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  Is this the next JK Rowling? Part 4
Updated 10 July 2003, 08.11

Have you already finished OOTP? Well see what you think of this story written by budding children's author Louise Arnold.

She won BBC News Online's Are You the Next JK Rowling? competition.

This is the fourth part from her story The Invisible Friend - the final instalment will be published on Friday.

Missed the earlier instalments?

The Invisible Friend
Copyright Louise Arnold 2003

Continued from Wednesday....

Monday was a terrible day for Tom. He woke up late, and then managed to spill a glass of water all over himself just after he'd got into his school uniform. His mum had to find him another shirt to wear. The only one she could find was slightly too small, and the sleeve buttons wouldn't do up.

Then Tom couldn't find his keys, no matter how hard he looked. He finally found them underneath his shoes, of all places, but it had taken so long that he managed to be terribly late for school.

School was no better. Nobody would let him forget the time he called Mr Griffin "Dad". Today someone had stuck a post-it note on his locker that read "I LOVE DAD!" in big red letters. He scrunched it up and threw it away, but he heard people giggling about it as he walked through the corridor.

The next thing that happened was that Tom realised he had forgotten his packed lunch, and he only had 15p on him, since the rest of his money had fallen through a hole in his trouser pocket.

Then he got the results back from his spelling test in fifth lesson. He'd got a D. The teacher offered to talk him through the results, but Tom made some excuse about having to be somewhere else very urgently. He left as quickly as possible.

The final lesson was music, which is usually good fun, but today the teacher was off sick, and the substitute teacher was a woman with weirdly hairy arms, who talked so slowly that you felt like you were being forced to sleep. The last lesson dragged on forever. When the final bell went for home time, Tom felt that it had been One Of The Worst Days Ever, and that it couldn't possibly get any worse.

How wrong he was.

The Spitting Kids were waiting for him on the corner as he walked home from school. As ever, all dressed in white, baseball caps all pulled down over their eyes, they were swearing and spitting and shouting at people on the street corner.

Tom's heart sank, and he looked down at the floor, desperate to avoid them. Big Ben and Little Ben were there, the two worst bullies in the whole wide world, both smoking and spitting in equal turns.

Every day, different angry people gathered around the two Bens, all wearing baseball caps and angry faces, a choir of spitting and swearing and rage. Head down, head down, keep on walking Tom. They might not see you, he thought to himself.

"Oi, Freak Boy!" yelled Little Ben, and Tom's heart lurched. The Spitting Kids walked out to block off the pavement, and there was no way past them. Tom felt his hands beginning to shake, and he thrust them deep into his pockets so they wouldn't notice. "Got any money to give us, Freak Boy?"

Tom had no idea why they called him Freak Boy, since he wasn't very freakish, but it was a name they had given to him a long time ago and it had never gone away. Tom still had his 15p in his pocket, but today had been such a terrible day, such a long and miserable day, that he was too annoyed to give it to them, too angry that they spoke to him this way. This anger bubbled inside Tom, but he was as shocked as anyone else when he actually spoke back.

"Leave me alone, you ugly rat face!" said Tom, the words spilling out of his mouth before he had time to think. The Spitting Kids gasped, and Tom began to desperately wish he hadn't said a thing. The path was blocked off, and he couldn't get past them.

Big Ben leant down, and picked up a broken bottle off the ground. Tom's heart began to pound frantically, and his legs started to feel wobbly. Tears pricked at his eyes.

Grey Arthur, who had followed Tom around all day in a sad mood, trying to work out if they were really friends or not, was stood next to Tom, not that Tom knew it. Grey Arthur was screaming at Tom, not that Tom could hear it, screaming so hard that he felt the words were pounding themselves into the air.

"RUN!" screamed Grey Arthur. "Run Tom! RUN!" Tom was frozen, feet stuck heavily to the ground with fear, and even if he could have heard Grey Arthur shouting in his ear, chances are he wouldn't be able to do anything anyway. His heart hammered in his chest, his tongue clung dryly to the inside of his mouth, and his legs were heavier than concrete.

Missed the other instalments?

The final instalment from The Invisible Friend will be published on Friday 10 July.

More InfoBORDER=0
UKPart 5: The Invisible Friend
UKPart 1: The Invisible Friend
UKPart 3: The Invisible Friend
UKPart 2: The Invisible Friend
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