“Run away, Judah, run,” yelled Bethie, laughing through the dark, fog filled dorm corridors. Her face was painted in day glow paint and her hoodie boasted glittering letters that spelled out “Boo-tiful” with a ghost and a witch hat perched on the lettering. Playful screams and catcalls filled the dorm hallways as students dashed back and forth through the makeshift haunted house. Bethie giggled and tiptoed back towards her own room, hoping to make an escape before another massive zombie attack occurred.
The college had given the university freshman the challenge to turn their dorms into a zombie apocalypse. Jay had been ecstatic about the challenge and designed a whole theme, complete with zombie attacks happening every twenty minutes. Students and friends alike were dragged off into rooms of faux torture to imbibe in spiked apocalypse punch and pot laced cookies. Jay was smart enough to keep the lowest floor free of these “tricks” in case any of the professors or staff brought their kids in for a scare. For the rest of the willing, it was the apocalypse of the year.
Bethie looked down the hall one last time before the lights began to flicker, signaling the next strike was close. She pressed her body into a doorway, her back against the solid wood and she reached for the knob behind her. The door opened on its own and she stumbled backwards into someone’s arms. A hand went about her mouth and cut off her screams. The spiked heels of her long, black boots dragged across the floor, and she kicked out trying to gain purchase and attack her attacker. Her hands reached up behind her head and clawed at the kidnapper’s face. She felt her fingernails sink into soft flesh.
“Ouch, goddammit, Evans.” A boy with unruly hair and sharp features fell back on a clothing cluttered futon, clutching his cheek. “What the hell?”
Bethie stood up, straightened her sweatshirt and covered her mouth to hide her shock and amusement.
“What did you do that for?” the injured zombie asked.
“Well, gees MacMillan, I thought you were attacking me.”
“Yeah, I was. I’m a zombie, dammit. That’s my job.” He rubbed at the red welts on his face.
“When it’s time, you creep.” Her features softened, and she climbed up on the futon with him. She tucked her booted feet beneath her bottom and playfully pouted her lips. “Aww, I’m sorry. Don’t be a baby, Mac. Let me see.”
“You scratch your boyfriend with those claws?”
The flat of Bethie’s hand connected to Mac’s shoulder with a hard smack and she sneered at him before pushing him away. “Where’s the beer?”
Mac pointed to the mini fridge in the corner of the room. “Grab me one too.”
“What do I look like, your personal beer wench?”
“Hey, it’s my room, and it’s the least you could do after you disfigured my face.”
“Hate to tell ya, Mac, but your face has always looked like that.” Bethie screamed when a severed arm shot out of the mini fridge and landed at her feet. She picked up the Halloween prop and heaved it at Mac. “You asshole.”
Mac fell off the futon, onto the floor, laughing until tears streamed down his face. “Oh, priceless. Oh, I can’t. That was epic,” he hiccuped out between fits of cackling laughter. Bethie stepped over him and dropped a full, unopened can of beer onto his stomach. His laughter ceased, and he curled up and groaned in pain, rolling to his side.
“What are the plans for later?” she asked while she flopped back on the futon and stretched out her legs, placing her heeled feet on his prone body. Mac rolled over and popped open his beer can, taking a long swig. They both jumped when the dorm room door swung open with force.
“Junior dorms have a psychic theme,” yelled a breathless and excited Jay. “They’ve got it all. Card readers, Shamans, tea leaves, they even have crystal balls.”
“Something every boy wishes for,” joked Mac from the floor.
Bethie stifled a giggle. “Did you want to go, Jay? Huh, do ya do ya, boy?” She teased him like a waiting puppy.
Jay gave her a look of exasperation.
Bethie got up from her spot on the futon, kicking a pile of dirty, or perhaps clean clothing, onto Mac. “Dumb question, I know.” She linked her arm through Jay’s and planted a peck of a kiss on his cheek. “Is that glitter?” Her fingertip swiped over his face and left a smudge over his cheekbone.
“Highlighter from that makeup place on the boardwalk, it has a wonderful glow in the strobe lights.”
“You kids, don’t stay out too late now,” Mac called from beneath the clothing.
“Yes, Dad,” they both sang back over their shoulders before making a mad dash to the stairway, down and out of the building, still linked at the elbows.
The Junior’s dorm building was done up in purples, golds, candlelight, and incense. Bethie and Jay’s eyes widened in awe, taking it all in. Students practiced Reiki and aura reading on visitors. One pair of students sat playing with sensory cards, trying to guess what the other was seeing while divided from one another by a large section of cardboard. Signs pointed to rooms further back, boasting spiritualists, palm readers and mediums.
Jay folded his fingers over Bethie’s hand and gave it an excited squeeze. “There’s a real psychic here,” he whispered like a spy in enemy territory. “The Junior’s pooled their funds and brought her in for the evening. Want to know your future?”
Bethie chuckled. “I already know my future, Jay. I’m going to be stuck here with the lot of you for the rest of my days, but I’m not complaining.” She lifted on her toes, smiled and kissed his cheek again. Jay returned her smile and dragged her along the corridor until they reached a back room.
The dorm room was dim, undecorated and scented with vanilla and sandalwood. A chill ran down Bethie’s spine and she stopped just outside the threshold, her skin prickled with goosebumps. “I don’t want to do it, Jay.” Her feet felt cemented in place.
His green eyes danced, his pupils wide. Bethie imagined he had taken more than punch and cookies. “Please? Just come in with me. I need someone to remember what she says.” He batted his long lashes and pouted. “Please?” he begged.
Bethie’s heart fluttered. She knew she could never say no to him. He was too cute and so wonderful to her, even though they still never titled their relationship as more than friends, Bethie knew it was more. How many nights had he snuck into her room and curled up with her in her single bed, spooning her as they slept holding one another? How many early mornings did they meet for shared pastries and joint cups of coffee? Maybe this woman would tell them both that they were ready for the next step, to make it official. “Okay,” she relented. “Let’s go find out our future.”
“Do you want to know or not, kids? I don’t have all night.” The woman sitting on the edge of a single bed, with a folded out, square table in front of her, sounded like a longtime smoker. She signaled for Bethie and Jay to sit across from her. The anxious and excited vibes were like an electric pulse off Jay’s muscles. He pulled Bethie in close and they sat on the opposite bed, huddled close together, eager to hear what the woman would reveal. “This is a standard reading, no deep details. You take what has meaning and apply it. Make sense?”
Bethie didn’t quite get it, but Jay nodded. His smile was wide and permanent. The woman probably could guess he was as high as a kite. She could say anything and he wouldn’t remember, come morning.
“Join hands,” she coughed. “Why do they always choose sandalwood?” she whispered to herself.
Jay’s hand slipped with ease into Bethie’s and then the other into the woman’s hand. Bethie squeezed Jay’s fingers, trying to ground him a little. His fingers were cool and his palm was moist. She took the woman’s free hand in hers and noted the differences. The physics hand was hot and her fingers thick. Bethie shuddered.
“The circle is complete.” The woman’s eyes closed, and she swayed back and forth on the dorm bed. Bethie rolled her eyes. It riveted Jay.
“I see relationships. Two alike in heart and emotion.”
Bethie’s sat up straighter, more interested, hopeful.
“Relationships that tangle and intertwine. They wind around your heart, strangling.”
Bethie’s breath released, and she felt deflated.
“The vine will wither and snap and freedom will come.”
Bethie wondered what that meant.
“Water, tears, love and soulmates. All will guide you together for your days to come.”
Bethie beamed. Jay and she were soulmates, the woman said it. She squeezed Jay’s fingers. They were limp in her hand. She glanced over. His color had drained, and he looked like he may pass out. Apparently, the cocktail mixture he ingested before coming here was having an adverse effect. “Jay? Hey?”
His eyes were glossy. Bethie released the woman’s hand and took both of his in hers. “Let’s get you back to your room, okay?”
They left the Junior’s dorms with no more from the psychic. Bethie led Jay to his room. She laid him down in his bed, while the party antics continued outside his door. She filled a glass with tap water and set it beside him, wiping his hair from his highlighted cheek. “I guess wonder boy over did it, hmm? You be okay?”
Jay nodded and Bethie turned to leave. His hand grasped at hers. “Don’t go.”