by Alex Hartline '13
Episode 3: It’s Going To Be A Long, Cold Winter…
11:34PM Thursday, February 3rd, The New College House, Wooden Conference Room
“I can’t believe it’s only two and a half weeks into the semester and we’ve got all this work. I’ve got three papers to write already. I need to make a Writing Center appointment ASAP.” Veronica’s voice echoed in the completely wood-paneled room.
“I know, right? I mean…I am just…completely…swamped.” From the other side of the table, my laptop screen flitted between Facebook and a flash game that required me to navigate a water-skiing penguin between icebergs. Little did she know that the only reason I was even pretending to do work was to get some face time with her.
“And we probably aren’t even gonna’ have classes tomorrow. This snow is ridiculous.”
She was right. It had snowed all day, making it virtually impossible to leave the building. And still the snow banked against the building in the cold night air. You could see the mounds breaching the windowsill. However, this particular room was anything but cold—in fact, ole’ Gil was starting to get hot under the collar. However, my game was as frozen as ever. “Yeah…it’s a really shame that they don’t at least turn the fireplace on. Then it would be at least…romantic.”
“What was that?”
“Uh.” But before I could properly flip my faux pas into a charming turn-of-phrase more exemplary of my inner Rico Suave, the entire room fell into darkness. Someone shrieked in the main foyer.
“Gil, are you there?” Veronica called, her voice remaining cool.
“Yeah, let’s check this out.” They don’t call me Gil Goodpen, F&M’s finest self-proclaimed detective, for nothing.
We felt our way through the heavy, sliding wood doors, but before I could properly assess the situation and organize the good people of the New College House, the lights were back on. However, the relief experienced by many in the room was short-lived. Five precious Macbooks, the lifeblood of every college student (any student with any sense of what’s in vogue, that is), had been savagely ripped from their mahogany perches. Robbery in the first degree.
“Their time-sensitive backlighting couldn’t even save them…” I pondered aloud as I gazed out at the increasingly sinister slice of moon hovering above the growing snow piles. I dramatically spun back to the scene on the heel of my knock-off Italian leathers causing the five victims to jump and Veronica to cringe. “Was anyone else in the room?! Did you have any mutual enemies?! Damn…there’s not even a trace of a perpetrator!”
“Uh, Gil, you should probably check this out before you assess the crime scene any further.” She picked a paper up from the corner of the long wooden table.
“A ransom note?”
“More like a note to…gloat?”
“Lemme take a look at that.” Veronica handed me the sheet. She was right—as always. The note seemed to be entirely devoted to self-congratulation and ego-inflation. “This…is completely certifiable.”
“First thing we need to do is contact the Dean.” Veronica logically suggests.
“Naturally. But we’ve still gotta’ stamp this perp out tonight. We’re all trapped in this building until the snow dies. The Dean can’t get here until tomorrow. By then, it might be too late…”
“Too late for what?”
“They might escape!” I yelled abruptly. I give Veronica a meaningful stare, finally breaking it to focus on our one, fruitless clue. “But this, this note, it gives us nothing…”
“Well, I’m not so sure about that.”
Veronica and I were both whipped from our private world of investigative research. It was one of the completely ignored victims.
“Oh yeah? What do ya’ know, chief?”
“It’s just that…you’ve got something valuable here: his or her writing. A person's writing can tell you a lot about him or her.”
“Is that so? You’re one of them Writing Center characters, eh?” He nodded in verification. “Well, then. What do you make of this? We already know that they’re New College House residents, or else they wouldn’t be able to fob out of the main hall.”
“Yeah, and just from glancing at this, I can tell that he or she isn’t an English major—improper quotation mark placement in the first sentence and the construction of the last sentence—disgusting!” The kid was pacing the floor at this point like some kind of Sherlock Holmes. “In addition, this paragraph is all over the place. A true paragraph is the completion of a single idea”
“That’s a start. Let’s get up to my lounge to see if we can find a list of majors for NCH.”
Veronica, this Writing Center brain, and I were nearly to my door when Veronica chimed in. I could tell she had been stewing over something. “This kid’s a full-blown gamer, too. I mean, look at that lingo. Noobs? And the forced use of ‘lol.’ I’d put money on it. And then the obvious give-away: Skyrim.” At that moment, I turned the key to open the door to my suite, which was uncharacteristically in upheaval.
“I can’t believe this guy!” Binny, usually a vision of collected composure, was standing on the couch gesturing towards the TV. “This…IDIOT on Skyrim is really getting on my nerves. Keeps talking up PC and misusing big words.”
“That’s rough, Binny, but we’ve got a crime on our hands.”
“Wait.” Veronica quickly interjected. “What’s his username?”
Veronica and I sprinted the carpeted stretch between 230 and 215. The door was propped. Perfect. And incredibly careless. I used my shoulder to bust in—unnecessary, but very cool. Lying across the couch was ih8n00bzNCH215 covered in nothing but a black t-shirt, white socks, tighty-whiteys, and a fine coating of Cheetos dust. On the floor nearby, five Macbooks. Guilty, case closed.
“I dint do nuffin!” he managed to spray out along with a few Cheetos.
“The proof,” I said with my head justly cocked as I toss his own crumpled note onto his chest, “is on the paper. Never underestimate the power of writing.”
What mystery will Gil Goodpen encounter next? Find out in the next episode of…