Swarms of students were standing outside the school. “Get back from the doors! The principal bellowed from his bull horn. “Students are to be with their teacher. Teachers keep your students together.” He continued.
Where is Paige? I nudged my way through the crowd of young people who all seemed to blend together. “Do you know Paige Davis?” I asked a group of young girls, who were standing huddled together giggling.
“No.” They shook their heads.
Reaching the front of the crowd, I waved to the principal. “Dr. Dillard.”
“All students should be in line behind your teacher.” He blasted through his bull horn.
“Dr. Dillard.” I called flaying my arms.
Our eyes connected and he walked toward me. “Paige called me and I am supposed to meet her in her counselor’s office.”
“Sorry Dr. Davis. Someone pulled the fire alarm and the building had to be evacuated. No one is inside except for the firemen. Who is her counselor?”
“Well I will have to wait for an all clear. But let me see if I can get someone to help you find her. Wait here.” He walked toward the assistant principal. Anxiety gripped my innards, as I kept scanning the sea of high school students hoping for a glimpse of Paige.
“Dr. Davis.” the assistant principal said warmly. “Let’s go talk to Mrs. Collins and see if she knows where Paige is. I apologize for the confusion, but someone pulled the fire alarm and by law we must evacuate until the fire department gives an all clear.”
“Mrs. Collins, you remember Dr. Davis? She is looking for Paige. Have you seen her?” She asked.
“Sure. When the fire alarm sounded I walked her outside and left her with her teacher, Mr. Jones. They should be right over there.” She pointed to twenty feet away from where we were standing. Raising my hand to my forehead and using it as a visor, I strained to see Paige. “Come on. I will walk you over to her.” She motioned for me to follow her.
“Paige” Mrs. Collins called as we walked toward the area of Mr. Jone’s class.
Paige turned. “Mom.”
“Hey you!” I hugged her and tugged her shoulders to move us away from the crowd.
“Some idiot pulled the fire alarm.” Paige explained.
In the distance, I heard a bell ring. “Staff and students, we have been given an all clear. All students are to return to their fourth hour classes. Teachers please retain your fourth hour students until I ring the bell three times. Please retake attendance. Anyone who has not returned should be listed on your attendance slips.
“Paige, let’s go find Mrs. Collins and tell her you will be leaving for the rest of the day.”
“Fasten your seatbelt.” I directed.
“Oops, forgot.” Paige replied.
“Do you know who would pull a fire alarm?” I inquired.
“No. It was probably someone who didn’t study for a test and wanted to get out of it.” She pulled the passenger mirror down.
“I just need to stop and pick up your prescription at CVS. Do you want to come inside?”
“No, but leave the keys so I can listen to the radio.” With her fingers she brushed her bangs down and smiled at herself in the mirror.
“Okay. But keep the doors locked.” I gave her the mother look.
Standing at the kitchen sink, I slowly removed the skin of the cucumber and watched it drop into the sink. All the while, I kept thinking about the strange phone call. I wanted to grill Paige more, but I knew she was in a lot of pain and I would just have to wait for her to wake up to question her more.
“We have a breaking news alert. An amber alert has been issued for Emily Engram, a fifteen year old sophomore from Davisberg High School. Police tell us that Emily did not return home from school today. She was last seen at Davisberg High School. We turn now to Sally Simpson, a reporter at the high school. Sally what do we know?”
“I am here with the principal Dr. Dillard. Dr. Dillard who was the last person to see Emily?”
“Her fourth hour teacher recalls that just prior to the fire alarm sounding, Emily had asked to go to the restroom. The teacher had another student check on Emily, but the student reported that Emily was not there.The teacher led her class outside and asked another teacher to keep on eye on her class and she checked the restroom herself, but she could not find her. We questioned several of her class mates and no one remembers seeing Emily outside during the interval when the building was evacuated. .All students who did not return immediately following the all clear had their parents notified. ”
“The principal assures us that the fire department searched the building and found nothing. They issued an all clear and determined it was probably a teenaged prank. Emily was last seen wearing a pair of black capris and a white spaghetti strapped tank top. She is five feet one and weighs about 100 pounds. If you have any information regarding this, please contact the Las Vegas police Department at 555.5555.”
“Thank you Sally.” Let’s turn now to reporter Frank Glenn who is at the home of Emily Engram. Good Evening Frank, what have we learned from Emily’s family.”
“Emily’s mother is visibly distraught but a family friend tells us that Emily was upset when she left for school this morning. She had asked if she could go to the mall with her friends after school and spend the night at the home of another class mate. Authorities have accounted for all of her classmates. No one has seen Emily since 11:00 a.m. Her parents are pleading with the public that if they have seen anyone matching Emily’s description that they contact the police immediately.”
My cramps intensified as I listened to this newscast. “Gees. Paige you scared me.”
“Sorry mom. Why are you so jumpy?” Paige winced.
“Honey, did you know a girl from your school named Emily Enegram.”
“Yeah. She’s in my biology class. Why?”
“She’s missing. No one has seen her since before the fire alarm today.”
“I didn’t know her very well. She hangs out with the jocks. I think she’s on the basketball team.”
“Oh, no, Mom. You’re not having another paranoid premonition are you?”
“No, I am concerned for her. Her family is concerned for her. Did anything unusual happen today.”
“Nope, just the fire alarm.” Paige turned on the computer and stuck her earplugs into the computer.
A pungent smell of sewage attacked my nostrils. Groggy, I sat erect and focused my eyes.
Drip, echo – drip, echo – Where was I? I cradled myself to ward off the chill while vigorously rubbing my hands vertically against my upper arms. Surveying the room, I froze at the sight of her. It was Emily.
Drip, echo –drip, echo – I riveted my head in the direction of the drip that kept echoing through the room. My digestion ceased and bile collected in the center of my stomach and made an attempt to invade my esophagus. Her head hung to the left side of her body almost touching her shoulder. Her outstretched arms had bones protruding upward from their sockets. Blood seeped out of the holes in her wrists where the nails had been pounded. Beneath her crossed ankles, a steel bucket was collecting the droplets of her blood.
Horrified, I held my breath as he positioned a lance at just below her armpit and slowly moved the tip from there to the top of her hip bone and just as slowly he moved it back to his starting point. He stepped down form the stool and looked up at his crucified sacrifice.
He grabbed a rope and stepped back on the stool. He secured her triceps to the beam of the cross with thick braided rope and stepped down. He retrieved his lance and thrust it into her side and with one clean sweep he lacerated her open. Intestines, blood and water raced out of their new found exit. He removed the sash from his neck and with a look of ecstasy he draped it around her neck as if he had just announced the next Ms. America. “Honor thy Father and Mother.” It read.
“Mom, Mom! Mom” Paige nudged her mother.
“Why? Why? Why? She’s just a kid.”
“Mom wake up!” Paige demanded.
“What? What? Paige.”
“Mom, let go of me. You are hugging me so tight I can’t breathe.” Paige untangled herself. “Mom, Emily is dead.”
“I know baby. I know.” I hung my head and cried.