Emily went to bed Thursday night after fighting zombies that afternoon. Everything seemed surreal to her at the moment. She had no Friday classes after English in Gorgon Hall, the main classroom building at eight. She dropped her books at her room, took in the fresh, crisp, fall New Jersey air, and started to feel normal again, thinking zombies were just a bad dream.
The high school was easy to find, being right next to the campus. She got there by nine forty-five and wondered what she was supposed to do. She tried to stay on alert, at the attitude of attention, but even she could not keep that up for long when she got bored. Mostly she just sat and watched the cars go by.
Once in a long while a car would pull into the main lot and she would look up only to see a woman in out-of-date slacks or a man in a button down shirt. They were probably teachers. They would run into the school with book-bags, briefcases or papers. Her intuition stayed on alert, she hoped, and she tried to use all her senses as well as she could. Lisa yelled at her about that and the woman was right. Zombies had no business sneaking up on her like that. But mostly, at the high school, there was nothing to sense.
The highlight of her day came at eleven when Pierce called. Their second phone call only lasted two minutes, but he wanted to be sure she had not forgotten about Saturday night and she thought that was so cute. She felt happy for an hour until a police officer pulled up, got out of his car, and asked her for some identification. Emily had her student ID, and the police officer held it for a good long time before he looked at her again. She ran her hand through her short hair several times while waiting.
“The fraternity house,” the police officer said at last. “Rob Parker. Good to see you again, but you better find another location. Jean Johnson in the guidance office noticed you, and they are pretty nervous. Principal Wearing called.”
“Thanks. Murder can make people nervous,” Emily said. “I’m just here as a favor for Detective Schromer. I will try to be more discreet.” Young Rob Parker looked like he wanted to say something more, but Ashish showed up with lunch so he smiled and drove off.
“Anything?” Ashish asked.
Emily shook her head. “What did you bring me?” It was a turkey sub and a diet coke. Emily made a face. “No donuts?”
Ashish looked offended. “By the box-full,” he said, and held up a box. “I bet you are just like Lisa. She can eat all the junk food in the world and never gain an ounce.”
“High metabolism,” Emily said. She only took one donut and moved to a different spot as Ashish left.
By two o’clock Emily felt certain nothing would happen that day. Some people would have been put off by that, but after the last couple of weeks Emily was glad to think nothing was going to happen. Of course, even as she considered her good fortune and thought about living one of those quiet lives, maybe as Missus Pierce Davis with a seven-year-old and ballet recitals, a car pulled up with three men and they all got out together. They parked on the street, but Emily was not fooled for a minute.
She watched them walk down the sidewalk like regular pedestrians, and she followed them around the corner, a pedestrian herself. When they ducked into a side door in the school, Emily followed discretely. She looked through the small window in the door first and did not go inside right away because the men waited and hid in the stairwell. No one came up or down those back stairs, so after a moment the men moved into the hall. Emily poked her head in and heard the muffled screams. They intercepted a girl on her way to the bathroom.
Emily came in the door as a string bean of an African-American girl raced down the stairs. They both entered the hall together to prevent the men from escaping out that same isolated side door. One of the men had one arm around the poor, frightened girl and his other hand up against her mouth to keep her from screaming. Whatever he whispered in the girl’s ear seemed effective to silence her.
“Stand back,” the skinny girl told Emily. “I was born for this fight. I can handle these three creeps.” Emily guessed it was Latasha, the inside help Lisa mentioned. She just grinned and let her have at it.
Latasha stepped forward and both of the men with their hands free jumped her, one from each side. Latasha did not know which way to turn, but to her credit, she managed to kick one pretty hard in the ribs and punch the other. The man with the possible broken rib backed up, but the one she punched tackled her. Latasha landed on her back and the man, return fist ready, landed on top of her.
Emily was right there. She grabbed the man by the collar and belt and tossed him, hard into the lockers. His head dented the metal. He would stay down. Emily spun and grabbed the knife she had strapped to her ankle. The man with the aching ribs started to draw a gun, but he dropped it when he found a knife in his chest.
Emily rolled, picked up the dropped gun and ran all out. To be sure, she had as much strength in her legs as in her arms. She could be unnaturally fast when she tried, and easily caught and tackled the man from behind. He tried to fight her off, but one punch changed his mind, and then he stilled when the gun got put to his head.
Principal Wearing heard the commotion and came running down the adjacent hall. Emily did not give the man time to think. “Hold this one here. Call 9-1-1.” Emily blew on the pistol barrel like in the old western movies and slipped it in her belt at the back, the way Lisa carried her gun. She dared not twirl it. She felt certain she would drop it. She turned and ran back to the man with her knife in his chest.
People raced to their classroom doors at the sound of the fight; but Emily came up to the man with her knife in his chest and yanked out the knife. That man let out such a horrific scream, most of the people went just as quickly back into their rooms. Emily tossed her phone to Latasha with a simple instruction. “Ambulance.” She began to tear the man’s shirt for a bandage and pressed to stop the bleeding. The wound did not look too deep, and nothing vital appeared to be penetrated, but it had to hurt like hell.
“I have a feeling before this is all over, we will get plenty of practice.”