Everyone could tell that Mr. Lordfyre was not happy. He had wanted to start marching the first movement of the show yesterday, but the freshmen were having trouble. They were having trouble because they had never marched before. But even ignorance wasn't an excuse in the director's eyes.
The time: 8:45 in the morning. The place: The band's practice field. Where else?
The morning was cool and pleasant. A few drops of dew still clung to the grass blades and (for the moment) the practice field was cloaked in a huge blanket of shade. But the weather was the only thing that was pleasant. The band was spread out on the field in even intervals among hastily drawn yard lines. Ruby and Crystal, drum majors extraordinaire, weaved in and out of the rest of the band, clanking two drumsticks together.
"Mark time, mark!" Ruby screamed. "Left, left, left, left. Ready. Move!"
At her command, the entire band stepped out on their left foot and marched forward.
"Half-turn to the right. Ready. Move!"
The band hit the brakes and preformed a glorious half-turn to the right.
"Quarter-turn to the left. Ready. Move!"
The band did so.
"To the rear. Up step turn!"
The band spun perfectly on their heels and began to walk in the opposite direction.
The clicking of the drumsticks became faster.
"Quarter-turn to the left. Ready. Go! Half-turn to the right. Ready. Go! To the rear! Up step turn! Left flank left! Right flank left! To the rear! Up step turn!"
The band somehow managed to execute all of these commands perfectly. But the tempo was so high now, it was hard to keep up. The tempo must have been at least 175. "Rightflankrightleftflanklefthalf-turntotheleftquater-turntotheleft…" Ruby's voice became high-pitched and her body tensed as waves of ecstasy rolled over her like oh so many waves. "Oh! Oh! Halfturntotheleft! Oooh!"
It was at this moment that trumpet freshman Todd Mayors mistook "half-turn to the left" for "to the rear" and he ran right into Ruby.
Ruby was knocked to the ground and Todd fell on top of her. The entire band froze in their footsteps. Nobody said anything. Nobody, that was, except Ruby. "Get this thing OFF ME!" she bellowed, breaking the anxious silence.
Todd climbed back to his feet and held out a hand to help Ruby up. "Oh, man. I'm sorry! I kinda got confused."
Ruby stared at the hand like it had been dipped in anthrax. Her eyes went from the hand to the arm, from the arm to the shoulder and from the shoulder to the face. She knew that face. "FRESHMAN!" she screamed. "You IDIOT FRESHMAN!"
Todd's face went slack and his eyes became saucers.
"Don't you DARE touch me! You… you…. freshman POO-SNIFFER!" Ruby arose of her own accord and brushed off her fanny angrily. "Jedidiah! Jedidiah! Get over here at once!"
Jedidiah appeared and actually bowed before the drum major. "I am so very sorry for this incident," he said. "I take full responsibility for this trumpet's actions. And I promise you that the freshman will be punished"
Ruby folded her arms in front of her chest. "See that he is."
Jedidiah then took Todd forcibly by the arm and led him off into the woods.
Later, whenever the band broke for their 20-second refreshment, Todd reappeared. His eyes were red and it was obvious that he had been crying. But he wouldn't say what had happened to him, no matter how many times anyone asked him.
The clock in the band room was both Leonard's friend and enemy. In the mornings, it mocked him, telling him that he still had 12 more hours to go. In the evenings, however, it spoke to him in soothing voices - telling him that if he could hang in there just a few more seconds, he would be finished with Band camp for the day.
Now it read 5:00. It was an hour after the appointed lunch time, but Lordfyre had held them back in the band room for some reason. Everyone in the room was beyond starved and to make matters worse, the air conditioning was out and with 106 people crammed into the band room, things were getting a little … funky.
A girl near Leonard swore. "What are we doing just sitting here?! I'm hungry as a mother-freaker!" The girl paused and sniffed the air. "And it smells like CRAP in here!"
Mr. Lordfyre took the podium. "I do not think I have to tell you all how disappointed I am with all of you at this present moment in time."
Leonard couldn't care less. He was daydreaming about his dinner. According to the Band Camp schedule, pizza was to be served . Pizza! Thinking about it made Leonard's mouth water.
"I swore to myself that this year's band would be the best ever," Lordfyre continued. "This year's band would be the envy of all-"
Suddenly, a stomach growled. It was very loud and seemed to have come from the trombone section. Incredibly, a few people actually began to laugh at the noise.
Lordfyre was furious. "SHUT UP!" He screamed, making everyone jump in their seats. "And just for that little display of nonsense…" He began to clap his hands together.
No! Oh, no! Leonard knew what was coming. Please! No!
"Band horns up!"
Instruments were put to mouths and instantly, Leonard's arms began to shake. He, along with everybody else, had been playing nonstop since 8:15 and the weight of his trumpet was simply too much to bare.
"What do I have to say?" Lordfyre asked. "What do I have to do before you people get the picture?! This is the band of South Rake high school! There are no others! There is us! Us! We control music!"
White pain rushed through Leonard's arms. It was incredible. Who knew a trumpet could weigh so much?
Lordfyre looked out onto the faces of each of the band members. "Does it hurt? I hope so. We will just continue with this little exercise for the next, oh, say-" he looked at his watch. "-five minutes."
"TEN MINUTES!" Lordfyre's eyes bugged out of their sockets and huge veins appeared on his neck as he lost all composure. "ANYONE WANT TO MESS WITH ME?! COME ON! I CAN TAKE YOU!" Lordfyre tore off his tie and clawed at the buttons of his button-down shirt. They held together, so he just ripped it off his body like a deranged version of the Incredible Hulk. "TEN MINUTES AND IF ANYONE MAKES ANY NOISE, WE'LL BE HAVING A LITTLE TRIP TO THE WOOD-SHED AND ONE OF US WON'T BE COMING BACK!"
Nobody said a word.
That night for dinner, they did not have pizza.