Oracle High School, Newcrest, 2027
Henry sat by himself at the back of the class, staring hopelessly at the maths sheet before him.
He couldn't be the only one who didn't understand this. He observed his classmates.
Over to his left was a group of four 'acquaintances,' who Henry had only interacted with inside the classroom. All four had their eyes locked onto their maths sheets. They looked positively smug. For the love of Watchers, it's maths not bibiblock, thought Henry, feeling genuinely miffed. He turned his gaze to the group at the other end of the room.
There were his friends, all five of them, minus the king, writing at a steady rate. These questions must be a breeze, that's why, he sulked. Then he noticed something rather odd.
Adrian kept glancing at him, while her friend Anita glared at her.
Adrian then whispered something to her boyfriend who was sitting beside her. It was obvious she was discussing him, Henry, because her eyes gestured to him as she spoke. It was clear she wasn't saying anything nice either, because Anita hissed 'shut up, Adrian' every five seconds.
Henry pretended not to notice and turned his attention back to the worksheet. Sure, this was typical 'Adrian,' picking on him. He supposed she couldn't help it. She was that sort of person; insecure, jealous - that was obvious by the way she watched her boyfriend in the presence of other girls. Fear was her most recent trait. She hid it through snorts and jokes about Henry and the Hellewells, but his dad had taught him how to spot fear in the Evil Geniuses, particularly descendants of the green lady, Talula, and Adrian was one of them.
Their eyes would become veiled and they'd start plotting - sometimes at the most inconvenient of times, such as during class.
"Is there something you would like to share with us, O'Donnell?" The teacher's flat voice brought Henry out of his thoughts.
"No miss," replied Adrian. "Just solved the final question and got excited."
"Oh yes?" said the teacher and she folded her arms. She was obviously not buying any of this.
"Can I share, miss?"
"What do you mean, Adrian?"
"Can I share my answer? Please may I use the board, miss?"
The teacher inspected the class, who nodded innocently and eagerly back at her.
"Oh alright Adrian, if you must."
"Thank you Miss," said Adrian, getting out of her seat. She had that voice she used in the presence of teachers. It was a cross between Snow White and the Wicked Witch of the West. Smiling through the corner of her mouth, Adrian approached the black board.
"So the question is whether a 'poisson' distribution is the best model to use for the number of motorcycles that ride over the San Myshuno bridge every twelve hours."
What? So that's what the question said, thought Henry. He had read it dozens of times, but the words kept sliding out of his mind and nothing had sunk in.
For the next minute Adrian spoke, the question was all Henry understood. He did pick up on the odd phrase, such as 'theoretical distribution graphs' and, of course, 'probability' along with a bunch of numbers and decimals. All this maths jargon made Henry sleepy, but the way Adrian's eyes kept capturing his, gave him an uncomfortable impression that she needed him to listen.
"P - bracket - x minus ten - close brackets equals," then Adrian spouted a really long number, including decimals. "zero - dot - zero, zero..."
Henry was half asleep
"Fyres, your parents didn't pay for you to sleep through maths," interrupted his teacher with as much energy as Henry felt.
Henry fought to keep his eyelids open for the remainder of Adrian's talk.
"And that's why the poisson distribution is not the best model," said Adrian.
The class clapped, but Adrian wasn't finished.
"Thanks to those who listened. You have now learnt something useful. Particularly the part where I mention the sharpness of the graph around the centre." Adrian glared at Henry.
Henry frowned. Why is she glaring at me?
"Thank you, Adrian, for your detailed answer. For those of you who were listening..." the teacher, too, glared at Henry, who, in return, tried not to go red in the face but it wasn't working. "This is the amount of depth I want in your responses. Well done Adrian."
The class clapped and Adrian returned to her seat.
Ten seconds later, when the teacher wasn't looking, a scrunched up piece of refill landed on Henry's desk.
He scratched his head and glanced over at Adrian who stared innocently up at the teacher, who was droning on about the next topic.
Cautiously, and with one eye on the teacher, he straightened out the paper. Written in bold capital letters was a message,
'THE SHARPNESS OF THE GRAPH PARTICULARLY AROUND THE CENTRE!'
Henry shook his head. No, still don't get it. Evil Geniuses could be so.... ambiguous with their codes.
Back before the death of the king and queen, his friends' favourite way of communicating with him was through the positions on a chess board. For example, c4, c3, d3, e3, e6, f4 and fs marked the chess board's 'centre circle,' which always represented their secret base, the Bluffs. Nobody ever visited there, which made it the perfect place to meet his friends without the fear of any Evil Genius parent or Sweglord noticing.
Henry sighed. Such a shame he probably won't be seeing them again, except from across a classroom.
He stared hopelessly at the underlined words.
'Sharpness,' 'centre,' ... nope. Oh wait, he thought, then gasped.
This is easy. 'centre' means Bluff's, obviously. 'Sharpness' means, 'be there promptly,' oh... but at what time?
Henry frowned, then noticed he had forgotten about the word, 'graph,' which was also underlined in front of him. Hmm... maybe the answer lies here. So Henry checked the graph on his worksheet beside the refill. He was the only person in the class who had not, by now, put it away.
Another piece of screwed-up paper hit him on the head. He swivelled round 180% to look at who had thrown it.
Adrian was scowling at him. Well you could have been less cryptic couldn't you, Henry humphed.
He returned to the crumpled sheet of refill. He opened it and tilted his head, thoughtfully.
'0.414? what does this mean? Maybe it has something to do with the graph? he thought. But what could it mean?
Then it hit him. Not another piece of paper, but the answer. '4:14'
They wanted to meet him at the Bluffs at 4:14 today, sharp.
So they still like me, after all.