Chapter 2a: My Roommates Are Crazy. Can I Draw Again?
The sun, which had been blindingly bright earlier, cast its dim rays over the darkening Campus as it began to sink. David Malrick sighed and turned his Tortured Gaze up to the nearest building. It was… well, it was impressive, frankly, if David could admit it. Tall, fluted columns, stark white, swept gracefully three stories into the air. The rather dramatic façade was stippled with arches, and he could see stadium-style seating through the open doors in front of him, but didn’t get a better look before the last few excited Students came walking out and the doors closed. The sign posted on the entrance proclaimed “Battle Arena Closed! Open 9 ‘till Dark, Saturdays and Sundays!” and, in smaller print underneath “For inquiries, visit Ten-Ohki in the office during normal school hours.”
David blinked and then decided the place held no meaning for him, and picked another random direction to try. The sun sank below the horizon, but the temperature didn’t seem affected by it; it was still late summer and a sickeningly pleasant sea breeze carried the sounds and smells of a busy college campus. He sighed and trudged on, glancing up now and then to check building numbers. He didn’t really see a point in all of this, but he’d promised Mom that he would Do His Best, and, being A Man, he would Keep his Promises.
It took another twenty minutes of wandering before he accidentally found his dormitory, the “Magnificent Greenwood Apartments!” as the holofilm he held so helpfully proclaimed. It was a ten-story tall building, surrounded by countless Poplar trees and painted a rather tasteless shade of pistachio green. It looked popular – there were dozens of Students lounging or playing ball games outside on the steps, and many more hanging out of windows far above.
David ignored all of these and walked through the closest entrance. There was a long hallway with doors every few meters, ending at another entrance at the far side of the building. Walking down a bit, he caught glimpses of the interiors of several dorm rooms through open doors. Every third door, there was another hallway branching off to the other sides of the buildings. The center didn’t have any rooms. Instead, it appeared to be a communal bath and restroom.
There were elevators flanking the restroom, so he walked up to one. It had no button. He looked around helplessly, wondering how he was supposed to get up to the third floor. He couldn’t fly! He was saved, however, when the doors parted and a Student with a bright green moustache almost stepped directly onto him. David pushed past him and punched the button marked ‘3’ in Arabic numerals. The Student he had completely ignored jumped forward. “Hey, wait, you’re not supposed-“ but the doors closed before he could finish, and David found himself looking at the third floor corridor a few seconds later. It was so fast that he almost didn’t get off before the doors closed again.
He spent the next few minutes lost in the hallways of the third floor, and even found the stairs before he finally found his room. He heard voices coming from behind it and paused briefly outside. He took a deep breath and pushed open the door, determined to Make Friends with his roommates, like he had Promised his mother.
His new living quarters consisted of a room about five meters square, with a clinical two-seated couch, a couple of armchairs, a small table with rickety-looking mismatched chairs, and three other doors.
David took this in in a flash, before settling his gaze on the other two occupants. First was a short girl with bubblegum pink pigtails, an upturned mouth, and highly fashionable (David assumed) clothes. She was practically vibrating with excitement and seemed to have only just stopped talking, surprised by his appearance. The other was a thin young man wearing an almost comical expression of shock and confusion. He was blond, with grey-blue eyes and the same haircut David himself wore (what David thought of as a little-boy cut. Ugh. Moms.). They both looked a few years older than him, so he suspected that the probably wouldn’t Get It. He supposed he would just have to make do. Maybe they wouldn’t be too chatty.
Before David could even open his mouth to mumble a greeting, the girl bounded forward, actually leaving the ground for three full seconds before settling gently back down. “Hi! I’m Rebecca! You must be our third roommate! I thought there would probably be another when I saw the three bedrooms, but you never know how it’ll work out! I guess I won’t be able to turn it into a kitchen like I wanted, but that’s ok! The more, the merrier, I always say! Well, I say always, but that was actually the first time I’ve said that. Anyway, I’m doing the Culinary Arts and Spacefaring programs here! What’re you doing? And what’s your name?”
David gave her an incredulous look, and then turned to the young man beside her, who had a slightly sympathetic expression. Rebecca sounded most definitely too chatty. He mumbled something almost sullenly and then practically heard his mother’s reproachful voice in his head and changed it to: “David, I guess. I’m in Mecha Tech and Warfare.”
The other young man stepped forward and made to shake David’s hand. David looked at it, straightened his habitual hunch, and gripped it firmly. This was definitely time for an Important and Manly Moment. Perhaps he could make a good enough impression to be treated as an Adult, unlike back home. “Name’s Callum, mate. Nice ta meet yeh. I’m single Major m’self; Magical Studies and all that. Welcome t’yer new home.”
“’m David. Good to be met.” David’s face started to burn, and he pushed past Callum and into the open doorway of the unclaimed room. The horror! Every time David tried to break out of his shell, he Made an Idiot of himself, and mumbled his way through! Why couldn’t he just talk to people?
He threw his duffel to the floor, sat on his new bed, and looked out his window at the deepening twilight. He knew She needed a Man with Confidence, Daring and a Bright Future. All women did, really; how many holonovels or ‘vids had he seen proving that? He desperately needed to work on that. Yes, he would Become the Man She Needed or Die Trying.
He could hear the voices of his roommates in the common area on the other side of his door, but they were little more than the buzzing of a gnat against the power of the memories of Her that haunted even his waking dreams. He would Know No Rest and Have No Respite; there would Be No Peace for him until he got Her back. Or died in Glorious Combat, finally Proving his Worth. Whichever came first, really.