“The Vampire in the Back of the Room” – an excerpt from The Matriarch: Changeling

Janiss slipped into the lecture hall with Eric close behind and sat near the single door at the top of the room. In the first few rows down front, about twenty students had already arrived – likely the entire class – and were mingling or looking over notes; their instructor had not yet arrived.

Not that it mattered; Janiss could feel her close by.

ChangelingRightfaceebookcover2015The open room was a good size. Stadium seating allowed for almost a hundred and fifty students to easily see an instructor; the step-down carpeted center aisle separated rows of wooden seats with blue cushioning and fold-down writing boards. Chalkboards, classroom maps, and an old-style gas heater betrayed the true age of the facility in spite of an overhead projector and a computer docking station for the instructor. A laptop was already connected, but the screen hadn’t been pulled down.

A door on the left side of the instructional area opened, silencing the students. A tall, middle-aged woman entered with neck-length black hair and a tan complexion. Her build seemed slight but she carried herself regally; it reminded Janiss of the first time she had met Louisa. The woman’s cheekbones were high and well-defined, accentuated by dark, penetrating eyes. Her conservative clothing was offset with bits of colorful beaded jewelry.

Janiss exhaled.

Here we go…

The instructor moved to the center of the room and faced the quiet class, smiled pleasantly, then stepped back and tapped something into her laptop. For a moment, Janiss noticed that she closed her eyes as if composing herself. The woman hadn’t once so much as glanced in their direction.

“Before we begin with tonight’s review,” the instructor said with an authoritative tone, “I request that you turn off all recorders and close your laptops for a few moments.”

She waited as the students complied; Janiss noticed that none of them seemed particularly puzzled by the request as they obeyed.

ChangelingRightfaceebookcover2015“Thank you. Now, are there any non-class-specific questions I may address?”

One hand went up. She acknowledged it. The young man spoke.

“Dr. Selu, who is the vampire sitting behind us in the back of the room?”