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The TRouble with Worms
Chapter One
Sweet and sour

The trouble with worms is they stick in your teeth.
"Want one, Fletch?" asked Axel.
"Maybe later." I pushed the bag of worms across the desk.
Axel took one and slurped it up.
He made a bug-eyed face. They were sweet and sour worms from Parker's General Store.
"Announcement, class!" Mr Rosado said, clapping his hands. "I want you to meet your substitute teacher, Mrs Boucher."
Everyone gawped at the crinkly woman with fierce spectacles.
"She has to be a hundred not out," whispered Axel.
"Gee, Mr Rosado," said Squiz. "D'you have to go for a whole week?"
"That's how long the Maths workshop will take," Mr Rosado said, collecting up his laptop. He paused at the door. "Wayne Parker, put those spitballs in the bin NOW."
Everyone groaned. Not because of Wayne the Pain's gross spitball habit but because Mr Rosado was leaving us with a stern-looking teacher.
"It's gonna be a BAD week," Axel hissed behind his hand.
"Aw, give her a chance," I muttered.
I knew Mum would be disappointed at the way we were glaring at Mrs Boucher. Mum says you should judge people by how they act, not by their looks.
But Mrs Boucher's actions didn't help her win any popularity points.
Straight away, she gave us a spelling test.
"No talking," she said in a voice like scratchy sandpaper. "No blunt pencils. No messy letters."
"Is breathing allowed?" said Wayne the Pain.
Mrs Boucher ignored him, patrolling the room like a police dog. She stopped behind my chair and I felt her hot breath on my head. Sweat slid down my fingers and onto my spelling words.
When Wayne handed back my spelling test, I saw he had marked two ticks and eight fat crosses - my worst score ever.
"Your words were all smudgy," he said with a smug grin.
"Errors must be written out twenty times before you go to recess," Mrs Boucher announced.
Oh man, I'd be in class till I was ready for the pension.
"Cheer up," said Axel. "Have a worm." He shoved the packet across but before I could take one, Wayne's hand shot into the air. "Mrs Groucher, I mean ... Boucher!"
"It's Fletcher Fingal," said Wayne, pointing at me. "He's got worms."
I sucked in my cheeks and glared at him. This was going to be a loooooong week.

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