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BlackEagle Girls
and The Ice-Angel of Death

Chapter 5 - You dirty rat!

In the few moments that it took Barry Garland to reach the submerged girls, a widening stain of pinkish red was erupting in the bubbling foam above them. Taking a long breath, he dived beneath the water.

Priscilla, screaming Monique's name, was only restrained from jumping in by Tsu, Narenda and Belinda Moss, who had fought her way through the frantic onlookers to come to Tsu and Narenda's aid.
In the meantime, Miss Van Weenan, doing her best to keep control of the situation, was calling for First Aid to alert the infirmary staff. 'Send someone up to Sister Menzies! Tell her to get down here now!'
And while her attention was momentarily diverted, Ray Sharp, Form Captain of One B, neatly evaded her restraining arms and even though back in school uniform after his own event, plunged in and was stroking steadily toward Mister Garland's bobbing head. The two girls, still locked together, burst to the surface, choking and coughing as Garland dragged them up and managed to separate them. 'Get her out of the water!' he shouted, leaving Monique to Ray, as he struggled with Roseanne's hefty, thrashing form. Billows of swiftly-diluting pink foamed about them, slopping to the margins of the pool as Ray, his arm around Monique's shoulder and neck, brought her to the grasping hands of those waiting. Marge Turnbull dog-paddled her way to the poolside, crawling out like a drowned rat, and was swiftly covered in a bath robe. Although it appeared that she was somewhat disoriented because Priscilla could see, between the intervening bodies, that Marge was twisting her head and looking back toward the heaving water, her eyes scanning beyond those involved in the drama closer to its margins.

Meanwhile, Mister Garland was having a difficult time with Roseanne, who was still struggling and screaming even as he got her to the pool's edge. 'That bitch tried to kill Annie! She knew I was crampin' an' she tried to hold me under! She kicked Annie in the guts! I think I'm gonna throw up... I thi...' Roseanne suddenly went limp, her head flopping against Garland's neck, a trickle of watery blood dribbling from her sagging mouth.

Amidst the pandemonium all around her, Priscilla strained against the encircling arms of her friends, her eyes now on Monique as she was helped from the pool, coughing and spitting out water.
Sister Menzies burst upon the scene, swiftly taking control of the situation; issuing orders and overseeing
both Monique and Marge Turnbull away to the infirmary within moments of her arrival. 'Hurry, get Miss Sole
onto a stretcher, she may have internal haemorrhaging. Be careful how you handle her!' she commanded of the two First-Aid Prefects, who immediately sprang into action.
Then, as Tsu, Narenda and Belinda relaxed their hold, Priscilla twisted free and was about to dart after Monique when her wild-eyed gaze fell upon a lone figure kneeling at the far end of the pool. It was the same white-haired youth of her dream and he seemed to be scooping something out of the water. To Priscilla's goggling eyes, at first glimpse the translucent object looked like a jelly-fish, but whatever it was, the boy briefly examined it, rose and threw it aside, hurrying around the pool edge to catch up with Sister Menzie's departing group.

Pushing her way through the crowding students, Priscilla was almost deafened by the tumult of voices: 'Good on yer Mister Garland!' 'Yea Sharpy, well done son!' 'Come on, we've got to get you out of those wet clothes!' 'Barry, Barry! Are you alright?' This from Roger Dance the History teacher who had suddenly appeared from out of nowhere. 'Get them both into the showers and bring some towels!' 'What about the rest of the events?'
'Yere! Are we gonna have more swimming trials today or not?' 'Roseanne got kneed in the tummy and now she's got a belly ache!' 'She didn't deserve it! She was was cramping!' 'Monique was trying to help her!' 'Bull! Monique was getting her kicks!' 'Yer talkin' crap, the French girl turned back to help her and let Karen win!' 'The rest of the Meet is cancelled. It will be re-scheduled at Monday's assembly!' 'What about all that blood? Do ya think Sole's been badly hurt?'

As Priscilla struggled amongst the milling group, she became aware of a throbbing in her temples and lifted a hand to her forehead. Everything seemed to be slowing down, the voices around her were grinding to a halt, distorting, diminishing, fading... Then a sudden new feeling took up the almost static pulse, her vision cleared, and sounds about her again became audible. She halted, coming to such an abrupt standstill that Narenda, who was close behind, collided with and embraced her to steady herself from falling.
'Narenda!' said Priscilla, looking around, 'Help me!'

'What can I do Priscilla? You look so pale. Come, come with me over to the seats and sit down. Tsu And Belinda are... Oh girls, I thought you were just behind, tell Priscilla to rest a moment, she is so upset about Monique... '

The other two, now joined by Terri Tory-Toth, guided Priscilla to the benches and sat her upon the initial-scratched wooden surface.
'Monique will be alright, I don't think she was the one bleeding, except maybe from a few scratches on her back,' said Terri, anxiously kneeling at Priscilla's side.

'Yes, yes, I know,' Priscilla replied, 'but I've got to get up to the infirmary to see her anyway. We were going home this weekend... Kinda special... Henry's birthday you know... but... but look I know this sounds crazy, but can one of you go back to the far end of the pool and look around on the tiles for a... a... well I thought it was a jellyfish...'

'Priscilla, are you feeling sick?' said Tsu, an expression of concern on her face. 'Perhaps you are right, we need to get you up to the infirmary too so that Sister Menzies can... '

'I'm fine, just fine!' Priscilla replied emphatically, so emphatically that her head momentarily spun, 'Just... just do this for me... It was probably plastic, a clear plastic bag or something, please go and find it one of you, I think it might be important.'

'I will go,' said Narenda, looking from Tsu to Terri to Belinda, an expression of complete incomprehension on her face.

It took only moments for Narenda to locate the object and come hurrying back through the slowly diminishing mob that was now drifting away toward the exits that led to the Quad.
'Is this what you wanted?' she asked, opening her hand and offering a soggy, flattened plastic bag.

'Yeah, I think so,' Priscilla replied wearily, gazing down at it.

'What is it?' said Belinda. 'Why did you want it? It seems like just any plastic bag, although it has a tear in it.'

Priscilla was staring intently at the bag, noting a tiny slime of red in one corner. 'I... I don't know... Guess I'm just too suspicious.' She took the bag from Narenda, wiped it on her skirt and carefully folded it up, stowing it in her blazer pocket. Then, looking up, she said, 'I gotta get over to see Monique, but would one of you do me a big favour?'

'What is it Priscilla?' asked Terri.

'Could somebody stay here for a while and see if anyone comes in looking like they're searching for something.'

'Well... er yes, I can do that,' said Narenda, somewhat uncertainly, gazing around blankly at the other girls.

'No!' Priscilla replied rather sharply. 'Oh sorry Narenda, I didn't mean to bark at you. If maybe Terri... Would you mind?'

'Heck no,' Terri answered.

'I'll stay here with her too, if that's what you want?' Belinda added, although it was plain that she and the others were wondering about Priscilla's state of mind. 'The pool is open for another hour, and it seems that students are still allowed in, so we won't be too conspicuous sitting here watching them. Is it about the bag?'

'Yeah, about the bag,' Priscilla nodded, lurching to her feet. 'Gotta go.'

'I will come along with you, said Tsu, beckoning Narenda to follow.

By the time the three girls walked through the south wing classrooms, crossed the Quad and made their way into the Admin area, arriving at the Infirmary Section on the ground floor, Marge Turnbull, still in a robe, was heading out through the glass doors.

'You alright Marge?' Priscilla asked as they passed.

'Oh yeah, I'm O.K. Just swallowed half the pool. Annie's pretty crook though. They're sending her off to hospital for tests. They think she might be bleeding inside. Reckon Monique's in big trouble.' She hurried off before they could ask any more questions.

'Never mind what she thinks,' said Priscilla, pushing through the doors. 'I want to see Moni. Come on.'

They found Sister Menzies on the phone at reception. '... an ambulance. How long? Good. We have been observing her. She is now conscious. No further signs of bleeding. She has a superficial cut to the inside of her mouth and is complaining of pains in the abdomen. No. No bruising, but there seems to have been quite a deal of blood... No, not from the other girl, she has abrasions to her back... nothing internal. Yes, we will keep her here overnight anyway... Very well, we'll have Roseanne ready when the ambulance arrives.'

'As my little Brother Henry would say, "Never have a phone conversation with your back to the door: classic goof in all the movies" ', croaked Priscilla, easing herself onto one of the drab, grey vinyl-padded forms lining the waiting-room walls.

'Thankyou, bye,' Beth Menzies dropped the phone onto its cradle and turned to find the three girls facing her.
'Oh, Ladies, I didn't hear you come in... '

'Classic B grade movie line,' muttered Priscilla under her breath, then louder, 'We've come to see Monique, Miss Menzies...'

But before anything else could be said, the ward door opened and several people emerged. '... locker keys to Miss Van Weenan for both Sole and Bateleur's uniforms and personal items...'  Sonia Poe, Headmistress of Hopewell Hall, stopped short as she caught sight of the trio. 'Ah! Miss Black! I take it that you and your friends have come to see your Roomy Monique?'

'Yes Miss Poe,' Priscilla replied, trying not to sound as if the Head Mistress had just stated the blindingly obvious. 'Can we? Sister Menzies said she has to stay in overnight for observation but it's my Brother's birthday on Sunday and we were going home today after school...'

'Not tonight,' said Beth Menzies firmly. 'Monique appears to be fine, but my duty of care is to be sure before releasing her. Tomorrow, late morning at the earliest,' she concluded, her arms folded across her chest.

'Well, there you have it Ladies,' said Miss Poe, 'Sister Menzies has the final say in situations such as this and,' she added, 'there are also questions unanswered about this afternoon's incident in the pool. I shall require further information as to exactly what took place. It seems that Miss Sole has suffered some kind of extreme internal trauma brought about by physical contact with Miss Bateleur, and the School will not rest until the matter has been examined thoroughly. To that end Mister Mitikovski and Mister Garland, as well as Miss Van Weenan here, will be investigating. On the surface it would appear that Miss Bateleur might have taken the opportunity to even up an old basketball score upon your account Miss Black. And so I shall await reports from my staff this evening and review the matter over the weekend. On Monday...'

'You can't be seri...' Priscilla began to protest, then, feeling the pressure of Tsu's hand upon her shoulder, she asked dejectedly, 'Does she have to stay at school until then?'

'That will not be necessary,' answered Miss Poe. 'Upon Sister Menzie's release, Monique may venture out, but be assured that she must be in my office before assembly at eight-thirty on Monday morning.'

'Well can we at least see her now?'

'I think it would be best, in your somewhat excited state, that Monique be left to rest and that all of you go off and have your evening meal and an early night,' answered Sister Menzies, and Priscilla could see by the set of her face that Beth Menzies was not about to alter her decision.

'Far and away!' shouted Priscilla in frustration as she, Narenda and Tsu burst from the Admin building and emerged onto the broad expanse of the Quad.

'Priscilla!' hailed a voice out of the gloom of the late autumnal afternoon. It was Terri Tori-Toth in company with Belinda Moss. The two groups hurried together, shivering in the swiftly cooling air. 'How is Monique?' asked Belinda, rubbing her hands together with Tsu's.

'We did not get to see her,' said Narenda, but Priscilla cut in quickly, 'Anything to report?'

'Yes, yes!' said Belinda. 'Marge Turnbull came back to the pool to get her uniform from the locker room...'

'But thhenn,' said Terri, dragging out the moment, 'she spent quite a long time wandering about. She seemed to be watching the kids in the pool, but every now and then we could see her sniffing around, sort of looking for something; especially in the water!'

'Ah!' said Priscilla. 'The plot begins to congeal! I smell a rat. A bloody big rat!'

Chapter 6 [next]

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