NZ Children’s Book Review presents “Underground”

Last year I was lucky enough to work with seven talented young writers at Springbank School in Kerikeri. Over five weeks we wrote an adventure/mystery story and had a lot of fun doing it. Here is the final version. It’s the story I intended to post in January and is a “pre-competition” story. We hope you enjoy it.

Underground
by Charlotte, Nicky, Lauren, Emily, Anita, Ella and Tim
Year 7-9, Springbank School, Kerikeri, 2011

Sam stood at the school gates and watched his mother drive off. The sound of her goodbyes fizzled away as the familiar red truck turned a corner. He sighed. His parents had decided to move again, and this time to some deadbeat town he’d never heard of.

“Here I go again,” he whispered and, taking a deep breath, walked through the school gates towards a sign that said Reception.

The school office was dark and musty. A shadowy figure stepped out of the gloom and Sam hesitated.

“Can I help you?” asked the receptionist.

“Um… yeah, I’m new.”

“Name?” The woman studied him with beady eyes.

He swallowed. “Sam Honeysuckle.”

She picked up a piece of paper and handed it over with a sickly grin.

Sam grabbed the paper and hurried away.

“Boy, she’s creepy,” he said to himself.

“She sure is!”

Sam jumped at the girl’s voice.

She laughed. “Didn’t mean to frighten you. I’m Kyra and this is George.” She indicated the boy next to her. “Mr Jones sent us to collect the new kid.”

“Oh, hi, I’m Sam,” he said.

George looked at his watch. “We’ve still got time before the bell, let’s go to the field.”

Out on the field Kyra sat on the grass munching a museli bar while Sam paced in front of her. George had disappeared under some nearby shrubbery.

“Are you sure the bell hasn’t gone?” said Sam. “There’s no one else around.”

Kyra shrugged. “Probably.”

“I can’t be late to class on my first day.”

“Don’t worry, it’s only assembly.”

George reappeared. “Need some help here.”

Kyra jumped to her feet. “What is it?”

“I think I’ve uncovered a trapdoor. I knew there was something odd in here the other day but didn’t have time to find out.”

“We don’t have time now,” said Sam, looking across the field to the school buildings.

“Nonsense,” said Kyra.

Sam watched them crawl under the bushes. There was a creaking noise then a plunk. Kyra poked her head out.

“You coming?”

Sam took one last look back at the school then, sighing, inched under the shrubbery behind her. A trapdoor leaned precariously against a bush. Sam peered in then followed Kyra down a staircase.

“Look at this.” George had unzipped a bag lying at the base of the stairs. It was full of laptops, ipods and cameras.

“We should get out of here,” Sam said, shivering.

A low rumble echoed in the tunnel and a creaking noise came from above them.

“Run!”

They dashed for the stairs and bounded up. The trapdoor slammed shut just as they reached it, and even though Sam and George put all their strength behind it, it didn’t open. Kyra joined them but it still wouldn’t budge. They huddled in the darkness on the top step.

“What are we going to do?” asked Kyra. Her voice wavered.

Sam heard other voices coming up the tunnel. He nudged Kyra. “Shh.”

They got louder and Sam suddenly realised he recognised them.

“Dad?” he whispered.

“Creepy receptionist,” said George at the same time.

Sam stood up but Kyra pulled him back onto the step.

“Wait.”

Two torches bobbed into view, closely followed by Sam’s dad and the receptionist.

“Here it is,” said the receptionist. “It’s all yours as soon as you hand over the money.”

Sam and Kyra gasped.

“Who’s there?” The receptionist spun around, swinging her torch in the darkness trying to find them.

“Stay here,” whispered Sam, “don’t let her see you.”

And before Kyra or George could say a word Sam descended the stairs.

“It’s just me.”

“Sam?” Dad’s torch found him.

“You know this kid?” asked the receptionist.

“Ahh, no, Magda, not at all.”

Magda came closer and shone the torch in Sam’s face. “Well, looky here. It’s the new kid.”

Sam’s dad gestured for Sam to get away. Sam shook his head. Magda pulled out a gun and waved it at Sam. “Another pair of hands will make light work of this.” She indicated the bags. “Pick them up and I’ll release you when Fletcher here gets me my money.”

“Now!” Kyra shouted and suddenly George and Kyra leapt on top of Magda. She dropped to the floor. The gun went off.

“Dad!”

“I’m here.” He grabbed Magda and pulled her to her feet. “Are you kids all right?”

Kyra and George pushed themselves up and nodded.

Dad looked at Sam. “What on earth were you doing down here?”

Sam’s eyes filled with tears. “What are you doing down here, Dad?”

“Yeah, Fletcher, when were you going to tell your kid all about our little business?”

“Shut up.” Sam’s dad pushed Magda in front of him. “The police can deal with you.”

They followed the tunnel and it lead straight to the receptionist’s office.

“My bag, please, Sam.” said Dad, indicating a corner of the room. “The combination is 2307. Open it.”

“My birthday!” Sam moved the numbers into the right place and opened the bag.

“The handcuffs, please, Sam.”

Sam handed them over. “But I thought you’d left the police.”

“We had to make it seem that way. I’ve been working undercover for three years trying to get to the leader of a major burglary ring, and now I’ve got her.”

Magda snarled. “You can’t prove anything.”

Sam’s dad laughed. “Go on believing that, Magda,” he said, clicking the cuffs closed.

Sirens sounded outside and soon the school was overrun by police. When the commotion had died down Sam found his father.

“Dad?”

“Mmm?”

“Will we be moving again?”

“You know what? I think I’d like to return to good old police work… and I think this is the place to do it.”

“Great! And, Dad… please never use that awful name again.”

“Fletcher?” said Dad. “Never heard of the guy.”

###

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