Marcia spent the night tossing in bed wrapped in the covers getting no sleep. The discovery of Franci practicing with a bayonet sword weighed heavily on her mind. The implied threat of bodily harm felt as if things never changed from New Jersey. Her dreams went from Franci to Franci's roommate Chantel, who threatened Marcia. Her dream leapt back in time to the confrontation with Sarah outside the school where Marcia refused to fight. After the dream had ended, Marcia fell into a deep, restful sleep until Kathy woke her for breakfast.
When Kathy entered the room, Marcia rolled away from the door as loud snores filled the air. Kathy walked around the bed bending low to look Marcia in the eyes. Marcia woke with a start and jumped from the bed throwing the blankets in a heap on the floor. "Jeepers, Kathy, are you trying to scare me to death?" Marcia smiled as Kathy's blue eyes surveyed the young woman.
"Um, no, I felt you might be sick or still passed out from last night. How are you feeling this morning?"
"Not now, my heart is pounding, and I am wide awake. I feel much better and look forward to a full day with my classmates. We have some important lab work to do. We plan to make our first poison."
"Oh, can't have you miss that. It is usually the highlight of the class. Someone always gets a taste of the poison, and the nurses revive him or her. Come I made breakfast for you. It is late, and the dining room closed a few minutes ago."
Marcia quickly dressed sat in the kitchen and ate her breakfast while Kathy watched. When she finished eating, Marcia took her dirty dishes to the sink and cleaned off the table. She went to her room, picked up her book bag and went through the back door from the kitchen with Kathy following her. As they approached the classroom, they saw the students gathered outside waiting around in small groups. Kathy signaled to Klaus, who came over, "What happened?"
"One of the lab assistants broke a bottle of chloroform, and it spread quickly through the building. Only the assistant succumbed to the fumes before the building cleared. The chemical caused the emergency ventilation system to activate. The fans should clear the building shortly." Klaus explained. "How was Marcia? She looks more at ease this morning."
"She was fine and ready to get busy with the poison lab. She wanted to be with her friends. Whatever affected her last night was resolved and gone."
Kathy looked at the milling students checking that everyone stood quietly with no problems. She saw Marcia joined her lab partner friends in a small group of others. What concerned Kathy was that Franci and Daria hung out within earshot of the group listening with disapproving faces. Nothing happened yet, but there was a chance of trouble anytime with those girls. Daria expressed her anger at the closeness of Stefan and Naomi but made no physical threat.
The all clear sounded and the students filed back into the classroom to continue the day's lessons. Marcia sat with her friends and watched the demonstrations concerning proper care and storage of poisons and their components. These demonstrations had lasted for a week before the students had a chance to mix poisons. As the students took over, Daria made a weak poison and slipped a bit of it into her pocket. No one saw her take the poison, but she watched carefully around her to make sure.
Classes and labs proceeded uneventfully for two weeks and the groups spent hours making fake bombs and false poisons. The lab technicians checked each bomb for accuracy and construction and awarded points to each team. So far, Marcia's team lead all the teams in bomb making and accuracy, but Daria attempted to sabotage them. She would wander into Polina's area and distract her while Franci substituted their bomb for Marcia's bomb. Little did Daria know that Naomi's bomb-making ability improved and her creations received the high grades for the group.
The poison lab sampled some of the creations, and again Marcia's group achieved glowing results. Daria and Franci's group fell to the bottom of the class with their efforts. The low rank infuriated them, and Daria schemed to get even with Marcia using the poison she stole earlier. The next time the lab techs took samples of the newly made poison, Daria substituted a bit of the stolen poison. When the lab techs posted the results, Marcia's team lead everyone again, and Daria's team did not appear on the list. When Daria questioned the results, the lab techs told her that her results had flaws and appeared to resemble the compound made as a lab demonstration.
"What do you mean a demonstration lab compound?" Daria questioned.
The lab tech explained, "To make sure that the demonstration lab compounds are harmless we put a buffering agent in it. This compound has a certain chemical signature that makes it harmless. The sample your group submitted had that signature. Your group cheated with the submitted chemical. Therefore, your group gets no grade for that exercise."
Daria stormed away in anger searching for her lab group to deliver the news. Franci met her, and they exchanged words, "Someone tampered with our sample and got us disqualified from the lab test. What they tested resembled one of the formulas used to demonstrate during our class time. I suspect Marcia's team of this subterfuge." Daria spewed.
"Have you any proof of the exchange?" Franci asked angrily.
"No, we need to redo the lab and submit our results. This time, we will be alone in the lab and work on our own. Do you think we should tell our partners about this foul deed?" Daria fumed.
"No, let's go and do the lab and get it done. We can take care of our partners later. We can also plan to get back at Marcia's group for their treachery." Franci replied vehemently.
The next day an amended result list for the poison lab listed Marcia's group remaining at #1 but Daria's group at a distant #2. Franci and Daria read the list, but still felt cheated, they thought it was time for revenge for the 'treachery' of Marcia's team in the results. Daria turned to Franci and whispered, "I know just the thing to get revenge, and I will use it tomorrow at breakfast." Franci grabbed Daria's hands and shook them with glee as they giggled.
The first two weeks of summer school ended with no students harmed by mistakes in poison and bomb design classes. The third week started easily as the students grew accustomed to lab procedures and keeping practical jokes out of class. Marcia's incidents with the spirits disappeared and she relaxed with her friends. Klaus and Kathy kept a close watch on her because the pressure of summer school. The next two weeks involved building real bombs and testing them in the pits behind the wall.
Daria and Franci stood in line at breakfast one morning waiting to get refills on orange juice. Marcia and Polina stood in line behind them talking about the bomb test later that day. One of Daria's friends moved against Marcia and distracted her. As Marcia put her glass down, Daria sprinkled a white powder in the glass and mixed it with a little juice. Daria's friend excused herself and grabbed the glass she thought she put down when she bumped Marcia.
Before Daria could warn her friend that she took the wrong glass, she filled it and drank half the glass. Franci stopped Daria from warning her friend because it would alert Marcia to the subterfuge and evil deed Daria attempted. Marcia grabbed a glass, filled it and walked away chatting with Polina. In less than 15 minutes, the girl who drank the poison sat hunched over at Daria's table moaning loudly. Medical services ran in and took the girl away trying to quiet and soothe her discomfort.
Polina poked Marcia, "Wasn't that the girl who bumped us in line for orange juice? I saw her grab your glass and fill it. That does not look good. I wonder what happened to her."
"Daria and Franci hovered around the glasses we set down. Do you think they tried to poison one of the glasses hoping I took it away? Nah, they would not try that here. That would be too dangerous and subject them to expulsion from the school. We will wait and see what the report is from the medical staff. We have a meeting with the headmaster today after lunch. They should know by then." Marcia quickly replied.
Marcia looked over at Daria and Franci and saw the evil grins on their faces and the lack of surprise and compassion for their friend. Daria smirked back at Marcia as if she said, "Your next."
A cold chill ran up Marcia's back signaling that something more would happen, and she would be the target. She quickly looked away from Daria toward Naomi. She asked, "Do you think the drink targetted me and not Daria's lab partner?
Naomi shuddered at the thought, but replied, "I think there is evil in this place. I can feel it. What are you feeling Marcia?"
"There are spirits here, a lot of them. Some are evil, but most are good. They seem trapped here from some catastrophic end to their lives. They came to me on our first day here, but since I wear this necklace, they stay away and leave me alone. I also seem to have some inherent powers to control things around me. Kathy and Klaus saw them, and the headmaster is helping me learn more about them. That is the real reason I am staying with them." Marcia confessed to Naomi. "I think Daria poisoned my glass after I set it down, and her lab partner picked it up."
Naomi looked over at Franci and Daria, who laughed nervously with their friends and kept sneaking glances at Marcia, Naomi and Stefan. Naomi sputtered, "They keep looking over here with anger and threatening eyes. I think this was the start of more bad acts to come. You better be careful and watchful of yourself, Marcia."
Kathy, whose face showed a feeling of fear and concern came to the table and sat with Marcia and Naomi. "Are you girls feeling OK? I hope she was the only girl affected. She appeared poisoned, but it could be something else. The medical staff will be checking her stomach contents for poison. I came over here to gather you up. It is time for our meeting with the headmaster soon, and I think we should get together before and talk about the incident."
The group of student representatives rose from the table and followed Kathy to a small conference room off the dining area. When everyone entered the room and sat around the table, Klaus closed and locked the door. The group looked at each other scanning around the table sensing the tension building in the room. Before anyone spoke, the door opened, and the headmaster entered, a concerned, downcast look on his face.
He closed the door, locked it and turned to the group. "You saw the incident with the young woman just now in the dining area. As near as we know, it was an isolated accident, but she fell victim to it. As far as the medics determined, she drank some of the demonstration poison compounds by accident. Where it came from in her juice is a mystery. The medics emptied her stomach and fed her the antidote and her recovery will happen quickly. Unfortunately, we do not know who poisoned her. We have suspects, but no proof."
Naomi started to talk, but Marcia hushed her with a look. No one at the table uttered a word, but they knew who poisoned the drink. Thoughts flew between Marcia and Naomi, "Daria and Franci will pay for their treachery. She needs punishing for trying to poison someone. There is plenty of time to effect revenge."
The rest of the meeting covered the past two weeks and how the classes and labs went. The headmaster cautioned the group to watch and report any incidents or strange things among the classmates. Everyone agreed that they would watch and record them. The group agreed that more meetings made sense to follow things more closely. The meeting ended with the students going to their first live bomb-making lab. The headmaster, Kathy and Klaus remained behind to discuss the poisoning and plan how to protect the students in the future.