Trouble with Debutantes – Part 3

by jeanineoloughlin

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Adrian and I approach wordlessly and I have to clear my throat before they notice us. I see an empty glass vial on the desk in front of them, and I can smell cigarette smoke. It’s an unwritten rule that Hunters are supposed to refrain from smoking, considering it’s adverse to our health and limits our overall physical fitness. I recognize the one in the chair as  Eliseo Donato. He was introduced to my squad in training when he was transferred here from our Italian contingent. He has the look of a well-built romance novel cover model with long dark hair and dark eyes. I remember Moira going on about him once, before I zoned out of the conversation. The other two are younger Acolytes and in waitstaff uniforms, so I don’t know their names. One has short, spiked, platinum blonde hair that has clearly been bleached, light-colored eyes, and he can’t be much older than sixteen – fresh meat for an Acolyte. The other is about the same age but with dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. He’s almost as tall as Adrian but has that lanky, awkward look teenage boys sometimes get.

“Acolyte Reilly… Wha… What are you doing here?” the bleach blonde boy asks.

“Could ask you the same thing. What’s wrong with Acolyte Donato?” I step up to Eliseo and give him a close look over. I can see from his brow that he’s sweating and I can hear that his breathing is labored.

“We, uhh… don’t know. We… we just found him like this,” the taller boy stammers in what might be a Russian accent.

“If that’s true, then I’m Princess Buttercup. Seriously, what’s going on?” I pick up the vial and hold it out to them accusingly.

“Look, this was all Eliseo’s idea. He said it was safe; that’s why he took it first,” the blonde boy says in a rush of panic. His partner in crime shoots him an accusing look, but then sighs in resignation.

“What is it?” Adrian asks, taking the vial from my hand and sniffing the remaining drops. He’s taken aback by whatever it was.

“I don’t know. Eliseo just said it’s a quick high. Over in an hour or two. Nothing dangerous or… or serious.”

“Drugs?! You guys are playing with…” My temper is known to be short and my fuse was about to run out.

“Lizzie, we need to get Eliseo to Dr. Daniels. We can deal with these two after,” Adrian says soothingly.

I take a deep breath and look at the two boys. “Alright, you,” I say, pointing  at the Russian kid. “Go tell Captain George that Adrian and I are taking Acolyte Donato to Dr. Daniels. Tell her everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.” He nods and runs out the door. “You,” I say to the other boy, “will come with us and explain to Dr. Daniels what he’s dealing with.”

I see Adrian pull an envelope from an organizer on the desk and put the vial inside, then put it in his jacket pocket. I start to grab Eliseo’s legs, preparing to help Adrian carry him, when Adrian motions me away and lifts him in a fireman carry. Eliseo likely weighs more than Adrian with his stockier build, but that doesn’t seem to trouble him.

“Woah, you going to be able to take him clear across campus like that?” I say, knowing just how far we have to go.

“I got it. You can’t carry him in that cupcake anyway.” He starts to walk out the door and I glare at him for a minute before following, grabbing the boy by the arm as I go.

“What’s your name, Acolyte?” I ask in my military tone.

“Heathman… ma’am. Frank Heathman.”

“Well, Heathman, tell me everything you know about that vial. Where’d Eliseo get it?” I can feel my feet complaining as I walk quickly, trying to keep pace with Adrian.

“He said he got it from a Hunter, ma’am. An Acolyte girl… didn’t say her name. Look, we didn’t know it was going to hurt him. He said it was just a quick high, just a buzz, nothing serious.” Heathman starts to sweat and I don’t think it’s from our walk.

“It’s a drug; you know our policy on recreational substances. Hell, we don’t even get champagne,” I always wanted to try champagne. I like how it sparkles in the fluted glasses.

“Yes, ma’am.” Heathman’s voice cracks and I think he is trying not to cry.

When we walk into the infirmary, Adrian carrying Eliseo over his shoulders, Dr. Daniels sprints towards us. “What’s wrong?” he says as Adrian sets him down on a bed.

“He’s ingested some kind of recreational substance, sir. He has labored breathing and I think he’s running a fever,” Adrian hands the doctor the envelope containing the vial. He opens it, sees the residuals inside and hands it to a nurse.

“Take this to the lab and have it analyzed. I want to know what it is as soon as possible.” He turns back to Eliseo and starts examining him. I make to leave, only to see my father standing next to me.

“Another one?” he asks more to himself than anyone else.

“Hunter Winston, this is Acolyte Heathman. He was with Acolyte Donota when he took the drug. He doesn’t seem to know much about it, but I thought you’d want to hear it from him yourself.” I try to keep my tone formal in front of other Hunters with my father, I find it helps reduce the rumors of nepotism.

“Yes, thank you. Acolyte Heathman, with me please.” Heathman jumps, his face going pale.

“Ye… yes, sir!” He follows my father to the back of the room.

“Come on, let’s go. We’re done here,” Adrian says as he pulls me toward the door.

“What?! You’re kidding, right? In less than an hour we’ve seen two Hunters just drop unconscious and you want to just go back to some stupid party?” I know I’m letting my temper get the best of me again, but I can’t just sit around and do nothing.

“I couldn’t care less about the party,” Adrian responds flatly. I wait for him to elaborate, but he doesn’t. I see  Sam sitting in a chair next to Laurel, who by now has been hooked up to a variety of medical monitors. I walk over, Adrian at my heels.

“Hey, how’s she doing?” I start to wonder if his concern for Laurel is more out of guilt than caring.

“The same. At least she’s not getting worse,” Sam laments.

“You said she wasn’t feeling well before she fainted. What was she doing before that? I saw her at the salon and she seemed fine. More than fine, actually.” Maybe if I could figure out whether Laurel and Eliseo’s conditions are connected and how, we can find a way to help them.

“I don’t know. We had just finished dinner. She said she needed to use the restroom and left with Veronica. I was at the dessert table when I saw her,” he pauses for a moment, he is searching for the right word, “talking with Eliseo. I asked her to dance. We hadn’t been on the floor for very long when she said she wasn’t feeling well and that’s when we headed to get her a drink, then she just… fainted.” He stares down at his feet and I get the distinct feeling he is hiding something.

“Sam, don’t you find it a little odd that you would see Laurel and Eliseo talking just before they both end up together in the infirmary within an hour of each other. So, I think it’d save us a lot of time if you just tell me what’s really going on.” I don’t like being lied to, but this didn’t seem malicious and I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He looks at me, his internal conflict obvious.

“Okay, I saw Laurel slip something to Eliseo. She wouldn’t tell me what it was, but she was acting kind of weird, giggling a lot, and I assumed it was pot or something. I told her she shouldn’t have taken it and tried to get her to go to her room while she came down off it. She told me she was fine and wanted to dance. Then the rest happened just as I said. I should have made her go back to her room. I shouldn’t have given in, but what was I supposed to do, force her?” The guilt is eating at him.

“This isn’t your fault,” Adrian looks over at Laurel. “She made her own choice. Lizzie, what are you doing?!” Adrian turns back to see me rummaging through Laurel’s handbag, which sat on a small table next to her.

“Looking for… this,” I say, showing him a vial identical to the one we found with Eliseo and another that is still full of some yellowish orange liquid. Adrian took them and ran down the hall calling for Dr. Daniels.

“Sam, do you have any idea where Laurel got the vials? Did she give it to anyone else?” I ask urgently. I have to track these vials down and cut off the source, or at least stop anyone else from looking for a buzz taking it.

“Not that I saw. She did go into the bathroom with Veronica. Those two are always together. She would know if anyone,”His eagerness makes me think that helping was relieving some of his guilt.

“Okay. I’ll look for her and see what I can find out.”

“I want to come with you,” he insists.

“No, here.” I go to a nearby supply closet and pull out a radio. We keep these around all the major areas on campus for security reasons. I figure a potentially dangerous drug making its way around campus was enough of a security risk that I wouldn’t get in too much trouble. “I’ll keep in contact; you’re my link to Daniels.”

“All right,” Sam says with some disappointment.

I start walking towards the door leading out to the main courtyard at a quick pace when I almost trip over my stupid shoes again. I have had it with these damn things, and I try to pull them off, I can’t reach them under all the skirt I’m wearing and flop onto a hospital bed ungracefully and dig to reach them. When I do, I throw them across the room, almost taking out a pitcher of water sitting on a side table.

I run back across campus to the auditorium. Just as my luck would have it, I almost slam right into Ms. Mercer. I’m breathing hard, and I can just imagine the state of my hair based on her reaction of my appearance. “Miss Reilly! A lady does not run.”

“I never claimed to be a lady, ma’am. Excuse me.” I try to walk past her but she grabs my arm and turns me to her.

“Where are your shoes?! You can’t walk in here barefoot. You will go put them back on immediately.” Her voice is high-pitched and squeaks in outrage.

“Look, I’m on an errand for Headmaster Winston. I don’t have time to worry about those stupid shoes. Now, excuse me, I have to hurry.” I jerk my arm out of her reach without hesitation and walk as fast as I can through the crowd, looking for Veronica.

I find her in a back corner of the room whispering with another girl. As I get closer, I realize it’s one of the vampires. This takes me aback for a moment before I approach her.

“You said it was safe! What’s going on?!” Veronica whispers through her teeth in anger.

“I don’t know what happened. I’m not the one doing the work, you know that. We’ll have to find Zachary,” the vampire girl says; I notice that it’s Charlotte from earlier.

“Who’s Zachary?” I chime in, taking the two by surprise. Veronica at least should have sensed my presence from our Hunter training, but apparently she let her guard down for whatever this is.

“Who are you?” Charlotte asks with a snarl.

“I’m the one who’s found two Hunters in bad shape and is here to find out what’s put them there. Now, you can either help me and Dr. Daniels figure this out or, I can report you to Captain George, and she can throw you in solitary until we figure out what to do with both of you.” I look from Veronica to Charlotte. I may not be friendly with vampires, but if Veronica has some hand in this I’m not letting her get away scott-free.

“Liz, it’s not what you think,” Veronica says quickly.

“It’s Acolyte Reilly, and please enlighten me as to what I think.” I usually hate our formal titles, but I can’t let Veronica think she’s going to get any special treatment out of me.

“I didn’t make it, I swear. Laurel found out and wanted some, and I just…” Veronica went on as Charlotte shoots her an angry look that could make anyone’s blood run cold.

“Woah, woah, woah… Hold on, one thing at a time. Who is this Zachary and where is he?” I ask with as much confidence and authority I can pull out of myself.

Neither of them say anything. I try changing tactics, “What’s in the vials they took?”

“It’s based on our truth serum,” Veronica finally reveals sheepishly.

“Our truth serum? What the… how?”

“One of the vamps found it in a locked medical cabinet. They didn’t know what it was at first. Zachary’s a chemist and, well…” Veronica shrugs as if that explains everything.

“And they just so happen to make a recreational drug out of it that puts Hunters into some kind of cardiac arrest?!” I turn on Charlotte.

“What’s the big picture here? You spread this around and kill all the Acolytes? That way you can take over the school without using your teeth?” I feel my blood pressure rising.

“It’s not like that!” Charlotte says loudly. A few heads nearby turn and I can tell we’re starting a scene, which won’t help Laurel or Eliseo, but I just can’t help myself.

“And I’m just supposed to believe the words of some blood suck…” A hand drops onto my shoulder and I spin around expecting an attack. I see Adrian, but it was Nicolai’s hand I found on my shoulder.

To Be Continued…

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