HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 95

“Not on me, I’m afraid,” Frederica said. “Thanks anyway.”

“No problem,” Marie said. “And tell your friend she’s got good taste in cameras.”

Frederica nodded, and Marie strolled away.

“Do you really think the blackmailer was a student here?” Magh asked.

“I’m not sure,” Frederica said, “but I intend to find out.”


Frederica asked the instructors of her next two classes about Virginia but neither of them recognized the name, either. At lunch, she made her way to the journalism department offices and knocked on Cyrus’s door.

“Come,” his voice boomed.

She stepped inside the spartan office. Cyrus sat behind a plain old wooden desk covered in coursework. A filing cabinet stood to his left, a bookshelf to his right. A diploma hung from the wall behind him, the only overt display of his many accomplishments.

“Oh, hello, Fred,” he said. “Are you here for your files?”

Frederica shook her head.

“No, no, I’d actually prefer if you held onto them a little longer,” she said. “I’ve had some… security concerns.”

“It’s lucky you took precautions, then,” he said. “So if you don’t need your files, what can I do for you?”

“Well, it’s kind of a long shot,” she said, “but I was wondering if you remember ever teaching a student in this program named Virginia.”

Cyrus stroked his beard and stared off into the middle distance, reviewing his memory. After a minute or two, he shook his head.

“Doesn’t ring a bell, sorry,” he said. “I’ve only been teaching here for a few years, though, so she might have come earlier. Have you checked the department website? There’s a list of alumni on there.”

“No sign of her there,” Frederica said. “I might be barking up the wrong tree, but I’m running out of options.”

“Why do you need to find her so badly?” Cyrus asked.