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Phillip sat typing on his laptop desperately, trying to make the deadline for his university assignment. It was past midnight and he had rented a little attic room from a family of six. They were a noisy family but at this time of the night everything was quiet.
Or should have been. Phillip was startled to hear someone calling for help. His head jerked up as he listened to the silence. Annoyed he went to his door and opened it but the house was in darkness and silent, broken only with the sound of Mrs Lexington’s snoring.
His concentration was broken now, so he decided to have a coffee, and a sandwich then get back to work. He silently cursed himself when he found his kettle empty and crept down to the kitchen which was lit with a full moon so that he had no need of any light. He had just filled the kettle when the voice cried out, louder and said, “Help!”
Startled Philip dropped the kettle with a terrible smashing noise and the kitchen was full of noisy Lexington’s.
“What the hell is going on here?” demanded a huge Mr Lexington.
“Oh dear. The kettle has smashed all over the floor. Watch where your walking Harley,” said Mrs Lexington. Six year old Harley just shrugged, he wasn’t even in the kitchen.
Heather, the Lexington’s, sixteen year old daughter, winked at Conrad while she struck up a provocative pose, she had dreamed of Philip often. The other two five and four year olds were chasing each other through the water and glass on the floor with Mrs Lexington trying to catch them.
“I... I’m sorry, Mr Lexington. I came down to fill my jug but it slipped out of my hand.”
“Well no harm done,” said Mrs Lexington, “I’ve got another one. Everybody off to bed now. I’ll clean it up”
Mr Lexington swooped down picked the two little ones up under his arms and carried them off to bed while Mrs. Lexington cleaned up the mess. Heather walked up the stairs with Phillip and said, “Would you like some company while your studying, Phillip.”
A desperate Phillip declined, shut the door and settled down to finish his assignment
The next morning Phillip rode to the University and parked his motorcycle in a little lane behind the University Canteen when he heard the call again. It was a little louder and seemed to be coming from the end of the lane. It was definitely a woman’s voice. Cautiously he went down the lane and looked around the corner. This was a dead end and occupied by two large smelly dumpsters filled with waste food from the canteen. A couple of rats scurried out from under one of the dumpsters. Carefully he looked behind the dumpster and his heart almost stopped as a hand fell on his shoulder.
“Got a couple of dollars to spare, mate.”
Philip stared into the soulless eyes of a homeless person with his torn clothes and pieces of newspaper poking out.
“You haven’t seen a woman down here, have you?” he asked hopefully.
“Har, har. That’s a good one. I wouldn’t be telling you if there was. Now give me a dollar or clear off,” he replied threateningly. Philip tossed him a dollar and went in search of a coffee. He needed one.
The next cry occurred in a seminar on mathematics. He was listening intently, trying to get his head around all the mathematical symbols on the projector screen when the cry reached him once more. His startled response attracted the attention of his instructor who said, “I’m pleased to see your excitement at this theorem, Mr Huxley.”
Embarrassed Philip replied, “I’m sorry sir but I was startled by that cry for help.”
An incredulous instructor addressed the class, “Is there anyone among you who felt the need to cry out for help. ”
An amused silence fell over the class.
“But I heard it. A distinct cry for help, surely someone else must have also,” pleaded a desperate Philip but no one answered.
“Well, my boy,” said the instructor condescendingly, ” either we get back to the theorem at hand or you go and find some psychiatric help.”
Philip chose to get back to the theorem.
The breaking point came in the University Library which, as you know, are uncommonly quiet places. Philip’s head was buried in a huge book when he heard the call for “Help!” It screamed in his ear with such force that he jumped up yelling, “What the ...”
All around him people stared at him,whispering to each other. A young woman, a student, touched his arm and said,“Steady on, don’t let it get to you.”
Philip gave her a disgusted look and said,“Why did you yell help in my ear?”
“Just sit down,” she said changing her touch to a gentle grip, “and breath deeply. Sometimes the stress of University life gets to the best of us.”
Shrugging off the grip he said,“I plainly heard you yelling at me.”
“Steady on old man,” another student said,“she’s just trying to help you. Why don’t you come with me to the Chancellors office. I’m sure they can recommend someone that can help you.”
“You think I’m imagining it all,” Philip said incredulously but not entirely convinced he wasn’t.
The library door swung open and a security guard ambled in.
“Somebody call,” he asked of nobody in particular.
“I think this guy is having a nervous breakdown,” said a student as the young woman made a rapid exit.
“That woman was yelling in my ear,” Philip said angrily.
“Then how come no-one else heard it. You can drop a pin in here and it would sound like a gun going off.”
Sheepishly Philip looked around at the blank faces but no one backed him up.
“You look like you need some sleep. Why don’t you just go home quietly,” the security suggested.
Admitting the guard was probably right, Phillip left the library.
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