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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 - 17. Chapter 17 - Past Secrets

Ryan doesn't exactly find new leads, but Friday is coming and the Dim Sum Club needs to act quickly before another innocent student is murdered ...

Chapter 17 – Past Secrets

Monday, Mac Worthington High School, 07:45

I hadn’t been able to contact Michael during the weekend. He never picked up his phone and I didn’t have the number to his house, silly me. I figured he didn’t check his e-mails very often so I didn’t even try that. I was a bit worried that something had happened. Anna, who was sitting patiently in the passenger seat, seemed to notice my worry, but she didn’t say anything about it.

The both of us left for our respective classes, but I knew Anna would still be curious as to why I was so quiet. I hadn’t said a word to her all morning. Well, she was better off if she didn’t have to worry about me anyway. I had English for first period, but I knew we’d mostly be on our own studying for the upcoming exams. Why did the peak of this chain of murders have to occur during our examination period? It was cruel. How could we concentrate?

And talking about those murders … word of Gary’s death had spread fast. The details were ambiguous at most, but all the stories agreed on one thing: he had been murdered. A shot to the head, to the neck or elsewhere, but a gun was the murder weapon. I had some trouble believing that our little town could be the target of such malicious activity, but I dragged myself through the classes today, robotic and lifeless.


Monday, Mac Worthington High School, 12:13

I found out that Michael had called in sick from Yuki. We were sitting in the cafe eating our lunch quietly when I had to voice out my worries.

“I wonder where Michael is,” I muttered.

“He called in sick today,” Yuki told me, sipping at her glass of juice. “I’m not sure what’s happened with him.”

I stayed silent for a while, suddenly remembering the text I had received from Bill last week. I had already sent the news to Victoria and I had forgotten to tell my fellow Dim Summers.

“Yuki, I got a new text message from Bill last week,” I said.

Yuki nearly choked on her drink. “W-what?” she gasped. “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”

I ducked my head, feeling sheepish. “I forgot. Here.”

I took out my phone and showed her the message. Yuki went to work quickly, forwarding it to her number. In seconds, there was an audible bleep nearby, and then she fished out her phone from her bag.

“So, who do you think the last victim is?” Yuki asked.

“Last victim?”

“It says here ‘grand finale’,” Yuki pointed out. “If that doesn’t mean that it’s the Gunner’s last murder, I don’t know what does.”

I suddenly had sinking feeling in my stomach. “This is getting out of hand. We need to call the cops.”

Yuki glared at me and I withdrew into myself, feeling guilty. I was chickening out again.

“I’m risking major grounding and worse by helping you guys out, you know,” Yuki reprimanded me. “Besides, it’s not like we’re gonna go catch the bad guy directly. We’re just gonna get information, that’s all.”

I still was unsure about the whole mess we were getting ourselves into. What Yuki said seemed to be a weak justification for our actions. How far were we going to take ‘getting information’ to? My mind began to wander off, about the scope of the danger we were really in, finally focusing back onto Michael for some reason.

“I think I’ll go see Michael after school.”

“Sure, no one’s stopping you,” Yuki said.

I tried to finish my lunch quickly because I didn’t feel like talking much anymore. Artie passed by us and quickly said in a low voice, “Got your message.”

I spotted Jeffry at the other end of the cafeteria, who gave Yuki and me a ‘thumbs up’. Automatically, I tried looking around for Nicole, but she was nowhere to be seen. That struck me as odd. I turned back to Yuki.

“Have you seen Nicole?”

“First, Michael, now Nicole,” Yuki laughed, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, I haven’t seen her all day. Maybe she’s called in sick too.”


Monday, Mac Worthington High School, 14:45

I was eager to get the day done and over with and avoid school work, so I quickly headed to my locker to pack up my bag. I had to make sure Michael was all right because he had been acting weird on Friday last week. And then I got a call from Victoria.

“What is it?” I said, rushing.

“I need to talk to you. Come to the Voodoo Club room as soon as possible,” she said, in her usual gloomy voice. I wondered if she could ever talk with a different tone.

I rolled my eyes (I had a feeling Victoria could somehow see me doing that, even over the phone). “Is it important?”

I heard Victoria sigh. “If it wasn’t important, I wouldn’t be calling you. Now hurry. It won’t take long.”

She hung up before I could complain and make some random excuse. I could have just ignored her completely, but me being oh so altruistic I decided to cater to her needs. Maybe I’d just talk to her for a minute or two before going.

On the way to the Voodoo Club’s room, I passed by the Principal’s office. Through the small window on its side, I caught a glimpse of a familiar-looking figure. It was the Sheriff, looking very serious as she talked with Principal Gladys. I suppose it had something to do with the most recent murder. I didn’t want to get involved with the police again, because I don’t know how far my mom’s wrath could be taken.

As I quickened my pace, I swore I saw the Sheriff took a glance at me as I passed by the window. That was kind of creepy. Did she know how much I knew? Did she know about the text messages?

The questions kept repeating themselves inside my head, a constant buzzing of distraction which also made me collide with some poor junior carrying a giant pile of textbooks.

The door to the Voodoo Club’s room was ajar and the strong scent of incense nearly overwhelmed me, even when I wasn’t even close to it. It was dark inside, as usual, but I could see Victoria’s figure slightly hunched over a table, rummaging with something. Just to be polite, I knocked on the door before entering.

Victoria straightened up and turned around to look at me. “Good, you’re here.”

“Make it fast, I gotta go somewhere,” I told her.

She nodded at me. “I think I may know where Ned Ross is.”

I raised my eyebrow at her, and then it hit me. “Wait … what? Are you serious?”

“I went to the police station yesterday and tracked the trails of his spiritual essence,” she said. “That and I managed to contact Mr. Waugh on the weekends.”

“I’m not gonna ask how you managed to contact him,” I said, “but why would he even want to help? I thought he said we shouldn’t get involved or something. And I sort of agree with him, by the way.”

Victoria sighed. “It doesn’t matter. Anyway, since Ned is most likely an accomplice, if we can track him, we can find out where the Gunner’s hideout is, or where we can find them.”

“Okay, that’s good and all. But don’t you think this is getting a little out of hand?” I told her. “I mean, isn’t it dangerous? We’d need to tell the police.”

“Maybe we’ll have to, but I’d rather avoid that for as long as possible,” Victoria said sulkily.

“Can I leave now?” I asked.

Victoria held up a finger. “Wait,” she said. She grabbed an envelope from on top of the table behind her, spun around and handed it to me.

I took the brown envelope and stared at it. “What’s inside?”

“Anthrax,” Victoria replied.

“That’s not funny,” I said, narrowing my eyes at her.

She gave me a cold smirk. “It’s a page from an old issue of the daily paper,” she explained. “You might find the article interesting. I dug it out from the school’s archives, so make sure you return it to me once you’re done reading it.”

“What’s the article about?” Of course, I had to ask the question.

“Just read it later,” Victoria instructed. “Don’t show it to anyone. It’s only for you to read.”


Monday, the Hill residence, 15:32

I told Anna to go home with one of her friends instead. I felt bad for doing so, but Anna didn’t seem to mind. I made a mental note to repay her somehow, even though I knew she was nonchalant about it.

As I stopped in front of the gate to his house, I sighed in relief. Through the fence, I could see Michael, dressed in a black sleeveless shirt and short black gym shorts, sitting on the porch looking a bit bored. He seemed to be fine. I wondered why he didn’t go to school today. He looked up when he saw my car and quickly went inside the house. Seconds later, the gate slowly slid open with a gentle, steady hum.

He looked surprised to see me. When I had switched off the engine and got out of the car, the first thing that he said was:

“What are you doing here, buddy?” His voice was a bit deeper, with a bit of a crack. Maybe he had a sore throat.

“Just wanted to check up on you,” I said. “You okay?”

He nodded. “Yeah. Sort of. Got the flu and a headache, that’s all.”

I followed him inside the house and I remembered to take off my shoes this time. Michael’s gait was a bit weak, I noticed. So I told him to get some rest.

“Maybe I will,” Michael mumbled. “What are you gonna do?”

“I got here, might as well stay for a bit,” I said, shrugging. “Do you need anything?”

He shook his head at me and sniffed loudly. “No, I’m all right,” he said. There were faint dark pouches forming underneath his eyes. “Make yourself at home.”

And with that, he stumbled up the stairs to his room. I even heard him collapse on top of his bed. I set my bag down at the couch and strode over to the kitchen. His dad wasn’t at home, although I had expected that. I tugged open the refrigerator and then a strong, sweet smell nearly overwhelmed me. Inside, there was a pile of clear plastic boxes all containing ripe, fresh strawberries. That was interesting – I guess Michael liked his strawberries. Or maybe his dad did. Well, that was a handy bit of information either way, though. Who knows, I could win some favors with a single box of fruit …

There wasn’t anything interesting in the fridge other than the strawberries. I didn’t see a soft drink in sight, although I spotted two bottles of beer. It didn’t feel right taking something, so I just got myself a glass of water instead.

After I had downed the drink, I proceeded to the living room and sat down on the couch, not really knowing what to do. I just sat there, thinking about useless things for about five minutes before I remembered the envelope that Victoria had given to me. I procured it from my bag and gently pried it open. I reached into it with my hand and carefully took out the thin, grainy paper folded snugly into the envelope.

It was really old, that I could tell at first glance. The paper was yellowing and some of the text printed on it had faded. It was a piece of a newspaper, obviously. I unfolded it, curious as to why Victoria would think it’d be important for me. It was a large advertisement about some brand of shoes, women’s shoes from the looks of it. I amused myself reading the corny slogans for a little while and then wondered why Victoria had given this to me.

And then I felt really stupid as I flipped the newspaper over to the other side.

The headline seemed to have disappeared or it had been cut out, since the paper was a bit smaller than I had expected. There were also the telltale frayed edges that indicated that it had been ripped out rather neatly. There was a photo of a pretty looking girl, with long, quaint hair. I couldn’t tell what color her hair was. I read the small caption next to it:

Melissa Worthington (left), a sophomore at Mac Worthington High School, was accidentally shot in the chest early yesterday morning. Investigators currently do not know how the students acquired the firearm …

Just like that, I felt sorry for the Sheriff all of a sudden. It must have been terrible to have lost your sister in that single instant. What if that happened to me? What if that happened to Anna or Michael? No … I didn’t even want to think about it.

The rest of the article detailed the case, but other than that, I didn’t need any more information. Why had Victoria given this to me? It was an interesting case, definitely, but I wondered why she said it was so important. And there was another question that had been bugging me. How did the school cover it up so well? How come I hadn’t even heard of the case? Well, knowing the Sheriff, she must have done all she could to stop the news from spreading …

My curiosity began to flare and I knew I had to douse it before it got me doing things I’d regret. Maybe I should leave this case be – we were doing pretty fine without knowing about it anyway. I folded it as neatly as I could and slipped it back inside the envelope. Michael was quiet upstairs – had he fallen asleep? I decided to check up on him before I left. Before I went upstairs, I filled up a glass of water for him. He sounded like he needed some water.

He was lying on his bed, the blanket strewn across half of his body, his eyes watery and staring up at the ceiling. The room was quite dark, despite the sunshine outside beaming in through the thin curtains. The room smelled like him, like Michael. I sat down next to him, wondering whether he had noticed me at all.

“Hey buddy,” he said, his voice slightly hoarse. His eyes set themselves on me.

“Drink,” I said, showing him the glass of water in my hand. “Come on, sit up.”

He did as he was told and then I handed him the glass. He drank quickly, and in about three seconds, the glass was empty and standing on the bedside table. He sat up against the wall and I curled up next to him, putting an arm around his shoulders.

“Took some medicine yet?” I asked.

“I’ll be fine,” he replied quietly. “Don’t you have to get back home?”

I laughed a little. “You want me to go away?”

He looked up at me and shook his head. “No.”

There was something to his simple answer that puzzled me. Something big was weighing him down, that I could tell. I wanted to know what was on his mind, because I had no idea what it could be, but it didn’t seem like he wanted to share anytime soon.

So I ran a hand slowly through his brown hair gently, and I could feel him tingle a little when my fingers came into contact with his skin. I kept repeating and he seemed to like it.

“Keep doing that,” he muttered, almost dreamily.

After a while, his breathing became more even and then it took me about another minute to realize that he had fallen asleep.


Tuesday, Mac Worthington High School, 10:03

Michael had texted me earlier in the morning that he wouldn’t be coming in to school again today. That was fine with me – at least I knew his whereabouts. What was strange was that Nicole wasn’t around again and no one, not even Victoria, knew where she was. My personal hope was that she was simply sick, like maybe Michael passed a cold to her sometime last week or something, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit of unease.

“It’s strange of her not to contact us at all, though,” I remarked to Yuki as we walked to our lockers.

“I’m sure she has her own reasons,” Yuki replied. “Anyway, I need to tell you something. You know about the newest text? Jeffry and I think we know who might be the Gunner’s next victim.”

“Who?” I asked. I was starting to dread figuring out these messages.

“Jeffry reckons it’s Linda, from the school choir.”

I nodded, beginning to see the connection. “Yeah, I think I’ll agree with you. Should we tell her or—”

“That’d freak her out,” Yuki sighed. “We’ll just have to do what we’ve been doing all this time. We need to keep an eye on her. Jeffry planned to keep using the GPS tracking system, but we don’t have any more of those small devices.”

“Okay. So what about place?”

“Artie thinks that it could refer to Spring Park,” Yuki said. “The local legend says that on some days, the swans that migrate there can appear green.”

I recognized the relationship between the word ‘sing’, ‘swan song’ and ‘green feathers’. It made good sense to me. And it’d probably happen on …

“Friday,” I said.

Yuki nodded. “Yeah. This Friday. And we have our final exams in like two weeks.”

Examinations were the last things on my mind at that moment. We parted once we got to our own respective lockers. While I was quickly gathering my books, a figure passing by behind me caught my attention. I observed her carefully from the corner of my eye. It was Linda, red haired and looking cheerful, chatting away with her friends. Why would someone target someone as innocent and as sweet as her? How could they even think of it in the first place?

And at that moment, I knew what I ought to do. I’ll do anything to keep her from dying. I had had enough of people dying all around us, while we were powerless to stop the murders. Not this time though – this time we were equipped with knowledge. I knew the risks, I knew the dangers, but I knew I should be helping out in any way I can.

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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I'm literally sitting on the edge of my seat with all this mystery. I'm like suspecting everybody and everything. Can you post faster?:)

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