A can of coke may have been at stake, but my clumsy hand prevented me from snagging the heart, and Abbie raced ahead on our mental scoreboards, leaving me well and truly behind. As if to add to my defeat and to tease me into annoyance, Abbie also discovered the lungs and the stomach. The only thing remotely important that I found was the liver.
Once our game was over and Abbie had snatched the chance of a free fizzy drink from me, Mr Jones came over to inspect our final outcome. He admired the remains of the rat and clapped his hands in a congratulatory gesture.
“Well done, girls, you did a very thorough job” Jones cheered, and everyone looked around at us, to see what was expected out of them. Nearly all of them looked away when they found out what state our rat was in.
Mr Jones had lost the look of guilt that he had worn so suspiciously just ten minutes previously, and instead he smiled at me. Maybe it was just a slip up. Unfortunately that’s what I had wanted to believe.
“You can pack up if you want, and write down your results” Jones informed us, and strolled to evaluate the next pair’s rodent.
“Ugh, look at that” Abbie grimaced as she pointed at the rat’s open chest. I did as I was told and focused on the inside of the rat. There was nothing unusual about it, nothing I should have been worried about. Just the usual stripped body of a deceased animal, bare of anything but flesh and bone and globs of blood.
Without warning Abbie slipped her hand under the rat’s back and lifted it up right into my face. She halted mere millimetres short of my nose and snorted.
“I had you there. You thought you were gonna wear a rat’s body on your face” she giggled, placing the rat down back on the tray where it belonged.
“Yeah you had me, I’m sure no one wants a skanky rat carcass on their face” I retorted good-naturedly.
“Do you want me to dispose of this lovely creature?” Abbie queried, exaggerating a posh accent.
“I’ll do that, you take the knife”
Abbie nodded and picked up the knife, holding it so that the blade was extending out of her fist. I should have warned her about carrying the potentially dangerous object in such a way, but kept silent.
As Abbie glided off she caught her foot in the metal leg of her chair and began tumbling forward. The razor blade of the knife glistening evilly as the sun’s rays collided with it, and Abbie’s hand fell down to my arm. I felt an agonizing stab of pain as the knife sunk into the soft skin of my arm. Abbie instinctively retracted her arm away from me and stood back.
“Jess, I’m so sorry!” she yelped apologetically.
“It’s okay, really it’s...” I stammered, halting in my speech when I saw Mr Jones, who had witnessed everything, glaring at the wound on my arm.
Half of the knife’s blade was buried deep in my arm, and I looked stupid with it sticking out of my arm, but that wasn’t my problem. And neither was the burning pain that prickled my injured limb.
It was the blood that was seeping from the cut.
The blood was blue.