Have YOUR say in the story
Did you know? If you have a shed load of Marshmallows, they burn really well, for a really long time… with really big flames.
I know that because Mrs Worthy made it right across Mr Burdock’s donkey field, jumped down the little cliff, across the beach and into the sea, and we could see her flaming saucepan the whole way.
We were on the 17th Field Craft Troop annual camp out, and Jacob and Eric were arguing. Or, rather, Jacob was arguing and Eric was answering like a really wise grown up.
The row had been running ever since Mr Worthy, our Field Craft leader announced that he was banning meat sausages and white bread on health grounds, and, that from September, he would be admitting girls. This camping trip to the top of Mr Burdock’s donkey field would be the very last sausage fuelled “boys only” trip.
Jacob hadn’t taken the news of girls well - which is how he ended up with the job of lighting the fire. Mr Worthy felt sorry for him, and handed him the matches. Personally, I would have handed them to Eric, but Mr Worthy’s new, he doesn’t know Jacob.
I hoped we wouldn’t all live to regret it.
‘Jacob, things have changed. We live in the 21st century. Women run countries, vote, have their own cars,’ said Eric.
‘But they’re girls,’ said Jacob, jamming twigs in around a sheet of the Bywater-by-Sea Gazette. ‘They won’t want to do manly things – like…. like… we do. They’ll want to do cutting and sticking.’
I knew I should have been on Eric’s side about girls coming to Field Craft, that would have been the mature response, but I wasn’t that keen on spending every Friday night in the Field Craft hut with my sister, Tilly, her friend Milly and a glue stick. So I kept quiet.
‘You, Jacob,’ said Eric, ‘are in danger of becoming a dinosaur.’
‘Dinosaur – me? You’re the dinosaur! I’ll tell you I’m already prestiged at level 27 on Zombie Ops 4.1 Redux. Anyway, I’m not going to argue with you two pair of losers.’ Jacob let out a long puff of fury and the fire finally sprang into life. ‘Yay!’ he cried.
I chucked over a twig and he held it in the flame. We all held our breath as the tiny, yellow tongue flicked across the strands of wood. This fire was our only defence against a night of death-by-boredom out here on the cliff. Other entertainment included singing “One man Went to Mow”, or cooking marshmallows with Mrs Worthy, or both.
The twig lit, and Jacob piled more wood on to the fire, which didn’t go out. Instead it went from one twig and one flame, to a respectable camp fire. A few minutes more and we might have an almost out of control bonfire.
I lay back against my sleeping bag, listening to the crackle of the flames and the chatter from the other tents. The sky had turned a delicious midnight blue, and the stars showed clear and twinkly. The Worthys might have banned pork sausages and white bread, but they couldn’t ban the night sky.
Eric thumped back on the ground next to me, while Jacob huffed and puffed at the fire.
‘Look,’ said Eric, pointing. ‘There’s Jupiter – just where it ought to be.’
‘Where?’ I asked.
‘Between those two big stars - to the left of the moon.’
I focussed on the sliver of moon, and a little to the left, what appeared to be a bright star.
I put my hand up to make an ‘O’ by putting my thumb and my middle finger together.
‘Don’t,’ said Eric, pushing my arm sideways, so that I couldn't see my fingers. ‘No one would want what happened last time to happen again, would they?’
‘I’ll kill you if you even think of it, Model Village.’ Jacob jabbed the fire and the flames lit up his face like a demon. ‘I do not want to be three inches high, nor do I want the world to end in the next week because Dad’s promised an all expenses paid trip to Mega Games World and I’m not missing it.’
I let my hand fall on to my chest. I wasn’t really thinking of shrinking Jupiter. It was... mad, crazy, wonderful, but I wouldn’t do it again. Anyway, I didn’t have my meteorite; it was safely tucked up at home.
Sparks from the fire threw themselves up against the clear sky and faded.
I rolled over onto my stomach and gazed across the bay towards the town. All the lights were on, the pier looked especially pretty, lit up in purples and reds, warm and welcoming. The castle glittered too - workmen had surrounded it in orange lamps like a necklace and the light reflected off the glittering rock underneath. My stomach rumbled. I could have been perfectly happy if I wasn’t so hungry.
Mr Worthy bounced over with his guitar, silhouetted against the sky. Baseball cap, sticky up hair escaping from the gap at the back and the lump behind his neck that was the hood of his hoodie.
‘Yo!’ he said. ‘Now dudes, let’s pull together around Jacob’s fire, and have a musical moment. Mrs Worthy might even break out the marshmallows if we’re lucky – alright Janey, hun?’
‘Yuk,’ muttered Jacob.
‘Yes, Simon,’ said Mrs Worthy, like we were all five years old, including Mr Worthy. ‘Ready when you are. Everyone for marshmallows?’
There was a muffled murmur which might have been enthusiasm, but I doubted it.
I shuffled up next to Eric as the others came to sit by the fire. Mrs Worthy produced a kettle which she hung over the flames on a long wire attached to a stand. It appeared to be steaming already – I suspected foul play. I suspected that in the Worthy’s own tent they had a full cooking stove, heating, and pot noodles. And I reckoned that they would watch satellite TV all night while the rest of us slept out in the freezing cold with vegetarian burgers and watery cocoa.
The first chords came out of Mr Worthy’s guitar. It was out of tune. When Mr Worthy started singing, he was out of tune too.
I closed my eyes. It’s a shame ears don’t have lids on so that you can close them when you need do. The sound was worse when I couldn’t see, so I opened my eyes again.
The fire seemed to enjoy Mr Worthy, and the flames got stronger, splitting and doubling in size. It actually gave off some heat.
I looked up at the stars and wondered how far up the sound travelled. Could someone sitting on the edge of space hear this awful noise?
Suddenly I was wide awake. I’d heard this before.
I looked around. A shooting star whizzed towards us, a streak of light racing through the sky.
But I knew it was still moving; that it hadn’t hit anything yet.
‘Wish!’ yelled Jacob.
‘Don’t,’ I said, but my voice was lost.
I think it hit the kettle - the kettle certainly hit the fire.
A fountain of sparks bounced into the sky, showering Mr Worthy and his guitar so that he staggered backwards, brushing himself down in horror. The kettle rolled across the grass, spewing boiling water, and steam. Everyone got up and ran away, especially Mrs Worthy who ran fastest. Clutching her pan of flaming marshmallows, her skirt glowing with embers she charged off across the field, trailing sparks like a giant firework, all the little kids following.
‘Wait – dudes – I’ll put her out!’ shouted Mr Worthy, running for his car. ‘I’ve got a fire extinguisher.’ But before he could read the instructions in the dark, Mrs Worthy threw herself and the marshmallows into the sea.
It left the three of us, the remains of the campfire – and the meteorite.
‘What was that?’ whispered Eric.
‘It fell in the fire,’ said Jacob. ‘Did you wish?’
‘Leave it!’ I said. ‘It’ll be boiling hot!’
But Eric poked it with a stick, rolling the lump of stone from the ash to the grass where it steamed.
‘It’s just like yours, Tom,’ said Eric.
We sat staring at the lump of rock, glittering in the last scraps of firelight. Behind us two of the little kids were crying, and Mr Worthy was on his phone to their parents.
‘Don’t touch it,’ I warned. ‘Leave it alone, or flip it into the sea.’
For one foolish second, I thought that that was exactly what was going to happen, before Jacob lunged forward to snatch at the meteorite, and Eric leapt to his feet and tried to stop him.
‘Mine!’ shouted Jacob.
‘No!’ shouted Eric.
And the damage was done. Someone had wished, and someone had a meteorite.
Someone was going to be able to do something awesome, I just hoped it wasn't Jacob.