Chapter 3a: What is the Point of a Building That Large?
Rebecca yawned, stretched, and shut off the alarm. She left her other music playing, of course, because life would be just so boring without music! She hopped up and looked out her window. The sun was just peeking out from behind the dorm building across the walk. It was so pretty here!
She checked the galnet for the daily news and set her alarm for sunup tomorrow, the rubbed her tummy and grabbed her toiletry kit. Having to go down the hall to a bathroom was just the worst, but she would have to grin and bear it, she supposed!
When she came out of her room, Callum was just closing his own door, bleary eyed and drooping. He walked directly into a chair and then, with a frustrated grunt, pulled it out and plopped down.
“Hi, Callum! Good morning! Isn’t it great? We have a whole new place to explore and all day to do it! Want to go with me to find the Union today? I need my books still. I heard there’s a free cafeteria nearby. With all the different people and cultures here, I think they’ll have a really good range of stuff to eat, don’t you? What do you think Classes will be like? I know you mentioned yesterday that you were a Magical Studies major; do you think we could go find that building today after breakfast?”
Callum looked more stunned than sleepy in the face of this onslaught, and only managed to blurt out something that sounded like “coffee.” It didn’t much matter, though, because David chose that moment to slouch out of his room, too.
“Oh.” he said, then stared into the middle distance pensively for several seconds before “I should get clothes on, I guess.” He turned around and shut himself back into his room.
Rebecca and Callum blinked at each other, shrugged, and both left for the bathroom together. Callum splashed some water on his face and started cleaning his teeth before he seemed to realize he was still in his pajamas and went back to the dorm suite. Rebecca just went straight for the bathing section.
In the shower, she hummed to herself and thought hard about what color she needed her hair to be today. Perhaps candy-striped? Or maybe an electric blue? She settled on the blue as she cleaned her teeth, and ran her styling wand over her head. There! Short, spiky blue! Perfect!
Once she got outside, she realized that the only Students she could see around were those that hadn’t gone to bed yet. This only bothered her for a minute because she could see that several of them were heading into the free cafeteria nearby.
She skipped inside and was immediately put on her guard by the…”decor.” The interior of the Free Cafeteria was an uncoordinated mix of pastels in mainly purples and greens. No three tables or booths were even the same design, and several seemed to be held together by grime, duct tape, and prayer. The food was arranged, buffet-style, on long tables (she preferred to think of them as troughs) under heat lamps (even the salad section!), with the occasional sneeze-guard seemingly accidentally leaning haphazardly over a random portion of a table (or section of floor between “troughs”). There was one downtrodden-looking young man near a computer station scanning IDs.
Rebecca didn’t step far enough in to get a good look at the food, but one of the drink dispensers erupted as she turned to go, and the worker burst into tears.
As she trotted away, she thought to herself “The weirdest part of that place is there is no smell at all! How can that much food be in once place and yet have no smell?!”
She wandered around Campus for the better part of an hour, accidentally sightseeing as she tried to find someplace good to eat or a market where she could get something and make it herself. There was the Clock Tower, of course. It was noticeable from practically any point, it seemed.
She walked past several class buildings, noting the signs above the main entrances. The Mathematics building was several stories tall, and each story had windows with increasing numbers of sides. Sciences was decorated with famous (she assumed) equations etched into the walls and doors. Literature had doors that looked like an open book. There were so many buildings! The Battle Arena in particular was very interesting. And she was going to get to see inside so few of them! Maybe she could take tours between Terms or something…
She asked a passing Student for directions. It was a simple question! Honestly! Why did people always get such weird looks when they talked with her? In apparent annoyance, he pointed down the alley beside the Arena, so she trotted off that way. As she left, she swore she heard him say something very like “Freshmen,” but why did he have to make it sound like a swearword!?
The alley beside the Arena was entirely in shadow at this time of the morning. In the cool gloom, she found herself shuddering, unwelcome dark thoughts seeping in. She hurried through. Once back in the sun, Rebecca gave herself a little shake. ‘This is not The Basement!’ Her face relaxed and she started singing silly kids’ songs a little louder than necessary. She knew she didn’t have much of a voice, but it made her feel better.
Her stomach was really grumbling by the time she arrived at the Union. Once inside, she gasped in amazement. So many people! So much noise! She was in heaven! She waved at passers-by, poked her head into every store, and gawked at the plants and computer terminals like a tourist. This was her very favorite place ever!
A little while later, she couldn’t ignore her tummy any more and started paying attention to the restaurants. Here, there was a McZargald’s Earthling Hut (which she had thought was illegal on Earth), there, a Kentucky Fried Pokat’chu (which was really just cruel). So far, nothing had caught her fancy. Then, she saw it: nestled between a clothing boutique and a specialty farrier’s shop was The Knife and Fork. It looked and smelled so much like her mother’s own cafe back in New Manhattan! Tears sprang to her eyes and she was hit with a sudden wave of homesickness. She walked forward, the slight grin on her face reaching her eyes for once.
Thirty seconds later, eyes wide in shock, she stumbled back out. Those prices were outrageous! How could anyone afford to eat there!? She would have to do something else for food for now.
But she would be back. As soon as she could afford it, she would be back.