~ June 13, 2:55 PM, Story Glory Public Library ~
I looked up and pulled the flag football from my hair. In front of me, 17-year-old Maya Fey was snickering as quietly as she could, because we were in a library and she still wanted to respect the “be quiet” rule.
Her older sister, Mia, was reading a book on the opposite side of the table. I’m not sure if she noticed or not, seeing as she didn’t look up, but I could see the corner of her mouth curl up slightly.
“That was awesome!” said Ema Skye, who was cross legged on the floor in front of our chairs. She was being louder than Maya or I had been, and so her sister Lana shushed her from the reading area a few feet away.
“We are still in a library, it would do you good to remember that.” Lana turned and went back to sleeping in the armchair. We’ve been here enough times for everyone to know not to disturb her while she naps, or she really flies off the handle. The only kid who does it persistently is Cody Hackins, but he’s always been like that. And she never minds him.
“Would you like it if I flicked one of these into your hair?” I asked, shaking my head to make sure nothing was tangled. My hair was spiky and quite sharp; a lot of things had gotten stuck in a spike before.
“Why are you acting like I launched glue in your hair?” Maya said, touching the little bun in her hair in defense.
”Not this time,” I reminded her. “But you have done this before.”
Two weeks ago, she’d managed to break a shelf in our offices that had an open can of glue on it - right over my head. Why did we even have the glue there, anyway? Maya rolled her eyes and looked down.
Suddenly, there was a loud thump followed by a few softer ones after it, and then, ”You good-for-nothing...! Now I have to clean all that up! Are you blind?!”
“Whoa, sorry, ma’am! Y’all should put up some ‘Watch for Carts’ signs or somethin’!” A moment later, Lotta Hart turned the corner and arrived with Cody in tow. She was probably babysitting him; one of her many side jobs. “I reckon I ought to give whoever thought puttin’ Ms. Oldbag in the library was a good idea some lip,” she whispered furiously, rubbing her side. “Seriously?!”
“Yeah!” Cody said. “She’s scarier here than she ever was at security!”
Her voice could be heard over all the shelves: “What?! I ought to show you whippersnappers a thing or two!!”
Cody sulked. Lotta shuddered. Wendy Oldbag was just someone you didn’t want to cross. And we learned it the hard way.
“What did you do?” Mia said, looking up from her book. “If you don’t mind my asking?”
Lotta made a slight huffing sound. “I bumped one of them library carts at the corner that was pokin’ out from behind the desk, and apparently that one was mighty sensitive, because the wheel popped off.”
“She sent a whole bunch of books flying!” Cody was pointing in every which direction as he said this. “And then Oldbag blew her top!”
“You guys were NOT kidding,” Ema said. “That lady is crazy!”
Lotta and Cody were some of the newer recruits to our weekly library hangout sessions. They had just started as me and the Fey sisters. Then sometimes, we’d see Lotta trying to research some thing for her classes or Cody reading Steel Samurai comics in the corner (he usually shared them with Maya or Penny, who only came twice a month), and once we caught the Skye sisters trying to get into more interesting reads and invited them to join us. Ema and Maya hit it off great, and they usually chased each other in the library or tried pranking me if they sat still while I was sketching things (if Ema didn’t feel like doing their usuals, she would sketch with me) while Mia would read a random book and hope to finish it within a week. Lana would usually find herself napping as she usually came after some case and needed to rest. Sometimes, she would challenge Mia to see who could finish a book first.
Sometimes we hoped to get a few more of people we knew to just come and hang out.
Today, that came true.
“Phoenix Wright! You’d better come over here and make our so-called friend release me!”
“Aw, come on, Edgey! You know if I didn’t do this you would forget to come at all!”
“Okay, try not to hurt him, pal! He could turn on you that fast!”
“Hey! Don’t hurt my Edgeyboy, you little whippersnapper!”
Detective Dick Gumshoe came out through the bookshelves first, giving a little wave to us as we approached. Behind him, Larry Butz, an old friend of mine, marched triumphantly in, pointing a finger gun at me whilst dragging something behind him.
And that something - or rather, someone - happened to be Miles Edgeworth, a friend to us both, looking absolutely mortified - partially because Larry was dragging him around and partly because Ms. Oldbag had been hitting on him again. I’m not sure who was worse: her or April May.
Miles yanked his arm out of Larry’s grip before walking quickly over to between where Mia was sitting and where I was sitting. “Don’t do that again. Do you know what he did?” He looked at me as he said it. “He intercepted me on my afternoon walk and just dragged me here! He did not stop, not even when the Detective here followed after us!”
“Okay, A: why did you drag him here, Larry?” I asked, pointing my eraser end of the pencil at him. “And B: why didn’t you try to stop him, Gumshoe?” I pointed the end at him then.
Larry waved his hands all crazy, as he tended to do. “We almost never see this guy anymore! I know if I didn’t stop him, we wouldn’t see him for weeks when he gets another case!”
The big man shrugged. “Hey, pal, you are my friend and all, but I’ve tangled with Harry here, and I’d rather not again, okay? He’s quite excitable.”
Larry rolled his eyes at Gumshoe, knowing full well he was butchering his name on purpose.
“Not as excitable as...” Ema paused for dramatic effect. Then she abruptly stood up and shouted, “*ahem* ‘MR. MEEKINS, SIR! REPORTING FOR DUTY, SIR!’”
At this, Larry, Maya, and Gumshoe doubled over in laughter and Mia and I snickered a bit. I could see Miles smiling just so, trying not to laugh. Only Lana was not amused as she had been woken again. Lotta and Cody were just plain confused.
“Keep it down, whippersnappers!” called Ms. Oldbag.
Ema covered her mouth, then lowered her voice and explained Officer Meekins to them. I turned and went back to my drawing.
And that’s when it happened.
Only two warnings.
The first thing I heard was the sound of something tearing. It happened so fast that I didn’t even know if it was paper or fabric or where it was coming from.
And the second?
“Nick, watch out!”
I jumped out of my seat, but I didn’t go far. I screeched as the bookcase came down on my left leg.
I saw the time. 4 PM.
Mia and Maya were both sprawled on the floor, possibly from jumping away earlier than I did. Lotta, Cody, and Ema now stood in front of the bookcase with shocked expressions on their faces. Lana raced over from her earlier perch to see if she could catch anyone else around the bookcase, which Gumshoe and Miles were examining. Larry was freaking out, as usual. Ms. Oldbag’s desk was revealed a few feet away from where the shelf fell, and her surprised expression was seen by all of us, before it morphed to anger and she shouted toward the entrance.
“Hey! Who do you think you are, knocking property over like that?!” she shouted. We all looked over to see why she was shouting.
And saw a cloaked figure slip out the door.
Lana and Gumshoe immediately gave chase. Ms. Oldbag ran after them. Everyone else stayed to try and get the shelf off me.
“Whoa! That was not cool!” Cody declared after it was finally off me. “Are you okay??”
I had honestly expected him to add ‘old man’ after that sentiment as he tended to do, so I was surprised that he didn’t mention it. “I think I’m fine.”
“Fine?! Not fine!” Maya shouted, not even caring for the rule. “Definitely not fine! Nick, you got your leg crushed by a shelf!”
”That may be, but he is alive, Maya.” Leave it to Miles to point out that ‘at least’ aspect in his default dry tone. “Someone pushed over that shelf intending to murder. Simply, they did not count on any of us to warn him.”
“Which one of you warned me?” I pointed between Maya and Larry because they were the only ones that called me Nick. Lotta called me Nix, and everyone else either called me by first name or last name, save for Cody most of the time.
Larry glanced over to Maya. “Actually, we both did. I had looked up from my talk with Shoey and Maya happened to be looking in the same direction as me.”
Wow. I’m glad for that.
“Whoa! What in tarnation happened here?!”
Jake Marshall appeared at the front entrance, glancing at the bookcase with his hat tipped up in surprise, with Lana and Gumshoe running in behind him moments later.
“We couldn’t catch up with the mysterious figure,” Gumshoe said dejectedly. “Sorry, pal.”
Lana gestured to Marshall. “We just so happened to run into him on our way back here.”
“I didn’t see anything weird on my way here,” Marshall said. “I just saw Ms. Oldbag run by. And man, did she run, pardner. I walked a few more minutes before they caught up.”
“What were ya doin’ comin’ down here?” asked Lotta.
He tipped his hat down slightly before answering. “I reckon I’d come join this little group o’ yours. Angel says she wanted to come too, but she had something come up and I went on my way.”
“Angel wanted to come down here?!” I said, very surprised. “I didn’t even think she liked me, let alone any of us.”
Marshall raised an eyebrow at that. “She respects your persistence, pardner. She doesn’t dislike you.” He turned to Gumshoe. “You, Rich. Help me stand up our firebird here. We don’t want him to be more sore than he already is.”
“Right, sir!” Gumshoe saluted, then walked over. With Marshall’s help, they hoisted me off the floor. As soon as I landed on my leg, however, I let out a sharp hiss.
“We have to get him to the hospital,” Miles said matter-of-factly.
Mia reached into her pocket and pulled out her car keys. She tossed them to Miles. “Take my van. The rest of us will meet you there later. We’ll investigate.”
He gave her a curt nod. Motioning behind him, he walked out, with Marshall and Gumshoe helping me out behind him. Larry and Maya followed behind us.
“You wouldn’t rather investigate with the others?” I asked them when we were all in the van. Miles and Marshall were up front, with me propped up in the middle seat. Larry, Maya, and Gumshoe sat in the back.
“Are you kidding, Nicky? I think I speak for Maya and myself when I say we’d rather be right here having your back, man!” He shot a thumbs-up, another of his signature moves.
Maya nodded. “Besides, my sister and the Skyes are more than capable of handling it right now. And they’ll have Cody and Lotta helping them.”
I hummed to that. Then I just turned and glanced out the window.
As the rolling scenery passed us by out the window, I had only one question:
Who wanted to do this to me?