Kiera pulled the library van in front of a big house in the middle of the compound.The building was set up to look like the kind of old plantation house. Big white columns, red brick covered in green vines. If not for the high grass around the front and peaking through the brick in the walkway, it might have pulled off stately. As it stood, it represented a lot of the old life, all show and no soul.
"Almost figured I would see the kids out in the fields," I said.
"Yeah. Someone's usually playing basketball," Kiera said.
"I was joking," I said. Kiera did not answer, just opened the door and stepped out.
I followed her on the gravel drive and almost fell ass over teakettle. The rocks were at least two inches thick and rolled like ball bearings. I hurried to catch up with her as she made her way to the front door. I said, "You want me to get the puppets?"
I got a quick "no" over a shoulder attached to a body on a mission. I had never seen the children's librarian like this. The normal affable personality had been replaced by someone rock hard. Her first beat against the door rattled the frame.
The door opened with small creaks and groans. Small sounds with harsh unfeeling temperament, not the deep groan the outside gates had given. These were small and uncultured creaks.
An eye peaked out. Large and white with gray hair peaking out and over it. "Not today. I'm sorry," a small woman's voice said.
"Where are the children?" Kiera said.
The small voice sighed. "All sick, the dears. Please leave."
The door shut with a small bang.
Kiera hit the door again, harder. "Mrs. Davis. Where are they?"
"Why did they let us through the front gate?" I said. I stood on the large front porch and gazed out. The other buildings were smaller than the main house, more utilitarian. I thought I saw a small shape run from one building to another. I squinted and tried to see into the shadows. Nothing else moved.
Kiera walked to a shuttered window and tried to peer in. "They have to let us in. Part of the state contract to supply supplemental education."
"So you want me to get the puppets? Maybe we could do a little show for the windows. I thought I saw someone over there."
She followed my finger. "I don't see anything. Fuck the puppets. She has to let us see them." She began slamming her fist on the door again.
"Kiera," I said.
She slowed. Her first struck the wood one last time. "Dammit. I hope they didn't do anything stupid," she said.
Kiera brushed past me and headed toward the van. I followed, trying to get ahead of her as she walked around the back. She threw open the doors and began pulling out bags. "We will do the show. For the windows, sure. I like that. They have to… Is that a body?"
Kiera had a hand on the body of the reference librarian's dad wrapped in plastic. She turned back to me, wild red hair blowing in the gentle mid-morning breeze.
"Is that a body?" she said and began to smile.
To be continued...