Flip. View PDF. book | Fiction | UK & Comm → Walker Books. US → Random House. Canada → Doubleday. School has broken up, Christmas is coming. Ever wake up in someone else's body?Fourteen-year-old Alex Gray wakes up one morning to discover he's not in his own bedroom. More surprising is that he. DOWNLOAD PDF Flip / Martyn Bedford. Flip. The teacher had called him that, too. Philip-Flip. It made sense. He quite liked “Flip”; it was cooler than Philip, .
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Flip is captivating from beginning to end, with rich characters and a fascinating mystery Highly recommended!” --James Dashner, author. Flip [electronic resource (EPUB eBook)] / Martyn Bedford. Saved in: Main Author: Bedford, Martyn. Corporate Online Access: Go to download page. Tags: Add. FLIP MARTYN BEDFORD - In this site isn`t the same as a solution manual you download in a book store or download off the web. Our Over manuals and.
I stayed up until 2 AM reading this book. This is not your typical Freaky Friday body switch book. It raises questions of true identity; how much of who we are is based on our experiences and memories. Although there are many thought-provoking questions, I think the suspenseful plot will appeal to teens.
After all, they can skim some of the parts with less action, which I was tempted to do at times because I wanted to I stayed up until 2 AM reading this book. After all, they can skim some of the parts with less action, which I was tempted to do at times because I wanted to see what happened.
However, I didn't do this and I will continue to think about the issues raised in this book for some time. Mar 23, Summer rated it it was amazing Shelves: Flip Author: Martyn Bedford Genre: YA Existential Fantasy Rating: Five Stars!
Who wrote it? What can those images possibly mean? One morning fourteen-year-old Alex wakes up to find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table?
Total strangers. And when he looks in the mirror, another boy's face stares back. A boy named Philip, known as Flip.
Unless Alex finds out what's happened and how to get back to his own life, he'll be trapped forever inside a body that belongs to someone else. Martyn Bedford's debut novel for young adults is fearless and fast-paced, a riveting psychological thriller about a boy coming undone in the most extraordinary of circumstances. So stop reading my blog already and go get it! Feb 27, Jeff Reed rated it it was amazing. I think Flip was a great book. It can be really boring at times, but the payoff for reading it is unbelievable.
Some parts make you want to stop reading the book it's so boring, others make you never want to stop. There were times I considered abandoning Flip, but I am so glad I didn't. I see myself downloading a copy of it so I can reread it, since I am so sad I finished it. I hope there's a second book, and I think there is, because it ends on such a cliffhanger and I want the story to continue.
I I think Flip was a great book. I would definitely recommend Flip to any reader. May 04, Walt rated it really liked it. FLIP is an interesting word. It means many things, of course. It can be a transitive verb — to throw or toss, to spin, or to flick; an intransitive verb — to turn over, to somersault, or to move quickly and lightly; or a noun — the act of flipping, as in a flip of the wrist, a reversal, or a mixed drink made of alcoholic beverages often with beaten eggs.
It has transformed into other words, too: When I was fourteen or so, the age of the protagonist, Alex Grey, in this YA novel, the kids in my neighborhood used the word "flip" when they were frustrated. If, for example, you tried to make a layup when you were playing basketball and missed, you'd say, "Flip! I should've made that!
It was also chosen as the title of his book. It was a careful and calculated selection, bringing lots of inherent connotation with it. Flip denotes action: As a redheaded kid — or, as the British say, ginger-headed — with a freckled face, I identified with this story. Often, as a lad, I daydreamed about being popular, being athletic, having dark hair and skin that tanned, and being good-looking. Wished for it.
Well, that's the basic premise in this book. Alex Grey plays the clarinet and likes chess. He sunburns and does relatively well in school; he doesn't get in trouble. He is not popular, there's nothing much about him to attract much attention. But all of that is, of course, backstory that unfolds after his life has flipped over and he has become Philip Garamond, a.
FLIP the beautiful. If you were a coin and got flipped high into the air, turning over and over and over again before you alighted, you would be dizzy and disoriented. So, with a new identity, also come new challenges and responsibilities for Alex, who now is Flip.
For as Flip, you have to live the life of someone athletic, of someone attractive, of someone prone to trouble; you have to put up with all of the intrusions of popularity and a whole new set of people to deal with. And it makes you think. It makes you wonder. It makes you analyze. As I finished the book, I said to myself, Flip! It's over! It wasn't a missed layup, although I'm still trying to figure out all of its meaning.
Very nice job. Aug 08, Eric rated it really liked it Shelves: Hmm there isn't much to say about this book that anyone taking a peek here wouldn't already know.
It's a nice body snatchers theme and for some reason I kept thinking "Freaky Friday" in my head - even though it lasts for quite a bit longer that both movies in reality and the pain and torture of the LL remake That said I like this book, I really did, although because the premise required you to suspend so much that when it came round to the end I felt like it just didn't fit.
I'm not saying i Hmm there isn't much to say about this book that anyone taking a peek here wouldn't already know. I'm not saying it was predictable, I'm not saying it made me want to give up or anything, it just felt not right after everything Alex had been through. Good times honestly, there were definitely memorable moments in the book that brought a genuine smile to my face. Oddly there were these "guy" moments I just went with it. Also I really wasn't a fan of getting to know some of the characters and then not hearing from them ever again - don't introduce me to someone, start to like them, then leave them by the wayside forgotten.
It's ridiculous. We all know a couple chapters ago everyone was doing an activity together, where did everyone go after that?
Overall though I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for some Sci-Fi in their readings, it does fit the bill. Also I appreciate how he doesn't joke about the premise. It's real to the characters so it's real to you as the reader.
View all 5 comments. Feb 13, Alexandra rated it it was amazing Shelves: The plot of this book is pretty simple, but this author found a way to make this story line more than just simple. Alex Gray wakes up one day in another bed, in another room, in another house, and in another boys body. He eventually figures out what has happened with his body, and with his soul, and sets out to fix the problem. And along the way, Alex was lucky enough to find someone like him, someone who could understand him and someone who could help him.
I chose to read this book because when The plot of this book is pretty simple, but this author found a way to make this story line more than just simple. I chose to read this book because when I read the summary on the back of the book I was drawn to the story right away. The book was just too exciting to put down.
As I read, my whole body was trembling with anticipation wanting to know what was coming up next. I would recommend this book to Amruta because based on what she is reading right now, The Rule of Three I think she would really enjoy this adventure book.
Aug 23, Beverly rated it liked it Recommends it for: Recommended to Beverly by: For adults, Flip is predictable and cliche. The only character who knows Flip has been replaced is the dog. For YA readers, it will be a tense creepy read that will generate some very good discussions on death and after life beliefs. Alex wakes one morning to discover to his dismay and befuddlement that his mind is in another teen's body. Flip is everything Alex is not: Alex struggles to hold on to his authentic self in Flip's world while he tries to f For adults, Flip is predictable and cliche.
Alex struggles to hold on to his authentic self in Flip's world while he tries to figure out what happened and how to get his own life back. The characters are interesting, but the pace pretty slow - until Flip's parents and the police decide Flip is mentally ill and a danger to others.
A movie is probably already in the works. Feb 18, Hannah rated it it was ok. I saw the symmetry within the writing. The book started off somewhat slow, leading the reader along with the promise of some kind of epic mystic science fiction ending.
Instead the text brought me to an ultimate theme; death was hovering throughout the story-line. Just waiting till the end to pounce kind of like Alex armed with a crazy idea and a pillow, with death brings life in some sort of way or another. I didn't particularly enjoy this book, I like one with more of a plot. All the same, th I saw the symmetry within the writing. All the same, the end did catch me by surprise. Mar 27, Phil Atteberry rated it it was amazing.
This novel is one of the best YA's I've ever read. The premise of "psychic evacuation" is fantasy, of course, but the setting, the detail and the psychological stresses of the characters are compellingly realistic.
More importantly, good fiction allows us to get inside characters different from us and experience the world as they do. In this book, that literally happens. Watching the results play out is--I think--interesting and enlightening. Dec 29, Jacob Stelling rated it really liked it.
This was an outstanding read. Mar 09, Anna rated it really liked it. Flip by Martyn Bedford is a gripping fantasy novel about a persistent teenage boy named Alex whose soul wakes up one morning inside somebody else's body. Alex's soul was transferred to another boy's body, known as Phillip.
Everything is foreign to Alex. When he walks downstairs in the house, "the family at the breakfast table? The face looking back at Alex is "b Flip by Martyn Bedford is a gripping fantasy novel about a persistent teenage boy named Alex whose soul wakes up one morning inside somebody else's body.
Flip by martyn bedford comic
The face looking back at Alex is "brown-eyed and tanned , with the stubbly beginnings of a mustache and dark hair". It is very disconcerting for him to suddenly be in a situation like this with no rational explanation for how it happened. Alex wondered how this could be possible.
He wished it wasn't, but had trouble denying it. He wasn't sure he even believed it himself. Alex "kept hoping that the next time he stole a peek at his reflection, Phillip's features would be gone, replaced by his own. I enjoyed reading this book very much, as it is exhilarating and makes you want to keep turning pages.
What would you do if you were in Alex's shoes? Find out what he does and if his soul ever makes it back to his Alex's body. Will he get his life back, or will he have to live a stranger's life from now on?
Feb 24, Estefani rated it really liked it. It talks about, how this teenage boy fell asleep and then woke up with a different body not him and different place.
This book could be for someone that likes , action, and adventure. Book that can get you attention and sometimes wants to you to keep reading. Flip is a fiction book. Nov 05, Richie Partington rated it it was amazing. He had been holding his breath, he realized; he exhaled, releasing the air from his lungs in a ragged sob. When, at last, he moved, he found he had no direction in mind and simply headed pointlessly towards the school entrance before circling back on himself.
Then louder: Only then did he notice her: Watching him. He awakens to the voice of someone trying to get him up and moving for breakfast and school. The problem is that Alex does not know the woman who is yelling at him to get a move on; does not know the house in which he has awoken, nor the caustic Goth teenage girl who is parked at the breakfast table in this strange house. A look in the mirror lets Alex Gray know that he also no longer knows himself.
Alex has awoken inside the body of Philip Garamond, known to everyone as Flip. He is soon to discover that six months have passed since what he knows as "last night," and that he is now hours away from where he lives Imagine trying to persuade your family and friends that you aren't really you. Claim that you don't know them. Act like that you don't know your way to school, nor what classes you have, what rooms they are in, what teachers you have.
To everyone else -- except for the family dog, who knows something is not right -- you are acting like a wiseass. The coach is totally pissed because you -- a team star -- are acting like you've never before played the game. Your girlfriends are furious about the way you are ignoring them, and your buddies don't know what to make of you. They all look and see you -- Flip. Philip Garamond.
What makes me Me? Of course, dreams hardly ever make sense. In fact, dreams didn't really exist, as such; they were a product of the mind. Like a movie -- just beams of light on a screen; switch off the projector and the images were gone. Dreams were like the mind itself, in a way: You knew you dreamed, you knew you had consciousness, but only because your mind said so. To look at it like that, the mind was a product of the mind. And so it is Rob and that curly-haired girl who doesn't know what is going on but who sees the positive un-Flip-like behavior in her schoolmate who provide a bit of support as Alex wrestles over whether he is meant to accept his new life or whether he should try to find his way back home.
Sure, it's clever to quip that FLIP is a mind-blowing read. But it very much is. Moderator http: May 10, Rose rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Martyn Bedford's "Flip" struck an emotional chord within me, taking the familiar troupe of a body swap gone horribly wrong and breathing some interesting turns into the foray. It tells of a year-old boy named Alex who wakes up one morning in another boy's body - one named Phillip or Flip for short.
Alex is thrown into Phillip's life without much of a guide to go on, and as he learns more about the boy whose body he inhabits, Alex realizes that the boys could not be any more different from eac Martyn Bedford's "Flip" struck an emotional chord within me, taking the familiar troupe of a body swap gone horribly wrong and breathing some interesting turns into the foray.
Alex is thrown into Phillip's life without much of a guide to go on, and as he learns more about the boy whose body he inhabits, Alex realizes that the boys could not be any more different from each other - from the circle of friends they have to their interests and hobbies. Alex struggles to adjust to his new life, wondering if there's any chance he could reclaim his own life, and even makes several attempts to do so, despite knowing the odds of anyone trying to believe him.
I did have to suspend disbelief at the claims of Alex thinking he's a "stalker" for trying to intrude upon aspects of his old life, and for the people who were willing to write off his efforts so easily, but it does strike an emotional chord of sorts, and it helped move the story along to consider themes and aspects that were worth noting - about the value of one's life, about taking your circumstances for granted, about the importance of being true to oneself and being one with your identity.
There were moments in the story that are heartbreaking to read in Alex's case, as he makes discoveries about his circumstances, and finds that his pursuits drive him away from the life he's forced to come to terms with. But while some people may find this annoying, I somewhat see the "flip" side of the coin if you will no pun intended. By no means is Alex a passive character, and he's fighting for his identity as much as he can.
Some of his pursuits to regain his identity cast him away from Phillip's family and even the circle of friends that he establishes while in Phillip's form, but Alex remains fast to his hope that he can go home and aspire to live as his "true self" again.
This is certainly a YA story, though it pulls no punches with its frank subject matter and language, alongside themes of death, suicide, and different motifs on life.
I think for those reading the story, it does give some valuable insights on the issues it raises. If there were one major nitpick I could note that kept this being a five-star read for me - it would be the general ending that it chose to pursue - it really should've ended sooner than it did. I understand the reason behind the way it ended, but I felt a bit pulled out of the story for the general nature of it. Overall, I really enjoyed this, and probably even moreso from the strong audiobook narration by Mark Meadows.
Overall score: Apr 01, Ken rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a YA-5, meaning teenage me would love this book and "seasoned" me thought it was fun and fairly well-written, too. It's the type of science fiction I can live with -- situated here on Earth in the day-to-day lives of some poor slobs who are distressed by something going terribly wrong.
Alex Gray is this London suburbanite, ginger-haired, thinny kid who plays clarinet a This is a YA-5, meaning teenage me would love this book and "seasoned" me thought it was fun and fairly well-written, too. Alex Gray is this London suburbanite, ginger-haired, thinny kid who plays clarinet and chess nerdimus Britimus.
One day Chapter One on your calendars he wakes up in another boy's body. Kid named Philip but called "Flip" works as the plot's name, too, you see by his friends. Same age, but much more advanced physically. An athlete with dark hair, dashing looks, and girlfriends in the plural rather than the singular. Sound like the plot of a teenage B-comedy? Could be, but Martyn Bedford plays it with a poker face all the way, respecting his premise like it could happen to any of us some of us are saying, "Oh, please, please, PLEASE!
Poor Alex even feels like a perv the first time he takes a leak and a shower alone with himself Flip, as if he's right on top of another boy's nudity and feeling all skeevy because of it. Soon, though, he lightens up enough to enjoy some of the advantages. That's when the nightmares begin. And that's when he turns up the search for his other body.
He's reluctant to Google himself, however. What if he's dead? What if he's trapped forever in this new body with this new family that still believes he's Philip only the family dog's on to him, proving once more that dogs are man's best plot device. Another angle opens up when Alex makes contact via the Internet what else? He meets another PE, name of Rob, and soon ethically-related conversations ensue.
By YA standards, it's up a notch, writing-wise. The pace of the plot holds nicely, and even though there's little description, you get to enjoy some snappy dialogue between Flip and his sarcastic sister Teri as well as his new plain but plainly intelligent girlfriend, Cherry.
It all adds up to solid entertainment, the type reluctant and anxious readers will embrace alike. And while it may seem more a boy's book, the two aforementioned females will keep the girls on board as well. Some language, pushing this up on the middle school appropriateness scale, but fairly clean.
Most teachers can safely add it to their classroom shelves, then, from Grade 8 up. Dec 01, Alisa Carter rated it it was amazing. I actually started reviewing it when I was half-way through because I wanted to talk about it. This is one of those books that makes you invent reasons to be alone so you can read. I took a bath so I could read this book. I never take baths. This, folks, is a bathtub book. I was worried that it would be too sad. The great thing about this book is that it makes you think about what you value in your life.
If you woke up in a better body — stronger, faster, bigger, more mature, better looking — would you want to stay?
When Alex and Flip switch bodies, Alex finds himself in exactly that situation. He misses his parents. He misses his best friend. He misses his clarinet. He even misses his little brother. He realizes that being himself is more important than being popular. What do you like about yourself? The way Alex misses his family is well written; his anguish is gut-wrenching, and it feels real.
And the pacing is good — the desperation Alex feels as time is running out keeps you flying through the pages. I loved it. And my son was right — the ending was great.
Some of the phrases the characters say give you a grin or two.
Would I recommend this book? Oct 12, Ernie rated it liked it Shelves: Bedford begins with a humorous narrative reminiscent of Freaky Friday: Aka Flip, cricket star, school stud, disruptive, uninterested student and living in Yorkshire. Supporting this is a splendidly acerbic older sister, Teri, who provides more fun with her commentary on her even more hopeless than usual brother. There are humorous events associated with Bedford begins with a humorous narrative reminiscent of Freaky Friday: There are humorous events associated with food preferences, the chaos of faking his way at school and finding his new Yorkshire family posh in contrast to his working class and altogether tougher London life.
Only the family dog suspects that Flip is no longer the consciousness inside his body. The pace of the story is well sustained towards a conclusion that kept me wondering how the writer was going to get out of his own trap. The ending will create much discussion, especially as the writer managed to successfully overcome my disbelief throughout most of the story. Years ET Science fiction, humour, identity, body image, families, friendship, living on the edge, school life, a question of gender.
Jun 03, S. Larsen rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Any soul-searcher out there. It's a tale about courage and growth, finding one's true self and the layer beneath the daily grind to fit in and survive. The narration is engaging and thought-provoking, even charming at points, as the reader is introduced to fourteen-year-old Alex, who suddenly finds himself in another teenage boy's body that is nothing like his own.
Said body belongs to a boy named Phillip or better known as Flip, who is more handsome, more muscular, more athletic, and definitely more popular--especially with the girls.
Alex is likable from the first mention of his name. He also has an honest quality about him that shines through. He's a thinker, a planner, a rational character. I enjoyed how Alex began questioning himself as Alex yet must react to his surroundings as Flip. Alex as Flip is thrown into a few scenarios that are unfamiliar to him, such as being on the lacrosse team and uh-hum, girls--which adds a spice of humor to the tale.
The more the reader learns about Alex, watching him act and react to his situation, the more personal the story becomes. The reader empathizes with Alex and questions, "What would I do?
What would I feel? And how's he supposed to return to his body anyway? In trying to figure out Flip and what to do, Alex discovers himself and an inner strength he didn't know he had, which will be shortchanged if he doesn't find a way to flip back. As the story comes to its climax, Alex realizes how to flip the switch and maybe change back.
Can he do it? The teen years are all about discovering who we are and who we want to be. But it's also about self-acceptance. Would we truly change who we are if given the chance? What would it mean if the me others knew was gone? It may sound strange but l have often thought what it would be like to wake up one morning and be someone else.
How scary it would be not knowing the things you should know but also how interesting it would be to see how 4. How scary it would be not knowing the things you should know but also how interesting it would be to see how different families can be.
Because l have thought about this before l had my own thoughts on how this would be so l expected a lot from this book. Martyn, the author, did not let me down.
Quite young, but frumpy in her pale blue blouse and a navy corduroy skirt that came to her knees.
She removed her glasses and held them carefully by the stems. A long way from here, David was in history at this moment, an empty seat beside him. If she had meant to sound stern, it came out more concerned. Perhaps she liked Philip. That was a first that morning. Johannsen says you were at the station.
Sprake decided that whatever the reason, he had been caught off-site during school hours without permission. That must mean isolation here. At Crokeham Hill High it was called being kabinned, after the Portakabin where you served your sentence.
Alex had never been kabinned or received a comment in his planner, although he was getting one now. At least, Philip was. Sprake asked. Alex plucked a subject out of the air. What were the odds? If that frown cut any deeper, her eyebrows would shear off.
She flipped to another page in his planner. He pulled the phone from his blazer pocket, the ring-tone some rap thing startlingly loud. Before he could answer, Mr. Johannsen snatched the mobile from him. The ring-tone stopped. It was hard to tell which of the three of them was the most shocked. After a pause, Ms. I really do.
All he could think about was the missed call. One minute. How unlucky was that? If the rules at Litchbury High were the same as at his own school, only Years Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen would be allowed off-site at lunchtime, and there were bound to be teachers on gate duty, so no chance of sneaking into town to use a pay phone.
Which meant he had to survive a whole day in this school, passing himself off as Philip Garamond, attending lessons that were nothing to do with him, surrounded by teachers and pupils he had never met, in a building that might as well have been a maze. At least the smell was recognizable. School corridors. They had to be the same all 16 over the country. This one brought him to a stairwell with two other corridors leading off it and, at last, some color-coded signs.
Language department, first left. Alex found it and let himself into the room to a round of applause and ironic cheers. Short blond hair, spotty chin; he wore his blazer over his shoulders like a cape. Alex had got off lightly, really: Alex wondered where he would go if he was Philip.
On a day like this, most people would head outside. The teacher had called him that, too. It made sense. Ich bin ein tosser. You, my friend, are in the zone this morning.
They really did call her that. Yeah, I saw her. No biggie. He raised two fingers to his lips. The boy pocketed it. He opened it with the key on the boobs key ring, sorted the books he would need during the day, then shut himself away in a toilet cubicle for the rest of break. He hid there at lunchtime, too, even though he was ravenous. He needed to keep a low profile, run down the clock until he got his hands on the phone. Once he spoke to Mum, things would be on their way to being straightened out.
Likewise, knowing where to sit, and who to sit next to or not to sit next to. Avoiding eye contact and conversation as much as possible.
He got plenty of funny looks and comments, but he could live with that. If they thought Flip was acting weird, so what? As it happened, Alex was bright, but they would never get to discover that. English was with Ms. So that was okay. Hand it in. Tick the box. Another lesson survived. Another hour nearer to the end of the day. If nothing else, the schoolwork was a refuge, a foothold on the scary, insurmountable cliff face of what had happened to him. The more he did, the less time he had to think.
While the teacher was setting up the interactive whiteboard, the boy leaned in close, whispering, reeking of stale tobacco and fresh sweat, raking his fingers through his just-woke-up brown hair. And why was he 18 being such an idiot? There was his name, in blocky green felt-tip on the cover of his art folder. His shirtsleeves were rolled up, past each elbow, folded tight into his biceps. There was a hyperactivity thing going on: By the end of the day, Alex was faint with hunger.
But Ms. He gave a shrug. That sort of thing. Her clothes were creased and her dark blond hair had worked loose here and there.
She looked like she was tired but making an effort not to be. Is it? A struggle. How had Flip done in his Year Nine assessments? Not to mention Christmas, Easter. The half-term holiday in Cornwall. The borough chess finals. He closed his eyes, woozy all of a sudden. In that instant, the nightmare of the previous night recurred, flashing through his mind. Then, snap, the image vanished as quickly as it had come.
Do you need to sit down? In the afternoon light, the room was rinsed a bright lemony color, and it smelled of chalk dust, drawing him away from the clutches of the dream.
He noticed her earrings: Maybe Ms. He hesitated. As a person. Am I all right inside? Alex had no idea. Even the question he had asked appeared to have flustered her. Sprake covered her mouth with her hand as she laughed. Alex was quite pleased with that: The teacher put her glasses on, took them off again. Go on, get yourself home. Most of the messages were from Donna or Billie.
He scrolled down to the one that mattered and, hand shaking, keyed in the messaging service. Alex had expected his mother. Sick in the head to do something like this.
How could you? How could anyone try to do this to her? He heard her breathing. Gray, again or leave any more of your evil messages, I will go straight to the police and let them deal with you. Do you understand? Alex stood perfectly still in the middle of the car park. He had been holding his breath, he realized; he exhaled, releasing the air from his lungs in a ragged sob. When at last he moved, he found he had no direction in mind and simply headed pointlessly towards the school entrance before circling back on himself.
Then louder: Only then did he notice her: Watching him. She yanked the door open. The one hanging on its usual hook, right by the door, so that even a blind, amnesiac baboon with attention deficit disorder would be able to find it.
Something smelled nice. Just with him. That is, with her brother. The way Alex treated his own kid brother, he hated himself sometimes; he wondered if Teri ever felt like that. So he went down to the kitchen, fixed himself a jam sandwich, a slab of cheese and a glass of milk and finished them off there at the counter. As he put the plate and glass into the dishwasher, the dog padded into the kitchen and went to the back door.
He looked at Alex. Pee all over the floor for all I care. He stared at the ceiling, trying to stay calm, considering what to say to her. But no way could she stop him calling his own home and speaking to his own mother.
Alex replayed her voice mail. Sick in the head. What was so terrible about that? Suppose the body-swap had only been one-way. The six-months thing, for a start; it was a like a jigsaw piece for the wrong puzzle. Flip, it seemed, had carried on as normal—playing sports, acquiring girlfriends, struggling at school. But what about him? The question put an idea into his head.
It took an age to fire up. He closed the computer down again, bashing the mouse against its mat in frustration. As the screen cleared, there it was again: Not his reflection. He still thought of himself as Alex Gray. The mental processes were the same as always—his memories, perceptions, emotions. His attitudes. His … will.
What if he spoke like Flip, too? He spoke into the mike. He sounded nothing like himself. Why had Flip stood her up? Alex remembered: He deleted the message without reply.
That girl in the car park, was she one of them … or maybe a third? Yet there was something. A connection of some sort. Alex had been mortified to realize that she had been sitting on that wall the whole time, witnessing his reaction to the voice mail message. What had it been in her expression? Not disdain, or surprise, or the smugness of someone who had caught you in a moment of private weakness that they could use against you. Nor was it sympathy or compassion. Her gaze had remained steady, holding his, the girl seemingly unembarrassed by his embarrassment.
A neutral curiosity. It had been like the girl was watching the opening scene of a TV drama, unsure whether to change channels. Those mousey shoulder-length curls and the pale complexion and those too-thin arms. The rhythm, the lilt of the words, the musicality. Some of the class had laughed. Alex had glanced at her, expecting her to look flushed or upset, but their mockery seemed not to affect her at all.
Cherry, Ms. Sprake had called her. Cherry Jones. In the car park, no words had passed between them. Just that brief eye contact. Then a car had turned in and drawn to a halt in front of the wall where she was sitting. The girl, Cherry, hopped down, loaded her cello case into the boot and let herself into the passenger seat beside a woman Alex assumed to be her mother.
The woman shot a look in his direction as she drove off, but the girl kept her gaze dead ahead. At five-thirty, Alex phoned home.
Number unobtainable. Alex dialed directory inquiries, gave the details to the operator. After a pause she came back on the line. That number had been changed, she said. And the new one was ex-directory. Down the stairs two at a time. Thump, thump. He had to get out of the house. Had to be on the move, somewhere, anywhere. Jumped on a train, with no money for the fare, and hidden in the toilet all the way to London.
As soon as he was out that door, he would just keep going, walk the streets all night if he must. A lead dangled from one of the key hooks by the front door. Was this what Flip did each evening, walk the dog? The woman returned with a plastic bag for poo? If he chose to, Alex could simply walk out without a word and go where he pleased. That music was still playing, pulsing through the house like some monstrous heartbeat. Same as always. She smelled of onions and faintly of something else.
Again, it occurred to him to turn and go. Just walk out. She might not have been his mother, but she was a mother. The way I behaved. The stuff I said. She gave his arm a squeeze, pecked him on the cheek. Wine, definitely. Red wine. Watching the tennis. Sure enough, the dog was curled up on a chair, gaze fixed on the TV screen.
As 24 the ball pinged back and forth, his eyes followed it. One of the players put a backhand into the net and Beagle let out a sigh, as though disappointed. Alex dangled the lead to make it jingle. The dog kept up a low grumble as they headed side by side down the street. After fifteen minutes or so, they emerged onto the main road opposite the station. Nine hours earlier. It seemed more like nine days, so much had happened in that time.
They observed him; that was all. They passed the town hall, tourist information, the library. Beagle slowed to a halt, sniffing for somewhere to do his business. He glimpsed the interior: Beyond her, as the door swung shut, Alex saw something else: Beagle was done. Alex scooped it up with the sandwich bag and dropped it into a bin.
Fastening the lead to a bike stand and muttering words of reassurance, he left the dog outside and went up the steps into the library. Smiling, but looking vaguely surprised. Irish, by the sound of it. One computer was in use but the others were free. Sorry, I left it at home.
Then, looking at her watch. He typed Philip Garamond, then his birthday. On the next page he clicked the Internet icon. The plan was to contact David, his best friend. If anyone could tell him what was going on down there, it was him.
But he could e-mail him. Or could he? Who by? But when he entered his log-on details, the user name and password were rejected as invalid. Alex stared at the screen, hand hovering uselessly above the keyboard. Telephone numbers, e-mail addresses—it was as though, piece by piece, he was being erased.
But, but, but … he had entered his own date of birth. Which meant—which could only mean—Alex Gray and Philip Garamond were born in the same year, in the same month, and on the same day. But that was ridiculous. It felt like a revelation. What it revealed, though, Alex had no idea.
Spaghetti Bolognese. So was Teri. No way would Mum and Dad let him drink alcohol at the tea table even if he was seventeen. At home, except on special occasions, Alex and Sam ate off their laps while they watched TV. Mum and Dad had their dinner later. Dad was worse. But Alex loved spag bol. The garlic bread, too. Even the salad was edible, if you pushed the tomatoes and bits of beetroot to the side of your plate.
And the spring onion. And the radish. The dad looked up from his plate, mouth open in mid-chew. The sister let out a snort. Alex flushed and concentrated on his food, head down. What had he been thinking? Again, the mother bailed him out, with a change of subject. Remind me to remind you to take it out when you leave for school. Posher than the daughter.
Less Yorkshire—not Yorkshire at all, really. About fifty. Going thin on top. His stubble was dark, bluey black, and when he wiped his chin, you could hear the rasp of the napkin a proper cloth one.
Alex wondered what he did for a job. The mum, too. He pictured her owning a boutique. As for the dad, something office-y, given the flabby jowls and belly; he was like a gone-to-seed version of Flip. What are nets? Did she know about Ms. She was working another angle. Biology homework? She is so last month. She was already one glass of wine ahead of the dad.
Hard to imagine that now. Or Mrs. Alex liked that. For the rest of the meal, Alex said as little as possible. Pudding, which they called dessert, was fresh-fruit salad. Very nice it was, too. Afterwards, Alex raised eyebrows again by helping, unprompted, to clear the table. Teri made a display of standing there dumbfounded.
The women left them to it. The men talked—at least, Mr. Alex half listened, half watched. What was it with dads and dishwashers? His own father was the same: Like, a project. The soul! The university lecturer, being asked to apply his intelligence to a complex subject.
She went to the back door, opened it and peered into the garden. Alex was banished to the bedroom to do his homework. The homework recasting sentences in the past, present and future tenses for French was straightforward enough.
Half an hour and it was done. As far as he could recall, there was nothing unusual from his own life back then. He switched on the PC once more. E-mail and the Internet might be off-limits without a password, but he could at least trawl around My Documents, My Music, My Pictures and the memory stick from the schoolbag. Bits of schoolwork; a file containing a list of the Greatest Cricketers of All Time, divided into categories bowlers, batsmen, wicket-keepers, allrounders ; homework notes; a copy of a letter, dated more than a year earlier, from Flip to someone called Kevin Pietersen, asking which was the best guard to take: Alex had no idea what this meant.
As for the music on his PC—and his iPod and the CDs in the rack on his desk—it was almost exclusively rap. Searching the room, he only found more evidence of the differences between him and Flip rather than similarities, let alone connections. The books very few were mostly nonfiction: In the bottom of the wardrobe were a new-looking pair of in-line skates, a cricket bat, golf clubs, a tennis racket, various balls, dumbbells and—please, no—a skateboard. The clothes were okay. The right brands from the right shops.
Alex stripped off the school uniform and tried on a few combinations. They fitted. Well, of course they did.
They looked great, too, in the full-length mirror on the back of the wardrobe door. So did he, for once. Alex ransacked various drawers but turned up nothing of any use. It did at least make him aware of what he wanted to do more than anything.
More than solving the mystery of what had paired him with Flip in the first place.
Go home. Make them see him for who he was. Beagle did. Somehow, Alex had to see Mum and Dad, face to face. This time he was underwater, running, feet sinking deeper and deeper into the seabed. He had to breathe. The compulsion to inhale was huge. Still he ran, getting nowhere, each frantic step burying his feet in the wet sand until he was no longer able to lift them.
Finally, with one great gulp, he opened his mouth, his lungs to the flood of foul seawater. Alex woke. Sat up in bed. Twenty-four hours after the switch, had he returned to his own body? He fumbled for the bedside light, almost knocking it to the floor.
The sudden brightness blinded him. But when he was able to open his eyes, one look at that forearm, the hand, the fingers, told him all he needed to know. Her eyes were gray, her expression unreadable. Close-up, Cherry looked even paler than before, in the car park, her hair even curlier. About Gerard Manley Hopkins. Well, yes. Alex was conscious that they were attracting attention, he and the girl. She shut her locker, snapped the padlock into place.
That because of her, he had homed in on Hopkins and read into the small hours. Lowering her voice: What I saw. As himself, he would have been. It was like wearing fancy dress to a party: Cherry had been so cool in the classroom the day before, when the others had laughed at her. He wanted to be like that. He was like that right here. Talking to a girl. A girl who had witnessed him in a moment of humiliating weakness. And he was unembarrassed. Do you? Tilted her head, as though a different angle might give her a better look at him.
He watched her turn away. School was less strange that day: Flip, he discovered, was popular. It was a new experience for Alex, but he found that being Flip—being liked and listened to—gave him a confidence he would have lacked as himself. It was like breaking in a new pair of trainers that felt uncomfortable at first but molded themselves to the shape of your feet the more you wore them.
Without wheezing for ages afterwards. Being fit was something Alex could definitely get used to. Other aspects of Flip-ness would take a longer adjustment period. Showering, for one thing. It was perverted. But until he laid his hands on the cash to get home, he was stuck here. It could be Friday, then, before he could hit an ATM. Almost a whole school week as Philip Garamond.
The school was similar in size to his own—around fifteen hundred pupils. Something like that. But while Crokeham Hill was about 40 percent black and Asian kids, there were hardly any here. It was weird, the corridors, classrooms, playground, dining hall being so white. So middle-class, too. In class, they stood in silence at the beginning and end of each period; if they wanted to speak during a lesson, they raised a hand.
They stuck to the dress code. As for the building, it was newer and smarter than his school, and better equipped the science labs, the IT suite, the sports hall. There were no uniformed security guards or weapons searches. There was no perimeter fence that looked like something round a military base. Best of all, Litchbury High had a library. A proper one, with books—lots of them, good ones, new ones—and plenty of computer terminals and two librarians who were friendly and helpful.
Alex had composed the e-mail in his head on the way to school. Now all he had to do was type it up and send it. Bumping into Cherry at the lockers had delayed him a little but he still had a few minutes before registration.
In the library, he nabbed one of the PCs, logged on, opened up a new message. Hi, David, he began. That night at your place … David. His best mate. His chess buddy. The last person he remembered seeing before all this. That night in December was the key, he felt sure, and David the key holder. Literally lost his mind and was, right now, sitting in a padded cell somewhere.
Or maybe … But there could be any number of explanations, each as crazy as the other. To lure his friend in. David was way too rational to believe that a person could wake up as someone else.
What he wrote instead was this: Also, an exact notation of the sequences of opening and closing moves. That was all, just the chess. Only one person in the world, apart from David himself, could possibly have written this e-mail.
He was late but Ms. Alex headed for the first vacant chair and had barely sat down when a girl materialized alongside his desk. Voice lowered, mouth close to his ear. Today, you just stroll in, totally ignore me, and sit with Ulf the bloody finger eater.
The resemblance to a Nordic troll was so uncanny he almost burst out laughing. The girl, whoever she was, was far from troll-like. Dewy-eyed and dusky, in a Mediterranean kind of way. She smelled of coconut. Whether he felt more assertive as Flip, or more reckless, or whether he just took his chance, it was hard to be sure.
A real, proper kiss. The start of one, anyway, because at that moment Ms. Sprake entered the room and the girl disappeared from his side as though wafted away by a sudden draft from the door.
They needed to talk i feel like i dont no u anymore Flip. Which park, or where it was, Alex had no idea. He texted back to say he had cricket practice. Not that he intended going to it. An angry Shakira. One who demanded an apology for being stood up at Smoothies. Alex said sorry, invented an excuse, dug himself out of a hole.
Not properly. Or with his own, for that matter. Kind of. How to comb it, or brush it, or whatever Flip usually did to make it look the way it did. How to apply the gel. Alex 35 had never used hair gel before.
Clearly, it showed. No, he told her. Not yet. To be good-looking and popular. To be fit. To have sexy girls trip over one another to go out with you. To treat them how you liked and still have them come back for more. As for two-timing … the hassle, the lies … He failed to see why girls put up with it, or how Flip could put up with himself.
At morning break and again at lunchtime, Alex returned to the library to check his e-mail. Nothing from David. After last period, he went to the library once more. It closed at four but David ought to be home by three-forty-five-ish. He waited. Checked his in-box every few minutes. Did some more waiting. Each time, nothing. David would respond to the message. He had to.
Alex pictured him at his under-the-bunk-bed desk in the tiny bedroom of that house he shared with his two sisters and brother and a dad but no mum. That duvet cover in the design of the Jamaican flag. A can of Tango within reach, and a pack of salt-and-vinegar Monster Munch. Crumbs on the keyboard.
His eyes blinking away behind his glasses, his obsessively clean glasses. Three-fifty-two, no message. Three-fifty-five, no message. One of the librarians announced that the library would be closing in five minutes. The handful of other students began to gather up their belongings and head for the door. Alex checked his mail again. Three-fifty-seven, one message. His breathing quickened; his hand lay clammy over the mouse.
With a double-click, the message opened. Who are you?? Hurriedly, Alex typed a reply. Who do you think I am? You cant be. Exciting, really, if you looked at it like that. It was for real. And he was way out of his depth.
In a movie or a TV drama, the agent would be thoroughly prepared for the operation. Provided with a dossier of information, told to memorize every detail of the false ID which had been created for him. Subjected to weeks of training—briefings, tests, role-play—until he knew his adopted persona as intimately as he knew himself.
Only then would he be sent out into the field, once he was ready to handle any awkward questions or tricky situations without arousing suspicion or blowing his cover.
Forced to learn as he went along how to be, or not to be, Philip Garamond. They might not always know what to make of this version of Flip, but to them, he was still Flip.
A weird, puzzling Flip, but Flip even so. They only had to look at him to see that. Time to prepare for the role, to get himself into character.
And some cricket skills would have been useful. Because there he was, in the nets, waiting for the first ball to come hurtling at him. At least he knew what nets were now. They were that fishing-netty stuff fastened over a framework of metal poles at the edge of the school field. Like a fairground sideshow, with boys for targets. How he had come to be there: On his way out of school, Alex had followed the shortcut between the field and the sports hall.
That was his first mistake. Not quite aware of what was going on around him—not thinking about much at all apart from that exchange of e-mails with David—he had taken a moment to register the calling of his name. He looked up. That was his second mistake.
Waving to him from the nets was a teacher, in cricket kit. Two boys batting, two bowling, the rest milling around waiting their turn or practicing catches. In the afternoon light, their kit was creamy white against the green backdrop. The air smelled of pollen and newly cut grass.
The teacher jogged over. His hair, eyebrows, the thick pelt on his forearms were bleached summer blond. He sounded South African. Another complication. Another role to play. In his head, there was only room for David.
For that e-mail, repeating itself like a mantra. So emphatic. Unsure how to stand or hold the bat properly. The ball was a tennis ball. Bowling underarm. Alex remembered being rubbish even then. Or maybe not. Not at Year Nine nets, apparently. The bowler was a lanky ginger lad with arms like an ape. The first ball ended up in the folds of netting behind the wicket. The stumps were intact, though. So that was good. Less good was where the bat ended up. The next ball clattered the stumps.
The third ricocheted off the shoulder of the bat and whacked Alex in the mouth. The house seemed to be empty, apart from Beagle. Alex switched on the TV and left him to watch the tennis.
Upstairs, in the bathroom, he inspected the damage. His top lip was split, one side of his mouth swollen up like botched plastic surgery and already starting to bruise. His teeth were intact, at least. He cleaned up as best he could, careful not to reopen the cut.
The shirt was done for. He stripped it off and dropped it into the laundry basket. Standing before the mirror, the sight of himself as Flip was no less strange for two days of getting used to it. Alex wondered if that kink in his nose was the result of a sporting injury, too.
Cricket or basketball.The book started off somewhat slow, leading the reader along with the promise of some kind of epic mystic science fiction ending. Leafy front gardens, posh cars parked outside.
Martyn Bedford. So was Teri. Never mind hours, he might be stuck like this for days, weeks, months, years. The pattern of veins on the backs of his hands was wrong. You knew you dreamed, you knew you had consciousness, but only because your mind said so. A graveyard, in fact. Something like that. The air smelled of pollen and newly cut grass.