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

“Latasha?”

“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.

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The Elect 3, part 4 of 4: Practice

Emily went to bed Thursday night after fighting zombies that afternoon. Everything seemed surreal to her at the moment. She had no Friday classes after English in Gorgon Hall, the main classroom building at eight. She dropped her books at her room, took in the fresh, crisp, fall New Jersey air, and started to feel normal again, thinking zombies were just a bad dream.

The high school was easy to find, being right next to the campus. She got there by nine forty-five and wondered what she was supposed to do. She tried to stay on alert, at the attitude of attention, but even she could not keep that up for long when she got bored. Mostly she just sat and watched the cars go by.a high school 2

Once in a long while a car would pull into the main lot and she would look up only to see a woman in out-of-date slacks or a man in a button down shirt. They were probably teachers. They would run into the school with book-bags, briefcases or papers. Her intuition stayed on alert, she hoped, and she tried to use all her senses as well as she could. Lisa yelled at her about that and the woman was right. Zombies had no business sneaking up on her like that. But mostly, at the high school, there was nothing to sense.

The highlight of her day came at eleven when Pierce called. Their second phone call only lasted two minutes, but he wanted to be sure she had not forgotten about Saturday night and she thought that was so cute. She felt happy for an hour until a police officer pulled up, got out of his car, and asked her for some identification. Emily had her student ID, and the police officer held it for a good long time before he looked at her again. She ran her hand through her short hair several times while waiting.

“The fraternity house,” the police officer said at last. “Rob Parker. Good to see you again, but you better find another location. Jean Johnson in the guidance office noticed you, and they are pretty nervous. Principal Wearing called.”

“Thanks. Murder can make people nervous,” Emily said. “I’m just here as a favor for Detective Schromer. I will try to be more discreet.” Young Rob Parker looked like he wanted to say something a trenton police 5more, but Ashish showed up with lunch so he smiled and drove off.

“Anything?” Ashish asked.

Emily shook her head. “What did you bring me?” It was a turkey sub and a diet coke. Emily made a face. “No donuts?”

Ashish looked offended. “By the box-full,” he said, and held up a box.  “I bet you are just like Lisa. She can eat all the junk food in the world and never gain an ounce.”

“High metabolism,” Emily said. She only took one donut and moved to a different spot as Ashish left.

By two o’clock Emily felt certain nothing would happen that day. Some people would have been put off by that, but after the last couple of weeks Emily was glad to think nothing was going to happen. Of course, even as she considered her good fortune and thought about living one of those quiet lives, maybe as Missus Pierce Davis with a seven-year-old and ballet recitals, a car pulled up with three men and they all got out together. They parked on the street, but Emily was not fooled for a minute.

She watched them walk down the sidewalk like regular pedestrians, and she followed them around the corner, a pedestrian herself. When they ducked into a side door in the school, Emily followed discretely. She looked through the small window in the door first and did not go inside right away because the men waited and hid in the stairwell. No one came up or down those back stairs, so after a moment the men moved into the hall. Emily poked her head in and heard the muffled screams. They intercepted a girl on her way to the bathroom.a high school stairs 1

Emily came in the door as a string bean of an African-American girl raced down the stairs. They both entered the hall together to prevent the men from escaping out that same isolated side door. One of the men had one arm around the poor, frightened girl and his other hand up against her mouth to keep her from screaming. Whatever he whispered in the girl’s ear seemed effective to silence her.

“Stand back,” the skinny girl told Emily. “I was born for this fight. I can handle these three creeps.” Emily guessed it was Latasha, the inside help Lisa mentioned. She just grinned and let her have at it.

Latasha stepped forward and both of the men with their hands free jumped her, one from each side. Latasha did not know which way to turn, but to her credit, she managed to kick one pretty hard in the ribs and punch the other. The man with the possible broken rib backed up, but the one she punched tackled her. Latasha landed on her back and the man, return fist ready, landed on top of her.

Emily was right there. She grabbed the man by the collar and belt and tossed him, hard into the lockers. His head dented the metal. He would stay down. Emily spun and grabbed the knife she had strapped to her ankle. The man with the aching ribs started to draw a gun, but he dropped it when he found a knife in his chest.

ac latasha 3The one holding the girl shrieked, let go, and began to run in the opposite direction down the hall. “I’ll get him,” Latasha yelled, but she got tangled up in the girl.

Emily rolled, picked up the dropped gun and ran all out. To be sure, she had as much strength in her legs as in her arms. She could be unnaturally fast when she tried, and easily caught and tackled the man from behind. He tried to fight her off, but one punch changed his mind, and then he stilled when the gun got put to his head.

Principal Wearing heard the commotion and came running down the adjacent hall. Emily did not give the man time to think. “Hold this one here. Call 9-1-1.” Emily blew on the pistol barrel like in the old western movies and slipped it in her belt at the back, the way Lisa carried her gun. She dared not twirl it. She felt certain she would drop it. She turned and ran back to the man with her knife in his chest.

People raced to their classroom doors at the sound of the fight; but Emily came up to the man with her knife in his chest and yanked out the knife. That man let out such a horrific scream, most of the people went just as quickly back into their rooms. Emily tossed her phone to Latasha with a simple instruction. “Ambulance.” She began to tear the man’s shirt for a bandage and pressed to stop the bleeding. The wound did not look too deep, and nothing vital appeared to be penetrated, but it had to hurt like hell.

“Emily?” Latasha inched forward. Emily nodded as she had her teeth on the shirt at the moment to tear it. “Boy, have I got a lot to learn,” Latasha said.ac emily 2

“I have a feeling before this is all over, we will get plenty of practice.”

The Elect 2, part 4 of 4: Latasha

The detectives arrived at the high school by three. The police wandered all over the place. The principal and staff hid in the office, and one black girl sat off in a corner and did not appear to want to talk to anyone. Julie Tam, already there, said it was disgusting. The girl’s body had been cut to pieces. The endocrine system showed damage, but that was not all. Everything looked damaged, and it looked like the organs were surgically removed.ac julie 2

“It appears she was dissected. Half of her is missing,” Julie said. “And she may have been alive while they were doing it.”

“Like someone wanted to play with the individual pieces. What do you think?” Ashish turned to Lisa and Julie did as well. Both had long since learned to trust the detective’s intuition.

“I think we just got really complicated,” Lisa said. “It appears as if we have two murderers, and I think they are both university related.” Ashish and Julie eyed each other while Lisa paused to feel things out. “I think we need to find that hundred and seven year old woman.”

Ashish spoke to Julie. “Don’t look at me. I trust Lisa’s suspicious instinct.”

ab high school hall“See what else you can find out,” Lisa told Julie. “I’m going to talk to the girl.”

Lisa got stopped en-route by Principal Wearing. “For the record, the security at this school is top notch. No one could have come on the campus without someone seeing them.”

“Are you saying you think this was done by someone on your staff?”

Principal Wearing thought about that and quickly shook his head. That was not what he meant. He pointed at the girl who sat still and watched everything. She appeared calm, her backpack in the seat to her right, her hood pulled over her head, but there seemed to be a nervous something in the girls’ tapping toes and fingers, and that suggested something other than calm. “It is kids like LeBaidu you need to look at. She has three brothers and every one of them is no good. Don’t be fooled just because they are children. You might be surprised what some children are into these days.”

Lisa kept her mouth shut. She could not believe a person with such a low view of children became a high school principal. “I’ll watch this one, okay?” She turned her back on the man and walked casually to the girl. Principal Wearing retreated to his office.

“What?” The girl spoke first and it was not a pleasant sound.ac latasha 1a

“Mind if I sit down and talk for a minute?”

The girl said nothing. She just turned her head, like she did not care.

Lisa sat. “They tell me you found the body. Would you care to tell me how you did that?”

“You wouldn’t believe me.”

Lisa pretended to squirm in her seat. They were in a row of seats that were individually bolted to the floor, and they were cheap plastic seats, but not entirely uncomfortable. Still, there was a point to be made. “I’m sorry, just give me a minute to get comfortable.” Lisa stood and grabbed her seat. She ripped it right up from the floor, bolts and all and rammed it back down in the same spot. It would eventually fall without being bolted in. “Better,” she said to the wide-eyed girl. “I can believe a lot of things. Why don’t you try me? Let’s start with names. I’m Lisa Schromer.”

“Latasha. Latasha LeBaidu.”

“LeBaidu?”

“My family moved here from New Orleans after Katrina.”

ac latasha 9“Well, Latasha. How about you tell me how you found the body.”

Latasha paused and drew her knees up to her chin, put her feet on the chair and her chin on her knees. She was a tall and lanky girl. “I felt it,” she said. “They tell me my great-grandmother used to feel things. A lot of people in New Orleans say they can feel things.”

“But you?”

“This isn’t the first time. I felt it all day. It took until the last bell to figure out where the bad feeling was coming from. That is all. I can’t explain it more than that.”

“And you opened the locker yourself?”

“Well, it was stuck so I had to yank it open.”

“It was locked.”

Latasha grinned ever so slightly. “Yeah, I guess it was.”

“So tell me.” Lisa actually got comfortable then. “When was the last time you beat up one of the boys?”

Latasha’s grin widened until it took up a good portion of her face. “Yesterday. I didn’t like the way Bobby Thompson was looking at me.”a high school 2

An hour later, Ashish expressed his surprise. “Another one? How many of you are there?”

“There are maybe three billion women in this world. One in a million may be apocryphal, but you do the math.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. She is only fifteen, but it is strong enough in her so I am sure. She is elect, and she has had a tough road up to this point. Her mother had a baby at sixteen. Latasha has three older brothers and a younger brother and sister, and those six kids were fathered by four different fathers. She does not have the money and says she does not have the grades for college, but she also said she would like police work. Maybe we could help her out, do you think?”

“I think we could use all of you called women in police work.”

a trenton police 7Lisa shook her head. “It doesn’t work that way. But now I think we have to watch the high school for a few days.”

“You got a soccer game on Friday,” Ashish reminded her.

“I’ll have to ask Emily to watch Friday,” she said, as her phone rang. “Husband or one of the kids?” she asked.

“Um, one of the kids,” Ashish said.

“Oh, hello dear,” Lisa spoke into the phone, stuck out her hand and wiggled her fingers. “No, I’ll be home soon. Take out would be fine.” Ashish guessed wrong. He lost the standing bet. He frowned, pulled out a dollar, and placed it in Lisa’s palm.