Elect II—13 Christmas Too, part 3 of 3

The following day, Emily got packed and Riverbend pulled her carpetbag out of the closet.  They went to the airport where Riverbend, not surprisingly, had a ticket to New Jersey.  She also had the required identification to go through the TSA checkpoint and to the gate, so they said good-bye to the family, Riverbend lingering on hugging David, and David looked like he did not want to give her up either, but after that, they walked to the plane.  They had an hour.

ac-riverbend-a4They sat quietly for some time until Emily finally spoke.  “So do you really love him?’  Rivebend nodded.  “And does he really love you?”  Riverbend just got that elfish grin on her face.  “You know you neglected to return that dress.”

“I’m going to keep it.  David likes it on me.”

Emily sat up.  “What?  You showed it to him?  Well no wonder.”

“No wonder what?”  Riverbend sounded innocent.  The truth of the matter was not always easy to discern with an elf.

Emily did not answer right away.  Her plane was pulling up to the gate and would board as soon as the luggage was aboard.  “I wish I knew what that felt like,” Emily said wistfully.

“What what felt like?”  Riverbend asked.  She was eating ice cream.  It was about the only thing she ate apart from salads.


“Oh.  I think it probably feels the same.  Maybe I’m an elf and he is human, but I think love is just love.”

ac-emily-1“Not what I meant.”  Emily said as Marion walked up from security and sat on Emily’s other side.

“They were hired guns,” Marion said without preliminaries.  “The FBI figures they were hired by one Ferdinand Franco who runs a drug syndicate out of Atlantic City, but there is probably no way to prove that.”

“Franco?  I’ve heard that name.  Where have I heard that name?”

“The question is; why would they be gunning for you?  I thought you told me your friend Latasha was fighting the drug people with your Detective Schromer.”

“That is a good question.” Riverbend leaned into the conversation.  Marion had tried to whisper but Riverbend had elf ears.

“All I can say is you better keep your eyes open when you get back to school.  I don’t know what all you are into, but if they think you are getting close to whatever it is, they will probably move the kill Emily plan to Trenton.”

ac-riverbend-a8Emily nodded.  She knew that, but she had apples to find and a door to close and a mystery to solve.  She did not see that she had much choice.  She was thinking, Marion was sipping her latte, Riverbend was flipping through a magazine when a little person in overalls with a clipboard stepped up.

“Miss Emily Hudson?”  The man asked.

“Yes?”  Emily looked up as the man looked down at his clipboard.

Marion stopped in mid slurp.  “Friend of yours?”  She looked over at the elf.

Riverbend looked up from her magazine, squinted and spoke up.  “Mister Picker.  I didn’t expect you.”

The Little Person squinted in the same way.  “Why, Captain Riverbend.  It is a small world after all.”

“Please don’t start,” Riverbend put her hand up as if fending off disaster.  She confessed to Emily and Marion.  “Danna, the one you know as Zoe, accidentally sang that song about three-thousand BC when she was around some fee, that is, fairies.  They say for the next two thousand years you could not go anywhere on the planet without hearing fairies, dwarfs, imps or some others singing.  It must have been maddening.”

dwarf-underground-2“Report,” Mister Picker coughed and frowned at the interruption.  He got to business as he checked his clipboard.  “Airplane has been checked left to right, top to bottom, front to back, round and round, wing tip to wing tip.  No explosives or other potentially offensive materials found.”

“You checked the baggage?”  Riverbend asked.

“Of course.”  Mister Picker looked offended.  “All is fine.  You should have a smooth, safe trip.”

“You checked my bags?”  Emily sat up.

“Of course, with all the others.  How do you think you got your sword back and forth this year and last without the TSA stealing it?”

“Don’t you mean confiscating?”  Marion asked.

Mister Picker grinned for her, and it was a startling face.  “I am an imp, if you don’t mind.  I know stealing when I see it.  I’m not bad on lying and cheating, too.”

“Could use you on the force,” Marion said as she sat back and returned to her latte.

Mister Picker pulled two business cards out of his pocket and handed one to Marion and one to Emily.  “Picker, Block and Bluetooth.  Reconstruction and restorations are our specialty.”

columb-ai-gate“Poor Block,” Riverbend said.

“Yes,” Mister Picker said.  “Died in 1973 along the Jersey Central when the Kairos was disarming that atomic bomb.”

“What?  Marion sat up again.

“Kairos?”  Emily asked.

“The one you call Zoe,” Riverbend answered quietly, and then they called to start boarding the flight.

Riverbend did not board.  When Emily was away and Mister Picker had blended back into the background, Marion turned to the elf.

“What now for you?”

“I will meet her there, but disguised.  She won’t know me, but I have been told to shadow her.  I know it is ludicrous to think anyone can guard an elect, but a second pair of eyes never hurts.”

Marion just nodded as a shimmer of light appeared in an unused corner of the terminal.  She was getting used to that kind of coming and going.  “Hope to see you again.”

“Oh, I hope so.  I mean I plan to.”


Riverbend wrinkled her brow.  “How did you know?”

“I’m a detective.”

“I’ll have to remember that.”  the light flashed when the hole between here and there closed.  Two TSA agents came running.  Marion just showed her badge and walked passed them as she finished her latte.


Next Monday, everyone is back at New Jersey State University in Trenton, and it seems despite the snow and cold, things begin to heat up in the Elect II-14, Creatures Strike Back.

Happy Reading


Elect II—12+ Christmas Break, addendum…

Lisa and Ashish took Latasha out to lunch—a Christmas treat, and she also invited Sara and her boyfriend Paul.  Paul had a court date and could not make it, but Latasha made up for it when she asked if Wendy and Mini could come along.  At the last minute, Lisa bit her tongue and also invited Heinrich Schultz.  As an elect, she was never comfortable around the member of the council, but she knew the subject of the night creatures would come up and she thought he might have some insights.

ab-pub-2They went to a pub known for its burgers and desserts.  They just got seated when the local congressman, Preston Cain showed up on the television screens scattered liberally around the room.  Everyone paused to see what the man had to say.  It was all about love and peace and healing the rancorous discord in the social and political fabric of America.  The man practically dripped apple pie, and in a way where most conservatives would applaud but no liberally minded person would object.  Ashish, Wendy and Mini were completely taken in.  Sarah kept her mouth closed.  Latasha squirmed a bit and Lisa agreed with her.  Heinrich noticed and spoke to the three of them.

“There is a great deal of anger and condescension in this man.”  He pointed at the screen.  “But he hides it almost perfectly and his way with the English language is just about perfect too, though I will bet it is not his native tongue.  I ought to know a scoundrel when I see one.  I have seen and heard the best of them.  Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Lenin, Robespierre.  I wonder what his real agenda is.”  Lisa and Latasha nodded, but the television moved on and Ashish turned back to the table.

“I think you are being a bit cynical,” he said.  “The man makes sense.  We need someone who can heal the divisions in this country, not another divisive one.”

“Preston Cain has a messiah complex,” Lisa said, and Sara started to nod, but neither could speak further because the waitress arrived.

ac-latasha-a5While they ate, the others got to know Wendy and Dominica.  The girls seemed like nice, normal girls, but Latash said she spoiled them by telling them about her being an elect and some of what she had experienced.

“Real Zombies?”  Mini asked several times with her eyes as wide as they could go.

Lisa asked about Keisha, but they all said Keisha was struggling.  “She is still living in the 1960s,” Wendy said.

“She thinks every time she doesn’t get her way someone is oppressing her.”  Mini rolled her eyes.

“This is a new day, like Mister Cain says.”  Wendy spoke again.  “I can do anything.  I’m going to be a lawyer.”

“I think Keisha needs to listen to Mister Cain,” Mini agreed.

Lisa was going to say something, but Ashish stepped in first.  “What kind of law are you thinking about?”

“Well,” Wendy hedged and looked briefly at Latasha.  “I was thinking business and real estate, but Latasha has me thinking about criminal.”

“Stick with business,” Sara said.  “Criminal is too frustrating when the worst of them keep walking out with time served.  My boyfriend is a District Attorney.”

ac-new-1“My boyfriend is a football player,” Mini said.

“You wish,” Latasha and Wendy echoed each other.

“Detective Schromer.  Detective Mousad.”  A woman’s voice interrupted.  It was Courtney Chase, Eyewitness News.  “What brings you here in the middle of the day?”  She didn’t have cameraman Joe with her, but she looked around carefully and no doubt made a mental note of all the faces.

“Christmas?”  Lisa suggested the obvious before Sara interrupted.

“Sara Michaels, University Chaplain.”  She put out her hand to shake.  “Professor Schultz, my dear old history professor.  We are here trying to encourage these fine young women to do well in their studies.  We have a future lawyer, an accountant and a future police officer with us today.”  Sara waved slightly at the detectives as if to suggest that was the reason for their presence.  “Would you be interest in doing a story about all the good work the church is doing, especially over Christmastime.  Sort of a human interest story.”  Sara smiled a big smile.

Everyone saw Courtney’s nose turn up ever so slightly.  She did not report good news and especially good news connected to Christian churches.  “Actually, my docket is full.  I just stopped by to say happy holidays.”  She smiled, backed away and waved before she turned and left like her shoes were on fire.

“Excellent,’ Lisa said.

“We could use you in the PR department downtown,” Ashish added.

ac-sarah-2Sara’s face reddened.  “I try not to get that close to lying.”

“Not an untrue word in the whole thing.”  Heinrich patted her hand.

“Wait a minute,” Wendy spoke up.  “You mean part of this lunch is to encourage us in school?”

“That is part of it,” Sara turned her smile on the girls.

“Of course,” Latasha said.  “Why do you think I invited you?”

“Well,” Heinrich also smiled for the girls as he took everyone’s attention.  He was not one for small talk.  “It seems to me we have some business to discuss.  Call it the other part.”  Everyone quieted to listen to what Heinrich had to say.    He pulled out a piece of paper.  “I wrote to some friends to see if any of them ever encountered such a creature.  I got the one reply I expected, from a man in Nepal.  He said about twelve years ago one wandered down from the mountains.  It was only a stray, probably brought here by accident.  It ate or killed half a village before he cornered it and destroyed it.  He still bears the scars.”  Heinrich looked up and scanned everyone’s faces.  “He is missing his left arm from the elbow down.  He says he is surprised I have not been activated, well, etc.”  He folded the paper and put it back in his vest pocket.

“What language was that written in?”  Sara was reading over his shoulder.

ac-heinrich-1“Linear A, the old language of the Minoans and probably one even Mindy does not know.  I am sorry I have nothing more to tell you.”

“No, you told me a lot,’ Lisa said.  She sounded pensive.  “You told me they can be killed.”

“How did he kill it?”  Ashish asked.

“He beheaded it,” Heinrich answered.  “And before you ask, I know it is the same creature.  I saw your photographs, and he drew a picture of his.  He called it a cross between a bear and a tiger, but much faster and much stronger.  He said, when it walked, it walked very stiffly, like it was used to walking over thorn bushes.”

Lisa nodded.  “The trouble is we have no idea where they may be hiding.  And I don’t suppose your friend said anything about something or someone else controlling the creature.”  Heinrich shook his head.

“How is your family?”  Sara asked Lisa, not entirely off topic.  She had not seen Lisa in a week so she did not know how the woman was holding up.

“Fine.  As far as I know the children are safe at school during the day, and thus far their school busses have not been tracked to the hotel.  Josh can work from his computer, so that is not a problem for now, but someday he will have to go into the office, not to mention we can’t afford to keep them in the hotel indefinitely.”

ab-pub-1“I bet Jessica could find the creatures,” Latasha suggested.  She was in awe of the girl after the spider incident.

“There is always bait,” Lisa mumbled.  The young ones stared, but the older ones all shook their heads.

“No.  Can’t do that.  Too dangerous.”

They talked for a long time that afternoon, but no one came up with a better idea.


Next Monday, the last days of Christmas vacation begin to wind down in the Elect II-13, Christmas Too.  Emily needs to get back to school, dangerous as that sounds.  I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and..


Elect II—4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde, part 3 of 3

Latasha stopped in to see Ms Riley.  She had some time to kill before Detective Lisa picked her up, and the grump in the library wanted to go home early.  To her surprise, Wendy and Mini were there asking Ms Riley a question.  She sat quietly to wait, when a man stuck his head in the door.

ac-latasha-a6“Ms Riley.  Can I see you a minute?”

“Of course.”  Ms Riley stood.  “Hold that thought.  I’ll be right back,” she said, and stepped out the door.

“Hey, haven’t seen you in a while,” Wendy started the conversation.

“I’ve been busy trying to do something with my life.”

“I heard you been hanging out with the police,” Wendy continued.  She was fishing for information, maybe to gossip, but Latasha did not care.

“I am trying to get the grades to go to college.  I want to join the police force.”

“That’s what I heard.  You are making some of the kids around here nervous.”

“Not my problem,” Latasha said.

“Wendy wants to be a lawyer,” Mini interrupted.

“So why are you so worried about science class?” Latasha was curious.

“Asking questions shows you are doing the reading and interested in the subject,” Mini spoke frankly.  “Teachers give better grades on papers and stuff if they think you are really making the effort.”

“But you are making the effort, aren’t you?  You’re not just being slick.”

“Of course,” Wendy rolled her eyes.  “You have to do the reading to show you are doing the reading.”

“Of course,” Latasha responded, and added a thought.  “I miss hanging with you guys.”

boston-a2“Me too,” Mini said.  Wendy looked non-committal as Ms Riley came back in.

“So girls, what was that question?” Ms Riley asked.

“Never mind,” Wendy said.  “We just figure it out.”  Wendy and Mini left.

“Latasha?”  Ms Riley turned to her.  “Did you have a question?”

“No, ma’am.  I just figured it out, too.”


Detective Lisa brought Ashish to the trash can out back behind the police station.  She carried Professor Hilde’s journal.  He watched as she set it on fire along with all of Granger’s notes they discovered in the house.  She warmed her hands by the fire while Ashish spoke.

ac-ashish-2“So you think Professor Hilde kept the personal journal to track all of his experiments because he planned on selling it to the highest bidder?”

“That is the only thing that makes sense,” Lisa responded.  “Last year’s contest was to make super soldiers.  The Pentagon offered lots of money for the winner.  Hilde figured if he did not win, his formula was still good enough to sell.  Even if he did win, he might double his money by selling the formula to the Chinese or someone else.”

“Why do you think Granger got into it?  I don’t know the science, but even glancing at the journal let me know the formula was highly addictive.  Hilde wrote that everywhere.  It was a real problem he was struggling to overcome.”

Lisa looked at her partner.  “Maybe she always wanted to be the most popular girl on campus.  Maybe she liked the power it gave her over men, and eventually some women.  Maybe she thought she had the addiction overcome?  All we really know is once she started, she was hooked.  But her immune system fought back.  It took larger and larger doses to get the same internal effect while the external effect increased exponentially.  In the end I think Emily was right.  She already overdosed by the time the girls got there.”

“I wonder how Franco found out about it.”

“We’ll never know.  We know the men were connected to Franco but we can’t prove the connection.  Ferdinand Franco is no dummy.  He came up with the gas masks and radiation suits with their own oxygen supply.”  Lisa stirred the fire to be sure all the pages burned.

“Do you think Franco made a copy of this information?”  Ashish looked worried.

ac-lisa-a1Lisa shook her head.  “I don’t think he got that far, and this journal was still locked up when we found it.  If it was not in the safe with her notes, it would have burned up in the house fire.”  Lisa pushed back her hair.  “I suppose we will find out eventually.”

Ashish frowned.  “The Prosecutor is going to be upset, you burning the evidence.”

“What evidence?”

“Just checking.”


Monday,things turn up that should be buried.  Be sure and return for The Elect II–5 Stab from the Past.

Until then, Happy Reading.


Elect II—4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde, part 1 of 3

The young women talked on the bus about why they got into ROTC.  Emily listened.  Hilde said if she was living in Israel, she would be doing the same thing.  Military training was pretty much compulsory.  Greta, by contrast, said her parents were pacifists, but her family had a long history and tradition of proud military service so they really could not say much when she felt the call to serve her country.

Diane, from Kansas said her brother was in the army.  “That and there aren’t many opportunities for college.  Not much money back home,” she said.  “This way I get help from veteran’s groups and the American Legion.”

ac-rotc-freshmen“I know what you mean about not much money,” Natasha said.  “I’m from Detroit.  Need I say more?”

“Emily’s brother is in the national guard,” Jessica offered.

“Oh?” Diane looked at Emily who nodded, but declined to speak.

“Besides,” Hilde took up the conversation.  “What better way to meet boys?”

“Oh, please!”  Jessica tossed her hands in their direction.  “Be serious.”

“I would like to meet someone nice,” Diane said.

“And athletic,” Hilde added

“And rich,” Natasha said, which made the others nod.

“Wouldn’t you?”  Diane looked at Jessica.  Emily looked away.

“I had about thirty boyfriends when I was a freshman,” Jessica admitted.  “What a waste of time.”

They talked about it for a couple of minutes before Natasha turned to Emily.  “What about you, Ma’am?”

Emily said nothing.  Jessica spoke into the silence.  “She had a good boyfriend last year.  A graduate student.”

“Had?”  Greta asked.

“I had to kill him,” Emily said as the bus pulled to a stop.  They all had to disembark and form ranks.  They were at the firing range.

Emily stood at the head of the class and went through the care and cleaning of the rifle, piece by piece.  She took it apart, named all the parts and put it back together perfectly.  Then she had to turn her back on the class.  She had tears in her eyes.

Captain Driver saw Detective Lisa come in and knew Emily would be occupied for a bit.  He picked up the rifle and said, “Sophomore.”  That was Jessica’s name.  “Knowing your weapon inside and out is important and what we will mainly be working on today, but it does not guarantee that you can hit anything.”  He led Jessica to the range and loaded a clip of three bullets.  He whispered, “Try and hit the target.”

ac-rifle-range-4Jessica managed three trips to the Hollywood range in the two weeks she had free between ROTC summer camp and returning to school.  She worked with a personal trainer, and did her best to remember her lessons.  She squeezed the trigger, but the bullet was low and to the left of the bull’s-eye by an inch.  Her second shot overcompensated by a couple of inches and just nicked the top right edge of the bull’s-eye.  Her third shot was a little low and to the right, but well within the bull’s-eye.  She was satisfied.

Captain Driver continued to whisper as Lieutenant Brinkman moved up to eavesdrop.  “You are one of Hudson’s women, aren’t you?”

“Sir, yes sir.” Jessica answered properly but kept her voice low.

“You are in the group that has been working out with Professor Schultz?”  He knew she was but he wanted confirmation.  Jessica nodded.

“Professor Schultz?”  Lieutenant Brinkman was not aware, but Emily’s Amazon council had been learning hand to hand for a year and now were concentrating on the bow and staff with the hope of working their way up to the spear and the sword.

Captain Driver showed he understood.  “Heinrich Schultz in a historian in the old sense.  He has forgotten more about combat and arms than you and I and all our books put together.”

The Lieutenant nodded even if he did not fully understand.  He had a class to get working, and the class spent the rest of their time taking apart and putting together the ten rifles the company had, and hopefully without breaking them.  Very few bullets were fired that day.

After a while, Emily stopped weeping and Lisa let go and stepped back.  Emily wiped her eyes and said the words that Lisa did not want to hear.  “Thanks, mom.”

ac-lisa-2a“I’ve told you.  I get enough of that at home,” Lisa scolded, but smiled.

Emily laughed, but it was a sad, little laugh.  “But why are you here?”

“Latasha,” Lisa said.  “She has me tangled up in gang wars and drug dealers and it is a real mess.  I keep telling her judges and juries don’t always do the right thing.  Even people caught with their hand in it can plea bargain their way back to the street.”  Lisa shrugged and pulled out some photographs from her briefcase.  “Meanwhile, Anna got attacked in New York.”

“Is she alright?”  Emily knew the woman well.  Last year, between Christmas and New Year’s, Anna came to Ohio and helped Emily clean out a nest of vampires.

“She is fine, but the only thing she could find to connect the three men is this small tattoo.  They were all marked.  Miriam at the FBI has plenty of nineteenth and twentieth century scholars at her fingertips.  The pentagon has also been notified, and the M I B.”

“The what?”

“Katie Lockhart and her people,” Lisa said without further explanation.  “The thing is both Miriam and Anna think it may be older, and I have one man who saw these photos and became very afraid.  He says he doesn’t want anything to do with secret societies.”

“Older.”  Emily said the word as she studied the images of the upper arms and the small circle with three squiggly lines.

“I was hoping Mindy, your wise woman, could look at these and maybe share them with Professor Papadopoulos.  The rest of us are getting nowhere.”

ac-rifle-range-3Emily nodded as she continued to study the photos.  Lisa looked around.

“Where is Mister Jakovich?”

“The range manager?  Probably in his office,” Emily said.

“With you here, I suppose, but when he saw me come in he probably locked the office door.”

Emily laughed.  The last time she was at the range and Detective Lisa showed up they had to fight off three zombies.  Lisa was glad to hear Emily’s laugh this time because it sounded genuine.


When the bus came to a stop on the campus, Amina and Mindy were waiting for Emily and Jessica.  Morgan Granger was in trouble.  The words came fast.

“She has been taken prisoner,” Amina said.  “There are men after the drugs.  That is all I know.”

“I made the mistake of showing her a picture of the woman we saw in the library,” Mindy explained.  “She grabbed it and immediately felt the connection to you.”

“She was crying out for help.”

“Maria said we had to get you right away.  She and Melissa are working on a potion.”

“I brought your address book,” Amina held out the green notebook where Emily kept all her relevant information, including addresses of faculty members, some of whom had since died.

“I said we might have to do something,” Jessica took the book.

“We’re ready,” Natasha spoke for the ROTC group while Hilde, Greta and Diane nodded.

Emily looked at her freshmen and frowned.  She pulled out her phone and called Lisa.  “Stay in uniform,” she told the girls.  “Damn, message.  Lisa, Amina had a vision.  Morgan Granger, biology teacher is in trouble.  Too much Hilde juice.  We will start looking at,” Jessica held up the book and Emily read the address.  “Amina says people want the drugs.  We can’t let that loose.”  Emily hung up.

ac-rotc-emily-1“Trouble?”  Captain Driver stepped up, Lieutenant Brinkman beside him.

Emily thought briefly about asking for six rifles and bullets, but decided no for herself.  Six rifles unloaded might intimidate, but not if someone had a loaded gun.  She considered castigating the man for his part in last year’s fiasco.  She imagined he was in on the super soldier competition, but she never proved it.  She was sure he acted as liaison between the biology department and the Pentagon, but without evidence it was best to keep her mouth shut.  Finally, she answered in the only way she could.  “Yes sir, but women trouble.  Nothing you can help with.”  Captain Driver nodded, stepped away and dragged Brinkman with him.

Emily called Sara.  Again she had to leave a message as she walked into the gym.  The others trailed her and found a surprise which did not really surprise her.  “I was about to call you,” Emily said.

Heinrich Schultz was there with the closet unlocked and open—the one where he kept all of his weapons.  “Even un-activated, I can smell unnatural trouble miles away.”

Jessica and Mindy got their bows and plenty of arrows.  Amina picked up her staff, and the one Maria used.  She grabbed a third for Melissa, though Melissa had not spent much time yet in the learning process.

“For the army, I think spears.”  Heinrich pulled out four, all different, but all sharp.  Jessica was miffed because he had not let them touch the spears yet.  His instructions to the freshmen were simple.  “Hold the sharp end up when you walk.  Point the sharp end at the enemy when appropriate.  Try not to cut yourselves.”

“That’s it?”  Amina asked.  She felt like Jessica.  She was good with the staff and could not wait to try one with a sharp end.

Heinrich shrugged and pulled out a shepherd’s crook.  “And this for the Priestess.  It will be a pleasure teaching her how to use this crook effectively.”

Emily had her knife and got her sword which she left there for when she worked out and Heinrich taught her how to use it, as he said, effectively.  It really had no place in her dorm room, and this avoided her need to carry it regularly across campus.

Heinrich pulled out a bandolier of small throwing knives and strapped on his samurai sword.  Emily hated to interrupt him.

ac-heinrich-9“I know you are four hundred and seventy some years old, and sterile besides, but you are still a man.  The last time we saw Granger she was almost irresistible.  The boys in the library could not help themselves just looking at her fully clothed.  Maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea for you to come.”

Heinrich nodded.  “But I can still watch your rear, and maybe keep Mister Ashish or young Rob Parker from stumbling in too close.”

Emily could not argue with that.  “Let’s see if we can find her.”

“Shouldn’t we call campus security?” Greta asked.

Emily sighed.  Why did it have to be the spunky little German pacifist?  “Let’s see if we can find her first,” Emily repeated, and they stepped out into the late afternoon.  Emily’s phone rang.  Her words were short and to the point.  “We will meet you there.  Keep Ashish and any other men away from the place.”  She paused.  “Get Mitzy to drive.  She doesn’t get out enough.  Fine.”  She hung up.

The phone rang again.  This time, her words were even more cryptic.  She gave the address and only added, “Let’s hope it works.”

Elect II—3 Antiques, part 3 of 3

Latasha shadowed Bobby Thompson for a week.  Detective Lisa said she could not spare a man for one small time delivery boy, but Latasha was upset.  This jerk had his claws into Janet.  Keisha still thought it was funny, but Janet was acting like a lost cause.  Latasha and Janet had been friends since forever, and she hated the idea of losing her friend to a scum-bucket.

On Saturday, her work paid off.  Bobby went to a restaurant where he could not order a burger and fries.  He had to wait to be seated.  She immediately called Detective Lisa and then argued with the woman for ten minutes before Lisa would do anything.

ac-j-millsaps“I know.  I’ve been careful.  I know,” Latasha said that a lot, but at last Lisa sent a car.  It was Millsaps, and he took it from there after giving Latasha strict instructions to go home and do her homework.  Latasha pouted, but went.

Six hours later, Millsaps called Lisa.  He had followed the man to a motel by the highway, and when Lisa heard who it was, she saddled up her partner Ashish for the drive.

“Of all people,” Lisa said.  “Good thing Latasha did not see Carlos.”

“Bad blood,” Ashish agreed.  “After he invaded her home last year.”  Ashish shook his head, but could not do more because he was driving.

“She might have killed him if she knew.”

“No.”  Ashish disagreed.  “I have confidence in that girl.  She can control herself more than that.  She is going to make a fine police officer.”

Lisa frowned.  “Just don’t tell her.”  She ended the conversation.

Millsaps left when they arrived.  His shift was over.  Lisa called Rob Parker who had the late afternoon and evening shift.  She told him to stand by.  “But it is probably nothing.”  They settled in for a long haul.

“What do you think will go down?”  Ashish asked.

“Carlos?  He probably got the motel room for a couple of hookers.  That little man has ego problems.  I say we give it until dark and then let one of the officers on the night shift take over.”

ac-ashish-2“Captain okay this?”  Ashish asked.


“Just checking.”  Ashish scooted down in his seat and closed his eyes.

An hour before sundown a Lexus pulled up to the spot outside the room.  Lisa had to squint against the sun, but she saw the driver stay in the car while someone in their fifties with salt and pepper hair got out of the back.  She shook Ashish.  “My God,” she said.  “It’s Ferdinand Franco.”  She whipped out her phone as Franco stepped up to the door and looked around once before he knocked.  That confirmed Lisa’s guess.  The man had a crooked eye.

“Jackpot,” Ashish said.  Franco, a former Mexican cartel man had the money and men to turn large chunks of south Jersey into his personal drug empire.  After the door to Carlos’ room closed, Ashish watched Lisa bite her lip for the next ten minutes.  It took that long to get a “go.”

Lisa told Ashish to wait by the car.  She staggered over to the Lexus with a big grin on her face.  She was a fine looking woman for being near forty, and the driver of the Lexus was happy to notice.  When she came up to the window, he put it down and smiled at her, especially when she bent over to lean on the door.  When his eyes finally shifted to take in her face, Lisa’s hands grabbed the man by his jacket and she hauled him right out the open window.  She slammed him to the pavement, cuffed him and removed the gun from his shoulder holster.

“Concealed weapon.  Got a permit?”

“Got a warrant?”  The man shot back.

ac-lisa-a3“Yes,” Lisa said, and she handed the man’s gun to Ashish while she borrowed his handcuffs and made for the door.  “Knock, knock.  Room service.”  Lisa tried to sound foreign.  It would have worked if at the last second Carlos had not looked out the window.  Franco did not know her.  He might have been fooled, but she saw the look on Carlos’ face.

Lisa kicked in the door.  She actually took it off the hinges so it swung to the wall and hung from its chain lock.  Franco put his hands up and did not resist.  Carlos made for the bathroom window.  Between them, Lisa knew she could pick up Carlos later.  For the moment, she had the kingpin, even if it would only be for a moment.

Rob Parker was already in the lot when she hauled Franco out of the room.  She grabbed Rob’s radio and put out the word that Carlos was to be picked up for questioning, then she and Ashish hauled their two suspects down to the station and she wondered how long they could hold them.  It depended on what the drug enforcement officers found in the car and motel room, if anything.


Ferdinand Franco got to sit in a filthy interview room for several hours.  Now and then he would yell about wanting a phone call or wanting his lawyer, but everyone ignored him.  Lisa spent the time catching up on her e-mails and found one from the FBI and Miriam.  There were photos, which she printed, and a request that she take them to the university to pass them by the experts.  Miriam wanted to know if they knew anything about that tattoo.

ab-interview-room-2Ashish ran up even as the last photo finished printing.  “Franco’s lawyer will be here in ten minutes.  His bodyguard used his call to call Franco’s lawyer.”

“Why are we just getting that word now?”

Ashish shrugged.  “Some mix-up?”

“Tell Mitzy to stall him and meet me at the room,” Lisa ordered, and she walked off with the stack of papers still in her hands, photos on top.  Mitzy was the officer who ran the front desk.  Ashish was not long before he followed.

“Mister Franco, this is your lucky day,” Lisa started right in.  “Your bodyguard has confessed that the drugs in your car were all his and you knew nothing about them.”

Franco nodded.  “Micky’s a good man.  He has a family, you know.  I suspected he might be into the drugs, but what can one person do?  I take care of my friends, though.  I guess I may have to help his family out if he goes away for a while.”  He shrugged.

“And the cocaine in the motel room?”

“Ah, that Carlos.  He is a bad one.  He calls me up and I drive all the way from Atlantic City to help out an old family friend from the home country, only to find out he wants to sell me drugs and get me hooked on that nasty stuff.  What a shame.”

“Family friend from the home country?  Mexico is still your home country, isn’t it?”

“Hey!  You are not allowed to ask me that.  I want my lawyer.”

“I suppose you could argue in court that the cocaine all belonged to Carlos.”

“His word.  My word.”  Franco shrugged again.  “What are you going to do?”


“Hey!  Why does everybody have it out these days for people who are rich and successful?  Isn’t that what this country is all about?  Anybody can get rich.”  He shrugged a third time and took a moment to run a hand through his salt and pepper hair.  “I understand some people don’t like me, but hey, I don’t feel any obligation to take care of families of people that hate me.”  He looked squarely at Lisa.  “I’m just saying.”

ac-lisa-2Lisa put her papers on the table in order to lean over and get in the man’s face.  Franco found he could not look Lisa in the eye as she spoke without any emotion.  “If anything happens to my family, I will find you and peel the skin from your body, slowly.”

“Lisa!”  Ashish stood up from where he was leaning on the dirty window sill.  He was genuinely shocked at what he heard.

“I’m just saying,” Lisa also straightened up.

“Threat!”  Franco stabbed his finger on the photo.

“Your word, my word.  What are you gonna do?”  She responded.

Franco looked at Ashish who examined the ceiling tiles and did not want to get in the middle.  Then he took a closer look at the photo his finger was stabbing, turned white and began to sweat.

“You want me to pass your name on to my friends?”  Lisa implied that she had a relationship with the tattooed men.

Franco yanked his finger back like it was on fire.  He scooted his chair a foot from the table, put up both hands up and shook them.  “I don’t hold with any of that secret society crap.  I just want to go home.  You gotta let me out.  Where’s my lawyer.”

His lawyer was already there, and Lisa confirmed with a call to the front desk.  “Mister Franco is ready to go,” she said into the phone, picked up her papers and photos and left the room.  Ashish later made a report.

“All he said was you gotta get me out of here.  It isn’t safe.  I swear, that is all.  He said it several times.”

ac-mindy-5Lisa looked again at the photos.  Dead men with a non-descript tattoo.   “I don’t get it,” she admitted.  “Franco has all the money, men and guns.  He makes a living intimidating others, but one look at these photos and he was scared like a rabbit.  I think I need to let Mindy look at these, if she can tell me anything.”


Lisa nodded.  “Emily’s wise woman.”

Ashish responded by imitating Franco.  He shrugged.


Monday, the unexpected turns of life heat up in the Elect II–4 Venus de Jekyll and Hyde

In the meanwhile, Happy Reading.


The Elect 14, part 3 of 4: Searching

Lisa came to campus in the morning with a court order and plenty of back up.  It turned out there were seven Abby’s in the student body, but as Emily looked down the list she was sure none of the ones listed was the witch.

“We don’t even know her last name,” Lisa paced.ac lisa 2

“Amina says she is being blocked and Melissa can’t remember it either,” Maria reported as she played with her glasses.  Just to keep things even, Emily ran her hand through her hair.  It was not as short as it used to be.  Soon enough, it might be normal length for a girl her age.

“Have you talked to Heinrich?”  Lisa asked.

Emily nodded.  “Haven’t you talked to him?”

Lisa shook her head.  “We are not on the best of terms at the moment.”

ac emily 7Emily understood.  Latasha.  “He says finding a witch is not easy.”  He said it was not as easy as finding a rogue elect.  “Apparently when they are young they don’t know how to contain or disguise themselves so they tend to broadcast all over the place.  Finding a general location, like the campus is easy, but picking through the broadcast fog to find a specific location is not.”

The police spent all afternoon banging through one dorm room, office or classroom after another.  They came up empty.  Lisa had hoped they would find her.  She had also hoped the girl was raised to respect her parents and elders, and might hesitate to fight the police directly.  She doubted that was the case these days.  Lisa knew if this witch was a rebellious teen, she could easily fight, and from all indications, she feared that would be a serious battle.

When they found nothing, Lisa insisted Emily go with her to her house.  They planned to sleep three with one awake at all times to watch.  It was probably not the best plan, but what else could they do?

Emily caught up with Pierce the following morning.  He came to tell her he had an off campus errand and would not be back until late.  Captain Driver was also off campus again, taking another weekend in Washington.  Emily wanted to ask what was so special about Washington, but she ac pierce 2suspected it was his kids.  He was divorced and she did not ask because she did not want to be nosey.

Emily looked at Pierce.  She hated to be away from him.  But then, he was looking at her in the same way so she figured it was safe to feel what she was feeling.  She thought to hold him.  She thought to kiss him.  She thought about delaying his errand by taking him back to her room.  They had only done it that one time before Christmas.  She imagined it was time for another visit.  She imagined she would not mind if they made it a regular thing, but she was good.  She let him go and only stared until he waved and vanished behind the trees on the path to faculty parking lot, C.

The Elect 6, Vigilante: part 1 of 4

Ashish turned the car off and Lisa got out slowly, still speaking. “I’m concerned about Latasha. She is not in the best environment. I’m afraid when she gets older and comes into her strength and learns what she is really capable of, she may be tempted in all the wrong directions.”

“We all are,” Ashish said, honestly enough. “But I have seen far worse environments.”

Lisa shook her head. “We need to keep her close for a while.”a trenton police 7

“I think I can understand how you feel, but I was wondering how you women did it in the old days, you know, before cell phones and cars and planes.”

“Young ones sometimes ran into older ones who could teach them. I met Edna Brownbecker when I went to Duke. I was eighteen. She was really old. Maybe the goddesses set it up that way. The stories and information got passed on from old to young, though maybe it is all apocryphal by this late date, like I keep saying. Mostly, though, I think up until the twentieth century, women had a different place in society. They did not play sports or join the army or go to college much. We couldn’t even vote. I think in history, and even today in big sections of the world, the idea of getting into things where warrior women might give themselves away, if you know what I mean, was not really an issue.”

“So are you afraid she might reveal your secret or maybe turn criminal?”

“Both.” Lisa let out her frown. “The world does not need to know about us. That much is rooted in my psyche. I did not need to be taught that. I think it comes with the package, and I think Latasha realized that when she backed out of basketball. But as for the temptations either to go criminal or go vigilante, she needs a solid foundation of family and friend to keep her pointed in the right direction.”

ac ashish 3“So, we can be her friends,” Ashish said with a genuine smile.

“What she really needs is a father figure.”

“Oh,” Ashish lost his smile. “I just remembered. I forgot to stop at the donut shop.” He scurried back to the car.


Continue reading

The Elect 5, Jekyll and Hyde: part 1 of 4


“Ms. Riley? Did I do something wrong?”

Ms. Riley laughed. “Not at all. Come on in. I wanted to see you after school because you have been doing a good job lately and I want to encourage you.” Latasha smiled, but Ms. Riley was not finished. “There is one thing, though. I understand you are trying out for the basketball team.”ac latashas class 1

“Yes ma’am. I’m five-seven, which isn’t too tall, but I can dribble better, shoot better and jump higher than Teryl Atkins, and he’s a six foot, thee inch senior on the boys team. I can dunk.”

“I am sure all that is true. You are a special, gifted girl, but I believe your gifts are meant for other things, aren’t they?” Ms Riley paused and watched Latasha lower her eyes as she thought about it. “Have you thought about what you might like to do after high school?”

Latasha brightened again. “I’m going to police school. I want to be a police officer and stop the bad guys.”

Ms. Riley nodded. “Many of us would like to stop the bad guys. That is a good goal, and I am sure if you keep up the good work in your studies, you will achieve that goal.”

“Yes, ma’am. Thank you ma’am,” Latasha smiled again.

Boston 3b“Now, since you missed your bus, can I drive you home?”

“Oh, no need. Detective Lisa is picking me up.”

“Very good,” Ms Riley said and turned to put some papers in her briefcase. “I don’t know what all is required for police work. Maybe you should ask Detective Lisa about basketball.”

Latasha turned her eyes down again. Maybe she did need to think about that.


Continue reading

The Elect 1, part 2 of 4: Puzzle Pieces

Everyone gathered in the Amazon lounge Saturday morning to discuss what needed to be done. Three horrific murders were not things that made anyone comfortable.

“But shouldn’t we call the police?” Tom, not the swiftest member of the football team, immediately asked when he got told.

Amina came in and that surprised Emily even if Maria did not appear surprised. After the introductions and noting that Amina’s room was on the third floor, Amina spoke up.a dorm lounge 4

“So there have been seven murders.” Amina shivered, like she felt each one personally.

“Three,” Jessica corrected.

“The Sybil says seven. I don’t think the police have found them all yet.” Maria bought into everything. Emily felt it prudent to take hold of the conversation.

“The police only know of three, except they have no suspects because they can’t figure out what is killing these girls. They have asked us to keep our eyes and ears open.” Emily assumed the victims were girls but she had neglected to ask. It was possible one or more of the victims were boys.

“Not us,” Jessica spoke up loudly. “You. The police asked you to watch. You asked us to help.”

“Makes sense,” Tom said. When Jessica looked at him oddly, he explained. “I saw what she did to those two men that attacked you. If there is trouble, Wonder Woman is the one I would call.”

“Did I tell you about how she held that flag?” Karyn interrupted.

“Yes,” several people responded.

“But what makes them think it is something on campus?” Owen asked.

`“You’re my Wonder Woman,” Tom said completely off topic.

a dorm lounge 5“That’s better,” Jessica responded and the two of them got lost for a time. Everyone else ignored them.

“On campus makes sense,” Maria started to answer Owen’s question but Owen interrupted again.

“No. It could be someone in town. The campus might just provide an easy group of young women for whatever it is they are doing.”

“They?” Emily asked.

“He, she or it.” Owen responded with a shrug and a look at Maria.

“And what makes you think “they” are doing anything beyond murder?”

“Now that makes sense,” Maria said. “There are several body openings through which fluids might be extracted, the mouth being the most obvious. But whoever is doing it must have a reason for doing it even if it is just for lunch the way Detective Mousad suggested.”

Emily had told them that much. She did not tell them Detective Schromer, that is, Lisa’s response. If it was something like that, she would have been contacted. Emily still had to think about that one.

“Yes, they have to be doing something with the liquid. There must be a reason for it,” Owen agreed with Maria, but sounded hesitant.

Emily nodded. “That is what I felt and so did Lisa.” She would have to say that name a bunch of times to get comfortable saying it. “As for the town thing. No. I am certain it is a campus activity.”a dorm lounge 1

Amina spoke up. “I feel strongly that it must be connected to the university.”

“How can you be so certain?” Owen did not give up.

“I feel it in my gut.” Emily had not told any of the others about being elect or what that might mean. She was not sure what it meant, except the image of Wonder Woman did not sit well in her mind. She knew it meant she ought to follow her intuition, and that kept telling her this was undoubtedly an on campus situation.

“Guts don’t hold up in court,” Karyn pointed out.

“So we need to find out who is killing these students and get the evidence that will hold up in court,” Emily responded. “I appreciate your help, only don’t take any chances. If you find something suspicious, call me. And don’t say anything about this to anyone outside of this room, Jessica.”

“What?” Jessica broke herself away from Tom at the sound of her name. Emily sighed and repeated herself.


Sunday noon, the police got a missing person call and Ashish Mousad got rudely taken from his NFL ab nursing home 2Sunday. Lisa picked him up and dragged him down to the nursing home where they endured an hour of nursing assistants giving explanations and excuses.

“Missus Cox was in bed, and then she was gone. I know it sounds impossible, but at one hundred and seven years old there is no way she could have gone anywhere on her own, even if she was ambulatory, which she isn’t.”

“I don’t see any sign of forced entry at the window,” Ashish reported.

“So someone had to come in the front door in the night and take her out without anyone noticing,” Lisa suggested.

“Impossible,” the nurse said, and she explained for the umpteenth time why that would be impossible.

Ashish complained when they got back to the car and out of earshot. “Did we really have to come here for a simple missing person? I know how night crews work in these places. The old woman’s family could have come in with a marching band and taken her out without anyone noticing.”ab nursing home 3

“You know full well for a city this size there are far too many missing persons. We are off the charts, even counting those that turn up dead which is itself an unbelievably high number,” Lisa said. “Anyway, this one is connected. Not directly.” The woman was old, extremely old, and thus far, all of the other victims were young and strong. “It is connected somehow to the university, to something happening there. I know it.”

Ashish surrendered. “I know what it means when you say that. In the long run you are always right.” Ashish pulled out his handkerchief for a good blow. “And here I thought when we became partners it would be my big nose sniffing out my suspicions, not yours.”

“I like your nose,” Lisa said as they left the nursing home behind. “Only what could they hope to get out of a hundred and seven year old woman?”

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.”


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….