Pocket watch

The note was dropped on Owen’s desk by the Spanish teacher at the end of his final lesson of the day, just as the bell rang out through the school. It was written on thick paper with sharp, neat edges. The words had been written in dark blue ink, likely with a fountain pen, and they seemed to dance across the page.

It took Owen a moment to decipher what it said. When he had finally read and re-read it, he realised with terror that he had been invited to go see his school housemaster. He doubted that it was an invitation he could refuse.

Owen had never met his housemaster, but the man had a fearsome reputation around school. Common room gossip held that he had a doctorate in ancient history and travelled to warzones in the Middle East or Latin America to carry out archaeological digs. Someone even said that he had been attacked by a Mexican cartel, killing four gunmen in self-defence at the site of an old Aztec temple.

He threw everything on his desk into his battered backpack and dashed out of the door. The note hadn’t specified a time for the meeting, but Owen had no desire to be late and end up skewered on the end of an antique sabre.

Panting for air and drenched in sweat, Owen reached the office on the top floor of the classics building. A muffled command sounded from inside.

“Come in.”

Owen pushed the door open and saw a tall, thin man sitting behind an ornate mahogany desk, his hands clasped together on its surface. It was the professor from the train, the one who had killed two men in front of Owen’s eyes.

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