Ben peered around his mum’s leg at the gleaming doors in front of him. He could hear the soft ‘shhh’ as they slid gracefully open and shut, as bigger children scurried in and out. He could see their faces reflected in the clear glass as they hovered forward towards the doors. Although they smiled, he still felt a shiver down his neck, trying to guess what lay beyond the entrance. Despite his dread, Ben’s mother moved forward, dragging him with her, and now, as the doors slid open for him, he had his first look at the mysterious room beyond.
Inside, children busied themselves taking off their outdoor rocket boots and hurriedly stuffing them into their lockers. As they did, the lockers floated back up to the ceiling making way for the next student’s arrival. Ben listened intently to the collage of beeping and chirping as control panels were programmed with the time and location the lockers were to reappear that afternoon.
Ahead, a loud sucking noise caught Ben’s attention. He stared past all the passing children, to what appeared to be a pair of tubes against the far wall of the corridor. They were as wide as dustbins, but see-through apart from a faint tint, like sun glasses. The tinted tubes came from below the floor of the corridor, and looking up, appeared to continue beyond the three visible floors above him. Both children and adults walked into the circular openings in the tubes, and disappeared! As Ben drew closer, he realised that they were being pushed up or down by the force of the air in the tubes. One particularly small girl grinned at Ben as she passed by. He watched as she skipped on, into the nearest tube. The outline of her body was catapulted swiftly upwards two floors, and Ben strained to see her skip out of the other side of the tube on that floor, and off out of sight.
Ben gulped. Why couldn’t he have gone to school on their old planet, where people didn’t hover and glide all over the place? His mum kissed his forehead and gave him a gentle nudge forward.
“See you after school, champ,” she smiled, and as her silhouette was lost behind the swooshing doors again, Ben turned to survey the hallway once again.