Fog at Barking Abbey

Six-minute story

Fog at Barking Abbey

They had pulled off this stunt while they were pupils at the school. Now they had come back as teachers, in charge of the classrooms where they had once sat down and handed in their homework.

One dark winter’s afternoon they spilled out from the last class of the day. They could see the dim glow of the street lights out on the road past the school, but little more. There had been warnings about fog and the teacher had told them to get home quickly before it got any worse.

All around them their schoolmates were scurrying home, to catch a late bus perhaps or to make their ways through streets that were no longer familiar, doors that had been brightly painted now looking dull and glowering at them. But these boys are not in a hurry for the weather is on their side and no one will notice them and bother them now – What are you doing boys? Why don’t you get off home now boys?

The mini was always parked there after school. Its owner was the deputy head and, no matter how late they left school, it was always there. Sometimes they wondered whether she ever used it – it looked untouched, as if it had been delivered there straight from the show-room and had been forgotten. Minis were new then and eye-catching; people still turned and stared when one passed by. It seemed a pity that this one had been left there with nothing to do.

“Any good stealing cars in a fog?”

“What d’yer mean?”

“Well, no one would see, would they?”

“Not going to steal this one are you?”

“No, but…” He paused. He was the tallest one in the group and he shouted out into the fog.

“Oi – Graham.”

From somewhere out in the fog a voice called back.

The tall boy called again, “Over here. Bring the others.”

Just around the corner were the spare rugby posts. They only needed two of them and each one was easily raised off the ground. The tall boy showed them how to slide each post under the car and position it so that at each corner two of them could take hold of the post, ready to heave it up. For a moment they struggled to move the car evenly but then they straightened their backs and staggered forward, out onto a hockey pitch which stretched from the edge of the playground as far as the road. When they reached the centre of the pitch they managed to lower the car gently to the ground, retrieve the posts which they returned to their rightful place and go home. Around them the fog was getting thicker by the minute; it was to last for three days.

None of the people who were looking for the car thought to walk out into the fog which cloaked the hockey pitch. There were no tyre marks leading there, only foot-prints. On the third day the sun broke through in the early afternoon and slowly, as if coming up to breathe, the car’s roof revealed itself before the end of school and the coming of the dark. The deputy head could see the funny side of it – she had better let the police know, but the head of games was not amused – “How dare they leave a car on that hockey pitch – we have to play championship matches on there.”

And they still do.

What words and phrases does the writer use to convey the atmosphere late on a foggy afternoon?

Why do you think the boys carried out this practical joke?
How would you react if your friends asked you to help them play a trick like this on a teacher?

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