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Murder on Mactoberfest

Misheel Batkhuu
Oct. 31, 2021, 12:31 p.m.

“One of us will be dead by tonight.”
Ms. Hajime stood at the front of the room, hands clasped in front of her, her sharp black eyes trained heavily on the ground. Their depth and focus failed to mask the avoidance of eye contact. It was no doubt an awkward situation to admit that this would be the seventh year a random teacher’s body was mysteriously found somewhere in the halls of William Lyon Mackenzie on Mactoberfest, with a puncture wound in the right wrist to mark blood drawn.

Mr. Hoffman raised his hand, “So are we actually going to stop it from happening this time?” Ah yes, the question on everyone’s mind.

Ms. Hajime flushed. “Unfortunately, we have procrastinated yet again and so, even I have no plans,” she phrased out carefully. There was a collective of nervous chuckling and muttering across the conference room.
“However,” Ms. Hajime continued, “There’s a likelihood that the serial killer will not strike until after midday. We shall have another meeting here at lunch. Until then, brainstorm some ideas, please. And also speak to students in your class who you know have been held back more than a year… see if you can find anything.” She clapped her hands. “Meeting adjourned.”

It was relatively quiet as staff - teachers, hall monitors, cafeteria cooks, and teachers alike - assembled their belongings and proceeded to their Period 1 destinations. Mrs. Joules, the science department head, swivelled around to face me.
“Splendid costume, Mr. Seavann,” she gestured at my firefighter ensemble.
“Well, what with all this,” it was my turn to gesture, but with my black-gloved hand and around the gloomy lunchroom, “we need some folks to be a silver lining.”
Mrs. Joules nodded kindly, “Yes, yes, how noble.”
There was a long silence as we headed down the hall to our respective classrooms, I to Grade 11 Chemistry and she to Grade 12 AP Biology.
“I’m so sorry for you,” Mrs. Joules’ throaty voice cut the air.
“What, why?” I asked, confused.
“Well, just that you must have to be so unfortunate. You still feel new to the school, because you’ve only been here for about seven years but there have been all these dreadful murders happening for six of them,” she rambled.
“I’ve always attracted bad luck,” I shrugged in an attempt to relieve my superior of her guilt.
“But this! This goes beyond bad luck, I’m afraid. It’s just too coincidental. I fear…” her voice dropped a pitch, “I fear you’re the one they’re after.”
My heart stopped momentarily. Poor Mrs. Joules was trembling hard at my side. I patted her shoulder gently, “I’ll be alright. We’ll be alright.” The trembling slowed down a bit, but as we parted ways, I knew that all those crazy thoughts were still running wild in her brain.

Briiiiing! Two and a half hours later, I stood at the front of the room, costume still intact, students considerably out of control as they flooded out, chattering excitedly amongst one another. “Don’t forget your lab reports are due tomorrow!” I called in vain. I simultaneously grabbed the arms of two students just before they reached the door. These two, I had been keeping my eye on during the entire period. Jessica Li and Nicolas Cartier looked up at me rather fearfully, her through her cat mask and he through his Sherlock Holmes spectacles, hands stuffed in his pockets. I had their attention. I let them go and they stepped a foot back towards the middle of the classroom, waiting for me to speak.

“The two of you aren’t doing too well right now. Jessica, you’ve missed three consecutive deadlines, and Nicolas, it isn’t attractive how you choose to nap instead of writing your tests. At this rate, you’ll end up repeating a year… again. Care to explain yourselves?” I tapped my fingers on the lab bench on my left.
Nicolas shrugged, “Why should you care what I choose to do?” The ignorant brat.
“I care because I am your teacher and because I am a citizen. It’s kids like you that eat up tax dollars sent to fund free secondary education,” I snapped.
“You educators are all after money after all,” Nicolas sneered unfazed, “you make me sick.”
He brushed past me, exiting the room.
“You’re the one who makes me sick!” I retorted. My eyes remained concentrated on the second suspect though. Just in case.
Jessica seemed to realize she was up next.
“Sir!” she squealed, “I’m really really sorry. It’s just that everything’s been so confusing and so busy and I… I-” her tears cut her off.
Something inside me softened. “It’s alright to not understand Chemistry,” I reassured her. She looked up at me with hopeful eyes. “But it’s not alright to take Chemistry if you know you don’t understand it. Drop the course if you’re struggling, don’t stay stuck in school because of it.”
The hope vanished from her eyes, and in its place formed distraught. “See?! Even you don’t understand me! You have no idea what I’m going through, what I have to do today, and-and… UGH, you teachers are so heartless!” she burst out of the room, brushing past me even harder than Nicolas had, her black cat tail wagging behind her. For Pete’s sake, what I would do to teach AP kids who had already passed grade 11 and knew what they were doing now.

On the way to the lunchroom for our second staff meeting, I stopped by the washroom. Inside, I found Mrs. Joules dutifully filling up her water bottle. “Any luck?” she asked me as I checked the stalls. “Two kids… reasonably suspicious,” I replied. They were all so dirty. I decided I’d be fine. “Well, see you at the meeting,” I waved. “See you!” Mrs. Joules called back, back to me as she fastened the lid.

“I swear, I didn’t do it!” I stood in the doorway, having just walked into a scene. Nicolas was in the staff lunchroom, his hair worked in a frenzy, hands finally unstuffed from his detective pants. All the staff surrounded him, over the top suspicious.
“Why were you in here alone then, playing with the food in our fridge?” Ms. Hajime inquired, once again at the front of the room.
Nicolas threw up his hands, “I just wanted to play a prank on Seavann!”
Ms. Hajime narrowed her eyes, “A prank? Could this be a murder prank by any chance? Murder by poison?”
“No! I swear, why would I kill a freaking teacher?!” He was too panicked to be suspicious now.
The staff began muttering stuff about a waste of time, when, all of a sudden, a scream came from outside. The hall monitor, who had been standing outside as a guard, burst in. “Mrs. Joules…” she gasped, “she’s… she…”
She didn’t need to finish. We all bolted out, following the direction of the chatter and whistles and shrieks, down the cobwebbed corridors and up the dimmed stairs. And then we found her. Strewn across the tiled floor, right wrist with a gaping scar, and over the body… Jessica Li.

The girl screamed and cried as she was dragged off by the police. I got congratulated for having suspected her rightfully, albeit too late. “At least this will have been the final year,” Ms. Hajime said confidently. What a relief.

That night, at home, I pulled off my firefighter costume wearily. It had been a long day, but at least it had been fulfilling. Out of my bag, I pulled out the matching black gloves I had taken off earlier. Walking into the pantry, I unfolded them, pulled out the dark vial wrapped inside, and opened the empty cupboard to add it to a neat array of six gleaming red bottles, marked by the year.

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