“You’ll never guess what, some guy was killed in the woods last night” Matt said excitedly to his half sister Sasha, as they sat in the school’s computer suite about half an hour later.
“What?” Sasha looked disbelieving at Matt, turning from the program she had previously been trying to install onto the school system for the head of ICT.
“Sorry about him,” Simon said, and began a much more sympathetic account of the morning’s activities, with Matt adding pointless comments in here and there.
If anyone was to guess who, out of the two lads, Sasha was most related to, they would likely say Simon. Sasha too had an Eastern look about her, although her features where more oriental as opposed to Simon’s Asian background.
Like Simon, Sasha had never lived outside the U.K, although her appearance would suggest otherwise. She was half Japanese on her father’s side, but she had been born in London and moved to Little Hallington when her parents divorced. Her father had now moved back to Japan, while her mother and Matt’s father where now married.
Despite not being blood related, Matt and Sasha saw each other as true brother and sister. Sasha had been two when her parents had divorced and five when her mother remarried. Matt was the same age as her, younger by about three months, making both of them too old to remember the times before their parents got together. Despite this, Sasha and Matt shared most friends, Sasha, for example, was almost as close to Simon and Simon was to Matt. It was only her desire to reach school early and set about on the computer system that had prevented her being present in the woods, she usually walked up to school with Simon and Matt.
If there was anyone more skilled with computers than Sasha in Little Hallington Simon didn’t know them, and everyone knew everyone down in the village. He had known Sasha since she first moved to Little Hallington, and was yet to find a problem with a computer she couldn’t solve. Although appearing mild and modest, everyone knew Sasha loved being better than everyone else in this field, and only ever laughed at Matt’s suggestions that she “wasn’t doing much for the Japanese computer-geek stereotype”
“So what do you think it was?” Sasha asked, when Simon finally managed to finish the retelling without Matt adding in a fight between a mutated Tyrannosaurus and a tentacle bearing alien “there haven’t been reports of any mildly dangerous creatures in those woods since the nineteen-nineties, is your dad sure it was an animal attack?”
“Seemed it,” Simon said, concerned “maybe it was a dog or something, it has been known, hunter dogs to escape and maul people in the woods”
“Yes but no one keeps hunter dogs here,” Sasha reminded him “and I doubt Mrs Pillpotts’s poodle could have done that”
“Maybe it was someone keeping them in secret,” Matt suggested, and both Simon and Sasha knew his imagination was off again “y’know, breeding them, training them for dog fights. Then one escaped into Johnson’s woods and...”
“Matt,” said Simon “who in Little Hallington is going to breed dogs for dog fighting?”
“Doesn’t have to come from Little Hallington,” Matt said, pointing to the town of Upper Hallington outside the school’s window “could come from here”
“Again,” Sasha said, exasperated “who in anywhere in Hallington could host dog fights and get away with it?”
“Well I never did trust Charlie Neil,” Matt said, then hid his face as Sasha glared at him and whimpered “joking”. He knew Sasha had undying respect for Charlie Neil, a top forensics doctor in Upper Hallington, in fact the uncle of one of Sasha, Simon and Matt’s closest friends.
“I know this isn’t very encouraging,” Sasha said slowly “but how does your dad know it was an animal? Maybe it was a human that did the killing?”
Simon bit his lip “There where forensics down there with him,” he concluded “I’m guessing they recognised claw and teeth marks and such”
“Maybe...” Matt began, but Sasha and Simon stopped him, before he could make a suggestion about werewolves.
At that moment the head of ICT, Barry Thompson, entered, and asked Sasha if she had installed the program yet. Sasha, who had managed to install the maths program whilst talking to Simon and Matt nodded and proceeded to show Thompson how it worked. During this demonstration, Simon realised that his biology lesson began two minutes ago, and quickly bid farewell to Sasha and Matt before bundling up his stuff and heading to the door.
“Nice work Miss Jones” he heard Thompson say, as he hurried from the computer suite, and couldn’t help grinning.
When she was first born, Sasha had taken on her father’s Japanese surname, but when her parents had divorced (‘it was not a pleasant few months’ Simon had been told) her mother had begun calling her by her British maiden name, and it had stuck. Even after marrying Matt’s father, she had allowed her daughter to keep that surname. Unfortunately, the Japanese/British name mixture did not match up well, and Simon couldn’t help sniggering whenever he was reminded that Sasha’s full name was Sasha Kimiko Smith. Sasha was easily used to it by now, and had stopped being offended by it when she was in Year 2 and now saw it as as much of a joke as her friends, but Simon and Matt always did their best to stifle laughs whenever they were reminded of this.
However, Simon’s thoughts were not on his friend’s name as he made his way to Biology that morning. They had had fun joking about it, but the point still stood. Something had killed that man in Johnson’s woods last night, and as far as they knew it had not left and had not been caught. Simon felt mildly ashamed of it, but he was worried.