Spiral into conflict
“And what proof do you have of this? All you have are unfounded reports and rumors from half-educated village idiots.” The professor sneered as he snapped his book shut.
“I object to you talking about the population that way. Just because they don’t have an Ivy League degree doesn’t mean you can look down on them. Besides, you cannot just ignore the talk, in just a week after these pictures were taken, creatures were being seen all over the place. Creatures that…should not be real.”
“Words from your own mouth, Dr. Lenshaw- talk. Why should we be bothered with talk? I don’t think anyone on the board will be interested in your so-called ‘evidence’.”
“You ass! Why aren’t you even considering what I’m saying! If there is a problem we cannot let it escalate until it is no longer in our control!”
“Control yourself Doctor; I won’t be spoken to like that.” Professor Heralden snapped back. “Especially from some quack that can’t even support her own research. I have to be present for a seminar, and I’ll be late if I continue this conversation. Good day, doctor.” He jerked his graying head in a sort of dismissal before turning on the heel of his hundred dollar shoes and walking briskly away. The other doctor glared as he walked away.
Jelica Lenshaw turned away from his retreating figure, struggling to keep her rage from spilling out. How dare he not listen to a word she had to say?! Arrogant bastard.
Jelica Lenshaw was not a particularly beautiful person, at least usually. She had been told a few times (when she actually took the time to have boyfriends or one night stands) that she cleaned up well. This was not one of those times. Her hair trapped in a suffocating bun, only allowing a few brown strands to fall across her eyes and nose, to be shoved away in an irritated manner. Large, block glasses settled on a severe nose, slightly magnifying the muddy green eyes.
She huffed down the hallway, making her way back to her office. Her ripped jeans caught on the protruding pole from a mop that was lying awkwardly across a janitorial cart. She had a quick fit that ended up with one pant leg almost completely severed.
She squealed in rage and kicked the mop away. Her long blouse would do nothing to cover the tear (which had spread to an extremely embarrassing place) and it was a cream topping on a day that, in the words she fully intended to impart to her pet rat, virtually sucked.
She managed to avoid human contact until she got to her office. She shut the door behind her, glanced around to make sure no one was there, and sunk to the floor. It was so hard being considered a radical, especially if one knew the truth! Things like rumors were just rumors, just like Heralden said, but even rumors may have a basis in fact. And she was almost certain that these ‘rumors’ were exactly that case.
“Oh, that’s gotta hurt.”
“Dude, I’ve seen girls kick butt better than that.”
“That’s because girls don’t have to worry about those sensitive parts…oh crap, it’s the principal!”
There was a struggle over the intercom as the two boys were unceremoniously kicked off the air. The intercom wasn’t shut off though, so everyone could hear the severe scolding they were receiving.
“-Using the intercom for your own purposes—”
“We were trying to give a play by play on the guy’s wrestling team! It’s not our fault the other team is a sissy!”
“BE QUIET! Detention, both of you! And I will be calling your parents!”
“What? For showing support for our school? I don’t understand the problem with that!”
“DO YOU WANT TO BE SUSPENDED?! What…why is that still on? Turn it—”
Mr. Redder blinked and then shook his head. “Well, not that we’ve been returned to our regularly scheduled program, who has questions?”
Just about every hand went up.
“About the lesson we just started working on.”
Every single hand dropped down.
“Good. Talk amongst yourselves and try to keep it down.” He went back to his desk and started to play solitaire.
I finished my set in silence as girls chattered around me and boys started a game of football with a paper triangle. After getting hit about three times, once straight in the forehead, I plucked the little triangle up and pegged at the boy that flicked it and got him in the nose. Pretty good aim, considering he was three rows ahead of me.
“OHHH! She got you!” One of his buddies crowed.
“You guys stop that or I’ll send you to the office!” Mr. Redder barked. “If this is how you guys act on one free day we’re not going to have anymore!”
“He always says that.” One of the boys muttered. “He never follows through.”
Today was a goof off day. In just about every sense of the word. Only a month and a half left in school, and we all should be working hard, but there were several sports all on the same three days and half of the school population was gone.
Including half of the teachers, so where there are substitutes, there lies the supreme law of high school. Goof off until the real teacher comes back.
The Intercom cackled back to life.
“Attention students, class will be cut short today due to problems with the water system, please do not run any water fountains or any of the like while you leave. Thank you. Buses will run early.”
“All right! School’s out!” A couple of the boys ran out of the room, only to come back half a second later to grab their things and run back out.
I packed everything up while grinning like an idiot. Whatever the problem was, I was grateful. No, ecstatic. Free day! Better yet, it was almost like a three day weekend! Excpet I would have to come back tomorrow if the plumbing was fixed. Oh well.
I walked out of class and almost bumped into Pepper, but before she could give me the ‘I-know-you’re-hiding-something’ speech, I walked past her, heading towards the double doors that were freedom.
It was raining. Absolutely pouring outside.
“Aww, man. I didn’t bring an umbrella. Better call Mom, she’ll freak if I walk home in this.” There were little phone booths on the side of the halls, and I squeezed in one and pulled out the proper change. All of the other kids had filed out to their cars or pulled out their umbrellas and left.
I slipped the change into the slot and dialed my number and waited for the phone to ring three times. The phone always rings three times before Mum picks it up.
I examined my fingernails as Mom picked up on the other line.
“Hi mommy, School let out early, can you come pick me u—” I jerked my head around as something flitted just at of my vision.
“Yes honey. What happened?”
“Oh nothing, err, I mean, the plumbing got messed up and they’re letting us out so they can fix it, I guess.” I scanned the now empty hallway and didn’t see anything.
“Okay, honey, I’ll be the-” The line went dead.
I hung up and tried again. No dial tone.
“Crap.” Maybe the lightning hit a phone line.
I hung up the phone and stepped out of the booth, but had to twist around when my bag got caught. I struggled with it, inwardly cursing about tiny booths and big bags.
There was a sharp pain on my wrist and I hissed angrily. I must have twisted it the wrong way. I finally got the bag jerked out and shouldered it, and froze when I noticed little red dots on the floor.
My wrist was bleeding. Not a lot. But it was still bleeding. Maybe it caught on a sharp edge on the booth or something, or a clip on my backpack.
Or the shadowy thing that just passed my eyesight again.
“Okay, Helen, time to run out in the rain, to hell with colds.” I whispered as I walked quickly to the doors, not wanting to look back.
I would have been fine if I hadn’t seen the reflection in the door windows. The image was distorted, but I could tell it wasn’t anything human. Glowing gray eyes tend to be a big tip off.
I grabbed the handle of the door and waited until the time was just right. That time being when I could feel rancid breath on the back of my neck, which was right now.
I opened the door as hard as I could while spinning to the side, catching whatever it was right in the face.
Something hit my hand as I ran out of the building into the rain, but I ignored it. I slipped and slid on wet concrete and gravel as I scrambled away from the doors.
“Hey, HEY! Stop kid, what’s your problem?!” A gray haired police officer caught me by the arm.
“There’s, there’s some sort of freaky monster in the building!” I tried to get loose, but he had a tight grip on my elbow.
The older police man, one of several campus cops (I’ve almost met the entire set.) looked back at the doors and looked at me. “There ain’t nothing there.” He pointed at the doors.
I looked behind me. There was nothing at the doors.
Loud honking made us look over at the road, where my Mother was looking at us with raised eyebrows.
“Well, you go on then. Oh, and hon, whatever the upper classmen gave you, pass it by next time. I don’t want to talk to you about this again.”
What?! He thought I was on drugs?!
I almost ran over to my Mom’s car and got in.
“What was that all about?” She glared at me.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”