I continued tapping my feet on the ground while staring at my college professor.
There was nothing more intimidating than meeting a teacher during office hours since most professors thought too highly of themselves because they were a lot less enlightened than they realized.
“I’m sorry.” Ms. Cork reached for her mug, taking a large sip. “But I’m not going to change your grade. It’ll remain a B-.”
I furrowed an eyebrow. “Are you kidding me?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not going to change my mind.”
Tears came to my eyes. “But I did the extra credit revisions. Doesn’t that mean anything?”
“Yes,” she said. “It does, and that’s why I commented on your grade sheet that you obviously did a lot of work for the class.”
I clicked my lips together. “Stick the knife in more, why don’t you?”
“I don’t understand what the problem is. It’s not like I failed you, which is more than I can say for some students. You did a great job and should be happy with the grade.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Is this because I didn’t participate enough in class?”
She rolled her eyes. “No. Not entirely. Class participation is only one factor in a student’s grade.”
I leaned in a little, not even hesitating to slide my elbows onto her desk. “No offense or anything, but how did you expect me to participate when you always criticized my ideas? You were just annoyed I thought the first collection of short stories we read was boring, weren’t you?”
Ms. Cork shrugged her shoulders. “No. I wasn’t. Students should think for themselves.”
“Then why did you tell me that you were sorry I couldn’t see the drama in one of the stories from the collection? I mean I apologize if I didn’t use specific evidence, but who are you to tell me what to think?”
“You should go now.”
My heart pounded inside my chest, getting louder with each passing second even though I had to stand up for myself no matter how dangerous the situation was because it was one thing for a teacher to tell me I had stuff to work on, yet it was another thing for him or her to be arrogant.
I forced a gulp of air into my lungs. “You know what I think? I think you’re jealous of my writing. Even you couldn’t deny I had snappy dialogue.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Hunter.”
Several beads of sweat trickled down my face. “And no offense, but you shouldn’t let students play favorites with each other. I mean the students that have no negative comments could improve on something, don’t you think?”
“If you say so.”
I got up without even bothering to push in my chair. “It’s also kind of ridiculous that you emailed your final comments and grades after the last class of the semester because we didn’t even have a final for the class, which means the last class could have been used to discuss grades. But I bet you knew most students would be too busy preparing for finals to be bothered to complain about grades.”
“How dare you!”
“The reality is the creative writing department teachers only care about promoting their own novels and have no legitimate interest in helping students,” I said.
I barreled out of her office without another word.
It didn’t even matter if she would fail me because there were some people in the world that needed to be reminded that they were despicable.
I met my friend Cassandra at Starbucks a few hours later, as she suggested that it would be a good idea to take a break from studying for finals.
“Is something wrong” Cassandra asked.
“No. I’m fine.” I sipped some of my Caramel Frappuccino even though I was too distracted to notice the explosion of the mixture of sweet and bitter flavors along my taste buds.
“You don’t have to lie Hunter. If something is wrong, I would want to know.”
I averted my gaze, staring down at the new floor tiles. “I don’t want to make you mad.”
She twirled a strand of her hair, wrapping it around her finger. “Is this about Professor Cork?”
“Yes, it is.”
“I thought you were going to let that go.”
I sneered, revealing flared nostrils. “Professor Cork gave me a B- for the semester even though she admitted I did a lot of work for the class.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize that. I’m sorry.”
“Do you remember the thing that I told you I was considering?” I whispered under my breath.
She nodded at me. “Yeah. I do. But I didn’t think you were serious.”
“Well, I am. And you’re going to have to do your part,” I said.
“I don’t know about that. Can’t you just go to the dean or department head?”
“No. I can’t. They’ll both protect Professor Cork while making me look foolish.”
Cassandra exhaled a breath. “Fine. If you really want me to do this, I will. But only for you.”
I squeezed her hand. “Thank you. I appreciate it.”
Ms. Cork accosted me the following morning while I was en route to my literature class.
“I know you did it!” Her screams rattled the air, making everyone nearby look at us.
“Good morning to you too.”
She continued pointing her index finger at me. “Don’t lie to me. Just admit it. You hacked into both of my email accounts and changed the passwords just so you could mess with me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about since I’ve been in the library preparing for my literature presentation. Don’t believe me? Ask the librarian because I didn’t even work at a computer since I was sitting down at one of the tables making note cards. Besides, do you think I would be that stupid to use my iPhone? They could trace the IP address. ”
She folded her arms together. “Yeah. I’m sure that’s the case…”
Cassandra shuffled over to me while Professor Cork disappeared in the opposite direction.
“Are you okay?” Cassandra asked.
The wind whistled in the background, smacking me in the face.
“No. I’m not. Ms. Cork just accused me of hacking into her email accounts and changing the passwords.”
A grin formed on her mouth. “That’s ridiculous. You’ve been in the library all morning.”
“I know right. I think she must have gone off her medication or something.”
I stood on Professor Cork’s front steps a few days later, and it wasn’t long before something beeped, causing me to check my new text message on my burner phone, which read: Safe to break in now.
I picked the lock, attempting to open the front door, and a clicking sound rolled through the air a moment later.
I tossed the things I pried the door open with into my backpack, making sure to zip it up before shuffling into the kitchen.
I opened my backpack again, pulling out the rack that held my vials of blood in place.
I emptied the vials in a manner of minutes, staining the kitchen floor red. Although I made sure to put the vials back on the rack and then in my backpack, as I couldn’t afford for them to break.
You see, Ms. Cork might have given me a B-, but I’ve been one step ahead of her the entire time.
It all started the second week of the semester when she made that comment about being sorry I couldn’t see the drama in one of the stories. That made me start stockpiling my blood in my dorm room refrigerator since I had a single room and didn’t have to worry about a roommate questioning why I was always taking blood from my arm.
The police would ultimately have no choice but to declare my disappearance a homicide after seeing all the blood in Professor Cork’s house because there was no way anyone could survive so much blood loss, which eliminated the need of a body at the crime scene.
But that wasn’t all.
I reached into my backpack, grabbing my brush before placing a hair down on a random spot on the kitchen floor because planting it provided DNA evidence of me at the crime scene.
I put my backpack down on the counter before getting out the Swiffer Mop and bleach spray.
I assembled the mop in seconds, and started mopping the floor with bleach because it put the finishing touch on the crime scene, as all the blood would have made things looked staged. But by doing a messy job of cleaning up, it made it seem more realistic.
The door creaked open, and I whipped around, realizing it was Cassandra.
“Go ahead and just put her down on the carpet because we want her to be near the crime scene when she wakes up,” I said.
She dragged Professor Cork by her shoulders a few paces before placing her down on the carpet.
It wasn’t enough to have all the right evidence. The only thing that would decimate Ms. Cork was not having an alibi, which is why Cassandra blindfolded and kidnapped her while I staged the crime scene. Returning Professor Cork to the crime scene would make her seem delusional since nobody would even bother believing that she was drugged with chloroform and kidnapped after there were multiple witnesses to her harassing me the other day.
I came to a red light the following morning while driving.
Something beeped. I grabbed my burner phone from my pocket and took full advantage of the opportunity to read my new text message, discovering Professor Cork had been arrested.
I tossed the burner phone in the backseat before plowing down the road after the light turned green.
Cassandra deserved to be thanked for hacking into Ms. Cork’s email accounts from a computer at the town library as opposed to using her own laptop or university log in because that allowed me to have the perfect alibi.
A fake passport and a credit card under a phony name made my escape a reality. As for Cassandra, she would join me on some Caribbean Island once the trial was over because I wasn’t stupid. People would get suspicious of two best friends disappearing within a short time frame.
It would also help to have someone around to support the lies from my diary I kept since the written word wasn’t going to sell it all by itself.
Go ahead. Revel in it! I know you want to.
But just because I had to do a bad thing, didn’t mean I enjoyed it. Professor Cork had to be taught a lesson since it was my only option. I guess somebody should have told her that professors learned from their students just like students did from their professors.
Maybe Ms. Cork would get out of prison in 30 years on good behavior if she were lucky. She could even write a novel based on her time in prison, not that anyone would read it.
My scheme was genius because I got revenge without physically harming her. And that was something most disgruntled people couldn’t say even if they might have concocted crazy revenge fantasies since the reality was most people didn’t have the guts to follow through on their demented desires.
But not me.
Death would’ve been too kind for her because sending her to prison for a crime she didn’t commit was my only option.
I cackled again, only this time it was louder. After all, it didn’t take a genius to realize orange wasn’t a flattering color on Professor Cork.
Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on the
online magazine Thought Catalog. He has also had 4 stories published
in online literary magazines, which include "Surface Tension" on Crab
Fat Literary Magazine, "A Little Accident" and "The House That Never
Was" on Quail Bell Magazine, and "The Wrong Murder" on Short-story.me.
Furthermore, Pidgeonholes Magazine will publish one of his stories in