It was Saturday!
Finlay woke up quickly with a giant smile on his face, he knew it was Saturday because his Mum and Dad weren’t running about the house, half-dressed and screaming about being late for boring work.
He threw his Spider-Man covers off, jumped down from bed and ran to put on his light. His eyes stung from the bright light. Taking a minute to shield his eyes, he ran over to the giant mirror on his bedroom wall. What awesomeness would it be this Saturday when he looked in the mirror?
Giant muscles so he could pick up cars?
Wings to help him fly?
Sticky hands to climb walls?
After a minute of checking over his body and spinning round and round in the mirror he came to the shocking realisation that this morning he was just Finlay. Boring old Finlay. He put the light off, shuffled back to bed and pulled the covers back over his head.
Maybe I should explain.
Ever since Finlay could remember, he has been special. He knew that because his Mum always told him that he was her special boy. Finlay quickly realised that all Mums and Dads think their children are special but this wasn’t the only reason he knew he was special. Finlay was another kind of special.
You see, every Saturday Finlay would wake up with a new amazing, mega, fantastical super power, something so unbelievably astounding that when he lay down in bed on Saturday night he immediately got excited for the next Saturday.
Some weeks he could run so fast he could outrun a cheetah. Other weeks he would be so strong he could lift his Dad’s car. One amazing time he had gills to let him swim under water. He beat the local swimming pool record for staying under the water by 5 hours and 42 minutes. He knows it could have been a lot longer but his Mum and Dad, 2 lifeguards and the local police chief finally wrestled him out. But this Saturday, there was nothing. Not even something half amazing, like the ability to eat 100 cookies without getting a sore tummy or maybe x-ray eyes to see what sweeties his Mum and Dad had bought with the shopping. Nope, nothing at all.
This had happened once before, when Finlay had the dreaded chicken pox. When he woke up that Saturday and saw that he was covered in red spots, he couldn’t wait to find out what superpower they would give him.
Unfortunately for Finlay all that happened was his Mum smothering him with cream every few hours and the red spots made him itch all over. Not a cool super power at all.
So, back to that awful Saturday morning, the awful, wretched, horrible Saturday when Finlay had no superpowers (and no red spots). He was sat, sulking under his covers in the dark when he heard his Mum’s voice. “Where’s my special boy?” she said in that sing songy way that Mums do. He heard footsteps approaching. Two hands appeared under his covers, wandering their way towards him like two playful spiders. He let out a half smile. “I don’t have anything Mum” he said, as he pulled the covers off, looking at his Mum with a sulk and pouted lip. “Oh, sweetheart, that’s ok” she said, giving him a hug. “You know you don’t have to have superpowers to be my special boy”. He tutted. What a typical thing for Mum to say, he thought. “Yeah, I think being able to lift a car or read James’ mind is a little bit cooler than just being boring old me, Mum” he said. “Well” she said, “let’s go and get some breakfast and we can see what your friends are up to today”.
When Finlay and his Mum walked into the kitchen Finlay’s Dad had his back to them, singing and dancing along to the radio, he didn’t know they were there and was singing at the top of his voice. Finlay and his Mum watched for a minute as his Dad tried desperately to hit a high note like the singer on the radio but failed miserably. They both burst out laughing and watched as his dad turned round, shocked at their laughing. Finlay’s dad burst out laughing too.
“Don’t give up your day job, Ross” said his Mum still chuckling. “I think I’ve got the X Factor” he said with a smile. He walked over and lifted his hand to Finlay “hello big boy, how are you today?” Finlay gave his Dad a high five, he didn’t slap his hand very hard but his Dad still acted like it was the hardest slap he’d ever had, it always made him laugh. “I don’t have anything, Dad” Finlay said as he looked at his feet. “Oh buddy” his Dad replied with a silly face to try to make him smile. “That’s ok! Don’t be upset, we can still have a great day”.
Finlay liked that his Mum and Dad were trying to make him feel better but he thought he’d feel a lot better if he had a cool superpower to show his friends. Charlie, James and Hamish were Finlay’s best friends. They always had been ever since he could remember. His Mum and Dad told him that they had been best friends even when they were babies. Finlay had saw photos but he couldn’t remember, he just knew that these three boys were the best friends he’d ever had. Every Saturday morning the boys met outside one of their houses to check out what Finlay’s latest amazing, mega, fantastical super power was. Today was no different.
“Can’t wait to find out what he’ll have today” said Hamish excitedly. “Oooh! Maybe it’ll be the flying power again,” said James with a big smile. “Remember when he was invisible and got us all those doughnuts from his Mum’s kitchen?” said Charlie staring into space, the very thought of those delicious doughnuts dripping with custard had his mouth salivating. His stomach let out a ginormous grumble like the roar of a hungry bear emerging from hibernation. James and Hamish looked at him, laughing. Charlie had an uncanny gift of managing to slip the topic of food into every conversation they had.
“Oh look! Here he comes” shrieked Hamish, giddy at the sight of Finlay walking up the hill with his Mum, Dad and dog. “Hi boys!” chirped Finlay’s Mum “Hiiiiiiiiiii” droned the boys in unison. “OK Finlay, we’ll be over at Hamish’s Mum and Dad’s, see you boys in a couple of hours for lunch, don’t get into any mischief” said Finlay’s Dad with a smile. Not much chance of that, thought Finlay.
“Well?” said Hamish, so eager he was practically standing on Finlay’s feet. Charlie circled Finlay a few times looking puzzled “nah, I can’t see it this week, is it something hidden?” Finlay shook his head keeping his eyes firmly at his feet, he was scared if he did speak that he might cry. James could tell there was something wrong. “Are you OK pal?” Finlay nodded, he waited a few seconds, took a deep breath and went for it. “I don’t have anything this week guys”.
In a flash Hamish took off like an olympic sprinter. No-one had ever witnessed a little boy run so fast in their life and if the Guinness Book of Records had been there right at that moment Hamish would surely have been awarded the “fastest little boy alive” title with no questions asked. After about 100 metres or so he stopped and hid behind a bush. Every 30 seconds or so he peeped his head out, looking over at the other boys. He was like one of those little meerkats Finlay had seen on the TV. Stunned, the boys all gave each other a puzzled look and stared over at the bush Hamish was hiding behind. Eventually he poked his head back out and shouted over “I’m not getting chicken pox again, they were sooooooooo itchy and my Mum put cream on me every ten minutes, I felt like a bar of soap! I can’t get them again!”
The other boys all looked at each other and erupted into laughter, James was laughing so hard he ended up lying on the grass, doubled over. Finlay and Charlie pretended to fall over and they all ended up on top of each other giggling together. After the laughter had stopped Charlie looked at them very seriously and whispered “You can’t get chicken pox twice can you?” “NO!” shouted Finlay and James at the same time. All three burst into laughter again which went on for a lot longer than Hamish, who was still hidden behind his bush, would have liked. “Is something funny?” he called from behind his bush. “Yeah, you!” shouted James smiling, “He doesn’t have chicken pox again and you can’t get it twice! Get back over here you numpty!”
Hamish trudged back over to them looking bashful. “Sorry Finlay, those things are just super itchy, I didn’t want to take the risk” he said. “Don’t worry” said Finlay laughing. He felt that pang of butterflies in his stomach again as he got ready to disappoint his friends with the news that he didn’t have any super powers. “I just didn’t have anything this morning when I woke up.” Finlay looked up from the ground at his friends. They were all staring back. He couldn’t believe it! They were all still there! He half expected them to leave as soon as he said it. He expected to be left to wander back alone to meet his Mum and Dad whilst his friends left him to go find another boy who had superpowers, someone they could watch lift a building or stop a train or steal them custard doughnuts (he knew that was Charlie’s favourite ). “Why do you think that is?” asked Hamish, looking at Finlay with genuine interest.
He wasn’t angry or upset or ready to cross him off his “Coolest Guys Ever” list (he genuinely had that list, it currently had 6 names on it: Charlie, James, Finlay, himself, Santa Claus and his Dad). “I’ve no idea” replied Finlay “Maybe I am sick, maybe I’ve ran out of superhero juice or something, all I know is I don’t have anything. I’ve checked myself over 100 times” he said. “Man, I was soooo hoping you’d be invisible again” said Charlie enthusiastically “my Mum baked this big cake last night and I kind of hoped you’d be able to get it for us, I even brought a spoon”. He reached inside his coat and pulled out what appeared to be the world’s largest serving utensil. Hamish and James burst out laughing at the sight of it. “What on earth is that and how did you fit it in your coat?!” asked Hamish. Charlie looked bashful “I saw my Mum serving soup with it last night, I thought it looked the perfect size for the gateau, I just thought that Finlay could…” Hamish and James began to snigger as Charlie slowly slipped the ladle back into his coat pocket.
The laughing soon stopped as all three boys turned to look at Finlay who had started crying. James hated to see his friend crying “Hey pal, come on, there’s no need to cry, I’m sure you’re fine” he said reassuringly. “I’ll just head to meet my Mum and Dad – you guys will have better things to do than hang around with stupid old me” mumbled Finlay through sobs. “Don’t be daft!” said James, “we’ll do something cool together anyway”. “Yeah!” agreed Hamish “Who wants to go over to the park, I’ll get my rugby ball to throw about, or we could go get Amber and take her a walk?”
Amber was Finlay’s dog. An energetic, loveable Golden Labrador with a heart of gold. Amber adored each of the boys and thought of herself as one of them. She went wherever they did. “Yeah” chimed in Charlie, “I didn’t even want any of the cake” he said defiantly “I saw my dad licking a bit when he thought no-one was looking so he probably ruined it anyway”. He turned and gave Finlay a big smile and a wink.
Finlay was bowled over with relief, he couldn’t believe it! The smell of food cooking and the noise of laughter hit them as they walked into Hamish’s house. All the adults were sat around the living room laughing and playing a game together whilst what smelt like homemade pizza’s cooked in the oven. Who knew what these adults got up to, thought Finlay, probably super boring adult stuff.
As the boys walked into the living room, footsteps suddenly appeared behind them, they had been ambushed! First James was taken down to the floor, then Hamish, then finally Charlie was decked. In the blink of an eye they were being given a soaking wet licking by their assailant, it was Amber! As usual she was so excited to see the boys she had greeted them the only way she knew how, by skipping, hopping and jumping around them and licking them all over! The disgusting hot, wet, sticky drool was everywhere! Amber completed her ambush by stealing Finlay’s shoes from him and bounding away with them back upstairs. “Ambbeeeeeer!!!! come back with my shoes!!” cried Finlay. “How does she always manage to get her tongue right in my ear?!” moaned Charlie. “Help me up” said Hamish, Amber had somehow managed to pull one of his socks off and had licked his hair into a mohican. James chuckled as he pulled Hamish back to his feet. “That dog is a menace!” he said with a smile.
“Hey there boys, lunch won’t be ready for a while yet” said Hamish’s mum with a look of concern. “What are you doing back at the house so soon? Is everything OK?” “Well, if it’s alright” said Hamish, “we were thinking of taking Amber for a walk, is that OK?”. He had no quicker said the word “walk” when he heard the footsteps flying back down the stairs again. He felt a meaty slap of a wet tongue on his hand followed by the panting of breath against his leg. He looked down at Amber who was obediently sat looking at him, panting, with her tongue hanging out one side of her mouth and her lead hanging out the other.
Finlay’s Dad was in a fit of laughter at something Charlie’s Dad had shown him on a card from the game they were playing. After what seemed like 10 minutes of loud cackling and wiping away tears he finally managed to calm himself down to reply “Pheeeew, of course that’s fine boys” he said taking a deep breath. Then he added, a bit more seriously, “but just make sure you keep her on the lead and take some bags in case she drops some heat”. James and Charlie looked at eachother confused. “it means do a poo” whispered Hamish to them a little too loudly.
One of the parents let out a snigger, then they all burst into laughter as the boys wandered out the living room door. Charlie’s mum came to the front door to see them off, carrying Charlie’s baby sister. “see you later boys, please be careful and don’t get into any mischief OK? see you all for lunch”. “okkkaaaay, byeeeeee” they replied together. The door shut behind them and with that….they were off on their adventure.
No sooner had they left when the rainstorm came on. It was coming down hard, bouncing off the pavements. Rivers of water ran alongside them as they wandered along past all the houses in Hamish’s street. They were heading towards a big field behind Hamish’s house which led to a bridge over the river and beyond that, the dark forest. It was a tough walk in the rainstorm but no amount of wet weather could dampen the boy’s spirits, they loved the rain! “This. Is. Aaaaaawesome!!!” screamed Charlie as all 4 boys ran and jumped into the world’s largest puddle, the splash covered right over Finlay’s head and soaked him from head to toe! Eventually they made it to the bridge, they agreed to take shelter under it and wait for the rain to pass.
“Wow” said Hamish “this is crazy, wonder if we should go back, Ambers done the toilet so we could go back and play at mine for a bit?” “It’ll dry off soon” said James “we could go over the bridge and into the forest? since you don’t have any powers Finlay, we could play Huntsman?”
All the boys nodded with excitement. Huntsman was a game they loved to play together. The game was simple: one person closed his eyes, counted to 20, then the rest of them ran away and hid. The person counting had to find them. The winner was the last person to be found. It was a game that could be, and was, played anywhere much to their parents’ frustration. The other boys preferred to play when Finlay didn’t have any superpowers, the ability to hide underwater, fly or push down trees really gave him an advantage!
The rain had finally stopped. Elated, they made their way over the bridge. After all the rain that had fallen the river was flowing unbelievably fast, the boys stopped on the bridge and looked over. Charlie picked up a stick at his feet and dropped it down into the river. The stick flew peacefully through the air then was suddenly, violently, pulled into the flowing river. It was swallowed up by the river then every now and again burped back up to the surface. It was downstream within seconds. “coooooool” said James. It gave Finlay a horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. He shook his head as they kept walking over the bridge towards the forest.
Then it happened.
A small animal, Finlay wasn’t sure what, a badger? a rabbit? maybe a weasel had come running out the forest. It had obviously saw Amber, gotten a fright then changed its course and jumped straight into the ferocious flowing river.
Finlay felt a jarring tug on his arm and was suddenly pulled off his feet. He fell with a thud on the soaking wet grass, banging the back of his head as he landed.
Dizzy, he pulled himself to his feet. Everything seemed blurry, he could see the outlines of his three friends and could hear screaming and shouting but couldn’t see what was happening. He rubbed his eyes and gave his head a shake, he looked down and saw that he was no longer holding Amber’s lead. That was when he realised that James, Charlie and Hamish were all stood at the bank of the river screaming.
“Ambbbbbbbbbbbbeeeeeeeerrrrrrr!!!” “Heeeeelllp heeeeeeeeeeeeer!!!” “Someone please help!!!”
James came running over to him. “Finlay! Are you OK?” He wanted to say a million things but all that would come out his mouth was “Wh, wha, what’s happened?” He felt sick and was a little unsteady on his feet. “It’s Amber, she jumped in the river after that rabbit. She’s in the river!!”
James helped him up and the two of them ran over to the river bank. Amber was swirling and twirling in the water, being thrown around by the violent current of the river. It looked to Finlay like she had been put into mums washing machine and was being swept round and round. She looked terrified as she tried desperately to claw her paws up on the side of the riverbank.
Charlie turned to them “I’ll run back and get my dad, he’ll know what to do” “No!” shouted Hamish “There’s no time! that river is far too fast, she’ll get pulled away!” “We’re wasting time!!” said Finlay, scared and worried for his dog. “There’s no way she’s not getting out of that water, let’s think!”
Suddenly James ran into the forest, he appeared back, breathless with a thick long branch from a tree. “Let’s hold this out to her, one of us can use it to grab her” he panted. “YES!” shouted Finlay. “let’s go!” They ran over, Amber was clinging onto the riverbank for dear life. Her back legs were still in the water, being pulled away from her as the river thundered on underneath her trying desperately to pull her back in.
Hamish lay down on the grass with his head over the side, he slowly, quietly began to reassure Amber with a soothing voice. “Okay Amber” he said “We’re going to get you out girl, don’t you worry, you’re going to be OK, clever girl” With those reassuring words her tongue appeared out her mouth, she looked like she was smiling! “Keep doing that!” shouted Finlay, “it’s helping!!”
Hamish gave him the thumbs up and continued to coo reassuring words to Amber, she kept her gaze firmly fixed on him whilst she struggled to keep her front paws locked onto the side of the riverbank. The river hammered along underneath like a pack of stampeding bulls. Charlie, James and Finlay lay the thick long branch down.
“Okay” said Finlay “Here’s what we’ll do. You two, hold the branch down over where Amber is, put your full weight on it, I’ll climb along it and grab her” Charlie raised his eyebrows “BE. CAREFUL.” All three boys gave each other a nod and headed to the river bank.
As Hamish continued to speak to Amber, James and Charlie laid the giant branch down, hanging it over the side of the riverbank. They both dug their feet into the grass and placed their hands over the branch, holding it into place. Finlay took a deep breath and dropped onto his hands and knees. Slowly he shimmied along until he got to the edge of the riverbank. He braced himself and gripped on tightly to the branch. It wobbled slightly as it took his full weight, a pang of fear hit his stomach but he knew he couldn’t stop now, he had to get Amber!
He looked up at Charlie and James who were gritting their teeth and pushing their bodies over the branch to take his full weight. He looked down and could see Amber still there, still looking at Hamish with her tongue hanging out. As he got closer to it the noise from the river was terrifying. It continued to hammer along like an angry volcano underneath him, ready to swallow him and Amber up at any second. She spotted him shimmying out over her and started to try to climb up the riverbank. “No Amber!” he screamed “Just stay there, I’ll get you!” Any slight move now and she could fall in. He reached down with one hand and grabbed her by her collar. He pulled with all his might but couldn’t move her. She wasn’t a big dog but she was heavy and Finlay could only ever pick her up in his arms with two hands.
“She won’t budge!!” he shouted up to his friends in frustration. Hamish hopped up from his position on the river bank and tip-toed along the branch. He got to Finlay’s feet and helped pull him back up onto the branch. Amber clung back onto the riverbank looking up at the boys, desperation in her eyes. “I’ll hold your legs, you hang down with both hands and grab her” shouted Hamish “You can do this Finlay!.
Finlay looked up at Charlie and James. Their faces were bright red, holding onto the branch desperately to take Hamish and Finlay’s weight. “Do it!” shouted James through gritted teeth “Hurry!”
Finlay closed his eyes. From the minute he woke up that morning he had felt frustration and anger at not having a superpower. It was Saturday, why hadn’t it happened? Why would his friends still want to hang out with him? Could he have saved Amber with a superpower? Easily, he thought. But suddenly, in that moment when Hamish had looked at him, told him what to do, told him that they were there for him, a feeling of calm and confidence came over him He looked at Hamish “Let’s do it!!”
Hamish grabbed him by the legs as Finlay hung upside down. He was face to face with Amber. Water from the river hit him in the face every now and again as he dropped his arms down to grab her. She licked at his face which made him smile. “You’re going to be OK Amby” he whispered to her.
He grabbed her by the collar with his left hand and then dipped his right hand into the flowing river, grabbing her by her back legs. He braced himself and pulled as hard as he could. She let out a little yelp as he raised her up and out the river, his arms shaking as he took her full weight in his arms. He let out a roar as he threw her onto the grass to safety on the riverbank.
“Yeeees!!!” screamed James. “YOU DID IT!!!” shouted Charlie. “Now get back up!” screamed Hamish who was still gripping tightly onto his legs. He reached up and Hamish grabbed him by the hand and pulled him up onto the branch, They both felt a horrible jolt and a snapping noise. The branch was going to break!! Hamish dived off the branch towards the riverbank, dragging Finlay with him by his jersey. They landed on top of each other on the riverbank with a thud just in time to see the giant branch snap in half and disappear off down the river.
They all lay there for what seemed an eternity, just breathing, staring up at the sky. Eventually, they all got up and looked at one another.
Wooooooo!!!!” screamed Charlie “I can’t believe we did it!!!” shouted James. He jumped up and hugged Finlay!!! Charlie and Hamish were high fiving and jumping about. Amber danced round and round them, hopping up on her two back legs, licking whoever and whatever she could.
Suddenly, the celebrations were broken up by some commotion over the other side of the river. 8 bodies were running down alongside the river bank and coming straight towards them over the bridge.
“CHARLIEEEEEEEEEE!!!” “FINLAY !!!” “HAMISH!!” “JAMES WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!” It was their parents. They came flying over the bridge together, all looking scared. They wrapped each child up in hugs individually. Finlay and his friends were hit with a million questions all at once. “What on earth has happened?” asked Hamish’s dad “Where have you all been?!” said James’ mum. “Why is Amber off the lead??” shouted Finlay’s Dad. Charlie’s mum was crying and squeezing Charlie in one arm and juggling his baby sister in her other.
“We’re all OK!” Finlay told them. “Can we go home and explain? It’s freezing!” The walk home didn’t take long. All the boys got a piggy back from their dads with their mums fussing over them every step of the way. Amber walked slowly next to Finlay’s Dad on the lead, tongue hanging out and tail wagging.
“Oh my little Hamey Wamey” said Hamish’s Mum as she kissed him on the cheek for the 100th time. “no Mum!” he said bashfully “not in front of the lads!!!”. James, Charlie and Finlay laughed at him “Hameeeeey Wameeeeey” they all sang together.
James, Charlie, Hamish and Finlay sat in Hamish’s living room on the comfy couch. They each had roasting hot cups of hot chocolate in their hands and were all energetically explaining to their parents what had happened.
“Well there was this massive puddle and Finlay got soaked” laughed James “Then we crossed the bridge and a rabbit or something appeared” interrupted Finlay “Amber fell in the river!” shrieked Hamish “Then I found this massive branch!” jumped in James “and Finlay hung upside down on it” “I couldn’t reach so Hamish helped me reach her” said Finlay. “oh, my turn, my turn!” shouted Charlie with his hand up All 3 boys and all 8 parents, who were sat listening in awe at the story their children were telling them, turned to Charlie waiting for him to finish off the story. He looked at them all with a smile “Ummm I have no idea what they were saying but…..is there any of that pizza left that was cooking when we left?” Everyone burst into laughter.
All the parents were delighted that their boys and dog were home safely. The boys had an amazing, mega, fantastical story to tell everyone at their school for a very long time and this time it included all of them, not just Finlay and his superpowers.
They had hot chocolate and then they got pizza! Best day ever, thought Finlay as he waved goodbye to his friends.
That night, Finlay’s mum tucked him into bed and gave him an even bigger kiss than normal. “Mum” he whispered “I can’t wait until next Saturday comes” “I know sweetheart, you can’t wait to see what superpower you get next week” she said nodding as she sat at the end of his bed stroking his hair. He sat up and looked at his Mum. “No Mum. I don’t need superpowers anymore.” he said. “I don’t WANT them. I’ve got my best friends, we can do anything together. They ARE my superpowers. I can’t wait until next Saturday, because I can’t wait for my next adventure with my superbuddies.