My hat covered my hair and ears as I crawled from my window. The air was cool and the night hugged me tightly as I climbed out of my window. My breathing was silent, I worried that any sound would give me away. But once out of my neatly trimmed backyard I was more worried about my empty room. I shoved my worries away though.
I walked down the dimly lit street before crossing it to reach another neighborhood. The houses looked almost identical but varied in different ways like color or how cared for the yard was. I turned to the fifth house on the left. It was uniform in shape but the color was faded and the grass had patches of brown. I went around the back and pushed open the back gate.
“Lacy!” I called out into the yard in a quieter tone.
There I spotted a young ginger standing by an outdoor table and chair. She hadn’t heard me approach or my call. On the table there was a towel, some hair clippers, and a pair of scissors. I cautiously made my way around the flood light sensor and moved towards her.
“Joey!” said the girl smiling when she finally noticed me. She hugged me with that large grin that she always gave me after not seeing me for a while.
“I can’t believe you! You’re late!” She exclaimed. I could only smile and nod at her, she quickly sat me down and wrapped the towel around me.
“Oh, I’m so excited!” her tone was hushed and I was nervous.
She waved a hand in front of the flood light sensor and I flinched as it came on. I was very nervous. Soon she was tugging and snipping away at my brown hair. Lacy was an average sized girl, with nice curves in her body, her blue eyes always bright but calculating at times. Her round glasses, like little perfect glowing circles, made her eyes look much bigger than they already were. She always cut my hair because my parents hated having to take me somewhere and pay someone to “chop off my beauty.” They were over dramatic and cheap.
But that was okay, I didn’t need much to be happy. I actually quite liked my hand-me down clothes because of how soft and worn they felt. I watched my brown hair fall to the ground in the beam of that high powered security light.
“Stop flinching!” She ordered. I was her rag doll truly; we’d known each other for years. I did my best to comply but it was impossible. After what seemed like an eternity she took the towel away and ran a hand through my hair.
“Done!” She proclaimed holding out a mirror. My hair was very-very short now. She might as well had taken a razor and shaved me. It was a change from my long braided brown hair that I had hated dearly.
“Wow, you really chopped it off” I breathed and she grinned. She’d cut my hair before though never to this extent. “Why thank you I have to say it’s my best work yet” She laughed. I stood saying a small goodbye. She asked me to stay but I insisted on leaving and getting some sleep.
“Be careful, and I’ll see you at school tomorrow” she said and I nodded back to her.
I didn’t want to think of school in the slightest. No not at all, because senior year was here and I knew I would be put into some god forsaken class instead of having a free period. I got back home without trouble and climbed back into my room. I didn’t bother to change my clothing and plopped down onto my bed. I tried my best to get some sleep but the thought of school kept me up. The sound of my alarm came all too soon and I hit snooze. Only when my mother came to wake me did I pull myself from bed. She cursed at me for cutting my hair, but I was turning 18 in a week.
So what did it matter? It was senior year and I was just about done with school and everything else. I was planning on moving out sooner or later as well. I put on my jacket and drove to school. At least I had my own parking space. I arrived early as I always had in previous years and sat. Lacey arrived shortly after and then came the rest. Classes went by rather quickly, Forensics, Human Anatomy, Journalism, Astronomy, then of course lunch, engineering, Latin, and suddenly I was in my seventh period. It was a crime class that took up an empty spot in my schedule. Criminal Analysis is what it was called. I walked to the class and sat in the seat that was pre-assigned to me. There were various diagrams on the walls and posters. I sat reading Edgar Allen Poe for my summer reading assignment. Of course I hadn’t even started, even though Poe was an easy read for me. As his words fell into a beat so did my thoughts. It put me into an eerie calm. I glanced around to see that there were a few students but the class wasn’t overly filled. I looked up towards the door where my new teacher stood to see a boy speaking to her. He was very tall, with pale white skin, and a jet black Mohawk. He had small gauges shaped like video discs in his ears.
Do I want him to sit next to me or do I want nothing to do with him?
I pondered the thought of this odd character that stood in the doorway. He sat two rows ahead of me and I didn’t care anymore. The thought of him was gone and so was the beat of the words that Poe had left in my head. I was the alone at the two person desk and I watched as the teacher looked at the class. Her face was troubled and her brows furrowed at her clipboard “Joey Zahans?” she called. I looked up and raised my hand slowly to show where I was. “Yes?” I called back confused. “Come sit up here next to, uh, Daniel. I accidentally didn’t give either of you table partners” she said in an apologetic tone that I didn’t quite believe. The thought was back but the beat was not. I wiggled unhappily and gathered my things awkwardly as I felt like the whole class looking at me. I stalked forward feeling uneasy about being the only one standing and sat ,what felt like, uncomfortably close to the boy. I glanced at him to see his freckles, bright sky blue eyes, and a nose ring. He wore a heavy coat and scarf, I was somewhat confused by this but pushed it from my mind. He nodded to me and I nodded back in a silent greeting. We watched as our teacher handed out textbooks as she spoke.
“Hello class I am Mrs. Hale, and I will be teaching you all about the magic of criminal analysis.We’ll be working jointly with the forensics class but this is not the same thing as forensics. Less science and more deductions,” she said as she began the syllabus lecture. she went on about what the class was and I went through the textbook when I received it, not really paying attention to what she was saying. I assumed it was all the same basic classroom rules. I was surprised at the amount of graphic photos that laid in wait inside the text book. It had everything in it. From fingerprint and blood spatter patterns to how to read a crime scene. Not including the chapter on interrogation. I was astonished. It was much like my forensics class text book but most of this book was on types of killing behaviors and their results. I had a feeling this class was much more than it appeared to be. Mrs. Hale called our attention to the front.
“Now to the good part, each year we have a contest. There are citizens, Detectives, prosecutors and 3 murderers. You all will draw slips from the bucket with codes on it. Go to this website,” she pointed to the board “and type in your code for your character.” She came around with a brightly colored Easter bucket. I smiled at it; Mr. Hale was a spritely older woman who dressed in bright floral sun dresses. She wore her hair back behind her ears and her grey eyes were lively and happy. I glanced at the boy next to me to see hope in his eyes. She went down the rows and we of course each got a slip with a number on it.
“Murderers must email me, they must create a crime scene, tell me who you wish to kill, and write up a story of how it was done. More information will be given later” She smiled and I nodded and was eager to see my character. Much of the class was already buzzing with murmurs and hopes. Daniel could not wait either, I could tell, he thumbed at his paper and twisted at it. I smirked a bit at the action. Mrs. Hale continued to introduce us to the class until the bell rang. Everyone rushed out and Mrs. Hale called “See you tomorrow! Let the game begin!”
I quickly exited hoping to get to my bike before traffic got bad only to hear a rough scratchy voice call after me.
“Hey Wait!” I turned to see Daniel holding out my copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s complete collection. He had a small sympathetic smile displayed on his thin pale lips.
“Oh thanks I almost forgot!” I said taking my book. He towered over me. I was 5’7’’ but he surpassed me by at least half a foot. Neither of us had words so I stuck out my hand in a mechanical action out of habit and politeness “I’m Joey.” I managed to choke out my name with some ease.
He smiled and shook it lightly looking as if he was afraid to break me. “Daniel” he said with a smile releasing my hand. There was a silence and he shouldered his bag. “So I’ll see to tomorrow then” he began. I nodded stepping away feeling almost consumed by his shadow.
“Yeah see you tomorrow” I replied. We parted quickly and I pushed him from my mind.
When I returned home I got a lashing for my haircut from my father who hadn’t seen it. Though he then confessed to liking it soon after. After shuffling through my bag I found the paper I had drawn from the bucket in Mrs. Hale’s class. I grabbed out my old clunky laptop out from under my bed and found my way to the website and entered in the number.
Congratulations!!! You are one of the 3 Murderers!
You’re the third of course! The best and most interesting for the last. You’re a crooked cop who loves to catch and kill his criminal meat. Maybe even have them for dinner before having them for dinner. You’re a cannibal; the other two killers are a serial killer and a religious extremist. Let’s see who makes it the farthest. Please email Mrs. Hale for more information.
I can’t lie. I was filled with joy with the result. I was excited, almost giddy at this small paragraph of words. I, of course, emailed Mrs. Hale informing her of the result, she typed back in a quick fashion that reflected her excitement. Upon receiving my guidelines and rules I quickly set to work. Planning the perfect way to kill, butcher, and cook a human without leaving a trace. I sat at my desk typing, writing, brainstorming,even doodling. I was almost finished when my mother called me for dinner. I begged for more time. I ate as I typed until it was finished. The perfect murder. I was so proud at how well I had written it that I posted it on an online website under the username ‘Cannibal Chou.’
I’d written the story as in the mindset of the murderer to really bring out and give the story something. I went as far as creating a character design and personality for him. Of course his name was Chou though I gave no last name. I was so pleased with myself. I set the date of when I was going to put up the fake crime scene and when the murder was going to happened. I emailed Mrs. Hale a detailed message of how I was going to get things together. I was happy that I could write something like that, something so real. I was glad that it wasn’t real though. My body shook in fear.
Oh no if that was real I would be so frightened, I would feel so guilty.
Though that was the beauty of being a writer, because nothing you write is real. Usually.
The next day I sat in seventh period thumbing through the textbook. I was startled by Daniel who plopped down next to me. I would never understand how such a large man could be so quiet and then suddenly so loud. He let out a breath as he set his bag down. He caught my eye and let out a smirk.
“Oh? Did I startle you?” he said almost pleased with himself. I shrugged it off and sighed going back to the textbook. He hummed lowly enough that the sound made me shiver.
“More or less” I replied with a hum, he eyed me for a moment and I glanced up at him, catching his gaze. He turned away almost embarrassed.
“So what’d you get?” He asked and I raised a brow for a second confused. Then realizing he was talking about our roles in the class.I let out as breathe.
“Oh I’m a detective” I replied putting down my text book. He nodded running a hand through his hair and subtly biting the inside of his lip as if he were thinking. “So what about you” I asked pulling my mind away for observing him.
“Same as here” he said taking out a notebook and scribbling down something. I watched him and his slow drawn out movements. He was quiet and his breathing drawn out, spaced. I would often check to see if he was breathing in fear that he would stop doing so at any moment. He seemed to be focused on what he was writing and I leaned over to see my name. A list of suspects going on and on organized by periods. I looked at the bottom of the page.
7th period suspects
Apparently he had asked no one else. It made me uneasy and I continued flipping through the highly graphic textbook. “What do you think of the textbook?” he asked. I let out a breath, straining for words like I was trying to describe something I’d never seen before. “Different? Strange? Graphic is the only word that’s for sure.” I was unsure of my words. My facial expression comical apparently from what I could tell from Daniel’s reaction. He laughed lightly and shook his head as he began flipping through his own textbook. “You’d think they’d sensor some of it” he sighed.
“Sensors are for the weak, Truth is for the courageous” I replied.
He looked at me confused. “Then what does that make us? Courageous?” He asked.
“Ignorant idiots, people who have courage are stupid, they make the risk decisions. They have their brilliant moments though” I replied. “That’s some deep thinking for a small girl,” he smirked “I didn’t think you’d say things like that.”
I smirked and flipped through the book and closed it.
“And that is exactly what I like to hear” I replied and the bell rang. There was a moment of silence as everyone sat. He looked at me,
“I don’t know if I’m insulted or if that was a compliment” he said smiling with the twinge of a laugh in his voice. I was pleased; we brought our attention to front as Mrs. Hale began class. She went through the basics and the first few pages of the textbook. She handed out permission slips for us to get signed in order for use to be part of set up crime scene. Daniel handed his back after signing it. I figured he was 18 just by his size but I hadn’t expected to be right. We didn’t speak to each other for the rest of class. Mrs. Hale said to take notes on the first two lessons and that of course wasn’t going to be hard. From there on things went slowly.
Days went by and so did class. Daniel and I slowly started to become friends . About a week after school started it was the day before my 18th birthday and only Lacey knew that. I hadn’t given it any thought at all. Not until Daniel and I were walking towards the parking lot. We joked about the day’s happenings when a voice called out to me and a warm body tackled me.
“Happy Birthday!” yelled Lacey as she ruffled my hair which earned a solid laugh from Daniel.
“My birthday is tomorrow Lacey not today” I groaned as I pried her off of me. She began to yammer on about how that shouldn’t matter until a car honked. “Oh! That’s my ride I’ll see you later and you’re giving me a ride tomorrow!” she proclaimed as she ran off to her car. I sighed nodding and waving her off.
“She your friend?” Daniel said smiling with a raised brow.
“I’ve known her since we were kids so I’d say more like a sister” I replied shouldering my bag. He was quiet for a moment “I’ll be sure to wish you a happy birthday tomorrow, unless you keep it on the down low.”
He looked at me for a moment. I panicked for a moment before calming myself.
“You can if you want just make sure no one really hears you” I replied smiling slightly with a half hearted laugh. He smiled and nodded “well I guess I’ll see you tomorrow Birthday Girl” He said making a face and I scoffed. I shook my head bidding him a goodbye. At home my body ached and my thoughts were on my science homework. I’d fallen into a routine quickly, so quickly that I hadn’t noticed. Slowly my crime class was becoming another class that I could breeze through. That’s at least what I thought about it. I thought about Daniel and how he had teased me and I quietly plotted my revenge. Maybe by picking him off during the game but I quickly decided against such a decision. He of course was the one I should worry most about but if I kept him under my thumb and lead him away from my true intentions I could win and still have some fun. I wanted to win no doubt about it and I was going to. I continued to work before falling asleep at my desk and when I awoke it was noon. My parents had thought that since it was my 18th birthday they wouldn’t wake me up. I panicked and quickly scrambled to school. I had missed a test in my engineering class and was thankful because it gave me more time to study. I walked into my seventh period tired from my running back and for scrambling for anything I had missed that day. I lay my head on my desk collapsing into a heap of hot sweaty teenager. I panted from sprinting across campus from my writing class. I felt eyes looking down at me and I slowly looked up to find Mrs. Hale looking down at me with a glint of fury in her eyes.
“You’re two minutes late Zahans.” She said and I looked around quickly to find everyone sitting looking at me. I felt so small, I felt so fragile and weak. Daniel cringed at me sharing in my embracement. I stumbled over my words as I dug into my pockets.
“Well I have a note, I’m sorry I just needed to pick something up” I shook as I handed her the crumpled note from my writing teacher. She sighed nodding turning back to the front and walking to her desk. Daniel patted my shoulder.
“Good job Joe, happy birthday” He said sighing going back to reading. I laid my head down for a moment before going to read. Happy birthday to me.