Gone with the Wand
You might have suspected your teacher is a witch, but has she ever actually turned your class into a room full of frogs?
That's because she's High Sorceress Cassandra Cast, Wickedest Witch, Wizard-Killer and Merciless Minion-Slayer. Except I call her Miss Cast, and that's because as well as being the queen of all evil witches, she's also my Primary Three teacher.
This is how it happened.
It all started one Tuesday morning. Our usual teacher Mrs Dodson hadn't turned up, and I was feeding celery to the class hamster when the headmaster strode in (without knocking, very rude). Behind him was a lady we hadn't seen before.
“Class, sit up straight and pay attention,” pudgy Mr Humphrey barked, his eyes like two raspberry pips wobbling in jam. “This is your new teacher, Miss Cast. I expect you all to be on your best behavior for her first day. Silence. Listening. Full marks on tests. One hundred percent effort at all times.”
Miss Cast nodded eagerly, her hands clasped together as she listened with a look of intense concentration on her polite face.
I quite liked the look of her, but then anything had to be better than old Mrs Dodson, who was probably about nine hundred and sucked the life and soul out of every kid she ever taught. Here’s why:
1) She was so boring, she fell asleep during her own lessons (we suspected), and so did quite a few of us (which she either didn’t notice or didn’t care about)
2) She had glasses so thick that you could never tell where she was looking, or even if her eyes were open (see point 1).
3) Whenever she fell asleep, at first we would all get a bit scared she had died and nobody wanted to touch her shoulder to see if she was alive, so we all sat frozen in fear until she started snoring and we could all breathe a sigh of relief.
“What happened to Mrs Dodson?” I said, suddenly worried.
“Trust you to be the first to shame Bishop Bumford Primary, Gareth Michaels, raise your hand if you want to ask a question. As I was about to explain, Mrs Dodson rather suddenly decided to fulfil her lifelong dream of climbing Mount Everest, and her letter of resignation was on my desk this morning. I wasn't aware she had this ambition, and she really should have given us more notice, but there you are. Luckily, Miss Cast arrived just ten minutes ago, looking for a teaching position. Now no more of your impertinent questions - and congratulations, you've just earned yourself a detention.”
I grunted and sank lower in my chair. Mr Humphrey and I hadn't got on since last year's end-of-term egg-and-spoon race, when he gave the golden spoon to Brian Boggins, even though I WAS TOTALLY DEFINITELY THE RIGHTFUL WINNER and Brian had his thumb on the egg PRACTICALLY THE WHOLE RACE AND EVERYONE KNEW IT. Since that fateful day, both Brian and Mr Humphrey were my sworn enemies, and I was biding my time waiting for the day when sweet, sweet revenge would be mine.
“Miss Cast, I'm afraid that this is your class,” Mr Humphrey continued, waving his hand over our heads. “I apologize in advance. They’re a sorry-looking bunch, I know. Eight year-olds are the worst,” he said with a shudder. “And there are a lot of rotten apples in this crop. That one is trouble,” he said, nodding towards scowling Brian. “That one is a crybaby,” he said, pointing to Betty, who promptly burst into tears. “And that one is an insufferable little know-it-all,” he said pointing at Alicia, who turned pink at the ears.
“And as for that one with the scruffy black hair sticking up all over the place… the one with the impudent look in his eye,” Mr Humphrey said, turning to me. “He's the worst one of all. Watch him like a hawk. Nasty temper. Very sore loser. No respect for authority. You might as well have a ticking time bomb in the back row letting him sit there. Gareth, come here and swap with Alicia.”
“Thanks, Mr Humphrey!” I said, sitting in front of him while a sulky Alicia took over my back corner chair. What he didn’t know was that Kevin had been sent to the front as punishment for talking to me the day before, so now we were sitting beside each other again.
“Impudence, I’m sure of it,” Mr Humphrey muttered, but he didn’t know why I looked so happy and I wasn’t about to explain. “Miss Cast – don’t say I didn’t warn you. And I hardly need to tell you that in this school, I expect discipline at all times.”
“Crivens! There's an awful lot to remember,” said Miss Cast. “And I haven't even started learning all their names. Are there always this many in one class? Can’t we send a few home to make the numbers a bit more manageable?”
“If only, Miss Cast, if only. Don't trouble yourself with names, all you need to remember is that rules must be obeyed and regulations enforced. My word is law, and I always have final say. That's the way we do things at Bishop Bumford Primary. All clear?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Miss Cast said, her face shining. “I love rules and discipline. They’re my favourite!”
“Good. We don't allow weakness to interfere with a productive working atmosphere. No games. No laughter. No nonsense.”
“Certainly not,” said Miss Cast, shaking her head enthusiastically. So enthusiastically, that a long, thin stick of wood fell from her sleeve and onto the ground with a clatter.
“What's this, Miss Cast?” the headmaster asked, bending down.
“Oh, it's nothing, it's just, my erm...”
She twitched as he picked it up. “Aaaah, it's been a long time since I saw one of these,” he said, stroking the smooth wood lovingly. “Bit of a funny shape though, isn't it? I prefer my canes a bit thicker, and not so pointy at the end. More bite that way. Back in my day, we had one in every classroom. I like your thinking, Miss Cast. I can tell already we'll get along. It was a very sad day for the state of education when the cane was banned in schools. Doesn't mean we can't have a little fun though, eh?”
“No, don't!” Miss Cast yelled, grabbing it as Mr Humphrey brandished the stick.
“You can't tell me what to do, Miss Cast!” he shouted, just as the stick came slamming down, pointing straight at where I was sitting in the front row.
It was the strangest thing, but I could have sworn I saw the stick light up just as it was swooshing through the air. Like a birthday candle, it shone at the end. Like a sparkler, it left a glowing path where the end sliced a semicircle.
But finally, like a gun, the stick shot out something bright and hot that hit me smack bang in the middle of the forehead.
Everything suddenly went purple… and then all was black.