"Do you see it yet?"

"Where is it?"

" How long is it?" the buzz around me filled the hallway. I was one of the many children at Brewbane middle school who had tried out for the school play, and the audition results were being posted that morning by Mr. Louriz, the principal. My best friend, Sal Marx, was standing next to me. She had also tried out for the play, which was "Monsters are due on Maple Street", in honor of Halloween. The play was originally a teleplay for an episode of the old T.V. show "The Twilight Zone". We were all standing around, anxiously watching as Mr. Louriz pinned up the cast list under the school announcement board. After he pinned it up, and quickly walked away, so we wouldn't trample him, we stampeded to the announcement board. Sal got there first.

" Jeremy!" she shouted to me. "You're Pete Van Horn, and I'm Tommy's mother!"

"Aww, man! What a dumb part!" I exclaimed. "All I do is leave, come back, and get shot!"

"Yeah, but it's important. Tommy's mom doesn't do anything but defend her little son, who everyone wants to get, because they think he's a monster," said Sal, shaking her fist.

"Hey, tough break," said Adrien Schlossinger, the pet of nearly every teacher in school, as he sauntered by.

"Easy for you to say," Sal called after him. "You got the lead! UGHHH!" she yelled with frustration. I hope that little prissyboy gets an F on this week's math test!" she almost yelled.

"Sal, hey, whoa, calm down. It's not the end of the world if he got the lead." I said, trying to comfort her.

"Right," Said Sal, storming off to her locker, throwing her dark brown arms around dramatically, "It's not the end of the world, it's the end of Brewbane Middle School!" she yelled, loudly. I sighed, and walked off to homeroom.

Sal and I had the same homeroom teacher, whose name was Mrs. was, for lack of a better word, unique. She came to school every day wearing long broomstick skirts and black shirts and a silk headscarf. She decorated her room with rat skulls, a butterfly collection, god's eyes, lava lamps, and even love beads in the doorway. There were at least 5 tall bookshelves, filled top to bottom with books, magazines, and yearbooks. She could begin a class period with a talk about amoebae, and end it with a re-enactment of the first chapter of "Oliver Twist", and make it all fit into one amazing lesson.

Today Mrs. Horraquah was wearing her Lake Tahoe shirt and her long, black pleated skirt, which was a change for her. She loved her Lake Tahoe shirt, even though she had never been to Lake Tahoe.

"I think it's colorful and interesting," she said when we had asked her about the shirt on the first day. "Does it really matter if I've been there?" Tim Greening, who had asked about Lake Tahoe, shrugged his shoulders. We watched her from the terraced seating today, walking in with her little "March" as she called it. That was how Mrs. Horraquah walked. She liked to march. We had all gotten used to her, because it was October now, and the school year had started in August.

"Today," she said, " We will continue our reading of "Animal Farm", by George Orwell. But first, could someone elaborate on the point that Orwell was making from what we read last week? Someone besides you, Schlossinger," she said, looking past Adrien's hand. She was one of the few teachers who didn't like Adrien. "Yes, Tim." Even though he had dared to ask about the shirt, Tim was still one of Mrs. Horraquah's favorite students.

"Yeah, um, the head pig, he took away those puppies, and he turned them into guard dogs, and that's kinda like when we read about the Nazis, and how they had all these youth groups, and stuff." said Tim.

"Very good, Tim," said Mrs. Horraquah, giving him a rare smile. After reading chapters 6 through 8, the bell rang, and we started to file out of the classroom when Mrs. Horraquah said, "All children in the school play stay behind for a couple minutes, please!" so me, Sal, Tim, Adrien, and another boy called Jess Lessing stayed. "Sit." She said to us. Mrs. Horraquah, who was in charge of the play, told us that the first practice was to be that afternoon immediately after school, and that it would be the first of practices, to be held every day, before the performance on October 31. "The perfect night for a science fiction play!" said Mrs. Horraquah. She told us to call our parents to tell them to pick us up, or that we were taking the late bus home at 5:30. "You are dismissed." Said Mrs. Horraquah. So we left and went to our other classes.

In the hall Sal and I were followed by an unwelcome companion.

"Hey, guys!" said the all-to-familiar voice behind us.

"Go away Jess," said Sal.

"Don't you have any other little annoying geek buddies for you to hang out with?" I asked him, hoping he'd go away. Jess was a short little kid, with white-blond hair cut close to his face. He had too many freckles, and too many fears. The kid was an absolute chicken. He was scared of his own shadow, so to speak. But he followed Sal and me around almost every day. I don't know why. Sal always figured it was because he had nobody else to hang out with, which was why he tried so hard with everyone else.

"So, guys, coming to the practice this afternoon?" asked Jess, eagerly.

"What do you think, geek-oid?" asked Sal. "C'mon, Jeremy," She said, dragging me to our 2nd period Math class. Jess watched us leave for about two seconds, and then tried to latch onto a conversation with the football Jocks. Bad idea. I watched from the door, as the jocks picked up the unsuspecting Jess, and threw him against a wall. Jess should have known what was coming. The Jocks went through the same routine with him every day. I sat down.

"Children, pass your papers forward, please," said the drawling voice of Mr. Hisstewz. Mr. Hisstewz was not a character of any sort, as his name seemed to employ, but he was boring, annoying, and simply just a bit old fashioned. When we had passed the papers forward, we took a test. In Mr. Hisstewz's class, tests were given out as frequently as homework assignments. From time to time, they were our homework assignments. So we took the test, endured the class, and waited hopefully for the bell.