Check out our episode here! Win Lose Kill Die by Cynthia Murphy
Oops. I didn’t mean to kill the first one but her head was already under the water and I changed my mind when I plunged my hands in to help her out.
It’s the start of a new term at Morton Academy, an exclusive boarding school where entry is based on intelligence and not how fat your parents' bank account is. Liz Williams has spent the summer in and out of hospital appointments after a sailing accident the last day of term left her with a head injury and a scar. Though it didn’t kill Liz, the accident did kill Morgan, the girl who was to be head girl this year, and the term starts with her memorial.
Morton is home to Liz, and her friends are her found family. There is Taylor who is perfect, Marcus who is Taylor’s devoted boyfriend and outgoing Kat who will arrive back later that night after the swearing in ceremony where fellow student Jameela will be made the new head girl, and Taylor her deputy. Speaking of Jameela, while in her Classics class, Liz is among a string of students who help pass a note to Jameela. A note which makes her scream and flee the room.
As they make their way through the woods that evening, Liz recounts the drama in Classics to Taylor and they decide it was probably another one of Jameela’s nudes making the rounds. Finally they reach their destination through the trees, an ornate entrance that looks like something out of Sleeping Beauty all covered in brambles, however this disguises the ceremonial site for the Society of Jewel and Bone, a secret society in the school made up of the head and deputy boys and girls and the prefects. Together Liz and Taylor don their hooded robes and go down to Old Josef’s crypt.
Old Josef is apparently a saint whose body is encrusted with jewels who lies in state in a glass coffin. The school’s founder brought him here when he needed something new and eccentric for his cabinet of curiosities. The acolytes of the Jewel and Bone form a circle while their leader, headmistress, Dr. Patel, performs the swearing in ceremony for Jameela and Taylor who will be the new head girl and deputy. Once the formalities are completed, Dr. Patel asks if they have any business to discuss and Jameela shows them the note she received. It’s a picture of Morgan with the message “Morgan’s death was not an accident. I killed her. And you’re next.”
The look on their faces was so much better than I hoped. I didn’t intend to do anything bad, just scare her. Yeah right, who am I kidding, of course I’m going to do something bad. Jameela, you’re now my second target.
There is a pajama party in the senior girls' roof garden and Taylor is dressed to impress, but it's a shame she has a small scratch on her cheek from the nail sticking out of her blush brush. Stupid cheap crap. Liz is wearing her “do not disturb” hoodie and Kat has arrived, looking great even though she’s been traveling all day. They head up together where the alcohol is flowing. While Taylor and Kat socialize, Liz remains a bit of a wallflower until the boys make an illicit appearance by climbing over the roof from their side. Marcus has brought a Morton newbie, Cole, who makes Liz drool and they adorably flirt. The night is great until Jameela has an asthma attack brought on by the illicit cigarettes she’s been smoking. There is a rush to get her inhaler and though everything seems to calm down after, a scream rents the air and Jameela is found dead on the floor, clutching her throat.
Well, that was unexpected. It wasn’t difficult to take a stroll into Jameela’s room to get her inhaler, but I just didn’t expect it to be needed at the party. Oh well. I guess smoking really can kill.
The police arrive and Dr. Patel deals with them, which apparently includes paying them off, which all three girls saw. Morton returns to its routine but Jameela’s death is still quietly talked about. Quietly, that is, until Frank, the deputy head boy, makes a scene at breakfast with Jameela’s friend Emily and nearly mentions Jewel and Bone until Dr. Patel shuts him up. You do not talk about Jewel and Bone, it’s the secret part of secret society. That night, as well as acknowledging Jameela’s death and the continued plans for the open evening, Taylor is announced as the new head girl with Emily stepping up as deputy.
The rest of the week passes without incident, thank goodness, though Frank is subdued since the breakfast incident. On Friday night the seniors head out into the woods for an illicit party. Though Liz wasn’t going to go at first, Cole’s presence is an incentive and she lets Taylor and Kat give her a little pick-me-up makeover and she looks H.O.T.
At first the group sits around the campfire talking about serial killers until Liz and Cole are left alone to shamelessly flirt. Suddenly, Frank is telling everyone to get back inside because Dr. Patel is on the warpath. How did he get the message since everyone’s mobile phones are locked away in Dr. Patel’s office? Well, it's tradition for the juniors to play lookout for the seniors and they've got old secret Nokia burner phones! They've got the game snake on, which is really good, but you can only make calls and texts on them. On the way back to Morton it’s pitch black and Liz and Cole are separated for a few minutes until Liz finds Cole, a bloody rock in his hand and a dead Frank at his feet. Jameela’s inhaler is in his hand.
Oops, I did it again! But it was his fault! Said he knew I’d poisoned the inhaler. He should have left it all alone but now he’s paid for it.
There are moments of chaos as Liz tries to work out what has happened, but Cole is stunned. Kat happens upon them and tries to start CPR, but Dr. Patel and the groundskeeper stop her. It’s too late. As Dr. Patel ushers Cole, Kat and Liz to her office, Liz grabs the inhaler and slips it up her sleeve. In her office, Liz shows them the inhaler and they conclude that Frank figured out that Morgan and Jameela were murdered and he was killed for it. They just need to figure it out too.
The next day, Liz takes Cole on his official tour of Morton Academy, including the library which is Belle’s wet dream. Liz shows Cole the curiosities collected by Morton’s founder including a Bernini sculpture of an Angel, Liz’s favorite piece. As Liz is describing the other curiosities, she mentions Old Josef and almost lets slip about Jewel and Bone. Thankfully the rest of the tour goes smoothly.
In the afternoon, Liz and Cole meet up with Taylor, Kat and Marcus for lunch. They’re all surprised that no one is talking about Frank. Emily interrupts their discussion and says that Dr. Patel is covering up the murders and challenges them to prove the inhaler isn’t poisoned, they are scientists after all. To the lab! They run a test on some of the inhaler gas and find a substance that shouldn’t be there. Frank and Emily are right and the killer must be someone at Morton.
I thought Morton was filled with intelligent people. I searched the room and found the inhaler in a bag under the bed. UNDER THE BED. Bloody Scooby gang.
Monday morning Taylor is up early with a pile of prep work and head girl duties and Kat has already been for a run and is smothering herself in Tiger Balm. Liz takes her time getting ready and meets Cole at breakfast. After, she shows him the old servant stairwells and how they are good for something other than getting around Morton quickly and unseen (kissing, we’re saying they are a make out spot). When the five minute bell rings, Liz and Cole head to class but Emily, who looks awful, stops Liz with an expectant “Well?” Liz is able to put her off until after Jewel and Bone that night.
That afternoon Liz heads back to her dorm with a pounding headache. Taylor is there, which is unusual as they shouldn’t be in their dorms during the day, but the scratch on her face has gotten worse and she’s there applying concealer. This gives Liz the opportunity to ask her something that’s been bugging her… how did Taylor know about Frank? Taylor tells her that Marcus told her what had happened on the burner phones. This though, leads to another question… how did Marcus find out?
Time for prep! But first, cake in the common room. Liz is lamenting the lack of mugs for her Earl Grey before hitting the library with Cole. Liz has an assignment on urban myths to research. Because Librarians are magical, Ms. Somerville is able to provide the requested material and some extra pamphlets that may be of interest, and one stands out. It talks about a local cult from the 1990s, the Transcendental Faithful, led by Bradley Harrison. He made his followers kill for him and the murders seem to follow the same pattern as those currently happening at Morton.
That night is the meeting of the Jewel and Bone where Taylor is formally initiated as head girl and Emily as deputy. There is also the induction of a new acolyte and deputy head boy, Cole. Phew! No more lying! After, as the group are sitting around on the balcony, Kat tells them about something strange she saw: Emily went to visit Creepy Billy the groundskeeper and bought something, but Kat couldn’t see what it was as it was in a brown paper packet. Curious.
The next day Liz is running late to class when Emily confronts her. She wants to know why Liz and the others are avoiding her. Liz explains they aren’t (they are), they’re just really busy (which is true). Emily is disgusted, they’re too busy to help her find her friend's murderer. Liz tells the others later in the common room, and she feels better when Cole gives her his mug with a C on it for her tea. He’s so friggin’ sweet! After, they head to the library to start digging into the Transcendental Faithful cult but can’t find anything. Ms. Somerville tells them some of the records were removed with the new administration, but that Mr. Loomis, aka Creepy Billy, has created a clandestine archive and to check with him. Great.
Why would Dr. Patel have records removed? Liz decides there is only one thing for it… to ask Creepy Billy. Cole volunteers to go with her. Creepy Billy isn’t creepy at all, he’s just a lonely old man who likes to look after his garden and grow unusual, and sometimes extremely poisonous, plants. He lets Liz and Cole look through the stacks of records he has “archived” in his spare room. As well as getting completely filthy, they find a folder with old newspaper clippings from the 1990s about the cult. Pocketing it, they leave.
Back inside the school, Liz has a shower to wash the dirt off. As she’s finishing up, she can hear someone entering the bathroom but no one's there. There is, however, a message on the mirror, DEAD GIRLS CAN’T WIN. Dressing quickly, Liz runs to Cole and Kat. Kat goes to investigate but can’t find the message. When Taylor and Marcus arrive, they look through the folder together and find a photo of Nikhita Patel, head girl of Morton Academy with Bradley Harrison dated September 1999. There is another clipping of the investigation of former head boy Bradley Harrison linked to cult-related activities and another of his conviction which says he is due for release in 2019. The primary witness for the prosecution was Rikesh Patel, former Morton Academy student and Dr. Nikhita Patel’s brother. They need to find out if their headmistress was part of the cult.
In a not so stealthy evening stake-out, Liz, Marcus, Taylor and Kat are hiding behind a bush outside Mr. Loomis’ garden. They are watching the groundskeeper tending his garden when Dr. Patel comes by. They overhear them talking and find out that the package Mr. Loomis gives away is tea to help her sleep. Before they leave, they see Dr. Patel walk off and speak to someone in the woods, it’s her brother. It’s decided that they need to look around Dr. Patel’s office and the best time to do it is during the open evening on Thursday. It’s a slightly convoluted plan based on distraction and timing but they need answers.
It’s opening evening and Liz is giving a tour to a family whose child will be following the Classics path as she is. Giving the family room to chat with one of the teachers, she gets terrible stomach cramps and it’s not the first time. To distract herself, Liz starts looking around and notices a ladder still out from hanging the evening's decorations, and she quickly she puts it away to keep everything tidy. She ushers the family out of the room, both because the time is drawing close for the search of Dr. Patel’s office and because Liz can hear Emily approaching. Emily is not looking well at all and spots some of the decorations are cracked. As Emily is a perfectionist, she orders Liz to climb a ladder and sort it out, but, sorry Emily, Liz is in the middle of a tour. With a huff, Emily takes it upon herself. As Liz is in the hallway, a scream rips through the air followed by a sickening thunderclap. Emily has fallen to her squishy death.
Stupid, predictable girl. The grease I put on the ladder rungs worked a treat.
In the chaos, Liz and Kat end up in Dr. Patel’s office and use this as the opportunity they need to carry out their search. They find student files, school policies and procedures, then eventually they find a picture from 1996 of Dr. Patel at a wedding and a more recent letter from her brother. Inside the letter is a picture of the Bernini sculpture in the library. As Dr. Patel comes into her office, Kat pretends to be consoling Liz and Liz grabs the Bernini picture, sure Dr. Patel has seen her do it. Dr. Patel tells them the school is on lockdown and to head to the head girl’s room which Taylor has moved into.
At first, Taylor refuses to open the door to Liz and Kat. When they eventually persuade her, they find the scratch on her cheek is open and filled with green pus and blackened at the edges, like the flesh is rotting off her face. Liz even thinks she can see bone. They help her clean and dress the wound, try and persuade her to see the school nurse, but Taylor refuses. She doesn’t like needles. The next morning, Taylor still feels awful, and Liz and Kat tell her to stay in bed and miss assembly. They'll even lock the door and post the key under so she can have privacy.
During assembly, Dr. Patel explains that the lockdown is in place as they believe Emily’s death wasn’t accidental. Afterwards, Marcus asks where Taylor is and Kat explains they left her in bed to rest and the reason why. Marcus, who wants to be a doctor, is very concerned and they race up and kick the bedroom door down. They find Taylor unconscious, nearly dead in her own vomit. Marcus starts CPR and Kat calls for help. Taylor is taken to the hospital.
In the common room, Cole is plying Liz with sweet tea as she’s in shock, then he falls asleep, his head in her lap. Kat comes in, updates them on Taylor who has regained consciousness but is still in a bad way. Kat is scared, convinced the cult is out to kill them all. She tells Liz that the extra ingredient from Jameela’s inhaler is a key and very toxic ingredient in Tiger Balm. It couldn’t be accidental. Kat insists that she and Liz stick together at all times now. This includes going to the gym the next day. Yay? Uggggh.
Tonight, this ends.
Saturday morning the torture begins on the weights. Kat has an impressive personal best, but Liz can barely bench press the bar. Quitting early, Liz heads into the showers.
I wish I could plan this more carefully. Oh well. She can’t hear me with her music thumping so loudly through her headphones. I grab a dumbbell, approach slowly and as she lifts the weight bar I raise the dumbbell over her head. She’s shocked. “It’s you,” she croaks. It’s me.
Cole is shouting Liz’s name as she emerges from the shower. Kat’s dead! They need to find someone to help but not Dr. Patel because he saw her coming out of the woods with a man he thinks is her brother. Liz tells Cole they must confront Dr. Patel. Waiting in the make out storeroom for the headmistress, Liz tells Cole she will follow Dr. Patel, but he needs to hang back and follow her brother if he is in her office. Before they separate, they tell each other that they are falling in love.
Liz follows Dr. Patel to the library where she finds her smashing the curiosity cabinets with a screwdriver. She is unsurprised to see Liz has followed her. Dr. Patel tells Liz she knows everyone’s school file, how Taylor’s father is in prison, how Marcus has a two-year old, and how Liz had an awful, neglected upbringing. Dr. Patel’s damage comes from her brother who joined a cult and she was tarnished by association, putting an end to her dreams. Her brother is here now wanting the usual thing: money. Then Dr. Patel smashes the cabinet with the Bernini in, puts the screwdriver down and picks up the statue. The sale of the statue will finally give her the life she deserves but she needs to dispose of the next head girl. Liz’s head snaps up at that. She was next to be head girl? Dr. Patel’s smile fades from her face though as she sees Liz holding the screwdriver.
Liz has always had problems with right and wrong and if Dr. Patel had bothered to read her file, she would have known her last school was rather concerned. The accident on the lake causes blackouts, funny turns and potential seizures. It also exacerbated her unstable mental condition. While Dr. Patel thought Harrison had come back to murder the students, it was really Liz. Dr. Patel charges at Liz and Liz sticks the screwdriver in her, giving a twist for good measure. Cole and Creepy Billy find them on the floor in the library covered in blood, Liz stunned that Dr. Patel would try to kill her.
The shining black head girl badge looks perfect on my lapel. I like to admire my trophies: Morgan’s photo, Jameela’s inhaler, the little tub of Tiger Balm, Taylor’s blusher brush, a pot of salve with rancid meat in it, a packet of caffeine tablets for Emily, eye drops I put in my own tea, Kat’s gym gloves. I have a new one now, a photo of Cole and I walking out of Morton hailed as heroes. Replacing the items, I leave the head girl's room to find Cole. I tell him I want a fresh start, to leave Liz behind and become Beth. Together we can daydream of Yale. We’re head girl and head boy now, we can have everything. And what Cole doesn’t know won’t hurt him...