Libby Carter got out of the passenger side after a moment. She let Lisa help her out, though she really did not need it. Working with Latasha and killing zombies had reinvigorated her. Then again, her arthritis was hurting in her knees and wrists, but what should she expect at eighty-eight.
“No, but I can see your husband…Josh?” Lisa nodded. “I can see he takes good care of the outside. I am sure inside will look just as lovely.”
Lisa knitted her brows. “I don’t exactly have time for much cooking and cleaning. Just remember, I have three children who have done who knows what while I have been at work.”
Libby tried to remember their names. Lisa had to tell her.
“Bobby is thirteen, Adam is ten and Megan is seven.”
“The Ballerina.” Libby remembered that much.
They stepped inside and Lisa breathed. It did not look too bad, considering. The couch even had all its little pillows in place. “Have a seat. I’ll just be a minute.” Lisa stepped to the stairs. “Kids!” There was no response. She smiled back at Libby and looked like she was about to go up and see what the problem was when they both heard a sound out back. Lisa went to the sliding glass doors and Libby got up to look as well. Sometimes moving felt better than sitting still.
All three children were running around the yard, laughing and playing something like tag. Megan was giggling in the way she did, and Adam looked so serious. “Adam is always so serious,” Lisa said. Libby watched as Bobby slowed down so Megan could tag him. Then he turned and played monster and she shrieked, ran and giggled some more.
“Lovely children,” Libby said.
There was a little snow in the corner of the yard left over from an early January dusting. Adam began to pelt his siblings, and they turned toward him, but did not get far. A dozen dogs came like a wild pack out of the yard next door. They were not little dogs, but Dobermans, German Shepherds and several Pit Bulls.
“Mama!” The children screamed as the dogs dragged them to the ground and began to tear them up. Lisa could not get the sliding door open. She tugged, and cried, but it would not budge. Libby put her hand to the knob, not to help, but to hold Lisa’s hand instead.
“It’s not real,” Libby said, and the whole scene in the back yard vanished. It was never there. At the same time, letters as red as blood formed on the glass door. They said, “Maybe next time.” Then the letters faded and vanished as well.
“Mom?” Bobby tumbled down the stairs followed by Adam and Megan. “We didn’t hear you come in, but Adam saw your car in the driveway.” Libby stood quietly by the back door and watched. The kids could not understand why their mother was suddenly hugging them and crying.
Heinrich lifted his head. He took a big whiff of air, then sighed, like a man suddenly disappointed.
“I didn’t think I was doing that badly,” Emily protested as she dropped the point of her sword. It was Saturday morning and Heinrich said it was a good time to work out all the stress from the week. Heinrich looked at her, but seemed focused on something else for a minute before he spoke.
“It isn’t you,” Heinrich said with a sad look on his face. “I have an errand to run.” He stepped over to open the cabinet and put his and Emily’s swords inside to be locked up for safe keeping. “Besides, the library is open by now and I believe you have a history paper to finish.”
Emily groused, but turned to put on her coat and pick up her backpack. She had clothes to change into in case they worked up a good sweat and she needed a shower, but that morning she felt they barely started before they finished. She failed to notice Heinrich as he slipped several knives into his pockets. He quickly put his trench coat over all.
Emily waited at the door for Heinrich to come out. She thought how she picked Catherine the Great because Heinrich was in France during those days. Amina picked some obscure Italian artist and philosopher, but she said Mindy helped her find some information in abstracts and reference works. Heinrich locked up the Gymnasium and said good-bye when they parted. He sounded serious, and Emily almost asked what the trouble was, but at the last, she thought the library was probably a good idea.