Chapter 8:


School of Redemption

“Lovebirds, relax.” Lilith spoke as she appeared through a back door. “And here I was thinking you said he wasn’t your boyfriend,” she said to Laverna.

“He’s not,” she replied sternly.

“That was a joke,” Lilith responded, voice flattening. “Now come this way.” She held the door open as the pair passed through.

“I can see why you don’t like her,” Mictian whispered.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that,” Lilith called as she eased the door shut. Laverna and Mictian found themselves in a large basement room. It wasn’t exactly messy enough to say it was in disarray, but it was pretty close. Boxes and creates lay stacked and scattered all over the place covered in dust and cobwebs. The only relatively clean place in the room was a large table to the left side at which Steven and Asami sat.

“Have a seat,” Lilith said, brushing past Laverna and Mictian. They hesitated for a moment, still offput by the sight of Asami. Seeing their worried gazes, Asami smiled brightly and gave a little wave.

“It’s alright,” she said. “You can come on over.”

“Somehow that isn’t reassuring in the slightest,” Laverna whispered to Mictian. He just nodded in reply. Seeing how they still weren’t moving, Steven tried his hand.

“We have your evidence right here,” he said, pointing to the laptop computer in front of him. “I think you’ll want to see this.” Laverna couldn’t argue with that. She finally took a seat across from Steven. Mictian sat next to her. Steven clicked a few buttons on his computer and then turned it around so the pair could see.

“What are we looking at?” Mictian asked.

“I took the liberty of hacking the security cameras in Kuro Hall,” Steven replied.

“You can do that?” Laverna was surprised.

“Yeah, it’s pretty simple,” Steven said. “All you have to do is--”

“I don’t need to know,” Laverna cut him off, holding up her hand to stop him. He cleared his throat.

“Anyway, the footage you’re looking at is the hallway where the murder took place.” The monochrome video on the screen displayed an empty hallway.

“Doesn’t look like anything is happening.”

“Just wait.” As he spoke, a figure barely showed up on the screen. Only the head was visible, but they could make that the person had long hair. The person took a couple seconds to look around then looked directly at the camera. Laverna could hear Mictian take a sharp breath. The person on the screen was undoubtedly Kasdeya. After noticing the camera, Kasdeya walked back the way she came. The footage returned to that of the empty hallway. The timestamp would have been sometime close to when the murder happened, too. Laverna couldn’t remember exactly when they had been there, but the time seemed correct. Still, she had her doubts.

“This doesn’t mean anything,” Laverna said as Steven took his computer back. “Sure, she was there, but that doesn’t mean she was involved.”

“She’s the most likely suspect we have,” Lilith chimed in. “The footage goes blank a few minutes later, so we can’t see what actually happened.”

“But we saw Asami right there,” Mictian argued. “She was standing over the body with a knife in her hand.” His voice shook as he remembered the scene. Laverna grabbed his hand and squeezed it for support.

“How do you explain that?” Laverna asked, taking some of the burden of arguing from him.

“That…is something we can’t explain right now,” Lilith replied, choosing her words carefully. They were obviously trying to hide something.

“Well that’s awfully convenient,” Mictian said, rightfully skeptical. “And you expected us to believe you after we saw this?”

“Yeah…” Steven’s voice trailed off. “Can’t blame us for trying, right?”

“This again,” Laverna muttered under her breath. “Do any of you really think things through?” The three stayed silent. She let out an aggravated sigh. “This is a waste of our time.” She stood up and moved to the door, Mictian following suit.

“Wait!” Asami yelled. Laverna stopped and turned to look at her.

“Get us solid proof, then we’ll talk,” she said sternly. “You know where to find me.” With that, she turned and left the basement.

It was already dark when they emerged. The pitch blackness of the new moon sky created a dark void that seemingly swallowed all light. Laverna and Mictian both turned on the flashlights on their phones, but they only provided just enough light to get by. They left the alley behind them, searching for the path back to the dorm. As they passed by a bench, Mictian spoke.

“Laverna?” he said. “Can we talk for a little?”

“Yeah, sure,” she replied, sitting down. He joined her. “What’s up?”

“I just think we should spend some time talking about everything that’s happened,” he said, his voice full of concern. “I mean, we’ve been here for what…two, three days? All this stuff has happened, and I feel like we haven’t really had time to take a breather. You know what I mean?”

“Yeah.” The only day that had seemed normal was the day she moved in. She had been looking for a new start to something normal. Life hadn’t exactly been smooth for her in the past, but she was hoping to turn that around. These past couple days had quickly shattered her vision of the future, but she hadn’t had much time to reflect on it.

“What’s on your mind?” she asked. Mictian took a deep breath.

“Just…” He paused. “Just what the hell is even going on here? Everything starts out fine, then we’re supposed to go spy on our classmates, which I feel breaks a couple laws itself, then we see a murder, and now we’re supposed to be detectives or something?” He took another deep breath to pause from his rambling. “This is just too much for me.”

“Yeah, I can’t say this is what I was expecting from our college experience,” Laverna commented. She agreed with him. Everything they had experienced had added to the pot until the point of boiling over. Laverna was at her wit’s end, but she was trying her hardest not to show it. It was her time to be the one relied on, not the one relying on. She had to stay strong for Mictian’s sake. She steeled herself, then turned to look at him with a slight smile.

“If you need someone to lean on, I’m always here,” she said.

“I know,” he replied. The two sat in silence for a few minutes. A warm breeze blew softly, rustling the leaves on the nearby trees. Laverna’s hair waved slightly, tickling her arm. It was humid, but not so much that it was smothering. The rhythmic sounds of their breathing helped calm Laverna’s nerves and allowed her to mentally decompress. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath.

“Laverna?” Mictian said suddenly. She jumped slightly at the sudden noise.

“Yeah?” she asked, recomposing herself.

“I’ve been thinking a lot,” he started. Laverna waited for him to continue. After a few seconds, he spoke again. “Life’s really too short, you know, to not just go all out.” She nodded in response, but it was too dark for him to be able to see. “Do you…” Laverna could hear him swallow. She knew what he wanted to ask and willed him to courage to finally say it. “Do you want to start dating?” He had finally asked it. Laverna couldn’t help but smile. It was the question she had been waiting to hear for years now. They had been partners in crime for so long, it only made sense they would become official life partners.

“It took you that long to ask?” she joked, headbutting his shoulder. There was a pause before he spoke.

“Is that a yes?” he asked, looking down at her.

“Of course it’s a yes,” she replied, smiling. She was truly happy. Her heart threatened to escape from her chest with excitement. For the first time since arriving on campus, she felt completely carefree. At that moment, nothing else mattered. The stress from the previous events washed away completely. She rested her head on Mictian’s shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her. They sat like that for a couple minutes. He didn’t say anything, but Laverna already knew Mictian felt the same way she did. She couldn’t stop smiling.

Just as she felt she couldn’t be any happier, a sharp tone filled her ears. A bloodcurdling scream rang out into the silent night. The two jumped up out of their seats, shining their phone flashlights into the dark void surrounding them. The weak lights didn’t reveal anything past a few feet away.

“I’ll call,” Mictian said, dialing for the police. Laverna let out a frustrated growl.

“Just let me enjoy my moment!” she yelled angrily.