Afflictions: Part Eight

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“Last call for buses. This is the last call for buses.” A woman spoke over the intercom.

Arte sighed with relief. This was considerably harder than she’d thought it was going to be, and this wasn’t even the real reason they were here. It was gonna be tough to figure out what’s going on if they were wiped out from teaching. The kids were reasonably well behaved, and none of them seemed too relevant to the investigation. They couldn’t afford to be too aggressive in this, but they needed to start somewhere. It would probably be smart to get a copy of Jessica’s schedule, and scope out all of her teachers from there. If the teachers didn’t yield anything, then maybe her classmates would.

Arte already had a theory about what was going on here. Jessica went missing around the time she went over to Zoey’s house looking for her. She’s one of the few people close to Zoey. It wasn’t exactly a leap to say that they knew Zoey had powers, but either kidnapped the wrong person or went after her friend. She couldn’t lock herself into it too much, but at the same time, it was a good place to start. That left one main question. Who suspected that Zoey had powers?

Regardless, they had to get the schedule first, so that meant they couldn’t do too much today. It was about time to head home, and they didn’t have any specific leads.

As she was thinking, a tall man with short red hair passed by the door, then doubled back.

“Howdy! Are you Mr. Ashe’s sub?” He walked up to Arte, who was sitting at the desk. As he entered the room, he took notice of Ashley as well.

“Yeah, I’m Arte.”

“And I’m Ashley.” Ashley came over and leaned up against the wall next to Arte.

“I’m Mr. Wentz, but you can call me Chuck.” He shook both of their hands. “So are you both subbing, or…?”

“Yeah, we’re both covering for Mr. Ashe. We don’t normally teach, but it was a favor to Mr. Kriska.” Arte figured that was a plausible enough explanation.

“Interesting… How do you know Mr. Kriska?”

Arte was beginning to get a little nervous. This guy was asking a lot of questions that she didn’t necessarily have a great answer to. He looked about twice her age, so she had to have something that worked with that.

“He’s a friend of my parents.” Ashley chimed in.

“I see, that makes sense. Are you two sisters or…?” He moved over to lean on one of the desks.

“No, we’re engaged.” Ashley replied immediately.

Arte’s heart skipped a beat. It was still a little weird to hear her say that. Not to mention the attention it would draw.

“Oh really? That’s great.” He nodded. “Yeah, no need to worry about anything here, we’re all cool with that sort of thing.”

Arte nodded politely and smiled for a moment. This guy definitely seemed to be nosy, so he’d presumably know something about what had been going on. She just needed to turn the conversation around to him. “So what do you teach?”

“Oh, I teach history.” He paused for a moment. “Shame about Mr. Ashe. It seems like a little bit of a footnote what with everything else going on.”

“Everything that’s going on?” Arte pressed further. It looked like Chuck was a gossip, so that worked out well for them.

“Oh, haven’t you heard? I figured if you knew Kriska he would’ve told you.” He took a look out the door, then moved in closer and lowered his voice. “A student went missing. It’s a real tragedy, she’s in my class. She was a really bright kid. I hope she’s alright.”

“Oh no! That’s awful.” Ashley rested her hand on Arte’s shoulder.

“I know… I’ve talked to the detectives, they came to interview her teachers, and it didn’t sound like they had a clue.” He nodded somberly. “Real shame.”

Arte nodded in agreement. This guy was one of Jessica’s teachers, and definitely knew something if there was something to know. She had to talk to him a bit more to get a feeling of if he was involved, or just nosy. If he wasn’t involved, then he could definitely be an asset.

There were footsteps in the hall, and Chuck snapped his head towards the sound. “Mr. Webb! Get in here, shut the door behind you.”

A large balding man with glasses stepped into the doorway. He looked like he was unhappy to have been noticed. He shut the door behind him, and walked up to the desk. He studied Arte and Ashley for a moment before speaking, he furrowed his brow.

“What did you need, Chuck?” He asked flatly.

“We were just talking about Jessica.” He turned back to Arte and Ashley and added, “He had her in one of his classes too.”

“Okay.” He seemed to be paying a lot of attention to Arte and Ashley. He looked at them like he was trying to figure out the answer to a riddle, and they were the riddle.

“Any theories? I’m sure you’ve put your big brain to use on this.” Chuck gave him a playful tap on the shoulder, which seemed to grab his attention.

“Very funny. I’m gonna go if you don’t need anything.” He turned and went out of the room, wearing a more intense frown than when he walked in.

Chuck waited for him to leave the room before rolling his eyes and laughing. “Yeesh. James is a little antisocial if you didn’t pick up on that yourself. He didn’t always used to be such a grouch, but I guess maybe he’s got something going on.” He looked at the door again, before leaning in close and whispering, “I’m a little surprised the detectives haven’t found anything on him yet. He seems a little troubled.” He nodded, seemingly satisfied. He pulled back and went towards the door. “Well, it was good talking to you. Let me know if you need anything. The history hall is down that-a-way.” He pointed to his right.

“Will do.” Ashley waved. They both put on a polite smile as he walked out of the door.

“Interesting…” Arte nodded. It looked like a couple of leads had just come to them. She’d still get the schedule, but now they had somewhere to start. Mr. Webb even had the class next door, which would probably make things easier.

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Hello traveler! I just uploaded another post this week as a celebration of reaching 100 followers, and it’s a comprehensive guide to how I write! If that interests you, give it a read. Hopefully soon I will be able to officially announce a side project I’m planning on launching. Don’t worry, though, it won’t interfere with this. You can take me at my word when I say, barring my own death or dismemberment, I will finish this story.

Photo Credit: Original

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