the boy was above his head, the Headmaster's elevated arms adding even more height for the boy to fall.
As Harvey struggled, sobbing in fear, the children below commenced a holy hell of hollering, screaming and shrieking, all of them pleading with the Headmaster to not drop their friend. The Headmaster pealed his lips back to reveal a manic grin as he crooned:
"Alas, with this deal, there is one condition…"
"I may be returning Harvey to you, but I never mentioned how he would be returned to you…"
To Dinah's startling horror, she realised what the Headmaster meant. Glancing round, she saw that she was the only one who did. Cursing softly, Dinah inhaled a lungful of air before shrieking:
"WE HAVE TO CATCH HARVEY!"
The others registered her words, then watched in shock and horror, as the Headmaster abruptly launched Harvey off of the stage. As her little brother flailed through the air, starting his rapid descent, mouth stretched open and fearful scream ripping free, Dinah raced forwards, leading the group to save their friend.
Whilst this was happening, the Headmaster peered over the edge to watch the Hunter boy fall through the air. He didn't mind that there was a chance that Hunter could die. In fact, for once, he was counting on a death. For too long, those brats had been under his feet. Now, they were paying for ruining his plans twice over.
"Bye bye, Harvey…"