The ride to the police station did not take long and it was not entirely uncomfortable. The officers checked in with Mitzy, the woman at the front desk, before they took the girls to separate rooms. Emily had to wait and sit at a table with four chairs in an otherwise empty room. The room had a mirror, which had to be the obligatory see through glass from the other side. The room also had a window, but the blind was down and closed, and the sill looked so dirty she dared not look at the glass.
Emily ran her hand through her short hair more than once. She twice examined her poor excuse for nails. She drummed her fingers for a while. Finally, she retrieved her English book, the bag having been checked first, and she read until someone came.
A woman, maybe thirty-five, reddish-brown hair, green eyes, and as tall as Emily at maybe five-six stepped into the room. She wore a business suit, gray, with a blue top, and shoes that looked like practical nurse’s shoes, which were probably a necessity for a cop. The man who followed looked about the same age as the woman, but he was brown, like someone from the near east. The woman introduced him as Ashish Mousad and Emily tried not to stare, but the man kept looking at her dumbly, like Tom the football player, or maybe like someone trying to see her insides.
“Family’s from Kashmir. I’m third generation,” the man said. Emily had no idea what that meant, but that was not why she returned the stare. Mister Mousad’s bulbous nose seemed far too big for the rest of his face, though not necessarily too big for his round middle. She turned her eyes away as the woman spoke, and Emily became aware that the woman had been watching her the whole time, even as she stared at the man.
“I’m Detective Lisa Schromer. Do you mind if I sit?” The man leaned his bulk against the dirty windowsill.
Emily shrugged and closed her book. She pointed to the seat opposite. “It’s your jail.”
The detective smiled, sat and shook her head. “You are not in jail and will not be going to jail. I came to talk. That’s all.” Emily said nothing. She might be willing to listen. It took her mind off of thinking about what she had done.
“You are Emily Hudson?” Emily nodded. “Freshman at the university? From Columbus Ohio?” Emily nodded again. They got that much from her driver’s license. “So tell me, when in high school did you realize you were too strong to be an ordinary girl?”
Mister Mousad pulled a little notepad from a pocket and spoke up. “You knocked a big man to his back with one kick. You grabbed the second man and made him stab himself with his own knife. Then you walked to the first man and kicked him to get him to turn around so you could knock his lights out with one punch.”
Emily shook her head. “It wasn’t like that.” The woman detective raised an eyebrow. “I mean it was not as easy as you make it sound.”
“It was middle school.” Emily paused to think. Any number of high school incidents passed through her mind. They mostly had to do with athletics, and mostly surprised her as much as anyone, but she never did anything like this. “I was the homerun queen on the eighth grade softball team.”
The woman nodded. “Great speed, dexterity, coordination and agility. As strong as any man.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Emily started to interrupt but held her tongue when the woman gave her a hard look.
“An uncanny ability with whatever weapon comes to hand, but just as tough without weapons. Hard to injure or damage and quick to heal. Given to strategic and tactical thinking, always several steps ahead. Great energy, perseverance, stamina, courage…”
“Wait a minute. How do you know all that?” Emily’s tone of voice said she did not believe it, or did not want to believe it.
“You are one of the elect, called to defend the people and the community in time of need, the warrior woman. You are the one in a million.” The detective fell silent and Emily looked at her hands and poor excuse for nails. The man by the window put his notepad away and pulled out a handkerchief to honk that big nose of his.
“What does that mean?” Emily asked at last.
“Well, I haven’t got a pure heart.”
“Do you know what is right and wrong? Can you distinguish between good and evil?”
“Yes,” she reluctantly admitted. “But that does not mean I always do what is right.” Emily leaned back and felt a bit rebellious at that moment. She was not sure she wanted to be elected, whatever that was. “Besides, how do you know I got elected? I never voted for me.”
“Not that kind of election. Called to be a champion for the people might be a better way to put it.”
“Called by whom?” Emily backed off in her mind, but felt terribly curious at the same time.
“Do you know the concept of the woman warrior?” Emily nodded slowly. “Well, it isn’t a myth,” the detective finished the thought and let that sit in the air for a few seconds before she explained. “It begins sometime after the girl becomes a woman, though you won’t reach your full strength and potential until you are between eighteen and twenty-one.”
“I’m eighteen. Woman mature faster.” Emily meant it as a joke, but it came out as sarcasm and she immediately felt guilty about it. She knew this was serious business.
“The elect are only women,” the detective continued. “They say in the beginning, when the men went out on the hunt for days at a time, the ancient council of goddesses chose one woman and empowered her to protect and defend her home and community. You are simply the latest in a long line of warrior women dating back to the dawn of history. If you have read your mythology, you should know about Atalanta and Camilla. If you know your history, you should know about Queen Boudica and Zenobia of Palmyra. Surely you have heard of Joan of Arc. Of course, most of the elect have deliberately avoided fame, and Joan is a good example why. I understand Electra was glad to let her brother Orestes take all the credit. But the truth is, most women in history probably never knew they were elect. They were never needed, thank God.”
“How many elect are there?”
“Well, one in a million, but that is apocryphal. It may be more like one in ten million people, but at a guess I would say some three thousand women around the world right now are called to champion their people.”
“I never voted for me, either.”
Emily paused to take a breath. “Looks like I won’t get the chance to be anonymous.”
“Looks like,” Detective Schromer agreed. “But listen, there is something happening on the campus and it is not good. We have only hints and rumors at this point, but I hope you will be willing to watch for me. You are sensitive to danger, especially sensitive to unnatural danger, and empowered to meet it head on. It is a gift. You are special.”
Emily found herself clutching and squeezing her own hands as she listened. She resonated with everything being said, like something deep down inside of her confirmed it all, but at the same time, she felt confused again. She did not know how to take what she had been told. Then she heard something that undeniably touched her.
“The two men you injured will both survive,” Ashish reported.
Detective Schromer came around the table and helped Emily to her feet. She helped Emily put her book back in her book-bag, and comforted her as they walked to the door. All Emily wanted to do was cry, but when they got to the door, Emily stood up straight and wiped her eyes as well as she could. The woman detective got her attention once more.
“Take my card.” She put a business card in Emily’s book-bag. “There have been several incidents at the university, young as the school year is. Hopefully your action will put an end to it, but just in case, if something comes up, call me.”
Emily looked at the woman as if for the first time and saw something genuine and caring in those green eyes. She nodded, stepped out of the room and found Jessica waiting for her. Two young policemen hovered over the girl, shared a laugh, and Jessica had some coffee.