Chapter One (of 5): "The Mystery at Hand"
My name is Melissa. I'm in the fifth-grade and attend Middleton Elementary. Valentine's Day was just a couple of days away, and I was looking forward to some of the cutest guys at school buying me Valentine cards, candy, or maybe even the always welcomed gift of jewelry. You know, bracelets, earrings, or things like that.
Anyway, on this particular day I was rushing to finish delivering some new computer disks to Mrs. Randall's classroom. I sometimes volunteer to run errands for teachers at the end of the school day for extra credit. Nobody was in the room, so I just left the small stack of disks on top of Mrs. Randall's desk. As I was leaving the room, I saw something that caught my eye on one of the student's desks.
It looked like a Valentine box... sort of. But then I noticed that it was partially cracked open. I slowly walked over to the desk and began to carefully lift up the lid. Before I could get the box completely open, I caught a glimpse of a human hand inside! I was the only one in the classroom, and I was getting awfully scared. I felt as if that human hand was going to fly out of the box and grab me around my throat!
Terrified, I slammed the lid back down and backed away from the Valentine box with the huge ruffled heart on top. I yanked open the door and ran into the empty halls, not caring that I left my books behind.
After I got home, I went up to my best friend Akiko's apartment on the seventeenth floor inside the same building in which we both live. Akiko might have been my best friend, but she's not what you would call the adventurous type. However, she was pretty smart and very good at keeping secrets. I figured that she would probably grow up to be a librarian or something like that, but she could be so much more if only she took more chances. I thought telling her about the hand in the box would add some excitement to her rather dull life.
"I'm telling you, there was a severed human hand inside of that Valentine box!" I said to Akiko as we sat on her bedroom floor eating some candy apples.
"Please! I'm eating," Akiko said in disgust.
I put down my own candy apple, in no mood to take another bite. Then, a light bulb started to burn in my head. "How about I show you?"
"I'll take you to the Valentine box and prove I'm right!" I said.
"Wanna bet some bubble gum?" Akiko challenged.
"Yeah!" I shot back. "At the end of the day, I'm gonna be swimming in bubble gum!"
Akiko rolled her eyes. "C'mon, Melissa. I think you need a new prescription for your glasses. There is no way you saw a human hand inside of any kind of box."
"There was in this one!" I said with conviction. "And I'll prove it! After you finish your apple, I'll take you back to school to Mrs. Randall's room and show you!"
Akiko smirked at me. "I'm done. Let's go."
Dumping our candy apples in the trash, we went back to Middleton Elementary and were able to sneak back inside. I led Akiko down the hall and opened Mrs. Randall's door. I paused and looked back at her, feeling a small tingle of fear.
"Are you sure you want to see it?"
Akiko rolled her eyes again. "Of course I want to see it. I want my Slamma Jamma Double Trouble Swirly Burly Very Blueberry bubble gum!"
I was about to go inside when Akiko grabbed the back of my shirt. "Or maybe you should just buy me some bubble gum right now and not make a fool of yourself."
Gritting my teeth, I walked over to the desk where I last saw the Valentine box and gasped in shock. It wasn't there! The Valentine box was gone!
"I don't see it..." Akiko said in an irritating I-told-you-so voice.
"It was here, I know it!" I told her, I knelt down and peered under the desk. "Maybe someone took it."
"Yeah, or maybe it just walked away!" Akiko said, her arms crossed. "There's no Valentine box, Melissa, and that means that there's no hand, either."
"But..." I looked at the desk again. "Hey! This is Jimmy Hampton's desk."
"Oh, you remember Jimmy Hampton. He's the meanest, nastiest bully in the whole school! This is his desk and the Valentine box was sitting on top of it."
"Maybe it was TO Jimmy instead of FROM him," Akiko said not very convincingly.
I wrinkled my nose. "I don't think so. But either way he has the Valentine box right now."
"IF there is a Valentine box," Akiko said doubtfully, but she looked interested.
At that moment I remembered something that happened today that had never happened before.
"Come on! I think I know whose hand is inside that box!" I said running out of the classroom.
"What?! This is crazy, Melissa! Where are you going?" Akiko yelled as she ran after me.
-End of Chapter One-
Chapter Two: Things start getting a little weird as Melissa gives a "Theory of Relative Insanity"
Akiko, Melissa, Jimmy Hampton, and the town of Middleton were created by Mark Crilley