Short story by Iris Carden
The school administration put out the same announcement that it put out every year. There was to be no Year 12 Muck Up Day on the last day Year 12s were in school. There would be absolutely no practical jokes.
As generations of Year 12s before us had done, we decided that we absolutely were going to muck up and play practical jokes on our last day ever of high school.
There was one thing every Year 12 class had done, for as long as the oral tradition had been handed down. Felix, the anatomy skeleton was stolen from the biology lab every year, and a note left to give hints as to where he would be found.
My father’s class had left him, in footy clothes, sitting propped up against the goalposts. My aunt’s class had left him in the Home Ec room wearing an apron, with a recipe book open in front of him. Everyone who was second generation at the school had stories of what their famous, or infamous, forebears had done.
By long tradition, we were honour-bound to kidnap Felix.
Since the previous year, the school admin had put a security camera in the hall outside the biology lab. Mr Finks, the biology teacher was standing guard.
Mr Finks, however, as everyone knew had a wife who was about to have a baby any day. Kirsty made the call. She didn’t do biology so he wouldn’t know her voice. She rang from the decrepit payphone outside the school grounds, so a landline number would come up on his phone. Kirsty said she was a nurse from the hospital and he needed to come in straight away. She didn’t actually say Mrs Finks was in labour, but she heavily implied it.
Alistair, the super IT nerd in our class had been working for six months on his plan to hack into the school’s security camera system. According to Alistair, the hardest part was the social engineering to get hold of the admin password (that involved befriending the principal’s new secretary and helping with her IT issues, so she wouldn’t have to admit she didn’t actually know how to use a computer.) Her log-in details gave him everything he needed. He didn’t just take down that one camera, that would have been too obvious. He took down all of them, and reset them, leaving them off for 15 minutes before they started up again.
That quarter of an hour was all that Angie, Karl and I needed. We casually walked into the lab, the others dressed Felix in an old school uniform, including shoes and hat.
I did the note: “Find me where thoughts become words become thoughts once again.” I wrote it across the blackboard in capital letters, which I hoped would be harder to recognise than my normal writing.
Outside the lab, we met another two or three year 12s. We all moved in a group, with Felix in the middle so he wasn’t so obvious.
We took him to the library, where Alex distracted Miss Purle, the librarian. Alex’s dad was a relatively famous author, and Miss Purle was a super-fan. Alex had brought a book his father had autographed, and he presented it to her with a lengthy explanation of how he’d always appreciated her helpfulness throughout his years of high school.
We sneaked past behind Miss Purle while Alex had her distracted, and sat Felix at one of the carrels, with a large pile of books on the table in front of him, and a pen and paper. Year 12 might be finished, but the other grades were still working. We thought we made it look fairly convincingly like a student desperately researching that last assignment of the year.
Having met our obligation to tradition, we ran off to join the rest of Year 12, throwing streamers and confetti, yelling, disrupting the younger classes, grafiti-ing the school (in chalk, we weren’t monsters) and all of the other things that made Year 12 Muck Up Day the absolute celebration it ought to have been.