He was trying to find his new form room when he bumped into a teacher, and he could tell it was a teacher as the woman was clearly older and had a stern look to her, that came with old fashioned teachers. (At least ones he had seen in the movies.)
"Look where you are going, young man! Where are you supposed to be?"
"Er…" Harvey stepped back and rubbed his face, where he had connected embarrassingly with her chest. "Sorry. I'm meant to see Mrs Brooks, she's my form tutor. The room's-"
"8F. It is right here. I am Mrs Brooks, what is your name?"
Deflated that this strict woman was going to be his form tutor, Harvey muttered: "Harvey Hunter. I've just been to see the Headmaster and he said to come and see you."
"What else did he say?"
He could see that she was taking a keen interest in his meeting with the Headmaster and a part of him didn't want to tell her what had happened in the office. Most likely, she would look down on him for being 'different' to the other students.
"That after lunch, I don't have to go to the hall with everyone else… I have to go to the library and one of the Prefects will be supervising me."
"You are not attending Assembly then?"
"No, Miss. I'm basically banned from it… I think."
His little joke didn't come across well, and Mrs Brooks narrowed her eyes at him.
"Banned from assembly, eh? Well, it seems that St Champions have a troublemaker on their hands and what an honour you hold, Mr Hunter, as you are our very first troublemaker to grace this fair school. Get into the room now."
Harvey, wide-eyed at his new title, sidled around her and entered the classroom, taking a seat at the back. He slipped into the chair in the right hand corner and put his bag on top of the desk. Looking round the classroom, he analysed the other students in his class, or the back of them in a more realistic sense. There were twelve of them and judging from their stiff postures and perfect silence, Harvey would bet a lot of money that their faces were blank.
'Like robots. I knew this school would be weird.'
With a sigh, he let his head drop forward to face-plant into his bag.
The bell screeched, signalling the end of lessons. In his form room, now full with robotic pupils, studied meticulously by Harvey as each one stepped into the room, children put their books away and stood up behind their chairs. Mrs Brooks looked up from her marking.
"That's the signal for lunch. Make your way there in one line, and no pushing or running, Mr Hunter. You are all dismissed."
"What? I wouldn't be stupid enough to do that." Harvey mumbled under his breath, following his class out of the room and into the corridor. They all slotted into one line, marching towards the canteen in silence. Stomach growling with hunger, Harvey wondered what was on the menu. Hopefully, pizza.
The head of the line entered the canteen and moved straight over to the growing queue. As Harvey entered the room, he looked round, spotting his brother sitting with Ian, Mandy and three other pupils. None of them were talking and they were all eating in unison. It creeped Harvey out, more so when he noticed that each table contained the same three factors. One; there were six children to one table, two; they were all silent, and three; their eating pace was exactly the same. Knives and forks scraped the plate at the same time and entire tables would drink from their glass in unison.
"What the hell… this is so weird…" Harvey mumbled under his breath as he joined the queue for food. When he got closer to the serving court, he picked up a red tray and perused the food on offer. Immediately, he pulled a face. It was all so healthy and looked disgusting. Trying not to blanch, Harvey came face to face with the dinner lady and jerked. She too had a blank face and was acting all robotic!
'This is worse than I'd thought.' He flashed a big smile. "Hi, could I have the… avocado salad and a glass of orange juice please?"
His tray was snatched from him, the dinner lady dumping a portion of the salad into the assigned slot on the tray, then pushed the tray back into Harvey's hands.
"Can I have my juice?"
"No juice today, only water. And say please."
'I did earlier!' "Please may I have some water?"
A glass of water was almost thrown at him, and fingers slipped on the glass as he balanced it on the tray. Harvey was disheartened to see that there was no dessert on offer and turned round to find a place to sit. Seats were rapidly filling up, but there was one available on the table next to his brother, so he would be able to lean across and have a conversation with him, regardless of the self-inflicted silence rule everyone seemed to have.
However, as he began to move, his name was called.
"Harvey Hunter! Come here!"
Gritting his teeth in frustration, Harvey walked over to Rose, who was watching over the canteen, two of the other Prefects stationed at different sections of the canteen. He held his tray as she smirked down at him.
"For holding the privilege of our first ever troublemaker, we have created a special table for you to sit at all by yourself."
"M-Myself? But I want to sit near Lloyd-"
"Ah, well you see, we only have records of one normal Hunter child in this school. The other one…" Her smirk became smug. "Is you."
"That's not fair though. I don't want to sit by myself! I can't make friends that way!"
"Friends?" Rose scoffed. "You won't be making friends here. No one will want to be friends with a troublemaker. Besides, you should be thanking us for creating you somewhere to sit. We could have easily left you to sit on the floor to eat your food."
"You wouldn't do that."
"Wouldn't we? Here we go, here's your little table."
Harvey's eyes followed Rose's finger to the direction she was pointing at, and when he laid his eyes on the table that had been set up for him, his heart sunk. A single table with one chair was placed away from all of the other tables and as he shuffled over to the table, placing his tray down, he felt misery flood through him. He was out casted at lunch and banned from assembly. Brilliant first day he was having.
Sitting down, he looked up at Rose, who had followed him over.
"Do I have to sit here every lunch time?"
She pouted mockingly and pinched his cheek. "Aww, does little Harvey want to sit with the other children as if he were a good boy? Afraid he can't. Troublemakers are isolated for a reason."
Once his skin was free from her touch, he wiped his cheek in disgust. "I'm not a troublemaker, and fine, I'll have a great time sitting all by myself."
"Glad you're seeing it from the correct perspective. Make sure to eat all of your food."
He glared at her as she strode off, then turned his attention to his plate of food. His stomach gurgled in revulsion at the food. Harvey dropped his bag to the ground, kicking it under the table and picked up the fork that he had collected with his tray. Spearing a piece of the avocado, he popped it into his mouth and bit down. The terrible taste exploded in his mouth and he quickly tried to will the taste away by chewing and swallowing in mere seconds. Gagging, he gulped his water down, managing to not get his uniform wet before putting his empty glass back onto the tray.
Harvey turned his head, the rest of the student body all before him. His brother had his back to him, but lifted his head when he heard his name called.
"Lloyd! Oi, Lloyd! Look over here!"
A sharp turn of the head and Lloyd was facing his younger brother.
"Harvey. You should not be talking. It is lunch time. Everyone is required to be silent during lunch."
"I'm done eating though. I need to talk to you."
Frowning in disapproval, his older brother said: "You will be able to speak to me before we go into Assembly. You have not finished your lunch, you need the nutrients, little brother."
"Yeah, about that… I-"
"No talking!" Rose was back at his side, to Harvey's dismay. "Are you attempting to get into trouble on your very first day? One more word out of you, then you will be before the Headmaster. Again."
"Sorry," Lloyd's eyes were burning into the front of his skull. "I didn't mean to talk. It's my first day, I'm still getting to grips with the rules."
"You best hurry up with that. Otherwise…"
Harvey shuddered at the lingering threat, the bell screeching in the background.
"Lunch is over! Time to get into your lines for Assembly!"
Chairs were scraped back as pupils rose from their seats and assembled into their respective lines. Harvey glanced up at Rose.
"So I'm going to the library?"
"Yes." Her teeth gleamed. "Under my supervision."
Before he was dragged off to the library, Harvey requested a minute or two to speak with his brother, which Rose reluctantly granted.
"Hurry up, or I'll be forced to carry you to the library."
"Talk to your brother, Hunter. Now."
Harvey whizzed over to Lloyd, not wanting to be within Rose's proximity for any longer than necessary. He was promptly taken aside by his brother, away from the other pupils.
"What's going on, Harvey? You are acting very strange."
"Me, strange? Lloyd, you're kinda weird at home, but here, you're so weird! Apparently, I've been banned from Assembly for being a 'troublemaker', which I'm not!"
"What do you mean you have been banned from Assembly?"
The tone of his voice was so sharp that it made Harvey reel back in shock.
"The Headmaster said I was banned…"
"Harvey James, you've disappointed me!"
The youngest Hunter stepped back, his wounded feelings splashing across his face for Lloyd to see. "I can't help it if I got banned. It's up to the weird Headmaster, not me."
It had been the wrong thing to say. Lloyd's eyes contorted into slits, a passionate fire burning in his irises.
"You are the weird one. The Headmaster is a marvellous man and this is the best school I have ever been to. You must have riled him up to get banned from Assembly."
"Huh?" Harvey blinked. "All I did was say that I wasn't tired! I'm being isolated for no reason and being called a troublemaker! I'm not a troublemaker!"
"Lloyd Hunter, it is time for you to join the others in the hall. Harvey Hunter, you are supposed to be in the library, where you will be required to study."
Stupid Rose with her annoying voice was back to boss them around. Harvey walked away with Lloyd's words ringing in his ears.
"We'll talk when we get home."
Harvey followed Rose out of the canteen and down the corridor. He was miserable as sin, but a sudden arrival of the girl he fancied, cheered his spirits up slightly. In front of him, Rose stopped, snapping:
"What are you doing here? You should be heading to the hall by now! Move along!"
The girl simply stared back. She was short, her black hair shoved back into a ponytail, her fringe dangling above her eye line. Her green eyes pierced into Rose, and Harvey was glad to see that he wasn't the only one left with a slight hint of puppy fat.
The girl opened her mouth, and within moments he could tell that she was like his brother, strange, but damn she sounded feisty and he liked it.
"Sorry. I'm going now."
Rose crossed her arms over her chest. "See that you do. What is your name?"
"Ingrid. Ingrid Smith. I'm going to Assembly now."
The girl, Ingrid, passed by Rose and Harvey, winking at the latter in a somewhat mechanical fashion, as if the motion baffled her. It was strange, but this school and the Headmaster made people go weird, so he didn't linger on it for too long. As well as the fact that he was blushing from receiving a wink from the girl he thought was cute.
"What are you staring at, Hunter?"
Rose was looking at him, eyes narrowed, so Harvey quickly directed his eyes onto her and answered.
"Nothing. Let's get going to the library."