The Elect 17, part 4 of 4: Old Lady

Emily walked into the dorm in time to see Maria and Jessica circling each other in the cleared lounge area.  They slapped at each other’s hands and looked like two wrestlers seeking a takedown.  “Hey!”  Emily wanted to stop them from whatever they were doing, but Mindy and Amina blocked her way.  Jessica and Maria stopped in any case.

“What is going on here?”  Emily pushed passed Mindy and stepped into the hall.  She had on her ROTC uniform having just returned from taking the sophomores out on a five mile run, with small packs.  Actually, it was more of a jog-walk, very easy for her, but about as much as some of the sophomores could take.a dorm lounge 2

“We were practicing,” Jessica admitted.

“Practicing what?”  Emily needed an answer.

Maria put a chair back where it belonged and looked at Jessica.  She looked at Mindy and last of all at Amina, like she was waiting for objections.

“Self-defense,” Maria said at last.

“We’ve been learning,” Jessica admitted.

“What?”  Emily sat down to await the full confession.  Jessica and Maria were the last two people she imagined in any sort of physical exercise, and she did not know which one was more surprising.  Maria was a geek and Jessica was, well, Jessica.

Amina and Mindy pulled up the couch and sat.  Maria sat and let Jessica get her own chair.  “Professor Schultz,” Maria began.  Emily just listened.  “That gym only has five classes all week.  ac maria 5That is only fifteen hours of use.  We went to him, Jessica and I, just after the zombie battle at the library.

“It was Maria’s idea,” Jessica said.

“We meet with him three days a week for an hour.  He agreed that if we are going to hang around you, we need to learn to defend ourselves.  So he has been teaching us.”

“He is going to start teaching us weapons next year,” Mindy threw in.

“What?”  That got a reaction from Emily.

Maria gave Mindy a look intended to keep her quiet.  Jessica spoke up.

“I had my doubts, but I must say the weights and the running has really helped tone and shape my body.”  She held her arm up to make something like a muscle to show it off.

“Jessica likes the running part,” Amina said.ac mindy 8a

“Endorphins,” Maria gave the one word explanation.  “It helps me understand why Hilde’s experiments were so powerful.”

“And you two?”  Emily turned to the couch.

“I have some catching up to do,” Mindy admitted as Emily looked again at Maria.

“My mother is fat,” Maria said.  “I don’t want to get fat.”

There was silence for a moment while Emily thought it through.  If they wanted to work out to get in shape, who was she to discourage that.  And as for the self-defense part, she wanted to encourage that too, as long as they were content to defend themselves and not wade into a zombie battle.  “But weapons?”  She glanced at Mindy before she looked again at Maria.

ac amina 1Amina was the one who spoke, and she stood to do so which certainly got everyone’s attention.  “We are a sorry lot of women, I know.  But we are the only Amazon tribe you have.”

“What do you mean, I have?”  Emily did not like the way Amina phrased that.

“You are the queen,” Amina said in a voice that suggested she wondered why she had to explain the obvious.  “The elect is always the queen.”  To be honest, Emily was still getting used to being one of the elect.  She was not sure she liked the idea of being an Amazon queen.

“Anyway,” Mindy interrupted.  “You are the only one with stripes.”  She pointed to Emily’s uniform.

“We are your friends,” Maria said.  “You need someone to watch your back.”

“Yeah, more or less,” Jessica concluded.  “Besides, the next time two guys show up with a big, hairy knife, you might not be there.”

“I’m glad you like the running part,” Emily kidded.

“That’s what Professor Schultz says,” Jessica admitted.

Emily’s phone vibrated and she held up her hand to stop further conversation for the moment.  ab phoneShe had it turned off during the five-mile run.  She turned it back on after the workout, but kept it on vibrate.  When she checked it, she saw she had a text message.  It took a second to read before she stood beside Amina.

“It’s from Pierce.  He found something over by the main engineering building.”

Everyone stood and Emily paused to stare at them.  “Alright,” she said.  “Amazon squad, let’s go check it out.”

On the way, Emily turned to Mindy.  She did not know her all that well yet and wondered what she really thought about all of this.  Amina had more or less a single room.  At least her roommate was never around.  Mindy, though, had practically moved into Maria’s room to avoid Connie.  The move was unofficial, of course.

“So I thought Connie was the Amazon queen,” Emily said.

“Please!”  Mindy rolled her eyes.  Mindy’s cheeks turned a little red.  “Besides, I admit I don’t know much about it, but I think I like men.”

“I do too,” Amina butted in.  “Don’t tell my family.”

“I’m doing my part.”  Jessica turned her head to look back.  Her broad grin glistened in the night.

a dorm bodyEmily said no more, though the bit about liking boys was more evidence she intended to share with Maria when she had the chance.

They arrived at the engineering building and found Pierce right away.  He was standing beside the shallow grave of a person who was very old.  “I called Lisa and Julie Tam,” he said.  Emily slipped into his arms, kept her eyes on the grave, but said nothing.

The Elect, the beginning, post 8 of 8: Eyes and Ears

After the initial shock, Emily found a broom and used it to turn the body to its back. It was a woman, but they could not tell how old. It appeared shriveled and mummified, a dehydrated corpse, like it lost all of its moisture.

“Gross,” Maria said. Jessica could not look at all, but she called 9-1-1 on her cell and then thought to call the campus police. Emily decided to get her things in the dryer before the police came and cordoned off the whole room with yellow tape. Maria forced open the back basement door and found a brick to prop it so it stayed open. No discernible smell came from the corpse—no smell at all in that room apart from one too many dryer sheets.

After a moment, Emily remembered to call Detective Schromer. She left a mesac bernie 2sage in the woman’s voicemail and then they waited, but not for long. Bernie the campus cop arrived, took one look, and had to run back out for some fresh air. The girls imagined he got sick, but tried not to think too hard about that image. The mummy was bad enough. When Bernie returned, just before the police arrived, he looked straight at Emily.

“What is it about you?” he asked. Emily could only shrug.

When the police came, the girls got hustled outside while the police roped off the area with plenty of yellow tape, just as Emily surmised.

“Hey, my clothes,” Jessica complained, but it seemed a feeble complaint.

Some Asian looking woman arrived. The girls guessed she might be a police woman since they let her straight in, but detectives Schromer and Mousad arrived a moment later and corrected their thinking. “Doctor Julie Tam, Medical Examiner,” Detective Schromer explained.

“That is what I really want to do,” Maria admitted and craned her neck to try to peek inside.ac police tape

“Gross,” Jessica said and Detective Mousad looked like he agreed.

“Can we talk?” Detective Schromer asked Emily. Emily shrugged and stepped aside with the detective. “You must tell me what you found out.”

“What?” Emily was not sure what the detective was asking. She thought about holding a flag for a long time. She considered the meditative trance that required. She thought about Pierce and the professors Swenson, Zimmer and Hilde. She thought she was not doing well in biology. “Nothing.”

Detective Schromer closed her eyes and considered. “I need you to be my eyes and ears on campus,” she said. “There is something serious going on and I need to find out and stop it before it goes any further.”

ac emily 5“Me?”

“You are the elect.” Detective Schromer stopped short of saying it was Emily’s job. She said instead, “I trust you.”

“But, what is going on? What are we talking about?” Emily asked, and thought that she was only a freshman. Everything seemed new, odd and strange to her. How would she know if something might be unusual or out of place?

“Excuse me.” Julie Tam walked up. She gathered Detective Mousad and sought to take Detective Schromer aside for a private talk. Detective Schromer did not move. She pointed at Emily.

“Emily is under cover. My eyes and ears on campus. We need to fill her in on what information we have so she knows what to look for.”

The medical examiner looked at Emily like this might not be normal procedure, but she spoke. “Like the other ones. About twenty. We can assume a student. Completely drained of liquid with no discernible point of entry. Mummified, but probably no more than a day dead.  I’ll know more when I get her back to the lab.”

Two men came out with the corpse in a bag. They set it on the stretcher they had set up on the walkway and wheeled it to the ambulance.ab trenton ambulance

“The others?” Emily asked right away. She had not missed the word.

“Our third since the semester started.”  Detective Mousad spoke right up. “We don’t know why the bodies are being drained. We do not know how they are being drained, but the important thing is we do not know for what purpose.” He shivered.

“Ashish thinks it is a mythical monster having lunch.” Detective Schromer smiled.

“That is as good a theory as any for all we know,” the medical examiner said as she started back to her car.

“You don’t mean…” Emily hardly knew what to ask or say.

“No,” Detective Schromer responded flatly, suggesting it was ridiculous to think such a thing, but when she looked at Emily, she appeared to change her mind. “Not in this case. I would have been contacted.”

ac girl n1Emily gulped.

“Just keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. There is power in a woman’s intuition, even in one who is not elect. For you, your intuition should be magnified many times over in the face of danger,”

Emily nodded and several pictures flashed through her mind. She thought of Morgan Granger, Doctor Zimmer, Captain Driver and Terrence Williams, but she dismissed those thoughts. They were people she did not like, but that just meant they were jerks, not nefarious. “I’ll look around.”

“You be careful,” Detective Mousad said kindly, and Emily nodded.

“Just two questions,” she said before the detectives could leave. “One, can I ask my friends for help in case they notice something suspicious I can check out?”

“What are we talking about?” Detective Schromer needed specifics.

“Maria and Jessica, Tom and Owen go with them, and probably Karyn in ROTC.” She thought of Pierce but shook her head. “That’s it.”

“Can they keep their tongues from wagging?”ac lisa 1

That leaves Jessica out, Emily thought, but she said otherwise. “Yes.” The detective nodded. They began to turn away.

“Oh, and Detective Schromer.” They paused again. “Second, could you tell your people that we would like to finish doing our laundry and get back to our rooms some time tonight?”

The detective nodded and spoke around Emily’s shoulder. “Millsaps. They have laundry to finish. Let them.” She did not make it a suggestion and the police officer nodded with a “yes,” and a sloppy salute. Detective Schromer turned again to Emily. “And it is Lisa, not Detective Schromer. I am like your sister, not your mother.”

Emily smiled. She felt good about that even if she could not quite mouth the word, “Lisa.” She turned to her friends as the detectives walked off.

ac jessica 2“Well?” Jessica needed to know.

“When we get back upstairs,” Emily said with one last glance at the detectives. “Too many ears here.”

“Oh goody.” Maria grinned and rubbed her hands. “I like a mystery.”

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Be sure and return next Monday (T, W, and Th) for the first chapter/episode in the novel/ season. If you miss a post, you can always find it on the side of the blog under the heading “recent posts”. In fact, you can wait until Thursday (F, Sat, or Sun) if you like, and select one post at a time from the recent posts to read all 4 posts in one sitting. It is up to you.

If you are starting late, you can always click on the archives button and select November 2015. You will find the beginning episode and you can work forward from there to the present post.

After the beginning episode, all 22 of the regular episodes (chapters in this serialized novel) will be posted in 4 posts (M, T, W and Th) over a single week. Again, you are welcome to wait until Thursday (F, Sat, or Sun) if you want to read the entire chapter/episode (all 4 posts) in one sitting.

Thus far, Emily has been told she is an elect and show some signs of unnatural abilities, but she is not exactly sure what being an elect means. She has to puzzle out what she can. She may not have much time. She and her friends have already found one body, and Detective Lisa has assured them that there have been others. Someone is killing co-eds, and in a most unusual way….

The Elect, the beginning, post 7 of 8: Deep Laundry

By nine-thirty, well after the Amazon women went elsewhere, Emily found herself in Maria’s room with nothing but popcorn and a bad movie to keep her company. “The full college experience,” she said.

“Ugh,” Maria responded. She took out her cell phone and checked it once more. “I had hope that Owen would call, but no. He’s probably out with the guys doing guy things.”

“Honestly?” Emily looked at her. “He is probably sitting in his room with one or two other guys watching the same stupid movie, eating the same stupid popcorn and wondering why he did not call you, or why you did not call him.”a dorm room 1

“Probably.” Maria bounced off the bed and began to go through her clothes. She responded to Emily’s look with one word. “Laundry.”

Emily pushed her hand through her hair and stood. “Might as well. I am just going to sleep sitting here, not that sleep would be a bad option. Catch you in a minute. You got dryer sheets?” Maria lifted them. Emily nodded and went to fetch her own clothes.

They did not get far before Jessica came bouncing in. Gloria, of course, went out with some guy, dancing, and did not expect to be home early. As far as Maria could tell, Gloria had not done a stitch of work so far that semester, so Maria looked forward to having a single room in the spring. Jessica had gone out with Tom the football player, but he had a curfew before the Saturday game.

“Coach Rayford is a slave driver,” she said as she came in and decided that she might as well do her laundry, too.

“How was your date?” Maria asked. Emily already knew better because Jessica went on for a while in every gory detail. Apparently, he had his hands all over her. He said it would charge him up for the game. The fact that as a sophomore, he would sit on the bench for most if not all of the game did not appear to matter. The fact that Jessica did not mind did not matter either. The fact that Emily, and Emily assumed Maria did not want to hear about every detail did not seem to matter either.

“I’ve not been down here to the laundry basement before,” Jessica admitted.

a dorm laundry“Little rich girl,” Emily explained to Maria. “She takes up three quarters of the closet and complains there isn’t enough room for her stuff.”

Maria shrugged, ran a hand through her hair, and grinned in Emily’s direction. It was Emily’s affectation, and sure enough, Emily unconsciously copied the motion. To no one’s surprise, Emily’s hair was still short.

“So have you met anyone?” Jessica turned to Emily. While Emily felt glad to change the subject from Jessica’s escapades, this was not her first choice for a replacement topic. She felt a slight reddening in her cheeks when she thought of Pierce. “You have?” Maria missed it, but Jessica did not.

“Not anyone who would notice me,” she said.

“Who is it?” Jessica did not know when to let it go. Emily shook her head. She had no intention of saying any more, but Maria added her voice.

“Yeah, who is it?” Maria grinned in a way that suggested she knew full well that Emily felt uncomfortable.

Emily turned to her and gave her a whole second of her meanest stare. Then she spoke. “Let’s just say he pierced my heart. God! That sounds so stupid.” She knew it the minute it slipped out of her mouth.ac pierce 1

Maria had to think before she got it. “Oh my God!” She said that first before the reality caught up with her. “Good luck with that one.”

“What? Who?” Jessica had no idea.

“I said no one who would notice me.”

“Tell you later,” Maria put off Jessica. Jessica harrumphed at not being included and got quiet for almost twenty whole minutes while she nosed around the basement. She spoke up again when Maria moved her stuff to the dryer and Emily was about to do the same.

“What’s in here?” Jessica asked. A dim light came from beneath a closet door. There did not appear to be a lock on the door. Jessica tugged on it, but it was jammed.

“Can I help?” Emily asked.

a dorm body“No thank you, muscles.” Jessica still sounded miffed. She yanked, and the door popped open. A body fell face down to the laundry room floor. Jessica screamed, and Maria and Emily joined her for a second.