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.
Heinrich 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.
Emily 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.
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.
“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.
“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.