I never liked the headmaster’s office. It just seemed to possess such a violent sort of neutrality. I was sure its eggshell walls and unassuming chairs were trying to assault me with their blandness.
For me, dear reader, that place was purgatory incarnate; neither good nor bad, but a gateway to great rewards or even greater punishments.
Like any sort of purgatory, real or imagined, it was the waiting that got to you. I had to sit there for over an hour; twiddling my thumbs and thumbing through a glossy edition of the Gideons International Bible. Mr Grunt, our headmaster, could have seen me straight away, but he chose not to.
“Come on Yew,” he finally cheered. “We can’t have you sitting there all day. Speak boy! Tell me why you’re here. Can’t you see I’m busy?”
Mr Grunt stared into my eyes.
The egot rolled its eyes.
I rocketed upright. My teeth chattered so much that I had to force my jaw open before I could speak:
“Ms Brown sent me, sir,” I said in a whispered hush.
“Well, yes, of course she did. And why, may I ask, did Ms Brown send you here?”
“Because I behaved like a savage, sir. I leapt between tables like a monkey. And I stampeded around like an untamed wildebeest.”
“Yew! Yewy Shodkin!” Mr Grunt gasped. He sounded more surprised than angry. “Why on earth would you do such a thing? Oh my! That’s not how we behave. What came over you? You’re usually such a good boy.”
I looked down at my toes.
“The creature who lives inside my brain suggested I do it,” I offered tentatively. “It was very convincing.”
The egot nodded sagely and thumbed its chin. It looked like it was studying the situation; gathering evidence for use at a later point. But it didn’t say a word.
Mr Grunt looked baffled. He squinted so much that his scraggly eyebrows merged. They looked like a wiry bush.
Mr Grunt didn’t seem to know what to say. He just tapped his finger on his desk. Then he looked out through a nondescript plastic window.
“You think that a little creature lives in your brain?” he finally asked. “And that creature tells you what to do?”
“No sir,” I replied. “It doesn’t usually tell me what to do. It’s never even spoken before.”
“But you do believe that there’s a creature living inside your brain?”
“Yeah, of course. It’s always lived there.”
“And that creature told you to run around like a savage?”
“Well, it didn’t so much ‘tell’ me sir. It sort of suggested the idea. It sort of convinced me that it was what I really wanted to do.”
Mr Grunt’s eyes became translucent orbs of mixed-emotions. Full of intrigue, confusion and horror; consideration, deliberation and distress.
He looked down at his desk to avert my gaze. And then he wrote something ineligible on a plain pad of recycled paper.
The left half of his body jittered.
A hair fell from his nose.
“Yes, well, err,” he said.
The egot nodded.
A bug nodded.
“Well, I think we need to get you some help then, dear boy. Don’t you worry about a thing. We’ll take good care of you! We’re on your side!”