It was the end of the week, Friday after supper when Emily and Pierce sat quietly in the student center with their lattes. They were laughing and content to let the evening time drift by as they enjoyed each other’s company. Naturally, a young man, a total stranger chose that moment to burst into the room. He came right to their table and looked squarely at Emily as he spoke.
“There is trouble at the science building. Help.”
Pierce tenderly touched Emily’s arm. “Where else?” Emily shrugged. The science building did seem to be the center of things. She got up and Pierce followed. When they got close, they both realized that it was more than just trouble.
“Zombies in the building,” Emily shouted and ran. She did not have her sword with her because thus far, she had refused to carry it around the campus, but she did have her knife. Pierce was right on her heels as they burst into the building.
The lab room Emily had blown up was empty, but there was a zombie in the downstairs hall and a body on the floor in the distance. Emily started down that hall.
“Zimmer and Swenson.” Pierce pointed to the stairs.
Damn! Emily joined him in taking two stairs at a time. There was not anything she could do for the dead student in the downstairs hall, but if Swenson and Zimmer were working late and under attack, she had to know and help if she could.
There were two zombies in the upper hall, one outside Zimmer’s office and one banging on Swenson’s door. Emily went for the closer one outside Swenson’s door first. Even as she kicked the zombie to the ground, Zimmer came bounding out of his office with a fire extinguisher. Emily paused to watch. The zombie backed away from the cold. But even sprayed directly, it did not stop the monster. The spray only slowed it.
Emily felt one hand creep over her shoulder while the other reached around for her chin. One swift pull and she had no doubt her neck would snap. She caught the hand just in time and all but tore that arm out of its socket to break free. Then her knife cut the head while the zombie’s free hand continued to claw at her. The zombie did not stop completely until she pierced the heart.
Emily pulled out her knife and cleaned it on the zombie’s burial clothes. She had scratches on her arm and shoulder. Once again, Pierce did not have a mark on him. He turned to her.
“I’ve got the back stairs.”
“Up to the third floor first,” Emily shot back before she raced up the front stairs. She paused at the door that gave access to the big, flat roof, but it was locked and looked undisturbed. She started down the upper hall then, but that hall appeared zombie free. She and Pierce split again and raced back down to the ground floor. They were gone. Pierce thought he saw one in the distance still shuffling off. Emily, not so sure, held on to him.
“We need to check for damage.”
“I don’t see any sign of them,” Pierce reported when he got to the floor. “I don’t know if they came down here.”
“Good, let’s go up,” Emily suggested.
“Wait a minute.” Pierce began to open doors and Emily got treated to views of the furnace, the piping, HVAC ducts and electrical boards. She saw a mop closet as well, and Emily called that a real treat, since the mop head looked like it had not been changed since the school was built, whenever that was.
“Can we go now?”
“Wait. There is supposed to be an office room down here with, you know, posted cleaning schedules and stuff.” Emily stayed on his heels and Pierce grinned. “You know, they say there is another basement below this one, built as a bomb shelter during the cold war. There are also sub-basements below the library and the main classroom building, Gorgon Hall, and they say there are underground tunnels connecting them all.”
Emily slapped his shoulder. “Stop it. You’re spooking me out.”
Pierce laughed. He knew what he was doing. He opened the office door and they both found the night janitor in his chair, his neck neatly broken. As if on cue, they heard a low moan that slowly rose in pitch to a shrill scream. It sounded to Emily that it was indeed coming from beneath her feet, but Pierce just laughed.
“I have heard that. It is just the steam heat in Gorgon Hall, which was what prompted me to ask about the tunnels. Do not worry, they are all sealed off with great big slabs of concrete. The zombies could not travel that way, if that is what you’re thinking.”
Emily nodded. All she was honestly thinking at the moment was how fast she could get out of there.
Counting the janitor, there were three dead in the building. Zimmer was the only survivor until Emily had a thought and rushed back up to the second floor. Zimmer sat quietly at his desk, back at work, and he yelled at them for the interruption. Emily closed the man’s door with apologies and stepped over to kick open Swenson’s door.
Professor Swenson’s office was a wreck. Papers were everywhere and her furniture and desk were turned over. Her computer had been smashed, but the internals of the desktop had been ripped out. No one could guess where they went.
“I don’t understand,” Emily admitted. “We stopped the zombie before it got into Professor Swenson’s room. Who did this?” Before she could think of an answer, she heard a knock on the other side of the wall. “Hilde’s office.”
Morgan Granger was in there curled up in a ball in the corner. “It’s safe now,” Emily told the woman, but it did not seem that Ms Granger could focus. She imagined at least that Granger’s name could come off the suspect list as she stood and took a step back to give Pierce some room.
Pierce bent down to Ms Granger and was very gentle. “We can go out now. It is safe,” he whispered, and she may have recognized him. When he held out his hand, she was willing to take it. They rose slowly and Pierce slipped his arm around the woman. “We will be fine,” he said aloud, and Emily nodded in agreement. “Everything will be just fine now,” Pierce said, as he escorted the woman to the stairs.
Emily thought, yeah, be nice to the biology witch but spook me out in the basement.
By the time Lisa arrived, the ambulances were on their second trip, picking up the dead and re-dead. The police were down to two out front and two out back with the building cleared, except perhaps for Doctor Zimmer. Maria came up with Julie Tam as Emily explained.
Lisa nodded as Julie said one word. “Confirmed.”
Lisa explained in return. “We have not even come close to analyzing that complex green goop that is being pumped through these zombie’s bodies.”
“That is what is bringing them to life,” Julie interrupted before Lisa went on.
“But we have identified a few of the ingredients and two are rare and hard to get, including a controlled substance. Julie did most of the detective work on this one, and I called our sister at the Pentagon. She is still working, but she found several memos and now Julie has confirmed from her sources that these chemicals were recently shipped here.”
“So I was right,” Emily mused. “She trashed her own office, ripped out her vital notes and computer files and then sent the zombies to make it look like they did it. She must have known you were getting close.”
“Very good, Sherlock,” Lisa said. “Now if we could just find where her Frankenstein laboratory is, we could end this.”
“What do you want us to do?” Maria volunteered.
“Just eyes and ears,” Lisa said. “But I think it is time to gather the troops.”