Lily was partied-out. Standing near the building door, the smell of sweat and the noise of the party music was still going strong. But she was used to it now. Her attention was instead drawn to her phone. She had waited ten minutes for her Uber to come but the guy seemed to have mixed up the dorm buildings. She continued staring at her screen hoping to get a call. From the Uber guy. From her roommate Callie who disappeared. Hoping for something, anything familiar.
Her Uber arrived five minutes later. “Hey, sorry about that. To Walden College then? Which building?”
“Yes please. Just drop me off at Morgan Hall.”
The sudden silence was disconcerting to Lily’s ears, but also hugely welcomed. She was ready to be in bed in her comfy PJs so she could sleep off the night’s events. The MIT party was everything she had expected an American party would be, yet nothing like what she’d imagined. There were drinks and drugs and more than enough people dressing to impress. She even met a guy named Jimmy...he was pretty cool until he started being too pushy. Maybe if she wasn’t so stressed about Callie. Lily felt bad for leaving her behind but she spent nearly an hour searching and texting.
“Where are you?”
“I looked in 8 rooms?”
“Are you ok?”
Even now, there was no response. Sitting with an uncomfortable feeling in her stomach, Lily hoped that Callie would return home safely.
Her driver eventually spoke up. “Sorry I don’t think I can drop you at the dorm. Road’s blocked. I can let you off here at the park lot or maybe at the front entrance?”
Anxious to get out, Lily chose the parking lot. As soon as they said their thank you’s and goodbyes, Lily stared at her surroundings. Though she could hear the voices of other students in the distance, the strange calmness of Walden’s campus with its glowing blue security poles created a ghostly feel. Ugh, it’s going to be at least a 15-minute walk.
As she made her trek, Lily became more conscious of the fact that no one was around. How late is it?? A quick check from her phone showed 1:47AM. She placed it back in her pocket and walked a little faster. Yet the faster she walked, the louder she heard the rustling. Just look forward and keep going…
“Excuse me young lady, do you need any help?” Lily glanced over and saw a campus security guard on what looked like a golf cart.
“Um. No sir. I’m just heading home.”
“Do you need a lift?”
Lily politely declined but the guard had a sympathetic smile and offered again, insisting that it was would be much quicker and he’d be happy to help. The guard, Alan, said that Walden’s campus security give out rides all the time at night. “Gives me something to do.” He reasoned. With her energy at its lowest, she agreed. Lily ended up sharing with him a part of her MIT adventures, and it turned out to be less awkward than she’d expected. Alan dropped her off right at the door, but not before reminding her that she could use any of those glowing blue poles to give campus security a call if she wanted a ride. Thanking him, Lily walked towards her room.
She could hear faint conversations coming from her door. Callie?
Unlocking it, she saw Callie sitting on her bed watching a show on her laptop. Her phone was by the bedside. Callie glanced up and said a quick “Hey, you’re back!” before putting her headphones back on. Lily paused for a moment. Stunned. Is that it???