Bea Chapter 5
There was silence as I said that. Hetty looked horrified and Cassie stared at Meira as if she'd never met her. I felt as if ice had slipped down my stomach
"No! It's not what you think! I did not murder Flora! I'm blind! I couldn't and I wouldn't! Listen to me!" Meira cried
"I'm listening," I said, but I motioned for Cassie and Hetty to block the doors.
Meira could be lying about being blind. That would explain her brilliant skill in art, her ability to travel and communicate so well.
Then an idea struck me. If Meira was really blind, she wouldn't be able to commit the murder. I waved my hand vigorously in front of her face. A person with sight would blink and screw up their eyes, but Meira's expression stayed blank and indifferent. She was telling the truth. She really was blind. She was innocent.
"You didn't commit the murder," I continued "but that doesn't explain how you knew it happened in the first place,"
"Please," gasped Meira "I went to this changing room to look for the fox painting, but it wasn't here. Then someone asked me what I was doing there. It was Mr. Inkling. I told him I was looking for a painting of a red fox and he said he'd seen it at the pool. I went in but I heard Flora splashing and crying out quietly. She was breathing weirdly, trying to survive. But then she sobbed out four last words and died. I think she saw me and tried to tell me who killed her. It took all of her effort but she only made a single sound of the name before she died,"
"Girls! What are you doing here? We're fifteen minutes into period five! Nobody has swimming this period. You'd better get to class quick,"
It was Mr. Renard.
He sounded cheery again and he was smiling fondly as he told us off. I remembered how Hetty had said he was in a bad mood. But now he was positively joyous. I found this all deeply suspicious. His beam seemed to have become a sign of evil, his happy nature suddenly a curse. The murder had twisted everything, and everyone seemed menacing and guilty.
We all gaped in terror, and he chuckled slightly, sounding all the more like a man-eating ogre in a fairytale.
"Yes, sir," I said as smoothly as I could. We just went in here to get Meira's painting and had a little trouble with the door. Very confusing, these locks. We'll go to class now,"
"Mind you hurry it up," snapped Miss Christin, who had seemed to appear from thin air. She ushered us out of the basement quickly, wobbling and swaying unsteadily as she did so.
"Idiot! You told him that we were the ones he locked in!" snapped Cassie. We were walking up to the main school entrance
"We're only in danger if HE was the murderer," I retorted "if not, we're in danger anyway. We were locked up by a murderer on a crime scene, Cass! Anyway, he doesn't know we're on to him,"
"I don't understand," said Hetty. She slid on a stone on the path.
"Look," I said patiently "Let's just say that Mr. Renard is the murderer,"
"But he might not be," interupted Meira, poking some grass with her toe
"Well for now, we're following the logic that he IS. Let's say that he heard us in the changing room, ran through the second changing room, and locked the door A. We'll say that the door that goes from our changing room to the pool is called door A. The corridor door is door B. He ran back the same way and locked door B. It's more likely he did door B first though,"
"I don't get it," said Meira, frowning.
"You're missing the point," said Cassie unexpectedly "The point is, that for all he knows, we could have never seen the body and never known about the murder. So he might not know that we're on to him. HE MIGHT NOT KNOW THAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE MURDER. Unless.."
She turned to Meira again "did you hear anyone at the pool when you heard Flora dieing?" She stamped her foot and splashed her sock with mud.
"If she did, we're done for," groaned Hetty "the murderer will finish us off next,"
"There was someone there," said Meira "I could hear them breathing very close by before they ran away,"
"They saw you!" I cried, losing my head completely.
Meira shook her head. "I stayed in the changing room and only went into the swimming pool room when they were gone. I heard them leave through the second changing room. Then I came out. I heard Flora struggle and cry and thought it was best to stay away. I thought she was drowning and that the person I heard breathing was going to help her. I would of made it worse if I got involved. But I was wrong of course, Flora was bleeding and dieing, not drowning,"
"Was it a man or a woman you heard breathing?" Hetty asked eagerly
"I couldn't tell," Meira sadly said "it was either a youngish man or woman,"
"You said Flora said something before she died!" Cassie exclaimed "What was it? Tell us!"
"She only said a few words," said Meira "she was gasping and coughing blood, and it was a huge effort for her. The first word she said was Meira,"
"She said Meira?"
""Meira" and then she coughed for a bit," she said "then she only said two more words. "It was". Then she gasped, sank and shouted out the last bit. But she only said part of a name,"
"What sound did she make?"
"Miss. The sound Miss," Meira whispered
We were quiet for a minute. Then Cassie yelled in frustration and stamped on the ground, squishing a piece of earth into squelchy mud.
"What?" Hetty said
"Don't you see?" yelped Cassie "that doesn't rule out any suspects!"
"She's right," I whispered "Miss could be just Miss, but it could also be Mrs or Mister. And you're also right! We haven't ruled out any suspects,"
"And our suspects are..." said Hetty
I looked at her "You know who they are. There were only four people in the basement, excluding us and Flora,"
There were four people who could have murdered Flora Appleby.
Miss Christin, Mr Renard, Mr Inkling......or Mrs Gruint.