Welcome to EFNB 10th Anniversary Week! This entry is a sequel to one posted ten years ago on February 20, 2010.

“Look,” Reuben said. “I know what you’re going to say, but I need to make up Friday’s test. My grandmother died.” He was pale, sweaty, and shaking a little–as if he’d just jogged over, at the very least.

I took off my reading glasses, laying them across ungraded student papers on my overstuffed desk, and massaged my temples, which were already aching from a litany of excuses already floated at me via email. No one, it seemed, wanted to take a test the Friday before spring break, even though the department was forcing me to give it and I’d otherwise have readily agreed.

“Reuben,” I said. “This is the fifth time. I’m very sorry that my tests seem to be fatal to your grandmothers, but this can’t keep going on.”

“Would you believe that my family is a group of necromancers, and that we’ve tried to raise her five times now?” Reuben said, eyes wide. “And each time we’ve had to put her down when her thirst for flesh becomes too great?”

“It does have the virtue of being one I haven’t heard before,” I said.

“What if I told you that there was a grandmother-targeting serial killer out there, then?” Reuben said. “And that they’ve been picking off my grandmothers one at a time, brutally in some cases?”

Picking up my glasses, I put them back on and got up. I shut the office door before plopping back into my chair. “I’d say that you need to tell me what’s really going on here, Reuben,” I said. “Wild excuses giving way to wilder ones aren’t going to change the fact that you look like death warmed over. Tell me the truth.”

He flashed a nervous, tremulous, and bright grin. “I wish I knew, Dr. Beck,” he said. “I wish I knew.”

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