"I need to talk to you," I say quietly to Mark Walker, as soon as I get the chance. Monahan has his back to us, writing something up on his flip chart for another lesson, but Mark still doesn't turn round to look at me. He just shakes his head stiffly and stares straight ahead.
"We'll end up out there," he mutters in a tiny quivery voice.
"Just whisper," I tell him, but he gives me the head shake again and says nothing.
I look at him and sigh, then tear a page out of my notebook and write, "I need you to do some programming for me. In Objective-C," and pass it across to him. He turns to look at me as if he thinks I'm a total idiot, which he probably does. Then he flips the piece of paper over and writes on the back of it.
"Do you even know what Objective-C is?" it says. He drops it onto my desk, and I stare at it for a while. Then I tear out another piece of paper.
"I know it's the programming language for apps," I write. "And I know I need you to help me with it."
"But I don't know Objective-C," he replies.
"How come?" I write. "You're in my computing class."
I drop it on him and he gives me the idiot look again, then shrugs as if to say, '"And'?"
"So, we do Objective-C in there," I whisper, and he frowns at me, then flips the page.
"No we don't, doofus," he writes, and at that moment the Sergeant spins round, all on fire.
"Silence!" he shouts. "Who's talking? Who has the gall to disrupt my class?"
All the blood drains from Mark's face. He goes as white as a ghost, and I look down at my desk, certain that his fear is going to give us away. I hit on the idea of staring at somebody else in the room, in the hope that Mark will follow my lead and mad Monahan will assume that's the culprit. I focus my efforts on Amanda Gray, but then I realize almost everyone in the class has gone chalk white and it's obvious Mark's not giving anything away at all. I watch the Sergeant as he glares from face to face. Then he notices Fritter is letting the book slip again and he walks over and takes it off him.
"Sit down," he says, and he puts the book back on its shelf. "This is now available if anyone else would like to come out here," he says, and he glares at the zombie faces again. "No one? All right. Let's keep it that way. Get back to your projects." And he flips another page on his big chart book and carries on with his
Mark turns to look at me with narrowed eyes, and I quickly manufacture another note for him.
"I'm sure I've heard Bronson talking about Objective-C," it says, but I can't even get Mark to look at it. I have to resort to threatening to tickle him, which he knows will cause him to laugh his way to the book punishment, before he makes any response.
His lips go thin, and he starts writing. "Of course he mentions it," he scribbles. "That doesn't mean he teaches it. What class have you been in all year?"
He leaves the note lying on his desk—doesn't even pass it across to me—and I have to lean over just to read it. I'm pretty surprised when I decipher its contents. Bronson bangs on so much about apps being made of Objective-C, I'd been sure he was trying to teach us it. I must pay even less attention in there than I thought I did. I know I zone out quite a bit, but this is pretty spectacular. I suppose that's the thing about being an ideas machine: you can't really see the sense in spending too much of your time listening to a teacher telling you about other people's ideas.
The main thing is always to make sure you're looking after your own brain waves.