May The Best Team Win – Episode 01

Gerard Fay © Four members of the Smarty Pints pub quiz team Illustration: Gerard Fay

Here’s our latest fiction serial for you to enjoy. A new instalment will be posted daily…

“I still can’t believe it.” Dawn groaned. “It was that close.”

“I know,” Rachel replied with a grimace. “I was sure we were going to manage it this time.”

“Me, too.” Dawn shook her head. “And, did you see the look on Priscilla’s face?”

Rachel had to laugh. She was pretty sure that Priscilla had made certain all of them had seen her triumphant smile.

Priscilla was the leader of the rival pub quiz team, the Master Minds, and she loved to win.

The two friends were sitting in Rachel’s kitchen one September afternoon. Sunlight streamed through the window and dappled the leaves of the apple tree in the small garden outside.

Inside, light gleamed on the table top and bounced from the work surfaces, and the room was filled with the scent of baking.

“Next time,” Rachel said. “We’ll do it next time.”

“Yes, but we’ll need to swot up. I think we rely on Neil too much.”

Rachel was a member of the Smarty Pints quiz team. They met every Wednesday and Sunday evening at the Flying Duck, Frenton village’s local.

There were four members of their team: Rachel, Dawn and her husband, Graham, and Neil.

They were pretty good, regularly coming away with respectable scores, but however hard they tried, they just couldn’t seem to win a single quiz against Priscilla’s team.

Neil was, without doubt, their greatest asset.

As a PE teacher, Graham knew all the sports answers. Rachel and Dawn were good on science and popular culture, but Neil’s general knowledge was extensive.

Perhaps it was because Neil had never married and had more time to read and watch documentaries, or maybe he just had that kind of memory, Rachel thought.

She sighed and ran a hand through her hair.

She didn’t know when she’d be able to fit in any cramming, what with her full-time nursing job at Frenton’s local surgery and a sixteen-year-old daughter to ferry about.

Dawn laughed.

“Don’t worry! We’ll do it yet.”

“I’m sure we will,” Rachel agreed. “To think we only lost by one point!”

“I know!”

At that moment, the kitchen door opened and Rachel’s daughter, Sophie, came into the room.

“You’re not still talking about last night’s quiz, are you, Mum?” She groaned.

“I’m afraid so.” Rachel grinned. “We really thought that we’d won.”

“I know. You’ve been talking about it all day!”

She glanced at their empty mugs.

“Hi, Mrs Pentley – I mean, Dawn. I hope Mum’s not neglecting you with all this quiz talk. Would you like another cup of tea?”

“That would be lovely, thanks, Sophie. I’ve already had one of your cupcakes. It was delicious.”

Sophie was taking Food Tech for GCSE, and loved baking.

She put the kettle on and checked her phone.

“Is it OK if I go over to Evie’s in a minute?”

Evie was Sophie’s friend, who lived up the road.

“Of course,” Rachel said.

Sophie typed a message, then poured two mugs of tea.

“Here you go. I’ll see you later, Mum. Bye, Mrs – Dawn.”

Rachel chuckled. Dawn had been Sophie’s primary school teacher and her daughter still found it weird to call her by her Christian name, despite Dawn’s protestations.

“She’s grown into a lovely girl,” her friend said now. “You must be proud of her.”

“I am.” Rachel smiled. “And it’s no small thanks to you.”

Dawn shook her head.

“I can’t take any credit. You’re the one who brought her up.”

Rachel supposed her friend was right, but she would always be grateful for the extra time and attention Dawn had given Sophie when she’d been a temperamental six-year-old, bewildered by her parents’ divorce.

She had also been an enormous support to Rachel herself. It was Dawn who’d suggested that Rachel join the quiz team.

“Can I tempt you to another cake?” Rachel asked.

Dawn adjusted her glasses and pursed her lips.

“Oh, go on then.” She grinned. “Maybe just one.”

Rachel smiled and helped herself to a cake as well.

“So,” she said, dusting off her fingers. “What do you think our chances are in the Quiz Quartet?”

Dawn’s eyes lit up and she clapped her hands.

“Pretty good this year, I reckon. The Master Minds won last time and we’re close to beating them. We must be in with a chance.”

“I hope so.”

Rachel didn’t feel quite so confident. They had gone out in the third round last autumn.

The annual Quiz Quartet was a yearly competition between the pub quiz teams of three neighbouring villages.

Thirty-two teams, from four different locals, took part and the Smarty Pints and Master Minds were two of the teams representing the Flying Duck.

“It would be amazing to win, but I’d settle for getting into the fourth round, or better still, beating those Master Minds!”

“Yes.” Dawn nodded in agreement. “That would be wonderful, but how would Priscilla cope?” she asked with a wicked grin.

Rachel laughed. She couldn’t imagine.

To be continued…