Jack 2: Thoroughly Threatening Thursday

Jack's mum woke him up the next morning. It was a Tuesday. He was so sleepy after the party that he had to work really hard to wake up, shower, have breakfast and get ready for school. He got on his knees to look for his shoes under the bed. For some reason they weren't sticking out as they usually did. He looked under the bed to find them, and he saw a large parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.

"Wow," he thought, "Someone must have shoved it in there last night."

It had pushed his shoes to one side. He pulled them out, and was about to drag the parcel out when his mum called from downstairs, "Jack. Hurry up. You'll be late for school. You don't want that on your first day in a new class, do you? You won't know what's going on. Jen's ready."

Jen, his older sister, called out too. "Come on, lazy bones. I've been ready for ages."

"OK, mum. OK, Jen. I'm coming," he called back. He looked at his watch. It was a quarter past eight. Time to go.

Jack, his mum and his sister Jen walked together to school. As usual, Jen was a few steps behind. She didn't want to be seen dead with her brother and her mum.

It took about half an hour to walk to school. Jack looked up at his mum's face. She was watching all the cars go by, mothers driving, kids in the back. "Do you remember, Jack, how we used to do that?"

"Yes, we used to leave after half past eight. It was great, extra time in bed!"

"Yes, and you made good use of it. I'm sorry we had to sell the car, but at least we're getting a bit healthier walking to school."

"Ha ha, especially when it's wet and windy."

"Don't be sarcastic. It's the lowest form of humour. You know I'd love to be able to drive you two to school. But we just couldn't afford to keep the car."

"OK, you're right as usual mum. Sorry!"

Today they were lucky. The autumn sun was shining, and there was quite a bit of warmth in it, so they enjoyed the walk. Jack's schoolbag was almost empty. All it held was his packed lunch. No books, no homework going back and forth yet. And Jack was excited, not just at the thought of seeing his friends again, but also by the mysterious parcel. He was dying to  open it to see what it was.

They got to the school. Jen walked straight in. She didn't want the goodbye kiss that she knew was waiting for her, so Jack got a double one from his mum, and a big hug. He waver her goodbye.

"See you later, mum."

Jack was greeted by his best friends - Tom, James, William and Aanand. They had all been at the party the night before. They clustered round Jack.

"Fantastic party last night," said William.

"Shhh," said Jack. "It's a secret. I don't want anyone else to know about it."

"Why?" asked Aanand.

"Well, my mum doesn't know about it. I hope you didn't tell anyone."

"No, we're not stupid," said Tom. "It's the first time in my life that I've been magicked out of my bed to a party with no grown-ups there. I hope it's not the last. Can you do it again?"

"I wish I knew how," said Jack. "Anyway, it certainly won't happen again if you blab about it."

Jack wasn't sure that what he said was true, but he didn't want to tempt fate.

The day passed quickly. New teachers, new subjects, new classrooms. Jack couldn't wait to get home. When he, his mum and his sister arrived home, they got a surprise. Uncle Peter was waiting for them.

"OK, you lot, get in the car, we're off for a slap up tea. It's instead of your birthday party, Jack."

"Oh," said Jack. Then he realised how ungrateful he must be sounding, "Lovely, I was very disappointed that I didn't have a party yesterday, but this makes up for it."

"No time to change?" asked Jen.

"It's not a fashion show," replied Uncle Peter. "Go on, get into the car."

They all climbed in. Fifteen minutes later, Uncle Peter parked outside the local pizza restaurant. And when they went in, there were Tom, James, William and Aanand, grinning from ear to ear.

"You rotters," said Jack, laughing.

"Who's worried about us not being able to keep a secret now?" asked James.

"What's that about?" asked Uncle Peter.

"Ah, that's a secret," said Jack.

They got home late, and it was time for bed. Jack knelt down again just to check that the parcel was there. Thank goodness, it was. He showered quickly and set his watch to wake him up an hour early, got into bed, and within five minutes he was deeply asleep.

At seven o'clock, the beep of his alarm woke him. Within seconds he had pulled the parcel from under the bed. He untied it carefully, and used his penknife to slit the sticky tape so that he could fold the paper neatly and put in a drawer. On the lid of a the box was a picture of a giant spaceship, against the dark background of space, with stars and planets spread across it. But the labelling was all written in what looked like Chinese. Jack opened the box. It was a kit. He found the instruction booklet underneath a big polythene bag containing the parts. He looked through it.

"Oh no," he said to himself. "It's all looks like it's in Chinese. Well, I'll give it a go tonight."

And that night, he did. After his supper and homework. he made a start. He managed the big bits, but there were lots of little bits that looked like they could go anywhere. He was left with about fifty bits spare. Some of them didn't seem to fit anywhere. Jack wondered whether they should have been fitted inside the spaceship. It was getting late, and he was tired.

"I'll try again tomorrow night," he thought. "I'm not getting up early again. I'm too tired"

So, Thursday night saw Jack battling with the spaceship again. But nothing seemed to fit. Jack was close to tears. He had been so looking forward to having his friends round to admire the present. Then tears did come into his eyes. He was close to stamping on the spaceship and smashing it when he heard a squeaky little voice saying, "I wouldn't if I was you."

Jack looked around his room. He wasn't sure where the voice was coming from. "Who's there?" he asked.

"Excuse me! Show a bit of respect," squeaked the voice.

"Where are you?"

"Under the bed, of course. I've been guarding your parcel."

And as Jack knelt down to look under the bed, out swaggered a little figure, clothed in armour and leather, with metal shin guards, a silver helmet and wielding a golden hammer.

"Who are you?"

"Good evening, young Jack. I'm Thor, or at least, I'm a miniature version of myself. I'm the God of Thunder. When I'm in my large form, that's my main role. Then my hammer's a lot bigger. It could smash your school down in a single blow. And if I were to shout, everyone in the town would go deaf."

"So why are you so small and squeaky now?"

"I'm doing my tour of duty on Cloud 9."

"Cloud 9? That's where Down in the Dumps Day Dragon comes from."

"Yes, that's right. Well done. If I was my usual size, I'd fall right through it, and in any case, I need to be small to do this job."

"What's this job you do?"

"Ah, my job is to help kids who are having terrible Thursdays. I'm Thoroughly Threatening Thursday Thor. But you can call me FourTH. Ha ha!"

"Does everyone on Cloud 9 have four names?"

"Of course, never more, never less."

Jack was starting to feel a bit happier. "So, you've come to help me?"

"Wow, you're quick off the mark!"

"Sarcasm is the lowest form of humour, my mum says."

"You're right. Sorry. Anyway, let's get on with it. My mum and dad are expecting me back soon."

"Are they on Cloud 9 too?"

"Oh no, my dad's Odin, king of the gods, and my mum's Freya. They live in Valhalla. It's a big hall in the kingdom of the Nordic gods, Asgard. Lots of people think we don't exist any more, but we're just taking a bit of a break and enjoying ourselves. It was tough ruling a world of a few millions, and none of us really wants to rule a world of billions of people. We'd all rather sit telling each other tales of the old times. It's my last day on this tour of duty on Cloud 9, so I'm off back to Valhalla tonight, getting back to my normal size and voice."

"Ah, I see, said Jack." but he didn't.

"Anyway, about my spaceship..."

"That's what my hammer is for," said FourTH. "Turn away from your kit, as there could be a few sparks."

Jack turned away, and immediately heard an enormous clatter as FourTH went to work with his hammer. Ten seconds later, there was silence, and FourTH's squeaky voice resumed.

"Turn round."

Jack turned round. Tere was his spaceship, hovering in the air. The bag of parts was empty. The spaceship came towards him and settled on the carpet in front of him.

"I'm afraid that's the last time it will do that," said FourTH, "but you'll have the memory."

"Wow, that's great. Yes, I'll always remember that." And he picked up the spaceship and turned it over and over, astonished at how well FourTh had finished it. He turned round to thank FourTH. But he had gone.

Jack was beginning to get used to the idea that great things were coming into his life and then going again. He didn't feel sad, because he felt in his heart that sometime he would see FourTH again. And he was right.