The life changing explosion!
When I was ten we moved from a top floor flat in a high-rise block in the middle of Glasgow to the green fields of Surrey. My dad, a specialist in agricultural engineering, had got himself a job on a farm instead of an industrial factory. The worst decision of his life it turned out. And mine.
My name is Millie Montgomery, and I’m twelve now. I love cities, music, people, shopping, coffee shops. I hate, hate, hate the countryside. Or at least I thought I did… But last week something quite extraordinary happened, or rather I met someone utterly amazing. Yes, it was a boy – Ralph Phillips, 13 and gorgeous – but it wasn’t his great sense of humour or his ridiculously good looks that were so life-changing. It was his secret magical power that allowed me to see everything that’s amazing around us here in Surrey. Who would have guessed I’d meet someone like him at the local community centre, the place we were all sent when the local fireworks factory caught fire. A fire, it turns out, that was not as accidental as everyone thought… As the night sky filled with a million patterns and every colour you can imagine, Ralph and I started our thrilling, mind-blowing journey…
It all started when I ate the dog food. Not deliberately, of course. Mum had had a difficult day with Class 4B and she’d muddled the tin of Pedigree Chum with the steak pie filling. Gran and Kally said the pie was disgusting and refused to eat it. I’m not so fussy. I was wolfing down the last crumb when . . .BANG! BOOM! SCREECH!
Noises outside! Noises everywhere! It was literally the most terrifying thing that had ever happened. Next thing I knew, I was crouching under the dinner table, my heart hammering against my ribs. Truffle was already down there, shaking and panting too. He smelled great though. No wonder! He’d just scoffed a bowlful of steak pie filling. I licked the gravy off his chops. Not something I’d usually do, but it was surprisingly delicious. Even better with a bit of Labrador slobber mixed in.
BANG! BOOM! SCREECH!
Truffle and I howled in terror. ‘What the cat’s bottom is that noise?’ he whimpered.I had no idea. All I knew was that it wasn’t natural, and I didn’t like it. I snuggled up to Kally’s knees. She’d keep me safe. My little sister reached down and patted my head. ‘Don’t worry, Truffle. It’s only fireworks.’
Gran laughed. ‘That can’t be Truffle. He’s just here by my feet.’ Mum looked under the table. ‘Aww!’ she said, in a funny baby voice. ‘Where did you come from then?’
‘It’s me, Anton, of course!’ I barked.
“Go on! We gave you the money, didn’t we?’ Jayden and Kayleigh pushed Ria up against the wall. ‘We want this party to go with a bang. You’d better get them – or else!’
In that moment, the decision had been very easy to make. If Ria did what they asked, they would leave her alone, for once. But now she stood facing the shop, clutching the envelope of notes in her hand, she was no longer so sure.
“PROFESSOR PEPPER’S FIREWORK FACTORY” read a faded sign above the door. Then a smaller sign below announced:
No Children or Animals allowed!
The windows were caked with dust, and it looked dark and deserted beyond. She looked up and down the quiet side street near the estate where she lived. Was the shop even open?
There was only one way to find out.
Ria pushed the door open, which dragged across the old floorboards. ‘Hello’? she said, her voice echoing. It sounded like she was in an empty warehouse, not a shop. No-one replied and no light came on. At first there was only darkness and silence in reply.
Then, in the distant gloom, a light began to appear. More of a spark than a light, rising out of the shadows, that began to fizz and burn, growing and growing, until with her heart in her mouth, Ria realised that it was a .........
DOWN TO EARTH
Joy and Aiden cooed with delight, along with the rest of the crowd, as the sky lit up like colourful sprinkles on a doughnut. Well, that was the closest comparison Aiden could think of. A second later multiple claps from each explosion reached them and the music’s tempo increased as the display powered towards its conclusion.
“Best bonfire night ever!” Aiden declared, ignoring the wisps of his breath in the chill evening. He stomped his feet for warmth, determined the cold wouldn’t dampen his enthusiasm.
Joy nodded in agreement, but said nothing as her eyes darted between the dying sparkles. She was drawn toward one red-tailed comet as it dropped to earth. This particular firework seemed not to want to burn away like the others. If anything it grew brighter. “Have you seen that?” she asked, nudging Aiden with her elbow. “It’s brilliant!”
Joy didn’t want to take her eyes from the object so had no idea if Aiden was referring to it, or the display. Just beneath the music and cacophony of bangs, she became aware of muttering around her. “What the heck is that?” a man to her left asked. More voices joined in as the fireball became as big as a fist and growing larger by the second.
“Wow! Look!” shouted Aiden, shaking Joy’s shoulder and finally pointing at the fireball that now had a long flowing tail of burning plasma. “It’s just changed course! It’s heading right this way!”
Outside in the dark, drizzly night, a rocket exploded, sending showers of multi-coloured sparks blazing across the sky.
Josh couldn’t even be bothered to go to the window to look. He shrugged himself into his duffle coat and decided that he had never felt less like going to a Bonfire Party in his life. It was being hosted by Henry and he’d invited the whole class. He’d spent the previous few days boasting about how much his parents had spent on the occasion. There would be top-of-the-range fireworks, a barbecue and even a proper bonfire with a guy and everything. To Josh, who could barely afford a packet of sparklers, this was hard enough to take... but the absolute killer was that Kate was going to be there and Henry had been been very quick to tell as many people as possible that he and Kate were now ‘going out together.’ And it wasn’t as if Josh had any claim on Kate - indeed, he’d hardly even spoken to her. But there was something about her that interested him, that made him want to know her a whole lot better. And that was surely never going to happen now.
With a sigh of resignation, Josh let himself out of the back door and started walking… then turned in surprise as...
BANG! Shazia flinched at the sudden noise, and her friend Emma laughed. ‘I didn’t know you were scared of fireworks.’
‘I’m not,’ Shazia lied. She pulled her coat around her neck more tightly. ‘It just made me jump, that’s all.’ She glanced at Emma’s face, rapt in the flickering coloured lights of a Roman candle. It had been a mistake, coming here. She shouldn’t have let Emma talk her into it.
There was a series of shrill squeals from a firework, twizzling and sparking through the air. Shazia bit her lip and clenched her fists so tightly her fingernails dug into her palms. It was bringing it all back, what had happened. The whole reason she’d moved to this town. Emma didn’t know – how could she? She knew nothing of Shazia’s previous life.
Shazia stared through blurred eyes at the fountains of silver and gold and remembered this day last year…