School relief

He stood in front of the dark wooden desk with his hands in the pockets of his brown suit, his head cast down; the very picture of a recalcitrant schoolboy.

Ironic, really, since he was so far removed from his own school days as to have been able to almost completely repress them. Purposely, of course, no one should have to remember that kind of degradation and humiliation.

He bounced a little on his heels and raked one hand through his thick brown hair before shoving that hand back in his pocket, unable to keep still as he waited for the heavy-set man behind the desk to look up.

The balding man, whose name plaque identified him as Headmaster R. Gates, was checking over a piece of paper and looking particularly harried. This, however, was his usual state and was nothing to be overly concerned about, public school Headmasters had perfected the art of looking harried—especially around OFFSTED time.

The man in front of the desk cleared his throat, patience never being one of his strong suits.

The Headmaster finally looked up and removed his thick glasses. "I am…speechless."

"Understandable," was the somewhat anxious reply.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before," the Headmaster continued, confusion colouring his voice as he stared up at his new English teacher, appointed only a few days ago and already rocking the boat. If there was one thing Headmaster Gates didn't like it was people rocking the boat—he tended to get seasick.

"No, I imagine not." The thick Scottish accent of the new teacher was highlighted by the attempted nonchalance of the response.

Another thing Headmaster Gates disliked—nonchalance, it was one step away from casual which was another step away from slovenly. He played with his tie.

"I've had children play truant, get ill, drunk, high, suspected asbestos poisoning—but nothing of this nature."

The new teacher held one finger up. "If I might just explain, Headmaster Gates, the girl was very rude—and oddly enough, sort of ginger—but definitely rude and obstructive and—"

"You had been warned of her in advance," the Headmaster reminded him gently, trying for the disappointed Grandfather tone, unfortunately it came off as more constipated Grandma. "In fact she's mentioned in the New Teacher's Handbook—twice."

"Ye-ah," replied the dulcet tones of someone who had not read the book nor had any intention of ever doing so.

"Now, I realise your position previously at…ah." The Headmaster looked down at his notes, quite slim notes that he had been given on his new teacher.

"Deffry Vale," he offered helpfully, only to have the Headmaster pause, his memory coming into play a little too late.

"Didn't Deffry Vale blow up?"

"Bits of it."

The Headmaster shot him an odd look, feeling slightly more uneasy, but continued nevertheless. "I realise your previous experience was in the Sciences but your credentials assured me that you were more than qualified to teach in this capacity and we were in dire need of a new English teacher after Mr. Block's nervous breakdown or, uh, extended sabbatical."

There was a brief silence.

"Did he have Lauren Cooper in his class by any chance?"

"Yes."

"Ah."

"Quite."

There was another brief recess during which the Headmaster collected himself. "The thing is Mr. Smith—"

"Logan," he corrected quickly.

"Yes, sorry, Mr. Logan, it's simply not done to turn a student into a plastic figurine—no matter how annoying she might be."

Mr. Logan scratched the back of his head. "Has anyone actually complained?" He sniffed casually. "Friends, parents, staff?"

The Headmaster bristled slightly. "That's not the point."

"That's a 'no' then."

The Headmaster sighed. "Mr. Logan, this isn't Hogwarts. Please return Miss Cooper to her … natural state and, I must warn you," he took a deep breath, "that if anything of this nature occurs again…I will have to let you go."

"Fire me?" Panic flared in Mr. Logan's expression.

"Yes."

"Oh, she won't like that." Mr. Logan licked his lips. "Right, I'll sort it out no problem. Well, when I say no problem there may be a slight, tiny, teensy almost negligible problem of turning her back. Well, I say problem—"

"Mr. Logan—"

"—I mean problem is such a negative word, isn't it? I prefer conundrum—"

"Mr. Logan?"

"Mystery, enigma. Ooh I like that one. I once met someone who was textbook enigmatic, I mean I've been told that I'm hard to fathom sometimes but he was—"

"Mr. Logan!"

"Yes?"

Damn, the man could talk! "Can you change her back?"

"Do you really want me to?"

There was yet another slight pause—a very telling pause—a weighing of pro's and con's and conscience verses paperwork then a very, very quiet: "Yes."

Mr. Logan relented. "Oh, all right."

He reached over to the desk and picked up the plastic figurine of a blonde girl with a sticking plaster over her mouth and made a move towards the door.

Let him go, let him go, let him go, whispered Headmaster Gates' inner voice, the one that was longing for a swig from the bottle under his desk. But his pride and that irritating little OFFSTED voice poked him into doing something very 'boss-like'

"Ah, Mr. Logan?"

"Yep?" He turned around, popping his 'p', his eyes sharp and fixed directly on the Headmaster.

The Headmaster looked nervous. "Try not to let it happen again, ey?"

Mr. Logan beamed manically and left the room, leaving the Headmaster to sag in relief—there was something really odd and unnerving about the new teacher—but nothing a G and T couldn't cure.

Outside the Headmaster's office, over the sound of someone opening a bottle, Mr. Logan reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a slim metal tube. With a heavy sigh, he placed the plastic figurine on the floor and aimed the sonic screwdriver at it.

A blue light flickered and a low hum echoed as the figurine started to shake and shimmer.

Seconds later there stood a tall, very irate redhead wearing school uniform, hooped earrings and a plaster over her mouth.

The schoolgirl known as Lauren reached up and tore the plaster away, voice shrill as she yelled. "You turned me into a toy. I can't believe you turned me into a toy! My dad is gonna sue the pants off you!"

He blinked once at her. "What?"

"My dad is gonna sue you, alien boy!"

He scratched the back of his head. There was something really familiar about this girl, almost annoyingly familiar.

Oh, never mind.

He sighed and gave her a bored once over. "Go away, little girl."

Lauren's eyes opened wide. "Are you disrespectin' me, Martian?"

He groaned, rolling his eyes. "I'm not… I'm not from Mars."

"You turned me into an action figure, innit? That's well bad! I missed double French, you're so gonna hafta write me a note."

He jammed his hands into his pockets. "You think you've got problems? I've got to tell Rose I was nearly fired!"

Lauren gave him a scathing look and crossed her arms. "Am I bovvered?"