This story was written by Muhammad-Zulkifl, a 16-year-old student from Ho Lap College.
He is one of the finalists of Young Post’s 2018 Summer Short Story Competition. Each week during the holidays, we will publish one of the finalists’ stories. Our favourite entries will be compiled into a book which each finalist will receive a copy of. The winning entry will be published in Young Post on August 25.
Samuel was just your average student; not particularly smart but not terrible, either. His grades were neither good nor bad. At times, he could be a little lazy. The one thing you could say for sure about Samuel, though, was that he was alone. He had very few friends, and even fewer who really cared about him.
That loneliness led Samuel to start hanging out in the wrong crowd. He began making bad life choices. Soon, it became a downward spiral that he couldn’t control – until an incident changed both his outlook on life and his actions.
It all began with just a normal day at school.
During his maths class, Samuel excused himself to go to the bathroom. But, instead of going to the bathroom, he went to hang out with his friends – or, at least, the closest thing he had to friends – on the school roof.
The kids in his group didn’t like being bound by things like school rules. They would often skip lessons and climb up to the roof through one of the maintenance rooms.
When Samuel arrived, he saw some boys huddled in a circle playing a mobile phone game. Others were hunched over in a corner, talking. There wasn’t anything exciting going on, they just didn’t want to spend time in class.
As Samuel approached, one of the boys walked over to greet him. His name was Patrick, and he was the group’s unofficial leader. Though he had a polished, respectable look about him, he was anything but. As the son of two businesspeople who rarely paid any attention to him, Patrick was angry at the world and unafraid to show it.
“Glad to see you could finally join us,” said Patrick, smiling as he put his hand on Samuel’s shoulder. “Come, we have something to show you.”
Patrick lead Samuel over to the group of boys in the corner. They were clearly in the middle of a discussion, and it seemed as though they had some sort of object with them. As Patrick approached, the boys formed a line, almost as if they were soldiers whose sergeant had arrived. One of the boys handed the object – a key, Samuel could see now – to Patrick.
“Can you guess what this key is for?” asked Patrick in a proud tone.
“I’m not sure. What is it for?” replied Samuel, not knowing what the big deal was.
“Not even a guess?” asked Patrick, a little disappointed. “This is our key to success.”
Samuel was starting to lose patience with Patrick’s game. “Key to what?”
Patrick smiled, clearly enjoying how clueless Samuel was. “It’s the key to the teacher’s lounge. We’re planning on sneaking in while everyone is out for lunch so we can steal the answer sheets for the upcoming tests,” he said with a grin.
“Steal the answers?” said Samuel, taken by surprise. “Won’t we get into trouble for that.”
Patrick started laughing, and the other boys quickly joined in.
“Well we’re not going to get caught. I have a foolproof plan,” said Patrick confidently. “So what do you say, would you like to join in on our mission?”
Samuel panicked. This was worse than anything the boys had done before. But he knew that if he said no, he would be kicked out of their group. So he agreed to take part.
And that’s when the boys crossed the line from being your average school hooligans to serious rule breakers. Samuel was too caught up in the moment to see the true weight of the situation. All he knew was that he was helping his new friends.
The plan was executed perfectly. The boys snuck into the teachers’ lounge and copied out the answers from the computer. They had got away with it – or so they thought.
The next morning in class, Samuel’s teacher made an announcement. Apparently, they had discovered that the computer in the lounge had been accessed by a student. Now, they were about to conduct an investigation to find out who was responsible. If anyone knew anything about the incident, they were encouraged to speak up.
As the day rolled on, Samuel became more anxious. What if they got caught? What would happen to him then? After school, Samuel immediately went to find Patrick and tell him how he felt. Patrick, as usual, remained unperturbed.
“Don’t worry, no one is going to get caught,” said Patrick with a sneer. “I have planned for every outcome!”
With nothing to trust except the word of his friend, Samuel continued his day.
The following morning, whispers were going around the school that the student who had stolen the test answers had been caught. Apparently, someone had come forward with information about the thief.
When Samuel heard this, his heart skipped a beat. The student wasn’t one of the boys from his group. The student was innocent – and Samuel knew exactly who was responsible. As soon as he could, Samuel went to find Patrick. He and the other boys were up on the roof, as usual.
Samuel took a deep breath, then went over and confronted them. None of the others seemed to know what was going on. The only person who didn’t look shocked was Patrick.
“I told you guys not to worry,” said Patrick. “I knew that for the plan to succeed, somebody needed to get caught. That’s why I framed someone else, so that none of us would get in trouble.”
Patrick then explained that he had stolen the ID card of another student from his class. While they were copying the answers for the tests off the computer, Patrick purposely left the ID at the scene of the crime. He made it look as if someone was in a rush and had dropped it. And, to make the story more solid, Patrick told the school’s head teacher that he had seen that same student loitering near the teachers’ lounge at lunch time on the day of the theft.
To Samuel’s astonishment, when Patrick had finished explaining, the other boys cheered at Patrick’s brilliant plan.
Was he really the only one who felt uneasy about this? They had got someone else in trouble for something they had done.
But suddenly, all eyes were on Samuel; the others had noticed he wasn’t cheering along with them. Samuel forced a grin and tried to shake his doubts from his mind.
As the day dragged on, though, the feelings of guilt lingered. He tried his best to ignore them, but they wouldn’t go away.
Samuel avoided saying goodbye to his friends at the end of the day, and he lingered by his locker until they had left. As he began to walk down the empty corridor, he heard the sound of someone crying. It was coming from inside one of the classrooms.
Tentatively, he approached the classroom door and peered into the room; he saw a student sitting opposite a teacher, sobbing. Neither had noticed Samuel’s presence.
“I swear I didn’t sneak into the teacher’s lounge!” the boy cried desperately.
“We found your student ID on the teacher’s desk, and a classmate of yours confessed that you had been seen hanging around the lounge,” said the teacher. “I’m afraid I’ll need to speak with your parents about this.”
Samuel felt sick. He turned and walked away as the boy started to cry harder. What had he done? He’d been so desperate to please his friends that he had allowed an innocent person to get in trouble. He couldn’t let this happen – he’d never be able to shake the guilt. As soon as he arrived home, he sent Patrick a message telling him about what he had seen.
Samuel: We should come clean
Patrick: R u mad?? Ofc we’re not going to do that. What was the point of doing all this if we come clean and say it was us
Samuel: But we can’t just let someone else take the punishment for us
Patrick: Sure we can!
Samuel: I can’t do this. I’m telling the teacher about this tmr
Patrick: We’ll see about that..
Samuel realised too late that telling Patrick wasn’t a good idea. Now, he would have to be on the lookout for Patrick and the others in case they tried to stop him.
The next day, Samuel set off for school earlier than usual, in the hopes that he could clear everything up before Patrick even had a chance to stop him. Unfortunately, things weren’t going to be that easy.
When he arrived at school, Patrick and the others were waiting for him outside the entrance. Samuel pushed the boys aside and ran into the school. Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to outrun them, he took a swift detour to the teacher’s lounge, hoping that he could lose them along the way. However, the plan proved too simple, and the boys had almost caught up with Samuel. In a last-ditch attempt to slow them down, Samuel shrugged off his bag and hurled it behind him at the boys, then sprinted to the teacher’s lounge.
The teachers were shocked when they saw Samuel burst, breathless, into the room. They were even more shocked when he told them what he and the others had done. It took him some time to explain everything. They didn’t believe Samuel at first, but after he showed them the messages on his phone as proof, they finally connected all the dots.
Patrick, Samuel, and the other boys were all put in detention. Even though Samuel told the truth, he ended up getting punished along with the others. Still, Samuel felt relieved. He had done the right thing and for that, he was proud of himself, even if his “friends” hated him for it.
Of course, the test questions needed to be changed to make things fair for everyone, but to his joy and surprise, Samuel managed to pass it with ease. But he also passed a bigger and much more important test: the test of his honesty.