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Chapter 1
“Oh no!” groaned Nick, looking at his Monday morning timetable. “We’ve got
double Hippobottomus first thing!”
“What?” whined Bill. “You sure?”
“Yep,” said Nick, pointing to the slip of card they had been given at the start of
Mr. Hipobaum was the Year Five Geography teacher at the St. Thomas School in
Kent. He had small beady eyes, buck-teeth and looked rather like a hippopotamus,
hence his rather unfortunate nickname.
“Don’t you think he’s been acting a little strangely lately, like he’s about to erupt or
something?” Nick asked.
“Volcanic, definitely,” agreed Bill as they made their inevitable way to the worst
possible start to anyone’s week of school.
William J. Pennysworth, or just plain Bill, was Nick Taylor’s best friend. They had
grown up together and were once next door neighbours. Bill’s father was the county
crossword champion and had made him sleep with a dictionary under his pillow as a
baby. This was an effort to make his son as brilliant with words as he was. Bill insists
it didn’t work but even aged just nine, he was already an expert in words ending with
nic. He used them at every available opportunity, usually just to annoy Nick.
It was their ambition to become private investigators when they grew up, and they
were going to call it The Taylor Pennysworth Detective Agency. The two of them
could no more resist a mystery than miss dinner or an episode of Columbo.
©2006 James Paul Harbison