Elect II—4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde, part 1 of 3


The young women talked on the bus about why they got into ROTC.  Emily listened.  Hilde said if she was living in Israel, she would be doing the same thing.  Military training was pretty much compulsory.  Greta, by contrast, said her parents were pacifists, but her family had a long history and tradition of proud military service so they really could not say much when she felt the call to serve her country.

Diane, from Kansas said her brother was in the army.  “That and there aren’t many opportunities for college.  Not much money back home,” she said.  “This way I get help from veteran’s groups and the American Legion.”

ac-rotc-freshmen“I know what you mean about not much money,” Natasha said.  “I’m from Detroit.  Need I say more?”

“Emily’s brother is in the national guard,” Jessica offered.

“Oh?” Diane looked at Emily who nodded, but declined to speak.

“Besides,” Hilde took up the conversation.  “What better way to meet boys?”

“Oh, please!”  Jessica tossed her hands in their direction.  “Be serious.”

“I would like to meet someone nice,” Diane said.

“And athletic,” Hilde added

“And rich,” Natasha said, which made the others nod.

“Wouldn’t you?”  Diane looked at Jessica.  Emily looked away.

“I had about thirty boyfriends when I was a freshman,” Jessica admitted.  “What a waste of time.”

They talked about it for a couple of minutes before Natasha turned to Emily.  “What about you, Ma’am?”

Emily said nothing.  Jessica spoke into the silence.  “She had a good boyfriend last year.  A graduate student.”

“Had?”  Greta asked.

“I had to kill him,” Emily said as the bus pulled to a stop.  They all had to disembark and form ranks.  They were at the firing range.

Emily stood at the head of the class and went through the care and cleaning of the rifle, piece by piece.  She took it apart, named all the parts and put it back together perfectly.  Then she had to turn her back on the class.  She had tears in her eyes.

Captain Driver saw Detective Lisa come in and knew Emily would be occupied for a bit.  He picked up the rifle and said, “Sophomore.”  That was Jessica’s name.  “Knowing your weapon inside and out is important and what we will mainly be working on today, but it does not guarantee that you can hit anything.”  He led Jessica to the range and loaded a clip of three bullets.  He whispered, “Try and hit the target.”

ac-rifle-range-4Jessica managed three trips to the Hollywood range in the two weeks she had free between ROTC summer camp and returning to school.  She worked with a personal trainer, and did her best to remember her lessons.  She squeezed the trigger, but the bullet was low and to the left of the bull’s-eye by an inch.  Her second shot overcompensated by a couple of inches and just nicked the top right edge of the bull’s-eye.  Her third shot was a little low and to the right, but well within the bull’s-eye.  She was satisfied.

Captain Driver continued to whisper as Lieutenant Brinkman moved up to eavesdrop.  “You are one of Hudson’s women, aren’t you?”

“Sir, yes sir.” Jessica answered properly but kept her voice low.

“You are in the group that has been working out with Professor Schultz?”  He knew she was but he wanted confirmation.  Jessica nodded.

“Professor Schultz?”  Lieutenant Brinkman was not aware, but Emily’s Amazon council had been learning hand to hand for a year and now were concentrating on the bow and staff with the hope of working their way up to the spear and the sword.

Captain Driver showed he understood.  “Heinrich Schultz in a historian in the old sense.  He has forgotten more about combat and arms than you and I and all our books put together.”

The Lieutenant nodded even if he did not fully understand.  He had a class to get working, and the class spent the rest of their time taking apart and putting together the ten rifles the company had, and hopefully without breaking them.  Very few bullets were fired that day.

After a while, Emily stopped weeping and Lisa let go and stepped back.  Emily wiped her eyes and said the words that Lisa did not want to hear.  “Thanks, mom.”

ac-lisa-2a“I’ve told you.  I get enough of that at home,” Lisa scolded, but smiled.

Emily laughed, but it was a sad, little laugh.  “But why are you here?”

“Latasha,” Lisa said.  “She has me tangled up in gang wars and drug dealers and it is a real mess.  I keep telling her judges and juries don’t always do the right thing.  Even people caught with their hand in it can plea bargain their way back to the street.”  Lisa shrugged and pulled out some photographs from her briefcase.  “Meanwhile, Anna got attacked in New York.”

“Is she alright?”  Emily knew the woman well.  Last year, between Christmas and New Year’s, Anna came to Ohio and helped Emily clean out a nest of vampires.

“She is fine, but the only thing she could find to connect the three men is this small tattoo.  They were all marked.  Miriam at the FBI has plenty of nineteenth and twentieth century scholars at her fingertips.  The pentagon has also been notified, and the M I B.”

“The what?”

“Katie Lockhart and her people,” Lisa said without further explanation.  “The thing is both Miriam and Anna think it may be older, and I have one man who saw these photos and became very afraid.  He says he doesn’t want anything to do with secret societies.”

“Older.”  Emily said the word as she studied the images of the upper arms and the small circle with three squiggly lines.

“I was hoping Mindy, your wise woman, could look at these and maybe share them with Professor Papadopoulos.  The rest of us are getting nowhere.”

ac-rifle-range-3Emily nodded as she continued to study the photos.  Lisa looked around.

“Where is Mister Jakovich?”

“The range manager?  Probably in his office,” Emily said.

“With you here, I suppose, but when he saw me come in he probably locked the office door.”

Emily laughed.  The last time she was at the range and Detective Lisa showed up they had to fight off three zombies.  Lisa was glad to hear Emily’s laugh this time because it sounded genuine.


When the bus came to a stop on the campus, Amina and Mindy were waiting for Emily and Jessica.  Morgan Granger was in trouble.  The words came fast.

“She has been taken prisoner,” Amina said.  “There are men after the drugs.  That is all I know.”

“I made the mistake of showing her a picture of the woman we saw in the library,” Mindy explained.  “She grabbed it and immediately felt the connection to you.”

“She was crying out for help.”

“Maria said we had to get you right away.  She and Melissa are working on a potion.”

“I brought your address book,” Amina held out the green notebook where Emily kept all her relevant information, including addresses of faculty members, some of whom had since died.

“I said we might have to do something,” Jessica took the book.

“We’re ready,” Natasha spoke for the ROTC group while Hilde, Greta and Diane nodded.

Emily looked at her freshmen and frowned.  She pulled out her phone and called Lisa.  “Stay in uniform,” she told the girls.  “Damn, message.  Lisa, Amina had a vision.  Morgan Granger, biology teacher is in trouble.  Too much Hilde juice.  We will start looking at,” Jessica held up the book and Emily read the address.  “Amina says people want the drugs.  We can’t let that loose.”  Emily hung up.

ac-rotc-emily-1“Trouble?”  Captain Driver stepped up, Lieutenant Brinkman beside him.

Emily thought briefly about asking for six rifles and bullets, but decided no for herself.  Six rifles unloaded might intimidate, but not if someone had a loaded gun.  She considered castigating the man for his part in last year’s fiasco.  She imagined he was in on the super soldier competition, but she never proved it.  She was sure he acted as liaison between the biology department and the Pentagon, but without evidence it was best to keep her mouth shut.  Finally, she answered in the only way she could.  “Yes sir, but women trouble.  Nothing you can help with.”  Captain Driver nodded, stepped away and dragged Brinkman with him.

Emily called Sara.  Again she had to leave a message as she walked into the gym.  The others trailed her and found a surprise which did not really surprise her.  “I was about to call you,” Emily said.

Heinrich Schultz was there with the closet unlocked and open—the one where he kept all of his weapons.  “Even un-activated, I can smell unnatural trouble miles away.”

Jessica and Mindy got their bows and plenty of arrows.  Amina picked up her staff, and the one Maria used.  She grabbed a third for Melissa, though Melissa had not spent much time yet in the learning process.

“For the army, I think spears.”  Heinrich pulled out four, all different, but all sharp.  Jessica was miffed because he had not let them touch the spears yet.  His instructions to the freshmen were simple.  “Hold the sharp end up when you walk.  Point the sharp end at the enemy when appropriate.  Try not to cut yourselves.”

“That’s it?”  Amina asked.  She felt like Jessica.  She was good with the staff and could not wait to try one with a sharp end.

Heinrich shrugged and pulled out a shepherd’s crook.  “And this for the Priestess.  It will be a pleasure teaching her how to use this crook effectively.”

Emily had her knife and got her sword which she left there for when she worked out and Heinrich taught her how to use it, as he said, effectively.  It really had no place in her dorm room, and this avoided her need to carry it regularly across campus.

Heinrich pulled out a bandolier of small throwing knives and strapped on his samurai sword.  Emily hated to interrupt him.

ac-heinrich-9“I know you are four hundred and seventy some years old, and sterile besides, but you are still a man.  The last time we saw Granger she was almost irresistible.  The boys in the library could not help themselves just looking at her fully clothed.  Maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea for you to come.”

Heinrich nodded.  “But I can still watch your rear, and maybe keep Mister Ashish or young Rob Parker from stumbling in too close.”

Emily could not argue with that.  “Let’s see if we can find her.”

“Shouldn’t we call campus security?” Greta asked.

Emily sighed.  Why did it have to be the spunky little German pacifist?  “Let’s see if we can find her first,” Emily repeated, and they stepped out into the late afternoon.  Emily’s phone rang.  Her words were short and to the point.  “We will meet you there.  Keep Ashish and any other men away from the place.”  She paused.  “Get Mitzy to drive.  She doesn’t get out enough.  Fine.”  She hung up.

The phone rang again.  This time, her words were even more cryptic.  She gave the address and only added, “Let’s hope it works.”

Elect II—3 Antiques, part 3 of 3


Latasha shadowed Bobby Thompson for a week.  Detective Lisa said she could not spare a man for one small time delivery boy, but Latasha was upset.  This jerk had his claws into Janet.  Keisha still thought it was funny, but Janet was acting like a lost cause.  Latasha and Janet had been friends since forever, and she hated the idea of losing her friend to a scum-bucket.

On Saturday, her work paid off.  Bobby went to a restaurant where he could not order a burger and fries.  He had to wait to be seated.  She immediately called Detective Lisa and then argued with the woman for ten minutes before Lisa would do anything.

ac-j-millsaps“I know.  I’ve been careful.  I know,” Latasha said that a lot, but at last Lisa sent a car.  It was Millsaps, and he took it from there after giving Latasha strict instructions to go home and do her homework.  Latasha pouted, but went.

Six hours later, Millsaps called Lisa.  He had followed the man to a motel by the highway, and when Lisa heard who it was, she saddled up her partner Ashish for the drive.

“Of all people,” Lisa said.  “Good thing Latasha did not see Carlos.”

“Bad blood,” Ashish agreed.  “After he invaded her home last year.”  Ashish shook his head, but could not do more because he was driving.

“She might have killed him if she knew.”

“No.”  Ashish disagreed.  “I have confidence in that girl.  She can control herself more than that.  She is going to make a fine police officer.”

Lisa frowned.  “Just don’t tell her.”  She ended the conversation.

Millsaps left when they arrived.  His shift was over.  Lisa called Rob Parker who had the late afternoon and evening shift.  She told him to stand by.  “But it is probably nothing.”  They settled in for a long haul.

“What do you think will go down?”  Ashish asked.

“Carlos?  He probably got the motel room for a couple of hookers.  That little man has ego problems.  I say we give it until dark and then let one of the officers on the night shift take over.”

ac-ashish-2“Captain okay this?”  Ashish asked.


“Just checking.”  Ashish scooted down in his seat and closed his eyes.

An hour before sundown a Lexus pulled up to the spot outside the room.  Lisa had to squint against the sun, but she saw the driver stay in the car while someone in their fifties with salt and pepper hair got out of the back.  She shook Ashish.  “My God,” she said.  “It’s Ferdinand Franco.”  She whipped out her phone as Franco stepped up to the door and looked around once before he knocked.  That confirmed Lisa’s guess.  The man had a crooked eye.

“Jackpot,” Ashish said.  Franco, a former Mexican cartel man had the money and men to turn large chunks of south Jersey into his personal drug empire.  After the door to Carlos’ room closed, Ashish watched Lisa bite her lip for the next ten minutes.  It took that long to get a “go.”

Lisa told Ashish to wait by the car.  She staggered over to the Lexus with a big grin on her face.  She was a fine looking woman for being near forty, and the driver of the Lexus was happy to notice.  When she came up to the window, he put it down and smiled at her, especially when she bent over to lean on the door.  When his eyes finally shifted to take in her face, Lisa’s hands grabbed the man by his jacket and she hauled him right out the open window.  She slammed him to the pavement, cuffed him and removed the gun from his shoulder holster.

“Concealed weapon.  Got a permit?”

“Got a warrant?”  The man shot back.

ac-lisa-a3“Yes,” Lisa said, and she handed the man’s gun to Ashish while she borrowed his handcuffs and made for the door.  “Knock, knock.  Room service.”  Lisa tried to sound foreign.  It would have worked if at the last second Carlos had not looked out the window.  Franco did not know her.  He might have been fooled, but she saw the look on Carlos’ face.

Lisa kicked in the door.  She actually took it off the hinges so it swung to the wall and hung from its chain lock.  Franco put his hands up and did not resist.  Carlos made for the bathroom window.  Between them, Lisa knew she could pick up Carlos later.  For the moment, she had the kingpin, even if it would only be for a moment.

Rob Parker was already in the lot when she hauled Franco out of the room.  She grabbed Rob’s radio and put out the word that Carlos was to be picked up for questioning, then she and Ashish hauled their two suspects down to the station and she wondered how long they could hold them.  It depended on what the drug enforcement officers found in the car and motel room, if anything.


Ferdinand Franco got to sit in a filthy interview room for several hours.  Now and then he would yell about wanting a phone call or wanting his lawyer, but everyone ignored him.  Lisa spent the time catching up on her e-mails and found one from the FBI and Miriam.  There were photos, which she printed, and a request that she take them to the university to pass them by the experts.  Miriam wanted to know if they knew anything about that tattoo.

ab-interview-room-2Ashish ran up even as the last photo finished printing.  “Franco’s lawyer will be here in ten minutes.  His bodyguard used his call to call Franco’s lawyer.”

“Why are we just getting that word now?”

Ashish shrugged.  “Some mix-up?”

“Tell Mitzy to stall him and meet me at the room,” Lisa ordered, and she walked off with the stack of papers still in her hands, photos on top.  Mitzy was the officer who ran the front desk.  Ashish was not long before he followed.

“Mister Franco, this is your lucky day,” Lisa started right in.  “Your bodyguard has confessed that the drugs in your car were all his and you knew nothing about them.”

Franco nodded.  “Micky’s a good man.  He has a family, you know.  I suspected he might be into the drugs, but what can one person do?  I take care of my friends, though.  I guess I may have to help his family out if he goes away for a while.”  He shrugged.

“And the cocaine in the motel room?”

“Ah, that Carlos.  He is a bad one.  He calls me up and I drive all the way from Atlantic City to help out an old family friend from the home country, only to find out he wants to sell me drugs and get me hooked on that nasty stuff.  What a shame.”

“Family friend from the home country?  Mexico is still your home country, isn’t it?”

“Hey!  You are not allowed to ask me that.  I want my lawyer.”

“I suppose you could argue in court that the cocaine all belonged to Carlos.”

“His word.  My word.”  Franco shrugged again.  “What are you going to do?”


“Hey!  Why does everybody have it out these days for people who are rich and successful?  Isn’t that what this country is all about?  Anybody can get rich.”  He shrugged a third time and took a moment to run a hand through his salt and pepper hair.  “I understand some people don’t like me, but hey, I don’t feel any obligation to take care of families of people that hate me.”  He looked squarely at Lisa.  “I’m just saying.”

ac-lisa-2Lisa put her papers on the table in order to lean over and get in the man’s face.  Franco found he could not look Lisa in the eye as she spoke without any emotion.  “If anything happens to my family, I will find you and peel the skin from your body, slowly.”

“Lisa!”  Ashish stood up from where he was leaning on the dirty window sill.  He was genuinely shocked at what he heard.

“I’m just saying,” Lisa also straightened up.

“Threat!”  Franco stabbed his finger on the photo.

“Your word, my word.  What are you gonna do?”  She responded.

Franco looked at Ashish who examined the ceiling tiles and did not want to get in the middle.  Then he took a closer look at the photo his finger was stabbing, turned white and began to sweat.

“You want me to pass your name on to my friends?”  Lisa implied that she had a relationship with the tattooed men.

Franco yanked his finger back like it was on fire.  He scooted his chair a foot from the table, put up both hands up and shook them.  “I don’t hold with any of that secret society crap.  I just want to go home.  You gotta let me out.  Where’s my lawyer.”

His lawyer was already there, and Lisa confirmed with a call to the front desk.  “Mister Franco is ready to go,” she said into the phone, picked up her papers and photos and left the room.  Ashish later made a report.

“All he said was you gotta get me out of here.  It isn’t safe.  I swear, that is all.  He said it several times.”

ac-mindy-5Lisa looked again at the photos.  Dead men with a non-descript tattoo.   “I don’t get it,” she admitted.  “Franco has all the money, men and guns.  He makes a living intimidating others, but one look at these photos and he was scared like a rabbit.  I think I need to let Mindy look at these, if she can tell me anything.”


Lisa nodded.  “Emily’s wise woman.”

Ashish responded by imitating Franco.  He shrugged.


Monday, the unexpected turns of life heat up in the Elect II–4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde

In the meanwhile, Happy Reading.


Elect II—3 Antiques, part 2 of 3


Captain Driver brought the freshmen ROTC class to the obstacle course and made them come to attention while he walked slowly up and down the ranks looking for one to pick on.  Of the twenty-four young men, two were sophomore transfers.  Of the five young women, one was a sophomore, Jessica.

Emily stood to the side, proud of her three stripes.  Lieutenant Jack Brinkman, a senior stood beside her with the stop watch and roster.  Emily understood why Captain Driver selected Brinkman from the senior class.  The two thought a lot alike.  Neither appreciated women in the military.  Captain Driver was learning, though, under Emily’s careful hand.  Even a year ago, a woman as company sergeant for the freshman class would have been unthinkable, and Emily was only a sophomore besides.  Company Sergeant was always a junior, next in line for the lieutenant’s position.

Captain Driver stopped in front of the women.  Emily was glad to see that none of them flinched.  They made quite a collection.  Greta’s family was German.  Beside her was the Jew, Hilde Sussman.  Diane was all American, complete with freckles.  Beside her was Natasha Simpson, an African-American young woman determined to be the best of the lot.

ac-jessica-6“Sophomore.”  Driver picked on Jessica, but Emily was not worried.  Jessica easily mastered the summer course, and she was in excellent shape.  Jessica’s only problem was she knew she was in excellent shape.

“Ready,” Brinkman drew it out.  “Go.”

Jessica went off like a rabbit.  She climbed the eight feet of the vault like she was climbing a simple ladder and got down the ropes on the other side without a flaw.  She was quick.  Emily smiled.  Most of the boys would have a hard time matching her.  She did the ropes, the tunnel, the tires, the swing over the proverbial mud pit with hardly a pause and without falling.  When she crossed the finish line, she came back to attention.  Emily’s smile broadened.  Most of the freshmen would end up bent over, gasping for breath.

“Decent time,” Brinkman praised her while Captain Driver peeked over Brinkman’s shoulder.

“Very good, back in line,” Captain Driver announced the time and said, “She has set a high bar.  I expect the rest of you to reach or surpass that bar.  But first, I want to show you how it should be done.  Hudson!”

“Sir, yes sir,” Emily said.  She was afraid this was going to happen and prepared herself.  When Brinkman was ready, he said “Go” without warning.  Emily went, but she did not climb the vault.  She leapt, grabbed one handhold with her right hand and yanked herself up.  She put her left hand on the top of the vault and flipped over to the other side where she landed without even touching the ropes.  And she landed running.  She did the whole course that way, and when she finished, Lieutenant Brinkman looked at the stop watch and only had one thing to say.

“Holy shit.”

“That is one reason she has stripes,” Captain Driver grinned as he spoke quietly to his lieutenant.  “I also wouldn’t piss her off if I were you.”  He turned back to the company and got them started.

When the class was over, Jessica and Emily had an appointment with Mindy in the library.  The other girls wanted to tag along. Greta and Hilde brought up the rear.  They were fast becoming friends.  Natasha wanted to pace Jessica, whom she obviously looked up to.  The freshmen had accepted Jessica as their natural leader, not just because she was a sophomore, but because she set a high standard in all the work to which they could aspire.  Emily understood.  They were all a little afraid of Emily.

a-library-4When they arrived, they found four parents and one other student gathered for a tour of the archives and antiquities basement.  Mindy nodded to them as she got up on her little box and began her talk.

She explained everything about the war and saving the treasures from Europe and the Far East.  She explained about the library annex, that housed everything but was now closed up.  At the start of the cold war they dug sub basements below the library, the science building and Gorgon Hall, and they were once all connected by tunnels which were now closed off with concrete.  Then she told about the work done in the sixties.  The sub-basement below the library was now sealed and kept at a certain temperature and humidity level.  They also used special light bulbs that would not yellow or damage the scrolls and parchment in any way.  At last they got on the elevator and Mindy used her key to take them down.

Diane’s words summed up everyone’s feelings when the elevator doors opened.  “National Treasure.”

Mindy’s tour in the actual basement did not take very long.  It was designed that way, not the least for the people that were down there working.  Emily paid some attention, but mostly felt uncomfortable.  She felt especially antsy when they came to a roped off area filled with tiled flooring and sculptures.  One tiled artwork scaled a slab that fit into the wall and Emily had to ask why.

“That is a thousand-year-old floor from a Moorish Mosque in Granada, Spain that was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.”

“Why is it on the wall if it’s a floor?” Natasha asked.

“So no one will step on it,” Mindy answered with a roll of her eyes.

“Someone has been stepping all over there,” Jessica pointed.

“What?  Where?  No one is supposed to go over there.”

Emily moved Jessica forward so they could finish the tour, but her intuition was acting up.  As an elect, she knew that was something she had to pay attention to.  Something was not right in that room, but then she got that same feeling all over the basement and finally decided that some of the antiquities probably should have stayed buried.

ac-granger-2When they got back to the Library main floor, a strange sight awaited them.  Morgan Granger, Emily’s freshman biology teacher was there looking more luscious and appealing than any woman ought to look.  Every eye in the room was on her, but she did not appear to notice.  Her eyes darted around like she was trying to grab hold of something familiar.  The woman looked very tired and confused.

They watched as two women came in the front door and headed straight for her.  They each took an elbow to escort her out of the building.  “Time to go home,” one said.

“Home?” Ms Granger mouthed the word but hardly made a sound.

“There are people waiting,” the other woman spoke and Ms Granger struggled, but only for a second.  At last glimpse it appeared that Ms Granger was ready to cry.

“Looks like someone has overindulged in Hilde’s juice,” Jessica said.

“Endocrine juice full of adrenaline, growth hormone and other secretions.  Made herself attractive,” Emily explained for the other girls.  “It was experimental stuff that caused us all sorts of problems last year.”

“A little too attractive,” Mindy pointed at the room.  The women were calming down, but the men looked like they were having a hard time of it.

“We may have to do something,” Jessica said.

“I was hoping we wouldn’t.”  Emily was honest.


In New York City, Anna Lee heard something downstairs in her antique shop.  She flicked on the light beside her bed and stepped to the window.  She did not notice anything outside under the streetlight, but in New York, it could be almost anything.  She heard it again.  That was definitely in the shop.

ac-anna-5Anna dressed quickly and called Detective Tomlinson of the NYPD, but she knew it would likely be a good ten minutes before a car could respond.  She grabbed the staff she left by her bed.  On second thought, she pulled the knife out of the bed table drawer and slipped it in her belt.  With staff in hand, she opened the hatch.  It was an old fire pole she put in so she could quickly slide down to the shop below, if necessary.

She landed without a sound in the dark corner and listened because there was nothing to see.  She had a lot of antiques in the shop, many of which were breakable, and this was her third robbery since Christmas.  Amend that.  The first one was a vampire so that really did not count.

“Where is it?”  A man spoke from behind the front counter and another answered.

“Quiet.  The witch will hear you.”

Something broke in the back room.  It sounded like a piece of pottery, and Anna knew there were at least three of them.  She walked slowly to the counter, and then spoke in her best customer service voice.

“Can I help you find something?”

Both men stopped and stared at her, and she whacked both hard with one sweep of her staff.  She leapt the counter and pummeled the two of them.  At once, there were police lights on the street and the man in the back room came barreling out.  He collided with Anna.  She went sprawling to the floor, not being a big woman, but her knife flew and caught that man in the back.  He fell and stopped moving.

A gun went off.  The men she had beaten senseless apparently retained enough sense to pull their weapons, and Anna had to scurry behind a suit of samurai armor.  The police outside returned fire.  Anna’s storefront window shattered.  She screamed.  One officer caught a bullet in the arm.  One of the men inside was shot and fell to the ground.  When two more police cars came roaring up, the man who was still standing did something Anna never expected.  He put his gun to his head and blew his own brains all over her antiques.  Then it was over.

Anna managed to get the light on, and held up the identification Tomlinson had gotten her.  She was a consultant to the special department, and the police respected her badge.  They got an ambulance for the man she had knifed.  He might live.  The other two were dead.

ac-tomlinsonThree hours later as the sun came up, Tomlinson came out of the intensive care unit.  “He shut-up as soon as he realized where he was,” Tomlinson said.

“So no idea what they were after,” Anna concluded.

“He said one thing when he was still kind of out of it.  Did we get the scroll?  But that was it.  Mean anything?”

“Maybe,” Anna looked worried.  “I’ll have to think on it.”  She walked off, and Tomlinson let her go.  He learned long ago that Anna shared what she shared when she was good and ready, and not before.

Three hours later, the man mysteriously died in the hospital.  The doctors had said he would live, but this did not exactly surprise Anna.  She knew the thieves were looking for something in particular and this was no ordinary robbery.  In fact, there was nothing to connect these three men from Russia, Germany and Macedonia but one small tattoo on the upper left arm.  She almost missed it.  It was small and nothing fancy to make it stand out—just a circle with three squiggly lines coming out of the top.  It looked like a three legged octopus diving for the deep, but it made her intuition tingle.  She photographed all three tattoos and faxed them to Miriam at the FBI.  No telling when she might get an answer.

Elect II—3 Antiques, part 1 of 3


Emily came in late and snuck passed the two professors that were talking quietly in the front.  She slipped into her seat and nudged Maria who had to remove her ear buds to listen.

“What is Maynard doing here?” Emily whispered.

Maria shrugged, but before she could verbalize her thought, Professor Maynard left and she had to put her ear buds away.

“Class.”  Professor Orlov said that word every time he wanted their full attention.  “If you have wondered about my day job, Evelyn Maynard and I were enticed by money from the Center for Disease Control.  We have been working on the immune system in relation to the brain, something that will come up in this course in a future chapter.  In the meanwhile, we have agreed that our work is ready for some serious testing.  If you wish to help in this work, I assure you it will not be dangerous, but we would appreciate any volunteers.  There will be a small payment for your time.  No reason we should keep all the CDC money for ourselves.”

ac-emily-a1Emily’s instincts made her squirm in her seat.  There was something about brain research and Maynard, knowing how she professed to hate all people, that made her uncomfortable.  She looked at Maria, but Maria was looking forward and did not notice.  She looked over at Joel, the boy who sometimes joined them in the library for study-time.  He looked back and looked uncertain, like it was something he might consider.

“You can stay and see me after class if you are interested,” Orlov concluded.  “Now you see, with a real day job I can’t be a vampire.  Besides, I would think life as a vampire would really suck.”  He thought he was funny.  A couple of students groaned, quietly, as Orlov continued.  “Turn in your books…”

Maria wanted some evening library time before it got too late, but Emily begged off.  Heinrich gave her a real workout that afternoon.  Even with Heinrich un-empowered, Emily could barely keep up.  The man’s skill with a sword was amazing.  Four hundred and seventy years of practice, she reminded herself.




Emily walked back to the dorm and slowly climbed up the stairs, thinking, Professor Orlov would not know a vampire if it bit him.

“Emily?”  It was Sara Michaels standing outside her door.

“Priestess?”  Emily responded with the same question in her voice.

ac-sarah-4“Sara, please,” the woman said.  “I am sure you don’t want me referring to you as your majesty out in public.  Besides, that is something I am still getting used to.”

“It suits you,” Emily decided as she unlocked her suite door and dropped her back pack in her room.  “But what brings you here?”

“We have an invitation,” Sara said.  “And we will be late if we don’t hurry.”

Emily went into the bathroom to the mirror.  It was automatic if she was going out.  “No time for a shower?”  She knew there was not time if they were nearly late.  “Where are we going?”

“President’s house.  I was invited with the instruction that I bring you along.”

Emily nodded.  Henri Batiste probably had no idea who she was last year, but no doubt he spent his summer reading.  She could only imagine what the man intended to say to her.  “Mostly faculty?”  Emily asked.

Sara shook her head.  “This is the beginning of the year staff gathering.  You know, the pep talk and all.”

Emily nodded.  She was only a side note and probably would not be expected to stay for the party.  They left the suite to walk across the campus to the President’s house.  Emily felt it was just as well they take their time.  She needed to spend the time with Sara and get to know her a bit.  All she really knew about the woman was Sara was Zoe’s selection.

Sara sensed Emily’s curiosity.  “I’m twenty-seven.  I came here out of seminary, but after last year I realized I was not the best student counselor.  My father used to accuse me of being too mature, even in junior high.  I put in for a nice associate position in a big church, but apparently I am stuck here for the next three years.”

“Not stuck.  You have a definite job here, and the maturity is probably what we need.”

“Not stuck,” Sara agreed.  “But I don’t know what help I can be.  It may take me three years just to adjust the way I view the world.”  She looked at Emily.  “I’ve been meeting with Mindy.  She is keeping a journal, and some of the things she has told me.  I mean, bogymen?”

“I know,” Emily felt like she hardly believed it herself.

“Truth is, I have met with all the girls, except you.  I was beginning to think you were avoiding me.”

a-n-campus-2“No,” Emily said.  “I didn’t realize.  I’ve just been concentrating hard on my classes, trying to get ahead of the game, because…you never know.”

“I understand.”  Sara fell silent for a minute.  In that moment, Emily lifted her head and stopped moving.  She scanned the area that was shrouded in the dark.  Something was there and it didn’t feel human.  Sara saw it first and pointed

“What is that?”

Emily shrugged.  It was generally human in shape, except it was too big and it had upper and lower tusks in a mouth that was much too large.  Emily pulled the knife she kept strapped and hidden beneath her pant leg, down by her ankle.  The thing had to see the glint of light on the metal and stepped for a second onto the campus path beneath the streetlight.  It was an enormous beast.  It was far bigger and looked far stronger than any NFL linebacker might ever hope to be.  It just stood there and stared back at them before it faded and vanished, like it went invisible.  They both heard it push through the bushes and head toward the science building and the library.

“What the hell was that?”  Sara said, and added, “Sorry.”

Emily could only shrug.  Last year, she would have chased the thing, but now she knew running off would have left Sara alone and exposed.  She was learning.  She had resources and generally it was better to know what she was facing before she jumped in.   “Jessica is a bit of an artist.  We make sketches and let Mindy do the research.”

Sara nodded.  “You are all so talented.”

Emily shook her head.  “Not me.  I’m going to be a nurse.”

They stopped in the dark before they stepped up to the front door of the President’s house.  Emily put her knife away as Sara spoke.  “I’ve been thinking and praying about all of you and all of this.  I have come to understand that you six are the most remarkably gifted women I have ever known.”

“I don’t—.”

“Even the ones less obvious now, like Maria, Mindy and Jessica.” Sara interrupted to get out the thought she felt was vital.  “But I think the admonition you gave to Melissa needs to apply to you all.  You must all be careful never to use your gifts for selfish or self-serving reasons.  That way leads to darkness.”

Emily nodded.  She had realized the same thing.  They stepped up to the door and found Bernie the campus cop hanging out on the porch.  He stood up in front of the door, like he was blocking their way.

“Bernie, do you know Reverend Michaels from the Chaplain’s office?”

“We’ve met,” Bernie gave a sloppy little salute.

“How are your new bosses?”  Sara asked, and Bernie explained for Emily.

“After what happened last year, President Batiste fired and replaced the whole senior security staff.”

ac-bernie-1“That’s not fair,” Emily objected.  “It wasn’t their fault.  There wasn’t anything they could have done about it.”

Bernie bit his lip.  “I don’t know the new people well, yet.  They are different, but they all want to meet you.  I’m supposed to tell them when you arrive.”  Sara and Emily said nothing.  They looked at each other and followed Bernie inside where he passed them off to Sergeant Valenko, a security guard with stripes.

“Emily.”  It was a voice Emily did not want to hear.  She did the introductions.

“Courtney Chase, Channel 5, Eyewitness News, meet Sara Michaels, Campus Chaplain.”

Courtney barely let the fake smile touch her lips before she turned to Emily.  “Have you thought any more about the interview?  I would be willing to let you look at the questions first.”

Emily shook her head.  “Nothing to interview.  I am hoping to do well in my classes this year.  That’s it.”

“Sorry mam, no cameras, please.”  The sergeant stepped between them.  “This is a private meeting.”  He put his hand up to the cameraman who dutifully trailed behind the reporter and filmed everything.  When another security officer came up and began to move the cameraman back to the main room, Courtney naturally followed the camera.

“Call me,” she said to Emily, and shoved her way back enough to hand Emily a card before she scooted off in search of some other hapless interview.

Sergeant Valenko said, “Ladies,” and he pointed down a hall away from the sounds of the gathering.

“That was Courtney Chase,” Sara said, like a fan of the evening news.

“We don’t need the publicity,” Emily shook her head, but placed the card in her pocket.

“No, I suppose not.”

Sergeant Valenko escorted them to a back room and asked them to wait.  He was a short, barrel-chested man, like one who was determined to make up for his height by lifting weights day and night.  He had fuzzy blond hair and marched rather than walked.

“A bit too military,” Emily commented quietly.  “But then lots of security people are former military, I suppose.”

ab-pres-studyThey did not have to wait long.  The three top security men on campus, two Lieutenants and their Captain, came in.  They said nothing.  They did not even introduce themselves.  Sara decided to sit.  Emily found her feet pacing, just like Detective Lisa.

Henri Batiste came in with a smile, and the two lieutenants left.  He shook Emily’s and Sara’s hands and introduced Captain Gouldos.  The Captain neither smiled nor offered his hand.  “Now, the reason I wanted to see you is simple.  You have probably guessed.  I would like a quiet school year this year.  I am sure you understand.”  The man never lost his smile.

“I would like a quiet year, too,” Emily agreed.  It was pointless to explain to the man that she was not the cause of any of the trouble last year.  All she did was save the lives of everyone on campus several times.

“Splendid.  But now, the reason I invited you here tonight is so you could meet my security staff.  You can see they are a very competent crew.  I want you to trust them and let them do their job.  I am asking, if you should become aware of something unusual this year, please call them and let them take care of it.  That is what we are paying them for after all, you see?”

Emily nodded.  “Campus security was called all the time last year.”  Bernie the campus cop was the only one who ever showed up, she thought.

“Splendid.  Now the other reason I wanted you to come was to meet Ms. Michaels from the Chaplain’s office.  She is here to help and counsel whatever the need.  And if it is something she cannot handle, she has the resources to recommend, competent professionals to help whatever might be troubling you.  I am not saying anything is troubling you, but I urge you to get to know her well.  She can help you enjoy the full college experience.”

“I can assure you, Sara and I will spend plenty of time together over the next three years.”

President Batiste looked at them both with eyes that wondered why all this went so easily.

“Henri?”  A woman called down the hall.

“Un moment, mon petite.”  Batiste called back before he turned again to the women.  “My wife.  My guests.  Please excuse me.  You are welcome to stay.”  He left.  Captain Gouldos glared at them before he followed the president.  Sara looked at Emily.  Emily frowned and took the priestess out to the porch.  She grabbed Bernie by his loose tie and dragged him with them off into the dark beyond the house and beyond any snoopy reporters.

“The new security staff is into something up to their necks and Batiste is their leader.” Emily spoke without any preliminaries.  “I need to know what your new bosses are up to.  I don’t trust them.”

a-n-campus-5Bernie let out his breath like he was holding it in for a long time.  “I don’t trust them either,” he said softly, and they looked at the Chaplain.

Sara hedged.  “I caught the body language and tone of voice, but I’m in the love and forgiveness business.  I think hanging out with you might make me paranoid.”

“I was thinking that just the other day,” Emily admitted with a grin.

“I live in paranoid,” Bernie said with a glance at Emily.

Emily shook her head.  “I don’t live there, I just commute.”  When the others stared at her with big questions in their faces, she explained.  “Well, Jessica wasn’t here so I said it for her.”  Both Sara and Bernie nodded that they understood.

Elect II—2 Amazons, part 3 of 3


“Are you looking forward to school?” Maria asked, kindly.

Melissa, who walked with her eyes turned down to the sidewalk like she was thinking deep thoughts, nodded before she thought to say something.  “A little scared, considering, you know, last year.”  She took a breath and added, “Summer school helped, but there weren’t so many people around.

Maria understood and offered what she had.  “But this year you have a safe room and a suite full of friends to watch out for you.”

ac-melissa-7“A whole Amazon tribe,” Melissa said with a smile.  “That is what Mindy and Amina call us.”  She opened the door to the dorm and walked up the stairs with her roommate.  When they stepped inside, they found Mindy and Amina unpacking.  Jessica came in a moment later, followed by a boy.  She must have been right behind Maria and Melissa.

“Everyone, this is Phillip, a sophomore transfer into ROTC.”

“Jessica!” Amina turned red.

“We haven’t finished unpacking,” Mindy explained, without explaining.

“Hey.”  Jessica turned to a bewildered looking Phillip.  “I found him wandering around the campus center.  I may keep him.”

“What?”  Maria asked while Melissa joined Amina in turning red.

“You keep saying we are supposed to be like the Amazons of old,” Jessica said as she ran her hand through Phillips hair.  “I’m willing to do my part.”


Emily got to the top of the stairs, thinking hard, and slowly opened the heavy door.  It was dark when she stepped into the lounge area of her suite.  She flicked the light on when she shut the door, and everyone jumped up and yelled, “Surprise.”  It was not really a surprise, but it warmed Emily’s heart to see it.  Unfortunately, Emily’s mind was preoccupied, so she said nothing in return.  The others stopped and watched as Emily shifted one chair to face the end of the couch, by the door, and scooted the other tight beside it.  She went into her room and grabbed her desk chair and Jessica’s chair and plopped them down side by side.  The chairs and couch made a U shape around the cheap coffee table and faced the door with the open end.  Emily sat in her own desk chair at the head of the table, so to speak.

ac-emily-8“Meeting first,” Emily said, and she waited for their response.

“What happened to your ribs?” Jessica wondered how she could carry those chairs from the other room.  She sat in her own chair beside Emily.

“I thought your leg was broken?” Maria looked more concerned than curious as she went around to sit on the middle of the couch.

“All healed,” Emily said, and she waited while everyone sat in the correct order without having to be told and only left the seat empty at the end of the couch nearest the door.  “I met Zoe,” Emily said and Amina’s eyes got wide and her mouth opened as she certainly saw something in that statement.

“Zoe who?”  Jessica wondered.

“The queen goddess of the Amazons?”  Mindy wondered.  “But she almost never shows up in the record.  Are you sure it wasn’t Artemis or one of the others?”

Emily looked at Mindy.  The girl was in danger of believing everything she read.  Of course, given some of their encounters Emily could hardly blame her, though Emily was planning to remain uncommitted on the divinity of her visitor.  She stood, retrieved her sword from her room and sat again with the sword across her lap.  Then she began to speak.

“Zoe said an Amazon queen never acts alone.  She always depends on and listens to her council.  The three on her left hand face the darkness and the three on her right face the light.”

“Wait a minute,” Maria interrupted.  “There are only two of us on the right.”

“There are three on my right,” Emily said.  “The third is our priestess who always stands a little apart from the rest of us.  Zoe said she would be provided,” and there was a knock on the door.

Melissa was closest, but Amina was already out of her seat.  She looked back at the others and ended with a stare at Emily.  Then she grinned impishly and opened the door.  There was a woman just shy of thirty-years-old who started to speak.

ac-sarah-7“I’m Sara Michaels from the chaplain’s office.”

“Yes, Sara,” Amina interrupted.  “We have been expecting you.  Your seat is waiting for you,” and she pointed to the end of the couch.  Maria kind of ruined the spell by shifting over and patting the cushion beside her.

The woman came in and sat but looked and sounded rather confused.  “I got a message that I needed to be here.  I don’t understand.  I never make night calls unless someone dies.  Did someone die?”

“Only my denial,” Emily said, and without any preliminaries she began.  “We have Zoe’s permission to be an Amazon tribe, but she has a message for each of us.  You have already heard mine, that an Amazon queen always listens to her council.”  Then she began on her left side and talked about the ones facing the darkness.  She talked to each one personally; Jessica the hunter, Amina the Sybil and Melissa the spell caster.

“Spell caster?” Sara asked.

“Witch,” Melissa said the word and wiggled her finger.  Her cup of orange soda lifted into the air and floated in her direction.  It did not look too stable and Melissa looked like she was seriously concentrating.  When she grabbed the drink, she spilled a little and immediately looked at the newcomer.  “Sorry,” she said.  “I’m just learning and I am not a very powerful witch.”

“Spell caster,” Jessica corrected.

“We are all just learning,” Maria encouraged her roommate.

Sara turned her eyes to Emily and said something that surprised no one.  “Emily Hudson.  We talked about you last year.”

Emily ignored the comment, turned to her right hand and talked to Mindy the wise woman and Maria the healer.  When she told Sara that she was to be their priestess, Sara’s eyes got wide, but she said nothing.  Then Emily went on to share that Zoe gave them an assignment.  There was a mystery on campus and they needed to solve it.  “She said, somewhere there is a door open to Avalon.  Creatures have escaped.  You met one.  The world is in danger of going mad.  Blah, blah, blah.”

“Blah, blah, blah?”  Jessica had to ask.  Emily hushed her and looked at Sara.  They all waited in silence for Sara to speak.  Sara understood the stares.

“But what if I don’t want to be your priestess?”

“No one will force you, but you are the one Zoe selected,” Emily said.  “Your request for transfer has been or will be denied.  You will be here with us for the next three years.”

Maria added a thought.  “I suppose if you don’t want to be our priestess you will leave us spiritually empty and morally bankrupt.  But the choice is yours.”  She looked around the room and saw the looks of agreement on the other faces.

ac-sarah-6Sara sat for a time and looked at her hands in her lap before she spoke again.  “I think I need to have a talk with this Zoe of yours.”

“Oh, I am sure you will,” Amina said cheerfully.  “And soon I imagine.”

“Somehow, that does not encourage me.”  Sara just sat for a minute and worried her hands.  The others were mercifully quiet and patient until the woman finally looked up.  “There is one thing.  I am not really a priestess.  I’m a Methodist minister.”

“That’s alright,” Maria responded and reached over to pat the woman’s hands. “Amina and I are Catholic.”

“Southern Baptist.”  Mindy raised her hand and her voice.

“U. C. C.,” Melissa said softly.

“Presbyterian,” Emily said and looked at Jessica.  They all stared at Jessica until she spoke.

“My mother used to like to go to the Crystal Cathedral.”


Monday, be sure to come back for the Elect II-3 Antiques.

Until then, Happy Reading.

Elect II—2 Amazons, part 2 of 3


As Emily limped to her suite, her thoughts turned to Ms Maynard, her Earth Science teacher from last spring.  The woman was not like the other Professors.  She did not just hate the students.  She hated the whole human race and acted like she would not mind if everyone just died.  Emily wondered briefly why the woman came to mind.  She was trying very hard to forget that class.

Emily shook her head to clear her mind, but thoughts about her destiny kept bubbling up to the surface.  She decided that given the chance, this whole being elect business could make her paranoid.  She was seeing shadows around eye-witless news, professors Granger, Maynard and this new professor Orlov.  There might not be any shadows at all.  She took a deep breath even as something occurred to her that she had forgotten.  Pierce once mentioned that he had a younger brother.  And Doctor Zimmer, his maker was still missing.  Please, she prayed, don’t let them come back here.

zenobia-3“And why do you not want them to come back here?” A woman asked.  The woman was pacing Emily, and Emily did not even know it until the woman spoke.  It startled her, but in her mind she responded, because she did not want that kind of fight if she could help it.

“Yes, it is wise not to fight unless you must,” the woman agreed.  “But I thought you were afraid he would remind you too much of Pierce.”

“Yes,” Emily whispered her admission, but her mind mostly thought that she just wanted a quiet semester.  As far as it went, she told the reporter the truth.

“And I wish you could have a quiet semester too.”  The woman smiled and Emily stopped cold.  This woman was reading her mind.  “Sit,” the woman said, and Emily saw two chairs around a small table where there had been only grass.  She suddenly realized they were just outside her new dorm, but she knew she did not limp nearly that far.  She sat slowly because of her ribs, and saw a tall to-go cup on her side of the table.  “Chai Latte.”  The woman pointed to the cup and picked up a bottle of water for herself.

“Who are you?” Emily asked.

“Zoe,” the woman said, and added, “Yes I am real, and yes we are really here, not dreaming, and no I am not an angel.”  Zoe gave the answers even as Emily framed the questions in her mind.  “Honestly!” Zoe sipped her water and rolled her eyes just like Emily.  “Angels are sexless.  I can’t imagine it.”

Emily sipped her Chai Latte and examined the woman, and Zoe was all woman.  She was dressed in what looked like a toga, but more like a mini-skirt version.  The sleeves barely went beyond the shoulder and the neckline plunged more than necessary.  It was pure white besides, and clean, which at the least said something about the woman’s choice of detergent.  Zoe’s sandals tied up to her knees, and they were brown, a match for her light brown hair.  She also wore a choker with a small stone that Emily guessed was supposed to be an emerald.  The green stone matched the woman’s green, deep set eyes which were so piercing, Emily had to look away.  All the same, Emily put out her finger to touch the woman’s shoulder, just to be sure.

“There, feel better?” Zoe asked.

Emily nodded and got a question all the way out.  “So what do you want with me?”

“Here’s the thing.”  Zoe shifted in her seat so she could face Emily better.  “With all I have on my plate right now, what with the Kargill-Reichgo war starting up,” Zoe paused to point at the sky so Emily might guess that was something outer spacey. “And earth politics and international relations bottoming out.  Don’t get me started.  And Melanie fighting off dimensional interlopers, and poor Lockhart trying to take over after Bobbie retired.  And my little ones.  There is trouble in the ranks!  Who would have thought it in this late day and age?”  Zoe clicked her tongue.  “Well, it is more than a lot.  You see, I am not sure I can handle the revival of a real Amazon tribe right now.”

“I’m not sure I can either,” Emily admitted.

“But here is the thing,” Zoe repeated.  “There is something about this place, this campus that is hidden even from my sight.  If I had the time I would never let such a mystery go.  Alas, as my elect, you will have to figure it out.  You and your tribe will have three years to do it.”

“Your elect?”

“Of course, silly.  Who do you think elected you?”

“I thought it was all the ancient goddesses and stuff.”

zoe-1Zoe just looked at Emily and smiled before she spoke again.  “As my elect, you must be queen of the tribe, but you must learn that an Amazon queen never acts alone.  She listens to her counsel.  There are three to her left that face the darkness and three to her right that face the light.  On your left is the hunter, that is Jessica.  The spirit of Artemis is in her though she hardly knows it.  Beside her is the Sybil, your seer Amina.  She must learn it is not always wise to say everything she sees.  Closest to the darkness is your spell caster, Melissa.  I know her power is small, but she is the one always in most danger of falling into the dark.  Her rules are simple.  First, she should not practice her art against those who have no such power to defend themselves.  Second, she must never practice her art for selfish ends, not ever.”  Zoe shook her finger at Emily.  “All of you must do you own homework the old fashioned way and get a good education.  Am I clear?”  Emily felt the scolding in her gut, and nodded as Zoe sighed.  “Just like instructing my children, but then that was five thousand years ago.”

Emily swallowed.  “And what of the three that face the light?”

“To your right hand is your wise woman, Mindy.  She knows the lore, the legends and the ancient ways.  When you face something inexplicable, she is the one who can find a way to explain it.  Her stories are instructive as well.  Let her whisper in your ear.  Beside her is Maria, your healer, filled with the spirit of Eir, though she does not know it.  Every Amazon tribe needs a healer, and Maria has the drive and the smarts to become a great one.  And the last is your priestess, set a bit apart.  She is your Liaison with the source of all things, with the light, with me, and with the universe.  She will not only keep you morally grounded, but spiritually grounded as well if you let her.”

“But wait.”  Emily held up her left hand and counted.  “Jessica the hunter, Amina the Sybil, Melissa the witch.”

“Spell caster,” Zoe corrected.  “A much nicer term than witch, don’t you think?’

“Spell caster,” Emily repeated and held up her right hand.  “Then Mindy the wise and Maria the healer, but that is everyone.  Who is this priestess?”

“I will send her.  I got her reassignment rescinded.  She will be here for three more years with you.  Now I must go.”


ac-emily-7“Lead your tribe.  Solve my mystery.  Somewhere there is a door open to Avalon.  Creatures have escaped.  You met one.  The world is in danger of going mad, blah, blah, blah…”  Zoe disappeared.  She literally vanished and took the two chairs, the drinks and little table with her.  Emily fell hard on her butt in the grass.

“Hey!”  Emily instinctively reached for her broken ribs before she paused.  She stood and ran in place for a second.  She jumped up and down several times.  She Planted her feet and twisted her trunk to the left and right.  There was zero pain.  She was completely healed.  She could not help looking up to the sky and mouth her thoughts.  “Thank you.”

She only felt slightly surprised, and maybe a little disturbed, when she heard the words plain as day, “You’re welcome.”

Elect II—2 Amazons, part 1 of 3


Emily got to the suite early on Wednesday and unpacked before the others arrived.  She was not too impressed.  There were three dorm rooms, a small common lounge area and a bathroom with two stalls, two sinks, two mirrors and a shower.  That was not going to be enough for six girls.  Emily shook her head.  It was still just a college dorm after all.

Everyone said be there at six.  They said they wanted to celebrate the beginning of a new school year, but Emily could not move that fast.  She was going to be late.  She had to visit Professor Schultz first and bring him up-to-date on her summer activities.

ac-heinrich-1Heinrich Schultz, history professor, was born in 1640, though he hardly looked over sixty.  He was a member of the council of fifty men from around the world that were raised up to keep a careful eye on the women known as the elect.  He told her last year that when the goddesses made the elect at the beginning of history—the so-called “one in a million” warrior women, they neglected to take into account human fallibility and weakness in the face of temptation.  The gods responded by making a small council of plain ordinary men but for the long life who could be activated and empowered for short periods of time to deal with things unseen by the goddesses—like an elect gone rogue.  Heinrich’s mere presence made Detective Lisa nervous, but Emily thought he looked like Santa Clause.  She kissed his cheek and thanked him again for her sword, and smiled when she left him.

Emily also smiled when she talked to her sister elect Lisa earlier in the day.  She was glad to hear that everything around Trenton and around the New Jersey State campus was quiet.  After freshman year, she needed a quiet semester.  Lisa had the good sense to only mention Pierce once, and that was to say she was there if Emily ever wanted to talk about it.  Emily did not want to talk about it, but she appreciated the offer and said so.

ac-latasha-2Emily made sure she talked to Latasha early as well.  Latasha was going to be a sophomore at the high school near the campus.  Emily felt it was important to encourage the girl in her schooling every chance she got.  God knew the girl got little encouragement from her family, friends and neighbors.  Sure, Latasha’s mother loved her well enough, and she had a couple of good friends in Keisha and Janet, but that was it.  She struggled against a terrible cultural headwind designed to keep her down and isolated, and isolation was especially dangerous for an elect.  Given her power, if Latasha was ever tempted to lash out, the consequences could be dire.  Lisa and Emily discussed it.  It was important for them to remind Latasha that she was not the only one, that she was not alone and that they were there for her no matter what.

Emily made a quick stop at the student center and her post box.  She found a note regarding the fall schedule.  They hired a teacher for Anatomy and Physiology, which was good because she needed that class, but they could only schedule the classes as night classes, so her schedule got changed.  The note from the new Professor, a man named Vladimir Orlov said he had other daytime obligations until the end of the year, but do not worry.  He was not a vampire.  Emily rolled her eyes.

She lifted her head and saw Ms Morgan Granger float by.  The woman now had seven hunks and two gorgeous women in her train.  Emily knew the woman was dabbling with Professor Hilde’s Jekyll and Hyde juice, but it was something she wanted to ignore.

When Emily looked toward the door, she saw a woman she only vaguely recognized.  She was prepared to ignore this woman too, but the woman went straight for her and even attempted to trap her by the mailboxes so she couldn’t escape.  The woman put out her hand to introduce herself.

ac-news-6“Courtney Chase, Channel 5, Eyewitness News.”

Emily opted not to shake the woman’s hand by putting her hand to her ribs instead.  “You surveying students?”

“You are Emily Hudson?  I understand you had quite a year last year, and I missed it all.”

Emily had to think about how to answer the woman.  The last thing she wanted was publicity, but then she was hoping for a dull, uninteresting year where she could actually focus on her nursing studies.  “You didn’t miss much, and I expect this year will be just as unexciting.”

“I heard the freshman ROTC got into some bad drugs.  Did you have to kill any of those young men?”

“Most of the freshmen transferred out.”  Emily shrugged.  “That’s all.  It happens.  We have a few sophomores in the class this year.”

“But what about the dead people walking around campus.  You were seen cutting off people’s heads.”

“Actually, there was a person last year who was into mass hypnosis, but she was taken care of by someone else.  It wasn’t me.”

“But I heard—.”

“You heard a bunch of nonsense.  This is a college campus, for crying out loud.  College kids do crazy things, but I am not sure any of them are newsworthy.  Excuse me.”  Emily squeezed past the woman and limped toward the door.

“How did you manage to get hurt?”  The woman seemed to notice for the first time.

“I fell off a dog.”

“You fell off a dog?”

“It was a really big dog.”

“Interesting.  I would love a camera interview.  Say, a week from Thursday, four o’clock so it is after classes?”

Emily stopped in the doorway.  She put on a big smile.  “You want to hear about my nursing classes?  That could be good.  Maybe we could encourage young people to consider going into nursing.  All projections say there will be a shortage of nurses in the near future.”

Courtney Chase, Channel 5, Eyewitness News frowned.  She did not have her cameraman with her.  She showed a thousand questions on her face, but all she said was, “Maybe later.”  Emily escaped.

She limped away from the center with her hand still around her middle.  Her chest was wrapped.  One of her lungs collapsed back when they first got her to the hospital, but she survived.  She did not doubt that she would.


Latasha felt good about being back in school even if Janet and Keisha were being dips about it.  She only had a couple of years to get her grades up to where she could go to Mercer Community and study Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement.  She had her heart set on the Police Academy and following in Detective Lisa’s footsteps.  Sadly, everything around her, including her friends dragged her down.  At least she got along well with her science teacher.

boston-5“Ms Riley, I thought you weren’t coming back after freshman year and, you know, the succubus incident.”  Latasha glanced at her friends.  They did not remember much about it.

“What suck-you-bus incident?” Keisha asked.

“You mean that time Mister Santos the bus driver tried to shoot you?” Janet asked.  Latasha just shook her head in response.

“That was my plan,” Ms Riley explained to Latasha.  “But things have changed.  Right now there is something going on in this community and I have been asked to stay for a while.”

“If there is something bad happening, Latasha could beat them up,” Janet offered.  Latasha gave Janet a mean stare before she looked again at her teacher.

“Something I should know about?” Latasha asked.  Latasha was not exactly sure who Ms Riley was except she knew the woman was no ordinary teacher.  Last year Latasha caught a glimpse of the woman all skinny with pointed ears kissing a man of the same description that she said was her husband.  Latasha was not sure what all that meant, but she knew Ms Riley was one of the good guys and that was all that really mattered.

“Right now all you need to know is your biology homework,” Ms Riley said with a smile, and that rather ended the discussion.  Once in the hall, Keisha had another thing to say.

“Why did she move up a grade with us?  Wasn’t it bad enough we had to have her last year for environmental science?”

With that word, Latasha had a moment of insight and stopped walking so the others stopped.  A year ago, she would have been right in there with Keisha, agreeing with the girl and badmouthing the teacher, but the truth was, Ms Riley was not only one of the good guys, she was a good teacher.  Sure, biology was going to be hard, but damn it!  Latasha was going to the Police Academy.  She was going to do something with her life and she was going to get ahead.  And maybe that meant she had to stop listening to her friends.  Maybe she had to close her ears to the whole culture in which she lived.  She did not know if she could do that, but she was going to give it her best try.

Latasha started to walk again and realized Keisha and Janet were talking about all of their teachers and classes in the most negative terms they could devise.  Staying out of it was not going to be easy.

When they got to the parking lot, Keisha pointed.  “Hey look, Bobby Thompson.”  She nudged Janet in the side.

Latasha looked, but all she saw was a drug deal going down.  “Hey!”  She shouted at the boys.  She started forward, but the boys noticed and ran off.  Latasha would have run after them.  Bobby Thompson appeared to be the one with the drugs, but Janet moved faster than Latasha thought possible for such a big girl and she got in front of Latasha to block Latasha’s way

“You leave him alone!”  Janet said with a wag of her head like her mother did when she meant to be obeyed.

“Bobby Thompson?  He’s dealing.”

Janet shook her head again and pouted her lips.  “I don’t care what he is doing.  You stay away from him.”


“Janet is sweet on him,” Keisha stepped up.  She thought it was funny.

ac-lat-janetLatasha tried to talk sense.  “Janet, the guy is scum.”

“He is not scum to me,” Janet said.

“What, he was nice to you once?  He’s been nice to half the girls in school.  You are nothing special to him.”

“Fuck you.  I am.  You don’t know nothing.”  Janet’s hands went to her hips and she wiggled them for emphasis.

Latasha backed away.  She got out her phone.  She had to call Detective Lisa and she had to decide what she was going to do about her friends.  She wondered briefly if Janet was pregnant.

Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 3 of 3


At five-thirty, Jessica began to pace back and forth between the refrigerator and the dishwasher.  She reminded Emily of the way Detective Lisa paced, and she imagined Jessica was pacing for the same reason.  The girl was anxious, and wanted to do something, but first they had to feed Melissa.  Melissa gave it everything she had and was utterly drained.  She was not tired.  She had slept well, especially after Maria gave her the sedative, but she was starving.  Apparently magic took a lot of energy.  Only Tyler kept up with her eating.

Emily leaned over to Melissa at one point and the girl stopped eating to look up.  She had missed all of the action Freshman year and felt like a bit of an outsider.  The others all accepted her, and Amina and Maria did everything they could to reassure her, but without Emily’s approval the rest did not matter.  Emily had run into a big, bad and real wicked witch last year and one of her friends was burned to ashes.  Melissa understood that Emily’s feelings toward witches were not good, even little witches such as herself.  She felt the churning begin in her stomach before Emily surprised her.

“Welcome to the club,” Emily said, and there was not the least hint of reservation in Emily’s words.  In fact, Emily leaned forward to give Melissa a little hug.

Melissa wanted to cry for joy as Amina and Mindy both interrupted with the same word, “Tribe,” and Amina added, “Not club.”

“Whatever,” Jessica said.  “Can we go?”

“So where do we go from here?”  Tyler asked between bites.

“Hidden beneath the spell of protection, Melissa set a simple tracer spell,” Maria explained.  “With any luck, it will lead us back to the bogyman’s lair.”

“We will have to be prepared to take on the bogy beast,” Mindy said between nibbling on her danish and twirling her red hair.  To the curious looks of the others, she explained.  “Like a bogyman’s dog, but the size of a grizzly bear, metal plated, big jaws, deadly claws and breathes fire.”

Jessica stopped pacing and stared.  She shook her head.  “Let’s find it first,” and she resumed her pacing.

ac-tyler-2“Awesome,” Tyler said.

“You’re not going,” Emily told her brother.

“What?”  Tyler protested with as many words as he could think of, but he ended with, “I’ll tell mom.”  At the moment, and for once Emily was not fazed by that.

“Tell her,” Emily said, as she got up to get her sword off the kitchen counter where she set it down when she got out the danish.  “She has no business pretending she doesn’t know what is going on.”

The girls followed Emily out to the car, and Emily looked at her sword and added a thought.  “I can’t drive with this strapped to my belt.”

“I’ll drive,” Jessica volunteered.

“No!”  Maria, Amina and Emily all shouted.  Jessica driving was a frightening thought.

“I’ll drive,” Maria insisted.  “Emily and Melissa sit up front with me.”

“Sorry, no room.”  Emily shrugged for her brother.  “Maybe next time.”

Tyler was still protesting.  “What if there isn’t a next time?”

The girls all laughed as they climbed into the car.  Maria started it up and they pulled down the street to be out of sight before Melissa activated her tracer.  She sat still for a moment before she raised her arms.  Then she moaned and doubled over, and Maria and Emily reached for her.

“I’m fine,” Melissa said.  “I just way overextended myself yesterday and I don’t need just rest and food, I think I need some healing time.”

“Like a pulled muscle on the sports field?’ Emily wondered.

“Something like that,” Maria said before she looked up at the street.  “I don’t see anything.  I thought you said it would be like a blue trail.”

ac-maria-driving“Yes,” Melissa nodded as she sat up.  She explained for the others.  “My magic tends to be blue in color.  I don’t know if the colors mean anything, but something like this should be blue.”

“Wait a minute.”  Maria turned the car around and went back by the house.  Melissa saw the trail there, like a dotted line of bluish lights going down the street in the opposite direction.

“I see it, but it is so faint.” Maria admitted.

“Same for me,” Mindy said, though she squinted with all her might.

“I see it bright and clear,” Emily and Amina both said, and Jessica added her voice.

“Looks like it crosses that lawn up ahead.”

“How do you see it?”  Mindy wondered.  Jessica shrugged.

“Bright, like Christmas lights only all blue,” she said, and Amina let out a slight smile, but said nothing.

After that, the seats got shuffled.  Melissa had to drive because of the ones who could see the trail best, Amina did not have a driver’s license and Emily and Jessica were going to have to get out when necessary to follow the line across yards to the next street over.  The car followed them around when that happened, but thankfully the bogyman appeared to stick mostly to the streets, especially when he got into town

As the sun came up, the bluish lights began to grow dim and Maria and Mindy could no longer see the line at all.  “I’m sorry,” Melissa apologized.  “I guess this is a magic better suited for nighttime.  I didn’t know.  I’m just learning.”

“We all are,” Emily assured her.

“I bet it is more of a temporal thing,” Mindy suggested.  “The spell was not going to last forever.  We probably spent too much time cleaning up and having breakfast.”

“But I feel we are close,” Amina said.

“Pull over here and park.”  Emily pointed.  The dim line was headed off down an alleyway between buildings.

Melissa pulled over, scraped the tires and paused to catch her breath.  She really needed healing time, that was certain.  Emily got out and checked her tires before she stood up straight.  They started down the alleyway, all six together.  They went by several dumpsters, a couple of loading docks and back doors, but the line stayed straight down the middle of the alley until at once it blinked and went out.

“Sorry,” Melissa said and Emily pointed at her.

“You need to stop saying that.”

“Now where do we go?” Maria asked.

“Keep straight and see if we can see some other sign of activity?”  Emily suggested, but Jessica interrupted.

ac-jessica-hunter“In here,” she said.  She was squatting and looking at something in the dust.  Emily leaned over, but could not see it.  “Bogy blood,” Jessica pointed at a little purple spot in front of a door.  Emily thought it looked like a drip of purple paint, hardly noticeable, but they had nothing else to go on.

“She is right,” Amina said and looked at the door.  “It must be in there.”

“J & Jr. Plastics,” Maria read the sign out front.

“The door is locked.” Mindy tried it.  Jessica stood and the two of them together put their shoulders to it.  Mindy backed away with the word, “Ouch.”  Jessica backed off and invited Emily to the front.  Emily easily kicked the door wide open and did not give it another thought.  “Ogre strength,” Mindy mumbled.

They stepped into a relatively empty warehouse room where pallets of plastic cups and plastic plates sat along the far wall, and rolls of plastic sheeting for wrapping up shipping pallets looked abandoned.  A forklift was parked by the pallets, but otherwise the floor was empty, that is, apart from the figure that stayed back in the shadows.  The windows along the same wall as the door looked very dirty, and though they let in little of the sunlight, clearly the bogyman was not interested in light.

“I was given instructions,” the bogyman talked, much to the surprise of the women.  “If I could not get you to drop out of school, I was to kill you.”  The bogyman put a hand to his back where he was evidently cut.  He shouted something unintelligible and unrepeatable and they heard the roar from the back of the building.  The bogy beast came to its master, and the master simply said, “Kill.”




ab-bogy-beast-1The bogy beast turned, roared again, and let out a stream of fire that made the women scramble.  Emily patted the knife strapped to her calf and pulled her sword.  Jessica pulled her fancy army knife.  Maria grabbed Mindy and Amina and took them to the wall where a fire hose sat curled up on its big red wheel.

“Melissa!”  Maria shouted.  Melissa was in a fog, but she could be trusted to turn on the water.

The beast swiveled its head to the left and right as Jessica and Emily separated.  It felt like the beast was trying to decide which morsel to gobble up first.  The beast was about twelve feet long on all fours.  It had more of a dog’s big mouth than a bear’s short snout.  It appeared to be covered in hairy scales which Mindy said were just about impenetrable.  Emily thought Jessica and her knife did not stand a chance, so she jumped first.  She used the reach of her sword to go for the eye, but the beast was quick.  She managed a deep cut on the beast’s nose, but that was all before she felt the back of the beast’s paw.  It knocked her through the air to where she crashed into a metal support beam just a couple of feet from the bogyman.  Emily heard her ribs crack against the pole, and the bogyman laughed.  She had not expected that level of enormous strength.

Jessica shouted and waved to distract the beast.  The beast responded.  It turned and sent a stream of fire in Jessica’s direction, but Jessica was ready and leapt behind a nearby support beam of her own.  Then the others got the water on.  It became a real battle, not the least to keep the hose pointed in the right direction.  The beast roared flame and the water attacked.  Steam filled the room, but at last the beast turned away.  It had swallowed enough water to put out a small house fire, and the beast could only smoke.  It decided it did not need the flame.  It charged the hose.  The girl’s dropped it, screamed and scattered, and the beast paused, once again not knowing which girl to swallow first.

Officer Marion burst into the room, gun drawn.

Jessica shouted.  “Go for the eyes!”

Marion fell to one knee and emptied her entire clip.

ab-bogyman-3Emily got up slowly with a hand on her ribs.  She looked straight at the beast, but her peripheral vision stayed on the bogyman.  When she faked a limp, the bogyman turned toward her and laughed, which was just what she hoped.  She spun and with both hand on her sword, she sliced through the air and cut the bogy neck cleanly so the bogyman’s head rolled under the forklift.  But instead of collapsing, the bogy body went in search of the head.  After a moment of shock, Emily began to slice off limbs.  She separated both arms and one leg before she felt the back of the bogy beast’s hand once again.  It roared, caught her from behind and threw her into the warehouse wall.  She crashed ten feet up, dropped her sword, and slid to the ground.  Now Emily was certain her ribs were broken.  Lucky for her, the bogy beast could not see her since that eye was the one Marion put out of commission

The bogy beast turned again to the others and that annoying woman with the gun, and while Marion reloaded, Jessica made a run and leap to try and stick her knife into the beast’s other eye.  The beast backhanded her, but Jessica fell to the floor and slid on her jeans and some plastic sheeting to the front windows.

Marion fired again, convinced that her bullets were not penetrating that scaly hide, but then the beast did something that surprised them all.  It stood on its hind legs like a bear, and it was at least twelve feet tall.  Marion shot the belly and tried for the neck, but the beast was as heavily armored there as everywhere else.  When she needed to reload again, Jessica came up beside her to stay her hand.  Somehow, Emily had jumped on the beast’s back from behind.

ab-bogy-beast-2Emily held on with her knees and grabbed the beast’s soft, pointed ear with her left hand.  Her right hand held her trusty knife.  It was the same knife she used to kill Pierce.  That thought, the thought the bogyman kept haunting her with night after night, made her enraged.  She jammed the knife into the bogy beast’s ear over and over.  She sliced the bogy beast’s good eye and rammed the knife deep into the back of the head where she could get between the scales.  The bogy beast tried to back up to crush her against the wall, but it could not move well on two feet.  At last it staggered and finally fell, and Emily had no strength left to jump free.  She heard her left leg bone crack as the full weight of the beast came down on her, but she did not care.  She was in tears.

Jessica and Marion rushed up to make sure the beast was dead.  Amina rushed to Emily and told her to hold on, and she hugged her.  Mindy kept screaming, ‘Don’t touch it!”  The bogy body had almost rebuilt itself apart from the head which was wedged under the forklift.  Melissa did not know what to do, but Maria got into the forklift and started it up.  She started forward with a shake and jump and the bogy head popped out from beneath, only slightly flattened.  Mindy’s scream changed to, “The sunlight will kill it!”

Maria caught the bogy body in the fork so it could not escape without being run over.  It tried to turn and scratch at the driver, but it could not reach and in a second, Maria crashed it through one of the front windows.  The body steamed, smoked, caught on fire in the light and quickly crumbled away to dust.  At the same time, the body of the bogy beast began to deflate like a balloon with a slow leak.

“The head!” Mindy shouted and Marion got up to fetch it.  “Don’t touch it!” Mindy screamed, and Jessica caught Marion’s hand and shook her head.  Marion stepped over to the wall where there were various lengths of plastic water pipe cut and waiting for a plumber.  She picked up a suitable piece about three feet long and used it to shove the head toward the broken window as Maria backed the forklift out of the way.

“No!  No!”  The head pleaded with them, but it did no good.  Marion stopped short of the sunlight, gripped the pipe like a club and with a shout of “Four!” she hit the head through the window.  It hit the light, screamed, fried, and went to dust, even as Lieutenant Anthony came racing into the building followed by a half-dozen police officers.

ac-anthony-4“What the hell is going on here?’  He yelled.

“Nothing.  All finished,” Mindy said as she looked around at everyone and got nods of agreement.

“What the hell was that scream?”

“Bogyman,” Mindy said.

“What the hell is that?”  The Lieutenant pointed to the deflated creature.

“Bogy beast,” Mindy said.

Lieutenant Anthony stopped to look at the little redhead who was doing all the talking.  “And who the hell are you?”

Before Mindy could answer, Amina spoke up from where she was kneeling beside Emily.  “I am definitely going to go on a date this year.”

It was so out of context, everyone had to stare.  Of course, Jessica had to say something.

“Got anyone in mind?”

Emily laughed as Marion came to kneel beside her, and she laughed again at the thought of a supposed Amazon tribe having an affiliate member.  She did not laugh long since it made her ribs hurt.


Coming Monday, Elect II – 2 Amazons

Happy Reading…


Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 2 of 3


Maria and Melissa got the twin beds in Tyler’s room.  Mom apologized, but both of them had brothers and said they understood.  Amina and Mindy got the twins in David’s room.  David was in the National Guard and currently deployed oversees in some place he could not talk about.  Jessica got the other twin in Emily’s room.

“Just like at school,” Jessica commented as she unpacked.  “This is a preview.”

“Except at school we won’t have Mom downstairs in the kitchen cooking way too much food.”  Emily yawned.  Now that the gang was there, her exhaustion started catching up with her.  She felt safe, whether she was or not.  Melissa freaked her out a bit when she sat cross-legged on the floor in Emily’s room, chanted and sprinkled what looked like dust all around.

“Mom’s going to get out the vacuum if you keep it up,” she commented.

Melissa also smeared some oil in a corner of every window and door in the house, and secretly to keep the window cleaner from coming out.  Melissa was satisfied that she had done all she could, until Jessica pointed out the heating and air conditioning ducts.

“It might get in through the roof and come down through the ductwork,” so Melissa applied some oil there, too.  It was odorless in the air conditioning of August, but it might have smelled in the winter with the heat turned on.  Once that was done, there was nothing else to do but go down to the living room where Dad had the Yankee game on.  He was an old time Clippers fan and offered to treat them all to a game at the stadium, hot dogs and all.  The Mud Hens were coming to town on Monday, he said, but the girls declined.

“I could go,” Tyler offered, and his dad agreed.  They had a date.

“And there are always some tickets at the box office if you girls change your minds,” he said.

ac-emily-5aPoor Tyler, Emily thought.  He was sleeping in the basement, but he could hardly complain about having his house invaded by all these young and good looking women.  He mostly sat and watched, and it was not the Yankee game he watched.  But he said little, like he was suddenly shy.  Then again, Emily did not have the strength at the moment to tease him, so maybe he got off lucky.

After supper, which Emily struggled through, the girls made various excuses to go up to bed early.  It was the plane trip and the drag waiting at the airports and a busy day of travel, and the family understood, even if Tyler was disappointed to see them disappear up the stairs.  Once up, Maria got out her concoction of anti-dream juice and then they had a schedule of sitting up through the night to watch over Emily.

“I feel like the helpless one for a change,” Emily said with a big yawn.

“You are,” Jessica responded.  “We’re a team.  Go to sleep.”

Emily nodded and had no trouble doing that very thing.




The banging started around midnight.  There was banging all around the outside of the house.  Mindy sat on watch and Jessica was asleep but sat straight up when there was a tap-tap on Emily’s window.  Mindy jumped out of her chair and switched on the overhead light.

ab-bogyman-5“Turn it off,” Jessica ordered, and when she did, Jessica peered out the window to see if she could glimpse something in the night.  There was nothing to be seen, so Mindy turned the light back on when Melissa came to the doorway.  She was sweating and trembling.

“I don’t have very much magic,” Melissa said.  “I won’t be able to keep it out.  I’m sorry.”  She collapsed in the doorway and Jessica and Mindy got her into Jessica’s bed.

Amina and Maria came last to the door and Amina spoke quickly.  “It has not gotten in.”  Emily’s mom came out of her room.

“I don’t mind the slumber party, but I would appreciate if you would keep it down a little.”

“Sorry to wake you.”

“Did we wake Mister Hudson?”

Emily’s mom shook her head.  “He could snore through a hurricane.”  She turned and went back to her room.

After that, Jessica found Emily’s old sleeping bag in the closet beside the bed Melissa was now occupying.  Jessica was not leaving the room.  Emily, and now Melissa were both asleep and unharmed as far as Maria could tell, but Jessica would not abandon them.  Maria took Mindy back to the other room, but Mindy swore she would not be able to sleep.  It was Amina’s turn to watch, but before she turned off the light, Jessica got out the army knife her dad bought her when she announced she was going into ROTC.  Then she found Emily’s sword, the one made by hand by the four hundred and seventy-year-old Heinrich Schultz.  Jessica had no idea if the sword had any magical properties, but she felt safer when she curled up beside it.

ab-bogyman-1The wind picked up at two in the morning.  It rapidly reached dangerous proportions around the house.  The windows shook.  Every door rattled, and if the women had been aware to notice, the doors rattled one at a time.

Melissa became a bucket of sweat and began to whimper in her sleep.  Jessica could not wake her enough to get a word out of her.  Maria came in and managed to get Melissa to swallow some liquid.

“A mild sedative,” Maria said.  “I would rather she sleep than be injured.”

The wind stopped.  Amina who was in the corner made her announcement.  “It has not gotten in.”

“Good thing,” Maria and Jessica spoke together.

Oddly, this time Mindy slept through the noise.  Emily’s mom also did not make an appearance.  Tyler did come up from the basement.  He decided to finish the night on the living room couch, with the kitchen light on, but the women upstairs did not know this.

ab-bogyman-4Four in the morning is when everything happened, only this time there was silence.  Maria was on watch.  Maria turned on the small light beside the bed to act like a night light.  Melissa and Emily were both asleep, and Maria felt like nodding herself.  Jessica’s eyes popped open, not because she had some sixth sense, she imagined, but because Emily’s closet door was slowly opening and pushing up against the bottom of the sleeping bag.

Jessica could feel the presence in the room and it frightened her, terribly.  She felt it pause over Melissa before it rounded the bed to Emily’s side of the room.  Emily had said that when she was little she took the bed farthest away from the closet door, and now Jessica knew why.

When she had her chance, Jessica leapt up and switched on the light.  Both Jessica and Maria caught a glimpse of the creature before it went invisible.  It did not look at all like the man in the movie.  This creature had absolutely no humanity about it.

As soon as it vanished, Jessica got grabbed by her hair, tossed to the ground, and the light got put out.  Maria’s chair got knocked to the floor, and the small light between the beds also went out.  Jessica grabbed Emily’s sword, and when Maria crawled to the door and switched the overhead light back on, she was ready.  She saw the indent in the rug where the creature stood, hovering over Emily, and she swung the sword as hard as she could.  The creature howled.

ab-bogeyman-2Emily and Melissa both sat straight up at that sound.  Emily punched, and connected with something that doubled over.  Melissa raised her hands, though it seemed to the others that Melissa was still mostly asleep.  There was a small gust like wind and they heard something crash into the upper corner of the room.  The howl came again from there, and they saw a purple smear, like bogy-blood spread across the wall.

Something ran between Maria and Jessica, shoved them out of the way and dove out the window.  The glass shattered and everyone in the house came running, except Mister Hudson who continued to snore.

“It is gone,” Amina announced.

“Where?”  Emily got up and avoided the broken glass

Amina shook her head.  “It is too powerful,” she said as she and Maria helped Melissa to her feet and carried her away from the broken glass.

“I never thought my little spell would stop it,” Melissa confessed in a sleepy mumble.

“A simple lock might confuse an ogre for a second,” Mindy said.  “But eventually the ogre will just rip the door off the hinges and without breaking a sweat.”

“I like that analogy,” Melissa said with a bit more strength.

Mindy screamed, “Don’t touch it!”  Emily and Jessica were staring at the smear of bogy blood up by the ceiling.  Emily at five-six would have had to jump to touch it, but Jessica at five-nine had her hand poised.  “Don’t touch it,” Mindy said more calmly, but with a strict to-be-obeyed voice.  “Unless you want to be haunted by nightmares for the rest of your life.”  She finished the sentence and Jessica snatched her hand back.

“What on earth happened here?”  Emily’s mom was aghast at the destruction.

“Maybe it was that big wind,” Tyler spoke over his mother’s shoulder.  “I bet it was that wind.”

Emily’s mom looked hard at the girls in the room, but none of them denied it so what could she say?

“Shoes,” Jessica said, and Emily echoed, “Shoes everyone,” while she slipped her feet in her sneakers which were by the door.  Emily was thinking about the glass, but Jessica was worried about the bogy blood in case someone accidentally stepped in it.

“Go back to bed, mom,” Emily said.  “We will clean up.”

“You think I can sleep?  Now I’ll have to call the window people first thing Monday morning, and that is going to cost,” she said.  “And your father is going to have to get some plywood in the morning.  He is not going to like that.  Sunday is his sleep day.”  She closed the door to her room.

“Your mom doesn’t know anything, does she?”  Jessica noticed.

Emily shook her head.  “She doesn’t want to know.”

“You’re welcome for the wind thing,” Tyler said, quick to point out that he lied for them.  “So what was it?”

“A bogyman.”  Emily spoke honestly.

“It came out of the closet,” Jessica added.

“Awesome!  You had a boogyman in the closet.”  They did not feel the need to correct him since that was essentially correct.  Instead, they went to get gloves and the strongest cleaners they could find.

“I like my closet,” Jessica said.  “Of course it is about as big as Emily’s room.”

“Beverly Hills,” Emily told her staring brother.  She looked up at the corner of her room and did not doubt that by the time they finished cleaning, the corner of her room would have to be repainted.

Elect II—1 Summer Fun, part 1 of 3


The phone rang.

Emily’s younger brother, Tyler was hiding in the basement.  Dad was outside cutting the grass because Tyler was hiding in the basement.  Mom was outside talking to the neighbor to avoid any serious work in the garden.  All was right with the world, Emily thought.  She could get a short nap if the phone would just stop ringing.  She had not been sleeping well.  Too many nightmares about Pierce.

The phone rang.

She loved Pierce, as much as she ever loved anyone.  She did not care if he was a genetically engineered super soldier, or what.  She loved him and he loved her, and that was enough.  Life was good, but then he got activated.  He was ordered to kill every student at New Jersey State University.  She died when she killed him.  It felt like stabbing a knife into her own heart.

The phone rang.

Emily did not want to be one of the elect anymore.  She did not want to be one in a million.  She did not want to be the woman warrior, empowered to defend home and community.  Whoever came up with that idea could stuff it.  Lisa said she was as strong as any man with an uncanny ability to fight with or without weapons.  She was hard to injure, quick to heal, coordinated, agile, graceful…  Emily just wanted to be Emily, not some freakish superhero.

The phone rang.

Okay, back at New Jersey State in Trenton, Detective Lisa and Latasha, a high school sophomore, were also elect.  That made three women warriors in one little city.  The odds against that were astronomical, but at least for Emily it was nice not being the only one in town.  At that moment, what felt more important was she would not feel too guilty about abandoning the city if she decided not to go back to school.

The phone rang.

How could she go back?  She would see Pierce everywhere she looked.  That was what her dreams were telling her.  That was what her nightmares were vividly pointing out.  Stay home.  There are good nursing schools in Ohio.  But, “Damn it!”  She promised Pierce she would go back and finish at New Jersey State.  She promised that right before she killed him.

The phone rang and someone had the nerve to pick it up.

“Emily!”  It was Mom.  Emily tumbled off the couch and walked grumpily to the kitchen.  “I think it is one of your friends from college.”  Mom smiled and held out the phone.

Emily nodded.  “Hello?”

“Emily!  Are you all right?  I have been worried sick about you.”  It was Amina, her own personal Sybil.

“You’re the seer,” Emily had no patience at the moment.  “You’re the one who sees things no one else can see.  You tell me.”

“The dreams.  You have been having terrible nightmares.”

Emily sighed.  She had not told anyone about her dreams.  The girl could truly see things.  Amina was a bit of a freak herself.  “Yes, I’ve been having dreams, but I think it is just my subconscious trying to talk some sense into me.”

“No, you must not listen.  It isn’t you dreaming.”

Emily paused before she asked, “What do you mean?”

“You are being attacked.  I have discussed it with Mindy.  She is looking for possible causes, what it might be that is attacking you.”

Emily swallowed.  “Attacked?”  If that was true, her attacker knew just where she was weak and vulnerable.  It was preying on her guilt and broken heart over Pierce and telling her not to go back to school in Trenton.

ac-amina-4“We are coming.  We will all be there on Saturday.  Melissa is finishing her summer classes and working on a spell of protection.  Jessica is anxious to find what it is and is harping on poor Mindy to identify it.  Maria will meet them at Newark airport.  She says she has been researching in her pharmacology books and may have something to help you sleep without remembering your dreams.

“And you?”

“Mindy will come up from Colombia, and I will come down from Chicago.”

“Your father is letting you go?  I thought he was going to keep you under lock and key until you were twenty-one and married.”  Amina was born in Chicago, but her family was from Morocco and strict beyond reason.

There was a pause this time on the other end before Amina spoke.  “My family knows I have the gift.  I told them it was a matter of life and death.”

“And is it?  A matter of life and death, I mean.”

This time the pause stretched out into an uncomfortable silence and Emily felt the chills of that silence in the back of her neck.  “I told my father I am going to go on a date this year,” Amina said.  “Meanwhile, we will all be there Saturday.  Please tell your mother not to make a fuss.”

“That will be like telling water not to be wet.”

“Try to rest, only don’t listen to your dreams, my queen.”

Amina hung up, and Emily griped.  Being elect made her some kind of Amazon queen to these women.  That was why at times they referred to Amina as the Sybil—the seer—and Amina referred to Emily as her queen.  Emily shook her head.  Despite the terribly prejudiced point of view, Emily’s picture of an Amazon was some big, weight-lifting, man hating woman with a moustache.  She could not help thinking that way, and that was so not her.  She went back to her couch.

“Oh, honey.  Don’t you have to go to work today?”  Emily’s mother began to dust around her.

“No,” Emily said.  “A day without French fries is like a day with sunshine.  By the way, Jessica, Melissa, Maria, Mindy and Amina are all coming here for a visit.  They will be here Saturday, and Amina said don’t make a fuss.”

Emily’s mother quickly calculated and looked at the clock on the mantle.  “I just have time to get some new bedding.”  She whipped off her gardening hat as she walked briskly to the basement door.  She shouted down the stairs.  “Tyler, as long as you are down there, pull out the bed from the convertible.”

Emily heard Tyler shout back.  “Is Aunt Matilda and the freak parade coming?”  Mother shut the door without answering.  She picked up her purse, paused by the mirror in the front hall and left.  Emily lay back on the couch and thought, at last!  Now she could get that nap, only now she could not get her eyes to close.  The dreams were bad enough when she thought they were her own, but the idea that someone or something was getting into her head and attacking her in her sleep made the chill return to the back of her neck.  The worst part of it was, given all she had seen and been through last year—her freshman year at New Jersey State, she did not doubt for one second that such a thing was possible.  Heck, if Amina said it, it was a virtual certainty, in which case she imagined she might never sleep again.


ab-fast-foodDad had to go into work Saturday morning.  The overtime was good, but that meant he could not pick up the girls.  Mom was too busy making beds, putting out flowers and checking the cookie supply to drive.  Emily was going to have to do it herself, but even as she got in the car, her manager called.

“I know you need the week off for police work.  You know me, cooperating with the police is my first choice, but I need you.  Can you come in for the morning shift?  Paul and Debbie both called out, but Alesandra will be in at two.  Please?”

What could Emily do?  As tired as she was, she needed the money.  Besides, she was not too sure about navigating the airport traffic lanes in her current condition.  Flipping burgers or running a register designed for idiots should not be a problem.  She called officer Marion.  The woman was instrumental in setting up department seven in the Columbus police force to help her stop an outbreak of vampires last Christmas.  At times, she felt like Emily’s own shadow, and Emily thought it was only fair to give the woman something to do.


ac-jessica-5Jessica was the first one off the plane from Newark, and not surprised to find a police officer waiting for them.  The woman looked about Detective Lisa’s age, around thirty-five or so.

“Where is Emily?”  Maria asked.  They had a half-hour wait for Amina to arrive from Chicago.

“Called in to work,” Mindy answered.  She had gotten there an hour earlier and spent most of that time sipping her latte, going in and out of the bathroom, fiddling with her long red hair and not talking.  She heard about the vampires, but offered little in return.

“Gee, Detective Lisa never offered us a ride in a police van,” Jessica said.

“I talked to your detective friend,” Marion said.  “She seemed to think if you are all gathering here, there must be something going on.”

“She is a detective.”  Jessica shrugged it off.  “Naturally suspicious.”

“So am I.”  Marion treated them to coffee and tea and then made them sit in a quiet corner.  “As I explained to Mindy, Captain Parker set up department seven last Christmas to help Emily and Anna Lee with the vampires.”

“Anna Lee?”  Melissa looked at her friends.

“Elect from New York City,” Maria explained quietly and Melissa nodded.

“Now, whenever Emily is in town, my job is to keep an eye on her.”  Marion hardly took a breath.  “I heard some of what you did at school last year.  I am sure you can still probably surprise me about things that a year ago I would have said are not real and you are mad, but I need to know what is going on or I won’t be of any use.  Besides, Lieutenant Anthony does not like surprises, so talk.”  The women looked at each other, but said nothing.

“Which one of you is in charge when Emily is not around?”  Marion tried again.

Melissa and Mindy spoke together.  “Jessica.”  But Jessica spoke otherwise.


Maria shook her head.  “I am going to be a doctor.  The doctor is never in charge.”  She turned to Officer Marion.  “Jessica,” she said, emphatically.

“I don’t want to be in charge,” Jessica protested.

“That is just what Emily says,” Maria responded.

“Hey!”  Marion regained their attention.  “So Jessica, what is going on.”  Jessica just looked at Mindy who nodded to the look and finally opened up.

“I’ve narrowed it down to either ghouls or a bogyman.  According to my reading, though, it seems to me ghouls affect the vision and daydreams more than regular dreams.  Bogymen are the ones who turn night dreams into nightmares.”

ab-bogy“A boogyman?”  Marion had to ask.

“Bogyman.  Like Nightmare on Elm Street if you ever saw that movie,” Mindy responded.  From the look on Marion’s face it appeared she had seen the movie.  “Emily is having bad dreams,” Mindy offered.

Marion took a deep breath and her imagination almost took over.  She thought it wise to turn to Maria and change the subject.  “So you are going to medical school?”

“I haven’t applied yet.  I’m only a sophomore.  We all are, but that is the plan.”  Maria sipped her coffee.

“And you are in charge when Emily is absent?”

“Apparently,” Jessica said with a frown.  “And despite the fact that I am the blonde one.”

“You are going into ROTC with Emily,” Maria pointed out.  “You are going to be an officer.  And besides, you are the business major,” as if that had anything to do with it.

“Antiquities,” Mindy interrupted and offered her own major.  “The research information in Columbia is slim, but did you know New Jersey State has one of the biggest collections of old books, parchments, scrolls including papyrus and fragments in North America.  There are clay tablets at the school from Byblos, Nineveh, Babylon, and dating all the way back to Sumeria.  It is all such fascinating stuff.  Professor Papadopoulos—.”

“I am sure it is fascinating,” Jessica interrupted and Mindy quieted.

“And what about you?”  Officer Marion turned to Melissa who had said only that one peep to Maria about the Chinese woman from New York.  “What is your part in all of this?”

Melissa spoke quietly and in a very shy and unassuming manner.  “I’m the witch.”

Marion widened her eyes for a second before she appeared to shrug with those eyes.  “Did you think maybe a witch is giving Emily the nightmares?”

Jessica shook her head.  “Amina said whatever it is, it isn’t human.”


“The one we are waiting for,” Maria spoke up.

“Our seer,” Jessica said.

“Our Sybil,” Mindy said.


“Amazon term,” Mindy explained.  “Amina says we are Emily’s Amazon tribe since she is…special.”  Jessica stared at her again.

“We think of it more like a club,” Maria said.  “You could be like an affiliate member.”

“Amazons,” Marion mused as the announcement blared over the speakers that Amina’s plane was at the gate.  Marion wanted to see this so-called seer, and while she waited she changed her mind.  Life still had plenty of stuff that could surprise her.

ac-amina-a1Amina had short cropped hair that cupped her face nicely and set off her deep set dark eyes.  Her hair was black, like Emily, but her skin looked extremely well-tanned, like she spent every day in the tanning salon.  When she got close and began to hug each girl in turn, Marion realized that this was the girl’s natural skin color.

Amina hugged Marion too, though they had never met, and she spoke.  “My family came here from Morocco.  I am glad the others explained things to you.  That saves me a lot of trouble.”

Marion turned to Jessica as they left the airport.  “Your seer?”

“Sybil,” Jessica nodded.  “It’s her job.”