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Authors: Caleb S. Bugai

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BOOK: Alkalians
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The door clicks open, and in walks a
man right about his age. He wears a full suit of mahogany, with
long sleeve vest, pants, and tennis shoes. His hair is an ashy
black and spiked-back style, his eyes a dull brown, and his face
smoothly shaved except for a black goatee on his chin.

The man looks up at Matthew, jumping a
little in surprise, and exclaims, “Whoa! I’m not the first guy
here? Huh, not what I was expecting. So, who might you
be?”

A little startled by his upfront
approach, Matthew answers, “Oh, um, I’m Matt. Matthew Calamos. But
you can call me Matt.” He puts out his hand for a proper
handshake.

The man replies while accepting the
handshake, “Cool. My name’s Sean Wyseinburg. Say, weren’t you the
first freshman announced?”


Oh, um, I believe so.
And, weren’t you the last guy called?”


Yep. I wonder why…” After
the sarcastic open thought, he starts digging through the luggage
to find his belongings. “So, did you pick out your own room
yet?”


Uh, yeah. Upstairs, on
the left.”


Alright, I’ll take the
bottom left.” Pulling out a cooler, Sean drags it into the kitchen
and opens the fridge. “You a people’s person?”


Well, I was raised in a
small family, far away from any town. I didn’t get much chance to
meet anyone else besides my parents.”


Eh, that’s no problem.
I’m sure you’ll get less shy, the more you get used to dealing
around with other people.” Sean pulls out bottled drinks from the
cooler and starts putting them into the fridge. “You want some
vodka?”

“…
Vodka?”


Yeah, this!” He shakes a
bottle. “You have heard of vodka, haven’t you?”


No, not
really.”


Really? How about rum?
Whiskey? Wine? Beer?” To each one, Matt shakes his head no. “Have
you even drunk alcohol before?”

“…
What’s
alcohol?”

Sean has a perplexed, comical look on
his face. “Wow, and I thought I was once uneducated.” Holding up a
bottle, he adds, “Okay, here’s your first lesson at college, Matt.
Alcohol is a kind of drink that is smooth tasting and leaves a
funny, pleasant sensation as it goes down your throat. The names I
just mentioned are different brands of alcohol, each of their own
flavors and dosage of alcohol. The amount of alcohol you drink is
important. If you drink too much, you can lose all sense of your
surroundings, lose your conscience and make bad decisions, or even
get physically sick and exhausted! However, a few drinks should not
be bad for you. In fact, to your individual benefit, it helps
loosen up people, makes them more talkable, sociable, and
energetic. And so, to get you started out right, I say we split a
few bottles of this vodka here and let you know just what alcohol
is like. That sound good to you, Matt?”

Matt thinks it over, and decides,
“Sure, I guess I’ll have one.”


Excellent!” Sean hands
him one. “Here you go. One for you, one for me, and a fridge full
to last us a month!” He closes up the fridge and cooler, and pops
open a bottle along with Matt, grinning widely. “A toast, to a
happy school year, with lots of fun and minimum
carnage!”


Okay.” Smiling as well,
Matt taps his bottle with Sean’s, and they take a sip. While Sean
lets out a pleased sigh, Matt’s eyes go wide with surprise and he
totters a little, exclaiming, “Whoa, what a feeling! It feels like
there’s fire going down my throat!”


Ah hah, hence that
warming sensation I was telling you about! And don’t try gulping
down the stuff. You gotta preserve the drink, make it last, make it
count!” Suddenly, they hear someone rattling the door. Sean perks
up and says, “Oh! Here comes our other roommate! Brace
yourself.”

They stand back from the door, ready
for the guest to enter. The door clicks, and in comes, to both
their surprise, a woman.

 

***

 

The woman before them is their age as
well, dressed in green with a t-shirt, dark khakis, and moccasins
on her feet. She has flower red hair that falls to her neck, bright
green eyes, and a face that seems to shine in the light. Hanging
from her neck is a small golden amulet, looking like four petals
spinning around a tongue of flame.

The woman looks at Matt and Sean.
While Matt’s still surprised, Sean walks forward cheerfully,
saying, “Welcome aboard, milady! Please allow me to introduce your
fellow roommates. Call me Sean Wyseinburg, and him, Matt Calamos.
What shall we call you?”

Motionless for a second, she smiles
and answers, “I am Rose Alamence. A pleasure to meet you.” She
gives a small, forced bow.

Sean exclaims, “Ah, so
your name is Rose! What name could be finer, for such a
rose
as you!” He laughs
a little, then asks Matt, “What do you say, Matt? You fine with
sharing quarters with this fair lady, because I sure
am!”

Still trying to get over the fact he
could be sharing a cabin with a woman, Matt says, “I, uh, I’m okay
with it, I guess. What do you think, Rose?”

She glances back and forth between the
two men and asks, “Does the school allow both genders living in the
same cabin?”


Trust me, they do,”
answers Sean.

Rose’s worry vanishes, and she says
with a shrug, “It’s fine with me, then, as long as you two don’t
get any bad ideas.” She walks around the living room, observing the
setting, and states, “The cabins sure are nice.”


Hey, this is nothing
compared to the higher classmen’s attire, from what I’ve heard,”
Sean says.

As Sean takes another sip of his
drink, Matt finally asks, due to his mounting curiosity, “If you’re
a freshman like us, how do you know so much about the school
already?”

After a pause in his resolve, Sean
deflects the question with, “I’ll tell ya later. But for now, I say
we get all settled, hand Rose some vodka, and make our first night
together fun! Who agrees?”

Matt and Rose turn to each other,
expressions blank, look to Sean, and both shrug in agreement. Rose
adds in, “What better way to get acquainted?”


Just what I thought! See,
our great minds are already thinking alike!” Sean grabs another
bottle from the fridge, delivers it to Rose, and raises his drink
up. “Friends?”

Matt and Rose follow the gesture.
“Friends!” The bottles bang together, and they all take a few gulps
of their drinks. They then spread out to sit at different spots.
Matt sits on a stool near the kitchen counter, Sean takes the left
side of the couch, and Rose seats herself on the right
side.

After having another quick sip of his
vodka, Sean begins the conversation. “Now, to make this
ice-breaking easier for us, I say we tackle one subject of
introduction at a time until we’ve all explained ourselves on it.
So, I think the first subject should be, obviously, where we are
from. How about it, Matt?”

Matt agrees, “Sure.” Taking a breath
to focus his thoughts, he tells them, “I’m from Minari, the Mining
State of the Confederacy and to the west of this college. I live
only with my two parents in the remote wilderness, far away from
the nearest town. The only news I’ve gotten of the outside world is
whatever my father brings back. He is a state ranger who patrols
Minari’s boundaries with its neighbors, so he’s only at home for a
few days before returning to another month of patrol.”

When Matt finishes speaking to take
another sip from his bottle, Sean picks up where he left off. “Hah,
what a coincidence! I’m from Minari as well, but unlike you, I live
a little closer to society, and my family’s much bigger. We’re
simple farmers who work out in the fields, and thus most of us
aren’t all that bright. I, however, am the most intellectual of my
siblings, and that’s the reason why I’m the only one of them here!”
He turns to Rose. “And where are you from, my fair
Rose?”

Ignoring his overly courteous
reference, Rose replies, “If you must know, I hail from the state
of Riaquen, far east of here.”

Sean, in the middle of drinking, spits
out his vodka and gasps with shock, “Say what!? You’re from
Riaquen, the state known for its military regime!? How could such a
peaceful thing like you come from that land that thinks only of
war?”

Annoyed by his outburst, Rose suggests
to him in a low tone, “You shouldn’t judge other people so quickly.
Keep up the flirtatious mood, and you’ll find out I’m not as
peaceful as I look.” Amused to see Sean squirm in his seat, gulping
down fear instead of vodka, she continues, “Anyway, I’m from the
Alamence clan of Riaquen, who are well known for their success in
any field of profession and their skills in battle. The necklace
around my neck, in fact, bears the family crest of
Alamence.”

Finding an opportunity to speak up,
Matt implies politely, “How interesting. Well, um, after seeing a
little tension between you two, I think it might be a good idea if
we settle into our rooms, get a good night’s sleep, and try this
conversation another time.”


That’s a great plan,
Matt.” Turning back to Rose, Sean adds, “By the way, I’m truly
sorry if I’ve offended you, Rose. Of all the people I may want to
have bad blood between, I don’t want it to be with a roommate of
the opposite sex!”

“…
Apology accepted,” Rose
replies, a little smirk behind her eyes. Then standing up, she
finishes her drink and says, “I would like to unpack my belongings,
get some rest, and be ready for classes tomorrow.”


I couldn’t agree more!”
Jumping up from the couch, Sean takes the last sip of his vodka,
tosses the bottle expertly into the garbage can near the kitchen
fridge, and exclaims while grabbing the rest of his bags, “If
there’s nothing more to do, then I bid you
adieu
!” He opens the door into the
bedroom near the kitchen, enters it, and kicks the door closed
behind him, leaving a bewildered Matt and Rose in the living
room.

After a moment of staring at each
other, as if they actually saw each other for the first time, Rose
clears her throat before saying, “So, have you picked out your room
yet?”

Slow to respond, Matt jolts before
admitting, “Oh, yeah, the room upstairs, on the left. The last
bedroom is the one across from it.”


I see.” After tossing her
own bottle into the garbage just like Sean had done, she goes for
her bags, picks them up, and heads for the stairs, stopping to tell
Matt, “I guess I’ll see you in the morning.”


Oh, right! Good night,
uh, Rose.”


Good night, Matt.” With a
smile still on her face, she turns and walks up the stairs,
disappearing into the hall above. After hearing a door open and
close, Matt breaths out a calming sigh, finishes off his vodka, and
tosses it toward the garbage can. Instead of falling in it, it
bounces off its rim and lands on the floor with a clink. Startled
by missing the shot, Matt retrieves the bottle and drops it into
the bin, a little embarrassed, and flicks the lights off in the
room before going upstairs to his bedroom.

 

***

 

Morning comes, and with it the first
day of school. Students soon flock into the college buildings, and
Matt, completely unused to such a high level of traffic in such
confined spaces, is dragged and shoved along with the flow of
students down the halls and eventually finds himself in what
appears to look like a cafeteria. However, to his mounting
confusion, most of the students, as they retrieved breakfast foods
like pastries, fruit, or juices, took their food with them out of
the cafeteria and back into the halls as they hustled off to their
classes. Going with the flow, he gets his own food, a blueberry
muffin and a bottle of orange juice, and consumes them on the go as
the river of students gradually dwindles down further into the main
halls of the building. Soon realizing he is lost, he tries to
remain calm as he looks for and finds a map of the building’s halls
and room numbers. He locates the room he believes is his first
class of the day, and takes a few minutes to hurry down the
corridors and up some stairs to the room, hesitating before he
opens the door.

As he comes into the room, Matt is
instantly blushing from the many faces of other students, some
freshmen like him and others of higher classes, turning about to
stare at him. However, any further symptoms of embarrassment and
shyness are denied as he detects peculiar, calming features about
the room. The walls are brightly colored, a pleasant scent is in
the atmosphere, and the person he figured might be the professor,
rather than being some old, gray-haired man, is a young lady,
pretty to look at with her long orange hair, shimmering green
dress, sparkling green eyes, and cheerful smile as she looks back
at him.


Ah, welcome to biology!”
she warmly greets him. “I just did roll-call, and there was just
one missing, so you must be Matthew Calamos?”


Uh, yeah, that’s me. I’m
Matt.”


Wonderful! Please come
in, take the empty seat over here.” She gestures to a seat at the
front of the room, and Matt hastily makes his way there, trying to
avoid eye-contact with the other students as their eyes follow him
before looking back to the professor. “I am Professor Amanda
Malkia, and we were just talking about everyone’s favorite kind of
plant or animal. Do you have any plants or animals you’re fond of,
Matt?”

BOOK: Alkalians
4.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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