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Fantasticoe 2001 -  10th Anniversary Issue

Note:  Though the class recognized that this story is closely tied to its origin in our class and at Coe College during Winter Term, we couldn't resist including it in Fantasticoe.  Though it may not mean much to people far from Coe, we think it will be great fun for our nearby readers.

How to Kill Your J-Term Professor
Cody Bender

 How do you get your fantasy writing class to kill their professor?  That was the problem that she had been facing since the beginning of the Fall 2001 semester.  Her orders had been very specific and the time of reckoning for Terry Heller was closing in.  He had to be dead by February no matter what the cost.  Her boss had made sure that she fully understood the gravity of the situation.  Heller had been smuggling secrets to the Russians and he needed to be taken care of.

 Acting like a college girl was tiresome, especially when you couldn’t kill any of the other students when you got sick of them.  O.K. she had killed one, but that one didn’t really count.  She had been entirely too annoying and it was easy to hide the fact that she was gone.  Her parents were rich and didn’t come back to the States more than once every few months so they didn’t worry enough to make a fuss.

 The plan that she came up with to destroy Heller was complex, due to the strange nature of her orders.  Usually her orders were to make a person disappear like they vanished into thin air.  Not this time.  This time she was ordered to set it up like a murder-suicide ring gone bad.  She wondered about the reason behind this and the only thing that she could think of was that the department must have had another agent around Coe and an investigation into their business could get a little messy.

 After months of planning she felt like she finally had a model that could work.  She hacked into the Winter Term registration files and downloaded a list of names from Heller’s class.  She had working models of all of the students by the time the first class met.  It was time to begin.

 When implementing her plan she started with the men, because in her experience they were the easiest to subvert.  Initially she had approached Sterling, Marc, and Cody as they left Hickok.  She could tell that they were unhappy with the way that the course had been going from their comments on the website.

 “So, what do you guys think of our professor?” she had asked, as innocently as possible of course.  Marc’s snort of derision was all it took to convince the other two to start yapping about their problems with Heller.

 “What’s with all these reviews that we have to do?  I mean, I don’t mind writing the stories, but this other stuff sucks.”

 “Yeah, I thought that my movie would be cool, but The Fisher King was totally fucking lame.”

  “Brewster McCloud was garbage, too.  I didn’t even watch the whole thing it was so bad.”

 She asked them if they were going to the pub for lunch.  She already knew the answer was yes.  They went there daily after class to bitch and moan about the course work.  She invited herself, Amanda, and Sarah to join them.  The special that day was double bacon cheeseburgers and the smell of the bacon permeated the entire room.  The pub was packed and they had to push together a couple of smaller tables to make enough room for all of them.

 Accusations of unfair treatment by Heller began to fly across the table.  Sarah got so angry about an assignment that she almost choked on a big chunk of cheeseburger.  She ended up going to the bathroom and puking all over.  When the assassin heard that she almost sprayed Pepsi out her nose.  Too easy, she thought.  By the end of lunch they had all decided that something needed to be done about the situation.  A little encouragement from her brought the group along quite well.  She excused herself and went to the library’s east wing to check email.  Not hers, of course, but rather, Terry Heller’s Coe account.

 As she sat she noticed Desi sitting at a computer not far from hers.  She was reading email and appeared to be upset about something. Interesting.  She quickly accessed Heller’s account using the second password that she had set up from downstairs in Computer Services.  After scanning through the numerous entries she spotted the one from Desi.  It asked, ”How many more Enrichment points do I need for an B in the class?”

 She laughed and wrote out “Terry Heller’s” doctored response, ”You really should concentrate more on just passing the class.  Your reviews have been less than worthwhile for me to read and I feel that you are really missing the point of most assignments.”

 She didn’t have to wait long to hear Desi’s response.  She burst into tears and ran from the building.  It was exactly the response that she had hoped for.

 Three more emails with similar messages were sent to Trina, Marc, and Virginia.  They, like Desi, were doing excellent work and would take such a message as a personal affront.  This was getting better by the minute.  She hadn’t had an assignment this easy since ‘97 when she had hacked the M.I.T. main computer system.  Computer nerds were easy to manipulate due to their low physical self-esteem and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was loaded with them.

 She began to delete all traces of her intrusion into Heller’s system files.  As she looked through some of his writings it quickly dawned on her why he had to be taken down.  Ideas like these were dangerous things to have going to a unstable country like Russia.  The schematics he had encrypted and put into one of his longer novellas, for example.  They were for a S.T.I.N.G.E.R. missile installation!  She couldn’t understand how he had gotten them, but however they were obtained it appeared that they were the real thing.  Other classified info stared out at her from the pages of his writings.  She would purge these files before she left Iowa, she decided.

 She spent the rest of the day readying the weaponry she had brought:  Four silenced, M-15 assault rifles, two grenades(in case of an emergency), and her own personal armory (silenced 9-millimeter ceramic Glock pistol, large Rambo-style hunting knife, wire garrote, and the Anti-Tank gun that she had to bring into here room in pieces).  The last thing she checked was one small, but important, bundle that she had prepared earlier in the week.  Everything was arranged neatly around her room, covered by some surplus army blankets that she’d bought in Iowa City.  She didn’t worry about anyone poking around.  Her “roommate” had been dead for almost the entire semester and was currently residing at the bottom of the Cedar River attached to a couple of 45 lbs. weights courtesy the Coe College weight room.

 A few days later she called Jeremy and Stephanie to see if they wanted to go to dinner with her.  They both accepted her invitation and soon she had related the unhappy stories of the other students.  Virginia and Mark joined them mid-meal and upon hearing the discourse launched into their own tales of abuse.  Mark was especially angry, she noted.  She left dinner at the caf feeling satisfied for the first time all year.

 Before dealing with the last three students in the class she sent an email to the entire class from Theller at coe dot edu letting them know that they were failing and that the level of intelligence in the class was on par with that of a group of second grade children.  Also, emails from the Dean of Students and the Registrar were sent for good measure.

 A quick call to Rob, Nashra, and Jessica was all it took to convince them to come over for some hard drinking.  She had quickly realized that it would be impossible to convince about the necessity of the mission.  They just didn’t care about their grades at all.  She had queried them about how they were doing, but they didn’t even know.  It figured, though.  Heller had gotten to them.  It had happened before.  He was a master tactician and he would have at least three students, if not more, in his employ.  Usually they served as personal bodyguards for the professor and they would give their life for him.  They hadn’t figured out about her yet because otherwise she would have been attacked long ago.

 She didn’t exactly know what to do with them.  She couldn’t just kill them, though.  There would be inquiries about their whereabouts, a.k.a. unwanted attention focused on herself.  She had decided it would be easier to just get them drunk so that their reactions would be so slow the next day that they wouldn’t even notice that Heller was in about a thousand pieces until it was way too late.  A fifth of Tequila and six or seven beers later they were totally shitty.   She feigned to pass out and the three of them quietly decided, because of the still early hour, to continue their debauchery at the East Side Maidrite.  They stumbled across the campus on their way there, never feeling the laser sights of the Anti-Tank gun on the back of their heads as she practiced her aim out the window.

 She quickly sent emails to all of the others in the class telling them to meet her in her room at 10 a.m. sharp.  A few hours later she had heard from every single one of them letting her know that they would be in attendance to hear her solution to their problem.  What they didn’t realize was that they were the solution.

 She made a quick trip to the Ghetto Vee and picked up some potato chips, soda, bottled water, juice, pretzels, the makings of sandwiches, and plastic cups.  Two gang members watched her as she moved through the store.  Both were big, at least 6’4” or 6’5”.  They looked like they had been in prison somewhere for a long time.  They had the hungry look that men get when incarcerated for long periods of time.  They followed her around the store for a little while and then suddenly disappeared.  She figured they would be waiting for her outside.  Well, it would be a nice tune-up for tomorrow’s action. She shifted her Glock and the garrote to her coat pockets.

 The first one tried to surprise her from behind as his friend ran at her from around a dumpster.  She whirled away using the momentum of her spin to wrap the garrote’s weighted end around the neck of the unsuspecting gangster.  She swung her body across his back, grasping both ends of the garrote.  She gave a sharp tug on the ends and the gangster’s head was suddenly rolling towards his compadre.  The snap of his vertebrae as the razor-sharp wire  separated head from shoulders was clearly audible to his friend.

 “What the fuck?” the one from behind the dumpster said, sliding to a halt.  “You bitch!”

 Reaching into his pocket he produced a large switchblade.  He charged her, thinking to use his size to crush her and then stab downward while her arms were pinned.  She let him get within a foot of her with the knife and dropped down to one knee.  She slammed upwards with her right hand into his groin.  The air rushed out of the big man as he flew over top of her crouching body.  The knife skidded across the parking lot and stopped by a parked car.  She sprang to her feet and sprinted to the knife.

 Her assailant regained his senses and was looking at her with a mix of fear and rage.  His breath came in gasps and saliva dripped from his lower lip.  She moved towards him purposefully.  He reached for the hand that had the knife and suddenly it was no longer there.  She had sidestepped his feeble attempt and stuck the 6-inch blade directly into his left ear.  His eyes bulged as he slumped to the ground.

 Brushing the snow from her clothes, she dragged the two bodies through the lightless parking lot to the dumpster.  Once they were inside she quickly got into her car and drove back to her dorm.  Nothing like brisk exercise to clear the mind, she thought.

 She used the next two hours spraying the interior of the cups with MA-709, a substance that the military and CIA used in their brainwashing experiments.  It was 100% effective in clinical trials.  If the American government knew that its chemical formula was known by outsiders they would have been very upset.  At last she was finished and she sat back and waited for morning to come.

 The salty chips and sandwiches were a big hit and by 10:45 almost everyone had enjoyed at least one glass of liquid refreshment.  Cody, Amanda, and Amber had been sitting slack jawed for at least half an hour and both Mark and Marc were staring at the far wall.  Virginia was drooling on the plate she held in her hands.  There was only one problem.  Sterling was the only one who had not drank.  She pulled her Glock and was about to splatter his brains when he began pleading for her to let him help in whatever she had planned.

 He whined, “Please let me help you!  I always wanted to kill somebody.  I can use a gun.  My parents headed up the local militia back home.”

  Obviously a nutcase, she thought to herself.  She internally debated on whether she could trust him.  She decided not and quickly shot him several times in the face and put his body into a Hefty bag.  She just could not take any chances with this mission.  Asta La Vista, crazy Sterling.

 With that out of the way she began the instructions;  “Heller will enter the room just like he does every day.  When he does, we will be waiting for him.  I will pump my fist once and you will . . .”  The next few hours passed quickly as she gave the orders and soon they were all arranged as usual in the class room.

 There never was any doubt about it.  Heller was as good as dead the moment he stepped into the room.  She had been savoring the experience, tasting the tension that mounted as the seconds passed.  The meeting earlier that day had gone exactly as planned.  The drugs had really kicked in and the students were completely under her control.  She began to get the keyed-up feeling that was the byproduct of tense situations she was put in.

 Heller turned towards the whiteboard to erase the previous classes assignments.  This was it!  She signaled to her classmates to begin the operation.  It could get messy, but she was prepared for almost anything.  Killing an English professor in a backwards Midwest town was nothing compared to the work that she had done in Cambodia and Los Angeles.  Her preparation of the others was enough; they would go through with the mission.

 As her thoughts came back to the present she authoritatively pumped her fist once.  Mark, Cody, and Marc reached under their coats, which were spread out behind their desks, and pulled out the M-15’s.  They raised the guns and began to fire in short bursts towards the front of the room.  As the boys pulled the rifles from under their coats she pulled her Glock and shot Rob, Nashra, and Jessica in their stunned faces.

The muffled thump of bullets echoed through the room, like someone shooting a pillow with about a hundred BB guns.  The zinging of bullets whizzing through the air echoed throughout the small room.

 Heller’s body was spun in a tight spiral so that his eyes returned to the students who were lacing his body with shrapnel.  In a matter of seconds, he was unrecognizable mass of blood and flesh.  The acrid smell of gunpowder filled the room.  She quickly checked the hallway to see if anyone was alerted and seeing nothing, reclosed the door.

 She then ordered the class to return to their seats.  The notes that each of them had written earlier and sent via campus mail to the president relating their actions were well on their way.  She set the small package of C-4 that she had been saving underneath Trina’s desk.  In Trina’s note she had added something about “burning the hypocrisy from the Earth” so it seemed fitting to let her explode first.  She set the timer for 25 minutes and gathered her things. Hurrying quickly down the stairs she turned right and walked past Dows, waving to a couple of classmates coming from a different class. As she walked towards First Avenue and her car she realized that she had forgotten to purge Heller’s files.  As she prepared to run back inside and quickly erase the information she saw a man slowly walking towards her from the shadows of Dows.

 “Nice day for a walk wouldn’t you say Kimberly?”

 At the sound of the voice her blood turned to ice.  Horror and astonishment crossed her features.  It was impossible.  She had seen this man die with her own eyes! “No!” she shouted.  “ It can’t be!”

 “I am sorry to have to do this, but it can’t be helped.” he said with a trace of resignation in his voice.  “You shouldn’t have hacked into my files so crudely.  Your superiors should have informed you of my background more fully.  The man upstairs was merely an automaton, a cyborg, if you will.  I had him created by scientists in my native Russia for a situation just like this.  Now, unfortunately for you, it is too late.”

 With that he raised his right hand and the semi-automatic pistol in it.  As he fired, Kimberly tried to reach into her jacket, but the bullets bit into her flesh before she could draw her Glock and she slumped, facedown, to the ground.  His reactions had been enhanced in a cybernetic facility in Moscow, she would have had trouble taking him if she had been expecting the attack.

 Heller walked quickly over to her near motionless body and turned it over with his toe.  As he peered down at her, she whispered something that he could not quite hear.  He leaned forward and she repeated it.  “Fuck you, you Russian bitch,” she croaked.

 Such a promising student, he thought as he shot her once in the forehead with the pistol.  As he stood up straight he noticed the two small rings around her index finger.  His eyes suddenly bulged with fear and recognition.  Too late, he discovered that Kimberly had brought the grenades with her in her coat pocket.  Just in case of an emergency.

 As fire rained down from the top of Hickok Hall, the students of Coe College were quickly evacuated by campus officials.  The smell of burning flesh and wood filled the Quad.  The roiling smoke had blackened out the sky above the area.  It looked as if a war had been fought on Coe’s soil that day.

 Standing by an ambulance that was stationed next to Peterson hall, President Phifer turned to look back at the burning wreck of the building he noticed Terry Heller’s head stuck halfway up a nearby evergreen tree.  Slowly a smile creased his face.  He murmured, “Well done, Kimberly.  Well done.”

Acknowledgments: Thanks to my classmates and professor for the inspiration for the characters involved, Super Mario (from Super Mario 3) for being there during the rough times, Mike Tyson, Tim Robbins, Howard Stern, Scooby Doo and Shaggy, and last, but not least, Tony Hawk, Pro Skater.

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