On the word win, Rachel begins slowly bending my arms. I can’t fight her superior strength much longer. I’m weeping openly now, struggling against her, trying not to listen to her singsong voice as it coos, “Think about it. Your death’ll make MTV News. Maybe not the Times, but the Post for sure. Who knows? They might even do an E! True Hollywood Story about you…one-hit wonders who didn’t live to see thirty…”
I open my eyes and glare at her, unable to speak, since every bit of strength I have is concentrated on keeping her from electrocuting me.
And it’s when I feel the tremble in my arms, the shaking of muscles weakened from overuse, that I hear Rachel’s triumphant laugh, and her final taunt.
“Heather,” she calls gleefully, her voice sounding far away, though she’s still looming above me. “How many blonds does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
And then her head explodes in front of me.
Seriously. One minute it’s there, laughing in my face, and the next it’s gone, whipped back by the force of an object that strikes it so hard, blood sprays from the wound and blinds me. The stun gun goes dead in her hands, and her body falls away from me, landing with a sickening thud on the wet flagstones.
I cling to the terrace wall, wiping my face with the backs of my hands—the only uninjured parts of my body—and sobbing. The only sound is the hiss of the rain and someone’s ragged breathing.
It takes me a while to realize that the breathing isn’t my own. When I’m finally able to see, I look up, and see Rachel laying at my feet, blood pouring out of an indentation on the side of her head and tingeing the rain puddles all around her pink.
And standing before me, a bloodied bottle of Absolut in her hand, is Mrs. Allington, her pink jogging suit drenched, her chest heaving, her eyes filled with contempt as she stares down at Rachel’s prone body.
Mrs. Allington shakes her head.
“I’m a size twelve,” she says.
So go ahead and
Make your way
Back from the edge
No one knows what
Can’t be known
’Cause when you start
You’re all alone
But take enough steps
Take enough steps
Take enough steps
Someday you’ll be home
Heather Wells, Untitled
I only end up spending one night in the hospital—on account of all my stitches tearing open and the multiple contusions and glass shards embedded in me.
And even that is one night too many, if you ask me. Do you know what their idea of dessert is in the hospital? Yeah, that’d be Jell-O. With fruit in it. Not even mini marshmallows. Everyone knows Jell-O is a salad, not dessert.
Plus they don’t even have bathtubs in the hospital. If you want to get clean, it’s a shower or sponge bath only.
Whatever. I try to use my time there wisely. My time in the hospital, I mean. I sneak off my floor to visit Julio, whom I’m happy to find is recovering nicely from his injuries sustained during the explosion. He’s supposed to be back at work next month, no worse for the wear.
I also stop by Jordan’s room while I’m there. In the hospital, I mean.
He’s plenty embarrassed to see me, and his bride-to-be, Tania? She’s downright hostile. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was feeling threatened by me or something.
But I don’t know why she would be. Her latest single, “Slut,” hit number ten on Total Request Live the other day.
I wish them well, anyway. I tell them I think they make the perfect couple.
I’m not lying, either.
I only have to spend one night in the hospital, but I get two weeks off—with pay—from my position as assistant director at Fischer Hall. I guess that’s how they reward you at New York College if you happen to bust your boss for a double homicide. Even if you haven’t accrued that many sick days, or whatever.
By the time I’m back to my desk, it’s starting to get cold out. The leaves on the trees in Washington Square Park are changing, turning shades of red and gold that pale in comparison with the colors the freshmen in Fischer Hall have dyed their hair in preparation for Parents’ Day.
Seriously. It’s like working in a clown college, or something.
Things at Fischer Hall have changed in other ways as well since I’ve been gone. For one thing, with Rachel in jail awaiting trial, I’m getting a new boss. I don’t know who yet. They’re still interviewing people.
But Dr. Jessup is giving me first pick.
I’m thinking it might be nice to work for a man for a change. Don’t get me wrong, female bosses are great and all. But I could do with a break from all that estrogen in the office.
Sarah agrees. She and all the student workers are a lot nicer to me now that, you know, I risked my life in order to catch the person who was killing their fellow residents. I hardly ever hear about Justine anymore. Except for the other day, when Tina turned to me and said, “You know, Justine used to never wear jeans to work like you do. She told me it was because she could never find any small enough to fit her. I sort of always hated her for that.”
Even Gavin is finally listening to me, and has completely given up elevator surfing. He’s taken up exploring the city’s sewers instead.
I figure he’ll be giving that up soon enough, too, though. I mean, the smell isn’t exactly making him the most popular guy on his floor.
Oh, and the Allingtons moved. Just to the building next door—the one Donatello or whichever teenage mutant ninja turtle it was jumped onto in the movie. But still, it’s far enough away that Mrs. Allington feels that she and the birds will be more comfortable…especially since they’re now living in a building that they don’t have to share with seven hundred undergraduates and a residence hall staff.
Those undergraduates weren’t sorry to see the Allingtons go, but the same can’t be said about their son. Chris’s turned into something of a celebrity himself, using the notoriety he gained from Rachel’s obsession with him—which made all the headlines—as leverage for his plan to open his own nightclub in SoHo. Law school, apparently, had been his father’s dream for him, and now that offers for his story have come pouring in from the Lifetime Channel and Playboy, Chris has broken free from the filial yoke and is pursuing his own devices.
I’m betting those devices will get him arrested fairly soon.