Escapade Park – By Adhiraj, Alexia, Anusha, Chahat, Despina, Eshani, Keyshia, Mahad and RishiIn On The Page
“ATTENTION please, Year 6!”
The class fell instantly silent. When Mr Snapson raised his voice, he clearly meant business.
“Thank you. Now, as a reward for doing so well in your SATs, and to celebrate the end of the school year, I’m planning a day out for us all.”
The class erupted with cheers and shrieks of joy.
“Pipe down, Year 6, before I change my mind,” said Mr Snapson with a commanding tone, and calm was once again restored.
“Now, I have two places in mind, and if you are sensible, I shall allow you to decide which one it will be.”
Everyone waited with bated breath to see what Mr Snapson had to offer.
“The choices are… Oakley Zoo or Escapade Park.”
Electrified whispers ran around the classroom. Children nudged their friends trying to influence them to make the same choice.
“Ahem!” Mr Snapson glared at the class. Everyone immediately folded their arms and sat up straight in their chairs.
“We’ll have a civilized show of hands, please. All those in favour of Oakley Zoo…”
Several hands went up, mostly from the quieter children, including a girl named Ashleigh, who was frightened of everything, even the tiniest spider. She’d probably be scared of half the animals in the zoo too, though that would be nothing compared to the fast and furious rides of Escapade Park.
“So, let’s see now… that’s one… two… three…” Mr Snapson began to count out loud, but to add to the suspense, he finished off scanning the numbers in his head before making a note on the pad on his desk.
“And now… who’s for Escapade Park?”
An array of hands shot up in the air.
Mr Snapson did his surreptitious counting exercise again, scribbled the result on his notepad and cleared his throat to announce the result.
“Escapade Park, it is!” he declared.
The children, even those who had voted for the zoo, exploded with excitement – all except for Ashleigh, who bit her lip and shrunk in her seat.
Her best friend Vicky, who always loved adventures and thrilling rides was celebrating away with the rest of the class until she noticed how pale Ashleigh looked.
“Don’t worry, Ash. I’ll look after you,” she tried to reassure her.
But Ashleigh acted strangely for days after that. She was all dependent on Vicky in lessons, she constantly clung to her arm in the playground and when she went to Vicky’s house for tea, she wouldn’t eat a thing.
Finally the day of the trip arrived. It was a scorching hot summer’s day; the sun blazed brightly in the clear blue sky like a rare golden coin. Everyone piled into the stuffy coach. It was sweltering, but they didn’t care – they were going to Escapade Park and nothing could stifle their euphoria. It was particularly lively at the back of the coach and Mr Snapson had to give those in the back row ‘the glare’ several times.
The only one sitting in silence and staring out of the window longingly back at the school as the coach pulled away, was Ashleigh. She chewed her lip for the entire journey and didn’t even join in with the laughter when Mr Snapson lost his patience with Jimmy for asking, “When can we have our lunch, Sir?” for the fifteenth time.
When they arrived at Escapade Park everyone clambered out of the coach and gathered around Mr Snapson. The sickly sweet aroma of candy floss and popcorn drifted through the air, along with the squeals of children from the rollercoasters and waterslides. Year 6 couldn’t wait to get stuck in. All except Ashleigh, who clung tightly on to Vicky’s arm.
“Right then, Year 6. You have thirty seconds to get yourselves into groups of four,” instructed Mr Snapson.
It was chaos for some, “We’re with Max, find your own teammate,” insisted one of the boys grabbing his friends together, whilst others were more organised. Vicky and Ashleigh obviously stayed together and they were joined by Matt and Connor who they always got on with, so that worked out well for them.
“Now then, Year 6,” continued Mr Snapson. “You’re permitted to roam the park freely with your groups, though you’re under strict instructions to stick together – at all times. The gift shop shall be our meeting point and you are to report back at 2pm sharp. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, Mr Sampson,” chorused the class.
“Alright then,” said Mr Snapson with almost a hint of a smile, “off you go!”
The various groups scattered in different directions, spiritedly debating which rides they should go on first.
“Ok, so we’re all agreed, we’re going to the House of Screams, right?” said Connor.
“Um… actually…” Ashleigh stammered.
“Good, because we’re going there anyway,” he continued.
Ashleigh pointed to a Ferris wheel which was gently rotating to a merry tune at the other side of the park. “Can’t we go on that big wheel instead?” she suggested.
“More like the not-so-big-wheel! You’re joking, right?” laughed Connor.
“Um…” Ashleigh looked down and shuffled her feet.
“That ride’s for babies,” scoffed Matt.
Vicky felt a little torn. The not-so-big-wheel did seem a bit tame and she was dying to go to the House of Screams just as much as the boys. But then, Ashleigh looked almost as if she might cry.
The three children truly did scream their heads off in the House of Screams, even Connor. In fact, especially Connor. The rollercoaster hurtled through dark corridors. Flickers of light illuminated ghouls and ghosties that plunged towards the children in their carriages. Matt almost jumped out of his skin when a sinister Dracula appeared from the gloom, his sharp fangs flashing. Connor didn’t even see; he had his eyes closed for almost the entire ride.
“I’m so dizzy,” groaned Vicky, her stomach turning over as she and the boys staggered out of the House of Screams, back into the dazzling sunlight. They walked as if they might collapse, the feeling of the rollercoaster rising and falling remained with them in spite of them now being back on firm ground.
“Let’s go and find Ashleigh, before we get into trouble with Mr Snapson,” Vicky suggested.
They wandered over towards the not-so-big-wheel which was turning at a snail’s pace, and looked around for their friend.
“Do you think she’s still on the ride?” wondered Matt, gazing up at the carriages.
“I don’t think so. There’s hardly any queue here compared to the House of Screams. She’d have finished from this ages ago,” said Vicky.
“Maybe she didn’t even come here,” considered Matt.
“Where is she then?” said Connor, feeling guilty, as well as worried. He’d been a bit too hard on her earlier.
“I don’t know, but we’d better find her before Mr Snapson finds out, or we’re for it,” shuddered Matt.
“Never mind about Mr Snapson. What about poor Ashleigh. We shouldn’t have left her like that,” scolded Vicky.
“Hey, look!” cried Matt. “It’s her water bottle.” He’d spotted it lying on a bench close to the Ferris wheel exit.
“So she was here,” deduced Vicky.
Connor’s eyes lit up with an idea, “I think I know how we might find her,” he said. “We can go on the wheel. It’s got to be high enough to view the whole park. Come on!”
The three friends piled onto the Ferris wheel to find pairs of shiny red binoculars dangling from the rails.
“Wow, cool ride after all!” exclaimed Connor.
“We can use them to look for Ashleigh,” said Vicky, unhooking a pair and scanning the area as the carriages gently rose, giving a spectacular view of the entire park.
“Boys! I’ve found her!” cried Vicky with delight. “She’s over there, by the girls’ toilets.”
Connor and Matt both leaned over to look too.
“Yep! That’s definitely her,” observed Connor.
Poor Ashleigh, she looked so small and alone standing there by the wall, her head down, her shoulders slumped.
As soon as the ride ended, they sprinted over to join her. Ashleigh’s face was streaked with tears, but she managed a smile as soon as she saw her friends bounding over. Vicky flung her arms around Ashleigh.
“We’re so sorry. We’ll never leave you out of things again,” she promised.
Matt nodded in agreement and shook Ashleigh’s hand.
“Yeah, me too, Ashleigh,” apologised Connor. “And you know, that not-so… sorry …that big wheel isn’t so bad after all.”
“Let’s go on there again,” suggested Vicky. “But together, this time.”
They all ran back to the Ferris wheel and clambered on. It felt so much better, having Ashleigh with them too, the four of them together again, without a care in the world, and a whole day of fun ahead of them, just waiting to be shared.