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Just Another Manic Monday
The morning light broke through the windows and scratched at London’s sleep. Slowly her thoughts returned to herself, away from the land of dreams and the phantom of Drivers Seat. Her eyes opened softly, as if she had a lifetime’s rest, perhaps even rest enough for two people.
The room was comfortable, warm as London rubbed the heel of her hand over her eyes. That itself felt off, but she struggled to remember why. Cold. It should be cold. But why? That part was hazy.
Though suddenly as a hangover at noon, the thoughts began to rush back to her head. She didn’t know how or why, but she remembered her roommate. The cold, prying claws of a roommate she used to have but no longer had. Sirah was gone, she knew that much. Shot through the head with an arrow. Her experience with Driver’s Seat had only confirmed the strange occurrence she had experienced the night before and now she shot up, a cold sweat with somehow more panic and she shot out of her lying position to survey her somehow empty room.
Every trace of Sirah was gone, not her bed, her desk, her huge stack of books, even the telltale signs of the AC being jerry rigged to a ridiculous temperature, were all gone. London awoke to what could very easily be described as a clean slate of a single room.
“Shit.” She swore. Driver’s Seat said that would happen. She grabbed a pen and the notepad by her desk and wrote “Sirah.” Sirah with an ‘i’ not an A. Sirah and her weird experiments that London never fully understood and should have paid more attention for. Sirah saved her life.
Sirah hadn’t been very social, but there had to be someone, somewhere that remembered her. She was part of that fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, and seeing as it was Greek week, they likely wouldn’t be that hard to find. Slipping into a clean jersey, London grabbed her backpack and headed down to see who she could find.
Stepping out into the hallway of her dorm, she was hit by a sudden flashback to the night before wherefore there stood a pair armed with a single bow and arrow and the total blackness of some mysterious force. Perhaps it had all been some mad summer night’s dream. Wouldn’t that be easier to believe? Wouldn’t that make this whole semester so much more simple?
London shook her head to try and clear it. Phi Delta Epsilon. Phi Delta Epsilon. Ask them about… Fuck. She looked at the paper in her hand. Ask them about Sirah.
The lobby of her hall was empty, as to be expected of syllabus week, perhaps later on it might attract some truly desperate students to it’s allure of solitude and peace but for syllabus week it was a no man’s land of academic promise. But beyond the doors the early morning light greeted her like an old friend upon the freshman halls. Sure she was stuck on the younger side of campus, but now as a sophomore, she was much more advantaged compared to the freshman quickly scurrying to their early morning classes.
Coffee. I need coffee, London thought. Did Sirah drink coffee? She struggled to remember, maybe if she were to drop her name around, someone would remember. London looked at the paper one more time.
Of course, just as Driver’s Seat said, there was absolutely no one in the coffee shop who heard of or remembered Sirah. If they did, they definitely would have butchered her name, considering London - as straightforward a name as you can get - was drinking out of a cup with Laundry written on it, but the caffeine was more than appreciated.
Her last hope was Phi Delta Epsilon. Someone had to remember the over achiever, right?
Unfortunately for London, Phi Delta Epsilon did not have an official location on campus. Unlike the more official fraternities, that brought the benefit of alumni money and legacy students, the educational fraternities only brought prestige and acknowledgement for the few who actually managed to figure out what they wanted to do with their lives within the four years that one’s parents weren’t looking. This unfortunate fact meant that the school typically offered them a closet perhaps, maybe a room that they could borrow when asked if they did really well, but finding a single physical location for records would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
But the good news was that it wouldn’t have to be that large of a haystack. REO University had one building that could possibly handle the ego and towering intellect of a medical school bound group such as Phi Delta Epsilon, and that was the school’s one and only science building in the middle of campus. Towering nearly as high, if not slightly higher, as the church beside it, it stood as a monument to the school’s dedication to the sciences. Dolby Hall greeted London as she stepped out into the morning light of campus’ central circle. Students rushed around her, moving too and fro among one another as clearly some early classes had just let out and the groups were either heading to another early morning arrangement, or if they were lucky, a nice firm bed.
Sirah. Sirah. Sirah. Even as she said the name to herself, it sounded strange to her ears, like the first time she was hearing it. She wished that Sirah had name dropped some, mentioned friends, classmates, anything. “Hey, ‘scuse me --” she said, pulling a random well dressed student aside. “I’m looking for someone -- anyone associated with Phi Delta Epsilon, can you point me in the right direction?”
The student looked at her in a mix of bleary eyed mess and confusion, “Oh uhh…”. They looked around the entrance just before the larger opened dome in the center as if for the first time. “Uhhh…” they took a few more steps into the open area past the raised study hall circle affectionately called ‘the fishbowl’ and looked up to the exposed halls. They looked back to London, then pointed a hand toward the third hallway, “Somewhere up there...I think.”
“Great! Thanks.” London replied, inwardly thinking that med students as a whole weren’t the most articulate bunch on campus. Jogging up the stairs (I’m assuming there are stairs?Yeah you good) two at at time, she glanced at the note in her hand one more time before asking the next student she saw the same question - to be pointed in the direction of Phi Delta Epsilon.
Eventually London was pointed in enough directions to be able to focus in on one particular room. The door wasn’t anything particularly special. It appeared to be nothing more than a nice door, with the glass crisscrossed with anti-shatter wires in the case that perhaps someone was in desperate need of seeing boring old yearbook photos and perhaps the occasional signing of new freshmen to the cause.
Used to locker rooms, rowdy hockey games and the like, London wondered how anyone could stand the deafening silence and quiet that fell over the building. But still - if it meant she could find a lead to Sirah, well, anything was worth it. She tried the door but found the handle didn’t move beyond a slight nudge before hitting a lock. The shatter-proof glass meant breaking in was certainly not an option either.
But as she was busy contemplating potential criminal activity, the rustling of the door behind her signaled a new entrant to the hallway. As she turned she saw an older female head poked from a nearby door. She smiled at London and stepped out, “Hey there, do you need some help.” She saw which door she was standing in front of and took another few steps forward, “Oh sorry, are you trying to get into there? I can help with that if you forgot your key.”
“Yes I… I forgot my key.” London smiled back. If you could help that would be great. My dorm is way on the other side of campus.”
“Well sure thing honey, let me just step right back into my office here.” And with another few steps she was gone but the soft sounds of her pulling a drawer open and closed could be distinctly heard from the other room
“Thanks… so much.” London replied, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. The last two days had been so… weird, surreal. Jack in the locker room, Charlie in the infirmary, and most of all, -- she checked the note in her hand again -- Sirah. London wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed and wake up from this bad dream, wake up back home, a senior in high school, something, just anything to make this make sense.
“Oh don’t worry about it darling, just saving you a trip back to your dorm is all.” She said as she returned to the hallway with a key in hand and a smile on her face. She came to the door and gave another quick smile to London. The lock gave way easily enough and the door swung wide into the hallway. “Now what were you looking for exactly?” the woman said, obviously trying to do everything she could to help London along. But as the light illuminated the room, London could only find her eyes focused on bird sitting squarely atop the filing cabinet in the small room.
In its mouth was a file’s worth of photos and it scowled at the pair of women. It’s body was certainly constructed like a vulture, it certainly looked like one. But it was far too mechanical for it to be a natural bird, too many sockets and bits composing it to be held together by anything other than pure magic...or perhaps some very tough strings.
As soon as the bird caught sight of light however, it spread its wings wide and shot out the door just past London’s head, sending her to her knees. Looking up just in time to see it depart into the center of the hall with the files in its mouth before shooting straight up into the glass. For all intents and purposes, the bird had flown the coop.
“What the hell?” London called from the ground, looking up to where the bird had flown, her eyes searching for anything which may have dropped from the folder. “That had to be it. “ She muttered, pulling herself to her feet. “That folder, it had to be Sirah Mitchell’s, just like he said, like she never even existed!”
But getting back to her feet, she saw that the woman who had opened the door was looking at her very strangely. “Darling,” she started, a concerned look on her face, “What are you talking about there? You fell back to the floor real quick for just some dusty old shelves.”
“That bird!” London demanded, pointing up to the glass. “That took the folder!” Brushing past the woman she ripped open the file cabinet, where sure enough a space was left between Haley Meyer and Delbert Morris. “There, see? A file is missing! Sirah Mitchell’s file. She was my roommate! You HAD to see the bird! It was big and black and … and it took Sirah Mitchell’s file! Driver’s seat said they’d make it like she never existed, and that’s exactly what’s happening! Don’t --” She warned. “Don’t look at me like I’m crazy. I’m [i]not[i] crazy. Sirah Mitchell was my roommate even if all of you want to pretend she wasn’t.”
Despite London’s plea, the woman still looked at her like it was crazy. She did look into the room toward the files and and over London’s shoulder. The file tabs between Haley Meyer and Delbert Morris did not appear to have space between them suggesting a missing file. Frankly, this student was acting more than strange on the first week of school. “Look,” she started but decided against stepping into a small dark room with what could possibly be a deranged student, “I realize the first few weeks of the new year can be stressful, and that impacts all of us differently. But darling, maybe you aught to see someone? The nurse can get you right back to where you were or at least give you something to help you sleep.” She couldn’t hide the concern on her face, but was doing the best she could with a smile.
“No! I don’t need the nurse or sleep. I need to find someone, ANYONE on this campus who remembers… “ Fuck. Think London. “Who remembers my roommate, who was killed, here on campus. Any of you?!?” She called to the students milling about below. She looked at the note in her hand. “Sirah Mitchell? Ring any bells?”
The students who were reading or walking through all froze in their tracks or pages and looked up the raving girl. No one said anything, but a few carefully backed their way out of sight or tried to avoid eye contact with her whole checking that everyone else could see this as well.
“Forget it.” London spat out, brushing past the helpful woman and ignoring the stares of students below. Like them, she was starting to wonder if she was really crazy. Dead janitors? Disappearing roommates? An arrow through the head? All signs pointed to insanity. But crazy people never think they’re crazy, do they? Isn’t that a sign of being not crazy itself?
Her own thoughts clouded themselves as she made her way down the stairs and out the front door. She obviously didn't have anywhere to be this early, any classes she might have had were certainly secondary to this mystery as well. People had been hurt! Sirah had been killed and she had as well...at least she thought she had been. Everything was so different all at once and she had next to no explanation for any of it beyond what was most likely a fever dream.
Out in the open central forum, the warm late spring air greeted her but she barely noticed as she hurried out with her head low and mind racing 20 steps ahead of her on the redbricks. The thought that she was lucky not to have run into someone had just hit her mind as she actually ran into someone.
“Sorry,” London apologized, cussing herself again for not being careful. Careful, cautious - had she been more of one or the other, she never would have started looking into this in the first place. She never would have gone to the boathouse, and she most certainly wouldn’t at this point be losing her mind.
The figure took a small tumble along with her and both nearly went to the floor. As he righted himself, London recognized the figure as one of the players from the baseball team. The name was escaping her at the moment, which was certainly forgivable for where her head was at, but his face shifted from one of annoyance to happiness upon recognizing her. “Hey London, no...you uhh don’t look so good.” he gave her a quick look over that seemed to be less than satisfactory, “You alright?”
She stumbled over her own answer, like the truth was trying to fight it’s way out especially hard today for such a basic question. She only had to watch an innocent person die and probably had died herself, but that wasn’t exactly something you brought up to the person on the street who asked how your day was going. “I...yeah I’m just...a little crazy right now.”
She was surprised at herself for being so open, but the day had worn her walls down for certain, and a kind voice and familiar face were all it seemed to take. But perhaps luckily for her the message of openness and need for help collided with the brick wall of early morning college student single mindedness. “Haha, yeah I feel you. Syllabus week somehow just gets so crazy huh.” He trailed off slightly and swiped at his nose as he clearly tried to move to another topic, “So yeah, a few of the guys on the team are actually thinking of hitting up the Lambda party, you should totally show up! The guys would love to see you there.”
The change in topic was certainly jarring for London, and her answer was stilted, “The...guys?”
“Oh yeah, you know, like Liam, Harry, Jack,” London’s face snapped to attention and she must have communicated some kind of displeasure to him because he immediately reversed course, “Oh I mean actually I don’t know if Jack can make it, but if he does….eh he usually does his own thing when he drinks so you can just chill with us. Sound good?”
London’s mind raced with ideas, possibilities of confronting the monster she had only recently discovered. She nodded her head and gave a smile to the boy, “Sounds great! I’ll see you there!”
The boy smiled and walked off, wishing London a better afternoon. In truth he might have made London’s entire week or year. Jack Norworth, she had him in her sights and now she knew EXACTLY where to find out what she needed to know. And if not, at the very least seeing Norworth’s ass knocked out in front of her would probably make her feel loads better.