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The Mustang Messenger

The Mustang Messenger

The student news site of Kennesaw Mountain High School

The Mustang Messenger

The student news site of Kennesaw Mountain High School

A Touchdown Murder-Short Story

A Touchdown Murder-Short Story

It was an ordinary day in P.I.P. High School, home of the Legendary Cougars. This particular high school was very skillful in football, ended up victorious in every game they played. Their hero, John Maple, made sure their reputation was widely known. He was the best quarterback there ever was, and the best player in the team. But, his fame, his reputation, his legacy, all came to an end on a peculiar game.

“Hey, Jess,” waved Henri. “How’s the husband?” Jess glared at Henri as he laughed.

“Shut your mouth. You know John’s IQ level is as low as yours!” she responded. John and Jess were dating, but sometimes John acted like a fool around… well, almost anyone.

“You know,” Henri began speaking as he sat down to the chair in front of her, “John’s next game might not be as stupendous as always. They’re up against the Black Mambas, and they are also undefeated. We might not come out victorious in this game.”

Jess got up and smirked. “We’ll see about that.” She exited the cafeteria and scrolled down the hallway to meet up with Tanya and Pippa.

“Hey girl!” Tanya burst out. “We were just talking about the game tomorrow. We are so excited!” Pippa rolled her eyes. Unlike Tanya, Pippa was a rival, since her cousin Lucas played for the Black Mambas.

“Rest assured,” she said in a cocky tone, “the Mambas will outthrow the Cougars! They don’t stand a chance.” The bell rang, and their opinions were set aside.

“Ha! Don’t be too confident, Pippa. John and the Cougars might demolish your dreams. Come on now. Mr. Howard won’t wait on us to go to class.” Chemistry class was super boring. Who cared about molecules, reactions, and science formulas?

“Alright children,” Mr. Howard yawned, “since everyone thinks my lectures are boring, get ready for your exam. Take out a pencil and get ready for the test.” Everyone in the class groaned and buffed, making mean gestures toward the teacher out of anger.

John yelled out, “YO, TEACH! Don’t be so cruel! Be more generous!”

Mr. Howard turned towards his direction. “DETENTION! NOW!” He pointed towards the door and John headed out, with a smirk on his face.

“Peace!” he laughed as he headed down the hallway.

Pippa turned to Jess. “I don’t think Johnny will be playing tomorrow! The Cougars might as well surrender!”

Jess whispered back, “Don’t count on it. He’ll play and when we win, you owe me 50 dollars!”

Pippa grinned. “Ok, sure. And if the Cougars don’t win, I get 50 dollars and that ticket for the Music Concert you won!” The bet was on as they shook hands.

The test was simply a failure. Only 5 students passed: Tanya, Henri, Pippa, Jess, and a nerdy kid named Gideon. “HA! I got an 89!” Tanya bragged. “I’m so SMART!” Jess and Pippa slapped her in the back.

“At least we got a 94!” they told her.

Jess rolled her eyes. “Whatever! But, still, Gideon got a perfect score. He must be out of this world or something to have gotten 100.” Jess looked over to him as they were walking to the buses. He was reading his chemistry book as people shoved him and pushed each other. “That dude’s a bookworm. He pays attention in class even though he’s glued into his book.” she pointed out. “Well, see you tomorrow during the game.” she waved. They waved back.

Pippa yelled out as she got on the bus, “Bye girl! Don’t forget about our little bet!” Jess smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up.

The next day, on October 31st, Jess got out her phone 2 hours before the game started. “John are you still coming to the game?” she texted.

John responded a minute after. “Yeah. Just going first to Howard’s class. Man wants me to take his test before heading to the game. I’ll be there, bae.” Jess hesitated as she read the text. Why did Mr. Howard have to be such a pain in the neck? she thought. Jess put her phone away and waited on the bleachers for Tanya and Pippa to arrive. They always arrived extra early to get the best seats before the field got crowded. Tanya ran down towards the bleacher where Jess was at, but Pippa wasn’t with her.

“Hey Jess. Pippa will be arriving shortly. She had to stop by the school to get her pom-poms. She’s going to cheer this time.” That was weird, thought Jess. Pippa never like cheerleading for the Cougars. Why a change of heart suddenly?

The game had started at 5 pm. The cheerleaders for the Cougars chanted, “P-I-P COUGARS! NO, NOT LOSERS, BUT WINNERS!” They did backflips, splits, and the crowd cheered as the players of P.I.P High School played against the Black Mambas.

The commentator was saying, “…And there goes John carrying the ball. Oh look, number 9 tried tackling him, but NO! John dashes through the field and…”

Jess and Tanya jumped up and yelled, “C’mon John! You can DO IT!” John runs faster than a shooting bullet, the air passing through his face, the sweat coming down his head. Jess watches him as he almost makes the touchdown, and her face glooming with delight. Then, he stops. His hands let go of the ball and crunch down on his chest. His legs fall onto the floor, and he lies flat on the field. “IT APPEARS MAPLE HAD A STROKE OR INJURY!”

Jess was puzzled. The crowd went silent as the paramedics came to help him. “What happened?” asked Jess.

“Don’t know,” replied Tanya. “I hope it wasn’t too severe!” Then the paramedics gave a thumbs down. This wasn’t good.

“Sorry people, but we have to stop the game now. It appears that Mr. Maple had left us.” the commentator said.

The players got on their knees and Pippa was chosen to sing “In the Arms of the Angel.” Jess couldn’t believe it. Her hands covered her face as she began to cry on her knees, distraught about the occurrence that had happened. John, her “Romeo”, her knight in shining armor, was dead.

Tanya got next to her. “It’s okay. Let’s go home.” She helped get Jess on her feet, and they both walked towards the exit, leaving the football field which was now surrounded by ambulances and policemen.

“I just don’t understand,” Jess cried. “John was fine until the game. It wasn’t an accident! I’m telling you! He couldn’t have died by a stroke!” Tanya and Pippa both patted her back and hugged her.

“Well, that’s what the news isn’t saying. Instead, the policemen ruled it out as ‘death by natural causes!’” said Tanya with a sigh.

“Maybe it could’ve been an accident,” suggested Pippa, “After all, football has caused severe concussions and injuries.” Jess got up from the couch.

“NO!” she replied. “This wasn’t an accident. I’m going to prove there was foul play in his death, whether anyone believes me or not!” She stormed out of the living room and headed towards the streets, ready to investigate.

The football field was deserted. Jess crossed over the fence and searched the field, the concession stand, and the bleachers. She ended up turning cold, there was no possible evidence visible.

Think Jess, she thought to herself. What could’ve have killed John, and where did he get sick or even poisoned?

“Hey, you!” yelled out a familiar voice. Jess looked at the direction where the voice was coming from. “What are you doing here? School is closed and no one is supposed to be here!” It was Mr. Howard, her chemist teacher. He looked angry, like someone had just burst his bubble. Jess got up from her crouching position and headed towards him.

“Sorry, Mr. Howard. I was just looking for… my phone!” she lied.

That’s it! Maybe somehow Mr. Howard poisoned John when he went to retake his test! After all, Mr. Howard did have a motive: John was a goofball to him! Jess decided to keep this to herself and stayed calm and in control. What if Mr. Howard was the murderer?

“Well, I don’t think girls are capable of losing their phones. Heck, I don’t think anyone misplaces their phone, even if they’re in a stupid relationship!”

Jess raised an eyebrow. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Mr. Howard gave me the idiot look. “John got to class giggling and laughing, talking about how you were always looking after him, as if you were his mom. He was going to write you a message, but I immediately took his phone away. He came to class to take his test, not to be a FOOL!” Jess was surprised by his rage. She has never seen Mr. Howard go off like that. Could’ve his anger get the best of him, and made him kill John? Jess needed more details of the day.

“Did you do anything on that day, besides him taking the test?” she asked.

Mr. Howard scratched his head. “He asked for a drink, which made me even madder. I wasn’t some slave of his, but since Gideon was there, I had to act like the nice guy. I went to get three cups of iced water, one for each, and handed the glasses to them. But, heck, I was called up to the office, and when I got back, all the cups were empty! I bet John drank my cup too! He’d always look for ways to piss me off!” Jess thought about his words. He mentioned Gideon went to the class, but for what? “Well, thanks for your time, Mr. Howard. I must go back home now!” Mr. Howard smiled. “Okay Jess. Oh, and one more thing,” he told her, “Tell Pippa she left her cheerleading gloves on my desk. I didn’t even notice she had left them there!”

When she got home, police cars were parked outside the driveway. “That’s weird,” she thought to herself, “Why are the police here?”

An officer came towards her. “Are you Jess Witherspoon?” he asked.

Jess responded, “Yes, sir. What’s going on?”

Without hesitation, the officer replied, “We were informed that you are trying to investigate this accident. We told you and everyone else that he had died of natural causes. There was no murder, so stop your little cat-and-mouse chase. Understood?”

Jess burst out, “But officer, he was fine until he someone had poisoned him or something. He was in perfect condition up until the game! Have you even checked the autopsy?” The officer, whose name was Mike, checked his notepad. Then he looked up to Jess. “Tell you what. I’ll check the autopsy and see if he was poisoned or what caused him to die. By the time I finish, you had better come up with important leads and clues. Got it?”

He stuck his hand out. Jess grabbed his hand and shook it. “You got yourself a deal!”

“Hey, guys! I need to tell you about my investigation so far!” Jess yelled. Pippa and Tanya got up from the kitchen and went to the living room with her. Jess told what she discovered from interrogating Mr. Howard and about her discussion with Officer Mike. Tanya crossed her arms.

“Well, we must interrogate Gideon since he was there. But how could’ve Gideon have poisoned John?”

Pippa replied, “The glass cups, of course! John digested the water and that’s how he died! But we need more evidence to find Gideon guilty!”

Jess thought about it. “Well, we must go to P.I.P. if that’s the case. Come on! We have no time to lose!”

Jess had a pass to enter the school because she was part of the student council, and so did Pippa and Tanya. They headed towards Mr. Howard’s class and inspected the area. The custodian had already cleaned up the school, but this time, he didn’t clean up Mr. Howard’s room. This was great. All the evidence was still in place. If the killer hadn’t gotten rid of any leads, that is. “Hey, look at this!” pointed out Tanya. It as a vial, and the label read, “Substance does not harm if applied to hand, but wash if spills occur. DO NOT INGEST, CAUSES DEATH!” The vial was found on Gideon’s desk, which made it obvious the killer was Gideon. Or was the killer trying to frame Gideon? Jess thought.

“How could have Gideon killed him? Why did he poison John?” raged Pippa. She shook her head out of disgust. “We must report this to Officer Mike! He will arrest Gideon and justice will be served!”

Jess raised an eyebrow and corrected her. “I don’t think it was Gideon. He doesn’t seem like that type of guy to murder anyone. How about we check the cameras?”

Tanya agreed, “Yeah! Maybe the security cameras captured the face of the killer!”

Pippa shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it did, or maybe it didn’t. How about we find Gideon first?”

Jess was starting to get suspicious of Pippa. “Maybe you’re right. Tanya, call Gideon to come meet us here. Pippa and I will go ahead to the security room. Oh, and Pippa?”


Jess pointed to her cheerleading gloves. “You might want to take these gloves of yours. And be careful, they’re wet.”

Gideon arrived not too long after with Tanya. They headed towards the security room and found Jess browsing through the footage for any leads. “Well, I found out that Howard left the room, and John snuck put the room,” she said, showing the video to them. Gideon sighed, “Yeah, and John kept flicking paper balls at me, with no one there to stop him. He was a total jerk to me.”

Pippa yelled out, “So you killed him! Why did you do it?”

Gideon reacted angrily to her statement. “I sure did not. He left the room to find his phone, and I simply went to ask Mr. Howard to switch my classes because of John. After he said no, I had no reason to be in there. I left my glass of water Howard brought me and stormed out the class.”

Tanya replied, “So the killer had time to enter, poison the drink, and leave before they returned.”

Pippa murmured, “Or the killer could’ve been Mr. Howard.”

Jess finally found the footage she had been looking for. “It all makes sense now. Now I know why you killed him.”

Pippa and Tanya questioned her, “Who are you talking to?” Jess turned around to them. “To the killer among us.”

“Well,” asked Pippa, “who is it?”

Jess walked around them, acting like a detective who was interrogating a suspect. “John went to class to take his test, right?”

“Right,” replied Tanya.

“So, John arrived there, acting like a total smart-alec, pissing off Howard. Howard handed him the test but took his phone. When he was called up, Howard left the room and John was bullying Gideon, who only wanted to switch his classes, right?”

“Right,” Gideon agreed.

“When John left, Gideon took this opportunity to leave. That’s when the killer went to the room, poisoned the drinks, and ran out. Only, they spilled the substance on their gloves, and left them there.” She turned her direction to Pippa. “Isn’t that, right?”

Pippa said in disgust, “Right.”

Officer Mike came after Tanya called them, and so did many other policemen. “Alright, Pippa. You’re under arrest for the murder of John Maple. You have the right to remain silent until court.” Pippa laughed out, “I know my rights, thank you very much.” After Officer Mike placed her in the police car, he told Jess, “Good job on finding out the killer! You were right, John was poisoned with the substance found in that vial you showed me!” Jess smiled. “I told you he was killed. Only I didn’t believe it was my best friend.” Tanya sighed, “Well, we never know a book from its cover. C’mon. We only have a few hours until the jury starts!”

“All rise,” said the judge. Jess and Tanya got up, ready to see the sentencing of Pippa. Jess couldn’t believe her friend killed her boyfriend. And they were about to find out why she did it. “You may be seated. Now, Ms. Pippa. You stand trial for the murder of John Maple, a famous football star. How do you plead?”

“Guilty, Your Honor,” Pippa responded.

“I see. Now, what could’ve caused you to have murdered Mr. Maple?”

Pippa looked at Jess. She started crying. “Because I know what John was capable of.”

The judge asked, “And what was that?”

Pippa cried, “I used to date John. And when I broke up with him, he… he… he took advantage of me. And he told me that if I told anyone, he would come after me and my family. So, I stayed quiet for two years, until he met Jess. At first, I thought this would be over, that I wouldn’t have to worry. But their relationship was not going so well, and I heard John telling his friends he would…get lucky like he did with his previous girl, which was me.”

“So, this caused you to murder him.”

“Yes, Your Honor. I only wanted to protect my friend. I’m sorry Jess for what I did. I truly am.”

“Well, your actions cannot be undone. You could’ve told the police, but instead, you took matters into your own hands. Since you are turning 17 in a couple of days, you will be not going to the juvenile corrections facility, but rather to jail. Pippa Hartfield, this court sentences you to 8 years in prison! Court is adjured!”

Jess ran up to Pippa and hugged her. The security guards were alarmed, but the judge let them hug each other. “I didn’t know this, Pippa. You should’ve told me. We could’ve done something.”

Pippa wiped her tears. “I know. I’m sorry. My fear and anger got the best of me, and I didn’t want him to harm you or anyone.”

Jess cried, “I can’t believe this is happening. I guess this is goodbye.”

Pippa smiled. “Don’t be so devastated. I mean, I deserve this. I tried pinning the murder on two people, but you were smart and brave. You managed to capture me, which is something. You got justice for John, even though he didn’t deserve it. We’ll see each other again.” They gave each other a last hug, filling the courtroom with tears, and a memory Jess would never forget.

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