Category Archives: Stories

On Holiday

I can only turn my abilities down, I can’t shut it off. So during my time as a “regular human”, I’ll still be able to cause death but it won’t be so potent. It’s still nice to get out there and enjoy the living. They’re such facinating creatures. 

I met a boy who was a great tee-ball player. Destined to make it to the big leagues. He had a wild imagination and loved frogs. Had he not hugged me after buying one of his fundraising cards, he might have lived to be some wild scientist Major league baseball star. But he did hug me, and that’s when his white blood cells began multiplying. He got a few good years left, but they didn’t find out that he had lukimia until it was darn well too late. My boss said not to feel the blame, and I usually don’t when a human touches me on their own free will, but I really thought this little boy was special.

This other time I met a homeless man. He was depressed, obviously, but I could feel it from a block away. He had lost everything after his wife left him for a rich man. His children wouldn’t speak to him anymore, his friends nearly forgot about him, and he lost his job over a simple miss calculation error. He struggled for years. I had a conversation with him and knew the best solution for him. I touched his cheek and handed him a ten dollar bill. The next day he had a heart attack right there on the sidewalk of a big hamburger chain. My boss sent me a congratulations once the man got to heaven, he was much happier there.

I treat this like a vacation, but occasionally the boss will send me instructions. I can’t always control what the human is inflicted with however. Once I was told about a very bad man. He had only raped his ex-girlfriend at the time I caught up to him. We were at a grocery store and I bumped into him, making sure to touch his arm with my hand. It was two more rapes and five murders before the police figured him out and the judge sentenced him to death row. If I had a choice, I would have done more right there in the grocery store. There are rules against that, especially when I’m taking these vacations.

I get a month each year to go amongst the living. And just like any American vacation, I’m always happy to come back to work.

Once, I was walking by a crime scene. There wasn’t anyone near by that I could tell, but the house was all roped off with caution tape. I hadn’t heard about this case, since while I am away some of the others that I work with handle big murders. I was minding my own business trying to get to the ice cream truck on the other street when a dog came running from behind the roped off house. A beautiful German Shepherd with a vest on. The embroidery said “cadaver team.” Oh no, what he was running to was me. I jumped into a tree, I didn’t want to end up touching the dog that would bring more suspicion than necessary. His handler, a nice looking middle aged police officer came running. He apologized, but still wanted to ask me some questions. It’s not often that his partner sees any actual dead humans, and maybe he was just smelling old chicken from a dinner I had, but he needed to make sure. I gave him my credentials and came up with excuses of why I was even in this neighborhood. The dog was still curious about myself. It was a good half hour, my ice cream truck moved on, of just talking with the gentleman. He unprofessionaly gave me his number, and went back to the house. It’s moments like that that I wished some times I could be full human, but I do really love what I do.

Next week I start my time off for the new year. I haven’t decided yet where I am going this time and only have a few days to do so. I have already given my paperwork to the boss so that he can find a suitable replacement while I’m gone, and my bag is already packed. I’m excited for the new adventure, and hope this time there are no accidents. 


Detective Kripke

Detective Kripke’s telephone rang loudly at 4:06 AM. It was an old rotary phone, he liked it very much and refused to use any new technology in his own home. Of course he kept a cellphone for his police work, though often forgetting to charge it. He knew if his house phone rang that it must be an important call. Usually meant a murder or theft. 

This particular morning he was dispatched to the other side of town. Neighbors of a huge blue Victorian house heard loud thumps around 3:30 AM. Noises always came from this particular house, the owner being an expiramentor and inventor, but this was no ordinary bump in the night. They had rang the doorbell a few times, but there weren’t any lights in the house so they decided to call the police.

Detective Kripke jumped out of bed and stumbled over his Old English Sheepdog. “Henry, didn’t you hear the phone? Why are you lying right there!?” But Henry didn’t move a muscle and the detective hurried on with putting some decent clothes on. 

“Henry, have you seen my badge?” He yelled out, but still the dog lay. It was four o’clock in the morning after all. 

When the detective finally arrived at the scene he was met with the fire marshal and the chief of police. 

“Hello, Jeff. We’ll need you to work your magic here. Neighbors only heard some loud thumps, didn’t see anyone. There’s a couple in the bed upstairs, throats were slit. There is a nursery, but no baby, the neighbors didn’t know what that was about. Uhm, what else can we tell him, Bob?” Fire Marshal Edwards turned to the police man.

“That about covers it. Forensics team is working on photos as quickly as they can, they got the rookie doing fingerprints though.”

“He’s not a rookie.” The fire marshal glared.

“He ain’t no seasoned vet either Ed.” Bob glared back. It seemed they had had this argument before. He turned to Jeff and winked. “You’ll find everything you need in the main bedroom.”

“Alright, guys. I’ll get in there and do what I can.” Detective Kripke was happy for the excuse to get away, he knew their arguments could get heated.

He walked into the house through the front door, and gave a little whistle. He stood still for a moment to gather in the sounds and smells and sights of the crime scene. Once he was satisfied he started for the stairs, took his first step up but hesitated. I don’t think he started there Jeff thought to himself. No, he looked around down here first He walked over to the living room. Nothing was taken. He walked down the hall to the kitchen, again nothing looked moved. There was an office and a guest bathroom, still nothing was moved.

There was a scratch at a door in the hallway near the kitchen. Jeff walked slowly to it and pulled a rubber glove out of his pocket. What do we got here? Another scratch at the door as he opened it slowly. “Well you’re not what I expected.” A fluffy gray cat stepped out. “You got any other friends around here?” The cat ran to the steps Jeff dismissed earlier. He followed the cat up and into the crime scene bedroom. “Hey buddy.”

The forensics team had already gone. All that was left were the two bodies on the bed and a pitbull at the base of the bed. She looked sad. “Oh, sorry. Sweetie.” The detective walked around the bed and examined the bodies. “Can either of you tell me what happened here?”

The fluff ball of a cat jumped up to the dresser and stared at the detective. Jeff walked around the bedroom, went to the open window, peeked into the closet, looked back over the room and walked back down stairs to the fire marshal and chief.

“Alright fellas, I’ve got it.”

The fire marshal looked surprised. “You’re always so quick. And you never touch anything! What’d you come up with?”

“So Trevor in there. The dude in the bed. He owed money to his bookie. That was months ago, and him and the wife fought constantly, she faked a pregnancy. So they got all cozy again, Trevor made the nursery for her. Hoped they’d fixed everything. But he forgot to pay the bookie you see. And she found out about it. She got so mad in the heat of everything and she’s the one who slit his throat first in the middle of the night. For some reason thought it’d be cool to just go back to sleep. Then some guy all in black came in, through the front door of all places, found out the guy he was sent in to kill was already dead, and took the knife out of the wife’s hand, slit her throat too, and hopped out the window. The thud that the neighbors heard, was him jumping down on to the trashcan.” Jeff pointed to the side of the house near the driveway to the back garage. There it was, a smashed trashcan.

“Huh, so we’ll need to find the bookie’s information. Great work detective. It fits with the team’s findings. They said he was dead three hours before her. That’s just crazy to think. The neighbors thought they were just the nicest people too. Seems like everyone has weird secrets.” The Chief shook the detective’s hand. “Go home and get some rest. You can fill out your report later this afternoon. Thanks, Jeff. You’re a real help.”

“No problem at all.” Detective Kripke shook both men’s hands again and departed.

Once he got home he got back into his pajamas and laid down in bed.

“What was all the commotion?” Henry the sheepdog jumped up into the bed with the detective.

“Brutal murder. The old lady killed her husband over some petty argument, and a hitman was sent there, found his target already dead, so he just killed her too.”

“Wow.”

“The pets where pretty upset. A big fluffy cat and a really gentle five year old pup.”

Henry made himself comfortable at the end of the bed. “I bet they were. Any idea what happens to them?”

“The cat said the wife’s sister would probably take him, and the dog would probably go to the next door since the sister is allergic.” Jeff was tired, and ready to fall asleep.

“Bob and Ed realize you can talk to us yet?” Henry said sleepily.

The detective yawned. “Nope. No questions asked.”


Valerie T. Estrella

Valerie set her business card on a small table under a blue tent. This was in her instruction booklet when she signed up for the Art Fair. She couldn’t believe she was finally entering her work. She molded her clay for months, coming up with many designs, in hopes to sell.

The man at the small table took her card and studied it. “You’re Valerie T. Estrella?”

She was nervous. “Yes, that’s me.”

“What’s your age?” He said sternly.

“Uh, 32.” The words almost didn’t come out, almost as if she had forgotten her age.

“From Pontiac, Eh?” A smile grew on the man’s face. “I’ve got cousins there.”

Valerie wasn’t sure what to say. She stood there quietly as he entered more information from her card into his computer.

“Pottery, huh?” He looked up at her.

“Yes, a small hobby. Hoping to do more with it.”

“Well this is the perfect place to drum up some business. Now, here’s a map. You’re in row 8. Perfect I think, you’re more towards the front of the rows so people won’t be so tired. Super hot for Michigan this year. Anyway, this booth right here.” He highlighted the booth in row 8 and handed her the map. “You can use your car or whatever to unload, but it must be moved to the parking area before 10 A.M.”

“Got it.” Valerie thought for a moment. That was three hours away, she wasn’t sure what do in the mean time. “That’s when people show up to look at stuff right?”

He could tell she was new. “When you get your stuff all set up, you can walk around the booths. Pretty friendly crowd, these artists. And it’s a great way to make some friends out there, buy some stuff early, won’t have to worry about your own booth for a while.”

“Thanks, so much!’ Valerie got back in her little SUV and followed the signs for her row. After setting up her booth and taking her car to the parking area she perused the other artists as the man had suggested.

The had two hours to kill before customers started showing up. The first few rows that she walked down seemed to be all photography. She saw many stunning images, but nothing that caught her eye in a way that she needed to purchase anything. The next few rows were paintings of all kinds followed by charcoal drawings and mixed media. The middle of row seven is where the clay started. There were a few potters that concentrated on only pots or only sculptures, but most were mixed products like the ones Valerie made herself. She saw many techniques she’d like to try, one in particular was called horse hair raku.

“Excuse me sir, those vases there are beautiful.” She pointed to the white vases with smoke-like marbling.

“You’re early. Must be competition.” The man said without turning to face her. He was still setting out his cup collection.

“I’m afraid I am.” Her nervousness came back, maybe looking at the other artists was a bad idea after all.

The man still didn’t turn to look at her. “Let me guess. Pottery.”

“Oh, you’re good.”

“Come to steal ideas.” He still had his back towards her.

“I think we’ve started off on the wrong foot. I’m so sorry to bother you.”

“Well you’re here now.” He finally turned. “Valerie?”

She stood there perplexed. “You know me?”

“Nope.”

“She looked around his booth then back at him, not sure how he knew her name. “But, you said my name.”

He threw a thumbs up behind his shoulder.

“Oh. We’re booth neighbors.” She laughed.

A grin appeared on his face and he didn’t seem so agitated. “Yup. I saw you just as you were leaving to park your car. You’ve got some real talent there, but not a whole lot of product.”

“It’s mostly a hobby. You do this full time?” She looked again at all of his work.

“Yeah, I’m a traveling pottery peddler. Well mostly. I also teach some classes in Pontiac.”

“Wow, small world. I’m from Pontiac.”

“Not so small really, we haven’t even left Michigan.” He chuckled.

“I’d love to learn Raku, do you teach that?” Valerie picked up one of the vases with the black swirls.

“Not professionally.” He went back to placing the clay mugs on his display.

There was disappointment in her eyes and she placed the vase back down. “Oh.”

The man reached into his back pocket and pulled out his business card to hand to her. “I make a few exceptions. Here, this has my personal number on it.”


The Lonely Pineapple

The island of Kaliko had enough space for one small village. This village had three elders, five warriors and their wives, a chief and his son, and handful of villagers. There was nothing for miles at sea, when the warriors were sent out for supplies they didn’t return for a whole month. They mostly ate fish and berries and had a special holding trap for fresh water. They were happy folk and knew each other very well. 

Because of its size, not much grew on the island. Some grass that was enough to dry out and build houses and make clothing, a few shady palm trees, a few different flower types and right in the center of the island grew a large pineapple plant. This was the only fruit on the island, and the elders could not explain why it would only produce one fruit a year. 

For as long as the Kaliko people inhabited the island they held a feast the day the one pineapple was ripe enough to eat. Warriors would spend weeks looking for the right fish and their wives would collect all their chicken eggs to create beautiful dishes. 

One stormy summer, the villagers were gathering their foods for the feast when the chief noticed the pineapple plant seemed to be drooping. He went to the elders who suggested that maybe the pineapple was getting too much rain. So the chief built a shade over the plant. Nothing changed so the chief went to the elders again for help. They suggested that the plant was not getting enough sun, so on rainy days the chief covered the plant and on sunny days he would take the shade off. Still nothing had changed. They suggested a better fertilizer so the Chief tried sand, chicken feathers, coconut water, even rotten fish. Nothing had changed still  Again he went to the elders but they had run out of ideas. The days neared closer to the feast and panic had set into the village. 

The Chief’s son, wanting to help, went late into the night to lay with the pineapple. He wispered all night to the pineapple to encourage it to grow. He told the pineapple how thankful he was for his village and how he wanted to keep everyone happy. He also talked to the pineapple about all of his hopes and dreams. The son talked himself into a deep sleep just before sunrise.

The day of the feast had arrived, the villagers were going to continue their tradition with or without the lonely fruit. As the sun rose, the Chief went to awaken his son. The son was not in the hut, the chief thought he had gotten an early start to his day.

The Chief stepped out of his hut, expecting the pineapple to be more withered away, but was surprised to find he was wrong. Now in the place of the lonely pineapple grew two large healthy pineapple plants. The villagers rejoiced, they gathered their feast and had a joyous party. Both plants continued to prosper and so did the village of Kaliko. Though to this day, the boy has never been found. Rumors spread and stories were told of how he was disappointed in the lonely pineapple, but the Chief knew the real reason his son disappeared.


Gibbles the Sidekick

Gibbles the sidekick was no ordinary sidekick. He had a rough time in highschool. No one knew how to pronounce his name. Some called him Gobbles, some said jibbles, Gibblet, Hibbet, Fibbers, Tiddles, and one even said Gobblers. He was always made fun of him because he was the runt of the litter, and he had abnormally large front teeth for a gofer. 

Now, years later he’s the best crime solver out there. Sure, the hero gets the bad guy, but it was Gibbles who did all the handy work. Though he never gets the credit he deserves, being the lowly sidekick.

It sometimes takes Gibbles months to figure out the clues for the bad guy, usually because the hero always butts in when it’s not necessary. He works for a few different heroes and with occasional oversights he mixes the cases, causing at least a week to sort it all out. Of course, the heroes blame him. But he takes it with stride.

A few​ weeks ago he decided to look for a case to solve completely uninterrupted, totally on his own. This time Gibbles was going to be the hero.

There was rumors of the local town ghost that always creeped the cemetery and nearby houses. It was believed to be Sir Bartholomew Abernathy, the only lion to successfully beat the English Cavalry single-handed. Why he died was a mystery, some say he never actually died and was 247 years old, still playing tricks on people. Others believed it was the college Fraternity, Beta Phi Omega, and it was some crazy part of their hazing rituals. Members of the fraternity never kept their stories straight. When Gibbles interviewed them he concluded it was all a big ruse. 

His next plan was to interview the homes surrounding the cemetery. There he concluded that the ghost comes out especially during the summer months, his biggest haunt being the fourth of July. That’s when he decided to stake out the cemetery on that day, even asking the groundskeeper to put a tent out. He of course said no, but Gibbles is after all a gofer and just made his own hideout/sleeping quarters in a hole on top of the hill. It was a perfect look out. 

From what he gathered of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy, he was originally from Africa. Came to this town in search of a lovely feline wife (we didn’t care about the species as long as she was the most beautiful). Though all he found was Beatrice, a calico. The two fell in love anyway and lived a decent life until the war. They say she died of heartbreak over the fret of Bartholomew being gone for so long. Gibbles could never find her grave though. 

The ghost came up from the ground in what Gibbles thought was an empty plot. There where no markers nearby and it was no where near where the actual grave marker of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy was. It was a rather large ghost with a large army uniform on and a hat that hid the face so well. Gibbles couldn’t believe his eyes, even through the hidden cover of clothing, this looked almost nothing like the picture of the great lion. He scurried up to the ghost and followed it into town. It seemed to be searching. 

Gibbles called out to the ghost, calling it every name and nickname in the books of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy. It finally dawned on him. He called out for Beatrice Abernathy. The mysterious ghost turned around and headed straight for Gibbles. It was in this moment he had wished the super heroes that he left behind were here, he was unprepared for the scare he was about to receive. The ghost’s hat flew back, and it was revealed that it was infact the feline love of Sir Bartholomew Abernathy. Gibbles big teeth began to chatter as he said “follow me, miss.”

He led the ghost of Beatrice Abernathy to that of her lion love and she laid down peacefully next to him and was absorbed into the ground.

It took a few more weeks of the ghost haunting the local people and another night of staking out for Gibbles to finally convince the cemetery groundskeeper that it was infact Beatrice and that her grave needed to be moved next to her husband. No one wanted to believe the lowly sidekick until Humanman the hero bat finally told everyone to give Gibbles the chance he deserved. He was the only hero that respected everything Gibbles did for him. Of course in the end everyone only remembered that it was only Humanman the hero bat that saved the town from Sir Bartholomew Abernathy. But Gibbles knew the real truth and wrote that down in his scrapbook. Someday he’d get his respect but after being so frightened that first night he thought he was better off just doing the grunt work.


Blog August Eight/Novel excerpt

About a week ago I decided that while I have nothing much else to do since moving in with my parents that I would really try to start writing more. I have this thought a lot honestly but what’s another go at it? A few months ago a friend asked me if I wanted to go work out with him, saying that if he had someone to go with he’d have more motivation. Our busy schedules got in the way but we did go a few times and that was fun. Well last week I asked that same friend if he’d meet me at a coffee shop and we could work on our respective arts. He likes to draw and paint and all that and he’s incredibly good at it, and while we’re talking about him I should shamelessly plug his websites so you can peruse and maybe even commission him for your own original. I know I’ve praised his work before, but some of you followers are new. You can see him here or here or even here!

So anyway, like I was saying… We met at a coffee shop and he worked on drawing stuff and I was tweeking a resume for a job and then I started writing. I finished my latest story and we talked about things and caught up because I’ve known him for at least twelve years now. We joked about my story ideas and he came up with the name Charlotte Festerbottom. I decided that would be the next story that I wrote and boy, did I start it. In fact. I’ve continued on with it about four pages and have no idea where to stop. I have no idea where she is going (but I do know where she came from, I had a lot of fun figuring out her family tree) and I haven’t yet a plot. The situation that she is in fortuneatly can have a lot of situations, which means for you dear reader….drum roll please… will have a novel to read in the near/distant future. That’s right. I stumbled upon a novel idea before NaNoWriMo is even here. Who knows, maybe I can write it all before November and have another idea for NaNo!  I’ve decided to include the beginning of Charlotte’s tale for your reading pleasure.

Charlotte Festerbottom comes from a long line of Festerbottom’s from a small island in the Midfjorden of Norway. Her great great great grandfather, Charles Festerbottom moved to the small Illinois town to open up an all in one cemetery and mortuary. Meeting a local girl named Clarice, they raised their three sons in the business. Chance and Christopher both died while away at sea with the Navy. That left Chuckie who only had one eye from birth to carry on the business. He married Clara, a local school teacher new in town, and they had Chuck and Cora. Cora became a school teacher as well but never married. Chuck and his wife Cassandra birthed five daughters before Charlie finally came. He was the pride and joy of the family and understandably, the only one willing to work with the dead. The girls all took jobs in fashion and education.

Charlie had a fascination with morbidity. His enthrallment stretched across every aspect of the dead. The family home located in the back of the cemetery land was decorated in wild taxidermy animals and shrunken heads from the Africa’s. His wife was an African medicine woman specializing in the dead named Chicha. He met her on a visit to the Congo, though it was never clear what her original nationality was. They had one son, Fester, who had ivory skin and dark black hair, he nearly resembled his great great grandfather. Rumors had spread after the death of Chicha that Charlie had gone insane, his obsession with death grew and long standing customers had become fearful of the Festerbottom services. Once Fester reached high school he had taken over most of the duties around the property, except for the care of the lawn. Charlie continued to mow and fertilize and stay to himself.

Fester brought life to the funeral home. He cleaned up older grave plots and tried everything he could to restore the original stones that Charles had placed with his own hands. Fester was also the first in the family to have modern schooling. He juggled the funeral services with correspondence classes and became the official CEO.  The long line of Festerbottoms lived modestly and therefore had a good amount of savings. Fester took some of the money to upgrade the morgue equipment and give a face lift to the buildings. He was even able to plant new trees and bushes in the entry way to really give the land a good home feeling. Some cousins came to help, but Fester did most of the hiring from the local college. He met and married Louise who interned with Fester in the office. She died shortly after Charlotte was born from lymphoma. Charlotte was lucky to survive.

Fester tried to give Charlotte a better life since she was the first only child that was a girl in the family ancestry. He kept her away from most of the proceedings of the family business, but that didn’t stop her from sneaking into funerals. He even offered to pay for college as long as it was something different than mortuary science. She vowed to pay her own way if it meant she could continue working with her father. It must have been something in the bloodlines that kept the Festerbottom children glued to that spot.

 


Tracy’s Story: The Murder

​You could chew the air, the day was so humid. The weather reporter said with the heat index, temperatures would feel as if it were 115 degrees. Tensions were understandably high but I didn’t expect my day to go the way it did.

I started the day off in first period science just like any other day. For some reason, school officials hadn’t thought to turn on the air conditioning yet. Mr. Erickson didn’t feel that opening the windows would help and had two large fans attempting to circulate the air. While they did create a small breeze, they drowned out anything he was trying to teach us so he gave us a pop quiz instead. The quiz should have been handed out on Friday so none of us were prepared. Mr. Erickson yelled over the fans that we were to do the best we could and once we turned them all in we could study for the rest of the period. For the first time all year, he had rolled up his sleeves and revealed full length arm tattoos. I’m sure if administration had an issue with that the teacher would have just walked out, he was just that kind of guy.

My next period was gym class. Ms. June didn’t bother making us get into our gym clothes, she just told us the hour was ours. Many of the class sat around talking. A few, including me, decided to catch up on homework for other classes.

Math was where my day started to get complicated. Jess and Brit shared the class with me and even though we had been great friends in elementary school they had both become jealous of me. I studied and got good grades. I didn’t judge my friends so even though I didn’t become popular like them, everyone actually liked me. My boyfriend, even though he lived two hours away and went to a fancy academy, was loyal and affectionate. It was like a typical high school story unraveling through no fault of my own. Or at least I had thought.

Jess exercised every morning before school, Wednesdays she would swim laps in the pool. Her thick dark brown hair was still wet in the pony tail. She was very fit and very short which made for a perfect body on top of the cheerleader pyramid. Boys just wanted to stare at her chest and hope to get into her pants. She was too busy working on her body to realize that that was the only thing those boys cared about too. 

Brit sang beautifully and I admired her. Except she wouldn’t share her talent with the school’s music programs. I thought it a bit selfish, but she decided she would get famous her own way. She made a demo CD and handed it out to the kids that would hang around her at lunch. But no one cared. They just wanted to be near her and she soaked that up, believing she had made a name for herself. 

The three of us got grouped together at the start of the year and I could tell neither of them were happy with the arrangement. They would be civil during class time but if we got sent home with a project neither one of them would call. Jess usually sent the email detailing what they wanted me to contribute by the end of the day. I would complete the algebraic problems, they would create the presentations and by the next morning Jess would email me again with dialogue. To Mrs. Kuriant it was as if we were the perfect students. I was okay with this agreement we had since this was one of the only classes Jess and Brit were good at and we always pulled through with an A. 

Today’s math lesson should have been a mini intro to calculus but with the heat Mrs. Kuriant borrowed one of the loud fans from Mr. Erikson and let us work on anything we chose. About half way through class Jess handed me a note. It was in Brit’s swirly handwriting telling me that they didn’t need my help with our next project, they would just send me the dialogue for the presentation the day it was due. I had a feeling in my gut that this wasn’t true, they were going to make me look like a fool and I was sure of it. Instead of making a big deal about it I walked up to the front desk and asked Mrs. K for the project outline, saying I had misplaced it. She only handed out one to the group, usually to Brit, but maybe in this heat she didn’t remember who she gave it to. She didn’t question the situation and went to her filing cabinet for the master copy. 

I looked back to the girls I used to call friends. Instead of working on the project or other homework, Brit was braiding Jess’s hair while she filed her nails. One would think after the note they gave me that they would be angered that I came to the teacher, but it was as if they didn’t even notice. Mrs. K was back quickly from the copy room and handed me the assignment I was to do all by myself. The girls’ plan to sabotage me was already beginning to fail.

I went back to my desk and slide the project information into my folder and pick up the homework I had started in gym class. The bell rang and I made my way to the basement for health class. 

Ms. June was also my teacher for health and the classroom was directly under the small gym. There weren’t any desks since she also used the room for the workout video classes. It turns out that Richard Simmons did wonders for the football team. Since she started making them watch the Sweatin’ to the Oldies they had a no lose streak. 

On the bright side, being in the basement had one advantage. It was the coolest floor of the whole high school. Ms. June actually taught her lesson on the effects of meth on the immune system, all of us sitting on the floor or yoga mats with our notebooks scribbling down notes. This was another class that I shared with Brit and Jess, but I didn’t have to interact with them. I noticed the girls were giggling a lot and not too long after Jeff, who sat behind me, handed me a piece of paper. It was another note, this time with the more manly handwriting of Jess. 

I wasn’t sure I wanted to open it or what they could possibly want to say. I continued listening to Ms. June and her advice on what not to buy at the store that made it look remotely like meth ingredients. It’s like she was inadvertently giving the druggies instructions, not that they could figure it out since I never saw any of them pass a science class with more than a D. Towards the end of class I decided to open the note. It was an attempt at blackmail. Jess and Brit said they had information on me that could turn my whole life upside down. There were some choice words there that couldn’t be said in a church. Plenty of name calling. But there wasn’t a reason, I couldn’t find the motive in their little hate note. I assumed it was just the jealousy, crumpled up the note and threw it in the trashcan behind me. 

A loud bang came ringing through the classroom. Ms. June stopped her sentence mid speech for a second and decided it was just the generators kicking in. We all were relieved, maybe the administration had finally decided to turn the air conditioning on. The noise was so loud since the generators were next to this basement classroom. Ms. June continued on with the lesson until the bell rang. 

We all filed out of class and that’s when we noticed the smoke. It filled the hallway to the stairs and students started freaking out. Girls grabbed all their things and ran, the boys almost tripped up the stairs after them. Ms. June went towards the generator room. She opened the door and a hot blazing fire leapt out. She quickly ran for the fire alarm and followed the rest of the class up the stairs. 

I’m not sure what made me stay behind, maybe it was the shock of it all. The fire quickly reached the walls and wooden hand railing. I looked from the classroom and that’s when I realized the two bodies behind me. Jess and Brit hadn’t left with the rest of the class, and there was terror in their eyes. I motioned for them to follow me up the stairs and Brit’s fist went flying into my cheek. I yelled that this was no time for them to start the fight they started in the note but Jess put up her fists as well and yelled back at me to move out of the way.

The three of us ran down the hallway to the stairs while they tried everything they could to pull me back to get ahead. Midway up the steps they began calling me horrible names and still clawing at me. That’s when I reached into my shoulder bag, next to my notebooks was a mini baby powder bottle. I’m not sure why I did it, but I grabbed that bottle, opened it with my free hand and flung it at their faces. The fire surrounding us on the hand rails followed the powder and before I turned back to run, I could see their faces behind the flames.

I didn’t look back again and they didn’t emerge outside with the rest of the students. The whole west wing of the school was engulfed before fire crews showed up. Teachers backed every one as far as they could so the mixture of fire and humidity didn’t make us students melt completely. Ms. June took her roll call papers from her clipboard and tried to account for everyone in the class. She noticed Jess and Brit were nowhere but didn’t think much of it, assuming they had run off to find other classmates.

The next few days were cancelled. The fire department determined the cause of the fire was an electrical short in the generators. It turns out that there was an excess of fans being turned on to beat the humidity. Teachers went on strike, calling for better conditions and accusing the administrators of being the cause of the fire. It was almost a week before the authorities noticed Jess and Brit were missing and for some reason they didn’t think to check the spot of the fire for a few more days. Ms. June was questioned first, I don’t know the outcome but the cops must have decided she didn’t know anything so they started questioning the other kids in my class. 

There were rumors flying around that they did it to each other. That Jess finally realized that Brit had more talent and Brit couldn’t handle the pressure of Jess being the cuter one. Another rumor was that they had actually just run away to be with each other. Maybe they had just been locked in the classroom. With each passing day the rumors got more ridiculous. That’s when they found the bodies. 

Cops put out bulletins once school resumed asking for any information on the investigation as it now was a murder case. They had found out that baby powder was used as an accelerant to burn their faces, this made them fall back on to the ground and the heat was too much, and they died of suffocation. They came to interview me but I had nothing to give them. Although I knew what happened, I didn’t feel it was a murder. My self-defense against their bullying. I had no evidence to bring to the cops. I had disposed of the note long before the fire started, and me and the two of them had no other form of communication. Even their cell phones had no evidence. The cops couldn’t figure out a motive for murder and thanks to my flawless answers they didn’t have any suspects. For all they knew, these girls just disappeared. It could have all just been a dream.