Hello all once again. Spyglass and the Cherry Tree is currently going through the final round of editing and so I thought I would make full use of my time by throwing myself back into yet another work in progress. This will be the first in a series of young-reader books telling the stories of Millicent Grimble, a perfectly ordinary girl who is sent to Monroe’s School for the Different, a ghastly place on the outskirts of town that counts amongst its pupils Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and more. I am feeling generously disposed tonight and so I have included below the very rough first draft of the first chapter.
As always, comments and feedback are welcome!
Millicent Grimble and her mother stood at the bottom of the enormous, polished stone steps that led up to the giant wooden doors at the front of Monroe’s School for the Different. It stood at the top of a large hill that seemed to stand guard over the town of Wexbridge far below. The tall, stone building marked the only entrance through the high brick walls that formed the outside of a large courtyard. The school could only be reached along a winding gravel road and looked a lot like the haunted castles that you see in comic books. The school emblem of a gold edged shield filled with opposing crimson red and sky blue quarters was hung proudly above the doors. Across the front of the shield the letters M.A.D, the schools initials, were picked out in swirly gold writing. Underneath the initials, a golden scroll flowed across the emblem and was engraved with the school motto Nullum dolum, nullas agit animum advertamus. In each of the four quarters there was a symbol representing the diversity of the Monroe’s; a Werewolf howling at the moon, a Vampire bat, a Ghostly figure and a Witch riding a broomstick. That was the first sign that this was no ordinary school.
The second sign that Monroe’s School for the Different wasn’t a normal school was the large wooden sign that had been stuck to the wall next to the door. It read:
If you are different, then this is the place for you!
In smaller letters that rather ruined the effect, somebody had scribbled:
Any deliveries to the rear entrance please!
The final sign that this was a school for the extraordinary, if anymore were needed, was the girlishly giggling group of young Vampires that chose that moment to fly over the top of the school walls and disappear into the courtyard beyond. Hanging out of one the upper floor windows was a very hairy young boy who was screaming at the top of his lungs to a pair of equally hairy boys who were pushing and shoving each other as they approached the school. Their hair was damp and stuck to their body and a strong smell of wet dog filled the air as they stumbled up the steps and barged past Millicent and her mother.
“Oh I am sorry,” one of them grumbled. Each word sounded like the small bark of a dog. “Werewolf coming through!” they both started laughing at what they clearly thought was a funny joke. Millicent didn’t agree. A shiver ran down her spine that had nothing to do with the pouring rain that hammered down around them and that perfectly reflected Millicent’s mood.
Her mother, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more delighted. It could have been because Millicent was starting a new school and she wanted to show her that it would be alright, as mothers are so often keen to do, however, Millicent suspected it was more to do with being rid of Millicent for a while.
It hadn’t meant to be like this, Millicent reflected as she stood there staring at the bleak future in front of her.
It had all started with a letter, as these things so often do.This particular letter had arrived in the middle of the summer holidays in a neat brown envelope with a lovely, handwritten address on the front and was stamped with the mark of Wexbridge Borough Council. It was plainly labelled for the attention of Millicent Grimble however her mother, upon finding the letter lying there on the door mat had done what mothers so often do when they think that they know best. She had opened it herself before Millicent had risen from her bed. As it happened, it was probably for the best that her mother had opened the letter rather than Millicent herself as the information that it contained was far too shocking for somebody as delicate as Millicent to read for herself, certainly at first.
The letter read as follows:
Dear Miss Grimble,
We are so sorry to inform you that due to budget cuts at Wexbridge Borough Council we are closing St. Agatha’s School.
St Agatha’s Primary School was the school that Millicent currently attended and was a lovely, small school with a tree-lined playing field and just enough children to keep it interesting but not quite enough to be big and scary. Millicent adored it very much. She continued to read the letter.
However, please do not panic. We have been able to find you a position at Monroe’s Academy for the Different. We do hope that you enjoy your time there, they are very much looking forward to welcoming you into their halls.
Well, you can imagine the scream that Mrs Grimble let out upon reading the letter. It quite disturbed Mrs Burbage who was stood outside the kitchen window trimming her hedge.
Millicent herself had been peacefully sleeping in her bedroom when her mother’s shriek had echoed through the house and rudely woken her from a lovely dream involving her pet cat, Arthur, doing the weekly shop at the supermarket. Leaping from her bed and racing down the stairs, nearly tripping over Arthur in the process, Millicent found her mother in quite the tizz.
“What is it mother?” she asked. “Hang on, why have you opened my letter?” she continued noticing the now open brown envelope slowly soaking in a bowl of cereal where her mother had quite absent-mindedly dropped it. It had been torn neatly along the top edge. Millicent noticed the hand-written note held loosely in her mother’s hand that was shaking now with a mixture of fear and distress. She snatched it up from her mother’s unresisting hand and began to read the neat, cursive handwriting for herself.
“Monroe’s Academy for the Different?” she ghasped, disbelieving the evidence in front of her very nose. “I can’t go there, and you can’t make me! You do know what they call it, don’t you? Monstacademy!” she continued, quite agitated herself by this point because, of course, nobody likes moving to a new school.
Millicent had quite a nice group of friends at St Agatha’s and she didn’t really think that she needed any new ones. Certainly none that went to Monstacademy! And what was worse was that Monroe’s Academy for the Different was just that. It was a school for the different.
Now, when you or I think about people that are different we might think of somebody who is slightly too short or very much taller than most or who might have a head full of red hair the colour of flames or perhaps who has a large boil on the end of their nose or somebody who is just a little bit more funny looking that we have grown accustomed to.
That is not the type of different person that Monroe’s Academy for the Different usually takes in. You see, Monroe’s Academy for the Different was really very different indeed. Many of the pupils who attended were what you or I might call the supernatural.
Wait, I hear you asking, do you mean that there is a school for superheroes and those with special powers?
Were you to ask me that question I would simply scoff and say “Of course not, that is ridiculous!” Instead, Monroe’s Academy for the Different is a school for those of a more…supernatural…disposition. There are Ghouls and Ghosts and Banshees along with the more formal creatures of the night such as Vampires, Werewolves and even the odd Witch or Wizard.
Millicent was all to aware of the type of people that attended Monstacademy, there were always rumours at school about how their Vampire pupils would be sent down into the village for sucking practise or the Bogieboys and -girls would be instructed to hide under the beds of normal boys and girls to practise making them scream with fear. She didn’t like it one bit. It hadn’t mattered even the tiniest bit. Despite many arguments with her mother, the summer had rolled on, uniforms and equipment had been bought and now here she was, stood in front of the towering stone block getting soaked to the skin. How could her life get any more desperate?