Croonford Detective Case 15: Gone West

 

Author's note: I do realise I previously made Michelle fourteen years old in my last story, the maximum age for Year 9 in the British Education system, Key Stage 3. Nevertheless, it is the maximum age or oldest year for a Year 9 student. I haven't yet stated the exact birthdays of the detectives but for a spoiler, Jennifer is the youngest. Also, this all shows the girls and boys grow up, unlike in the Famous Five and other teenaged detective series.

 

Author's further note: This story is entirely fictional. No offence to the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) or Royal Air Force (RAF).

 

Please comment on the story here.

 

 

"Any nightmares?" Lin Ling asked Michelle as they boarded the school bus.

 

"All with gagged sounds. No, I've, we've, experienced too much to recount them in nightmares." Chelle laughed but explained her younger sister Kate kept recalling being taped up and gagged and Chelle had to comfort her several nights. All the girls including Chelle's cousin Stacey gave their statements against the bank guard turned intruder, however his legal defence was really strong. She shook her head to forget what happened, couldn't then turn to Lin who was engrossed in a science fiction novel, and she recognised it as Michael Crichton's The Lost World.

 

"Hey, you've to design a new gadget that helps me, no us, to get our wrists removed from any bindings, especially cable ties."

 

Lin lowered her book. "Of course. It won't happen immediately and we have to test it out, with our hands secured behind our backs and where would we hide such a gadget?" Chelle just murmured in response that notice something odd: The other usual like Harriet 'Hattie' Coy, Julia Humes, Bethan Morgan and even the girl she had to attack, Heather Smiths weren't on the bus. Something's up.

 

Just as she entered the school yard, she also noticed those students weren't present as usual. Suddenly the group burst out from various corners with Hattie and Bethan bellowing 'Happy Belated Birthday' to prevent violating of copyrights laws. The girls showered Chelle with presents: Hattie with an extremely realistic hand-drawn picture of her, albeit with a cloth gag drawn over her mouth; Julia gave her large discount coupons for an eatery they both liked and promised to treat her there while Heather gave her Amazon vouchers. Other students, female and male, also showered her with belated wishes and presents until she remarked her school bag and later her personal school locker would be overflowing. "Thank you everyone, yes I'm fine after the ordeal. And Hattie," she turned to her talented classmate, "nice work with the gag, hopefully I won't get something like that soon." They laughed.

 

Chelle again noticed that there was another peculiar missing piece: Jennifer Thompson wasn't in the peculiar piece vicinity as usual. Dragging Lin, they both found her a bench further away, engrossed in her phone. That was unusual for the most studious member of the team.

 

"Studying via the Wi-Fi or data?" Lin asked. Jenn looked up and only said she would discuss it with them later. 'Saved by the bell,' the girls made their way to their respective classes. It was Year 9 and the start of choosing their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) subjects. Within the core subjects, Chelle picked English Literature, maths, weighed between Combined Sciences and the individual sciences before picking Biology and Chemistry. For the optional subjects, she easily picked History, Geography, German and after a long decision, chose Philosophy and Ethics. Lin chose English along with the three sciences which included Physics, Geography, Computer Science, easily Mandarin Chinese and finally Business.

 

"Thank you all, remember that proceeding classes will assess your various choices," their class teacher Mr. Lambeth announced at the end with groans from nearly half the class. "It's compulsory, see you later."

 

Everyone rushed out for break time and Chelle and Lin found Jenn in one corner of one the school gardens, not the canteen. Looking around, Jenn held up her mobile phone and played a news video.

 

"A Royal Air jet crashed twenty miles roughly west of Croonford. Fortunately, no civilians were injured or killed and the pilot or crew's details will be released after the next-of-kin have been notified. Property compensation will be reimbursed by the MOD and investigations will definitely be conducted. In..."

 

"Why are you interested in a military aircraft crash?" Chelle wondered.

 

Jenn fell silent again then answered. "My distant cousin is a RAF officer. I don't really constantly keep in touch with him or his family but the last I recalled he was a test pilot, flying new or experimental aircraft." She did send messages regarding his status; however, no reply came. "Don't worry until you get the reply," Lin added then with the bell ringing, they returned to classes. All students were kept busy with studies or other activities so the trio only met afterwards in their converted caravan.

 

Late Afternoon

 

"Yeah, my aunt texted, stating my cousin wasn't replying to her texts and calls," Jenn told Chelle and Mark. She had also sent him messages via Facebook and also yet to receive any reply.

 

"You care a lot for him?" Mark asked,

 

Jenn gave a summary how her cousin Phil stopped other family members and neighbours from bullying her. "That's as much as I recall, hope he's fine." Only then Lin entered, still in her school uniform. "Sorry, was kept in a science club meeting. Met a new student with ideas that rival mine, Reinhard...

 

"Tomas?" Mark completed the line. "He just joined my class. German accent but nice guy. " The discussion nevertheless returned to the crash. They quickly found repeated media articles of the crash and no new developments. The MOD and RAF only gave a summary of the crash and have not specified the pilotís or crew's names. With all agreeing to pilotís check on the crash, they ended their meeting. All were however kept extremely busy with assessment tests. Mark had chosen English despite scoring high in his previous literature papers, Physics and Chemistry, Computer Science, Business, Design Technology and naturally Physical Education. Jenn, easily finishing her English Literature and History assessments, was focusing her mind on the crash. She had a deep feeling that her cousin was the victim in the crash, most likely the pilot. "Miss Thompson, you have yet to submit the full list of you GCSE subject choices," her class teacher reminded her. Trying not to reveal her thoughts, along with the two subjects, she listed all three sciences, Drama, Geography, French and Ethics.

 

Towards the end of the week, Mark entered their headquarters and gasped. "What on earth are you doing?!"

 

"Don't worry lover boy, I'm not interrogating your girl. Try it again." Chelle was sitting on a new wooden chair, arms behind her back and it was quickly evident her wrists were bound with cable ties. Chelle twisted both her wrists and lover boy fingers, trying to reach a new crown just below the main one. She couldn't and Lin prompted her to try again and finally she did, with the second crown opening and a needle protruded.

 

"Successful," Lin declared, cutting off the bindings. Turning to Mark, she explained. "It's my latest invention, the watch cutter. Instead of the needle, I going to instal a small laser powered by an additional battery along with that of the watch. Be careful," she turned to Chelle, "the laser power is probably as powerful as the laser pen I previously made and it would cut our skin." She handed Mark a duplicate watch and he accepted it, even though he had yet to be bound and gagged.

 

"Your classmate Reinhard gave me the idea even though I didn't tell..."

 

Lin's comments were cut off as Chelle wondered where Jenn was. Suddenly Lin's phone rang and the ID indicated the third female teen detective.

 

"Hey, Jenn..." Lin started to answer but instead they heard aggressive male voices with various British and non-British accents as well as a female voice which sounded French.

 

"No, you don't have to gÖ" The group heard one muted scream, muffled sounds then the line was cut off.

 

"Crap, she's in trouble!" Lin yelled, running out.

 

"Deep trouble," the couple added.

 

Michelle, Lin Ling, Jennifer and Mark will return in 'Operations and considerations.' where the story will be continued.

 

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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