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Kyane exited her house and saw her usual view of Tower City from across the road and river. It was a city on an island. It had a single bridge used for entering and leaving. Construction began for a second set of bridges, but problems with the contractors, and tax cuts forced the project to go on hiatus. Outside the city were high-end suburbs for families. That’s where she lived. The bulk of them were built in the 1980s during the gang, and drug crises in the United States. The few wealthy people who stayed crafted high-end apartments. However, the fallout from those events lead to the creation and beautification of downtown Tower. This rebirth was when Tower City High School was built. When the mayor of Tower City had the school built, he then annexed the outlying suburbs in order to have the wealthy children go to Tower City High and increase the wealth of the area.
The period rebirth was also when Kyane’s parents, Damon Yoritis and fiancée Hinotomi Shaotoro moved. They both got jobs as lab technicians for SkyRise, a government-owned science company that researched solutions to future problems. They stayed as lab techs for five years. After five years they got married. When they returned from their honeymoon Hinotomi was offered a development position. She accepted it as long as her husband could work with her as a co-lead. Four years later Hinotomi became pregnant with Kyane. This sparked the Yoritis’s wanting to move out of the city, more so their one-bedroom studio apartment, and buy a home. They were finally able to when Kyane turned three years old.
Kyane rode her bike from her house to the bus stop. She waited fifteen minutes at the bus stop to ride into the city to Tower City High School. It was a long trek, but mostly calming for her. When she got to the bus stop, she opened her backpack and pulled out her earbuds, connected them to her phone and skimmed through Spotify for her jam. She put on Satellites by Rise Against. The assertive drumbeats pumped her up. She began to bob her head.
A white sports car convertible with three familiar faces drove up to her. “Hey, Kai-Annie, want a ride?”
Kyane acknowledged the car and looked down. Three people sat in the car. Danny West, the all-star football player for TCHS. He had spiked hair, strong chin, and a bigger smirk. Next to him was Harry Kurtbol, and in the back seat was Desmond Dice. Harry was generically white and handsome. Someone you could replace with every other model. Desmond less so, he had short black hair, large muscles, and a square face. They were the Three Musketeers of sports at TCHS. Kyane pulled her earbuds out. Her head arched up slightly to look down on them. “What?” she asked
“I said ‘Hey, Kai-Annie, want a ride?’ So, do you?” Danny asked.
“That’s not my name,” Kyane said before processing the rest of his question. “It’s pronounced Kai-on-ay.” She nodded her head to the side. “Now driving along.” She placed the earbuds back in.
“Fine, I was just trying to help,” Danny said.
Kyane pulled her earbud out again. “I don’t wanna catch your douche.” Kyane examined Danny’s face. “Are those frosted tips or highlights?” Danny’s face got red. “Also, I know what Chelsea had, I am not getting close to you.”
“I didn’t know douche was a disease,” Desmond said. Kyane hid her laughter. Desmond smirked. He saw the light reflect off her shining black hair. It cast everything away but the laugh and her smile. His heart let out a bolt of electricity. He could feel the beating in the tips of his fingers.
“I didn’t think you could catch it with just close contact,” Harry said, adding to the joke. Desmond snapped back and looked at Harry. He chuckled.
Danny rolled his eyes and ignored them. “Chelsea and I didn’t do anything,” Danny said.
“You say that now. Not last week when you were basically megaphoning you got to home base. Meaning you were probably even worse at sports than I thought even though you talked a big game when we were in Dobbles’s Health Science class.”
Danny shook his head. “You’re such a bitch.”
Desmond leaned forward. “Look Ky, did you read the story that’s been going around?” Kyane’s face kept its hard demeanor. Harry saw he was just going to have to explain it. “A couple was like attacked by some knife-wielding maniac hobo or something like that last night, and the woman was kidnapped.”
“Okay?” Kyane said. She spun the free earbud in her fingers. “That happened last night.” She looked at the rising sun on the horizon. “It’s like morning and stuff. So. thanks but no thanks.” The car began to drive off. A question jammed in her head louder than her punk-rock. “Hey, wait,” the car squeaked on the breaks. “What happened to the guy!?” she called out. She could see Danny’s eyes roll through his skull.
“He is being held at Tower Center General,” Desmond yelled.
They took off. “I see what you’re doing Desmond, ma man. Get her scared so you can get her. Very cool,” Danny said.
“That’s not it,” Desmond said. He looked at her through the side-view mirror. The sun reflected off her hair and across her face. He smiled.
“Yeah, Dessi here doesn’t need all those tricks,” Harry leaned forward and said. “He’s got major skills already.”
“Yeah…” Desmond droned out. His eyes remained locked onto the ever disappearing speck that was Kyane, but he felt his body pulling him toward her. Even at that distance he could still see her hidden smile. He could feel something in himself that he couldn’t put into words.
Kyane placed the earbud back and would not take it out until the bell rang when she entered Mr. Ayer’s first-period science class.
Tower City High School, home of the Tower City Hawks, was made to hold 1,500 students, but currently held 2,500. The school consisted of five separate wings to house each subject. The main office and courtyard in the center. Behind the school sat the Football/Soccer/track field. The field was surrounded by two sides of bleachers made in the 1980s with an equally antiquated scoreboard, and concession stand. Next to the west wing Social Studies wing sat a baseball, and tennis field. They also had hockey, and swim teams, only those teams met at recreation centers in the city.
The inside of the building was stale. The walls were a mix of bleached and worn yellow, white, and blues showing the schools age. Anything up-to-date pokes out of the scenery like a hippie in a Hot Topic. The vending machines were stocked with the healthiest junk food from low calorie, and fat-free chips, popcorn, crackers, and soda pop.
The only other noted additions to the school was its large number of trophies, school-approved clubs and activities, and fliers for future events like the track and field fundraiser, the baseball awards night, and upcoming marching band performances.
A police resource officer roamed the halls during classes. His name is Officer Gerald Morris, a balding man in his 40s with a body that made it clear he was athletic in high school, and college, but lost his abs due to the erosion time to exercise. He had a faded wedding band with a tan line from decades of a happy marriage. He was most beloved by the students who he confronted the most often.
Kyane entered the science class. The science classrooms were a larger departure then any of the other subjects. The other subjects had rows of desks facing the touch-screen SMARTboard. The science room had those desks at the front, with raised cross-shaped lab stations in the back. She always took the desk closest to the door for a quick escape. Even with her earbuds in she could see her students gossiping about the attack. Their phone screens, and badly hushed conversations filled her in. She saw Desmond already in class when she arrived. He sat on the opposite side of the room. The bell rang a second time, and Mr. Ayer entered the room.
Kyane’s first-period class was biology with Mr. Ayer. He wore a similar combination of khaki pants, and a button-down shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows with a loose, single color tie. He tapped the SMARTboard to change the slide to their warmup. “Okay class,” he read the question on the board. “You guys have five minutes to answer this.” He checked his gold faced watch with a well-worn black strap.
The speculative chatter of who attacked the couple continued. Kyane answered the question in her notebook, then tuned them out. She didn’t get why this attack was so interesting. They live in the city. There is a robbery every other week, a shooting every other month, and a bigger murder occasionally, or maybe those are just the ones she chose to pay attention too. She tapped her mechanical pencil on the small desk. She drummed out the beat to Satellites and stared at the diagram of an animal cell, and plant cell, not absorbing any of the information. It was just the most entertaining thing to look at.
“Hey,” whispered a voice next to her.
Kyane blinked a few times. The voice said hey again. She turned to see a skinny boy in a hoody two sizes too big with a mess of curls on his head. He had a small laptop sitting on his desk. “What?” Kyane asked.
“What did I miss yesterday?” the boy asked.
“I don’t know,” Kyane shrugged. The boy had a defeated look in his eyes. Like she was his last hope for graduating high school, or like he just stirred up the courage to ask her on a date and she blew up his aspirations. “You can see my notes I guess.” She handed the notebook over.
“Thank you,” the boy said. His pale hand accepted the reluctant gift. He flipped three pages back and began typing the notes into his laptop. He finished typing before Ayer continued with his lesson. He handed the book back, Kyane snatched it back. “My name is Jamie,” the boy said. “Sorry I asked for your notebook, I am sick kind of…” he trailed off.
“Hey Jamie,” she said. “Actually, don’t worry about it. You can just pay me back when I am sick. Sounds good?” She was sure his notes would be better than any of the other airheads in class.
“Ah, yeah sure.” Jamie’s response took him longer than it should have. Kyane tried to show some restraint in her annoyance. She didn’t know if it worked or not. Mr. Ayer asked the question on the board a second time. Jamie’s hand shot into the air and answered it before Kyane processed what he said. Kyane nodded, impressed.
Mr. Ayer started his lesson. He quickly broke any talk of the assault by asking the students questions about the parts of a cell. A question that should have been easy regardless of if the students were listening because of the poster on the wall. Most students didn’t. Mr. Ayer would then comment on the poster, the student would blush, and the other students would laugh a little. Mr. Ayer finished handing out the homework just seconds before the bell rang.
Kyane stuffed her homework into her bag, popped up and headed for the door with the rest of the class behind her. “Mr. Dice, Mr. Bett, and Ms. Yoritis, could you three come here?” Mr. Ayer called out. She slammed on her breaks, walked to the side to let the other students filter out, and tapped her forehead on a locker, and sighed. “Kyane, you better come back in.” Mr. Ayer said.
Kyane walked in and saw Desmond and Jamie already standing around Mr. Ayer’s desk. “What’s up Ayer?” Kyane asked. She pointed behind her. “I really have to get to Bars math class. I can’t be late for that.”
“I’ll write you a pass if you think you need it that badly,” Mr. Ayer said. Kyane trudged over to the desk and stood between Jamie and Desmond, acting as a medium between the tall and fit Desmond, and short, gaunt Jamie. Mr. Ayer rolled his worn watch. The ticks from the second hand felt like they lasted minutes while he thought of his wording. “You three are all smart,” he said.
“Thank you, sir,” Jamie said.
“Sure,” Kyane huffed.
“Oh yeah!” Desmond said.
Mr. Ayer nodded. “You all are. Whether you believe it or not.” He leaned forward and placed his hands on a stack of unmarked classwork. Kyane clicked her tongue. “Yet, your grades are all well below where they should be for one reason or another.” He looked at Jamie. “Whether it’s an illness,” he looked at Desmond, “misplaced energy and focus,” he then looked at Kyane, “or, just plain stubbornness to do what you need to.” Kyane’s eyes scanned Ayer’s desk. “I also like all of you a great deal, therefore I am giving you some major extra credit.”
“Sweet!” Desmond said. He pumped his fist. He looked at Kyane. She seemed less than impressed and lowered his fist.
“Cool, I guess,” Kyane pocketed her hands.
“What is it?” Jamie asked.
Mr. Ayer nodded, smiled, then leaned back in his leather rolling chair. “I’m sure you’ve heard of the assault, and missing person’s case that occurred last night.”
“Maybe in passing,” Kyane said sarcastically.
“Well, I have a friend in the crime lap at TCPD, he said that if I wanted to, I could send a few students to look and do some CSI work. You know like the TV show. Anyway, I think all three of you could have the makings of a CSI worker, so I would like you to go.”
“What do we have to do?” Kyane asked.
“Collect some ‘samples’ for me to give to the lab, then write up a one-page paper on the experience. How does that sound?”
“Really cool,” Desmond said.
“You’re a real go-getter, aren’t you?” Kyane asked. Desmond shot her glance. “Anyway, I’m in.”
“Me too,” Jamie said.
“What time do we have to go? I got baseball practice after school, then tutoring, then something else that I can’t remember,” Desmond said.
“Well that is up to you three,” Mr. Ayer said. “But like those TV shows say, after 48 hours most of the evidence is gone, so I would try and get there sooner rather than later.” The warning bell rang. Mr. Ayer’s eyes widened for a second. “Passes!” he rummaged around in his desk and pulled out a sticky note pad and wrote three passes for the students, then sent them on their way.