In April 2018, I posted my thousandth post on this blog. To celebrate, I started sharing here all my short stories. Every couple of weeks, I’ll be posting one story from my celebrated Exciting Destinies series for you to enjoy. With over 30 stories so far, I hope you’ll have lots of fun in the coming months!
This week, it’s “Is There a Doctor in the House?,” a story from Infinite Waters. Click here to read some more free stories.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
A girl with a blond ponytail and a bored look on her cute face lifted her hand. “No chewing gum in the classroom, Miss Dominique,” I murmured absent-mindedly as I placed a neat tick mark next to her name.
The girl rolled her eyes in a theatrical manner. She pulled out a tissue from her bag and carefully spat into it. With a flick of her wrist and a giggle, she sent it flying. It landed on the hair of the boy sitting in front of her, like a slightly wet missile that homed in on its target. “Miss Dominique!” I tried to sound stern.
“Sorry,” she mumbled and winked at the girl sitting next to her. They stifled their giggles under my glare.
I checked the boy sitting in front of them, but he seemed oblivious of the whole incident. He ran nervous fingers through his hair, tousling them further. When his fingers caught the tissue, he stared at it with curiosity, then tossed it aside. His gaze then lifted back outside, where dark clouds were gathering fast, before checking his watch.
No wonder they pick on him. It was not just that he was a foreigner. I tried to remember where he was originally from, but the name eluded me. Somewhere in Eastern Europe. The kid spoke with a funny accent that made it even harder for the other children to like him. I had heard that his family was very rich and powerful over there, but had been forced to leave during some kind of revolt or other. They had now come here for a new start.
I swallowed a sigh. I just wished the kid did a better job at fitting in. His faraway look was one problem, exacerbated by his thick, round glasses. His long, tousled hair made him look untidy, in a prep school classroom filled with smartly-dressed children. Then, the strange things he mumbled on constantly. His experiments, as he called them. That was how he always got in trouble. As for that white lab coat he was always sporting… I’ll bet that doesn’t help with the bullying, either.
Still, perhaps I should cut the kid some slack. Losing your home and friends and moving across half the world to a new place couldn’t be easy. Plus, he had just lost his best friend. My gaze flicked over to the empty seat beside him. Ihor; the only other boy in the classroom who’d hang out with him. Probably because they both came from the same neck of the woods. A fine pair of misfits, those two. If only that boy had let go of the string before the lightning struck. Then again, what were they thinking, flying a kite during a storm? It was the new kid’s idea, for sure. Another of his experiments, no doubt.
I noticed some questioning looks, so I cleared my throat and returned to the list in my hands. Ihor Azarov. I pursed my lips for a moment, then moved on to the next name. “Miss Foyle?”
“Here,” came the bored reply. Outside, thunder rumbled from afar.
“You forgot Ihor.”
My gaze shot at the new kid. Children chuckled, but he ignored them.
“You forgot Ihor,” the kid repeated.
He stared right at me and our eyes locked. I opened my mouth to speak, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I closed it again. A lightning bolt lit up the room. Its momentary flash made me realize just how dark the room had gotten. That’s quite a storm that’s gathering. Maybe it’s for the best. That way, they won’t pick on the kid during the break.
I lowered my gaze back to the list. “Mister Harry?”
“You forgot Ihor,” the kid said for a third time.
A deep frown creased my forehead as I lifted my gaze at the little miscreant again. Relax. He’s probably just hurting. It’s only denial. First stage of grief and all that, right? My fingers drummed a nervous beat on the table.
A loud thunder crashed just outside the classroom. I jumped startled. “Ihor’s dead,” I blurted out. My voice sounded angrier than I expected.
“My dad says—”
Another bolt of lightning interrupted him. A bulb exploded overhead. Dominique let out a surprised yelp. Tiny glass shards flew to the floor.
“He says what?” I stared at the kid, daring him to continue. His face looked taut, tired; yet a look of triumph burned deep in the boy’s sunken eyes.
Strange noises came from the corridor, like heavy footsteps. Thump, shuffle. Thump, shuffle. What is that noise? I threw the list onto the table and slammed my hand on the hard wood. “That is enough. What are you up to this time?”
As the doorknob rattled, a wide grin appeared on the kid’s face.
“I asked you a question!”
Instead of an answer, the grin just got wider and he stared at the door. Another bolt of lightning silhouetted a hulking figure outside the glass pane. I jumped out of my seat and threw the door open. In the corridor, the school porter was pulling on a heavy crate. “Sorry, Professor, didn’t mean to interrupt.” A second porter ran to join him. The two of them heaved the crate together.
The boy’s expression turned to one of dismay. He flicked his fingers, mumbling something. I shuffled over to his seat and leaned closer to make sense of his murmur. A strange sound—a cross between a moan and a groan—came from the doorway. The shuffling sound resumed on the hallway. What are those idiots out there doing now?
Behind the boy, Miss Dominique pushed her fist into her mouth to stifle a scream. The boy craned his head to look behind me. His gaze fell on the doorway. His face lit up like a kid who just got a chocolate bicycle for Christmas.
I let out an exasperated sigh and shook my head. “That’s it, Mister Frankenstein. Tomorrow, I want to see you with your father.”29