Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy-Two
6th April 1970
When it came to causing trouble Bas was a genius, particularly if it was gross. The problem was that he tended to direct his actions towards other bays within their dorm. He had yet to play a prank on another dorm, but Niko knew that it was only a matter of time until he did. Then all Hell would break loose. There was also the detail that Bas couldn’t seem to keep his mouth shut after he had done something, he always wanted everyone to know exactly who was responsible, so that he would receive proper credit. Late winter had brought out the worst in Bas because like everyone else he was bored, and it had fallen on Niko to keep him out of trouble.
Even now in early spring they were in a period of time where the school was basically doing the “Keep the idiots busy or else they will find something to do not to your liking” that Niko’s Opa had told him the importance of. Like everyone else, Niko knew that Easter Holiday was incredibly close and like everyone else he just wanted to go home for a few weeks of relative freedom. Constantly having to pay attention to what Bas was doing was the last thing that he wanted to be doing. So, he stopped paying attention until he caught Bas with two of the other boys from their dorm each carrying two buckets of rancid grease that they had gotten from the traps in the kitchens a few days earlier.
That had been when Niko had finally had enough.
“Whatever you are planning, isn’t going to happen this time” Niko had said, as sternly as he could. Though his voice didn’t seem particularly strong to his ears.
“You’ve been such a killjoy since they gave you that pretend promotion” Bas said, “We aren’t doing anything.”
Niko had known instantly that Bas was full of crap, but in the months since he had been forced to be Bas’ minder, he had found himself out of loop when it came to what his friend’s plans were. There was also Bas’ belief that the Cadet ranks were pure theater that Niko was starting to find personally annoying.
“Trying to keep you out of trouble is enough to make anyone a killjoy” Niko had replied, “Everyone is getting tired of you getting the whole dormitory in trouble. You are going to get your butt kicked.”
“They never said anything to me about that” Bas said, ignoring the nervous expressions on the faces of those he had talked into helping with the latest caper.
“It is because I have been talking them out of it” Niko replied, “If you go through with, whatever this is this time, I won’t bother to stop them.”
That was when the reality of the situation had dawned on Bas. Finally. And the others had abandoned the prank as soon as they thought that he was having second thoughts. Niko had ended up helping Bas dispose of the grease in the rubbish bins by the carpark, far enough from the dorms that they wouldn’t have to smell it as the weather warmed.
What Niko hadn’t anticipated was that the grease had leaked out of the bin and across the asphalt of the access road over the following days. As March had turned to April there had been a cold snap, leaving the grease semi-frozen to the road. Oberstlieutenant Gruber, the School’s Headmaster had lost control of his car when he had hit that and had ended up in a ditch. Bas had been awestruck, claiming that Niko’s idea had been way better than what he had been planning on. It seemed to Niko that Bas didn’t need to be as smug as he was being over the whole matter.
The Staff had decided it was an accident, for now. However, Niko knew that would change in a hurry if they found out that it had been him who had put the grease in the bin with Bas. They wouldn’t believe that it really had been an accident, not in a thousand years. Niko also understood that he would instantly be demoted and be facing the wrath of his classmates. So, he tried to keep it as quiet as possible, knowing full well that the only thing that was preventing that from happening was Bas keeping his mouth shut until they left for Easter Holiday. The odds of that happening were remote indeed.
“What has gotten into you Nikolaus” The Mathematics Professor snapped, “Pay attention.” He must have noticed Niko being distracted. Somehow figuring out what X equaled if Y had a value of a third of X didn’t seem important. Not when the axe could be descending on him at that very second and he wouldn’t know that it was happening right up until he got called to the Headmaster’s Office. Then he would have the whole weight of the School as an institution squash him flat.
“Twelve days” Niko muttered to himself. Twelve days, less than two weeks until he went home on holiday. He didn’t have any idea how he was going to survive that long. He had told Bas that he would continue to prevent the others in the dormitory from giving him a well-deserved beating. At that moment, Niko was starting to lean towards giving Bas one of his own.