James Munkers: Super Freak
James Munkers’ world is changing. New town. New school.
New hallucinations of bright blue animals wreaking havoc.
And when you add a leather-clad maniac who haunts the back garden, the loopy girl at school with her messages of doom, a cryptic prophecy and a bunch of shadowy strangers intent on murder, it looks as though James won’t even make it to Christmas.
The sensible thing to do would be to run. To hide. To generally escape.
But James Munkers can’t hide. He can’t escape.
Because James Munkers is different.
James Munkers has a destiny.
But James Munkers would rather forget all that and go back to playing God of War.
ISBN 9781922120762 (PB, 258 pp; 125mm x 195mm)
ISBN 9781922120779 (eBook)
A great story, I loved reading it and I think my class will love it. This book has a fun, movie style trailer. I can’t wait for the next one.
– Emily Roberts, Teacher, Five Stars on Amazon
Catch up with James Munkers himself on Facebook! Lindsey Little on Facebook Lindsey's Blog, A Little Scribbling
Chapter One: The Caped Crusader
The door is closed.
Damn. I do the hoppy dance of frustration. Why did they have to close it? I tried my best, I ran all the way. Well, okay, I didn’t run, but I walked plenty fast, and someone goes and does a low-down, miserable thing like close the door? It makes things so much harder.
Mind you, I can hear a racket from the other side, so they haven’t started yet. I still might be able to pull this off.
Mission objective: get to my seat before my English teacher notices I’m late. Again.
I turn the handle and peer inside. Miss Gillam’s back is turned as she writes something on the whiteboard. Everyone else is messing about with books and throwing things at each other.
No one’s looking this way.
I slip inside and start to creep around the back of the room towards my desk. I tiptoe past the “poet of the month” display, sidle around the old TV stand… almost there…
A breeze from an open window has slammed the door shut behind me. I whip around at the sound and knock a pile of books over with my elbow. I cringe as they go clattering to the floor, then peer up at the front of the room.
Miss Gillam is standing there, arms folded, taking me in. Grazed, dirty face. Mud on my trousers. Nacho sauce down my shirt. It’s possible there are crisps in my hair.
Chaos following wherever I walk.
‘James Munkers,’ Miss Gillam says, and manages to fit a world of dissatisfaction into all three syllables. ‘Why am I not surprised?’
I stand there amid a sea of sniggers. Does she want me to answer that?
‘Late again,’ she continues. ‘And just look at the state you’re in.’
Again I don’t answer. I can hardly tell her that it’s a bit hard to turn up to class on time looking dapper when Mickey Oldfield trips you up and dumps a rubbish bin over your head at the end of lunch. No one else in the class seems inclined to tell her this either, although most of them would have seen it happen. Cheers, guys.
Her tiny mind seems to pick up that something might have happened, though. ‘Have you been fighting?’ she asks.
‘No, miss.’ Which is true. I never put up much of a fight.
‘I suppose it’s too much to ask that you have your essay ready to hand in.’
‘Well, that’s something, at least,’ she says, hand outstretched.
‘No, I mean it is too much to ask, miss.’
She drops her hand and sighs at me as if I’m the most disappointing thing on two legs. ‘Well, you’ll have lots of time to finish it off in detention after school, won’t you?’ she says.
‘Yes, miss,’ I mutter and slouch off to my seat. That’s three detentions in three days. A personal best. And none of it was my fault. It’s not like I meant to set Mr Zarei’s lab coat on fire in science. It’s not as if I wanted to fall headfirst into a cello during music class.
I guess it’s only a matter of time before I have to face up to the fact that I’m a cursed, destructive freak.
At least I’m not a sadist, though. Who the hell opened that window? It’s December, for crying out loud.
I turn up the collar of my blazer and hunker down in my chair. ‘James Bonkers,’ someone whispers behind me, and another wave of giggling washes around the room. I bite my lip so hard I can taste blood. Ever since Mum remarried, kids have been coming up with new last names for me: Monkeys, Bonkers, Plonkers, Punkers, Munted. You don’t even have to change it. Just say my last name in a certain tone and it already sounds like an insult. Munkerrrs.
I really hate my adoptive name.
Miss Gillam ignores the fact that I’m being verbally abused and launches into a lecture about imagery in Tess of the stinking D’Urbervilles. Not that I’m listening. I’m trying to work out how I’m going to explain this spate of detention-getting to Mum and Michael. They’ll put on their hurt faces, like a pair of slapped puppies. ‘James, fifteen is too old to be behaving like this, don’t you think?’ That’ll be Michael’s line. And Peter will back him up. I don’t think Pete’s ever been in trouble – he’s the perfect oldest son. Claire will look superior; Garth will crow, the nasty little sod. In fact the whole family will be…
…A glowing blue ferret just jumped onto my desk.
A glowing. Blue. Ferret.
I don’t dare move. It might launch itself at my face and scratch out my eyes with its twinkly blue claws. I just sit there and stare at it.
It stares back. Its tiny eyes flash like sapphires catching the light.
Then it seems to come to the conclusion that I’m a bit dull, and starts sniffing at my pencil case in the hope of something better. Its body shimmers as it moves, changing shades like the sea on a sunny day.
I glance around the room to see how everyone else is reacting to the appearance of a turquoise woodland creature, only to find that no one seems to have noticed. Miss Gillam is still droning on at the front of the room while the rest of my classmates are in different stages of falling asleep. Even the people sitting next to me haven’t so much as blinked. What’s wrong with them? There’s no way they haven’t seen it.
‘Cassandra,’ I hiss at the girl to my right. She turns and scowls at me, clearly annoyed that a slug like me is daring to talk to her in front of other people. I ignore the look and point to the front of my desk, where the ferret thing is sniffing along the spines of my books.
Cassandra ignores my desk and its inhabitant and looks vaguely towards the front of the class. ‘What?’ she mouths at me. When all I do is stare at her she goes back to ignoring my existence.
Right. So either someone’s playing a practical joke on me and the whole class is in on it, or I’ve gone mad and started seeing things.
I survey the imaginary thing before me, willing it back into non-existence. ‘Go away,’ I whisper at it. It looks at me, considers my proposal, then starts pulling things out of my pencil case with its front paws.
‘No! Stop it!’ I try to keep the pens from skittering off the desk, but a few clatter to the floor. Miss Gillam stops waffling, looks up and frowns at me. I give her an apologetic look and scoop the pens up. When she starts reading again I glare at the real culprit. ‘You’re not allowed to get me into trouble,’ I tell it. ‘You don’t exist.’ And I wave my hand through it to demonstrate.
As soon as my hand passes through the ferret, though, a tingling sensation shoots up my arm and embeds itself at the back of my nose, like the start of a sneeze. A dry, metallic smell fills the air, and the hairs on my arms and neck start fizzing with static. I close my eyes and shake my head, trying to stop the buzzing.
When I open my eyes, I find myself staring at not one little blue creature, but dozens – cats, rats, dogs, lizards, bats, all crawling over the floor, jumping from desk to desk, fluttering at the windows, and one little beggar in the shape of a monkey swinging from the top of the whiteboard. I moan in terror at how quickly my mind is losing its grip. At this rate I’ll be in a padded cell by the end of next week.
Unless nobody finds out. There’s no way they could if I don’t react to what I’m seeing. If I can just develop an instant fascination for the works of Thomas Hardy and block out the blue, shimmering…
A squeak of excitement from my desk makes me look down, despite myself. The ferret pokes its head out of my pencil case, a round metal object clamped between its grinning jaws. I draw in a sharp breath when I see what it is – my dad’s ring. Not his wedding ring, but a different one he always used to wear on his other hand. I haven’t gone anywhere without it for the last eleven years and I don’t intend to start now.
So when the blue ferret jumps off the desk with the ring still in its mouth, I dive after it.
My desk goes toppling as I lunge forward. Pens and books go flying. The ferret skitters along the floor, weaving in and out of the desks, and I go crawling after it, pushing people’s legs out of the way. Girls shriek. Guys yell. Someone stomps on my hand, but I don’t stop. The ferret and I reach the side wall at the same time, but before I can grab it, it turns and runs up to the front of the class. Finally out of the jungle of desks I heave myself to my feet, snagging my blazer on a pin holding a map of the world up. As I tear myself away from the wall half the map comes with me, and flaps behind me like a cape as I belt up the room.
‘JAMES MUNKERS, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?’ Miss Gillam bellows, just as the ferret leaps between her feet. She screams and totters aside as I go charging after it. It then runs round and round Miss Gillam’s desk with me hot on its heels, as students yell and laugh, and the other blue creatures scatter in all directions. Finally it leaps up onto the desk, dashes across its length and launches itself off the far side high into the air. I leap after it and make a grab for the ring.
So there I am. Mid-air, arm extended over my head, paper cape flapping. And twenty-six mobile phones flashing as my classmates capture my superhero moment on camera.
They also capture my landing. I go bowling into a bookshelf which all but disintegrates on my impact, and forty-odd copies of the Pocket Oxford English Dictionary land on my head.
Once they’re done falling, I fight my way to the surface and experience a moment’s pleasure at the feel of my dad’s ring clasped safely in my hand, with not an imaginary blue creature to be seen.
That pleasure coughs feebly and dies as I see the look on Miss Gillam’s face.
I’m going to be in detention for the rest of my life.
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