This Can’t Be Happening At Macdonald Hall

From the book:

At first light Boots began to put his plan into action. He checked the phony newspaper article before putting it into his desk drawer. Large red spots. Boots took a small paper-bag from under his pillow. It contained a brush and a jar of poster paint. With great care he began to dab red spots on the face of his sleeping roommate. He examined his handiwork, silently congratulated himself and went back to bed. When he opened his eyes again at eight, George was just waking up.
"George, what's wrong with you?" Boots cried. George turned pale. "Wh-what do you mean?" he stammered.
"There are big red spots all over your face! See for yourself." Boots motioned towards the mirror. George looked at his reflection and shrieked. "What is it? What is it?"
Boots gasped. "Omigosh! I think I know!" He opened his drawer, dug around in the contents and finally drew out the newspaper article. "This was in Thursday's Star -- my mother sent it to me. Listen!" He began to read:
"Creeping caliotis, a rare tropical disease, has killed nine people in Toronto within the last thirty-six hours. The disease is believed to have come to Canada through imported livestock and is highly contagious. Major symptoms are large red spots scattered over the facial area, followed by shortness of breath, then head, throat and chest pains."
Right on cue George began to puff. "I'm having shortness of breath!" he gasped. "I ache all over! I've got creeping caliotis! Get me to the infirmary right away!"
"No, don't move!" Boots cried. "Listen!" He continued to read: "Chances of survival are drastically reduced if the victim attempts to move around. Complete bed rest is essential." Boots handed the clipping to George. "Read it for yourself," he said. "You'd better get back to bed right away."
George nodded and crept into his bed. The possibility that his life -- though barely started -- might-soon be over stunned him.
"I'll get Dr. Leroy right away," Boots assured him. "But first -- no offense, old boy -- I think . . . " He wheeled out George's quarantine screen and placed it between the two beds, making sure the sign was on George's side.
"Creeping caliotis!" George moaned. "Tell the doctor to hurry!"
"I will," Boots promised. "But don't you move from that bed. You need complete bed rest or you've had it." Boots picked up his books and headed for class -- leaving George at death's door.

* * *

Boots tiptoed into his room after classes. The light was dim and the victim lay still on his bed, looking paler than the sheets and apparently breathing his last.
"Where have you been?" George moaned. "Where's the doctor?"
"Brace yourself," Boots told him, tying a handkerchief around his face like a surgical mask. "Dr. Leroy has creeping caliotis too; so does three-quarters of the school. They're dropping like flies. It's a full-fledged epidemic!"
"Has anybody died?" George asked, terrified.
"Not yet," Boots replied gravely, "but there are lots in comas. The army has sent a medical unit and the campus is in quarantine. There's even a roadblock."
"But did you tell them about me?" George groaned.
Boots nodded. "Of course, but you're three hundred and fifty-second on the waiting list. Don't worry. I'll stay and take care of you until help comes."
George was overcome with gratitude. He reached for a paper and pencil on the night table. "I've been writing my will," he croaked, his throat obviously very sore. "I'm going to leave you my Magneco for your devotion, Melvin." He wrote a few lines and collapsed back onto the pillow. "Could you get me a cold cloth for my head?" he pleaded. "I must have a terribly high fever."
Boots wet a washcloth and gently placed it on his roommate's forehead. "I'd better go and write my mother," he said sadly. "If I catch creeping caliotis from you I'll want her to have a last few words to remember me by."
"Ooooh!" groaned George. He raised a trembling hand to his forehead and picked up the wet cloth to rearrange it. Large red blobs covered the white terrycloth. He stared at it for a few seconds, then rubbed it across his cheek. More red blobs.
"Paint," said George softly; then louder, "Paint . . . You tricked me! I'll kill you!" He leaped out of bed, grabbed a cricket bat and tore after Boots, who by this time was out of the room and halfway out of the building.

* * *

Mr. Sturgeon, Bruno and Petunia were making their way across the campus when Boots flashed by. "Hello, sir!" he panted.
Seconds later a pyjama-clad George Wexford-Smyth III thundered by in hot pursuit, screaming and waving a cricket bat.
Bruno did not dare comment, but as they continued on their way, he distinctly heard Mr. Sturgeon murmur, "I hope he catches him."

Copyright © 1978 Gordon Korman, used by permission

Bruno Walton and Melvin (Boots) O' Neal love their shared dorm room in the Topnotch Canadian boarding school, Macdonald Hall, but when their practical jokes get out of hand, Headmaster Sturgeon (The Fish) feels his best choice is to separate the lifelong friends.

Bruno is forced to move in with Elmer Drimsdale, the eccentric school genius who raises fish in the bathtub, plants in the dresser, and who's idea of a good time is to stay up 'til the wee hours studying the Crab Nebula with his telescope, while Boots is saddled with George Wexford-Smyth III, a hypochondriac yuppie snob who believes it vitally important to sterilize his dorm room daily. Life is not good.

Though Bruno comes up with one wild scheme after another to convince the Headmaster to put the two back together, it seems that nothing will work. Has the Fish managed to put a permanent end to Bruno and Boots' friendship? Not if Bruno has anything to say about it.

This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall was Gordon Korman's first book, written as an English project when he was only 12 years old, and in it he introduced many of the Macdonald Hall characters that would remain favorites for many books to come.

As an added bonus, we present the following, the original epilogue to This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, written before Gordon realised he had a series on his hands:

I won't say they were good boys after that. But, come to think of it, they had never really been bad boys. Just mischievous ones. They did maintain their good grades after that, and they did behave well -- sometimes.
However I have no doubts as to the identity of the boys who put the overalls on the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that stands in front of Macdonald Hall. And I have strong suspicions that they were the same two who replaced my tuxedo with a judo suit on Founder's Day. I am even inclined to believe that they were the ones who entered my name and photograph in the "Sexiest Man In Toronto" contest. (I shouldn't complain; I won third prize and enjoyed a free dinner at the Royal York.)
Walton and O'Neal left Macdonald Hall three years ago -- but I always know when they return for Founder's Day. Each year the judo suit in my closet undergoes a slight change (which leads me to believe that my wife is their accomplice). I am happy to report that I have recently been promoted to black belt.

William R. Sturgeon, Headmaster
Macdonald Hall