Flying Blind Ch. 06byEvil Alpaca©
This story is a bit wordy and fairly long, so if you are looking for immediate gratification, you might want to look elsewhere.
The following story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between these character and events and any real person or events is strictly coincidental . . . and pretty darn impressive seeing as it is a science fiction story. Do not reproduce or copy this story without the consent of the author.
This story is based in an alternative universe, where history took a different course than the one depicted in my other stories. It also takes place at a fictional town in Colorado called Crystal Pass and a fictional school called Four Corners University.
The following story contains lesbian sexual activity.
Proofread by "hkf999"
Men in the game are blind
to what men looking on see clearly.
~ Chinese proverb
Packing to leave was a lot harder than Madison had previously imagined it might be. It was not that she was worried about something happening to her stuff while she was gone. It was the profound unfamiliarity that awaited her that seemed to be dragging on her thoughts. To cheer her up, Heda had burned Madison's old suitcase last night as a symbol. It had been given to the bat-shifter by her last set of foster parents as a "leave and don't come back" sentiment. Then the whole house had chipped in to buy her a nice . . . well, nice considering it was bought at Target . . . luggage set with "Come back soon" written on the front. Madison had hugged everyone.
Carla had decided to go and hang. Her own parents had wanted her gone after the first incident, and now they were frantic. They had balked at the idea of her going somewhere else, but she had reminded them that the Hannity estate was going to be a lot more secure than a ranch home in suburban Chicago. To the best of everyone's knowledge, all of the number-one students of Neil Reichert were on their way out in the immediate future, leaving one thought left on everyone's mind. What would the psychopath do next?
She picked up her phone on the first ring, the world going black as she prepared for conversation. It was Mr. Hannity calling again, making sure that she had her tickets and that she had transportation to the airport and --
"Yes, you've got the whole Men In Black brigade sitting outside my house," she said dryly. "Mr. Vern is driving me to the airport. I'm almost packed and --"
"Madison, I also wanted to talk to you about this semester. I know that you're upset about missing school and your job, but I think I have a solution you might like."
"You're going to deliver me the killer's head on a platter?"
"You know that I would if I could. No, I have you an interview at one of the Dallas radio stations, and King Reichert assured me that it could count as an internship. You would get credit for it and everything. Mind you I only got you the interview, so it will be up to you to win the position. Madison? Madison, are you still there?"
Madison was just standing there with her mouth open. Her . . . Mr. Hannity must have been paying attention. He was giving her an opportunity, not charity, and it was for something she would normally kill for. "What . . . what station?"
"KLEZ. I understand that it's quite --"
"KLEZ?! The KLEZ? That's the station that discovered Lost In Texas! They get first dibs on playing their new albums! And they've got one of the best rotations in the business, and advertisers pay to just walk in the door! Do you have any . . . any idea what my resume would look like if I got that?" She was beginning to pant.
"Madison honey, please breathe. You just have an interview. But the station manager listened to your show, at my request, and he was quite impressed."
"He's heard me? No! I've been horrible lately. The stress and everything has been hurting my voice --"
"He did not think there was any problem with your voice. He was so fond of it that frankly, I thought I might have to defend your honor."
Madison perked up. "Really?"
"Really. Just be prepared for the interview. I'm going to hang up now because I hear your sister and she's been wanting to talk winter formal dresses with someone. For hours."
"Gotta go," Madison said excitedly. Not that she was not secretly looking forward to discussing menial teenage girl stuff with her sister, but she needed to go tell Billy and Sasha and Heda what had just happened. She just practically pounced up stairs, finding her best friend and girlfriend in the living room. Heda was dressed for her game, which was a fine sight to see. Tight shorts and a snug shirt over that body . . . it was drool-worthy.
"Hey babe," Heda said. "Sorry that I can't take you to the airport, but you know . . . Madison?"
Madison had gone silent again as she admired the body she would not be getting to see nearly as often as she wanted. "She has a really nice butt."
"Madison," Billy said.
"You know that you said that out loud, right?"
"I what?" Madison's eyes opened. "No I didn't."
Heda chuckled and kissed Madison on the nose and then the lips. "Yeah you did."
"Kill me now."
"Then who would I have to say such nice things about my ass? Shut up Anthony," Heda continued as the skunk shifter walked into and then out of the room.
"Billy, Mr. Hannity got be an interview for an internship at KLEZ!"
Billy's eyebrows raised, which for him was the equivalent of a gasp of surprise. "Seriously?"
"Seriously! I wish you could come with me. How am I going to deal with a new producer? Shit, what am I thinking? I can't do this. I won't know where anything is and --"
"Heda, she's ranting again," Billy muttered out of the side of his mouth.
"Moving in," Heda said. She picked Madison up and laid on a lip-lock that made the bat-shifter's head spin. "Madison silenced," she said at last. "Mission completed."
"You know, that's not always going to work."
"You want me to stop?"
"No, but it's gonna take more to shut me up."
Heda kissed her again. "So I'll find something else to keep you occupied." Then she gave her girlfriend a more serious hug. "I'm gonna miss you. You're kinda cool for a weird chick."
"Don't make me whoop your ass again."
"I'm shaking in my overpriced athletic shoes. And congrats on the interview. You'll do great."
"Yeah. If I get it," she said slowly, "then I may stay the whole semester anyway. This one is kinda a bust for me academically." She was nervous. Something had just occurred to her, and she did not know how to bring it up.
"I'll come visit you," Heda assured her, "whenever I can. Besides, Mr. Hannity is rolling in money. I'm sure he'll spot for a few plane tickets."
"He's not an ATM machine."
"No, but he owns most of them." Heda hugged her girlfriend again. "Listen, I gotta go. The game starts soon, but I'll call you as soon as you land. Take care of yourself, okay?"
"Okay. Tell Edgar that I'm sorry I missed him this morning. Hope he's having some luck --"
That afternoon . . .
Edgar Adler was having no luck at all. Things were chaotic around the makeshift command center as newly arrived shifter security was coming and going, researchers and investigators poured over student records, and person after person tried digging facts out of Neil Reichert's brain. Finally, the Reptile King came over and sat down next to him.
"This is insane," Reichert said. "How am I supposed to remember every student that I have ever had over four years of teaching and more years than that as a guest lecturer?"
"It's just as frustrating for us sir," Edgar said. "For the first time, I almost wish that I could have a vision that might actually give us a clue."
Reichert nodded, acknowledge the admission of desperation. Edgar was a raven-shifter, the mystics of the birds. The ravens sometimes developed the ability to see into the future or the past, but these gifts signaled the beginning of a descent into madness. But this young man was the sort who would sacrifice his mind to stop this monster.
"This is all my fault," Reichert muttered. "Somehow, somewhere, I did something so heinous that it drove someone to this."
"It could just be that he's a deranged psychopath who took offense at something most people would not have thought twice about." Edgar dropped a pile of files on the table. "Maybe it's not a former student. You've not been involved in any other scandals?" "Absolutely not. The university has suffered through enough of that."
Edgar raised one eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
"Any institution has problems," Reichert explained. "The man that I replaced was in serious trouble due to allegations of fraternization with students, and he was not too particular about the gender of the student."
Edgar's eyes narrowed. "And you did not think to mention this?"
"Professor Hill's issues started before I came to visit the first time. I have no idea how long he held onto his job as it was, but when a female shifter comes to me directly and complains that she felt that she was magically coerced into sexual situations, I had to bring it to the department's attention. Hill held on for another semester while hearings took place, but eventually his tenure was revoked and he was dismissed."
"Now THAT sounds like motive," Edgar said. "How could you possibly --"
"Hill is dead," Reichert interrupted. "He couldn't handle the disgrace. His wife had long before left him and he had no children. No one else on staff even seemed to like him very much."
"There could still be something to it," Edgar said. He pulled out his laptop and started to browse. Finding the basic articles were not difficult. After losing a fierce battle against the university's board of directors and the department and anyone else he could think of, Gerald Hill had lost his post as history professor at Four Corners University. With lawsuits looming on the horizon and his professional reputation crushed, he had walked out into the woods behind his house, put a gun in his mouth, and ended his own life.
Edgar kept reading, finding a few articles describing the event. There were a lot of "It's a shame" kind of comments, but they all tended to be the sorts of platitudes one disposed of in situations where there was nothing nice one could say. But in the depths of the school paper, there was one dissenting opinion. An anonymous student was quoted as saying:
This is a damn tragedy. They all put him down, but he was better than them. He should not have died like a dog, alone in the woods. They're the dogs. They're worse than dogs. How would they like it if they were the ones who were left out in the cold? I doubt they'd like it very much.
The article went on to excuse the student as simply being distressed, but that was not how it sounded to Edgar.
"The cold," Edgar said.
"What?" Reichert asked.
Ed held up the laptop and pointed out the passage of interest. "What if it isn't one of your students, but one of his?"
Reichert read the article, and a flush of anger played over his face. He had missed something, and it did not set well with him. "That is possible."
"The whole 'cold' reference . . . both of the survivors talked about being kept somewhere very cold. What if someone sees you as responsible for what happened to his mentor? Did this guy have any fanatically devoted students?"
"I don't know. I did not know him personally." Reichert waved a couple of people over who had been around campus longer than he had, while Edgar kept looking through files. He was on to something and he knew it. "Not just any student," Edgar muttered to himself, "A favorite student. Someone who saw himself as having a relationship with Hill. Maybe he did. Reichert said that Hill had not had a gender preference."
Edgar needed to understand Hill better. The problem was that Hill had been teaching for twelve years before getting run out on a rail. He had been a reasonably powerful shaman, which surprised Edgar. Shamans powers tended to exist in a balance. For everything asked, something had to be given. 'What did you give to force students into your bed?' he thought. 'Did you give something special to our boy?'
He needed to narrow the search down. Then something hit him. He looked over to Reichert who was talking with an administrator. "Hey, can I get a list of every class Hill taught as well as the class list and grades?"
Reichert looked interested. "That can be arranged. What are you thinking?"
"Someone's taking out your number-one students. If this guy has a relationship to Hill, maybe HE was a number-one student." A few minutes later, he had print-outs of over a decade's worth of courses and every student the guy ever had. Hill had a wide variety of classes, some of which had more than a hundred students in the lecture portion. Trying to find one student . . .
"Hold on a sec," he said, Edgar's voice becoming excited. "This is kind of an interesting name for a class. 'Sins of the Father: The Church and the Spanish Inquisition'?"
"Hill did a number of courses like that. He was very suspicious of any body that held too much power, and he loved debating that." This was from the administrator that had been consulting with Reichert. "More of a debate format than a traditional lecture."
Edgar scanned the grades. "Hard curve too. Hell, it's a bell curve."
"Yeah, Dr. Hill was adamant that everyone in those courses understand that they were competing for the top spot."
Edgar's eyes sought out the "A" grades. "Got four top-students. Tell me if any of these names ring a bell. Missy Cartman? Kurt Everman? Monica Frederick? Daryl Mosley?"
"Wait," one teacher said. "I remember that one. Hill mentioned him a time or two."
"Looks like he took every class for the last three years that Hill taught," another researcher said. "He was the top score, or at least tied for it, every time."
Another investigator was typing hurriedly at a computer console. "Let's see, he was double majoring in history and pre-med."
Edgar leaned back. "Pre-med? Any history of magic use?"
"Uhm . . . yeah. Sorcerer."
"Magic and knowledge of drugs. Sounds like a very good candidate. Where is he now?"
"His file doesn't say. He never graduated, never unenrolled . . . nothing. The semester after Hill was fired, he just vanished."
"Let's see a picture of this guy," Edgar said. Someone hooked the projector up to a computer and sent a school photo up to the screen. Edgar's eyes narrowed. "Wait, I know that guy from somewhere."
Elsewhere . . .
Madison's cell phone was getting more of a workout than it had ever received before. First her father, then her sister had finally gotten a hold of her, then she had needed to talk with the station manager.
"Hello? Hey! No, I'm actually leaving in a few hours . . . no, it's okay, I can talk. Uhm, sure. Can't we just talk over the phone or . . . no, no, that's okay. I'm freaked out too. Sure, I'll meet you. Yeah, I know where that is. Thirty minutes? Okay. Bye!" She turned off her phone.
"Hey Carla, I need to go run an errand before we go to the airport. Is it okay if Anthony takes you?"
"What do you think he's doing now?" came a shout from a back bedroom.
"Too much information!" Madison shouted back, grinning from ear to ear. "See ya!" She went and grabbed her bags and hauled them up to the front door. Sasha was at a student council meeting and Billy was at the station. Most everyone else had gone to watch Heda play. She wished they'd been here to see her off, but life went on. She made sure that everything was in order in her room, then headed outside.
"Ms. Sloan," said Mr. Vern as he got out his large black SUV. Mr. Vern had been the primary recipient of Madison's verbal tirade when she had found out that her father had hired private security for her without her knowledge or consent. It turned out that he was a very nice man, and he treated Madison with respect. And a little fear. After all, she had thrown things at his SUV and come up with some creative insults.
"Hey Vern, I need to meet up with someone for a bit. I promised him that I'd be available to talk, so is it okay if we leave a bit early?"
"Your wish, as always, is my command."
"You know, I'm not seeing you right now, but I'm pretty sure that you just bowed and are silently laughing at me."
"Get my bags, Vern."
"Yes ma'am. And where are we going?"
She gave him an address on campus. It would be mostly deserted today, so parking would not be a problem. Mr. Vern was calling in their activity when the car pulled up next to the medical center. Madison saw Detrius sitting on a wall out front. He looked up and seemed temporarily alarmed. Madison rolled down her window as he approached.
"Hey, hope you haven't been waiting long," she said.
Detrius just stared at her for a second. "Long enough. You . . . you brought someone. I didn't think you'd bring someone."
Madison felt bad for the guy. Madison had found the first victim of the kidnapper, and Detrius had found the second. She had promised him that she would be available to talk if he was feeling freaked out, and he appeared to be freaked out. "I know. He can wait here if you want to have a little more privacy. I can't stay long, but --"
"I'm sorry," Detrius interrupted, looking from her to Vern and then back.
"No, it's okay. I promised I'd come, and here I am."
"No, I'm sorry that you're going to have to stay," he whispered. Suddenly he whipped a strange looking gun out from the back of his pants and fired twice at Mr. Vern. Two darts came out, one embedding itself in Vern's neck and the other in his arm. Vern literally froze in place, his face a mask of anger and surprise.
"Detrius?!" Madison yelped, trying to push the dart gun away while rolling the window back up. Detrius's other hand shot through and punched Madison hard in the jaw. She released the gun, and she felt blood dribbling down her chin from her busted lip. She pushed her way across the seat towards Vern's unmoving body, kicking the door with both feet.
Detrius had started to open the door, so it wound up flying into his face when Madison kicked it. He stumbled backward while she reached for Vern's phone. She had dialed 911 when she felt something impact the side of her leg. She tried to turn and look, but nothing happened. She could not move her body . . . not even her eyes. A chill had erupted in her blood, and she felt like she was dying. She tried to shift, but her body ignored her. The world started to move in front of her as she was dragged from the vehicle.
"I'm really, really sorry," came Detrius's voice again. But not Detrius's voice. Something much colder was talking down to her. Finally, she felt a second sting as he stuck something in her arm. Then, she did not see anything anymore.
A little while later . . .
"I don't know!" Carla screamed, tears running down her face. Cops had shown up, asking about where Madison had gone. They'd triangulated the position of Mr. Vern's SUV after a 911 call had come in with no one responding. They'd found him in the vehicle, drugged and unconscious with Madison's bags still in the back, but no sign of her. "She just said that she was going to go run an errand."
"Did she mention the name Daryl Mosley? No? How about Detrius Pratchett."
"She didn't mention any names. Just 'an errand.' I didn't mean --"
"It's not your fault," Anthony said, wrapping his arms around her and glaring at the cops. "Why would you think anything was up?"