Availability: The Disaster at Longbrick Academy can also be found here.
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That's all that was visible in the hallways. Fleeing students stumbled on the rubble of the explosion and were trying to escape the incoming Stromlings. All the lockers emanated purple smoke and ominous glows peered through the vents in the locker cubbyholes. Maniacal laughing bellowed throughout the building, and eventually the students realized the exits were barred shut from the outside. As they screamed for help, a woman with a sullied and smattered business suit and a charred handbag walked prudently to the main exits. Her hair was bright red and appeared unaffected by the amount of grit and grime in the air. Her high heels were intact, her skirt slightly ripped. Her facial expression was grim and filled with cavalier for such a dire situation. She approached the nearly whimpering students as the Maelstrom neared.
"Enough with the whining, students. There will be no sheepish complaining and babyish squealing. Remember the compulsory pamphlets we gave to you on the first day of your venture here?"
The students nodded.
"Did you all read the part regarding Maelstrom invasions?"
The students looked hesitant to answer and then feebly shook their heads.
"Of course. No one reads that. Anyway, we will defend this place with our lives. Mainly, because I've invested in this place quite rapidly… No matter! Remember your training in Stromling Slaying 101! We will prevail!"
The students were all still cowering from the approaching threat but they all got the gist of the woman's speech. They looked eager to fight.
Nobody remembered how this event even started. It wasn't long past the grand opening for the academy on Nimbus Station. It all started with the cutting of the red tape a few weeks back. The ceremony being handled by a shrewd-looking principal and the proud stature of a redhead woman, Cheryl Longbrick.
Cheryl had just cut the red tape at the opening ceremony with her new principal of the Academy, Principal Pasty. Yes, if hiring was based on name, then Principal Pasty would be hopelessly jobless, but Frances Pasty was a pioneering educator of Nimbus Station.
"Thank you all for coming to this glorious event," Cheryl addressed the crowd. "I am now elated to say that Longbrick Academy is now opened all thanks to the frugal genius of this institution's principal, Frances Pasty."
Principal Pasty bowed right next to Cheryl in his vintage tweed blazer and corresponding plaid top, tan khakis and penny loafers. He wasn't the utmost authority in style, either.
"Thank you for the kind introduction, Cheryl. I wouldn't have this job if it wasn't for you and your mass financial wealth."
Cheryl raised an eyebrow but signaled Principal Pasty to continue.
"I am very glad to be teaching some lucky children of our first semester and it is my pleasure for being the indisputable overlord of this body of students."
Cheryl grew slightly suspicious with Principal Pasty's wording but didn't halt the proceedings.
"I will make sure to look after your paid tuitions and children with equal fervor." He then smiled wryly.
Cheryl awkwardly stepped in front of Principal Pasty and then announced that the Academy was open for the attendees to explore. She walked off behind the stage with Principal Pasty.
"What was that?!" Cheryl yelled behind gritted teeth.
"An introduction to the school," Principal Pasty's tone implied as if he had done it a million times before.
"You made it sound like a prison that happened to house children in it!" Cheryl breathed in deeply and then sighed. "Look, you may be my principal, but I will not have the majority of Nimbus Station think that you are a madman. Now, go inside and file some files or something." Cheryl waved Principal Pasty off and he strolled inside.
Cheryl's phone buzzed shortly after. When she retrieved it from her boundless purse's innards a few minutes later, the screen glowed with a reminder: "Meet all the new students."
Her face reddened and she hurled the phone to the ground and smashed it a few times with her high heels. She then pulled out a second phone from her purse and set a new passcode for it.
"Well, let's meet the little munchkins, eh?" she whispered to herself.
Cheryl entered the Academy with high hopes for the new students. The school was crisply decorated. The tiles on the walls depicted several stories of centuries ago. The lockers were blue and uncommonly large for a school. From the entrance foyer, there were two large halls branching out, each lined with lockers and classroom entrances. The principal's office was straight ahead upon entering and the lone restrooms were to the left of it. It was a small, quaint school. Cheryl hoped the students would also be small and quaint. She was wrong.
The whole school was for minifigures aged from twelve to fifteen. She interviewed the twelve-year-olds first. She had to shower intensively afterwards.
The fourteen and fifteen-year-olds gave her less trouble. The twelve-year-olds were oddly angelic. She was suspicious when she interviewed the first thirteen-year-old, however.
"Hello there, young man. What might your name be?"
The boy was hardly aware of Cheryl's question as he was shaking and carefully eyeing her desk trinkets. "P-P-Pardon me, ma'am?"
"Are you cold?" Cheryl interrogated.
"No, I'm…just sc-sc-scared of your frog toy."
Cheryl raised an eyebrow and then continued. "Tell me, what are your most distinct phobias?"
"I have one that has to do with ice cream. Another with jeans. My worse is with redheads."
Cheryl frowned. "I would then expect you to be screaming like a girl right now."
"Well, you're actually pretty."
"What?!" Cheryl leaned back. "There will be no hitting on the school superintendent, young man."
The student sighed. "My name is Nick Blackmetal."
Cheryl was still in shock with Nick's sudden interest in her. She breathed in deeply then continued. "Well, it is a pleasure. I will be expecting you to tame your overt romantic intentions with the female students…and teachers. You understand?"
Nick nodded inertly and then walked out of Cheryl's office, looking around himself every few seconds. Cheryl immediately reapplied her "GLAM!" lipstick and awaited the next student.
The next student came in after Nick and greeted Cheryl with a nod of the head. He then sat himself down in front of Cheryl's desk.
"Hello there! What is your name, young man?"
"Doesn't matter, really," dodged the student.
"Well…it does, dear. Your whole life depends on it. If it's controversial and taboo, you become an outcast and slave to Baron Typhonus."
The student immediately stiffened. "Um…ha ha...yeah, right."
"And, on the other hand, if you have a glorious, snappy name, you become rich and powerful, like me. Now, let's talk about YOU. What are your favorite pastimes?"
The student looked around nervously. "I enjoy logistics and atom separation." He gulped.
Cheryl laughed in reply. "What a card! I will enjoy your humor here. Now, what are your favorite pastimes, for real?"
"I like…slaying…Stromlings…" he said emptily.
"Well," Cheryl decided, "I suppose that's better than taking part in group graffiti affairs or casual bridge games. Fine. You will learn how to do that more effectively here. Now, I really need your name."
The student closed his eyes as if to brace himself from collateral damage. "Brad Brickstrom."
Cheryl looked the same as before. "Catchy. I don't know why you would hide it." She began to conduct investigations in her head.
"Yeah, no big deal," Brad told himself.
"I must ask, Brad, if you don't mind…who's your father?" Cheryl finally inquired.
Brad lowered his hand and squeaked. "Baron Typhonus. The Darkitecht."
Cheryl opened her eyes wide and her mouth went flaccid. "Are you evil, then?"
Brad shook his head and hands. "Not at all, ma'am! I hate him, honestly!"
"Good, I do, too. I must warn you beforehand that you will be brutally bullied and maliciously mauled verbally if you tell people that. I suggest that you call yourself Frank Heimberger and learn a foreign accent." Cheryl smiled cloyingly.
Brad took all of this in and then nodded appreciatively. "I don't think I will."
"Then take it from me that I will personally see to it that your identity is sealed in this–" she rummaged through her purse, "–this mascara." She rubbed Brad's lips with it and threw it away. She smiled as if the symbolic gesture was enough.
Brad rubbed his mouth with his sleeve and left after saying goodbye.
Cheryl then rearranged her desk and prepared for yet another student.
Cheryl was done making her desk perfect and called in the next student, who came in immediately.
The student had a slight nerd look but was otherwise clean and sharp looking. He had robot parts in his shirt pocket and a small robot bee in his hand.
"Hello, young man! What may your name be?" Cheryl asked as he sat down.
"I am Micle. Micle Overbuild."
Cheryl's eyes brightened. "Are you Albert Overbuild's son, by chance?!"
Micle nodded and smiled. "Yeah, he dropped me off here earlier. Said he had a dilemma in Pet Cove. I wish I could help him right now…"
"Well, it's marvelous that you have chosen this school for your learning. Now, I might as well ask: what are your favorite hobbies or pastimes?"
"I like building," Micle quickly replied. "I can whip up a helicopter from a few pencils, sting and a motor."
"Ehh…is that it?" Cheryl's smile slowly looked fake.
"Yeah. I can't really fight or anything. I once tried to smash a Stromling…I was comatose for days."
Cheryl nodded and pretended to listen. She began to file her nails.
"And there was that one time where I shot a Stromling Mech in the heinie!" Micle continued. "…And then it blew me up."
Cheryl started yawning. She couldn't stop Micle from yakking it up, though.
"I also went fishing once and I had to be admitted to an infirmary for head trauma," Micle sighed. "Good times."
Cheryl's eyelids sluggishly drooped and she started to nod off.
"Oh! There was also that time where I battled Butterscorch…in a video game. I got seizures from that, also."
By the time Micle wrapped up his recollections of not being magnanimous, Cheryl was snoring. Sound asleep on her desk.
Micle shrugged and hopped joyously out of her office. Everything was a blur to Cheryl as she dreamt of unicorns prancing in a soap opera.
"Heh heh," Cheryl giggled. "They're making this actually bearable…"
After a few minutes of dozing, another student walked in. She stomped towards Cheryl's desk angrily and pounded her fist on it. Knick-knacks and bobby pins flew all over the room and Cheryl jumped out of her chair in fright.
"I didn't marry the cheeseburger, Santa!" she yelped.
She got a grasp of the situation while staring at an angry face belonging to yet another student.
Cheryl tried to smile. "How long was I asleep, young lady?"
Cheryl was surprisingly fazed at the gruffness of this student. The student had long, raven black hair with a steadfast scowl and piercing blue eyes that made her very intimidating to look at. Her hands were on Cheryl's desk in an obvious gesture of dominance.
"I am deeply sorry for my doze, young lady," Cheryl apologized. "Let's get this off to a better start, shall we?"
"I don't think so," the student snapped back.
Cheryl looked aghast at this student's pertness. "Pardon me? I will have you know that blatant disrespect for your betters is not tolerated at this place of learning."
"Ha ha. Just like at the other place," the student replied sarcastically.
"Your vagueness is excruciatingly painful to endure, young lady. Now, tell me your name and maybe we can salvage this broken meeting."
"Quaint," Cheryl sighed. "Now, tell me, is your attitude always like this?"
Ruth appeared to scowl more and was nearly ready to engage in a fistfight with Cheryl. "Only when someone like you talks to me."
Cheryl gasped. "How DARE you!" She immediately sprung out of her seat and stood face to face with Ruth. She drew back her sleeves and made some fists. "You have met your match, young lady."
Ruth raised her fists as well. "Bring it on, lady."
The two began to pummel each other on Cheryl's desk and wrestled violently with each other. Cheryl grabbed her frog toy and began jabbing Ruth with it.
"How do you like my amphibian might, young lady?!" Cheryl yelled.
"Not as much as my kicks!" Ruth screamed a karate yell and began kicking Cheryl incessantly. Cheryl ducked under her desk and grabbed a phonebook and stood up again.
Ruth looked confused. "Are you planning to actually whack me with that?"
No," Cheryl stated plainly. She began to tear the book with her bare hands while screeching like mad. After tearing the book she jumped on her desk and threw the pages at Ruth.
"You monster!" Ruth cried out. She tried to find her bearings in the paper barrage but she was interrupted when Cheryl pounced on her.
This was all very entertaining to the students outside the door. Micle had built an x-ray device to peer through the door and into Cheryl's office while Nick and Brad were watching through a screen.
"You rock, Micle! This is the best cat fight I've ever seen!" Nick exclaimed.
"Ditto!" Brad assented.
The fight between Cheryl and Ruth continued with a sudden cloud of chalk enveloping the room. Cheryl had sneakily grabbed some spare chalk in a drawer and began clapping it with a chalkboard eraser. Ruth dove behind a potted plant and hid out there as she heard the menacing sound of Cheryl's high heels and the constant clap of chalk and eraser.
"Come here, young lady. I don't want to hurt you. I must get this over with so I can continue with the rest of the students in your grade," Cheryl assured.
Ruth remained silent and more anxious as Cheryl's voice got closer.
"I never wanted this. If you hadn't been so snappy, you would be done by now."
Ruth started to army crawl to the office door and Cheryl sharpened her gaze through the white dust. She heard nothing. The silence was deadening. She began to sidle slowly back to her desk and pulled out a flashlight. But first, she reapplied her lip-gloss. She then pointed the flashlight to conspicuous places in her office.
Ruth began to hurry her pace and she was nearly at the office door. She slowed down tremendously to avoid thudding into the door. The dust soon began to dissipate and her cover would soon be blown.
"AH HA!" Cheryl proclaimed. Ruth stiffened immediately.
"There you are, Golden Gloss Mascara!" Cheryl shouted out jubilantly.
Ruth audibly sighed and then realized Cheryl's plan. She was suddenly pinned by a body. Ruth fought back but a spray of perfume to the head interrupted her. Her eyes slowly drooped.
"Well, well, young lady. I have the upper hand now. You can never punch me lest I give you a spray of Sleepytime Perfume. I will keep a very close eye on you, Ruth Burnbridge," she said smugly.
Ruth nodded in an almost studious way and then went to sleep. Cheryl lugged her on her shoulder and opened her office door to ventilate her room and nearly fell on the three students outside her door.
"What the–?" Cheryl asked after seeing the device attached to her door and the nervous smiles of her students.
Her face reddened and her hair seemed to turn into magma. "DETENTION!!!" she screamed.
"Aww, but we were just…being…inventive!" Brad protested.
Cheryl gave him one cold stare and he gulped. The other two silently stood up and solemnly followed Cheryl and the knocked out Ruth to Principal Pasty's office.
Cheryl stomped crossly into Principal Pasty's office to a surprise. He was playing with pencils like dolls and made them go shopping and have go get manicures and the like. She stood silently along with her captive students for several minutes without being noticed. Principal Pasty abruptly stopped what he was doing and tossed his pencil 'dolls' behind him when he noticed them.
"Why…hello!" he said merrily.
Cheryl's puzzled look immediately turned into an irate face and she plopped Ruth into a chair and her other students followed Ruth's lead. Principal Pasty's office was drab and dreary; the walls filled with gray and beige paintings from centuries ago depicting boring events in the Universe's past such as the Pancake Revolution and the War of Plaid Trousers. Even his potted plants were droopy.
"What could possibly be the matter?" Principal Pasty asked curiously. "School hasn't even officially started yet."
"These four are the matter. The young lady assaulted me in my office and then these three young men were peeping in on our brawl with a technological gizmo."
Principal Pasty looked confused. "I don't understand why the boys are impounded, then. All they did was use their noodles to make a thingamabob. I would call that inventiveness."
Nick smiled smugly before being stared at coldly by Cheryl.
Cheryl then breathed in and sighed. "I guess I'm going slightly overboard. I was never good with children."
"Then why open a school?" Nick asked. He was on a sarcasm roll.
Cheryl gave him another piecing stare and went back to talking with Principal Pasty. "Now, may I please talk about the mischievous vixen right here?" Cheryl asked.
Principal Pasty shrugged. "I have the utmost highest power and the veto control. I think you've both been riled up too much and should let this incident go."
Cheryl looked shocked. "What?! And let her run loose with her antics?"
"She's been here one day, Cheryl. Give her a break."
Cheryl sighed and sunk her head down. "Yes, Frances. Come on, boys."
Micle, Brad and Nick stood up diligently and followed Cheryl, who picked up the comatose Ruth and they rallied out of Principal Pasty's office.
After they left, Principal Pasty looked around anxiously and then fetched his pencils from the ground. He then placed them on his desk and pulled out mini wigs from his desk drawer and played with them some more. What he didn't know was that Micle made yet another spying device and Cheryl and the boys were all watching Principal Pasty's escapades.
Ruth woke up.
She raised her eyelids sluggishly to behold the sight of the woman who made her go to sleep peeping through a spyglass attached to a door and a screen welded to the spyglass above it. Everyone got a view of what appeared to be a man dipping beautified pencils in his coffee mug. She rubbed her eyes and sat up, still unnoticed by the redhead and the boys. She considered fleeing surreptitiously to avoid being held captive in this school, but her body wouldn't stand up.
"Ah, you've awakened. It is nice to see the effects wearing off," Cheryl openly stated, still staring through the spyglass contraption.
Ruth's eyes bulged and she slumped on the ground, defeated. She groaned and scooted over to Micle's machine to hopefully snag a better view of the odd principal. "May I…um…have a peek?" she asked meekly.
"But of course!" replied Cheryl. She sidled over to let Ruth look through the spyglass.
"Oh, wow," Ruth declared, "that is humiliating."
Micle nodded proudly and Nick and Brad smiled devilishly. Cheryl appeared fine regarding the espionage. She slowly looked around, though, as if someone was viewing them discreetly.
"I best say we wrap this up so you four may leave and I can continue with my last interviews," Cheryl suggested. The other children ignored her because Principal Pasty was now making the pencils do gymnastics.
Cheryl cleared her throat. "Children? Hello?"
They either didn't hear her or pretended not to and continued to view the screen. Cheryl grew increasingly impatient and concerned.
"Children! We must leave now!" Cheryl ordered. They immediately broke out of their trances and stood up. Cheryl squinted her eyes to peer down the hallway from where they came. She saw a dark silhouette that appeared to sashay towards them.
"A ghost!" yelled Nick in fear.
"The IRS!" Micle squealed.
"My mom!" Brad cried out.
Ruth kept quiet and stared at it further. Cheryl took out a pen light from her purse and pointed it at the figure, which spookily vanished.
"See? A ghost," said Nick triumphantly.
"Hah! The IRS does that, too," Micle stated.
"So does my mom, chumps," Brad said.
Cheryl and Ruth walked down the hallway together bravely to examine what the thing could've been. Cheryl thought to herself that this girl might be of use after all.
"What could it have been?" asked Ruth inquisitively.
"A paranormal force, I guess. The contract assured me this property was not haunted," Cheryl pointed out.
They slowly tiptoed up towards where the silhouette vanished and examined the ground around it studiously. There was a luminescent smudge on the ground that glowed with a faint shade of cyan.
"It must be its droppings!" Nick yelled from a few yards back.
Cheryl resisted the urge to berate him and took out a latex glove from her purse. She snapped it on, giving Ruth a jump, and spread her hand in the shininess. As she waved her hand across the blotch and it sloshed around like liquid. When she when to grasp the now-liquid material, it materialized into sand. She let the glowing sand dribble out of her hand back into the splotch.
"Oh gosh, that's freaky," Ruth said concernedly.
"Advanced droppings!" Nick shouted.
"Nicholas!" Cheryl yelled.
Cheryl then dipped a gloved finger into the pool of the material, now liquid again, and sniffed it.
"Hmm," Cheryl contemplated. "It's reminiscent of ozone."
Micle, able to pick up parts of the conversation down the hall, shouted out, "Ozone is only detectable by smell at hazardous levels!"
Cheryl ignored him. "OK, it's presumably like ozone. I wonder if tasting it would give me anymore clues."
Ruth's face consorted into a look of disgust and she swatted Cheryl's hand away from her open mouth.
"What was that for?"
"I highly doubt that…thing is edible or in any way healthy."
"Fine, I will leave someone else to taste it and get smashed," Cheryl retorted.
Cheryl stood up and motioned Ruth to follow her back to the boys. She ordered Micle to stow away his device and they all headed back to Cheryl's office on the other wing of the school.
Meanwhile, back in Principal Pasty's office, Principal Pasty put his pencil dolls in his cabinet's drawer and pulled out an advanced walkie-talkie.
"They are finally gone. No more peeping through my office and no more playing with those pencils," Principal Pasty grunted.
A fuzzy fizz of a voice came out in reply. Principal Pasty couldn't comprehend the voice and begged the statement to be repeated.
"I…want…the…black-haired…girl…GONE," the brusque, raspy voice ordered.
"What about the others? They all seem threatening. The junior inventor has loads of technological know-how."
"You mustn't...mind the others…Cheryl Longbrick and Ruth Burnbridge are…prime…targets…"
The other end went blank and Principal Pasty stored his communicator away and discreetly pulled out his pencil dolls for some more playtime.
When Cheryl and her students arrived at her office, it was covered with chalk dust and broken desk toys, and trampled chairs were scattered everywhere haphazardly.
"Oh yeah…this mess," Cheryl groaned. She gave Ruth a cold stare and then arranged some extra chairs out for her students to sit down on. She wiped her desk off with a handkerchief and set down contently. She stared at the students, all more or less frowning.
"Now, I have on my finger here a dab of the mysterious material from earlier. My first task for you four is to break it down chemically and then report your findings to me."
Micle seemed ecstatic while the others moaned. "That's not fair!" the other three cried out in unison.
"Oh, this is extra credit, you see. While the other children are at home dabbling in mindless twaddles such as television or online message boards, you four are learning and bettering this academy one scientific report at a time," Cheryl decreed.
"I can't believe I signed up for this," Nick whined.
"Oh no, your parents did, dear child. I hope they don't mind you being here for much longer. I'll give all of your parents a call."
While Cheryl did that, the four snatched Cheryl's glove and scraped off the material, currently liquid, into a dish and stared at it fixedly.
"Well, this is a blast," Ruth quipped.
"I'm guessing this is a pseudo-liquid considering its quality of solidifying into a sand-like material whenever held," Micle said.
The other three stared at him blankly. "I'm glad you can speak big words," Ruth jibed.
"I am so bored with this stupid project," Brad complained. "I want to dabble in mindless twaddles!"
Cheryl hung up with her first call when she saw the four sprawled out on the floor, doing nothing industrious.
"Well! I expect more from you four! I thought I was wrong with projecting that this school would house the intellectually buff! Not dim dingdongs such as yourselves! I am appalled at the lack of effort you four have decided to expend!" Cheryl huffed. She sat cross-armed in her chair and stared at the children, all very aware of her impatience by now.
Micle waddled meekly up to Cheryl's desk and mumbled, "I'm sorry for being dim, Ms. Longbrick. The other three wouldn't cooperate."
Cheryl shocked the other children by hugging Micle profoundly. Ruth, Brad and Nick all sat agape and agog.
Cheryl stopped hugging Micle, who was now dazed, and then walked over and towered over the children. "If you three work as effectively as your amigo Micle here…then I will hug you as well."
Brad threw up his hands and looked around for the glove. Nick was eager as well. Ruth kept the same indifferent expression. "Whatever."
"I'm glad you have assented," said Cheryl. She looked around, happy with life again. Then Ruth made it unpleasant again.
"Is that your glove?" she asked plainly. She pointed towards Cheryl's glove, which was now behaving like a spider, and it seemed to have froze, trying to hide itself ineffectually.
"YES! OH MY GOSH!" Cheryl screamed.
The glove behaved like a spider, staying motionless at the thought of being sighted. Cheryl, Ruth, Nick, Brad, and Micle all stood still as well, fearing any motion would incur an attack.
"Stay…calm, children," Cheryl stated through a clenched jaw.
"The material must've brought it to life!" Micle declared quietly.
Cheryl looked aghast at the notion of that material being in her school. "We must destroy this thing and scavenge the rest of the material immediately!" she whispered forcefully.
The others nodded and continued their stare down with the glove spider. It slowly crept up the wall and then out of nowhere, Ruth drew out a knife and threw it right towards the glove. It struck into the wall with a dull thud a few inches away from it. The glove skittered a few feet away and remained intent on staying still.
Cheryl looked ready to puke. "My…beautiful…wall, " she lamented.
Brad rushed over to reassure Cheryl. "We can surely buy a new one later!" he laughed reluctantly.
Nick seemed absolutely frightened at it. "I…have…A-a-arachnophobia…and gloveophobia…"
Cheryl seemed to have recovered from the wall incident already and strutted toward Nick. "Nick, look at me. You must man up. This is a threat and there may be more if we don't get this material sopped up. We must destroy this rabid glove and then eradicate the substance. If we are clear, I would like you to nod and maul that glove with this lipstick." She handed Nick an inconspicuous lipstick with a button on the bottom. He pressed it and out came a sword from the tip.
"WOAH!" he exclaimed. He started to wave it around before Cheryl gave him a cold stare and he sheepishly headed over to the glove spider.
"Stab the living rubber out of it!" Ruth yelled from behind.
"Nick, don't fail!" said Brad.
"Be magnanimous, young sir!" Micle shouted out. Nick pretended to know what that meant and then aimed the lipstick sword at the spider glove. It hissed and then Nick stumbled backwards onto the floor.
Cheryl flinched and covered her eyes. "I can't bear to watch…"
Nick stood up unsteadily and stabbed towards the spider glove, missing each time and making new holes in the wall.
"ARGH!" Cheryl grunted. She began pulling at her hair and looked away.
The glove spider scurried around on the wall, dodging all of Nick's weak stabs and then went back to where Ruth's knife was lodged in the wall. It clutched it and pulled it out and pointed it at Nick, who gasped in reply.
"Um…" Nick sputtered out uselessly.
Cheryl was unaware of this, as she was texting someone on her phone. She was nudged several times by Ruth and Brad, but she remained steadfast with her message.
Nick squealed for help as the glove extended out more, stretching thanks to its rubber body. Everyone was frozen in fear or occupied by a phone…except Micle.
"AHHHH!!!" Micle screamed as he lunged towards the glove spider. He had hurdled over Nick and released a bee robot right in front of the glove spider. At first, the bee was dispelled by the glove's looming knife, but it then zipped in and stung it repeatedly. Micle stared at the brawl, as if he was analyzing the possible outcome between his robot and the possessed glove.
Nick crawled mutedly towards where Ruth and Brad were watching with wide stares. Cheryl was still unaware of Micle's sudden burst of bravery and she stopped typing out her message. She stared at the screen expectantly.
"Hmm, suspicious…" Cheryl asserted to herself. She was still facing away from the scene and looked up. Her chalky office felt as if it was being taped. She turned around to alert the children when she took sight of the possessed glove and robotic bee showdown.
"Oh, you're done chatting with your significant other, I assume?" Ruth questioned acerbically
Cheryl returned the remark with an emotionless stare. "Not even close, young lady. I just received a highly suspicious message. I say we all remain chary of our surroundings." She paused for a moment. "What on earth is going on over there?"
She was asking about the scuffle between Micle's bee and the glove, which appeared to be coming to a violent end. The bee had jabbed several jagged holes in the glove, and it couldn't slice the bee with its inaccurate slicing. Everyone stared in silence as the bee brought down the glove from the wall, resulting in a thud from the knife in hand…literally.
Micle turned around, beaming. He put his hand out for the bee to land on and put it in his pocket. "What do you guys think?"
Cheryl burst out first. "Remarkable, young man! You saved us all! Thank you for deploying your device. I am very excited for your inclusion in this academy."
Everyone else nodded. Brad assented with, "What she said."
Micle smiled and walked over to them triumphantly. "What now?"
Ruth gasped. "The remaining gooey slime thing!"
"Oh, of course!" Cheryl laughed. "That should be a good thing to check out now…I am becoming increasingly concerned with the goings-on here."
Nick stood up uneasily and lowered his head as he walked out the office's door. "I failed you, Ms. Cheryl," he sighed, ashamed with his effort to destroy the glove spider.
"Oh, not at all, young man. You see, you conquered something by just walking up to it. Just because you failed to obliterate it doesn't mean you aren't brave."
Nick blushed and then covered his cheeks as Ruth was giggling. Cheryl ushered them all out of her office and then warily locked her door…twice. They all headed down the hallway where the slimy substance had first been. A shock awaited them there.
Cheryl and the students stood silently as they saw a hunched over, tweed-covered figure examine the goop. It was none other than Principal Pasty. He made some moaning noises, sounds of contemplation and would occasionally snort as if he was inhaling the substance. Cheryl silently motioned the children to stay quiet and she subtly took off her high heels and made small tip-toes toward Principal Pasty.
"Hmm, an incriminating substance in MY school…those plumbing lunkheads…" Principal Pasty muttered.
Cheryl's face scrunched up into a face of sheer offense. She flicked Principal Pasty on the back of his neck and yelped in pain.
"Cheryl!!" he yelled in anguish. "What on Crux was that for?"
"You proclaimed this establishment as being yours in the most blatant way possible."
"I technically lead this place."
"Not when you get hired by the person who financed it, Frances."
Principal Pasty opened his mouth and then closed it indignantly. "Whatever."
"Now explain to me; why on earth did you inhale the substance?" Cheryl interrogated.
"How did you even know it existed? I was making a security waltz around the grounds and noticed the pool," Principal Pasty snapped back.
"My students and I were studying it in my office. We stumbled upon it earlier and came to sop up the rest of it."
Principal Pasty stared at Cheryl. "That's grand. And for your information, I only sniffed it. It smells foul, for sure." He walked past Cheryl, said adieu to the students and walked outside the main doors.
"How odd," Ruth noticed. The other students nodded in agreement. Cheryl then peered down the hall to see if there was a janitorial closet. The students watched her, not realizing her ploy.
"I must look as if I don't care about this," she mumbled to herself as she walked to get a mop. "He's watching me…"
She opened a closet and took out a mop and walked over to the substance. It was luminescent now, convulsing from green to purple to blue. She passively plopped the mop into the glop whistled nonchalantly. Brad and Nick just gazed at her while Ruth and Micle remained suspicious of her actions. "I'd say she finds Principal Pasty to be a threat," deducted Ruth.
Micle nodded slightly. He pointed back to the doors, where Principal Pasty was visibly peeking in while calling someone on the phone.
Cheryl glided around the pool with her mop and made a big bout out of cleaning it up. She visibly was trying to grab as much of the substance as possible in the mop so she had a viable source for later reference. She noticed Ruth and Micle motioning her to hurry up.
"Children, why fret? This is only but a blemish. We must dump it in the restrooms!" she said with a cloying amount of glee. She especially emphasized the last sentence. The students, including Brad and Nick, got her lead. They all causally followed Cheryl and her saturated mop to the woman's restroom. Nick, Brad and Micle all halted uncomfortably.
"Ms. Cheryl…this is a girl's room," Brad pointed out, wondering whether she was crazy or not.
"Do not stop, Bradley, we must continue this little skit. Principal Pasty thinks we're against him… which we are. But we can't let him think that. I'd say he's a bad man. I'm absolutely firing him later."
Micle glanced at Nick and Brad. The look on his face was of agreement. The other boys skittishly followed Ruth and Cheryl in and looked in awe at the sight. It was clean. Clean. They had never seen a restroom as pretty as this.
That image of heavenly delight was interrupted by Ruth's scream.
When Ruth had followed Cheryl into a stall, there was a gloppy, gushing mound of that same florescent slime oozing out of the toilet. She screamed accordingly, scaring the wits out of all the others in the restroom. It was slowly flooding the restroom, but only slowly. The material was extremely viscous.
Cheryl gulped plainly. "I doubt I will need this mop anymore."
"Ya think?" replied Ruth. "We have to stop the plumbing!" She hurried over to behind the toilet for the water valve and turned it with all her might. The sluggish flow of the material didn't stop.
The boys, still entranced by the décor poked their heads in the stall to see the glowing slime seep out of the toilet.
"That has to be the sickest thing I've ever seen," said Brad.
"It's disgusting!" Nick squealed.
Micle approached Cheryl and Ruth, both desperately trying to mess with the plumbing. "You should probably check under the bonnet or whatever it's called."
Cheryl stared at him with a contradictory look of confusion and understanding. She lugged off the porcelain crown off the toilet and hurled it behind her, with the end result being it shattering. All the hardware was shining still considering no one had used it. The odd part was that it was filled with clear water.
"It shouldn't be water in there. The slime is coming out, meaning it should be slime in that part as well," she assessed.
"Maybe it's a source from inside the bowl!" Ruth cried out. Cheryl winked at her and then motioned her to go on.
"Come on, Ruth; go stick your hand in it," she encouraged.
Ruth's face paled and she looked away. There was no way she was going to vomit. As the ooze seeped down further around the latrine, they all had to step back and give it some headway. There was no chance they were touching it after the glove incident.
Micle, always the kid for ideas, made a humble suggestion. "Let's all move to Crux Prime and live off the wilderness. We could put this behind us as the goo laid waste to Nimbus Station."
The others looked hesitant to comply yet scared to disagree. They wanted the easy way out. Cheryl decided was not going to be a shortcut for the problem, though.
"We must never give up! Lesson number one!" she proclaimed. "There will be no chickening out of this dilemma. We all must work together!"
At that, the restroom door swung open and a stylish blond girl walked in and screamed at the sight of the upchucking potty and the sweaty, bedraggled crew beside it.
The girl immediately fumbled through her designer purse for her cell phone. She haphazardly dialed a number into it and stared at Cheryl, who was eyeing her with both bewilderment and concern. She grimaced as the phone signaled her to leave a message and stuffed it back in her purse. The purse happened to match every other article of clothing she was donning effortlessly. Her striking blond hair and overdone face gave everyone a false impression of her intellect.
"What on earth are you people doing?" she asked askance. Micle and Nick smirked; her British accent made the sentence all the more hilarious, considering her appearance.
"We're trying to stop this toilet from destroying the world, isn't that obvious?!" Brad snapped back.
"Well!" the girl proclaimed. She crossed her arms and took on an impatient stance aimed at Cheryl. "Can you please direct me to the superintendent of this school before I take my expansive wads of cash back to my mum?"
Cheryl's eyes immediately lit up and she walked over to the girl, completely forgetting the toilet and the gunk's steady advance. "Why, I am that lady. I am Cheryl Longbrick, proud proprietor of this establishment. Please pardon the madness. We're currently having issues with the…plumbing."
The girl paused the conversation and approached Ruth, who was busy trying to comprehend the idea of plunging her hand into the toilet. She turned around and stared at the girl unenthusiastically.
"You the plumber?" she retorted.
The girl took great offense at this comparison and slapped Ruth forcefully. Ruth slapped her back with equal force. Their red cheeks grew redder with rage as they stared down at each other. Cheryl chimed in to break the upcoming melee.
"Chop chop, children! We mustn't forget our goals! Especially considering the ooze that has succumbed to our shoes!" Cheryl pointed out. She was right. The slime was mischievously taking control o the situation. It clung to everyone's shoes and was a mere yard from the door. There would be no stopping it after that.
Ruth grunted and went back to preparing herself to administer her hand into the bowl. The girl turned around with a face of repugnance and walked over to Cheryl.
"I am out of here, Cheryl. No more of this foolish nonsense. I will be attending a school with less primordial ooze."
Cheryl stood in her way in front of the restroom door. "You amuse me. With both your classiness and vigor. Just…like…me…" Cheryl trailed off, pondering the idea of any one being like her. She took control of the conversation again and gave the girl an ultimatum. "You may either run to your dream academy and be lulled into a monotonous torpor by some smug teacher who thinks he or her knows more than you in math class or you can help us stop this toilet and the infinite sludge from doing who-knows-what to the world and interrupting your first, preferred choice." Cheryl paused. "And no, I will not teach run-on sentences in class."
The girl wondered about this for a bit. And a long bit that was. Ruth had already snagged a fob from the toilet, and the slime ceased to flow out. Unfortunately, the door flung open and ruined the brief victory.
Principal Pasty was irate. He couldn't bear to see HIS academy being defiled by this discord. Boys in the ladies' room and mysterious pools of sludge everywhere…it was all horrible.
"What on earth is this, Cheryl?!" he yelled.
Cheryl hesitated. She needed a convincing story. "The toilet was…clogged up." That was basically true.
"Oh, yeah right. And I'm sure the toilet was clogged up by the same material that was in the hallway." He dipped his hand in a puddle of the material to make his point clear.
Surprisingly, the girl walked in front of Principal Pasty and interrupted his berating of Cheryl. "Who do you think you are, sir, to prevent this woman from giving her establishment proper upkeep?"
Principal Pasty was flabbergasted. No adolescent has ever parented him like this. "What is your name, miss?"
"Helena Brickston." She let out her hand and Principal Pasty just stood there, still confused. "You kiss it," Helena blatantly pointed out.
Principal Pasty stuttered for a bit. He looked at Cheryl for assistance but she just smiled arrogantly. Helena grew increasingly impatient at the man's brutish disrespect. "Are you really this impolite? I am an elite member of society. My reverence will not be ignored."
She stared at Principal Pasty until he began to whimper a few incoherent words such as, "please," "forgiveness," and "not in the contract."
"Oh, you sicken me, sir. Please polish up your etiquette and leave me," Helena replied calmly. She behaved like this happened to her before. Principal Pasty, still shocked, left the bathroom without another word. Cheryl approached Helena with complete admiration.
"You amaze me, young lady. You single-handedly defused that situation while making Principal Pasty look like a fool." Cheryl made a shocking move and hugged the young lady, earning looks of complete abandon from the boys. Ruth rolled her eyes and juggled the fob that had started the toilet situation.
"Ruth, hand me that fob, I must examine it," Cheryl said. Ruth gave it to her and she began a delicate assessment of the fob. It was a peculiar device; it was circular and there was an indent in it that could fit a petite minifigure's hand. It appeared to be unable to make such a vast quantity of sludge. On the underside there were several holes, giving it the appearance of a speaker.
Everyone stood in the restroom, with the sludge magically deteriorating, the toilet refilling with water and the slight noise of Helena's texting ringing through everyone's ears like a gong. Whoever did this was in the school.
Cheryl slowly began to decide who could've done this. She knew someone in the school did it…but she also didn't know who had been in the school earlier. She and the students had been in that restroom for quite a while now; what if other people had entered the school? She couldn't let anyone else know of this problem. So when the door began to open, she rammed into it.
"Hey, what's the problem? I need to go real bad!" a voice from behind the door squealed.
"We're having some plumbing issues," Cheryl said with a deep voice. "Please wait until later!"
After a disgruntled grumble, the person left, leaving everybody in the bathroom awkwardly silent. Ruth stared at Cheryl, who stared at Micle, who stared at Nick, who stared at Helena and so on. They were silent for what felt like five minutes when another person tried to enter the bathroom.
"Hello?! Who's blocking the door?!" the person yelled.
Ruth piped in to help Cheryl, who didn't feel like repeating the same excuse. "Hey, we're currently fixing the toilets…please pop by later," she said in an unnaturally, deep, gruff voice.
"Humph!" the voice declared, and it left. Everyone sighed with relief again. They had to get out of there soon.
"OK, children, let's either squeeze out of here one at a time from this bathroom when the coast is absolutely clear or we can try to flush ourselves out with the toilet." Everyone's faces contorted into looks of disgust. Cheryl immediately stopped herself and then continued. "Never mind that silly idea. I don't know why I decided on that."
She poked her head out of the restroom door to see an empty school. She saw no line or any people in general. She motioned for Helena to casually stroll out of the restroom first. Helena's gait was showy and ostentatious and it took her half a minute to walk even a few feet away. Cheryl grumbled and then motioned for Ruth to come out the door, still keeping her head out of the restroom to keep an eye on things. Ruth came out swiftly and made it all the way to where Helena was standing in a few seconds.
"You look like an aspiring ninja," Helena pointed out about Ruth. She ignored her and looked at Cheryl, whose facial expression signaled that she wanted them both to scurry outside. After Helena grumblingly followed Ruth, who continued to sidle around slyly, Cheryl looked back inside the restroom to see Micle, Nick and Brad all staring awkwardly at each other.
"What is wrong with you three?" Cheryl plainly asked. "You guys look like you've been either tranquilized or love struck."
"We have had, um, enough of restrooms," mumbled Micle. He and the other boys were actually torn over Helena. She seemed so mean but she was so beautiful in their eyes. But when they decided on that, they changed their minds and went back to hating her. It was a merciless cyclone of emotion.
Brad quietly snooped out of the restroom first out of the boys, and he motioned for Nick to follow him. They were stopped by a looming, drab figure, though.
"Now where do you think you two are going?" Principal Pasty questioned. He came out of nowhere and spooked the two boys, who were working on getting out of the school. "I thought you all were fixing the plumbing…or something."
Nick hesitated and then answered. "We're going out to get some…supplies." Brad nervously nodded in assent.
Principal Pasty pondered this thought and thought otherwise. "You two, to my office. Now."
Brad and Nick stiffened and looked over at the restroom they had just come from. They assumed Cheryl and Micle were viewing with one of Micle's contraptions, so they knew they would be rescued. Maybe.
As they were being escorted down to his office, Ruth and Helena were waiting impatiently outside. Cheryl and the boys should've came out by now. Something was up.
"I can't stand this. I should be getting pampered somewhere or being massaged somewhere else. I can't believe I signed up for this quack school," Helena despaired in woe.
Ruth shushed her and peeked through one of the doors leading into the school. She saw the backs of Nick, Brad and Principal Pasty, walking to what appeared to be to his office. "Oh no," she muttered.
"What? What's the matter?" Helena asked worriedly.
"Can you stay here for a moment? Without contacting the government or running off to a salon?"
Helena seemed to struggle to decide. Ruth couldn't help but groan because she apparently gave Helena reasons to leave. "Fine," Helena decided.
"Thank you, your Highness," Ruth quipped. Helena didn't realize the insult and instead thought Ruth was finally respecting her. She curtsied and then let Ruth sneak inside.
Meanwhile, in the restroom, Cheryl and Micle were indeed viewing through the door thanks to Micle's peeping device. They saw Principal Pasty take away Nick and Brad to his office, and they were hatching up an escape plan.
"We can either go out there and with some daring do and smart sweet talking and we could retrieve the boys, or we could go and access his office with the toilet," Cheryl decided. She stopped herself again and covered her head. "Never mind."
Micle scanned around the room while Cheryl wallowed in her failed rescue ideas. He was looking for a vent and a way to access Principal Pasty's office with the vent. Unfortunately, the only vents in the restroom were on the ceiling.
"Cheryl, we could go and climb on top of the toilet and climb through the vents," he suggested.
Cheryl looked up and wondered about that possibility. It would be both disgusting and effective. She also considered the upfront approach. She could just ask for the boys from Principal Pasty's office and pretend that she was going to punish them. That could work. But she had never climbed through a vent before. That could be fun.
"Micle, how would you feel about learning Shaft Spelunking 101?"