Jump to content

Freaky Summer Bay

Guest Red Ranger 1

Recommended Posts

Not sure how this one's going to go, the first chapter didn't really turn out how I was expecting.Let me know what you think of it.

Story Title: Freaky Summer Bay

Type of story: Short/Medium fic.

Main Characters: Charlie, Ruby, Angelo, Geoff, Xavier, Leah, Annie and others

BTTB rating: G/T

Genre: Family with a fantasy twist

Does story include spoilers: Not really

Any warnings: Sexual content:None.Violence:Mild.Language:None.

Summary: When Charlie and Ruby finds themselves making the same wish, they are surprised by what happens next.


The meal had seemed like a good idea.Neutral territory, pleasant surroundings, a chance for them both to relax, to enjoy each other’s company like they used to.There had been a restaurant in Yabbee Creek that Charlie had felt like trying and Ruby had been surprisingly willing when she’d asked her to accompany her. And so they’d gone and so they’d sat there for the last half hour, their conversation consisting largely of short comments interspersed with long and awkward silences.

“Everything all right at school?”Charlie asked.You knew the conversation was stilted when you had to resort to that one.She’d already tried everything else she could think of:friends, boyfriends, where the cool parties were, whether she’d thought of trying out for the netball team next year…

“It’s going okay,”Ruby confirmed.There was a pause for a few moments.“I’m going to have to make my HSC choices soon,”she added at last.

“You given it any thought?”

“I spoke to the careers adviser about it.And Geoff and Irene have given me a bit of advice.”

Charlie wasn’t sure if Ruby was aware how much that upset her, that she’d be willing to ask for advice from almost anyone apart from her.“Well, that’s good,”she said at last, hoping the disappointment didn’t show.

“How’s work?”Ruby asked, seeming to think she should return the favour.

“So-so,”Charlie replied,“Nothing really serious going on at the moment, thank goodness.”

“No stalkers or axe murderers?”

“Just an arsonist.”Charlie saw Ruby’s quizzical look.“Someone set fire to a community hall, not far from here.Fire brigade stopped it before it got too out of hand.Just asked us to look into it.”There was a glazed look in Ruby’s eyes which gave away the fact she wasn’t really interested.Charlie sighed, putting her knife and fork down and wiping her mouth with a serviette.“I’m just going to freshen up.If they ask if we want desserts, ask them for a menu.”

Charlie pushed her chair away from the table and headed towards the bathroom.As she did so, she noticed a sign at the corner of the restaurant.Wondering if she’d read it right, she wandered over.There it was.A wishing well.A mocked up old-fashioned well with a small amount of water at the bottom and a generous amount of coins.Probably a tourist attraction.

Almost on a whim, Charlie fished in her purse and took out a twenty cent piece before tossing it into the water.

“I wish my daughter could understand me,”she said quietly.

Ruby had had high hopes for the evening.She’d thought that maybe they could put all the recent stresses aside and get back to how things used to be or at least try and find a new way of getting along.That was until she’d found herself sat across from her sister…mother…whatever and realised they had nothing to say to each other.They were like strangers and she wasn’t sure how it had happened.Charlie had been asking her the most basic of questions, as though she didn’t know anything about her life.

She watched as Charlie settled the bill and then came back to their table.“I’ll give you a lift back to Irene’s,”she said in an offhand manner.

“Um, I’ll meet you at the car.I just want to look at something.”

For a moment she thought Charlie was going to argue but then she nodded and left her.

Ruby walked over to the corner.She’d seen it when she’d come in, laughed ironically.It had seemed ridiculous.But after that meal she was ready to try anything.She dropped a coin into the well morosely.

“I wish my mother could understand me.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your comments, hope this one doesn't disappoint.


Ruby could hear the alarm going off.Seven o’clock.She didn’t remember setting that.For that matter, she didn’t remember going to bed in that room.Her mind ran over the events of the previous night:The awkward dinner with Charlie, the lift back to Irene’s place.So what was she doing in Charlie’s room?

She reached out and pressed the button to cancel the alarm.She nudged her body into full wakefulness, stretching her long legs.

Hang on, since when did she have long legs?

Ruby sat bolt upright in bed.Everything felt wrong.Her whole body was different, was not her.“What’s going on?”she asked herself.At least she thought it was her that asked it.But the voice she heard wasn’t hers at all.

She swung herself out of bed and hurried through into the living room.Leah was at the table, setting things up for breakfast.“Oh, morning, sleepyhead.How did last night go?”

“Er, okay,”Ruby replied, eyes darting around the room worriedly.Was Leah normally that short?

“Well, I haven’t got to go into the Diner until later on so if you want to jump in the shower first…”

Ruby wasn’t sure how to phrase it, to explain what had happened to her.It just sounded so crazy.“Leah, what do I look like to you?”

Leah paused, looking her up and down, unaware exactly what it was she was being asked.“You look like Charlie,”she said at last.

Ruby sighed.“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

Charlie automatically woke up at seven o’clock.Force of habit.Which was good because her alarm hadn’t gone off.She was certain she’d set it the previous night.She rolled over in bed, opening her eyes and taking in her surroundings.

She sat up, looking around in confusion.This wasn’t her home, it wasn’t even her house.This was Irene’s house, Ruby’s room…the room Ruby was using.What on earth was she doing there?Where was Ruby?

She caught sight of her reflection in the mirror and stopped dead.That wasn’t possible…

She backed out of the room, nearly colliding with Irene as she entered the sitting area.“Gawd strike me, love, you’re up and about early.”

Charlie spun round, the sheer insanity of the situation threatening to overwhelm her.“Irene, what’s going on here?”

“What do you mean, love?”

“I mean…What’s going on?How did I get here?”

Irene was looking at her in confusion.“Charlie dropped you off here last night, remember?”

“Charlie..?Irene, seriously…”

Irene sighed.“Look, Ruby, much as I’d like to answer all your questions, I’ve got the early shift at the Diner today so if there’s anything important…”

“Important?You mean like the fact that I’ve woken up in..?”Charlie stopped.If it sounded crazy to her, it would sound even crazier to Irene.“I guess it isn’t anything that can’t wait.”

Irene smiled at her.“Okay, darl, have a good day at school.Give Geoff and Annie a shout if they’re not down shortly.”

Ruby had dashed back into Charlie’s room, her eyes scooting around the place until she caught sight of Charlie’s mobile next to the bed.She snatched it up, quickly thumbing through the menus for Charlie’s contact details.Then she stopped.This was Charlie’s phone.She searched further, found her own contact details and pressed the call button.

She was rewarded with the sound of the other end connecting and her own voice tentatively asking, “Ruby?”

Ruby felt her heart racing.Was it really possible?“Charlie?Is that you?”

“It’s me.”It felt strange hearing her own voice like that, with the slightly older way of speaking.

“Do you know what’s happened?”

“All I know is I woke up this morning and…I was you.”

“I’m you,”Ruby confirmed,“But…but how?This is crazy!”

“We can’t talk about this over the phone, we need to meet up.”

“Okay.”Ruby paused, thinking.“Where?If we sit in the Diner talking about the fact that we’re each other, people are going to think we’re crazy.Maybe we are crazy!”

“We’ll…we’ll meet down at the wharf,”Charlie replied,“Twenty minutes.”

“Okay,”Ruby agreed,“That should me time to get…some of your clothes on.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your comments, hope you like this.


Charlie had reached the wharf first.She’d forgotten how close it was to Irene’s place.She’d sat there for a few minutes, dangling her legs over the water, until she’d noticed the movement off to her left and turned to see the rather incongruous sight of someone who appeared to be herself walking towards her.

She got to her feet and faced the woman.“Ruby?”she asked incredulously.

Ruby nodded.“It’s me.”She paused before adding,“Couldn’t you have worn something else?That’s really not my best outfit.”

“I bought you this,”Charlie reminded her.

“Oh.Yeah.”Ruby drifted into silence for a moment before asking,“What’s going on?”

Charlie shrugged helplessly.“I don’t know.”

“We’ve woken up in each other’s bodies, Charlie, that’s not something that happens every day.Not to me anyway.What are we going to do?”

“I guess…we’re just going to have to go on pretending to be each other until we work out a way to change back.”

“And how’s that going to happen?We don’t even know how it happened in the first place!I know I wished for you to understand me better…”

The comment struck a chord in Charlie’s mind.“What did you say?”

Ruby sighed.“That restaurant last night, the wishing well?I threw a coin in there and wished that you could understand me better.”

Charlie stared at her hard.“I wished the same.”

“You wished that you could understand me better?”

“No, I wished that you could understand me better.”

Ruby paused a moment before asking,“What are we saying?That our wishes came true?”

“It’s the best explanation we’ve got.”

“Fine.Then we just need to get back to that restaurant and wish ourselves back again.”

Ruby seemed about to head off down the wharf so Charlie grabbed hold of her arm, forgetting that Ruby was taller than her now and being dragged along for quite a few steps before managing to halt them.“Ruby, wait.I’ve got to be at the police station in half an hour.And you need to be at school.”

“Well, how’s that going to work?”Ruby asked,“You’re going to turn up at work looking like me and I’m going to go to school looking like you?That’ll go down well with the other officers…not to mention Mr. Bartlett.”She saw the look of realisation on Charlie’s face just before she came to the same conclusion herself.“Oh no.”

“It’s the only way, Rube…”

“I am not going to go to that police station and pretend to be you!What if there’s an axe murderer on the loose or something?And how can you go to school?”

“I did go to school once.”

“Yes but that was last century!”

“I’ll probably get better grades than you.”

Ruby sighed.“All right, fine.Senior Constable Buckton reporting for duty.”

Charlie stopped her again.“Wait.I’m not having you driving a patrol car.Or any car.”

“How else am I going to get there?”

“Ruby, whatever you look like, you’re still a sixteen year old girl.I’ll give you money for a cab.”She patted her pockets for a moment before realising.

Ruby looked more amused than Charlie was entirely comfortable with.“Don’t worry, I’ve already got your money.”

Half an hour later, looking at her reflection in the mirror, Charlie was beginning to understand Ruby’s point.She was wearing a school uniform.Worse, she was wearing the body of a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl. Those were two things she had never expected to do again.

Annie’s voice drifted through from the living room.“Ruby!We need to be going!”

“Coming!”Charlie called back.And prepared to step into the abyss.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please make it longer next time though.... :D :D :D

Unfortunately it ended up being rather short.But hey, I promised you one today.Thanks for the comments, people.


“So, having been told by his father’s ghost that his uncle was responsible for his murder, why does Hamlet not immediately seek revenge?”

Charlie was sure she’d known the answer once.Back in the distant mists of time.Unfortunately, English had never really been her subject and the details had long since faded from her memory.

Miles was still waiting for an answer.“Come on, Ruby, we did this last week!”

Charlie was coming the conclusion she liked Miles a lot better when he wasn’t her teacher.“Because…he thought he should leave it to the police?”

Most of the class giggled.Miles looked like he was going to cry.“Anyone want to help Ruby out here?”

Annie’s hand shot up.“Because he didn’t think the ghost was real?”

“Thank you!”Miles looked heavenward.“I’ve achieved something.Okay, looks like we all need a refresher.Turn your books to Act 5 Scene 1.”His gaze settled on Charlie again.“Ruby, maybe you’d like to start the reading?”

Ruby pulled at the cotton shirt irritably.The police had to be breaking several laws by making their officers wear such uncomfortable uniforms.She’d hurried past the officers at the front desk when she’d arrived at the station, muttering a greeting, and into Charlie’s office.Unfortunately it hadn’t been quite fast enough to stop Constable Watson shoving a file at her and announcing it was the fire report.

Ruby sat at the desk, leafing through the file.Accelerant, all evidence points to arson, list of possible agitators, witness statements…She understood the words but she wasn’t entirely certain what it was she was supposed to do about it.Furthermore, it was only one of a large number of files sat on Charlie’s desk: crime reports, injunctions, complaints, criminal records…And she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do with any of them either.

The knock on the door gave her just enough time to get back to looking professional before Watson entered.“Call’s come in, Senior.Disturbance on Portland Road.”

“Right.Okay.So…are you going to answer it?”

“I thought you might want to go yourself.”

Ruby remembered what Charlie had said about driving squad cars.“No, you can handle it, can’t you? Um…”She looked at the officers gathered around the front desk and wished they were wearing name badges.“Take him with you.”

She closed the door firmly and hoped she hadn’t just pointed out someone who was confined to station.

Normally, lunch break would have given Charlie an opportunity to talk to Ruby.Hopefully though, her daughter was following instructions to stay away from vehicles and would find somewhere near the station to have lunch.Which meant she was sat in the Diner on her own.

“Um, Ruby?Can I join you?”

Charlie looked up to find Geoff standing there, hovering by the table.“Can it wait, Geoff?”she asked.The last thing she needed was to have to bluff her way through a conversation with one of Ruby’s friends.

Geoff sat down anyway, lowering his voice.“We need to talk, Ruby, you’ve been avoiding me at home. Ever since we kissed.”

“Ever since we what?!”Charlie blurted out, attracting a bit too much attention from the other patrons.

“You know, last week…”

“What did you think you were doing taking advantage of a vulnerable girl like that?I thought I could trust you, Geoff!”

Geoff was looking at her in shock.“Sorry…But you seemed to be in to it as well.”

“I was?”

“Well, yeah, I thought so.”

Charlie was getting confused.“But what about Xavier?”

“Well, I was kinda hoping you’d tell me…”

“Okay, Geoff.You’re obviously right.We obviously need to have a long and detailed talk at some point.” He looked at her hopefully until she added,“But believe me when I say that now is the worst possible time for us to be having it.”

“Just a couple of teenagers who thought smashing windows was fun,”Watson explained before handing Ruby a sheet of paper,“Arrest sheets.”

Ruby looked at them for a moment before asking,“Do I need to do something with these?”

Watson looked at her exasperated.“Well, someone’s going to need to take statements from them.”

“Can’t you do that?”

Watson sighed.“Aye, aye, Senior.”

She left the office, nearly collided with Angelo heading in the opposite direction.He closed the door after her and looked at Ruby sympathetically.“Hard day?”

Ruby sighed.“Like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Well, I’ll see what I can do to make it easier for you.”He stepped up behind her and gently massaged her shoulders.“Wow, you really are tense today, Senior.”He planted a kiss on the back of her neck.

Ruby sprang up.“Angelo, we’re on duty!Someone could walk in at any moment!”

Angelo didn’t look particularly chastised.“I could always lock the door…”

“Um…actually I’ve got a mountain of paperwork to do”-Ruby gestured to her mountain of paperwork-“so maybe we can save this till later, huh?”

“Okay, Senior,”Angelo agreed as she steered him out the door,“Looking forward to it.”

Ruby continued to smile indulgently at him until she’d shut the door after him.And locked it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all the comments.


“You kissed Geoff?”Charlie asked in exasperation,“What were you thinking?You’ve already got a boyfriend!”

“You make out with Angelo in your office?”Ruby asked with equal exasperation,“What do you do when an emergency call comes in, ask them to wait while you get dressed?”

“Keep your eyes on the road!”Charlie told her in alarm.

Ruby did as she was instructed, managing to get the car back travelling on the left.“And I thought you told me I wasn’t allowed to drive?”

“If we get pulled over then I don’t think ‘Actually I’m a thirty-year-old senior constable’ is going to be believed.At least this way I’m here to keep an eye on you.And the car does have a fourth gear.”

Ruby sighed and stepped up a gear.“Seriously though, do you and Angelo always behave like that?”

“We don’t do it in an emergency situation,”Charlie replied,“But contrary to what you might think, I can’t just shut off my emotions if it’s incovenient.What about your boyfriend?Whoever that is at the moment.”

“If you haven’t noticed, my life’s been a bit confusing lately,”Ruby pointed out,“Geoff’s been a big help throughout all that, we’ve…I dunno, we’ve grown closer.But Xavier’s the one I’ve got all the history with and…Just call it another piece of confusion to add to all the other confusion.And you being the one they’re trying to talk to about it doesn’t help.”

Charlie looked at her sympathetically.“Look, don’t worry, we’ll get to the restaurant, undo those wishes and everything will be back to normal.”She suddenly looked alarmed and grabbed hold of the wheel, bringing the car back into the left hand lane again.“Assuming we get there in one piece.”

They both stood by the well, coins in hand.“You do realise how ridiculous this is?”Ruby asked.

“About as ridiculous as us waking up with each other’s lives,”Charlie replied,“Look, if this is how it happened then this must be how to undo it, right?”She sighed.“Okay, I’ll do it first.”She dropped her coin into the well.“I wish I was back in my own body.”

Ruby hesitated then closed her eyes and dropped her own coin in.“I wish I was back in my own body.” She opened her eyes.Her body was still standing next to her.“It hasn’t worked, has it?”

Charlie shook her head…shook Ruby’s head.“But it didn’t happen straightaway last time, did it?Maybe when we wake up tomorrow morning we’ll be back in the proper place.”

“But what if we don’t?What if we’re stuck like this forever?I mean, no offence, Charlie, but that’s sixteen years of my life gone.”

“It’s not exactly where I want to be either,”Charlie replied,“I’ve worked long and hard to get where I am in my life and suddenly I’m back in high school!”

“Okay, so we don’t want to be each other.Whatever we might have wished.”

“What did we wish?”

Ruby thought about it.“That we could understand each other.”

“Well, maybe that’s it.Maybe if we live each other’s lives for a while then we’ll understand each other better and then whatever it is that did this to us will realise we’ve learned our lesson and put us back.”

“You really think so?”

Charlie shrugged.“It makes as much sense as anything else.”

“Okay, so…I guess we’ll just have to play along with this for a while.”

“And try not to mess each other’s live up in the meantime.”

Charlie had sat herself down at the table, every textbook she could find in Ruby’s room scattered about in front of her, along with the notes she’d retrieved from her school bag.She’d made a promise not to stuff up Ruby’s life and she had a feeling that displaying complete ignorance of something she’d supposedly learned the previous week would go down even less well with some of the other teachers than it had done with Miles.

“What are you doing?”Geoff asked as he came home, disturbing her concentration.

“Studying,”Charlie replied briefly.

“Studying what?”

“Science.”Charlie held up one of the pieces of paper she’d found.“According to the timetable, I’ve got it tomorrow.”


“I realise it might seem strange…”

“No, no.It’s a good idea.You couldn’t persuade Annie to join you, could you?”

Charlie smiled despite herself.“Maybe I’ll give it a try.”

“And, um, about the kiss..?”

“Still not the right time, Geoff.”

“So what’s all this about?”Angelo asked when he turned up at the station.

Ruby sighed before gesturing to her desk.“I need your help.”

He grinned, putting his arms round her waist.“Any time.”

“No”-she hastily wriggled free-“I meant with the paperwork.”

He looked both disappointed and confused.“Paperwork?”

“I’ve got all this stuff which I’m apparently supposed to do and I’ve no idea what I’m doing.And if I don’t get it shifted, then I’m going to be sacked or demoted or…court martialled or something.”

Angelo looked at the files in bewilderment.“Charlie, you’ve always been on top of this stuff, you know what you’re doing.”

“I know this sounds strange but can you please just trust me on this one?I’ve no idea what I’m doing and I need you to tell me.”She looked at him beseechingly.

Angelo sighed.“Okay.Let’s start with crime reports.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your comments.


“I was very impressed with you in class today, Ruby.You’ve obviously been doing your reading.”

“Thanks, Mr.Bartlett,”Charlie replied, trying her best to smile and not accuse him of patronising her.

“Well, I’ll let you get on.Look forward to hearing more from you next lesson.”

As Charlie watched Martin head off down the corridor, she wondered if she was doing Ruby a favour by getting her a reputation as a top student.She shrugged.It would do her good to have something to live up to. Then she heard a voice calling,“Hey, Ruby!”

Charlie turned to the running figure.“Hi, Xavier.”

“You want to head down the Diner for lunch?”

Charlie found the idea of another uncomfortable conversation with one of Ruby’s maybe-boyfriends less than appealing.“Sorry, I’ve got a lot of study to catch up on.I’ll probably just grab a sandwich or something.See you in class.”

She’d hoped that would be the end of it but unfortunately it just seemed to make Xavier angry.“Is this because of Geoff?”

“What about Geoff?”Please don’t let him know about the kiss, she thought.She could do without a teenage break-up on her hands.

“The way you keep hanging out with him all the time.There’s something going on between you, isn’t there?”

“Look, Xavier, maybe we can discuss this later, when I’m in a better frame of mind…”

“Don’t fob me off!It’s clear you don’t want to be around me…”

Charlie took a deep breath and planted a kiss on his lips.It was probably the most passionless kiss she’d ever had but it was enough to get him grinning.“Xavier, I promise that you and I will have a talk about this at some point but right now…”

“Study, right.See you in class.”He headed off down the corridor, still grinning.

Charlie grimaced.“You’d better be grateful for that, Rube…”

Ruby closed the last file with a satisfied sigh.The cramming session with Angelo had actually worked. While she wasn’t exactly up to doing Charlie’s job full-time and was still hoping she could get her own life back as soon as possible, she was confident she wasn’t going to make a mess of Charlie’s life any time soon.

Watson came hurrying in.“We’ve got a report of a fire at the Summer Bay Surf Club.Fire boys are on the way, they think it might be connected to the fire near here.”She paused, seeing Ruby’s look of indecision. “Do you want me to handle it or..?”

“No, I’ll go with you,”Ruby decided.She didn’t want to get Charlie a reputation for not being hands on. She pulled on the police jacket before adding,“You can drive though.”

Ruby climbed out of the squad car as they drew up outside the surf club.There were other cars there already and she could see Angelo among the officers.There was a small fire raging at one corner of the building which the fire crews were trying to keep under control but there didn’t seem to be any air of panic, there was actually quite a crowd of onlookers hanging around that the police were trying to keep back.

She noticed Alf standing off to one side and approached him, taking out her notebook.“Can you tell me what happened, Mr.Stewart?”she asked in the most professional voice she could manage.

“Blowed if I know, I just popped out for a few minutes to talk to a supplier and next thing I know the whole flaming place is going up.”

“Do you think it could have started by accident?”

“Don’t see how, nothing was left on inside as far as I know.”

“All right, we might need to talk to you later.”Ruby closed up her notebook and went round the other side of the building.And that’s when she saw him:A man dressed in black, burying something in the bushes behind the surf club.

“Hey, what are you doing?”she demanded.The man looked at her, startled, and then bolted, running off down the road.“Stop!”Ruby shouted after him and then, almost as an after-thought,“Police!Stop!”

The man didn’t seem to be at all intimidated by her shout.He just kept running, soon disappearing out of sight.Angelo and Watson came hurrying round the corner.“Charlie, what’s going on?”Angelo asked.

Ruby gestured in the direction the man had headed.“There was a guy here, he was hiding something in that bush.When I saw him, he just took off, I shouted for him to stop but…”

Angelo checked the bush.“Petrol can.”He nudged it slightly.“Empty.”

Watson was looking bewildered at Ruby.“Why didn’t you call for back-up?Or use your gun?”

Ruby looked at her in shock.“You think I should have shot him?”

Watson gestured to the weapon.“Well, getting it out of the holster might have made him think twice.”

“Look, it’s okay,”Angelo said reassuringly,“At least we’ve got a lead now.”

Ruby shook her head sadly.This was not the way she’d wanted the day to go at all.“No…I messed up.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry for the slight hiatus, busy weekend.Hope you enjoy this one.


The man who was sitting behind Charlie’s desk had introduced himself as Inspector Maitland.Ruby wasn’t sure if she was supposed to know him or not.All she’d been able to gather was that he was some sort of important cop from the city.

Maitland leafed through the file in front of him before asking,“Why don’t you explain it to me again, Senior Constable Buckton?”

Ruby took a deep breath.“I was checking the back of the surf club and I saw a man hiding something in the bushes.”

“An empty petrol can?”

“Well, yeah, but I didn’t know that at the time.I asked him what he was doing and he pushed me aside and ran off, I shouted at him to stop but he just ignored me.”

“And you made no attempt to pursue him or to alert your fellow officers?”

Ruby sighed.“No.But…but I got a good look at him, I provided a description…”

Maitland leafed through the file again.“35-40, average build, average height, sandy hair, beard…Not exactly worth putting out an alert.What happened to the petrol can?”

“We sent it off for analysis,”Ruby told him, relieved that it had at least occurred to her to do that,“But I doubt we’ll get any fingerprints off it, the man I saw was wearing gloves.”Maitland made a non-committal sound that she didn’t exactly find encouraging.“But I swear, we’re all going to do everything we can to catch this guy…”

Maitland gave her a smile.“Look, you had to make a split second decision and maybe you didn’t make the right wrong.It happens to the best of us.”

“So what happens now?”

He got to his feet and handed her the file.“I think, Senior Constable Buckton, that you’re going to go home and get a good night’s rest and then approach this with a fresh set of eyes in the morning.”

She breathed a sigh of relief.“Thank you, sir.”

Charlie had poured herself her third glass and was just taking a sip of it when Annie came downstairs. “Ruby?What are you drinking?”

Charlie held up the bottle.“Found it at the back of the cupboard.Guess Irene must use it for cooking or guests or something.”

Annie examined the label.“Since when do you drink red wine?Or anything else with that much alcohol in it?”

“I don’t know but I probably should have started years ago.You want a glass?”Charlie had a feeling that in normal circumstances she wouldn’t even have thought about asking but she didn’t normally have two glasses of 20% alcohol inside her.Besides, it wasn’t as though she was supposed to be a role model at the moment.“It’ll save me finishing the bottle alone.”

“Um…okay, if you put it like that…”Annie fetched a glass from the kitchen and Charlie poured a generous amount of wine into it.She eyed it uncertainly.“So what’s upset you?”

“I’ve realised that…being a teenager sucks.”

Annie smiled slightly.“That only just occurred to you?”

“I thought it would be simple, no responsibilities.But…you need to remember so much stuff, you’ve got hormonal boys to deal with, your own hormones are all over the place and no-one ever listens to your opinion because they think you’re not old enough.I just want it to stop, I want to stop being a kid.”

“Only two years until we leave school,”Annie pointed out helpfully.

Charlie sighed.“Not what I wanted to hear, Annie.”

“Here.”Leah handed Ruby a glass of red.

Ruby looked at it dubiously.“Do I normally drink this late?”

“When you’ve had a hard day.”

Ruby shrugged.“Ah well.When in Rome…”

“So what’s the problem?”Leah asked.

Ruby groaned.“I really messed up at work today, Leah.I had a job to do and I didn’t do it and now I’ve got senior officers on my back and junior officers shooting me disappointed looks and Angelo offering to take me back to his place to cheer me up which would probably be great if I was Char…”She stopped herself.“If I was…in the mood for that sort of thing.”

Leah grinned at her.“You don’t usually complain.”

Ruby held up her hand.“I’m not ready to hear those details.”

Leah looked a bit perplexed by the comment but let it go.“Well, just relax tonight and tomorrow’s another day.”

“That’s what Maitland said,”Ruby confirmed,“Except it’s not.It’s still me having to go in there and do a job that I’m not up to.And they’re all going to be looking at me-me-to tell them what to do.I don’t know how Char…how people manage it.”She looked at her glass suspiciously. She didn’t realise drinking half a glass would have loosened up her tongue that badly.

“Charlie, I get that you’re feeling a bit down but you are definitely up to it,”Leah reassured her,“I mean… this is your life.”

Ruby sighed despondently.“It’s not though.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments.Enjoy.


Charlie’s head was thumping and the piece of toast in front of her seemed completely unappetising.Maybe Ruby’s body wasn’t as used to alcohol as her own.That’s what she was telling herself anyway.What was worse, the noises coming from the bathroom with disturbing regularity did little to help either the headache or the guilt.

Eventually, Irene emerged, fixing Charlie with a reproachful glare.“You wanna explain to me why Annie’s been throwing up most of yesterday’s meals since seven o’clock?”

Being spoken to like a naughty schoolgirl was probably one of the most annoying aspects of the body swap.It didn’t help that the fact that she was really an adult actually made her actions even worse.“I’m sorry, Irene,”she sighed,“I just wanted to…cut loose for a bit.But I shouldn’t have involved Annie.”

Irene looked at her sympathetically.“Look, love, I get that you’ve been having a stressful time lately.But believe me, boozing is not the answer.”

If Charlie thought about it, she had to admit that another woman being maternal towards her daughter hurt somewhat.But then Irene was the sort of person who behaved like that towards everyone, whether they lived with her or not.“It’s okay, Irene.It’s not going to happen again.Not until I’m thirty anyway.”

“Well…maybe a bit younger than that.”

“I hope not.”

Before Irene could query the remark, Annie emerged from the bathroom, still in her pyjamas, hair a mess, and smiled weakly at her.“Morning.”

“Morning.”Charlie gave her an apologetic smile.“Sorry.”

“That’s okay.From what I remember, I think I had a good time.”Annie caught Irene’s glare.“But I’m never ever going to do it again.”

“You want that toast, love?”Irene asked.

Charlie shook her head.“I’m going to meet Ruby at the Diner.”She saw their puzzled looks and realised her mistake.“Charlie.Going to meet Charlie.”

Charlie glanced across the table at Ruby.“I was hoping I’d wake up in my own body this morning but by the looks of it I’m glad I didn’t.”

Ruby groaned.“Guess we’re kind of even on wrecking each other’s heads.”

“Feels like it,”Charlie agreed,“How many glasses?”

“Not sure.How many glasses in…two bottles?”Ruby sighed.“You should have warned me that Leah’s a real party animal once she lets her hair down.”

“You should see Annie.”Charlie saw Ruby’s suspicious look.“I’m serious.I think it was about one o’clock that Irene started banging on the ceiling telling us to turn the music off and cut out that dancing.”

“Okay, that’s an image I didn’t need.Guess you’re embracing your inner sixteen-year-old.”

“Guess so.I guess when I was sixteen…I didn’t really feel like going to parties.”Charlie felt the awkwardness between them and quickly changed the subject.“So how are you going with my life?”

“Well…I think I nearly got you sacked yesterday.”Ruby looked sheepish.

“What did you do, arrest the mayor?”

“Worse.I was at that fire at the surf club and I saw the guy that did it and I…just let him go.I gave them a good description though, sandy hair, beard…”

“Does Command know about this?”Charlie interrupted.

Ruby nodded sadly.“They sent a guy round.He said to just make sure I stayed on top of the case from now on.”

Charlie breathed a sigh of relief.“That’s all right then.”

“No it’s not!Charlie, I don’t know what I’m doing.How am I supposed to take charge of solving this thing?”

“Okay, I’m not saying police work is easy but sometimes it does just come down to common sense.Just forget about all the pressure, treat it as any other puzzle to solve.Look at the evidence, get the other officers to help you.”Charlie touched her daughter’s hand reassuringly.“You’re a bright girl, Ruby.You can do this.”

“What are we talking about?”Charlie asked as she caught up with Annie, Jai and Xavier by the school gates.

Xavier grinned teasingly.“You leading Annie to the dark side?”

“Yeah, you didn’t take any photos of this legendary all-nighter, did you?”asked Jai.

Charlie looked at Annie with annoyance.The girl gave an embarrassed smile.“They asked me what I did last night.I couldn’t exactly lie, could I?”

Charlie sighed.“You, Annie?Probably not.”

“Aren’t you kids meant to be inside?”a gruff man with a set of keys asked suddenly.

Charlie did a quick assessment of the man.By the looks of him, he was the school caretaker.“We were just going,”she told him, leading Ruby’s friends into the building.

The caretaker watched them go, an annoyed look on his face.

The sandy haired, bearded caretaker.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Ruby had thought she’d got a firm grasp on Charlie’s job but she was beginning to realise that while she’d mastered the basics, there was a lot she didn’t know.And if she was going to crack this case and avoid everyone labelling her-or rather Charlie-as incompetent, she was going to need some help.

“Everything all right?”Angelo asked as he came into the office.

Ruby offered a silent thank you to whatever higher power had seemingly heard her thoughts.“I was looking for the crime reports on the two fires, seeing if I can find a connection between them.”

“Well, I guess they’d be in the crime reports cabinet,”Angelo suggested, opening up a drawer.

Ruby smiled at him as he handed her the files.“Sorry.Like I said, I’m feeling a bit forgetful at the moment.”She sat down at the desk.“You want to help me go over them?”

He returned her smile and took one of the files.“Sure thing.”

“Sir, it’s sweltering in here,”Xavier complained.

Charlie had to admit he had a point.Given that summer was fast approaching, she’d expected the classroom to be hot but she’d found herself sweating profusely, as had everyone else in the room.

“Yes, Mr.Austin, we’re all well aware of that,”Martin sighed,“Just as we’re all well aware of the fact that the air conditioning in this room is broken.You’ll just have to put up with it.”

“Isn’t that against Health and Safety or Amnesty International or something?”Jai asked.

“We could always open a window,”Annie suggested.

“Then the noise of the traffic outside would prevent you from hearing what I’m saying,”Martin pointed out.

“Sounds like a good idea,”Xavier commented under his breath.He grinned at Charlie, obviously expecting her to find the remark hilarious.She smiled politely.

“Couldn’t we move to another classroom?”she asked.

“That would cut into the lesson time, Miss Buckton,”Martin reminded her.

“Well, maybe we’d get more work done if we were comfortable,”Charlie replied.

Martin gave a defeated sigh.“All right, everyone, we’ll decamp to the science block, it’s not in use at the moment.And perhaps then I can get you to concentrate on the basics of genetics.”

Ruby had flicked through the files on both the fires and still hadn’t seen anything.Angelo was looking as tired as she felt.“Don’t you think we should take a break?”he asked,“Maybe when the forensic report comes back…”

“Wait a second.”Ruby had suddenly noticed something in the file she was looking at.“It says here that the owner of the community hall that burnt down gave a list of people that might hold a grudge against him.”

“Well, yeah, that’s a standard question…”

“This name.James Stanley.He used to manage the hall until they found out he’d been stealing some of the takings.They fired him and had him charged with embezzlement.He got a suspended sentence.”

“That’s hardly a smoking gun, Charlie,”Angelo pointed out.

“I know but…the name seems familiar.Someone took a statement from the surf club, right?Asked them the same questions?”

“Yeah, it should be in the file.”Angelo flicked through to the right page and scanned it for a moment before pausing and looking up at her in shock.“James Stanley.He was a member of the surf club committee before he lost his job.They decided he couldn’t be trusted and had him removed.Unanimous vote.”

Ruby thought about this.“It says here that he was charged.That means we’d have a file on him, right?”

Angelo nodded, going to one of the cabinets.“It should be right here.”

“There you are,”Nicole announced as she entered their classroom,“I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

Charlie noticed the mild irritation on Martin’s face as he turned to her.“Shouldn’t you be in class, Miss Franklin?”

“Study period.I wanted to talk to you about school council business…”

“Yes, well, while you may be free, I am not.”

Nicole seemed to notice for the first time that there was a class full of pupils in the room with them.“Oh. Whoops.”

Martin sighed.“All right, lesson finishes in ten minutes.Just…sit at the back until then, all right?”

“You won’t even notice I’m here.”

Ruby snatched the file from Angelo’s hand the moment he found it, staring at the photo on the front. “That’s him!That’s the guy I saw!”

“You sure?”

“Angelo, I wasn’t that out of it.”

Angelo nodded in acceptance.“Okay, let’s bring him in.”

“Do we know where he is?”

“Well, if he’s on parole, someone will be keeping tabs on him.”Angelo flicked to the back of the file. “Yeah, we’ve got an address for him.It also says that he had trouble finding work once he had a criminal record.Ended up getting a job as a caretaker at Summer Bay High.”

“That’s where I knew the name from!”Ruby realised,“Mr.Stanley, he’s just started, I haven’t really seen him yet…”She stopped, suddenly alarmed.“Angelo, the school!”

Angelo touched her arm consolingly.“Calm down, Charlie.The school haven’t done anything to him, he’s not going to want to start a fire there.”

James Stanley poured petrol all across the entrance to the science block.He stepped out of the building, throwing the petrol can to one side, and took a piece of paper, shaped like a torch, and a lighter from the pockets of his overalls.He lit one end of the paper and tossed it towards the petrol, slamming the door shut before it landed.

The petrol erupted in a fireball, the flames shooting along it, spreading rapidly to the surrounding walls.In a matter of seconds, the end of the corridor was a raging inferno…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your comments.


The fire alarm was ringing all around the school, activated by the smoke alarm in the far corner of the building.In the room nearest to the fire, unaware of how close the danger was, Martin picked up his register.“All right, everyone, you know the drill.Calmly and quietly.”

Annie was the first one out into the corridor but instead of making her way towards the exit she was stopped dead in her tracks by a wave of heat.She gave a shriek of alarm.“Mr.Bartlett!”

“Yes, what is it?”Martin asked as he followed her out, several of the students crowding around him.Then he saw what Annie had seen:the great wall of flame blocking the way out.He quickly ushered the students away.“Back into the classroom, all of you.”He slammed the door shut as the last of them found their way in.

“Where are the fire exits?”Charlie asked.

“On the other side of the fire,”Nicole told her.

“What?What sort of design fault is that?”

“We’re at the very edge of the school here, Ruby,”Martin reminded her.

“Well, what about the windows?”

Jai gestured up to the only part of the window designed to open, a small slot only a few inches wide and high.“I don’t think any of us could get through there.Mr.Bartlett certainly couldn’t.”

“Thank you, Jai,”Martin told him warningly.

Charlie wasn’t giving up.“Well, then we smash the windows.”

“Security glass,”Martin replied simply.

“Some security,”Xavier complained.

“So what’s the plan then?”Charlie demanded.

Martin shrugged helplessly.“We sit in here, keep the door closed and the smoke out and wait for someone to find us.”

Ruby saw the flames leaping about at one end of the school as the two squad cars pulled into the yard.She could see students and teachers in the playground and noticed Miles coming over to them.“You were quick,”he commented.

“We were already on our way here,”Ruby explained, transfixed for a moment by the dancing flames.

“Have you called the fire brigade?”Angelo asked.

Miles nodded.“About ten minutes ago.”

“All right, I’ll check on how far away they are.”

Ruby could see the other officers standing around, uncertain what to do.She knew how they felt, yet she was the one that was supposed to be in charge.What should she be trying to find out?“Is everyone here?”

“We can’t find Martin Bartlett’s class,”Miles admitted.

“Was he in the science block?”

“No, it wasn’t in use when the fire broke out.”Miles paused a moment before adding,“Charlie…he was taking Ruby’s class.”

Ruby had completely forgotten her timetable in the chaos of the last few days.She cursed herself for the lapse in concentration, for not noticing how many familiar faces were missing from the crowd around her. “Well, they should be in Room 14, right?”

“Should be.But they’re not.Look, don’t worry, he probably just took them out on an impromptu field trip or something.”

Ruby looked back at the building, feeling very worried indeed.

Charlie was going mad.She was used to being in charge in a situation like this, not being treated like a helpless victim, like a child.“Mr.Bartlett, where are the stairs?”

“Left out the door, you know…”

“Away from the fire?”


“We need to get up there.”

Martin shook his head.“Ruby, if we leave this classroom, then we go out into that smoke, we risk inhalation injuries.Our best bet is to stay here…”

“No-one knows we’re here,”Charlie reminded him,“They’re going to waste time looking for us if we don’t find a way to attract attention.And the higher up we are, the easier it’s going to be!”

“Ruby, I appreciate the logic in what you’re saying…”

Charlie tried desperately to think of something that would convince him.How could a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl know about fire protocols?Then it hit her.“Mr.Bartlett, I come from a family of police officers. I’ve had train…they’ve taught me what to do in a fire.We need to get upstairs, away from the fire, and attract their attention.”

For a moment, she thought Martin was going to argue, then he nodded.“All right.Everyone stand back.” He braced himself and pulled the door open.Instantly, clouds of thick white smoke began billowing into the room, causing everyone to cough and gasp for breath.The flames were even closer to them now, licking at the door frame.Charlie realised if they’d waited a few minutes longer, the door itself would have been burning.

She realised everyone was frozen in shock.“Everyone out now!”she shouted,“Head for the stairs!”

There was a rush for the door, students piling through and following her instructions.She noticed Jai, Annie and Xavier among them but was surprised to see Nicole hanging back with her.“You go on,”she told her.

Nicole managed to give her an amused look despite the circumstances.“Oh, what, you’re school captain now, are you?”

Martin was still by the door, ushering the other students through.He gestured for them to join the back of the crowd.“All right, girls, come on.”

Charlie followed the crowd up the stairs, students bustling in varying degrees of terror.There was another classroom at the top.She eyed the windows.“Those security glass as well?”

“Just downstairs,”Martin answered.

“Right.Stand back.”She picked up a chair and threw it through the window.

The chair impacted in the playground with a resounding thud, scattering people in all directions.Ruby looked up at the broken window.“Charlie,”she whispered, too quiet for anyone to hear.Then she started towards the building, Miles only a step behind her.

Angelo quickly dashed in front of them, stopping them.“Woah, what are you doing?”

“That’s...”Ruby only just stopped herself from saying Charlie’s name.“My family’s up there.”

“And mine,”Miles added,“Jai’s in that class, Nicole’s missing too.”

“And you’re not going to do them any good if you just go rushing in there,”Angelo told them firmly,“The fire brigade are only a couple of minutes away.”

“That could be too late!”Ruby looked away, distraught, and that’s when her eyes locked on an overalled figure among the onlookers.

She’d almost forgotten what they were there for.But then she saw that face, the one from the surf club, the one from the photo.He met her gaze for just a second, then he fled.

“Stop, police!”she shouted, racing after him.For a moment, she reached for her gun but then she checked herself.She’d probably be more of a danger than him if she tried using it.Instead she increased her pace, grateful that Charlie was such a fitness freak and that the body she was in had much longer legs than her own.As the gap closed, she launched herself at him, grabbing him around the legs in a clumsy attempt at a rugby tackle.Fortunately it was enough to pull him to the ground.

She stared at him as they both scrambled to regain their balance, worrying if the gun would have been a good idea after all.But all the fight seemed to have gone out of him after his failed escape attempt.“There wasn’t meant to be anyone in there,”he explained feebly,“I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Ruby heard the running footsteps of other police officers catching up with her.She hauled Stanley to his feet and slammed handcuffs around his wrists before pushing him at Watson.“Read him his rights then take him down the station.”

Watson nodded, with a bit more respect than she’d been giving Ruby up till then.“Aye, Senior.”

The brief adrenaline surge seemed to be dying out.Ruby looked back at the school and was relieved to see a fire engine and ambulances arriving in the car park.She ran over there, noticing a fire officer in a slightly different uniform to the others.“Are you in charge?”

The man gave her an ironic smile.“Yeah, very funny, Charlie.”

She tried to look as though she knew who he was.“There’s people trapped on the top floor.Room with the broken window.”

“How many?”

Miles supplied the answer.“We’re missing one teacher and seventeen students.”

“All right, we’ll make getting them out our priority.”

“Please hurry.”Ruby’s mind was whirling with thoughts of how many people she cared about up there:her mother, her friends…“They’ve got to be all right.”

Charlie was having trouble breathing.She wondered if it was the unfamiliar lungs, if Ruby’s body wasn’t as tolerant of oxygen starvation as her own.Or if it really was that bad.

“The firemen are setting up a ladder,”Xavier noted, looking out the window.

“Cool,”Jai noted.Both boys were trying to sound casual and failing completely.

Charlie caught a glimpse of a fireman at the top of the ladder.He gestured for them to move back, then smashed in the rest of the window she’d already damaged and clambered into the room.“All of you, get down the ladder,”he told them.

Charlie noticed the questioning looks on Annie and Nicole’s faces and waved them away from her.“Go on, I’ll be right behind you.”

She stood watching as the pupils and Martin Bartlett made their way out the window.She made to keep her word, to follow them, but she could feel her head growing light.Her legs buckled and she felt the fireman catch her, felt herself being carried down the ladder and lowered onto an ambulance trolley.For some reason, she could hear her own voice, telling her to hold on, that it was all going to be all right…

Ruby, she realised as she saw her own face looking down at her.She tried to offer her a smile but everything was going black…

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.