The classroom had been ransacked. In the dead of night, something or someone had broken in, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Chairs had been turned over, draws pulled out, a desk was on its side. Traces of green and yellow slime were found in the book corner and on the teacher’s desk, and slimy footprints were still visible on the carpet.
They say the first 24 hours is crucial when solving any crime. But by the time I reached the classroom, it was a full day later, so I had to rely on those who were first on the scene to bring me up to speed.
It looked as if the perpetrator had got in through a top window, which the school caretaker had somehow overlooked. Slime had been found on the window lock and books and pencils were scattered all over the floor.
A careful inventory of the classroom revealed that nothing was missing, so we could rule out theft as a motive. But what had actually happened?
I listened carefully as the young detectives summarised their findings. It was aliens. They had got in through a window and gone exploring. A further suggestion that they may have been in search of underpants was substantiated by Ryan, who showed me the supply of emergency underwear that everyone knew was kept on the top shelf of the cupboard.
As I looked around the classroom, the clues began to swim into focus. The space rockets on the walls, the display of alien books, the reports on Laika and Yuri Gagarin: just like that scene at the end of The Usual Suspects, it was all beginning to fall into place.
Of course, like all good detectives, we had to fill in the paperwork. As the temporary Chief Investigating Officer, I told them that I would need written reports on the incident on my desk by the end of the morning and duly despatched the fledgling sleuths to their desks to complete the task.
As I wandered from desk to desk, I learned that “nortee aliens had mad a mess” and that there had been “bloo alien poo” everywhere. Megan, a detective of advanced literary skills, reported having “discovrd a gooee slimy trail of sticky alien goo rigiling across the carpit”. Even Teagan, for whom report-writing is not an obvious strength, managed to tell me that she “sor alien goo”.
“What do you think the aliens looked like?” I asked them and was immediately besieged with reports of creatures with multiple legs and arms, large eyes, antennae and funny sticky-out bits.
“This is all useful information,” I told them. “Your reports are going to be really valuable in working out what happened, but I’m a bit scared that these aliens will come again.”
I must have conveyed my fear a little too well because Jonny sidled up to me and patted my arm reassuringly. “Don’t worry Mrs Brighouse,” he whispered. “They’re not real aliens. We made them out of papier mâché.”
Jo Brighouse is a primary school teacher in the Midlands