Vulture Among Eagles, Part Three


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons is consensual and approved by everyone involved. Enloe Eagle’s Eye discourages the use of the content of this fictional work as a means to ridicule, harass, or demean any staff members. 

This is the third installment of Vulture Among Eagles. Be sure to read parts one and two first in order to avoid spoilers. When we last left off, our suspects had just completed a thorough search of each other’s classrooms and discovered a plethora of clues…

It was 2:45 at Enloe High School and seven teachers assembled in the atrium with questions on their minds and fear in their blood. Shuford and Wilson arrived first, the latter clutching a bottle of Advil. They watched as Price and Miller arrived, seemingly empty-handed except for a small book Price held. Lyerly and Brown came down the atrium stairs, smiling to themselves as Martin called after them from around the corner. After a moment, he appeared, red-faced and out of breath from carrying the speaker, and struggled down the stairs after his companions. 

“Is that all of us?” Lyerly asked.

Wilson nodded. “Looks like it. It seems that most of us have had productive searches, does anyone want to present their evidence first?”

Price looked around. “Miller and I can go first since we didn’t find much. Lyerly’s room was clean.”

Lyerly glanced between the two, brow furrowed. 

Miller held his gaze. “Is something wrong?”

Lyerly let out a breath, cleared his throat, and shook his head. “Of course my room is clean. I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s fine, I’m glad you agree that I didn’t do anything.”

“In Wilson’s room,” Price continued, “We found a large collection of murder mystery novels. He’s written notes in all of the margins, and a lot of them are suggestions for what the murderer could have said or done to avoid suspicion.” She paused and showed the group the pages of the book she had brought with her. Then, she turned to Wilson. “Do you still have the book you borrowed from the library?”

“Yeah, here it is,” he said, holding it out to her. 

Price took it and flipped both books to display the covers side-by-side. They were the same. 

“I don’t see how that’s incriminating,” Mr. Wilson said, eyes narrowed. “I wrote too much in my own copy and now it’s difficult to read. I went to the library to see if they had their own version so I could read it again. Does reading make me a murderer, Ms. Price?”

“No, but that’s not the only thing we found in your room. On your board, you had a reminder about Ms. Sawyer. Do you remember what it said?” Price countered.

Wilson sighed. “I wrote that about something completely different. I know how it looks but trust me–”

Brown cut him off. “If it’s not too much trouble, I’m more interested in the actual note than your excuse right now. What did it say, Wilson?”

Wilson opened his mouth as if to argue and then exhaled, resigned. “It said ‘Deal with Sawyer’ but I didn’t mean it like that,” he affirmed.

Shuford huffed indignantly. “What else could that possibly mean?”

Wilson looked down. “I wanted to make a deal with Sawyer. I’ve been trying to get more pianos for my room to accommodate a larger class, but admin keeps denying my request. I was going to talk to her after school today to see if there was anything I could do to have her put in a good word for me. I just want what’s best for my students once they come back to school in person. That’s all .”

Price nodded, lips pressed together. “Alright, that’s enough. We still have more evidence to get through so we can leave it at that for now. We didn’t find much in Brown’s room but Miller, do you want to tell them about the medal?”

Miller straightened. “Medal? What medal? I didn’t find anything anywhere, I promise. I’m not the murderer.”

Price blinked. “The medal case in Brown’s room. Remember that?”

“Oh, yeah, the medal’s missing.” Miller relaxed slightly and nodded to Martin, who had been staring at him intently. “Brown had a case on the wall to hold his Olympic medal and we found it empty with the door slightly open.”

Brown let out a loud gasp. “Why would anyone steal my medal? When I find out who did this they’re going to pay. I can’t believe this, I’m heartbroken. What am I supposed to do now? Go back to the Olympics?” He threw his hands up in the air and looked around.

“I’m sure it will turn up,” Lyerly said, patting Brown on the shoulder. 

Martin nodded, eyes still on Miller. “I’m sure it will.”

“Did you find anything else, Price?” Shuford asked. Price and Miller both shook their heads.

Wilson grabbed a table that had been pushed against one of the atrium’s walls. “We should put all of the presented evidence here, that way everything is out in the open for everyone to see.”

Price dropped the two books on the table, Miller set down the deck of cards and whistle that were found at the scene of Ms. Sawyer’s death, and Lyerly pulled out the matching gloves and hat. 

“Who wants to go next?” Miller asked.

Shuford said, “Wilson and I can go. We figured out the weird smell from Ogren’s room. It was coming from those weird boxes in the corner. They were filled with big cow hearts. Martin, we were wondering if you might know anything about that.”

Martin rocked back on his heels. “I believe he had those delivered to distribute to some different science teachers for a dissection lab later this month. He mentioned in a meeting one time that he knew a guy that sold discount organs that college labs didn’t have a need for. It sounded pretty sketchy when he mentioned it. Neither of you touched them, right?”

Wilson paled and glanced at Shuford, who shrugged and said, “No, of course we didn’t touch them, don’t be ridiculous. We did have another question for you, though. Why did you tell us you ran out of Advil?” Shuford pulled the bottle out of Wilson’s hands and set it firmly down on the table and turned to the rest of the group. “He had at least three cabinets full of sealed Advil bottles. I think we all remember that Martin was the last person to see Sawyer alive and she was asking about advice, of all things. Got anything to say for yourself?”

Martin glanced at Miller and folded his arms. “Advil … is for Ci-Physics.”

“Phy-Civics,” Miller muttered.

“…Ci-Physics. We needed it for that.”

Miller nodded emphatically. “Advil is an important part of Phy-Civics.”


Lyerly rolled his eyes. “Stop saying Phy-civi-sics or whatever it is. What does Advil have to do with either of those subjects?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” Martin said. “Did you find anything else?”

Wilson nodded. “We found an email from Ogren’s computer. It was sent after he died and it was asking Sawyer to meet him in the atrium. We think the murderer sent it to lure Sawyer here to…”

“To kill her,” Shuford finished for him. “It was sent at 1:22.”

“Right,” Wilson said. “So now we know Sawyer died between then and 2:04. That’s all the evidence we found.”

Brown set the vials he found down on the table next to the gloves. “We found these chemicals in Miller’s room. I haven’t let Martin inspect all of them yet, but he confirms that they belong to him.”

Martin nodded. “I know one of them is ammonia, but I haven’t looked at any of the other ones. Why did you take them, Miller?”

Miller picked up a vial , brow furrowed. “I must have accidentally pocketed a handful while I was helping you clean up.” He handed the vial to Martin. “What’s this one?”

Martin looked at the label. “This one is potassium cyanide dissolved in water. I believe it’s used to clean jewelry, but it’s very dangerous, so I don’t recommend drinking it or anything.” He picked up another vial. “This one’s just vinegar. I don’t think Miller took these out of malicious intent, but even if he did, clearly he wouldn’t know how to use any of them.” He set the vials down.

Shuford picked up the speaker Martin had brought down. “I’m assuming you found this in my room?”

Brown nodded. “Got an explanation for us?”

“I went down to Wilson’s room to borrow the speaker during lunch but he wasn’t there. His door was unlocked so I went in and grabbed it. I was using it to test the sound on my lectures,” Shuford explained.

Wilson frowned. “I thought you went off campus for lunch.”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“If I remember correctly, you said you got back around 12:35,” Wilson said. “I left my room at 12:30 and got back two minutes later.”

Shuford shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you, Wilson. All I know is that I got there when you weren’t. Sorry I didn’t let you know earlier, there just wasn’t a good time what with all the murder going on.”

Lyerly cleared his throat. “I believe that leaves one last clue.” He pulled Sawyer’s phone out of his pocket and set it on the table. “Price left this in her trash can. Care to explain?”

Price picked the phone up, eyes wide. “In my trash can? How? I didn’t–”

Wilson interrupted, “I’d choose my next words very carefully if I were you, Price. We know how much you’re into sleight of hand, we know you talked to Sawyer during lunch, and we know her phone went missing before 1:00. Now that it’s been found in your room, we need the full truth.”

She set the phone back on the table, picked up the card deck, and began shuffling it absent-mindedly. She took a deep breath and shut her eyes. “I stole the phone. It’s true. But I didn’t kill Sawyer, you have to believe me. She left some bad comments on one of the stories from my newspaper class. I love those kids and don’t want them to have their hard work go down the drain, so I sent her an email. I may not have proof-read it until after I hit send and I may have included the phrase ‘brain-melting killjoy’, but as soon as I realized what I had done, I knew I had to get rid of the email before she read it. I went down to see her during lunch to make sure she hadn’t read it and during that time, I took her phone. On the way back to my room, I deleted the email and tossed the phone into the men’s bathroom on the 2700s hall. I don’t know how it got into my room, I promise. If I was the murderer, I would have to be pretty stupid to keep the phone with me.”

Brown narrowed his eyes. “Or pretty smart.”

Martin picked up the phone and pushed the power button a few times. He shook it quickly and tried the button again. “Why won’t it turn on?”

Price tilted her head and looked at him. “It was low on battery when I had it, it probably ran out after the murderer texted us.”

Martin met her gaze. “Did you see anything else on it?”

She nodded and opened her mouth to respond, but was interrupted by Wilson shouting, “What is that?!” and pointing to the 2700s hallway. There was smoke pouring out and filling the upper atrium.

Lyerly gasped. “It’s a fire, it must be coming from the candle in Miller’s room! We need to go put it out.”

Miller, panicking, ran and pulled the fire alarm. “We have to go outside where it’s safe!”

“Why would you do that?!” Shuford shrieked. “We’re not going outside! Someone could hear the alarm and call the fire department and then we’d all be in trouble!” 

Miller frantically tried to move the lever back into its original position, but to no avail. The alarm continued blaring.

“Stop it, Shuford’s right,” Price said. “Martin and I will go turn the alarm off. You all go put the fire out and open some windows to get rid of the smoke. We’ll meet back here once that’s done.”

Price and Martin ran out of the atrium while Brown and Shuford started towards the 2700s hall, leaving Wilson, Miller, and Lyerly. 

“I guess we should go with them,” Wilson yelled over the alarm, gesturing towards Shuford, who was rounding the corner at the top of the stairs. 

Miller nodded and the three set off towards their peers.


Martin and Price arrived in the main office, out of breath and on edge. They opened a panel on the wall to find a series of switches, wires, and blinking lights.

“I don’t suppose you know much about this sort of thing?” Price asked, squinting at the electricity panel. 

Martin shook his head. “Well, I assume all of these switches turn something different on, so if we just flip all of them off, we’ll eventually find the one that turns off the alarm.”

They got to work flipping switches and, eventually, the fire alarm stopped. Price laughed and moved to close the panel, but Martin caught the door before it shut. She glanced at him, confused, as he continued flipping the switches, eyes glued to the panel.

“Martin, what are you doing?”

He waved dismissively and finished his job, then stepped back and swung the door shut as the lights overhead flickered out. “You said you saw something else in Ms. Sawyer’s email. What was it?”

Price narrowed her eyes. “In her drafts folder, a message to Dr. Chavis about–”

“About nothing. Did you happen to delete it?” Martin interrupted quickly.

“I only deleted the email I sent her, nothing else,” Price said, watching Martin closely. “You know, some of the stuff in the draft was pretty serious. It’s awfully convenient that someone murdered Sawyer, given that if the message had been sent, you definitely would’ve lost your job.” Martin’s eyes widened as she continued, “Sounds like you got pretty lucky, Martin. Did you do it yourself or did you get Miller to do the dirty work for you?”

Martin stumbled back. “You can’t seriously think I’m responsible for this. I know the situation was bad, but I would never stoop so low. You have to believe me, I would rather lose my job than murder someone over something so small.”

Price glanced up at the lights. “I don’t know if I believe you. I could bring this information to the group and let them mull it over, or…”

“I’ll do anything. Please, don’t tell them. I could grade your students’ tests for the rest of the year. And their homework on top of that,” Martin pleaded frantically.

Price chuckled. “I have an idea. Do you remember the missing gold medal?” 

Martin nodded.

“I want you to get it for me. It’s bound to be worth almost as much as this little secret of yours. Give it to me and my lips are sealed,” Price said.

Martin smiled. “Perfect.”


Brown and Shuford ran around the corner to the 2700s hall, slamming the big metal doors behind them to keep the fire at bay. Brown grabbed an extinguisher from a case in the wall and gestured for Shuford to follow him. The fire hadn’t spread far, and they were able to quickly put it out. The abundance of smoke had come from what had once been a stack of papers and books on Miller’s desk. The candle at the center of the disaster seemed relatively unscathed and a single flame flickered innocently on its wick. Shuford blew it out and coughed into his sleeve.

“Why’d you guys leave the candle burning when you were searching in here?” Shuford asked Brown weakly. The fire alarm died down.

“It was Lyerly’s idea. The hallway still smelled like Ogren’s cow hearts,” Brown explained, opening the windows in Miller’s room.

Shuford rolled his eyes. “I’d say it smells a bit worse now.” He began rifling through the surviving books and papers on the desk.

“Yeah, that was a dumb mistake to make. Next time I’m caught in the middle of a horror movie I’ll try harder not to accidentally start a fire,” Brown said.

Shuford began to laugh, then stopped suddenly. He picked up a half-burned paper from the desk and inspected it as the lights went out. “What if the fire was on purpose?” He held out the paper for Brown to read. The fire had damaged a large portion of the typed message, but enough remained to be read.


I am emailing you with the intent to make our school a safer pla—–ave evidence of M——in owning and distributing illegal amounts————erty to other teachers. Based o—–ehavior,————–suffers from an addic—- to said Adbut —–enefits from selling it. If proper precautions are not taken, I am afraid h———-ecome a serious hazard——- as ——clearly has become a hazard to —-eachers with w—-he alread—–vil.

With much concern,



Wilson pulled open the door to the 2700s hallway. Shuford and Brown were already in Miller’s room putting out the fire. “Let’s open the windows in the rest of the classrooms,” Wilson suggested, and went into a classroom on the left side of the hall. 

Lyerly nodded to Miller and walked into Price’s room. Unsure of where to go, Miller hovered in the doorway watching Lyerly. “Have you ever been in a fire before?” he asked hesitantly.

Lyerly glanced back. “What are you talking about?”

Miller cleared his throat. “Well, there’s a fire and I was just wondering if you’d been in this situation before, that’s all.”

“I know there’s a fire. This window is stuck, come help me.”

They pushed the window open together and each moved on to their own window. Miller glanced at Lyerly and cleared his throat again. “I, uh… I found something in your room that you may not want the rest of us to know about.”

Lyerly froze. “What did you find.”
Miller pulled the gold medal out of his pocket. Lyerly reached for it, but Miller pulled it away. “This is very valuable, I’m sure Brown would be upset to know you stole it. In fact, I think Brown’s just across the hall right now.”

Lyerly looked at him, wide-eyed. “Don’t. Please, what do you want? I’ll do anything.”

“I already have what I want,” Miller said, watching the medal catch the light. The fire alarm turned off. He put the medal back in his pocket. “But I do need you to promise me something.”

“What is it?” Lyerly asked impatiently.

Wilson finished opening the windows in his room and walked back into the hall just as the lights flickered out. He was about to meet up with Miller and Lyerly but stopped short when he heard them talking to each other quietly. He just barely caught the end of their conversation.

“I need you to promise me that you’ll stay out of my business with Martin. I know you all were listening to our conversation earlier. Keep your nose to yourself or you’ll regret it.” Miller said coldly.

“Of course,” Lyerly said quietly. 


“What do we do now?” Martin asked once they had all met back up in the atrium. “The fire’s out, we’re all still alive, what’s next?”

Shuford put a partially burned paper on the table of evidence. “Miller, does this look familiar to you? We think it was the reason for the fire. Someone tried to burn it to cover something up.”

Miller picked up the paper and looked at it. “This isn’t mine, what is it?”

Wilson grabbed the paper and held it up. “It’s a screenshot of an email, but I can’t tell who sent it and to whom.”

Lyerly, who had been looking over his shoulder, pointed to the last line. “I think it’s from Sawyer, the letters match up. This could be a big motive.”

Wilson nodded and handed the paper to Martin, who glanced at it and put it back on the table. “It might still be on the phone,” Wilson said, picking Sawyer’s phone up.

Martin coughed and Price took the phone from Wilson’s hands. “It’s out of battery, remember? Martin and I had to turn the power all the way off to get the alarm to stop.”

“We couldn’t figure out how to turn it back on afterwards,” Martin finished. “It’s really too bad, but I guess we’ll never know.”

Shuford rocked back on his heels. “Maybe if we had something to eat, we’d be able to think more clearly. Or at least if we got some water, that smoke was rough.”

“We have some water bottles in one of the closets on my hallway,” Wilson offered. The group made their way to the West Gym lobby, Martin and Shuford lagging behind. Wilson unlocked the closet and pulled out a pack of water bottles and a box of chip bags. The teachers each grabbed a snack and broke off into small groups to chat. Miller made a face after trying a couple of his chips and then handed his bag to Martin. Brown, Lyerly, and Wilson were discussing theories on how each person could possibly be the murderer, and Shuford and Price sat back and talked about their weekend plans.

“How could I have killed Sawyer?” Brown yelled. “I wasn’t even in the West building when she died!”

“So you admit you were in the East building when Ogren died?” Wilson said, eyes narrowed. 

“That’s like the first thing I mentioned when we talked about our alibis. If I killed Ogren, I wouldn’t have told you I was there,” Brown said, exasperated.

Martin shoved his hands in his pockets. “I don’t think the chips taste that bad, Miller, you’re just paranoid that you’re being poisoned or something.”

Shuford, who had been eavesdropping, barked out a laugh, but then began coughing. His face turned a deep shade of purple and he collapsed onto Ms. Price’s shoulder. She leapt back, letting him fall on the floor. 

The rest of the teachers crowded around him as Martin inspected his face and wrists. “He’s gone. What was he eating?” he said, panicked.

Price picked up the water bottle Shuford had dropped. “He didn’t take any chips, just this.”

Martin smelled the bottle, recoiled, and put the cap back on. “Potassium cyanide. It has to be. Do you know if anyone messed with his water before he drank it?” Price shrugged, hopeless and shocked. 

Wilson helped Martin up. “I can’t believe the murderer struck right in front of all of us. They’re getting bold. We have to figure this out soon or we’ll all be done for.”

“I’ll take Shuford’s body to the lower atrium with the rest of them,” Martin said.

Lyerly set his water down. “I’ll help you.”

The teachers waited in the West Gym lobby for the pair to return. After a few minutes, Lyerly came jogging back.

“Martin will be back in a second, he wanted to arrange the bodies so that they would be less conspicuous if someone came poking around because of the fire,” Lyerly said. “Any theories yet?”

That brings us to the end of Vulture Among Eagles, Part Three. Amid blackmail, deceit, and catastrophe, yet another suspect has died. Time is running out for our characters, will they find the murderer before it’s too late? Read the shocking ending next Saturday in Vulture Among Eagles, Part Four.