That darn Kendall. He's completely won over all of the detectives in Riverside County, I'd say! Strutting around like he's the top of the world. Darn him! It's not like he's better than me. I'm better than him! I solved that last case about the stolen rubies, and he just tagged along, but guess who got the fame? Stupid Scott Kendall did! Can't believe that jerk.
Sometimes, I wish he would just get out of here--or better yet, die.
the true Best High School Detective,
(Please come, the bloodied letter reads; I live at a small house out of the way of society, but recently I've been getting death threats. I also can't shake the feeling that someone's stalking me—)
(Sir, the policeman says. We're found the body, along with others, aside a river—)
As soon as he enters the scene, fifteen-year-old Detective Denver Chris knows something isn't right. The light is off at the dilapidated shack and it's silent—too silent, he thinks in alarm—but that doesn't stop his feet from mechanically walking towards it. He's a detective, he tells himself. And he's flanked by ten-plus policemen. It's ridiculous to think that something would happen to him at this moment.
(Heart thuds; ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.)
The garden, which completely encompasses the whole of the front yard, shows signs of long-term neglect; and that analytical mind of his begins to barrage his thoughts with questions. Why is it so unkept? Why is the front door's doorknob broken? Is there a meaning in the odd scratches on the walls?
He needs answers, and those answers, he thinks, will undoubtedly be in the shack.
So he advances towards the door; but about a step away from the door he suddenly freezes.
(Someone's watching him with cold, silently infuriated eyes, and his back stiffens as a roving gaze pierces it.)
Chris doesn't respond when a policeman asks him what's the matter, and he thinks bitingly, They must be senseless if they can't feel what I'm feeling!
Swallowing his fear, he pushes open the wooden door and immediately thrusts his flashlight out. The light won't stop that watcher from staring at him, he knows; but that false comfort will somehow calm his nerves, won't it?
Up goes the light; down; to the side, into the corner, up at the beams, and he can't find anything. Nothing is there.
But he still can't stop the sweat from crawling down his neck, and that nervous feeling that something horrible is going to happen.
(Room closing in. Is this claustrophobia? Or is it something else?)
He whips around as a policeman taps his shoulder—What are you doing, murderer! are his first thoughts that flash into his mind, but as he sees the startled man Chris forces himself to calm down.
Detective Scott Kendall's here, the man says, and Chris is at first confused—why would Kendall be here, he didn't need to come, I had it all covered, rang his pride—and then he is reluctant, and begrudging. Kendall is here, his sense says, and he'll figure this puzzle out.
Still, he thinks. I wish he weren't here.
How does it look?
I don't know. I haven't gone in yet.
You haven't gone in yet? That's strange, from you.
(Not so strange, Kendall.)
Let's do this, shall we?
Kendall walks past Chris—how can he stand this pressure? Chris asks himself in awe, before then responding to himself, he's Kendall, he doesn't even feel these sorts of things, that insensitive showoff—and stops for a split second at the door. Then, without pause, Kendall pushes the door open with no hesitation whatsoever.
It's dark inside. Just like the growing feeling inside Chris's own chest.
(Can't breathe, can you? the voice mocks.)
Almost unconsciously Chris' feet work themselves, leading him behind the other detective. His mind is confused; out-of-sorts; bewildered; and he can't observe anything. Father has always told him what to look for at crime scenes, but here, he can't remember anything. A wooden pike, a staple in the wrong place, marked dirt—what of it?
Kendall is musing out loud as the policemen behind both of them flash their lights inside, looking for something suspicious, anything suspicious—out-of-order, whatever! But Chris pays no attention. By now, he is literally shaking with fear—this heavy feeling, this is fear? I never knew it so well before—
A policeman gives a shout, and nearly drops his flashlight in the process. A lump of clothes—how could he have missed that—is moving violently, and a shriveled, sere, bloodstained hand pokes out, and a dark silhouette erupts from the clothes and rushes at them.
Chris can't do much besides stare, horrified, at the man, and in a flash, he feels the breath knocked out of him as someone hits him and—
Ouch, the ground, but no, there isn't time to think of that—!
He rises as fast as he'd fallen and rushes at the attacker, first grasping for the shining knife in the murderer's right hand and then the left hand—but no, he's too late, the man's left hand has already punched his face, and Chris sees stars.
He sees red, too, as a pain erupts furiously in his lower left abdomen, and with bleary eyes he glances down and is strangely unsurprised to see blood gushing out of the wound.
Kendall gives a cry, but Chris isn't quite sure if he heard it or not; all of his senses are strangely blurring.
(Locked in a fantasy)
Time doesn't go quite as fast as he wants it to; the scene seems to slow down, and Chris watches silently as the murderer first tears open a policeman's stomach with his knife, and then another. Kendall—
No, he wants to shout, Kendall! Don't go there! He'll kill you!
(Room closing in)
Kendall is fighting with the man better than he did. He's struggling, and fighting literally for his life—and yes, he's got the upper hand, he's grabbed onto the hand with the knife and backed the murderer against a wooden pillar—
Stop him, Kendall! Denver Chris hears himself scream—but no, in reality (is that even something he can say anymore, when he barely knows what it is?) he just whispers.
He feels the air suddenly disappear when a rapidly growing crimson stain appears on the back of Kendall's shirt.
(Can't breathe, can't think)
Kendall, he croaks, as the teenager slumps and collapses beside him. The boy's eyes are glassy and dilated, with the mixed expression of determined and horrified on his face.
He's dead, Denver thinks, and after a moment, he fully realizes what he's thinking.
He's dead, he's dead, he died, he's dead—
And he'd done nothing to stop it.
(So this is the limit of the great High School Detective of Riverside? the voice sneers.)
Can't be real, right? Chris hopes, and tries to breathe but fails.
The air is still, and Chris knows he should be thinking, the ten policemen with me, are they also dead? Is the murderer still there?
But no, all he can think is Kendall.
Kendall is dead.
(He's failed Kendall, hasn't he? As a rival, as a classmate, as a--friend?)
The glassy eyes stare back at him, and he feels a warm liquid collecting at the edges of his eyes. His vision is blurry, again.
But not from dizziness.
The tears slide down his face—no, vertically, he's lying on his side, after all—as the blank gaze stares at him back.
But all Chris sees is the dark red stain growing on Kendall's back, and the metal piercing through his back.
(Just keeps repeating and repeating and repeating and repeating and—)
Can this be happening?
It can't be, right?
Because Kendall—Scott Kendall—is invincible, isn't he?
Chris thinks that his former thoughts were the thoughts of a naïve child.
(In the end, aren't I only one person?)
Denver Chris wakes up, sweating and panting like he's never done before, bends over, and tries very hard not to remember.
(Let's do this, shall we?)