Truth be told, I don’t fear death.
I imagine it’s quite like falling asleep. Just without the waking up part. That doesn’t scare me. You may be asking yourself, “if death doesn’t scare her, what does?”
Which just so happens to be where I am now.
I shoved my way through the crowd, elbows ramming into my sides and shoulders as I walked. Luckily, I avoided being nailed in the face. Perks of being relatively tall- you’re no longer at elbow level.
Everyone was grinding on each other, laughing, singing along to some upbeat rap song that I didn’t know. It was hot, and the stench of sweat reeked off of each and every person. I was irritated. This is what happens whenever I go to a party. I end up becoming very irritated with everyone around me. Not that I’ve even attended many parties, just enough to know that this is most definitely not my scene.
So why am I here then?
That honor goes to my friend, Makenna. Last year, she had helped convince me to join a sorority, and later became my big. Big is kinda short for “big sister”, and long story short- it’s some cheesy sorority crap I don’t really understand. She buys me stuff and takes me to parties. Against my will, might I add.
Anyways, that was who I was wandering this crowd looking for. Being 5 ft 2, Makenna was easily lost in a crowd. But if I knew anything about her, I knew that she would make damn sure that she wasn’t. Makenna liked attention. She loved people. It’s why she went to all of these parties. And why she’s dancing on top of a table right now.
Damn it, Makenna.
Okay, I know she’s supposed to be my big sister or whatever, but I’m always the one taking care of her. The last party we went to, she got absolutely trashed and I ended up holding her hair while she vomited for 2 hours. And I’m always the designated driver. Not necessarily because I don’t drink, but I drink one beer and call it good. Meanwhile, Makenna has to do a keg stand and beat all the football players in drinking games.
“Makenna!” I called over the thumping of the bass. Neon lights were flashing all around me, bodies grinding up against me, the music pounding in my ear. Why do I let her take me to these things?
Makenna ran her hands through her dirty blonde locks and swiveled her hips to the music, earning a loud cheer from the crowd of frat boys watching her. She knew she didn’t have to dance on top of a table like that to get attention. She got it anyways. Makenna was the definition of a guy’s fantasy. She was petite, tan from the summers she spends in California, with sun-bleached hair and turquoise blue eyes. Not to mention she was incredible with people. She could make anyone like her in all of 5 seconds. But, like I said, Makenna liked attention. And she wanted everyone’s attention.
“Makenna!” I called again, pushing myself past drooling frat boys to get to the front of the crowd. When I had reached the edge of the table, I stretched my arm up, grabbing her wrist to get her attention. She whipped her head around and smirked at me.
“Hey nugget, having fun?” She laughed, obviously intoxicated. My eyes peered over the edge of the crowd, surfing over each of the drooling guys that waited for her to start dancing again. I looked back at her and raised an eyebrow.
“Not really, but I can tell that you are. Kenna, why don’t you come down from there? You and I both know you’re gonna regret this in the morning, and then you’re gonna complain about how embarrassed you are all day tomorrow to me,” I tilted my head to the side. Makenna pressed her lips together in thought before breaking out into a wide grin.
“I’ll be fine,” she slurred, standing back upright again, “go have fun. Find someone to dance with. Loosen up. You’re so uptight.” I sighed and rolled my eyes, turning and walking back the way I had came, ignoring the eruption of cheers from the crowd as Makenna began to dance again.
I was not good at this whole “loosen up” thing, if you haven’t already picked up on that. My mind was the only thing I trusted, and loosening up usually involved the disregard for logic. This is also why I’m not very great around people. I overthink every single conversation, planning it out in my head with everything they could say and how I could respond. I thought about everything. I never stopped thinking.
I forced my way back through the crowd, annoyed grunts coming from everyone I shoved out of my way. You’re one person. You don’t need 5 square feet of room to dance.
“Hey babe, you wanna dance?” I felt hands on my hips and immediately whipped around. And here’s another thing I’m not good at. Being subtle.
His hair was disheveled and full of sweat, a strange color between red and blonde. The smell of beer saturated the air around him, making me want to vomit. His face seemed oddly familiar, not like we had talked before, but like I had definitely seen him somewhere. He was pale, had grey eyes and a slightly hooked nose. His lips were as thin as a pencil line and his teeth a little crooked.
“Hands off, asshole,” I growled, gripping his forearm tightly in one arm and twisting it around his back, forcing him to let go.
“Fine, fine. Geez, bitch,” I heard him mumble under his breath as I let him go back into the crowd. I rolled my eyes and turned back around, continuing to make my way through the pulsating crowd. If I had a dollar for every time someone called me a bitch, I would not be in college right now. I would’ve retired at 16.
In all honesty, I don’t think I was a mean person. Sure, all mean people say that, but honestly. I wasn’t mean to people, I was just blunt and honest. I said what I wanted, I did what I wanted. That’s just how I was. If that makes me a bitch, then I’m the biggest bitch there is.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. I was expecting to see Makenna, about to reprimand me for turning down that guy, but instead I stood face to face with one of the most beautiful human beings I had ever seen.
He had platinum blonde hair, so light it appeared silver in this light. His skin was tan, as if he’d come straight from the California beaches to this party. He looked like a work of art, to be completely honest. This guy belonged in an art museum, not some trashy college frat party. His eyes were a shade of pale green, twinkling under the neon lights. It was only then I realized his lips were moving.
“Sorry what?” I yelled over the music. He leaned in to my left ear.
“I asked if you were alright?” I heard him just barely over the music. Oh, I see what this guy is doing. Playing the nice guy. Did he really think that would work on me?
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied, turning around and starting to walk away. I felt a hand on my shoulder turn me around again. What is it with people thinking they can touch me tonight?
I scowled and turned back around, raising an eyebrow and shrugging his hand off of my shoulder.
“You sure? I heard what he called you. That’s not okay,” the guy frowned slightly, his eyes studying me as if they were trying to memorize me.
“It wasn’t the first time I’ve been called that, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Like I said, I’m fine,” I sighed, turning around again. This time, he didn’t stop me. Good for him. He knows when to leave people alone. I wish more people were like that.
Maybe I should just leave? The walk from here to my sorority house was maybe 15 minutes- tops. And Makenna would end up in some random guys bed, as always, regardless of whether or not I stayed.
I took another look around me. It was like I wasn’t even here. Everyone was dancing, laughing, kissing, singing, bumping into me- it’s like I was nonexistent. So this is what they mean when people say they’re lonely in a crowded room. I took one last glance up at Makenna, who was still dancing on the table. She was having the time of her life. I knew she lived for this stuff. I kinda felt bad, I was always the one holding her back. I could never loosen up like she could. I could never do the things she did. I always thought about everything before I did it, and all I could think about when it came to partying like she did were the consequences. I’d probably die before my mind let me do anything like her.
And at that tragic internal monologue, I turned on my heel and left through the front door. It was cool outside, and the sky was as dark as midnight. It was late fall, and the sky got darker a lot faster. That being said, I had no idea what time it was. I reached for my phone in my bag and turned it on- or at least I tried to. It was dead. Great. Now I had no other option but to walk.
I looked back at the house. The neon lights were flashing through all the windows, shadows of lovers flickering through the panes. I could hear the bass thumping, even as I stood on the sidewalk 30 feet away from the house. There were frat boys passed out on the front lawn, people making out against the sides of the house. It was a college party in its truest form.
I turned and began walking down the sidewalk towards the Gamma Pi Beta house. I didn’t know which frat had held this party, but I knew the intersections of where I was at and how to follow those to get back. My freshman year of college, I’d decided to walk literally everywhere. I guess that had paid off in that I now knew how to walk anywhere from anywhere. The thumping of the bass slowly died down to silence as I got farther and farther away from the party. And in that silence, I heard it.
Not one, not two, but multiple. And they were behind me.
“Hey! Where you goin, beautiful?” I heard one of them call out in drunken laughter. At that, I picked up my pace to a fast walk. I didn’t want to alert them that I was now terrified. I was alone on a dark street in the middle of the night with no cell phone.
Wow was I stupid.
“Hey, don’t you hear me talking to you? It’s rude to ignore people that are complimenting you!” He called again. My heart was now thudding in my chest, louder than the bass at the party. I was in danger. If I didn’t make it to somewhere with people fast enough- I didn’t want to think about what could happen. Luckily, I now knew exactly where I was and could see the Morgana Library coming into view down the street.
“-Ey, bitch! We’re talking to you!” Another voice called, but this time, it was closer. Too close. At that assessment, I broke into a sprint. I had long legs, so I had that on my side, but I also had bad knees, which obviously didn’t help. Nonetheless, I pushed my legs to move as fast as they possibly could as I booked it towards the library across the street, praying to God it was still open. I didn’t look as I crossed the street, sprinting up the steps and frantically yanking on the old, wooden doors of the library.
Shit shit shit, no. They were locked.
I yanked harder, as if somehow my arms could break a metal lock.
I spun around, now face to face with my attackers. They were all college students, or at least they appeared to be in that age range. Figures. They were probably at the party, couldn’t find anyone to sleep with, so they decided to go find some girl on the street to rape and strangle. Awesome. Love college.
And that’s when I recognized one of them. The same reddish-blonde kid from the party. He stood directly in front of me with a drunken crooked smile. He probably thought he was finally going to get what he wanted. Me.
I don’t think he realized he was wrong.
To his left was a shaggy haired boy with tan skin and dark eyes. He had acne across his cheeks, and his harsh bone structure made him appear more dead than alive. To the right was a boy with dark skin and dark hair cut close to the scalp. His eyes were dark as well, but they held a different expression than the other two. He seemed petrified. He wasn’t drunk. He didn’t want to do this to me.
I looked back at the reddish-blonde haired boy, narrowing my eyes and tilting my chin up in defiance. Call it stupidity or bravery, but there was no way I was letting any of them touch me while I was still alive.
“Touch me. I dare you. See what happens,” I spat threateningly, widening my stance in an attempt to seem like I had a stronger physique than I did.
“You’ve got quite the mouth, I wonder what else it can do,” the shaggy haired boy smirked and licked his lips.
Well. There goes my temper.
If there was one thing I remembered from watching all those action movies, it was how to throw a right hook. And damn, I must’ve had a good one because one swing and the shaggy haired boy fell to the ground in a heap. The dark skinned boy grabbed my arms in that moment, pinning them behind my back as the shaggy haired boy rose to his feet, a black eye forming on his left cheek. I struggled against the boy holding my arms, thrashing my shoulders back and forth.
“Let me go, or I swear to God I will make you regret the day you were born,” I snarled, spitting in the reddish-haired boy’s face. He reached up with the sleeve of his shirt and wiped the spit from his face. He was angry now. I hated angry drunk people. They were dumb as hell. But I suppose that was in my favor, because he took a threatening step towards me, and I kneed him, hard, where the sun doesn’t shine. He crumpled to the ground in front of me, and without a second thought, I swung my right foot into his head like it was a soccer ball. His head flung back and his body followed, falling back down a couple of stairs. He slowly heaved himself up off the ground, blood pouring out of his newly broken nose like a waterfall.
I was not a victim. I was not weak. And I was not about to let them hurt me.
“Goddamn bitch, it’s time someone put you in your place,” he slurred his words, and before I could duck, he swung. His fist connected with my cheek, and I felt the skin split above my cheekbone as I fell to the ground.
“Pick her up, Kennedy,” the reddish-haired boy demanded. I didn’t have time to suck in a breath before I felt hands wrap around my arms and yank me back up to my feet.
“My place-” I breathed heavily, “-is standing over your dead body.”
At that, I felt a fist connect with my ribcage, the air flying out of my lungs as I gasped in an attempt to retain it.
Fight back, I pleaded with my body, but I couldn’t muster up the power to wrestle my arms from the boy whose name I now knew as Kennedy. I pulled as hard as I could, until I felt my shoulders start to dislocate. My head now hung between my shoulders, staring at the grey cement beneath my feet. They knew if they took a step closer, I could and would kick them, so they stayed at a distance.
And then I felt it.
A hand reached out and gripped the fabric of my shirt and ripped it. I struggled against Kennedy’s arms, desperately trying to fight back as the fabric fell in a gash down my torso.
“Three against one? That’s hardly fair,” I heard a low voice erupt from the shadows. My heart pounded erratically in my chest. Was this new person here to help me, or to help them?
“Who’s there?” The reddish-haired boy called out, wiping the blood from above his lip with his shirt sleeve. Oh, I see. This boy was embarrassed that I kicked his ass.
And then, this man stepped out of the shadows. And I knew either I or my attackers were done for.
His hair was darker than the sky above us, disheveled and messy like he had run his fingers through it all day. His eyes were a striking blue, pale like ice, and narrowed at me. His skin was ghostly pale, and his unearthly bone structure made him seem like an angel of death. His eyes wandered from me to the three boys around me, noticing that two of them were bleeding. He then looked at me again, his lips curling up in a devilish smirk.
“This is none of your business, man. If you wanna live to see another day, I-I’d suggest you leave,” the reddish-haired boy stuttered, obviously trying to seem intimidating.
“You’re kidding right? You do see yourselves. This girl is being held back and she still managed to kick your asses. If she can do that, do you really wanna find out what I can do?” The man threatened, his voice low and nearing a growl. He folded his arms across his chest and widened his stance. I think it was the bulging biceps and pectorals, or possibly the fact that he was at least 6 inches taller than each of my attackers, that scared them off. Kennedy let go of my arms and took a huge step away from me, knowing that, were he there a second longer, he would’ve been bleeding like his friends.
I looked back at my attackers, who were slowly backing away from this monster of a man, and then back at whoever this guy was. His eyes watched me as I slowly walked over to him, narrowing my eyes at him suspiciously.
How did I know I wasn’t jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? What if this guy only saved me because he knew there was no way I could fight him off?
“I’m parked around the corner. Go get in and stay there until I come back. It’ll only be a minute,” he whispered under his breath, his eyes drifting back up to my attackers. I sucked in a deep breath, my eyes grazing over him before nodding.
“Thank you,” I replied softly, wrapping my arms around myself as I made my way around the corner of the library.
The second I turned the corner, I heard their screams.
Pleading for mercy. Pleading for help.
They deserved this, Jordan. They were going to rape you. Possibly kill you. They deserve this, I kept reminding myself in my head. It didn’t make me feel any better.
Around the corner, parked on the street, was a lone black Camaro. The hell was this guy? Batman?
I made my way to the passenger side and opened the door, sliding into the passenger seat and wrapping my arms tightly around my body.
I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t know how to even begin to process what had just happened to me tonight.