Thursday, mid afternoon, Emily and Jessica took Maria for a latte. Amina, already there, held the table. The problem was Maria found her new roommate impossible to live with. The only sleep she had gotten lately was on the floor in Emily’s and Jessica’s room. Emily and Jessica were fine with helping their friend, but it was becoming a strain on them all since the rooms were hardly big enough for two.
“You don’t understand. All Melissa does all night long is burn incense and chant praises to glorious Abby. I mean, who is this girl?” Emily had an idea in the back of her mind but she did not say anything because the word witch sounded so insane. Fortunately, she did not have to say it.
“She is a power,” Amina spoke up even as she looked down at the table. “She is a witch of great power and I see no good in her.” No one questioned what Amina saw. She rarely spoke that way, but when she did, the others had learned to listen.
Jessica broke the spell when she spoke. “Maybe Emily could knock Melissa unconscious every night so you could sleep.”
“Ha, ha.” Emily did not laugh. She rubbed her stiff shoulder, instead. “I just had the first real workout in my life. That old man is strong.” The others said nothing. “Stronger than I am, and quicker, but he says strength and speed are not the keys. He says after he finishes his task he will go back to being normal so I will have to take it easy on him. I don’t know, though. The man’s skill with weapons is amazing.” She probably should not have said that much, but she was not in the habit of keeping secrets from her friends.
“Hey, Emily.” Someone called from across the room. It was Connie, and Mindy came with her and several Daughters of the Amazon.
“We have missed you at the meetings,” Connie started right in. “And you,” she turned to Amina and paused.
“Amina.” She gave her name.
“Is that real?” Mindy interrupted.
“Of course it is,” Amina responded. “And the reason Emily has not been to the meetings is because she is not a Daughter of the Amazon. She is the real deal.”
Emily turned an eye on Amina, but Amina was serious and did not imagine she said anything wrong.
“Riii-ght,” Connie drew out the word with sarcasm in her voice. “Anyway, it will be good to see you at the next meeting.” She turned and her followers turned with her, except Mindy who hesitated and looked at Amina.
“I believe you. I have learned about such things. The queen is always one of the elect.” Mindy whispered, and Emily frowned again at Amina, but Amina just smiled in return and stood up to the frown.
“It is true,” Mindy said and said no more, as Connie came back to drag off Mindy. Mindy’s eyes pleaded with the girls, but that was one can of worms where they were not yet willing to open.
“No word on any attacks?” Maria thought to change the subject.
Emily checked her phone and her beeper and shook her head. All of the sisters were given beepers so they could all be notified, simultaneously. They could call in and be told where they were needed. Presently, ten of the younger and hardier souls were camped out around Latasha’s house. When the call came, they had plans to drop Latasha’s family at a motel for the night, all prepaid.
“ROTC has been put on alert, sophomores as well as the upper class. There is not much they will be able to do, though,” Emily said. “I don’t suppose they will even be able to gather fast enough before it is all over.”
“I don’t know,” Jessica thought aloud. “They are mostly big, strong, well conditioned young men.”
“Does Tom know you noticed?” Maria teased.
“Yes, they are,” Amina whispered at the same time, and several eyes went to her.
“What would your family say?” Emily teased, but felt bad about it the minute she said it. Amina’s face reddened and Emily felt obliged to give the girl a hug of reassurance.
Jessica ignored them. “I was saying they ought to be worth something in a fight.”
Emily nodded. “I am sure they would do well. Trust me, if it was just me in this thing, I would be depending on them, big time. The thing is with so many sisters here it is just as well they only act as back-up. We have lost the freshman class already.”
The library was the next stop in the itinerary. They all had to study for finals, which New Jersey State got in before Christmas break. Even Jessica studied, but as the sun set, she was also the one who reminded them they needed to get to the dining hall before it closed.
“That library is a madhouse,” Jessica added as they walked.
“What would you expect?” Maria said. “Everyone has papers and projects to finish and some of those back areas and side rooms are still the best for study groups. Dorm lounges are too tempting to not get serious.”
“Or to sneak off to your room for a nap,” Emily added though Maria rolled her eyes as if to say, if only she could.
“So of course the library is a madhouse,” Amina concluded.
“Isn’t that what I said?” Jessica finished that conversation.
They headed back to the dorm after they ate and saw Melissa outside the dorm with three other women. She was sitting on one of the outside chairs under a spotlight, talking, and the others were at her feet, shivering.
Emily’s beeper went off.
“Did I mention she now has some glorious Abby disciples?” Maria said, but Jessica put her hand to Maria’s arm to quiet her as Emily got on her phone.
“They’re in the library.” Emily began to run. The others kept up as well as they could. By the time they arrived, people were screaming and streaming out. Emily raced through the main room, not terribly worried about the people there. They would get out well enough. It was the ones in the side rooms and in the stacks among the books that might be caught.
At the third side room, she saw a group of students inside. Two boys held the doorknob so the zombie could not yank the door open. A second zombie arrived just before Emily and cracked the window that looked out into the stacks. The students all screamed.
Emily pulled her sword and sliced off the head of the one at the door. In a perfect execution of the move she practiced for two hours after lunch, she followed her stroke with a stab to the heart. The handle of her sword was strongly insulated now, so she did not feel the shock. One was down, but the other was on her. Her left hand shoved her knife into that heart and the zombie stopped and looked at its chest for a second with the same bewildered look Libby had seen. That was enough time for Emily to leap back and two hand her sword through the neck. The head rolled away. Emily had to force open the door and sent both boys sprawling in the process.
“Get out!” she yelled once and ran on.
A moment later, she heard the fire alarm go off. Someone was thinking. Then she heard a male voice in the muffled area among the books.
“Dude, Halloween is long over.”
Emily heard the crack as she rounded the corner. The zombie had grabbed the boy and snapped his neck. She stopped that zombie from killing again, but there was already one death she was unable to prevent.
One more corner and she saw seven zombies inside, and more streaming in the back door. She was not going to get to check upstairs. She turned and ran toward the front, hoping that she was not already cut off. There were a dozen zombies in the otherwise empty main room when she arrived. She got up on the tables, ran and leaped from table to table to get out the door.
Maria and Amina were on the front steps. “I didn’t get to check the upstairs,” Emily shouted through the sound of the fire alarm. Amina and Maria did not care about that. They grabbed Emily by the arms and dragged her to where Jessica was standing back, safe, watching. Lisa ran up the walk as they stopped.
“They are attacking Latasha’s house,” she shouted before she came to a stop as well. “There are twelve who won’t be here.”
“Twelve?” Jessica asked.
“The ten we sent plus Latasha and Libby Carter.”
“That leaves how many?” Maria asked.
“Fifteen, if they all get here.” She looked all around and then ran to speak to Rob Parker and the police sergeant when they arrived. Ashish came huffing and puffing along a moment later.