Monday, May 23, 2011

"Misprint!" - The Course Overload Novella, Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Breaking and Entering for Fun and Profit
The campus was like a horror film: cold, silent and dead. The chilling winds gusted through the bare treetops – the only noise to be heard on the entire campus. It was as if there had been a devastating nuclear strike between the soccer field and the dorms and I was the last person on earth, just like that Twilight Zone episode I mentioned before. Although I knew it was silly, I feared that at any second, a zombie or an alien hoard would jump out and feast upon my unsuspecting bones, perhaps saving one of my thighs to stir leftovers reheated the following day.

Of all the things that I could have been considering while dashing towards my final chance at rescue, from comforting my inconsolable mother to figuring out how to convince everyone that I was still alive, I was thinking about French fries. I hadn’t really thought about it before today, because I had no reason to, but being a mock ghost was definitely a tiring occupation. However, as I closed in on Kara’s dorm building, I abandoned my thoughts of French fries for reality; and I ask you, what’s more real than being falsely accused of ghostary?

Alas! My brilliant plan had a single major flaw: There was no (conventional) way of entering Kara’s dorm without calling her and getting her to come down and let me in. Most likely, she had already read the paper today, or if she hadn’t, her roommate Shannon had. And if either of them had been to that demented bullhorn pep rally of The Dean’s, calling her would only lead to more heartbreak and devastation. She’d think it was some sort of repulsive joke and hang up on me. Or worse, she might think I was trying to contact her from beyond the grave, start screaming, and call an exorcist. The last thing I needed that day was to be exorcized while still living. I bet that’s never been done before. If exorcizing a spirit makes it go back to hell or finally be put to rest, where would my living spirit be carted off to? I bet the whole affair would royally confuse God and cause a rip in the fabric of reality, and I didn’t much like the idea of having been mistakenly reported dead and inadvertently playing a role in the world’s destruction all in the same agonizing day.

If I couldn’t go through the front door, I had to find another way in! My primitive hunting instincts kicked in instantly. I hid behind a nearby sapling, smearing some crushed grass on my face as camouflage. Then, I covered myself with mud, chuckling under my breath at the cleverness of my disguise. No one would see me there behind the sapling and its remaining leaf now, as I had become one with nature! I was half man, half plant, and as long as no one looked in my general direction, I could hide out for weeks, maybe even years, living off of the land and escaping the awful destiny fate had dealt me early that morning.

But, my goal wasn’t to become a jungle boy (that particular morning, at least). My goal was to infiltrate the fortress “College Courts Building 3” and destroy the heinous rumors of my demise with the help of my girlfriend and our combined wits. From behind my infallible disguise, I surveyed the building for a flaw in its security. Small cracks in the building’s exterior were structural instabilities that I could possibly exploit with some C4, a malleable plastic explosive that could be molded into the crack and detonated at a safe distance. However, searching through my pockets, I saw that during my rush to escape the house that morning, I had left all of my C4 at home. Damn!

I had to find yet another way to gain entry to the building. Searching carefully, I spied an open window on the ground floor. Eureka! I could climb through the window! Luckily, it led to the dorm’s lounge. That meant that I could sneak in without the occupants of a ground level dorm room calling security and complaining about how some sort of plant creature had infiltrated their dorm and tracked muddy foot prints all over the pretty yellow rug on which they throw up every Thursday night.

Making sure the surrounding area was still deserted before abandoning my perfect camouflage, I dashed for the bush and underneath the dorm’s mercifully open window. Hopefully, no one would get the great idea to dump hot coffee or bad tasting soup out the window as I crouched under it.

Before that could happen, I hoisted myself onto the windowsill and slid though the open window. I was disgusted. Whoever had left the window open had given me a portal to my salvation indeed; but they had also paved the way for a vicious vampire attack later that night. Had I been among the ranks of the night dwellers, I could have feasted upon an entire dorm full of unsuspecting women in a horrid, yet strangely erotic tragedy.

I tried to push the idea out of my head as I carefully stood back up. The first thing I saw was almost as horrendous as the vampire attack I had just been thinking about. Waddling about the communal kitchen was an odd girl with both pigtails and a ponytail. She was wearing a neon green shirt with orange sweatpants and large pink sunglasses. She was holding a pot of steaming soup and big mug of piping hot coffee.

“Gee, I guess it was pretty dumb of me to think that I could make a delicious soup out of my old notebooks and failed science tests,” she admitted loudly, staring into the pot of Lord knows what. “And this coffee I made out of my roommate’s dirty socks isn’t very good for some reason. Maybe I’ll throw it out the window!”

In my brain, I filed the event I was witnessing under “Saw it Coming.”

But then Crazy Soup Girl caught me watching her. I attempted to pass myself off as an unusually handsome lamp by standing very still and trying to reflect the most light I could off of my body, but she somehow saw through my clever guise. I knew she was getting ready to scream.

I stared her straight into her strange, multi-colored eyes. “Boo,” I muttered softly.

The metal pot slid out of her hand, hitting the floor and safely bouncing away from her, the scalding contents barely missing her exposed feet. With no further encouragement from me, she leapt over the spill and she and her dirty sock coffee escaped to the sanctuary of her dorm room. I observed her desperate scramble with interest. At least there were some advantages to being a “ghost.” Well, unless she had somehow been spooked by the strange man covered with mud and leaves crawling through her window and staring at her menacingly. But I doubt that.

Quietly, I threw open the lounge door and stomped up the steps. I dashed through another door and finally I stood outside of Kara’s room. But, having finally reached my destination, I found that I didn’t know what to do. Should I just knock? What if she already heard the news? What then?

Before I could make a decision, however, the door swung open. I stood face to face with Kara. Her eyes grew wide.

My heart sank to my knees.

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