It was early morning. Classes were about to start at the middle school. Near a courtyard, which was mostly always vacant, three sixth graders were picking on a fourth grader. As of right now, they were playing monkey in the middle with the little boy.
"Hey, come on you guys, give it back!" the fourth grader pleaded as the bigger boys were tossing a baseball cap between them. The sixth graders held the cap up high that the little boy could not reach it.
"Try and take it!" one of the sixth graders with a bandana teased as he tossed it to another one.
"Got it! Come on, let's see you jump for it, little man," the sixth grader wearing a leather jacket said. He shook the cap and pulled it away as soon as the fourth grader tried to grab it.
"Come on, it's my lucky hat!" the little boy said.
"Let's see how lucky. Dave, go long!" the leather-jacket boy said as he tossed the baseball cap. The one called Dave tried to grab it but it flew over his head. The baseball cap landed in some bushes near the edge of the courtyard.
"I'll get it!" Dave called back as he ran to the bushes.
"Why do you guys always pick on me?" the fourth grader asked. The two sixth graders just stared down at him.
"Because if you don't want to be picked on, you have to learn how to be tough like us," the bandana-wearing boy said.
Just as the words left his mouth, they all heard Dave scream in shock from across the yard. This only raised the fourth-grader's eyebrow.
"Tough, huh?" the little boy said with a smirk. The two sixth graders scoffed at him and approached their friend. The little boy followed.
"What's the matter, Dave? You see a dead body or something?" the leather-jacket boy asked sarcastically. Dave, however, had a face that looked pale.
"As a matter of fact, I have!" Dave said as he pointed at the bushes. All of them, in unison, looked under the bushes and they saw a dead Alaskan Malamute with several holes in his body and semi-dry blood.
"Oh my God!" the leather-jacket boy said.
"It's Bandit, our school mascot!" the fourth-grader said, forgetting about his baseball cap.
"Someone get Principal Pangborn!" the bandana-wearing boy said in a stutter.
A few minutes later, a bunch of the school faculty and students were in and around the courtyard, some were taking pictures of the dead dog while others were having conversations. One of them was Tommy Pickles talking to the sixth-grader wearing the leather jacket.
"We were just messing with the kid, nothing serious, monkey in the middle, that's all," the sixth grader told Tommy worriedly.
"I'll forget about the jokes if you tell me how you found the body," Tommy replied.
"Oh, I tossed the baseball cap to my friend, he missed it, and it went in the bushes. That's how we found Bandit."
"Did you see anyone else here or anyone leaving as you came here?" Tommy asked.
"Uh, no, it's was just us. I saw no one else, I swear!"
"I believe you, your story matches up with the others I talked to. Thanks, you've been helpful."
"So I can go now?"
"Yeah, get to class, and no more bullying, got it?" Tommy said sternly.
"Yeah, yeah, no problem," the sixth grader said as he turned heel and left.
Tommy let out a sigh. He turned and headed to the dead dog where his best friend, Chuckie Finster, was standing over. Tommy approached Chuckie and squatted next to him.
"So, what do you got?" Tommy asked.
"I say he died sometime recently," Chuckie replied as he pointed to spots on the body. "The body's still a bit warm and the blood near the wounds are still wet. The only dried-up blood is on the ground."
"Weapon?" Tommy asked.
"I say a blade of some sort, something that's serrated and long," Chuckie replied. The two friends stood up and began to walk away. "Also, look at the ground."
"Yeah?" Tommy asked.
"Drag-marks. Someone dragged Bandit over here. Again, they're fresh, Tommy. The footprints are small, size six I'm guessing."
"Could be a student who did this?" Tommy asked.
"That really narrows our options," Chuckie replied sarcastically. Tommy shook his head in disgust.
"He was a sweet dog, why would anybody want to hurt Bandit our school mascot?" Tommy asked concerned.
"Maybe whoever killed him gave him fleas," Chuckie replied as they walked away.