Four is death. At least…according to some Oriental numerologists. Is this chapter death for my writing career…? Of course not! I’ve long since been done with this particular series, but…I may have almost died before getting onto this review.
After a long series of injuries that may have otherwise been amusing, and…OK, they weren’t really that long, but getting hit by a bike was graphic enough, and with all that going on, it barely registers that I’ve actually been allowed back into university, providing I obey the rules and don’t commit any violent scandals, which is good, because I need some stability whilst planning what novel ideas I’m going to write when.
In the meantime, I think it will be good to see what not to do by returning to a story which, whilst superior to the first, has many moments all too like the first to reprieve itself. Let’s take a look. Chapter Four: The Cold Shoulder.
Russell fell against the wall as the knife was thrust at his throat.
Oh, and we’re back to the violence, wonderful…
No, actually, Russell is in fact just dreaming, but, given he hasn’t even appeared in this sequel properly yet (surplus to requirements, I don’t doubt), we can’t even begin to wonder what sort of trauma he’s going through. After all, this nightmare takes a rather disturbing turn.
“Oh am I?” Aiden replied, chuckling mirthlessly. “Well, here is a gift just to show you how sick I am.”
WHY does everyone have to be on the verge of committing rape in this story…?
We should be thankful that whatever happens next is cut off by Russell waking up. He should be relieved too.
He gave a huge sigh of relief. But he was far from relieved.
Well, why breathe a sigh of relief then? It really makes no sense…
This nightmare was now recurring.
This is unfortunate. There’s far too much PTSD in this story already.
We cut to Amber, who, at school, is determined not to act out today. This a hopeful sign – maybe she’s growing out of her selfish behaviours and isn’t angling to get expelled anymore. Whatever angst she expressed in the last chapter must have given her an epiphany or something.
She looked up. Oh.
Summer was there. Why she was at school today when she had concussion only yesterday is anyone’s guess.
Well…actually I have no idea what the procedure is concerning these things. But now I’m imagining a scenario where Summer’s in a coma and has an out of body experience, and, with Whitney weeping over her near lifeless form, must decide whether she should stay or go, rather like that novel by Gayle Forman and it’s film adaptation starring Chloe Grace Moretz. And with Whitney rather than that rather creepy, skinny pallid looking boyfriend that existed in that particular work of fiction. God, I’ve improved it so much already…
I’m actually slightly concerned that my dedication to whatever relationship Whitney and Summer have is going to get in the way of other commitments. It might sound unlikely, but too much isolation and I start talking to myself, so…
We then get yet another scene cut, which make up far too much of this story. And they’re not even that long! It’s actually with Aiden, and it sheds a very limited light on whatever happened in the last chapter.
Aiden looked up scowling.
“I’ve told you everything I can,” he snarled. “What else can I say?”
The detective sighed. “You have told us about your…past experience with him, but it didn’t actually make us any the wiser on where he actually is.”
Aiden smiled grimly.
“That’s your problem,” he said. The detective sighed again, and walked away.
So, really, he gave you no leads in the slightest, just something unspecified about his past experience with Seb Kythner. Obviously we know they were part of some overly typical gang, but I don’t really want the details, given the detective’s reaction. The detective who still doesn’t seem to have a rank.
Also, I should point out that the segment up there is the entire scene with Aiden. What the hell was the point of including? It grinds the story to a complete halt, it puts an unnatural cut where it isn’t needed and doesn’t even develop the characters present any further. What we get of Aiden here is exactly the same as last time. The whole thing serves no purpose. I clearly hadn’t learned to economise at this point. Oh, and another thing I hadn’t learnt to do was tone down on the abuse I offered at what I considered Acceptable Targets. Given my rather strong viewpoints on certain matters, this hasn’t entirely gone away, but I really should focus on dropping anvils on issues that matter, rather than ones that are just pet peeves.
What exactly am I referring to?
“RUGBY!!!” screamed Mr Cork.
I know I had personal issues and self-esteem issues, but I really needed to stop my relentless attack on sports people. They’d never done anything to me…I don’t think, anyway.
Of course, with writing as my primary outlet, both then and now, it feels very much like a Revenge Of The Geek, steering any intellect I might have to my advantage. I still do value brain over brawn, but this isn’t to say that rugby players are necessarily unintelligent. I’m sure most of them are perfectly nice, reasonable people that just happen to have a hobby or career that I could never understand.
But no, I was determined to demonise all sports players, particularly those of rugby, by stereotyping them as thuggish and often pugnacious idiots.
Amber sighed and turned to Ruth.
“Why didn’t you tell me that the PE teacher is deranged?” she asked her.
And again, Amber’s speaking for me…which is a little rich considering she’s far more violent than Mr Cork has proved to be so far.
Although time will tell. Quite why Mr Cork’s teaching method’s involve screaming the name of a sport, I have no idea, but let’s see how else he does it.
“The basic rules of rugby involve this ball,” he said, picking up a rugby ball.
Why does he feel the need to explain that rugby is a competitive sport with a ball? Even I know that and I can’t stand sport, so the fact that this year 9 class seems to be full of my Author Avatars doesn’t even stand as an excuse.
“If someone were to tackle me…well, how about I show you? Someone come and try to tackle me!”
I’m not bloody surprised. He’s two metres tall among a class of 13-14 year olds!
Also, why does he feel the need to explain that rugby’s a ball game, but not explain what counts as tackling or indeed the scoring system? I mean, I didn’t know what the scoring system of rugby is, and I still don’t, so…
“Oh fine. Jack, you try,” Mr Cork said.
Do you have to pick on the resident chew toy? He’s got enough going on! Also, why aren’t Amber or Summer volunteering? They’ve clearly got the confrontational mindset to try and tackle a teacher. They probably have more in common than they realise…
OK, I need to stop…
“I’ll do it,” Ryan snapped, wanting to seem braver than Jack.
Oh, for God’s sake, Ryan, give it a rest.
He ran forward.
Mr Cork gave him a massive shoulder-barge, sending him careering through the air and landing hard on the grass.
“And that’s all there is to it!” he said.
“Oh, is that all?” Ian muttered sarcastically.
You see Ryan, this is how accidents happen.
Also, is Mr Cork really allowed to do that? He basically just assaulted a pupil. But then again, I’m also not surprised that nobody’s bothered by this particular incident.
The abuse of the sport continues as my point of view characters that you’re meant to root for and feel for are completely lazy and unproductive bastards.
It would normally be easy enough to…err…pretend to play rugby, but not with people like Kurt trying to act like a professional rugby-player and charging blindly into everyone.
Again, I dispute very much that professional rugby players charge blindly into everyone. At least…not their team-mates.
But Kurt was nothing compared to what Summer was doing. She seemed to have a fair bit of knowledge of rugby…but all you need to know is to charge at people and pretty much murder them.
Yeah, that was all.
Yeah, OK, we get it! I hate rugby. Whoop-di-fucking-do. How articulate of me to write it down in this format, what a great change it will have for humanity…this is why I should never have looked back.
So, whilst Summer and Kurt were busy doing very good impressions of human bulldozers, everyone else just sat on the grass and relaxed.
YOU LAZY BASTARDS. YOU WILL BE OBESE IN LATER LIFE, YOU MARK MY WORDS.
And why is Mr Cork not reprimanding them for their apathy? Is he too busy with the human bulldozering or whatever…?
However, it would’ve been easier to relax if it wasn’t so cold. It was only January, and PE kits are not normally made with consideration for the climate.
Well, that’s true actually, although there is the option of rugby jumpers and tracksuit trousers rather than shorts and a T-shirt. No gloves etc unfortunately, but it could be worse. Or are they just that adverse to anything rugby related?
It wasn’t long before everyone starting shivering. The only solution it seemed was to share each other’s body heat. In other words, group hugging.
Now, at this point you might be wondering why I decided to include such strange, mundane details in these stories, and honestly, it’s probably for personal reasons. We’ve already established that I hated sports and those who played them with a burning passion, and the whole group hugging thing was probably a slight against, well…the fact that I had very few friends? I certainly wasn’t close enough to the majority of my classmates in my day to be involved in any group hug that anyone wanted to perform. Inserting myself here was something of wish fulfilment, and this was probably just another example.
This segment hammers it home too…
The only one not joining in this group hug was Amber. Desperate to differate herself from everyone else, she stood apart, trying to ignore her shivering.
Differate isn’t a word, but the point is, she’s taking my role here. Nobody makes her warm, and she will SUFFER FOR IT. WE HAVE HARD LIVES AMBER. NOBODY LOVES US.
When the school day ends, she leaves so abruptly, she drops her mobile phone without realising it and Ross picks it up to return it, but due to her apparent speed, he struggles to catch up with her.
But where was she?
As he left the school, he looked around for a girl without any company.
And there it is again. PITY THE FRIENDLESS.
As it happens, Amber actually notices he’s following her and is convinced he’s some kind of crazed stalker…which is a bit of a jump to make, but…this is Amber we’re talking about.
Meanwhile, Caleb (T.S.A.M) has gathered some friends together.
Caleb put his mobile away. He supposed he could tell Ross later. He turned to Ian, Toby and Jack, waiting expectantly for him to explain.
So, this is something pretty important he’s got to get off his chest presumably? It’s later revealed to be the truth about Seb Kythner, and the earlier line indicates he wanted to tell Ross about it too. He wants to gather the people he feel needs to know, so…
Why isn’t his girlfriend among them? Or any girl, actually? Look, Caleb…you’re despised by your creator now. How does it make you feel to have such a change in role?
So, he eventually reveals that Kythner was the leader of this little gang, and that he managed to leave them without a blip…and then we get an insight from Ian.
“Dude…you’re really hard done by aren’t you?” Ian sighed.
What consoling, heartfelt thing to say to your best friend. Look, that might be how they do it in America, but in Britain we have something called tact. Unless your name is Nigel Farage and you’re describing your political opponents.
And again, he’s pointing out exactly what we should feel about Caleb. OH, POOR HARD-DONE BY BOY, HE’S SO SUAVE AND MAGNIFICENT DESPITE THIS, HE’S ALONE IN THE WORLD, WOE IS HIM, LOVE HIM, WANGST ETC…
It’s so disappointing that Ian reacts this way too. It’s just so ridiculous and blunt. This whole scene, despite the contrived twist, was perfectly set up to feature a heart-warming (ish) moment in which the indication is that Caleb feels that it’s his true friends that keep him going, those that don’t engage in petty criminal acts, don’t use him for his suave magnificence and actually stick by him no matter what. It would have been great if any of that held up, though, because Kythner seemed perfectly happy to induct Caleb into his group with no terrifying ritual, didn’t try to stop him (seemingly) leaving, whereas his supposed real friends didn’t think it worth telling any authority figure when he was getting abused. It’s such a shame, because writing about friendships can lead to all sorts of heartwarming moments.
Amber was having an extremely hard time shaking Ross off. It was dark by the time she had finally given up and sat down to rest by the Thames. Ross came up to her.
“What do you want?” she asked him sourly.
Bloody hell, Amber, if you’re that bothered you can just beat him up. You attacked Whitney for a much lesser offence, and given how persistent he’s been (I mean, it doesn’t take that long to get dark after the school day in January, but…) I would be very concerned too. I mean, surely he could just go home and give her phone back to her tomorrow…?
But of course, he does give it back…
“I wanted to return this,” he replied, holding up her mobile.
Amber was caught completely by surprise.
“Oh,” she said. “Thanks.”
Don’t you just love contrived plot points? As it happens, this particular scene does serve the rather convoluted purpose of giving Amber and Ross time to develop their chemistry. I mean, it’s very poorly written chemistry, but at least set aside time in the story for them to fall in love, something I most definitely didn’t do in the previous story. Although I keep referring back to this, it’s very nice to see that I am showing slight improvements in almost every area, rather than just a few.
“So…how do you like our school?”
“Burnt to the ground,” Amber snarled, pacing up and down angrily.
To be honest, I rather like that line…but how long are these two going to hang here? Haven’t they got homes to get to?
Unfortunately in the dark, she couldn’t see where she was going. She fell right into the Thames.
You see? You hang around in the dark for too long, and stuff like that could happen. And…I know the Thames is a pretty long river, with lots of places to get in, but the banks really aren’t that open. They’ve got like…low walls…or something…
So, Amber’s nearly freezing to death, and Ross starts yelling for help.
He was heard by a young man in his twenties, who was walking on the bank of the river.
I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the only one who heard. The Thames is the busiest river in the entire country, there must have been other people around.
He quickly took in what was going on, and leapt onto a nearby boat which belonged to someone he knew.
Well, that’s bloody convenient. What sort of boat is it though? How can you be sure he won’t mind you using it briefly to rescue some stragglers?
So, through a series of rope hauls and other nonsense, this guy and Ross manage to get Amber onto the boat.
The man began taking notes of her symptoms. She was still shivering uncontrollably, looked very disorientated, and was trying to say something but her speech was slurred.
“Yeah, that’s a moderate case of hypothermia,” the man explained.
Thanks for that. Guess who looked up the symptoms seconds before writing this bit? I still remember, even back then. I couldn’t have been less blunt about it. Also, a moderate case is still pretty severe. You should probably call an ambulance. But of course, the characters in this story are apparently allergic to the emergency services.
“Take her into the cabin and try your best to warm her up. I’ll go and get her a warm drink.”
“Thanks for your help,” Ross said to him, leading Amber into a warm, central heated room, and settling her onto a sofa.
Household first aid! Can’t beat it! Did you accidentally cut off one of your limbs? Never mind hospital, I’ll just get the sellotape.
Not that I’m knocking people who are actually trained in first aid, but still, hospital is a pretty good idea, and it doesn’t even occur to this loser.
Also, please never say to a horny teenage boy to warm up a female friend of his who’s nearly completely inert with cold, alright?
The man reveals his name is Fraser and that he used to be a paramedic. Which…is OK, but still not ideal.
“[…]but I know how to treat hypothermia. We’re going to have to remove your wet clothes.”
OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
Just stop this. Stop it right now. This could not get any creepier. Actually, no, better not tempt fate on that one…
Amber made a small noise of protest from the sofa.
“Don’t worry,” Fraser said. “I have a sister your age. I’ve got a change of clothes in the wardrobe.”
Yes, except it’s not your fucking boat, is it? And why do you know someone who keeps the clothes of thirteen-year-old girls in their boat? How many before Amber have their been? I don’t like the way this is going…
So, they set about warming up Amber.
STOP SAYING THAT.
The worst part about this is that I use it as an opportunity for Ross and Amber to grow closer together. It’s really upsetting to look back on…
Ross found it hard to leave her side while Fraser walked around, getting towels and things to wrap her in to warm her up. Ross subconsciously found his hand in hers. He didn’t let go though.
Of course you didn’t, creepy pervert. OK, so it’s not as bad as it seems, obviously, but quite why I needed hypothermia to bond these two is a real question…
Amber looked up at Ross. How he reminded her of…
That one rapist from that one TV episode.
She stopped and shook her head. Thinking about him wasn’t going to help. Not at this point.
No, it really wouldn’t. Also, is nobody going to ask why she randomly shook her head to no apparent stimulus?
So, they manage to get Amber’s temperature back to normal, which is lucky for them, otherwise they would have been charged with culpable homicide and possible indecent assault, and Fraser calls the numbers of the guardians they give him.
Amber gave him Terry’s number and Ross gave him the number of the children’s home he lived in, and Fraser rang them to ask them to pick them up.
They do both have phones, so they could probably ring them themselves. Also, rather casual revelation on Ross’ part. Children’s home! They’re not as common though, these days are they? I mean…I might have to get more information on social services, but emergency and more long-term foster care is the more the thing, right?
As Ross walked over to the car that belonged to Roland, the head care worker. However, when he saw who was in the car with him.
Keith got out and began to walk towards Ross, smirking slightly.
See, I would have put Ross in emergency foster care given that he has this lunatic attempting to mount him constantly.
Ross told Keith to do something that hopefully Roland didn’t hear.
“Language!” Keith said, still smirking. “We gotta go.”
It disappoints me somewhat that Ross is just as confrontational as everyone else. Wouldn’t it be much more interesting for him to a be something of a doormat, putting him at a nice contrast with Amber. But anyway, never mind that…
Terry comes to pick Amber up, and still seems to refrain from calling an ambulance just as a precaution, but then again, I had no ambulance following my collision with a bike, so…
They have some father-daughter bonding which is actually just a lot less irritating than before. Most prominently of all, Amber actually confesses to being a bit of a brat.
“Hey dad…I’m sorry about…”
“Well, not coming straight home, and of course getting into a fight yesterday.”
Maturity! At last! Oh, it’s lovely when a character admits to being wrong…but then we get this…
“I’m sorry too. I guess that perhaps that school wasn’t quite right for you. Maybe I could pay for another private school-”
“No,” Amber said quickly, surprising even herself.
Why is always the way? A cliche when people hold opposing views both come round to seeing the other’s point of view. It’s a trope that’s very common on Waterloo Road, but I think I was writing this before I even watched it, so…
So, Amber wants to stay now, and Terry agrees but would rather Amber stayed at home tomorrow due to…well, hypothermia, which is fair enough. Quite the doting parent he is. Amber also reflects on why she’s chosen to stay.
But it turned out that she’d taking a small liking to Ruth. And Ross as well. She sighed. The problem with Ross is that he reminded her, far too much, of Nathan.
GASP. NAME-DROPPING!! Who is this man, what sort of devil is he, to have me caught in a trap and choose to let me- yeah, well, anyway, we get to find out more about this Nathan at a later stage.
We then get a final scene with Ruth, who, for once, isn’t agonising over Ian not being there, but rather her brother not being there. Yes, she’s waiting for her brother to come home from uni to join them…why in January, fuck knows, but we do get to see her brother eventually.
The front door opened and Fraser walked in.
OMG PLOT TWIST!!! IT ALL CONNECTS. HE ACTUALLY DID HAVE A SISTER AMBER’S AGE!!! WHAT A COMPLETELY pointless coincidence.
Seriously, what is my obsession with nepotism? I’m pretty sure Fraser doesn’t even do anything in the rest of this story, so…?
Anyway, Fraser fills them in on what happened, Ruth is amazed at the coincidence, and that’s where the chapter ends.
Next chapter? I don’t know when it will come, basically…at some point…but please let me know what you think of this one, feel free to share your own writing experiences and…thanks for reading.