Inescapable (The Premonition Series) (2 page)

BOOK: Inescapable (The Premonition Series)
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As he starts the engine, I bite my lower lip so it won’t tremble. Seeing him smile at me through the glass, my heart accelerates in fear. Uncle Jim gives me a small wave, and I mirror the action, although my hand shakes just a little. When his car drives out of sight, I walk slowly back upstairs.

Turning the key in the lock to my single room, I push the door open. About to step through the doorway, I freeze when I see a shadow move quickly across the wall. It startles me. “Hello?” I inquire, but no one answers me.

Rubbing my eyes, I blink a couple of times before I close my door. I hurry to the windows on the far wall, looking for someone outside my window on the fire escape. It’s empty; the heavy iron grate of the landing is rusty in spots from disuse, appearing as if no one has been out there in a while.

Sighing, I turn from the window and scan the room, taking in the bare walls and empty shelves—it can belong to anyone. It’s like looking at a blank canvas; as if the person that I was prior to this moment with all of the vibrant colors, intricate shapes, and textures that were painted on that canvas throughout my life has no voice here—no future.
I just need to unpack my stuff, so I can feel normal,
I think to myself.

I choose a box near the sink and begin unpacking it. As I set a picture of Uncle Jim and me on the bedside table, the clock tower of Central Hall scares me by loudly tolling out the hour.
Bong… bong… bong…
three o‘clock. The deep timbre of the bell churns the air ominously.
I hope it doesn‘t do that all night because that could get really annoying,
I think before trying to synchronize my clock to reflect the clock tower’s pronouncement.

Unpacking some of my clothes next, I finish putting them in the drawers. I have more time to kill before I have to walk to the Sage Center. Freshman orientation starts at four o’clock. My plan is to get there just in time to slip in the back of the auditorium and find a seat because the thought of milling around alone in the lobby before the orientation seems very awkward and unappealing.

After making my bed, I feel a little bit better as I lie on the soft coverlet, smelling the scent of home that clings to the blanket. Yawning tiredly, my eyes droop because I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I avoid sleep. When I sleep, I dream, and my dreams make me feel like I’m drowning. Yawning again, I push myself up, looking for another box to unpack so I won’t crash yet. I want to be utterly exhausted when I sleep so that there will be less of a chance that I’ll remember my nightmare.

Finding a small box by the sink, I pick it up and wrestle with the sticky packing tape, trying to rip it off. The tape sticks to my hand as I carry it to my desk, setting it down near the lamp. Pulling the box cutter from the pocket of my denim skirt, I expose the blade.

A shadow darts in front of the window, blotting out the sunlight for a moment. It distracts me so that I look up. In the next second, searing pain registers in my mind as blood runs onto the box. I hiss in pain, dropping the stupid box cutter with a clatter on the desk. As I inspect my finger, blood wells up from a deep cut. Walking to the sink, I run it under the cold water.

It’s not too deep. Maybe I can get away with just putting a bandage on it when I get it to stop bleeding,
I think to myself. Finding a small towel to wrap around it, I open the medicine cabinet over the sink that I had stocked earlier. As I fumble with a box of bandages, I apply pressure to my cut. It’s throbbing like I had opened an artery while splotches of red soak through the bone-colored terrycloth.

Ignoring its pulsing ache, I go over to the windows again to see if someone is out there. I examine the fire escape again; I am on the second floor, and the grating is at least twenty feet off the ground. The ladder has to be pushed off of it, so no one can just jump onto it. Sticking my head out the window, I look up, but there is no way to enter it from above either. Feeling shady about it, I close the windows and lock them.

I’m so tired that I’m seeing things,
I think, rubbing my eyes with my good hand. I cross back to my bed, flopping onto it to stare at the freshly painted white ceiling. Yawning, I turn my head, reading the clock. My eyes close for a second, and I feel for a moment like I am floating. I jerk my eyes open before pulling one of my pillows to me and hugging it for comfort. Watching the clock in front of me again, I try to stay awake.

Why is my room so cold?
I wonder as I turn over on my side.
It’s freezing…
Opening my eyes, I stare hazily at the vinyl tiles beneath my damp cheek; they stretch out in a checkerboard pattern of muted beige and taupe into a desolate infinity. Touching my fingertips to my aching jaw, I lift my face from a sticky pool on the floor. Thick, red lines of blood slip down my neck to rain like tears onto my elegant top.

Beautiful music of the sweetest resonance sways around me, but it is punctuated by a grating, buzzing sound that is making my head dizzy. Disoriented and nauseous, I look toward the sound of the music.

My eyes fall upon the most beautiful face I have ever seen, but his perfect features are covered in gore. Large streaks of blood mottle the sides of his mouth, running in trails of horror from his face. A slow, sensual smile curls the corners of his lips as he sees me watching him.

Fear, like a choking noose, steals the air from my lungs, forbidding me to turn away from him. Gently, he lifts my hand while softly prying my fingers open. Small silver pendants dangle from a worn brown leather strap in my palm. They catch the light as the beautiful monster takes them from me.

A voice that sounds like my own whispers, “Unravel the life force and lose a soldier, a lover, a friend. Always been there… always there… “
Bong
… “
Can’t stop it from coming
…”
Bong
… “
Can’t stop…

CHAPTER 2

 

Orientation

 

… Bong… Bong…

As my eyes fly open, I lurch up in bed—panting heavily, as if I’ve been running laps. My hand instinctively touches my cheek to see if there is anything on it…like blood. When I pull my fingertips back and see that they are clean, I hang my head in misery. My hand drops to my chest, feeling the bludgeoning beat of my heart within it.

Disoriented, I lift my head before focusing my attention on the clock near my bed.
It’s four,
my mind screams and my heartbeat triples.
Freshman orientation…

In a panic, I drag myself out of bed, stumbling to the sink. I turn on the tap and splash some water on my face to wake myself up. Then, I pause. Blinking, I hold up my finger, but I can’t seem to find where I had cut myself. It’s gone—there isn’t even a mark on my skin—nothing to indicate that I’d even scratched myself with that box cutter.

Did I dream that cut?
I wonder while my groggy mind struggles to wake up.
No,
I think, picking up the towel I had used to wrap my finger earlier.
My blood is all over it.
Searching the room for answers, I see the clock again—it’s past four.
I’m missing orientation!

In a hurry, I check my reflection in the mirror again. I stand on my tiptoes and try to see if my denim skirt is appropriate for the orientation. I give it a quick tug to straighten it; it’s more of a micro mini than I’d thought, but I really don’t have time to change it now—it goes well with my sleeveless top. Quickly, I touch up my make-up.

Locking the door to my room, I move through the short hallway that leads to the main hall on the second floor. I jog down the stairs to the reception area and head for the beveled glass doors. Pushing one open and letting it bang closed behind me, I run down the sidewalk toward the auditorium.

It takes me no time at all to become flushed from the mixture of late afternoon sun, exertion, and stress over being late.
This should’ve been a nice, casual stroll through the campus,
I think, listening to the heavy panting of my breath.

The trees on campus are meticulously laid out to line the paths in arching aisles of green. Legions of birds are nesting in the thick canopy of leaves that stretch far above my head. It would be a beautiful nature walk, had I not been so late. As I listen to the calling birdsong above my ragged breath, I envy those birds for their ability to fly.

Sprinting the last few steps to the Sage Center, I make it just before an elderly woman with a sour expression on her face closes the doors to the auditorium. A grimace of apology crosses my face as her eyes rove over me in disapproval.

“They’re all in there, dear,” she says as she points to the doors at the back of the lobby.

“Thank you,” I murmur.

Taking a moment to catch my breath, I touch my stomach, because it feels slightly off all of a sudden—not hungry or upset—it’s more like the fluttering feeling you get on an airplane when it dips fast in turbulence. But, that isn’t exactly right…it feels like something inside of me is tugging me forward.
I must be getting out of shape or something if I feel this strange after only running half a mile.

Walking through the lobby of the auditorium, I’m grateful for the air-conditioning. I haven’t had the occasion to be in this building until today. It’s amazing, and I’m trying not to gawk as I glance around. Intricate floor-to-ceiling windows grace the front of the auditorium, throwing sunlight on the lithe fountain in the center of the marble floor. Diamonds of reflected light dance over the walls and ceiling and illuminate the beautiful bronze statuary frolicking in the midst of cascading water. Wandering over to the fountain, I read the bronze placard at the base of the statue: A Gift of the Wellington Family.

Momentarily distracted by the sign, I stumble into an elegant, sweeping staircase that leads up to the second floor balcony area. Blushing, I look around to see if anyone witnessed my faux pas, but the space is mostly empty because everyone has already gone inside.

I hurry over to the heavy wooden doors at the back of the lobby. As I push one open, I pause again just beyond the threshold because the lighting in the auditorium is dimmer than it was outside, making it difficult to see. Before my eyes adjust, I realize I’ve made another crucial mistake when the door slams shut behind me, causing several students seated nearby to turn and stare at me curiously. While feeling like an errorist for all of my blunders, I search in vain for an available seat so I can move away from my conspicuous position by the door.

Someone begins waving his hands a few rows from where I’m standing. “Genevieve…Genevieve,” a loud whisper says.

I move forward before recognition makes me falter and cringe inwardly. The person hailing me with unabashed fervor is the only person I’ve previously met at Crestwood. Alfred is waving to me and gesturing wildly toward the seat next to his, about midway down the aisle. I close my eyes briefly in an attempt to block out the faces of the students who are now openly scrutinizing me.

I hardly know Alfred at all; we’re acquaintances. I’d gotten invited to a Break the Ice Brunch this summer prior to coming to Crestwood. As a prospective Crestwood student, Alfred Standish’s mother had invited other potential freshmen to their home, hoping to find a friend for Alfred before school. It was a nice idea, in theory, but since I’d been the only guest to show up, it turned into more of a stiff interrogation than a cordial brunch. So instead of being an icebreaker, it had felt more like an icemaker.

When I had met Alfred, he hadn’t said much, but had let his mother do all of the talking for him. Secretly, I’m a little concerned about him because I look like a social butterfly next to him. At 5’6” and about 140 pounds, he might be an easy target to bully in the freshman dormitory.

I plaster a smile on my face because avoiding him now that he knows I see him would be a huge dis, so I trudge ahead, feeling like everyone’s eyes are on me. “Hi, Alfred, how was your summer?” I ask, while sitting in the seat next to his.

“It was weak. I didn’t do much, just worked on my multislacking,” Alfred replies with a grin. “I was hoping to see you here. You’re the only person I really know at Crestwood.”

“Wow, is that right?” I ask, trying to be supportive. “We have something in common—I’m flying solo here, too. Have I missed anything?” I ask with my eyebrows knitting together.

“No, they’ve just had us marinating here. They haven’t started yet, so you can kick back,” he says, taking in my rigid body language.

I let out a deep breath. “Thanks,” I say, and I feel unexpectedly grateful to be able to talk to someone. I sit back a little easier in my seat trying to chill, but my stomach still feels really strange, like butterflies are taking off inside me.

“You’d better make sure you silence your cell,” Alfred says conspiratorially. “They made an announcement that someone will collect your phone if they hear it. That’s such crap, like we’re still in high school or something,” he mutters, shaking his head.

I reach into my bag and silence my phone. “I bet that irritated some of the bluetools around here,” I smile, referring to the people who always wear their Bluetooth phones, even when they’re not talking on them.

Alfred smirks. “Yeah, you should’ve seen the texters scramble to silence their alerts,” he laughs. “Can you imagine them taking the phone from a dedicated texter? Their worlds would end—no more LOL or BRB—no, it’d be CUL8R.” We both laugh, while his blue eyes crinkle in the corners warmly.

The lights dim in the auditorium, and the crowd slowly begins to quiet as the Dean of Men addresses the audience from the podium at the center of the stage. What ensues is what one expects from an orientation: a brief history of the school, a general dissertation of its traditions, and an overview of the student code of conduct.
Snore.

When the dean finishes speaking, an administrator addresses the class regarding freshmen registration. It’ll be conducted using the first initial of the student’s last name. As a C, for Claremont, I’ll enroll earlier in the morning than most other freshmen students. I smile because I know what an advantage this will be in attempting to get the most desirable classes.

Next, a few representatives from the sorority and fraternity houses on campus address us. One student is speaking about the various activities associated with the Greek system. Throughout this dissertation, Alfred is furiously taking notes on the subject, arduously documenting the process on his iPhone. Suddenly, I feel very protective of Alfred. I can picture him at the mercy of some overbearing upperclassmen with a God complex, bent on hazing and control—not a pleasant thought. Alfred seems younger than me, although I’m sure that isn’t the case because we’re both freshmen. Maybe I feel this way because he is what one would term as slight, or maybe it’s because he had done me a solid today by saving me a seat. Since he seems to look at me as a friend, it won’t hurt me to keep an eye on him, just to make sure that he adjusts well to school.

Stifling a yawn, I allow my eyes to wander through the profiles of the students sitting nearby. Just a few rows ahead of me, my gaze halts abruptly on a broad set of shoulders—
very
masculine shoulders. As my eyes begin traveling upward, I notice the curve of his neck and his strong jaw line—a full mouth that I can only describe as…sensual. He has a straight nose, I note as my eyes continue further up to his eyes, which are very, … very…angry? Livid would be a better word to describe the eyes glaring at me across the small space.

My heartbeat accelerates as my cheeks flush at the look of pure malice he sends in my direction. I turn my head to search behind me, hoping to see who has incurred the wrath of the perfection in front of me, but there seems to be no one who stands out as the object of his hatred. I look toward him again in confusion to see if he is still looking this way. My cheeks grow redder when I see that he is and that his expression hasn’t changed at all.

What’s up with hotness?
I wonder.
He looks like someone definitely broke his crayons.
Quickly, I look away from him before I melt from the heat.
Who is he? I
wonder, trying to see him with my peripheral vision so that he won’t think that I am scoping him.
Maybe he’ll be in that freshman directory.

I had gotten a directory with all of the incoming freshman class’s pictures and bios in it. It had been mailed to my house and was put together by the Crestwood Mother’s Club. I had looked myself up in it and found the senior picture I had been required to send in when I applied to Crestwood. Next to my picture was a brief biography of my high school accomplishments, which, I also assume, was collected from the application I had submitted to the school.

Apparently, privacy isn’t a priority for the Mother’s Club, but in this case, I’ll use it to my advantage.
Due to my plotting, I barely hear the plan outlining a walk to Arden Lake directly following the orientation. The woman at the podium said something about finding a group? People in the auditorium are beginning to get up and mill around the exits.

“I must’ve been day dreaming there at the end. What was that part about Arden Lake?” I ask Alfred as we rise from our seats.

He stretches his arms as he says, “Oh, we’re supposed to find our groups for the walk to the lake just off campus. It’s a Crestwood tradition for the freshman class to go there for a barbeque. I think your group is that way,” he points, “with the first part of the alphabet. You’re a C, right?” he asks me.

I follow his line of sight to a group of students mingling near the doors at the side of the auditorium. They’re all BlackBerryjammed together, trying to turn the ring tones of their phones back on.

“Yeah,” I say absently, “I’m a C.”

I miss whatever it is that Alfred says next because I inadvertently stop listening. Instead, my entire focus is riveted on the perfect features of the guy from earlier—the angry one. He is leaning casually against the door to the exit, being surrounded by coeds with flushed, adoring faces. Among his pack of admirers is a cute little blond freshman playing with her cropped hair and touching his arm flirtatiously over something he is saying. As she taps the clipboard in his hand, I wonder if he is the guide for our walk to the lake.

After taking a couple of steps in my group’s direction, I pause because the strangest thing is happening to me. The fluttering, weightless feeling in my stomach that I’ve had since arriving at the auditorium, seems to be increasing in intensity as I move forward. It’s as if velvet-winged Monarchs are taking flight inside of me.

Unconsciously, I take another step in the direction of my group, but I stop when Alfred points and says, “I think that’s my group over there. I wish we were walking together. Maybe we can grab a bite to eat when we get to the lake?” he asks, while looking down at his shoes when the last words are spoken, making him seem really vulnerable. Suddenly, I feel even more protective of Alfred.

“That sounds good, Alfred—um do you have a nickname? Something less formal than Alfred?” I ask as he stares at me. When he doesn’t answer I go on, “You know, like what do your friends at home call you?”

“Umm, my friends, they all call me Alfred,” he replies.

Smiling, I roll my eyes, before asking, “No one calls you Al or Fred, something that doesn’t make you sound like somebody’s grandfather?”

BOOK: Inescapable (The Premonition Series)
10.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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