(Oreola) imagine if every dead body was a mystery

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Emotional Terrorism plus Digital Lock-picking class later, Oreola goes to the cafeteria to meet Dorkidoria and Maliquent for lunch.

Lunch today is sponsored by Evolvolution. Evolvolution: The building blocks of the person you're becoming. She takes her tray and moves through the line, eyeing the array. There's some cool-looking vibrational matcha bowls, but they're also promoted their new line of adaptive collagen spoons. They're low glycemic and adapt to your individual level of need. Oreola takes 2 spoons, turmeric and gynostemma, does a quick brand interaction, and then rounds the corner, emerging in the cafeteria.

The Academy cafeteria is a great, looming hall, tall ceilings and windows with stained glass portraying important mysteries from Wood2's sordid history. There's moody, fake candlelight along the walls, and in the darker recesses of the room there are holographic videos depicting memorable scenes from past seasons on a continuous loop. Everyone sits at the long rows of tables and benches that fill the room in long, parallel lines.

To be clear: the students all hate the long tables and benches, and have complained about it for as long back as anyone can remember, which isn't long but still. Everyone having to cram in next to each other means a higher risk of other teams hearing what they're planning slash working on. It's unfair, against the spirt of the school, to have to sit basically on top of each other. Teams should be able to get separate tables, for more privacy, to better foster communication and collaboration. The school administration's official response has always been: Suck my dick it's a vibe.

Students compensate with the tacit understanding that teams should give each other a wide berth. At least two empty spaces in between each group. So: long tables peppered with little groups of people trying to huddle as close together as they can, whispering loud enough to hear each other across the table but not loud enough to be heard by anyone sitting close by.

She passes a big clump of 3rd years, all wearing variations on a blue- and white-striped theme. As they progress through their first two seasons the students start to divide themselves up into groups, teams. A lot of students gloop into groups and formally brand themselves as a team and officially work together as a crime solving unit. The idea that they will hopefully then get their own group show after graduation, after showing how well they solve mysteries together. Sometimes it's a loose affiliation, like Oreola and Dorkidoria and Maliquent - a group of friends who like each other and work well together but aren't trying to make this be more than it is. Many teams go the completely opposite, and completely commit to an aesthetic and charter.

Oreola finds a table end that is mercifully unoccupied and drops her tray down. She sits and checks her screen for exactly 2 seconds before another tray drops down across from her. It's Dorkidoria.

"OK don't freak out but the vibrational bowls are a different color this year," she says, loud enough for anyone nearby to hear. "That's weird right? That's major, right?" Some 1st years nearby all examine their bowls, whispering to each other.

"OMG sssh dumb bitch don't give away our first clue 😩!" Oreola laughs, waving at her friend to chill and sit down. The 1st years are still staring at them, unsure unsure what to do with this information.

Dorkidoria sits. Dorkidoria: best friend, teammate if they ever agreed that their group was an actual team and not just an uncommitted group of individuals who liked hanging out. Dorkidoria has 32k followers, mocha skin that's tattooed within an inch of its life ("SAFE SPACE" in flowy script across her neck), a very freckled face with wide-set eyes and a perpetually mischievous smile.

Oreola takes a taste of her turmeric collagen spoon and offers the rest to Dorkidoria, who shakes her head no. "Eh?" she says, pointing to the pure white muffin on her tray, indicating You want some of this?

"Umm is that the thing where everyone at High/Low died from."

Dorkidoria shrugs. "Yeah, like, last season." She takes one bite and throws the rest at the still-gawking group of 1st years. "Pretty good," she says through a mouth full. "Where's-"

"Right here," Maliquent says, falling in next to Dorkidoria, spoons clattering off his tray and onto the table, his smoothie almost tipping over. They do their 3-way handshake. It takes 30 seconds.

Maliquent: one of the few solid good dudes. No games, no weirdness. 29k followers. Tall lean, big brother energy, usually wearing black tracksuits by Polycount and his extremely curly hair poking out of a bun on top of his head. Only has one hand but it's a look.

He was the third and final member of their crew but he had originally been the 4th. He had originally come in to Oreola & Dorkidoria's circle via his girlfriend, Encased.Woooo. She was this tiny little demon, dark skin and puffed out afro wearing the most meringue-ass white and pink dolly outfits you ever saw. Type of girl who looked loud but never said shit. Then one day in class Dorkidoria and Oreola were whispering to each other about some bitch they hated, and Encased.Woooo, sitting behind them, interjects her opinions, one of the most mean and cutting and insightful and true things you ever heard. Didn't even crack a smile but both Oreola and Dorkidoria literally fell out of their chairs laughing. Detention for all 3 of them - basement watch every night for a week. They were all 3 inseparable after that, Oreola like I'm keeping this one way the fuck close to me forever I don't want her saying nothing about me like that. They'd called themselves SOLVE MODE back then. After, when it was just the three of them, they shorted it to Project DOM.

"First day's about half over, no one solved any mysteries yet?" Maliquent says. "Ready for this season to be done."

"We solving hell of mysteries don't even worry," Dorkidoria says.

"Cool, we outta here, see you hoes next time." Maliquent picks up one of his spoons and picks up a spoon off Maliquent's tray and compares the two and then swaps them out, putting hers in his mouth.

"Where you been at though," Oreola asks.

"Got here late, street by High/Low got bombed out. Missed most of first period, then just got out of Forensic Chemistry."

"Is that good, I got that later," Maliquent says.

"Do you know," Maliquent says, leaning in. "How easy it is to make air poisonous? Like we breathe, in and out, this stuff this air that we breathe, and like, it doesn't take much to change a few chemicals and suddenly it'll kill you. Change air to like, some completely different poisonous shit."

"Yeah I heard of science bitch," Oreola says, causing Dorkidoria to double over laughing. Maliquent hangs his head like I walked into that one. About a dozen or so people from around the room suddenly get up and run out of the cafeteria.

Oreola looks at them and then her screen. Dorkidoria and Maliquent are on theirs.

"Is this it?" Dorkidoria says, scrolling.

"Nah," Oreola says. "Dead body on Emrata, someone fell out a window."

"Not even on school property!" Maliquent yells at the students leaving.

"Dumb ass bitches," Dorkidoria says. "Imagine if every dead body was a mystery."

Oreola throws her head back laughing. "omg imagine being all invested every time someone died," she says. "I wouldn't get any thing done."

"My shit would be overwhelmed af bro," Dorkidoria says, laughing.

The three sit there talking, shooting, vibing, making fun of other students, for the rest of the period. Sometimes Oreola caught glimpses of life outside the mysteries, just being in the moment, not having to think about the clues, worry who was trying to kill you, worry if you were going to be a victim this season, worry that someone else was outpacing you, outselling you. Thinking about your followers and the target on your back all the time. There was a very cool version of life happening, in between all the scenes that comprised the show of your life. Hard to appreciate though, the next scenes always coming so fast.

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