(Oreola) a balloon made of muscle

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The Academy of Mysterious Occurrences is empty. The teachers and students and staff are all at Angel#Manifestation, at the season wrap party hosted by YenniferGrace and SummerHyde, who have just formally announced their relationship, making them the youngest and hottest couple ever. In celebration of their romance they've announced a surprise taste test of their new relationship-inspired multi-value menu at Rising Awareness. So needless to say everyone there is having an amazing time.

Oreola is using the fact that the school is empty to wander around and look for more clues. They can call the season over all they want but that doesn't make it so. There are still deaths happening that defy explanation and she's determined to figure out why. It's sort of the only thing she has going at this point.

It's been way overshadowed by YenniferGrace & SummerHyde's romance, but also recently announced: Dorkidoria & Maliquent have relaunched and rebranded their mystery-solving partnership. Bye Project DOM, everyone welcome Love Justice Maloria. The name puts a little too fine a point on it for Oreola's taste but whatever. Yay for them. She's trying not to look too much at her screen, trying not to care too much about what's happening anywhere but right in front of her, but unfortunately that's currently: nothing.

She wanders the corridors quietly, slowly. She runs her fingers along the walls. She stops and puts her ears up to them, listening. For what, she doesn't know, exactly.

She's spent days reviewing the videos of the deaths this season and there's nothing more to learn from them. There are some weird shapes, some unexplained shadows. There is what looks like something reaching out of the wall to grab one of the victims. All of it only adds up to more questions.

And what if she's completely deluded and has just invented this story to give her brain something to occupy itself b/c she can't deal with having been rejected by her best friend? Because she can't face the idea that she betrayed her friends, sabotaged their chances at an amazing life? Because actually, secretly, she sucks just as much as everyone has been saying all season? D&M took her mistakes and turned them into a compelling new narrative, but she's still here wandering around school looking for clues that don't exist.

The mounting evidence of her being completely cancelled is impossible to bear. But she really did see something in the footage though. There has to be something else to it.

But the longer she wanders aimlessly around campus the more pathetic she feels. This is so bad. She's not doing anything. Even the zonny trailing behind her seems bored. She can feel herself losing followers by the hour.

Theoretically there's an underdog element to her narrative - discarded by her best friend, betrayed by her team, now cast out, forced to solve mysteries on her own. Ordinarily that might be something she could work with, but there are still so many people at the Academy who think she cheated by being there when BrabMeetsWorld died, that it gave her an unfair advantage. And Love Justice Maloria will surely share their side of the story, of Oreola going off the rails, not being there for them when they needed her. Their story is infinitely more compelling and relatable than hers. She does not like her odds.

She's spiraling, lost deep in her head as she wanders around campus. She's walking through the older section of campus, outside the Precinct, and when she rounds the corner to the breezeway that leads from the Cafeteria to Emrata Street she finds herself immediately face to face with another girl. They both scream and jump back in surprise. They read the fear and anger in each other's faces before relief sweeps in and they break into smiles and laughter as the tension releases.

Smairuhh, Oreola's screen says. 275k followers, damn.

Oreola: Yooo, I'm so sorry to scare you I was like extremely deep in my feelings,

Smairuhh: Haha no it's OK, same! I'm like super focused on allll this stuff,

As Oreola is about to respond she sees something unfold itself from the wall just behind Smairuhh. It's like the wall is pushing itself outward, and forming the shape of an arm. Very quickly another part of the wall also starts to push out and become the shape of an arm. It's like watching a person pull themself up out of a hole, except they're pulling themselves away from the two dimensional surface of the wall. The arms solidify, and then the torso they're attached to, the neck and head arcing themselves away from the wall. It's the shape of the upper half of a human, but there are no features on it - it's like the wall has poured itself out into a rubber mold a person. The figure is smooth and glistening, like a balloon made of muscle.

Without even realizing she's doing it, Oreola takes a step back. Smairuhh reads something on Oreola's face, confusion, concern, but before she can say or do anything, the wall body reaches out and plunges its hands directly into Smairuhh's body. Its limbs disappear inside her like her shape isn't even real, like water being poured into more water. Smairuhh chokes as her body lurches uncontrolled, her back arching, her eyes rolling up into her head, and she's gone, dead before she even knows what's happening.

Oreola takes another step back, raising her screen. Too scared to run. Blood and entrails are spewing out from the place e where the wall-body meets Smairuhh's body. A second body emerges from the wall, behind Smairuhh, and plunges its hands into her from behind. Smairuhh's body is still standing there as though she's still in conversation with Oreola, her eyes rolling blankly in Oreola's direction, but it's these shapes holding her in place while they drain the life from her.

There is so much blood, so many pieces of Smairuhh's insides being spilled out across the walls and floor.

Then just as quickly as they started, the limbs release Smairuhh's body and let it crumble to the floor, utterly torn apart. They disappear, melting back into the wall, as quietly as the day turning to night.

Oreola holds her screen out, still recording. She can't move. Her brain can't process this, can't catch up to what her eyes just saw.

Finally she releases her breath, saying "OK."

She turns to the zonny perched on the opposite wall. "That happened," she says to it. "I know you got that."

///

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