The Elect 6, part 2 of 4: After All

Karyn’s body stayed in the morgue Thursday night and flew home to Texas first thing Friday morning. Jessica’s father paid for an afternoon flight for Jessica, Maria, Amina and Emily so Jessica and Emily would not miss freshman English. Her father also paid for two nights in a motel, and a rental car on the condition that Jessica not be allowed to drive the car under any circumstances.

Emily never imagined she would meet Karyn’s parents this way. The hardest part was she could not ab philadelphia airportexplain what happened other than to call it a terrible accident. To be sure, there were too many tears that weekend for much conversation. They flew back to New Jersey State quiet, but somewhat released.

When they got to the hospital and went to Carl’s room, he also stayed quiet. Jessica did most of the talking and showed surprising compassion about it. Carl would never walk well again, but at least he was alive. Nothing was wrong with his tear ducts, however, and the girls cried with him until the nurse shooed them out.

Emily did not feel quite sure how to handle Monday morning. Captain Driver had returned overnight from Washington and got the story. Several of the freshmen actually died along with Karyn. As it turned out, only one police officer died, but a second remained in critical condition. The rest of the freshmen either dropped out of school altogether or were desperately trying to transfer to a different school, preferably one out of state. That left Emily in a class of one.

“Come in Hudson.” Captain Driver sat at his desk.

“Sir?”

“Informal in here. I need to hear what you have to say. I understand you were there.”

ac rotc karyn“Yes, sir. The men were all drugged. It was some combination of adrenaline, growth hormone and several other ingredients. They had no control over what they were doing.” She paused to see if the captain had a more specific question. He only said one word.

“And?”

“And Terrence was free of the drug and pushing them to kill, sir.”

“You know he did not like you.”

“I understand.”

“So you broke his back?”

“Only the shoulder to prevent his escape. He stabbed Carl and was headed out the back door.”

Captain Driver nodded. “And you broke his arm because?”

“I was wrong, sir.” Emily dropped her eyes. “I had no reason to do that.”

“No matter. In your position that is probably the least I would have done.” The captain drew up his notebook and looked at it briefly. “Your current grade in this class is 98.7. That is as good as I have seen for a freshman. It is remarkable, considering everything else you have been involved in. I am giving you an “A” for the semester, and I have two requests.”

“Sir?”

Captain Driver put his hand to his lips before he spoke. “I understand you are thinking of nursing.” Emily nodded. She did not feel surprised that he knew. He probably made it a point to learn whatever he could about his charges, especially the women. “Let me just say, the army can always use good nurses, or anything else you might decide to do. I want you to continue. There will not beac Driver 1 a formal spring semester freshman class, but I would like you to continue with your studies. I have already arranged with the registrar to teach you the course work as an independent study, and you can work out with the sophomore class.” He was not giving an order, but it was a strong suggestion. She decided that might work, and said so.

“And the other thing?”

“Next year. I would like you with the upper classmen—probably where you belong, and I would like you to take Carl’s position with the incoming freshmen.”

“Sir?” Emily stood up a little straighter.

“John Brinkman has agreed to take the lieutenant’s position, the one Carl would have moved into. Company sergeant is generally given to the top junior who has signed up for service after college, but there is no law that says it has to be that way.”

“Sir?”

“The position carries a small stipend, more like a teaching assistant than a work study position.”

“Sir?” Emily’s intuition acted up and she wanted the full story.

ac emily pus“Hell, Hudson.” Captain Driver slapped the papers on his desk. “I have already been informed that there are four women accepted by early admission who are expressing interest. There may be more.”

Emily straightened. “Sir, yes sir. It will be an honor, sir.”

The man’s face visibly relaxed. “Dismissed, soldier. I will be in touch.”

Emily saluted and stepped out. Well, she thought. Won’t her family be impressed? Well, not her mother, perhaps. She could not even handle high school ROTC.

After that, Emily had nothing to do but go to the student center and celebrate by treating herself to a latte, which she was trying to learn to like.

###

Come Tuesday, the reality of classes and school set back in. All that had happened with the attempt on her life and on Swenson’s life, with the ROTC class and Karyn, and then Hilde and finally the quick trip to Texas had her in a fog. But by Tuesday, she was sufficiently out of the fog enough to wonder what might happen to freshman biology.ab lecture hall 2

“I’ve already calculated your grade from what is up on the web. You have a solid “B” in lab and almost a “B” in the course. According to the syllabus, Granger can give you an “F” on the final if she dares and you should still pass the course.” Maria seemed to feel like talking. She had been that way on and off since she lost Owen.

“There are grades up on the web?” Emily felt lost again. There were probably plenty of things at the university she did not know anything about. She had been rather busy.

Maria nodded but said nothing. Ms Granger came in. The woman looked disheveled. Normally she had everything tucked in perfectly, every crease ironed and never a loose hair from her bun. Now, her top was wrinkled, not well tucked, and she had not even bothered to put her hair up. She coughed once and rifled through a mess of papers in her briefcase. Ms Granger’s papers were never a mess.

“Professor Singh, evolutionary biology for those who don’t know, has agreed to oversee the remainder of the semester. We will continue as before.” Emily shifted a little in her seat. Ms Granger’s eyes shot straight to her. “How could you,” she said in her most accusatory voice. “He was a good man, and I don’t care if you have the whole police department and the governor himself protecting you.” Ms Granger never said the word murder, but it was strongly implied. She walked out of the room and stayed gone for a good five minutes. When she came back, she went straight to the board and began to write down information while she talked. She never gave Emily another glance.

ac rotc women 2After class, Emily dressed in her ROTC uniform with the addition of corporal stripes, an honor usually reserved for the most promising sophomore and upper classmen. She got to meet the sophomores before Jessica and Maria came to fetch her. Jessica dragged Emily off in uniform. She prompted them to pay Carl a hospital visit, which they did. They hardly needed much prompting. Then she insisted they stop by the mall.

“Ulterior motive!” Maria teased.

The Elect, the beginning, post 4 of 8: It’s All About Biology

“Hello neighbor.”

Emily looked up as Maria sat down beside her. Maria lived in the next room over in the dorm with Gloria Sanchez who liked to play dance music at two in the morning. All things considered, Emily decided Jessica might not be such a bad roommate.

“Where’s Jessica?” Maria spoke of the devil.

“Probably in nail painting 101. I think she is majoring in football players.”

Maria smiled. “I’m majoring in biology and thinking about medical school. I did AP Bio in high school, but I hear this class is a bitch.” She wiggled her glasses and got out her laptop.

“Honors Bio. I’m thinking about nursing.” Emily had never associated the name Maria with the word nerd before.ab lecture hall 2

Maria shook her head. “Why nurse when you can doctor?”

“Doctoring doesn’t pay these days. Haven’t you heard? All of the money is in nursing.” Emily sat up when a woman came into the room and placed a soft briefcase on the front table. Emily had been slouching and decided she ought to consider her first impression. “I thought Professor Hilde was a man.” She ran her hand once through her short black hair.

“He is. He’s over there.” Maria pointed and Emily saw an old man with metal forearm crutches who dragged his feet to a chair where he could sit, comfortably. “The instructor is Morgan Granger, Hilde’s teaching assistant. I heard about her. She is hell frozen over.”

“That makes my day.” Emily could not avoid the sarcasm and that time she did not feel the least bit guilty about it.

“You could beat her up, maybe?” Emily looked and saw Maria staring at her. “I heard. Jessica.” Maria did not have to say more. Emily rolled her eyes and wondered who else Jessica told.

“All right people, listen up.” Ms Granger spoke up and paced a little while the auditorium style room quieted. There had to be a hundred students in that class. When she had everyone’s attention, she turned and smiled for the group. It looked to Emily like an unnatural occurrence on the woman’s face and Emily feared it might injure the woman. “I look forward to the day when I get to put a big, fat “F” on a third of your final grade reports.”

“Morgan,” Professor Hilde coughed and the woman took a few steps in his direction, which brought her back to the center of the room.

“If you are serious about biology and do the work, there is no reason you should not pass this course. The truth is every year about a third of the students in freshman biology do not belong here and end up majoring in Art History or something else. I recommend first of all that you consider this. You have until the end of next week to alter your course schedule.” She waved the paper in her hand, which appeared to be the class roster. “After that, it will be too late.” That smile flashed again across that face, but this time Emily thought she saw a bit of evil glee in it.

ab lecture hall 1“Ready or not,” she whispered and began to slouch again.

“Yes,” the woman said and looked right at Emily. She glanced at the paper in her hand and came right back to Emily. “Please stand up.” Emily got up slowly and pulled her shirt down in the process. She looked around the room to see all eyes on her before she looked back at the woman up front. “Your name?”

“Emily Hudson.” Emily could not help the rise in her voice at the end of her name. It reflected her question as to why this woman decided to pick on her, but the woman made a joke of it at Emily’s expense.

“You don’t sound too certain about that.” Some of the room snickered at the old joke. “So tell me, Emily. Why are you here?”

Something rebellious and stubborn rose up in Emily and she responded sharply. “I am a biology major. I am going into nursing. And I am here to learn what you have to teach.” She did not say, “if anything,” but it was strongly implied. Ms Granger clearly did not like the answer. The room fell completely silent except for a brief guffaw from Professor Hilde, which he quickly stifled as he covered his mouth.

Ms Granger picked up a pen and made a quick note on her sheet before she spoke again. “I will teach plenty. The learning it is up to you.” Emily started to sit down but paused when the woman spoke again. “Emily Hudson.” The woman looked right at her before she let her eyes wander around the room. “I heard. I may call on your services if any of these students start acting up or get out of line.” Emily felt stunned to stillness. Everyone looked at her again and a few of them grinned. She wondered who had not heard. “You can sit down.” Ms Granger finished and pulled a stack of papers out of her briefcase.

Emily sat and thought, so much for making a good first impression.

“The syllabus,” Ms Granger announced and began to pass them out.

As soon as the class ended, Emily found two girls at her elbow. They had a flyer. She vaguely ab lecture hall 6recognized them from the dorm and thought they might have the room down at the end of the hall. “Mindy?” That sounded right. Mindy was supposed to be some whiz-kid genius.

“And Connie,” Connie said. “We wanted to invite you to our group. We are starting a club and we think you would be a great member.” Mindy nodded when Connie looked at her. Emily remembered when she met Mindy. She thought of Mindy as the shy and quiet type, a bit of a wallflower. Connie apparently came prepared to make up for it with an annoying, assertive personality.

“You really need to come,” Connie went on. “We are going to meet Friday evening in the downstairs lounge in the dorm. If we get a good turnout, we already have plans to apply for room time in the campus center.” She stuffed a piece of paper in Emily’s hand and added an afterthought for a Maria. “You can come too.” She turned to Mindy. “Come on.” As a parting word Connie said, “See you there.”

Maria leaned in, already peeking when Emily unwrinkled the paper. The group called themselves the Daughters of the Amazon. Maria took the paper and read as they walked. “Daughters of the Amazon are like-minded sisters who are willing to stand up and fight for fairness, justice, and the opportunity for all women to achieve greatness and success in this world ruled by men. We stand against the patriarchic thinking that dominates our culture and keeps women oppressed…” Emily did not hear much more. Something itched in the back of her mind, but out of respect, she waited until they reached the outside walk and Maria finished reading.

“The problem is, I don’t hate men,” Emily said. At that point, she had said nothing to anyone about being one of the elect, whatever that meant. Detective Schromer’s attitude suggested that it should not necessarily be public knowledge. But if what the detective said was true, about her being elected to fight, Emily imagined being mixed up with an Amazon group might not be the best idea.

“I didn’t read anything about hating men,” Maria responded honestly, but Emily stopped walking until she remembered what troubled her. She had an appointment to see her academic advisor after class. She said as much and turned back toward the science building steps but stopped again as a young man ran up.

a science 2“Hey, Maria.” The guy had no eyes for Emily.

Maria made the introduction. “Owen, Emily. Emily, Owen.”

“Hi,” Owen said the obligatory word before his eyes went right back to Maria. “Coffee?”

“Chai latte,” Maria responded and turned again to Emily. “Owen is a sophomore. We both have Doctor Zimmer as advisor.”

“Zimmer?”

“Bio-engineering,” Owen said. “Though I really should be with Hilde. Bio-chemistry.”

“Owen is looking at medical school as well.”

“I need to go,” Emily said and felt glad to see that Maria did not hate men either. “I need to go see my advisor. I got Swenson, the department head.”

“Luck,” Maria said, but Owen said nothing and had already turned Maria toward the student center.

By the time Emily got back up to the second floor offices, she felt anxious about being late. She did not read the signs well and opened a door without knocking. She found a young man rifling through some books on the shelf.

“Can I help you?” He turned to face her. Neither said a word for a good, long pause. The view was enough. Emily had to shake herself awake.

“Oh, I’m looking for Ms. Swenson’s office.”

The young man smiled and Emily felt warm all over. “Next door,” he said.ac pierce 1

“Sorry to interrupt,” Emily responded, though she could not get her feet to move.

“No problem. I’m just waiting for Doctor Zimmer. I’m Pierce Davis. I’m his TA.”

A graduate student, Emily thought. “I’m Emily Hudson, the freshman who is easily lost.”

“I could help you find your way.” Pierce hardly masked any of the innuendo in that statement. Emily felt her face redden at her thoughts when an older man barged rudely into the room.

“What is this?”

“She came here looking for Professor Swenson’s office,” Pierce spoke up for her.

“Next door. Get out.” Doctor Zimmer went beyond rude. Emily did not argue. She backed out but stole one more glance at Pierce as she did. His face seemed to apologize and she hoped hers said, “That’s okay. Lovely to meet you.” She closed the door and paused to think, “I mean it was wonderful meeting you.”

After a deep breath or two she knocked on the next door and only opened it when she heard the words, “Come in.” She sat quietly as the words continued. “Emily Hudson. You are late. I was beginning to wonder if you were coming.”

“Yes. I apologize. I went next door by mistake. I talked with Pierce, er, Mister Davis.” Emily fought it, but she could not avoid thinking Emily Davis, and then she went further to think Pierce and Emily Davis. She refused, however, to imagine names for the children.

Ms. Swenson stared at her. “You and half the women on campus. Take my advice and avoid him. I am your advisor, you know.” Emily just rolled her eyes as if to say it was not like that, even though it was ac swensons office 2exactly like that. “So tell me about Biology 101.”

Emily opened her eyes wide and sat up straight. “I did not make a good first impression.”

“I heard.”

God! Emily wondered how news could travel so fast around campus. “Maybe I should change to Art History and take biology in the spring with you?”

“Not by my advice.” Ms. Swenson looked down at Emily’s file. “I’ll admit that Morgan Granger can be hard, unbending and pulls no punches, but you can learn a lot from her.” Emily sighed and spent the next five minutes hearing all about how she had to stick with what she had and do her best. Then she got dismissed.

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

Be sure and return next Monday (T, W, and Th) for the second half of The Elect, the beginning episode. 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 read all 4 posts together in one sitting. It is up to you.

After this first 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 episode in one sitting.

Thus far, Emily has been told she is an elect and show some signs of unnatural abilities, but she is not sure what being an elect means. She has to puzzle out what she can. She may not have much time. Something is happening in and around the university campus that has Detective Lisa worried…