After experiencing my first tree planting experience and the wilderness of La Orden's Forest Park, the weekend passed by like a blur quickly. And upon realizing it also, it had been a week already since I first arrived here in La Orden. To be honest, a lot of interesting things happened during my first week here which I didn't fully expect. Maybe James was right. Maybe this town could give us a new perspective on things, a new chance. Then I remembered a certain memory. A memory where I was hopeless and looking helplessly at my father with his head tilted downcast. His hands were cuffed while he was being escorted by the police out of our home.
I shove away that memory and took a deep breath while waiting for Rayven downstairs. He drove us early going to school since he had another practice in preparation for their upcoming pocket tournament which will be held in a few days.
Leaving Rayven's car, I went to the building where the school newspaper was housed. Monica informed me last night that she will be at school early also since she had to finish some articles for their next issue.
While roaming around the hallways, I eventually found the school newspaper's room. Peeking at the small glass window of the door, I spotted Monica glued to her laptop while she furiously typed on the keyboard.
I knocked at the door, and Monica recognized me from her position. She eagerly let me into their small and cramp space of a room. There were at least three monitors I found on the desks and thick documents were all cluttered beside them. Looking at my side, there was a whiteboard where their agendas for the month were all written messily.
Monica returned to her seat and offered me the chair beside her. She typed something on her laptop and shut it down before facing me again.
"Just don't mind me, Monica. I know you have a lot of articles to finish. I'll just browse my phone."
"Nonsense. I just did the last and remaining article I have to edit which can be done later. So where's your brother?"
"He's in the fencing room. They have early practice since their tournament will be held in a few days. If I remember correctly, it's the same date as the Halloween Dance. So have you decided on your costume?"
"Well, I'm actually planning to pull a Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction. Since I just have to wear this short black wig plus coat and tie. Easy right?"
"That's cool!" I pretended to know who Mia Wallace was, and I hadn't watched that movie yet.
"How about you?"
I thought for a moment and slouched on my seat. "Actually, I haven't had the chance to think about it yet. With tons of homework thrown at me since I have to catch up with your curriculum, I don't even know how I will squeeze it in. Maybe I'll just wear some black dress. I could be one of the witches in some 90s movies."
Monica just laughed at me and shook her head. Then she glanced at her wristwatch where she told me we only had ten minutes left before class started. We quickly grabbed our things and ran out of the room, rushing to go to the classroom's building.
Arriving in the hallway, there were still students loitering outside the classroom while Monica and I were still catching our breath. She told me that she will get something from her locker which I offered myself to accompany her.
While leaning my back to someone's locker, I spotted a tall girl while her long brown hair swished back and forth as she walked the hallway. She walked like she was walking the fashion runway. I looked at her small face and felt a pang of envy. She had a flawless face and her look could pass as a model. Two girls accompanied her while they talked animatedly. Then she caught my eyes looking at her.
They halted their talk and continued their strides moving towards me. I was startled by this sudden turn. I just hoped that I was just standing behind her locker.
They stopped before me, and the model-like girl scrutinized my appearance from top to bottom.
"Sorry, is this your locker?" I stepped away from the locker I was leaning earlier, but she didn't make any further moves to open the locker. I saw that Monica was already done grabbing her things from her locker and surprise was written all over her face when she saw the beautiful girl standing before me.
"Enemies without. Enemies within. Or should I say enemy within?" I don't even know if she was threatening me or what but she dropped those words sweetly like she was delivering a poetry line to me. She toyed with her hair strand for a moment then pulled away from her gaze at me and stride away with her groupie.
I made sure that she was too far away to hear me before talking to Monica.
"Who was that?" I asked her.
Monica looked at the direction of the girl. "That's Deena Kim. Why does it seem that she was threatening you?"
I shook my head at Monica and made a sudden realization. "Well, Dylan happened."
She creased her brows at me, curious that Dylan's name was dragged in this conversation. More like I was dragged by Dylan in their drama. I recalled to her the first time I'd met Dylan until the fated moment where he pushed me to the wall and made a fake scene for Deena.
"Well, good luck with that. Deena is a feisty girl. Let's hope that she will get over with Dylan soon," she paused for a moment and turned her head at the direction behind me. "Speaking of the devil, he's here."
I turned around and found Dylan walking in our direction, and I could see from his expression that something came up. He approached us and gave a nod to Monica then looked hurriedly at me.
"They are going to open Raymond's locker today," he dropped to us.
I arched my brow at him. "Who will open his locker?"
"I'll explain on the way." He suddenly grabbed my right arm while Monica jolted from the sudden turn of events. Dylan led me away, but Monica trailed after us. I saw from the side that she immediately pulled out her camera from her bag expecting a juicy scoop from this.
We made a turn to another hallway while Dylan kept his hand on my arm. As we near closer to our destination, we could see students huddled together. I could spot our principal's head from the crowd and people wearing blue uniforms - the police. This thing escalated quickly.
We tried squeezed our way inside the crowd, so we could get a better view of what was happening. Other students started to gather around the locker spaces, and from my right, I saw Deena with her groupie earlier.
The principal marched toward the locker space and behind him, two police officers tailed after. Deena suddenly stepped out from the crowd and placed her hands on her hips.
"Mom?" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
One of the police officers, the woman with short pixie hair had the same height as her daughter. She looked very fit for a woman for her age.
Mrs. Kim hugged her daughter and looked at the principal to let him explain the situation to the restless students. Acknowledging the look from the police officer, Dr. Floyd Manuel nodded at her and faced his students.
Clearing his throat, he assessed his students. "Students, I know you have a class to attend to, but since you will be plaguing with questions later, this is to announce to everyone that Raymond Manto's situation has been officially declared as a missing person case."
Murmurs and restlessness began to spread around the crowd. He gave a nod to the two police officers and moved to Raymond's locker. Despite the reminder from Dr. Manuel about our class, students started to inch closer around the locker. Some were stretching their necks just to see what was happening. Dylan, Monica, and I were no exemption as we want to see what was inside.
Mrs. Kim's partner pulled the duplicate key and twisted it inside the keyhole. He pulled the handle and pack of books and notebooks fell from the locker. The locker must be jampacked inside. The two officers began collecting the books and notebooks on the floor, and that was when I saw a black envelope slid on the floor far away from the eyes of the officers and the students. I pulled away from Dylan and carefully moved closer to the envelope I saw. I double-checked to make sure no one would see me sneaking inside my pocket the potential evidence item to this missing person case.
After the policed raided Raymond's locker and placed all items inside a box, students started to head to their respective classrooms. The three of us were all silenced by what happened especially, Dylan. I couldn't imagine what he was feeling right now after getting the confirmation that his elementary best friend was officially missing.
I stepped out before them stopping them from their tracks. Both of them threw me a questioning look.
"I have a confession to make. I may..." I paused temporarily."...steal something from Raymond's locker. Look it just fell off together with his books then I saw it slid on the floor." I pulled out the black envelope which I folded inside my pocket and showed it to them.
"Yuno! The police can charge you with a criminal case just for stealing an item from an active case." Dylan spouted at me.
"I'm aware, Dylan. Look! It might be just a simple love letter or I dunno a scratch paper." I rolled my eyes at him and pulled open the black envelope. There was a black paper inside which I withdrew as well. I read what was scribbled on the paper and left me befuddled.
I showed the letter to Dylan and Monica and both of them wore a similar expression.
IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE TO ANNOUNCE TO YOU THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED AS AN OFFERING FOR A GREATER CAUSE.
Those were the words written inside the black envelope.
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