Case 9 - Rogue Detectives
It 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 bee 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, "Guys..., 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."
"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?"
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.