Authors: Paul Stafford
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Horror High And The 101 Damnations
Random House Australia Pty Ltd
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First published by Random House Australia 2005
Copyright Â© Paul Stafford 2005
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
National Library of Australia
Stafford, Paul, 1966â.
The 101 damnations
For children aged 9â14 years.
ISBN 978 1 74166 039 5.
I. Title. (Series: Horror high; 1).
Cover illustration and design by Douglas Holgate
Internal illustrations by Douglas Holgate
A dozen conversations buzzed around the rollcall room, spreading slanderous gossip and allegations against fellow students like flies spreading dirt and disease. It was just like any other day at Horror High.
The classroom door suddenly wrenched open under its own power, then slammed shut with a crash. Everyone scattered in panic.
A spiral of scarlet smoke writhed slowly up through the floorboards, twisting and whirling hypnotically. When the smoke cleared, there crouched Grimsweather the Rollcall Master, glowering. His mouth frothed with white foam and his eyes radiated pure beetroot-red hate, like two overcooked hateful beetroots.
âDandyline!' he screeched. âOut! Execution! Lunchtime! No reprieves! No excuses! No buts!'
âBut, but, but â¦' stammered Geoff Dandyline, his pearly white clodhopper choppers forming a gleaming canopy over his downpipe lip. âBut, but â¦'
âNot your butt, Dandyline, your head,' sneered Grimsweather. âI want your head removed from your stupid neck, as per standard execution procedure. That you would get your butt mixed up with your head is a natural and understandable mistake, but unless you want me to introduce my size twelve boot of knowledge to your smelly seat of ignorance, I suggest you exit. Capiche?'
âHuh?' mooned Dandyline.
' howled Grimsweather.
Dandyline knew better than to argue. He shivered, rubbed his neck, stood, scratched his butt, staggered to the front of the classroom, passed his classmates, passed Grimsweather and angled reluctantly towards the door.
His shaking hand had just touched the door handle and was in the act of turning it when Grimsweather crowed out triumphantly, â
There was a moment of silence before the class began laughing, half in relief and half in the knowledge it was better to laugh at one of Grimsweather's pathetic jokes than become a victim of one.
Dandyline let out an immense sigh of relief. âReally, sir? A joke, sir? Thank you, sir. Nice one, sir. For a second there I thought you'd lost your mind again, sir.'
Grimsweather's gloating smile instantly became small and dangerous, like a Mafia dwarf. âWhat exactly do you mean by “
The bucktoothed class dunce instantly sensed the shaky ground he was back on. He worriedly licked his teeth like an over-protective cat gozz-washing her favourite kitten, and gulped. âNot
, sir. What I meant to say, sir, was, like, for the first time ever â¦'
âBut you said “
”, Dandyline. Are you suggesting I've lost my mind in the past?'
, sir. Never, sir. Not possible, sir.'
The Rollcall Master gently nodded and almost purred, âHaven't got a mind to lose, eh Dandyline?'
Dandyline visibly relaxed. âThat's right, sir.'
' Grimsweather roared.
âNo sir! I mean, sorry, sir. My mistake, sir. Big mistake, sir. Big mind you have, sir. Big mind, huge brain, very nice, very smart, sir.'
âJust shut up, Dandyline.'
âI said “Shut up”, Dandyline.'
Grimsweather's breath hissed like a tyre leak. âThat means, Dandyline, a cessation of speech from your stupid mouth.'
âYes, sir. I know, sir. People tell me to shut up all the time, sir, so I know exactly what it means, sir.'
âSo what exactly do
think it means, Dandyline?'
âShut your big, fat, ugly, ignorant, gaping, great trench of a mouth, sir.'
' screamed Grimsweather, leaping out of his seat.
think it means, sir, though I could be wrong.'
Grimsweather gripped the desk for a long moment then sat again, sighing. âCould be wrong?
Could be wrong?
You were born wrong, Dandyline. Now do me, the class, the school and the world a favour and
Grimsweather shot the dense boy an evil glare. Dandyline grinned broadly in return, his jumbo buckteeth sliding out
from under his top lip like a jump-jet's hydraulic landing gear.
Grimsweather shook his head as though there was something loose in his brain, and slowly opened the huge leather-bound rollcall book. He took a deep breath and began reading. âDandyline.'
Again he sighed. âI'm reading the roll, Dandyline, and unfortunately your name is first on it. So,
you are present â in body if not necessarily in mind â please answer “present”. Got it? “Present”, Dandyline.'
Grimsweather spoke very softly, very slowly, as though addressing a very young, very stupid child. â“Present”. When I call your name, you answer as follows â “Present”. Now. Let's try it one more time. Dandyline.'
Dandyline grinned. âYes, sir?'
Grimsweather's eyes flared like someone had embedded illegal firecrackers in his skull and lit the fuses (also illegal â called murder).
And there was murder in those eyes as Grimsweather shouted, â
âWhere?' asked Dandyline eagerly.
âWhat?' snapped Grimsweather.
âWhere's my present? Oh, I know â this is another of your April Fool's jokes, isn't it, sir. Well, you won't catch me a second time.'
Grimsweather looked ready to whip out a crossbow and get medieval on the entire class, but instead took three deep breaths like his shrink had taught him. âDandyline, you're like a disease that nobody wants to catch a first time, let alone a second. I'll assume you are here today, even if your brain is still in yesterday.'
Dandyline opened his mouth but his reply was chopped off dead by Grimsweather's vicious glower.
âNathan Grim-Reaper,' read Grimsweather from the rollcall book. âNathan Grim-Reaper? Where is Mr Grim-Reaper today? Anybody know?'
âHe's busy with the April Fool's Day
Committee, sir,' answered Dandyline. âHe's the committee head this year.'
âDandyline,' hissed Grimsweather, âif I were you I wouldn't interrupt and I
wouldn't interrupt mentioning heads, or yours might roll.'
âYes, sir. Sorry, sir. Just saying, sir, that Nathan Grim-Reaper won't be here today. Because, apart from being head of the committee, he also has to get his missing book back, sir, or his mother will murder him. Don't like his chances, sir.'
âDandyline, did I ask you?' said Grimsweather. âDo I look like the sort of idiot who would listen to a single stupid word you said?'
âNo, sir,' replied Dandyline brightly. âYou look like an entirely different idiot altogether, sir.'
' shrieked Grimsweather. âWhat did you say, Dandyline? You're heading for a beheading unless you can explain that last comment, boy.'
âErr, nothing, sir. That is, what I meant to say was, well, like, you know, and that â¦'
âHave you ever made sense in your life, Dandyline, or is it against your religion?'
âNo, sir,' Dandyline replied, grinning. âMy religion is make-up, sir.'
âMake-up?' A nauseating vision of Dandyline preening in front of a mirror, painted up with lipstick and eye shadow and pineapples in his headdress sashayed into Grimsweather's head to the party beat of Caribbean kettledrums.
âMake-up?' gaped Grimsweather. âYou mean lipstick and eye shadow?'
Dandyline beamed. âI mean I make it up as I go along. Sir.'
Grimsweather gritted his teeth. âI hope you washed your neck, Dandyline, because it's got a date with the guillotine.
âAww, sir. My mum's getting sick of washing blood off my collar.'