Thursday, July 2, 2009
The Learning Curve: Chapter 3
“You so much as flinch and I’m going to melt your stupid face off.” It was an exaggeration obviously. CC Tucker knew full well that the pepper spray she had aimed at the guy who she had snuck off with would not actually melt anything. However, the threat did stop him from advancing towards her. “I scream and this room is going to be packed with people.”
“Calm down. I just want to talk.” Steve put his hands up in a submissive gesture.
“Yeah, well, I just wanted to fool around a bit with a random guy at a party, but then your Creep-o-meter started clanging off the charts.” CC kept the pepper spray aimed at Steve’s face and was very aware of the distance between them. If he rushed her, she would not be able to dodge him in the tight quarters of the bedroom. She also knew that if she wanted to get out of the room it would have to be through Steve. “Now you talk, asshole. Everyone freaks out when these Ellison guys are even mentioned. I don’t even know them! I have a professor in common with one of them and I ran into the other earlier tonight. I. Don’t. Know. Them. What the hell is everyone’s deal around here?”
“Stop pointing that at me.” There was anger in Steve’s voice.
“No.” CC answered sternly. The word had barely escaped her lips when Steve rushed her. CC hit the trigger on the spray, but Steve stretched out his hand and blocked the spray from reach his face. He grasped the small spray can and jerked at it, trying to wrest it from CC’s grip. The young blonde kicked upwards as soon as he gripped the spray. The kick struck firmly in the groin and with a loud grunt Steve winced and began to stumble backwards. He released his grip on the spray and CC took the opportunity to douse Steve’s face. He wailed in pain as CC shoved him aside and bolted for the door.
She was vaguely aware of the steady stream of profanity that was spilling from her lips as she descended the staircase. Slowly but surely the heads of everyone at the party looked to her. She stopped at the base of the stairs. No one spoke. The music continued to play. CC glanced around the room. Bitter feelings twisted her pretty face.
“Steve’s an asshole!” She shouted and then headed straight out the door. She had made it to the sidewalk by the time Tonya ran out of the house in pursuit.
“CC!” She shouted, but her roommate did not break stride. “CC, wait!” Tonya finally caught up with her and saw raw anger on her face. “What the heck happened in there?”
“Damned high school garbage.”
“That jerk Steve got me into a room and freakin’ grilled me about those guys. The twins.”
“Whatever. Screw this scene. It’s just like the cliques back in high school.” CC fumed as she walked down the Row. She and Tonya got catcalls much like they did on their way to the party but instead of offering a smile in return CC gave them the finger.
“What? It wasn’t that bad in high school.”
“Easy to say when you’re popular. That crap’s over. I’m not going to be judged or interrogated just for talking to a guy I barely know.”
“CC, hold on a minute.” Tonya grabbed CC’s arm and brought the pair of them to a halt. CC’s still looked quite angry but she was not going to take it out on Tonya. “I asked about those guys. There’s a ton of rumors about them.”
“So, none of them are good. I think the girls in the sorority are just trying to look out for us.”
“Yeah, well I didn’t ask them to. Go on back to the party. I’m heading home.” CC turned and headed up the Row and towards the dormitories. Tonya followed and quickly caught up. CC tossed her a questioning glance.
“The music wasn’t really working for me.” They both smiled and looped their arms with each others. They left the row and made their way across the campus to their dormitory. There was still quite a bit of activity on the campus. A few dedicated students were coming from and going to the library. The campus movie theater had a bit of a crowd. Tonya and CC did not say much during their walk home. Tonya wanted to ask about what had happened in the room with Steve, but she held off, not able to think of how to broach the subject.
They had planned on having a snack and watching a movie when they got back to their room. When they opened the door they were stopped in the doorway by a rush of cold air. They entered and were surprised that they could see their breaths misting in the air.
“What the hell?” CC went straight to the heating and air conditioning unit by the window as Tonya turned on the lights. The unit was off. Both girls felt goose bumps rise on their skin. “I’m calling maintenance.” CC said as she headed to the phone. She stopped short when she saw Tonya standing rigid in the middle of the room. “Tonya?”
Tonya did not answer she just stared blankly at the mirror. It was the same mirror CC had been looking at when she thought she saw something earlier that evening. Now she could only see a message. The cold and humidity in the room had put a layer of frost on the mirror. CC did not think the room was cold enough to produce frost, but it seemed the mirror had a different opinion. There was a message written in the frost:
CC looked closer at the message. While the frost prevented her from seeing a reflection, where the words were written the mirror was clear. Something was looking back at her. She looked quickly at Tonya and them back at the mirror and saw her own eyes in the reflection. Without a word she grabbed Tonya by the arm and pulled her out of the room.
“Tonya!” CC nearly shouted at her friend whose face was still blank and expressionless.
“What?” Tonya replied. She was blinking quickly and looking around. “What just happened? What’s happening?”
“Screw maintenance. I’m calling security.” CC pulled out her cell phone and quickly dialed the campus operator. It wasn’t long before security arrived and the dormitory was buzzing with activity. By the time security did arrive, the temperature in the room had returned to normal. There was no evidence of there ever having been a message on the mirror. Tonya was taken to the hospital. She seemed to be in shock.
CC sat on a bench in front of the dormitory. She had been told that it was all right for her to go back to her room, but her gut feeling was to stay as far away from it as possible. The night air was crisp and clean. It helped her relax a little. She thought about sleeping on the couch in the dormitory lounge that night.
She looked around. The evening was peaceful. It was nearly midnight and only a few of the students were out. Most of them were either sleeping or already wherever they wanted to be that evening. The area was well lit, but there were spots down the road that ran along the dormitories that the streetlights did not fully illuminate.
In the dark area were two people. CC focused on them. They were men and the same size. They seemed to be looking at her, but at the distance she could not tell for certain. They were joined by a third man and for the life of her CC did not see him approach the other two. The one began walking away from the others and towards the dormitories. The other two began walking down the sidewalk in the other direction. They walked out of the darkness briefly and CC swore it was the Ellison Brothers.
“Bullshit.” She said to herself. “You’re tired and your mind’s playing horrible tricks on you.” Then she saw that the third man was walking towards her. CC continued talking to herself. “So help me if this guy is coming to me and gives me an ounce of grief I’m going to quit this stupid school.” The man did indeed walk to her. The area around CC was very well lit and CC recognized the man as the young Asian fellow that had nearly run her over on the stairs earlier that day. He stopped short, keeping his distance.
“Tucker, right?” He said with a gentle smile.
“Um… yeah…” CC did not know how this guy knew who she was, but she already did not like it.
“I’m Chad. I heard something weird happened in your room. There’s a suite over in Ellis Hall that you can stay in if you want.”
“You can get some of your things out of your room if you want. I’ll even come with you.”
“Are you campus security?”
“Something like that.”
“’Something like that’ isn’t going to cut it.”
“I understand. You’ve had a rough night.” Chad fished a very plain key ring out of his pocket. There was only one key on it. Chad kept his distance and tossed it to her. CC caught it. “Good hands. Anyways, it’s an open offer. Stay there or not, it’s up to you.”
“And why do I get this open offer?”
“You’re not the first person to have a rough night around here.” Chad smiled and nodded. Then he turned and walked away. “Room 212.” He called back to her without turning around. He walked away leaving CC staring at the room key. The offer of a soft bed in a suite was good, but more than that she wanted answers. Her gut told her she might find some in Ellis Hall room 212.
She went with her gut.
This month's artist: Is Hawaii's lovely and talented Kai Lee.