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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Dim Sum Mysteries - 9. Chapter 9 - The Main Course Begins

A new club is formed to make a stand against the murderer. The Dim Sum Club is born!

Chapter 9 – The Main Course Begins

Monday, the Hill household, 16:32

Michael and I hadn’t talked to each other much at school, but then again, neither were the other students and teachers. Emma’s loss had been so sudden, it pretty much stopped all of us in our tracks. The teachers had given us free periods pretty much for the whole day, which should have been a reason for celebration, but even then, many of us spent the school day with whispered conversations.

I decided to spend some time with Michael, making sure I was there for him too. His father had to rush back to the hospital for an emergency operation, so it was just the two of us. We both sat cross-legged on the carpet in his living room, facing each other yet not really conversing much.

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” I mumbled forlornly.

“Yeah, me neither,” Michael replied, sounding just as down as I was. Then he surprised me when he said, “You wouldn’t do that to me, right? I don’t know what I’d do if you ever … if you died or something …”

“Hey, don’t say that, Mike,” I said quickly. “I’d never leave you like that. We just have to be really careful from now on.”

Michael looked up at me with a sad smile and he reached over to kiss me. Once again, I felt this tingling feeling jumping on the surface of my skin everywhere and I was a little bit disappointed when he cut it short.

“We still don’t know who’s going to be next,” Michael said. “I say we go ask Victoria on what we can do next.”

“I wonder if Emma got another text message,” I muttered, mostly to myself. I felt pretty bummed out. I didn’t really feel like doing anything much.

Michael nodded. “Then we know who to talk to tomorrow. Victoria would know something.”


Tuesday, Mac Worthington High School, 09:15

I had English coming up. It was painful to go back into that classroom, because that was the place where I had often met up with Emma. But school was school and I knew I shouldn’t let her death stop me from moving on completely.

Before I could get inside the classroom, I saw Yuki watching me. I had a feeling that she wanted to talk to me, so I wandered over to her instead.

“Hi Ryan,” she said. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary with her today.

“Hey,” I replied.

“So, I wanted to know if you’re in with the fighting against the murderer thing,” Yuki muttered a bit quickly.

I blinked at her. “Well, yeah, I guess so. Why?”

“Michael and I kind of decided to start a secret club devoted to investigating the murders,” Yuki explained, her eyes moving to and fro warily. “We need a few more members we can trust, though. Nicole said she’s signing up, but we need your help too.”

“Was this because of Emma?” I asked. “If it is, then I’ll join. Is Victoria in the club too?” I figured, if there was anyone who would start this kind of club, it’d be her.

“Um, no, she’s not,” Yuki answered me, sounding a bit uncomfortable. “I’ll explain why later. But can I count you in?”

I nodded. I didn’t know why I made the decision so quickly, but I guess when your friend gets murdered, things can get a little personal. Deep inside, I wanted some payback.

“Good. Then meet up with us in the Spanish class after school at around 3. We’re having our first meeting there.”

So that was what I thought about throughout English class. I was devising ways to exact my revenge when Anita, who was on the desk beside mine, suddenly passed me a small piece of paper ripped from a notebook or somewhere. I unfolded it and read the message silently: “Meet me in auditorium before lunch break. – Artie

Artie? What did he want with me? Inside, I had a bad feeling about the message, but I figured Artie wouldn’t call me to the auditorium just to beat me up. He’d have done so in plain in daylight if he got the chance, in front of the cops. He already did, technically speaking.


Tuesday, Mac Worthington High School, 11:58

The school’s auditorium was used mainly for concerts, musicals, plays and other performances. It looked like it was being prepared for the orchestra. A few students were walking to and fro, carrying chairs and music stands around the stage. Other than a handful of them, though, the place was mostly dark and quiet.

I found Artie preparing sheet music at the corner of the stage. I guess I was a bit intimidated by him and now that no one else was with me, I was afraid he would finally kill me. But when he noticed me, he didn’t say a word and continued sorting through his sheet music.

“Uh …” I began. I was totally unsure of the whole meeting.

“I wanted to talk to you,” Artie said. He looked up at me. “It’s about Emma.”

I folded my arms and made sure no one else was within earshot range. I walked up to him slowly, making sure to keep my distance from him.

“What is it?”

“I know we haven’t been on good terms,” Artie said, “ever.”

“No we haven’t,” I told him, rolling my eyes. I still had a bitter taste in my mouth just talking to him.

“I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry for hitting you. I shouldn’t have done that,” he said. He sounded genuinely apologetic, and I wanted to forgive him right then and there, but a little part of my mind said that there had to be a catch.

I shrugged. “Uh … well, okay. Is that all?”

“I only didn’t like you and Michael because Emma was always so nice to you,” Artie explained. He bowed his head and mumbled, “I wanted to ask her out. But I never got the chance. I guess I’ll never get that chance.”

I tilted my head – I was curious, for real. I never knew Artie had a crush on Emma. He had hidden it very well. Maybe the hostility between the two of us wasn’t caused just by Artie. Maybe it had been partially my fault for not realizing it.

“Did Emma know how you felt about her?” I asked him, making sure my voice was low enough so that no one else could hear.

Artie shook his head slowly, sadly. “No, I guess she’ll never know now,” he muttered. “Listen, Ryan. I’m really sorry for the way I treated you. I’ve been a jerk to you and you didn’t even do anything to me.”

I wasn’t sure of what to say. I wasn’t really prepared for his sudden apology. Weeks, months even, of animosity couldn’t disappear just like that – it didn’t work that way, it just wasn’t realistic.

“I guess I can forgive you,” I said eventually. “But that doesn’t mean we’re gonna be friends or anything. You were an asshole at times, you know.”

“I know that,” Artie snapped back. “Just don’t rub it in, okay? Could you leave me alone now? I need some time on my own.”

Before I could leave though, Artie had quickly piled his sheet music away in his folder, stood up and walked off the stage.


Tuesday, Mac Worthington High School, 12:58

Jeffry caught me by surprise as I was heading to my locker. He appeared suddenly in front of me – I had no idea where he had come from – and yelled “BOO!” to my face. I almost dropped my slushy and books, which would have been a disaster since the books aren’t even mine – they were Ben’s.

“Holy crap, don’t scare me like that!” I said, wide eyed.

“You get scared easily,” he remarked.

I rolled my eyes and fumbled through my locker, trying to find some space for the books while trying to balance the slushy with one hand. “What do you want?”

“I kind of overheard you and Yuki talking about some secret club,” Jeffry said. “It’s about the murders, isn’t it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking ‘bout,” I said, a little too quickly, I think.

Jeffry scoffed. “Right. Come on, you can’t hide it.”

“Okay, so what if we do have a secret club?” I shot back. “You can’t stop us.”

“Actually, I can,” Jeffry said with a smirk. “The teachers will disband your little club if I tell them you’re dabbling with these kinds of dangerous matters. I wonder how much they’ll pay for that information, though …”

“What do you want?” I asked, quickly losing my temper.

“I want in,” Jeffry said. “I want to investigate these murders too, y’know. It’s a great chance for me to actually use my talents for something useful besides taking photos of cakes.”

I hadn’t realized how useful he’d be. “What else can you do besides taking photos?”

“I’m not just a photographer,” he told me proudly. “The Photography Club also specializes in video and filming, along with cinematography. I can also set up surveillance cameras in places you never thought existed.”

Maybe he would be pretty useful. I put some thought in it for a while; then I nodded. It wouldn’t hurt to have someone extra, right? Besides, I thought Yuki and Michael would be reasonable. Additionally, it would be better if Jeffry didn’t spill the beans to everyone in school.

“Okay, but don’t tell anyone else about the club, all right?”

Jeffry’s face broke into a wide grin. “Great. I’ll meet you at the meeting after school then.”


Tuesday, Mac Worthington High School, 15:08

“You’re late by three minutes and fifteen seconds,” Nicole told me as I walked into the Spanish classroom.

“So, who’s in the club?” I asked.

“Take a look around,” Nicole said, gesturing around the room.

Yuki was sitting down on top of a desk, looking like her usual somber self. Michael was sitting down nearby and he was looking at me with a cloudy look in his eyes and a smile on his face, his chin resting on the palm of his hand. My eyes wandered over to Jeffry who was sitting near the corner of the room, playing with his Canon digital SLR camera. My eyes popped open when I saw my sister sitting quietly at the desk behind Michael.

“Anna?!” I said, bewildered. “What are you doing here?”

“Yuki talked to me about the text messages and all,” Anna explained. She sounded determined. “You can’t stop me, Ryan. I want to help stop these murders too.”

“I don’t think that’s a really good idea,” I told her. “It could be dangerous.”

“Ryan, I’m old enough to make my own decisions, all right?” she said, shrugging me off. Anna was a stubborn girl with a head made of rock. I guess in a way, she was nearly identical to my mom, at least in personality.

“Do you know anything about these murders, though?” I asked. I had to make sure she was well equipped with knowledge if she really wanted to join us. I wasn’t exactly down with the idea of bringing Anna long with us, but I knew I no longer had any say in the matter. She had made up her mind.

“Michael explained everything to me,” Anna said. “He told me about the strange text messages and all, and how we could prevent the next murder.”

I glanced over to Michael who smiled sheepishly at me. “She threatened to crush my balls with chopsticks if I didn’t tell her what was happening,” he said evasively.

Giving up, I sighed. “Why isn’t Victoria here?” I asked Nicole.

“We’ll get to that in a moment,” she said. “All right, everyone, gather round. Let’s get our first meeting under way.”

I took a seat next to Michael as everyone gathered together. Nicole opened her mouth to speak, but she was interrupted by someone knocking on the door.

“Who could that be?” Nicole muttered aloud and went over to the door.

To our surprise, the person at the door was Artie. He didn’t look particularly mean right now – maybe our conversation in the auditorium had mellowed him somewhat, or maybe Emma’s death had. Either way, I was still uncomfortable with him around. Still, it was strange of him to stop by. And how did he know we were meeting here?

“What do you want?” Michael asked, sounding malicious. I guess he still remembered their little bicker on Sunday.

“I kind of overheard about your little meeting, and I thought I’d like to join your new club,” Artie said slowly. He sounded almost shy, which was definitely unlike him.

“We don’t know what you’re talking about,” Nicole said, reaching for the door to close it.

Artie blocked the door with a strong hand. “No! Wait, let me explain –”

“Can’t you just go away?” Yuki blurted out.

“Emma received a text message an hour before she died,” Artie explained frantically, trying to stop Nicole from slamming the door shut. “I have the message with me. If you let me join your club, you can have the message.”

Nicole paused reluctantly. “What?”

“Emma received a strange message from an unknown number on Friday last week,” Artie said, avoiding eye contact with us. “She forwarded it to me right before she died. She said that it was very strange and she said you guys would know something about it.”

We all looked at each other. I could tell that we were all thinking of the same thing. If we had our hands on that message, it would mean we’d have something to work on at last. But could we trust Artie?

“You can trust me,” Artie said. “I know I’ve never been on good terms with any of you, but Emma meant a lot to me too. I just want to help.”

Nicole sighed and tapped a finger to her chin sagely. “Ah, this is confusing,” she muttered. “Okay, we’ll have a vote. Hands up if you want Artie in our team.”

Anna, Jeffry and Nicole put their hands up. Yuki looked at Michael reluctantly, then slowly raised her hand.

“Sorry, Michael, but we really need that text,” Yuki said, giving Michael an apologetic look.

Michael turned to me. I wasn’t really sure whether to agree with the others or not. My rational mind told me that that text message was crucial for us and we had to get it. Unfortunately, I didn’t want Michael to feel betrayed by me. So I didn’t raise my hand.

“Sorry you two, majority rules,” Nicole announced, shaking her head at us. “Okay, Artie. You’re in.”

Artie nodded his head in gratitude and took a seat at the corner of the room, where he was far, far away from the rest of us. I could understand why he didn’t feel welcome, and I sort of felt sorry for him. Of course, I didn’t tell that to Michael.

“Okay, before we start planning on how to stop the next murder, let’s assess our main goal,” Nicole said, drawing something on the whiteboard. “Our goal as this secret club is to find out who the murderer is, not just to stop the next murder.”

I was fascinated and pleasantly surprised at how smoothly Nicole talked in front of us. It was as if she was a natural leader. I guess I kind of understood why she’d be the president of the Celibacy Club, despite her … behavior.

Nicole pointed at a large stick figure that she had drawn. “Suspect number one: the janitor.”

“The janitor?” Jeffry repeated in a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ tone.

“Gary Reed is an ex-marine – he was enlisted in the army back in the ‘80s,” Nicole explained. “It makes sense that he’d know how to use a gun. And guess what? His friends nickname him ‘the Gunner’, which pretty much sums up our evaluation of him.”

“He hasn’t been doing anything suspicious, though, as far as I know,” Anna chimed in. “And contrary to popular belief, he’s not as cold as he seems on the outside. He once saved a cat that had fallen into a deep pothole on the road outside school once.”

“Moving on to suspect number two,” Nicole said, pointing to a smaller stick figure with curly lines coming out of its head. “Sheriff Elise.”

Yuki scoffed. “What! There’s no way the Sheriff could be the murderer.”

“Not so fast there, my Japanese friend,” Nicole said with a smirk. “Sheriff Elise had always been the first officer to each crime scene – she was the one who discovered Elizabeth’s body; she was the first one to show up when Michael called her when he found Fred’s body; she was in James Street minutes after you yourself called her during the Japanese Bazaar; and according to some of Emma’s friends, the Sheriff was right here in less than ten minutes after they called the police.”

“Probably a coincidence,” Jeffry suggested.

Nicole shrugged. “She also knows how to use firearms, being in the police force. But I admit, we don’t have much to go on besides that. We need to investigate.”

Nicole stepped aside to reveal the final figure, another female person as far as I could tell.

“Our third suspect is Victoria Leslie, Head Sorceress of the Voodoo Club,” Nicole stated. “We all know Victoria has a grudge on this school. She practically hates everyone.”

“Whoa, hold on a minute,” Michael interjected. “She’s been helping out, you know? She’s been telling the previous possible victims to stay as close to other people to avoid being cornered alone.”

“Ah, but there’s the catch, Mike,” Nicole said, folding her arms smugly. “She’s been telling people where to go, right? Which means she knows exactly where they’d be.”

“But she couldn’t have been the murderer,” Michael countered. “Victoria was at her house babysitting her little brother and his friends when Emma died.”

“So she could have an accomplice. But yes, she couldn’t have been the murderer, but she could be helping him or her,” Nicole muttered, looking thoughtful. “And I can’t really see her wielding a gun. She’d fall over just trying to pick one up.”

I noted, “Okay, so the Janitor and the Sheriff have the means to carry out the murders, but they have no motive at all. What could they have gained by killing high school students? Victoria, on the other hand, does have some kind of a motive, but she doesn’t have the means …”

“So we can conclude that we need more information,” Nicole stated. “I’m going to assign each of you to different jobs. Yuki and Anna, you two will be investigating the Sheriff and the Janitor’s backgrounds. Jeffry, you need to make sure to record everything we know, and set up hidden cameras where possible.”

Jeffry grinned and raised his camera aloft above him. “All hail the great lens.”

“Michael and Ryan, you two do what you guys do best, and it has nothing to do with penetration,” Nicole said, smiling at Michael and I. “Your job is to try and stop the next murder from happening while we do the investigating.”

“What should I do?” Artie called out from the back of the room. I had almost forgotten about him.

“You’ll be working with me,” Nicole said, giving Artie an appraising look. “We’re going to make sure the teachers don’t find out about our club – at the same time, we need to make sure Victoria doesn’t do anything suspicious.”

“I’ve been thinking,” Yuki said aloud, “we really need to find a new name for our secret club. Something so that the teachers or the other students don’t really know what’s going on.”

“I’ve got that covered,” Nicole said, beaming. She pointed at me. “From now on, we shall be known as the Dim Sum Club: the Dim Summers! Our activities will primarily consist of eating … dim sum. We meet every Tuesday after school in this same room.”

“The Dim Summers?” I repeated. What a ridiculous name! I didn’t say that aloud, though, in case I hurt Nicole’s feelings …

“What a ridiculous name!” Anna blurted out from behind me.

Nicole shrugged nonchalantly. “Doesn’t matter – as long as the others don’t get suspicious.”

“So when do we get cracking?” Jeffry asked, rubbing his hands in anticipation.

“As soon as possible; maybe tomorrow,” Nicole suggested. She gestured to us to gather closer together. “Come on, everyone, huddle together. We’re a team now. Put your hands together and in the count of three, we all shout: ‘Dim Sum!’”

We shuffled awkwardly and made a rough circle, mumbling and chuckling. Our hands joined together in the middle – even Artie joined in without much hesitation. I took a moment to look at the others’ faces. We were all so different, it was amazing how we could be together like this. But we all had something in common and that was determination. We all wanted to stop the murders, even if we had our own reasons for doing so. But it was enough to unite us.

“Okay,” Nicole said. “One … two … three …”


Copyright © 2011 MarkSen; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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On 06/27/2011 11:57 PM, Quey said:
For some reason, I loved this chapter. XD
Could you be a little bit more specific? :D
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Okay, see, this whole starting a club thing has me WORRIED, yeah, it's a cool idea and I liked that





If the murderer really IS targeting the leaders of clubs.... *GULP Here's just another one for the murder-menu.



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