Divine hunter chapter four

in #story3 years ago

CHAPTER FOUR
Time had passed quite quickly once Michael had
managed to get his head back into his research.
By the time he’d finished piecing his class
together and gathering up his notes on Statistical
Methods and Social Cognitive Theory, his laptop
clock read 07:15. He powered down and after a
quick shower, rummaged through his only bag of
clothes−which was actually a canvas sack, like
the ones you got in the army−and pulled out a
navy blue shirt and a gray pair of trousers.
They were crumpled but clean. Still, he wasn’t
going to look good turning up for his first day of
work looking like he’d just stepped out of a
tumble dryer. He looked through the kitchen
cupboards and thankfully found an iron and did
his best to iron the clothes on the countertop
which wasn’t easy but he somehow managed.
They weren’t perfect, but it was a big
improvement.
He quickly ran his fingers through his deep blond
hair in the bathroom mirror until he had some
kind of style before heading out early for some
breakfast.
It was already busy in the large dining room
situated in the main building to the front of the
campus. Michael stood in line at the food counter
with mostly other members of staff. There were
one or two students about, but not many due to
the fact that most classes−for them anyway
−didn’t start until nine. He helped himself to the
various hot breakfast buffet items on offer, piling
his plate high with bacon, scrambled egg and
hash browns, before grabbing a cup of coffee from
the machine and paying the rather grumpy looking
cashier. She was an old, gray haired lady who
clearly looked like she’d had enough of the
jobbecause she’d probably worked there for far
too long. He was beginning to think that all the
staff were miserable in this place. Well. . . all
except one. Lacy Holloway couldn’t be included in
that thought because she’d been pleasant to him
yesterday.
He sat at a vacant table by the far window
overlooking the main parking lot and placed his
bag−which was full of his research and notes
−down on an empty chair next to him and tucked
into his food.
It wasn’t long before he was interrupted and a
pleasant scent of rose mixed withwith a hint of
apple filled his nose.
“Michael? Hi,” a pleasant female voice said. He
recognized the soft British accent of Miss
Holloway straight away and when he looked up,
she was standing across the table, smiling at
him, her large, pale green eyes smiling with her.
Her blond hair was tied back in a ponytail except
for a few wispy strands that fell either side of her
face. She was dressed in a beige pencil skirt that
stopped just below her knees and a black short
sleeved blouse, holding a blue file in one hand
and a breakfast bar and juice bottle in the other.
“May I join you?”
She’d been kind enough to spend the time
explaining things and showing him around the
place just after he’d arrived yesterday which
made him grateful for that and the fact that he
felt like he actually knew someone now.
“Hi, Lacy. Yeah. Sure,”
She sat down at the opposite side of the table,
freeing up her hands and pulling the straw from
her juice box. “So, are you ready for your first
day?” she asked as she pierced the little round
hole on the top with it and took a sip.
“Yes. I am actually. A little apprehensive, maybe,
but I’m looking forward to it.” Was he hell! He
had no idea what he was doing, but it was hardly
the worst thing he’d ever had to do so he’d get
through it somehow.
He threw a convincing smile at her.“You’ll be
fine. They’re really not a bad bunch. I’ve taught
Joanne’s class a couple of times when she’d had
doctor’s appointments.”
Michael liked her. She was easy to talk to
−friendly, and her perfume made the air around
them fresh and comforting. He decided to
casually ask about what happened last night to
see what she knew about it all, if anything.
“Terrible what happened last night wasn’t it?
That’s five all together, isn’t it?”
“Yes. I was filled in when I arrived here this
morning. I’ve heard that there are going to be
police patrolling the campus for a while.” She
sighed heavily. “I can’t believe what’s happening.
They’re saying it’s a suicide pact. Even though
we know that these kinds of pacts are usually
made because suicide to an individual is so
daunting that they can't face it alone, there’s
also a chance that the victims have no
connection to each other. Apparently the local
media have been asked by the authorities to hold
off printing their article about this latest one.
They fear the more media exposure, the more
copycat deaths. It’s just so awful. ”
Michael took another sip of his coffee and then
swilled what little was left around the bottom of
his cup. He nodded. “Did you know any of them?”
“No. None of them were in psychology. I’m glad I
didn’t. It saddens me enough as it is and I
daren’t think of their poor families.” She took
another sip of her drink.
“She looked young,” he said before drinking the
last of his coffee.
“You saw her?” Lacy looked surprised.
“Yeah. I heard the sirens from my room and went
to see what was happening.” He shook his head.
“Such a waste of life.”
“Indeed,” she said, and for a moment it looked
like her mind had wandered somewhere else.
Then she blinked and looked at him again. “I’m
sure they’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Michael wasn’t convincedAfter a short silence,
Lacy looked at her small black leather strapped
watch.
“I better get going.” She grabbed her stuff. “I have
to finish preparing an assignment. Good luck
today.”
He laughed. “I think I’ll need it.”
She smiled at him. “You’ll be fine. If you need
anything at all just come and see me. I’m in room
M103 for most of the day.”
“Thanks.”
“Bye, Michael.”
“Bye.” He watched her walk away happy to know
at least one person.
He finished up and decided to head for his first
class. No use trying to put it off. He had no
choice but to get on with it and hope that the day
wouldn’t be a complete disaster.
He walked along the old, dark corridor of the
psychology department. The building on the west
side of the campus was the oldest on site and the
many wooden classroom doors all looked the
same, each with small plastic plaques on them
containing white class numbers. He finally
reached his room−CS101−and hesitated for a
moment with his hand on the handle. He felt
nervous, which was strange. He hadn’t felt that in
a long time. Get a grip, Michael! He told himself,
clutching his file under his arm. He took in a deep
breath, turned the handle and walked in to face a
large room full of faces that looked up at him all
at once.
Damn! He thought, feeling like a rat in a cage.
Here goes.


Michael was back in his apartment by three. He
sat in blissful silence. He’d done it. Relief washed
over him quickly as he sat leaning on the dining
table with his head in his hands. He’d managed
to get through it. There were no hiccups, noone
had questioned his work and he hadn’t made a
fool of himself like he thought he would. He’d
survived it. No more classes or lectures for today.
Thank God.
He’d grabbed a coffee from the machine
downstairs on his way back and was about to
enjoy it when the phone rang. He reached over
and grabbed the handset from its cradle on the
kitchen counter and answered, “Hello.”
“Hello, Mr Warden?” a male voice said at the
other end.
“Yes, speaking.”
“I’m from Oakley Laundry services. Your suit is
ready, sir.”
Michael had dropped it into them yesterday
afternoon, but had forgotten all about it with
everything that had happened. “Oh. Great. I’ll
come collect it.
What time do you close up?”
“Five-thirty, sir.”
“I’ll be there before then. Thanks very much.”
“You’re welcome.” The voice said before hanging
up.
Michael didn’t have much but there were a few
things he always made sure he did have: a
computer, for research purposes; a heap of fake
IDs, for when he needed to be someone else; a
gun, which he’d stored away under a loosened
floorboard by his bed; and a good suit.
He had the rest of the day off so he figured it
was a good time to go into town and pick up his
suit and get some groceries and a few other
things he needed.
Oakland was a small town. There seemed to be
plenty of stores, though they were all pretty
small: thrift stores, grocery stores, coffee bars,
the odd second hand book store and a sports
store which sold mostly college stuff.
After picking up his suit and grabbing some
groceries from the store across the street from
the cleaners, Michael began to head back to his
car. He noticed a young man leaning against a
wall by the bus shelter up ahead, hood up,
smoking a cigarette. As he got closer, the man
looked up at him and as soon as he sawMichael
he pushed himself from the wall and began to
walk away. It was Jake, the guy he’d seen Nina
leaving the bar with last night.
Michael called out to him as he upped his pace.
“Hey!”
The young man stopped and slowly turned
around. His black, hooded top was torn on the
arm and his scruffy indigo jeans didn’t fare much
better. The guy lifted his head and as he stood
and stared, as if Michael had inconvenienced him,
he played with the piercing in his bottom lip with
his tongue. Michael saw another stud in his left
eyebrow.
“You go to SPU right?” Michael asked.
Jake flicked away what was left of his cigarette;
sparks flickered from it when it hit the ground a
few feet away. “Yeah. I’ve got no classes this
afternoon, though.”
“That’s okay. I just saw you last night with Nina.
You were leaving the bar with her, right?” Michael
tried to sound as casual as possible.
His eyes narrowed. “Yeah. Why?”
“Well, it looked like you were arguing. Is
everything all right? I’m a little concerned about
her that’s all.” Michael explained. He was just
clutching at straws, but he had a feeling that
something was going on between the two of them
and found it a little strange given how upset Nina
was last night about her boyfriend dying. It was
probably nothing, but it was an avenue he felt he
had to explore before he could move on.
“She was just in a weird kind of mood. She’s like
that. She stormed off back to her dorm or
something, I guess,” he replied. His voice was
almost as blank as his expression. His eyes were
framed by dark circles and his skin was pale. He
looked like he needed a good sleep, and a long
soak in the bath.
There was his first lie. Michael thought. Jake had
definitely been the aggressor outside the bar and
Nina had been visibly upset by it. Not realizing
that Michael had spoken to her straight after,
Jake was trying to pull a fast one and he wasn’t
buying it.He had to find out if there was a
connection between Nina’s dead boyfriend and
Jake. “You’re her friend right?”
Jake was beginning to fidget, pulling the zipper
on his sweater up and down.
“Yeah.”
“So, how well did you know her boyfriend? Danny,
wasn’t it?”
“I didn’t. Look. . . I gotta go.” He pulled another
cigarette from his pocket, then turned and walked
away.
Michael raised his voice after him. “You’ll let me
know if she needs anything won’t you.” No
answer.
He needed to have another conversation with
Nina.


Later that evening, after Michael had eaten some
frozen pizza that he’d burned for himself, he’d
decided to take a walk over to Lucky Seven’s
figuring if he was going to bump into Nina that
would probably be the place. It was a modern
looking bar: lots of dark wood beams across the
ceiling, a dark wood floor, and a large round bar
in the center which was lit with color changing
panels all across the bottom. Apart from some
more of the same panels around the edge of the
ceiling, there wasn’t much light to speak of. His
eyes scanned the place, but there was no sign of
Nina or Jake. It was busy, mostly students, and
yeah, he felt a little out of place so he ordered a
beer and found a corner where he could keep his
eye on the entrance and still hide away quite
easily.
Or so he thought. . .
“Hi, Mr Warden,” one of three girls said, all were
smiling, as they passed his table. Students he
recognized from one of his classes earlier. He
acknowledged them with a smile and carried on
with his beer.
About an hour passed and there was still no sign
of either of them. Michael was on his third beer
and was still sitting alone, even though another
one of hisstudents had asked if he’d wanted to
join him and his friends for a game of pool over in
the other corner. He’d politely declined.
He was about to give up and try somewhere else
when he caught sight of Jake amongst a crowd
who came walking through the door. He was on
his own.
Michael sat back in his seat and watched as Jake
scanned his eyes around the room, then ordered a
drink at the bar. He seemed anxious, looking over
at the door every time it opened. There was no
doubt he was waiting for someone; could be Nina.
Hopefully, he’d find out soon enough.
Another hour soon passed and Michael was
beginning to get a headache from the Indie music
that was blaring through the sound system: At
the moment, some guy was singing about a girl
out of her head and staring at the ceiling. It was
no wonder half the campus was suicidal. He
watched as Jake threw back the last of his
Corona and headed for the exit. Looked like
whoever he was meeting had stood him up and
he was clearly pissed off about it.
Michael got up to follow him out and got collared
by the girl who’d smiled at him earlier. “Mr
Warden, I was wondering if−”
“Not now. I have to go. Sorry.” He dismissed her
quickly, but by the time he’d gotten outside Jake
had gone. “poo!” He looked around, but there was
no sign of him.
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