Issue #30: Strange Times At Dayspring College

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

Part 3

“This is the closest we can park to the Humanities Building?” Cyn groused as she pulled into the Easton Street parking lot and eyed the stairs leading up to Campus Drive. The stairs were almost as daunting as those leading from the street to Freeland House’s front door. Dinner had been pleasantly uneventful.

“Usually, you can park in the D lot.” Tink said apologetically, “But they’ve got it closed for line painting.”

“If we had parked at the Museum, at least it would have been a downhill trip.” Cyn said.

“You don’t have to get out anyway.” Warrick said. “I’ll just walk Tink to class and come right back.

“Actually, Juniper was just talking about how she’d love to take a good look at the campus.” Cyn said with a forced smile.

“I was?”

“Yeah, Jun.” Cyn chuckled. “Remember? You said senior year won’t be as long as we think and we should take a good, long look at the local college?” She shot the brunette a meaningful look.

“Oh! Yeah.” Juniper finally caught on.

“Good, so you two go on. We’ll just take a walk and watch Tammy.” Cyn shooed the couple out of the car.

When they were out of earshot, Juniper gave Cyn an inquisitive look. “Why are we really doing this again?”

“It’s like our sacred duty to investigate this ‘weird happenings’ business Augustus mentioned.” Cyn said sagely. “I checked out the campus newspaper’s website when I was bringing the car around, and everything’s centered on the library or the dorms near it.”

“Awesome! We’re going to do detective work like the Shade?” Tammy lifted herself over the seat until she was hanging between the two.

“We can’t just leave Tammy here while we go do that.” Juniper pointed out.

“Of course not.” Cyn shrugged. That’s why we take her with.”

“But Tammy’s not supposed to be doing any kind of prelate stuff.” Juniper fretted aloud.

“Hey,” Cyn asked, opening her door. “Do you see any costumes? We’re just doing reconnaissance. Right?”

The redheaded youth bobbed her head excitedly. “Besides, I’m just not supposed to use my powers in public. Mom and Dad never said anything about looking around.” With that, she bounded out of the car.

“I have a really bad feeling about this.” Nonetheless, Juniper found herself getting out of the car as well.

“Chances are we won’t even run into anything.” Cyn tried to ease her worry. “These weird happenings aren’t reported every day.”

***

“Thanks for walking me.” Tink stood with Warrick before the Humanities Building. “It was great getting to meet your little sister. Do you think she liked me?”

“How could she not?” Warrick asked. “Even if she didn’t—which she does—we can always convince her this weekend. We’re still on for that, right?”

“Wouldn’t miss it.” Tink said enthusiastically. “But right now I can’t miss class.” She gave him a quick kiss. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Are we still meeting at the Dungeon?”

“Sounds like a plan.” Warrick said after her as she hurried up the steps. The clock in the plaza in front of the building stuck seven. He hoped he hadn’t made her late. Best not to dwell too much on it. There was more than enough to keep him occupied just thinking about keeping Tammy entertained for a week. The timing couldn’t have been worse with Ian, Alexis and Laurel gone. Even Melissa was AWOL, leaving him with no one to turn to if she got hurt.

And of course, keeping Tammy’s burning desire to be a prelate at bay meant removing all temptation. He wouldn’t be patrolling while she was visiting. He was sure Mayfield could handle missing Alloy for a week without going to seed.

“Going to seed…”

Warrick stopped and looked around for whoever it was that had just voiced his thoughts. The nearest people to him on the plaza were three college guys, heading toward the campus center. Even on the off chance one of them had telepathy, they were too wrapped up in their conversation for him to use it.

Kareem? Warrick mentally sought out the only telepath he knew. There was no answer. He slowly got up and started back for the car. Maybe he’d just thought he’d heard that. Or he’d caught a snippet of someone else’s conversation and misheard it. Nothing to freak out about.”

“Freak out a lot…”

That was no echo. Warrick turned around quickly to try and catch the phantom speaker. He almost knocked down a young woman approaching him from behind. They gave a mutual start. “Sorry.” He chuckled nervously. “Caffeine. Hell of a thing.”

“That’s okay.” She was shorter than him, and heavily built with a cascade of blonde hair around a plump face. “I was just going to ask you if you’d like a flier.” She inclined her head and Warrick finally noticed the stack of yellow fliers she was carrying.

“Uh… sure.” He took the top sheet. It was for a comedy open mic night at a club just off campus. “That looks cool, actually. Thanks. Sorry, again.”

“I understand.” The flier girl nodded, “I mean all the weird things going on lately on campus…”

“That wasn’t… What strange things?”

“The hauntings, the lights in the classrooms blinking… I heard that something pulled a girl’s hair out last week outside the library.”

Magical world, Warrick thought. Minor, low level supernatural hi-jinx had become a steady topic of chatter on the internet ever since Morganna had failed at casting her spell. Occult seemed more than happy to deal with the poltergeists, goblins and the mercifully rare more dangerous things had crossed over. It’d be funny if it wasn’t horrifying.

“Horrifying…”

Both Warrick and the flier girl jumped at the noise.

“You heard it too?” They said in unison. “Guess so.” She added.

“You should probably get far, far away from here right now.” A chill was settling over the area and Warrick really hoped it was heralding Zero’s arrival. There was no argument. Clutching her fliers, the girl took a step to run.

There was a screech of metal being torn apart and Warrick felt a mass of iron move in his metal sense. “Watch out!” he shouted, stepping up to shield her. A bench, wooden planks in a steel frame, came flying at them from where it had been bolted to the concrete.

Horrifying!” The disembodied voice roared.

Instinct kicked in where thought failed and Warrick threw everything he had against the oncoming projectile, willing every ounce of metal there to move violently away from every other ounce of metal. The wood came along for the ride. A shower of splinters rained down around Warrick and his erstwhile protectee as shards of iron clattered short of their mark.

Luckily, the girl didn’t realize that the destruction of the bench was Warrick’s doing and not the unseen attacker’s. She took no time in bolting for the other side of the plaza.

Warrick watched her go, keeping alert for another attack. None came. There were no other voices, not flying debris and most telling of all, the chill in the air had dissipated. “Haunting huh?” He scanned the plaza. Magical world activity was only one explanation of course; it hadn’t been long ago that he and the others had locked horns with a psionic called White Shadow who could turn invisible.

This didn’t match White Shadow’s agenda, but it was perfectly likely that Dayspring was playing host to a prankster who was going too far to get attention. Even if the previous ‘hauntings’ hadn’t, the thrown bench could have seriously injured or even killed someone. And a supernatural individual becoming a threat to innocents was the domain of the Descendants. He glanced back at the Humanities Building. That went double when it could endanger someone he cared about. He struck off back toward the car

***

“What a gyp.” Tammy thumped her head lightly against the seat in front of her. The three girls were back in Cyn’s humvee, waiting for Warrick to return. “We didn’t find anything weird. What kind of haunted college is this?”

“I know, right?” Cyn was turned around in the driver’s seat, to talk to the younger girl. “But that’s how it goes sometimes. We have to patrol for hours to find one criminal or person that needs saving.”

“We only searched for about twenty minutes.” Juniper was secretly content that they hadn’t been forced to battle ghosts. Supervillains and street crime was fine, but the idea of fighting a ghost sent a chill up her spine. “You can’t expect to find trouble right off the bat like that.”

At that moment, Warrick threw open the rear passenger door. “We’ve got trouble.” He announced.

“Or maybe you can.” Juniper amended.

Tammy was more excited than concerned. “What kind of trouble? And why do you have splinters in your hair?”

Unconsciously, Warrick dusted the wood debris from his hair. “Something attacked me and this girl.” He explained.

“What’d it look like?” Cyn asked, latching on.

“It… well, it didn’t. It was invisible. But it’s strong. Strong enough to pull a bench out of concrete and toss it. And I think it may be psychic too. It read my mind.” He closed the door and sat back in the seat. “What’s worse, the girl I was talking to said that there’ve been weird things going on here for a few weeks now.”

“Oh, we know.” Cyn said. “We just found out today.”

“Auggie told us.” Juniper added.

“We went looking for it while you were up there kissing Tink.” Tammy teased.

Warrick’s eyes narrowed. “You guys told my little sister, but not me?”

“Well, we didn’t want to bother you.” Cyn tried unconvincingly to look innocent, “This week’s a big one for you. You’ve got little sister to worry about. I figured Jun and I could take care of it if it panned out.”

Getting narrower still, Warrick’s eyes drilled into her. “Then why did you take Tammy with you to check it out?”

“You’d rather I left her in the car?” Cyn asked, sounding appropriately shocked. “I assumed you’d appreciate that I was looking after your sister for you. I men, who would have put stock in what some hot, but really nervous guy thinks about urban legends anyway?”

Warrick and Juniper blinked. Tammy giggled. “Hot?” Warrick asked.

“I don’t see what that had to do with anything.” Juniper honestly tried to connect the dots.

“Moving on then.” Warrick said, “We’ve got to call Ms. Brant. This sounds like Magical World stuff and to deal with that, we need the Book of Reason, right?”

Cyn frowned. Laurel was certainly the one she’d call, but a weekend free of adult supervision was too precious to give up unless it was absolutely necessary. Besides, she knew there was another person with a copy of the Book. “But we don’t know that.” She pointed out. “Wouldn’t it suck to drag her back here—maybe cut Melissa’s trip home short—if it turns out to be some jerk psionic or a spark jockey thug?”

The line about cutting Melissa’s visit short was a low blow. Cyn knew Warrick’s thoughts on the importance of family and played it like a fiddle. He only nodded.

“Right.” Cyn announced, “We have to learn more about what’s been happening to figure out what the hell we’re dealing with.”

“So we’re still doing detective work?” Tammy asked hopefully.

Cyn nodded. “You guys should go find Augustus or someone else at this college that’s heard all the rumors and shake them down for information.”

“That should be easy.” Juniper said, “He works the night desk at the campus library.”

“Wait,” Warrick raised an eyebrow. “What are you going to be doing?”

Winking, Cyn made a gesture as if that was obvious. “I’m going to see if I can hunt the thing down, duh. No better way of knowing what a thing is than fighting it.” Warrick opened his mouth to protest, but she held up a finger to silence him. “Immortal, remember?” she illustrated the point by making a hole in her hand and looking at him through it. “I’ll be fine.”

Tammy looked at the spectacle wistfully. “I wish I had your powers instead of making sparks.”

Cyn gave her a thoughtful look and patted her on the head. “Don’t be jealous, kid. You’ve got superpowers; let other people be jealous!”

Series Navigation<< Issue #29: Little Girl LostIssue #31: It Came From a Warped Star >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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