“Oh, have you seen this? Rozena, come and look at this!”

Rozena put her bag down and looked round the hotel room. It was huge – more than twice the size of her bedroom at home. It had two large beds, piled high with pillows, and a picture window that had a view of the night lights of Johannesburg.

Her best friend, Emma, was already out of sight and in the bathroom.

“It’s our very own bathroom!” Emma shouted. “And it’s got a movie-star mirror. Come and see!”

Rozena pushed the door open and found a luxurious bathroom. The tiles were pale gold and the lights low and flattering. Rozena posed in front of one of the mirrors, smiling with delight. The mirror was surrounded by a frame of lightbulbs, exactly like the ones in movie star dressing rooms.

“And, there’s a jacuzzi fitting in the bath,” said Rozena, bouncing to the shining white tub to show her. “And just look at these pretty towels.” She fingered the two towels that had been folded into fan shapes.

Rozena bent to look at the row of bottles on one of the glass shelves. “Do you think we can use these?” They were a shampoo and a body lotion, but so small they would fit into the palm of her hand.

“Of course.” Emma snatched up one of the bottles and opened it. “Mmm! Just smell.” She held it out and Rozena breathed a sweet scent of roses. “We are going to have such fun.” Emma skipped back into the bedroom. “Can I have the bed next to the window?”

“I don’t mind,” said Rozena. She was glad Emma had come to Johannesburg with her. The Rising Star competition had paid for their flights and their accommodation at the hotel. Rozena was a finalist, and Emma was assisting her with the presentation of the competition project.

Rozena was nervous just thinking about the competition, but Emma didn’t seem in the least bit worried. True, they’d gone over the details so many times that both Rozena and Emma could do the presentation with their eyes closed.

Rozena’s competition project was a smartphone app that could act as a voice-activated panic button, to help people in emergencies. If she won, she would get a scholarship, which would make it possible for her to study at a university – something she would never be able to afford otherwise.

“Well, I’m going to go have a shower.” Emma opened her bag and dug out her toiletries. “It must be nearly midnight and I’m exhausted.”

While her friend enjoyed the bathroom, Rozena stood by the window and looked down at the night-time city. The competition was not the only thing on her mind. These days, she was a member of SCRAM, a secret organisation of talented young people who used their skills to fight crime. Just a few weeks ago, the SCRAM kids had helped to clear Rozena of false drug charges.

Rozena knew that Zazi, Colin, and Trevor, the other SCRAM kids, had come to Johannesburg too, but she had no idea why. Was it some SCRAM mission that they hadn’t told her about?

Rozena went to sit on the bed, pulling her legs up under her, and snuggling into the pile of pillows. Emma was right. The hotel room was fantastic, but she wondered if she would really be able to enjoy it, with the final round of the Rising Star competition so soon. All her time would be taken up with preparations, and she was already feeling so nervous she wasn’t sure if she could sleep.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket, and she took it out. There was a message waiting for her:

Hey there. Can you find your way to the hotel roof? Meet you there at midnight. Zazi.

“What’s that?” said Emma from the door. She was wrapped in an enormous white towel, and had a towel turban round her head. “Your mom checking up on you already?”

“Hmm,” said Rozena, putting her phone away again, her heart pounding. So, she’d been right after all. The SCRAM kids were here, and they were starting some new adventure already.

Rozena thought that Emma would never go to bed – her friend didn’t know about SCRAM. To attend the midnight meeting, Rozena would have to slip out without Emma noticing.

But, at last, Emma switched off her bedside lamp and snuggled into the crisp cotton sheets with a happy, “Goodnight!”


Tell us: Can you sleep well if you are excited or nervous? What can you do to calm down?