Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Writer's Block

Why hey, you didn't think I would let an entire month slip by without a single good ol' fashioned Writer's Block, did you? Sure those little preambles have gotten rid of the need for a Writer's Block every 3 Chapters, but they haven't rendered them completely useless! So until a better avenue comes along, we travel down once more that well-trodden path...
You might've noticed that I've updated - what, five posts? - in the past two weeks ( including a reCAPPENING), which rings as pretty slow by my usual standards. Yeah, you know the words before I even type them's the final stretch of my schooling career and I better not get an A for Blogging Studies. Of course, VBS did eat up some of time as well but God has been so gracious to me (by cancelling that Penang trip, among others) that it was worth every bit the effort.
Now that reminds me why I came up with this Writer's Block in the first place. Last night I managed to finish in one sitting Godless, a book I waited for six months for the paperback version. It's a story book (I prefer that over "fiction"), in case you're wondering, written by Pete Hautman, and a darn fine read too. 32 bucks, Kinokuniya - need I say more? Oh yeah, the ISBN number's 0689862784, in case that comes in handy.
It's about this regular disoriented teenager Jason Bock who creates his own "customised religion" after tiring of the Catholic faith his dad has been forcing down his throat all the years. Using the logic that water is the provider of all life, he convinces his friends to worship the town water tower, or the Ten-Legged God as they call it. However, things spiral out of control when his disciples start getting even more obsessed with the hokey religion than him, culminating in a dangerous midnight mass on top of the tower where things go horribly wrong. Like it or not, Jason has to control the religion he invented before its power grows out of control.
Sounds interesting? You bet it did to me too, when I first read the review in Sunday Star months back! It raises in the most innocuous of ways age old questions of faith, religion, and whether God is unchanging or a matter of personal perception. In fact, midway through the book right after Jason has just assembled his Church of The Ten-Legged One, this killer excerpt cuts deep into rationality:

"So, you ask, how can Jason Bock be serious about a religion that worships a false god?
Are you kidding?
You ever watch a football game and get totally into it? Why? It's not a real battle. It's just a game somebody made up. So how can you take it seriously? Or, you ever see a movie that made your heart about jump out of your chest? Or one that made you cry? Why? It wasn't real. You ever look at a photo of food that made your mouth water? Why? You can't eat the picture.
Ah, you say, but the food that the picture shows is real. Is it really? Maybe that tasty-looking apple is made of wax. Maybe that loaf of bread is plastic. Maybe the football game is fixed. Maybe the movie is nothing but computer-generated pixels. So it's not as if the picture shows you reality. What you see is somebody's idea of reality.
Same thing with water towers and God. I don't have to be a believer to be serious about my religion."

Heheh...this one's a thinker, no? Ultimately though, I guess Jason's logic is flawed mostly due to his religious role models who tell him all the time what God is supposed to be like, but never allows his own experiences to shape his faith. Now I'm not saying that young people should never be told what to do by their elders, but there's a reason why God didn't just send His legions of angels to earth and scare everyone into believing in Him.
All in all, easily one of the books I'll cherish most, given too the fact that I had to look hard for it! Though the ending fell a little short, as is the case with most stories that draw you in from the start with an incredible premise, it's still the first book in a long, long while attention-span-deficit me finished in one sitting. And that's a good thing.
Omigosh...did I just do a book review? Puh-leez! Are not the best tales in the land to be found right here under my nose? Continue to expect the slow trickle of updates till my term ends in a week's time, but I'll say for now that I'm very, very satisfied with how "The New Girl" is turning out. Not a hint of dragginess yet, and plenty of intruiging stuff going on. It's a throwback to the sweet days of "Blogspot", just with the added touch of CHARACTERISATION~! Look, I'm spelling it with an "s" instead of a "z"! I don't think that's ever been done before. :p
Till the next posting, then!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 13

Ah yes, I can see the finish line now, the end of the tunnel, the top of the mountain, anything you wish to call it...but every single day is drawing me closer to the holidays! Yesss! And the outlook for my semester has cleared remarkably over the past week. Couple that with a happy week of helping out in VBS (Vacation Bible School) where child-like faith reared its beautiful head - plus finding out at the last minute that I don't need to go to Penang after all - and you've got a happy yours truly here. But it isn't always about me, is it? No, it's about you enjoying my story...

May steadied her nerves and strode over to the table of chattering Indian girls. The din gradually lowered as they noticed her coming over. One of them nudged Saras.
"Why, why!" Saras looked up, pretending to be surprised. "What on earth could've brought our dear May to this table today?"
Every pair of eyes at the table drilled holes into her, probing for an explanation.
"Um, well," she fidgeted uncomfortably. "You were the one who asked me to meet you here."
"Oh yeah. So I did."
"So what is this all about?"
"Duh," Saras smirked. "So Jean has been feeding you stories about how badly we bullied her and that you're next?"
May scoffed and turned to go. "And I thought you had something worth my time."
"Wait. There's more."
"You know what?All of this is really making me sick. Why can't you people just leave that poor girl alone? It takes a real loser to keep frightening a cheerful and carefree girl into becoming someone so fearful and subdued. You might be able to make her buy all your black magic stuff, but if you think that's gonna work for me too, you've got something coming. The teachers are gonna know about this - trust me on that."
Saras understandably didn't seem too pleased. "I'll have a word with you on that another day. But I believe Jean's manage to trick you just like she tricked the other girl. What was her name again?"
"Misha." one of her friends said.
"Yup, Misha. You see, we never were witches. All that black magic and voodoo crap we told her, we were just fooling around."
"Now that's a surprise."
"But what we didn't count on was her really freaking out and picking up black magic herself. Now she's become so crazy that even we are afraid of her. I've tried telling her that we're not going to pick on her any more, but she's become so paranoid that it's no use."
As much as May disliked Saras, she felt a cold stab in her heart, the sort that comes when bitter truths reveal themselves.
"I don't know what she's planning next," Saras continued. "Somehow, she hasn't harmed us in any way so far. However, I can't say the same for you. She seems to have a thing for new girls."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 12

"What does it say?" Jean looked over her shoulder.
"I-it's from Saras." May showed her the note.
Jean carefully read it and scrunched up her face. Then she went through it over and over till May was sure she had memorised it. "They're doing it again."
"Doing what?"
"Messing around with your head. You know, making you think that I'm the enemy."
"Huh?" May's eyes darted through the sheet again. "I must've missed that."
"See?" Jean ran a finger across a line. "Guess you should have listened to my advice and not get too close to your good ol' buddy beside you. She's telling you that I'm part of the problem!"
"But what on earth is the problem?" How she wished things would be less confusing for just this once.
"I don't know. You won't know either. Only time will tell what Saras is capable of this time."
"Come on, it's just a dumb messa-"
"They're witches and they hate me, don't you get it! And now they're out to get you too, because you're on my side!"
May paused and swallowed. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Jean, I know where you're coming from. But it isn't going to solve anything if we keep moaning and griping about how bad they are. Let's just show them that we're fed up with their bullying and go to the teachers. That would be the right thing to do."
"No it's not. You can trust me on this one. We've got to fight fire with fire."
"And that would mean?"
"I've been reading up a bit myself," Jean's eyes turned cold. "On their black magic and how it works. I'll tell you more in the garden later."
"But until then," she warned. "Make sure you steer clear of them."
May nodded solemnly. Not a chance, a voice in her head said. I'm going to confront Saras and get to the bottom of this mess first thing at recess.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 11

Like "anonymous" says in the chatterbox, I've certainly been blogging too much. Which is why five days of not updating feels like five lifetimes. However, it does seem that I've been neglecting some of the better parts of life to sit dumbly at a keyboard pounding away all day, be it blogging or Yahoo Graffiti.
And when will this story end? I've learnt my lesson and am not taking too many chances with keeping you guys in suspense - I try to include one plot point in every chapter now. So I say we're looking at no more than 40 chapters, likely done by February. Or March. This so reeks of "fishy promise"...
And perhaps it's due to the lack of people disrupting me MSN-ically or my desperation to sleep, but this must the first chapter in ages which took me less than an hour to write. Not that it doesn't fulfill your recommended daily dosage of Twisted Tales, though...

May stretched one last time and rolled out of bed. She still could not for the life of her figure out how she had ended up with so much time last night. In between staying back at the Secret Garden (which was now their official name for the place), household chores, and a steadily piling load of homework, she had expected to be up till one at least. But no, she was sound alseep by eleven. Which wasn't a bad thing at all.

"You gotta be kidding me." May cursed under her breath. That darn pinafore was still too short. No, it was in fact even shorter than yesterday - now it didn't even touch her kneecap. Not to mention that the waist seemed too tight as well.
"Mom!" She yelled crossly as she strode into the kitchen. "Why are my pinafores shrinking?"
"They are?"
"Yes. Look!" The hemline hovered mockingly out of reach.
"Hmm. That's weird. It's new, isn't it?"
It was so arousingly curious and yet infuriating at the same time. As much as May loved a good mystery as the next person, it was highly irritating at these kind of times. There was no choice but for her to go to school in the overly short skirt and hope not to be caught standing straight.

"Hey," Jean giggled. "It's even shorter than it was yesterday!"
"Oh no," May moaned, tugging at the skirt for all its worth. "Is it noticable?"
She could swear it was shrinking by the minute. It would probably be a micro mini by the time school was over.
"Pst," A gap-toothed girl sitting opposite their table snapped her fingers their way. She held out a folded piece of paper to May. Surprised, May took it and read the messily penciled mesage inside:
"Dear May,
I realise that we're not the best of friends, but as a kind-hearted soul I feel that I should warn you about something. I notice that you're already showing the same symptoms as the previous girl did. Worse things will happen later on, but I can't be too sure yet. Guess you should have listened to my advice and not get too close to your good ol' buddy beside you. If you have any questions, feel free to approach me any time during recess. I'll be at the usual table with the rest of my girls.
Yours truly, Saras."

reCAPPENING: The New Girl, Chapters 6-10

Jean leads May over the school field fence into a lush and picturesque green meadow which she claims can only be reached through that way. The two girls enjoy themselves there for a while, during when May finds out that Jean's parents passed away when she was younger.
The next day is a really bad one for May, as she is apprehended by the prefects for her skirt being too short. Eventhough she claims it was perfectly fine last week, the prefects will have none of it and escort her to the discipline teacher's office, which in turn makes her late for class and unable to complete her unfinished homework. She spends the afternoon Jean's "secret garden" with her to let off some steam. Jean relates a tale or two about being bullied terribly by Saras' gang some time back, making her discover the "secret garden" which cured her constant unhappiness. May smiles and tries to comfort her, leading us into Chapter 11.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 10

Do you know who Eddie Guerrero is? He was a WWE wrestler who didn't quite have the "look" or build of a champion, but still could make people smile, boo, or simply drop their jaws in awe within a match. Simply speaking, he was one of the very few guys who made wrestling more than two guys in tights beating each other up in a scripted storyline. His fairy tale first title win in February 2004, which I watched with my very own eyes, still stands out as one of the most memorable matches in my memory. And the saddest thing is this - he passed away this morning at the all-too-young age of 38, probably an effect of his past addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs, just hours before he was likely to have won the WWE Heavyweight Championship for the second time.
Though I've lost a favourite wrestler, my heart goes out to his wife and three daughters who've lost a husband and father they love many more times than I do. How much Mr. Guerrero reminds me that even the kindest souls and toughest bodies are as mortal as can be. To the man who lied, cheated, and stole like no one else: Thank you for stealing my heart.

"So you wish you were forever young too." May giggled.
"No," Jean shook her head. "I just wish I could be carefree like this forever."
"Wouldn't that be nice."
Jean got up and stretched. She plucked a yellowed leaf off a branch and danced with it like it was some sort of prop. May couldn't help noticing how seemingly joyful the girl was, unlike the reserved self she usually was in class.
"Jean, how long have you been coming here?"
"I don't know," she shrugged playfully. "Ever since I felt unhappy being in school, I guess."
"Why were you unhappy?"
"Why else? Saras and her friends, of course."
"They picked on you?"
"Like there was no tomorrow. There was this once they forced me to erect this weird altar for them at the school field and worship at it twice a day, otherwise they would cast a spell on me."
May burst out laughing. "And you actually did it?"
"Hey, it's no laughing matter. I was really afraid of them and their witchcraft."
"Poor girl," May put an arm around her shoulder. "Don't you worry. I'm sure they're just babies who get bossed around a lot at home."
"You have no idea how terrifying it was, always having them look my way and mutter something. I almost expected creepy crawlies to come up my throat every time."
"Nah, that'll never happen. They're just making these stuff up to spook you out."
"No, you've really got to believe me," Jean's gaze grew intense. "I've seen stuff - blinking lights, moving furniture, talking dolls - it's enough to make you believe."
May was about to ask "Like what?" when she realised where Jean's overactive imagination was taking them. "Okay, let's drop the subject. Wonderful times like these shouldn't be spent talking about stuff like that."
Jean nodded in agreement. "Game for a round of checkers?"

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 9

First off, a very deep-seated and heartfelt bow to Zhi Yong for doing something today in Sunday School Class that took a whole lot of guts. Indeed, real men aren't the ones who go about life stoically and laughing their problems away, and real friends aren't the ones who pretend that they completely understand your pains. Here's to real friends and real men. =) (and real women too, if you must)

May kicked the carpety grass once more petulantly, leaving a mark behind. It had been nothing short of a disaster of a day, starting from the dumb spot check to the meeting with the discipline teacher, to not being able to hand up her homework in time, to the subtle but mocking smirks of Saras and gang. Taking a walk with Jean in her "secret garden" calmed her uptight nerves, albeit slightly.
"Penny for yout thoughts?" Jean smiled.
"As if you don't know what my thoughts are."
"Well, it's a figure of speech. Still harping on the bad day, huh?"
May tugged at her skirt crossly, trying to make it cover her knees. "I still don't understand. It was perfectly fine when I first came to school."
They continued walking down the dirt path to a shadier part of the garden. Leafy trees reached up to the sky, clambering amongst each other to make sure the sun had a hard time poking through. Jean lugged her box of odds and ends noisily, interrupting the regular chorus of birds and insects. When they came to a dry patch between two towering trunks, she stopped.
"Here's a nice spot!" She laid a checkered cloth on the ground, so reminiscent of the childhood picnics May always had. "Did you remember to bring the bread?"
"Why, of course!" May indignantly held up a paper bag with a slightly squashed loaf of bread. "And did you bring the tuna?"
Jean stuck out her tongue and raised a can of sardines.

"Isn't this the most perfect place, the most perfect day ever?" Jean murmured dreamily as they munched on their sandwiches, listening to N Sync, Jean's "most favouritest band ever" on a battery-operated radio which May had no idea was even inside the box.
"Yes to the former. Not quite sure about the latter."
"No, I mean isn't this the best day ever when you're here?"
May wasn't quite sure what she meant. "Mm hmm."
"Don't you wish we could just come here everyday?"
"This reminds me of the book Peter Pan. My mom read it to me when I was little."
"How nice of her," said May. "Haha, I watched it on home video."
Jean didn't laugh; instead she frowned and suddenly started rummaging through the box. After much effort, she managed to fish out a dog-eared paperback.
"Ah, here it is," She opened it and read the first page:
"All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end."

Friday, November 11, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 8

Having a day off due to Graduation Campaign class being cancelled (which in turn is because of almost everyone being at the IDN (idN?) Conderence), I suddenly found the urge to rewrite Ghostopia! Or rather, doing a detailed outline. Not by sitting down in front of the computer, but utilising the good old-fashioned way of scribbling stuff down on a notepad. Tweaks on the character backgrounds here and there, throwing out those unneccessary plot devices, and fashioning a climax appear to have done wonders for the story - why, you might even see it on the next episode of "Extreme Makeover"! Nah, just kidding. You'll most likely get to read it at the end of this year, when a (shudder) permanent school holiday will give me more time than I need. The mere thought of it is enough to send me scurrying to the comfort of The New Girl, Chapter Eight. Now THAT'S how you change topics.

"Girls, please remain in line for a short while. We'll be conducting a spot check on your attire."
A collective groan rose from the crowd. It was, as you might have guessed, Monday morning assembly time and the sudden spot check couldn't have come at a worse time for May. She'd hoped to rush off to class early to complete some unfinished Math homework. Amid an undercurrent of grumblings the students put down their bags and continued standing, waiting for the prefects to go through each line.
Come on, hurry up! The prefects seemed to be taking their sweet time showing off their prowess in spotting wrongs in uniforms.
At last a snotty-faced prefect came to her. She cocked up a lip and eyed May from head to toe, as if checking a present for defects. It made May mightily uncomfortable, more so when she was used to being the one who checked others.
"Your skirt is too short."
"WHAT?!" May retorted much louder than she expected herself to. She looked down to see for herself. It was a rather debatable case. The hemline was howering somewhere near the upper edge of her kneecap.
"I said, your skirt is too short. It's above your knee."
"Nonsense. It fitted fine just last week."
"Well, then you must have grown taller over the weekend."
Somehow, her candid remark irked May. "I wish you'd use some sense when talking."
She glared daggers at her. "Go stand at the back. NOW."
Scowling to herself, May marched to the back with the rest of the "delinquents", as she used to call them. You had your regular collection of girls with streaks of red in their hair, overly elaborate earrings, illegal fringes, and the short-skirted ones like her. It would have been an utterly humiliating experience were it not for the fact that no one knew her here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Writer's Block: The Perfect Couple

A perfect boy met a perfect girl
All stood still in their world
He was handsome, she was pretty
They smiled at each other sweetly
It was, of course, love at first sight
Under the purple starlit night
He whisked her away for a movie
Holding hands, happy as could be
A rom-com starring John Cusack,
They talked about it all the way back
"I'll call you tomorrow," he told her
She nodded, heart aflutter
Her phone rang the next night at ten
They chatted for hours to no end
More and more they felt less alone
He couldn't bear to put down the phone
They showered each other with gifts
Valentines, birthdays, even New Years' Eves
The gifts were lovely, handmade with heart
All so that they would never be apart
It was a perfect romance all the while
They cared, they shared, they made each other smile
Amidst the kisses, hugs, and I love yous
The two would be together forever, that eveyone knew

Then it all came to an abrupt end
They chose to just become good friends
What went wrong? Was there a problem no one saw?
Maybe couples aren't meant to be perfect after all.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 7

Ah, yes...the pieces are falling nicely into place now. After a bout of initial fear of a wishy-washy direction for the story, some holiday head-clearing has got me thinking that The New Girl could really go places. But oh well, a lot could happen between Chapter 7 and who-knows-when...
On another note, it seems to be a mightily bad time for me to get addicted to Yahoo Graffiti...ooh, those evil marketing people!

"More chips, madame?" Jean curtsied, fake French accent all too apparent.
May looked up from the box she was rummaging through and smiled. "Of course, my dear Mademoiselle."
The two girls laughed heartily and took a sip each from the frosted can of root beer. Jean teased spitting it into May's face, making her respond with the ever-frightening flurry of tickles.
"You know what?" May sighed as they ended up flat back on the ground. "All we're missing now are some kites."
"Kites," Jean mumbled wishfully. "Yeah, those would be real good."
"I used to have this utterly humongous kite at home," May stretched her arms out as wide as she could. "My father helped me make it. I still remember, we spent almost an entire three weeks on it. But when we managed to get it up in the sky, I don't know which one of us both were happier."
Jean smiled sadly. "It must be great having a father like that. Mine passed away when I was four."
"Oh," May didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry."
"Nah, it's okay. We were never that close anyway."
"Does that mean you're staying with your mom now?"
"Nope! Passed away when I was seven. I'm staying with my aunt now."
Wow, May thought. Behind her facade of smiles and laughter, Jean had had her parents lost at an age when most children were still being pampered with toys and goodies.
"The funny thing about being an orphan is that it always shows," she continued. "You try your best to act normal like everyone else, but they see through you right away. And they're all like, 'It's okay.' "
"What do you think, May? Is it okay?" May was caught off-guard by her sudden question.
"Umm...there are always ups and downs to everything. It all depends on which side you're looking from."
She nodded. "Guess so."
A calm silence lingered in the air.
"Oh, no!" May leapt up suddenly. "We have to go back now, or else we're going to be late for class!"
"Oh, don't you worry. I've been here a thousand times before, and never once have I been late for class. Come on now, up and about."
Shrugging to herself, May followed Jean past the fairy tale-like fields back to the difficult fence, all the while thinking - how on earth did Jean come across this place? Was it even real in the first place?

Friday, November 04, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 6

"Come on, it's just behind this fence." Jean called to May.
The two were standing in front of the wiring which ran around the school field. May, half-drenched in sweat, was already starting to feel silly. Reccess would probably be over soon.
"We have to climb over that?"
"Of course, silly." Jean stepped on a crack in the fence and lifted herself over to the other side easily.
May didn't really want to go jumping over fences and all in her pinafore, but was eventually coaxed into it by an overly enthusiastic Jean. Oh please, please, let there only be the two of us here, she prayed.
She placed her foot on the crack and jumped over the fence. Thankfully no ripping sounds were heard as she tumbled unsteadily onto the damp grass.
"All right, so what's the big deal?" May asked, a bit crossed.
"Aha, you'll see, you'll see," Jean stepped over a log. "It's just right ahead!"
Oh man, May groaned to herself. We are so going to get it from the prefects.
They ventured further in the grassy compound which was starting to resemble some sort of nature park. The refreshing chirp of birds mirrored the slight breeze which never seemed to go away. Patches of wild flowers added colour to the green carpet beneath their feet. May almost expected an elephant to suddenly pop up from behind a cluster of trees.
They'd been walking for almost five minutes now without saying a word. She checked her watch again. Ten-forty. Sigh.
Finally Jean stopped at a clearing. "Welcome to my playground."
May couldn't quite believe her eyes. Luscious green fields stretched on for what must be miles and miles, the kind you read about only in the pages of Enid Blyton. The sun beamed kindly in the blue and white sky, allowing the lingering breeze to carry the songs of the birds.
"J...Jean, where are we?"
"I don't know," she smiled as a butterfly rested on her hair. "You can only come here through the way I showed you."
It was so utterly picturesque, so perfect that May didn't know what to say. Her heart melted when she saw a family of rabbits playing at the foot of a hill.
"Go ahead, knock yourself out." Jean grinned as she dragged out a crate cleverly hidden between two trees. It was filled to the brim with snacks, canned drinks, board games, story books, and heaps of other what-nots.

reCAPPENING: The New Girl, Chapters 1-5

The story kicks off with May moving to a new all-girls school, where her classmates all act cold towards her except for a girl called Jean. It doesn't take May long to get introduced to Saras and her gang, the resident bullies of the school, when they tease her at the canteen. Jean tells May that the group are actually witches who once made a girl who ratted on them so sick she had to leave school.
Things become worse when Saras' gang takes May's money after she refuses to tell them whether Jean said they were witches. Angered, May vows to Jean that she'll tell the teachers, but Jean says it wouldn't be a good idea considering what happened to the other girl. Instead, she asks May to follow her to check out a better solution, leading us into Chapter 6.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The New Girl, Chapter 5

Year Two of Twisted Tales kicks off with the continuation of the potentially critically-acclaimed The New Girl! 'Nuff said.

May stormed into class angrily and sat at her desk, making some of the other girls look. However, they resumed their conversations after a few seconds of staring.
Jean put down the book she was reading, curious what May was so angry about. "Care to share?"
"I have never - NEVER - felt so humiliated in my life," she spat. "Saras and her gang - they emptied my purse and warned me not to tell anyone."
Jean's mouth opened in shock.
"They also asked me if you told me about them being witches, and when I wouldn't say they got angry. I mean, who do they think they are? They don't look tough or anything - nothing but strength in numbers. Nothing else but that. And it's working because everyone else's so scared over nothing. Well, not me."
Jean remained quiet and nodded.
"I'm going to tell the principal about this," she fumed. "I don't care how badly they threaten me or how long you people have been putting up with this, someone's gotta put them in their place."
"I-it doesn't work that way," Jean muttered softly. "Remember that girl I told you about? The one who ratted on them? She was my best friend."
"What exactly happened to her?"
"She was new like you, and just as determined to make a change. When Saras' gang first tried taking her money, she kicked up a major fuss and brought it to the principal's office. When the principal couldn't act without proof, she went to her parents instead. The parents, who had some sort of bigshot connection in the Education Ministry, threatened to sue the school if they didn't make Saras apologise. Then the girl suddenly got sick for no reason, always complaining of aches all over and weird sicknesses none of us ever heard of. Within a few weeks she stopped coming to school. The last we heard, her family moved out of town."
May frowned, trying to digest what she just heard. "Maybe they went away for other reasons."
"Guess again. Whatever reasons that made them leave, they weren't natural. Saras' black magic was at work."
"B-but surely there's something we can do."
Jean smiled strangely. "Why, actually there is. But we musn't let anyone else know about it. Come follow me." She got up and dragged May out of the classroom with her.
May didn't know what to say or think. She'd expected problems fitting in right away at a new school, but this was getting beyond problematic.