“Have you ever killed anyone, Clare?” said Mark one day on the way back from Sunday school.
I looked down and examined the scuff marks on my pink Jumping Jacks Mummy bought me the day before. “Nope,” I said, not particularly fussed. Mark was always going off on one. “You?”
“Oh yeah,” he lied. I could tell he hadn’t. I’m psychic that way. I can even make it rain when I want to skive off netball. I can forge Mummy’s handwriting for sick notes, too.
“How did you do it?”
“Strangled him. David Pickles. That’s why he hasn’t come back this year. I strangled him with his neckerchief after Cubs.”
I still didn’t believe him. I knew that the Pickles clan had moved to Birmingham. I knew that for a fact because on the last day of term we’d had a goodbye party for him in our classroom. Mark had been off sick that week, so he didn’t know. But he’d given me an idea. “OK,” I said. “Show me how it’s done.”
“You’re too little,” he said.
“What’s that got to do with anything? I’m little, but I’m not a chicken. Anyway,” I said, “killing a nine year old kid is easy. If you really want to impress me, kill a grownup.”
“How?” he said. He looked awestruck, and that made me feel good.
“I’ll help you,” I said. I hadn’t a clue how to do it, but that would come. “First, we have to choose a victim.”
“Of course. Come on, one of the teachers, maybe?”
“Maybe we should start with one of the caretakers or groundsmen and work our way up?”
“No,” I was emphatic. “We should pick someone who would really be missed. We want to shock people as much as possible, otherwise there’s no point. I think we should murder Mr Turner.”
Mark’s jaw dropped. “The head teacher?”
“Don’t talk so loud. Someone might hear. “Anyway, I think we should do one each,” I said, “You do him, and I’ll do Miss Coopland. One each. But we help each other, of course.”
“How are we going to do it?”
“Get some brains,” I said. “Why should I think of everything? I thought you’d killed someone before? You see, the trick is to not just kill someone, but to get away with it and make the police look stupid…”
“Yes, silly. You kill someone, the police investigate. The more important the person you kill, the more police investigate and the more effort they put into it. If we killed Mr Gilmore the lollipop man, it would be easy enough; we’d just have to push him under a car. Everyone would think it was an accident and we’d get away with it, easy as pie. But if we kill the two head teachers, they’d call in police from other areas. Like that murder last year that had them stumped.”
“But they got him in the end,” said Mark.
“Yes,” I agreed. “But we have two advantages. One is we’re kids, so they’ll never suspect us, and two, we have superior intelligence.” I reflected on this. “I have superior intelligence. Certainly superior to any copper around here, although I expect Scotland Yard might give us a run for our money.”
“You think they’ll bring in coppers from Scotland?”
Best leave the thinking to me, Mark.
Weedkiller; that’s sodium chlorate, and icing sugar make a deadly mixture. And they are easy to get hold of too. Then all it needed was two forged notes that said:
“Come to the bike-sheds and I’ll show you something.”
I signed one ‘Gilian Coopland’ and the other ‘Bill Turner’.
But Mark was wimping out, crying and saying stuff like: “What if they catch us,” and “We might be sent to prison!” and even, “But they’re nice people, Clare. I don’t want to kill them.”
“Look, stay here,” I said. “And don’t move or I’ll fix you. I’ll tell them what you said about David Pickles. They’re still looking for him, you know; the police.”
I left him crying by the boys’ loos. It was a simple matter to place my bomb near the entrance. I’d already planted the notes in the teachers’ pigeon holes. Now it was just a matter of waiting.
Miss Coopland was the first to arrive and she was shortly followed by Mr Turner. As soon as they were both standing together, looking suitably confused, I pulled the string to trigger the bomb. It was basically a big glass sweet jar full of assorted nails. And Oh my God, I’ve never seen so much blood!
I’d forged a third note, a suicide note. Not for me, silly! For Mark. And thank you, Mark, for that idea about the neckerchief. That was a nice touch.