Normal took the slice of pink cake from his friend. It felt the same as ordinary cake, smelt a bit of garlic, he took a bite. At first it reminded him of birthdays and all those sponge cakes he’d eaten in the past, then the taste of hamburger kicked in and he thought about the barbecues and fast food places he’d been to. Then the chili icing struck and the whole thing seemed to set his mouth on fire.
‘Pluh!’ Normal spat the pink glob across the room and leapt off his bed towards the sink. He doused his mouth in water.
‘My tongues on fire!’ he yelped between mouthfuls of water and cake crumbs.
‘It’s the chillis in the icing. You’ll get used to it. The first time I tried it I drank the entire contents of Nibble’s water bottle.’
‘Who’s Nibbles?’ Normal asked, clawing bits of icing from his tongue.
‘Our pet giant rabbit. He’s huge and so’s his water bottle. It’s an acquired taste. Not the water bottle, the cake. Want some more?’
Normal sat on the side of his bed and watched as Tiberius wolfed down a second slice of garlic and hamburger cake. There was no sign of his tongue burning up or smoke coming from his ears so obviously you could get used to these things.
‘What d’ you do over the summer holidays?’ asked Normal.
‘This and that.’ Normal had spent far too much time sitting around wondering about life in Guardian Grange. Or walking along the river wondering about life at Guardian Grange. Or climbing trees in the woods wondering about life at Guardian Grange. It had kind of got stuck in his head.
‘I’m not tired now,’ said Normal, morosely flopping down on the bed.
‘Me neither,’ said Tiberius and he swung his legs over the side of the bottom bunk, so that his big heels hit the floor with a resounding slap. ‘Tell you what,’ he said, ‘let’s go exploring.’
‘What?’ yelped Normal. The day had been full of traipsing around from room to room, meeting teachers, collecting books and being handed strange equipment for the year to come. He’d been broom cupboards, chemical labs, sports halls, toilet blocks and animal pens. Normal felt as if he’d done quite a lot of ‘exploring’ already, thanks.
‘Let’s take a look around. We’ve always wondered what went on in this place late at night. Let’s go find out. Maybe the lights will be on in the attic. Maybe we’ll uncover some dark doings.’