Why did I have to join Nu Nu? Guilermo Montenegro wondered. For the longest time Chad Ronson had been making his life more difficult. When he had rushed the only NIU fraternity, Nu Nu, Chad had been the one he had been assigned to as a “personal assistant” (read, slave) for the week. Every time the frats were doing something that involved tormenting the newer members, Chad made sure he did the vilest ones. When Guilermo was working, Chad would play sub-par gangster rap. And then there was that thing with the Shadowhaven girl.
Now, he was fucking everything up. They were supposed to be taking non-lethal weaponry and maybe take guns. Instead, thanks to fucking Chad and his ilk, most of Nu Nu had left the grenade launchers and water balloons behind and taken actual weapons. Nu Nu, Guilermo thought to himself for the millionth time since the trouble had started, the world’s dumbest frat.
He was interrupted for the third time by Chad firing off his gun into the air. Guilermo, still jumpy, made a stifled scream. Chad laughed. “Man,” he said, giggling stupidly, “you’re worse than that Shadowhaven bitch.”
“Shut up, Chad,” Guilermo said with disgust. “You’ve done enough to her.”
“Listen, Mexi-dick,” Chad said, as usual getting Guilermo’s ethnicity mixed up on purpose, “if that bitch hadn’t ratted us out, we wouldn’t be in this fucking hell hole. She should’ve kept her trap shut like all the other sluts! I mean, the fuck did she expect at that party?”
“Or maybe,” Guilermo said, now incredibly pissed, “you shouldn’t have taken pictures of what wuh… what you did and posted them on INTRA. Or shoved her out of a moving vehicle while she was roofied to hell, missing her skirt and underwear, and bleeding from her crotch and asshole right in front of The fucking Drunken Mercenary! You know, the place where every single person from the Academy of Military Science and Shadowhaven go to get drunk?” Guilermo knew, deep down, that by now it wouldn’t matter. Chad wouldn’t acknowledge his idiocy, just like he wouldn’t acknowledge that Guilermo had spent half his life in America and the other in Spain.
Pierre, the third musketeer and a recent inductee into Nu Nu (God, their name was stupid!) finally injected, “Chad eez right. Eet eez not like zey will resort to anysing beyond theez chall-dish pranks. Zey would not dare.”
“Fine.” Guilermo said, continuing forwards, “Have it your way, Pierre.” Pierre, or P-dog as he tried to get people to call him, was a Belgian who was obsessed with gangster rap. Everything about him was dedicated to proving how much pride he took in his country (hence the Belgian-made rifle he carried,) his “ghettoness” (hence the shiny Desert Eagle he carried in a holster, or being a Nu Nu. Hence sticking up for Chad.
And really, that was the only reason you would call what the AMS and Shadowhaven had been doing for the last few weeks “harmless pranks.” It had started out harmlessly enough. After the incident had happened in October, strange people had started appearing outside the doors of frat-dominated apartments and Campus Security had begun an investigation. Around the time people had started constantly following frat members around, some of the more influential people in the frat had tried to pull strings to stop the investigation. But then Chad, genius that he was had posted pictures of the Shadowhaven girl being violated titled things like “Silence the Slut!” or “Die, Whore!” That’s when things had started getting scary.
Immediately after that, versions with the girl’s head swapped with the heads of the frat members had appeared. There was one of Guilermo that was particularly horrifying. Even if the other shit hadn’t been going on, Guilermo still wouldn’t have been able to sleep.
But instead of getting it out of the systems of the AMS and Shadowhaven crowd, it had opened the floodgates. For the first twenty-four hours, it had seemed like the stalkers had gone. Then would people get emails and texts, sometimes from anonymous addresses, sometimes from other frat members who had been hacked. The subject would be something along the lines of “RE: DON’T TELL” or “Sleep Tight!” The sender would open the picture up to see dozens, sometimes hundreds, of pictures of himself doing ordinary things like eating at a dining hall or restaurant, going to class… stuff like that.
Then frat members walking alone in a crowd would find themselves pushed from the sidewalk and onto the road. Cars were rare in NIU, with the exceptions being teachers, student drivers, and the shuttle, so people quickly realized it was less to start bumping people off and more to prove they could.
Another thing to prove they could was to steal stuff, destroy it, and then wrap it up as a gift and leave it and a note in a frat common room or dorm. The note would always say things like, “Sorry about your laptop ,” “I’ll get you an apology nail-bomb,” or, “You found the source of the ticking!” The scariest thing about this? No one would ever see the item get taken, and no one would ever see the presents be delivered.
Then there was the graffiti. One night, Pierre had walked out of one of the two frat-controlled dorms. He came back in, pale as a ghost, to tell people to look outside. Guilermo was the first. The first floor exterior of the apartment had been covered in red paint. Due to the dim light and the fact that it had been recently applied, it looked a lot like blood. It even was runny like blood as well. It must have taken hours and multiple people to do, but not one of the frat members had noticed it go up.
That wasn’t as bad as the day they had come for Guilermo in broad daylight. Two people had stepped up on either side of him, interlocked their arms around him and steered him away while two others had shoved metal objects into his back, one sharp, one rectangular with a circle in it.
Before Guilermo could finish the thought, Chad fired his AK into the air again. Guilermo spun around in a panic, still half-expecting, half-hoping one of the fresh meat (what the AMS and Shadowhaven crowd called their first-semester people) to have shot Chad. Instead, just like all the other times, it was Chad being a tool.
“Jesus Christ!” Guilermo said, noting with some satisfaction that Pierre was finally starting to get sick of Chad’s shit. “Stop doing that!”
Chad just laughed hysterically. “Stop fucking laughing, man!” Guilermo yelled. In his mind, if Chad did one more thing, he’d have to die. “The professors told us we should be using the non-lethals, not this shit! Besides, you keep giving away our position!”
Guilermo wanted to say a million things, but instead just fumed at Chad’s douchebaggery. How the hell did this bastard find being in this situation to be funny? To recap, they were in a hell hole hunting trying to harass trained, armed and psychotic killers, and Chad was acting like one of those characters in a horror movie the monster ate first.
“Man, it’s more fun this…” Chad said, still laughing. Suddenly, a look of terror crossed his face. “LOOK OUT!” He yelled.
Guilermo turned around. There, running towards him, was a guy with winter combat gear, thick glasses, a short, unkempt brown beard and what looked to be a wooden bolt-action rifle. His cold blue eyes bored into Guilermo’s own. It was a look Guilermo hadn’t seen since he had been kidnapped. He raised his rifle to fire, memories of a room full of people who hated him and who wanted to hurt him super-imposing themselves onto the current situation.
Before he could do so, someone called out, “Behind you!” Guilermo turned around, loosening his grip on his rifle. It was another person in military gear carrying a bolt-action rifle. This guy, though, had higher cheekbones, jet black hair, much paler skin, expressive brown, almost black eyes, and a much neater beard. This new assailant’s face bore, instead of the first’s wary determination, matched Guilermo’s own in terms of outright terror.
Then a rifle butt smashed into his jaw. He pirouetted and dropped his gun to grab his jaw. Another blow to his back had him on his hands and knees. Guilermo looked up. Number two was aiming his bolt-action directly at Guilermo’s face. Guilermo was so terrified he didn’t notice that the gun’s barrel didn’t appear to have a place for the bullets to come out.
The silence between the two of them seemed to go on for an eternity for Guilermo, punctuated only by the howling wind and an ominous, rhythmic thwack! coming from where Chad and Pierre were. Guilermo suddenly remembered the pistol on his hip. Just like his rifle, he had picked it up because he had seen it in a work of fiction, the rifle in a Tom Clancy game with the sights configured in a way he liked in Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the pistol from NCIS and NCIS:LA. His hand twitched towards the pistol’s holder.
However, that idea was quickly nixed by a stern voice from behind him saying “Hands on your head!” There was a little panic, but a lot more authority. Guilermo obeyed, but he did look behind him. The scary one had found Guilermo’s rifle and was aiming it at him.
Guilermo looked away. A short time later, he felt a hand reach in to his holster and pull out his pistol. Then, the scary one yelled “Clear!” Barely a second later, the scary guy yelled “Doc! Monk! What the fuck? Seriously, what the actual fuck?”
Guilermo and the scared fresh meat turned around slightly. As he had feared, the reason why Pierre and Chad hadn’t helped him was because they were busy being murdered. Two more guys in combat gear, one short and black, one slightly above average height and slightly less dark-skinned were the ones doing the murdering. The taller one had grabbed Pierre’s rifle and had twisted and pulled it so the sling was choking Pierre. The shorter one, apparently, was the source of the thwack sound Guilermo had heard earlier. He was kneeling over something and bashing it rhythmically with the wooden butt of a rifle. Suddenly, blood spurted up, landing on the short one’s white bullet-proof vest. The short guy, apparently satisfied, then began to search the thing he was beating. That was when Guilermo realized the thing the short guy was smashing to pieces was Chad.
Suddenly, Guilermo’s mind flashed back to his kidnapping. One of his captors, a short brown-haired girl, had spent the entire time suggesting ideas of what she and her friends could do to Guilermo. Some of it involved knives, some of it involved medical equipment, some of it was sexual, but what got to him was the last one.
The girl, who had up to that point been very professional, suddenly sighed. “Oh who am I kidding?” she asked with a self-deprecating laugh, her brown eyes sparkling. “Hitting you till your skull cracks would be more fun.” Remembering this caused Guilermo’s stomach to turn and his head to feel like it was caught in a vise.
“Monk, that’s enough!” The guy who had taken Guilermo’s rifle sounded pissed.
In response, the guy choking Pierre pulled reached into Pierre’s pocket and pulled out the Desert Eagle. There was a bang. Guilermo flinched, but not before he saw the spray of blood and… something else. Pierre stopped struggling and sagged, supported only by the rifle’s sling. Guilermo’s stomach began to feel worse.
“Now it’s enough,” Monk yelled back over the wind. Guilermo was shocked at how calm this Monk person sounded, despite having just strangled and shot a person. He also detected a strange accent, possibly from some African country. Guilermo watched as this Monk person began rooting through Pierre’s corpse.
The one who killed Chad stood up and began to walk towards Guilermo and his captors, his prizes all stored away. “I t-t-take it y-you are not g-g-going to let us shoot this guy, huh, K-killer?”
“Yeah,” Killer said, “because I’m not a fan of killing unarmed prisoners!” He raised his voice on the last two words, making Guilermo wince.
“Whoah,” the only sane one said, “c-c-calm down N-nate.”
Suddenly, Guilermo realized something. “Wait,” our prisoner said, “you’re name’s Killer?” His real name obviously was Nate, so he had somehow got nicknamed Killer by a guy who had calmly smashed in the face of another human being. That was… that couldn’t his name, right?
“Only if you want to piss me off,” Killer growled.
Oh, Guilermo thought, so he is called Killer. He also doesn’t like it. Crap.
Killer then turned back to address Chad’s murderer. “Come on, let’s do a good deed. Besides, he might be able to give us some info.”
The short African man ignored Killer, and walked to the to the man with the fake gun. “Here,” he said. “That dumbass had two pistols. I only need one. Might as well have a real gun instead of a large stick.”
“You killed him…” Guilermo had intended to keep his mouth shut, but between the dizziness, queasiness and head pains caused by his panic, he was slowly going into shock.
“Probably,” the man said, shrugging a bit. Guilermo glared. Yes, Chad was a monster, but this guy didn’t know that. In Guilermo’s mind, there was no need for murder in this situation.
Guilermo’s anger sparked the short African’s. He turned towards Guilermo and shouted, gesticulating wildly with Chad’s rifle, “Oh, like he was some kind of angel. He was walking around with an AK! What was he going to do if he saw me, give me some coffee and a biscuit?”
Noticing that he had made an armed man who had taken him captive angry, Guilermo stuttered out, “W-we w-w-weren’t… we didn’t want to k-kill you! We weren’t s-s-seeking you out! J-just trying to s-scout out the, t-t-the forest!”
“So,” Killer asked acidly, “What on Earth made you guys think this was a good idea?”
“W-w-well, the t-t-teachers said we had t-to u-use the non-l-leathals on you or get expelled. Just soak a few of you with t-t-the water to simulate live-fire exercise or something.”
“Wait,” Killer asked, suspicion evident in his voice, “you were planning on soaking us?”
“W-well, not us in particular,” Guilermo said, “but most of us h-have these m-modified g-grenade launchers th-that shoot w-water balloons. All that happens is you get s-s-soaked. S-see? No harm!” As he spoke, he prayed that no one else had dropped the launchers.
“Wouldn’t that be like shooting ice balls at us?”
“N-no! No!” Guilermo said, desperately trying to convince them that there wasn’t a threat. If they weren’t threatened, they wouldn’t kill people. “Th-th-the balloons k-keep it liquid u-until…” His eyes widened as he realized what his captors were wearing. They were designed as combat uniforms first, and cold gear second. As such, they were less warm than Guilermo’s… and less water-resistant.
“Until w-what?” Chad’s killer queried. He raised Chad’s gun to point it directly at the center of Guilermo’s forehead, making Guilermo go cross-eyed. “It all s-sounds very interesting.”
“…Until the balloon bursts apart.”
“So what you’re saying,” Killer said in a dangerous monotone, “is that these are weapons designed to cause us to freeze to death.”
Well when you put it that way, Guilermo thought in a panic, it sounds incredibly sadistic. Instead, Guilermo stuttered out, “I-i-it’s n-not like it’s…”
He was silenced by Chad’s rifle. “D-d-did anyone a-ask your opinion?” the rifle’s new owner asked menacingly.
He was interrupted by the other African tapping him on the shoulder and saying, “Peace.” For some reason this caused them both to laugh.
Guilermo didn’t have much time to consider what they could have found funny, but from behind him, Killer demanded, “So how many people are we dealing with here?”
“About a h-hundred and f-f-fifty.” Guilermo stuttered. “We’re all a-armed.”
“Shit.” The sane one said. “We’re fucked.” Guilermo highly doubted that. With only four of them, they had managed to take out three armed people. He also would be willing to bet that if any group could fuck this up, it would be Nu Nu.
Killer interrupted these musings. “Alright, time for you to go.”
The rifle moved away from his face. “L-leave your a-ammo and your radio.” The owner said, then addressed everyone else. “C-c-can’t have him c-c-calling for help or y-you r-r-running out o-of a-amo.”
Guilermo quickly complied, completely emptying his pockets. After he did so, he paused, waiting for further orders. “G-get t-the fuck outta here,” the sane one said, jerking his head in a direction further down the path.
Guilermo ran, stumbling a bit. He finally stopped to catch his breath. He had no clue where he was. Well, he thought to himself, Padraig might be safe. And Edda isn’t even here!
Padraig Dunne stared as the man with the Brooklyn accent carved into Billy. He couldn’t believe that a few minutes ago he, Billy, Ivan and Zhao had been the ones chasing the skinny guy in combat gear.
Now, Padraig stood on the top of one of the island’s few cliffs. At the bottom, the skinny guy’s friends had finished killing Ivan and Zhao. However, that New York fucker had decided to take his time with Billy.
“You know,” the New York guy said, “there are things I can accept.” Billy made a strangled sound like he was trying to scream, but couldn’t. The New Yorker tightened his grip around Billy’s neck. “Shut up, ya piece’a shit!”
“Cross,” one of his companions said, “that is enough.”
“Fuck off, Eric.” Cross spat these words out. “I’m teaching.” He then turned back to addressing Billy. “Now, you little shit, there’s things that I can accept. Cops are gonna fight for law and order, which means arresting criminals. Leg breakers are gonna break legs because some people don’t think the rules apply to them. Drug dealers deal drugs because of supply and demand.” There was a ghastly shlick as a knife cut into organs and Billy tried to scream again. Cross continued. “And, let’s be honest, sometimes there’s just too many fish in the sea, so you gotta remove a few. It fucking happens, sometimes to friends of mine. No one in their right mind keeps grudges over business.”
“But,” Cross said, “sometimes, there’s sick fucks like you who enjoy hurting with people.” He began stabbing Billy rapidly, the shlick sound even worse. “There’s only one use for you freaks. And that’s using you as a fucking warning! I’m the guy who reminds the world why you should give a fuck! If you’re on my bad side, you either correct your goddamn problem, OR I CORRECT THE FACT THAT YOU’RE BREATHING MY AIR!”
Padraig watched as blood spattered over everyone below him. He was shocked that Billy was still breathing when Cross tossed him aside like a rag doll. “Sorry,” he said to the other people in the gully who were still living. “Old habbits.” Cross then looked at the cliff. “Hey,” he said, “there were only three people we killed.” He picked up a rifle that had fallen down the cliff. “So why is there a fourth rifle?”
Padraig realized the reason why there was a fourth rifle the second Cross had picked it up. It was because he had dropped it down the cliff when Cross had started to cut into Billy.
“Oh hey,” Cross said jovially, making direct eye contact with Padraig, “didn’t see you there.” He shouldered the gun and aimed it at Padraig. “Thanks for dropping this, man. This is a nice gun. Wanna give me your spare mags?”
“Sure, man, sure,” Padraig said in his Dublin accent as he rapidly threw down spare magazines. “Anything ye want! Just doon’t kill me!”
“Relax, buddy!” Cross said. “You’re my good deed for the day.”
After Padraig had thrown down all his ammo, he ran. When he was a good distance away, he pulled out his cPhone, a student-made and Campus produced phone, and called Donny, Nu Nu’s leader. “Oi, Donny,” Padraig said. “I’ve run into a spot of bother…”
Edda Stauffenberg was pissed. After everything she had done and gone through to stop Nu Nu’s bullshit, including being alienated from most of her sorority sisters, she and the rest of Iota Upsilon had somehow ended up right alongside those idiots.
Why? Well, according to President Newell-Howards, “Due to the fact that Iota Upsilon has aided in the cover-up of Nu Nu’s proclivities, the administration believes that they should share in Nu Nu’s punishment.”
Edda spat at that, pretending the ground was the President’s lying face. In her two and a half years at this school, she had been fighting against the school’s rape culture. The President, despite her mentioning it to his face multiple times, had done nothing. But as soon one of Zemylachka’s precious favorites fell a victim to this cesspit, and the President had gone nuclear. Now she was out in the snow, paying for a crime she had actively worked to prevent, as handed down by someone complicit in it.
She sighed. Not only had she not managed to save anyone, but she had effectively ruined her own life as well. Even in this camp in the forest, she was effectively alone, relegated to the outskirts to watch everyone else.
“Edda?” she heard a voice ask. She looked up. It was Guilermo, her boyfriend.
My ex-boyfriend, she corrected herself. Those pictures she had seen on the Nu Nu page with Guilermo and what he and the rest of those bastards had done. She had told him she was done with him five minutes later. Since then, she had ignored him. She decided to continue that policy.
“Edda!” Guilermo called out, now running towards her. “Listen, Edda, I…”
“Go away.” Edda said. She was proud of her English. Despite having lived in Germany all her life before coming to this awful place, she spoke perfect English. In fact, languages had always been her strong suit.
“Edda,” Guilermo said, still insistent, “we need to talk.”
“About what?” Edda asked. “Because you somehow found a way to cheat on me and spit on everything I believed in!”
“Listen, Edda,” Guilermo said, “I know what I did was unforgivable, and I could apologize…”
“But you fucking won’t!” Edda yelled, “Because you’re a coward and…”
“This isn’t about me!” Guilermo said. “This isn’t about that girl, either.”
“Her name is Jong and…”
“This is about you,” Guilermo said, eyes shining with desperation, “and getting you out of here!” He paused, trying to judge her reaction. Finally he gave up and asked, “If I talk, are you going to interrupt me?”
“It depends.” Edda said sullenly.
“Listen,” Guilermo said, leaning in close, “I know I’m a terrible person. Hell, most people on this goddamn island are. But you, you’re worth saving. There is a transport plane leaving for Bielefeld in five hours. I think you may be able to sneak aboard. The first chance you get, leave, and never come back.”
Guilermo quickly took a look around, then began to whisper. “If you don’t, you’re going to die. These guys that are in the forest, the ones we’ve been sent to smoke out? I met them. They are going to kill almost all of us.”
“I thought there were only eight of them?” Edda said. “I mean, I feel for them, but they will be slaughtered.” She wasn’t sure how much she believed herself, though. There had been gunfire chattering and cracking on and off in the distance for quite a while now.
“You don’t understand!” Guilermo said. “These guys have already killed thirty-eight of us, and five of those deaths were before they had guns! And, if by some miracle we manage to kill them, then we’ve got to deal with over three hundred more of them!” Edda’s eyes widened, but Guilermo wasn’t done. “And if we kill those guys, do you really think Zemylachka will let us live? I mean look what happened when we… when I raped Jong.”
Suddenly, a suspicion formed in Edda’s mind. “Guilermo,” she asked, “why did you…”
She was interrupted by the leader of the frat calling from the center of the group. “Go,” Guilermo said. “This is your best chance.”
Edda turned and ran. When she looked over her shoulder, she saw Guilermo watching her to make sure she was running. When she did so again, he had turned away.
Guilermo slowly turned back towards the crowd and walked towards the center of the crowd, where the frat leader, Donald Livingston, was giving a speech. Suddenly, Padraig was at his side.
“Oi, Gil,” Padraig asked, “did you find her?”
“Yeah,” Guilermo said sadly. “She took my advice, too.” He didn’t really want to give anyone around him ideas. Well, there was one person. “You should take my advice, too.”
Padraig laughed. “You aren’t going to leave, why should I?”
“Because you don’t deserve this.”
Padraig laughed. “Part of the reason you’re so deluded is tha’ I doon’t leave my mates in a pinch. I’m stayin’ with you.”
“No you are not,” an Indian-accented voice said. Guilermo turned around. It was Rais, one of Donald’s more annoying suck-ups. “Only the Mexican is coming with me.”
Rais had been one of those freaks who apparently thought being Chad was a good thing. It was almost sad, seeing someone who was otherwise so smart pour all his intellect into being a completely unlikable moron. One of the more annoying things he had picked up from Chad was a penchant to call Guilermo a Mexican. Again, neither Guilermo nor any of his ancestors had ever been anywhere near Mexico. He supposed it was best to let it go. Nothing good could come from arguing with a stressed-out jackass holding an assault rifle.
Padraig, however, didn’t see the wisdom in not angering the armed asshole. “Like hell he is!” he yelled angrily. “Listen, you little shite, I’m coming with Gil or…”
Rais raised his rifle to point at Padraig and calmly asked, “Or what? I seem to be the one holding a gun.”
Guilermo touched Padraig’s shoulder. “Pat,” he said, “its cool. I’ll be fine.”
Padraig, in response, grabbed Guilermo’s arm and looked him directly in the eye. “Don’t die on me, you fucking cunt,” he said in a low whisper. “If you do, I’ll fucking kill you.” He then stalked off, muttering angrily to himself.
“Well, come on,” Rais said to Guilermo. “We have a crater to scout out.”
Guilermo was taken to a pile of weapons. Apparently, a few people had taken the time to salvage weapons from the dead. “Does this mean we got some of them?” he asked.
A guy sitting by a tree laughed. When Guilermo looked at him, he suddenly noticed that his forearm was gone and his arm sported a bandage that was soaked with blood and a green substance that Guilermo recognized as something made last year by one of the Triple-A students. “You and Pat actually met them,” he asked with a slight Russian accent, “What do you think?”
Rais looked at the guy. “What has happened to you, bro?” he asked.
The guy with the missing arm laughed. “One of the groups has a fucking machine gun. One of them shot it at my group when we were chasing them. He was aiming at my buddy, but there was a stray round, and, well,” he held up stump, “this happened. Everyone left was fucking useless with a gun, so they ran. Bastards left me behind.”
“Damn shame,” Guilermo said. “I’m sorry, but I’ve got to be going now.”
He reached towards a rifle that looked cool. “No, no, no!” the one-armed Russian said, “Don’t take that one! That one sucks in the cold, always jams. Take an AK.”
Guilermo picked up a black rifle. “Like this?” he asked, picking up a rifle.
The Russian guy looked at it. “Better,” he said. Trying desperately to forget what had happened to Pierre, Guilermo slung the rifle over his shoulder.
“Hey,” another person said, “are we going to get moving?” The rest of Rais’s group had arrived. They were all armed with guns, but none of the grenade launchers.
“Yes,” Rais said. “Mexican, come with us.”
Guilermo quickly took a pistol and holster and followed the group out. A guy with a hunting rifle seemed to be leading the group, but Guilermo suspected that no one here knew what the fuck they were doing.
As they walked through the snow, the others mostly made jokes at Guilermo’s expense. Guilermo, in the meantime just thought about how cold he was. Probably warmer than those AMS guys. Their coats seemed to be much lighter than the ones the average Nu Nu member had brought. But still, he was freezing his ass off.
He was brought out of his reverie by the lead guy saying, “Hey, look!” As soon as Guilermo looked up to see the crater they were looking for, he tripped over something. The lead guy didn’t notice him and continued on. “Looks like we’re here!”
Guilermo looked down. It was a corpse half-buried in snow, three bullet holes in its chest. For some reason, it disturbed Guilermo to see that the corpse was female. Or had been female, a voice in his head said. Corpses aren’t people. Soon you’ll be a corpse too, and everyone will rejoice.Guilermo attempted to shrug off this thought, but instead noticed all the other corpses that had been half-buried. All of them had tried to fight. One of them was behind a tree, still clutching a gaping gut shot that had come out through his back and out his front. Another had been kneeling when the bullet had hit him. He was now face down in the snow, ass in the air.
The lead guy, meanwhile had been talking. “Seriously,” he said. “what’s the big deal? There’s six of us and, what, eight of them? We can fucking take them!” Everyone except Guilermo laughed in agreement.
“I bet you can’t take out all of them from right here!” Rais said.
“Really?” the lead guy asked. “Just watch…”
The lead guy was cut off by a sound halfway between a pop and a crack. He fell like someone had pushed him in the chest. He fell in the snow with a thump.
Rais and two others began to run back towards the rest of the frat. Guilermo ran behind a tree. As he got behind it, he heard another gunshot and saw another guy fall on the ground. “Guys,” he yelled to the three retreating figures, “help me with them!”
Rais raised his middle finger. “Fuck that and fuck you, mAAAAGGGGH!” His scream was because his hand had exploded into a ball of gore. Rais then collapsed onto the snow screaming.
Guilermo looked at the other people who had been shot. The first one to be shot was staining the snow around him red with blood. The fact that it was slowing down made him think that it wasn’t worth checking to see if he was dead.
The other guy, however, wasn’t bleeding much. Guilermo thought about it for a bit. He doubted he could make it to the guy without being shot. On the other hand, what the hell, he was dead anyway. Might as well do some good.
Firing all the way, he ran towards the guy he thought he could save. He felt around for the guy’s neck, all while firing his rifle. Guilermo heard an ominous click a short while later. He pulled the trigger again and again, but still only heard the click. Giving up on finding a pulse, he decided to inspect the person. There was a hole where his heart should have been.
Guilermo, accepting the person was dead, turned to run away, but saw that Rais was still alive. He wasn’t screaming anymore, just panting and moaning. Guilermo looked back to the crater. Ever since Rais’s hand had been exploded, there had been no activity from the crater. Squinting, Guilermo couldn’t see anyone on the crater’s rim. He immediately dismissed the idea that he had somehow managed to kill all eight of them in a single magazine.
He turned back to begin to drag Rais away. As he did, he noticed that Rais’s normally brown skin was starting to turn pale and his hand had been so exploded by the bullet that the fingers were only held on to the arm by thin strings of meat. Rais had also switched to Hindi, babbling something over and over again.
“Don’t worry, Rais,” Guilermo said, “it’ll be ok. It’ll be ok.” He kept repeating this for a good long time as Rais’s breathing became more and more shallow and his talking became less audible. Eventually, he stopped breathing altogether.
Guilermo kept dragging Rais and repeating soothing phrases for a few minutes. Suddenly, realizing Rais was gone, he stopped. He dropped the corpse and began to sob. Despite his hatred of the weasely asshole, he hadn’t wanted him to bleed to death, possibly begging or hallucinating. Maybe choke on his own vomit, or get an STD, but not this.
He was so broken that he didn’t notice the army of frat boys and sorority coeds sort of pass around him until one dragged him upright and forced him to start walking. He didn’t notice he was walking back towards danger, either. He was just shut down.
He did suddenly snap out of it when he saw a burst of smoke from the crater. Then another, then another. Then he heard screaming. There was some yelling, but the screaming was much worse. He couldn’t tell what was causing it, but he, and everyone else could tell it was coming from behind. Some people began shooting, but most were trying to get a good look at what was happening.
That, however, was just the beginning. Suddenly, a wave of gunfire burst from the crater, and Guilermo saw several more bursts of smoke. More people started screaming, this time in the front of the group, very close to where Guilermo was. Also, there were two ominous thumps that increased the screaming dramatically.
From farther back, people began to return fire. Disturbingly, no one from the front did. Where Guilermo was, however, it was impossible to raise a rifle, due to how tightly packed they had suddenly become. People off to the sides seemed to be having no trouble, though.
There was a brief decrease of fire coming from the crater, in which Guilermo wondered if the AMS/Shadowhaven people had run out of ammo. Then it suddenly resumed, this time targeting people around Guilermo. Due to a freak accident, none of the bullets hit him. However, very few others were that lucky.
As he watched, the people who had been pushing against him were torn to pieces, and not in a figurative way. Heads burst like watermelons. Limbs became detached. Bone, meat, and blood flew, some of it spattering Guilermo. But the worst injury revealed itself after the weaponry moved on to demolish another group.
A girl, Maya, he believed, was the only one left alive, after a fashion. She had been severed in two from the waist up. Guilermo could tell she was alive because she was trying to put her intestines back in.
She used to bake cookies, he thought. They were always very good…
Suddenly, a bullet whizzed by his ear. He snapped out of his reverie just in time to see an explosion go off in a group of students. Two or three lucky ones died instantly, five others were still obviously alive, but horrifically wounded. A burst of gunfire put a few out of their misery.
That’s what made up Guilermo’s mind. Fuck this. He thought. Fuck this, fuck these assholes, and fuck dying with them. I’m leaving. He then ran, muttering something along the lines of “fuckfuckfuckitfuckfuckfuck!”
He didn’t get very far when someone grabbed him. An angry, red-faced man, was suddenly in his face. “WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING? GET BACK IN…”
Suddenly, something small and fast whizzed into the man’s jaw, sending it flying off the man’s face. He screamed, which sounded weird to Guilermo as his tongue was just flopping around.
Guilermo didn’t get a good look at the man’s face. He just ran as soon as the man’s grip had loosened. Guilermo ran and ran, ignoring all the death and destruction around him, just focusing on surviving. He ran past people desperately shooting back, but not hitting anything, he ran past people burning alive and stumbling about while screaming, and he ran past people bleeding out from gunshot wounds. There were also some people like him, trying to get away. Not all were as in one piece as he was, though. Some had been lightly wounded, and more than a few of the people retreating had been injured so bad that they could only crawl forwards like a zombie in a horror movie.
Guilermo, surprisingly, was somewhere near the back of the pack. That’s probably what saved his life when Donald Livingston decided to cancel the retreat.
They had gotten out of sight of the crater when they first saw Donald and a few of his inner circle. “Where do you think you fuckers are going?” Donald shouted through a megaphone.
Everyone stopped, for a second at least. Then the muttering started. “You assholes got a problem?” Donald asked.
“Yeah!” someone yelled out. “Where the fuck were you when my friends got set on fire? Where were you when people were getting turned into fucking hamburger?” People began muttering in agreement.
“People have been dying!” Someone else yelled. “And where have you guys been?”
“You want us to fight, you should come with us!”
Donald, apparently didn’t agree with the hecklers. He shouted something that Guilermo couldn’t hear. Then there was gunfire from in front. People in the crowd fell down. Guilermo, for his part, began to back away. He tripped over something. When he moved out of the way, he saw that it was Rais’s corpse. Guilermo then began to hyperventilate.
When the gunfire died down, Donald began to walk towards Guilermo. “Jesus,” Donald said drawing a silver-barreled pistol, “you just won’t die, will you, man?” The two people who had followed Donald laughed.
Guilermo, for his part, could only hyperventilate. Oh my god, he thought, this guy is going to kill me!
“Tell you what,” Donald said, cocking the gun’s hammer with his thumb, “you get up, and you run back there, and I won’t shoot you. How does that sound?”
Guilermo, took a deep breath and said, “no.” He then closed his eyes and braced for the bullet to hit him.
“Shame.” Donald said. “Wait, no it isn’t.” He pulled the trigger. There was a click. “What the fuck?” Donald asked, looking at the gun. He had forgotten the safety, but that didn’t occur to him.
Guilermo, however, didn’t forget. He pulled his own pistol out of his holster and fired. Donald yelled in pain, clutching his shoulder. One of Donald’s two flunkies yelled, “He shot Donald!” Then he raised his gun. Then there was a short burst of gunfire.
The flunky fell backwards. Everyone turned to see one of the corpses rise, small rifle in hand. The other flunky brought up his rifle to aim at the terrifying, blood-soaked specter, but the monster beat him to it. With a staccato chatter, the second flunky fell backwards.
“Ah, Guilermo!” his savior said with a Russian accent, “How are you? You hurt?”
“You-you’re the Russian guy who lost his arm…” Guilermo said, somewhat in shock.
“Ah, you remember!” The Russian said jovially as he walked towards Guilermo and Donald. “Good, good! My name’s Dima.”
Donald appeared to be in just as much shock as Dima. “Dima…” he said, “why, bro? I thought you were a badass… why were you…” Dima cut Donald off by shoving his rifle in Donald’s face. Donald didn’t get the hint. “Hey, hey watch where you’re pointing that thing!”
“Why did I run?” Dima asked. His rifle chattered again, and Donald’s head exploded. Dima then answered his own question. “Because your plan fucking sucked, you pig fucker.” Dima turned back towards to towards Guilermo and asked him, “Do you have a problem with him dying?”
There was a long pause. Dima shrugged. “I’m not going to kill you if you say you do. Promise.”
“Actually,” Guilermo said, “I’m still not sure. On the one hand, I feel like enough people have died already. On the other hand, this is almost entirely his fault, he’s a fucking coward, and he and his friends murdered a bunch of people who decided they didn’t want to do his dirty work.” Guilermo paused. “You know, once I say it out loud, I’m suddenly completely ok with it.”
“Good,” Dima said. “Now, how would you like to give our friends in the crater a real fight?”
Guilermo thought about it and said, “Well, I’m going to die anyway.”
Dima laughed heartily. “That’s the spirit, my friend!”
Padraig was somewhere between the middle row that got firebombed first and the front that got shredded. It was surprising to him. One second, most of the people were joking and faking confidence despite the corpses. The next, seemingly everything was on fire and Padraig’s nose was flooded with the smell of cooking meat.
Pretty quickly, the people who initially were on fire began running around. Padraig watched as one person who was on fire hugged someone who wasn’t, begging and pleading to be extinguished. The non-flaming person pushed his unwanted hugger away, then suddenly realized that he, too, was now burning. He then began to run around as well.
Padraig saw similar dramas happen, but slightly less idiotic as well. Suddenly, one of these human fireballs began running towards him. That’s when Padraig decided to stop lollygagging and start dodging the fiery morons trying to give people hugs.
While dodging, he noticed that people were shooting, but he was a bit too busy to notice. Eventually, people stopped being on fire and moving. There were plenty of burning corpses, though. A few had even created a smoke screen between Padraig and the people raining down hell from the crater.
“Hey,” someone said behind him. He turned around. It was an Iota Upsilon sister. “You’ve got a grenade launcher on that gun. Maybe see if you can hit some of those guys in the crater with it?”
“Sure,” said Padraig, aiming at a random angle and squeezing the launcher’s trigger.
“AIM, YOU BLOODY TWAT!” The girl screeched. But it was too late. The grenade had already gone sailing through the smoke, causing it to part. Both parties ran in different directions. Barely a second had gone by, and suddenly bullets were landing disturbingly close to Padraig. He careened into cover by what seemed to be the one tree that wasn’t on fire.
For the rest of the battle, the person or people who had been shooting at him as he had been running for cover seemed to be paying particular attention to the area around the tree. Almost every time someone came near, bullets would kick up. More often than not, people shot at would get hit. After a while, people started to notice the bodies and injured people by Padraig’s tree and stopped passing by. Even longer, and the shooting began to die down. Eventually, it got to the point where there would only be lone bursts or single shots from some lone survivor, immediately followed by the people in the crater opening up. Eventually stopped completely.
Padraig, in the meantime, kept himself from going insane with terror and boredom by teaching himself how to use his weapon. Apparently, according to the manual he had found in a compartment in the butt of his gun, he the gun was called an M-16A2 and it had an underbarrel M-203 grenade launcher.
Just as he finally was getting the hang of reloading both the launcher and the actual gun, his cPhone vibrated. Hoping that the people on the crater wouldn’t hear it he pulled it out. It was a text message to everyone in Nu Nu and Iota Upsilon from someone with an unpronounceable name, probably Russian.
Padraig, curious to see what it was all about, opened it up. It read, “To everyone who is alive and up for a counter-attack, plz call this number.”
After a moment’s debate, Padraig decided that at the very least, he could find out what had happened to Guilermo. Using his cellphone gloves, he sent a call to the number. “Oi, Dima,” he said, using the person’s much more pronounceable first name, “I’m…”
“Padraig?” Guilermo’s happy voice called out. Both guys laughed in relief. “Man am I glad to hear your voice, amigo!”
“I’m glad to be speaking!” Padraig said. “Some foockin’ cunt on that crater’s personally tryin’ ta aerate my brain. Now, what’s this shite aboot a counter-attack?”
“Well,” Guilermo said, “here’s the plan…”
As he described Dima’s plan to Padraig, Guilermo was still pretty unsure about it, nor were the twenty or thirty other people there with him. “So, the basic idea is that they’re going to want to leave the crater, right?” Guilermo said. “They’re also going to be worried about us rallying and doing a second attack, so they’re going to leave the back way.”
“Or they could come out the front way,” Padraig said from the other end, “and walk directly by me.”
“In that case,” Guilermo said, making it up as he went along, “hide in the undergrowth and once they all leave, we’ll take the crater while they aren’t there. Then we can defend it if more of the fresh meat or Campus Security show up to kill us all.”
Dima nodded at this to show his support. “Anyway, Guilermo continued, “it’s the way we can survive the longest.” He knew he was being defeatist, but honestly, everyone knew that they were dead. Might as well make the fight not as pathetically one-sided as it had been.
“You know what, mate?” Padraig said, “I think I’m in.
“Ok, great! When we give the signal, move into the crater.” Guilermo said, then hung up. “He’s in,” he said to the crowd.
Dima then spoke up. “Now, my friends,” he began. “Not all of you know each other. Not all of you even like each other. However, right now, we are going to come together.”
He pointed in the direction of the university, shouting, “those fuckers? The President and his cronies? They think we are useless!” He pointed at everyone there, making sure to make eye contact with every single person assembled there. Guilermo knew the tactic from a public speaking course he took. As he did so, Dima spoke in a quieter, sympathetic voice as he did so. “They think you are useless.”
Guilermo noticed that none of the people in Dima’s audience seemed to be inspired by this line of thinking. He could see why, though. Dima was telling the truth, and the truth was somewhat disheartening.
But then Dima turned it around. “However,” he breathed, “that is not the truth. Not in the truth. Do you want to know the truth, friends?” People began to look at him curiously. Dima smiled conspiratorially. “The truth is,” he said, as if revealing some greater truth, “our leaders are useless.”
People began to mutter. “For instance,” Dima said, “Donald was useless. Instead of asserting any kind of control, he just let our enemies bumble into the equivalent of a castle and sent your friends out on a wild, deadly goose chase. Then, once our enemies were fully entrenched, he sat back and massacred anyone who tried to run away from a slaughter.”
There was muttering of agreement. “And what of those who are supposed to be our teachers?” Dima asked. “What of our President, sitting in his nice warm mansion, with his four names?” Someone whooped. Guilermo was shocked.
Dima was now shouting. “If he really cared about anything other than making his own little empire, he would have launched an investigaton! Not send us in to be massacred! Do you want to know what I think of him? I WOULD SPIT ON HIS FACE, BUT EVEN MY SALIVA IS TOO GOOD FOR THAT PIECE OF SHIT!”
People, including Guilermo, were cheering their heads off at that. When it finally died down, Dima asked, “So, how are we going to make them pay for treating us like shit?” It was obviously a rhetorical question, so everyone waited. “Well,” Dima said, “I was thinking that we could make ourselves memorable. Our enemies are soldiers and we aren’t, it’s true. But soldiers are killed by civilians all the time. Now, my comrades, who wants to give the high and mighty fresh meat a real fight?” There was a resounding cheer. “Who wants to kill some Campus Security?” The cheers were louder. “Who wants, more than anything, to give President Anthony Carter Newell-Howards a little visit?”
The cheers sounded louder than the final game of the FIFA World Cup to Guilermo. He was so surprised that a bunch of broken, blood-soaked people could sound that enthusiastic.
“Now,” Dima said, “let’s go and wait for our friends to show up.” There was one final cheer and they began to move out.
Eventually, they found a spot that overlooked both the rear exit of the crater and the place that they probably would come out. It took the enemy a long time to get out of the crater. Even then, it took them a while for the assorted frat boys and sorority girls to see fresh meat, due to the camouflage the fresh meat wore.
“Should we call Padraig and tell him to move?” Guilermo asked Dima.
“No,” Dima said. “There’s four people setting up there. We know there are eight, and we know that they’d have someone in the crater to cover for their escape. If Padraig goes in now, the four other people will shoot him.”
So the waiting became even tenser. Every second they waited for the other four to start moving was a second that the four people in snow camo could discover them and open fire. Finally, the other four came over the lip of the crater.
When it was pointed out, Dima nodded to Guilermo. Guilermo dialed Padraig’s number and said, “Go.”
For a while, there was silence. Then someone whispered, “psst, is that guy looking through binoculars?”
“Shit,” Guilermo said, bringing his gun up, “He’s seen Pat!” He quickly lined up his sights with the head of the guy with the binoculars. Then he pulled the trigger.
Padraig had been waiting for quite a long time when he got the call. He jumped up as soon as Guilermo had hung up. “Right ya bastards,” he said, putting the phone in his pocket, “let’s see if you lot like the taste o’ lead.”
He then ran at a flat-out rate to the crater, half expecting someone in the crater to shoot him. When he finally was able to begin the scramble up the side of the crater, he was still expecting that gun that tore people to pieces to suddenly unload into his face.
When he had finally scaled the crater, he peaked over it. Nothing was left in it, except for a petering-out fire. Padraig briefly marveled at how deep the crater was. It would probably faster if he just leaped over. Also safer, as that way he could avoid the fire at the bottom.
He stood up, noticing a glint of light in the distance. He dismissed it and jumped. He fell down when he landed, sliding down the slope. In the distance he heard a crack. Shit, Padraig thought, the fight’s started.
He scrambled up the slope, nearly falling a couple of times. At his position by the rim of the crater, he could see four white blurs moving in the distance. Those had to be four of the eight fresh meat that had been killing everyone. Not bothering to adjust the grenade launcher’s sight, he briefly aimed and fired. Then he adjusted to use the sight for the rifle.
Just as he finished, the grenade landed. There was a burst of smoke and the guy in the rear fell down. A guy off to the side was turning around. Padraig sprayed a few rounds at him and the man collapsed. Padraig couldn’t see if he had hit the man or if the man had just taken cover. Part of it was due to that damn camouflage and how well it hid someone far away during a blizzard.
Mostly, though, it was because that the two who remained standing had opened fire. Their bullets began to whiz through the air. In response, Padraig retreated back to the cover of the crater.
He had to retreat farther down than he had thought at first because a few of the bullets actually passed through places he thought should have stopped them. When he felt safe enough, he awkwardly reloaded the grenade launcher. Then he popped up in a different position and launched the grenade. His enemies stopped shooting, so he came further out of his position.
He paused, trying to see where everyone was. In the forest beyond the deep snow, he could see muzzle flashes, but couldn’t tell which was his side and which side was the enemy’s. Not wanting to risk it, he looked out at the field.
Suddenly, he saw a flash of light. He let loose with a short burst that ended with a click. He got back under cover as soon as he heard it. A few seconds later, bullets whizzed overhead. A good few even made snapping sounds as they bit into the dirt and snow of the crater wall.
Padraig changed positions again. When he came up, he saw a figure moving towards a pack on the ground. “Oh no you doon’t, ya cunt…” he muttered to himself. He sprayed at the person moving forwards, but it was low and just kicked up snow.
Damn, Padraig thought, I…
Padraig never got to finish the thought. A bullet in 7.62 NATO caliber had flown from the ground to pass through his eye and out the back of his head. His body slumped down. After a small seizure, he never moved again.
After Guilermo had fired that shot, chaos broke out. One of the guys had what looked to be the same gun that Rambo had used. As soon as Guilermo saw it being aimed his way, he threw himself to the side. He was lucky he did because when the bullets hit the tree, they passed through, causing the tree to fall backwards. Guilermo quickly judged that this was the gun that had been tearing people to bits in a disturbingly literal fashion.
Luckily for the survivors of what had been dubbed The Bowling Alley, the meatgrinder gun quickly ran out of ammo. When it did, Dima shouted, “Return fire, comrades! One is down! Seven to go!” As he shouted this, he leaned out of cover to fire his tiny AK with his good hand.
As soon as people saw him lean out, they did too. Twent-nine people, including Guilermo opened up to fire at every place that an enemy could have thought to take cover. The result, if you were on the giving end, was beautiful. Wood splintered, branches snapped off, and snow flew.
However, everyone ran dry at different times. Dima was the first. He quickly got back behind his tree, shoved his rifle between his legs, and began to load it one-handed. In quick time, he was back out and returning fire. Guilermo was impressed. He couldn’t reload his gun that fast with bothhis hands.
Neither, it seemed, could other people. The mass of reloads made for a break that their enemies could, and did, exploit. During the initial volley, none of the fresh meat had been able to return fire. Now, they were popping up to give short, deadly bursts, then sticking their heads back down. Guilermo figured it was only a matter of time before people started dying.
A little while later, maybe about a magazine or two, he noticed someone screaming. Feeling the inevitability of it all, he looked around to see who on his side was screaming. Three of his allies were on the ground, but none of them were making the blood-curdling scream. Hope suddenly surged within him.
“We got one!” He yelled happily “DO YOU HEAR ME? THAT’S ONE OF THEM SCREAMING!”
A few of the less busy frat brothers and sorority sisters let out a cheer. “Don’t let up!” Dima called out. “Keep the pressure on them!”
A while later (and two or three more of their own dead) and someone called out, “One of them’s down to their pistol!”
“Alright!” Dima shouted. “Let’s advance. Carefully, though!” Guilermo smiled. They might actually win this!
He was disabused of this notion when the sniper arrived. Suddenly, a bolt-action rifle cracked five times in rapid succession. When Guilermo looked up, five of the people advancing were now lying in the snow.
“Sniper!” Dima yelled, leaning out from behind his tree to return fire. “Take out the…!” He was cut off by another crack the bolt-action. He fell back, trying to clutch his shoulder. He couldn’t, however, because of his lost arm.
“Don’t worry!” Guilermo said, running to fix Dima’s wound. “I’ve got you!”
“Gil, don’t!” Dima called out, but it was too late. The bullet had already passed through Guilermo’s throat. He managed to get a few steps before he fell down.
As he stared up at Dima’s horrified face, Guilermo’s last thoughts were Why did I have to join Nu Nu? A few seconds later, he lost consciousness. He would never wake up.
Seventeen hours later, the plane Edda was on touched down in Bielefeld. Despite the more than half a day she had to think about it, Edda still had no idea how she had managed to sneak aboard. She supposed it didn’t matter. The important thing now was getting out.
Situated behind some moving crates, her plan was that once the crates were moved out, she would wait for the people unloading the plane to take the crates to take out the first load. Then, she would walk out of the plane like she was supposed to be there. From what all the Shadowhaven and Rogue students said, that was the best way to avoid being noticed. If that didn’t work, she could see if she could fake being a worker or a traveler who had gotten lost. After all, she had the bright neon coat for it.
If that didn’t work… She pulled out the gun from her pocket. It was a Glock. She knew that because her father had made his fortune by investing in the company. However, that was the extent of her knowledge of the weapon. She didn’t know if she could just pull the trigger, or if one of the mysterious levers or buttons on it needed to be fiddled with first. No, running would have to be her course of action if someone didn’t buy her story. It was probably better to leave the gun in the plane.
Suddenly, the cargo bay door began to open. Edda took a deep breath. This was it. Once the people were done unloading the first round, she’d make her way out.
The footsteps on the ramp, however caught her attention. Instead of the several heavy footsteps, it was just a single pair. When they were inside the plane’s cargo hold, they stopped. “Miss Stauffenberg?” A Russian-accented voice asked.
Edda froze with terror. She may have been a business major who made a point of avoiding the Shadowhaven freaks, but even she had heard the rumors. Professor Zemylachka was a thing of mystery, and the rumors of her abilities, temperament, and origin agreed on several things: she was the most deadly woman on campus. She was sadistic. She also kept favorites, and she hated it when they weren’t treated well.
She was also here.
“Oh, come on,” Professor Zemylachka said, annoyed at the silence, “we both know you’re here. Why not talk to me? Do you think you can get the drop on me?” She sounded hopeful at that last part. “It had better not be to annoy me.”
“You’re here to kill me.” Edda was surprised at how dead her voice sounded. In that moment, she realized it was over. “I’m probably the one person who had escaped. That offends you, doesn’t it?”
Professor Zemylachka laughed. It was a cold, amused laugh. “Oh you sweet, naive child,” she said, “There are so many easier ways than this. For instance, if I wanted to end you, I would have waited outside the plane’s ramp. The little worker bees would remove a few crates, you would come out of the plane, and then… pop!” To emphasize the pop, Professor Zemylachka clapped her hands together. “After that,” she continued, “all I would need to do is clean-up. I know a few good trash compactors here. If I spread you out between them, people would assume that a dog had fallen in.”
Edda felt sick to her stomach. “You’re lying. You know I was in Iota Upsilon, and you want to cleanse me because one of your precious favorites fell victim to the University’s bullshittery.” As she spoke, a fire began to burn in her. “You don’t have a sense of justice. You just decided we were the enemy. Everyone on campus knows about your grudges.”
“Normally,” the professor said, “you’d be right. However, you forgot about Jong. When she found out that Iota Upsilon had been included at the last moment, she did her best to contact me. By that time, you had already gotten on the plane. By the way, I am impressed with how you managed to avoid the guards.”
Edda, beginning to believe Professor Zemylachka, stood up. There she was, dressed in a trench coat, pants suit, and boots. “So,” Edda asked, “If you don’t want to kill me, why are you here?”
“Because,” Professor Zemylachka said, “I feel as if I have done you wrong. I lumped you in with a group of izvrashchentsy and cowards, despite how bravely you fought against them. I also noticed how you have are failing at your current major, but seem to have a knack for the kind of things I teach.” She shook her head. “To get to the point, how would you like to change majors?”
Edda considered it. “This school,” she said finally, “is poison.”
Before she could begin a rant, Zemylachka smiled. “How would you like the tools to fix it?” she asked. “‘Become the cure,’ perhaps?”
“Are you offering me your support?” Edda asked.
“Yes.” Zemlachka said, a gleam in her eye. “Your little anti-rape club? It gets funding. Your problem with the President stopping investigations into the powerful? He’ll lose my support. Can’t find Campus Security who will pursue a case? I’ll point you to the ones who’ll make it their mission to bring in the offenders. Does this sound like a good deal?”
On the one hand, there was something offensive of ensuring justice through Zemylachka of all people. On the other, this was the chance Edda had been waiting and working for. She sighed and held out her hand. “You knew I’d say yes,” Edda said. “I just pray you don’t take my soul in the process.”
“Child,” the professor said, smiling as she took Edda’s hand, “what do you think I am? The devil?”