I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Monday, 28 July 2014

THE PORTUGUESE EXAMS - Part 4


Listening


Regan waited in the hallway with her own bottle of Glenning Water to hand. When the invigilator came round the corner, she collided with him.
            'Sorry,' she said, dropping her water bottle after his. She picked up a few of his papers and handed them to him whilst swapping the bottles around underneath.
            'It's fine, it's fine,' her mark said, 'Are they setting up in the gym?'
            'Yes.'
            'Right. I'll have to check if they've got the recording equipment.'
            'It's all set up. The technician tested a disc in it.'
            'But not this one.' the invigilator held up a disc marked 'PORTUGUESE UNIT 4: LISTENING'.
            Regan followed him into the room. 'I know where the technician is if we need him.'
            'All right.' the invigilator put the disc into the computer drive.
            A few electronic whirring sounds later and: 'This is the Portuguese Listening exam. There are...'
            'That's fine then,' the invigilator paused the track and glanced up at Regan. 'You feeling thirsty today?'
            'Forewarned is forearmed.'
            'Very true.' he began to loosen his collar. 'It's actually feeling a little close already...'
            'I'll open a window then.' Regan moved slowly over to back end of the room, watching as the invigilator drank a quarter of his water bottle in one go. 'Feel better?'
            'Marginally,' he said.
            'I might just check on the gym lot,' Regan said, 'While I'm at it.'
            'All right.' The mark sank into his chair.
            Regan closed the door behind her and returned to the corner outside.

            About half an hour into the exam, Regan noticed the invigilator struggling in his chair, his hands gripping and slipping off the arms. The student glanced at him then nodded at her.
            Regan entered, kneeling down beside her mark to check his pulse. The student continued to stare at him.
            'Are you all right?' Regan said.
            'It's like he's...shut down.'
            'A few of his key organs, definitely. The rest of him will take a bit longer.' Regan stood up. 'I can't resuscitate him, you know.'
            'I know, it's just...'
            'How far are you? Into the paper?'
            The student frowned at her but flicked through it. 'Two pages.'
            'Well that might have to be where you leave off.' Regan grabbed the poisoned water bottle before it fell away. 'Come with me.'
            They moved into the next room, leaving the recording to play to itself. 'I'm just going to find someone. Steady breaths, okay?'
            The student nodded. Regan propped the door open with a wedge.

            Regan stepped outside, emptying the bottle onto the already rain-soaked pavement. She knew that the student wouldn't be able to handle it when the body went limp; even the adults she usually worked for preferred to not actually see the act or even the lifeless face after it. This girl wasn't quite as hardy as her mother, she lacked the morbid interest.
            Regan never quite understood what she found so captivating about death. It was just a sudden collapse, the stopping of breathing. Even murder isn't quite so interesting when there's no passion in it. Regan found that whenever anything becomes a business, no-one wants to watch the process more than once.
            Then again the student's mother must have stopped watching a long time ago, must have discovered the passion for herself. Fortunately she never learned how to safely leave it behind.
            Regan re-entered the building and caught up with the technician.
            ‘The invigilator in the room beside the gym,’ she said. ‘He’s dead, I think.’
            ‘Sorry?’ the technician said.
            ‘The exam invigilator died in the Portuguese Listening exam. I moved the student but the equipment is still in the room.’
            ‘Right.’ the technician turned on his walkie-talkie. ‘Derek, there's a serious problem in P14. A casualty apparently. I’m going to check.’
            ‘I’ll go tell the exams officer,’ Regan said.
            ‘Right.’ the technician ran up the hallway.
            Regan carried on slowly, taking turns that led her further away from the exams office and towards the main entrance. She had already removed her visitor’s badge. She threw the bottle into a random bin.   
            She thought about the girl, how scared she would be, how much she probably needed to talk right now. Regan would send a short, apologetic message to her mother and then, from a safe distance, do the right thing.

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