So… Is It Good?

A blog featuring the various writings of E. H. Lau.

Posts Tagged ‘Sheryl Holmes’

The Case of the Detective’s Death

Posted by cyberpfalcon on August 13, 2013

Chapter 1 – Death

Detective Watson lifted up the police tape and walked into Scarlet Investigations. He walked through the mess of papers, spilled drawers, and tumbled-over furniture that cluttered the floor. At the end of the ransacked room was a desk, where the medical examiner was looking over the body that was sitting in the chair.

Detective Watson addressed him, “Talk to me, doc.”

The medical examiner stood up and took off his gloves, “From my preliminary examination, the cause of death was most likely the gunshot wound to her head. No other signs of struggle.”

“So either she knew her killer, or she was caught by surprise,” Watson deduced. “Thanks, doc.”

The medical examiner gave the detective a curt nod and began to pack up.

Detective Watson walked over and began to examine Scarlet’s body for himself.

 
 
 
Chapter 2 – The Call

It had been four months since Detective Andrew Watson had spoken with Sheryl Holmes. The two had avoided each other ever since that argument that they had. Telling her that her friend had been murdered was definitely not a good way to start talking again.

Alas, he had a job to do, so he found Sheryl in his phone’s contacts list and dialled her number. Hopefully, Sheryl didn’t decide to ignore him using the wonders of caller ID.

Sheryl picked up, “Hello, Wat-”

She paused and corrected herself, “Hello, Andrew.”

“Hello, Sheryl, it’s been a while.”

“Yeah… So, what’s up?”

“Sheryl, we found Scarlet, dead, in her office.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

Finally, Sheryl managed to muster up a response, “I’m coming.”

 
 
 
Chapter 3 – Four Months

In the past four months, Sheryl had managed to build up a reputation for herself. In fact, alongside Marlowe and Scarlet, she was now one the of biggest private detectives in the city.

Sheryl had received a lot of cases in the past four months, most of which she solved successfully. On her cases, she would sometimes cross paths with Marlowe and Scarlet.

Being already friends, Marlowe and Sheryl got along well, helping each other with cases and even sometimes hanging out after work.

Scarlet was a bit harder to approach. Being the kind of detective that seduced and grifted, she was naturally suspicious of people, but over time, Scarlet and Sheryl managed to form what one would call a “friendly rivalry”. They would compete to see who was the better detective, but they would help each other when it was appropriate to do so. Over time, Sheryl saw that underneath all of Scarlet’s lies and deceptions, there was a layer of nobility and a sense of justice.

To Sheryl, Scarlet was her friend.

Sheryl carried these thoughts in her mind as she walked into Scarlet Investigations with a heavy heart. She headed towards the desk at the back end of the room where Marlowe and Detective Watson stood, with the body of Scarlet in the chair behind the desk.

 
 
 
Chapter 4 – Reunion

The three biggest private detectives of the city were gathered in the room, and one of them was dead.

As a favour to Sheryl and Marlowe, Detective Watson had delayed the medical examiner from bringing Scarlet’s body back to the morgue. After the two private detectives took a look and found nothing that Watson hadn’t already found, the medical examiner and his assistant put Scarlet into a body bag and carried her away.

Sheryl somberly looked at the body as it was carried out of her view.

Detective Watson turned to the two and asked them “Do you two know if she had any enemies who would do this?”

Sheryl sighed. Then she said, “Considering the way that she was blackmailing people… lots.”

Marlowe nodded.

Detective Watson looked at the two, wide-eyed. “She was blackmailing people?”

 
 
 
Chapter 5 – Extortion

“Alright, you two better tell me what she was doing,” Watson demanded.

“Well…, it wasn’t bad blackmailing…” Sheryl started.

Watson blinked a few times before asking, “Alright, what is good blackmailing then?”

“Well…,” Sheryl begin, “Once, Scarlet found out that one of her clients’ husband was cheating on her. The client decided not to confront her husband, for the sake of their kids. So Scarlet decided to blackmail the husband with the threat of revealing the affair to his wife.”

“How is that good blackmailing?” Watson asked.

“The money was going into an account that was in the client’s sister’s name. The money was for the client. Scarlet felt that their divorce would be inevitable, so she wanted to leave her client with some money in case of that event,” Sheryl answered.

“I… see,” Watson said, “Any other cases like that?”

“Well, there was also the one where she blackmailed the leader of a ring of drug dealers, so that one of the dealers could start his life over again.”

“Anymore?” Watson said.

“Lots more,” Marlowe answered, “In fact, there is going to be a lot of these deals that we don’t know anything about. I suggest we start looking for her files.”

“But the place was ransacked,” Watson said, “Wouldn’t whoever did it have taken all the files as well?”

“Knowing Scarlet,” Sheryl said, looking at the empty chair, “she probably kept a copy hidden away somewhere in the office.”

Watson sighed, “Alright, let’s start looking.”

 
 
 
Chapter 6 – The Search

Of course, the hard drive of the computer had been smashed to bits and, of course, there weren’t any case files that could be found in the mess of papers. However, that didn’t mean that they had searched everywhere in the office.

Sheryl, Watson, and Marlowe scoured through Scarlet’s office.

Looking over one of the bookcases, Sheryl noticed a hidden panel behind some of the books. She pulled back the panel, which revealed a safe.

“Hey, guys!” Sheryl called over the other two detectives, “I found a hidden safe!”

Watson and Marlowe came over to inspect Sheryl’s find.

“It looks like it hasn’t been touched, the perp might not have even noticed it,” Sheryl said, “Now…, what would be the combination for the lock?”

Sheryl looked around the room, and declared, “Alright, we’re going to have to search through Scarlet’s stuff for a clue to the combination lock!”

“That could take forever,” Marlowe said, “And since this is Scarlet that we’re talking about, she probably just used a random number. Do you agree, Watson?”

“Agreed,” Watson nodded, and then he took out his cellphone, “I think I have an easier solution to this.”

 
 
 
Chapter 7 – Cases

“Thanks, Gary,” Watson said to the safe-cracker.

Gary nodded and left.

The three detectives looked inside the safe and pulled out a huge stack of case files.

“Looks like this is going to take a while,” Watson said.

‘We’re going to be looking through Scarlet’s case files,’ Sheryl thought, ‘A fellow detective’s case files, filled with her notes, her thoughts, … her life.’

“Some of these are marked ‘Closed’,” Marlowe commented as he picked up such a file. He flipped through the file, “Oh, I see. In this one, the abusive husband that Scarlet was blackmailing was finally killed by the wife.”

The three spent a few hours looking through the case files, ruling out the ‘Closed’ case files, and some other opened ones. Finally, they were left with the two cases that Sheryl had mentioned before.

“Okay, we’ve ruled out every other case except for these two,” Watson said.

Sheryl took note of the cases and commented, “That’s… coincidental.”

“Alright,” Watson picked up the case files, “Let’s go see this leader of the ring of drug dealers first.”

 
 
 
Chapter 8 – Drugs

“Hello Byron,” Watson said as he entered the office, followed by Sheryl and Marlowe.

Byron swung around on his expensive leather chair. On both sides of the room stood two muscular men dressed in black. They just stood there, standing guard.

“Hello Detective Watson,” Byron lit up a cigar, “I thought you were in homicide now. Did you miss me and move back to narcotics?”

Watson grimaced, “I don’t think I will ever miss you.”

Byron chuckled and sarcastically said, “Even after all our run-ins?”

Watson ignored him, “I am here about the murder of a local private detective, known by the name of Scarlet.”

Byron raised an eyebrow and said, “Never heard of her.”

“You sure? I was informed that you had some…” Watson searched for the correct word, “dealings with her.”

“I’m sure.”

Sheryl started to speak, “You-”

Marlowe placed a hand on Sheryl’s shoulder. Sheryl turned to see Marlowe shaking his head, telling her to be quiet.

“Anything else, detective?” Byron asked in a mock polite tone.

“No, that’s all for now, thank you for your time,” Watson said.

Sarcastically, Byron said, “Of course, you’re always welcomed here, Detective Watson.”

Outside, Sheryl said, “He’s lying!”

“Of course he’s lying,” Watson said, “But we won’t get the truth out of him that easily.”

“We need to get to that drug dealer that Scarlet was helping. Now,” Marlowe said, “We just told Byron that he wouldn’t be blackmailed anymore.”

Watson took his phone out, “Nadir and Wong are probably closer, I’ll have them pick him up.”

 
 
 
Chapter 9 – Testification

Detective Katie Wong knocked on the door, while Detective Nadir stood next to her.

A man answered it. Upon looking at Detective Wong, he smirked and said, “And to what do I owe the pleasure of meeting such a fine woman?”

Katie smiled and ask in a cute tone, “Are you Simon White?”

“I sure am, but you can call me whatever you want.”

Katie’s expression changed into a stern one as she lifted up her badge and ID, “And you can call me Detective Wong.”

Simon backed up and held up his hands, “Woah, woah. Sorry, detective, I didn’t know.”

“And I’m Detective Nadir,” Nadir said, “Can we come in?”

“Sure, sure,” Simon said, gesturing to the inside of his house, “What’s this about?”

Nadir and Wong sat down on the sofa in the living room. Nadir started, “A local private detective, Scarlet, was murdered.”

Simon’s face turned into one of panic, “She’s dead?!”

“Yes,” said Wong, “And we learned that she was… helping you out?”

“Yeah… She was,” Simon said.

“Well, it’s over now, and we think you might be in danger,” Nadir said, “So I suggest that you come forward to the police with what information you may have on Byron Aquino.”

“No! No way!” Simon flipped out, “He’ll have me killed!”

Detective Wong leaned forward and placed a hand on Simon’s, “Look, Simon. The police can protect you, but we can only do that if you’re willing to cooperate. Who knows, if you help us, the DA and the judge might be willing to get you a lighter sentence and into the witness protection program.”

Simon calmed down. He stopped breathing so heavily and then looked into Katie’s eyes, “You’ll help me?”

“Yeah,” Katie replied with a smile.

 
 
 
Chapter 10 – Marriage

Detectives Watson, Sheryl, and Marlowe walked up to the Hannigans’ house.

“So this is the wife who is being cheated on, but refuses to confront her husband about it because of their kids?” Watson asked.

“Yeah,” Sheryl replied.

Detective Watson knocked on the door.

A tall man answered it, “Yes?”

“Are you Ivan Hannigan?” Watson asked.

“Yes, I am,” then, with an annoyed tone, Ivan asked, “And who are you?”

Watson took out his badge, “I am Detective Watson, and this is Sheryl and Marlowe. We have a few questions that we would like to ask you, may we come in?”

A voice from inside the house asked, “Who is it, Ivan?”

A hand reached for the door and pulled it open, revealing the owner of the voice. It was a woman with a black eye and bruises along her arms.

Concerned, Sheryl asked, “Ma’am, are you alright?”

“Of course, she’s alright, why wouldn’t she be?” Ivan snapped back aggressively.

“With all due respect, sir,” Watson said, “We’re asking her. Now, are you alright, ma’am?”

The woman looked at Ivan, who gave her a stern look back. Then, the woman answered, “Yes, I’m fine. If this is about the bruises, I just slipped and fell yesterday.”

Of course, Sheryl didn’t believe her, but one look told Sheryl that the woman wasn’t going to be truthful, not with Ivan around at least.

“Now,” Ivan was losing his patience, “What is this about?”

“Well, we are investigating the murder of a private detective who goes by the name of Scarlet. We understand that you have some… dealings with her?”

“I don’t know anyone by that name,” Ivan said, sternly, “How about you, Stella?”

The woman, Stella, looked up and stuttered, “N-No. Sorry, can’t help you there.”

Watson looked at the two, and decided that they wouldn’t speak with the other around, so he gave them both a card, “Okay, well, here’s my card. Please let me know if you think of anything.”

Ivan slammed the door before anyone had a chance to utter a polite goodbye.

 
 
 
Chapter 11 – Stakeout

Sheryl sat in the passenger seat of Marlowe’s car, looking out at the Hannigan household while Marlowe took a bite out of his sandwich.

“You think something will go down tonight, Holmes?” Marlowe asked.

“I’m not sure,” said Sheryl, “But neither of us bought that story about slipping and falling down the stairs. I’m nearly certain that he’s been abusing her.”

Sheryl tossed a piece of candy into her mouth, “Candy?”

“No thanks,” Marlowe took a sip from his soda.

The pair of detectives watched Ivan through his living room window as he read the newspaper.

Marlowe’s phone rang as they watched Stella walk into the living room as well. Marlowe quickly grabbed his phone and answered it with a, “Hello?”

“Marlowe, it’s Detective Watson.”

“Any news, detective?”

“The lab report came in. Scarlet was killed with a .45 caliber handgun. Other than that, nothing that we didn’t already know,” Watson reported, “How are things going with the stakeout?”

“Nothing so far, the wife just came downstairs after tucking their kids into bed. She’s in the living room with the husband right now.”

Inside the house, Stella said to her husband, “The kids are sleeping.”

Ivan grunted in response and nodded without looking up from his newspaper.

Hesitant, Stella continued, “I guess I will turn in as well.”

Ivan suddenly stood up. He gave Stella a stern look and said, “Enough, Stella. Where is my money?”

“W-What do you mean, honey?” Stella said nervously.

Ivan lost his temper. He slapped Stella across her face and yelled, “I know what you’ve been doing with that private detective! Don’t think that I don’t know that you two were in on it together! Give me back my money!”

Stella touched the bright red spot on her cheek and whimpered, “I- I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Don’t play dumb with me! That stupid Scarlet thought that she could get away with blackmailing me, but look at where that got her. She thought she could hide who she was, but I managed to track her down,” Suddenly, Ivan took out a gun, “And then I killed her. Now tell me where the money is!”

Stella was now in tears, “I- I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Outside, Marlowe and Sheryl watched the scene in shock.

Marlowe yelled into the phone, “Watson, he’s got a gun!”

On the other end, Watson sprung into action, “Go! We’ll be there as soon as we can!”

 
 
 
Chapter 12 – Gun

Ivan pointed his gun at Stella as Marlowe and Sheryl ran towards the house.

Marlowe stopped on the front lawn and took out his gun while Sheryl continued running towards the front door. Sheryl took out her tools and started picking the lock.

Marlowe steadied his aim and fired into the living room.

The bullet broke through the living room window and went through Ivan’s hand, causing him to drop the gun.

Ivan grabbed his hand and screamed in pain.

Sheryl picked open the front door and ran in. Quickly she grabbed the gun. Then, she walked over to Stella, who was whimpering on the floor with her knees against her chest and her hands covering her head. Quietly, Sheryl asked, “Are you alright?”

Marlowe walked in and pointed his gun at Ivan.

“Who do you think you are?!” Ivan roared.

“Stay down,” Marlowe yelled back.

Stella whimpered, “H-He killed Scarlet!”

Ivan, stunned at Stella taking a stand against him, stuttered, “S-She doesn’t know what she’s talking about!”

Calmly, Marlowe said, “We’ll know as soon as we take your gun in for testing.”

“Y-you can’t do that! You don’t have a warrant!”

The scene stayed still for several long moments, with Marlowe pointing his gun at Ivan, and Sheryl comforting Stella.

 
 
 
Chapter 13 – Sirens

Luckily, sirens broke the silence.

Soon after that, Detectives Watson, Wong, and Nadir walked in.

“Are you alright?” Katie Wong knelt down beside Sheryl and Stella.

“Yeah,” Sheryl responded, “But she seems to be in shock.”

Seeing Detective Watson, Ivan yelled, “Th-they barged into my house, detective! Arrest them!”

Detective Watson gave Ivan a glare, “Actually, there were several calls about a domestic disturbance here, so everyone here will have to come back to the station with me. Our team will collect what we need for evidence, like that gun.”

“B-But-” Ivan protested.

“Are you resisting, sir?” Nadir took out a set of handcuffs.

Ivan stopped and quieted down. Without much resistance, everyone got into the police cars and went to the police station.

 
 
 
Chapter 14 – Reconciliation

It was several days later, and Sheryl and Marlowe were at Watson’s desk.

“The test came back and it was definitely Ivan’s gun that killed Scarlet. Along with Stella’s testimony that she heard him confess that he killed Scarlet and the other evidence that we gathered placing him in the area during the time of the murder, the DA’s office is quite confident that they can get Ivan behind bars,” said Watson.

“That’s good,” Sheryl said, smiling, “Good job, team.”

“Yeah,” said Watson, smiling back.

It had been months, even years if one counted all the pent-up feelings of anger, since the two had been friendly with each other. And it felt good.

“Seeing you work, Andrew… Well, let’s just say that you’re definitely not Dr. Watson. You’re a good police detective,” said Sheryl

“T-Thank you,” Watson was taken aback by Sheryl’s words, “And for what it’s worth, Sheryl, you’re still not Sherlock Holmes, but you’re a good detective.”

“Thanks, Andrew,” said Sheryl.

In the background, Marlowe, Katie, and Nadir smiled as Sheryl and Andrew finally repaired their friendship.

 
 
 
Chapter 15 – Changing Goals

Sheryl was on the sofa in Marlowe’s office as she drank from her cup of coffee.

Across from her was Marlowe, drinking his own cup of coffee that he had brewed for them both with his vacuum coffee maker. “So, what brings you by, Holmes?”

Sheryl winced a little at the name, “I’ve been thinking, Marlowe. Maybe it’s time to face it. I’m not Sherlock Holmes.”

“No, you’re not,” Marlowe said as he sipped a bit of his coffee.

“And maybe I don’t want to be him anymore, even though he’s great,” Sheryl continued, “I think that, from now on, I just want to be a good private detective – on my own terms, and not trying to emulate a fictional character.”

“That’s good to hear,” Marlowe said, “I think that you’ll become a great detective, one with your own unique skills.”

“Well, I still have plenty to learn, so I hope you’ll keep helping me.”

“Of course I will, Holmes,” Marlowe replied.

Sheryl smiled and raised her cup, “And call me Sheryl. Cheers, Marlowe.”

Marlowe smiled back and raised his cup as well, “Cheers, Sheryl.”

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This story is part of the Sheryl Holmes’ 221B Baker Detective Agency series.
This is the last story in the series, I hope you’ve enjoyed it!
The logo was created by solidgaunt, please visit his amazing gallery!

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After-School Detectives – Graduation

Posted by cyberpfalcon on April 1, 2013

After-School Detectives LogoThis was it. The school year was over, and Sheryl, Samantha, and I were graduating from middle school. The graduation ceremony was over, and the After-School Detectives gathered in the clubroom.

“I’m going to miss you guys!” Katie said with tears in her eyes as she gave Sheryl a hug.

“Don’t cry, Katie, we live in the same area, so we can get together all the time,” Sheryl replied. Even as she said that though, her voice cracked a bit and she had tears in her eyes as well. “Promise you’ll keep the club going?”

Katie gave Sheryl a thumbs up, “Of course!”

Sheryl smiled and gave Katie a thumbs up as well.

“Hello there, After-School Detectives,” said a voice by the doorway.
I turned to see Marlowe, our ‘rival detective’, leaning against the door frame.

“So, that was a fun year,” he said, “Want to go for another round when we start high school?”

Samantha grinned at the thought, “Oh, that would be fun!”

I turned to Sheryl and asked her, “So, what do you think? Want to start another detective club at high school?”

Sheryl grinned and gave us all her thumbs up, “Of course! After all, we’re the After-School Detectives!”

Previous Story

This story is part of the After-School Detectives series.
The logo was created by solidgaunt, please visit his amazing gallery!

Well, that’s the end of the series, hope you enjoyed it! Please join me for my next web serial (details here)!

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After-School Detectives – Katie’s First Case

Posted by cyberpfalcon on April 1, 2013

After-School Detectives LogoIt was the beginning of a new school year; the eighth grade for me. On the Monday of the second week of school, Sheryl Holmes declared, “We need new members!”

She wasn’t wrong. After all, there was only the three of us in the After-School Detectives.

Strangely (well, not really, considering what happened over summer vacation), the last member of our small club, Samantha, hadn’t shown up yet.

“Let’s wait for Sam-”

As soon as I began to utter her name, Samantha popped into the room.

“Sorry I’m late…,” she said, devoid of her usual bubbly energy. Instead, it was replaced with an awkwardness as soon as she noticed me. And as it had been for the whole week, she avoided eye contact with me.

What was going on between Samantha and I? Well, it all started when Sheryl’s older brother, Mike, took the three of us to the beach, along with his girlfriend, three weeks ago during summer vacation.

We went through the usual. Got to the beach, changed into our swimming clothes. I blushed when Sheryl and Samantha came out with their swimsuits. We swam, we built sandcastles, we tossed a beach ball around. Standard beach stuff.

Then, near the end of the day, Samantha approached me as I was putting together the finishing touches on a sandcastle.

“Hi James,” she said.

“Hey Samantha,” I had said, still focused on my sandcastle. “What’s up?”

She held out a gift-wrapped box and looked away, blushing, “I got you a present. For your birthday.”

I turned and looked at Samantha for a few moments, before I had the heart to said, “Uh, thanks, Samantha, but my birthday isn’t until next month.”

Samantha’s face turned red, then, she ran off away from me. Unfortunately, before she could get far, she tripped on a rock and fell down.

“Samantha, are you okay?” I ran up to her.

“Ouch…,” she muttered. She tried to stand up and walk, but she fell again, after yelling out in pain. I noticed that her knee was bleeding.

“Here, let me help,” I said, as I knelt down next to her.

She put her hand across my back and held onto my shoulder. Then, I held her by the waist as we got up, side by side. Like that, we hobbled back to the car.

Luckily, Mike was nearby, and he helped me bandage Samantha’s knee with a first aid kit that he had in his car.

During the car ride back, things were awkward between Samantha and I, and then we didn’t see each other again until the school year started. For the whole week after that, we were awkward with each other.

Back in the present, Sheryl said, “Oh, don’t worry, Samantha. As I was saying, we need new members! We need to expand our club and ensure that it will stay after we graduate!”

Right after Sheryl had said that, there was a knock on the door and a girl walked in. “Is this the After-School Detectives?”

Excited, Sheryl said, “Yep!”

Breaking out into a huge smile, and with an excitement that could match Sheryl’s, the girl introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Katie Wong. I am new at the school this year, but I heard about you guys and I would really like to join the club!”

Sheryl, Samantha, and I exchanged looks of amazement.

“Well, that was easy.” I mused.

Recovering from shock, Sheryl proclaimed, “Welcome to the club! You’re in!”

“Really? That easy?” Katie asked.

“Yeah, that easy!” Sheryl extend her hand.

“Oh thank you!” Katie said, happily shaking Sheryl’s hand. “Please teach me what you can about being a detective!”

Sheryl gave Katie a thumbs up, “Of course!”

Pointing to me, Sheryl said, “This is James, he’s a detective too!”

I chuckled to myself at the thought of being called that. If I recalled correctly, I had to be dragged into this club at the beginning of last year.

Pointing to Samantha, Sheryl introduce her as well, “And this is Samantha, she keeps a record of our cases.”

Samantha smiled, and gave Katie a wave, which was completely unlike her.

***

The four of us had barely gotten settled into our seats in the clubroom the next day when a boy burst into the room, “You guys have to help me!”

“Oh hey, it’s Nadir!” Katie smiled and stood up, “How are you?”

“Horrible!”

“You know him?” I asked Katie.

“Yeah, he’s in my homeroom.”

“So, what’s wrong, Nadir?” Sheryl asked.

“I lost my backpack!” He said, pointing to the backpack that he had with him.

I raised my eyebrow at Nadir, “Uh, you’re pointing at it.”

“No!” Nadir explained, “This is someone else’s bag. My bag looks exactly the same! It must have gotten swapped with someone else’s by accident!”

“Well,” Katie said, “Why don’t you just look inside and find out whose bag it is, and see if there’s some way of communicating with him or her?”

Nadir looked at Katie for a moment to digest that. Then, sheepishly, he said, “Right…”

We managed to easily find a day planner with the owner’s name and phone number. Nadir dialed the number just as someone knocked on and open the door. A boy and a girl entered. The boy started to introduce themselves, “I am Marlowe, and this is Marlene, do you-”

A phone began to rang in the Marlene’s direction. We all looked towards her direction and saw that she had the same bag that Nadir had.

“You have my bag!” Nadir and Marlene both said at the same time.

***

Nadir and the Marlene walked out of the room, satisfied with their returned bags.

“Looks like you guys aren’t too shabby either,” Marlowe said, “We’ll have to call this one a draw.”

“What?” Sheryl asked, puzzled as to what he was talking about.

“Marlene was my client. I first decided to check the lost and found for her lost bag, then, obviously, the next step was you guys. Whoever had Marlene’s bag would obviously be looking for theirs as well, and this is the only detective club at school.”

“You’re a detective too?” Sheryl leapt up excitedly at the revelation.

“Uh…, yes.”

“Let’s team up! Why don’t you join the After-School Detectives?”

Marlowe smiled a little, but he said, “Nah, I’m my own man.”

He turned around and waved his hand once, “Pleasure meeting you all.”

Then he walked out of the room.

I looked at Sheryl, expecting her to be pouting at the rejection. Instead, she had a twinkle of admiration in her eyes and she said, “Well, he was kinda cool.”

Turning back to Katie, Sheryl asked, “So, that was your first case, Katie, what did you think?”

I looked at Katie, thinking that she would be disappointed with how it turned out. After all, we barely did anything this time.

Instead, Katie broke out into a big grin and said, “That was great!”

***

Samantha and I were alone in the clubroom now. Sheryl and Katie had already gone home for the day, and I was taking advantage of the room to get some homework done. Samantha was typing away on the laptop, probably writing up today’s case.

After a while, she stood up, and started packing up. Then she took out a present and held it out to me. In a shy voice, she said, “Happy Birthday, James.”

Surprised that she remembered my birthday, I took the present from her and said, “Thank you, Samantha.”

Embarrassed, she said, “I’ll- I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Before she left though, I called out to her, “Wait!”

She turned around to face me.

Great, now I was the one being shy. “Do- do you want to go to a movie with me sometime?”

It took a moment before she said anything. Then, with her usual bubbly energy, she said, “Sure!”

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This story is part of the After-School Detectives series.
The logo was created by solidgaunt, please visit his amazing gallery!

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After-School Detectives – Rogue Detective

Posted by cyberpfalcon on February 25, 2013

After-School Detectives LogoIt was beginning of May, and the whole school was gripped with terror.

I sat in the classroom with the rest of my fellow students, while our teacher taught. It seemed like a normal classroom, but the tense atmosphere indicated otherwise. At least half of the students in the classroom were miserable, and the teacher hadn’t given out so much as an assignment for the past few months now, in fear of the repercussions.

It all started near the end of February, with a bang coming out of Francine’s locker. The bang was followed by a gooey substance, which splattered all over the untouchable queen been of our school. She had been pranked. Her group turned on her, and she was no longer part of the “popular” group.

Strange as that was, even stranger was that no one stepped up to fill the power vacuum. Instead, the group fell quiet.

Then, in March, one of the History teachers, Ms. Rouge, was revealed to have failed a History class in high school. Her students wouldn’t let her live it down, and after a month of the insults piling up, she finally had a breakdown when her students refused to do one of her tests. From what I heard, she was screaming in the classroom and cursing at the students. Some of the other teachers managed to calm her down and she quit soon afterwards.

She was just the first victim, two other teachers also had their secrets exposed. One quit, and the other one was fired because of how he reacted. This scared the other teachers, and all that they have done for the past few months now was quietly teach the class. No assignments, no tests, just lecturing.

Something peculiar was also happening with the students during this time. Many students had their secrets exposed as well, leading to their ridicule. However as more and more students had their secrets exposed, the student body gradually became quieter and quieter. Everyone was too afraid to do anything to stand out anymore.
And so, gradually our school became a place that we dreaded going to every morning; it was a good day if nothing eventful happened.
We were in the grip of terror, indeed.

So now it was May, three months after the start of this spiral. Sheryl finally had enough, and in the clubroom of the After-School Detectives, she declared, “Someone is using their detective skills for evil! We have to stop them!”

Samantha and I agreed.

“But where to start?” Sheryl pondered.

Just then, Franklin, our candy loving friend, walked in. He sat down in one of the chairs and sighed, “Guy…, I need your help.”
“Sorry, Franklin,” Sheryl said, “We are busy right now, we are going to find out who’s controlling the school behind the shadows.”

Sheepishly, Franklin said, “Well, maybe I can help with that…”
We all turned to Franklin. Sheryl excitedly asked, “You know who’s behind this?”

“No…” Franklin started.

“Oh…,” Sheryl started to walk away.

Franklin continued, “But I think I’ve been paying them.”

Sheryl slammed her hands on the desk and leaned on the desk towards Franklin, “What?!”

Franklin, looking guilty, started his story, “Well, you guys know how some people make fun of me for my… size.”

We nodded.

“Two months ago, I received a letter in my locker, which offered me revenge… if I paid. So I did. And within a week, Matt…, well, you guys know what happened to Matt.”

We nodded again, recalling how Matt, our school’s football star, and a bully, had his embarrassing secret exposed.

“I regretted it immediately,” Franklin continued, “and I wanted to stop paying. But then, I got another letter, saying that if I didn’t keep paying, then not only would the bullies come back, but my own secrets would get exposed too.”

“That’s terrible!” Samantha exclaimed.

“How do you pay them?” I asked.

“I usually get a letter once a week, telling me where to drop off the money, which is usually a box somewhere at school.” Franklin took out one such letter to show us.

Sheryl grabbed the typewritten letter and looked at it, “Is this this week’s letter?”

“Yeah.”

Sheryl grinned, “Then we’re going on a stakeout!”

***

Sheryl and I stood hidden behind a conveniently located wall. We were, of course, conducting a stakeout at the location of the drop off box for the protection money.

We kept an eye on the box for hours, watching as many students dropped off money into the box.

Finally, when the skies were dark, a person with their hoodie on picked up the box, and started walking away with it.

Sheryl ran up and tried to snap a picture of the mastermind’s face. Reacting quickly, the hooded person threw the box at Sheryl and started running away.

Sheryl and I gave chase, but to no avail. We lost our suspect, and all we had left was the box that Sheryl was holding.

***

We brought the box to Mr. Black, our principal, the next morning and explained the situation to him. In the afternoon, at a surprise school assembly, he announced that the teachers will keep a look out for any more of these boxes every day, and that any student caught paying protection money will be severely punished.

That night, a picture of a young Mr. Black in a Halloween costume (which was of a character in some TV show that I had never heard of) was spread around via the Internet. Underneath the picture was a caption that read “DORK”.

Surprisingly, the next day, Mr. Black gathered all the students in another school assembly and had the picture projected onto the big screen. “I am sure that most of you have already seen this picture. For those of you that haven’t, this is a picture of me when I was younger, dressed up for Halloween. Two things you should all know. The first thing is that I am still extremely proud of that costume, and I have many great memories of spending that Halloween with my friends in that costume. And the second is that since I am your principal, any slightest insult against me will give me the right to punish you.”

That somehow worked, and Mr. Black was able to keep on being principal without much trouble. The teachers started looking out for any more of those boxes, and any time one was found, they were confiscated swiftly. In fact, inspired by Mr. Black, the teachers started giving out assignments and tests again.

We had dealt a blow to whoever the mastermind was.

***

It was a week later, and I was following Sheryl back to the school after she had called me after dinner. Curious, I asked, “What are we doing here?”

“I figured out who did it, and what her next move is going to be.”

“Her? So who is it then?”

“Well, I’m not a hundred percent sure yet, so I want you to film it.”

That’s how we ended up staking out Sheryl’s own locker. And indeed, a figure with a hoodie on her head approached Sheryl’s locker and put a bag down. She started taking out what was surely prank equipment.

I took out my phone and started filming while Sheryl got out of our hiding place and walked towards the figure. Greeting her, Sheryl said, “Hello, Madeline.”

The figure looked up in surprise. Then, she smirked and took off her hoodie, revealing herself to indeed be Madeline Piers, the bully that Sheryl had humiliated. She responded, “So you figured it out, Sheryl.”

Then, Madeline’s expression grew into one of anger. “You and your stupid detective club ruined my plans again!”

“What choice did I have? You were blackmailing everyone at the school with the threat of exposing our secrets!”

“You could have left it alone! Nobody was getting bullied anymore! We didn’t have to deal with homework or tests anymore!”

“But everyone was miserable! We all dreaded going to school every day. We were all scared – of you!”

“So what?! I was ruling in shadows, and the school was better for it!”

“No, it wasn’t!”

“That’s your opinion!” Madeline lunged at Sheryl and tackled her to the ground.

I quickly put my phone in my pocket and grabbed Madeline off Sheryl, “Get off her!”

Madeline broke out of my grasp and stood back, glaring at the both of us, trying to decide her next move. Finally, she said, “This isn’t over!”

She stormed off.

***

Unfortunately, for Madeline, this was over. The video that I filmed was more that enough to get her expelled. The school returned to normal, … just in time for exams.

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After-School Detectives – Scarlet

Posted by cyberpfalcon on January 31, 2013

After-School Detectives LogoIt was the middle of February and I was freezing cold. I was walking to school when Samantha called out to me from behind. In a playful tone, she said, “Hey Watson.”

I sighed and said, “It’s James.”

She caught up to me and smiled, “Well, I want to call you Holmes, but Sheryl wouldn’t like that.”

I didn’t now if that was a compliment or not.

Before I could respond, Sheryl showed up as well, walking up to us woozily. In a flat, tired tone, she greeted us, “Hi guys.”
Samantha, concerned, asked, “Sheryl! What’s wrong?”

In the same flat, tired tone, she said “It’s Holm-” before coughing.

“Sheryl, are you okay?” Samantha asked again.

Sheryl recovered and, in a tired voice, she said, “I’m fine.”

Samantha and I tried to convince Sheryl to go home, but she wouldn’t listen, “No! I have to be there, in case there is a new case!”

I sighed, “Look Sheryl, you’re obviously sick. Don’t worry about the club, Samantha and I will take care of it.”

Sheryl’s eyes brightened a little, “You will?”

“Yeah.”

Of course, now we had to take Sheryl home, but luckily for us, Sheryl’s mother showed up. “Sheryl! I told you to stay home today!”

Sheryl’s mother dragged Sheryl home as Samantha and I continued towards the school.

***

“Are you sure you can take care of the club by yourself?” Samantha asked me.

“Yeah, don’t worry about it, tell Sheryl I said ‘Get well soon’,” I replied.

“Okay, I will, thanks James!” Samantha ran off to visit Sheryl, while I stayed behind to man the clubroom.

I sat down in one of the chairs and decided to just tell anyone who came in that Sheryl was sick today and to come back later.

Of course, I didn’t except that person to be Scarlet.

Scarlet was one of the prettiest girls in our class, and perhaps even the school. I stared at her as she entered the clubroom and walked towards me, with her long, wavy, red hair gracefully following her. She stopped in front of me and smiled one of the cutest smile that I have ever seen. My heart stopped as I realized that the smile was directed at me.

Some of you might say that I have a crush on her, but I do not!

“Watson? Hello? Watson?”

Scarlet’s voice snapped me back into reality and restarted my heart.

Stuttering, I let the fact that she used my detested nickname slide and I said, “Uh, yeah. Hi Scarlet. What’s up?”

“I need the After-School Detectives’ help!”

“Well, Sheryl is sick today, so maybe you can wait until she-”

“But I really need help today! Aren’t you a detective too?”

She looked at me with those sad, beautiful, grey eyes of hers, and I just couldn’t say no. I sighed and said, “Alright, what do you need?”

“Well, I think my boyfriend is cheating on me.”

“You-” I stuttered at the revelation, “You have a boyfriend?”

“Yeah, is that weird?”

“No.” I regain my composure, “No, of course not. Why do you think he’s cheating on you?”

“Lately he’s been avoiding me. Always saying that he’s busy after-school, and even on weekends. Every time I ask him what he’s doing, he would say that he was doing homework or studying, but there’s no way he has that much studying to do!”

Scarlet’s face was red with anger, and she was near tears as well. I stood up suddenly and slammed my hands on to the table. “Don’t worry, Scarlet! I’ll find out what he’s doing!”

“Thank you, Watson!”

A grimace appeared on my face, but I quickly suppressed it. “So, who is he and where can I find him?”

She took out her phone and showed me a picture of our school’s eighth grade basketball star, “This is Gregory. He should be practicing with the basketball team right now.”

“Okay!” I gave her the thumbs up that Sheryl usually gives, “I’m on the case!”

I immediately regretted that cheesy line, but Scarlet just smiled and said, “Thank you, Watson!”

***

I leaned on a lamppost near the entrance of the school and tilted my fedora (which I never bothered to bring back home after Halloween). I placed a lollipop (which I got from Sheryl’s bowl of candy) into my mouth and sucked on it. Putting my hands into my jacket pockets, I watched as Gregory said goodbye to his teammates.

After their farewells, Gregory started walking down the street, and I started following him. Surely, the scumbag was going to meet his mistress right now.

He walked into a burger joint and, unsurprisingly, he sat down in a booth with another girl.

Oh, what will my beautiful client say when I tell her?

I grabbed the booth next to them and held up the menu to hide my face. Then, I leaned in a little to eavesdrop on the pair.

As I joined in the conversation, the girl was saying, “Afterwards, we can go skating, and then we can head back to my place for cake.”

Skating, and then cake?! They must be talking about what to do on their next date! Oh, Scarlet, you poor gir-

“Sounds good,” Gregory nodded, “I think Scarlet is going to love her birthday party!”

I paused for a moment.

A birthday party for Scarlet? Gregory wasn’t cheating?! He was just being an attentive boyfriend?!

The girl rubbed it in, “You’re such a good boyfriend, Greg!”

“Haha,” Gregory blushed, “Thanks.”

The two of them continued talking about the birthday party that they were planning. When they were done, they left the burger joint and went their separate ways.

***

“Don’t worry, he’s not cheating on you. In fact, he loves you very much,” I told Scarlet the next day after-school.

“Really? Why has he been avoiding me then?”

“I can’t tell you,” I said, “But you’ll find out very soon.”

“Well, thanks for looking into this for me, Watson. It’s good to know that Gregory isn’t cheating on me.”

She stood up and began to leave.

“Happy Birthday, by the way,” I said.

She stopped and looked at me, “Thanks. How did you know that it will be in two days?”

I shrugged and smiled, “I’m a detective.”

She raised her eyebrow and gave me a look, as if she thought that I was being weird or creepy.

“Uh, thanks, I guess,” And she walked out of the clubroom in a hurry.
I sighed.

And here I thought I was being cool.

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After-School Detectives – Birthday Present

Posted by cyberpfalcon on January 9, 2013

After-School Detectives LogoIt was a few days after the winter holidays, and we, the After-School Detectives, were back in the clubroom again. I looked over at the nine or ten case files that we had accumulated on the shelves over the past year, and wondered what cases the new year was going to bring us.

The three of us were doing our own things when Brett, our classmate, burst in all the sudden, “Guys! You have to help me!”

Sheryl stood up excitedly and declared with a thumbs-up, “Don’t worry, Brett, the After-School Detectives are on it!”

“Thank you, Sheryl!”

“Holmes…, call me Holmes.”

I put down the book that I was reading, “So, what’s up, Brett?”

“Virginia’s birthday is coming up, and I need to get her a birthday present!”

“Oh!” Samantha perked up, “You’re that Brett and Virginia!”

Samantha was, of course, referring to the After-School Detective’s second case, where we brought the couple together. This was a relief, since that meant we weren’t going to be caught in the same situation as the one with Franklin.

“Huh?” Brett asked, puzzled. “Which Brett and Virginia?”

I waved off his concern, “Don’t worry about it.”

Brett raised an eyebrow, but decided to move on to more pressing matters, “So, can you guys help?”

“Well, why don’t you just ask her what she wants,” Sheryl asked.

Samantha nearly exploded at the suggestion, “He can’t just ask her! It has to be a surprise! It has to showed that he listens to her! That he cares about her!”

We all stared at the normally bubbly Samantha’s outburst before she meekly said, “Sorry…”

“Well, she’s right,” I said to Brett, “In fact, it’s probably something that you should figure out yourself, instead of coming to us.”

“Well, I wouldn’t have come to you guys if I could think of something. You gotta help me!”

“Why don’t you sit down first?” I said.

Brett did so.

Then I asked, “So, what does Virginia like?”

“Um…” Brett placed his elbow on the table and his head in his hand. Tilting his head a bit, he pondered on the question for a while.

Samantha, Sheryl, and I waited for Brett to answer. Running out of patience, Sheryl shoved her bowl of candy in front of Brett, “Maybe you should have a piece of candy to stimulate your mind?”

I gave Sheryl a look. Then, trying to be helpful, I asked Brett, “Does she have any favourite foods? What kind of hobbies does she have? Does she play any sports? Does she watch any TV shows? Movies?”

Again, we all waited for Brett as he thought really, really hard.

After a long time, Brett threw up his hands and let out a yell of desperation, “This is worse than homework!”

It was getting late, so I said, “Why don’t you think about it some more tonight? Maybe you’ll come up with something.”

“There isn’t enough time!”

“When is her birthday anyways?” asked Sheryl.

“It’s in two days.”

“What?!” Samantha nearly exploded again, “Why did you wait until now?”

“Because I didn’t remember that her birthday was coming up until this morning!”

Brett was panicking a little now. I sighed and said, “You could always get her the usual box of chocolates?”

“No!” Samantha jumped in, “Think, Brett, think!”

We waited again for Brett to come up with something. Finally, he gave up, “Forget it! I’ll just get her a box of chocolates!”

And then he stormed out of the clubroom.

***

It was two days later, and Sheryl, Samantha, and I were walking along the hallway during lunch. I spotted Brett up ahead, giving a wrapped present to Virginia.

Virginia ripped a little bit of the wrapping off, just enough for her to see what it was. Then, she smiled and gave Brett a hug, “Thanks Brett! You remembered.”

Brett smiled as well, “Of course I did.”

Virginia relaxed the hug, “I’ll see you after school?”

“Yep.”

Virgina walked away with her friends and waved good bye to Brett with a smile on her face.

We walked up to Brett. Brett spotted me and held his hand up.

I high-fived him and asked, “Good job, Brett! So, what did you get her?”

He grinned, “A box of chocolates.”

Samantha exclaimed, “That worked?!”

Brett let out a laugh, then he explained, “While I was in the candy store, looking for a box of chocolates, I remembered that she loves caramel, so I got her a box of caramel chocolates. So thanks, guys. Looks like that session helped.”

Brett happily parted ways with us.

The three of us couldn’t think of anything to say for a while, until Sheryl came up with, “Well, looks like another case was successfully closed!”

Samantha pointed out, “We didn’t do anything.”

Then I pointed out, “How was that even a mystery?”

“Well,” Sheryl grinned and said, “The mystery was what to get Virginia for her birthday, and we pushed Brett in the right direction. So yeah, case closed!” Then she added, “Successfully, by us.”

I grinned back and said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

Samantha grinned in agreement as well, “Guess I have a new case file to write up.”

Happy with how things turned out, we went off to eat lunch.

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After-School Detectives – Costumes

Posted by cyberpfalcon on December 21, 2012

After-School Detectives Logo“What are you going as?” Sheryl asked me one morning before homeroom started. She was, of course, referring to the fun little policy that we had at our school here, where, as long as it wasn’t anything too extravagant, we were allowed to come to school dressed up in costumes on Halloween.

I turned around to face her, since she sat behind me, and replied, “I’m probably not going to dress up.”

Sheryl pouted, “C’mon! We’re the After-School Detectives, at least come as a detective!” Then, with a sparkle in her eye, “Why don’t you come as Watson? I’ll be coming as-”

“Sherlock Holmes, I know. And no, I’m not coming in as your sidekick.”

Sheryl pouted and tossed a piece of candy into her mouth.

As Sheryl was beginning to argue with me again, Ms. Grey, our homeroom teacher, walked in. She smiled and greeted the class before launching into the morning announcements, “As you all know, Halloween is a couple of days away, and I know that some of you were excited about being able to come to school in costume. However, Mr. Black, our new principal this year, has decided that costumes will not be allowed.”

After hearing this, Sheryl jumped straight up and yelled, “What?! Why?!”

Without missing a beat, as if she had expected this, Ms. Grey said, “I am sorry, Sheryl. I know how excited you were about this, but Mr. Black has decided that it is not appropriate for a school to have this sort of policy. Not all of us agree, but he is our principal, so I’m sure that he has your best interests in mind. Now, take a seat, Sheryl, and let us continue.”

Sheryl pouted and took her seat. Then, she wrote down something on a piece of paper and passed it to me. The note read ‘The After-School Detectives are going to get to the bottom of this!!!’

***

It was after-school, and I was following an angry Sheryl as she stormed towards the principal’s office.

Sheryl stormed past the principal’s assistant, who helplessly shouted, “Hey, you can’t-”

Not listening, Sheryl barged into the principal’s office, with me reluctantly following her in. She slammed her hands onto Mr. Black’s desk and yelled, “Why?!”

Surprised, the principal stared at her for a moment. Then he said, “Er, why what?”

“Why aren’t you letting us dress up for Halloween anymore?!”

“Oh, that. As I’m sure your teacher has already mentioned, I find that it is inappropriate for students to be dressing up in costumes during school times. It disrupts classes and school activities.”

“But it’s just a little bit of fun! I’m sure that-”

“Look, Ms. Holmes, yelling at me isn’t going to change my mind! I have made my decision and I have given you my reason. If you don’t have anything else to talk about, please leave my office.”

Unable to come up with any more arguments, Sheryl and I left the office. As we were leaving, we could hear Mr. Black muttering, “I’m just trying to save you kids…”

***

“Hmph!” Sheryl let out a frustrated noise and threw a piece of candy into her mouth.

We were at her place now, trying to finish up one of our group projects for Science. Of course, Sheryl could barely focus on the assignment, since she was still angry about the whole costume thing.

“What’s wrong?” asked Sheryl’s mother, as she entered Sheryl’s room with a plate of cookies.

“Our stupid principal won’t let us dress up for Halloween!” Sheryl replied.

“Really?” Sheryl’s mother placed the plate of cookies onto the desk, “If I remember correctly though, Robert loved dressing up for Halloween.”

“Robert?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s Mr. Black, your principal. We went to the same school back then, though we were never in the same classes.” Sheryl’s mother gave a shrug, “Well, I guess he grew out of it.”

Sheryl pouted, “But now it should be my turn!”

“I know you were looking forward to this, sweetie,” Mrs. Holmes patted Sheryl on the head, “But I’m sure your principal has a good reason for this.”

Sheryl pouted again as her mother left the room.

***

“Why are we here?” Sheryl asked me.

It was lunch time the next day, and we were in the library.

“Well,” I said, “Your mother said that Mr. Black loved dressing up on Halloween back then, so I thought maybe if we reminded him of that, he’d let us dress up again.”

“So how would the library help us?”

“Maybe there’s a picture of him in one of these old yearbooks.” I grabbed one of our school’s yearbooks off the shelf and flipped to the back, where the students and their portraits were. Not finding Robert Black on the list, I said, “Of course, we would have to narrow down the years that he was at this school first.”

“Oh, that’s a good idea!” Sheryl did some mental calculations in her head. “Let’s see, it should be around this year!”

She grabbed one of the yearbooks and flipped to the back. Then, she scanned through the portraits and smiled, “Found him!”

We then flipped through the yearbook to find that year’s Halloween costumes section. Scanning through the photos for Mr. Black, we stopped when we saw a happy, young Mr. Black in a Halloween costume. Sheryl and I couldn’t tell what Mr. Black was supposed to be (it was probably from a TV show before our time, or something like that), but it was the scribbles on the yearbook that caught our eye. Surrounding the pictures were comments making fun of those that had decided to dress up that year, with some of them directed at Mr. Black.

Now we understood what Mr. Black had meant when he said that he just wanted to ‘save us’.

***

After-school, I was following Sheryl as she stormed towards the principal’s office again.

The principal’s assistant saw Sheryl and immediately stood up to say, “Oh c’mon, not this again! You can’t-”

It didn’t work, of course, and Sheryl once again barged into Mr. Black’s office, this time slamming down the yearbook onto his desk. “This is why you aren’t letting us dress up?!”

Mr. Black took a look at the yearbook, then sighed and said, “Yes. Now you understand.”

“Well, that’s just garbage!”

Mr. Black gave Sheryl a glare, “Excuse me?”

“Sure, some people are going to make fun of us for dressing up, but when was that ever a good reason to stop doing something? We can’t just stop doing things because we’re afraid of what some bullies might think. Don’t let the bullies win!”

Mr. Black took a look at the sincerity on Sheryl’s face. Then, he sighed and said, “Alright, let me think about it.”

Sheryl began, “But-”

That was when I interrupted, “Okay, thank you for hearing us out, Mr. Black.”

I grabbed Sheryl by the arm and dragged her outside before she could say anything else.

“I was so close though!” Sheryl whined at me.

“I think you did good enough,” I said, “He just needs time and he wants to save face.”

“To save face?”

“You’ll understand when you’re older.”

“Oh, okay,” Sheryl and I walked for a moment before she realized, “Hey! We’re the same age!”

***

It was Halloween a couple of days later, and I was walking to school in dress pants, shirt, tie, suit jacket, and a fedora. Mr. Black had, of course, announced that we were once again allowed to come to school in costumes on Halloween. And I was, of course, convinced by Sheryl to come as a detective, although there was no way that I was going to go as Watson.

“Hey James!” Sheryl caught up from behind me, with a deerstalker on her head and a pipe in her hand.

She took a look at my costume and said, “Well, it’s not Watson, but at least you came as a detective. Are you… Philip Marlowe?”

“Yep.”

Sheryl gave me a smile. Just then, a voice from behind us yelled, “Hey guys!”

We turned around and saw that it was Samantha, heading towards us in her costume. She was dressed up as a witch. Not one of those scary witches though; I guess you could say that she was one of the cute ones.

As Samantha ran towards us, her foot got caught on the end of her robe and she tripped, falling down onto the ground.

Concerned, Sheryl and I ran towards her to make sure that she was alright. Luckily, she got up and gave us a sheepish smile. Sheryl and I let out a breath of relief.

Then, the three of us continued on our way to a fun Halloween at school.

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After-School Detectives – Candy Surprise

Posted by cyberpfalcon on December 7, 2012

After-School Detectives Logo“Hey Watson!” yelled a voice from behind me.

I sighed and said, “It’s James, Samantha.”

Samantha caught up to me and gave me her usual bubbly smile.

I sighed again. I guess it was too good to last. A few days ago, she was, of course, acting all prim and proper in front of her crush, Matthew, and so she refrained from calling me by that hated nickname of mine. But now that we had finished up with Matthew’s case (and he wasn’t around to make her nervous), I guess things were back to normal. Oh well, at least she was using it affectionately. I think.

“Wasn’t Matthew’s performance simply fantastic?” Samantha said, still remember when her crush performed in Mr. Brown’s class only a few hours ago.

“It was alright,” I said.

We walked to the After-School Detectives clubroom and I opened the door. Sheryl Holmes was already there, with a bowl of candy in the middle of the table.

She picked up the bowl and held it out for us, “Candy?”

“No thanks,” I said, taking a seat.

“Sure!” Samantha eagerly grabbed a piece from the bowl and unwrapped it.

“What’s with the candy?” I asked.

“Well, we all need something to stimulate our minds,” Sheryl replied, “So I decided to bring in a bowl of candy to help with that.”
Oh, I knew what she was up to. “… You know that Sherlock Holmes used cocaine to stimulate the mind, not candy, right?”

Sheryl pouted, “Yeah…, but my dad wouldn’t let me have any.”

I raised an eyebrow as I imagined Sheryl asking her father for cocaine, and his subsequent reaction to his twelve year old daughter asking him for drugs.

Samantha pulled out her laptop and placed it on the table. “Guess what, guys? I can use my laptop to record our conversations with our clients now!”

“Oooh.” Sheryl and I gathered behind Samantha.

“See, it’s easy, say something,” Samantha said as she clicked on the record button.

Just then, Madeline entered the room, and we all stared at her. Madeline was the most popular girl in the school, and definitely one of the prettiest. What did the eighth grade queen of the school want with us?

Madeline looked at our still figures and raised an eyebrow, “Uh…, this is the After-School Detectives, right?”

We snapped out of our trance, and Sheryl introduced herself, “Yeah, that’s us. I’m Sheryl Holmes, but you can call me Holmes.”

Madeline raised an eyebrow again, “Okay then, Sheryl, I am Madeline Piers.”

Sheryl clenched her teeth.

Looking at me, Madeline said, “And you must be Watson, right?”

I sighed and cursed in my head at Sheryl’s announcement at the beginning of the year, “No, it’s James actually. And this is Samantha.”

As usual, Samantha gave a big smile and said, “Hi! It’s nice to meet you!”

“So, what can the After-School Detectives do for you?” asked Sheryl.

Madeline flashed what seemed like a smirk. “Well, you guys are in Franklin Delgado’s class, right?”

“Yep,” Sheryl replied.

“Well, could you guys find out what his favourite candy is?”

“Sure, but why do you want to know?”

“Well, I want to give him a box.”

“Why’s that?” The ever-curious Sheryl asked.

Madeline raised an eyebrow at this, “You sure ask a lot of questions. But if you must know, I guess I sort of like Franklin, he’s kind of cute. I want to surprise him with a box of his favourite candy.”

I raised an eyebrow at this. Now, Franklin was good guy. We were cordial to each other on most occasions. However, Franklin was also a bit… overweight. So to have one of the most popular girls in school saying that she found him cute was a bit… jarring. Also, she didn’t say it like most people would. That is to say, she wasn’t being shy or embarrassed about it.

Then again, she is one of the popular girls in school, so maybe she’s confident enough to know what she likes and to ask for it.

“Okay!” Sheryl said, excited again, “We’ll take the case!”

“Good,” Madeline said. Then she stood up and turned to leave. “Let me know when you have the information.”

“Bye!” Samantha gave Madeline a hearty farewell as she left the room.

Then Samantha turned to her computer. “Oh! This is a perfect chance to make sure that this works.”

She stopped the recording and played it back. The three of us listened to ourselves and Madeline. Happy that the software worked, Samantha smiled, “Looks like it works!”

Sheryl gave her a thumbs up, “Good job!”

Then, she turned to me, “Well then, James, looks like we have a stakeout to conduct!”

Great…

***

We followed Franklin after-school the next day, and we watched as he went into the local candy store.

“This is our chance! All we have to do is see which candy he buys the most!” Sheryl started darting towards the store. “C’mon!”

She rushed into the store as I followed her in at walking pace.

Oh, and what a glorious store it was. There was candy everywhere. All sorts of candy from all over the world, just sitting on the shelves, waiting for a happy customer to buy them.

Unfortunately, we were here on official After-School Detectives business, so we focused our attention on Franklin and, sadly, not on the candy. We watched as he grabbed different types of candy off the shelves and put them into his cart, with no indication of which ones were his favourites.

“He’s buying too much candy!” Sheryl whispered to me. “There’s no way to tell which one he likes best!”

We continued watching Franklin for a few more minutes, to no avail. Then, I decided that we had to try another approach.

Calmly, I walked out of our hiding place and towards Franklin.

“What are you doing? Get back here, James!” Sheryl hissed at me from her hiding spot.

“Hi Franklin,” I said to my classmate.

Franklin looked away from the shelves. “Oh, hey James, what’s up?”

“Just looking for some good candy. Any recommendations?”

“Oh, well,” He held up several boxes, “These are all pretty good.”

“Hm, they do look pretty good, but I only have a couple of bucks, so I can really only buy one. Do you have a favourite?”

“Oh, then you got to go with these,” He held up a box of Cara-Rolls, “These are my absolute favourite!”

“Hm, I guess I’ll give them a try. Thanks, Franklin.”

“No problem,” Franklin gave me a happy smile, “See you at school tomorrow.”

We parted ways and I walked back over to where Sheryl was.

“His favourite candy is Cara-Rolls.”

“What?!” Sheryl exclaimed. “How did you find out?!”

“Well,” I said, smirking a little, “I asked him.”

***

The case was over. We gave Madeline the name of Franklin’s favourite candy, and presumably she was going to give him a box, and then they’d go on a date, and then there would be a happy ending. You know, stuff like that.

Only, the case wasn’t really over. Not yet.

It was at lunchtime on Friday, one or two days after we had given Madeline what she was looking for, when Sheryl and I heard a commotion behind us while walking down a hallway in our school.

We turned around to see a goo-covered Franklin sobbing as he ran past us.

“Oh, look at the fatty run!” a voice in the middle of the commotion yelled, as the others around it laughed.

The voice came from Madeline, and the laughter came from her clique.

“What just happened?” Sheryl pondered as she pushed through the crowd, with me following right behind her.

We reached the center, and saw Franklin’s locker door left opened. On the floor nearby, was an open box of Cara-Rolls. Except that there weren’t any Cara-Rolls inside. Instead, there was a spring-loaded trap that had already flung its goo at its intended target.

Sheryl walked over to the box and knelt down next to it, as if to get a better look, hoping that it wasn’t what she thought it was. But it was.

Seeing Sheryl, Madeline smirked, “Oh look, it’s the little detective.”

Sheryl glared at her, “You did this to Franklin! You used us to bully Franklin!”

“Hey, hey!” A girl behind Madeline piped up. It was another popular girl named Francine. “Don’t you dare go accusing Madeline now. What proof do you have that it was her that did this?”

“You came to us, asking us to find out what Franklin’s favourite candy was, and now there’s this disgusting trap in his locker! Of course it was you!”
Madeline smirked again, “I don’t remember ever going to see you.”

With that Madeline turned around and started walking away.

Sheryl stood up and was about to pounce on Madeline. So I grabbed her arm, hoping that was enough to stop her.

Sheryl turned around and glared at me, “Let go of me!”

I looked at her in the eyes, “Stop it, Sheryl. That won’t help.”

Sheryl continued glaring at me for a few more moments before calming down. Then, she asked me, “What have we done, James?”

***

A teacher was able to help Franklin clean off whatever the goo was. Unsurprisingly, Franklin then went home for the day.

Sheryl and I were sitting in the clubroom after-school, with Samantha’s laptop on the table. Samantha had stepped out to use the washroom.

Then, suddenly, Sheryl jumped up and darted to the laptop. She pulled out a flash drive and plugged it into the laptop.

Surprised, I took a moment before asking, “What are you doing?”

“Samantha recorded everything that Madeline said when she was in here!”

I stood up as well, “That’s right! We can take this to the principal and prove that it was Madeline who did this to Franklin!”

“No…” Sheryl flashed an evil smile.

I studied Sheryl for a moment, “What do you mean? Why wouldn’t we give it to the principal?”

“I’m going to upload this onto the Internet.”

“What good would that do?”

“She said that she thought Franklin was cute. When the other bullies hears it, they’ll turn on her.” Sheryl’s evil grin grew larger.

“You can’t do that, Sheryl. We can’t just take matters into our own hands like this. Besides, do you really want to do to Madeline what she did to Franklin? Do you want to be like her? Let’s just bring this to the teachers!”

“Even if we told the teachers, she’ll just get suspended. She won’t stop. No, she needs to learn how it feels like!”

“Yes, that’s probably true, but this isn’t how she’ll learn. Don’t stoop to their level, Sheryl. I know you’re angry, but don’t give into your anger! Don’t give in to your dark side!”

Sheryl raised an eyebrow and looked at me, “… What is this? A Star Wars parody?”

“Well, I kind of always wanted to say that. But look, Sheryl, let’s do this the right way, okay? We’ll talk to the principal on Monday.”

Sheryl looked at me. Then she sighed, “Okay…”

At this moment, Samantha walked back into the clubroom. Looking at us, and feeling that something was wrong, she asked, “Uh, did I miss something?”

Sheryl walked over and gave Samantha a hug, “Remember when you recorded Madeline earlier?”

Samantha’s eye widened, “That’s right! We have proof that she did this to Franklin!”

“Yeah…” Sheryl said, devoid of her usual energy.

Samantha noticed, “Um, that’s a good thing, right, Sheryl?”

“Yeah…” Sheryl said in the same flat tone.

Sheryl walked over to her bag. “Well, it’s late, so let’s go to the principal on Monday and show him the recording.”

Samantha smiled and started to say, “Okay, that sounds go-”

But Sheryl just left without saying another word.

***

Soon after that, Samantha and I followed suit and went home as well. I knew Sheryl had a point, Madeline probably wouldn’t stop her bullying just because she got suspended. But what else could we do? After all, two wrongs don’t make a right. At least, Sheryl understood that now.

Or so I thought.

It was Sunday night when I received an email from Matthew. I opened it and there was a link to a popular online video sharing website. Clicking on the link, it brought me to a video. Well, there wasn’t any video, but there was definitely audio.

It was an edited version of the recording, edited so that the After-School Detectives would remain anonymous and highlighting the fact that Madeline had said that she liked Franklin and that she asked what his favourite candy was.

***

Sheryl avoided me on Monday. She came in just as the bell rung for every class and ducked into the washroom between classes.

Finally, during lunch time, I was able to catch up with her in the hallway.

“Sheryl, did you-”

Just then Francine ripped open the Madeline’s bag and dumped the contents out. “Get away from me, fatty lover!”

Madeline’s former clique of bullies walked away with a few of them mockingly singing “fatty lover” as the Madeline picked up her things.

Then, she saw Sheryl.

She flashed a glare at Sheryl and started walking towards to us. However, the principal appeared in front of us. “Madeline, could you please come with me to my office?”

Madeline flashed another glare at Sheryl, but the principal intervened, saying sternly, “Now.”

Madeline looked up into the angry face of our principal, and managed to mumble, “Yes sir.”

The principal led the way and Madeline followed.

As the two disappeared from our sights, Sheryl ran off and ducked into the washroom again, avoiding me.

I sighed and walked off to eat my lunch, hoping that she would talk to me soon.

***

It was after-school, and as usual, I was walking towards the clubroom. What was unusual was that Samantha was standing outside of the clubroom, just leaning on the wall.

“Hi James,” she said, with tears in her eyes.

“Hi Samantha… What’s wrong?”

“Sheryl is in the clubroom, just sitting there,” Samantha said, with tears welling up in her eyes, “I tried talking to her, but she didn’t want to talk. Maybe you could go in there and try talking to her?”

“Yeah, I will.” I handed Samantha a tissue.

“Thanks,” Samantha said. She took the tissue from me and started wiping away the tears. “I’ll wait here.”

I opened the clubroom door and walked in to see Sheryl sitting on the table, staring outside the window at the blue sky. I closed the door and put my bag down. Then, I walked over and sat next to her on the table.

“Hi Sheryl.”

“Hi James.”

We both sat there in silence for a little while, reflecting on recent events.

Then, I started up again, “Sheryl, are-”

Suddenly, Sheryl grabbed my arm and placed on her forehead on my shoulder. Then, she started crying.

In between sobs, she said “I- I didn’t mean to do- do that to her.”

I sighed, in anger and in relief.

I placed my hand on the back her head, giving her a psuedo-hug. “I know, Sheryl, I know.”

After that, we went to the principal. Sheryl explained what had happened and that she was the one that had uploaded the recording. Luckily, she only got a week of detention.

After the recording came out, Madeline’s clique abandoned her and blamed the whole thing on her. Madeline was suspended for a month.

As for Franklin, I think he will be okay. The After-School Detectives brought over a box of Cara-Rolls, which he happily accepted and shared with us.

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This story is part of the After-School Detectives series.
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After-School Detectives – Vivaldi’s Rosin

Posted by cyberpfalcon on November 25, 2012

After-School Detectives LogoSheryl and I were sitting in our newly acquired clubroom, waiting for someone to walk in with a new case for us. Outside was a sign that proudly said ‘After-School Detectives’, made by an equally proud Sheryl Holmes.

It was a small clubroom. There was a table in the middle, which was surrounded by four chairs, and an empty shelf. We should probably fill up the shelf one day, but today, we were just sitting in the clubroom, waiting.

I was sitting on one of the chairs, trying to read a book. However, I couldn’t concentrate at all because right across from me was Sheryl playing on her recorder.

Or, at least, she was trying to. Every few notes that she played was followed by a mistake.

It went on like this for fifteen minutes or so before I set my book down and asked her, “What are you doing?”

“Playing the recorder, of course.”

“But why?”

“Because, that’s why.”

Sheryl continued trying to play whatever song she was trying to play. I looked at her, trying to figure out what was going on. It couldn’t be that she was trying to… “You know that Sherlock Holmes played the violin, not the recorder, right?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know how to play that…” Sheryl pouted.

Of course, as always, she was trying to emulate her hero.

I sighed and asked, “What were you trying to play anyways?”

“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. What do you think of it so far?” Sheryl asked with a huge grin on her face.

That was supposed to be Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? It didn’t sound anything like it! Of course, I wasn’t going to say that, so all I said was, “Er, it’s alright. You need more practice though.”

“Okay!”

Sheryl went back to playing and I went back to desperately trying to figure out how the notes that were being played fitted into Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Why did I encourage this cacophony?

Luckily for me, there was a knock on the door. Sheryl stopped playing and said, “Come on in!”

Samantha walked in along with Matthew, another classmate of ours. Smiling, Samantha greeted us, “Hi Sheryl, hi James, I have a case for you!”

“It’s Holmes!” yelled Sheryl, in another attempt to get people to start addressing her by her surname.

Matthew placed his violin case down, which made Sheryl flash a look of jealously, and then he greeted us as well, “Hi James, hi Sheryl.”

Sheryl was about to yell out her surname again, but I interrupted her and said, “So Matt, what’s up?”

Matthew and Samantha both took a seat, and Matthew began, “Well, you guys know how we all have to perform in Mr. Brown’s music class in a couple of days. I’m going to be playing the violin for my performance.”

“Cool!” said Sheryl, her interest piqued, “Can we hear some of it right now?”

Matthew’s hands clenched into fists. “That’s the thing, I’m not ready!”

We all stared at Matthew for a moment, surprised by his outburst. Then, I said, “Well, um, you can practice more, I guess?”

“I’ve been practicing like crazy, but it’s just not good enough!”

“Well…,” Sheryl began, “What do you want from us then?”

“It took a while, but Mr. Brown finally told me how to make my performance better. He told me about Vivaldi’s rosin.”

Sheryl raised an eyebrow, “Vivaldi? Rosin?”

Matthew explained, “Rosin is what we apply to the bows of stringed instruments, like a violin, so that the bow can grip the strings properly and produce a clear sound when played. And Vivaldi was one of the greatest violinists who ever lived. According to Mr. Brown, Vivaldi used a special kind of rosin that has been passed down from great violinist to great violinist. It’s said to be a legendary rosin that will make your violin sound absolutely perfect, and it will make your bow sparkle!”

Again, we stared at Matthew, trying to digest the story. Finally, I said, “So you want us to find-”

“I need you to find this rosin for me!”

“Okay!” Sheryl jumped up, excited. “The After-School Detectives are on it!”

“Thank you.” Matthew got up. “I’m going home to keep practicing, please let me know as soon as you find it.”

Matthew left the clubroom, but Samantha stayed behind. “Can… I help you guys?”

“Sure!” said Sheryl. “I didn’t know that you were into mystery solving.”

“Well…, I’m not… really,” Samantha was sort of blushing now.

I raised an eyebrow and said, “You like Matt, don’t you?”

Samantha’s face turned red and she jumped out of her chair. “I do not!”

Sheryl and I both gave Samantha disbelieving stares.

“I mean, of course I like him! But-” Samantha’s face was somehow still turning redder, “But only as a friend! I don’t even know why I asked! Forget it!”

Samantha turned around to leave, but unfortunately, she tripped on the leg of the chair and fell down.

“You okay?” asked Sheryl.

Samantha stood up, shouting, “I’m fine!” as she stormed out the door.

After Samantha had left, Sheryl stood up and punched a fist straight up into the air. “Let’s go find this rosin!”

I looked as she kept still in the same position for a few moments, and then I sighed and said, “You have no idea where to start, do you?”

Sheryl’s hand dropped back down and she said, “No…”

***

“Ah!” Sheryl yelled out in frustration as we walked out of the fifth music store that we had visited. Nobody there had heard of this rosin either.

The sun was setting now, and we have had no luck in finding this legendary rosin.

I yawned and said, “It’s getting pretty late, I think we should head home and regroup tomorrow.”

“We can’t give up yet!”

“Sheryl, we’ve been on the Internet, we’ve been to the library, we’ve been to five music stores, and none of them have even heard of this legendary rosin. I’m beginning to think that there’s something weird going on here.”

Sheryl crossed her arms and smirked, “Why, it’s elementary, my dear James.”

I stood there, waiting for Sheryl to continue.

After a pause, I sighed and said, “You have no idea, do you?”

Sheryl uncrossed her arms and her smirk faded into a frown. Then she sheepishly said, “I was hoping that I would have came up with an idea by the time I finished that sentence…”

I yawned again. “Let’s call it a day and talk to Mr. Brown tomorrow, maybe he’ll give us more details.”

Sheryl’s face brightened up now that we had a plan. “Okay!”

***

“Legendary rosin?” Mr. Brown looked at us with a puzzled look. Then, a light bulb went off in his head. “Oh! Did Matthew tell you about it?”

“Yeah! He told us that it was used by Vivaldi, and that it’d make your bow sparkle!” said Sheryl, excited that we were getting somewhere.

“Eh…,” Mr. Brown looked at us with a puzzled look again, “All I said was that there was this legendary rosin that all violinists used.”

Sheryl slammed her hands onto the table.”Then how come we can’t find it and no one else has heard of it?”

“Well…, you can’t really find it.”

Sheryl was taken aback by the comment, “What?”

I sighed and placed my head in my palm, “This is one of those ‘it’s already in your heart’ things, isn’t it?”

Mr. Brown sheepishly admitted it, “Yeah…”

“Why would you tell someone that?!” Sheryl demanded.

“Well, he’s been hounding me for the past few weeks, trying to get me to tell him how to play better. I keep telling him that it’s going to be fine, but he wouldn’t listen, so I told him about the rosin. I figured that he would figure it out and get a confidence boost.”

This became one of the rare times that Sheryl was completely speechless.

I thanked Mr. Brown for his time, and dragged a completely shocked Sheryl out of the classroom before she burst into anger.

***

“What do you mean, ‘I already have it’?!” Matthew demanded.

We were in the clubroom again (Matthew, Sheryl, Samantha, and I) and I had just told Matthew what Mr. Brown had told us.

“As in, ‘it’s in your heart’,” I replied, fairly upset that I even had to say such a line. “Mr. Brown meant that you could already play well.”

Matthew clenched his hands into fists again. “But I-”

“Look,” I interrupted him, “Why don’t you play for us, and we can see if you have this legendary rosin or not.”

Samantha nodded, and so did Sheryl, but her nod was an angry nod.

“Alright…”

Matthew lifted up his violin case and placed it onto the table. He took out his bow and applied rosin to it. He took out his violin and tuned it. Then, when he was ready, he placed the violin between his head and his shoulder and started playing.

From his violin, a beautifully played song came out. For the few minutes that he played, the room was filled with wonderful music.

We sat there for a moment after he had finished playing.

Unable to hold back her mixture of anger and joy (because Matthew did play pretty well) any longer Sheryl exclaimed, “You’re fine!”

“Really?” Matthew blushed a little.

“Yes, you were great!”

Samantha and I nodded in agreement.

Matthew blushed again. He put away his violin and headed towards the door, “Thanks guys! You really did find the legendary rosin for me!”

As soon as Matthew headed out of the room and the door had closed, Sheryl said, “Of course, it turns out that he can play beautifully already!”

“Isn’t that a good thing?” asked Samantha.

“Aaaaah!” Sheryl buried her head in her arms and slumped onto the desk. “It is. But we were out there running around for the entire afternoon for nothing!”

Sheryl began telling Samantha what happened, and I left the two girls to their conversation.

Outside the clubroom, I sighed and said to myself, “How ridiculous.”

***

I entered the clubroom after-school the next day. Sheryl and Samantha were both already there.

“Hey James, listen to this!” Sheryl pulled out her recorder.

“Uh, okay.” I reluctantly closed the door and sat down.

To my surprise, Sheryl managed to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Smiling, she said, “So, what do you guys think?”

“It was great!” Samantha said, excitedly.

“Yeah,” I echoed.

“Thanks!” Sheryl smiled, proud of herself.

I looked over to the shelf and saw two folders there that weren’t there the day before.

Curious, I picked one of them up and opened it. In it was a case file on the case that we just resolved. I picked up the other folder and opened it to find another case file, this time on the one where we found Samantha’s cat.

“I see that you’ve found our case files,” Sheryl peeked over my shoulders, “Samantha wrote them up. She’s going to be logging our cases!”

“Oh, these are pretty good,” I said. “Did you know that we had two more cases before yours?”

Samantha smiled and took a laptop out of her bag. “Tell me about them!”

I smiled. Well, I guess now we have something to fill up that shelf with.

I began telling Samantha about our cases, as Sheryl proudly played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star again.

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This story is part of the After-School Detectives series.
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After-School Detectives – Annabell

Posted by cyberpfalcon on November 11, 2012

After-School Detectives LogoAs Sheryl and I were walking to school one day, we heard a wail charging towards us, “Sheryyyl!”

“Holmes,” said Sheryl, in an annoyed tone, as she turned around, “Call me Hol-”

However, Sheryl’s insistence on being called by her surname was interrupted by a girl tackling Sheryl into a hug. The two of them almost fell over from the force of the tackle-hug, but Sheryl managed to keep her balance somehow.

Hugging Sheryl tightly, with tears welling up in her eyes, the girl managed to sputter out some words, “Sh-Sheryl, Annabell’s been kidnapped!”

“Sa-Samantha?” Sheryl was surprised to see our usually bubbly classmate so upset.

“You have to help me!’ cried Samantha.

“Um,” I chimed in, hoping to make sense of this situation, “Who’s Annabell?”

Samantha loosened her grip on Sheryl and wiped her tears, “Oh! Sorry, I didn’t see you there, Watson.”

“It’s James,” I replied, annoyed. Ever since Sheryl made that announcement in class, some people have taken to calling me that whenever I’m with Sheryl Holmes. Focusing on the main subject again, I asked, “So who’s Annabell?”

“Annabell’s her cat.” Sheryl answered for Samantha, who was trying to calm down. Samantha managed to somewhat recompose herself before Sheryl asked the next question, “So what happened?”

“I was in the front yard playing with Annabell on Saturday, when her collar broke off, so I went into the house to get her a new one. After I got the collar, I saw a woman outside the window. She walked over to Annabell and- and,” Tears were starting to well up in Samantha’s eyes again, “And then she took Annabell into her car and drove off!”

Samantha was crying now. Sheryl and I backed away a little, not knowing what to do. Sheryl shot me a look that said that I should go and comfort Samantha, so I shot a look back at Sheryl that said that she should do it, since they were friends.

Sheryl got the message and sighed. Slowly she walked up to Samantha and patted her on the back, “Uh, don’t worry, Samantha. We’ll help you.”

Samantha’s crying was reduced to sobbing as she looked up at Sheryl, “You will?”

“Of course!” Sheryl gave Samantha a smile, “The After-School Detectives are on the case!”

Samantha’s face brightened up, “Thank you, Sheryl!”

“Wait,” I said, “If this really is a kidnapping, shouldn’t we tell the police?”

“Well, I told my parents, but they didn’t believe me and they think that Annabell just ran away, so we’ve been posting these up around the neighbourhood since yesterday.” Samantha reached into her bag, took out a poster, and handed it to us.

On the poster, it had the standard “Missing” headline, along with the cat’s name, Annabell, and the standard details, such as address and phone number. In the middle, of course, was a picture of a cat with a bell collar.

“Annabell?” I noted the somewhat uncommon spelling of the name.

“Yeah,” Samantha said, “Because of the bell!”

I smiled at the innocent pun.

And then I realized that we had been standing on the sidewalk for about fifteen minutes now. “Uh, guys, shouldn’t we be heading towards the school?”

Sheryl and Samantha’s eyes widened. Then, without a word, Sheryl took off in the direction of the school like a speeding bullet.

“Uh, here you go.” I handed Samantha the poster back and started running too.

“W-Wait!” yelled Samantha as she struggled with putting the poster back into her bag quickly. However, her hand slipped and she dropped her bag, causing the contents to spill out on to the floor and causing Samantha to cry out desperately.

I sighed and walked back.

“Let me help,” I said, crouching down to help her put her things back into her bag.

After we finished, she stood up and slung the backpack on to her back, then, giving me a smile, she said, “Thanks, James!”

The both of us ran all the way to the school, but we ended up late anyways. Luckily, Ms. Grey only gave us a minor warning before telling us to take our seats.

***

We got off the bus at Samantha’s neighbourhood. It was after-school and Sheryl thought that it would be a good idea to check out the so-called crime scene. I didn’t know what we were going to find, since we weren’t trained criminal scene investigators, but I guess having a look wouldn’t hurt.

“Maybe it’s some sort of underground cat trafficking ring,” Sheryl said as we walked towards Samantha’s house.

Samantha’s eyes welled up with tears again.

“Uh, or, um, uh,” Sheryl panicked, trying to stop Samantha’s crying. “Or maybe someone thought that your cat was a stray, since you said the collar broke off, right?”

Samantha wiped away her tears, “R- Right!”

Throughout the neighbourhood, Samantha’s posters were up everywhere. Weirdly though, it seemed as though some of the posters used a different picture. I walked up to such a poster and said to Samantha, “You have two different posters?”

“No, just the one,” was the reply.

I looked at the poster closer, and Sheryl and Samantha peeked over my shoulders to get a better look. The cat definitely looked like Annabell, but the rest of the details on the poster was different. For instance, the name of the cat on this poster was Maxine, and the owner was an Ellen Sherwood. Most importantly, this cat didn’t have a bell on its collar.

“Oh!” said Samantha. “These posters have been up for about a week now. It’s for a different cat that’s the same breed as Annabell.”

“What?” said Sheryl, brewing up another theory, “Another cat of the same breed is missing too? Maybe it’s some sicko who likes to ‘collect’ cats of the same breed.”

“Uh,” I said, hoping to stop Samantha from crying again, “But we won’t know until we investigate, right, Sheryl?”

Sheryl caught a glimpse of Samantha’s face and hurriedly agreed, “Uh, yeah, of course.”

Just then, a voice called out to us, “Samantha!”

We turned around to see a woman with a squirming cat in her arms heading towards us.

“Mom! You found Annabell!” Samantha ran over to her mother.

“Well, case solved!” Sheryl said giving me a dramatic thumbs up, even though we didn’t do anything.

However, as Samantha got closer, the cat hissed at her. Taken aback, Samantha stammered, “W-What’s wrong, Annabell?”

“She’s been like this ever since I found her,” Samantha’s mother said as she tried to calm the cat down, “Poor thing must be in shock.”

Samantha tried to pat the cat on its head, only to have to pull away in surprise when the cat hissed at her again. Samantha was near tears now. “But Annabell’s never been like this! What’s wrong, girl?”

“Maybe that’s not Annabell,” said Sheryl.

We all gave Sheryl a look of surprise before realizing how obvious that was. Samantha’s mother began parting the fur on the cat’s head, looking for something, “You’re right! This cat doesn’t have a scar on the back of her head like Annabell does!”

“Hm,” Sheryl began pondering now, “So that’s not Annabell. Now we have two questions, where is the real Annabell, and whose cat is that?”

We stood there for a moment, pondering together.

Then, the pieces fell into place for me. “Why, it’s elementary, my dear Sheryl.”

Sheryl gave me a scowl and pouted, no doubt because I had use that phrase and had stolen her thunder. “Okay then, James, why don’t you tell us?”

I pointed to the poster with the different cat. “That cat is Maxine, and Annabell is with Ms. Sherwood.”

***

“Thank you both so much!” said Samantha’s mother as we walked out of Ms. Sherwood’s driveway, with Samantha happily carrying Annabell in her arms.

“No problem!” Sheryl gave her a dramatic thumbs up. “That’s what we After-School Detectives do!”

Sure enough, the woman that Samantha saw take away Annabell was Ms. Sherwood. Ms. Sherwood had mistaken Annabell for her missing cat, Maxine, since the two looked nearly identical, especially when Annabell didn’t have her collar on. When we arrived, Ms. Sherwood knew that something was wrong, since Annabell was jumping all the over place, as if in a strange new environment. Sheryl (enthusiastically) explained what was going on, and everyone ended up with the right cat.

We reached the bus stop, and Samantha and her mother turned to leave. Samantha, her usual bubbly self again, said to us, “Thanks, Sheryl! Thanks, Watson! See you two tomorrow!”

“It’s Holmes!” said Sheryl at the same time that I said, “It’s James!”

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This story is part of the After-School Detectives series.
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