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Against the Timetable

At the beginning of year 11, my English teacher told us to bring two things to our next class: our school timetable and a shopping list. We were to write a story based on each of these items, or two stories based on both. This was the better of the two I wrote, and won a high commendation in a competition in which it was entered, making it the second of my stories to be published. For those wondering, the record book was the name my school gave to the diary.

Story and characters © 2003

E was enthusiastically exultant. E lived in Shopping List in Memo Tome. There were lots of other Es in Shopping List, but E didn't mind. He was very extroverted and outgoing and drew strength from all the other Es and his friends A, I, O and U. Their friendship group shared an especially strong bond, as at least one of them was in almost any word. The multitalented group called themselves "The Vowel Gang" and they were the most popular band in Shopping List.

The next sheet up from Shopping List was Timetable. The Vowel Gang didn't like the letters in Timetable - they were pompous and disdaining, thinking they were better than the Shopping List letters just because they didn't get thrown out for a whole year or more. E and his friends only had a week to bring them back down to earth, but E thought that the Vowel Gang could do it easily. He'd show those stuck-up Timetable letters!

But E didn't count on an invasion.

With subtle branch movements, F signalled to his scout, S.
"What hafff you seen?" he whispered.
"There'sss a gate to the sssity, but there'sss no one guarding it. We can easssily enter."
For the Consonant Team from Timetable had had an idea. They would subvert the letters in Shopping List to do their evil deeds for them. They didn't know that the Vowel Gang had instigated a spy ring in Timetable, and had been tracking their every move.
"Ssstrategically, I would think that the Ssshopping Lissstersss would attack from here," said Scout S, pointing to a place on the map.
"Perhaps. I think we will ffflank them. B to J on the leffft ffflank, Q to Z on the right. K, L, N and P will take the fffan." He hesitated. "You may go now, S. Hafff a drink at the tafffern." S scurried away.

"So, what did you learn?" asked E. S unrolled a map.
"Force Commander F plans to place part of his force here, and some here, on the other flank. He has a quarter of his army in the van, and they will charge through the Backcoverwards gate. He expects that you will charge through the van and out the gate, and then the flanks will take you," he explained, with no trace of his former accent.
"Yes. I think we can handle that," murmured E, pondering his thoughts. S smiled.
"Do you know how funny it is to hear F talk in that nobby Timetable accent of his? 'B to J on the leffft ffflank, Q to Z on the right. K, L, N and P will take the fffan,'" he mimicked. E grinned.
"Well, at least it wasn't V," he said. "He'd say 'Vvvhat do you vvvant? I vvvill take the vvvanguard.'"
"I'm going to go home to the family now. Until tomorrow, E!"
"Tomorrow, Spy Leader S!"

As planned, the Shopping List van charged straight through the middle of the Timetablers. As the flanks closed in, the riders called to the three-legged Ms and two-legged Ws they were riding, and put on an unexpected burst of speed. The flanks moved in on each other, and started to bash each other up.
"Forward, and finish them!" cried E. The forces he had sent to flank the enemy flanks closed in, and tore the Timetablers to shreds.

I opened my record book after a weekend, and was faintly surprised. Most of the letters on my timetable were missing. Luckily, I had another copy of the timetable. I noticed that the letters on the shopping list I'd made for English were a little fatter, but I put it down to my imagination. At least, I hoped it was my imagination...