“Come in,” I replied to the knock on my office door, before waving my visitor to the cozy chair across from me.
“What can I help you with, Ms. Carrot?”
“Thanks for coming in today. It’s unfortunate that this issue requires a private investigator, but we simply need to get to the bottom of this issue. Let us begin,” I replied.
While trying to keep down my lunch, I tried to explain to the investigator all of the events that had occurred over the last several weeks. While Good Eats had not always had the best reputation among the student body, the duration of time in which students were still getting sick was becoming inexcusable.
I told him everything: from the initial tossed cookies and vomiting to the body found in the garden, and finally to the recently held forum where we had thought that our food poisoning concerns had come to an end.
“I’m afraid that if we cannot figure out the cause of our students and faculty getting sick, we may even have to temporarily close the school. Parents are getting concerned, and if we need to start catering all of our lunches from local food chains, we will exhaust all of our financial resources.”
“Are you sure that it’s the food? Could it be something else causing students to become sick?” the investigator asked.
“I suppose I hadn’t considered that … but what else could it be?”
“Your campus is rather small, a tiny bubble within this small town. If not the food, I am confused as to why the surrounding businesses are not also having this problem …”
“Why — you are not suggesting that foul play could be a factor, are you? That someone is targeting us?”
The man scratched his chin and scribbled down some notes before going on.
“Where was Chester Fishler last spotted on campus before he was found within SMUG’s compost?” he asked.
“Hmm … well, he worked both for the student paper and the dining services. He had a shift in the dining hall as well as a newspaper meeting directly before he went missing. I’d imagine he had just received his article assignment from his editors.”
“Hmm, hmm, okay. Do you by chance know what he was covering in his article?”
“I believe the local water treatment plant’s expansion plans. Nothing all that news-worthy. I doubt the expansion plans will get very far, anyway, with all of these businesses and our university in their way.”
“Did any of Chester’s friends mention seeing him before he went missing?” he asked.
I took some time to think, trying to remember who Chester’s friends were. Did that boy even have any friends? All he ever seemed to be doing was getting work done.
“Um, no, not that I know of,” I murmured.
“I see,” he replied. “Well, I will continue searching the grounds with my team, and we will see what we can find. I’ll get back to you with any new information. If you hear anything, let me know.
After he left my office, I thumbed through a stack of requests from students. One read, “Omg, bring bck our cheezzzy eggs, u carrot!”
Wow, harsh. Someone needs a grammar lesson.
Another, “I have been making my own food, but still have been getting sick. I don’t think the dining hall is at fault. Keep up the good work.”
Reassuring. But I don’t understand …
“I only eat chocolate and the options within the dining hall have not been able to suit all of my dietary needs,” read another.
Well, if they think sugar will allow them to have a well balanced diet …
With a heavy sigh, I leaned back in my chair, downing a glass of water and peering out the window. No. Not again! The restroom was too far away — instead, I grabbed the nearest trashcan. Ah, tartar sauce.