Rozena, heart hammering, slipped the note back into her pocket. She looked around, but nobody was watching her. She couldn’t imagine who might have put that note in her pocket. She badly wanted to be alone so that she could think about it, but to her irritation, her mother insisted on going all the way home with her.
“Don’t you need to get back to work?” she insisted, but her mother just shook her head and didn’t respond. Luckily the bus came quickly and it was only a short walk to the block of flats where they lived.
“Now can you go to work?” said Rozena. “Or are you going to come all the way up the stairs with me?”
Her mother sighed and glanced at her watch. “Okay. You’re right,” she said. “You go straight up to your room and stay there, okay? You don’t need to get into any more trouble.”
Rozena just nodded. She didn’t intend to obey her mother, but somehow, if she didn’t say anything, it felt like less of a lie. She waited till her mother was out of sight before she took the note out of her pocket again.
Meet us at the spaza shop on Camber Road. Come alone. We really can help.
Rozena hesitated for a while longer. Somebody was playing with her, that was clear. First, that little bag of white powder, and now this mysterious note in her pocket? Was it supposed to be some kind of joke?
But, there was a chance that the person who wrote the note might know what was going on. After another look around to check if anyone was watching her, Rozena made her way down the street towards Camber Road.
When she reached the spaza shop, Rozena pulled the note out and read the message again, but it didn’t give her any more information about what she was supposed to do next.
Then she noticed a girl standing nearby; a plump girl with short, frizzy hair that stood around her round face in a black halo. The girl caught her eye, and beckoned her towards a door.
Rozena hesitated. The girl looked familiar. Somebody from her school? She checked over her shoulder again, and when she looked back, the girl was stepping through a door near the back of the spaza shop.
Rozena took a deep breath. Did she really have any choice? She walked over pushed the door open.
“Well hello! Come inside.”
The room beyond smelled of old popcorn, soap, and mouldy cardboard. It was too dark for Rozena to see who was speaking but she knew there was more than one other person in there with her.
As her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw that she was in some kind of storeroom. Boxes of soap powder and tins lined the shelves. There were three people crowded around her. The girl she’d seen earlier, a small, fat, blond boy – and the tall, disreputable shape of Trevor Africa!
Rozena gaped at him in surprise. What on earth was Trevor doing here? She remembered all the stories about him getting into trouble, and wondered if she should try to get away.
“Welcome!” said the round-faced girl. “I’m so glad you came. So, you got our note?”
Trevor rolled his eyes and the blond boy snorted. “Of course she got our note,” he said. “Why else would she be here?”
“So, you’re the ones who say you can help me?” Rozena looked from one to the other kid, her stomach sinking with disappointment. But what had she expected, after all?
“Yes!” said the girl. “We can help you. We know all about the drugs that have been planted on you. We know who did–”
The blond boy nudged her. “She’s got to swear first!” he said.
“Oh. Yeah.” The girl gave Rozena a serious look. “We can help you. But you have to swear you won’t tell anyone about meeting us here, or anything that we tell you, or anything that you see here.”
Rozena felt like laughing. This must be some kind of joke. “Are you serious?” Then she caught Trevor’s eye. He didn’t look like he was joking at all.
“Okay,” Rozena shrugged. “What have I got to lose, after all? I swear–”
“No, you got to do it properly,” said the girl. “Repeat after me.” She straightened up and put her hand on her heart. “I do solemnly swear – come on, repeat it – I swear by love and honour, by my family and by my blood, that I will keep the secrets that are about to be revealed to me.”
Rozena hesitated. It all felt like a children’s game … but … there was something in the manner of all three of these kids that made her wonder. With a sigh, she put her hand on her heart and repeated the words.
“Now blindfold her!” said the girl. Before Rozena could protest, Trevor stepped behind her and slipped something over her head, covering her eyes so that she couldn’t see anything. He tied it tightly behind her head.
“Not so tight that she gets a headache!” said the girl.
Rozena’s hands came up automatically, but somebody – was it Trevor? – caught them and prevented her from taking off the blindfold.
“Can we really trust her?” grumbled Trevor and the other boy answered with something that Rozena couldn’t hear.
She heard a click and a beep, and the sound of a door opening. But how could that be? There was only one door in the store room, and that was behind her, wasn’t it? Could there be another door that she hadn’t noticed?
“Come along.” Somebody nudged her in the back and Rozena walked reluctantly forward.
“Careful. Stairs going down,” said the girl, and somebody took a firm grasp of Rozena’s shoulders to keep her from stumbling. With each step down, Rozena expected to reach the bottom, but the stairs kept going down, and down, and down.
Tell us: What do you think the word ‘scram’ in the title ‘SCRAM Kids” refers to?