The Elect 6, part 4 of 4: Shopping for Answers

“Detective Lisa thinks it was another test,” Emily explained over dinner.

“Detective Lisa?” Pierce asked.

“Maria’s term. There is a Melissa Morrison being assigned to her room for next semester. Melissa is currently rooming with a Lisa who is dropping out of school. Apparently, Melissa’s first roommate was an Abby, but Abby threw her out after a week. Curious that Abby is the one Melissa talks about all the time. Anyway, Maria started saying Detective Lisa just to distinguish her from Melissa’s current roommate. Of course, Maria was hoping for a single, but she says now that Owen is gone it hardly matters.” Emily quieted. She imagined she was babbling.ab hive 4

Pierce understood. “You know, I don’t think Owen went along with Professor Hilde’s use of his work, especially after the murders started.”

“The suck face murders,” Emily said and added, “Jessica’s term.”

“I think Owen did not know how to stop it without being implicated and getting blamed with the rest,” Pierce finished.

Emily nodded. “That is what we all think and Maria has found some comfort in that.”

“I’m glad,” Pierce said and then he paused as if being glad was something special that he needed to think about. Emily waited and nibbled, but in the end, Pierce just brought them back to topic.

“So it was a test. What kind of test?”

Emily swallowed. “They were sent in to navigate a crowded place. They were probably instructed to kill someone, or at least to defend themselves and let nothing get in their way. And they were instructed to fetch something. Jessica pointed out that it had to be something easily broken to see if they could fetch it without breaking it.”

ab hive 7“But you happened to be there.”

“Purely by chance. They would have had no problem otherwise. It was a well planned operation.”

“I’m not so sure it was by chance,” Pierce mused. “They may have waited to go when they knew you were at the mall. That may have been part of the test.”

Emily paused with her fork halfway to her mouth. She looked all around the room. “You mean like I am being watched?” she whispered.

“That seems possible,” Pierce said. Emily thought, great! by which she meant terrible. Now she was going to be paranoid for sure.

Pierce got her attention. “I want to show you something.” He looked around to see if it was safe before he pulled out a long, sharp knife. “I’ve been practicing with it. Zombies, you know.”

“Pierce.” Emily thought it sweet, but she would hate to see him get hurt.ab pierce knife

“I figure if I am going to be with you, I need to learn to defend myself.”

“But Pierce—”

“Not that I could hope to defend you, but I consider Karyn my inspiration. She did not hold back at the firing range or the frat house, or at the end, I believe. I ought to be able to do no less.” He put the knife back in the inner pocket of his jacket.

What could Emily say? The Undead started their set and it was too loud to speak in any case.

They finished dinner at the Hive but before they left the restaurant, Pierce’s phone rang. He did not say much other than “Hello. Yes,” and, “I’ll be right over.”

When they got to the entranceway where they could talk, Emily spoke first. “Not another emergency.” She frowned and folded her arms as Pierce tried to hug her.

Pierce pulled back to study the situation. “Important, but not an emergency,” he said. “Why did you say it like that?”

“Sneaking off again to meet Zimmer and get another box loaded in the trunk in an alley behind some old warehouse?” Pierce put it together in his mind. “I went for a walk after you left. I saw you,” Emily admitted.

ab hive entrance 2“Why didn’t you come up and say something?”

“Men with guns?”

“Oh, right. Regular army.”

Emily threw her hands down to plead with him. “What were you doing there?”

Pierce thought before he spoke. “I’m not supposed to talk about it, but since you saw, I will tell you. You have to promise not to say anything to anyone.”

Emily folded her arms again and nodded slightly, but did not actually promise in case she had to say something.

Pierce accepted that. “Genetically altered grain that will grow in marginal, even arid conditions to be tested. Imagine huge sections of the Sahara growing wheat. Doctor Zimmer is testing the genetic stability. Others, in other labs, are testing the nutrition and fiber content and whether or not it may go wild and predatory. The government wants to be sure it is stable and safe.”

“But the men with guns?”ab hive entrance 1

“Oh, they don’t want the Chinese or anyone else to get their hands on it. The army was asked to escort the various samples around the country and you know army overkill. I can’t imagine Chinese spies in the back streets of Trenton, New Jersey, but you never know.”

This time Emily thought about it. She decided. “Okay.” She threw her hands around Pierce because she wanted some kisses. After all, he said important, but not an emergency.

###

Just before Thanksgiving, Henry Schultz walked into the gas-mart by the university campus to buy some 9 X 12 manila envelopes. He foolishly tried to strike up a friendly conversation with the clerk. “I need to send reports and the safest way is still the old fashioned way. Handwritten letters cannot be hacked, or even read when they are written in linear A.”

The clerk just stared dumbly and said, “Five-nineteen.”

ab robberyWhile Henry reached for his money, a young punk came in with a gun. He pointed it at the clerk and demanded the cash from the register. He shrieked the words nervously, and Henry knew the young man was on crack or something. Henry did nothing until the punk turned the gun on him. “You, too. Give me your money.” Henry felt more than willing to do that.

A knife spun out from the aisle and sank deep into the crack-head’s upper arm. He howled as Emily came running to the front. Henry moved fast, like a blur of motion. He knocked down the man’s hand which sent the gun to the floor. He punched and the man went sprawling back into a coke display. Then he swung as Emily arrived. She could not avoid the punch. He hit her right in the jaw. She flew back ten feet into an end cap, buckled the shelves, knocked three shelves completely off the rack and knocked everything off the shelves to scatter across the floor. Emily went out cold, and did not wake up until officer Rob Parker arrived to help her up.

Emily found a manila envelope in her lap when she woke. Her knife had been put inside and a note appeared scribbled on the outside in a kind-of gothic script. It said, “Emily, you dropped this toy and always clean your weapons.” A symbol of some sort had been drawn beside the writing, a simple cross with an asterisk above it.

“Can you take me to the police station? I need to see Lisa.”a trenton police a1

“Dick?” Rob looked up at his partner. Dick nodded.

“I’ll be here a while. The ambulance will be along, shortly and this guy isn’t going anywhere.”

“This has to be quick,” Rob told her. He wanted to run the lights and weave through traffic.

When they got in the car, Emily turned to the policeman. “Robert, isn’t it?”

The man nodded but said nothing as he took off, grinning.

Lisa took one look at the note and turned pale. Emily, Ashish and Latasha who was visiting all saw something in the woman’s face they had never seen before. If it was not fear, it was a close cousin. Lisa turned to look at Emily.

“Your sword dealer?”

“Henry Schultz,” Emily nodded.

ac lisa a2Lisa stood and signaled for everyone to be quiet. Latasha could not hold her tongue, but she was kind enough to whisper. “He knocked you out with one punch?” Emily could only nod.

“Edna told me about a Heinrich Schultz, but she met him way back in the First World War.” Lisa thought aloud. “You said he was old?”

“He couldn’t be that old,” Emily said. “That would make him over a hundred, even if he was just a baby back then.”

Lisa said nothing for the moment. She turned on Emily and her face and words were very stern. “What were you thinking?” Another scolding. Emily got a lot of that lately. “I half-expected Latasha might try to take out some drug dealer in her neighborhood. I didn’t expect this from you.”

“He was being robbed,” Emily meekly defended herself. “I was in a position to help. Can’t I do that?”

“No.” Lisa surprised her. “To begin with, and I know this will sound strange considering the impact ac lisa 2you have had on campus, but who and what you are is best kept secret if at all possible. My own husband does not know exactly who and what I am, at least not all the details. The only reason I told Ashish some details is because it comes up so often in our work. Otherwise, warrior women have gone down in history as remarkable individuals, unsung heroes or not even noticed at all. The world does not need to know there are a bunch of us at any given time, even if it is a very small bunch. The rule is, without provocation, we do not interfere with the normal course of human events. Our place is more like disaster prevention and that is all. Is that clear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Emily said and Latasha echoed the words.

“And more important, your place is not to take the law into your own hands. You were not elected to be a vigilante. That can get you into big trouble.” Lisa glanced at the manila envelope.

“But what if the thief shot that nice old man?”

“I’ll get you a pair of handcuffs!” Lisa put her hands on the table and leaned over to stare hard at Emily. “I have had to call in favors and apply a lot of pressure to the thief’s lawyer to keep you from being sued.” Lisa put her hand to her head. “That’s it. I have a headache.” Lisa told them to get out, and without another word about the old man, the envelope or the symbol on the back. Emily took Latasha out with her having judged it to be the only safe thing to do. They would ask questions later.

ac lisa a3As soon as they were out of the door, Lisa turned to Ashish. “We have to go talk to a sword seller.”

“I bet he is already gone,” Ashish said.

“No bet. You are probably right.”

************************

Continue reading

The Elect, the beginning, post 2 of 8: The Library Incident

“So, what’s his name?” Emily felt curious, but not really interested.

“Thomas.” Jessica looked back at the library table where the young man looked up and waved. She smiled.

“And he is in Freshman English?” Emily picked her book-bag up from the ground for the tenth time and tried once again to make the strap stay on her chair. The thought crossed her mind that one definition of insanity involved doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.

“No.” Jessica sat up but made no effort to open her book. “He’s a sophomore, and on the football team.”ab library at night 1

Emily looked up from her book. Apparently, Jessica went for football players. “I thought you had a boyfriend back home.”

“But I’m not at home,” Jessica said with a straight, albeit blonde face. “Besides, I want to enjoy the full college experience.” She tossed her hair back and snuck another look at Thomas.

Emily nodded and ran a hand through her short black locks. She had a boys’ cut, left over from ROTC summer camp. If she did not have a Mohawk red streak in it, she figured her hair would have no character at all. “But it has only been five days,” she said, and she thought living a whole year with this roommate would not be easy.

Jessica looked at her long nails before she slammed her hand down on her book. “First day of classes and we already have homework. It’s unnatural.”

Emily looked at the girl’s hand on the book and thought, at least that was a step in the right direction. Then she examined her own short, black painted nails and shook her head, sadly. “I’m going back.” She picked up her book-bag from the floor, slipped her English book into the bag, and stood. Jessica mirrored her, but with a glance to be sure Thomas watched her leave. Emily noticed and said quietly, “grumble, grumble.” She did not think she could put her feelings into words, exactly.

The library door closed softly behind them with the sound of a shush. The university campus spread out before them like a gray world punctuated by lamps here and there along the paths. Emily looked up once, but could not see the stars because of the library glare. She might be a foolish freshman to walk across campus in the dark, but she had Jessica for company, such as it was, and the dorm was not far. Trenton, New Jersey might not be the safest city in America, but New Jersey State University had a good safety reputation, as far as she knew.a n campus 3

“Coffee?” Jessica made the suggestion while she tugged on her too short skirt. Emily put her hand in the pocket of her black slacks, found the two dollars she needed for laundry and shook her head.

“I need to rest.” She honestly felt it important to stay on a good schedule, at least at first.

“Well, I can use some,” Jessica insisted.

Emily hesitated before she spoke. “Can’t. I’ll see you back at the room.”

Jessica also looked ready to say something more, but declined. She turned without a word and headed toward the student center. Emily watched for a moment before she turned to her own path. She took two whole steps before she heard a stifled scream come from Jessica’s direction. She did not hesitate. She ran toward the sound.

Two men had Jessica beside a tree. One had her from behind and had a hand over her mouth. The other threatened her with a knife. Emily dropped her book-bag and without a second thought, she leapt. Both feet struck the ribs of the man holding Jessica. He let go and crashed to the brick walkway. Jessica spun around twice at her sudden release. Emily landed upright on the brick walk. The man with the knife lashed out, but Emily caught his hand, turned around so the hand had to follow and that man found his own knife shoved deep into his own gut.ab mugging

Jessica screamed, more than once.

The one on the ground tried to rise, but Emily landed right there. She kicked him in the ribs again before he could stand. He spun around, red faced and spitting. Emily simply made a fist and hit the man in the jaw as hard as she could. His head spun and he fell back to hit his head hard on the bricks. He would not get up again for a while.

Emily rushed to Jessica. “Are you all right?” Jessica could hardly stop screaming as Thomas and his football friend ran up. Jessica immediately turned to the boy. Thomas stared and looked dumb before he slid his arms around the girl. The other young man examined the two disabled men. He gave Emily a curious look since Jessica seemed occupied. With that look, what Emily did suddenly caught up with her and she felt overwhelmed. Her only grace was that it all felt instinctive in a way, as if she did all that without having to think too hard. She had no idea how that might be.

“ROTC.” It was the only thing she could think to say.

“Lieutenant Terrance J. Williams,” the young man responded. “I’ll look forward to seeing you Thursday afternoon.”

“Sir, yes sir,” Emily responded, but her mind was not on her words. She looked at the man, bleeding terribly from the knife in his middle. He used the tree to hold himself to his knees. She felt sick.

“I called 9-1-1,” one of the newcomers reported.

“I called campus police.”

“I called the ambulance.”ac Bernie 1

The campus police arrived first. Just one older African-American man showed up, in a disheveled blue shirt, gray tie, police looking pants, and a jacket that had the University logo and University Police blazoned on it. “Everybody back away,” he yelled, and waved his arm like a traffic cop. “Nothing to see here. Go on about your business.” He took in the two men on the ground. “What the hell happened here?”

“Ask her, Bernie.” Lieutenant Williams pointed at Emily. Emily looked up and felt very confused right then about what exactly happened.

“Hey! Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?” Bernie turned to the lieutenant. “Does Coach know you are still out this late?” The campus cop temporarily forgot about the ones on the ground.

“Library?” Lieutenant Williams pointed, as if that explained it all. “Come on Tom, if you can tear yourself away.” Tom let go of Jessica and moved. He followed the lieutenant toward the student center, and the campus cop had one more thing to say.

“Football!” He shrugged before he turned to Emily. “So what happened here?” The man on the walkway chose that moment to groan and put a hand to his jaw, and then to the back of his head where Emily feared the man might be bleeding. Emily tensed up, tried to make sense of what she did and began to cry. Jessica, already into a good cry, reached for Emily, now that Thomas had gone.

“She saved my life.” Jessica managed that much before the women hugged and cried on each other’s shoulders. Emily let her emotions flow, but she could not help the thoughts that came into her mind. She thought that Jessica was three inches taller to begin with, at maybe five-nine, and the pumps added another two inches. She was being soaked from above. The second thought was that Jessica had on too much makeup and now it was running all over her favorite purple shirt. It was going to be a bitch to get it out.ab police at night

To his credit, Bernie the campus cop did not press the issue. He went to the man who had somehow pulled out the knife and collapsed to his seat. The man still leaned heavily on the tree. “Hey! This man is bleeding,” Bernie noticed.

The regular police roared up on the nearby street and came running. Everyone backed up for real. The ambulance came right up the walkway from the student center, and Emily pulled herself together enough to pull Jessica out of the way. She had no illusion that she could simply melt into the crowd and go unnoticed, but she thought at least they could give the medical people some room to work.

Emily felt glad when she saw the man rise from the walkway, and with help, take a seat in the back of the ambulance. She felt grim when they carried the other one out on a stretcher, but by then there were too many police officers around and Emily knew she and Jessica would have to go for a ride and give a statement.

“Not the best way to stay on schedule,” she mumbled as Jessica backed up to wipe her eyes. “Maybe they have coffee at the police station—oh but Thomas won’t be there.” Jessica wiped the drip from her nose and let out the littlest laugh and smile. Clearly, that was exactly what Jessica had been thinking.

The Elect, Freshman Year, the beginning chapter/episode, post 1 of 8

Two men, a bit old for students but a bit young for professors, walked the campus path in the dark. They avoided the lamps set here and there along the way, coming up from the campus center toward the classroom buildings. They stopped by a big, old tree that still had all of its summer leaves. It provided plenty of cover to shroud the ground with darkness.

“That building is the library,” the big one said. “We should find what we are looking for there.” He paused to watch his friend pull a knife and begin to clean beneath his fingernails. “You would think these days these college kids would be smart enough to not walk alone in the dark. But it is the beginning of the school year and there are stupid freshmen everywhere.”a library steps n

The man with the knife stopped long enough to nod and smile.

************************

The Elect, Freshman Year is a serialized novel, to use the classic term, but neatly divided into chapter/episodes like a television show. It is jam packed and fast paced with an emphasis on mystery, intrigue and action ready for film. There are quite a number of characters best imagined on film where they would be easy to remember by matching a face with a name. All you really need to remember, as a reader, are the three elect, Emily (with her college friends), Detective Lisa, and young Latasha. Everyone else is either family (mom, dad, brother), co-worker (detective, police officer, teacher) or antagonist of some sort. Oh, and then there is Heinrich…

The elect are one in a million adult women, maybe one in ten million people. They are women chosen at birth and empowered from ancient days by the goddesses of old, originally, to protect and defend the home when the men went away to hunt or to war. Emily Hudson is an elect who has no idea how gifted she is until she arrives at New Jersey State University, in Trenton, and meets another elect—a police Detective, Lisa. Together they find a third, Latasha, a local high school freshman, and realize that three elect in the same community, maybe even three in the same state, defies all odds. There are not that many elect in the whole world. Then again, maybe three together is by some divine design, because there are things going on in Trenton and around the university that will take every gift they have to give, and then some.

The pilot episode will post (M, T, W, Th) over the first two weeks in November 2015. After that, each of the 22 episodes (chapters) will post weekly (M, T, W and Th) over the following 22 weeks. If you wait until Thursday, you will find all of the posts for the given episode on the right side of the blog under “recent posts”. Some might want to wait until Friday, or even the weekend to read the whole episode at once. That is fine.

If you miss an episode, or find your way to this story somewhere in the middle, feel free to click on the archives button. The pilot episode begins it all at the beginning of November 2015. Happy reading. Lets see how good your visualization skills really are…