The Sapphire Chronicles

February 5, 2010

Chapter Nine: Gender Studies

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 5:41 am
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President Larrington was dead wrong: Tommy’s classes were a joke. He hadn’t had such a small work load since freshmen year of high school. He wondered if it was just that things hadn’t picked up yet, but he was beginning to wonder. His Writing I class was full of assignments like, “Describe your dorm room in five hundred words” which may have had some educational value if it came with directions on proper grammar and punctuation, but Professor Jeri didn’t seem to care. Tommy had experimented by adding comas between every six words to see if it would matter, but Professor Jeri just scrawled a 4.0 at the top of his page with a little note (Great Descriptions!) underneath. It was busy work of the worst sort, and Tommy wondered if all of college was going to be so easy. He had chosen to be an English Lit major so he could learn how to write, not so he could… well, he didn’t know what he was doing, but it wasn’t what he had been envisioning.

His other classes weren’t much better. Math II was a review of advanced algebra that Thomas had mastered in High School. American History II was interesting, all about the world wars, but he had been exposed to much of it before, and there was no homework, just some light reading. Speech came with a professor that seemed to think the point of Speech class was to expound on speech techniques to the class for forty five minutes, and he didn’t seem to think that students needed to practice. Thomas had learned more about giving speeches during his short stint with Toast Masters.

All in all his college education was laughable. There was only one redeeming period, Gender Studies.

Thomas had spent a long time pouring over all the electives that he could take during his freshmen year at Fitchburg State, and Gender Studies didn’t really help him progress his major at all. It counted as a single Communications credit, but that did little to help him become a graduate of the English Literature program. He had poured over art courses, music courses, even a Health Education course that promised to be just like gym, but in the end he kept being drawn to Gender Studies. It appealed to an inner part of him that we wasn’t sure he wanted to let out, all wrapped up in visions of Rocky Horror and slutty mini skirts. But in the end the inner part had won out, and not at all sure he was making a good decision, Tommy had applied for the class.

Now he was sitting in a class room. The desks had all been pushed to the edges of the wall so that everyone sitting could see each other. Even his professor, an incredibly skinny woman dressed in a fancy and stylish black suit, had pushed her desk into the circle. As he entered the class for the first time she fixed him with her green eyes and nodded towards the white board.

The board contained simple instructions: “Please take a seat according to your gender. If you are male sit on the left side of the circle. If you are female sit on the right side of the circle. Please feel free to get to know your classmates until class begins.”

Thomas looked at the instructions in astonishment, trying to suppress a yawn. He’d been up with Jessica the entire night, or at least Sapphire had been, and he hadn’t bothered to… become himself again until well after dawn. After that he’d gone with Jessica for a quick breakfast, she didn’t seem to care if she was with Tommy or Sapphire, and then headed off to classes. Now he tried to get his tired mind into gear.

Where should he sit? He knew the obvious answer; he was obviously a male, for now, but images of flashing blue lights and strange emotions flooded through his memory. So far he had managed to suppress most of the feelings, he’d even managed to get Jess to stop pushing him, but this brought everything back in a rush. What was happening to him? Who was he? He felt the sapphire hanging around his neck, it’s cold stone pressing against his chest underneath his shirt. Why hadn’t he dropped it and run?

He shook his head to clear it, and picked a desk on the left side of the room, next to a skinny boy with his eyes closed and blue ear buds pressed firmly into his ears. Thomas could hear faint sounds of a rap song, although he couldn’t make out any of the words.

Students trickled into the room, each of them looking at the board and then around the class with puzzled looks. Then they would chose a side and move to a seat. It was all fairly unremarkable until the girl that had been wearing a school girl uniform the day before walked in.

Today she was wearing a long black skirt with pleats, and another white button up top. She swirled into the room, her skirt swaying back and forth about an inch from the ground. She looked at the instructions on the board and scoffed. Then she looked around the room, fixing Thomas with a disdainful look before taking the last seat on the right hand side of the room.

“And that should be everyone,” the professor said standing up. “My name is Professor Appelton, and if you aren’t here for gender studies than you are in the wrong place.” She paused, but no one moved.

“Very well then, welcome to Gender Studies,” she looked around the room. “I don’t know why you took this class though, it looks like you already know all about gender.” She paused again, as if expecting laughter, but the class just stared at her nervously.

“Gender Studies,” she continued, “is a study of boxes. What is male? What is female? It is about finding your place, and sticking to it. We will be discussing gender movements, like feminism, and also we will be discussing how society views the differences between males and females. We will study how the two boxes interact with each other, and by the end of the class you should all know exactly why you fit in the box you are in. Any questions?”

Silence.

“Very well, moving on then.” Professor Appelton erased the white board and picked up a black dry erase marker. “This is a house,” she said drawing a simple shape, “Lesson one is all about the home. It’s important to learn your place in family life. It’s important to know who should go to work,” she drew a square building at the other end of the board, “and who should stay at home. You need to know who should be taking care of the money, and who should be in charge of cleaning. If you want to get far in life you need to know.”

Thomas stared at Professor Appelton as she drew a dollar bill on the board and a squiggly shape that might have been a vacuum cleaner. Was this really what he had signed up for?

Professor Appelton pulled out two more markers, one pink and one blue. “Let me make this very easy for all of you. Please take careful notes.” She scrawled big blue boxes around the office building and the cash, and two large pink boxes around the house and the vacuum. “Boxes everyone. Male and female, boy and girl. Know your places.

“This is your syllabus for the semester. You will note that some of them are printed on blue paper and some of them are on pink paper. Please pick the appropriate one and pass them on.” Professor Appleton plopped the pile of paper onto a girl’s desk. The girl looked at the paper skeptically, and for a moment he thought she was going to say something.

“Is there a problem, ma’am?” Professor Appleton asked sharply.

The girl suddenly looked terrified. She shook her head, pulled out a pink piece of paper, and passed the pile on. Thomas watched her as the other students started picking out their respective lists of assignments. The girl’s face clouded in anger as she glanced through the schedule. Thomas looked at the other girls in the room and noticed that they were all wearing deep scowls as well.

Finally one of the girls, wearing a Native American looking poncho, stood up.

“Are you going somewhere?” Professor Appelton asked.

The girl stared defiantly at the professor. “These are recipes! This is not what I signed up for!”

Thomas gaped. Professor Appelton was handing out recipes?

“Sit down girl, you are disrupting my class.” Professor Appelton said coldly.

“No. I’m leaving.”

“Before you do, would you mind telling me just why you are so upset?”

“These are recipes!” The girl shouted. “I didn’t sign up for some sixties version of Home Ec. I signed up for an education, not to be brainwashed!”

“Brainwashed? You’re the one that sat on the right hand side of the room aren’t you?” Appleton asked.

“What? So you’re telling me that just because I’m a girl I’m supposed to stay at home and cook and clean and dote on a husband?”

“Isn’t that where you belong?”

“No! Fuck you!”

“Well then, it must be where they belong. I guess I should have given the males the pink papers. Is that what you think?”

“What? No. That’s not what I think.”

“Well then, please enlighten us. What do you think I should have done?” Asked the professor.

The girl began to calm down, and Thomas was grateful that she lowered her shrill voice.

“You shouldn’t have different assignments for different genders.”

“Why? Aren’t males and females different?”

The girl sat down. “Of course they are. But it doesn’t mean they can’t do the same things.”

“But what about the boxes?” Professor Appleton prompted.

“What about the damn boxes? Why do I even have to have a box?”

Professor Appleton looked around the room. “Why does she have to have a box?” she asked.

The skinny boy that had been listening to his ipod raised his hand.

“Yes?”

The boy cleared his throat, “So she knows what to do?” he asked tentatively.

“What’s your name?” Professor Appleton asked.

“Brian.”

“Do you need a box to tell you what to do, Brian?” Professor Appleton demanded.

He paused, “umm… I’ve never thought about it.”

“Well think about it now.”

“Okay… uh… no. No I don’t.”

“Then how do you know what to do? How do any of you know what to do?”

“We do what we want,” said the girl that had run into Jess. “We do whatever makes us happy.”

“Whatever makes you happy? But what if want to play hockey?”

“I don’t. But if I wanted to you wouldn’t stop me.”

“You’re stepping out of your box.”

“There aren’t any boxes,” the girl said. “I don’t accept that. I won’t accept that.”

“There aren’t any boxes,” Professor Appleton repeated. “Well then… what is there?”

This time the class went back to being silent.

“How about this?” Professor Appleton erased the white board and drew a long, horizontal line. One the left side she wrote Male, and the right side Female. “Forget boxes. What if gender is a spectrum?

“Take the man who acts as a bread winner for the family and plays poker at night with his friends. Let’s put him over here,” she drew a dot on the male side. “Now lets take the woman who wants to take care of her children full time.” She drew a dot on the female side. “But now we have room for other people. How about the male that wants to take care of the children?” She pulled out her blue marker and placed a dot half way across the line. “What about the woman that works for a living,” now a pink dot a quarter of the way across the line on the female side.

“Gender isn’t about boxes, people. It isn’t about fitting into a perfect place in society. Most people couldn’t fit into boxes if they tried, and some people fit into boxes that society thinks they shouldn’t be in at all. It doesn’t matter what I tell you to be, it matters what you are. It matters what people are.

“Read Chapter One in your text books, it will discuss the gender spectrum in detail. Take notes, and write a small journal entry about your thoughts. Save the journal entry, I will be collecting them twice during the semester and they will count as a test grade. Now, here are a few things to think about…”

Thirty minutes later Thomas left his first Gender Studies class. It wouldn’t require two hours of work either, but so far it promised to be the most interesting class the semester would offer.

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February 1, 2010

Chapter Eight: Power and Responsibility

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 1:45 am
Tags: , ,

Jess dragged Tommy down to her own common room and asked him to wait while she checked if her roommate was in. While he waited he grabbed a green Crayola crayon and colored in some seaweed on one of the giant Sponge Bob coloring pages. A few seconds later Jess poked her head out of her door and motioned from him to come in. Her roommate was gone. Thomas closed his hand around the sapphire around his neck and hesitated. He was full of excitement, worry, trepidation, and exhilaration. His stomach turned as three dozen butterflies beat their furious wings. He placed the green crayon back in the box taped to the wall and looked at Jess.

Jessica was waving her hand at him, waving him into the room. “Come on! ” She hissed.

He looked back towards the hall that would eventually take him back to his own room. This was a bad idea. He shouldn’t share this secret with anyone. He hadn’t even known Jess for a full day. He couldn’t know if he could trust her yet. But, she had been there with him. With the help of the soul transformation he had saved her dignity and possibly her life. Who else could he share this secret with?

“No one,” a small voice whispered in his head. “Trust no one.”

“Come on!”  Jess hissed again.

This is probably a bad idea, he thought. But he pushed the voice and the feelings of danger away and walked into Jess’  room.

Jess’ room was plastered in so many different colors and decorations that it took Tommy time to take in all of it. Jess had covered all the walls in the room with glossy wrapping paper covered in a skull and bones motif on a pink background. Taped to the walls were posters from half a dozen different bands, Gamma Ray, Nightwish, Linkin Park, and a variety of others. Most of the singers were made out in gothic and punkish styles. Some of them had long, flowing hair while others had their hair glued into tall spikes. A calendar featuring the world of Tolkien hung above the bed. Jess’  bed was made up with purple sheets and a striped blanket that was covered in lines upon lines of dark colors. Blues, and golds, and reds, and greens tore across her bed: Thomas thought that it was like looking at a rainbow in a dark dimension. He turned around in a slow circle, gazing at the entire room.

“It’s neat, isn’t it?” Jess asked.

Tommy nodded.

“The paper falls down a lot,” she said. “But I have lots of extra duct tape to put it all back up. My roommate hates me almost as much as yours does…  but not quite. This is better than teddy bears,” she laughed.

“It is. I’ve never seen anything so…  garishly fascinating.”

“Is that supposed to be a good thing?”

“I think so. This is definitely the brightest room I’ve ever been in.”

“Alright. I want to see.”

The butterflies in Thomas’ stomach turned into a tornado. “Now?”

“Yes, now!”

Tommy looked at the floor, refusing to meet Jess’ eyes. “Okay,” he murmured.

He held the sapphire necklace in his hands and stared into it’s depths. He remembered the feeling of having his soul merge with the Sapphire Soldier’s, the comfort of having it wrap around him like a blanket. He yearned for that comfort again, that feeling of protection and power; however, a part of him prayed that it wouldn’t work. Part of him hoped that this entire experience had been nothing more than a strange dream. Terrified that it would work; terrified that it wouldn’t work, he reached into the sapphire with his…  what? Mind? Feelings? Empathy? He wasn’t sure. But he reached into the blue stone with something and felt the Sapphire Soldier’s soul rushing towards him.

“Sapphire Soul Transformation!” The words burst from him in a shout he could barely control. The blue light flashed, transforming his clothes and body. Tommy and the soldier merged their souls.

Sapphire watched Jess through the brilliant blue glow. Jessica was squinting her eyes against the light, trying to see the transformation take place. As the light faded her eyes grew wide in shock and amazement. She stared at Sapphire  in silence, unable to think of anything to say. Sapphire stared back, leaning casually on her staff. Her hair had grown all the way down to her upper thighs; it had turned azure blue, and it was held in place by a large sapphire hair tie. They stared at each other for several long moments as the silence spun out between them. Then Sapphire dropped her gaze to the floor.

“Well?” She asked as her face turned red.

Jess didn’t say anything. Sapphire wanted to say something else, but she didn’t know what to say. The butterflies were still making their home in her insides, even after the transformation, and as the silence continued she felt them turning from a tornado into a full-fledged hurricane.

“Jess?” She whispered.

Jess took a deep breath, “Tommy, even your voice has changed. This is… it’s… amazing.”

Relief flooded through Sapphire. “Jess, don’t call me that. No one else can ever know who I am. I am called Sapphire.”

“You are called Sapphire? By whom?”

Sapphire pondered the question for long moments before she answered. “I’m not sure. But it’s true. I am called Sapphire.”

“Okay,” Jess said. “I love your hair. And that staff, it’s wonderful.”

“It’s an unfortunate necessity. And it’s cold.”

“It is?”

“Yes.”

“Can I hold it?” Jess asked.

Sapphire held the staff out to her. Jess pulled it away from her and gasped as the cold crystal filled her hands. Sapphire saw that goose bumps were already sprouting across Jess’ arms in little white prickles. Jess managed to hold onto the staff for several seconds before dropping it to the floor with a clang. She jumped away from it gasping as she shook her hands.

“God, that’s not cold. It’s frigid!”

“I did warn you,” Sapphire said, leaning down to pick up the frosty weapon.

“You know,” Jess said, “this isn’t how I thought it would be.”

“How what would be?”

Jess waved vaguely at Sapphire, “You, this, I mean, you’re a girl. Look at you!”

“I know.”

“I thought that I’d want to…  I don’t know. Dress you up, paint your nails or put makeup on you, or something! But…”

Sapphire looked at the floor and felt a few of the butterflies come back. “But what?”

“Tommy, no, Sapphire…  this scares me. What’s happening? What are you going to do? Who are you?”

“I don’t know what’s happening, Jess, and I don’t know what I’m going to do, or if I should do anything. But I am still who I was before you saw me turn into… this.”

“You’re a girl, Sapphire. You aren’t just dressed as a girl. You don’t just look like a girl. If you were to strip naked I would bet everything I own that you are a girl.”

“I know.”

“And you want me to believe that you are the same person I met this morning?”

Sapphire stared at the floor in silence.

“I like you; I like you a lot. I can tell that you are going to be a good friend, and I’m sure you are more…  weirded out by this whole thing than I am. But you should still figure out who you are, what you are.”

“I know,” Sapphire whispered.

“What does this mean to you?” Jess asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Well think about it.”

“I don’t know Jess! I haven’t had time to think about it.”

“You have time now.”

“Jess, I don’t even know how to start thinking about it. I don’t even believe it’s real yet. I’m sure that in a few minutes or hours I’ll wake up in my bed at home and find out that this is just some twisted dream about my fears of leaving home and going to school.”

“You can’t run away from this,” Jess said.

“Why not? I’m good at running.”

“Sapphire, running won’t solve anything. I’m going to tell you the most clichéd saying in comic book history. I don’t even read comics and I know the saying…  but it’s also true. ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ I don’t know what’s happening to you, but if the half of what you told me about our encounter with the gang is true, and I’m sure it is, then for some reason you have power. What are you going to do with the responsibility?”

“Jess! Have you listened to yourself? Comic book history?”

“What do you mean?”

“Jess… my life isn’t a comic. I’m not a super hero! This is all new to me. I don’t know what I’m going to do with this so called responsibility. I’m not even convinced I have responsibility. And what do you want me to do? Go fight Doctor Octavious or something?”

“I know. You’re right. This is just so strange, I’m trying to get my head around it.”

“Me too, Jess. Me too,” Sapphire replied.

Sapphire knew that she should separate her soul and get some sleep. It was nearing four in the morning, and she was going to be dead all day if she didn’t at least get a few hours of rest. But she also knew that even if she went back to her room she wouldn’t sleep. How could she ever sleep again? She was already suffering from insomnia before tonight, unable to sleep because of the thoughts whirling and buzzing in her mind. What would she do now?

“Jess,” Sapphire said timidly, “this is going to kill me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m already torn between my sexual identity. Am I straight, gay, bi? I don’t know. And now… this. I’m a boy that transforms into some sort of mystical girl. And I like this, Jess. Being the way I am now is comforting, and I don’t know if that’s just because my soul is wrapped in the soul of another, or if it’s because of the physical changes that I’ve gone through. How am I ever going to figure out who I am after this?”

Jess wrapped Sapphire in a hug. “I don’t know, Sapphire,” she said, “but I’ll be here for you to help you figure it out… and I’ll try to be a little less pushy. I tend to get aggressive when I’m worried.”

Sapphire hugged her friend back, awkwardly holding her staff out of the way. “Thanks,” she said. “Can we sit and talk until tomorrow?”

“Let’s do it,” Jess said. “Screw sleep.”

Jess hopped onto her bed and sat cross-legged. She patted the bed in front of her, motioning for Sapphire to join her. Sapphire leaned her staff against the wall and hopped up as well, and sitting on the bed facing each other the two passed the wee hours of the morning talking about everything that was important, and some things that were not.

July 17, 2009

Chapter Seven: Sharing Secrets

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 1:45 am
Tags: , ,

Fifteen minutes later Sapphire finally dragged Jess back to the school’s campus. During the journey Jess’ clothes had reverted back to her Gamma Ray t-shirt and short skirt. As Sapphire arrived she looked at the clothes Jess was wearing and grimaced. Her friend’s multicolored leggings had been torn apart by the rough pavement, and she was worried that Jess’ legs were now covered in scrapes. She prayed they wouldn’t be bad, and that her friend’s leggings had not been too expensive. She looked around the main street of the school, trying to see if anyone else was out. It was past three thirty in the morning, nearly four, and the campus was empty, but Sapphire knew that she could be seen at any moment.

She also knew that she didn’t want to be seen, not the way she was now. As if responding to her worries new words were suddenly in her mind.

“Soul Separation,” she whispered. There was a quick flash of blue light, and Thomas stood in Sapphire’s place, back in his own clothing.

The feeling of having his soul separate from the Sapphire Soldier was disorienting, and for several moments he couldn’t do anything but sway back and forth while trying to keep his balance. For a moment he couldn’t remember who he was, or what he was doing there. Then the events of the night came rushing back to him, the walk through dark allies, the gang, watching Jess light up like a Christmas tree as she tried unsuccessfully to join her soul. Then he remembered his own, successful joining with the Sapphire Soldier and how he stopped time around the gang’s leader with Sapphire’s staff.

“Oh man, what in the world is going on here?” He wondered. “What’s happening to me?”

He looked down to see Jess still lying on the ground. Her chest moved steadily up and down. She hadn’t been hurt by the gang, but obviously the unsuccessful transformation had had some unintended side effects. He knelt down beside her.

“Hey Jess,” He said, “Can you hear me?” He gently patted her cheek. “Jess, wake up.”

Jess didn’t react, so Thomas took her by the shoulders and shook her up and down.

“Hey Jess,” he said, “Wake up! Come on, please?”

When Jess didn’t move again he swore and stamped his foot on the ground. What was he going to do? He didn’t want to call 911, how would he explain to the paramedics what had happened? He didn’t think telling them about how he fought off a gang by stopping time with a crystalline staff would be any help With his luck the paramedics would take him off to the hospital too, and then put him in the loony bin. There had to be something else he could do.

He looked around for inspiration, hoping to find an answer to his dilemma in the glow of the street lights that lined the road. The brick pathway that led toRussell Towers was lined with short green shrubs and several sprinklers were spraying water onto the bushes. Water, Thomas decided, was his best bet. If that didn’t work he’d call Campus Police and come up with something to tell them. He cast about for something to put the water in, but finding nothing he decided to drag Jess up to the shrubs and let the sprinklers spray her down.

Grunting, he reached down and grabbed Jessica around the shoulders again. He could feel the muscles in his own shoulders and lower back burning, and he thought about how much they were going to ache in the morning. He dragged Jess up the brick path and heard another small tear as the rip in her leggings got bigger. Ignoring the damage he was doing to her clothes, and probably the skin on her legs as well, he pulled Jess up the path and towards the bushes.

He felt water spray his back as he approached the shrubs. With one last heave he pulled Jess in range of the sprinklers and then stepped aside. The arch of water had already swung away, but he watched it spray over several shrubs and then turn slowly back towards them.

“Oh gods, please let this work,” he prayed under his breath.

The spray of water moved closer. A soft breeze sprayed a gentle mist from the sprinklers over his face, and then the spray moved past him. He watched as the arch of water reached Jess. The water hit her in the middle of her face. For a second she didn’t move and Thomas thought he might cry, but then she gasped. She sputtered and spat as she tried to avoid inhaling water. Coughing, she pushed herself to a sitting position and the sprinkler’s spray once again moved away from her.

“Jess!” Thomas exclaimed, “It worked!”

She rubbed her eyes to clear them of water. “What the hell is going on here?”

“You’re awake!”

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you douse someone in water.” She looked around, registering her surroundings for the first time. She looked up at Thomas in confusion.

“Tommy, where in god’s name are we?”

“We made it back to campus. I had to drag you down the streets, but we made it back. You’re safe Jess. I saved you.”

Jess blinked. “Saved me from what?” She looked down at her legs, “and what the hell happened to my leggings?”

“Don’t you remember the gang?”

“What are you talking about?”

Thomas blinked. Of all things he hadn’t been expecting this. “Jess… what’s the last thing you remember?”

Jess thought back. “Well, Mike and I were hanging out in your room. Mike decided to leave, and I said I was hungry. We went to Store 24…” she trailed off and her face wrinkled as she thought back. “It was dark. The roads were sorta scary. We bought food and then, then we… we…” she frowned, “I don’t remember.”

Tommy sighed and sat down next to Jess. “You don’t remember anything after that?”

“No. What happened, Tommy?”

“It’s a long story. Let’s go up to my common room and I’ll tell you everything that happened. My mommy sent me a first aid kit to keep in my room; I can take a look at your legs up there too.”

Jess looked past her torn clothes for the first time. Her legs were covered in drops of red blood that oozed from several dozen scrapes. The skin up and down her thighs was red and covered in scratches. “Ouch. I hope you’re story is good Tommy. My clothes are ruined, and I paid good money for them.”

“Come on, I’ll help you up. Then I’ll tell you everything.”

He helped Jess up and let her lean on him as they made their way up the path and back to Russell Towers. As they walked Jess noticed the sapphire necklace hanging around Tommy’s neck.

“Tommy, why are you wearing that necklace?”

He sighed. “It’s part of the story. No more questions, okay? Just wait until I can look at your legs.”

“Fine, lead the way.”

Five minutes later Jess was sprawled out on the couch in Tommy’s common room. He slipped away for a few minutes to dig the first aid kit out of a box in his room.

“Take your leggings off,” he said coming back into the common room.

“Tommy! We haven’t even had our second date yet.”

He glared at Jess. “Just take them off. I’ll put some cream on them and bandage up the scrapes.”

Jessica stood up and pulled off her leggings, slowly pulling them over the scratches and grimacing. “I feel like you dragged me around like a sack of potatoes, Tommy.”

“Sorry, Jess. I sorta did.”

“What happened, Tommy?”

Tommy waited for Jess to sit back down and sat down beside her. He covered her scratches in Neosporin and covered them in several large band-aids. While he gave her first aid he explained how they had come out of Store 24 and been accosted by the gang. He explained how they had threatened to rape Jess, and how the gang’s leader had forced her into kissing him. He thought about trying to lie about the sapphire and the strange transformations, but he couldn’t think of a story that would explain the night’s events without it. So he told Jess how she had tried to use the sapphire to transform. Her eyes went wide as he told the rest of the story, and she interjected several times to have him explain a point of the story in further detail. She looked at him in disbelief when he told her that he’d frozen the gang’s leader in time. But she let him finish the story. He finished telling her about how he’d dragged her back to the campus, afraid that the gang leader would unfreeze and come after them again. Then he explained how he couldn’t wake her up, and why he’d dragged her to the sprinklers. Story finished he waited for Jess to tell him he was crazy and to walk away.

Jess looked at him for a long time without saying anything, staring into his eyes as if searching for a lie. Finally she looked away. “You’re serious?”

“Yes. I swear.”

She thought for a moment. The sapphire lets you merge your soul with… with a sapphire soldier?”

“I don’t think it’s a sapphire warrior. I think it’s the Sapphire Soldier. And yes. When we merged it was like I could feel her around me, helping me. But I was myself too. I don’t become her. We joined with each other. It was strange, but exhilarating.”

“Right. The Sapphire Soldier. You do realize this sounds crazy, right?”

“I know it does. But it happened.”

“Do you think you could do it again?”

“Transform?”

“Yes.”

“I think so.”

“I want to see,” Jess said.

Thomas stared at her. “What? Why?”

“You told me earlier today that you might let me dress you up as a girl. This is better! Besides, these transformation powers of yours saved my life. I want to see them.”

“I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that. I don’t feel like I should use these… powers to show off. I don’t know if I should use them at all.”

“Why not?”

“They almost killed you. How do I know what the sapphire is doing to me?”

“It did not almost kill me,” Jess said. “It put me to sleep for a bit. No big deal. Come on, please?”

Tommy gaped at Jess. He couldn’t believe she was asking him to do this. He thought about the transformation, thought about how it felt when the light transformed his body. He thought about the comfort of having his soul linked with the Sapphire Soldier and the power that the blue light filled him with. It was like fire flowing through his veins. It was like nothing he’d ever experienced before. And why shouldn’t he share the experience? He couldn’t keep the emotions the transformation had brought on walled up forever. He could already feel the wonder, worry, and panic building up in his mind. Telling Jess about the transformation had helped a little, but having a person to share his secret with completely? He thought that might help a lot.

“Okay, but no one can see. I don’t want anyone to see me while I’m transformed.”

“Deal.”

“And you can’t tell anyone about this, not ever. I don’t know exactly why, but I feel that it’s absolutely vital that no one ever finds out I can change.”

“You’re like a super hero sharing your secret identity with your best friend!”

“I’m not a hero.”

“That’s what they all say at first Tommy. Come on, let’s go find somewhere private.”

Jess bent down to pick up her ruined leggings and dragged Tommy out of the room. He hesitated for a moment, worried what trouble Jess might land him in, but he really did want to show Jessica the transformation. He looked back at his room, realized he was probably not getting any sleep at all, and followed his friend.


July 14, 2009

Sapphire Soul Transformation

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 2:31 pm
Tags: , ,

Thomas forgot about escape and watched the sapphire around Jess’ neck. The glow was barely noticeable at first, but it quickly grew brighter and brighter.

“What the?” The gang leader exclaimed, pulling his hands back as though they had been burned.

The entire gang watched, mesmerized, as the blue light became so bright it lit the surrounding streets like a sapphire sun. The light wrapped around Jess’ body. Jess lifted her arms to the sky as it spun around them like ribbons, and as the light moved up her arms the shirt she was wearing changed from the short sleeves of her gamma ray top to long, lacy white cloth. Blue gloves appeared around her fingers to match the long, flowing skirt that replaced black miniskirt, and white tights replaced the colored leggings. When the light covered her boots they were transformed to blue knee high boots with white laces. As the blue light diffused Thomas could see that the Sapphire now hung in the center of a white v necked shirt that would have been appropriate for a formal dinner party at an all girl’s school.

Jess staggered as the blue light blinked out of existence. She had her left arm raised, hands outstretched as if waiting for something to appear. A confused look came over her face for a moment, and then her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she collapsed to the ground.

Everyone stared at Jess, trying to figure out what had happened. The gang recovered first. The leader poked Jess with his toe, and when she didn’t move he turned back to his followers who were muttering to themselves under their breath.

“What’s wrong? Afraid of an unconscious girl are you?” He demanded.

“Fuck this, Corey,” Julio said to the leader, “We ain’t stayin’ around here for this.”

“You’re all a bunch of cowards,” Corey said to his gang. “I have every intention to ‘fuck this’ as Julio puts it. Are you all gonna run away? The bitch is more beautiful than ever, and now she won’t fight back.”

The gang looked at each other, afraid of Jess, but also afraid of Corey’s anger.

“Look at her,” Corey said. He flipped the long skirt up to show off Jess’ long legs. “We’re not gonna give this up.”

Thomas had been standing where the gang had pushed him, trying to figure out what was going on and what he should do about it. He was paralyzed with indecision. But then he saw Corey flip the strange skirt that Jess was wearing, and that was it. He was not going to stand and watch while a gang raped his new friend. This was not how he was going to start college life.

“Why don’t you all just get away from her?” He shouted, running up to shove himself between Corey and Jess’ body.

Tommy’s entrance pulled the gang out of their fear. “Hey Corey, look at the cute little fag. Let’s beat him to a fuckin’ pulp before we do the girl,” Julio said.

Corey laughed. “Dude, kid, you just made the biggest mistake of your life.”

Corey’s fist caught Thomas beneath the jaw and sent him reeling backwards. Tommy tried to step back as pain exploded into the right side of his face, but tripped over Jess and found himself falling to the ground. Gravel bit into his palms as he broke his fall and collapsed onto Jess in a heap. Corey didn’t give time for Thomas to react, his kick catching Tommy in the gut. Thomas felt the air whoosh out of him and tried to cry out in pain, but he couldn’t breathe. He did the only left he could think of. Thomas pulled his knees up to his chest and curled into the fetal position as Corey kicked him again and again.

The pain was agonizing. Every kick sent waves of pain rippling through his body. Thomas had never been in a fight before, never learned to work through physical pain. He retched and gasped, trying to scream or yell for help, or maybe just to cry. He didn’t know. He just wanted the pain to be over. The sweet darkness of unconsciousness started to creep over him and Tommy yearned for it, yearned to escape the world. One more kick would send him over, he knew it, just one more and everything would be over.

It didn’t come. Gasping in pain he opened his eyes and found that the entire gang was frozen solid, like time had just stopped. A figure stood in front of him, a girl dressed in the same uniform Jess’ clothes had turned into. The girl glowed blue around the edges and from the depths of her empty eye sockets.

“Look at your hand,” the girl commanded.

Tommy groaned in pain and looked down to find that at some point his fist had closed around the sapphire necklace. He looked between it and the girl, completely nonplussed.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“You want to save her, don’t you?” the girl asked.

“Of course I do. She’s my friend.”

“I think I can help you. I tried to help her, but she is too different from me. Our souls did not harmonize.”

Thomas didn’t know what the girl was talking about.

“Your souls didn’t harmonize? Who are you? What do you mean?”

“I am the spirit of the Sapphire Soldier. I talked to the girl when fear threatened to overwhelm her. I tried to offer my help, but I didn’t think it would work. As I said, our souls were too different.”

Tommy looked around. Corey’s foot was frozen inches from his body. He groaned and rolled away, fighting the pain down and getting to his knees. The only thing that moved in the entire night was the girl.

“I must be dreaming,” he muttered. “The gang killed me and this is some twisted version of the afterlife.”

The girl pointed her face in Tommy’s direction and he noticed for the first time that the girl was completely blind. “Time is eternal in both sleeping and waking,” she said. “Time is the same in both life and death.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means it’s time for you to decide. Will you help your friend?”

“How?”

“You must join your soul with mine.”

“What? How the hell am I supposed to do that?”

“Place the sapphire around your neck. Hold it in your hands and concentrate on me with all your mind. Speak the words that come to you.”

This was definitely a dream; Thomas was sure of that now. He was sure he had collapsed into unconsciousness, or perhaps even fallen into death. He looked around, looking for the light that would lead him to heaven. But the only light on the street was the strange blue energy that surrounded the spirit. Grunting in pain he leaned over and gently pulled the necklace from Jess’ neck. He fumbled with the clasp until it fastened, and then held the stone in front of him. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the girl, trying to remember what she looked like, what she had said. The sapphire grew warm in his hands and suddenly he felt wind on his face as time resumed.

He heard Corey curse as he overbalanced from the kick, knowing  that it would have hit him mere seconds in the past. But he ignored the sound, focusing on the warmth of the stone and the light that he could feel enveloping him. He took a deep breath; the warmth of the stone seemed to soothe some of the pain from Corey’s beating.

“Sapphire Soul Transformation!” The words were in his head. He yelled them out as loud as he could and felt the transformation begin. Blue light exploded from the sapphire and wrapped itself around his body. He felt it rushing through him like fire. Everywhere it touched things were different. The light tore apart his clothes, replacing them with Sapphire’s uniform as it changed and softened his body. Without knowing why he reached out his left hand and blue light lanced out in both directions, forming into a crystalline staff. The staff was cold and heavy in his hand, but also comforting.

Transformation complete Sapphire opened her eyes.

The gang stood in front of her, Julio and the others slowly backing away. She turned her gaze to Corey who was pushing himself to his feet. Corey didn’t look scared. He looked furious.

“What the hell is going on here?” He demanded.

“It’s time for you to go away,” Sapphire said.

“Dude, Corey, I think the freaky bitch is right,” Julio said, “let’s get out of here.”

The rest of the gang murmured their agreement.

“The hell we will!” Corey exclaimed. “I’m going nowhere until I’ve had my piece.” His eyes roamed up and down Sapphire’s feminine body. “This just means we get two for the price of one, and you guys are going to share them with me or I’ll turn you back over to the streets.”

Sapphire leaned against the staff, using it to prop up her bruised body. “Go away,” she said again.

“Fuck you, bitch,” Corey said.

Corey started moving toward her. She didn’t know how, but Sapphire knew what to do. She pulled her weight from the staff and swung it at the gang leader as hard as she could.

“Sapphire Freeze!” She shouted.

The staff glowed with blue light as it arched through the air. It caught Corey in the stomach as he lunged at her. Corey started to double over, and then he just stopped once again frozen in time. Sapphire looked at the rest of the gang.

“Go away,” she said again.

Seeing their leader completely frozen the rest of the gang broke and took to the streets as fast as they could go. Sapphire watched as they disappeared down the corner. She looked back at Corey. He was still frozen in time, half way to the ground.

Sapphire placed the crystal staff in a sheath on her back and bent down to grab Jess around the waist. She began slowly dragging her friend back to the school’s campus.

June 16, 2009

Night Terrors

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 10:29 pm
Tags: , ,
Navigating the halls of his dorm didn’t prove to be any easier the second time around, but eventually Thomas found his way to A-tower and Jessica’s common room. Instead of posters about food and calories these walls were covered in large coloring book pages of Sponge Bob Square Pants. Taped to each picture was a box of crayons, and several of the pictures were already partly colored. Thomas laughed when he realized that someone had colored Sponge Bob blue in one of the pictures. Two girls were doing their nails at the table and pointed the way to Jess’ room when he asked.
 
The rest of the afternoon passed quickly. Thomas and Jess explored the campus, browsing the bookstore and the library. Jess gawked at him when Thomas checked six books out of the library at once, but he shrugged and led the way to the dining hall for dinner. Dinner was a greasy affair with a choice of cuisine: there was a pasta dish Jess thought was lasagna, a selection of bread covered fish, and a variety of different pizza’s. Thomas headed to the salad bar, but Jess stacked her plate high with heaps of lasagna and two servings of chocolate cake from the desert bar.
 
“Are you really going to eat all that,” Thomas asked as they found some seats in a corner booth.
 
Jess eyed his salad suspiciously, “Is that really all you’re going to eat?”
 
“How do you stay so skinny?”
 
“Good metabolism, I guess. I can eat anything I want, whenever I want. It’s nice.”
 
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Jess, but I hate you right now.”
 
“It’s okay, I loathe nerds,” she looked pointedly at the pile of books Thomas had plopped on the table.
 
“What’s wrong with being a nerd? At least I’m going to pass my classes.”
 
“God, Tommy!” A new voice said, “College isn’t about classes. You need to take those books back and find a party!” Mike dropped his tray of food on the table beside him.
 
“Hey Mike,” Jess said, “have you actually found a party yet?”
 
“They don’t start until later, but you fuckin’ wait. I’m getting smashed tonight.”
 
“Mike, you’re vulgar,” Thomas said.
 
“Yep. You have a problem with that gaytard?”
 
“Gaytard? No ones called me that since, like, elementary school.”
 
“I’ve never been friends with one of your kind before. The insults will get better.”
 
“My kind?”
 
“You know, homosexuals.
 
“Do you insult all your friends, Mike?” Jess asked.
 
“Doesn’t everyone?”
 
“I’m not gay,” Thomas said.
 
“Of course you’re not,” Mike said, “your homosexual.”
 
“It’s the same thing,” retorted Jess.
 
“Stay in your place, woman. Go sweep a floor or something.”
 
The three of them burst out laughing and finished their dinner.
 
Not long after dinner Thomas’ cell phone rang. He looked down to see who was calling.
 
“Hey Mommy,” he said.
 
“Hi sweetie,” his mother said, “your father and I just pulled into a parking lot. Are you ready to move your stuff up to your room?”
 
“Sure, where you at?”
 
“We’ll meet you in front of Russell. There’s a kid down here helping everyone move in, and he says we can park in front of the dorm until you’re moved in.”
 
“Okay, mom. See you in a bit.” Thomas hung up his phone.
 
“Dude, Tommy,” Mike said, “if you want me to believe you’re straight then stop using a pink phone.”
 
“I like pink.”
 
“Tommy,” Jess said, “you’re not helping your case. What did your mom want?”
 
“She’s here with my father. I’m finally going to move in.”
 
“Want help?” Mike asked.
 
“Yeah, come on. My parents are parking in front of Russell.”
 
Even though they got lost three times in the dorm building, it only took forty minutes to get all of Tommy’s stuff into his room. Mike was very polite, shaking hands with Thomas’ father and smiling at his mother. He didn’t swear or make a vulgar joke the entire time, not even when Thomas’ mother almost fainted at all the naked girls on the wall. Finally Jess plopped the last of the boxes onto Thomas’ bed and pulled Mike out of the room so Tommy could say good bye to his parents.
 
“Here,” Tommy’s father said, holding out a fifty dollar bill.
 
“I don’t need that, dad.”
 
“I know. Take your friends out to dinner or something. Have fun.”
 
“I’m happy you’ve made new friends already,” Thomas’ mother said, a tear trickling down her cheek, “Mike seems so nice.”
 
Thomas smiled. “Yeah, I guess he is.”
 
“Hey hun, we’ve got to go,” said Tommy’s father.
 
“I know. Have fun at school, sweetie. And don’t forget to call!”
 
“Okay, Mommy. Once a week, I promise.”
 
Tommy hugged his parents, holding his mom tight as she tried to hold back tears. His father took his mother’s arm, winked at Thomas, and led her out of the room. 
 
“God, I fucking hate parents,” Mike said a few minutes later as they helped Tommy unpack his stuff.
 
“Thanks, Mike,” Thomas said, “I didn’t know you could be so polite.”
 
“I’m only that nice once a year,” Mike said, “count yourself lucky I decided to waste that time on you. It’s not like you deserve it.”
 
“He doesn’t,” Jess replied, “but you haven’t found anyone else to use it on yet. I think you’re desperate for a friend.”
 
“I’ll be friends with whoever the hell I want,” Mike burst out laughing, “and Tommy proves to be the best. Look at this!”
 
Mike opened a box full of stuffed animals. There were two large white bears, about half a dozen smaller stuffed bears in different colors, an elephant, a dolphin, and three monkeys. Each of the monkeys was stricking a different pose, one had his hands over his eyes, the other over his ears, and the last one over his mouth.
 
“Oh, Tommy!” Jess exclaimed, “You didn’t bring your stuffed animal collection to school with you!”
 
Thomas’ face turned red. “Well, not all of it.”
 
“Dude, you have more of them?” Mike asked.
 
“Um, yeah.”
 
“Damn, man! The book I was reading about getting along with your roommate at school said that if you’re roommate brought a stuffed animal collection you should run away. Something about a latent need for attachement and love,” Mike said.
 
“You can read?” Jess asked.
 
“Yeah… but it’s another thing I only do once a year.”
 
“Where are you going to put all these?” Jess asked Tommy.
 
“I thought they could stay on my bed,” he replied.
 
“You’re roommate is going to love you,” said Mike
 
The door opened and the sour smell of sweat poured into the room. A tall boy in full football uniform walked into the room, his broad shoulders made huge by the pads. A helmet hung in his hand. His black hair was drenched in sweat and he looked exhuasted. He looked around as he entered the room and his eyes fell on the stuffed animals.
 
“Oh, shit!” he said, “what are those?”
 
Thomas stepped in front of his roommate, trying furiously not to blush. “Hey, are you Zach?” he asked.
 
Zach nodded.
 
“I’m Thomas, your roommate.”
 
“Right,” Zach said. “And those fucking things are your little friends?”
 
Tommy stared at his feet, unwilling to meet his roommate’s gaze.
 
Zach tossed his helmet onto his bed. “Tell you what, I’m gonna go take a shower while you realize that preschool ended at least fourteen years ago. This is freakin college. Put those damned things away.”
 
“What the fuck, dude?” Mike asked, “It’s his room too.”
 
“Your friend?” Zach asked Tommy.
 
Thomas nodded again.
 
“I’m not staying in the room of a five year old mommy’s boy,” Zach said.
 
Mike stepped up to Zach. He was dwarfed by the jock’s large figure, but he stared into Zach’s eyes ready to fight. “Go take your fucking shower. If you want I’ll get him to put his toys away, but if I do that then your posters are coming down too.”
 
Zach took a step forward, and for a second Thomas thought they really were going to fight. But Mike held his ground, refusing to give way to Zach.
 
“Fine,” Zach said. “I’ve got better things to do.” He grabbed a towel and left the room.
 
Thomas waited for the door to close, then he turned to Mike. “Thanks.”
 
“No problem, man. You’re my friend.”
 
“I’ve only known you for a few hours.”
 
“I make friends quickly.”
 
“I don’t see how!” Jess said.
 
The rest of the evening passed quickly. Thomas finished unpacking and the three of them hung out in the room until after midnight. Tommy’s roommate came in once to drop of his football stuff, but left without saying a word. Thomas’ stuffed animals were set up on his bed against the wall, a happy collection of stuffed comfort. At about two in the morning Mike finally decided it was time to go back to his own room. Thomas and Jess waved as he walked away.
 
“I’m hungry,” Jess said.
 
“Again?”
 
“Yep. Let’s go find something to eat.”
 
“Jess, it’s two in the morning. Nothing will be open.”
 
“Not true,” Jess replied, “I saw a Store 24 off campus when I was driving in. We can go there.”
 
“Um, sure.”
 
The walk to Store 24 was about half an hour. At first Tommy and Jess joked and laughed as they walked down the street, but as they left campus the street became dark and scary. The houses along the road were disheveled and ugly. They seemed to loom above them promising punishment to any who dared enter their territory at night. They saw a dark skinned man on the other side of the road, an unshaved beard rolling off his face and down onto the shopping cart the man was pushing down the street. It was clear he was homeless. As they finally crossed the street to the convenience store they saw six figures walking down a dark alley. Thomas was sure that the figures were gang members.
 
The mood lightened a bit inside the store. Tommy found a Slush Puppy machine and created a lemon lime slushy that looked like something out of a nuclear waste facility. But the mood quickly grew somber again as the two made their way back onto the dark streets. Across the street the gang members were hanging out on a corner. Three of them were smoking, the tips of the cigarettes making red paths through the air. Thomas and Jess looked at each other, and hurried back towards campus.
 
The gang members fell in step behind them, five large figures all dressed in dark leather jackets.
 
“Hurry,” Tommy whispered urgently to Jess.
 
They walked on for a few minutes, the gang trailing behind them. Every time they sped up the gang kept right on behind them. Finally Thomas’ nerve broke.
 
“Run!” he yelled.
 
He grabbed Jess’ hand and pulled her into a fast run. They only ran for a few seconds before the sixth member of the gang stepped out of an ally in front of them.
 
“Hey,” he said. “What’s the hurry?”
 
Thomas was frozen in dark terror. This couldn’t be happening, not to him, not on his first day of college.
 
“What do you want?” Jess asked.
 
“We just want to talk,” the gang member said. Thomas noticed he was wearing a silver ring in the shape of a skull.
 
“We don’t want to talk. Go away.”
 
“How could we leave such a beautiful lady to wander the streets all by herself?”
 
“I’m not alone.”
 
The gang member scoffed. “This kid? He’s nothing. Look at him, he couldn’t beat up a two year old.” The rest of the gang laughed as they came up behind Tommy and Jess. One of the gang members, this one with red hair, reached out and caressed Jess’ cheek. She slapped the hand away.
 
The skull ringed gang member laughed. “Hey, this girl’s got some fire in her.” He leered over Jess, “I like girl’s like you. You’ll be fun to break.”
 
Jess spat at him. “Fuck you. Go to hell.”
 
The gang member laughed. Then he tore Jess’ purse from her shoulder. He threw it at one of the gang members behind Jess and Thomas. “Go through that, Julio. Let me know if you find anything… interesting.”
 
Julio opened the purse and started rumaging through it.
 
“Happy now?” Jess asked.
 
“Not even a little, but after spending some time with you I’m sure I’ll be the happiest guy on the streets.”
 
Tommy looked up. “Please let us go.” He held out his wallet. “Take this and let us go, please?”
 
The gang’s leader looked at him. Tommy didn’t see the punch coming until it was too late. It slammed into the side of his face and sent him sprawling. His wallet flew from his hands and landed in the dark street. He pushed himself up to his elbows, and then collapsed back to the ground.
 
“Don’t hurt him!” Jess exclaimed.
 
“Too late, honey. But I’ll let him go if you cooperate.”
 
“Hey boss,” Julio said. “Look at this.” He held up a silver chain, a sapphire dangling back and forth through the air.
 
“Bring that here,” the leader said.
 
Julio threw the necklace and the leader snatched it out of the air. He looked at the sapphire and then at Jess.
 
“This is real,” he said. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing without her jewelry on?” He leaned over Jess and hung the necklace around her neck. “There, perfect. Now, are you going to cooperate?”
 
Jess looked furious. Tommy could tell that all she wanted to do was punch the figure leering over her, and then kick him in the groin. But she looked at Tommy, and he saw all the fight go out of her.
 
“Let him go.”
 
The gang leader leaned down and forced Jess into a deep kiss. Jess closed her eyes, grimaced, but let him kiss her.
 
The gang chuckled. The leader pulled away from Jess. “Cut him loose boys. We’re going to have some fun tonight.”
 
One of the gang members pulled Tommy to his feet and then shoved him down the road. “I’d get out of here before the boss changes his mind,” he said.
 
Thomas stumbled, but managed to stay on his feet. He looked back at Jess. The gang’s leader had his hands on her breasts, roughly pulling at them. The sapphire swayed back and forth between them.
 
It was then that the sapphire stone started to glow.

June 11, 2009

Introductions

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 12:12 am
Tags:

Thomas and Jess walked the rest of the way to Russell and then departed for their different floor meetings. Thomas climbed the stairs to the fifth floor, and then promptly got lost. The dorm building didn’t make any sense. It was like walking through Menelaus’ labyrinth. Thomas was wondering if he might come across the fabled minotaur when he turned the corner down a hallway, went through a door, and came out into a small lounge. The room’s walls were plastered with pictures of different types of food. Each food had a calorie label underneath, and in large letters was the warning, “When most student’s come to college for the first time they gain ten pounds… don’t be one of them!” Also in the room was a small table, a blue couch, two blue chairs, and two other doors leading to additional hallways.

Sitting at the table were two guys playing cards, a pile of coins lay on the table between them. One of the guys was dressed all in black. His hair had been shaped into a huge mohawk and a silver pentacle hung around his neck. The other one was short and skinny with a tassel of blond hair, he was studying the two cards in his hands intently, looking between them and the three cards laying face up on the table over and over.

“Check,” he said.

The guy with the mohawk plopped a pile of quarters into the middle of the table. “A buck fifty.”

The first guy pushed his own pile of coins into the betting pool. “I call.” Then he looked up and saw Thomas. “Hey, who are you?” he asked.

“Um, Thomas. You?”

“I’m Bryce,” the blond said. “And this is Derek.”

“Hey,” Derek said. “Want to play?”

“I don’t know, what are you guys playing?” Thomas asked.

“This fine game is called Texas Hold’em. It’s poker.” Derek replied.

“Um, I’ve never played before.”

“Not a problem. Take a seat, Bryce and I will teach you how to play.”

“Maybe later. I need to find my room. Do you know where A Tower is?”

“Your standing in it,” Bryce said. “What room number are you?”

“A508.”

Bryce pointed. “It’s through that door. Go down the hall, it’s on your right.”

“Thanks, do you know when the floor meeting starts?”

“About five minutes,” Derek said.

“Okay, thanks.”

As Thomas left to find his room he heard Derek turn and say, “Alright, Bryce. Flip the river card. Let’s see it already.”

It didn’t take Thomas long to find his room. The first thing he noticed as he opened his door was that his roommate had been there first. Half of the walls were already covered in posters. There were pictures of girls kissing, of naked girls splattered in paint, of girls barely dressed posing on sleek cars. Naked, or nearly naked girls were everywhere he looked. Thomas groaned. This was not his idea of good decor.

The rest of the room was a bit more what Thomas had expected to find. Two beds were pushed up against opposite walls, and next to the beds were wooden computer desks and wardrobes. His roommate had made up one of the beds with blue and gray flannel bed sheets. He had also set up a dell computer with a twenty four inch flat screen monitor up on one of the computer desks. Thomas walked over to the monitor and admired the screen. He noticed that on either side of the monitor were sleek, black speakers with orange touch buttons. His roommate might have a terrible sense of wall decorations, but apparently where computers were involved his roommate had style.

Thomas’ side of the room was empty except for a manila envelope on his bed. Thomas walked over and picked it up. The envelope was full of papers welcoming him to the school and instructing him to sign off on the housing contract. He shuffled through the papers and found the contract. He signed it, and then left the room for the floor meeting.

By now several other people had joined Bryce and Derek in the common room. Two guys dressed in blue jeans and different colored polo shirts, one blue and one green, sat on the couch. One of them was gesturing wildly as he told a joke to the other. Sitting on a chair by himself was a guy with brown hair and a black t-shirt. The t-shirt had a picture of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, and Knuckles posing dramatically. Sitting with Bryce and Derek at the table was a guy dressed in brown slacks and a stylish brown jacket. He held two cards in his hands. He turned as Thomas came into the room again.

“Hiya,” he said in a heavy English accent, “My name is Felix. I’m your RA. Did you find your room okay?”

Thomas took the last seat at the table. “Yes, thank you.”

Felix looked at his hand and grimaced. “These two blokes convinced me that poker was a good idea. I don’t know what the bloody hell I was thinking.” He plopped his own pile of quarters into the middle of the table. “I call.”

“Do you need this?” Thomas asked, handing Felix the housing contract.

Felix waved his hand. “Just put it there and wait until we’re finished.”

Thomas put the contract on the table. He watched as the betting went around, and then Derek flipped over a fifth card and lay it face up on the table next to the four already there. Bryce and Derek looked at Felix.

“You Americans are so strange,” Felix said. “Let me get this right. You two are telling me that a straight is better than a flush?”

Bryce groaned. “Dude, we’ve been over this about five times already. You’ve got it backwards. The flush is better.”

“Oh, bollocks. That makes no bloody sense at all. It’s easier to get five cards of the same suit than it is to get five cards in numerical order.”

“You’ve got it backwards,” Bryce said. “Just make your bet.”

Felix grimaced and looked down at the cards on the table. There was a four, five, and six all in diamonds. Then there was a King of hearts and the Ace of Spades. “I pass,” he said.

“The right word is check,” Derek said.

“Check then.”

“I bet seventy five cents,” Bryce said pushing his money into the pool.

“Your seventy five and my additional fifty. What do you think Felix?”

Felix looked at the large pile of quarters at the center of the table. “You two are positive the flush is better?”

Derek nodded.

Felix sighed. “Fine.” He gathered a bunch of quarters and threw them into the center. “I call.”

The three flipped their hands. Bryce showed two pairs, fives and aces. Derek held a straight, two through six. Then Felix flipped his cards over and showed a flush in diamonds. He reached over and started gathering up the coins.

“Better luck next time you two,” Felix said. He turned to the rest of the room. “Now, let’s get this thing started. I’m going to make this short and fast. I am Felix Washer, your RA. If you blokes have any questions or need anything I’m your man. I need all your housing contracts by the end of the day, preferably within the next hour or so.” He picked up Thomas’ housing contract. “This,” he said waving it about, “is what I’m talking about.”

The other guys nodded.

“Now,” Felix continued. “We’re each going to say our names so you all know each other, and then the day is yours. As you all know, classes start tomorrow.” He nodded at Thomas. “You go first.”

Thomas looked around the room, “Hey everyone. My name is Thomas. I’m from Franklin.”

Felix held out his hand, “Nice to meet you Tommy.”

Bryce and Derek introduced themselves. Then Felix nodded to the kid with the Sonic shirt on. “My name is Chris,” he said, “if any of you want to play video games then come to my room. The door will always be open.”

Next the two guys on the couch introduced themselves as Charley and Alex. Charley mentioned that he played golf, Alex that he had plans to run for class president.

After everyone had introduced themselves Felix leaned beneath the table and pulled out a box full of plastic bags. “Everyone is hear except for Zach. He is already at football practice. I’m sure you’ll see him around. He’s Tommy’s roommate. These,” he held up one of the bags, “are orientation packets. You will find that each one has a map of campus and basic toiletries for anything you may have left at home.

“That’s it,” Felix finished, “The rest of the day is yours. Oh, and the first person that botches up and locks themselves out of their room will have their picture taken and placed up on the wall, so don’t forget your towel on the way to the shower if you’re going to forget your key.”

The room laughed. People picked up their orientation bags and then left the room. Thomas picked up his and then headed back through Russell to find Jess.

June 9, 2009

A Bump in the Crowd

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 5:15 am

Students departed the quad in a torrent. Thomas and Jessica watched as Mike headed off to his own dorm building.

“So,” Thomas said, “Russel Towers?”

“Yeah,” Jessica replied, “Let’s go.”

Together they joined the river of students heading across the street to their dorm building.

“Let’s play a game,” Jessica said.

“A game?”

“Yeah. It’s an ice breaker of sorts. We ask each other questions. Any question at all, and the other person has to answer it. I played it with my friend Vikkie last week. It’s fun.”

“What? I don’t even know you. I’m not agreeing to that,” Thomas said.

“Why not?”

“Because, you’re going to ask me something that I won’t want to answer. I’m not playing.”

“I’ll go easy on you.”

“I said no.”

“Just answer this, where did you grow up?”

“Fine! I grew up in New Hampshire. I lived in Merrimack until I was fourteen. Then I moved to Franklin, Massachusetts.”

“See, that wasn’t hard!”

“You aren’t going to let this go, are you?” Thomas asked.

“Not planning on it!”

“Fine. Is it my turn then?”

“Yep.”

Thomas thought for a bit. “What’s your major?”

Jessica laughed. “You could ask me anything you want to, and you go with my major?”

“Just answer the question, Jess.”

“Okay. I’m a History major. Now, why did you choose to come to Fitchburg for college?”

“Honestly?”

“Yes, honestly. This isn’t a hard question.”

“Well. in all honesty it’s the only school I applied to. I wanted to go to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, but I put things off too long and by the time I applied their acceptance date had passed. I barely got my FSC application in on time. I filled it out at three in the morning the night before it was due.”

“Really?” Jess asked.

“Yeah… I’m a bit of a procrastinator.”

“I guess so.”

“My turn,” Thomas said. “How old were you when you started smoking?”

“Twelve,” Jess replied.

“Twelve?” Thomas exclaimed.

“Is that another question, because it’s my turn.”

“It wasn’t really a question… but, twelve?!”

“Yes. Twelve. Is there a problem with that?”

“No…” Thomas said, “I’m just surprised. That’s very young.”

“I’m asking my question now.”

“Fine. Go ahead.”

“Are you gay?”

“That’s not fair. I’m not answering that.”

“If you can ask me about my smoking habits, Tommy, then you’re going to answer my question too. Are you gay?”

Thomas was silent as they walked across the road.

“You can’t be silent for ever, Tommy.”

“Well, I can’t really answer the question.”

“Answer the damn question already. I won’t care what the answer is, I just want to know!”

“I don’t know, okay?” Thomas said, “I know that people think I’m gay. Just look at Mike. I’ve been teased about it my entire life, ever since other kids my age were old enough to throw around words like fag and fudge packer. I hate those words. Every time I hear them I cringe. But things got better in high school. My friends still teased me about being gay, but it wasn’t bullying like it had been in middle school. In fact, eventually I enjoyed the banter. I used to joke that I was as gay as it was possible to be without actually liking guys. My friend Michelle used to joke that I was a girl trapped in a man’s body. She and my other friends dressed me up as a girl a few times and took me to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. So… I don’t know. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”

“You let your friends dress you up as a girl?” Jessica asked.

“Eventually. I resisted a long time, but resisting my friends is like trying to turn back a hurricane.”

“I think dressing you up would be fun. Can I try?”

“God, what am I, a doll?”

“Nope, but I can make a great hurricane. And you didn’t answer the question.”

“It was my turn to ask a question anyway,” Thomas said.

“Forget the game,” Jessica said. “I want to dress you up. Please?”

“Forget the game?” Thomas exclaimed, “You’re the one that started this!”

“And now I’m ending it. Please, Tommy? I’ll be your friend forever if you let me dress you up!”

Thomas sighed. “Maybe. Possibly. If I get really bored and there is absolutely nothing else to do. But don’t count on it, okay?”

“Alright, that’s fair.” Jessica said.

They walked up a concrete stairway towards their dorm building, swept along by the crowd of other students. Thomas noticed that most of them were walking alone, staring up at the tall building they’d be calling their home for the next four years. But a few of them were walking closer together, talking and laughing in pairs or groups. He didn’t notice the student in the school girl uniform until it was too late. The girl, obviously not paying attention to anything, crashed right into Jessica.

Things went flying. The girl’s purse soared through the air and its contents scattered across the ground in every direction. Jessica and the girl were both knocked to the ground. The river of students started to part around them, but no one stopped. Thomas immediately started to pick things up from the ground while the girls recovered. Jessica stood up first and offered a hand to the girl.

“I’m so sorry,” Jessica said, “I didn’t see you. Are you okay?”

The girl looked at the hand like it was a venomous snake. “Maybe,” she snarled, “you should pay more attention.” She scrambled to her feet ignoring Jessica’s hand.

Jessica looked at the girl nonplussed. “I didn’t mean to bump into you,” she said.

The girl’s voice took on a high mimicking pitch. “I didn’t mean to bump into you. I’m just an inconsiderate little bitch that doesn’t care who breathes the smoke of my cigarettes. And I knock people over when ever I feel like it.”

Thomas picked up the girl’s purse and hurriedly stuffed a plastic wrapped tampon into into it. He held it up to the girl.

“Here,” he said. “Just take it. Jess didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“She didn’t hurt me, bastard,” the girl snarled. She snatched the purse back and flung it beneath her shoulder. “Good bye.” She stormed off and disappeared into the river of students.

As he watched her go Thomas noticed that a necklace from the girl’s purse was still on the ground. It was a large, black stone on a gold chain. He bent down and picked it up.

“Hey, wait!” he called after the girl.

The girl pushed her way through the students back to Thomas and Jessica. “What?” She demanded.

“You forgot this.”

The girl tore the necklace out of his hand. Her nails scratched against his knuckles, tearing skin. The the girl turned around and stormed off without a word of thanks.

Thomas looked at his fingers where drops of blood were rising to the surface. He shook them out and put one of them in his mouth. Jessica turned back to Thomas.

“You know,” she said, “I think that she had better nails than you do.”

“Ow! That hurt. What was up with her?”

“I don’t think she likes me,” Jessica said.

“No, I didn’t notice!”

“It was probably the smoke,” Jessica replied. “Sometimes people don’t take that very well.”

“I guess not. Come on, we’ll be late.”

“Okay,” Jess agreed.

The two of them turned and they headed off to their separate floor meetings.

June 4, 2009

Chapter Two: Sapphire Tears

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 4:48 am
Tags: , ,

“What’s so funny?”

Thomas turned around to see who the newcomer was and blushed furiously. It was the girl. The smoking girl. The incredibly smoking hot girl. He tried to think of something to say, but no words would form in his head. What was one supposed to say to such beauty anyway? He thought Mike would have something to say, but it seemed as if he could think of nothing to say either. For once he was completely silent.

The girl sat down and crossed her legs. Thomas couldn’t pull his eyes away from the tights. The purple and green stripes were so cute. They were so… perfect.

“Hi,” the girl said. “My name is Jessica, do you mind if I sit here?”

“Fuck no,” Mike said, “please sit there.”

Jessica giggled. “What are your names?”

Thomas thought about answering, but he couldn’t seem to remember his name.

“I’m Mike. The dude with the pretty nails is Thomas.”

Jessica reached down and picked up one of Thomas’ hands. Her skin was warm and soft against his palms. She raised his hand and splayed his fingers so she could look at his nails. “Look at these,” she said, “these are the longest nails I’ve ever seen on a guy.” She rolled his hand back and forth and the nails gleamed in the sun’s light. “Are these buffed?” She asked.

Thomas looked away. “Maybe,” he mumbled.

“They are! You keep your nails in very good condition, Tommy.”

Tommy, he hated that name.

“We should get together and do our nails,” Jessica continued, “I bet these look amazing in color.”

Thomas pulled his fingers away from Jessica’s hand. “We’ll see,” he said to the ground. He hid his nails under the table.

“Hey Jess,” Mike said, “where is your room at?”

“It’s in Russel Towers. A403. Where’s yours at?”

“Over in Aubuchon Hall. I’m all the way at the top of the fucking building. I thought the elevator was gonna crash while I was in it, but there’s no way in hell I’m walkin’ up nine flights of stairs every time I want to get to my room. Where’s yours Tommy?”

“I’m in Russel Towers too. A508.”

“That’s really close to my room,” Jessica said.

“Really? I couldn’t figure out what was close to what. Russel Towers is like a maze.”

Jessica laughed, “It is a bit, isn’t it? I’m sure it will start to make sense after we live there for awhile.”

“Probably.” Thomas agreed.

“I just remembered something!” Jessica said, “I found this outside when I went to finish my smoke during Fatty’s speech.” She rummaged around in a skull bone hand bag and pulled out a necklace. It was a large sapphire stone on a simple silver chain.

Mike whistled, “Damn, that looks expensive.”

“Doesn’t it?” Jessica asked. “I wonder who it belongs to.”

Thomas reached down and picked the necklace up. The sapphire broke the sun’s lights into dozens of blue sprays that swirled around the table as the stone spun on its chain. It was fascinating.

“How could someone loose something like this?” Mike wondered.

“I don’t know,” Jessica replied. “I’m going to ask around and see if there is somewhere I can take it. I’m sure whoever it belongs to will want it back.”

Thomas held the stone up. A slight breeze pushed the stone back and forth. Mike sneezed as the breeze blew dust onto the table and suddenly Thomas’ eyes were tearing as dust got caught in his eye.

“Here,” he said handing the necklace back to Jessica. He began to rub his eyes, trying to get the dust out.

“Dude, you okay?” Mike asked.

“Fine,” Thomas replied, “I just got some dust in my eyes.” He blinked rapidly half a dozen times and began rubbing his eyes again.

“You shouldn’t rub them,” Jessica said, “It doesn’t help. Just pry your eyes open with your hands and wait for the tears to push the dust out.”

“Kay,” Thomas said. He pried both eyes opened and squinted at the blurring scenery. Tears trickled down his cheeks, but finally the dust came free. He blinked several more times and then wiped the tears away.

“Better?” Jessica asked.

“Yeah, much,” Thomas replied.

“Hey look, everyone’s leaving,” Mike said.

Jessica and Thomas looked around and saw that the collection of students was moving off the quad and dispersing in different directions. Mike looked down at his watch.

“I have to go to. I have a floor meeting in my dorm now.”

“Duh, Mike,” Thomas said, “We all do. See you later?”

“Not if I see you first, queer.”

“Don’t call him that,” Jessica said.

“It’s okay,” Thomas said. “He’s just joking around. I don’t mind. Bye Mike.”

“Want to walk back to Russel with me,” Jessica asked.

“Sure,” Thomas replied. “Let’s go.”

June 2, 2009

Prologue: The Throne Room. Chapter One: Opening Ceremonies

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexisofroses @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Prologue:

Rosalind, princess of Ayarma, watched Sapphire limp towards her throne. Sapphire’s black hair was in tatters, some of it burnt away, and clumps of it had been entirely torn out from her scalp. Blood trickled down her face, and her right eye was beginning to sport a bluish bruise that did not give her name credit. Rosalind thought a mere breath might knock her over for good.

But it would be time for that later.

Rosalind caressed the onyx scepter in her lap. “Well, well, Miss Sapphire. How surprised I am to see you. What brings you all the way to my throne room?”

Sapphire’s blue eyes fixed the princess in their gaze. “Release my people, Rosalind. This has gone far enough.”

“That’s Princess Rosalind to you, Sapphire. You will keep a civil tongue with me, or I may loose my patience.”

Oh great and powerful majesty,” Sapphire said sarcastically, “Your games have gone far enough. Release my people. I have no wish to harm you, not even after all you’ve done to me. Just let them go and we can go back to being friends. Don’t you want that? I love you Rosalind. Come back to me!” Sapphires voice began to break. Tears started to pour down her face.

“No, my darling Sapphire. It is not for me to release those that have joined me. It is you who are alone. You are friendless. Join me, and we will be friends again. You can have me back. We can rule the world together. We can divide the universe between us.”

Sapphire sniffled, and more tears ran down her face, but her eyes remained locked on the Princess. “Enough, Princess. I don’t have time for this,” she let out a pained chuckle at that, “I don’t have time for this. Me? I am Sapphire, I have all the time in the world. But I am running out of it, Rosalind. And I won’t let you stand there and let my world be destroyed. Goodbye.”

Blue light suddenly surrounded Sapphire. The girl flung her hands out towards the princess on her throne. “Sapphire Freeze!” The girl shouted, as blue energy arched towards Rosalind.

The energy slammed into the Princess and surrounded her. Then it was gone, as quickly as it had come. Rosalind sat on her throne, inert, unmoving.

“I’m sorry, Rosalind. I wish I didn’t have to do this,” Sapphire said.

Sapphire approached the throne where her friend sat frozen in time. Rosalind’s purple gown was laced through with pearls, a gown that would have been fit for a royal ball. Around her neck was the onyx jewel that had caused so much destruction. It was the thing that had destroyed her life, her friends, her world.

It was time to destroy it.

Sapphire reached her hand to take it from her friends neck. Destroying it would destroy Rosalind, she’d invested too much of her life force in the jewel, but it would save the thousands that the princess had enslaved. It would give them back their minds. It would give the world back its soul.

Sapphire didn’t notice her friend blink. Perhaps if she had things would have been different.

Suddenly Rosalind was moving. Sapphire saw the black scepter come around, but it was too late. The scepter slammed into her stomach and erupted with black energy. Sapphire was flung away from the throne, and thrown against the back wall of the throne room.

Stone cracked as Sapphire’s body slid down the smooth surface.

Rosalind stood up and stalked towards the tattered girl. “Your power is weak, Sapphire. Did you really think your simple time tricks could affect me? I gave you your chance to join me freely. Now I will take your mind. I will take the last free mind on our world and enslave it to my will.” The princess raised her scepter and pointed it at Sapphire.

Black lightning raced across the throne room and slammed Sapphire into the wall again. More stone cracked, and Sapphire let out a terrible wail of agony.

“Die, Sapphire! Your time has come!” Rosalind began to laugh as black energy continued to pour into Sapphires body. She heard a bone snap. “Oh dear, was that your arm?” She pondered her friend’s body beneath the black lightning. “No, not an arm, that looks fine. It must have been a rib.”

Two tendrils of black energy snaked up Sapphire’s body and buried themselves into her eyes. Sapphire’s scream of pain went up a notch as her eyes were burned from her body. Blood started to pour down her face from empty eye sockets before it dried from the heat of the lightning. Her lips moved, trying to form words through the endless shrieks.

Rosalind stopped the flow of energy.

“What was that?” she asked.

Sapphire’s body slid down the wall for the second time in less than two minutes. Her body shuddered and heaved, and as soon as she could move, her hands went to her empty eye sockets, trying to cover them up as if doing so would stop the pain.

“I asked you what you said!”

Sapphire shuddered again. Her lips formed three words, but they were barely a whisper. She whispered them over and over again, an endless litany against the pain.

Rosalind slowly approached the maimed figure. “I can’t hear you,” she taunted. “Speak up, speak louder.”

That was when the princess noticed the blue glow beginning to grow beneath Sapphire’s hands. Once again blue energy burst from Sapphire, streaming out of her empty eye sockets. But the energy did not slam into Rosalind’s body. It wrapped itself around Sapphire like a glowing blanket.

The smell of charred flesh filled the room.

Sapphire’s body began to smoke.

Then the blue light exploded. It expanded to fill the entire throne room. It swept through the princess, through the stone of the room, through the Throne of Ayarma where the Princess ruled over her imprisoned souls. It swept out of the throne room to envelope the palace, the city, the world.

Then it was gone. For an instant there was nothing. No light, no throne, no world. There was only oblivion for a long, long time.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter One:

She stood in the corner casually leaning against the wall blowing smoke from her dark lips. Thomas Shelton watched the smoke rise above her pink and black streaked hair as it joined the gathering cloud above the girl’s head. She was dressed like a punk, knee high boots crawling up her legs buckle by buckle. Green and purple tights flashed beneath her short black skirt. A tantalizing portion of skin was revealed until it met a t-shirt advertising Gamma Ray. Thomas would have guessed Gamma Ray was some sort of rock band, but he was distracted by the fishnet that weaved its way down the girl’s arms. As she exhaled another stream of smoke Thomas could only think one thing.

She was hot. Fucking A, she was beyond hot. She was smoking.

A fat man dressed in a traditional black suit and blue tie waddled up to her.

“Young lady, we ask that you please don’t smoke in the lounge. It’s impolite to the other students.”

The girl looked around at the other students. About fifty other students were gathered in the M&M Lounge. A smattering of them were turned away from the smoke of the girl’s cigarette smoke. One of them, dressed almost like a catholic school girl, coughed pointedly at the fat man’s words.

The girl simply shrugged. “Whatever,” she said and walked outside thought the swinging glass doors. Thomas craned his neck to watch her drop the cigarette to the ground and crush it into the pavement with her boots.

As Thomas watched the girl, the fat man huffed his way up to the front of the lounge and up the three metal steps of the temporary stage. Thomas wondered for a moment if the man might simply roll back down the stairs like a giant, fleshy snowball. But he made it up to the podium on the stage without mishap.

“Quiet everyone,” the man said, “Your attention please.”

The general hubbub of noise slowly fell into silence as students turned to face the podium.

“Welcome,” the man said, “My name is President Larrington, and I’d like to welcome you all to Fitchburg State College. In just a moment the other major faculty members will introduce themselves, but first I’d like to say a few words. As you can see,” he gestured vaguely around the room with a thick hand, “we have a diverse population of new students this semester. In addition to you the welcoming ceremonies are being broadcast to the two other lecture halls on campus. All told, I have the pleasure of welcoming to our school one thousand three hundred and fifty two new students. I’d like to welcome you all.

“As new students it is very important for you to have the proper expectations that are required if you wish to succeed here at Fitchburg State College. I know that there will be parties-”

A cheer sprang up from the collected students. President Larrington glared at the assembly and started frantically waving his hands for silence while every ounce of fat on his body jiggled up and down.

“I know there will be parties, but you all must remember that the reason you are here is to obtain an education: it is the holy grail that will lead you to success in this modern world. To achieve the grail of education you should all remember that two hours of work should be put in for each hour of classes you attend. This is the golden road to your graduation in four years.

“Thank you, and I know that four years from now I will be shaking hands with each and every one of you during graduation ceremonies.”

A smattering of polite applause rippled through the audience. The president began to introduce the next faculty member, Greggory Brown, the Chairman of Student Life, but Thomas’ attention was diverted by the swinging doors as the girl silently entered the Hammond Building. Thomas spent the next half hour wondering what her name was and if she had any other pairs of sexy boots.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the opening ceremonies Thomas followed the stream of students onto the quad where a giant outdoor lunch was waiting. Smoke was rising into the sky from dozens of barbecues, and two long tables covered in green paper were laden with salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, rice, and some sort of red punch in large, clear containers. He pushed his way through the line and covered two hot dogs in ketchup. He also placed a piece of watermelon on his plate and went to find a place to sit.

He found a place at an empty table and sat down. He watched as others began to find their own places to eat, trying to find the smoking girl. But she was no where to be found. He was interrupted from his search when a boy plumped down into the seat next to him.

“Dude,” the boy said in way of introduction, “have you ever seen so many hot girls? College is gonna rock.”

Thomas turned to face the new comer. He had a round face with black hair and brown eyes. “Umm… I guess so,” Thomas replied.

“If that’s all you have to say than I wish I’d gone to your highschool,” the kid said. “My name is Mike, what’s yours?”

“Thomas.”

The two sat in silence and ate their food for a bit. Finally Mike looked up, “What major are you?” He asked.

“I’m studying English Literature,” Thomas replied, “you?”

“Psychology. I figure it’s the best way to figure out what all those hot babes are thinking.”

“Think that will work out for you?” Thomas asked.

“It better. Otherwise I’m gonna die sad and lonely.” Mike said. “Maybe I’ll buy a few cats.”

“Isn’t the stereotype to be a creepy cat lady?”

Mike chuckled. “Well, I’m no lady, but getting one out of two ain’t bad.”

“You’ll never pass a class that way.”

“Yeah… guess you’re right.” Mike’s face fell as he thought about the prospect of classes. Then he brightened up again, “Oh well. College is about parties! Who cares about grades?”

“I do,” Thomas said.

“You say that now…”

“No, really. I do.”

“Do you care about them as much as you care about your nails?” Mike asked.

“Wait… what?”

“Your nails. I’ve never seen such long nails before, not even on a girl. Look how long they are!”

Thomas held the back of his hands out, fingers outstretched to look at his nails. They were long, crescent shaped, and well groomed.

Mike watched and broke out laughing. “You’re a fucking queer!” Mike laughed.

Thomas sighed. It seemed some things weren’t going to change from high school after all.

“I’m not gay,” Thomas said.

“My ass,” Mike replied, “straight guys curl their fingers towards their palms when they look at their nails. Only queers splay their hands out like that. Queers and girls.”

“What?” Thomas had never been called gay because of the way he looked at his nails. “You can’t be serious.” He got up to leave.

“Wait,” Mike said. “It’s cool. I don’t mind. Sit down and finish your lunch.”

Thomas almost left, but there were no other tables free so he sat back down.

“And before you say anything,” Mike said, “there’s a girl behind you with an incredibly tight ass. Check her out.”

In spite of himself Thomas turned around. “Which one?” he wondered. There were dozens of girls getting food or standing in little circles talking.

“The one getting the punch. The red head.” Mike replied.

Thomas found the girl Mike was talking about. She was about five feet six and had streaming red hair that covered half of her back. It blazed in the hot sun like fire. She was wearing a light green sun dress decorated with yellow flowers. On some people it would have seemed hopelessly out of fashion, but the girl made it work.

“I like her dress,” Thomas replied.

“I like her ass.”

“Is that all you think about?”

“Not really. I like boobs too. But mostly I’m an ass man. I love me some ass.”

Thomas groaned. “I can’t believe you just said that!”

“Hey dude, I’m just telling it how it is. I might be a jerk… but I’m no liar.”

“At least you know you’re a jerk.”

“Yep. And proud of it. Hey… have you met your roommate yet?” Mike asked.

“No… I haven’t even seen my room yet. I still need to move all my stuff up to my room.”

“I met mine,” Mike said. “His name is Jonas.”

“Like the whale?”

“I think so. I think he’s Jewish.” Mike said.

“I see.”

“Speaking of which, I heard an amazing joke the other day,” Mike said.

Thomas flinched inwardly, but his curiosity got the better of him. “What was it?” He asked.

“Who’s the best Jewish Cook?” Mike asked.

Thomas pondered and wondered if he really wanted to know. Finally he said, “I don’t know, who?”

“Hitler.”

Thomas groaned in disgust as he watched Mike fall into helpless laughter.

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