Rushbrook stared straight at Percy. Percy stared right back. One was put in mind of a Spaghetti Western: a Mexican standoff. Rushbrook drew breath, and began to speak.
“So, Master Perkinson. Who were you planning on giving this too, eh?”
Percy was stunned. A curious expression of fear and puzzlement was etched upon his plump, rosy features. His countenance was vaguely reminiscent of a stuffed owl.
“Don’t give me that ridiculous look boy!” Exclaimed the schoolmaster. “I’ll ask again: who knows about me? Who asked you to recover the message?”
Once more, the boy’s blank, clueless features were the only response that greeted Rushbrook. The master scoffed, and waggled his gun feverishly in Percy’s direction. The boy himself was still silent.
“Well, if you don’t want to talk, I’ll have to make you,” said Rushbrook.
“No, please sir!” gabbled the terrified ball of schoolboy blubber. “I don’t know anything about a message”.
“You honestly expect me to believe that?” Rushbrook howled, his once friendly features twisted by a mask of scorn and cynicism. He advanced towards Percy, and Percy retreated.
Suddenly, Rushbrook recoiled in horror.
“What is that??” the schoolmaster shrieked, pointing to Percy’s shoulder.
Percy was confused. Then he felt a light patter on his shoulder. Rushbrook continued his retreat. Percy suddenly realised what was so repulsing his teacher. Freddie, Percy’s beetle, was perched atop his shirt collar. Rushbrook seemed to be on the verge of collapse: eyes wide in terror as he stared Freddie. Percy had, until this moment been unaware of Rushbrook’s apparent acute entomophobia. Percy seized his advantage. Holding the beetle in front of him, like some sort of tiny six-legged sword, he advanced on the cowering Rushbrook. The teacher dropped his gun, and lay whimpering on the floor, as Percy towered over him, his tiny insect filling him with a sense of awesome power.
“Now sir, you’re coming with me.”
Rushbrook whimpered in response. Percy stood behind him, and coerced him into movement with his threatening beetle. He wasn’t sure why what had just happened or why. He didn’t know what Rushbrook had been so angry about. All he knew was that he was all right. And as he marched the master down the corridors of Hailbury, he felt heroic.