Detective Case 29: Drama Crisis
higher! The shelf must be higher!" Jenn called. She was preparing the
school's drama room stage for her original play, titled The New Lady In
Town which she hope to show case to the whole school. The other teen
detectives were there except for Richard who was stuck in his school. Reinhard
temporarily held Lin's hands now thankful for her helping him get cured from
his high blood sugar levels. Temporarily, less he got caught by the drama
teacher. Chelle and Mark arrived later the former previously spending
much time the last month with Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Robertson and
Detective Sergeant (DS) Rainsbury to clear up issues regarding her Scottish
adventure recently. The jealous twin, Edine, is being charged though it is
likely she might end up in a mental institution. Elspeth had awarded Chelle
with an Amazon voucher and free annual tickets to the Castle anytime this year.
a little higher," Jenn ordered. Her referred Natalie Sang, the American
exchange student who had extended her stay with the school. Jenn found
her a really talented actress and vocalist so she was placed as one of the lead
characters in the drama. Nat was held up in almost hundred metres high on ropes
and a leather harness ready to be lowered and lifted during the drama.
Let's start! Act One," Jenn ordered. Everything went smoothly with Nat and
the other characters conversing then the former began singing a melodic
tune. As she reached the chorus, the ropes lifted her up then down a
repetitive pattern, Just as Nat was raised again, one of the ropes snapped and
she tumbled down on the wooden stage floor.
The drama team
and Mark darted forward as Nat cried out loud. "I'm ok," she remarked
just as she was helped up.
go see the school nurse." the drama teacher Mr Jason Hughes ordered. Nat
initially refused but finally went. "Jennifer, Bethan and those involved
in the props I want to see you all now."
Nearly an hour
later, Jenn emerged from the drama room and the other teen detectives could see
the pain in her face. "The ropes easily snapped despite them being
new and tested with weights that matched Nat's weight. Hughes quick examination
showed that either someone intentionally cut or the ropes just couldn't hold
Nat's weight. He's calling the drama senior leadership for more meetings to
discover if it was accidental or deliberately done."
we also can investigate," Chelle turned back to the drama room.
Hughes says the drama room is now off-limits except to himself and the drama
leadership group. We can still look into it ourselves of course." The five
of them decided it would better to congregate in their headquarters later. As
they dispersed, Reinhard caught up with his girlfriend. He took a short breath
before asking a question he had rehearsed.
like to come to my place for dinner? Say Thursday at 7:30pm?"
Lin's reply was
instant. "Sure, something special?"
thank you for helping me get rid of diabetes." He told her he hadn't
decided on the menu yet though it would be special. "Think we had enough
meals out and at your place," he added and gave her his address.
detectives including Richard met up late that afternoon and Jenn immediately
detailed the setting of the drama props. "The main head of props is George
Allison. He either creates props from existing ones or acquire new ones. We've
used a harness before though only for shifting smaller-sized actors and
shifting objects. This harness was purchased from a shop specialising in drama
props." She showed the others the address of the shop.
definitely check out," Chelle remarked.
only opens on even days a week," Jenn further added.
can't make it on Thursday, " Lin quickly said.
celebrating your dating anniversary?" Chelle asked though didn't go
further as she would sound like a hypocrite. "Fine, the rest of us will
look into the store."
about George? Do you suspect him Jenn?" Mark wondered.
props guy. One year above us. Did try to run for drama president but
conflicts at school? Family?" This came from Richard.
no idea. He does want it to be done at club meetings and acts."
broke up with Chelle, Mark and Richard aiming to check the props store. Lin and
Reinhard were tasked with looking into George Alliso. Both were anxiously
looking forward to Thursday's dinner. For Reinhard, he was still unsure what to
cook. A Caribbean and German meal was definitive since that his heritage. There
were far too many dishes from both cuisines to choose from. He was so engrossed
looking at the range of dishes and recipes online. Lin on the other hand was
also wondering what he would cook as she was yearning for something German or
from the Caribbean. Another issue was what she should wear. Scanning her
closet, she quickly eliminated the too short and too skimpy. She finally
decided on the dress he bought her.
props sold here a high-quality, tested regularly. We've sold not just to school
clubs, private musical societies and even West End productions. This is the
first incident for my store," the owner Mr. Ernest Harrison remarked.
caused it to break?" Chelle asked.
already told the school teacher the answer; I haven't the faintest idea. I ve
already asked the original manufacturer and they don't have any thing to add.
Could be the clothing the actress wore adding to weight. You want to buy
really can't think of why its snapped?" Mark kept on topic.
what I know. If you want, get the police involved. I'm innocent."
The trio left
and Chelle and her boyfriend looked at Richard. "I was silently listening
and taking a mental picture of the shop's interior. You remember? I've got Photographic
odd there? The owner?" Chelle asked.
doesn't happen that fast. Nothing wrong there although something in my
mind is telling me there might be."
call to police?" Mark wondered.
them? Nah. Besides, Nikki might think this isn't a police issue,"
Chelle replied referring to their long-term police ally, DCI Nikki Heath.
Jenn and the
drama leadership team sat in a semi circle. Mr Hughes immediately dismissed
every other member and started first with Jenn. She naturally said she as head
drama club fell on her though she delegated roles to the others in the
leadership team and trusted all of her team. With regards to the props, she
examined them often, check their quality way before they were used in any
production along with George, the head of props. All props were locked in the
props room and she and George ensured it was locked after use and she ensured
the main doors to the drama room were locked after use. Bethan the deputy head
provided a similar story, stating she worked with George to fit the harness on
Natalie and they tested lifting her with success. One by one, the drama club
members gave similar accounts: the room was always locked, props were always
tested and high-quality ones were purchases and no one did not forget their responsibilities.
still an open issue," Hughes informed them as they gathered together.
"I'll still like another round of questions, " he immediately saw
their faces and heard moans though continued, "looking at your activities
the weeks before the preview."
Reinhard actually did minimal research on the props head George. Right on time,
he heard his flat doorbell ring. Taking two deep breaths, he rushed and pressed
the 'Enter' button on the intercom. Within seconds, his flat's old door creak
open and he saw his girlfriend. Lin was in a black summer coat with the dress
he got her and two-inch matching heels.
to my small home," he greeted after kissing her on her lips, something he
no longer was scared about. As he guided Lin inside, he apologised for the
hordes of beer cans and bottles strewn all over the place. "My dad always
brings his drinking buddies here any never cleans up. Don't worry, my bedroom
is always cleaned up." She smiled another thing we have in common, she
thought. Lin found herself in a cosy enclave which he said was the dining area
cum kitchen. "I have for starters, rice and peas, the main is
Frankfurter W rstchen or simply Frankfurter along with white bread, mustard and
horseradish. Finally, " he opened the small fridge, "Schwarzw lder
Kirschtorte, Black Forest g teau!"
she exclaimed. " Did you make them all yourself?"
an embarrassed grin. "The Frankfurter W rstchen was a little difficult to
cook and I admit the Black Forest cake was shop-bought; any recipe I found was
too hard to bake."
it's the thought that counts. Can we begin?"
The two science
whizzes and lovers heartily finished the rice and peas. As they turned to
the Frankfurter W rstchen, they chatted what gadgets they could create for the
detective gang, how they would improve the school science club they both lead
and their school studies. As Lin reached for more mustard, Reinhard's hand also
shot out and they held each out. This stayed for a few minutes until they both
heard the door bang open, an exclamation and...
dad, " Reinhard released his hold in Lin's hand. He was shocked to see his
father who usually came home late on Thursdays.
some female high heels at the shoe rack and this smells good," Mr. Tomas
boomed. "And who the hell are you?"
day," Reinhard answered. "This is Lin Ling my schoolmate. I thought
you were at work."
Lin rose and
reached out her hand to shake Reinhard's father but he did not shake it.
you?" He stared particularly at her dress and notice the light makeup.
she's a school mate and a co -president at the school science club,"
Reinhard quickly answered. Shit, this wasn't the plan.
stared at them again and the next second he repeated his question, shouting it.
you out of my house!" Reinhard's dad shout.
Tomas, I can..."this came from Lin but the parent demand was certain. Mr.
Tomas allowed her to get a Tupperware full of the remaining meal and dessert
before Lin got out.
afternoon, the teen detectives met up to hear her meeting with Mr.
Hughes. "It was just so straight: I had no other activities on
except some debate prep, finishing school work and some formal and informal
drama meetings. No detective adventures right?" The rest nodded.
"Hughes doesn't know that. Anyway, I told him truthfully what I did and so
did the other members. Either one of them is lying or that it. None of us dared
cut that harness."
you suspect? That George?" Chelle asked.
of use would dare harm any actor like that or spoil a play. George, I still
don't think he's nasty."
could mean an outsider," Mark remarked.
all the care taken to secure the room and the pops of high quality, who do we
narrow the search, we could look at the CCTV," Lin stated and all
eyes turned towards her.
school's CCTV?! Lin, you know only school staff are allowed to view that,"
crossed the line before? The only answer they can give is 'no'."
headed to school. While they did so, Lin dropped backed and handed her
boyfriend the Tupperware s from the failed dinner.
my dad ruined our dinner, "Reinhard said. "You're not angry at me are
all. What happened after I left?"
scolded me for inviting a girl into the flat; dad has hated woman after he left
my mother. Scolded me for not telling me I have a girlfriend."
ask you to break off our relationship did he?"
you come over to meet my folks. I'm sure with my parents it'll be a nicer
staff in charge of CCTVs was the school caretaker Ted Wiggins. Initially,
he rejected their request, until he noticed Jenn, who 'saved' the school during
the hostage crisis. "I would lose my job if I let you view the screens.
OK, only three of you lot." That rested on Jenn, Chelle and Richard who
volunteered to watch. Jenn immediately asked for videos near the drama room
area for the last two weeks. The three teen detectives scans the various screens
but nothing unusual appeared.
extended to two more weeks?"
complied though he said there were not many files. As he flipped through several
videos, there was one showing a figure with face not shown in the screen. The
person wear an all black top with bare arms. The figure was nearly a hundred
metres away from the drama room door until the next second it turned and
appeared to disappear from sight.
it. Can we have a copy?" The answer was flat no though Wiggins allowed
them to watch a still frame for a minute before asking them to leave less they
and him be caught.
Out in the
sunshine, they caught up with the others and all attention was on Richard.
"I saw something on that person's shoulder before. It was a short drawing,
could be a tattoo. Seen it at the props shop."
"It was a
cat symbol." Chelle, Lin Jenn murmured.
"It s the
Cat!" Chelle exclaimed. "The fiend has returned."
cat?" Reinhard and Richard asked simultaneously asked however, the girls
kept chatting loudly until they settled down.
or as call this figure, arose when Lin and myself went out one Halloween when
we were twelve or so. She any her accomplice locked us in some coffin and
luckily we found a hidden door leading to a house allowing us to escape."
evil. Then after we stopped those school bullies, we three - me, Chelle and
Jenn - received a text message from the Cat congratulating us on find lost
girls. Next, we solved why students fell asleep in the examination hall, we
three girls received a picture from the Cat photoshopping us and later...
remind me!" Chelle almost wailed. "She stripped me to my undies and
restrained me to some rotten beam. Luckily, I was freed in time to catch Mark's
her accomplices bound and gagged me and Lin while Chelle grounded, " Jenn
added. "Me also down to my underwear and my period started. It was so
humiliating!" Jenn moved away and continued sobbing. Richard caught her
and she composed herself fast.
what's our game plan? We return to the store again right? Where exactly was the
going to answer when Jenn received a text message. "I've got something
else on; can we discuss this later?"
detectives split up, Reinhard caught up with Lin and asked about the Cat's
messages and the box the person left.
messages I got DCI Heath's team to track and left the box with her. Now that
you mentioned it, you want to join me to check what the police
He nodded then
slipped back to talk to Mark. "She's inviting me to meet her parents at
,that great progress with your relationship. I've not yet met Chelle's folks."
But what do I? What should I bring?"
overdo it friend. Don't get extravagant gifts. Be yourself, be confident."
haven't found any evidence, Lin, " DCI Heath remarked. "Actually, our
forensics team is filled with much evidence from many cases now. Would you two
like take it and examine yourselves?"
Reinhard nodded and signed forms to retrieve the box left by the Cat. She check
her phone and told him to come over on Saturday,
ma and pa are free then and Saturdays are usually nice meal. Is that fine? See
you." Yikes, he thought.
and Chelle returned to the shop and pretended to shop. Richard spotted the cat
design and within half a second he asked Mr Harrison what meant ask he looked
at a fake flower pot.
"Oh that young
man? That's a good luck sign. My young daughter loves cats. Right Emily?"
A young girl replied, carrying a small cat waved.
returned the wave and eventually the trio left.
don't think the owner is lying.," Richard remarked as Chelle updated the
others. "Yes, the signs are there though that's not enough to accus
then said she knows who to talk to.
afternoon, after a long gym workout, Reinhard chose his best suit and donned
ample deodorant then took a taxi to Lin's house.
evening Mrs. Chan," he greeted the woman at the door. "I'm.."
oh, that's so lovely!" She took the flowers and box of chocolates.
"Please, call me Pearlyn."
as she led the way inside although, having visited Lin's home before, he still
you're fine with steamed fish. My husband loves it now." Reinhard agreed
and accepted chopsticks as he was practising with them himself. Lin was in a
casual wear, a T-shirt with a jeans skirt. After the usual 'how are you',
Pearlyn asked him his background then asked how they came to date. Lin added to
the account though they left out much how they got trapped in a chamber and
nearly drowned. Pearlyn accepted their account with only small queries and
Just then, the
door rattled and emerged Lin's father entered, with a walking stick. Reinhard
quickly got up, and with a loud voice, greeted. "Good evening Mr.
looked at him for a second, replied then Reinhard offered to help him to his
seat. As Pearlyn moved to the kitchen to get the food, Reinhard's dad
turned and asked who he was. The questions came from Chan Yong Hong, first
simple ones then rapid detailed ones.
Mr. Chan rather in a disagree tone. He turned to his daughter. "What's
wrong with Yao Ming?"
Lin quickly explained he was an old friend. "Pa, we hardly know each
other, nothing in common with him."
rich, he's tall he matches.."
haven't any contact with him for years. Last I hard, his family is moving
darling, I think..." Chan Yong Hong picked out a fish bone during a tooth
pick and started coughing rapidly. "Reconsider."
you should rest," his wife suggested and helped him up.
get your father's approval did I?"
husband does speak his mind," Pearlyn answered, returning. "Coffee?
Or are you fine with Chinese tea?"
answered the latter. There was some more light chit-chat and he privately liked
Lin's mother. "I better make a move. Thank you very much for their dinner.
Please thank your husband for me."
raining. I'll give you a lift back. Don't be silly Reinhard, you catch a
cold," Pearlyn said.
herself at the local Young Offers Institute, convincing the staff to let her
visit 'an old friend'. After a brief check through the metal detector,
she was told to pick up the phone next to a transparent window.
It's so good of you to visit me!" Molly Peacock, who once joined up with the
Cat greeting across the window. Molly started whining how terrible life in
the Institute was and how difficult it was to study English Literature in
a poorly equipped library.
so sorry I humiliated you..."
pressed her hands against the glass then updated her, telling her she suspected
the Cat figure had returned.
that terrible! No, I had no contact since I've been here. Oh, I would love to
see your play. Oh.." Molly started
clutching her stomach and moaned.
Guard!" Jenn called and it took the staff a few minutes to respond,
guiding Molly out. Jenn later heard it was food poisoning. "It's
nothing wrong lass. Now leave," the official said.
Could it be a
deliberate act? Jenn wondered. Before she could think further, she felt a light
sting and collapsed on the ground.
Jenn soon saw
light shine on her and that was it she could move or feel anything.
back, little Jenn," she heard a mechanical voice. I can see, hear can't
like this dart worked well. Oh no, it made you wet your jeans. Shouldn't have
set the intensity so high. Don't worry, it's not like your period."
caused me to wet...
message is simple. The Cat was not responsible for damaging that harness or
trying to give your friend a stomach ache. The Cat will still haunt you and
your childish detective group, hahaha. Now, sleep well little one."
regained consciousness, finding a light cleave gag between her lips and her
wrists and ankles bound with material she could not identify. Then a
blackness surrounded her. Jenn woke up again, finding her arms and ankles free
and the gag gone. Her senses had returned and slowly she managed to get up.
that you? Why you on the ground?" She heard her mother call and saw her.
nothing really mum."
inform the others as she received a message from Hughes to meet up. He ad
gathered the drama leadership team again. "Ok, I have heard your accounts
and also check recent CCTV footage, "Jenn's heart leapt wondering if he
spotted that figure. "Yet I not found any mischievous acts or any person
trying to damage that harness. I've sent it for repairs and Jenn, your drama
Jenn thus was
really busy. On drama night, the whole place was packed full and she was ready
for mishap the Cat would create. Far from that, the whole drama went ahead
without any problems and as the whole cast and crew gathered on stage, they
received a loud ovation.
good after all," Chelle commented and Mark nodded.
you seen Jenn? I can't find her after we left the stage," Bethan came up
to them. "We're suppose to take a group photo."
from detectives were negative though Richard volunteered to find her.
A quick scan of
the area didn't show her. He quickly shifted and found himself entering the
props room without any clear thought. It was like his school's own drama prop
room - he had volunteered there - and there were a range of props of various
kinds yet the room was pretty clean, though a little hard to navigate through.
He slowly moved through it calling out her name.
It was on
his fifth call that the laundry hamper in the centre of the room shifted
and a low groan emitted from it. He threw open the top of the basket and
looked down on sheets, piles and piles of sheets. Yanking the top few layers
away, he found Jenn underneath.
She looked like
an Egyptian mummy although she was completely shrouded in black sheets from her
shoulders to her ankles. The sheets were wrapped tightly about her body
especially here eyes and held in place with a length of coarse rope around her
shoulders, waist and legs. More sheets were wrapped around her mouth as a gag
almost completely covering the lower half of her face which was puffy. A
m e out f ere!"
look like a mummy, except the colour," he remarked.
himself, reached down and pulled the sheet from Jenn's mouth. She spat out a
soggy pair of socks, most definitely her own, and soon lifted her out and undid
the rest of her bonds and blindfold.
how she left the stage and was head back until a masked figure or two grabbed
her and she felt a sting on her neck. The next moment, she found herself
lowered into the basket. It was at the last moment the figure who did so was
wearing a distinct mask of a cat.
Is really back!"
Lin Ling, Jennifer, Mark, Reinhard and Richard will return soon