Afflictions: Part Sixteen

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Arte sighed with relief as the bell tolled, and students filed out of their classroom. Another long day was done. They had thorough enough lesson plans provided, but it was still exhausting to actually do. She was definitely glad she decided to roll Ashley into this. It didn’t seem to be dangerous thusfar, and it was a huge help to have her here. She wasn’t sure that she could get this job done without her.

“So, I know we talked about this earlier, but…” Ashley started. “I think it’s best if we split up to do interviews today. We’ve got our suspect, and we need to cover more ground.”

“No way.” Arte replied flatly. “I don’t see any benefit that offsets the potential risks. You’ve gotta remember that we’re investigating a disappearance, and you don’t have that much more fighting power than Jessica did. We need to go together to be safe.”

Ashley sighed. “Fine, I guess if I can’t talk you out of it, spending time with you isn’t the worst thing, even if it’s inefficient.”

“Now we’re talking.” Arte chuckled. “Let’s get on to Dr. Flores first.”

Arte and Ashley made their way down the halls, and into the office. It wasn’t too long after dismissal, so there were still plenty of students milling around. They nodded at the receptionist as they walked past, and found their way to the principal’s office. Arte lightly knocked on the door.

“Come in.” Dr. Flores answered. He sat at his desk, and closed his laptop. “What can I do for you two?” He gestured for them to shut the door behind them.

“We wanted to ask you about Mr. Webb.” Arte replied. “We looked into a few of Zoey’s teachers, and we think he’s the most suspicious. I think he might suspect us of being up to something too.”

“Ah.” Dr. Flores nodded and sighed. “I can’t say I’m surprised you ask about him. He’s certainly one of the top suspects, to me at least.

“I hired him about ten years ago, pretty early into my tenure here as principal. He was a smart man, and while it could be difficult to tell at times, cared deeply about his students. A couple of years ago, though, he had a little bit of a personality shift. He got here at 8 and left at 4, and he started being a little twitchy.” He looked off to the side. “I want to believe that he has nothing to do with this, but something has been going on with him for the past couple of years, and this year it’s only gotten worse. It ramped up after Jessica’s disappearance. While I want to believe he’s just concerned, I can’t help but be suspicious. It pains me to say this, because I could never believe he’d hurt anyone, but I think you are right to hold him as your prime suspect.”

“Did he have an alibi for the night that Jessica went missing?” Arte asked. She knew the police did an investigation, but it didn’t bring too much up and the DSR took over. The police were still present, to direct attention away from Arte and Ashley, but the DSR was doing the primary investigation.

“Not particularly.” Dr. Flores shook his head. “He was at home alone, and nobody can verify his story.”

“We’ll look a bit more into him. It might still be a misunderstanding.” Ashley replied, in her usual soothing tone of voice.

Dr. Flores smiled. “Good luck with your investigation. I hope everything comes to light.”

The pair made their way back towards the classroom to regroup. As they were walking, Arte’s vision went a little blurry. She saw something in front of her, and then she fell onto the ground. Ashley reached out and softened the fall.

“Are you alright?” Ashley asked.

Arte was about to answer, but saw someone running up. “You alright? Tripped over nothing there.” Wentz asked.

Arte felt like that wasn’t true, there was something there, but she couldn’t make out what. She began to question herself, but thought it best to just drop it for the moment. Wentz was the other person she wanted to talk to. “Yeah, I’m fine. Tripped over my own feet. Thanks.”

“Glad you’re alright. Going somewhere?” He asked, reaching out a hand to help her up.

Arte got to her feet. “We were just on our way back to our room, but we were actually about to be looking for you.”

“Oh?” He raised his brow. “Well, it appears you’ve found me. My room’s right over here, why don’t we talk there.”

He led the pair over to his room. Inside, the lights were dimmed, and the walls were lined with bookshelves. All of the desks were arranged together to make larger tables.

“Let me take a guess.” He put his hand to his chin to mime deep thought. “You want to talk more about the missing girl? Can’t blame you. I’m glad you two came in. Mr. Ashe was never all that into gossip.”

Arte laughed as convincingly as she could. “I guess you pegged us. I was asking around about that Webb guy, and nobody seems to know what his deal is. They say he started acting more suspicious when the girl disappeared though.”

“He’s something of an interesting figure.” Wentz nodded. “He used to be this vaguely awkward normal guy, but then a couple of years ago, he just shut down anyone talking to him. I think that started about three school years ago. He’s acted weird ever since. Earlier this year, I heard him shouting at someone, as I walked by, and looked in to check on him, but there was nobody there. Another time, I tried to talk to him about the girl’s disappearance, and he got twitchy and nearly ran away. I was just talking about how we both got interviewed by detectives, and how thankful I was that I had a good alibi for that night. I was having a dinner with my wife, then we saw a show. We took a bunch of pictures, so the officers seemed satisfied.”

“Weird…” Arte nodded.

“Isn’t it?” He replied. “I don’t know how he hasn’t been arrested, or at least fired, to be honest. I can’t imagine he has a good alibi. He seems to get out of here pretty quick every day. It does make you wonder where he’s going.”

“Something’s fishy…” Arte muttered. Something had to be going on with Mr. Webb. That would be a good place to focus their investigation for now. She was a little wary of how chatty Mr. Wentz was, but if he had a good alibi, he was low priority right now.

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Hello traveler! You’ve happened upon my serial, or maybe found it intentionally. If you like what you see, be sure to check out the reading guide and read the rest of the series! This may be season 3, but there’s pretty comprehensive recaps, so it’s not as if there’s an enormous backlog.

I’ve started work in earnest on season 4, and I’ve just finished the posts I intend to do between seasons 3 and 4, season 3.5 if you will. I’ll hopefully have a better name by the time it’s up. I’m going to try to have some form of schedule for writing season 4, with the hope of maybe actually starting on season 5 before season 4 even airs.

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