Teaser

a folder of all the characters and chapters of this hopefully thought provoking story so far, enjoy!!

Characters

Claire

An aspiring 14 year old detective named Claire. Her coldness towards the Head Detective and Cory, may lead you to think she is condescending. However, through the story she reveals to have trouble expressing her emotions towards others. She also has an odd fondness for coffee and the color brown.

Sabrina

An uprising guitar idol who was quick to accuse people when the book started. Being one of the most recurring supporting characters. Throughout the book she takes a liking to Claire, and is less dismissive towards her position. This is most likely because she was also a prodigy, and is sympathetic.

Chapters

An Ominous Entrance:

The two students walked side by side, excited for once about the day’s adventures.

“So, what do you think we’ll see?” Claire persisted.

“Probably nothing much; we’re just going to a hotel,” Cory countered. “I’m excited to eat at Lily’s Diner, though! Do you think we might meet Lily herself?”

Lily’s Diner was very well known for winning the spring festival food contest every year.

“Speaking of the spring festival, I heard a new guitarist will be there!” Cory exclaimed.

“You are way too excited; we don’t even know if it’s official,” Claire said, “plus, the music is only one thing out of.. like, 50.” 

“You’re right, but this is about the only exciting thing that happens here.” 

“Finally, I agree with something you’ve said. There’s no harm to feeling a bit excited.” 

“Students, please! I need your attention. We need to take attendance and–oh! Can we review the schedule?” the teacher inquired. “Okay, so when we arrive at the hotel, we’ll split off into pairs with a hotel staff member and explore a bit! I really want you to know how a successful business functions, from the inside out!” 

The class excitedly makes their way onto the bus, unaware of the future horrors to come. As the yellow bus speeds away toward the hotel, only a hill away, a dark figure is outlined against the edge of the business. 

“Only a few more hours,” it mutters and disappears into the shadows.

“Once again, thank you for this opportunity. My students,  staff, and I are ever so grateful,” Mrs. Smith said, smiling. 

“As are we, I’m sure you know.” Mr. Sharma shook her hand,and grinned. “Lily and I value education very highly, and we hope you enjoy your stay.” 

“Thank you, I’m sure we will.” 

“Alright, so let’s split off into pairs, class! “Cory and Claire, you will be with Devin and explore culinary!” 

A tall boy stepped forward. “Nice to meet you–right this way.”

They followed Devin down the hallway to a brightly-painted poolside diner. The bright yellow, pink, and blue graphics on the walls created a beautiful pattern. A big neon sign at the front read Lily’s Diner!

“Welcome to Lily’s Diner.” Devin said proudly. 

“Devin, stop bragging. You’re confusing the students,” a voice said.

Out came a rather short and stumpy woman–she was Lily. Hands stained with green pigment of sorts, she waved. 

They’d signed up for the food section of the hotel specifically to meet Lily. She’s basically a celebrity for founding the hotel from scratch. So they were very flustered to meet her.

“H-hi, my name is Cory, and this is Claire.  It’s such an honor to meet you-”

The students were interrupted by a bloodcurdling scream. The group turned their heads questioningly, almost as if on cue. 

Claire ran in the direction of the scream, because she could feel it.She tried her best to navigate through the similar corridors and crannies, finally leading her to a woman looking up and gaping in horror. Claire looked up to see what was so peculiar, trying to figure out why the woman had screamed. 

Then, she saw it… 

Lying on the floor near a pool of blood was a body. But not just any body. The body belonged to James Sharma, the hotel owner. The woman’s face turned white as she saw Claire piecing together the obvious. She gasped in horror in front of the onlookers and exclaimed, “I didn’t do it!” 

Coffee and Headaches:

“Who would you say hated James the most?” The detective leans in, probably for intimidation, but it has no effect on Lily. She was already crying, her eyes too glassy to see. 

“James was a good man; he never would have done anything wrong.” She let out a tiny sob and turned away. 

“Inspector…some respect, please! Her husband just died! What do you think she could offer you?” Chris reasoned.

“Well, she could be pretending to cry.” The detective peered at Lily, who is grabbing a towel for her eyes. 

“Don’t tell me you think she-”

“No one is off the list just yet.” 

As the detective moves on, Chris cries out, “Well, I saw two people near the body.” 

“WHAT?” the detective yells as everyone cringes. “YOU DIDN’T THINK TO MENTION THAT AT THE BEGINNING, CHRIS?”

“Mr. Vooch, please calm down and let him explain.”

The detective sat down grudgingly, sending Chris nasty looks when he thought no one was looking, though everyone was.

“Well, when I found Mr. James I saw a tall woman wearing a black bandanna. Ah, yes, her.” He pointed out the woman to the rest of the group. 

“My name is Sabrina.” The woman had her hands on her hips and looked at him with a no-nonsense face.

Chris raised his hands in protest. “I’m just telling you what I saw.”

“And her, the one with short brown hair,” he pointed out to Claire, “I think she did it.” 

“How could a student, much less someone Mr. Sharma never interacted with, do it?” the teacher asked. How would the teacher know who Mr. Sharma knew, Rhea?

“Well, when I came into the closet she was checking the body’s pulse. She repositioned the body.”

While hearing this, the detective sprang up again. “You meddling brat! You should know not to touch bodies at a crime scene.”

Claire stood from her chair and began speaking her first words. “With all due respect, detective, I think I have been more successful than you in solving these types of cases.” 

In the past, Claire and Cory would help out the police agency by solving cases. It’s been a sore spot for the Detective because they always seemed to get to the solution first

Detective Vooch, his face a glowing red, sat down and cleared his throat. “Why are they still here?” 

 “That’s a good point, detective, it’s time for us to leave. Please tell us if the situation changes, as we are happy to help with anything you need,” the teacher said, as her face begrudgingly met with Lily’s. It wasn’t surprising that they both felt sad, since they were both very excited about the learning program.

It was dark out, while Claire and Cory were in their treehouse, working on the facts of the crime. The murder had put a stop to all other thoughts in Cory’s brain, and she needed someone to make sure Claire didn’t completely head off the rails. 

“Y’know, knowledge could be power,” Claire said, munching on her croissant. But I think power is coffee.” 

Cory smacked the empty coffee mug out of her hand. 

“Too late! Another coffee down, which means another hour of work.”

“Back to the point–have you found anything?”

“Well, after badgering the police captain, I found the deceased’s medical files. Did you know he was lactose intolerant?”

Cory elbowed her. “Claire, FOCUS.”

“Okay, okay!” 

We might want to check Lily’s  location before the murder,” Cory offered. 

“Exactly,” Claire retorted.

Claire started to read from the sheet she had devised, with all the suspects’ information. “Sabrina Evans; 25, “trendy” new guitar idol, performing at the spring festival concert, in town only for the show next week, staying in Room 4.”

“Anything interesting from her interview?”

“Not particularly, she never really interacted with him. However, she was the one who found the body.”

“I’m going to be bold and mark that as a dead end. We’ll have to keep looking.”

Cory stood up and headed for the door. “By the way, I’ll bring you back some coffee.”

So she got to work, churning away at the suspects until she finally had four.

Cory walked back, holding the fifth, and last, cup of coffee.

Claire took it gladly. “I’m down to two suspects.”

He glanced at her physical state and knew this had to end before she withered away, her only remains being her fiery determination.

“Who are they?”

“Well, Sabrina was found near the body. It would be silly not to suspect her.”

“Who are the other suspects?”

“Chris Adams; 46, started his own company, came to the hotel to make a deal with James regarding his company.”

“He sounds promising.” Cory remarked.

“He was also very quick to point out suspects.”

Cory nodded slowly, his head still processing the information. 

Claire’s eyes brightened as Cory had gone through the list with no objections, as he usually vetoed her crazy ideas.

Claire smiled. Despite it being pretty late, and most of the caffeine was wearing off, she had a burst of excitement. 

“Well then, let’s get to work.”

Tea-stained Suspects:

The festival is tomorrow, and the boardwalk is beginning to fill with people. However, the hotel was still covered with an uncertain aura. It was Claire’s job to turn the situation around before it was too late. 

“Why were you in that room in the first place?” Claire quizzed.

Sabrina’s smile twitched. Strangely, the highlights in her hair did the same. She smuggly sipped her tea. 

Hesitantly, she responded, “That was pure coincidence, since the practice rooms are near the storage closet.” Matter of factly she added, “Actually, we finished rehearsal and I headed to the storage room, where I found the body.” 

Claire listened attentively while she mulled the situation over in her head. She then asked her quite bluntly, “And you have no relationship with Mr.Sharma at all?” 

Sabrina was taken aback by Claire’s business-like tone and abruptly responded, “For God sake, no! I never even knew him! The only time I was near him was when I signed into my room.” 

Claire sighed and looked at her watch. Claire and Cory had decided to split up the list and meet up at 3:30 pm, and it was already 3:15. She had time for one more question,

“If you didn’t do it, who do you think did?”

Sabrina sat up from her previously slouched position on the couch and whispered,

“Y’know the guy who was pointing us out earlier, Chris? I heard he and Mr.Sharma had a lot of arguments.” 

Claire sat up to follow suit. Finally, a good lead. 

Sabrina continued to whisper, “I also heard that the manager was having problems with money. Chris even took out a loan for the poor guy.” She gestured around to the extravagantly fancy hotel. “He’s obviously doing well now, but I still think there’s a lead there.” 

Sabrina stood up and walked to the door. With a bit of bravery and tea, she stated, “I think you should stop interviewing innocent souls like us and focus on the real suspects.”

She left Claire alone with her thoughts. Which is something no one should ever do.

Claire took it in stride and reviewed her menacing to-do list. 

To Do:

  • Interview Sabrina 
  • Get more details on the body
  • Check up on the history of Chris
  • Talk to Lily about the hotel

Cory came in at just the right time. Claire was pacing the room, looking at her “to-do list”.

“I got the details you wanted.” Cory said, setting down the file on the coffee table and plopping on the couch. Claire snatched the folder and looked through it.

Meanwhile Cory took a closer look at Claire’s list. “Oh, only one thing left, and this is over–sweet!” Cory said with relief. He really wanted to get home so he could prepare for the spring festival tomorrow. 

“Slow down, and tell me what you learned,” Claire asked. 

“When I asked about the body, some people told me that he was showing signs of stress. His medical records of past checkups indicate that he was overweight and had hypertension. This man had a higher caffeine intake than you, Claire.” 

“Those are all very direct signs of stress,” Claire said, “but, stress about what?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Cory yawned. “I do think we should wrap it up for today, though–we’ve done a lot.” 

“Except find the murderer.” Claire recounted, eyes squinting. Cory couldn’t back out on her now that she was so close! She just needed a way to prove it.

Claire stopped looking through the file and thought about all the clues had she gathered. Technically, she hadn’t gotten any official information, but something was going on. Even if it wasn’t murder, Chris Adams had something sticky going on. 

Claire stood up and gathered her things. “Before we go, I want to check out another room.” 

Cory sprang up quickly.

They were so set on finding the murder that they didn’t notice a short silhouette, holding a tea tray and stroking the flowery teapot. 

A while later…

Claire and Cory walk up the hallway to a wooden door marked with a big “3”. 

“Mr. Chris, sir?” Claire asked as she knocked on the door. “We’d like to ask you some questions about the murder of James Sharma.” 

No answer. 

This was typical for an up-and-coming detective, as people ignored, underestimated, and generally made it hard for them to gather information: because of their age. So they waited some more.

No answer. Not even a single sound coming from the hotel room. Nothing indicating that life was in the room. Soon, they began to get worried. Cory began to pound on the door. Claire was getting more stressed with every thud. 

Eventually,, enough adults had passed and reported that two children were frantically banging on the door that Lily came running down to James’s room.

“What are you two doing?” Lily screeched. 

A couple walking past sent confused looks to the children. 

“Wait, no, I don’t want to know.” she said as she shook her head. “Whatever it is, stop. You are scaring away guests!” 

“Mrs. Sharma, we’re pretty sure something happened to Chris! He isn’t answering his door, and we’ve been knocking for an hour.” Claire cried urgently. Does Mrs. Sharma help run the hotel, Rhea? 

“Why do you look so frazzled? ” Cory asked Mrs. Sharma. Claire sent him a nasty look. “Sorry! She just looked so stressed!” 

“Busy actually–it’s been a lot of work running the hotel alone. But it’s what I’ve always loved.” She seemed to be in some sort of daze about her love of hotels so Claire quickly redirected her focus to the problem. 

“I hate to interrupt, but we do have bigger issues here.” Claire said insistently. 

“Ah, yes!” Lily snapped out of it. “I doubt anything has happened to Mr. Adams, but we ought to check.” she fumbled nervously with the master key. “After you.” she signaled with her hand.

The trio quickly made their way to the room to find a shocking sight. Bright red blood painted the hardwood floors of the room. 

Chris was dead.

The Festival:

An incredible view of box-shaped lanterns and city lights shone down on the kids looking out of the building. The lilies looked a bit different than before. The kids were being kidnapped, but still, what a view–y’know? Is that what you meant, Rhea?

Mrs. Sharma stood at a window of the glass building. Claire awoke slowly. Her vision was blurry. What was she doing here? Then, she saw Lily at the window. She tried to move her arms, but they were strapped tightly to a chair. 

Fortunately, she was able to speak. “What is going…” She looked around and saw Cory.

“Oh, my God, is he okay?” He was strapped in a chair with his head hanging down.

“Hello, Claire,” an ominous figure stated. “I’ve been watching you, and I am not pleased.” 

The person tried to walk over to Claire threateningly, but ultimately failed miserably by tripping on her own foot on the way over. Brushing off their skirts, they said, “I meant to do that.” 

Claire realized from the familiar voice that it was Lily. Wow, this is a side of Lily that she was anxious to see. However, not as her victim.

Lily briskly said, “I finally have you where I want you, I have many questions for you, missy.”

Claire tried to play dumb. “About what?”

“You know exactly what! You playing detective has caused me a lot of trouble.” She smirked, her nice lady face gone. “I could never get anything past you. As soon as I thought I was clear, I saw you interviewing people, getting closer and closer to the truth.” 

Claire didn’t really want to interrupt, since Lily looked really fired up, so she quietly slipped out a pocket knife and a recorder, and pressed record. 

Meanwhile, Lily was still monologuing “..years and years I spent calculating the perfect plan. I hate to be cliché, but you really were meddling kids.” 

Then, she turned on the lights, illuminating the dark room. “Feast your eyes on my revenge!” The room revealed a small, derpy-looking explosive. 

“That’s it?” Claire said. 

Lily was enraged. “What do you mean, that’s it! This thing will blow you up in no time.” 

“You did say we did all those things and ruined your murderous plan. So, this is what you’re doing now?” Lily cringed at the word murder. Claire definitely took notice. “Why are you making that face? That’s what you are–a murderer.” 

That was all the coaxing Lily needed. “I didn’t want to murder him, but he was evil! He tooked over all my plans, my game, and glory. He just rode on my success and never experienced the failure I had to go through.” She wiped a tear that wasn’t there. 

Lily gestured towards the explosive. “It doesn’t really matter what you think you know. By the end of this you’ll be dead and I’ll be riding on fortune.”

Claire was finally seeing the urgency of the situation . “But, doesn’t that seem exactly like what your husband did to you? Exploited you? We can work this out,”

“Don’t ever compare me to that monster.” And, with a wide grin, she scurried away. 

Claire’s head slumped down, matching Cory’s. Oh that’s right, Cory! Even if she managed to escape and give someone the recording, Cory would still be left to die. There was no way she could carry his unconscious body. 

So, she watched helplessly. Seeing the festival go on with a murderer on the loose–that SHE could’ve stopped–was killing her. Suddenly, she heard some clicking sounds. 

Claire quickly pretended to be unconscious until she heard a voice. 

“Claire?” 

There was no mistaking it. That was the Vooch’s voice.

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