and The Ice-Angel of Death
Chapter 1 - Slam-dunk!
Priscilla Black hit the floor of the basket-ball court with a
resounding smack, skinning a knee, grazing her elbow and shoulder and
thumping her temple on the hard surface. For a few moments her eyes
tilted into the back of her head.
'Time!' called the Referee, Juliet Van Weenan, frantically pushing into
the press of competitors. 'Move over! Let me through! Give her some
room to breathe!' She forced her way between the girls to find
Priscilla lying, crumpled on her side with her best friend Monique
crouching next to her.
'Oops, sorry,' said Roseanne Sole, in a dopey, Duh, didn't mean it...
not much! kind of tone, towering over the pair. 'Annie didn't see
'You saw Priscilla alright,' said Monique through clenched teeth, 'just
before you did a half turn in mid-air and smashed into her!' She could
almost feel the bone-jarring collision as Roseanne's hefty frame
connected with Priscilla's slighter form.
'It was a accident, she was on Annie's blind-side!' the big girl
protested. 'Got the goal but,' she added sniggering.
'That goal is dis-allowed because of the foul,' said Juliet, now also
on her knees beside Priscilla, who was showing signs of coming to.
'That's your second, you're out of the game Miss Sole!'
'Big deal!' said Roseanne, turning and shoving Karen Presley and Anita
Duncan, two of her own team-mates, aside. 'Get outta Annie's face!' she
screamed at the others, who stepped apart as she stomped through them
and off the court.
'What's happened?' enquired Barry Garland, Hopewell Halls' Sports
Master, clearing a path between both One B teams.
'Priscilla got flattened by Roseanne, Mister Garland,' cooed Marge
Turnbull, sidling up to him. 'But it was only an accident, I'm sure,'
she added in her usual irritating manner.
'Ohh! Don't make me sick!' Priscilla muttered, struggling to a sitting
position and wincing at the pain of the abrasion on the point of her
'Here,' said Mister Garland, reaching down to scoop Priscilla up,
'better let me carry you over to the Infirmary so that Sister Menzies
can take a look at you. We don't want you keeling over with concussion.'
He lifted her easily, and turning to Juliet said, 'Do you still have
enough girls to carry on?'
'Yes just,' said Juliet, rising and beckoning to a gowned figure in the
front row of the otherwise vacant seats, 'I'll send Saif along with you
to keep Priscilla company, because of her religion's constraints she
doesn't play anyway.'
Monique made as if to follow, but Miss Van Weenan called her back, 'Not
you Miss Bateleur, you're presence is required on court.'
Regretfully, Monique did as she was told, watching as Priscilla was
carried away, and only attending after the sharp trill of Miss Van
'Ohhh,' said Suzy Furness, squeezing her arms about herself as the
girls took their positions, 'picked up and carried off by Mister
'Arr yerr!' replied her opponent Sylvia Knight. 'Don't even think about
it. Mister Barry Garland. More like Mister Judy Garland!'
'What do you mean by that!' hissed Suzy.
'I mean, dummy, haven't you heard? It's been going around Hopewell Hall
for yonks. Mister Garland and our history teacher Roger Dance share a
flat together. I bet they're a number!'
'You've gotta be kidding! Not "Pink-Nails Dance" and dreamy Mister
Garland? Don't believe you!'
'Believe it... Or not!' smirked Sylvia. 'What a waste!'
'What are you two saying?' said Juliet Van Weenan, arriving centre
court on the tail-end of the conversation.
'Us! Umm, no... Nothing Miss Van Weenan, just about what a waist I'm
getting. Need more exercise to keep in shape,' answered Sylvia,
smirking at Suzy.
He's twice as old as me I bet, but
not practically ancient like Dad.
Ummm, when I turn thirty, he'd only be forty-three or so...
Priscilla was drifting in and out of Fantasy-Land Cafe with Barry
Garland on the menu...
'She will come right after an evening here in observation, I'm sure,'
said Sister Menzies, her sharp fingers tucking in the starched sheets
of one of Hopewell's Infirmary beds. 'I don't think she's concussed,
just shocked, stiff and sore. No broken bones and no need to contact
her parents unless complications arise. I'll be putting some cream on
the abrasions and covering them with bandages for protection, but first
I think a mild sedative would be useful.'
Mister Garland stood away from the bed and flexed his muscular arms,
stretching them behind his back, 'Well that's good to hear Sister, I'll
leave young Saif to sit with her and get back down to the basketball
try-outs. There's a rather boisterous student I need to talk to.'
'Are you feeling a little better now ?' asked Saif timidly,
holding Priscilla's hand after Sister Menzies had attended to her and
gone off to write up a report.
'Yeah, just a bit woozy and a tad sleepy. The Sister does a potent
knock-out drop, guess I'll be sailing for the rest of the night...
nightie-night Saif... pity you don't play basket-ball... lotsa fun...
when ya don't get clonked by giant fat girls falling outta the sky...
why dontcha play anyway? You'd like it... '
'I cannot play because I wear these garments, they are a part of our
beliefs. I cannot take them off in public Priscilla. That would not be
correct nor would it be dignified.'
'Ohh, the heck with that stuff... Get yer gear off an... ya know...
wa's that ol' song? Girls jus' wanna have fun,' said Priscilla,
fumbling out her free hand in the vicinity of Saif's wrist and giving
it a vague pat. 'How'd ya expect ta go swimmin' in tha' with jus' your
face an' feet stickin' out?' she asked, her words slurring from her
mouth as if they had their own agenda.
'You know I do not go swimming at all,' replied Saif, modestly tucking
her gown about her knees. 'My religion forbids me... And there are some
girls who only ever show their eyes...'
'Do ya wanna stay with yer religion, or have... yer own say in what
happens ter ya?'
'I want to stay with my beliefs, yes,' said Saif emphatically, 'but of
course I see what there is available to others here in Hopewell and
I... I sometimes wish... Well, you know Priscilla, I wish that I might
be able to join in... somehow.'
'O'course ya do... we'll work it out... les' get physi... oh grils jus'
wanna have... '
Priscilla saw herself sailing out amongst the clouds, her arms extended
on either side of her body like some majestic eagle, a sea-eagle even,
her thoughts tumbling in the winds that uplifted her body on heady
draughts of crystalline air.
A sea-eagle like Gavin Skewer, now
that seems like such a long time
ago, but it's only a few months since it happened and Dad's still in
plaster and Mum's tele movie has been to air and everybody liked it and
she's going to be doing more writing...She was so happy... Said that
when she's too old to be an actress anymore... she'll be a screen
writer... might even try a book... so happy... I should like to try
writing... serious writing, not just a dumb diary... When you write...
people can only see your words... not your real self... not your
face... you can be anything you want... write about whatever... faraway
places... different people... romantic couples... tragic women and
haunted men like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights... heights... I like
heights... jus' zooming away on the wind... looking down at the world...
She saw a bird flapping lazily toward her and a wonderful feeling of
serene calm swept along on its slow-wended way, except that it wasn't a
bird at all. It was a book, the white, written pages turning back and
forth like the beating of wings, and holding out her hand Priscilla
caught it in mid-flight, the leaves rippling before her staring gaze. A
page, ruffling in the wind, stilled enough for her to catch the words,
Why did Missey have to die? Why did
we have to move into this house?
Why can't Mum and Dad be here all the time? Why should I have to share
my own bedroom with some French girl?
Oh my Missey...My poor, dear
sheltie...My dearest Missey sheepdog. It
isn't fair...It just isn't...
Before she had time to think, the diary suddenly launched itself into
the air and now, on what appeared the beating wings of a startled
pigeon, fled away leaving Priscilla bereft. Yet her bereavement swiftly
turned to horror as she realised that she was falling, her arms no
longer supporting her body on the winds' currents. Again, the terrible
sense of plummeting to her death overtook her as it had when she had
jumped from the cliffs in Tasmania; but now there was no Harry to save
her. Screaming, her arms and legs flailing, she dropped like a stone.
The ocean crowded about her, gurgling, bubbling, submerging her in a
welter of white water that quickly turned to blue and green, the air in
her lungs squeezing out with the force of the impact. The sea gushed
down her throat; drowning water teeming with the essence of death...
Yet there was no need to worry because she was wearing a diving suit...
or was it a wet suit? In any event, she was aware that she peered out
from some kind of mask and that she could draw breath into her lungs
and who cared anyway? Especially when you could join in a kind of conga
line with others in body and head coverings who were all grooving away
to an underwater rave. That all made a kind of sense. What didn't make
sense were the pale coloured chimpanzees swinging amongst the
seaweed... and the distant figure of someone slowly drifting,
But that was alright, because Rachael was there.
Mother! Mother! I'm so glad you've
come! Please save them! Save all of
Mother lifted her head, and it was not Mother, not Rachael; it was a
stranger, a women whose vacant eyes roamed back and forth,
back and forth...
Her younger brother Henry swept into view, and reaching out his hand,
caught Priscilla by the hood of her robe; lifting, drawing her upward
and away from the depths. She could hear Harry barking, and so good, so
welcoming did it sound, that she almost wet herself. Indeed Priscilla
had a sudden overwhelming desire to do just that. Bursting out of the
depths, without Henry or Harry, she sought
somewhere to pee. There were people, a crowd, thronging, milling,
falling, convulsing... The toilets boiled over with people... There was
nowhere to go... The urge subsided... Then her older brother Louis
appeared from a cubicle, but his face was a vivid shade of
yellowy-green and he was doubled over, vomiting out the contents of his
stomach. Priscilla watched, fascinated, as the liquid foamed into many
changing colours that mingled and frothed about her feet to pour away
down an open drain. There came an intense ringing in her head that
caused her vision to shift and shudder, as if she were being shaken
hard by the shoulders. She recognised the sound as that of Hopewell
Hall's bell and, in great relief, knew that it was Monique's hands from
behind, attempting to awaken her. Yet when Priscilla steadied herself
and turned to thank and embrace her dear friend, everything: all sound,
all sensation, all vision shut down as if someone had simply turned off
Swirling out of grey nothing, she found herself standing in a dim
hallway lined with doors on both sides. The nearest door stood open and
she could see an outline of furniture: angular chairs and sideboards,
padded sofas and couches, low tables, foot stools. The vision drew her
in and she wandered aimlessly about the long, shadowy room. At the far
end stood a closed door. Priscilla wanted to resist, and yet she was
drawn against her will toward it. Somewhere in her mind the thought
came to her, this is still a dream, it's not real, it's a dream. But
try as she might, she couldn't fight her way free of it.
The door began to swing slowly open. Panic gripped her. She knew that
there was something terrible on the
other side but was powerless to resist. I have to wake up! I have to
wake up! Call out! Someone will hear and come to wake me up! Must call
out! Some one will come!
No one came.
There was a darkness beyond the door. And then, from the gloom, emerged
a figure. Was it the dark figure of a teenage boy? Perhaps. But it was
held in the apparition's upraised hand that riveted her eyes, some kind
of weapon like a gun. It was pointed directly at her, light
illuminating the barrel. Oh no! You
can't just shoot me! Not
like this! This isn't real! Must
scream! Must get out of this! Must wake up! Scream! Some one will wake
me up. Get me out of this!
There was a deafening
explosion as the weapon bloomed right into her
face. Scintillas of white stars sparkled like bursting fireworks,
her; then gradually cooled to nothing as the shower of lights dimmed
and went out.
Chapter 2 [next]