Flickerronpa: Afterschool Mayhem - dissected_angels (2024)

Chapter Text

Day one

[Chapter One: To Kill a Dove, Daily Life]

I was awoken by the sound of an announcement over the speakers.

Announcement: good morning, students! It's officially morning time!

Grumbling, I got out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror in my storage closet. My hair was ruffled, but there was nothing a brush and some braiding couldn't do. Looking through my desk drawers, I found a brush and hair ties. In just a few minutes, I was presentable and ready to be seen.

I looked in the mirror one more time, my hair now braided and my proper attire on. I looked into my eyes.

Rosalie: let's do this.

I exited my room and headed to the cafeteria. But I was met with no one there.

Rosalie: oh, yeah. Breakfast doesn't start until 9:00…

While contemplating whether to sit and wait or go back to my room, someone poked their head out of the door that led to the kitchen.

Melodie: hey, Rosalie!

I raised a brow.

Rosalie: what're you doing here so early?

Melodie: I'm getting breakfast ready. What about you?

Rosalie: preparing breakfast?

I hadn't thought about it at the time, but it was true that we needed someone to make breakfast for the group. How could I overlook such a simple detail?

Melodie: yeah. Do you wanna watch me?

Rosalie: …sure. It's a better use of time than standing here for an hour.

I walked into the kitchen, immediately noticing a stack of ingredients spread across the counter.

Rosalie: what are you making?

Melodie: well, yesterday I went around asking everyone if they had any allergies that would get in the way of certain foods. I wasn't able to find and ask you, though. So do you happen to be allergic to any of the ingredients in pancakes?

Rosalie: I don't think so.

Melodie: okay, good! That's what I was thinking about making, alongside some bacon! Is that good for you?

Rosalie: my dad and brother loved bacon. I’ve had to eat it several times a week for years.

She nodded, then got to work on the food. I leaned against the end of the counter, watching her work her magic.

Rosalie: y’know, I thought you were a baker.

Melodie: yes, I am the Ultimate Baker, but I'm also skilled in cooking.

Rosalie: good to know you're not totally useless. Someone who can cook is pretty good for us.

Melodie: um, yeah… Do you know how to cook?

Rosalie: I'm not too skilled in it. I tried to learn but never had a whole lot of time due to my studies.

Melodie: oh, that's sad.

Rosalie: eh, it's fine. All the time spent studying has paid off, now that I'm an Ultimate. As soon as we’re rescued from this hell, I'll be able to return to my journey to glory. This'll surely be an interesting thing to put on my resume. “Was able to lead a team of sixteen to survival when put in a game of murder.” Yeah, that'll catch people’s attention.

Soon, the cafeteria was filled with the smell of fresh pancakes and bacon. The others all commented on it as they trickled in. Soon, everyone was there. That was a good start. When I walked out of the kitchen, I noticed Chidi sitting at a table. His arm wasn’t bleeding anymore. I walked over to him

Rosalie: did you get that bullet wound bandages up?

Chidi: oh, yeah, I did… Veronica helped me with it.

Rosalie: it definitely looks better than before.

Aren spoke out from one of the other table.

Aren: hey, Melodie, where’d you learn to cook like this?

Melodie: my mom taught me everything I know about cooking and baking. Me and her have a similar love for feeding people.

William: are you going to cook every meal? I’d feel guilty asking such a hefty task of you.

Melodie: weirdly, the work fills me with energy. Because the payoff is always worth it! And you get to eat afterward, of course.

Lassi: sorry for changing the topic abruptly, but did everyone here receive a ‘personalized weapon’? I did, and a note said everyone else did, too. It’s been on my mind ever since last night.

Ally: oh, yeah, those. I got a wrench.

Liling: a wrench? I got a microphone stand.

Rosalie: hm…considering how specific those two weapons are tied to your respected talents, I'm guessing all our weapons are themed after our talents. Which I guess explains why my “weapon” was a pen.

Ally laughed.

Ally: a pen? That's stupid!

Rosalie: I know, right? In what world does a pen count as a weapon?

Aren: I'm in the same boat as you. I got a skater helmet. I already have, like, five! And it doesn't even fit!

Evelyn: what do you mean it doesn't fit?

Aren: it’s too flat and long to serve any purpose. It'll probably fly off your head if you try to use it.

Lassi: I suppose a pen could work as a weapon. A weak one, but still a weapon.

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: what am I gonna do? Stab someone with it?

Lassi: the ink in pens can be dangerous. It can infect wounds, and pens with dye or alcohol in them can give you ink poisoning.

Rosalie: the amount of ink in a single pen is nowhere near deadly. Calm down.

We all continued talking about our weapons. Veronica got a megaphone, William got a chessboard, and Melodie got a baking sheet. The talk made me a bit less tense. A lot of the weapons were, at best, random blunt objects. Anyone murdering someone with them sounded ludicrous.

When everyone was wrapping up, William stood up out of her seat.

William: before everyone goes, I think we should group up to explore this floor. Since yesterday we were all confused and still getting used to things, today we can get a more detailed look at everything.

Lassi: if we do so, I suggest splitting up into duos. It’d be best to have company when exploring.

Ally: why? Are you scared of going alone?

Lassi: no… Sixteen is more than enough people to cover all the ground of this floor. Splitting into duos will help us stay more organized.

Since no one had any objections to the idea, we started picking out partners to explore with. I wasn't very interested in the idea of duos, but maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea. Have the people here probably needed a chaperone to go to anywhere in public. I went with William since she seemed to be the most tolerable in the group. Everyone agreed to discuss what we saw during our search when we were all gathered back for lunch.

We checked out the kitchen first.

Rosalie: it'd be good to get a proper look at what we’re gonna be eating for the foreseeable future.

There was a collection of fruits, vegetables, meat, and other perishables stored inside a walk-in refrigerator at the back of the room. The cabinets stored all non-perishables such as bread, crackers, and other snacks. A few dozen water bottles were placed on one of the counters. There was a rack of knives on the wall. I raised a brow.

Rosalie: shouldn’t something be done about those?

William: about what..?

Rosalie: the knives. If we’re in a killing game, it’d be foolish to leave such blatant possible murder weapons unchecked.

William: well, what’re we supposed to do about them..? Knives are pretty important when it comes to cooking.

I brought a hand to my chin.

Rosalie: …I suppose that’s true. But we should keep a close eye on them, in case any happen to go missing.

The only thing of note left was a small closet near the back. I opened it and was met with a broom, mop, and other typical cleaning supplies.

Rosalie: a bit of an odd place to keep this stuff…

We decided to check out the trash room next. Nothing was different from yesterday, and the door inside it still required a key to enter. I sighed.

Rosalie: what’s the point of giving us access to this room if it serves no purpose…?

Monokat: it does serve a purpose!

It appeared out of nowhere.

Monokat: the incinerator room is where a student goes to burn any trash they’re carrying. It can only be accessed via a key. But only one student can have access to the key at a time! So whichever student has access to that key is put on trash duty, which means they bring any garbage in the building to the incinerator to burn it.

Rosalie: and how does one get on trash duty?

Monokat: I choose who is on it! Right now, Chidi is the one on trash duty.

William: is it a lifelong commitment? Like, whoever’s picked is stuck with the job forever?

Monokat: nope! After every trial concludes, if the game is still ongoing, a new student will be selected. Doesn’t matter if the previous person on trash duty died or not. Just to keep it fair, y’know?

Rosalie: interesting… And what criteria do you look for when assigning the job?

Monokat: there’s no criteria; I just pick randomly. Well…being strong enough to pick up the trash bags would be a criterion. So I guess William is off the list for contenders.

William: excuse me?

Rosalie: hm…I don’t think we can get any other useful information from this room. Let’s get going.

With the trash room investigated, we moved to the gym next.

It was a pretty standard gym. A long rectangular room with bleachers and a variety of equipment stored in a closet. There were two locker rooms, labeled male and female. I rummaged around the closets, seeing they had basketballs, volleyballs, baseballs, and more.

Rosalie: we’ll certainly never run out of gym equipment, at the very least. Not that we needed it to begin with, but still.

William: I’m not very keen on playing sports… Though, I love watching them.

Rosalie: I’m not a sports person either. I don’t understand the hype behind it, the way some people get so invested in a bunch of sweaty guys kicking or hitting a ball.

William: that’s fair. I like them, but they’re definitely not for everyone. When the teams I like win, it almost feels like I’m winning along with them.

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: yeah, okay.

The last place worth checking was the dorm area. It was a single corridor that looped around in a square. Eight dorms were on the left, and eight were on the right. There was a female and male bathroom at the end.

Rosalie: I imagine every dorm is tailored to our personal tastes since my dorm seemed oddly specific as to what I liked for it to simply be a coincidence.

William: oh, yeah, my room was pretty similar to my room back at my house… Pretty creepy.

Rosalie: huh, that is unsettling… That would mean whoever brought us here is reasonably knowledgeable about our tastes.

William: how could that be true..? Who do all sixteen of us know so well?

Rosalie: that’s the part that confuses me the most. For now, I can’t give a good answer.

With nowhere left worth investigating, we went our separate ways until it was time for lunch. By the time I arrived, a couple of the others were already there. I saw Eduardo, Ally, Aren, and Lassi. I took a seat in the area everyone was waiting at.

Ally and Aren were sitting at a table, snickering with each other. Ally looked at me.

Ally: hey, Rosalie! Guess what we found in Reza’s room!

Rosalie: what?

Ally: guess!

Rosalie: I don't know. A corpse?

Ally: wow, you suck at guessing games. We found this!

She pulled out a knife. It was a typical hunting knife, except for one strange detail. The handle was carved to have a butterfly pattern to it.

Rosalie: okay… Is there a point to showing me this?

Ally: it's a literal butterfly knife! This must be his stupid custom weapon, or whatever.

Aren: his entire room was full of butterfly-themed stuff! Can you imagine that?! This big, tough guy was secretly a softie for butterflies!! That sh*t’s hilarious!

They both started howling with laughter. I looked at the others.

Rosalie: do you guys get what's so funny about this?

Lassi: I don't see the humor in it.

Eduardo just shrugged.

Ally rolled her eyes.

Ally: hmph, you guys just don't have any sense of humor.

Rosalie: how did you two even get inside his room to take a look?

Aren: it wasn't that hard. The door was unlocked.

Eduardo: really?

Aren: yep. We were able to step inside and do whatever we wanted.

Ally: you'd think a guy like him would be a little more thorough about not leaving his room open.

She leaned back in her chair, turning her head.

Ally: why, speak of the devil!

I turned my head to where she was looking, noticing Reza entering the dining hall.

Ally: we were just talking about you, Reza!

Reza: what for?

She got up out of her seat and held the knife in the air.

Ally: we found your personal weapon!! You have a stupid butterfly-themed knife!!

Reza: give that back.

Ally: oh, what're you gonna do if I don't? Shoot me? Oh, right, you can't!

She started laughing again. I covered my face with one of my hands.

Rosalie: Ally, you look like an idiot.

Ally: shut up! I'm doing more to stop this killing game than you are!

Rosalie: stopping it by what? Being a nuisance?

Ally: by disarming this assistant guy, or whatever he’s supposed to be.

He crossed his arms.

Reza: I again ask that you return it.

Ally: and I ask that you stop being a little puss* and fight me like a man! You won't do it!

Lassi: that isn’t a good idea, Ally.

Reza breathed in, then calmly walked past Ally and into the kitchen. She grinned.

Ally: hah, I can't believe that worked. What a—

A sudden flash of silver flew past my face, followed by a gasp. Ally’s hand was bleeding, and the custom knife was on the floor. A bloody kitchen knife had flown past her hand, cutting it open, and smacking into the wall behind her.

Reza stepped over the counter dividing the kitchen from the eating area. A shocked Melodie was looking at him from the kitchen.

Melodie: Reza!

He was holding a second kitchen knife in his hand. He pointed it at Ally, glaring daggers at her.

Reza: it must be suffocating having your head so deeply lodged up your ass. A pathetic person like you has no place picking fights you can't win. I could rip out your organs and force you to eat them. Now, are you gonna back down like the coward all people like you all secretly are, or do you want the next knife to land between your eyes?

Ally: …

???: what is going on here?!

Veronica was standing in the doorway, alongside Chidi and William. She ran over to where we all were sitting, noticing Ally’s bleeding hand. She then looked at Reza.

Veronica: do not tell me you did this!

Reza: so what if I did?

Ally huffed, crossing her shaking arms.

Ally: …whatever! You can keep your stupid butterfly handle knife! I wasn’t gonna keep it, anyway!

Veronica: let's get you some bandages. Tell me what happened.

Ally furrowed her brow. The two walked out of the dining hall, Veronica trying to keep Ally’s hand from bleeding everywhere. Chidi and William walked over to us, understandably silent. Chidi was shaking.

Chidi: …

Reza stepped off the counter, dropping the kitchen knife. He walked over and picked his weapon off the ground.

Eduardo: should we, uh…do something about the blood?

Melodie walked out of the kitchen, looking at the scene.

Melodie: oh no…I'll go clean this up!

Rosalie: what? No! Reza should clean it up! He was the one throwing knives!

He slanted his eyes at me.

Reza: do I look like a janitor to you?

Rosalie: I wish you were one. Then you’d at least have an excuse for your bland clothes.

Melodie: please, don’t argue…! I’m fine with cleaning it up.

She ran back into the kitchen to grab the cleaning supplies. I crossed my arms.

Rosalie: fine… You're such a pushover.

The others began to trickle in after that. It didn't take long for Melodie to clean up the blood and put away the knives, making it look like nothing had even happened. Veronica and Ally returned not so long after, Ally’s wound now bandaged up.

Ally sat down and crossed her arms, not saying anything.

Veronica: now that everyone is here if we don't have any more distractions

She glared at Reza.

Veronica: —let's go over everything we saw on our searches.

Odette: there wasn't much of note. All I got from the search was something we already knew; we’re stuck in here. The front door and stairs leading to the second floor were both barricaded.

Miguel: I understand the front door being off-limits, but why the second floor?

Evelyn: I don't know if we want to go on that floor. When I look up the steps between those bars, a cold feeling runs through my veins.

Rosalie: what's that supposed to mean?

Rosalie: wait, why am I asking you? Nothing you say means anything.

Miguel: that’s pretty uncalled for, Rosalie…

Rosalie: it's true, whether you think I’m being rude or not. Fortune telling isn't real and has been proven to be fake.

Evelyn: it's alright…many people call me a faker or a liar. But arguing with them doesn't do anything for me.

Jackson: to assign someone a harsh epithet such as ‘liar’ is rather brash, don't you think? We have no reason to doubt her!

Rosalie: uh, yes, we do. But I guess I shouldn't expect anything important from a theater brat like you, either.

Nikolai groaned, leaning back in his chair and resting his feet on the table.

Nikolai: did we come here to discuss what we found, or to call people names?

Rosalie: we did come here to discuss, but it seems nothing of use has been discovered. This endeavor was a waste of our time. And get your shoes off the table; that’s so unsanitary.

William: well…we tried. At least we know more about the circ*mstances of our situation. That's very important.

Aren: sooo…if we’re done here, can we eat now?

Rosalie: oh, right. Let’s get lunch.

Everyone grabbed a portion of food from what Melodie cooked, eating in relative peace. Obviously, things were tense, but no one was throwing knives, so it was good enough for me. Once I finished, I decided to return to my room, since I didn’t have any more business to attend to.

I spent the rest of the day in my room. I scoured the shelves, picking out a book I remembered having on my reading list for a long time, but never got around to actually reading it. I sat at my desk and read until an announcement played over the speakers.

Monokat: attention, students! It is now 10:00 p.m., which means it’s officially nighttime!

I closed my book, setting it down on my desk. It was our first, and hopefully, last full day spent in the game.

Day two

I listened to the morning announcement as it played over the speakers, yawning and running a hand through my hair. After getting myself ready, I headed to the cafeteria, having grabbed one of my books on the way out so I wouldn't be starved of things to do while waiting.

I was one of the first to arrive, Eduardo and Lassi being the only other ones there (besides Melodie, of course). I walked over to the two, who were sitting together at a table.

Rosalie: what are you two doing?

Eduardo looked at me. He was holding a deck of cards in his hands.

Eduardo: we’re gonna be playing the Pokermoon card game.

Rosalie: Pokermoon? That stupid game about catching odd-looking monsters? It has a card game?

Eduardo: yeah, it's—

Rosalie: I'll pass.

Eduardo: oh… Are you sure?

Rosalie: yes. I suggest you two do something more useful in your free time, as well. Stuff like this will rot your brain.

Lassi: wow, who took a crap in your cereal this morning? It's only a game.

I crossed my arms.

Rosalie: do what you want. I just think people with a status as highly regarded as Ultimate have better things to do than play mindless card games.

I sat down at a different table and opened my book, reading until the others all arrived. I tried to eat in peace, but was interrupted midway by Jackson and Evelyn approaching my table.

Jackson: salutations, Rosalie!

Rosalie: hello? Is there something you two need?

Jackson: it's not what we need, it's what you need. With due respect, you looked rather sad and pathetic sitting all alone.

Rosalie: thanks.

Evelyn: I suggested we join you in your meal so you weren't so isolated.

Rosalie: I appreciate the offer, but I'm perfectly fine not being around either of you.

Jackson frowned, then looked at Evelyn.

Jackson: hey, Evelyn, how about you give her some of that amazing tea you made for us to share?

Evelyn: ah, oh course! Here, Rosalie, have my cup.

She slid a teacup across the table over to me. It was filled with some green tea.

Rosalie: I'm not a tea person; I prefer coffee.

Jackson: please, take it! It's the best drink I've ever had!

I rolled my eyes, then grabbed the cup.

Rosalie: fine, if it gets you two to be quiet.

I took a sip of the tea. After a few seconds, I felt myself spacing out. Every muscle in my body untensed. I felt at peace…

Evelyn: how is it?

Rosalie: it's, uh… It's okay, I guess.

She clapped with joy.

Evelyn: I’m glad you've found great joy in my tea.

Rosalie: I didn't say that.

Evelyn: our words often don't match our thoughts. When a person speaks, I hear their inner monologue spilling out.

Rosalie: okay, now you've gone back to being creepy.

She chuckled.

Evelyn: you didn't deny what I said!

I groaned in frustration, then rolled my eyes and took another sip of the tea.

Rosalie: whatever… Stay here if you want, but don’t expect me to make conversation.

The two cheerfully sat down across from me. I held my book closer to my face as I read.

When breakfast was finished, we all tidied up before leaving. As I was dropping my dishes off at the sink, I saw Lassi standing there instead of Melodie. I raised a brow.

Rosalie: what’re you doing?

They looked at me, placing down the plate they were holding.

Lassi: what? Do you need something?

Rosalie: uh, no. I was wondering what you’re doing in the kitchen by yourself.

Lassi: ah, I'm gonna clean the dishes. Melodie does all the cooking and cleaning, which I didn't think was fair. So I offered to do the dish cleaning in place of her.

Rosalie: really? That's a kind gesture of you. I might as well clean my own plate while I'm here.

Lassi: if you want to, then sure.

I joined Lassi, picking up a sponge to clean my plate. The place didn't have a dishwasher, so everything had to be cleaned manually.

Rosalie: so, about that game thing you were playing earlier…

Lassi: you mean Pokermoon?

Rosalie: yeah, that. What is that game even about?

Lassi: why are you asking? Are you interested in playing now?

I scoffed.

Rosalie: no, of course not. I'm just wondering what's got you so invested in such a meaningless use of time.

Lassi: frankly, I'm not all that interested in the game or franchise. I was playing with Eduardo because he said it’s his favorite game, and he wanted someone to play with. I didn't know how to play until he taught me how.

Rosalie: why waste your time on something both useless and not enjoyable to you?

Lassi: it wasn't useless or not enjoyable. It was fun when I got the hang of it. Why’re you trashing on something that you know nothing about?

Rosalie: I don’t need to know anything about it to know it’s a useless endeavor.

Lassi: what else are we supposed to do, then? There isn’t a whole lot of ‘useful’ stuff to do when we’re stuck in this building.

Rosalie: do something that actually requires brain function, like reading a book. I hold the record for the most books read in a year.

Lassi: really?

Rosalie: yeah, I’ve read 508 books in a year before. Because I didn’t waste my time on dumb card games or other brainless activities.

Lassi: wow… Do you have, like, any friends?

Rosalie: I won’t respond to your rude questions.

Lassi: okay, I’m gonna take that as a no.

I placed down my plate and utensils, then wiped the soap and water off my hands.

Rosalie: if you’re gonna insult me, I won’t be helping you with the dishes.

Lassi: uh, okay. Bye. You were only cleaning your plate anyway…

I walked out of the kitchen. Speaking of reading, I had almost forgotten about my book that I brought to the cafeteria. I picked it up off the table I left it at, then walked back to my room.

As I was walking to my room, I heard footsteps echoing behind me.

???: hey, Rosalie!

I turned to see Ally jogging towards me. She no longer had her hand bandaged up, there instead being a faint scar on her palm.

Rosalie: what is it?

Ally: I need your help with something.

I raised a brow.

Rosalie: what do you need help with? I pray it’s not educational, because lord knows even I have limits on who I can teach.

Ally: no, doofus! It’s about that Reza guy.

Rosalie: what about him?

Ally: I wanna learn more about that asshole. He won’t talk to me, so I want you to talk to him for me.

Rosalie: and why would I want to do this?

Ally: aren’t you curious about him?! He’s an assassin, and he works for that stupid Monokat thing! He definitely knows something about what’s going on! So try to get some deets from him! It could help us find a way out.

I thought for a few seconds, then sighed.

Rosalie: I guess I could try getting some information from him.

Ally: awesome! That idiot keeps his dorm unlocked, so go check there. Tell me what happened at lunch time.

Watching her walk away, I swallowed a lump that had formed in my throat. I turned and walked in the direction of his dorm.

When I reached his dorm, I opened the door. Like she said, it was unlocked. When I pulled the door open, I was met with a room that looked about the same size as mine. But the decor was completely different; the room mostly consisted of camouflage and muted colors of brown, gray, and black. The only things that stood out was the gun rack on the right wall, which his pistol was placed on, and what looked like a…terrarium? The terrarium was placed on a table, and it housed two butterflies.

Reza was sitting on the bed in the middle of the room. He looked up at me.

Reza: what do you want?

I looked at him, clearing my throat. I hadn’t prepared anything to say…

Rosalie: I, uh… I was curious about…you.

Reza: curious about me?

Rosalie: yeah, because…you’re pretty mysterious, and all that. I don’t think you even told us your surname, if I recall correctly.

Reza: my last name isn’t any of your business.

I groaned under my breath. This was gonna be a pain.

Rosalie: why are you so reserved about telling me?

Reza: why are you so interested in knowing? I could lie to your face about it, if I wanted to. You’d have no way of knowing.

Rosalie: …I guess that’s true. Whatever, I don’t really care about that; it was meant to be an example. I just wanted to talk.

Reza: about what?

Rosalie: anything, really. Frankly, everyone else here gives me a headache by just being around them. You seem more down-to-earth.

He gave me a suspicious look. Could he tell I was lying? Trying to play nice with this guy was so straining, even though I’d barely done anything yet.

Rosalie: so, can I come in?

Reza: sure, whatever.

I hesitantly stepped inside, then closed the door behind me. I didn’t close it completely, still leaving it slightly open in case things went south.

Rosalie: why do you keep your door unlocked? That seems like a bad idea in a killing game.

Reza: I’m not scared of getting killed by any of you.

Rosalie: does that include while you’re sleeping?

Reza: yes.

He sure seemed confident in himself. If I was him, I’d probably be confident too. But that confident? At what point does it stop being confidence and start being stupidity?

Rosalie: …why’re you even here, anyway? You’re the ‘assistant’ of that Monokat thing, so you have to be related to this game in some way. And you made it not against the rules to kill you. Why?

Reza: just like Monokat told you guys, it sounded more fun. I like challenging myself sometimes… Things can get real boring when you’re the best in the world at what you do.

Rosalie: so, are you gonna kill someone?

Reza: no, obviously. I’m an assassin.

Rosalie: yeah, that’s why it sounds like you’d kill someone.

Reza: what are you, a moron? I don’t kill people just because I want to. An assassin’s job is to kill contractual targets.

Rosalie: so you’ll kill someone if one of us asks you to?

Reza: no, I’m only loyal to one person.

Rosalie: who’s that?

Reza: that’s none of your business.

I sighed. He wasn’t stupid enough to just tell me who was behind the game if I asked, so how was I supposed to learn anything useful from this guy? Maybe if I became friends with him, he’d trust me enough to tell me. But how was I supposed to do that?

I looked at him, trying to think of a good question. A topic that would get the conversation rolling… Then something came to mind.

Rosalie: what’s that scar on your face from? Is it from your job?

He brought his hand to his face, running his fingers along the scar tissue.

Reza: I haven’t bothered to remember the details for most of my scars.

I raised a brow.

Rosalie: how many do you have..?

Reza stood up off the bed, then slid off his jacket. Under it, he wore a baggy white tee with a loose black tie. I could see a couple scars on his arms.

Reza: most of them are from my early years with the job, when I didn’t have the experience I do now.

Rosalie: …intriguing. Do you remember where any of them are from?

Reza: only a few.

He started explaining the origins behind some of the scars to me. Confrontations with targets, falling off infrastructure while doing missions, and other miscellaneous accidents. It was very strange, to say the least, but also weirdly interesting. Not what I came there to find, but there were a few interesting things I learned.

When it was lunch time, I headed to the cafeteria. Ally was sitting at a table to the side of the room. She waved to me. I walked over to her table.

Ally: did you learn anything?!

Rosalie: I learned some things, though I don’t think they’re that important.

Ally: tell me everything!

I explained what happened to her. She tilted her head.

Ally: so he’s ‘loyal’ to someone? Is it someone here?

Rosalie: I don’t know. I’d assume it’s someone working behind the scenes of the game.

Ally: he won’t kill anyone unless asked by one person… Oh, so I can taunt him as much as I want and he won’t do sh*t! Hell yeah!

I sighed.

Rosalie: …yeah, sure. He can’t kill you, but he can still hurt you.

Ally: I can take a few hits or stabs! The people at my school didn’t call me Tank Woman for nothing!

Rosalie: because you’re big and loud?

Ally: because I’m durable! And also those things, yeah.

I turned my head and saw William approaching our table.

William: hi, guys. What’re you talking about?

Ally: we’re tryna learn more about that Reza guy! I got Rosalie to talk to him but he didn’t say squat.

William: why do you wanna learn more about him?

Rosalie: she thinks he might spill important information about whoever’s working behind the game.

Ally: yeah! Then we can use that info to escape!

William: …could it really be that easy?

Ally: well, we won’t know if we don’t try.

William: I guess that’s true… But he scares me, honestly. I don’t want you guys to do something wrong to him and get hurt because of it.

Ally: there’s nothing he can do that’ll bring us down!

Rosalie: I did not agree to that sentiment; I would prefer to not get injured.

Ally: oh, don’t be such a downer! A little stabbing never hurt anyone!

Rosalie: …I’d disagree.

Ally: hm…if Reza won't spit any information out, maybe we could ask Nikolai!

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: and just why would we do that?

Ally: don't you remember that weird thing from when we first got here? At the gym, Nikolai looked like he knew Reza from somewhere. So maybe he knows something useful!

I crossed my arms.

Rosalie: I highly doubt he does know anything useful. And even if he does, he's not gonna tell us.

Ally: geez, we should at least try to ask him. I thought good students always did their research!

Rosalie: I am not going within ten feet of that moron.

Ally: fine, then I'll ask him about it.

She stood up, but I grabbed her arm and pulled her back down.

Rosalie: no, you are not. If I can barely stand you, you'll definitely give him a brain aneurysm.

Ally: then what do we do?!

I looked at William.

Rosalie: you talk to him.

William: huh? Why?

Rosalie: you're the least likely to make him pop a blood vessel.

William: what am I even supposed to ask him?

Ally: just ask where he knows Reza from and go from there!

William: um…okay. I guess I can do that.

She hesitantly stood up and approached Nikolai, who was sitting at a table with Miguel. I listened in.

William: uh, hi, guys.

The two looked at her.

Miguel: hey. What's up?

William: I wanted to ask Nikolai something.

She slid into a chair. Nikolai gave her a confused look.

Nikolai: what is it?

William: a few others and I were curious about something that happened the day we all got here. When Reza arrived in the gym…you seemed to recognize him. Do you know him?

Nikolai: ..no, I don't.

William: are you sure..?

Nikolai: yeah, I am. And even if I did, that's not your business.

William: oh, okay. Sorry…

She got up and walked back over to our table.

Rosalie: what was that?? That was terrible.

William: sorry, I don’t wanna bother him..!

I groaned.

Rosalie: if you wanna get information from someone, you don’t act nice! You gotta be rough! Aggressive! You gotta demand the answers!

Ally: hey, I fit all of those requirements!

William: why don’t we just try to ask him some other time? I don’t think he wants to talk right now.

Rosalie: he never wants to talk. That’s the problem.

Ally: then what are we supposed to do?! Why can’t I talk to him?!

Rosalie: because you’re a moron who will just make him angry.

Ally: and you won’t? Don’t make me laugh.

Rosalie: what’s that supposed to mean?!

Ally: you can’t hold a single conversation without insulting someone.

Rosalie: and you can’t hold one without screaming…

Ally: see! You just proved my point!

I groaned.

Rosalie: ugh! It’s not an insult, it’s just a fact.

Ally: yeah, keep telling yourself that.

I stood up.

Rosalie: if you can't be mature about this, William and I will be leaving.

William: what? We will?

Ally laughed.

Ally: go, then. You think I give a sh*t?

Rosalie: fine, then. Let's find a table not occupied by buffoons.

I walked away. William slowly got up and followed after me.

William: …

After finding a new table, we continued talking to one another about how we could get information from Reza or Nikolai. We didn't get very far in the conversation, getting stuck at the same roadblock: neither of them seemed willing to give us information.

In the blink of an eye, it was close to nighttime. I was sitting at my desk, reading a book when I heard a knock on my door. I raised a brow, then got up and opened the door. Chidi was on the other side.

Rosalie: hello. What is it?

Chidi: do you have any trash you need to take out?

Rosalie: oh, I'll go get it real quick.

I walked over to the trash can in my room. The only thing in it was the note regarding my 'specialized weapon’. I picked it up out of the bag and brought it over to Chidi.

Rosalie: just this.

He nodded, taking the note and placing it into a bag he was holding.

Chidi: okay, thank you.

Rosalie: is this the trash duty that Monokat told me about the other day?

Chidi: oh, yeah. I'm in charge of taking people’s trash out every other day.

Rosalie: I see. Well, goodnight.

I closed the door, and retook my seat at my desk.

Day three

It was already our third day in this game? Time passed by so quickly… But perhaps that was because we were completely disconnected from the outside world; we had no way of knowing the time aside from the handful of clocks in the building. We didn’t even know the date. Time can often feel like it’s going faster when you’re not thinking about it.

People must have noticed something is wrong by now. We won’t need to wait much longer for help. We won’t fall for the tricks of that stupid Monokat thing. We’re better than that… Well, I’m better than that. The others are debatable. But as long as I’m there, things will remain under control.

I stepped into the cafeteria. I didn’t arrive as early as I did on the first day, since there was no point in waiting around for an hour. I arrived at about 8:30, when a handful of people were already there. One of them was William, who waved to me when I entered. I decided to sit down with her. She was one of the closest things to an equal that I had in this place.

William: good morning, Rosalie!

Rosalie: good morning.

William: not to be a Debbie Downer…but we’ve been here for a while. I’m a little worried.

Rosalie: don’t be. Ultimates are some of the most valued people in the world..even if some of us don’t deserve that title. There’s no way sixteen of us going missing would fly under the radar for very long. And the school suddenly closing off for no reason would also be beyond suspicious.

William: I guess that’s true. Sorry for bringing you over here just to talk about something so worrying. I know you don’t like talking to people that much.

Rosalie: it’s fine. You’re one of the few people here that I enjoy talking to.

She perked up.

William: really?

Rosalie: yeah, you have a respectable talent and a tolerable personality. That’s something I can’t say about most of the people here.

William: ..what’s a ‘respectable’ talent?

Rosalie: a talent that requires effort. Chess is a very hard game to master—I know from personal experience—so I applaud you for being able to achieve such a title as the Ultimate Chess Player.

William: you play chess?

Rosalie: not a whole lot. I’d occasionally join my team’s chess club for some games, and I did pretty good at it. I had an eighty percent win rate.

William: that’s a good win to lose ratio, especially for an amateur. Oh, you know what? We should play a game of chess together! I have a board in my room.

Rosalie: that’d be interesting. I’d like to know some of your strategies for the game.

William gladly went back to her room to get the chessboard. After returning with it, she told me about the game and some good strategies for winning, as well as how to predict your opponent’s next moves. We paused to eat our breakfast, then continued.

As everyone was cleaning up, Monokat strolled into the room.

Monokat: salutations, students!

Everyone turned to look at it.

Ally: what do you want?

Monokat: wow, the energy in this room feels very unwelcoming today.

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: I wonder why…

Monokat: me too! But anyway, I’m here to make a very important announcement. Today is the day you all receive your first motive!

Silence quickly overtook the room. Those two words, ‘first motive’, were enough to drain us all of any words to say.

Monokat: so now you guys decide to be all silent?

Ally stood up out of her seat.

Ally: your stupid motive won’t do anything to us! So don’t even bother!

Monokat: whatever you say, buddy. Now, would any brave soul like to stand up and volunteer themselves for something?

No one stood up or said anything.

Monokat: tough crowd, huh? Okay…eenie, meenie, minie…you!

It pointed at Jackson. He stood up.

Jackson: whatever you’re planning to do, I don’t want to be a part of it!

Monokat: oh, come on! I don’t bite!

It snuck up behind him and snatched the student handbook out of his pocket.

Jackson: huh?! Give that back, you foul thief!

Monokat: sorry, no-can-do! The murder motive is that your handbooks will be taken from you one by one. And these things are pretty important! There is no way to get them back unless someone murders another person.

Rosalie: that’s it? We can live without those handbooks.

Monokat: can you, though? These handbooks are the only things allowing you to access your rooms, as well as the only things that can keep intruders out of your room. If your handbook is confiscated while your dorm room is locked, have fun finding another place to sleep! Remember that sleeping anywhere other than the dorm rooms is against the rules!

I crossed my arms. That was true…

Monokat: anyways, a confiscation will happen every five hours. It's 9:00 a.m. right now, so make sure to keep track of the time!

It then exited the room. We all stood still, dumbfounded.

Liling: how are we supposed to sleep in our dorms if we don't have access to them?

Jackson: yeah, I left my dorm locked! What am I supposed to do?!

Odette: it only states you must sleep in the dorms; it does not specify that you have to sleep in your dorm.

Jackson: so I have to share a dorm with someone?

Ally: how on earth would that work? Would he have to share the bed with them?

Rosalie: I recall that my dorm room had a supply closet filled with extra blankets and pillows. I’m assuming everyone else’s dorms have the same thing. Perhaps whoever he stays with could make a spot on the floor for him to sleep with those materials.

Jackson: that doesn't sound comfortable…

Rosalie: being dead also doesn't sound comfortable, does it?

Jackson: …fair enough. Who do I stay with?

Miguel: you can stay with me, I guess.

Nikolai: you're really okay sharing a room with that guy?

Miguel: well, if no one else is gonna do it…

Jackson bowed.

Jackson: thank you for your generous offer, kind sir!

Miguel: …yeah, no problem.

Lassi: is sharing rooms the best idea? There is no way to tell if the guest will try to kill you in your sleep.

Jackson gasped.

Jackson: I’d never!

Miguel scratched the back of his head.

Miguel: well, I don’t have any reason to believe he will…

Eduardo: I get your concerns, Lassi, but for now it’s the best solution we have. Let’s have some faith in our classmates!

Odette: and if Jackson or Miguel are found dead tomorrow, it's obvious who the main suspect would be.

Lassi crossed their arms.

Lassi: hm…fine.

Veronica: like Eduardo said, having trust in one another is very important, especially in an environment like this. Being suspicious or paranoid will only confirm our fates.

Nikolai: so, can we leave now?

William: oh, uh—please wait, everyone.

We all looked at William. I raised a brow.

Rosalie: what is it?

William: well…I was thinking that, since the motive is fresh out the oven, we could all stick together. Y’know, to monitor each other and maybe we can have some fun!

I brought my hand to my chin.

Rosalie: that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

Lassi: better use of time than sitting around alone.

Aren: what’re we gonna do?

William: I’m not so sure yet… But, for now, let’s all stay here and strike up conversation. Maybe someone could come up with some game ideas.

It wasn’t the most interesting way to spend our morning, but there wasn’t much else to do when locked up in a school. So we all retook our seats. I looked at William.

Rosalie: shall we resume our chess session?

William: oh, of course!

We continued our conversation about chess, until Evelyn stood up suddenly.

Evelyn: who wants me to look into their past?

Rosalie: what?

Melodie: look into our pasts..?

Evelyn: yes! My psychic abilities allow me to see into your inner thoughts and feelings, alongside giving me visions of your life up to this point.

Rosalie: don't make me laugh. I’m not taking part in this nonsense. And no one else should, either.

Evelyn: please? If I tell you yours, will you believe me?

William: …there's no harm in it, right?

Rosalie: god, don't tell me you believe her.

William: no, I don't believe in magic or stuff like that. But there's no harm in participating. And if she gets it wrong, you expose her as a fraud.

Rosalie: ugh, fine.

I stood up, walking over to where Evelyn was sitting.

Rosalie: do whatever you do.

Evelyn clapped happily, signing me to sit down in the chair across from her. After I sat down, she grabbed my hands, holding them in hers.

Rosalie: is this necessary?

Evelyn: it is apart of the process to see into your mind. Now look at me, and try not to blink.

I stared into her eyes, her doing the same to me.

Evelyn: I may see some things I don't intend to see. I apologize in advance for that.

Rosalie: what's that supposed to mean?

Evelyn didn't reply, staring at me. I was getting more and more weirded out by the minute… She eventually started blinking rapidly.

Evelyn: oh, interesting…

Rosalie: what? Tell me how much you ‘saw’ with your 'psychic powers’.

Evelyn: hm… Are you okay with me saying it aloud?

Rosalie: I don't give a damn about what you say. You're not gonna get it right.

Evelyn: alright… There were two men, your dad and brother. Blond, just like you. Your mother was the only non-blond in the family, having long brown hair.

Rosalie: …mhm.

A pit began forming in my stomach.

Evelyn: your life emits such a sad aura… Days upon days of nothing but study sessions in your cramped room or at the library. I cannot imagine how that felt.

Rosalie: of course you can't. Because you’ve wasted your life pretending to be a psychic instead of focusing on education.

Evelyn: was anything I said wrong, though?

Rosalie: well…no, but it's all simple stuff. Nothing you couldn’t guess or learn from simply reading an article about me.

Evelyn: do any of those articles talk about how you didn't visit your brother once when he was in the hospital for a severe injury? I imagine that’s something you wouldn’t like talking about with interviewers.

Rosalie: …

Evelyn: …I apologize, that’s a private matter of yours. Not something that should be announced for the world to hear.

She let go of my hands. I stood up, silently walking back to where I was sitting previously. William looked at me.

William: um…what was that about?

Rosalie: it was nothing important!

I crossed my arms.

William: ah, sorry. I didn't mean to be pushy.

Rosalie: it's fine…

Jackson stood up out of his seat.

Jackson: ooo, read my mind next!

Evelyn: are you certain?

Jackson: yeah!!

He walked over to her table, sitting down.

Evelyn: well, if you're sure…

She did the same thing she did to me: grab his hands, then stare into his eyes. An awkward silence filled the room as we all watched her do so. A curious expression ran across her face.

Evelyn: I see a lot of people. Were you popular as a kid?

Jackson: yeah, definitely! A lotta people liked me!

Rosalie: that explains a lot…

Evelyn: I see…your ex-girlfriend didn’t, though, it seems. She dumped you for her best friend.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. A few people looked at me.

Rosalie: what?

Jackson: oh, that… Well, that doesn’t mean anything! She just couldn't handle how great I was!

Rosalie: sure it doesn’t, buddy.

Evelyn: does anyone else want their mind read?

No one replied.

Evelyn: ah, that’s alright. Does anyone have any alternate ideas for games to play?

Aren: you call that a game?

Ally: hm… Oh, I know! Let’s do some sports at the gym!

William: oh, that’s a good idea!

Rosalie: I’d rather not.

Ally: hey, you don’t have to compete. You can just sit on the bleachers like a loser.

Rosalie: are you trying to use reverse psychology on me? Because it won’t work. I will gladly sit on the bleachers like a ‘loser’.

Ally: okay, your loss, Prissy Pants. Let’s hurry up and go to the gym!

Everyone followed Ally and Aren to the gym. Once we entered, the two immediately started digging around through the storage closets for equipment. I sat on the bleachers, alongside William.

Lassi: what are we doing, exactly?

Ally: this place has everything! We could do basically any sport imaginable here!

Aren: ooh, ooh, what about lightning?

Melodie: what’s that?

Aren: you don’t know what that is?!

Melodie: hehe, no. I’ve never played many sports.

Aren: oh, you are so going down!

They set up the game, bringing out two basketballs and a net. The two explained the game rules to the group.

Ally: so is everyone here gonna play, or do you wanna join the losers’ bleachers over there?

She pointed at where William and I were sitting.

Nikolai: I am not getting dragged into this competitive nonsense.

Reza: I don't do sports.

The two headed towards the bleachers.

Chidi: I don’t like sports either…

Aren: oh, come on, big guy! You’re like a giant! You’d be great at this game!

Chidi gave him a confused look.

Chidi: but I don’t play basketball…

Odette: if he doesn’t wanna play, then he doesn’t wanna play.

Odette walked over to Chidi and Aren, grabbing Chidi’s arm.

Odette: and I'm not playing either. I don't want the horseplaying to chip my nails.

Aren rolled his eyes, then turned to look at Ally. He spoke in a mocking voice, striking an over dramatic pose.

Aren: oh, woe is me! I wouldn't dare do anything that could chip my dollar store nail-do! So I guess I'll just sit on the sidelines like a loser!

They both laughed. Odette stomped her heel onto Aren’s foot, digging it into his shoes. He winced.

Aren: geez, chill out! That really hurts!

Odette raised her foot, retracting her heels from his shoes.

Odette: keep it up, shortstack, and the next one will be to your face.

She dragged Chidi towards the bleachers. Aren furrowed his brows.

Aren: not everyone is blessed with tall genes, y’know!

Miguel sighed in annoyance.

Miguel: are we gonna actually play the game, or just keep picking fights with each other?

Ally: okay, so we have—

She looked at the bleachers.

Ally: —six losers. Everyone else, let's get started!

They grabbed the basketballs and started playing. I tuned out the game, looking at William.

Rosalie: what a dumb game premise.

William: well, I think it's a fun game. Even if I don't play sports anymore, it's still nice watching people find joy in them.

Rosalie: I don't get why anyone would enjoy this.

After what felt like forever of watching them throw basketballs at a net, Ally ended up winning. There was absolutely no shock there.

Aren: wow, you're really damn good at this!

Ally: hell yeah, I am!

Aren: do you play basketball?

Ally: yeah, I was on the girl’s team back in highschool! How ‘bout you?

Aren: I was on a team as well!

Melodie wandered over to the storage closet, looking through the equipment. She raised a brow, then pulled out a jump rope.

Melodie: oh, I haven't jump roped in so long!

Ally: jump rope? That stuff is for little kids.

Melodie: well, I want to jump rope. I didn't like that basketball game.

Eduardo: oh, I want to too!

Evelyn: can I as well?

Melodie: of course! There's plenty in here.

The two happily ran over to where Melodie was. Eventually everyone split into groups to do their own activity. I stayed seated on the bleachers.

It eventually hit 1:00 p.m on the clock, and I reminded everyone it was time for lunch. Melodie gave me a surprised look.

Melodie: oh, no! I was so distracted with these games, I forgot I had to make lunch..!

Miguel placed a hand on her shoulder.

Miguel: hey, that's fine.

Eduardo: yeah, we don't mind waiting! Cooking for sixteen people can't be an easy task.

Melodie smiled at the two.

Melodie: I greatly appreciate your patience.

Ally: let’s get going already so Melodie can do her thing! All this sports stuff has me worn out!

We all walked back over to the cafeteria. I took a seat at one of the tables, meanwhile Melodie hurried into the kitchen. William sat down next to me.

William: despite the motive announcement…today’s been pretty nice. I think this is working.

Rosalie: I hope it does. I’d prefer to not have to do a murder investigation in my lifetime.

???: I hope we’re all able to work through this as well.

William and I turned our heads to see Veronica approaching our table. She took a seat across from us.

Veronica: I hope you don’t mind me intruding on your conversation.

Rosalie: I don’t mind. We’re the three most competent people in this place, after all.

Veronica raised a brow, then smiled.

Veronica: I'm honored. You don't sing people’s praises that often.

Rosalie: yes, because it's hard to find anyone who deserves it. Us three are the only people here with actual respectable talents.

William: oh… What makes you say that?

Rosalie: look at the people around us! A parkourist? An actor? A videogame designer? They don't do anything that requires brain function or furthers society in any meaningful way.

William: that's kind of harsh…

Rosalie: yeah it is, but it's the truth. And the worst case is Nikolai.

I pointed at him.

Rosalie: he's the worst. I had the absolute displeasure of going to school with him.

William: you two went to school together?

Rosalie: yeah, and he's easily the worst student I've ever met.

Veronica: honestly, I could tell he was a rebel the moment I saw him. I can only imagine what it was like being in the same class as him.

Rosalie: it was even worse than whatever you're imagining.

William: what exactly did he do..? Was he a bully or something?

Rosalie: not a bully per se. He had an attitude, but that was only one issue. The biggest issue was just how lazy of a person he was. Barely putting any effort into schoolwork when everyone else was working their asses off to get good grades. It was just insulting to see him care so little about education, saying he could ‘live without it’.

Veronica: oh, sounds awful to deal with.

Rosalie: it really was. I tried to help him, but he was just unhelpable.

Eventually, Melodie finished making lunch, and we all grabbed our portion of food. As we ate, it hit 2:00 p.m. And right on time, Monokat showed up.

Monokat: hello, students! I’m here to take my second handbook.

It walked over to Nikolai and snatched the handbook out of his pocket, then immediately left. He sighed.

Nikolai: well, that's just great.

Eduardo: so are you going to stay in someone's room too?

I smirked.

Rosalie: as if anyone would want to put up with him all night.

Nikolai: it's fine, I can just stay in my own room.

Miguel: without being able to lock your door? That's way too risky. Why don't you stay with me?

Nikolai: and be stuck with that guy?

He looked at Jackson.

Miguel: well…he could always stay with someone else.

Jackson: what?! You're just gonna ditch me like that?!

Miguel: I mean, I met you two days ago… I've known Nikolai for way longer.

Jackson crossed his arms, turning away from Miguel.

Jackson: alright, I see how it is! I guess my poor soul will have to find a new place to stay!

Nikolai: dude, shut up. You're acting like you just got evicted from your apartment.

Evelyn: you can stay with me, Jackson.

Jackson: really?

She smiled.

Evelyn: of course! I don't see my handbook getting taken away anytime soon, so there is no need to worry about that.

Jackson: oh, goodie!

Evelyn looked at the group.

Evelyn: I'm thinking of making some tea. Does anyone want any?

Everyone said no or simply shook their heads. I sighed.

Rosalie: I guess I could use some…

Her eyes lit up.

Evelyn: alright, I'll go get to making it!

She ran into the kitchen, Jackson following after her.

Veronica: do you like tea?

Rosalie: no, I've never been that interested in it. But Evelyn's is…different. I can't really explain it.

After Evelyn finished making the tea, she brought out three cups on a platter. She and Jackson walked over to our table.

Evelyn: is there room for two more?

Rosalie: no, actually—

Jackson: I’m sure there is! I’ll go get an extra chair.

He dragged a chair from one of the other tables over to ours, then he took a seat alongside Evelyn.

Jackson: so, what’re you guys talking about?

William: …um, we were talking about Evelyn’s tea!

She looked at Evelyn.

William: what do you use to make it? Rosalie said she really liked it.

Rosalie: I didn't say that!

Evelyn smiled.

Evelyn: oh, it's a simple recipe! Would you like me to tell you about it?

Rosalie: …yeah, sure.

Jackson: I’d like to know, too!

Evelyn told us the recipe, even writing it down in a note. She handed me the note.

Evelyn: just in case you forget!

Rosalie: no need to worry about that; I have a good memory.

Evelyn: ah, then would you like it, Jackson?

Jackson: yeah, sure!

He gladly took the note, shoving it into his pants pocket.

Veronica: I must ask, do you guys think we’ll be able to make it through this?

Rosalie: we’ll be fine. Most of the people here don’t look like they couldn’t commit a murder even if they wanted to. Except for that Reza guy, but I’m not super worried about him.

Veronica: why?

Rosalie: apparently he’ll only kill if one specific person here orders him to.

Veronica: really? Who’s that?

Rosalie: I don’t know, he didn’t tell me. But we don’t need to worry about him committing murder of his own volition.

William: everyone here does seem…mostly nice. Or at least not like they’d commit murder. But you can never be too safe, so it’s important to be wary.

Jackson: this group wouldn’t stoop so low as to commit murder! I have faith in all of us!

Rosalie: so much faith that you were begging for someone to protect you when night time came?

Jackson: hey, it’s not because I’m worried about being attacked! It’s because I don’t want to sleep out in the hallway!

Rosalie: whatever you say.

Our conversation was interrupted by Ally piping up from another table.

Ally: do we have any other stuff to do? Sitting around here for hours sounds boring.

William: well, if you guys wanna go back to the gym, we can.

Miguel: I’d really rather not.

Melodie: I don’t want to either.

Ally: why not? We could do some more hoop shooting!

Melodie: I don’t like that ‘lightning’ game. If we were to go back, I’d prefer jump roping or hula hooping.

Ally: seriously? That’s some kiddy stuff! No one does that sh*t after elementary school!

Melodie: but I liked it…

Evelyn: I liked it too.

Ally: oooh, I see. You guys just aren’t strong enough to compete in real sports. So you have to settle for the little kid stuff.

She nudged Aren in the shoulder.

Ally: do ya think they’re just too scared to play ‘cause they know we’ll kick their asses again?

Aren: oh, absolutely!

He looked at Melodie, smirking.

Aren: what, ya can’t handle the big kid sports?

Melodie frowned.

Melodie: no… I just don’t like them…

I groaned.

Rosalie: and there you two go again, making fools of yourselves.

Ally: oh, shut up, Rosalie. You couldn’t even be bothered to actually do a sport!

Rosalie: yeah, because I actually have a brain. And I know that sports are nothing but meaningless wastes of time. Just like both of your talents.

Aren: wow, okay. Sorry for wanting to have fun! I bet you don’t even know what that word means. You probably think pulling all nighters studying for tests is fun.

Ally: pfft, she probably cries when she gets a ninety five percent on her work. Total loser behavior!

Nikolai: good lord, I can’t handle this sh*t anymore!

He stood up out of his seat.

Nikolai: you guys have spent all day acting like preschoolers! This argument is brain-numbing to watch! I’m going to my dorm.

William: but we’re supposed to stick together..!

Nikolai: I will when the people here don't make me want to hurl myself out a window.

Miguel: I must admit, I don't want to stay either.

Rosalie: of course you two are the first to quit. I shouldn't have expected anything more.

The two ignored me, walking out of the cafeteria. Evelyn sighed.

Evelyn: oh no… A drift like this could mean trouble.

Liling: what's that supposed to mean?

Evelyn: I see many bad future paths for us.

I sighed.

Rosalie: here you go again, talking about your psychic nonsense.

Evelyn: I must go meditate! Then my visions will be more clear.

Lassi: didn't you just say us splitting apart was a bad thing?

Evelyn stood up and ran out of the room, not acknowledging Lassi’s statement.

Odette: I can't be bothered to stay around here any longer either. I'm leaving too.

William: but the plan—!

Odette: I don't care about your plan. I don't care about anyone here, either. Wanna come with me, Chidi?

Chidi: oh, yes, I'd like to.

Aren rolled his eyes.

Aren: have fun getting your mani pedis or whatever together.

The two walked out as well. William sank into her chair, a defeated look on her face.

William: this is going so wrong…

Rosalie: we still have about half of us here. And I wouldn't worry too much about any of the people that left. Nikolai and Miguel are too incompetent to murder anyone; Evelyn looks like she can barely handle the weight of her clothes; Odette is just some brat that doesn't want her nails to chip; and Chidi is probably scared of his own shadow.

William: I just…can't help but be worried.

Veronica: we’ll all be fine. We’re Ultimates, after all. The best of the best in our fields, we’re far more capable than anyone else.

Rosalie: that's the case for some of us. Not every ‘Ultimate’ really deserves the title.

William sighed, then stood up.

William: okay, I think we've stayed together long enough. Feel free to leave if you want. I'm going to my dorm.

Rosalie: huh?

William: sorry… I'm just too tired right now…

She walked out of the cafeteria. Some of the others got up as well.

Ally: damn, giving up on your own plan? How pathetic.

Aren: wanna go shoot hoops at the gym again?

Ally: oh, hell yeah!

Most of the others departed from the room. Melodie went into the kitchen, while Veronica, Lassi, and I all stayed seated. I stood up and walked over to Lassi.

Rosalie: what's got you staying behind?

Lassi: I don't feel like going back to my dorm.

Melodie spoke up from the kitchen.

Melodie: if any of you are looking for something to do, you can hang out with me in the kitchen. I'm thinking of baking something. Maybe we can do some pastry decorating together!

Lassi: hm, it's better than doing nothing.

Veronica: I think I'll participate too. What about you, Rosalie?

Rosalie: no, thanks. I'll be heading back to my dorm.

Veronica: ah, okay. I'll see you at dinner, then.

I turned and exited the cafeteria. After reaching my dorm, I closed the door behind me and let out a sigh. I’d have to wait and see if anyone would fall into Monokat’s trap.

When dinner time came, I decided to skip out. I'd just grab something from the fridge later after everyone left. I really didn't feel like dealing with everyone’s nonsense. As I sat at my desk, I began to think about the motive. I wanted to believe no one would fall prey to something so stupid, but knowing this group's intelligence, I wasn't too sure how things would turn out.

Well, I'd have to wait and see for myself. And if the worst case scenario really came true, I'd be prepared for the investigation.

After some waiting, it was about 6:30, and I heard a knock on my door. When I opened it, I saw William standing on the other side. I raised a brow.

Rosalie: what is it?

William: hey, I noticed you weren't at dinner, so I wanted to check in you. Why didn't you attend?

Rosalie: ah, that. I simply didn't want to put up with everyone's nonsense.

William: oh, okay. I was just a little worried. Melodie noticed you weren't there too, so she left some food in the fridge for you to eat later.

Rosalie: really? That's…thoughtful. I'll come by and pick it up later.

William smiled.

William: okay, goodnight!

She walked away, and I closed the door again. I turned around, looking at my desk, then at my bed. About half an hour later, I went to the kitchen to get the food. No one was there, including Melodie. I looked through the fridge and grabbed the food she left for me, which was neatly arranged inside a container.

When I opened the container, I saw the usual food, as well as something peculiar. A macaron was in the container. It was pink with frosting decor that made it look like a bunny. A note next to it said: Here’s one of the sweets I made! :) -Melodie. I smiled a little bit.

When nighttime came, I laid down on my bed, looking up at the ceiling.

I didn't know what tomorrow would bring, but I prayed it would be good.

Day four (investigation & trial)

I woke up to the morning announcement. I got up and saw my handbook right where I left it earlier. After getting myself ready, I grabbed it and left my room. As I walked through the hallways, I didn't see anything suspicious. And as I entered the cafeteria, everything looked normal too. Except for one thing…

I raised a brow, looking around the room. There was a distinct lack of the good smell I was used to upon entering the cafeteria in the morning. I then walked into the kitchen. There was no one there. I was confused…

I walked back over to the dorm rooms, seeing a few people exiting their dorms. But I ignored them, walking over to one specific dorm. I turned the doorknob, seeing the door was unlocked. When I opened the door, I saw the room was empty.

Rosalie: …

Suddenly, a panicked yelling echoed through the hallway. I turned to see Chidi, screaming and yelling with a terrified expression on his face.

Rosalie: what are you yelling about?

Chidi: you…you have to follow me!

Liling, who had just exited her dorm, looked at him.

Liling: this seems serious..! Lead us to whatever the issue is!

He turned and started running back to where he came from, Liling running after him. I decided to follow as well. She was right about the situation seeming serious.

He lead us to his dorm, which had the door wide open. We walked towards the door. And on the other side, we saw a horrifying sight.

On the ground laid Melodie, beside a bloody blanket and knife. A dark red contrasted the pastel colors of her outfit, highlighting a handful of wounds in her chest and stomach.

[Chapter One: To Kill a Dove, Deadly Life]

An announcement played over the speakers.

Announcement: a body has been discovered in Chidi's dorm!

I stepped back, having no words to say. And the others didn't either, all three of us looking back and forth at each other and the corpse.

Footsteps echoed through the hallways as the other gathered outside. Despite the crowd, there was little words. Most of it was simply shocked ‘whats’ or petrified silence. When everyone arrived, Monokat walked towards us.

Monokat: well, well, we have our first murder! It's about time!

Miguel: who…did this…?

Ally: it was obviously that stupid cat!

Ally pointed at Monokat. It tilted its head.

Monokat: me? I didn't do this! I'm simply a spectator, not someone who can interfere with the game in any way!

Lassi: as if… Only someone as sick as whoever is controlling you would do this.

Ally: yeah! So just admit your guilt!

Monokat: you guys do know I’m not being controlled by anyone, right? I’m a self-sufficient AI! And I’m not programmed to kill anyone for any reason other than for punishment.

Evelyn: so that really means…

Monokat: yep! One of you here is the killer.

Odette: who is it, then?

Monokat: I can’t just tell you! It’s your guys’ job to figure it out. But I’m not completely heartless, so I will give you guys some basic clues. But everything else is up to you guys to figure out!

I felt a buzz from inside my pocket. I grabbed my handbook, seeing the display changed from the normal home screen to a collection of information regarding the murder case.

Liling: how do we find out who…did this?

Monokat: you guys are gonna investigate! And after you've gathered everything you need, you guys will discuss amongst yourselves and come to an informed conclusion on who you think the murderer is.

Monokat: those images on your handbooks should give you guys all the basic information regarding the murder! Now’s about the time I leave to let you guys do your own thing, so toodles!

Jackson: wait, what about the people without handbooks?

Monokat: oh, don’t worry! All your handbooks have been given back and are inside your rooms.

Monokat then left, leaving us all there confused.

Jackson: excuse me while I go get mine!

Nikolai: I guess I’ll get mine too.

They both walked away. An awkward silence filled the air.

William: we…really have to investigate?

Reza: that’s what Monokat said, isn’t it?

William: I know, I’m just…in shock, I guess.

Ally: well…nothing’s gonna happen if we just stand around and do nothing! So let’s get to investigating.

Ally was the first person to step into the room. We slowly followed after her.

I looked down at my handbook, reading the information on the screen.

Victim: Momoka “Melodie” Ishii.

Time of Death: 12:43 a.m.

Cause of Death: Blood loss.

Wound(s): 13 stabs to the chest and stomach.

It displayed an image of Melodie, having red spots that presumably indicated the location of the stab wounds. I looked back over at the real dead body, and it seemed to match the picture.


I stepped closer to the corpse. Ally was also overlooking her.

Ally: well…Monokat didn’t lie about the stab wounds.

Rosalie: yes, so it can be assumed that the rest of the information is truthful.

Ally: I mean, do we even need to do this whole investigation thing? It’s obvious Chidi did it.

Rosalie: what makes you say that?

Ally: uh, hello? We’re in his room right now! The body wouldn’t be in his room if he didn’t do it.

Rosalie: do you really think it’d be that obvious? And why would he snitch on himself? He’s the one that led us over here so we could discover the corpse.

Ally: well, we don’t have any better clues.

Rosalie: yeah, it’s almost like the purpose of the investigation is to find those clues…

I looked back down at the corpse. There were two things beside her: a kitchen knife covered in dry blood and a blanket covered in a dark crimson. Also presumably blood.


I suddenly noticed something strange. I grabbed the bloody blanket and held it up, examining the floor.

Rosalie: interesting…there isn’t any blood on the floor. The only visible blood is on her clothes, the knife, and the blanket…


Eduardo walked over to us. He leaned over, picking up the knife.

Eduardo: hey, this is one of the knives from the kitchen.

Rosalie: that makes sense. I was right to worry about those…


Eduardo: it’s safe to say this is the murder weapon, right?

Rosalie: yes, I’d say so.

I looked at him.

Rosalie: we should figure out the timeline of events yesterday. That’ll make it easier to understand the circ*mstances of Melodie’s death.

Eduardo: that’s a good idea. We all spent most of the day together, so hopefully it won’t be too hard.

Rosalie: yes, but there’s one thing I find most important: who had their handbooks confiscated, and when it happened.

Eduardo: hm, well, I didn’t have mine taken. Between the time we all separated and the time of the death, there should’ve been two other handbooks taken. So let’s ask around to see who had theirs taken.

I nodded, walking off to talk to the others. I approached Odette and Chidi, who were standing near each other.

Rosalie: hey, I have a question for you two.

They both looked at me. Chidi seemed calmer than earlier, but was still clearly in shock.

Odette: what is it?

Rosalie: did either of you have your handbook taken?

Odette: no, ours weren’t.

Chidi: um…actually, mine was.

Odette gave him a shocked look, which then turned to anger.

Odette: it was?! Why didn’t you tell me?!

Chidi: I didn’t wanna bother you…

Rosalie: okay, and when was it taken?

Chidi: at 7:00 p.m.

Rosalie: okay, that fits the math.

Rosalie: …I did say I only had one question, but I’ve got to ask another. How did the corpse end up in your room?

Chidi: I don’t know… I just woke up and she was there. My door was unlocked due to my handbook getting taken away…

Rosalie: I see. And why did you think staying in an unlocked room was a good idea?

Chidi: I knew it was a bad idea… But I was too anxious to ask to stay with anyone…

I sighed.

Rosalie: okay… And is there anything else I should know about?

Odette: oh, yeah. Chidi’s trash room keys are missing.

Rosalie: huh? How are you this irresponsible, Chidi?

Chidi: I… I didn’t—

Odette: don’t go blaming him for this. They were stolen.

Rosalie: and how do you know that?

Odette: he knows he put them on his nightstand before falling asleep, and I trust him on that. The killer must’ve stolen them.

Rosalie: hm…


Rosalie: if the killer really did steal the keys, then they needed access to the trash room. So maybe that place has some clues.

Odette: that’s a good point… Let’s go look there.

The two walked out of the room. As they walked away, Eduardo approached me.

Eduardo: hey, Rosalie! I figured out that Lassi’s handbook was taken at midnight. Do you know who the other person is?

Rosalie: yeah, it was Chidi.

Eduardo: okay, so it goes: Jackson, Nikolai, Chidi, and then Lassi.


He pulled out a notepad with a pen and began writing on one of the pages.

Rosalie: are you writing the order down?

Eduardo: yeah! Writing stuff down is important so we don’t forget anything.

Rosalie: oh, that’s pretty smart for someone like you.

Eduardo: huh?

Rosalie: anyways, I’m gonna continue investigating.

There wasn’t anything else of note in the room itself, so I figured it’d be a good idea to get some accounts from the others. But as I turned around, I almost ran right into Veronica. We both stepped back in surprise.

Rosalie: oh—sorry about that.

Veronica: it’s fine, don’t worry.

Rosalie: before you continue investigating, I have a question. Did you see anything yesterday that could be important to the murder? I’m looking for accounts or alibis from people.

Veronica: hm…oh, yes, there is something I find important. I remember noticing one of the knives was missing from the rack during dinner last night.

Rosalie: really?!

Veronica: yeah. I didn’t think much of it at the time; I thought Melodie had just misplaced one of them while cooking. But now I’ve realized I should’ve been more worried… I still remember it being there when I was baking with Melodie and Lassi.

Rosalie: …interesting. I didn’t notice the knife missing… Ugh, I must’ve been too busy thinking about the motive to notice. A novice mistake.


Rosalie: is that all?

Veronica: yes, it is.

I looked around the room. I saw everyone except one person was there… I raised a brow, then stepped outside. Still nowhere to be found. I walked down the hallway and saw Melodie’s door was wide open, despite the fact I closed it after I looked inside… I walked over and peaked my head inside.

William was inside, seemingly looking for something.

Rosalie: what are you doing?

She perked up in surprise, turning and looking at me.

William: oh, hey! I was just…looking for something.

I walked fully into the room.

Rosalie: what is it?

William: well, when I got a closer look at the body, I noticed Melodie didn’t have her handbook anywhere on her person. So I went to check if it was in here somewhere.

Rosalie: did you find it?

William: no, sadly… I was wondering if she was one of the people who had their handbooks taken.

Rosalie: no, she wasn’t. I’ve received a list of everyone who was.

William: oh… Then that’s weird. I guess the handbook is in here somewhere, then. Wanna help me look?

Rosalie: sure, I guess.

We looked through the room for a few minutes, but couldn’t find the handbook anywhere. I scratched my head.

Rosalie: weird…


William: sorry for wasting your time… I thought for sure it’d be in here somewhere.

Rosalie: it’s fine. I should go back to my original plan: asking people for accounts and alibis… Speaking of that, did you see anything yesterday that could be important to the murder case?

William: uh…no, I don’t think so.

I nodded and walked towards the door, turning to see Liling standing there.

Rosalie: oh—hey, Liling.

Liling: hello.

Rosalie: what’re you doing here?

Liling: oh, I just noticed you two were missing and was looking for you. Sorry if I scared you.

Rosalie: oh, right. We were searching for Melodie’s handbook here, but we couldn’t find it. And a quick question—did you see anything yesterday that could be related to the case?

Just like William, Liling didn’t have any information. I walked back to Chidi’s dorm and I noticed he and Odette were back. I walked up to them.

Rosalie: did you find anything in the trash room?

Odette: not the keys, but we did make a two interesting discoveries. Firstly, the door that leads to the incinerator was unlocked. Secondly, the incinerator was on when we walked inside, while Chidi recalls leaving it off when he took out our trash yesterday.

Rosalie: that is interesting, and definitely important.


I asked the two if they had any accounts from yesterday, but they didn’t have an answer. So I walked around the room and asked all the others, but no one had much of an answer either. That made sense, since the murder happened so late in the night, but it was definitely disappointing.

I had asked everyone except for…them.

Liling approached me.

Liling: hey, did you ask everyone?

Rosalie: no, but I don't need to. I've asked everyone worth asking.

She tilted her head.

Liling: huh? What does that mean?

Rosalie: I told you, I've asked everyone worth asking.

I gestured to Nikolai and Miguel.

Rosalie: they are not worth asking.

Liling: why not? They could have important information.

Rosalie: as if. I know they won't.

Liling looked at the two.

Liling: hey, Miguel! Nikolai! Can you two come over here?

I looked at her, frustrated.

Rosalie: what the hell, Liling?!

Miguel gave us a confused look and walked over to us, Nikolai following him.

Miguel: what's up?

Liling: did you two see anything yesterday that could be related to the murder?

Miguel: oh, hm…there’s one thing that was suspicious.

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: how could you two have anything helpful? Don't waste our time.

Nikolai: we’re not talking to you, Bratsalie. We’re talking to Liling.

Rosalie: do childish insults make you feel better about your pathetic life?

Liling fake coughed.

Liling: so, what did you two see last night?

Miguel: oh, right, that—Nikolai and I were in my room, and it was pretty late. Neither of us could sleep, so we spent the last few hours just talking. It was probably past midnight by that point. And suddenly we hear knocking on our door. It went on for a few seconds, then stopped.

Liling: really?

Miguel: yeah, but what’s stranger is that a little later we then heard what sounded like someone twisting the doorknob. I looked over and it was definitely moving. It stopped after a bit, but we were freaked out.

Liling: wow… Is that all?

Nikolai: yeah, that’s all that happened.

Liling: interesting…

Rosalie: I…suppose it may be important.


Rosalie: so…someone was trying to get into your room, I assume?

Miguel: it seems that way… Kind of creepy to think about.

Suddenly, the speakers turned on. Monokat’s voice played over them.

Announcement: alrighty, students! The investigation has now concluded. Make your way to the gym in order to start the class trial.

Class trial…? What could that mean? But I didn't have time to ponder my questions, making my way out of the dorm and towards the gym.

We all made our way to the gym, some faster than others. As I stood there, waiting for whatever was next, I wondered how I got here. Just a few days ago, I was on my way to attend my dream school. And now here I was, about to attend a trial of life or death. Why was I chosen? What did I do to God that made him decide to punish me in such a cruel way?

When we all arrived, Monokat popped out from behind the podium on the stage.

Monokat: welcome, students! Let's not waste any more time and start the trial!

Ally: we’re gonna have it here?

Monokat: oh, heavens, no! We have our own trial room for that!

Suddenly, a door at the back of the stage opened, revealing a giant elevator.

Monokat: don't be shy, students. Hop on in!

We all shuffled into the elevator. I leaned against one of the walls, overlooking the evidence in my head.

-BASIC INFORMATION: Melodie died from blood loss at 12:34 in the morning. She was stabbed thirteen times in the chest and stomach regions.

-CLEAN FLOOR: While Melodie’s body and the items around her were covered in blood, the floor was spotless.

-BLOODY KITCHEN KNIFE: A knife covered in blood was found at the crime scene. It was a knife from the kitchen.

-MISSING KEYS: Chidi’s keys to the trash room, given to him for trash duty, have gone missing. He claims they were on his nightstand the previous night, and had disappeared when he woke up.

-CONFISCATION ORDER: Jackson’s handbook was taken at 9:00 a.m, Nikolai’s was taken at 2:00 p.m, Chidi’s was taken at 7:00 p.m, and Lassi’s was taken at 12:00 a.m. They've all been returned.

-VERONICA’S ACCOUNT: During dinner the previous night, Veronica noticed one of the kitchen knives was missing from its place on the rack. She remembers it still being there when she went into the kitchen to do baking with Melodie.

-MISSING HANDBOOK: Melodie’s handbook has seemingly disappeared into thin air.

-ODETTE AND CHIDI’S ACCOUNT: The door to the incinerator was left unlocked, when Chidi swears he locked it last time he went in. The incinerator was also left on, when he remembered turning it off last time he used it.

-MIGUEL AND NIKOLAI’S ACCOUNT: Sometime after midnight, someone knocked on Miguel’s dorm door. Sometime later, someone then tried getting into the room, twisting the doorknob.

Eventually, the elevator stopped. The doors opened up to reveal a new room. It had a circle of podiums—sixteen, to be exact. Beside the circle, there was a giant throne that overlooked them, as well as a TV screen placed above the throne.

Monokat: every podium has one of your names carved into it. So go find the one that has yours, and stand behind it.

Nikolai: and who’s the throne for?

Monokat: me, of course!

He rolled his eyes.

Nikolai: color me surprised.

We all walked towards the circle and looked for our podiums. I quickly found mine, standing and waiting for the rest to do the same. My podium had a strange screen on it, which didn’t display anything. I glanced at the podiums beside me. They also had those same screens, also not displaying anything. As I looked around, I realized one of the podiums didn't have a person behind it, but rather a portrait. A portrait of…Melodie.

Rosalie: why is there a portrait there?

I pointed to it.

Monokat: the portrait is meant to fill the place of our dead student, Melodie. Just because she's dead doesn't mean she should be left out! And this will go for all future dead people. Whenever someone dies, their podium will be filled by a portrait of them.

William: it's very…unsettling. Although, that is a surprisingly nice sentiment coming from you.

Monokat: well, enough about the portrait. It's time to get this trial started! I'm sure you guys are generally sure what you're supposed to do, right? Discuss evidence and find the killer amongst you. That's basically all there is to it.

Lassi: and what happens when the trial concludes?

Monokat: when the discussion comes to an end, you all must vote on who you think the killer is. If a majority of votes are correct, the killer is punished and you all go back to your daily lives. But if you guys vote the wrong person, everyone besides the killer is punished, and the killer is free to leave!

Eduardo: punished..? What exactly does that mean?

Monokat: oh, right. I haven't told you guys about what punishment entails. Well, I'll save that as a surprise for the end of the trial.

Monokat: but that's enough explaining. You guys better start discussing!

Chidi: how are we supposed to do this…?

Monokat: hey, that’s not up to me. That’s up to you guys! Whether you have a civil conversation or damage your lungs screaming at each other is for you guys to decide.

Veronica: the first option sounds far more productive. Let's try to do that.

Lassi: how are we even supposed to figure this out? We just graduated highschool, and now we have to become detectives?

Rosalie: the only way to find out is by actually trying. If you guys can’t start the conversation, then I will; Melodie died in 12:34 this morning, and it’s safe to assume the kitchen knife is the weapon used.

Ally: well, no duh. They didn’t stab her with the blanket, did they?

Aren: what are our chances of getting it right if we just pick a random person to all vote for?

I facepalmed.

Rosalie: it would be 6.25%, which isn’t very good odds. So why don’t we actually do what the point of the trial is and discuss the murder, instead of babbling like idiots?

Aren: fine, geez. You don't have to be so serious.

Rosalie: we are literally solving a murder!

Liling: um, so…the first big question is how the body ended up in Chidi’s room, right? Because I don’t believe he did it.

Odette: yeah, he definitely didn’t. I know he’s not a murderer.

Nikolai: why, because he’s your boyfriend? You two sure act like a couple.

Odette: he’s not my boyfriend, dimwit. I know him because he’s dating my cousin.

Veronica: but how do we know he didn't do it? We’ve never met him, and we’ve never met you either. We need actual, physical evidence.

Ally: yeah, the crime scene is literally his dorm. Seems pretty cut and dry.

Rosalie: yeah, it is. If you think about it for less than six seconds. Why would he murder someone and then lead us to the crime scene?

Ally: to make us think he's innocent! It's like—what do you pretentious people say? Reverse psychology?

Chidi: I-I didn't do any of that..!

Nikolai: that seems hella unnecessary. That's like, what, 6D level chess? And I'm gonna be honest, that guy looks like he couldn't swat a fly without breaking down in tears.

Odette: while I wouldn't phrase it like that, it is true Chidi isn't at all violent. I know from firsthand experience.

Lassi: so what happened, then? How did Melodie's body get in his room?

Rosalie: it's much more likely that someone else is the culprit, and they simply killed Melodie in Chidi’s room.

Miguel: the killer murdered Melodie in Chidi’s room? How’d they get access to it?

Rosalie: his room was unlocked thanks to his handbook being confiscated. They could’ve entered whenever they wanted. I learned so during the investigation.

Miguel: oh… Why was Chidi in his room, then? It’s dangerous to stay in an unlocked room, especially by yourself.

Rosalie: that’s what I said, too.

Chidi: I…um, didn’t want to bother anyone…by asking to stay in their room.

Eduardo: you could’ve died, dude!

Chidi: I'm sorry..! I wasn't really thinking about it…

Miguel: it’s fine, I think we have more important things to focus on…

William: so the killer murdered Melodie in Chidi's room? But why were either of them there? How did the killer or Melodie know Chidi’s dorm wasn't locked?

I looked at Chidi.

Rosalie: you said you didn't tell anyone about it, right?

Chidi: yeah…

Rosalie: and no one was around when it was taken?

Chidi: also yes. No one should've known about it…

Rosalie: hm… They must've deduced it through some other means, then.

Lassi: what? How?

Ally: what, was it Evelyn? Did she read his mind? Did you read his mind, Evelyn?!

Evelyn: what?! I would never do something like that without someone’s permission!

Chidi: um..I don't really think she did that.

I sighed.

Rosalie: I doubt that as well.

Aren: so what? They just happened to guess it, or something?

Miguel: ..oh, I think I know what they did.

Liling: what's that?

Miguel: I told Rosalie about this during the investigation. Nikolai and I were in my room. I don't remember the exact time, but it was definitely past midnight by that point.

Rosalie: ah, right. The two heard the doorknob to their room twist a few times, but then it stopped.

Eduardo: that's weird. Sometime tried to get into their room?

Miguel: it seems that way. But I don't think they were targeting us specifically. I think they went around the area and were looking for anyone that had their dorm unlocked so they could kill Melodie there.

Liling: so they tried to open your dorm door, only to realize it wasn’t unlocked, then moved onto the next dorm.

Miguel: yeah, I’m guessing they did that until they got to Chidi’s dorm.

Rosalie: I…guess that makes sense.

I groaned under my breath. Out of all people, he was the one that got to the answer before I did. I wanted to go back to my room and brush my teeth, just to get the lingering, awful taste of agreeing with him out of my mouth.

Rosalie: so the killer murdered Melodie in Chidi’s room after finding out it was unlocked.

Reza: I don’t believe that’s what happened.

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: and why is that?

Reza crossed his arms.

Reza: if Melodie had been murdered in Chidi’s room, surely he would’ve heard the noise and woken up.

Jackson: oh, that is a good point! Surely some level of noise would’ve been generated from a murder attempt!

I raised a brow, then facepalmed. How had I overlooked such an obvious wrinkle in the theory?

Ally: then why was her body in the room?

Rosalie: well…hm…

A lightbulb then went off in my head.

Rosalie: just because her corpse was there doesn’t mean that’s where she died. And there’s another thing that could be related to the point Reza brought up. Another suspicious thing is that there wasn’t any blood anywhere on the floor in the room.

William: yeah, that’s a weird detail…

Lassi: so the killer cleaned up the blood at the scene?

Rosalie: no, I doubt that. What reason would they have to do that if they were gonna leave the corpse there? My conclusion is that—rather than our previous theory—Melodie had died in a different place, and the killer then moved her corpse to Chidi’s room. That would explain both the lack of noise and lack of blood.

Liling: oh, that makes sense!

Aren: why would they move the body?

Veronica: to try and cover their tracks, I assume.

Rosalie: yeah, that’s definitely what they were trying to do. I assume they wanted to frame Chidi for the murder by leaving not just the corpse, but all the evidence in his room.

Reza: that’s a pretty damn lazy attempt at framing someone.

Miguel: that’s not what you should be focusing on…

William: so the killer moved the body. Where did Melodie originally die, then?

Rosalie: that, I’m not so sure of. No one reported seeing any rooms filled with blood during the investigation.

Evelyn: yes, that does sound like a thing someone should report upon seeing.

Ally: wait, can’t Evelyn here just read everyone’s minds and find out who the killer is? What’s the need for all this investigation bullcrap?

Evelyn: oh, that is right! I should do that!

Monokat: uh—no, that’s against the rules!

Ally: since when?

Monokat: since right now! No cheating allowed to figure out the killer. You guys have to discuss and figure it out like big kids! And speaking of that, the killer for this or any future cases may not confess to their crime until enough discussion has been had to provide solid evidence of their guilt!

Rosalie: huh? You’re just making up the rules as you go along!

Monokat: I sure am! I’ll make it official right now!

There was a buzzing from inside my pocket. I grabbed my handbook and opened up the rule list. A new rule was added.

Rule 12: A killer may not confess to their innocence until enough has been discussed to the point that their guilt has been proven or is very likely.

Rule 13: Psychic powers aren't allowed during trials or investigations. Looking at you, Evelyn.

Ally: that’s so damn cheap! You’re a scumbag, Monocrap!

Monokat: it’s my game, therefore my rules! Cry about it.

Evelyn: oh, that’s a shame…

Rosalie: it’s fine, everyone. We have our brains, the most powerful tool in existence, to figure out this case. We don’t need freebies.

Aren groaned.

Aren: spoken like a generic inspirational poster in a classroom. Not all of us want to do all this investigation sh*t, y’know.

Rosalie: I never said I wanted to do this. But we have no other option.

Liling: so we figured out the killer moved Melodie to Chidi’s room some time after she died.

Reza: at least thirty minutes to an hour afterwards, since that’s when corpses stop bleeding.

Veronica: and they did it in a, rather fruitless, attempt to frame Chidi for the murder.

William: my biggest question is how Melodie ended up dead… Not, like, how she was murdered. We all know she was stabbed and bled out. But I'm curious how she ended up in that circ*mstance. Because she wasn’t one of the people who had their handbooks taken…

Rosalie: that is true… Melodie didn’t have any currently known reason to leave her room, so how did she come into contact with the murderer?

Ally: she was probably killed by someone after she let them stay with her? Who lost their handbooks, again?

Rosalie: it was Jackson, Nikolai, Chidi, and Lassi. In that order.

Ally: where did you stay, Lassi?! We never heard who you stayed with!

Lassi: I didn’t stay with anyone. My handbook was taken at midnight, while I was in my room. My door was locked, so I wasn’t able to unlock it after my handbook was taken. I was stuck in my room.

Jackson: oh, my! To be restricted, locked up in a cage, in such a way… How painful!

Lassi gave him a confused look.

Lassi: it was fine, geez. I just went back to sleep. And when I woke up, my handbook was back in my room.

Rosalie: okay, so that explains where you were. But we still don’t know why Melodie was with someone at such a late time.

Reza: there’s simply not enough evidence to come to a conclusion regarding that aspect of the murder.

Evelyn: that is true…. We have no way to prove her whereabouts.

Rosalie: fine, so we don’t know where she died. If we don’t know what happened before her death, let’s find out what happened afterwards. The killer moved her body to Chidi’s room. And then what did they do?

Veronica: they got rid of the evidence, perhaps?

Nikolai: what would they even need to get rid of? All the evidence was left in the room.

Liling: well…they could’ve gotten rid of their clothes. I assume their clothes had a decent amount of blood on them.

Aren: where would they put it, then?

Rosalie: hm.. Odette and Chidi noticed the door to the incinerator room was unlocked, and the incinerator was left on.

Chidi: y-yeah, and it wasn’t me who did those things.

Lassi: so you’re saying the killer did that?

Veronica: well, that is the only reasonable explanation.

Lassi: but wasn’t Chidi the one with the keys?

I facepalmed.

Rosalie: did you forget that the killer broke into his room?? They could’ve taken the keys whenever they wanted.

Odette: yes. He left his keys on his nightstand, and saw they had disappeared when he woke up, further providing evidence towards this theory.

Miguel: so the killer burned their clothes, but forgot to turn off the incinerator after the fact.

Odette: they also forgot to relock the door to the room. They clearly weren’t very precise with their plan.

Rosalie: so that's what happened after the murder. The killer murdered Melodie and checked all the dorms until figuring out that Chidi’s was unlocked. Then they placed Melodie’s corpse on the floor and took the keys to the trash room in order to burn their bloody clothes. Or maybe the other way around; it doesn't matter which came first.

Nikolai: who cares what they did after? What matters is who did it.

I rolled my eyes.

Rosalie: will you just be patient for once in your life? Figuring out the killer’s plan is one step in figuring out their identity.

Aren: does this even tell us who did it? Anyone could've done any of these things.

Veronica: well we did learn two things. Firdtly, if our assumption that it's the killer who tried to get into Miguel’s room is correct, that would eliminate Miguel and Nikolai from our pool of suspects.

Veronica: secondly, we can remove Chidi from our suspect list due to the attempt at framing him. Obviously he wouldn’t frame himself.

Nikolai: great, three of fifteen people are off the list. If we keep going at this rate, we can find out the killer by the time nighttime rolls around.

Rosalie: it's not going to take that long.

Ally: well, instead of complaining about the time, actually contribute to the discussion so it goes by quicker!

I raised a brow.

Rosalie: that's…the first good point you've brought up today. And I agree with that. Let's get back to discussing the murder.

I crossed my arms.

Rosalie: we know what the killer did after the murder. So let's figure out what happened before the murder.

Liling: when did everyone see Melodie last? That could be useful to know.

Lassi: the last time I saw her was at dinner yesterday.

Ally: same here.

Rosalie: I didn't attend dinner, so the last time I saw her was when I exited the cafeteria after we all split up.

Everyone gave their answers. None of us had seen her after dinner ended…

Aren: seriously? No one saw her at all?

Miguel: I guess not…

Rosalie: did she go back to her dorm, or did she stay in the kitchen?

Veronica: I recall her staying in the kitchen.

Eduardo: me too.

Rosalie: and what was she doing in the kitchen?

Eduardo: I assume she was doing the dishes. That’s what she usually did.

Rosalie: did anyone stay behind with Melodie?

No one recalled anyone doing so.

Rosalie: alright.. Melodie wasn’t in the kitchen when I went there, so she had probably finished washing the dishes, then went back to her room or some other place.

Reza: and now we’re back to our original problem. We don't know why or how Melodie came into contact with the murderer.

William: hm…could it have something to do with her missing handbook?

Aren: her handbook is missing?

William: oh, yeah, it is. I noticed her handbook wasn't on her person during the investigation. So Rosalie and I looked for it in her room, but couldn't find it there either.

Ally: what? Did it get taken, or something?

Rosalie: we've confirmed that her handbook wasn't taken for the motive.

Ally: why else would it be missing, then?

Liling: did someone besides Monokat steal it from her?

Miguel: why would someone do that?

Liling: I don't know… But if Monokat didn't take it, one of us must've.

Aren: maybe stealing her handbook was a part of the killer’s plan!

Lassi: that's probably it. So the question now is who took it.

Nikolai: how the hell are we supposed to know? The culprit’s not gonna stand up and admit they did it.

Chidi: how will we know who took it…if we don't know where it is?

Rosalie: well…

I looked at Monokat.

Rosalie: do you know where Melodie’s handbook is?

Ally scoffed.

Ally: you're really asking the damn cat?

Rosalie: it knows everything, so it should be able to tell us information.

Monokat: the handbook is with me, obviously!

Eduardo: huh? Why do you have it?

Monokat: whenever a student dies, I collect their handbook. I don't want these precious things getting lost or damaged!

Liling: …are we allowed to see it?

Monokat: yeah, sure.

Monokat then pulled Melodie’s handbook out of seemingly nowhere.

Aren: you had it the whole time and didn't say anything?!

Monokat: hey, it's not my fault you guys never asked me!

I sighed.

Rosalie: just give us the handbook.

Monokat: okay, geez! You guys are so rude!

Monokat handed the handbook to Jackson, whose podium was closest to the throne. He looked at it curiously, turning it on.

Jackson: how intriguing!

Rosalie: yeah, no. How about I look at it instead?

Jackson: what?! You don't trust me?!

Rosalie: frankly, yes. Now give it to me.

Jackson: hmph, fine. Catch!

He tossed the handbook across the room in my direction. I panicked, reaching out and luckily catching it. I glared daggers at him.

Rosalie: what the f*ck, Jackson?! Don't throw these things like toys! They could break!

Jackson: calm down, Rosalie! A good hero doesn't doubt his allies’ abilities, so I put my faith in you to catch it!

Monokat: oh, you don't need to worry about these things breaking. These top tier pieces of technology are incredibly sturdy! You can chuck them screen-first at a brick wall and they'll be unscathed.

Rosalie: well, I don't want to take any risks.

I turned the handbook on. Monokat hadn't lied about it being Melodie's. However, there wasn't anything of note on it.

Rosalie: well, this was a waste of time.

I tossed it back towards Jackson.

Nikolai: didn't you just say to not throw the handbooks?

Rosalie: we've learned this handbook is useless, so there's no use being careful with it anymore.

Jackson leaned over his podium and caught the handbook. He handed it back to Monokat.

Liling: hm…Monokat, where did you find Melodie’s handbook?

Monokat: hm?

Liling: if it's true that Melodie's handbook was lost or stolen by someone, you would know where it was since you took it when she died. So where was it, and when did you take it?

Monokat: oh, I sadly can't reveal that information! It'll give too much away!

Odette: really? You're gonna lock us away from vital information?

Monokat: yeah! I'm not gonna give you all the answers for free!

Rosalie: well, you still did give us valuable information. We know the whereabouts of Melodie’s handbook when she died is somehow vital to the case.

Chidi: if it's important to the case, is it likely she didn't just lose it?

Rosalie: yes, we can assume so. If it was just lost in some random place, Monokat wouldn't need to hold that information back from us. So we can assume it was stolen by someone.

Ally: why would someone steal it?

Miguel: maybe they wanted to stop her from locking her door… So she'd be forced to either stay with someone or sleep in an unlocked dorm.

Eduardo: but if it was stolen, why didn't she ever bring it up to us? She didn't seem too worried at any point when we were all together.

Veronica: perhaps it was stolen and she simply didn't realize it was until later that day. My assumption is that it was stolen sometime when we were all together yesterday, but she didn't realize it was until way later.

Eduardo: but surely she would’ve noticed it was missing by the time we were all getting ready to sleep, since she’d have gone to her room by then. She still could have mentioned it to someone.

Odette: perhaps, like Chidi, she was too anxious to mention it to anyone. Especially since her’s was stolen by a fellow student, rather than taken as a part of the motive.

Ally: I don’t care why she didn’t tell us. What I care about is who took it. So fess up! Who nabbed it?

No one said anything. If we were outside, we would’ve been able to hear crickets chirping. I crossed my arms.

Rosalie: yeah, because simply asking who did it is going to get us a confession.

Ally: well, you never know until you try it!

Aren: how are we even supposed to know? We don’t have anything to go off of. For all we know, the thief could’ve been the ghost of Christmas past.

Rosalie: it’d be useful to go over who we’ve proven can’t be the killer. Because the killer is presumably the one who stole Melodie’s handbook, we can then cross all of those people off the suspect list.

Rosalie: Nikolai, Miguel, and Chidi are off the list for reasons already mentioned. Odette could also be crossed off the list because she wouldn’t frame her friend for the murder, then proceed to help prove the allegations false.

Liling: if we’re talking about people who can’t be the killer, I’d like to throw my and Rosalie’s names onto the list.

Odette: what makes you two innocent?

Liling: well, Chidi can confirm that he, Rosalie, and I were the first three to see Melodie’s dead body. And when we did, the body discovery announcement played. And that only plays after three innocent people see the dead body, so that makes us all innocent.

Rosalie: ah, yes, that’s true. So Liling and I are also off the list of suspects.

Nikolai: so, half the people here are confirmed innocent. Now what? Are you gonna make us prove our innocence?

Rosalie: I would ask you all to debate your innocence, but then the conversation would go nowhere.

Jackson: wait, Evelyn and I are on the suspect list? But we were together the whole night!

Evelyn: yes, that’s correct. Neither of us could’ve done it.

Rosalie: were both of you guys awake at the time of the murder?

Jackson: well…no…

Evelyn: I was awake.

Rosalie: well that crossed Jackson off the list, but you're still a suspect, Evelyn. Jackson wasn't awake to prove you didn't sneak out.

Jackson: maybe not, but I know she'd never do such a thing!

Rosalie: yeah, sure. Trust the random girl you met less than a week ago with your life. See where that gets you.

Odette: our suspect list would be Ally, Reza, William, Lassi, Eduardo, Veronica, Evelyn, and Aren. How are we supposed to know who it is?

Miguel: yeah, we don’t have any idea where Melodie’s handbook was when she died, or when it was even stolen. All we know is that her handbook whereabouts are apparently important to the case.

Ally: they probably just stole her handbook, waited until it was nighttime, then went into her room since it was unlocked. And she probably did what Chidi and Lassi did, staying in her unlocked room. So the killer murked her, then Monokat showed up and took her handbook from the killer. So that’s why he won’t spill the beans on where the handbook was.

Rosalie: but then it could just say the handbook was in Melodie’s room, since that would technically be correct while not giving any important information away.

Ally: hmph, then what is it, Monokitty? Was the handbook in her room when she died?

Monokat tilted its head.

Monokat: …okay, this is the one piece of information I will give you guys: no, Melodie’s handbook was not in her room when she died. Only because this case would probably be impossible without it.

Aren: where was it, then?!

Monokat: I said that’s the only hint you get!

Evelyn: impossible without it..?

Liling: so…if the killer had her handbook when she died, and they weren’t in her room, then Melodie wasn’t killed in her room.

Rosalie: that makes sense. But now the question is where she actually died.

Jackson: it was somewhere of great importance! So I suggest it was in the killer’s room!

William: but why would Melodie be in someone else’s room at such a late time?

Jackson: her handbook was taken! Did you forget? She’d need a place to stay in order to save herself from danger. But alas, that ironically ended up leading to her death!

Lassi: but she didn't mention that her handbook was missing to anyone.

Jackson: not to us innocents, maybe. But if she was in the killer’s room, then she had approached them about her handbook issue. They offered to take her under their wing, but betrayed her. It was the perfect crime, no one else ever knowing her handbook was missing or that she was in the killer’s room.

Rosalie: that's..the first good point you've made. It's very likely that Melodie asked to stay in the killer’s room due to her missing handbook, unaware that she was asking the very person that took it.

Veronica: but now what? How do we figure out who this thief is?

Rosalie: we already have about half of us crossed off the suspect list. And if we’re going with the assumption that Melodie stayed in the killer’s room overnight, then we can also cross Evelyn off the suspect list. Because she was already sharing a room with Jackson.

Jackson: finally, you’ve come around! Better late than never!

Reza: so that would leave me, Lassi, William, Ally, Eduardo, Veronica, and Aren.

Miguel: that’s still a pretty big suspect list…

Evelyn: yes, but seven is better than fifteen!

Ally: now what? Do you guys just ask us questions until one of us cracks? ‘Cause trust me, I don’t give in easily.

Ally: not that I have anything to confess. But, y’know, if I did, just questioning me wouldn’t work.

Rosalie: wow, nice save.

Nikolai: what else are we supposed to do besides question people?? The only things in this room are these stupid podiums.

Reza: if we had the right tools, I could've tortured the answer out of them. But we don't.

Eduardo: you could've what?!

Reza: actually…

He reached into his pocket and pulled out the butterfly-themed knife from the other day.

Reza: it's not much, but it sure works. Who wants to hold the suspects down?

Veronica: you are NOT torturing anyone here!

Rosalie: you've got to be kidding me right now…

Aren laughed.

Aren: you're gonna torture us with that f*cking butterfly knife? I'd laugh too hard to give any information.

Reza: want to take bets on that?

Monokat: guys, guys! You're not allowed to leave your podiums until the trial is over! And no torture either! Don't make me add another rule!

Odette: if we really did the torture method, why would the torturer be one of the suspects? That's just dumb. It should be one of us cleared people.


Reza: oh, that's unfortunate.

He put the knife back in his pocket.

Miguel: …okay, I'm gonna pretend that didn’t happen. So now what do we do?

Aren: we figure out the killer, duh.

Miguel: well, obviously. How do we do that?

Rosalie: let's see…who's the most suspicious out of our list of seven?

Aren: wouldn't Reza be the most suspicious? He's the guy that murders people for a living. He just threatened to shiv me!

Reza: I don't murder people; I assassinate people.

Aren: whatever, dude. Fuji, pink lady, they're all still apples no matter what stupid names people call them!

Rosalie: just because two things overlap doesn't mean they're exactly the same. Fuji and pink lady apples, while both still apples, are different enough to be classified differently. And just like there's a difference between them, there's a difference between murder and assassination.

William: oh! Uh—the definitions can be kinda flexible, but a key difference is assassination is often done for political or religious reasons. It's also often used to refer to contractual killing, which is when a third party pays the person to kill the target or targets. Meanwhile murder is the unlawful killing of another person without justification, especially with malice intent. It's often used interchangeably with homicide but they actually mean different things; homicide is an umbrella term that refers to all categories of killings.

Everyone stared at her in silence.

Ally: good lord dude, and I thought Rosalie was the biggest word nerd here.

Miguel: did you study law, or something?

William: um, no, hehe… I've studied linguistics. Before this whole Ultimate thing..I planned on becoming a linguist.

Aren: an entire career dedicated to words? How did you manage to be even more of a loser than we thought?

I groaned.

Rosalie: do you two ever shut your mouths?

Ally: don’t ask us that. William just recited a whole essay!

Rosalie: well, she's not the annoying one in the room.

Nikolai: can we just focus on the goddamn case?

Ally: there's no time limit, dude. Let us have a little fun!


Veronica: let's please continue discussing the evidence… Even if there's not a time limit, I'd rather get out of here as quickly as possible.

Eduardo: so what were we talking about…? Oh, yeah, the suspects. How do we know who did it?

Rosalie: well, Reza is unlikely. Both because of the fact he doesn't kill for personal gain, but also the fact he's supposedly working for the person behind the game. So I don't think he'd be trying to escape.

Reza: yes, I don't have any plans for escape.

Jackson: why should we trust that? I imagine you have some amount of talent in deception!

Aren: says the actor.

Reza: wanna know a secret? The reason I'm here is because it was either this or the death penalty.

Eduardo: huh?

Reza: I don’t intend to escape, because this game isn’t all too different from my normal life.

Aren: well, if it’s not you, then who is it?!

Lassi: if we’re gonna cross Reza off the list, that leaves us with six more suspects.

Jackson: okay, suspects! Present us your case! Prove it is not you who spilled Melodie’s blood!

William: how are we supposed to prove that..?

Jackson: that’s for you guys to decide!

Rosalie: how about we don’t do that? If we did that, the conversation would go nowhere.

Jackson: then what do you suggest?

Rosalie: we need to figure out how the thief stole Melodie’s handbook, since the thief is also presumably the killer.

Eduardo: so…when did the killer steal her handbook?

Veronica: I don’t believe we have the specific time, but we can try to figure out the possibilities for when our suspects could’ve done it.

Miguel: it would’ve been sometime when we were all together, right?

Evelyn: I believe it was some time during our endeavors in the gym. With all the noise and constant movement, it’d be easy to pickpocket someone and have no one notice!

William: if we go with that scenario, I wouldn’t be the thief. I never left the bleachers or even went near Melodie.

Ally: ooh, do you think it was sometime during our game of lightning? The killer could’ve been going to the end of the line, then swiped Melodie’s handbook from her pocket on the way there!

Odette: that implies the killer is a master pickpocketer.

Rosalie: then I guess we can cross Ally and Aren off the list.

Aren: why?!

Chidi: …you’re upset about being cleared for murder?

Aren: well, being accused of murder sucks. But what makes us bad pickpocketers?!

Rosalie: pickpocketing is about being sneaky and subtle. You guys are as subtle as a nuclear bomb. So I guess being obnoxious helped you guys for once.

Liling: did…Melodie even have pockets?

Nikolai: what?

Liling: did she have pockets on her outfit? Because the only one I remember her having was the little pouch on her shirt with the cute rabbit design.

Rosalie: …I think you’re right. The only pocket she had was that one.

Aren: so?

Rosalie: I find this a bit odd with the theory that the thief pickpocketed her, since I imagine it’s way easier to notice someone rummaging through a pocket on your chest than on your pants.

Ally: so you're saying the killer didn't pickpocket her?

Rosalie: it's still possible, but less likely with this new information.

Lassi: then what happened? How else could the killer have gotten her handbook?

Evelyn: could it be that she left her handbook unoccupied, then the killer grabbed it?

Nikolai: she wasn’t stupid enough to do that.

Evelyn: but if it wasn’t pickpocketed, that is the only other option!

Reza: that, or the killer took it by force.

Jackson: by force?

Reza: who's to say the killer didn't take her handbook and force her to stay with them? Then they killed her during the night so there'd be a smaller chance of running into any witnesses.

Veronica: it does make sense, avoiding the holes in our two other theories. But I've been wondering something; why would the killer wait so long to kill Melodie? Nighttime starts at ten, so why would they wait another two and a half hours to kill her, if they were together the whole time?

Evelyn: that is true! It seems like an unnecessarily long time.

Aren: so is this one of those moments where Rosalie has a breakthrough regarding the case?

Rosalie: well, I'm not quite sure about the weird gap between nighttime starting and the murder happening. I'd assume the killer had the murder weapon before Melodie arrived, so there's no reason as to why they waited to kill her.

Miguel: they could've been waiting for everyone to fall asleep.

Rosalie: but for two and a half hours? That's a bit much. The average person falls asleep within fifteen to twenty minutes.

Aren: how do you just…know that?? Who one earth would keep that in their memory?

Jackson: it's an odd piece of trivia, but it's useful for this scenario!

Rosalie: oh, I know a lot of random trivia. People hate playing against me in jeopardy.

Eduardo: okay, so the killer didn't murder Melodie until half past midnight for some reason. Could it be important?

Liling: it is a weird detail. It could very well be important.

Lassi: how do we know it's meaningful? For all we know, the killer just got cold feet.

Odette: for two and a half hours?

Lassi: I mean, maybe. We don't know what was going through their head.

Rosalie: we don't know why the gap in time is there, that's why we should try to figure it out. It's a strange wrinkle in the story.

William: …if we're gonna assume the killer had no reason to wait to kill, then they ran into Melodie not so long before she was murdered.

Lassi: but we agreed she stayed with them in their room.

William: well, I don’t know any other reason for why they’d murder her so late in the night.

Miguel: so you’re saying she wasn’t with them before nighttime?

William: I’m not completely sure, but we don’t know why else she would’ve been killed so late.

Veronica: did the killer wait for her to fall asleep so she’d be easier to kill?

Rosalie: like I said, the average person falls asleep in fifteen to twenty minutes. Unless she had a sleeping condition, which we have no reason to think, she would’ve fallen asleep long before 12:30 a.m. So there’d be no reason for the murder to happen so late.

Ally: why would she randomly show up at the killer’s room so late in the night?

Aren: I dunno. So are we just throwing the stolen handbook theory out the window? Because now we’re going with the story that she didn’t stay with the killer in their room, so she obviously had her handbook earlier in the night.

Liling: this is a strange dilemma… The first story explains the missing handbook, but the second explains the time of the murder.

Miguel: well, her handbook had to have been gone by the point she ran into the killer. Because she wouldn’t have exited her room if she still had it.

Jackson: could she have been visiting one of the places here, then ran into the killer? They then lured her into their room, only to stab her!

William: but that wouldn’t explain why her handbook is missing…

Ally: and why the hell would she be wandering around the school at midnight? It’s not like she was going to the bathroom, since the water is turned off.

Evelyn: could she have been going to get a bite from the cafeteria? A midnight snack, of sorts.

Odette: the rules stated certain areas are off-limits during nighttime. Can you tell us what those areas are, Monokat?

Monokat: yeah, sure. The gym and the cafeteria are off-limits during nighttime. The other rooms are fine to enter!

Rosalie: so unless she was taking a stroll through the trash room, I don’t think Melodie had any business being out so late.

Veronica: okay, so that possibility is off the table. Her handbook somehow disappeared, leading to her looking for someone—presumably ending up being the killer—to stay with.

Odette: how could her handbook have been stolen? She had no reason to be out of her room, nor a reason to have her door unlocked. So how did it get taken?

Rosalie: that…is true. How could anyone have stolen her handbook?

Aren: what? Was it taken by Monokat?

Lassi: but we’ve already established whose handbook was taken. She wasn’t one of them.

Aren: well, I dunno what else could've happened! It’s not like a ghost snatched her handbook!

Ally: imagine it was, though. That’d be sick!

Eduardo: maybe her handbook was stolen, but she stayed in her room at first, then got scared and went to stay in someone else’s room.

Rosalie: that’s possible, but not very likely. The killer clearly planned the murder out beforehand, since they took the knife long before the time of murder. Why would they wait until she arrived at their room to kill her, since they would’ve been able to enter her room at any time?

Veronica: not to mention our previous problems with the pickpocketing theory.

Eduardo: well…I don’t know, then.

Aren: I told you! Monokat taking her handbook is the only thing that makes sense!

Rosalie: we’ve already explained multiple times that Melodie’s handbook was not taken by Monokat. Do you ever listen to anything we say?

Aren: but nothing else makes sense! Monokat’s the only one that could’ve had access to her room!

I sighed.

Rosalie: Monokat, please explain that you did not take Melodie’s handbook.

Monokat: …

Rosalie: …uh, hello? Monokat?

Monokat: sorry, Rosalie, but I can’t disclose any important information!

Rosalie: what?

Aren: so you did take Melodie’s handbook?!

Monokat: I can’t confirm whether I did or didn’t.

Rosalie: but we know whose handbooks were taken already! You don’t need to hide that from us. Just say Melodie’s handbook wasn’t taken by you so Aren can shut up.

Monokat: I’m not giving away any information.

Liling: um…

Odette: how odd… Monokat refuses to confirm it didn’t take Melodie’s handbook, but we already know whose handbooks were taken, so there’s no use in hiding it.

Miguel: is…this implying someone is lying about their handbook being stolen?

Lassi: huh?

Jackson: what reason would someone have to deceive us in that way?!

Miguel: because Monokat’s silence implies that he did take Melodie’s handbook, but can’t tell us because that’ll mess with the case. And if he did take Melodie’s handbook, that means someone is lying about theirs being stolen, since only four could’ve happened due to the math.

Rosalie: that’s real smart, coming from you.

Reza: that would also explain why Monokat was skittish about revealing the location of Melodie’s handbook. Because he had it during the murder.

Veronica: well, if we’re gonna believe that’s what happened, there’s only one person it could be…

Rosalie: …ah, I see.

There was a tense silence in the room. It was a strange sight. Everyone seemed so casual with accusations before, but now that we had a solid case, the room suddenly went quiet. But that’s why I was there; to guide the group when they couldn’t find their way.

Rosalie: Lassi… I must ask for an explanation.

Lassi: …an explanation of what?

Rosalie: based on our previously mentioned logic, one of the four people who had their handbooks taken were lying. But we saw Jackson and Nikolai’s handbooks get taken, and Chidi had been crossed off the list for other reasons. That leaves you.

Lassi: huh? I didn’t do it!

Eduardo: w-why would Lassi do something like that..?!

Rosalie: that’s what we’re here to figure out.

Lassi: well…you can’t accuse me based solely on speculation. Provide some real proof.

Rosalie: hm… I must ask, did anyone go into the cafeteria after Veronica, Lassi, and Melodie finished baking?

No one said anything.

Rosalie: that’s what I thought. So you three were the last known ones to enter the kitchen. And next time we’re all in the cafeteria, a knife is suddenly gone.

Lassi: what? You’re saying I took it after we finished baking?

Rosalie: yes, but I’ll admit, it’s not the strongest piece of evidence. So let’s move onto something else. Melodie’s handbook must’ve been the one actually taken at twelve, and you lied in order to throw us off. So she managed to leave her dorm before it was taken, now having to find someone to stay with.

Evelyn: ah, that explains why the murder happened so late!

Rosalie: yes, exactly. I’m assuming Melodie came to your room, Lassi, and you took the opportunity to stab her.

Eduardo: but…if Lassi wanted to murder Melodie, why would they base that off of complete chance?!

Lassi: exactly. If I was planning a murder, I wouldn’t base it off of the chance that her handbook was taken, followed by the chance of her showing up at my room. That’s just a bad plan. It’s clearly not what happened…

Rosalie: …oh, I know that’s what happened. And I can prove it.

Lassi: really? Please do, then.

Rosalie: I must bring back..Nikolai and Miguel’s account. We mentioned earlier how someone had turned the doorknob to Miguel’s dorm room, seemingly trying to get inside. But that’s not all. Earlier in the night, the two heard someone knock on their door.

Lassi: and how’s that gonna prove your point?

Rosalie: it proves someone was out around midnight—not long before the time of the murder—knocking on people’s doors, almost as if they were looking for someone to stay with. My guess is that the knocking was Melodie, who was looking for someone to stay with after her handbook was stolen. Then you let her into your room, only to then stab her. Then you went out looking for unlocked dorms to put her corpse in.

Lassi: …

Veronica: what do you have to say for yourself, Lassi?

Lassi: this..this is just based on a bunch of guesses!

Rosalie: educated guesses with reasonable proof behind them. If they're so flimsy, disprove them.

Lassi: what makes you more trustworthy than me, huh..?!

Rosalie: because I'm actually making points.

Eduardo: Lassi, it's okay. I'm sure this is a misunderstanding.

Rosalie: is it? Explain how.

Eduardo: well…um…

He went quiet.

Rosalie: that's what I expected.

Nikolai: so…are we finally done here?

Rosalie: we still have one more thing to do: vote.

Monokat: did I hear someone say vote? Are you guys ready to vote?

Lassi: what?! No..!

Veronica: …shall we go over everything one more time, so we’re all on the same page?

Rosalie: that's a good idea. I'll do the honors.

Lassi: but we’re not done!

I looked at them.

Rosalie: I believe we are. I'll do the honors of wrapping things up.

Rosalie: the murder case starts not long before yesterday’s dinner, Lassi snatching a knife off the rack in the kitchen. Skip to midnight, and Melodie's handbook was confiscated by Monokat as a part of the motive. Her dorm room being unsafe, Melodie searched for someone to stay with. She knocked on dorm doors until one person, none other than Lassi, answered her. She convinced Lassi to let her in their room, but that'd be the biggest mistake she made. Lassi stabbed her with the kitchen knife, using the blanket in their room as a tarp to soak up her blood. Lassi then went around the dorm area, looking for any unlocked dorms to place Melodie’s corpse in, since they couldn’t just leave her in their dorm. Eventually, they saw Chidi’s was unlocked. Not only that, but he was still there, asleep. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity, they placed Melodie’s corpse in his room, leaving no blood as she had stopped bleeding by then. They also left the blanket and knife, to really drive the framing home. Then they took Chidi’s keys to the incinerator room, burning their bloody clothes.

Rosalie: did I miss anything, Lassi?

Lassi: that—that didn’t happen! There’s no proof!

Nikolai: did you forget the last ten minutes of talking we did?

Rosalie: ‘we’? You didn’t do anything.

Ally: good lord, finally! I thought we were gonna be stuck here all day!

Monokat: alrighty! It seems you guys have come to a conclusion on who you think did the crime. It’s time to vote.

Lassi: what?! That’s not fair! I didn’t get to defend myself!

Rosalie: you very much had the chance. You simply didn’t do well at it.

Suddenly, the screens on our podiums lit up. It displayed pictures of all of us, including Melodie, with our names at the bottom.

Monokat: click on the picture of whoever you want to vote out. Remember you can only vote once, and can’t change it once you’ve chosen. So pick carefully!

I didn’t need to hesitate, voting for Lassi. The voting didn’t take very long.

The TV screen above the throne suddenly turned on. Just like the podium screens, it displayed our names and pictures of us. But now, there were tally marks under our names. Fourteen under Lassi’s, and two under mine…

Monokat: well, would ya look at that. By a landslide, Lassi has received the most votes!

Lassi: …

They clenched their fists.

Lassi: how could you guys do this…?!

Miguel: how could we do this? You..you killed someone!

Lassi: I didn’t want to do it!

A silence hung over us.

Veronica: so…you finally admit to it?

Lassi: okay, yeah, but—it wasn’t… I just…

They stumbled over their words, like a toddler just learning to speak.

Lassi: it was self defense..!

Rosalie: self defense?

Lassi: yeah! She—she was gonna kill me!

Eduardo: I…but…how could she do something like that?!

William: so…was she the one who took the knife, and tried to kill you with it..?

Lassi: well, no…

William: …then what happened?

Lassi: I opened my door to see her around midnight… She asked to stay with me, her own dorm not being safe… I was skeptical, but I agreed. And as the minutes passed, I just knew she was gonna kill me. I had no choice…

Rosalie: did she have a weapon? Did she threaten you?

Lassi: no, but—

Rosalie: so let me get this straight. She came to your room unarmed with nowhere else to stay. You’re almost six feet tall, and I imagine at least mildly athletic or nimble due to your talent, yet you were so threatened by Melodie, a short girl with no athletic experience, to the point you had to kill her?

Lassi: but she was gonna kill me! I could feel it!

Rosalie: okay, even if she was armed and planning to kill you—which she wasn’t—you’re still stronger and taller than her. You could’ve easily restrained her if she was to threaten or attack you. Yet you didn’t; you immediately jumped to killing her.

Lassi: …

Lassi: you…you don’t know what it was like! You weren’t there!

They spread out their arms, looking at everyone.

Lassi: none of you were! You can’t judge me!

Veronica gave them a weirded out, but also pitiful, stare.

Veronica: this sounds like an unfortunate case of paranoia…

Lassi: I’m not paranoid! If you guys were there, you would’ve sensed she was off! She was going to kill me!

Rosalie: what reason did you have beyond 'there was something off’? You've admitted she didn't have a weapon, nor threaten you.

Lassi: you had to be there to understand!

Monokat: I hate to interrupt this wonderful back and forth, but unfortunately we don't have all the time in the world. It's time for the punishment!

Eduardo: what…is the punishment..?

Monokat: it's nothing too bad. Just a little execution!

Lassi: …

Lassi: a…what?

Monokat: that's right! You didn't mishear! You take a life, yours is taken in return. At least if you're not able to defend yourself.

Jackson: that…that's too cruel! Even for a murderer!

Eduardo: yeah! You can't do that..!

Monokat: well, tough luck, then! And I can, sweetie. I made the damn rules! This game doesn't give you guys freebies like this academy did when they invited you all.

Monokat: hopefully this can be a lesson for all of you. You have to think before you act, or deal with the consequences. If you let yourself sink deep enough as to commit murder, you'll be treated like the scum you are.

Aren: but you put us in this situation, asshole! If you hate murderers, why’d you make a murder game?!

Monokat: but I didn't force Lassi to do anything, did I? I didn't grab the knife and place it in their hand.

Monokat walked over to Lassi and grabbed them by the wrist. They jumped in surprise, kicking Monokat in the face.

Lassi: no! You can't do this to me!

Monokat didn't reply, grabbing them tighter and pulling them away. They kicked and screamed, but nothing deterred the cat.

Lassi: NO! STOP!

They looked at us.


Odette: excuse me?


Miguel: what are you talking about?!

Ally: yeah, dude! None of us have anything to do with this!


Rosalie: and there you go with the baseless accusations again…

They kept screaming jumbles of accusations at us. I looked at them, then at the floor, a pit forming in my stomach. I felt…pitiful? But why? They got themself into this situation, yet…seeing them squirm and yell in panic, moments before the end of their life…

It was a painful scene to watch.


Lassi stood at the edge of a pit, going down farther than we could see. An obstacle course spread across the pit, leading across it to the end. At the end of the pit, there was a platform and a door. The door had “ESCAPE” written above it.

Lassi began jumping, sliding, whatever through the course. But it quickly escalated from simple jumps to dodging saws and darts. The saws pierced their skin, leaving slash marks all across their arms, legs, and torso. Blood dripped down their damaged outfit, contrasting with the pastel colors. But despite the bleeding, their face starting to turn pale, they made it to the end. They stared at the ending platform for a moment, then made their last leap.

However, all they were met with was a wall. They plummeted into the abyss, trying desperately to grab onto the flat wall.

We didn't see them land. All we heard was their echoing screams, slowly getting further away, then a distant crash.

We didn't hear anything else but the sounds of our own breathing.

Monokat: ah, what a show! They sure put up a good fight, but it was all in vain. Just like all of you! And I just have to appreciate the work that our painter friend put into that ultra-realistic painting on the wall.

Jackson: how could you do that to another human being..?!

Monokat: what? Lassi wasn't a little angel. They killed someone too.

Jackson: yes, but…only because of what you did!

Rosalie: it wasn't because of anything Monokat did.

Everyone looked at me.

Jackson: but they killed because of the motive which he put in place!

Rosalie: no, they didn't. The murder didn't have anything to do with the murder, other than the fact it's what led Melodie to go to Lassi’s room. Lassi didn't kill because of the motive; they killed because they were paranoid.

Rosalie: this same thing would've happened if Melodie had stayed in Lassi’s room any night for any reason. Are you guys really going to defend a murderer?

Miguel: what they did wasn't right, of course… But they didn't deserve death over it. And especially not such a cruel one.

Rosalie: didn't you hear Monokat? This game, and the world, is an eye for an eye. If you can't control yourself enough to not murder someone, you don't deserve to live, let alone stand among the elite.

Rosalie: but of course you lots wouldn't understand. I'm not surprised. The only thing that surprises me is that he didn't snap first.

I gestured to Nikolai. He let out an angered groan.

Nikolai: you're close to killing me via burst blood vessel…

Rosalie: if only god loved me enough for that to happen. That'd be one less scrap of dirt stuck to the bottom of society’s shoe.

Ally: wow, and you say we’re the asses here!

I glared daggers at her, narrowing my eyes.

She laughed at me.

Ally: oooo, I’m so scared of the short little blondie that's all bark and no bite! You think you're so superior, bitch? You're nothing but a coward that hides behind big words and a sharp glare.

Rosalie: better than a barbarian with no important words at all.

Liling sighed, an obvious gloom in her voice.

Liling: can we please just try to get along..? It's been nothing but arguing for so long…I just want it to stop…

Rosalie: if you can't handle that, then leave. You have nothing meaningful to add here.

Monokat: oh, yes! It's been a long trial, so I need you all to start scurrying out at some point!

Rosalie: good. I can't be bothered with these people anymore. Lassi has ruined our only chance at peace in this place.

I turned and walked towards the elevator.

Ally: hey! What's that supposed to mean?!

I pressed the button next to the elevator, then looked back at Ally.

Rosalie: we could've survived with no casualties, but Lassi decided not to. And now the thin illusion of peace is gone. The ice has been broken. More murders will follow, and I don't plan on being a victim.

The elevator finally arrived, the doors opening. I stepped in and pressed the button to go up. But when I did, one other person slipped into the elevator. It was William.

Rosalie: oh, hey.

She looked at me.

William: um…hi… Sorry, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Rosalie: that's far beyond understandable.

I sighed.

Rosalie: at least I still have you and Veronica left. Everyone else here is a lost cause.

She didn't reply, just staring at the elevator doors. There was an awkward silence, neither of us trying to break it. The elevator soon stopped and we both got off, arriving in the gym. William quickly walked out, leaving me alone.

I looked back at the elevator. This was the end of the first trial, and I wanted it to be the last.

But I knew that was a lost hope.

Flickerronpa: Afterschool Mayhem - dissected_angels (2024)
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