By Lexi C.

Ava and Emily are hundreds of miles out on the ocean on a two-week cruise, their next stop is the Bahamas.

“Are you going to the party tonight?” Emily asked. “I’m going! Why wouldn’t I be going?” answered Ava. Emily held up a fancy red dress and said, “Do you think I should wear this to the party?” Ava stands up and walks over, “No, too fancy.” Emily looks around in her closet and pulls out a plain blue dress. Ava looks at it and says, “Sure, that’s ok to wear.” “What are you going to wear to the party?” asks Emily. “I don’t know. I’ll just look for something I like.” Ava looks around in her closet and pulls out a green dress with flowers on it. “What do you think of this? It doesn’t look too fancy, does it?” asks Ava to Emily. “I think it’s fine. It doesn’t look too fancy. Oh! look at the time! It’s almost 8:00! The party’s about to start! Quick, get dressed and let’s go!” replied Emily.

“Barely made it! Let’s go in.” Ava said. Inside the dining room, it was spectacular. There was a beautiful zig-zag carpet, windows all around, tables everywhere, and a dance floor with a band playing. Emily and Ava went from table to table, trying to find their names. They had been looking for a while when they found their tables. They got assigned to a table fit for three. At the table, there were the names Emily, Ava, and a person named George. “I hope that this George person is nice, I would hate to have to deal with someone rude tonight,” said Emily.

“Yeah, me too.” replied Ava. Later that night, George came to sit down at the table. He was pale, with blue eyes and sandy hair. Emily started talking to him right away. Emily seemed spellbound when George was talking to her. Ava was getting bored and asked Emily to come back to the room with her. Emily insisted she stay and dance with George a little longer, so Ava went back to the room by herself. Back at the room, Ava took a shower and went to bed.

The next morning Ava went to wake up Emily, only to find that she wasn’t there. Ava put on a pink shirt and jeans and looked for Emily. Emily wasn’t in the dining room, so she wandered around a little. She then overheard someone talking about a girl’s body that had fallen at the bottom of the stairs early that morning! Ava walks over and asks the people what they’re talking about, and they reply: “Well, someone fell down the stairs this morning and died. That’s all we know.” Ava asks them, “Where did this happen? What floor?” They reply: “Somewhere on the fourth floor. That’s all we know. If you want more info, go to the fourth floor.” “Thanks. Will do,” Ava says sadly as she waves goodbye. Ava takes the elevator to the fourth floor, and as soon as the elevator door opens, she sees the crime scene and runs forward. It shocks Ava to see Emily’s body lying there, motionless on the cold, hard ground.

Sadly, Ava asks the head of security, Bruce, what happened, and Bruce says: “Well, around 12:00, midnight, this poor girl fell down the stairs and died.” Ava gasps and grievously says, “My friend, Emily, is the person who died. She couldn’t have fallen down the stairs. Ever since her grandmother died from falling down the stairs, Emily’s always taken the elevator. There must be some mistake!” replied Ava. Bruce asks Ava, “Who was with the victim last, may I ask?” “Well, George was with Emily last night. George Sallow, I think was his last name,” replied Ava. “Thank you for telling me this ma’am, it can be hard losing a friend,” said Bruce. “What are you going to do now?” asked Ava “Well, I will call in my crew to look for this George Sallow,” said Bruce. Ava asked Bruce, “Can I help? Emily was my friend. I would do anything to find out who did this.”

“Sure,” replied Bruce, “Why not.”

Bruce decided that Ava and his team should go in groups of two or three. Bruce told Ava that she didn’t have to go in a group if she didn’t want to. Ava went with Bruce to check George’s room. Ten minutes later, they were standing in George’s bedroom. George wasn’t there. Next, they checked the boats to make sure that George didn’t escape. One boat was missing.

Bruce and Ava made their way to the bridge deck to check the radar to look for the missing boat. Bruce and Ava looked at the radar. There was nothing nearby. “The missing boat was a diversion! George is still on this boat! Ava, we can take it from here. You can go back to your room if you’d like,” said Bruce.

Ava was now determined to find George since he was the last person who saw Emily before she died. Ava decided not to go back to her room. After hours of searching, Ava found George in the cargo hold, tied up and gagged. Ava gasps and runs over to George, takes off his gag, and asks him what happened and who did this to him. “I was taking Emily back to her room when somebody hit me on the head from behind. Before I got hit, I saw a long shadow, probably a man, and then when I woke up, here I was,” said George.

“I don’t believe you,” Ava said, crossing her arms.

George sighs and tells Ava to untie him. After Ava unties George, he pulls out a police badge showing it to Ava and says: “I’m an undercover police officer, I work for the Florida Police Department. I’ve been investigating a case here. Someone has been stealing money from cruise ships and I’ve tracked the thief to this ship.”

“Okay. I believe you, but I think I should take you to see Bruce,” says Ava.

Ava and George find Bruce on the 4th floor by the crime scene. “Where have you been?” Bruce asks Ava.

“I found George, he was in the cargo hold,” replies Ava. “That’s great. Come with me, George. I need to make sure you’re not the murderer,” says Bruce as he pulls George into a room and shuts the door.

When George comes out of the room, Ava asks him what happened. “Bruce interrogated me. He decided that I was innocent and didn’t kill Emily.” says George. Bruce comes out of the room and tells George to go tell his wife, Rosalyn, that he’s okay and free to go.

“My wife isn’t on this ship,” says George.

“Yes, she is. She’s on the passenger list, she has a room on the same floor as Ava.” replies Bruce sternly.

George looked concerned. “I came on the ship alone, my wife is in Florida,” he said as he crossed his arms. Ava, George, and Bruce go to Rosalyn’s room to ask her where she was the night of the murder and why she is on the boat.

They arrived at Rosalyn’s room and knocked on the door. As soon as Rosalyn opens the door George angrily asks her, “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you tell me you were coming on the cruise?”

Rosalyn sighs and says, “I wanted to help with your investigation because you work all the time and I wanted to see what you do.”

Bruce steps forward and says, “Sorry, but we need to cut the chit chat here. Rosalyn, what were you doing last night around midnight?”

“I was sleeping in my room,” Rosalyn says nervously.

Bruce gets suspicious because she looks scared and won’t stop fidgeting. Bruce looks at her with a very serious expression and says “Are sure about that?” Bruce takes his phone out of his pocket and checks the security footage to watch George and Emily leave the party on the night of the murder.

One camera shows Rosalyn stalking Emily and George on their way back from the party. “Okay! I wasn’t sleeping,” Rosalyn confesses, “I was at the party and thought George was having an affair when I saw him dancing with another woman. I guess I got angry and wanted to get revenge. So I used paper to cover the lens of the camera near the stairs and then waited until they were alone. I picked up a nearby vase and smacked George on the head with it. Once I was sure that George was unconscious, then I pushed Emily down the stairs. I never intended to kill her, I just wanted to break a few bones.” “You are under arrest for the murder of Emily Lopez!” says Bruce angrily. Ava watches as Bruce puts handcuffs on Rosalyn and takes her away. Ava thinks Emily’s spirit can now be at peace.

The End

Lexi C. is a Level 2 student who loves her dog, climbing trees, building rockets, and creating art.

Publishing work by students at Alpha, a K-12 school in Austin, TX. Learn more at www.go-alpha.org.