Sync or Swim

Sam and Jenny stood in the corridor of St Jude's International School staring at the school fees invoice in disbelief.

'Man! Do Mum and Dad pay that much for us as well?' Jenny asked.

Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am

Sync or swim

As Ethan sat patiently at his kitchen table, Sam paced the cramped room in exasperated fury and Jenny fought the urge to hit their host over the head with a saucepan. Yiu-hon, the subject of their differences, had long since departed.

11 May 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

For some seconds, Grandad's eyes remained riveted on the private physiotherapy clinic's price list. 'This is ... very impressive,' he finally murmured.

Mum snatched the brochure from him. 'Impressive? Have you seen how much they charge?'

As she tutted and 'Wah!'-ed her way down the page, Grandad shot a glance across the kitchen table to the equally pensive Ethan.

4 May 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

The policemen spun Ethan and Yiu-hon around to face the wall before patting them down.

'What are you looking for?' Ethan asked, beginning to get his head around what was happening.

'What do you think?' one officer snapped, as he went through Yiu-hon's pockets and came up with the roll of cash Ethan had given him.

27 Apr 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

The rest of the sprawling house lay in silence and darkness as, in his room, Sam lifted the scanner cover and removed the last battered, black-and-white photograph to be copied.

30 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

Morose and bitter, Ethan watched as Gilbert and Charlotte Chan swaggered out of the school gates, designer bags slung over their shoulders, and the latest smartphones gripped in their hands.

'They've got it all, haven't they?' he muttered, turning to Maya. 'But do you think they stop for even one second to think about where the money to pay for it comes from?'

23 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

Without slackening his pace, Ethan wrenched his mobile from his pocket, jabbed the unlock keys and ... groaned. As so often, the battery was dead.

He slowed, cursing his luck, before a bellowed 'Stop!' sent him darting down an empty side street.

'Don't run,' Ethan told himself, at the sound of footsteps echoing behind him. 'Don't let him know you're afraid.'

17 Feb 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

Sweating and breathing hard, Ethan collapsed into a seat on the minibus. He had run half-way to Grandad's shop before he'd thought to call Jenny. Her text had consisted of just one word, 'Emergency!', and a panic-stricken Ethan had immediately put two and two together.

10 Feb 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

Ethan scooped up the last of the clothes that had collected on the floor of his room over the past few months like a layer of sediment, and jammed them into the bottom of the wardrobe.

20 Jan 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

It was the end of the first day of term back at St Jude's International School. Groups of students were still swapping tales of their skiing trips and beach holidays in Bali or Australia, as they headed for the gates where their families' drivers were waiting.

By the banks of lockers, Ethan watched as Maya made her way through the throng to join Keiran O'Shea at the main door.

6 Jan 2012 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

At the first chords of the mobile ring tone, Grandad turned from the pot of congee he was stirring to find Ethan already gone from the room. He knew his own reactions were getting slower, but that was some turn of speed his grandson had.

9 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

Ethan and Sam stood staring in disbelief at the laptop as the video Ethan's grandad and Sam's younger sister had made finished playing.

The short film, which featured scenes intercut with text titles, showed:

a garden, with Mr Wong's mournfully-cute puppy sitting in the midst of trampled flowers

25 Nov 2011 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

The lift came to a juddering halt at the floor where the engineer, Grandad, Sam and Jenny all stood waiting.

'Siu-man!' Grandad called.

From inside the lift came Ethan's strained reply. 'Gung gung.'

As the door slowly opened, Grandad and Sam took a step forward then stopped in their tracks.

18 Nov 2011 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

With the lift broken down between floors, Ethan realised he was trapped in a two-metre square space with a violent thug who had a grudge against him.

After jabbing every button on the control panel to no effect, Wai-hung punched the alarm.

Ethan struggled to keep his voice steady. 'That ... doesn't work.'

11 Nov 2011 - 12:00am

Sync or swim

In the book-lined study of their home, Sam and Jenny stared at Ethan in amazement.

'What do you mean we can't call the police?' Sam demanded.

'I recognise the boy with Wai-hung,' Ethan said, pointing at the screen of Sam's laptop.

4 Nov 2011 - 12:00am