Classes at Deton were torture. Our first class was at six in the morning, and went until six at night, with our only break being for lunch.
I didn’t talk to anybody except Claudia. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know why talking to people is so hard for me, but it is. But it was okay; Claudia talked to me.
She was an interesting person; at her old school, she had blackmailed several teachers, and caused a couple of them to get fired for using weed on school grounds. She had written a column for the school newspaper, and she was everyones favorite, since she always wrote funny columns. Also, she always wrote the story when a teacher got fired, since she had insider information, and could tell exactly what had happened.
My story wasn’t as interesting; I never talked to anyone, sat alone at lunch, at the back of the classroom in school, and didn’t leave my room. Finally, my parents gave me an ultimatum: become more social, or go to Deton Academy for Troubled Youth, since I could, technically, be considered “troubled”. I thought they were bluffing, so I chose Deton.
Of course, it didn’t seem so bad at first; the people knew how to mind their own business, and didn’t try to bother me if I didn’t want to be bothered (the exception being Claudia, who I managed to talk to), and the teachers taught well. They were bad, since there was twelve hours of them, but I could survive that.
I met Claudia at the library at six.
“Hey, Simon,” she said as I approached.
“Hey,” I said. “So, what are we looking for?”
“First, a list of everybody that has graduated here in the past few years,” she replied. “That’s the logical step, since the journal entry mentioned the seniors. Then, we’ll do an Internet search of all of them. Maybe we’ll come up with something.”
“Makes sense,” I said.
The two of us walked inside.
The library was in its own building, around the back of the main building. There was nobody inside except the librarian when we entered. She was young, younger than you would expect.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” the librarian asked.
I was silent.
“We would like a list of all the graduates in the last four years,” Claudia said.
“Um,” the librarian said, “I don’t think we have that here…”
“Okay,” Claudia said. “We’ll find it ourselves. Thank you for not doing your job.”
She turned and walked off. I followed.
She sat down at one of the computers, and I pulled up a chair and sat by her.
“There has to be a database with that information in it,” she said.
“What makes you say that?” I asked.
“I once found a website with all of my teachers’ salaries on it,” she replied. “You can find everything on the Internet. On a side note, I kinda understood why the whore was doing it. Here it is.”
She had pulled up a graduation attendance list.
“Start searching,” she said.
We split the list in half. We finished with the list at seven o’clock.
“So,” Claudia said. “What did you find?”
“They all have the same address and phone number,” I said. “And not one of them has a job or a drivers license, and not a single one of them has been mentioned in a newspaper or has had any pictures taken since left.”
“I came up with all that, too,” she said. “Search the address and phone number.”
I did, and both of them belonged to, surprise, Deton.
“There’s something going on at this school,” Claudia said. “I wonder how nobody ever figured this out.”
“They never drew attention to themselves,” I said. “And I’m guessing they have something set up so nobody realizes their missing, like periodic fake phone calls.”
“That’s a just a little bit unlikely,” she said.
“Then how else did all of those people disappear without being reported missing?” I asked.
She was silent for a moment.
“I guess you’re right,” she said.
We sat for a few minutes.
“So,” I said. “What now?”
“I’m kinda tired,” Claudia said. “Maybe we should go to sleep.”
“Okay,” I said. “It’s not like we can get anything else done tonight, anyway.”
The two of us walked out of the library and to our dorms. I was asleep by nine o’clock.
The next day, during English, I realized what we should do: ask the English teacher, Professor Kline.
Professor Kline, according to his introduction, was the newest teacher in the school. If anybody had any idea what was going on, and would talk, it would be him. After all, all the teachers would have to be involved in something that big. If it was morally wrong, and the teacher wasn’t used to it yet, they were the most likely to tell.
I told Claudia at lunch.
“That’s…” she began. “Actually a really good idea. Better than the one I had.”
“Which was?” I asked.
“Blackmail the dean,” she said, looking at her feet.
We went after class. We walked into the English classroom as Professor Kline was wiping off his chalk board.
He was the type of teacher that thought he was being cool, but actually came across as trying too hard.
“What’s up?” he said.
“We had a question,” Claudia said.
“Ask away,” he said.
“Do you know what happens to the seniors after they graduate?” she asked.
We could see him get visibly tense.
“What do you mean?” Professor Kline asked, obviously getting anxious.
“We’ve noticed that they seem to live here after they graduate,” Claudia replied. “And they have the same phone number. And they’re unemployed. And they haven’t been in any form of media since they graduated. It’s been happening for at least four years, we were wondering if you knew anything?”
I had to admit, she had a way with words.
“No,” he said, suddenly getting angry. “And I don’t know what you’re accusing me of, but I’d like you to leave right now.”
We got up to leave.
“We’re sorry we implied that we were accusing you of anything,” she said. “But your reaction shows us that you definitely know something, and we’re going to figure out what.”
The two of us walked out of the office.
When I got back to my room, I found a note. It said:
I know what you’re doing right now seems right, but trust me, you don’t want to get involved. So, stop, before something bad happens to you. I don’t know what else I can tell you to stop this, but trust me, it’s for the best.
You’re not the first person to investigate this, and you probably won’t be the last. But it’s never ended well. You can still walk away, and avoid the dangers that come with this investigation. Nothing good ever comes of it.
And if you still don’t believe it’s better, then realize: what good could it do? It will never stop. If you try to tell people, you’ll be locked up. No matter what, nothing you do can fix anything.
P.S. If you don’t stop, I may have to stop you. I don’t want it to come to that, but it might, and if it does, just remember: it’s nothing personal, and I did warn you.
If someone was willing to threaten us in order to get us to stop, it meant that we were on to something big.
Finally, I became fully committed to the investigation.