TIME GAMERS: The Chameleon Quest
Extract from Chapter 2
by Lesley Reed
At that very moment a series of bloodcurdling roars rolled in like thunder.
Tim jumped like a puppet on a string. His mouth dropped open and the pet skinks he’d smuggled along on the excursion wriggled about in his shorts pocket as if someone had stomped on them.
Miss Brady’s reaction was quite different. Clearly unafraid, she squealed in delight and for the first time that morning her chameleon tongue lashed into the air. It scattered a number of flies hovering among the manure smells that seeped in waves over the zoo wall.
‘Listen to that, Tim!’ she declared, as she extended her thin arms in a triumphant gesture. ‘The noises you hear are not zoo sounds; no cage could hold these creatures! They are excited, because they know you’re coming, you see!’
‘The other side, of course! There’s always another side to a game, otherwise why would you play it? Who…or in this instance what …would you play against, dear boy?’
‘Miss Brady, if it means I have to leave the others, I don’t really want to play the game!’ Tim protested, as his heart thumped against his ribs. ‘I’m sorry I complained about the excursion earlier. I’ve changed my mind about the zoo; it’s not just for little kids. Couldn’t I just collect my ticket now and go in there with my friends?’
‘Nonsense! Enjoy the game experience, Tim. I promise you, nobody is ever the same afterwards; that’s how amazing it is!’
Miss Brady’s thin face creased into a secretive multi-hued smile as her eyes swiveled wildly. She nudged Tim with her bony elbow.
‘Got your lunchbox with you today?’
Tim nodded, wondering what his lunchbox had to do with what was happening, but an uncontrollable chattering of his teeth meant he couldn’t say a word.
‘Good. You won’t need the food in it, Tim,’ Miss Brady went on, ‘but you will need the lunchbox, and very soon. First things first, though; it’s important you brace yourself for a fright, one of many more to come, I’m afraid.’
I’ve already had enough frights for one day, thought Tim desperately, but resigned to whatever might happen now, he held his breath and squeezed his eyes shut.
Miss Brady grasped his shoulders and turned him slowly away from her.
‘You will not be alone in this adventure, but the game will soon be yours to lead, Tim,’ she whispered. ‘You need to be very brave. Many others will rely on your decisions. Now, open your eyes. There is someone you must meet.’