Excerpt from the very beginning of Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Streams of purple, red and green fireworks exploded in the cool November evening. Tim
looked up. They were now descending at an unnatural pace and colourful sparks were fanning
out and darting towards him. He flinched, and, stumbling, tried to shoo them away. Just as
they were about to strike he scrunched up his shoulders and squeezed his eyelids shut. Then it
hit him all at once. He opened one eye, then the other, raised his hands and turned them from
side to side. He was covered in multicoloured gunge. Whatever it was, it had no smell, but
there was no mistaking the fact that it looked like he had been doused with liquidised M&Ms.
But instead of burning, his hands felt cold. He relaxed his shoulders and tilted his head
upwards. What was this stuff and where had it come from? Was it a new type of firework or a
nutter with a paintball gun taking random shots at Cambridge’s finest?
A rocket exploded and he cupped his ears. The watery spray above his head, which he
had assumed was made up of sparks, decelerated instantly. As he drew his hands away the
spray sped up. It was the weirdest thing he’d ever seen – it was like the laws of physics had
gone on strike. He brushed his jacket and rubbed his hands together, but he couldn’t get rid of
the colour.
‘Tim, what are you doing?’ asked his dad as the noise of the rocket faded.
‘What do you mean what am I doing? Can’t you see? I’m covered in this gunk. Some
kind of paint from those stupid fireworks,’ said Tim.
‘What are you talking about? What paint?’
Tim looked down at his jacket, then at his hands. ‘Oh, that’s weird. I could have sworn…’
It was then that the sky exploded in a fountain of golds, reds and silvers. Roman candles
erupted from all sides of the field, multiple high pitched shrieks followed burst after burst of
white sparks, which sprayed upwards, lighting up the crowd by the hot dog stand.
Tim flinched. Rockets fizzed and shot high above the roaring bonfire, spurting clusters
of coloured light, and spreading out in all directions. Bang. Bang. Bang.
He ran his hands through his hair and tried to make out what his dad was saying.
‘I can’t hear you,’ said Tim, holding his ears, his face screwed up. He looked down at his
jacket. No splashes of paint. Had he really imagined it before?
‘I said,’ shouted Tim’s dad, ‘where’s your mum with those hot dogs?’
‘Can’t see anything from here. It’s too far away, too dark,’ said Tim, trying to get a fix on
the hot dog stand.
‘Best if you go and give her a hand. Look how busy it is. She probably can’t find us.’
‘I can do, ‘ said Tim looking at his watch. ‘But I’m meeting a couple of mates here in
about half an hour, remember?’
Tim wasn’t against keeping up their family tradition of attending the local bonfire night
on Midsummer Common – which was, as his dad habitually boasted, the biggest show in East
Anglia. But, like any street-savvy fourteen year old, he felt a strong compulsion to keep a
safe distance from his parents.

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