Jonny was, and still is, a bit of a nerd. He’s never really been part of the popular circle, and he doesn’t have that many friends either. He wears rectangular glasses and has greasy black hair. However, despite his outward appearance, Jonny was actually one of the smartest kids in his school. He was able to soar through his S.A.T. exams without as much as glancing at his notes, and was still able to get straight sevens, and this was when he was fourteen, just over one and a half years ago.
He loved to read, especially those which has a good mystery and can keep the reader guessing at what they think the truth is, and then have all their points turned on them with a final twist at the end. He’s fascinated by human biology, and when he was thirteen, he was able to name each organ and muscle of the entire body. As his knowledge of biology grew, he started to take a look at old case files from the morgue records, and he was able to determine the causes of deaths without looking at the actual cause.
At the moment though, that kind of knowledge didn’t do him much good when he was being threatened by bullies.
“I’m telling you once again Birdy,” said one of them, holding Jonny by the collar with one hand whilst the other was pulled back ready to be crashed into the boy’s glasses, “you’d better hand over the money, now!” Birdy was the horrible nickname that the bullies had adopted for Jonny, due to his surname.
Jonny gave up, and held his hands up in defeat. “OK, OK…you can have the money,” he said timidly. The bully let go of the boy, and waited with his arms folded. Jonny opened up a zip on the front of his bag, and brought out a few coins. “Here,” he said, holding out the money. The bully held out his hand, and gestured for Jonny to drop it into his hand. He let go of the coins, which plopped into the bully’s hands with a jingle. The bully smiled, and Jonny felt a little relieved on being released. Jonny zipped his bag up, and moved to run away as quickly as he could manage, but one of the other bullies blocked his way. “Hey, what are you doing?” Jonny asked, sounding scared. “I gave you the money, d-didn’t I?”
“I said to give the money over,” said the same bully who was counting the coins in his hand with an evil smirk. “I never said that we wouldn’t beat you for keeping it from us until now, did I?” The bully went to leave, and told his friends to do “the dirty work,” as he put it.
The others surrounded him, jeering. “Aww, the boy’s gonna pee himself!” said one of them in a mocking tone. The other bullies laughed at the remark.
“Let me go!” cried Jonny, but this made the bullies laugh even more.
“Let me go!” said another bully, imitating Jonny’s cry in a higher pitch. He laughed again, before drawing his fist back, ready to punch Jonny in the face. Jonny screwed his eyes up, waiting for the punch to connect.
But the pain never came.
Jonny opened his eyes slowly, and was surprised to see another boy standing in front of him, holding the bully’s fist in his hand. He was able to block the force of the punch with just his left hand!
“What’s with beating this guy up, huh?” said the stranger. “You got any pride to have a five-man team against one like him?” The boy pushed the bully’s fist back hard, making the bully stumble back a little. The one who was holding the coins had watched the whole thing take place, and he was worried.
“Guys, back off from this freak!” he yelled quickly. The others backed up on his command, and gave the stranger an evil look. “You’ll regret you ever interrupted us!” he added, addressing the stranger.
“Hmm, I look forward to you trying…” the stranger replied with a smile. “See you soon, Michelangelo,” he added, his grin spreading wider when he saw the coin carrier’s face light up with fear.
“Where’d you hear that name?!” he said with a scared tone.
“Well, it is your name, is it not?” said the stranger coolly. “Why shouldn’t I call you by that?”
“Guys, let’s get away from these creeps!” With that, the bullies left Jonny and the stranger alone.
Jonny was in astonishment. It was the first time someone had helped him stand up to the bullies. He bent down again to pick up his bag, looking away for the slightest of moments and halfway through a question when he looked back up. “Hey thanks. What was your–? Oh…” he said hopelessly as he noticed that the stranger had disappeared. Despite not getting the boy’s name, he was still happy that the bullies had looked that scared when the boy had stood up to them. So, he adjusted his bag on his shoulders, and went to class feeling happy.
A girl emerged from the shadows as Jonny walked past her, and followed Jonny for a little while before he stopped. “Dammit Kim, I thought I told you to stop following me like that! It’s creepy!”
“I’m sorry, Jonny,” said the girl, Kim.
Kim Vine was Jonny’s only friend, and shared his high intellectual skills, but she was a little older than him, meaning that she was already sixteen, whilst he wouldn’t be that age for another two months. She was very pretty, something Jonny found very embarrassing for him whenever he talked to her. She should be one of the more popular girls, but because of her nice attitude towards people plus her brains, she wasn’t much liked in the social circle either.
Jonny sighed, and allowed Kim to walk alongside him. “Don’t worry about it,” he said to her. She gave him a dazzling smile, which made him blush and turn his face away to hide his embarrassment. He was a timid boy, and had barely any experience when it came to talking to girls.
They both went into class together, and sat down in their registration forms away from everyone else, and fell silent. It was rare for them to talk to each other in public, so people just thought they sat together because they did so. There wasn’t any reason behind it.
The register teacher, who was named Miss Cross, called out their names in order, and paused at the end for a little effect. She got up then after the pause, and clapped her hands together to get everyone’s attention.
“Listen up, you lot,” she said with a strange tone that most teachers wouldn’t dare have with kids, but it was normal for her as she only got along with students if they got along with her. The teacher-student relationship with her was generally good, but sometimes it went downhill… “There’s a new student coming into our school this morning, and he’s in our form. He’s outside, and his name is Liam Smart. I want you to make the boy feel welcome, and not make him an outsider. You can come in now!” She shouted the last sentence for the boy outside to hear, and the door opened with a creak. He went down the aisle that led to the front desk, and turned to the class. Jonny’s face looked up slowly in surprise when he heard the boy talk.
“My name, as the teacher said, is Liam Smart. I hope that we can work together well as a class!” He bowed in a dramatic way, and his eyes cast down onto Jonny and Kim, and widened slightly as they both recognised each other.
This boy was the stranger who saved Jonny from the bullies!
So I’m in the class with this guy, eh? Liam thought, observing the boy and his partner carefully. His eyes then went across to both where most of the boys sat, and also to where the girls sat. He analysed how their manner and the way they were sitting down on the chairs. He also watched how their eyes sometimes drifted towards the boy and the girl who sat next to him, and came to a conclusion. He wrote something down on a piece of paper, and handed to the teacher, and gave her a dark look to obey what it said on the sheet:
I wish to do an experiment on these guys. Please allow me to do so, and don’t say a word! Sorry for being rude
The teacher nodded, and somehow found that she was smiling at his frontal assault upon the class. She nodded again, and Liam replied with one of his own.
He quickly walked up the aisle which led towards where all the boys were sitting. He looked over them all quickly, and then went down the aisle where the girls were situated, and glanced at them with the same speed as he did the boys. He nodded to himself, before grabbing one of the board pens, and wrote down three words: dog, hair and tired. He then turned towards the class, who were looking at him stupidly. He pointed towards one of the boys, and asked the teacher for the boy’s name who replied that he was Gary.
“Gary, do you have a golden dog at home?” The boy was shocked, and nodded. “OK… Next, the boy next to you. What’s your name?”
“Mike,” he said.
“Mike, I’m gonna guestimate here, but did you go to bed last night between the time of… twelve-fifteen and twelve-thirty?” Like the boy before him, he was also amazed.
“Yeah, it was twenty minutes past twelve!”
“Really, it was that late? Silly boy,” he added, making the class laugh. “Finally,” he said, pointing with the board pen toward a girl with red hair, “you. What’s your name?”
“Michelle,” she replied.
“Ooh, I used to know a girl called that… Anyway, what I want to know is this: did you perchance have attempted to dry your hair this morning, but had run out of time?” The girl’s eyes widened, and nodded slowly.
Liam nodded, and smiled.
“That’s… That’s three people there that you guessed right at!” said the teacher, amazed. “How did you do it?”
“It wasn’t guessing,” replied Liam, “but observance. You remember when I passed them, yes?” She nodded, wondering how Liam came to these deductions. “I was trying to see if I would make out what these people were like from just one look. OK, first off, Gary. I could tell that you have a golden coloured dog because of the hair that was present on your shirt, by your left shoulder. Just because you have gold hair there doesn’t mean it’s a dog. It could have been a blonde sister whose hair had dropped onto yours during the morning, or perhaps a girlfriend who had the same shade of hair. But the reason why it is neither of these is simply this: the hair is far too short to be of a human hair, but long enough for that of a dog.
“Secondly, Mike. This was a pretty simple thing to figure out if you’re looking for the right thing. The wrinkle that’s under his eyes, the other-worldly look in them, the way he’s drifting off unconsciously; all of these tell-tale signs are of a person who had a lack of sleep… No, wait, hang on…” Liam picked up the board pen, and drew an arrow away from the word ‘Tired’, and then added the word ‘Art’. “You have a proper reason for going to bed late and waking early. The callus that is on the side of your middle finger is a sign of you using a pen continuously. However, that could also be said for that of a writer. The reason why you’re an artist and not a writer is for the lack of a callus on the underside of your wrist. Am I right?”
Mike was stunned, and nodded. “Yes, I… I tend to draw a lot for a weekly magazine.”
“Very nice, I’m guessing around…five quid a drawing?”
The boy nodded again.
“And by judging by the callus, I’d say it’s about five drawings a week. Why you ask? Because the watch on his wrist is damn well expensive, and I know that parents wouldn’t cash out that much unless the payer was of course…you.
“Finally, we come to Michelle. The reason why I had said about your hair is because there is water droplets present on the tips of your hair strands. Have one of the other girls feel the tips, and tell me that I’m right.” One of her friends placed a hand on Michelle’s hair, and was amazed to find that her hair was indeed slightly wet. The girl nodded at Liam, who smiled once more. He bowed to the class, who clapped for him.
The partner next to the boy who Liam had saved stood up at that moment, her head bowed. “Please…” she said quietly, before she raised her voice into a shout. “Please, join our club!” The rest of the class fell silent at the girl’s outburst. There were a few sniggers, but from a glare by the teacher, the class became still.
“What is your name?” Liam asked the girl. “And raise your head. You should always face the person you talk to, even though you’re shy.”
The girl lifted her face to Liam, and answered as she did so. “My name is Kim Vine, and this is the boy that you helped earlier. His name is Jonny Hawk.”
Liam’s eyes grew in size when he saw Kim’s face. It was exceptionally pretty, something that he was not expecting from the way she held herself when she was sitting down. But he kept his composure, and replied to Kim, “You ask if I should join your club? What kind of club is it?”
“It’s… it’s a detective club,” she answered quietly. Some more laughs, and Kim’s face went extremely red in embarrassment.
“Is it now?” said Liam, smiling. “Hmm… OK… Meet me in this class after school. I’ll give you my answer then. Miss,” he added, turning to the teacher. “Might it be possible to borrow this class after school hours?” She nodded at him. “Good. Then I’ll see you there,” he added to Kim and Jonny, and sat down at a table on his own, keeping to himself. Liam smiled, thinking that the odd couple would certainly be a challenge and satisfying to personally know about them. He knew exactly the type of test that would make them scratch their heads.
Kim and Jonny waited outside the class door later that day, watching the students make their way back home. Those who passed by them gave little to no attention to the pair, but they were used to it. They are both practically outsiders in this techno-logical world, and neither seemed to fit in with anyone. Kim sighed to herself, thinking that they might be wrong in asking Liam to join. But then she was reminded by the exceptional deduction skills that he had shown to their registration form that morning. “He’s way better at picking out the finer details than me,” she said to herself quietly.
“What was that?” asked Jonny. Kim was startled, and shook her head to cover up what she had muttered out loud.
A click of a handle being turned meant that Liam was ready. He opened the door, and said for Kim to come in first, alone. “It’s all part of the test, and to prevent cheating,” he said to Jonny’s ashen face. He nodded, and backed up to allow Kim to pass through.
Liam closed the door behind him. “Please, stand next to the desks,” he said to her. Kim took a look around the classroom, and was shocked to see what had happened inside. Liam had rearranged the layout of the desks so that four of them were placed side by side, by the far side. On these desks were twenty cards which had words on each of them. On a closer inspection, she saw that they were places within the class.
“Now,” said Liam, sitting down on the teacher’s desk with his left foot resting on his right knee, “here are the rules of the test. Somewhere within this class, I have hidden a pound coin. The twenty cards that you see in front of you are possible places where the coin might be hidden. One of them can be true, whilst the others are false. You have two minutes to figure out which one is the ‘true’ card, and find the pound coin. I’ll be timing you. If you can get the right place in a minute, then you pass. If you take longer than a minute, but less than a minute and a half, I’ll be reconsidering my decision on whether I’ll join your club.”
“Wait, we have to prove ourselves to you?” Kim was both annoyed and also in awe by the way he had presented himself.
“Well, yes. If you and Jonny pass, I’ll tell you the true reason why I had moved to this school.”
“The true reason, eh?” Kim was intrigued, and wanted to know more. “Hmm… OK then… let’s do it.”
“Starting the clock!” said Liam, pressing the start button of a stopwatch application that was on his phone.
Kim analysed the entire contents of the twenty cards within twenty-five seconds, and gave it some thought. A lot of these are scattered wide and far in the class, whilst others are bunched up together, she thought whilst crossing her arms, a pose that she had adopted out of habit whenever she was thinking about something. She was watching Liam’s face the entire time, and not once did his eyes leave her. At first, she was embarr-assed by the constant watching, but after a few moments she realised something. Not once has his eyes looked at the cards. Does that mean that they…? Oh my God! Her eyes looked over the cards again, and saw that one location inside the classroom had not been listed. She rushed over to that place – a clock – grabbing a chair as she did so. She reached up and pulled back the clock. On the back was the pound coin stuck by sticky tape. She ripped off the coin, and held it for Liam to see. He pressed the stop button on his phone, and smiled.
“You must have the same deduction skills as me, Miss Vine,” he said to her. “Your time was fifty-three seconds, which is just over record of mine, which was fifty seconds. You are a very clever girl.” Kim blushed furiously, and brought her hair over her face to cover her reddened cheeks. “In any case, I’m in. Because if we’re honest,” he added in a whisper, “that Jonny guy isn’t bright. He’s far from stupid, but you’re in a different league of intelligence than him.” Kim’s face lit up like a Christmas tree despite Liam saying that about Jonny, and without even thinking of doing the action, she leapt off the chair and hugged Liam tightly.
“Thank you…” she said quietly. Liam felt awkward, but he knew that she was over the moon with him joining the club. He knew before she had completed the test that she would get it in time. He also knew that despite her looks, Kim was a shy girl who had been broken down by bullying. So he merely patted her on the back gently until she realised that she was hugging him. When she did, she let go immediately and backed up so quickly that she almost stumbled to the floor. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, holding her hand to her mouth. He nodded in understanding, and told her to place the pound coin back on the clock, and head into the office at the front of the class.
“Miss Cross is in there, and she already knows of this, so do not worry about seeing her. But I’d suggest knocking first before heading in,” Liam said as she came back. She passed him, knocked on the door, and headed in.
She saw Miss Cross working on some coursework papers that the A-Level students had handed in. She sat down quietly, and waited patiently for Jonny to complete his test. “He’s quite the character, isn’t he?” said Miss Cross, looking up from her work. Kim laughed quietly, and agreed. “He’s smart as well. He’d asked for my help in setting up the test earlier on. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. But for some reason,” she said to herself, holding the tip of the pen in her mouth, thinking, “I have the feeling that I’ve heard of his name somewhere before…”
A knock on the door meant that Liam was ready. Kim stood up, and went back outside. She looked at Jonny’s happy face, which must have meant that he had passed as well.
“He was able to figure it out in eighty seconds rather than fifty-three like you,” said Liam, gathering up the cards from the desk, “but that’s still a fairly quick time. He doesn’t have your trait of detail, but he’s clever enough.” Kim smiled at Jonny, who blushed. Liam looked between the two, and sighed. “Look, why don’t you both admit it? You like each other!” Both of them stared at Liam with an angry face, and he backed off a little. Liam sat down on the table, with his bag in between his legs.
“OK, then this detective club is officially open for business!” Liam yelled into the silence. Miss Cross opened up the door, and leaned on the door frame with a carefree attitude.
“My, Mister Smart, you’ve certainly had a history, haven’t you?” she said. Liam laughed at her words.
“You’ve been a sneaky little thing, then,” he answered, resting his buttocks on the edge of a table. “You’ve looked at all my old records from previous schools, haven’t you?”
“Oh yes, and I’ve seen the things you’ve done…”
“I’d rather you not say anything about that, Miss Cross,” Liam said in a dangerous tone. Miss Cross laughed at the comment.
“Do not worry, Smart, I won’t tell these two your dirty little past… I’ll leave that to you…”
“Wait, what ‘dirty little past’?” Jonny asked, turning from Miss Cross back to Liam. “What aren’t you telling us?”
“A lot,” Liam replied simply. “But I will tell you everything… someday…” Liam sighed at the pair’s faces. “It’s not that I don’t trust you enough, it’s just that that is my business.”
Kim nodded, but felt a little down at being left in the dark. “Well, OK then. But promise you’ll tell us one day.”
Liam smiled, and stuck his hand out to her. “Of course,” he said, as Kim took it with a firm grip. They looked into each other’s eyes at that moment, and there was an untold dialogue between them as they shook.
“May you be our ally in all our troubles, Liam,” said Kim’s eyes.
“And I shall lead you whenever the trouble is presented,” his eyes had replied.
They would become good friends in the troubles that were to come. Those troubles were unfortunately coming a lot sooner than any of them had hoped…