Catherine O’Neil had no classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Still, she went for an early run and to breakfast in the cafeteria and was back to the suite by 7:30 am. She studied in the common room while the others got ready for the day and went off to class. She had been hoping to see Dexamene, but nobody except Mary seemed to have seen her for the past two days.
Cathy thought back to what Mary had said the previous evening after telling Cathy about the mysterious woman who seemed to be looking for Dexamene. “If you see a stranger in the suite, call security immediately.”
When Cathy was the only one left in the suite, she took a shower then turned on her radio and settled into reading for her world history course. When it was almost 11:30 Cathy started getting ready to leave the dorm. She was grabbing some books in her room, but had left the door to her room open. She heard someone enter the suite. When she looked into the hall she saw who could only be the mystery woman that Mary had described. The mystery woman unlocked the door to Dexamene’s room, cast a brief glance over her shoulder that must have included Cathy in the woman’s range of vision and went in, closing the door behind her.
Cathy immediately went to Dexamene’s door and knocked loudly. “Excuse me! Excuse me!”
The door opened and the mystery woman asked, “Can I help you?”
Cathy could now tell for sure that this was the woman Mary had seen twice earlier in the week. Cathy had seen women in the army who were well muscled like this woman and Cathy could agree that her clothing was almost like a uniform- almost like a motor pool mechanic’s work suit, but infinitely more stylish. Cathy said, “Hi. I’ve been hoping to speak with Dexamene. Have you seen her?”
“Yes. That’s how I got this.” She held up the room key that she had apparently used to get into the room.
Cathy was worried for the safety of Dexamene and did not understand why Dexamene would be giving someone her room key. Cathy stepped forward and put out her hand, “Hi, I’m Cathy.”
The woman rather reluctantly took Cathy’s hand and they shook hands. Cathy applied her best army bone crush grip and asked, “What’s your name?”
The woman looked down at Cathy’s hand and then ignored the grip that Cathy kept applying. She replied, “Eleanor.”
Cathy was amused by the name since a few weeks earlier she had been reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine for her world history course. “So how do you know Dexamene?”
Eleanor had apparently grown tired of holding hands with Cathy. She took hold of Cathy’s wrist with her free hand and applied a wicked pincer grip. Cathy instinctively reached out with her free hand but also almost immediately released Eleanor’s hand from her own grip. “I met Dexamene this past weekend.”
Cathy was in serious pain as Eleanor continued to grip her arm. She asked, “Are you trying to break my arm?”
Eleanor replied, “Were you trying to break my hand?”
Finally Eleanor released her grip. Cathy rubbed her arm where Eleanor had grabbed it. Cathy was aware that she had been warned by Mary to call security if this woman showed up and now she had some personal experience of just how dangerous she could be, but Cathy decided to try to find out as much as she could. “So why are you spending more time here than Dexamene?”
Eleanor tried to step past Cathy and leave the room, but Cathy moved to block the way. “Cathy, let me give you some advice. Save your questions for Dexamene. You are rude and I intend to say nothing more. I’m leaving. I suggest you move.”
Cathy did not dare test Eleanor further. She slowly backed into the hallway. Eleanor followed, closing the door behind her without taking her eyes off of Cathy until she turned and left the suite. Cathy pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and spoke into it, “Operator? Did you get any of that?” Cathy put the ear plug from her phone into her ear. As soon as she had seen Eleanor, Cathy had entered 911 on her cell phone without even taking it out of her pocket.
The 911 operator replied, “Who is this, please?”
Cathy gave her name and location. “Did you call campus security?” Cathy went out of the suite into the main hallway, but saw no sign of Eleanor.
The operator replied, “A police unit is on its way. I just contacted campus security. Do you need medical attention? ”
Cathy could see a ring of bruises forming on her arm. “I don’t know. I can’t tell if any of the broken blood vessels are deep.” She went back into the suite and ran cold water over her wrist in a sink. “I’m hanging up now. I want to call the front desk.”
Victoria came into the suite and found Cathy at the sink. “Security is sweeping the building. Apparently someone snuck into the building. What happened to you?”
“The ‘someone’ was in Dexamene’s room. I tried to keep her here until the police came”
Victoria was horrified by the bruises on Cathy’s arm, “I’ll get some ice from my room.”
Soon after Victoria had Cathy seated with ice on her wrist, Mary and Officer Compton arrived. Mary could read the question in Cathy’s eyes and said, “She seems to have slipped away again, but the police are searching the building room by room.”
Officer Compton took the ice-filled towel off of Cathy’s arm. “How did this happen?”
Cathy described her encounter with Eleanor. “I should have taken Mary’s advice and kept my distance. I had the feeling that she could have ripped my arm off if she had wanted to.”
Officer Compton started filling out an incident report. Cathy asked, “Do we have to do a report?”
“You were injured by someone who apparently is not a student. I have to file a report. The city police are going to want to talk to you, too.”
Mary asked, “She said she met Dexamene this past weekend?”
Cathy replied, “That’s what she said. Dexamene told me she was in South Bend over the weekend.”
A city police officer came into the suite just long enough to see what was going on. “I’ll be back as soon as I finish searching this floor.”
Mary wondered out loud, “How can this woman just disappear?”
Cathy asked, “Why does she keep coming back?”
Officer Compton asked Cathy, “When she said she got a key from Dexamene, did you believe her?”
Cathy replied, “No. But she said it with great confidence. I did not believe her because I doubt that Dexamene would be friends with such a creature.”
Mary asked, “Creature?”
Cathy tried to describe her feelings. “On other occasions I’ve looked into the eyes of people who were trying to hurt me. Eleanor looked at me like I was a bug to be swatted, or a rat to be casually exterminated.”
Officer Compton asked, “When was the last time anyone saw Dexamene?” Nobody had seen her since she was briefly in the suite the previous day. “So as soon as she heard about Eleanor, she left and has not been back?”
Mary replied, “Well, it’s not like she ever displayed regular habits.”
Cathy asked for some pain medication. Officer Compton unwrapped Cathy’s wrist again and they could also see that it was swelling up. “Can you move your fingers?”
Cathy replied, “I’d rather not. It hurts and some of them are tingling.”
Officer Compton said, “Okay, I’m taking you to the Campus Clinic. Victoria, tell the police where we went.”
Continue to Chapter 8 - The Tormented Thomas
Here is a map of the chapters:
_> Mary –––––––––––––––––––––> Lincoln / \ / \__> Amelia PAlbert ––––––––––––––––––––> Andresklo / \ \---->Ferace ------> Yasas / \ __----------> Cathy / / \ / \ / / \ / \__________>Tess CC –––> Charlie ––-----–> Stefi \ \ ----------------> Lani \ / \ \ _______---> Jenny –––> Thomas \______> Dexamene
Sunday ----> time flow --> one week in the Fall --> ---------> Saturday
Useful pages for the reader: List of characters and the Glossary. Readers can discuss the story at Talk:Cellular Civilization.
If you want to help write the story, see the meta page (warning: spoilers!).