It's a Matter of Death and Life: Part 1
It's a Matter of Death and Life
Sequel to "A Matter of Fact"
Friday: September 24, 2007; Whateley Academy: The Quad
A rising sun is normally an indicator of mornings arrival, unless you’re talking about teenagers; who honestly are completely oblivious. In fact most parents believe that an alarm clock needs to have the most obnoxious noise imaginable set at maximum volume to even begin to be effective at wakening a sleeping teen, that or any Brass Monkey tune will suffice.
However, the insistent tapping of a truncheon against Cameron’s foot did manage to get the boy’s attention, the act of raising his eyebrows dragged open a single eyelid which revealed a uniformed man standing above him.
“Up witch ya Lad, can’t be havin ya loiterin aboot ta groonds all day new.”
“Okay, okay, I’m up” yawned the exhausted boy who unsteadily sat upright upon the bench he’d been sleeping on, then stretched the kink out of his neck and flexed his arms to get some feeling back into them “Can you tell me what time it is”?
“It’s nearing 8:30, yah’ll be late fer classes if’in ye don’t be git’n a fire lit.”
“I need to go to the office first” reasoned Cameron who then looked around with a worried expression “Umm, could you show me which way the office is please?”
“Oye, one of those mornin’s be it? I’v seen enuff a mornin when I di’na know which way was up till me feet hit ta groond” sympathized the security officer “C’mon, I’m headin tat way m’self.”
“Thank you” offered Cameron as he grabbed the backpack he’d used as a pillow and stood to join the man.
“Av ye a name lad? I’m not tinking to hav seen ya afore” asked the man as they ambled along the walkway.
“Ach, a fine Scottish name it be, I’m McTavish. Did ye git yerself n’ta a brouhaha tat ye be a sleep’n out in ta cold - sted a nice warm bed?”
“Just needed to catch some fresh air and set my bearings.”
“Aye, a clear head is good t’hav m-boy.” Using his truncheon to point with “Tat builden be ta office - now off with ya - an be keeping yer nose clean young’n.”
“Thank you officer McTavish, much appreciated”
The ‘office’ was located inside an older brick building, a set of double doors had a sign above it saying ‘Administration’ but a small wood sign standing about knee height and set into a flower bed with shrubs behind it announced that this building was called Schuster Hall.
Cameron recognized the driveway now - his eyes could identify the old blood hidden within the gravel, a cold shiver ran up his spine so it was with great trepidation that he scanned the surrounding area as a precaution.
Taking a seat on the buildings steps Cameron took a moment to prepare himself for what was certain to be a barrage of questions. The boy certainly had a few questions of his own that could use answers, like: why did he wake up in a morgue?
You’d think having coming out of a coma after so long would have been a comparable experience, but in Prince George that was a slow realization with awareness just creeping back slowly - this morning had been a sudden jolt: from absolute blank to full sensory influx. Cameron’s reaction had been bewilderment, then confusion set in, and all the while mixed in with being scared. Sitting in the cold little room he’d started to shake - be it from either panic or being cold.
He’d quickly found his pack and put on a change of clothes, then left the eerie little room and headed upstairs, then outdoors but not encountering anyone along the way. Cameron had looked up at the school’s shields, intently watching the energy pulsations and studying the multiply layers, after many attempts and adjustments he eventually managed to build some non-interfacing protection based upon his usual kinetic dampening and energy absorbing ability; as long as he kept a safe distance they shouldn’t interact adversely.
It was only after finishing with the crucial task of being able to protect himself that Cameron - not knowing where else to go or what else to do, found a bench and had fallen asleep.
Checking the time on his SI phone Cameron decided he’d better break the news to folks back home, so placed a phone call to Special Investigations; but was only able to leave a message for Ray. It was far too early to call Mike Williamson in BC who was 3 hours behind but decided to at least leave a message at his office.
Entering through the door into administration, the hallway lead down to a reception counter, the office behind it was humming with activity, the open area was divided by desks and file cabinets to separate workspaces, however a conspicuous area was cordoned off into a ‘domain’ in one corner, and a few doors closed off private rooms.
Cameron was preoccupied getting the lay of the land so didn’t see the lady waving her hand in-front of him, it wasn’t until she ‘asked if she could help him’ that he focused upon her.
“So sorry, just a touch nervous” confessed Cameron.
“Are the ‘blind man’ glasses for real or show?” questioned the administrator.
“A little of both” answered Cameron.
“Something I can help you with?”
“Yes ma’am, I understand I need to register. I’m a new student”
“Oh my!” responded the lady expressing surprise “We didn’t have anyone set to arrive today … what’s your name dear?”
“Do we use code names now?” queried the boy “I’m not sure what the protocol is?”
The question made the lady chuckle “A common misunderstanding: your real name is fine - but the school makes sure no one knows who you are off campus.”
“Yes Ma’am, Thank you” was said with a smile “Cameron Burke, I had arrived on Friday but was detained until recently.”
The lady behind the counter dug out a couple of papers, and began scrutinizing the information held within, she seemed to find something but became flustered “Ms. Hartford, could I get your help up front ?” she called out.
“What’s up Mrs. Claire?” replied a woman coming out from behind a bank of file cabinets.
“A new student is checking in, his name is on the list, but - well! It’s been crossed off for some reason.”
“What ever for! Let me see?” resulting in Ms. Hartford taking the pages, then asking the boy “Your name?”
“Burke; Cameron Burke … might be under Alex. There always seems to be confusion since I don’t use my first name” supplied Cameron.
“Burke, Burke … here it is” the woman took on a mystified look, then went back into the inner office to return a moment later “We had everything ready for you last week. It’s just that … according to Doyle - your deceased.”
“Hold on a sec… I might be missing something here.” Cameron pondered for a brief second “Whenever Dad played cards and a move was questionable; he’d always say ‘according to Hoyle’ - which I found out later was a guy who wrote a rule book, so I gotta ask: who’s Doyle?
“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: he wrote …” The woman was set to continue but was interrupted.
“Sherlock Holmes! yes okay, I get the picture.” provided Cameron. “So then - it’s by means of deductive reasoning that I’m assumed dead?”
“NO! It’s because Whateley’s Medical Centre is named after the famous Author, and this report from them says you died!” stated the woman holding another set of pages up giving them a shake.
“But Doyle wrote about a sleuth, and is considered to be the founder of modern forensic’s. Why wouldn’t you have named your police station after Doyle?”
“It’s called Kane Hall” mentioned Mrs. Claire: the first lady he’d spoken to behind the counter.
“Kane? Bob Kane: the creator of Batman? Wait don’t tell me - I’m keen to guess. Detective Comics.” surmised the youth.
“Nailed it” said Ms. Hartford shaking her head in agreement.
“So then Doyle is the medical centre” continued Cameron “… since the stories were written from the perspective of Doctor Watson.”
“I always wondered about that” said Mrs. Claire as Ms. Hartford kept smiling.
“So - I had best be going to ‘Doyle’ and have them confirm that I’m alive” again receiving an affirmative head bob “Since our speaking with each other doesn’t qualify as proof of life.” again the bobbing head reply. “Someone I need to speak with there?”
“Dr. Ophelia Tenant. Do you know the way?” supplied Mrs. Claire.
“I’ll follow the trail of blood.”
The two watched from behind the counter as the boy left, it was only after he’d exited the building before Claire said: “I hope he was joking about the blood.”
“I was having fun watching the gears grind” grinned Ms. Hartford.
“Really? Then how come we’re the ones left standing here wondering if he’d died?”
“D’oh” muttered the assistant headmistress.
Outlook sat in Doyle’s waiting area, when he had requested at reception if he could have an appointment with Dr. Tenant; he’d had to specify Ophelia. He was told she was running late due to a house call at Hawthorne Cottage assisting Dr. Cho, Cameron was directed to have a seat.
Having brought his backpack he took out his laptop, only to discover it had sustained damage in the bear attack: the screen was shattered. Cameron thought for a moment before deciding that this was a good opportunity to make a few improvements - improvements that would allow him to see the screen much easier. After effecting repairs to the screen it would be impossible for someone with only normal sight to see the laptop’s display, considering it looked like a TV with absolutely horrible reception.
Cameron watched from his waiting room vantage point as two young girls entered the medical facility, one assisting the other up to reception, the attendant then had a wheelchair brought for the hurting girl to collapse into, she was taken to a room down the hall to get checked over. The second girl, certainly no bigger than and perhaps a year younger than Cameron looked around the empty waiting room spying its sole occupant.
“This seat taken?” asked the friendly girl with an infectious smile, pointing to the chair beside Cameron.
“Not really, no” replied Cameron “But there’s a room full of empty seats?” He said with a sweeping motion.
“Sure. But you’re in the prime spot; Back to the wall, clear view of all exits. For situational awareness; the next best place is the chair beside you.”
“Then be my guest” offered Cameron.
“Haven’t seen you around! You a Freshthing?” asked the inquisitive youth
“Sorry, a what?”
“A Freshthing, you know; a freshman.”
“Ahhh! guess that’s me. You threw me off there; hadn’t thought I’d gone stale.”
“You didn’t know that first year students are called freshmen?”
“Nope, only used to having grades, you know: 8, 9, 10.”
“What are you? Some kinda foreigner? What happened to your accent?”
“There’s a few of your kind on campus: Whateley’s a pretty open minded place … eh? My names Generator.” Offered the big eyed girl.
Shaking the offered hand Cameron added “Outlook! Still trying to get my head around needing a ‘code name’, but it seemed fitting.”
“Heard worse. What’s with the shades? You shoot ‘laser beams’ from your eyes?” asked the girl using her fingers to make quotation marks.
Tipping down his visor Cameron looked at the exuberant girl letting her see the golden coloured glow “Nothing more than a pair of bright eyes.”
“Cool. So what then: melt steel, burn rubber, cook flesh?”
“So far; they’ve been quite handy for finding the washroom at night.”
“Really! wait; that’s actually kinda lame.”
“Called it in one! Give the kid a prize.”
“I try. Why? What passes for funny round these parts?”
“Lets see: sarcasm, dry wit, puns that cause retching” stated Generator counting off fingers.
“Eeew; best look into getting those surgically removed, they might fester.”
“I’ll ask the Doc when I see her. Think it’ll hurt?”
“Only when you laugh!”
“Oddly enough, that makes sense.”
“So what’d you win in the powers lottery?”
“Unclassified actually. So far everyone’s just been spit balling. I gather more testing is in my future" confessed Outlook "What about you?”
“Devisor. Wanna see one of my inventions?” she retrieved something from out of one the multitude of pockets, it was a disc bearing an odd-looking cat emblem “I call it ‘Kitty Compact’” it began rotating and took off flying.
The unfolding story didn’t’ jive with reality; Generator didn’t have an energy signature that looked like Smith’s at all – if anything it was more akin to Decimal but still with huge differences, before the disc took-off there appeared to be a transfer of energy into it and now Generator herself looked less … vital? Also, the disc had no internal workings aside from some wires for lights and sound plus the extending blades - yet it had the same energy pattern as the girl.
“That’s sweet: magnetic or gravity drive?” asked Cameron.
“It’s a secret so nobody steals my ideas” confided the girl holding out her hand as the spinning disc returned. The two noticed from their vantage point that Generator’s friend was being discharged after having been attended to and now had a bandage wrapped around her leg “Guess we’d better get back to class, see you around”.
Cameron remained sitting in the waiting room doing as the namesake required: waited.
During this lull he made another phone call to Mike Williamson: his guardian. This time he answered and proceeded to pepper the youth for details, he eventually seemed pacified when Cameron told him he was at the hospital to get a check-up, but Cameron could only fill him in on the details leading up to the attack, and the more recent events of this morning. Cameron promised to call back since the lady at reception had called three times for “Outlook” and it didn’t immediately click that that was him.
Cameron was shown to an examination room, and told to climb onto the table and that the Doctor would be with him in a minute.
The person who entered next wore doctor whites, she had long hair which had an energy signature imbedded within and moved contrary to normal, the woman also had a different kind of energy pocket centred in her chest which Cameron had seen similar to before but had not identified yet.
“I was told you asked specifically for me to do an examination” said the lady.
“Yes Ma’am, I’m Cameron Burke” answered the boy
Watching the woman faint was like having everything shift into slow motion, she twisted in a spiral as she crumpled downward collapsing to the floor, her hair looking like wings fanning out behind her.
Cameron quickly recalled a mattress from warehouse and positioned it beneath her, thereby catching her fall. Then the boy snagged the pillow off the exam table using it to prop up her head, Cameron began to gently put her into the recovery position; it only took a few breaths before she revived.
“You’re about as subtle as a freight train” she said looking at the boys face while she slowly raised herself up “Where did this bed come from?”
“Freight train” replied Cameron, deciding to joined her down on the floor and sat cross -legged “I had hoped giving my name at reception might have been enough to lesson the blow.”
“I didn’t clue in” then after staring questioningly at the boy she finally asked “How?”
“Doc, I was hoping you would be able to answer that question.”
“You don’t know?”
“I know I was attacked by a bear - but haven’t any memory after being slammed into: Did I survive the attack? If so - how come I found a death certificate? Did you give me some kind of medicine that took longer to act then expected?”
“Looks like we have a mystery to solve.”
“Should I take comfort from this being the Arthur Conan Doyle Medical Centre?”
“Can’t hurt” smiled the lady “First up: explain the bed?”
“I brought it out so you wouldn't get hurt.”
“You manifest beds?”
“No! it already existed - I just had it tucked away, stuff like this comes in handy.”
“Thank you for it” commented the doctor as she relaxed a little on the mattress “Second; you hadn’t been playing dead or hiding in a deep trance had you?”
“No doctor, I. I … think I was dead.”
“Why do you suppose that? Did you see a bright light?”
“Nothing of the sort - I have nothing between the bear and waking up downstairs in the morgue.”
“What do you remember of the attack?”
“Bear! Big bear!” exclaimed Cameron “It hit me real hard, I heard a snap in my neck and … I don’t recall falling to the ground - but I must have.”
“Your neck was broken; you likely lost consciousness with that.”
Hearing that news from the doctor Cameron reached up and massaged his neck “So I take it the attack didn’t stop there.”
“There were multiply lacerations; your heart was nearly torn from your body” tears began to track down the boys cheeks hearing this news “when we tried defibrillation on your heart; it wouldn’t respond, so it was necessary to resort to life support.” Cameron had pretty much stopped breathing while following the doctors account “Your condition didn’t improve, your body was shutting down: until” paused the doctor “Until there was nothing more that could be done - you were gone.” She finally admitted hanging her head down.
“Forgive me doctor, I’m having difficulty taking all this in” confided the boy. “ I … Thank You for trying so hard” sincerely said Cameron “Umm, can you explain why I don’t have any scars?”
“You’re kidding! I worked for hours sewing you up.”
“Seriously - I don’t have a scratch.”
“Alright you; up on the exam table” directed the woman as she picked herself up off the floor “This I have to see.”
After removing his shirt Cameron was the object of Ophelia’s undivided attention.
Doctor Tenant was extraordinarily meticulous in conducting her examination of Cameron, she expended all effort and ran every conceivable test to protect her reputation as a doctor: mistakingly declaring someone dead is a mis-diagnosis not taken lightly. She made certain all current and previous scans and x-rays had date stamps to verify her earlier actions and decisions.
Camerons medical file ended up being extremely thick, but he came away with a clean bill of health. Ophelia had poured over ever detail, questioning the boys medical history, and rechecking all recorded injuries - as well as another blood test looking for the meta-gene.
Ophelia had to question his files comments about self healing: Had he been playing possum?
Cameron explained to the physician how he healed by means of manipulating molecules, and he needed to be conscious in-order to see and do that. The Doctors curiosity about his ability could only be satiated through demonstration: She called in Nurse Bonny, who she knew had arthritis in a knee, and coerced Cameron to heal the painful limb - the x-ray taken afterward showed no indications of the ailment.
It was much later in the day and Cameron was rather wore-out after the exhaustive barrage of tests, he lay on the examination room table in an attempt to re-coup his strength. When Ophelia entered the room she looked at the prone boy:
“You’re not dying on me again are you? After all we went through to prove your alive!”
“Ha Ha, It is to laugh!”
“Robin Hood Daffy.”
“You’re a fan?”
“Yoinks. And away!”
“I knew I liked you.”
“Want to hear the test results.”
“Okay, but this time I’m sure I have a fighting chance against a 98 pound weakling.”
“That’s pretty good - I might need to steal that line.”
“Your’s for the taking.”
“I can: without any doubt or reservation confirm - you’re alive!”
“And how might I ask, did you arrive at that conclusion?”
“Because you’re not dead.”
“I guess I deserve that.”
“It gets better” comforted the doctor “I made certain there was no necrosis in your body, all body tissue is active and healthy, lab work found no dead cells, so you’re not a zombie or a re-animated corpse."
“Wait … you’ve run tests on the walking dead before?”
“This is Whateley Academy! It might surprise you what comes through the door.”
“On a regular basis?”
“I can’t tell if you’re joking?”
It had taken a long - long time to finally get cleared by Dr. Ophelia, but he was provided with an official document stating that Alex Cameron Burke was indeed alive, he took a picture of it and sent it to Mike Williamson.
Next step; back to Schuster Hall, and of course: more waiting.
The lady at reception took the doctors statement and filed it into Cameron’s official school record, then asked the boy to take a seat in the hallway.
Cameron’s seat was a wood bench situated in the hallway and it had to be the most uncomfortable piece of furniture imaginable, comfort was simply not considered when this atrocity was made. Taking a few minutes Cameron reshaped the woodworking thereby adjusting the bench to provide some relief to a weary body.
He was just beginning to enjoy the fruit of his endeavour when a nicely dressed man sat down next to him.
“Hmm. Not bad: good lumbar support, nice back alignment, pleasant curvature at the thighs.”
“You’ve become a connoisseur of benches now?”
“A nice place to sit and take a load off is one of the finer things in life.”
“Yeah, about that: I get the whole having to die bit … but coming alive like that was some freaky.”
“Life is the exact opposite to death, you either are - or you aren’t.”
“Please don’t start quoting the Parrot sketch.”
“It might help lighten your mood.”
“No, I’m good” confided Cameron “Have I missed something that you’re here?”
“You’re doing just fine. But do take a look at this” the man held up a small energy sphere “attune your fields to this modulation and you’ll be invisible.”
Cameron inspected the ball intently and then made the corrections suggested, when he looked back up the bench was empty beside him.
It was shortly after this exchange that two Whateley Security officers came up to the reception desk speaking with Mrs. Claire who then pointed at Cameron.
“Cameron Burke?” asked one of the men.
“Please come with us, Security Chief Delarose wants to speak with you.”
“Ohh” realized Cameron “Should have seen that coming. Lead on.”
And then: more waiting.
This time in Kane Hall’s waiting room, it was at least a little more private than sitting in the school hallway had been, with passing students sneaking curious looks Cameron’s way as he’d sat affixed to that bench.
Now the waiting space he occupied was under the watchful eye of an officer posted at the first contact station, he was seated behind the counter but every few moments the officer would look towards Cameron to ensure he was behaving himself.
Cameron waved at him which earned the boy a smile.
Eventually Cameron was called to enter, and brought into a small meeting space which held a table and chairs, he was shown to a seat and then left to sweat. The table he sat behind had two long sets of gouges which deeply marred the otherwise smooth surface, Cameron took the table top into warehouse and withdrew another wood surface to replace it with.
When the door opened a large uniformed man entered, he held a file folder in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other: He offered a “Good Morning” in his deep husky voice.
“Hi. Guess I’ve lost track of time, thought it was evening at the latest.”
“Ugh, nope - just me, I work nights mostly” admitted the burly man “But imagine my surprise to find out who had shown up at Admin today”.
Cameron pointed at himself with an innocent look.
“Yup!” answered the man just before taking a sip from his mug “You say you’re Cameron Burke, can I see some ID?”
Cameron lifted his backpack up off the floor and placed it on the table, then began rooting around inside before pulling out some cards, he needed a way to obscure bringing them out from the ‘Cupboard’.
“I have my Birth Certificate, Social Insurance Number, British Columbia Health Card, Credit Card.”
“Ah! of course.” He said returning into the pack, he stopped “May I ask for your ID first?”
The man raised his eyebrow at the boy “Good call.” He then set down in-front of the youth his Whateley Security photo ID embossed in gold lettering.
“Franklin Delarose. Chief of Security” read Cameron “Does that mean you’re the Boss?”
“That it does. Now; yours please”.
“Certainly. First up is my passport” the small booklet was retrieved and then set onto the table.
Looking at the photo inside and then reading the pertinent info the man snerked “Why’s it red, did the forger make a mistake?”
“No mistake: it’s a diplomatic passport.” replied Cameron “Perhaps this might be a better explanation” was proffered as he set down his RCMP ID and badge placing them mid table.
Taken aback the chief inspected both items closely, then looked across the table with a tilted head trying get a read on the boy.
Cameron remembered that all official photo’s required a person to be looking stern, so Cameron tried hard not to smile - even thou that was precisely what he’d always end up doing to hide his nervousness.
Standing and saying he’d be right back the chief left the room and returned a few minutes later with a printout of RCMP rankings.
Cameron felt this was a good time to bring the topic up; so said “I hope you don’t mind Chief. I was given a letter to hand deliver: It’s addressed to you … well: the Chief of Police” handing over Ray Martin’s introductory letter to the man.
“Hold tight” said the man as he began to read the personal letter, he mumbled something at points but stopped partway though and commented “Damn MCO!” but continued reading before getting a reply. A grunt signified finishing the letter and his attention returned to Cameron.
“You’ve been in protective custody; did you come to hide at Whateley?”
“No sir, While I suspect this schools practice of providing a safe haven was integral to my guardian and the RCMP allowing me to come here. I only wanted to go to school - everything else just kinda snowballed.”
“This man: Ray, recommends I ‘hire’ you.”
“I hadn’t given that consideration" admitted Cameron "I figured I’d be busy with - well, learning.”
“Good. I couldn’t use you anyway: We are strictly a Security detail, to have a police officer on-staff could contravene our neutrality.”
“Okay! I don’t have a problem with being just another student.”
“However: having an active officer of the law on campus has the potential to create huge problems. For you - and for me.”
“But you do believe I’m who I say I am?”
“I’m convinced! I don’t know how - but you are Cameron Burke, so put away your ID and don’t be waving it around at anybody… ever.” cautioned the Chief. “Now Cameron; I need to ask you about being attacked. Do you know who your attacker was?”
“You mean <u>what</u> don’t you? Even if you’ve named that bear you’d still refer to it as a what.”
“No prior history with bears?”
“My friends and I came across a bear with her cubs while hiking - I can’t imaging it’s related. Besides this bear is extremely ferocious, while that other one had only been protecting her family.”
“Do you know why you were attacked?”
“Nope! Don’t know what set it into a rage. But - one of your men was there. Did he see what offended it?”
Delarose shook his head in the negative, then asking “Are you a wizard? A magic user?”
“No. Aside from sleight of hand tricks on TV: I’ve never even actually seen magic.”
“Can you show me your MID?”
“Don’t have one! So far all the testing they’ve done says I’m not a mutant.”
“Are you a Were?”
“No. Although I’ve encountered them twice now: a family when traveling across Canada, and a village under siege."
“What can you tell me about the village?”
“A small remote community on the East coast. They had been invaded by other Were’s who had been corrupted by a black contaminate. The village had been decimated, but we managed to rescue some survivors.”
“Did your encounter include fighting them?”
“Yeah, we found that Silver bullets and intense light worked. Are you asking because you’ve encountered them too?”
“Yes, we’ve taken to calling them Voodoo Wolves.”
“Would you be willing to share intel with the RCMP?”
“I can try to set something up - with the gentleman who wrote the letter?”
“Ray: Yes. That would be most helpful.”
“Explain to me about this bounty that’s been put on your head?”
“Somebody out there doesn’t like me very much” confessed Cameron “all the attacks so far link directly back to the MCO, but Ray suspects it’s bigger than that.” Cameron considered a thought for a second “I don’t suppose Whateley Academy has an MCO trained bear on campus?”
“Ahh - no! There isn’t a connection to the MCO.”
“It looks like we have a problem then: I didn’t antagonize the beast, and it’s shown itself to be aggressive and disposed to kill … will it be put down?”
“We can’t do that.”
“And here is where I must conjecture as to <u>why not</u> … because it isn’t just a ‘bear’: perhaps a student that can transform, like a shapeshifter or … a Were. Is that why you asked if I was a Were?”
“I cannot comment.”
“Strange, I’d have thought you would want to get to the bottom of this.”
“I act within the boundaries governing this school, I can’t disclose who your attacker is - just like I can’t reveal who you are to them.”
“Excuse me! You said they don’t even know who I am … yet wanted to kill me! You have an odd idea about what protecting somebody means.”
“Whateley is neutral! We are only a Security detail; I can’t relinquish information that could lead to a personal vendetta or start a turf war.”
“But you will allow someone to continue a killing spree?”
“You were the only one attacked.”
“Which resulted in my death: It was murder!”
“Yet here you are.”
“Good point, semantics aside: there is proof of death. But even so - attempted murder.”
“It’s out of my hands, as I said: ‘Whateley is neutral’, only the headmistress deals with punishment.”
“Am I allowed to report that a crime has been committed?”
“That is your right.”
“Might I be able to contact the local police department?”
“Certainly, this is the number for the Medawihla tribal police” handing over a business card to the boy.
“Thank you, Hope you don’t mind if I make the call now.”
“I’ll be in my office when your done.”
Cameron used his SI phone to place the call.
“Medawihla police, what seems to be the problem?”
“Oh Hello, my name is Cameron Burke: I’m calling to report a murder - or attempted murder.”
“It’s one or the other kid. The difference is pretty obvious.”
“It’s not as simple as one might think.”
“Okay, okay. Where did the murder take place?”
“Should have known. And who was killed?”
“And your sure this warrants bringing the police in on?”
“A crime was committed, it should be handled by the proper authorities.”
“All right kid. Listen up: Whateley is a hands off place for us, their internal security usually deals with most issues.”
“Yes, I’m at their office now, I got your number from them.”
“I’ll talk to the Chief, see what she wants to do, stay on the line for a minute.”
Cameron only had to wait a minute or two.
“She’s super busy right now, normally she would take care of Whateley herself, but she’s asked Ben to go out to the school. You’ll be at Kane Hall right?”
“Yes sir, I’ll stay at Kane Hall. Thank you.”
Finding Chief Delarose’s office was pretty easy as it was located beside the bullpen - and it had a name plate on the door.
“Pardon me Mr. Delarose, I was told someone was being dispatched, a fellow named Ben.”
“It will take awhile for him to arrive. Anything you need in the meantime?”
“Don’t suppose you’ve got a bed nearby, I’m feeling very tired.”
“Down that hall are some jail cells - they have bunks, you okay with that?”
“Not the first time I’ve slept behind bars.”
“I didn’t hear that.”
When Eloise Donner asked Ben to take care of a problem at Whateley, she was certain that the Medawihla Tribe just needed to make an appearance to settle an onsite dispute, he was being sent to put out a fire.
It wasn’t the first time that the Were’s had needed to make an appearance, it was their territory and had say over how laws are interpreted and how tribal rules get applied; usually it was as challenging to resolve such disputes as when a couple dogs fought over a bone.
The Security Officer at the gate waved him in and Ben parked near to Kane Hall, upon entering the schools Security office Franklin Delarose was quick to meet him at reception. Frank was close to Ben in size: only an inch or so shorter but the men had developed a comfortable familiarity and both gave the respect due the other.
“Couldn’t have handled this on your own?” was Bens greeting.
“I support the kid having called you, this is something the Medawihla should be aware of.”
“Where is he?”
“In the back, he’s in a cell.”
Cameron had claimed a bunk in as quiet a spot available and was fast asleep, he stirred when he heard his name being called and rolled up to sitting upon the bunks edge. Looking out of the cell while adjusting his covered sight; standing beside Delarose was a big Were. Although he was in human form the signature was telling - being too near a match to be otherwise: a bear.
“Cameron; This is Ben from the Medawihla people” introduced the Security Chief.
Cameron stood and neared the cell bars but kept a distance. Ben extended his arm into the cell offering his hand to shake, Cameron didn’t move to accept the gesture instead keeping a ‘safe’ distance.
“I mean no disrespect, but this cell works both ways - you might see it as keeping me in - but it also keeps you out, I’m not inclined to get within reach of a bear.”
Ben had a look of shock while Chief Delarose nodded in understanding.
“Have we meet?” asked Ben curious to know how this boy knew his nature.
“Not that I know of” replied Cameron looking to the Chief “Is this someone I can trust?”
“Trust is something that is earned, but you have no need to fear Ben. Perhaps my office is better suited to have a discussion?”
“Could we use the meeting room instead” suggested Cameron “It’s not infested.” To which Delarose nodded in agreement, after unlocking the cell door he then escorted them down to the room.
Upon entering the Security Chief wrote a small note to Cameron asking how many listening devices were in his office. Cameron scrawled ’16’ and returned the note.
The Chief raised his eyebrows and shared the note with Ben as a courtesy due to his look of puzzlement. After a moment of consideration the Chief wrote on the note asking about the meeting room they sat in.
“Nothing here now, we can speak freely” spoke Cameron.
“What about the bugs in your office?” asked Ben.
“Fumigation works wonders” supplied Cameron “wipes out everything.”
“I enjoy the chirping sound they make, helps me think” retorted Delarose.
The message was understood - thou they might not understand the why.
Ben sat close to Cameron and began sniffing the air, after which the Were became agitated but kept it to himself. “So what happened that the Medawihla need to step in?” questioned Ben.
“I was attacked and killed … by a bear” stated Cameron.
That statement made the Were make a serious expression and mull over his next words “I take it, this was not an actual bear?”
The chief informed all at the table “No, and Whateley’s charter specifically demands for us to remain neutral, I am not allowed to disclose the identity.”
“But murder - or attempted murder; as the case may be, is a serious offence. The Medawihla should take the matter to the State police to deal with” confessed Ben.
“Which is why Cameron placed the call to you. But there’s more: Cameron if you would?” inclined the Chief
“I’m an RCMP officer - on assignment in the United States.”
“Oh boy!” Startled the Were “You’re saying it’s not just internal, but potentially international. Is there anything in Whateley’s charter that addresses a situation like this?”
“I’ve been reading it over - for obvious reasons.” Supplied Delarose “The intent had been to prevent anyone with a grievance from coming onto campus and enforcing a law - such as arresting someone for a crime committed off campus. Whateley acts as sanctuary while that person is on-campus.”
Ben nodded in understanding, while Cameron sat soaking in the details.
Delarose continued “When a crime happens inside Whateley - within the boundaries established upon Medawihla lands. The headmaster decides if external policing needs to be involved: using a floating scale to determine the seriousness of the crime. Petty theft and fighting would be dealt with internally as an example. More to the point: Grievous injury and death should have outside police involvement.”
“So why is it Frank, that Cameron placed the call to us - and not you?”
“Two reasons Ben: first he is a police officer and has taken the step to notify the local police independently of Whateley Security - at his own behest. Secondly; Whateley has not aided an external nation or agency by divulging information regarding an internal incident - keeping itself neutral.”
“What does Elizabeth think about this?” questioned Ben.
“She hasn’t been brought up to speed yet, she’ll arrive back to school tomorrow.”
“Sorry, who is Elizabeth?” interjected Cameron.
“Mrs. Carson; the Headmistress.”
“This is … this is some serious stuff. I’m out of my depth here. I’d better head back home and talk to Eloise, see how she wants to handle it.” Standing the man leaned over to shake the Chief’s hand “Frank; as always a pleasure” then turning to face Cameron he didn’t offer his hand to the boy. Cameron however likewise stood presenting his hand to the big man who took it “Cameron, despite the situation; good to meet you.”
Left alone in the meeting room Frank looked at Cameron “It’s gotten late: what do I do with you?”
“If it’s alright: can I go back to sleep?”
Cameron had been soundly asleep in his cell when a loud disturbance woke him. Two Security officers brought a youth into the holding area, he yelled at the world for all to hear: ‘he’d been wronged, a mistake had been made, he was innocent’. He was locked into the cell across from Cameron.
He quietened down after awhile but remained agitated, he called over to Cameron “Hey! Hey you.”
Half asleep Cameron acknowledged the youth “What?”
“What they got you in here for?”
“Just go to sleep!”
“C’mon dude; I’m being framed - it was entrapment. How can you possibly sleep in here?”
“Cause I’m tired.”
“Why they have you in here?”
“Illegally parked in a handicap zone.”
“Man! their harsh.”
“I’m blind. Everything looks like a handicap stall to me.”
After a few minutes, just as Cameron was on the verge of sleep:
“Hey, you wanna bust outta here?”
“Can it wait till morning?”
“Yeah, sure. Good idea.”
Tuesday September 25, Kane Hall
The boy wasn’t thrilled when morning came far too quickly, but standing in front of the little mirror inside his cell he did a double take - according to his sight he’d grown overnight; roughly 3 inches, no wonder he’d been so tired last night and it would explain how come the bunks mattress was so uncomfortable. No wait - it really is as lumpy as it felt when trying to sleep on it.
Cameron brought some bread out of storage, toasting it and ate it with Saskatoon jam, as well as some fresh fruit. He checked over his phone and laptop ensuring the batteries were topped up. A security officer walked past the cages and Cameron asked for the wifi code, after checking if it was allowed it was given to him and he connected to the internet.
Cameron sent off emails to both Ray and Mike explaining the situation with Whateley Security, giving Mike a copy of the Doctors report. Cameron was in the middle of composing a nice long letter to Grace when his neighbour woke up - everything the kid did was a production, each move made was accompanied by groans and complaints and he made certain everyone heard ‘he was innocent’.
“Hey; Dude. Did I miss breakfast?” he called over.
“No, nothing delivered as yet”
“Arn’t they supposed to feed us? Isn’t that in the Geneva convention?”
“Did you declare war on Whateley?”
“Then the Geneva convention doesn’t apply, but international human rights would require a person being held prisoner be fed.”
“What about somebody who’s a mutant?”
“Now that’s a darn <u>good</u> question! Does being a mutant disqualify you from being human? I’m going to ask my guardian about that.”
Cameron quickly wrapped up his letter and sent it to Grace, then sent Mike Williamson an email.
The response from Mike was slow in coming but read ‘Cameron you’re a genius’.
A series of emails was shared between the two - somewhere in the interchange the guards brought in breakfast, but Cameron wasn’t hungry so sent his plate over to his neighbour.
Mike in his excitement had corralled everyone at the Prince George prosecutors office to check standing laws and dig into old case histories. Cameron had sparked pursuit of a new legal angle: If a person with disabilities is granted all the rights and freedoms of a ‘human’ then why aren’t persons with abilities?
Elizabeth Carson had only been away from campus for an extra long weekend, leaving Whateley Thursday night and after attending to some school business she had headed to New York to do some shopping and then just enjoy herself: catching a play and meeting up with some old friends. She pulled into her parking stall just outside Schuster Hall and was satisfied to find that everything looked just like she’d left it.
Stepping into the office Liz said ‘Good Morning’ to everybody, but the tone of greeting she received from Amelia said something was wrong. Amelia Hartford walked into the Headmistresses office a step behind Elizabeth - holding two large folders, it was apparent the shoe was about to drop.
“Which one should I look at first ?” quizzed the headmistress
“I suggest this one” stated Amelia handing over the hefty file “Chief Delarose, Ophelia, and Mrs. Donner are already in the conference room.”
“Eloise is here! Just how bad is it?” worried Liz as she started walking out the door.
“Liz. I’m not even sure where to start trying briefing you on this. Hope you don’t mind if I join the meeting?” said Amelia following Liz to the conference room
Entering the meeting space, Mrs Carson greeted each of the occupants and took the chair at the tables head “Who wants to go first?”
There was a brief battle of glances between the Doctor and Security Chief with the Chief relenting and gesturing for Ophelia to go first.
“On Friday morning a new student arrived at Whateley and was attacked outside Schuster Hall, he was rushed to Doyle and received emergency medical care: but all efforts proved fruitless. He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on Sunday afternoon when life support was disconnected. On Monday morning that same student showed up at Schuster Hall to register with the school, he was sent to Doyle for an examination.”
“Is this some kind of joke?” asked Mrs. Carson with a scrutinizing look at Dr. Tenant.
“The extensive examination conducted upon the youth concluded that the two individuals are indeed the same person: blood and DNA tests are identical, we even did a full chemical analysis which showed no deviation. It’s the same boy. There is no evidence remaining of the trauma suffered including no scaring or cellular necrosis.”
“What kind of scars are we talking about?” put forward the headmistress.
Ophelia passed some photo’s over to Elizabeth who was taken aback by the dreadful damage depicted by the deep gouges intersecting a torso. Dr. Tenant continued “The medical report is very detailed, it is beyond doubt that the boy died.”
Elizabeth looked at her assistant with a dumbfounded expression, Amelia mouthed back ‘wait for it’
Chief Delarose took the pause to indicate it being his turn.
“Security officer McTavish had driven the boy from the entrance gate up to Schuster Hall parking lot where the attack took place. McTavish administered CPR until relieved in Doyle. At the scene a rumour was spreading that the school was facing an imminent invasion. I sent Samantha Everhart out with squad 4 to conduct a perimeter sweep: no indication of trouble was detected. There is camera footage of the attack from 5 angles: it leaves little to the imagination regarding the event. After interrogation at Kane Hall the perpetrator was released.”
Mrs. Carson said: “We can forgo the adjectives and just use names.”
“Do we want the involved individuals names made public?” wondered the Security Chief as he made a gesture of circling the room with a finger.
“I have to expect that privacy of individuals will be honoured, or the wrath of this school will be faced by whoever discloses a confidential matter.” Said Mrs. Carson not for the benefit of those meeting together, but for anyone listening in.
“Very well: Elaine Nalley was released from custody into the care of Mrs. Horton” disclosed Delarose.
“What could the boy have done to infuriate Elaine and make her resort to violence?”
“Cameron did nothing.”
“He must have! Elaine is as peaceable as they come - she does everything possible to avoid a fight.”
“I am aware, but…”
“She’s called Loophole because she tries to find a way around conflict!”
“She’s the most trustworthy and dependable student I’ve had in years.”
“Of course Mrs. Carson, but the thing is - Grizzly was manifest during the attack.”
“What does the boy have to say for himself?” interrupted Mrs Donner.
“He is only aware of being attacked by a bear, and has no memories until waking in Doyle’s morgue” informed Delarose.
“Does he know who attacked him?” Inquired Eloise Donner.
“No, he at first felt it was simply an animal attack - but has since begun to suspect it to be an unknown person.”
“So this boy: Cameron is it?”
“Cameron Burke: uses the code name ‘Outlook’’’ added Amelia Hartford.
“Thank you. Cameron has no lasting physical injuries?”
“No Liz, he’s completely healed up.” supplied Ophelia “Quite amazing."
“Then we can dismiss this as being a minor disagreement between two students, I will assign Miss Nalley some detention.” The headmistress looked around the table for consensus - and didn’t receive it from anyone but Amelia.
“There is more Elizabeth. Outlook sought police involvement for the murder / attempted murder of himself.” informed Franklin Delarose.
“Which brought the Medawihla to the table” interjected Mrs Donner
“Damnit Frank, why did you take it outside Whateley?”
“I didn’t. And I assure you everything possible was done to protect Whateley’s neutrality” forcefully stated Delarose, then added “A police officer followed due process by reporting a crime - as he is sworn to do.”
“When did we hire an active policeman?” Shouted Liz Carson at her Security Chief.
“We haven’t” retorted Franklin Delarose, settling his nerves before continuing “Cameron Burke is a Staff Sergeant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
“He’s a Mountie” gasped Amelia Hartford.
“You can’t be serious.” said Mrs. Carson shaking her head in disbelief.
“I’m very serious and it gets worse: he’s on a diplomatic mission to attend Whateley Academy”.
“Did we know any of this when he applied?” asked Ms Hartford.
“I’m afraid I must add something else to this conversation” interceded Eloise “The boy is marked, it is Were custom for him to be granted full tribal status and protection.”
Elizabeth Carson dropped her forehead into her cupped hands saying “Oh God! I hate Tuesdays”.
End Part 1