Anatoly and David turned quickly on their heels, though they knew what it would be. “That would the ghost then!” David said, pretending to swallow and take a step forward towards it. “What’s your problem?” he asked it as Anatoly pushed the girls behind him.
“We shall soon find out,” Anatoly said. “You girls stay here,” he added before starting to run at the figure. “Come on, David!”
He knew that in this building it would be easy for Julian to lose them. He and David ran after Julian, careful to look as if they were putting all their effort in. They chased him into the stairwell at the other end of the long corridor where Anatoly hissed out an instruction. “Go down, then up the other stairs to meet the girls,” he said, dragging David up the stairs instead.
Julian nodded, and thrust the sheet in Anatoly and David’s direction and hurried off to the other stairway, wondering if they would fall for it. He hadn’t really liked making Darrell scream, but it would be worth the frights in the long run. He hoped the girls would see the funny side. He reached the stairs and began to climb them. He saw the girls at the top and said to them, “there you are! I couldn’t find you!”
“Where were you!” Sally almost wailed, hurtling into his arms. “That ghost appeared again!”
“What?” he asked in surprise, listening to Darrell as she explained exactly what had happened. “So do you think he snuck behind the curtain while you were in the room, and waited for you?” he asked. “I want to take a look then, see if there are any clues.”
“Don’t go up there!” Sally said, holding him tightly. “Please Julian! The others may have caught him!”
“Hey, it’s all right,” he soothed. “I just want to look behind the curtain, see if there’s anything there. You two can come with me.”
Sally gulped and gripped his hand tightly. “I don’t want to,” she whispered as Darrell stood next to her to rub her arms so that she calmed down a little.
“It’ll just be some silly first year playing a joke,” Darrell said briskly. “It is Halloween after all. Some people like to go around scaring other people. I bet this chap has been pulling this prank all right, and we were just unlucky to get it twice. In fact,” she added, after a moment’s thought. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a group of pointing ghosts out there tonight. Don’t you think the last one seemed a lot shorter than the first?”
Sally swallowed and nodded, “I suppose you’re right. It’s just a prank. Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I just got spooked.”
“Well it is the scariest night of the year,” Julian said. “But on the plus side you have an Einstein like me to protect you,” he joked, an arm around her as they made their way back towards the law professor’s room. They met Anatoly and David along the way, returning the way they had gone.
“We lost him on the next floor,” Anatoly lied.
“That’s a shame,” Darrell said. “Sorry I screamed,” she said, reaching for his hand to give it an affectionate squeeze for looking after her even if she had teased him horribly about his moustache.
“I was just going to have a look behind the curtain and see if there was any clue to who it may be,” Julian added, glancing at David and Anatoly. “Can you show me where he was hiding?”
“It was behind this one,” David said, pulling the curtain aside a little and peering in.
“You do not need to apologise, dorogoy,” Anatoly said, pretending to peer interestedly behind the curtain too.
“Are you sure?” Julian asked as he peered round the curtain into the alcove, wondering if he was being convincing.
“Yes, it was definitely this one,” David said. “We were in that room,” he added, pointing to the door from behind which was coming a lot of feminine giggling.
Julian looked up and nodded, “And he came out before you left the room?” he asked, playing dumb. “As in, he was in front of you?”
“No, he appeared once we got to the end of the corridor, where you found us,” Sally said.
“So he might have come down the corridor behind you?” Julian asked.
“It’s possible,” agreed Darrell as Anatoly turned to look down the corridor.
“Let’s go and have a look,” Anatoly said. “Are you girls coming with us or going onto the next room?”
“We’re all going to the next room,” Darrell said firmly. “I for one don’t want to let this idiot, or idiots, ruin our night.” She quickly explained her theory about there being more than one ghostly figure, and how they weren’t deliberately targeting their group, to David and Anatoly who had missed it before. “And we want to win the grand prize, don’t we?”
They all looked at each other and nodded. “She has a point,” David said with a nod. “Where’s the map? You have it, don’t you Tol?”
Anatoly nodded and dug it out of his pocket. “So we have a choice of geography, literature, mathematics, history, chemistry and art,” he said. “Maths or history would be the closest to where we are right now.”
“Shall we do maths first? Before my brain falls out of my ears?” Julian laughed.
“Maths it is then,” Anatoly agreed. “We need to go… down to the ceeeellarrr,” he told them, putting on his scariest voice.
Darrell gave his arm a light slap. “Don’t do that without warning us first. That could be really scary!” she said, her eyes flicking meaningfully to Sally who was huddling under Julian’s arm. “Come on then, before those giggling girls come back out and overtake us!”
“But if I warned you it would not be scaaaaary,” Anatoly said with a grin. “And the rule of Halloween is to be scary, or so I have heard.”
The boys shrugged and Darrell shook her head, “you just have no idea do you Toly?”
He looked confused for a moment, shrugged and began to follow the others down to the cellar where the mathematics professor was waiting to give them their next problem. The small professor was sitting quite still at a table in the gloomy cellar, reading as they entered. He looked up, pushed his spectacles up his nose and peered at them.
“My my,” he said taking them all in. “Three proficient scientists and two charming ladies from America.” He smiled and looked at them sternly. “For your guising, you must solve one of the problems in the box of your choice. You have three boxes to choose from, and you will have no more than 5 minutes to solve the problem. May I offer one of the ladies the chance to pick a box? I’m sure the gentlemen won’t mind!”
He moved to a small table in the gloom, taking a candle with him and lit up the table with the three boxes on it. He looked expectantly at Darrell and Sally, wondering which one would choose a box for them to complete. In the end, Darrell stepped forward as Sally was still holding tightly onto Julian.
Darrell picked up the box on the right and opened it. She took out a piece of paper with an equation on it. The boys clustered around her and looked at it over her shoulders. David gave a low whistle.
“Well… could you have picked an easier one Darrell?” he asked as he shared a glance with Julian and Anatoly. She shrugged and handed the paper to him.
“Never mind that, Morton. The question is, can you solve it in under five minutes,” she challenged, raising an eyebrow archly at the boys who glanced at each other and smiled knowingly.
“What do you take us for, dorogoy? Stupid?” Anatoly laughed. “Now, is there a pen and paper?”
In under the five minute time limit, the problem was solved and Anatoly, Julian and David put down their pens and handed the professor their solved problem.
“I believe you’ll find it to be correct,” Julian said, with a hint a smugness.
The professor checked it over and nodded, while sucking at his teeth. “Indeed, indeed, correct down to the last detail. I should have not been so surprised with three science students in front of me. Now for your prize,” he added, moving to the little box on the desk he had been sitting at and pulled out an envelope and handed it to Darrell. “Now you best get on with your guising. Time is getting on!”
“So, on to history next?” David asked as they left the dark maths room.
“Aren’t we going to look at the envelope he gave us?” Julian asked, quite keen on this mystery tour around the campus now.
“Better save it until later,” Darrell said, sliding it into her basket beside the small stuffed black dog. “We’ll need to combine all the clues to solve the puzzle I should think.”
Julian sighed and nodded. “All right, I was just wondering if we should know what we need to look out for as we go around, assuming that the final piece is something to do with something we need to find in the building.”
“Well let’s leave it for now,” Sally said, shivering a little, wanting to get into a warmer part of the building. “Let’s go and see which one of my history professors it is, and what their part in this is!”
“Lead the way,” David said with a sweeping gesture as Julian handed her the map and Sally lead them off to the library.
When they came out of the library with the prize for getting a series of quick fire questions about historical topics correct, David was stuffing a small statuette into his pocket.
“Well I’m glad we were with Sally, I didn’t know half of those answers!” David was saying.
“I would have known even less,” Anatoly smirked. “Given my history is different to yours in some parts. Now if you will excuse me, I need to spend a penny. Shall I meet you in the English room?”
“Liar, you know as much British history as the rest of us,” Darrell sniped at him. “You spent long enough in an English school!” she added as he headed off towards the toilet.
They all nodded and went off towards the great hall and dining room where the English professor was. Anatoly, knowing all the short cuts around the building slipped off into a dark corridor and has he hurried through the blackness, he pulled the chalky sheet up over his head and hoped to catch them before they reached the great hall.
He was successful because as he rounded a corner he could see his friends just at the end of a corridor.
Julian, on the look out spotted him first and was careful to put an arm comfortingly around Sally so she wouldn’t be too frightened. He was beginning to regret the whole idea as it seemed to be putting her on edge, but he hadn’t had time to relay that to the others without being overheard.
Sally pulled closer to him, glad of the comfort but then she followed his eye line and spotted the ghost again. “Go away!” she shouted, trying to be brave but it came out in a shrill little whine. “Just go away can’t you?”
“Hey, it’s all right, he’s not going to do anything to you,” he said as Darrell took a small step closer to David, wishing Anatoly hadn’t disappeared.
“But I’m fed up of it!” she said, on the edge of scared tears. “It’s not nice and not funny!”
Julian tightened his arm around her and tried to gesture to Anatoly to back off without making it obvious.
Anatoly didn’t see Julian’s valiant attempts to wave him back, and moved forward slowly, raising a hand as the other two had done, smiling to himself as he saw Darrell’s face, shocked and strangely defiant as if she wasn’t going to let the ghost get the better of her.
“You’re not scaring us,” Darrell said, only a slight quaver in her voice. “Don’t you have something better to do tonight?”
“Maybe it is one of the professors?” Julian suggested, hoping this might make Sally feel better. “Just trying to create the right atmosphere?”
“Trying to put us off solving the puzzle?” Darrell asked, folding her arms. “Well it won’t work!”
“Possibly,” David agreed, being close enough to see how scared Sally was. “Come on, how about we go round the other way to the hall? Especially if the ghost is going to stand there all night.”
Just as he said this the ghost made to step towards them, his hand still outstretched.
Darrell made to step forward too, considering throwing her basket at him, and suddenly she felt Sally moving forward with her.
“I really wouldn’t want to mess with those two, if I were you,” David called mockingly.
The ghost lowered its hand and stood for a moment as if considering the situation, but it turned out to be the wrong thing to do because Sally started striding towards him, a look of pure fury on her face. Unfortunately with her modified shoe, she couldn’t break into a run without running the risk of breaking her ankle or worse – her neck. Anatoly knew that now was his only chance and turned to run back the way he had come, into the darkness. He planned to catch them up in the hall to be told the story about the ghost once more.
Darrell trotted after Sally for a moment until they both stopped. “Well that showed him!” she said triumphantly.
“Certainly did,” Sally said quietly with a smile as Julian came up to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“My silly brave goose,” he said with a smile, kissing her cheek lovingly. “That was mad but amazing!”
“If Darrell hadn’t butchered my shoe I would have gone after him properly,” she said crossly.
“I don’t think you would have wanted to do that if it was actually a lecturer anyway,” Julian pointed out as David gave Darrell a celebratory hug.
“Well it would have served him right,” Sally said stubbornly.
“Yes dear,” he said softly, and affectionately. He pulled her close. “Come on though, otherwise we’ll never finish. We’ll figure out what’s going on later,” he promised her as there were quick footsteps from behind them. “And I suspect that this is Toly,” he added, turning around to look.
“What kept you lot?” Anatoly asked, oblivious to the slight dusting of chalk stuck in his dark curls.
“That ghost again,” Darrell said, her voice still shaking a little. “Did you not see it?”
“I saw someone crossing the courtyard,” he said. “I thought it was just someone from one of the other groups.”
“Sally almost went for him however,” Julian said, still holding his girl close. “If it hadn’t have been for the shoes, she would have really gone for him!”
Sally flushed, “well this whole thing is getting silly and it really is scaring me!”
“Well we are halfway through, so let us get on,” Anatoly said. “Maybe we will not run into our ghost again.”
Both the girls shivered but nodded. “After you Toly,” David said as he stepped past to let the older boy lead them to the hall and their next task. English turned out to be tricky as it was a riddle that they only had a minute to work out, but with all of them working together the riddle was broken down simply and they got the correct answer with time to spare. Darrell was given yet another envelope and they departed to the next room.
They made their way to the art room next, where they had to do something rather different. They were each given a piece of paper and a small array of coloured pencils. The task was to draw another member of their group and then correctly guess who was in each drawing. As there were no other rules, Darrell and ended up drawing Anatoly whose curly hair made him easy to identify (though David snuck in a rather badly scaled pistol as an extra clue) Sally drew Darrell in her Halloween costume, as did Anatoly but not as proficiently, and Julian did a surprisingly good sketch of Sally.
“Do we get to keep the drawings?” Sally asked after she had been handed an envelope.
The art professor looked at them and looked at the five. “Yes I don’t see why not. Enjoy the rest of your night,” he added, sitting back down in his chair and picking up his own sketch book.
Darrell put them into her basket to keep them safe and they went back out into the corridor, both girls keeping an eye out for any more ghostly figures.
Their next stop was the chemistry room. The boys were in their element here, and very quickly and competently got about putting the correct chemicals together for the reactions named on the board. The presented them to the professor with beaming grins on their faces.
“I rather think I made that too easy for you,” he said, reluctantly handing over another envelope to them.
“Well sir, it’s only because we need to be aware of chemistry for our physics course,” Julian said as Sally slid the envelope into her jacket pocket.
“Still. Next year, I will make it much harder,” he promised. They had a rather long walk to the geography room next, so long that they started accusing Anatoly of misreading the map, but he ushered them into the right room just around the next corner to their annoyance.
There were three maps laid out in front of them, and a set of instructions. Darrell and Anatoly took the first map, Julian and Sally the second, leaving David as the odd one out as usual.
They used the instructions to navigate the map and then had to declare their final location.
David sighed as he handed his map back, wishing that there was someone who could team up with him so he wasn’t always on his own. He comforted himself with the thought that it wasn’t too long until he got to see his girlfriend Peter once more. He watched as Julian pocketed a small bag this time they left the classroom.
“Right, so what have we got?” Anatoly asked, unable to help himself from taking charge. They had ended up in the airy main hall, by the sweeping staircase now that they had completed all the guising challenges.
“Let’s lay them out,” Julian suggested, perching on the third step. The rest of them took seats on the cold wooden steps and began producing their ‘rewards’.
Anatoly removed the set of scales from the drawstring bag and put them in the middle of their group. David produced the little statue of St Andrew from his pocket, Darrell brought out her two envelopes, Sally added another two envelopes and finally Julian tipped out his pouch of small rocks.
“I guess we’d better open the envelopes,” Sally laughed.
Five hands reached for the envelopes and it was Anatoly who ended up without one. “Don’t worry, you can share mine,” Darrell laughed. The only sound for a moment was the tearing of the envelopes, then the unfolding of sheets of paper.
“I’ve got a map,” David said. “Of St Andrews, unsurprisingly.”
“And I’ve got a periodic table,” Julian said with a frown, turning to over in case the back held a clue. “How does that fit?”
“I think mine explains it,” Darrell said, waving her piece of paper in front of them. “Or it will once we decipher the riddle!”
“What’s yours, Sally?” Julian asked her.
Sally made a face. “Maths equations. I think I’ll pass that to one of you physicists.”
“What’s the riddle?” David asked Darrell as Julian began puzzling over the equations.
“To reach your final fate you must find the stone that equals the historical weight,
Map out where that stone is found and add together each chemical sound.
The location of this final clue is where you will find what is due,”
Darrell read out.
“Ok so we start with the stones,” Anatoly said sensibly. “One that equals a historical weight.” He, David and the girls picked up the stones and felt their scanty weight. None of them were larger than a table tennis ball.
“We must have to use the scales, then,” Darrell said. “To weigh the stones.”
“To find out what, the heaviest? Would that be historical?” David said, thinking aloud.
“These equations all come out as zero,” Julian interrupted in disgust. Sally and Darrell looked at each other and giggled.
“Well, if you had been paying attention, Einstein, the riddle doesn’t say anything about the equations,” Sally teased him.
“Ah,” Julian said. “So they’re a red herring then?”
“Looks like it,” David grinned. “But by all means, keep working on them. Who knows what you will discover!”
Julian thumped him on the arm and put his piece of paper down. “This riddle, then,” he said, leaning over Darrell’s shoulder. She passed him the paper with a groan and dusted chalk from her sleeve.
“So we need to weigh the stones,” Julian said.
“Way ahead of you,” David pointed out. “We just need to know what ‘historic weight’ we have to equal.
“None of these stones can weight more than a few ounces,” Anatoly mused, rubbing his chin. His eyes fell on the figurine of St Andrews at the same time Julian’s did. This time he was faster, though, and picked it up first.
“He is a historical figure,” he said.
“And we won him in the history challenge,” Julian added.
“Well, let’s see if he weighs the same as one of the stones,” David chipped in.
“Don’t you love it when they work as a team,” Darrell said with a roll of her eyes.
“It’s fascinating to watch,” Sally agreed.
“Right, well you can work out the next bit then,” David said, pulling a face at them while Julian carefully put St Andrew into one of the shallow baskets on the scales. He then picked up one stone at a time and, after giving it a moment, discarded the ones that were heavier or lighter. The third stone seemed to balance the scales, but he tested the rest just in case.
“The stone that equals the historical weight,” he said, holding up a small yellowish stone in triumph.
“So what is it?” Darrell asked.
“Looks like the stone the cathedral is made out of,” Sally said.
“Sandstone,” Julian confirmed.
“So we need to find out where sandstone is on this map?” Sally said uncertainly. “None of us took geology!”
Anatoly scanned the map quickly. It covered the majority of St Andrews, but little beyond its immediate border. There were no street names, buildings or locations marked, but there were some random numbers dotted about. He found two, four, six and seven to start with, but there was no one or five. “What if the cathedral was the answer?” he suggested. “It does not say where it is naturally found.”
“Well, could be,” David shrugged. “Is the cathedral labelled?”
“Seven,” Anatoly said. “So… we are looking for seven on the periodic table, to get ‘the chemical sound’?”
“Nitrogen, then,” Julian said instantly.
“Does nitrogen make a sound?” Sally asked.
“I suppose it hisses as you let it out of the tank, but any gas would,” Julian said.
“It says add together each chemical sound,” Darrell pointed out. “So we need more than one chemical.”
“We need more than one location of sandstone then,” Sally said, peering at the map. “The castle’s made of the same rock as the cathedral, isn’t it?”
“The castle is fifty-six,” Anatoly said.
Julian consulted the periodic table. “Don’t know that one off by heart?” Darrell asked sweetly.
“There are ninety-eight elements, so no, I don’t know them all off the top of my head,” he grumbled. “It’s barium.”
“So the sound of barium and nitrogen?” Darrell asked with a laugh.
“Barium is a metal,” David said. “So I suppose it could go clank or ding or something.”
“Hiss, clank?” Anatoly said sarcastically. “That is very clever!”
“Well maybe it’s the sounds of the names,” Sally interrupted before the boys could start arguing. “Like baaa-ray-um. Baa like a sheep?”
“And night from nitrogen!” Darrell added helpfully.
“So night-time sheep,” David said. “That sounds much better.”
“There is no need to talk to Darrell like that,” Anatoly said, his voice mild with just an undercurrent of warning. Darrell squeezed his arm to tell him it was all right.
“Let’s not bicker,” she said pleasantly. “So we have barium and nitrogen. Might there be another one?” She and Anatoly looked over the map while Julian muttered barium under his breath giving different inflections to the word.
“What about out past the East Sands?” David asked. “There’s that Rock and Spindle and probably loads more sandstone there.”
“The map does not show as far as that,” Anatoly said, showing him. “And the harbour is not numbered.” He tapped a finger on the map by the swimming pool. “The cliffs here are numbered, and they are sandstone.”
David read it upside down. “Twenty-seven.” He grabbed the periodic table from Julian. “Cobalt.”
“Cobalt, barium and nitrogen,” Julian said.
“What does the clue say again?” David asked, thinking they had to be missing something.
“Add together each chemical sound,” Darrell said, only reading the pertinent phrase from the riddle.
“Well maybe it is part of each chemical,” Julian said. “Like… Rum-balt-ite. Nit-co-rum Rum-bo-ba…”
“Rum baba is a sort of cake,” Anatoly said with a wry smile.
Sally took the periodic table from David and looked at it, wondering if they had missed something. There were lots of boxes, each containing a number, a name and a letter or two. “What do these letters mean,” she asked, pointing to the Na above sodium. Many letters seemed to coincide with the starting letters of the elements, but not all of them.
“Oh, they’re the chemical symbols,” Julian said. “Most of them are straight forward, they sound like the start of the chemical’s name, like O for oxygen and Cl for chlorine.” He smiled at her puzzled face, half-wondering what they taught at girls’ schools these days. “Sodium has Na because that comes from the Latin natrium,” he explained, showing off.
“Well that makes slightly more sense now,” she said.
“And Silver is Ag because that’s from the Latin argentum,” David chipped in. “Also, there’s a few elements beginning with S already, so too many S symbols would get confusing.”
“Only for dunces like you, Morton,” Anatoly grinned.
“Oi!” David protested, closing his mouth as Darrell suddenly held up her hands, a sudden light in her eyes.
“What are the symbols for barium, nitrogen and… and our other one?”
Sally ran her fingers over the chart. “Ba for barium, N for Nitrogen and Co for cobalt,” she said, looking expectantly at Darrell. Darrell turned her riddle over and, after fishing a pencil stub out of Anatoly’s pocket, she wrote those letters down.
“How did you know that would be there?” Anatoly asked her, leaning in close to watch her work. He loved it when she had bright ideas, when her pencil flew over paper in a desperate rush to get an idea down.
“You always have a bit of pencil on you. I was just lucky to get the right pocket,” she replied absently, writing the letters in a different order.
“I’m sorry?” Julian asked with a grin. “Are you hungry?”
“No, that’s the answer, bacon,” she said, holding up the piece of paper. “B-a, c-o, and n. Bacon.”
The group looked at each other. “The dining hall,” they said in unison, scrambling up. Papers got crumpled into pockets and the rocks were stuffed back into the bag before they took off running along the corridors.
They made it to the dining hall even more quickly than they did in the morning when they were starving and looked around. “Where would the bacon be?” Julian asked, looking around.
“The fridge?” David suggested.
“Surely we can’t get…” Darrell began, but Anatoly had already found the door through to the kitchen side open. They followed him through and headed for the large white refrigerator which was humming softly as if in anticipation.
“You open it dorogoy, you solved the clue,” Anatoly said, waving her closer.
Darrell took a breath and opened it. Four heads hovered, peering right behind her. She gave a deep sigh after a moment. “I don’t see anything,” she said in disappointment. There was plenty of sliced bacon in the fridge, wrapped in greased paper, boxes of eggs and large tubs of margarine, but nothing that looked like a prize.
“Maybe the bacon is the prize,” David said.
Darrell slapped his hand away. “Nobody wants to eat bacon that’s had your grubby fingers all over it. I’m sorry. I think I got the answer wrong.” The fridge door closed with a clink and she turned away from it. Moving rather dejectedly they all headed back towards the dining room.
“We will just have to sit down and puzzle over it again,” Anatoly said.
“If someone else hasn’t solved it in the mean time,” David said glumly. “While we wasted our time in the kitchen.”
Suddenly Julian darted back in, behind the glass panel that protected the serving trays and began lifting their lids one by one, letting them crash back down into place. “He’s gone mad,” David said to no-one in particular.
“Eureka!” Julian yelled half a moment later, holding up an envelope. It had been sitting in the serving dish that the bacon was usually doled out from in the mornings.
“You’re Einstein, not Archimedes!” David shouted, though he was grinning ear-to-ear.
“I was right!” Darrell shrieked, jumping up and down with Sally before they span around.
“Well I don’t know what Einstein would have shouted,” Julian laughed, coming through the door again.
“Something in German most likely, seeing that he is German,” Sally said wisely before she pulled him over to her and kissed his cheek. “Well done.”
“Wunderbar,” David said helpfully.
“The German for eureka is just herueka,” Anatoly informed them, the German only slightly different in pronunciation.
“Anyway,” Julian interrupted. “Congratulations go to Darrell, or should I say Dorothy, for leading us to the bacon in the first place.”
Darrell flushed a little and swung her basket. “It was nothing,” she said lightly. “We were all close to figuring it out!”
“We did work together extremely well,” Julian grinned. “So well done to all of us!”
“Do we get to open this envelope?” David asked with a roll of his eyes.
“You can have the honour, dear Newton,” Julian offered, holding the envelope out to him.
David chuckled and took the envelope, but then looked at the girls. “Unless one of the ladies would like to open it?” he offered.
“No, you go ahead,” Sally said after Darrell had given her a nod.
David smiled at them and slit open the envelope with a penknife he had on him. He pulled out a sheet of paper. He scanned it quickly. “We’ve a free afternoon tea!” he said excitedly. “At the Gorgeous Café!”
“Gosh, for all five of us?” Sally asked, her face lighting up. The Gorgeous Café* did the most wonderful tea and scones.
“Well it’s up to six, so yes, all five of us!” laughed David showing her the piece of paper.
“Brilliant,” Darrell said enthusiastically. “I do love an afternoon tea!”
“We all do,” Julian grinned. “We just have to make sure Toly can make it!” He nudged his friend. “Cheer up, free cake!”
“I will do my best,” he promised.
“Shall we go off to the party now?” David said as he pocked the envelope. “I know I could do with a relaxing evening now we’ve worked our brains into mush.”
“Speak for yourself! My brain isn’t mush!” laughed Julian.
“Do we have to let anyone know that the prize has been won?” Sally asked as they wandered out of the dining hall.
“There’s a note in the bacon tray,” Julian assured her. “It said well done but you were too slow,” he grinned.
“I meant any of the organisers!” Sally sighed, giving him a nudge.
Julian shrugged. “I don’t see why. The game will continue until everyone has been to all the rooms. At least people get to have some fun that way.”
“Well we can tell someone later, or tomorrow, in case they have to take our names for the free food,” Anatoly said sensibly. “However, Morton is right, let us go and relax at the party.”
“What a bright idea,” David teased him.
With a wry expression Anatoly lifted his large lightbulb over his head. “Pity it doesn’t light up,” Julian laughed, holding the door for Sally.
“I’ll rig you up something if you like, for next time!” chuckled David as Sally and Darrell slipped out of the door and headed back towards the corridor.
The party was being held in the largest of the university’s halls, a huge high ceilinged room which the art department had done an excellent job of decorating. Black paper bats seemed to swoop down from the ceiling on gossamer threads, string spider webs held enormous spiders and candles flickered inside at least a hundred carved pumpkins.
There were a lot of people already there; groups who had failed one of their guising rooms and students who had skipped the guising altogether.
There were also several professors keeping an eye on the proceedings.
“What would you girls like to drink?” asked Julian spotting a table of drinks in the corner.
“That depends, do we trust the punch?” Darrell asked.
“Looks like Professor Renner is keeping a very close eye on it,” Anatoly said. “But not to worry, I can spike your cup for you,” he teased, patting the pocket with his flask of vodka in it.
Darrell rolled her eyes. “I’ll bet you would!” She smiled. “I’ll have a punch then please.”
“Me too,” Sally said with a nod, but then she cast her eye over the table and saw the warm cider. “Ooo no, actually I’ll have a hot cider please Ju! It’ll warm me up nicely!”
Julian and David eased through the crowd, grinning to themselves at some of the costumes and fetched back drinks for everyone. Surreptitiously, Anatoly unscrewed the lid of his flask and poured some of the clear liquid into his punch. “Dorogoy?” he offered.
“A little,” she said knowing how much he thought a little was and holding up her glass to him.
“A trickle then,” he grinned, tilting his head to see what he was doing, and inadvertently giving her a very clear look at all the chalk in his hair.
She frowned a little as she saw the white powder in his hair. She reached up and ran her fingers through it and saw Anatoly stiffen. “What have you been doing to get some…chalk in your hair?” she asked as she rubbed it between her fingers and identified the substance.
“It must have come from Julian,” he said, his expression blank. “He is shedding it all over the place every time he moves.”
“But you’re taller than Julian, so how did it get into your hair?” she asked as Sally joined her in puzzling over the chalk in Anatoly’s hair.
He shrugged and tried to change the subject, but the girls were now pulling at David’s wig and looking at each other’s hair. “Well none of us have anything on our heads,” Sally said. “Have you two been sharing a hat or something?”
“Not that I know of,” Julian said, appearing behind them. “What’s the matter?”
“Toly’s got chalk in his hair,” Darrell said. “Have you two been banging your heads together or something?”
“No, we haven’t even collided tonight,” Julian said swallowing, wondering if this was going be the unravelling of their trick.
Both girls looked at them suspiciously, but were distracted when a student dressed as Frankenstein’s monster walked stiffly between them.
“That was some seriously good makeup, “ Darrell said, awed.
“Must be one of the art students,” David said. “I wonder what he used to get the bolts to stick to the sides of his neck, though.”
“Why do you not go and ask?” Anatoly suggested, thinking it would make a very good excuse for David to go off so he could don the ghost costume again.
“I will then,” David said, moving behind Anatoly and taking the sheet as discretely as he could before he went off after the green-skinned boy.
Julian smiled down at the girls and handed Sally her drink. “Here you are Marilyn,” he chuckled.
“Why thaank ya,” she drawled, trying to do an American accent.
He chuckled and kissed her cheek. “Don’t give up your history degree sweetheart,” he chuckled, giving her a friendly squeeze around the waist, obvious to David sneaking up behind them in the ghost costume.
“Well I wasn’t going to,” she said, flicking her blonde curls.
“That’s good to know,” he grinned as Darrell looked over their shoulders and gasped.
“Look, it’s the ghost again!”
Somehow the ghost didn’t seem so threatening or scary in the middle of a party. “Is it the same one?” Sally asked, looking around and seeing at least two other white figures.
As if in answer the ghost raised a hand to point at them, in exactly the same manner as ‘their’ ghost did.
“It must be one of the third years,” Julian said hoping she wasn’t about to have hysterics again.
“Is it just me, or is his head a funny shape?” Darrell asked, eyeing the top of the sheet.
“It is a bit,” Sally said keenly taking in the head. “Like it’s got a wig… on…” then without warning she strode over to the figure and yanked the sheet off to reveal David underneath.
David stood there, looking surprised and sheepish in turn then raised a hand to the now crooked apple on his head. “You nearly yanked my wig off,” he complained, though very half-heartedly.
“That is the least of your worries!” snapped Sally. “You’re an idiot David. Did you not see how scared I was?”
“Has it been you all night?” Darrell asked him. “No, it can’t have been! You were with us when the ghost appeared earlier.” David looked like a deer in the headlights and didn’t say anything for a long moment. In that time Darrell had worked it out. She rounded on Anatoly with a grim expression. “You did it as well!” she cried, smacking him in the arm. “And Julian! That’s why you have chalk in your hair! You boys are just so awful sometimes I don’t know why we put up with you.”
The boys were all struck as if lightening had hit them. “We thought it would be funny,” David offered lamely.
“You as well, Julian?” Sally asked, turning her blue eyes to her boyfriend. “And you knew how scared I was!”
He swallowed and nodded, shamefaced. “I didn’t realise how scared you were until after I had had my go though,” he tried to protest.
“Are you very mad, dorogoy?” Anatoly asked Darrell, privately wondering if Sally was going to cry or punch Julian in the face.
“I haven’t decided yet,” she said stiffly. “Come on Sally, let’s leave the boys to their jokes.” she held out her hand to her friend. “I’m not in a party mood now.”
“Well I’m not having them ruin our night,” Sally said. “Let’s go and dance. Away from these idiots.”
Darrell considered and then nodded. “Come on then,” she said.
“Whose idea was it to play tricks on the girls?” Anatoly asked, disgruntled, five minutes later as he watched Darrell dance with a boy in a pirate costume.
“Pretty much all of us,” Julian said, glaring as Sally chatted to another boy dressed as Dracula.
“Well it was very stupid!” Anatoly said, glaring his own daggers at the pirate who was daring to touch Darrell.
Julian sighed and shrugged as David removed his wig. “I guess I didn’t realise how scared Sally would be,” Julian murmured.
David sighed too. He hadn’t alienated his girlfriend, and yet his night was shaping up to be lousy anyway. With the girls in a huff Julian and Anatoly would be in dire moods, and he would be stuck in the middle.
“Shall we head back?” he asked them, not really wanting to leave the party but at the same time not wanting to stay.
“No, not yet,” Anatoly growled. “I want to make sure this pirate doesn’t do anything to Darrell!”
Eventually, Sally got Darrell away from the handsome pirate. “What are we going to do about the boys? I feel mean ignoring them, but they don’t deserve to be forgiven easily. I wish there was a trick we could play upon them to get them back!”
“Well I think just talking to those other boys is a good start,” Darrell laughed. “Did you see their faces?”
“Yes I did, but it doesn’t affect David much does it?” Sally said, feeling hurt that the boys could have even considered playing a trick on them.
“Well, that’s true,” Darrell allowed. “All right, we need to punish them all then.”
Sally suddenly got a look on her face that told her friend that she had fixed on the idea for their trick. “Are the boys watching?” she said with a grin.
Darrell looked over. “Yes, but they’re pretending not to be.”
“Right, well lets sneak off, and then I’ll tell you everything,” Sally giggled.
“All right,” Darrell grinned, following her out of the hall.
The boys watched them go, thankfully alone, and then stood awkwardly around in the party for a moment before Anatoly turned to the others and said, “Let us go!”
David gave a glum nod, the ghost sheet still bundled up under his arm. “Yes, let’s call it a night,” he said. “We should offer to walk the girls back, I suppose. But they might bite our heads off.”
“We don’t even know where they’ve gone,” Julian pointed out. “Come on, I need to shower and get this chalk out of my hair.”
“I want to find Darrell,” Anatoly said stubbornly. “That pirate is clearly looking for her!”
“Well good luck,” Julian groaned. “Are you going to make us trek over the campus looking for them?”
“You do not have to do anything,” he said with a shrug. “But I thought you would want to make sure Sally got home safely.”
Julian groaned. “I do, but she won’t be near me at the moment, I know that.”
“You could follow her home,” David joked. “She’d just love that.”
“After tonight she would never speak to me again,” Julian said darkly. Then he sighed and nodded. “Come on then!” He moved forward towards the door.
Through some quirk of fate, the boys found Darrell and Sally within five minutes. Anatoly cleared his throat loudly. “We are going to call it a night, may we walk you back to your dorm?” he asked rather formally, giving one of his strange bows.
Darrell looked sideways at Sally who folded her arms and shook her head. “We’re perfectly capable of walking home on our own thank you very much,” Darrell said, speaking for both of them.
“I would feel better if I knew you were not walking home alone,” he said.
“Well, in that case, I could ask James to walk us back,” Darrell said. “He’s the one dressed as a pirate,” she said for Anatoly’s benefit.
Anatoly’s fist clenched and Julian pulled him back. “They don’t want us to walk them home,” he said calmly, though he was ready to take a swing at the pirate and the vampire should they make another move on the girls. “Come on Toly, let’s go!”
The girls stalked off as soon as their way was clear, though Sally did glance over her shoulder uncertainly. “I am going to follow them,” Anatoly said. “You cannot trust the men out there tonight.”
David groaned, “I think that’s rather the point. They don’t trust us!”
“Well the worst we would do is play a silly ghost prank,” Anatoly argued, moving to the door to watch their progress. “You have no idea what someone else would do to two young ladies walking home alone in the dark.”
“They’ll be mad,” was all David would say as he trotted off after the others. They followed the girls at a distance through the streets of St Andrews, dodging the drunks and the other guisers as they began to reach the girls halls.
“Well, at least they will be safe,” Anatoly kept saying to himself. The girls had to know that they were being followed yet they had not turned around once. He had just relaxed, seeing that they were almost home when Sally gave a little shriek and disappeared into a narrow alley between two buildings, and Darrell followed.
The boys stared at each other for a second and then dashed after the girls, running full-tilt into the alleyway.
Before their eyes could adjust to the dark they found themselves being pelted with soft bags of something that covered their hair, faces and jackets. Holding their arms up they could hear the girls shouting “take that!” and “serves you right!”
Soon the attack subsided and the boys were left standing, stunned, in the alleyway blinking flour out of their eyes and spitting it out of their mouth.
“Was that your trick?” Anatoly asked, spitting a lump of flour to the ground.
“That was our revenge,” Darrell said primly, dusting her hands off and stepping past them back onto the street,
“Strange but effective,” David admitted. “Quits?” he asked the girls hopefully.
“We’ll think about it,” Sally said.
“May we at least walk you back to your halls now?” Julian asked them, hoping the answer would be yes and it would go someway to calling the whole thing quits.
“You can walk behind us again if you must,” Darrell said, remaining aloof.
“Better than nothing,” Anatoly was forced to agreed and then the five set off on the short remaining journey back to the girls’ dorm.
The girls went up the steps to the dorm’s big front doors and paused. “Well, good night,” Sally said, feeling awkward about ending the night on bad terms with Julian.
He smiled at her awkwardly and wiped off his jacket again. “Sleep well?” he offered. “And I’m sorry,” he added, moving a little closer to her.
“You can make it up to me another day,” she said, offering him a small smile.
He nodded, “it’s a deal.” He smiled hopefully. “No nightmares eh?”
“Don’t flatter yourself. You were not a scary ghost,” she lied.
He knew she was lying but very carefully didn’t make this clear to her right away. All he did was reach for her hand and pull her carefully into a hug.
“You are a rotter,” she sighed. “Honestly, Ju.”
“I know, I’m horrible,” said Julian rubbing her back. “However you always knew that, it was never news.”
“You are an insufferable idiot,” she agreed.
“You know it,” said Julian with a smile. He hugged her tightly. He held her for a second and the pulled back as she let go of him. “Can I be cheeky and ask for a goodnight kiss?” he asked with a smile.
Sally had to try very hard not to grin. As it was she only managed to keep her lips in a small smile. “Well, maybe a little one.”
“A little one would be more than I deserve,” he grinned and offered her a cheek, catching sight of Anatoly and Darrell standing awkwardly nearby.
Sally rose up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek before allowing him to plant a brief kiss on her mouth. “Are you coming inside, Darrell?” she asked.
Darrell nodded, “Just on my way.”
Anatoly cleared his throat. “Can I ask for a goodnight kiss, dorogoy?”
“I might consider forgiving you, eventually,” Darrell said haughtily, “but I shall never kiss you with that travesty of a moustache. Good night.”
Julian and David chuckled at Anatoly who looked upset as Darrell turned on her heel and went up the steps to her front door.
Anatoly watched as Sally and Darrell went inside and firmly shut the door. He turned away, knowing that although the girls’ matron was being very lenient about the hour of the girls return tonight, she would still chase any boys out with an umbrella.
“You owe me a shilling, you know,” David reminded Anatoly as they headed to their first lecture the next morning. The Russian finally seemed in a better mood after two cups of coffee and a great deal of bacon and eggs.
Anatoly eyed him from the side. “No, I do not think so.”
“I’m the decision maker,” Julian said. “And I think that ‘travesty’ is as bad as or worse than ‘monstrosity’. So you’ll have to pay up.”
Anatoly’s pocket search, with constant grumbling accompanying it, was interrupted by the arrival of the girls.
“Good morning,” Sally said, standing next to Julian and taking his hand. “How are we all this morning? Why does Toly look so upset?”
“He lost his bet from last night,” Julian informed them. “David bet that Darrell would call the moustache ‘monstrous or worse’. And she did.”
Darrell giggled. “Well, I am very glad to see it is gone this morning,” she said, cupping Anatoly’s chin for a better look. “It did nothing for your looks, Anatoly dear,” she told him before she stretched up and gave him a kiss.
Anatoly felt himself smiling as she kissed him. “You kissed me!” he said excitedly when she had finished.
“Well done for noticing,” she said wryly. “I told you I would forgive you eventually.”
“I’m still waiting for my shilling,” David interrupted loudly.
Anatoly thrust his hand into his pocket again and drew out a silver coin, flicking it in David’s direction.
“Can you keep doing that Darrell? He’s much nicer when he’s happy,” laughed David as he pocketed the shilling.
“I’ll think about it,” she said. “As long as you assure me you have gotten rid of the ghost costume, and will never do anything so stupid again”
“Scouts honour!” all three boys chorused to the girls laughter.