Elect II—19 Leftovers, part 3 of 3

It was dark when Emily left her study group in the library.  She normally did not think twice about walking home in the dark, but there was an early spring chill in the air which made her turn up her collar, and she shivered.  It was a straight path to the dorm, beside the science building with the main classroom building, Gorgon Hall on her right.  She had to go down a small hill and through a couple of dark patches where the trees obscured the walkway lights, but then she was in dorm land and only needed to cross the street to get to her suite.

Emily paused in front of the science building.  She pushed her collar up again against the feeling that someone was following her.  She tried to look back as she reached in her purse like she maybe left something in the library, but she did not see anyone behind her so she took a deep breath and passed it off as imagination.

a-n-campus-2A young couple burst through the science building doors and headed toward the library.  Emily watched for a moment and felt like she wanted someone to laugh with and hold their hand.  She sighed and looked and saw no one back there, so she started walking again.  Someone was following her.  She could run, and outrun any normal person, but as she came to the slight hill that went down to the street and moved into a dark area, she had another thought.  She slipped behind a tree and held her breath.

She was sure whoever it was, or whatever, it was definitely following her.  She imagined it paused at the top of the hill where it could not see her.  She wondered who it might be.  Riverbend was likely resting or for once doing as she was told—helping Lisa track ghouls.  She could not imagine it, but she supposed Riverbend might have assigned another one of the elf maidens to temporarily take her place.  But no, Emily thought, no elf maiden would be that obvious.

Emily heard a sight growl beside her and felt a rock-hard fist in her shoulder before she could turn her head.  She flew across the walkway and slammed hard into a tree.  She was hurt from one punch and when she looked up she was not surprised to see a monster of an orc step out into the dim light.

There was someone on the path, running.  The person leapt and he had a knife in his hand which got shoved deep into the orc’s neck.  The orc grabbed the young man with one hand around the waist and squeezed.  The man arched his back and moaned as Emily heard bones break.  Then the young man was tossed away like a rag doll.

 

The orc reached for the knife in his neck and pulled it out with a great roar.  But by then, Emily had out her knife and came up from beneath to shove her knife in the orc’s belly and up toward the heart.  The orc backhanded her, and mostly missed, but even at that Emily felt it hard enough to be seriously hurt, and she was shoved again across the walkway to crash and slide across the bricks on her back.

ac-j-j-orc

As the orc tossed away the knife from his neck, somehow the young man grabbed it.  Emily was astounded.  She thought she gutted the thing, and it was bleeding terribly from its neck and belly, but it seemed her cut through the abdomen only hit muscle.  The knife fell out as the beast turned on her.  She staggered to her feet.  But then the young man managed a miraculous leap on to the orc’s back, though his ribs had to be broken.

The orc got the knife again in the neck, on the other side of its head.  It roared again and jumped backward to crush the young man into the tree.  Emily heard the big old tree crack from the weight and force exerted, and she moved in again, retrieving her own knife as the orc turned to tear the young man apart.  It roared again and Emily shoved her knife into the orc’s mouth, reaching from behind.  The backhand came again, but this time Emily ducked and rolled away.  She moaned.  The roll made it clear that she was hurt everywhere.

The orc turned on Emily once again, but it stood to spit and try to disgorge the knife from its mouth.  It made great hacking sounds before an arrow struck it in the chest.  Two more arrows struck the heart area and the beast fell to the ground to roll and grasp at the shafts.

Emily crawled over to the young man by the tree.  She was sure he could not possibly be alive.  She gasped when she saw him.  It was Pierce’s younger brother.  There was a flicker of movement and recognition in his eyes

“I’m glad you loved him.  I’ve got a baby sister.  Save her,” the young man said before the last of his breath went out of him.

Emily turned, though it hurt to turn.  She saw a male elf making sure the monster orc was dead.  boston-a1She saw the female elf at her side, and the elf yelled at her.  “I ordered Riverbend to stay with you.  You have no business sending her off to help Detective Lisa.”

There was something in the way the elf said Detective Lisa that sounded familiar, but Emily could not think about that just then.  She was busy passing out.

Emily woke a short while later, in her dorm and in her bed.  Maria was there having tea with the elf healer, Linnea.

“Must have been a monster,” Linnea said.  Emily could only nod.

“Nothing broken,” Maria reported.  “But you have to be banged up bad.”

Emily nodded again as Riverbend came to the door and came into the room, crying.

Elect II—19 Leftovers, part 2 of 3

That same afternoon, Melissa and Maria finally cornered Amina.  They had books Mindy picked out and Amina was just going to have to sit and look at the pictures in the hope of identifying whatever was blocking her, and maybe blocking Zoe.  Melissa flipped the pictures.  Amina tried not to look too close.  Maria talked.

ac-maria-3It’s no good running away.  We are running out of semester.  We have to get to the bottom of this.”

“Here,” Melissa said.

“No please,” Amina turned her head.

“But this is a good picture,” Maria said.  “Apollo and Artemis.  Greeks.  Hey.”  She took the book for a moment.  “I didn’t know they were brother and sister.”  She moved the book back in front of Melissa when someone screamed.  Heads went up.  More screams followed.

The orc in the main room had a sword and he looked like he wanted to take out as many students as possible.

Maria and Amina rushed out from behind the library table while Melissa stood and pulled the wand given to her on Avalon.  Blue magic snaked out and encircled the orc.  She was attempting to immobilize the creature, but even as the orc’s movements began to slow, it shrugged like throwing off a fly.  Melissa was lifted off her feet and flung back to slam into the nearest bookrack.

That brief slow down allowed Maria to kick the sword from the orc’s hand.  It clattered to the floor and slid under the table even as the orc returned Maria’s kick with the back of his oversized hand and sent her spiraling into the lounge chairs.  Amina went straight for the sword, but the orc went straight for her, and would have gotten her if she wasn’t prepared.  As the orc reached for Amina, Amina spun around and sprayed his eyes with perfume.  The orc howled and stood and scratched at his eyes.

Maria bumped a young woman who was sitting in the lounge area, unmoving, with her eyes and ab-scared-womanmouth wide open.  Maria said, “Run.”  That was all that was needed.  The woman stood, knocked over her chair, threw her hands up to her hair, screamed and waddled off in her heels because actually running seemed too difficult.  She got totally in Maria’s way and Maria added a second thought.  “Never.”

As Amina grabbed the sword, the orc pulled out a knife.  He looked angry for revenge until a young man hit the orc on the back of the head with an encyclopedia.  Melissa ran up, holding her banged up shoulder as the orc staggered and then turned on the young man.

“Robert!”  Melissa yelled, but she did not have to tell Robert to back up.  When the orc turned fully, he lifted his arms and roared.  Three arrows went straight into the orc’s chest.  His eyes gazed over and he collapsed.

“Linnea,” Maria recognized the elf healer and her elf friends.

“Lord Roland and Lady Boston said we needed to watch you, not just the Queen.”

“Good thing,” Amina said.

ac-riverbend-2“Yes,” Linnea agreed when she got down with Maria to examine the orc and be sure it was dead.  “Boston said the law of luck would bypass the ordinary students and bring the trouble straight to your door,”

They all looked up at the sound by the door.  It was Courtney Chase, and she was loud.

“Shit!  Joe!”  She ran back out the door shouting, “Joe!”

‘Quick,” Maria said.  “You have to get this body back to Avalon.”

“Down here,” Amina said and pointed with the sword that was still in her hand.  “The hallway is less conspicuous.”  Two elf women grabbed the orc’s hand and dragged the body after Amina.  Linnea followed.  Maria looked at Melissa, but she was kissing Robert so that was no help.  She picked up the fallen lounge chair and sat in it as there was a flash of light down the hall and Courtney Chase came back in, Cameraman Joe in tow.

Everything was quiet in the main room.

ac-news-5Courtney glanced down the empty hall suggesting she saw the light.  She turned to Melissa and Robert.  “Where the hell did they go?”  Melissa and Robert were busy, so she harrumphed and stepped over to confront Maria.  “Where the hell did they go?” she shouted.

Maria wrinkled her brow and scolded the reporter.  “Please.  Library,” she whispered.

Courtney made an angry and very unflattering face and returned the whisper with an edge in her voice.  “Where the hell did they go?”

Maria answered in her normal tone and voice.  “Where did who go?”

Elect II—11 No Earthly Creatures, part 2 of 3

Emily paused in her reading.  Maria was in her spot on the couch with papers and books spread all over the coffee table.  Amina was in her chair with a book, but she looked ready to take a nap.  Melissa had a math book out and was taking notes.  Emily could not imagine why anyone would ever take notes out of a math book, but then she probably would not understand the math in that book, so it hardly mattered.

ac-melissa-pencil“Anyone find any extra doors around campus that might be open?” she asked.

“No,” Maria answered without looking up.  “No doors to Avalon.  And no apples from Avalon either.”

“Where is Avalon?” Melissa asked.  She put the pencil in her mouth for a good chew.

“Long way,” Amina said.

“But we may never find the creatures that have escaped if we don’t find the door and close it,” Melissa said.

“Yes, I know,” Emily responded.  “There’s trouble in the ranks, whatever that means.”

“Zoe’s Mystery,” Maria said.  “It means the world is going mad.”

All four women spoke in unison.  “Blah, blah, blah.”  They went back to their studies.

###

ac-mindy-a1Early on the last Tuesday morning before Christmas break, Mindy went down to the library sub-basement for her shift.  She was feeling more frustrated than any of them.  Every chance they got was spent looking for apples, looking for a door, and in Mindy’s case not finding anything about the circle with three squiggly lines.  They did not talk about it.  Days went by without mentioning it.  Thanksgiving came and went and now it was nearly time for finals, the semester was almost over and they found nothing.

“How does Zoe expect us to find things that may be invisible or insubstantial?”  Mindy complained.

“I don’t know.”  Bill looked up from the desk opposite hers and shook his head; but Mindy was not finished.

“I mean, what good is a wise woman who doesn’t know anything?  Really?”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Bill responded.  He stared at her, and at any other time Mindy would not have minded, but at the moment she was not in a good mood.  She returned a mean stare and he opened up just a little.  “I am the graduate student, but you are so far ahead of me on so many things, and you are just a sophomore.  I mean, you eat ancient languages for breakfast.”

“I’ve always been good with languages.  That doesn’t mean anything.”

ac-owen-1“That means everything!”  He shouted as much as a scholar can shout.  “In two years you know more languages than I know in six, plus high school where I studied Latin, Greek and Hebrew because I was supposed to be the genius kid.  And worse, you remember it all.  It’s like we are all looking at the tapestry of life and enjoying the picture on the cloth.  You can see the stitching and know just where one color ties off and the next begins.  You are the most remarkable woman I have ever known.”

Mindy could not respond right away.  She was too busy reveling in the fact that a young man called her a woman.  She was short and perky and everyone else just referred to her as a girl.  When she did respond, it was with sharp words.  “Bill, quick.  This way.  Hurry.”  She grabbed Bill’s hand and dragged him through several twists and turns around stacks and cases until she got to a spot on the wall where the pieces of a cabinet lay unassembled.  She grabbed a six-foot dowel as Bill caught sight of what was following them.  To his credit, he managed to maintain enough control of his tongue to ask, quietly.

“What the hell is that?”

“Orc,” Mindy answered as she shoved Bill behind her and held the dowel like a staff.

The orc paused at the end of the aisle.  It stared at them through intelligent, malevolent eyes.

ac-j-j-orcMindy spoke in a language Bill never heard before, and she shifted her hands on the staff to show she knew how to use it without threatening the beast at the same time.  The beast simply barred his teeth, his many sharp looking teeth, and growled in guttural sounds before it turned and walked off.  Mindy was for going down the aisle to see if she could catch a glimpse of where it went, but Bill grabbed her by the shoulder.

“Listen first,” he said.  “Maybe it is waiting for us.”

It sounded wise, but Mindy shook her head.  “It had us cornered here.  If it wanted us it would have taken us, or tried already.”

Bill nodded even if he did not quite believe it.  “So what was that language you spoke?  I didn’t recognize it.”

“Akkadian.”

“What?”  Bill backed up a little.  “No one knows how Akkadian is spoken.  That is a matter for scholars to debate.”

“Well, that was Akkadian all the same,” Mindy said.  “How do you think I learn all these languages?  I hear it in my head as I read it.  If I read enough, non-stop, I start to think in the language and have to make myself think again in English.  I spoke Akkadian, and correctly since the orc understood me.”

ac-mindy-5“What?”

“The original language of the Amazons.  I told the orc I belonged to Zoe and you belonged to me.  I said if he harmed us he would have to answer to Zoe.  He answered that he would go.”

“He answered?”

“Yeah, that growl and stuff.  He answered in orc.”

“I belong to you?  Bill took Mindy by the shoulders and turned her so she would face him.  All Mindy could do was nod her head.  “Wait a minute.  He answered in orc?”

“Yeah.  It’s sort of like Klingon but not as friendly.”

Elect II—5 Stab from the Past, part 1 of 3

Latasha stayed after school.  It was Halloween, and she had something very Halloween to share with Ms Riley.  It was a copy of a picture Jessica drew.  It was based on the descriptions Emily and Reverend Michaels provided.  It looked like a drawing of a goblin she saw in one of Leah’s fairy books, but somehow she imagined Ms Riley would know what it was.  She knew she had no one else she could ask.

Latasha sat on one of the lab stools in the biology room and shuffled her feet as she thought about Emily and Emily’s friends.  She knew Jessica and Maria, and liked them.  She liked Amina too, but Amina scared her a little.  She met Mindy a couple of times and Melissa once.  They both seemed nice.  And now there was Reverend Michaels.  Latasha had always been taught to have a deep respect for her elders, and especially for her preachers.  She could not call the woman Sara no matter what, but the woman was nice, like Detective Lisa.  She could not call her just Lisa either.

a-high-school-3Latasha put her hands under her thighs to keep her fingers from nervously drumming and to lift her legs a bit so she could shuffle them better.  Detective Ashish said she was a bundle of nervous energy.  Maybe she was.  She was five-eight, almost as tall as Jessica, but she was only sixteen and maybe still growing.  At the same time, she was skinny, and that made her feel like a fence post.  She was not terminally skinny, but like one still waiting to fill out.  That would have to happen soon if it was ever going to happen.

Thoughts of her own friends finally surfaced in Latasha’s mind.  There were four, but as of last year there were really only two.  Keisha was a joker who never took anything seriously, especially school.  She was not stupid, just lazy.  Latasha never noticed it before, but she was sure that Keisha would throw her life away on doing nothing and dragging down everyone around her besides.  Janet, on the other hand, was not very smart, but she had a good heart and was good to people.  Sadly, that meant she was also easily manipulated and right now Bobby Thompson, the drug dealer had her in his orbit.  Presently, Janet and Latasha were not on speaking terms.

“Latasha?”  Ms Riley came in holding a stack of copies she had run off in the office.  “I thought you would be home getting ready to trick or treat.”

“I’m a bit old for that,” Latasha said.

“Not going to dress?”

Latasha shook her head.  “But I probably should be home helping Mama get John and Leah ready to go out.  My younger brother and sister,” she explained and Ms Riley nodded while she set down her papers.

ac-j-j-orc“So why are you here?  Need help with the chapter?”

“No, not biology.  I wanted to show you something.”  She held out the paper and Ms Riley took it and stared, mouth shut tight for a second or two.

“This is very good.  Did you draw it?”

“No.  Jessica at the university.  Do you know what it is?”

Ms Riley shook her head.  “Sorry.”  She handed back the paper.

Latasha took it, but looked disappointed.  “Maybe they were making it up,” she said, though she knew better.

Ms Riley stopped what she was doing.  “Who was making it up?”

“Emily and Reverend Sara, the university chaplain.  They saw this, or something like it on the campus in the dark and described it for Jessica to draw.  I thought it might be a goblin.”

Ms Riley paused and the two stared at each other for a long minute before Ms Riley spoke.  “It looks like a troll or ogre, but one turned orc.  I know there are no such things as orcs.  Tolkien just made them up, but that is the current term in use.”

ac-latasha-a8“Orcs?”

Ms Riley reached her hand out again and took the paper.  “It isn’t a dark elf, or what you call a goblin.  They can be much more frightening, but this looks bigger and distorted in some way, and in pain.  That is the look of an orc.”

“What is an orc?”

“It is one of the little spirits of the earth, like light elves, dwarfs or dark elves, that has turned against their god.  A spirit in rebellion, you might say.  They get all distorted looking.  The distortion is an unavoidable process, a thing our god has done so we can tell each other apart.”

“What?”  Latasha took a step back.  “What do you mean, we?”

Ms Riley handed the paper back with a smile.  “I said they, didn’t I?”

Latasha shook her head.  “You said we, and you said our god.”

“You should think about wearing a Halloween costume.”  Ms Riley never lost her smile.  “I always dress for the occasion.  Would you like to see my costume?”

“No.  Yes.”  Latasha quickly changed her mind.

“Promise you won’t scream?”

Latasha nodded but thought she had better sit down.  Ms Riley raised her hand.  That was it.  Something stood in front of Latasha that was still recognizably Ms Riley, but she was not human at all.  She was too skinny, as skinny as Latasha.  Her fingers were too long and her ears came to clear and definite points at the top.

“Elf.”  Ms Riley said the word in Ms Riley’s voice.

“But you said you were born outside of Boston,” Latasha remembered what Ms Riley once told her.

boston-lf1“I was, and I was born human, too,” Ms Riley said.  “How I came to be an elf is a very long story, but let’s just say my husband likes me this way.”  She grinned, and Latasha suddenly understood what an elfish grin was really all about.  “I wear a glamour, an illusion, but to be sure my natural form is a bit too much even for Halloween.”  Ms Riley raised her hand again and most of the more extreme and inhuman bits went away so she looked more human again.  She kept the ears, though.  “I’ve been practicing.  Would you like the illusion of being an elf?”

Latasha got off the stool and took a step back.  “It would just be an illusion, not real, right?”

“Oh, don’t be afraid.  I don’t have any such power to change you for real.  I’m not even sure I can do the glamour.  It is hard enough doing the glamour on myself.”

Latasha changed her mind and smiled.  “Leah loves fairy stories.  My baby sister.”

“Come here,” Ms Riley said.  She took something like dust out of her pocket and sprinkled it in Latasha’s direction.  She chanted something too soft for Latasha to hear, and then threw her hands out and Latasha felt something.

“Let me see,” Latasha said, but all Ms Riley had was a small mirror in her purse.

Latasha had the pointed ears.  Her nose and chin were a bit more pointed and she had that grin on her face.  Her hands also looked more narrow and with longer fingers.  She looked up again.  “It is just an illusion.”

“Just an illusion,” Ms Riley said.  “It will wear off at midnight, or when you say, “No more illusion.  Illusion go away.”

“No more illusion,” Latasha started to repeat the phrase and Ms Riley clamped her hand on Latasha’s mouth.

“Don’t say it now.  I’m not sure I have it in me to do that again.”

Latasha nodded.  She picked up her paper with the drawing.  “Orc,” she said.

boston-9Ms Riley mirrored Latasha’s nod.  “Right now there are little ones in rebellion.  That has only happened a couple of times in all of history, but they were bad times for all of us.  There are not many rebels, but we detected some activity in this area.  That is why I had to stay for another year of teaching.  And you better do your homework if you expect to pass my class.”  Ms Riley shook her long and skinny finger.

Latasha looked at the woman with big elf looking eyes.  Ms Riley still looked more elf than human, even if her features, apart from her ears, were within human range, but at the same time she was still Latasha’s teacher.  Being an elf had nothing to do with that.

The door to the room opened and Principal Wearing came in.  He spoke as he looked down at a sheet.  “Mary, I have a question about this.”  He looked up and stopped.

What could Latasha and Ms Riley say, but, “Happy Halloween.”

The Elect 16, The Best Laid Plans: part 1 of 4

Jean Johnson, high school guidance counselor, walked home on the path that skirted the edge of the university.  She loved the flavor of youthful vigor and vitality that pervaded across the campus.  Young people were bustling about, growing, exploring, and learning, and all with so much energy.  It was like a tonic for Ms Johnson’s hunger and put a new bounce in her step.ac j john 6

The sun was beginning to set, it still being early in the year.  Ms Johnson had just started looking forward to the spring and all that new life that would be born and explode in her senses, when she sensed something else, something in the bushes, and she stopped to have a look.

A monster stepped out of the bushes, roughly human shaped, but bigger than any linebacker or wrestler, ever.  It had too many teeth, and tusks, and slightly pointed ears, and it growled deeply in a tone frightening enough to make a lion tremble.

ac j j orc“Ogre—no, I believe orc is the word these days,” Ms Johnson said and smiled at the thing.  The orc looked at the frail looking woman and sniffed like it was tasting something in the air.  It howled, a high pitched coyote-like sound and moved off, rapidly.

“Well,” Ms Johnson spoke to herself.  “No matter.  I much prefer them young and human.”

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The Elect episode/chapter 16 takes us on an interlude to visit Latasha at the local high school where things are not always as they seem.

This story began in November 2015  which you can access by clicking on the archives button.  Like a television show or a serialized novel, is it never too late to read earlier chapters, like exciting scenes from last week… or you are welcome to follow from this point and hopefully it won’t be too hard to pick up on the storyline,,,s,,,

Emily is busy trying to pass her freshman year at the university.  Detective Lisa is busy searching for the lab where they made the zombies.  Where else can Latasha turn when something bad happens in her little corner of the city?

I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  it is free…  Happy reading

a a happy reading 3