Oliver Moon and the Nipperbat Nightmare

It was the last day of term at Magic School before the week-long Halloween holiday, and Oliver Moon was in a very good mood. He couldn’t wait for school to finish, and the fun to start!

“Before you all get your broomsticks and leave, I have a few things to talk to you about,” said Mr. Goosepimple, Oliver’s teacher, to the class. First, some sad news. Hoo-Hoo the owl has announced his retirement. After seven years with us, he’s leaving Magic School to go and live in an old owls’ nest by the seaside, and spend more time with his grandowlets.”

“Ahhhh,” Hattie Toadtrumper and some of the other girls chorused.

Oliver felt a bit sad at the news, too.

Hoo-Hoo was the school’s Wizardball team mascot, and he was known throughout Cacklewick for his rousing cheers of “Who-Who’s the best team? We’re the best team!”

“Secondly, our headmistress, Mrs. MacLizard, has asked me to let you know that…” Mr. Goosepimple’s voice trailed away. “What was it again?” he muttered, scratching his head.

A squeaky little voice piped up from the corner of the room. “Halloween presents!”

Mr. Goosepimple turned gratefully to the cage where Nippy the nipperbat, the class pet, was hanging upside down.

“Thanks, Nippy,” Mr. Goosepimple smiled. “What would I do without you? Yes – that’s right. Mrs. MacLizard wanted me to remind you that your Halloween presents should be delivered by her magic messenger spell any time…um…now.”

As he finished speaking, an avalanche of orange and black parcels rained down in the classroom. It was the school tradition that every year at Halloween, on the last morning of term, each student put a small wrapped gift into a giant pumpkin in the assembly hall. The gifts were then magically shuffled and given out at random just before home time.

A small present bounced off Oliver’s head and onto his desk. It was wrapped in orange paper and tied with a black bow. He opened it quickly to find a silver box with wisps of blue smoke floating out of it. Wish In A Box, it said, in curly blue writing on the front. Excellent!

A wish would definitely come in handy. Oliver was already imagining some really cool things he could wish for…

A pet scorpion, perhaps, or a bedroom-cleaning genie, or a never-ending supply of yummy roast cockroaches… “What did you get?” he asked, turning to his best friend, Jake Frogfreckle.

Jake’s present had landed with a squelching sound, and was now croaking loudly from inside its shiny orange paper. Jake pulled the wrapping off to reveal a warty brown toad. The toad belched crossly and stared at Jake with yellow eyes.

“Hello, mate,” Jake said, tickling it under the chin with his wand.

“Before you leave, there’s one last thing,” Mr. Goosepimple said. “I need someone to take care of Nippy during the Halloween break. I’d take him myself only…” He had a faraway look in his eyes. “Only, I can’t.”

“Romantic holiday with Mrs. Goosepimple,” Nippy piped up knowingly. “No pets allowed!”

Mr. Goosepimple blushed and ignored Nippy’s remark. “So…any volunteers?”