The lunch room was chaos, kids were streaming here and there, finding seats with their friends, creating a cacophony of voices which made it hard to concentrate on his lunch. Just as well, he supposed.
It was meatloaf day, which was by far, the worst of the lunch menu. It was rumored that the meatloaf was the remains of lunches past, ground finely and ketchupped beyond recognition. Even worse (and more unbelievable) was that sometimes, students went missing, and found their way into the meatloaf.
“EDDIE!” Maddie slapped him on the back loudly.
Eddie jumped in fright, “Dangit girl, why can’t you just greet me in a normal way?”
She grinned toothily, “where’s the fun in that?”
Eddie rolled his eyes as his companion dropped her tray of mostly-but-not-completely edible lunch beside his and plopped down beside him. He eyed her as she dug into her meat composite cross section with gusto.
“Blech. You want mine too?”
Before he could finish his sentence, she had speared his from his plate and began working on it.
“Hey, I got a text from the ‘rents, we have to have a parent/teacher conference after school, so don’t make plans.” She mumbled around a mouthful of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
“Aw man. Hope it won’t take too long, If we gotta hang here till it’s done, we might not get any game time in.”
Maddie nodded and shrugged, as she took a pull on her bottle of apple juice. “It is what it is, man. I just hope I’m not in trouble again.”
Eddie raised an eyebrow, “You been fighting again?”
Maddie grinned, “I’m scrappy, what can I say?”
“Yeah. You’d think they’d learn by now, they must be new here.”
Eddie snorted, “Mad. You’re ten, stop being a hero, and just enjoy life.”
“Lookit you talking, you’re only eleven, Ed. And only 3 months older than me, don’t get all adult on me,” She shoved the now empty tray away, “besides, I love beating on bullies.”
Eddie sighed, “Yeah, you do.”
Susan blinked, and a figure swum into sight as she came to. She tried to rub her aching head, but found that she was tied to a chair.
“Ned!” she called out with her best effort at a shout, but fell somewhat short and only managed a raspy mumble.
Her husband grunted, and looked around. “Sue, what happened?”
“I happened,” Principal Thrope said, her voice full of unspoken threat.
“So. Now that the two of you are awake, we can get started.” She unrolled a cloth bundle, revealing various tools, both blunt and sharp.”
“What’s going on here!” Ned shouted, his voice quavering.
“You and I are going to have a conversation,” she pulled a rubber mallet from the collection of tools.
“Hey, there’s no need for violence. We’ll tell you whatever you want.”
The principal smiled, as if she was just offered a cold glass of lemonaid. “I know you will. But, in order to make sure you’re telling the truth, I’m going to have to use these,” She wiggled the mallet in their direction. “And to make it effective, I’m not going to use it on you, sir,” She pointed it at Susan. “I’m going to use it on her, and you’re going to watch.”
She nodded and his chair was pulled away from his wife’s and turned to face her.
“Well then, shall we get started?” she paused and lifted Susan’s chin, staring her in the eye, she leaned in and whispered into her ear, “just so you know, this is going to hurt him a lot more than it’ll hurt you.”