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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 - 14. Chapter 14 - Detective Work

Ryan makes some risky moves, but he's eager to get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile, he accidentally eats something suspicious ...

Chapter 14 – Detective Work

Wednesday, Mac Worthington High School, 09:34

We had spent Monday and Tuesday baking and preparing as much food as we could because the cookies kept on disappearing mysteriously. Coincidentally, the cookies were the only foods Jeffry hadn’t put under video surveillance. We had help with the baking though – Artie had somehow convinced the Culinary Club to pitch in and I guess ever since Emma had been gone, they had had a void of activity.

Well, the bake sale was a success, commercially speaking. It seemed as if everyone in the school was flocking over to the cafeteria, where we were selling the food, to buy some muffins or cookies or croissants or the other delicacies we had prepared. I had tried some too, of course and I had never tasted anything so good before. Maybe the mysterious white powder Jeffry had put into the mixture gave it that addictive taste or maybe Victoria’s luck-bestowing spell was responsible. Either way, we were definitely making money.

The only problem was how to lure in the Sheriff and the Janitor, our remaining, but rather improbable suspects. Oh well, it’s not as if we had anything else to go on.

“Ryan, could you get that box over here?” Artie asked me.

That box he was talking about was filled with all sorts of cookies and muffins and cupcakes. It was a bit too heavy for me so I struggled with it for a while before Artie sighed and helped me. He rolled his eyes at me.

Yeah, thanks for that, Artie – now I feel real useless. It wasn’t my fault that I didn’t have good arm strength. The only thing strong about me was probably fingers from hours of typing.

Nicole nudged me as we handed out cupcakes in exchange for a dollar. “Ryan, are you ready?”

“Ready for what?” I asked, trying very hard to multitask. It was confusing, trying to give out the right food to the right people and trying to make sure they paid too. It was like selling bananas to hungry monkeys.

“You know: our plan!” she said from the corner of her mouth. A group of buys were huddled together in front of her table ogling at her … muffins that she were holding in front of her chest. Um, that sounded wrong. They were now ogling at her croissants …

I knew I was making things worse, so I decided to ignore that thought.

I shrugged at her. “What should I do then? It looks like we’re gonna need all hands on deck over here,” I said, indicating the never ending crowds of students in front of us. They were roaring now and had begun chanting the word ‘cookies’ over and over again.

“You and Yuki should go,” Nicole said. “Leave the bake sale to us.”

I was about to ask if Michael could go with me instead, but that would be a little childish and kind of selfish, so I just nodded at Nicole. I washed my hands before trying to find Yuki amongst the rambunctious crowd. After an entire minute of restless searching, I found her at the corner of the cafeteria, stacking a few containers of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the ground.

“Oh, hey Ryan,” she said as I neared her. “Did Nicole tell you to come get me?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “So, what should we do now?”

Yuki reached into her pocket and retrieved the small, flat, circular devices. “We need to attach these to the underside of their cars or in their trunks, if possible. Jeffry showed me where to place them.”

She handed me one of them and I stared at the thing in my hands. Were we seriously going to go through with this plan? “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“It’s our only shot to figure things out,” Yuki said. “We’re gonna need to get these devices off the vehicles again once we’re done with them if we’re gonna avoid getting tracked or anything.”

“That’s another I’m confused about,” I told her. “How does the Gunner know where people are? It’s like he or she can track us or something.”

Yuki shook her head. “I don’t know about that either. Maybe Ned’s got something to do with that?”

I had almost forgotten about Ned Ross. Someone, who many suspected to be the murderer, had broken him out of the police station where he was being held about half a week ago.

I gave the device back to Yuki before following her out of the cafeteria. We passed the lockers down the hallway and we were about to head into the front lobby when we nearly bumped into Gary Reed, our school’s most notorious janitor.

I jumped back as quickly as I could to avoid tipping over the bucket of soapy water he was carrying. I could sense that Yuki stiffened slightly too when she saw him and we both took tiny step backwards. I was panicking a little inside so I avoided making direct eye contact with him.

His moustache bristled for a while – I could see it from the edge of my vision. “What are you two doing here?” he asked us, his voice deep and booming.

“We were just trying to go get something from the storage room,” Yuki responded. She sounded very brave in front of him, whereas everyone else, bar Principal Gladys, would have been scared shitless when the Janitor talked to them.

“The storage room’s locked,” he told us and I shivered as I could feel his hot breath hit me, even when he was standing quite away from us. “I have the keys. What do you need? I can help you.”

I shuffled around to face Yuki. “Um, we need, uh, some …” I began unsurely.

“We need lots of new napkins, washing solution, and a few extra plastic containers for the bake sale,” Yuki continued quickly.

All I did was to turn back, face the Janitor with a forced smile on my face and nod. “Yeah, what she said,” I said in a low voice.

“Come with me, we’ll find some in the storage,” he replied monotonously. His wrinkly, spotty skin on his face didn’t move at all when he spoke, like he was a robot or something. That made him even more creepier, at least to me.

Well, I wasn’t sure at all what to do. I looked at Yuki and she just furrowed her brows at me and gestured for me to just follow her lead, so I did just that. I tried to keep my distance away from the Janitor as we walked towards the storage room, which was situated near the back of the school building. To get there, we had to cross a short outdoor path, past the science labs, which were separated from the main building, and along the edge of the multipurpose field.

There was an awkward, hair-raising silence between the three of us and I couldn’t help thinking, at the back of my head, that maybe he was leading us to a secluded place so he can take a gun out and murder us. I tried to calm myself, taking deeper breaths. I did subtly, though, so as to not alert Yuki or the Janitor. When we got to the storage shed, he took his time to select the right key from a chain of hundreds. He failed several times, but after a few more tries, he got the right key. The dusty, rusty old door opened with a loud creak and it was painful just to look at it open up.

Gary switched on the lights and let us in. “You’ll find the napkins and the washing solution in the daily use section. I’ll get the plastic containers for you.”

He left us alone while he made his way somewhere amongst the walls of cardboard boxes and odd things. The storage room was pretty large – it was used to store all sorts of things, ranging from tissue rolls, sports equipment and lost and found clothing. Yuki dragged me over towards the napkins and busied herself.

“Well, there goes our plan,” I muttered under my breath.

Yuki had heard me. “We can think of a way later on,” Yuki said. “Just follow my lead. We can sneak past him when we’re done with all this.”

As I helped her gather the bottles of washing solution, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of dread in this place. The very atmosphere felt sinister to me. It was like I knew something evil had happened here, right here in this storage room. I quickened my pace, trying to push the creeping feeling to the back of my mind.

“You think he could be the murderer?” I asked, unable to help myself.

“Shut up, Ryan,” Yuki whispered back urgently. “He might hear us.”

Fortunately, I didn’t say anything else because he popped up behind us a few seconds later.

“Got everything you need?” he asked us, carrying the empty plastic containers.

“Yes, thank you for helping us,” Yuki said, before I could say anything. “We should be heading back now. Right, Ryan?”

“Huh, what?” I mumbled and she nudged me painfully in the ribs with an elbow. “Ow! Um, yeah, we should be getting back. Uh, Nicole’s waiting for the napkins, after all.”


Wednesday, Mac Worthington High School, 09:57

Predictably, Nicole was gaping at us in confusion when we returned with excessive amounts of tissues and washing solution, all stuffed in the oversized plastic containers.

“What happened now?” she asked, rolling her eyes.

“The Janitor caught us,” Yuki explained. “We had to think of an excuse or something. It’ll be hard to get to his truck, since he parks it in the main parking lot in front of the lobby.”

Anna passed by us, trying to shoo away pesky muffin addicts, and chimed in, “I saw the Sheriff parking her police car by the side entrance. I’m not sure where she is right now, though.”

“Go! If you can, get the Sheriff to come here and try our cookies or something,” Nicole told us.

I hadn’t seen Michael at all today and I kind of missed him, but I guess I’d be seeing him soon enough. Think of your priorities, Ryan! I think I saw the top of his brown hair somewhere, but Yuki was walking faster and faster and I had to catch up with her or risk losing her forever in the frothing, stormy waves of the ocean of people that was the cafeteria.

I rarely used the side entrance, as that part of the school building didn’t have any of the classrooms of the subjects that I took. I knew Yuki took history and geography around the area, so she’d be more familiar with the place than I’d ever be.

“Are you sure we’re gonna be okay?” I asked, suddenly remembering something. “Didn’t the Sheriff put the school under video surveillance?”

“We’re way ahead of you, Ryan,” Yuki said confidently. “Jeffry managed to rewire a few of the cameras at key outdoor locations. The Sheriff won’t know a thing, but we need to be fast. There might be more police.”

“This is a really bad idea,” I whined, but I followed Yuki anyway.

We came out of the school from the side entrance. There was a small road in front of it that led, on the right side, to the school’s main parking area. To its left side, we could see the school’s multipurpose field and the storage shed, now tiny in the distance. We had travelled all the way around the school grounds.

I still couldn’t help feeling that somebody, someone was watching our every move. I couldn’t do anything about it, so I stayed close to Yuki. If anything happened to me, at least I wouldn’t be alone, I guess.

Yuki paused when she got to the asphalt and looked to the right, and then to the left, making sure no one was on guard. There was a police officer at the end of the road, on the bend leading to the main parking lot, but he had his back turned to us at that moment.

“I think that’s the Sheriff’s car,” Yuki said in a low voice, pointing at a car parked at the side of the school building. It looked no different than any other ordinary police car, but I didn’t question Yuki’s judgment. Her father was a police officer, after all.

“So … what exactly should we do with those things?” I asked.

“Leave it to me,” Yuki said. “Just warn me or something if someone’s nearby. I’ll be back in a sec.”

Yuki disappeared in a blur while I stepped back inside the school building. Ten seconds had barely passed when I began to get restless and nervous. My eyes flickered over towards the police officer in the distance, who still had his back to us. I checked my watch. Twenty seconds … thirty seconds … Yuki was taking a lot longer than expected. I leaned against the wall, trying to make myself look like I was waiting for someone or something. Anything to not make me look suspicious.

Finally, Yuki popped up from behind the police car. She paused for a second, took another look around and then ran quietly back inside the building.

“Okay, done!” Yuki said. “We need to get to Gary’s now–”

She stopped abruptly, looked over my shoulder and gave a strange, forced smile. I lifted my hands up in confusion. “What?” I asked.

I jumped when I heard a voice behind me. “Hi you two. What are you two doing away from the bake sale?”

It was the Sheriff, all scary in her police uniform. I spun around in a panic, my heart pounding in my chest. How long had she been there?

“Oh, nothing much,” Yuki mumbled quickly.

“I hope there’s nothing going on between the two of you,” the Sheriff said, frowning at us. “I wouldn’t want Dr. Hill to know his son was being cheated on.”

The blood disappeared from my face. I must have been getting paler and paler already. “W-what?” was all I could say.

The Sheriff grimaced at me. “Er, Ryan dear, I was just joking.”

“Um, h-how did you know about Michael and me?” I asked, my mouth dry.

“Oh, you know,” the Sheriff said, smiling at me. “From around. It’s not like it’s a secret, Ryan.”

She chuckled and then I felt like fainting. How many people had already known about the two of us? What was I gonna tell him? I wasn’t exactly ready to come out to my own family, let alone the whole town.

“We were just talking, really,” Yuki said. “Um, Sheriff, have you bought something from the bake sale?”

“I just left there,” Sheriff Elise replied. “Now, off you go back there. It’d make my job easier if everyone was in the same place. It’ll be easier to watch you all.”


Wednesday, Mac Worthington High School, 10:09

Anna was staring at me. “Ryan, you look really pale. Are you okay?”

“’m fine,” I lied. I was feeling exactly the opposite of ‘fine’.

“Maybe you should take a break,” she suggested.

“No, uh, I’m gonna be just fine,” I said. “Besides, you guys look like you’re gonna need all the help you can get. Maybe I’ll get a bite to eat.”

I looked around and spotted a box of muffins caked with dark blue icing. I had never seen them before, so I guess they had just been freshly baked. I bit into one and found the sweet and slightly savory taste quite intriguing.

I saw Yuki walking towards me, gesturing for me to follow her. Oh great, here we go again. I quickly finished off the rest of my muffin.

“You better go,” Anna said. “I’ll make sure the Sheriff doesn’t notice you two are gone.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled and followed Yuki out of the cafeteria.

Yuki led me towards the main lobby. Fortunately, we were lucky not to bump into the Janitor again, but now we had a new problem.

“His truck’s gone,” Yuki gasped. “I mean, it was there the last time we got here …”

“Where’d it go?” I asked, kind of stupidly.

“Oh, I’m sure it ran away,” Yuki said, rolling her eyes at me. “I think the Janitor might have left already.”

“Okay. Well, nothing we can do about that, right? Come on, let’s get back to the cafeteria–”

Yuki sighed and looked back at the parking lot. “Wait! I think it’s over there!”

She was pointing eagerly at a dirty old black pickup truck at the edge of the parking lot. That definitely looked like something Gary Reed would drive.

“But there’s a police officer,” I mentioned. Another policeman was waiting over by his car, parked right in the middle of the parking area. He seemed to be a lot more vigilant than the other officer we had encountered.

Yuki pointed at an imaginary path with her finger. “We can go along behind these cars, but we gotta move fast and stay crouched. If we go along the edge of the parking lot, we can still make it without being seen.”

I observed the path she had laid out. I supposed that if we were quick, the police guy would never notice us. But I was still uncomfortable with the whole plan and the consequences of getting caught.

Yuki caught me by surprise when she said, “Go, go, go!”

It took me two or three seconds to register what she had said into my brain and then I was breathlessly sprinting after her. We practically slid all the way down the stairs and behind the first car – and just in time, too, because I saw the police officer turn his head over to our direction.

We both crouched down behind the small sedan, trying not to make any loud noises. Fortunately, we were both kind of short and not too tall so we hid behind the small car pretty easily.

“One car down, about two dozen to go,” Yuki whispered, appearing to count the cars left until that black pickup truck.

I gave Yuki the reins, I guess. When it came to things like these, I was more of a follower than a leader. One by one, we crept closer to the pickup truck, somehow managing not to get seen by the police officer. Meanwhile, my doubt and confusion about the whole thing was growing. I wasn’t sure if what we were doing was the right thing and I knew that it was kind of ridiculous, yet at the same time, I wanted to find out, to get to the bottom of things since we were already so involved.

Before I could space out, Yuki, fortunately, snapped me back to reality.

“Ryan, watch out for me while I get the device attached,” Yuki told me.

I hadn’t realized we were already at our destination. The big, frightening pickup truck loomed over us as we crouched down in its large shadow. Yuki slid over to the side of the car and I didn’t know what she was doing. There was an odd smell coming out of the car – like a mix of herbs or something flowery. Or maybe it just smelled weird simply because it was a scary, freaky old man’s truck. I crawled over to the side of the car and poked my head out at the side. Good, the policeman had his back turned to us.

I was getting sweaty palms already due to the anxiety and the heat of the day was getting worse, especially so because we were out in an open area. Come on, Yuki, hurry up!

Finally, after what seemed like ages, she reappeared beside me.

“Great, we’re all done,” she said, grinning at me.

We went in reverse, this time. I was surprised to find the path back to the school quite easy – it was almost too easy. That fact kind of made me a tiny bit frightened. I mean, if we could avoid being spotted by the police, I’m pretty sure a serial killer could do better than we could.

When we got back inside the main lobby, safe and sound, we both breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Why did we get all the hard work?” I complained.

“Hey, you didn’t really do anything,” Yuki said.

“Next time, don’t bring me along then,” I told her, pouting.

“Chill man,” Yuki laughed. “Thanks for coming along with me. We should get back before the Sheriff notices we’re missing.”


Wednesday, Mac Worthington High School, 10:26

“It took you long enough!” Nicole said, waving her arms around frantically. “I can’t believe Jeffry gave out free cookies to his Photography Club! Ugh, that bastard!”

“He gave the cheerleaders free cakes too,” Anna piped in. “Er, Nicole, what are you gonna do with these strange blue muffins?”

I looked over to Anna’s direction, where she was pointing at the box of muffins with blue icing I had eaten earlier.

“Oh, you mean those aphrodisiac muffins? Pass them over here, please.”

Aphrodisiac muffins? I seriously hoped that it was just a stylistic name or something.

“Where’s Michael?” I asked, to no one in particular.

“Oh, he’s right over there,” Nicole replied lazily, tilting her head over to the side.

Michael was by refrigerated cakes section, smiling at a group of girls who had bought some of our sandwiches. Well, I kind of felt jealous. I wanted him to smile at me, too! He looked very fine today in a simple black T-shirt and jeans, his soft brown hair all spiky today. He noticed me walking up towards him before I could say something to him. He waved and gave me his lopsided grin, that grin that showed the top row of his milky white teeth.

And you know what? He was the best thing I had seen all the day.

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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GAH. Now I really really want to find out who the real killer is. I need new chapters like ASAP! :P


I was like 'aww!' when I read the last few lines. I think Ryan is head over heels for Michael haha

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