Early Friday evening at Grange Hill, near the end of term on a typical English summer day. All is quiet. The only sound is the rain drumming on the top of the covered ways and the pattering feet of half-starved mice retreating from the school cafeteria. Everyone has gone home, even Tucker Jenkins and Benny Green who have been in detention. The school seems to be empty.
No. A lone figure is loitering in the corridor near the Head's office. Michael Doyle is hanging about waiting for a lift home. His father, Councillor Doyle, chairman of governors no less, is in with the Head, discussing the School Fund.
Michael, bless his heart, is hoping for more than a lift home. He's hoping for a few snippets of information for that active brain of his to get to work on. Michael Doyle's brain is not widely appreciated in Grange Hill, which is a pity. Because Michael had plans for the school, or rather for some of the people in it - like boiling them in oil, or feeding them gently through the waste disposal unit.
He had a list, not on paper, Michael is far too intelligent for that, but in his mind. It included all the people who had annoyed him, or got in his way, or interfered with his perfectly reasonable plans to be Ruler of the Universe. To be quite honest, it was a revenge list, a hit list.
Top of the list came Jenkins and his sidekicks for crimes too numerous to mention. Then Penny Lewis, crusading journalist of the year who brought Doyle's promising career as a school politician to a grinding halt. Trisha Yates, who had nearly poisoned him during that moronic semolina business. And staff, too - Hopwood, a real do-gooder. And Peterson. No woman had a right to push Michael Doyle around.
As he paced quietly up and down, Michael had one of those brainwaves, those strokes of genius which marked him out from lesser folk.
In a flash he saw where he had gone wrong so far. He had tried to pick them off one by one, when he should have been working out the master plan to sink them all without trace. He had been messing about with tactics when he should have gone in for grand strategy.