Knock. Knock. Knock. Knockknockknockknockknockknockknockknockknockknock-
“Christ I’m coming!” shouted Jane, getting up out of her chair. She had no idea who the hell that was supposed to be – probably Matt again, the jerk, knocking slow like a retard. But she wasn’t sure who the second person was, the person rapping on her door like a woodpecker.
She swung her door open, her face already set into a scowl, but to her surprise it wasn’t Matt but the beautiful Eurasian girl from down the hall she’d seen on her first night at the Academy, standing there, looking dazed and weaving ever so slightly on the spot.
“Um… hi?” said Jane sceptically, having no idea what this was about.
“Hiiiii,” said the tall girl with the face like a model, “Hiiii.”
“Hi,” Jane repeated coldly.
The girl smiled warmly at her and Jane noticed her unusually wide pupils. “Do you want- can you please-?” she hiccupped, “We’re having a party.”
“So?” said Jane.
“Sooooo you should cooooommme,” the girl pleaded, twisting her feet. She made as if to reach out and put her hand on Jane’s shoulder but halfway through seemed to realise the problem with that gesture and pulled her arm back.
Jane could recognise an obvious trap to lure her somewhere and beat her up when she saw it. “I’m studying.”
“Booooo,” booed the girl, squishing her elegant face into mock disappointment, “No you should coooommme!”
“Come on, come partyyyyyyy!”
“Go away,” Jane snapped, closing the door in her face.
“Jaaaaaannnnnnne,” came a muffled voice.
Knock knock knock knock knock.
“Go away!” she shouted, “I’m not opening this door!” The knocking stopped and then when silence elicited no further response on Jane’s behalf there was a sigh and the sound of rushing air. Jane scowled to herself and sat back down with her textbook, trying to ignore the sounds of distant merriment.
“I don’t think she’s coming,” informed Giselle, reappearing at Matt’s side in a blast of wind and admirably only stumbling a step or two. “She’s st- (hic) -studying.”
“Ugh,” groaned Matt, rubbing the bridge between his eyes. He thought something like this might happen. He rested his elbows on his knees, considered his options, the gazebo bench hard against his butt. Okay – they were going to have to go for a riskier play.
“Wally,” he muttered, shaking the psychic by the shoulder as he sat there, peaceful and silent, looking up at the stars. “Roll another joint. I’m going to need to get really, really high.”
Then he turned to the throng of people scattered in dribs and drabs around the speakers and in particular the gigantic figure who was almost invisible against the darkness
“James!” he shouted, “How’s your juggling?!”
…the manifestation of which is almost incidental to the trauma, but which is not by itself indicative…
Jane gritted her teeth and tried to concentrate on the words in front of her. She swore it was like that stupid music was getting louder every second. Soundproofed rooms my ass, she’d...
“aaaaahhh-Jane!” a muffled voice suddenly cried to her right. Jane started and spun around, looking for the attacker, but there was nobody there.
Her eyes narrowed. Maybe she was hearing things. She turned suspiciously back to her textbook.
“Jane!” came the voice again, hurtling soft to loud to soft again like the shouter was speeding past her on a freeway. She twisted in her seat in time to catch a glimpse of brown hair falling down out of view of her window. She rose and apprehensively approached the glass, fists clenched, ready to fight.
“Jane!” shouted Matt, suddenly appearing on the other side of the glass, suspended in the air for half a second before plummeting back down. Jane blinked. What the hell was-
“Jane open the-” yelled Matt before he was gone, fallen down the three stories between her window and the ground. And then he was back up again. “Jane open the window!”
Jane did no such thing. Instead, she pressed her face against the glass and peered down at the base of Morningstar’s walls. There was a small crowd of people gathered down around a single speaker blasting some top 40 pop trash, most of whom Jane didn’t recognise. In the middle of them stood the hulking figure of James Conrad, who waved at her with one hand and caught Matt’s tumbling body with the other. Then he tossed him up again.
“Jane please I-” Matt managed to get out before gravity took its toll. Jane rolled her eyes.
“Come on Jane just-” Whoosh, back down.
“This isn’t really-” Arms and legs flailing everywhere.
“Open the wind-” He was upside-down this time.
“Please Jane come-”
In spite of herself, a small smile managed to worm its way across Jane’s face. She quickly wriggled her jaw, trying to make it go away before Matt saw. Not that he could’ve, Jane thought, as his flailing body tumbled legs over head once more up and then back down again. She sighed, took a deep breath, and then against her better judgement unlatched the window.
“What?” she asked on his next flight up.
“Let me in I need to- oop,” he said, plummeting back down.
“What do you want?” she demanded, although the sight of him tumbling stupidly though the air made it hard not to laugh.
“Grab me Jane I-” Matt cried, holding out his hands. The girl rolled her eyes. The next time he came up she reached out, grabbed hold of his chest and pulled him through the window.
“Oof. Thanks,” heaved Matt, his front half in, his hands clasping the windowsill, his legs still dangling precariously over the abyss. He struggled for a few seconds and then pulled himself through, tumbling onto the floor where he lay on his back, breathing heavily. Jane stood with her hands on her hips, looking down at him.
“I think I’m going to puke,” he whispered, staring up at the ceiling.
“Not in my room you’re not,” she growled, “I will throw you right back out.”
He blinked. “You’re really strong.”
Matt closed his eyes. “Jane,” he murmured, “Jane.”
“What?” she said. She could smell the alcohol on him from here.
“You didn’t want to come to the party.”
“So…” he hesitated. “So I brought the party to you.”
Jane cocked an eyebrow. “You mean you or that stupid speaker you’ve got blaring outside my window?”
“Matt’s party delivery service,” whispered Matt.
“Leave me alone. I don’t want your stupid party.”
Matt closed his eyes and ignored her. “Come to the party.”
“Come to the party Jane.”
Matt hesitated, then stared up at her with the expression of a guilty puppy. “We need ice.”
Her eyes narrowed. “I’m throwing you back out.”
“No! Jane! Wait!” Matt shook his head, holding out his hand for her to stop. Slowly, he propped himself up so that he was sitting upright, his head resting on the window frame. “Jane, listen. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about the other day, I’m sorry I got mad, I was just-”
“A jerk?” she finished, standing in front of him, her arms crossed.
“Yes. No. I don’t know. I was scared Jane, I was…” he trailed off. His voice grew soft. “I was just so scared someone was going to find out.”
He looked up at her, his eyes wet and pleading. Jane didn’t know how to respond.
Finally she sighed and dropped back down into her desk chair. “It’s fine. You… you were right. I was stupid.” She paused and stared off behind him, out the window. “I shouldn’t have done it. I let them get to me.”
“They’re not-” Matt started, then he burped. Jane made a face. “Sorry. They’re not bad people.”
She gave a small sarcastic laugh and stared down at him wearily. “They don’t hate you.”
“Yeah, but… but they don’t have to hate you either. They don’t…” He blinked and shook his head slightly like a dog trying to shake water from its ears. “Give them a chance.”
“They hate me. They mock me. They tried to kill me. Why the hell should I have to prove myself to them?”
“I know, it’s not fair,” agreed Matt. He put a hand on the windowsill and tried to stand, then thought better of it. “You shouldn’t… it shouldn’t be on you to… to do that.” He hiccupped. “But it is. It’s just the way things are. And you can cry and moan about it-” Jane’s eyes narrowed, but Matt didn’t seem to notice “-about how (hic) unfair it is, but that won’t change reality, that won’t (hic) make anything better.”
Jane was silent.
“Just… come down the party,” the boy pleaded, “Make the ice. Talk to them and-and laugh and h-have a drink-” he burped again, “-and sh-show them you’re still human.”
“I thought the only human one was you,” Jane replied quietly. Matt put a finger over his lips and made a ‘shush’-ing noise, though he did so with a slight, crooked smile. In spite of herself, Jane felt herself smiling back.
“Fine,” she conceded, “So are we going out the window?” Matt blanched.
“Please no. Stairs are good.” Matt put one hand on the windowsill and one hand onto her bed and tried to push himself into standing. He failed miserably.
“Come on,” Jane muttered. She wrapped her arms around his chest and pulled him to his feet.
“Huuugggss…” said Matt, swaying slightly.
“Kill yourself,” said Jane, letting go.
“You’re… nice. You’re a sweet- (hic) sweetheart. Deep down inside.”
Jane struggled not to smile. It was hard to be angry at someone this pathetic. “No I’m not. I’m a mean old lady.” She led him towards the door. “Now let’s go to this stupid party.”
Bio: Born and raised in Newcastle, Australia, Ben is a lifelong writer currently studying his Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney. An avid fan of the weird and wonderful, he has wanted to be a writer since he was five years old (before which he wanted to be a dinosaur).