Music Recommendation: Brooke’s Vigil- Nathan Barr
A few days ago
Roman Moltenore stood outside the main building with his back leaning against his motorcycle. He was here to see the headmistress, but she was busy with the forest rangers. He watched some of the students from where he stood.
He was taking another drag from the cigarette. His eyes closed while blowing the smoke into the air when he heard footsteps that turned louder.
When he turned his head, he saw it was the new student—the one with glasses. His eyes narrowed, remembering she had called him ‘idiot’.
While he spoke to the girl, his friend Simon appeared.
“Ms. Dante is calling.”
Roman sent a glare at the girl before he walked up the stairs with Simon.
“Who was that?” asked Simon, his eyes curiously looking at Roman.
“Nobody,” Roman curtly replied as they walked through the deserted corridors of the building. On the way, his eyes caught sight of the forest rangers who crossed their paths.
When they reached the headmistress’ office, Ms. Dante, sitting behind the desk, looked up at the two students entering the room.
“Why were they here?” Roman directly questioned the headmistress.
Ms. Dante was used to Roman’s behaviour. She had known him for quite a few years now, “They found the trail of blood from the road that leads towards the deeper side of the forest. But they haven’t found a body. Do any of you have any idea on who it is?” the woman asked with a deep frown on her face.
“It might be an animal being hunted by another one,” proposed Simon, but Dante shook her head.
“It isn’t an animal this time,” replied the headmistress.
“You should ask the other students. We aren’t reckless, Dante,” answered Roman, his black eyes looked bored. “Some of the students from our dormitorium seem to have trouble following the rules.”
On hearing this, the headmistress’ face turned hard, her jaw slightly ticked before she leaned back against her chair, “I will tell Borrell to find who it was and punish the students who cross the rules. It would be better to prevent it at an early stage than let the fools roam around and damage the reputation that has been built over the years. By the way, I called you both here because I need you to keep an eye on the new students. There’s information that there’s an unwanted guest who has been admitted this year.”
“Looks like someone is suspicious,” said Roman before coming to the subject of why he had come here to see her, “I thought room number hundred was going to stay closed.”
Simon, who stood next to Roman, looked surprised as he hadn’t heard about this, “The Dormitorium?” surprise in his voice.
“Shift the student to another dorm,” demanded Roman with a deadpan look.
Ms. Dante stared back at Roman, “There are no vacant rooms left in that Dormitorium, and I cannot shift the student to the next Dormitorium for obvious reasons that you already are aware of.”
Hearing this, Roman’s jaw clenched. “Get her shifted to another room at the earliest, else I will find a way to vacate the dorms,” he turned around and left the room.
“Wow, he seems pissed,” murmured Simon, and he turned around to see the headmistress glare at him. He offered her a quick smile and said, “Have a good day, Ms. Dante.”
When Simon stepped out of the building, Roman had already where his motorcycle was, picking up the helmet to wear it over his head. Without waiting, he started his motorcycle and left.
Simon turned and saw it was Olivia, who was carrying three books in her arms, who came from the library. “Did you know that Dante alloted the room number hundred to a new student?”
“Yeah,” Olivia replied. “He must be annoyed knowing someone else is living in his previous room. He is possessive of the things that belong to him.”
“Very,” agreed Simon, “He threatened Dante. He must have left to cool his head off, unless he has decided to go and hunt,” smiled the boy.
Olivia’s lips twisted into a smile, and she said, “He isn’t as reckless as you. It is why he is Dante’s favourite student.” The boy nodded his head. “It is why he enjoys getting into fights. It is much better to beat up people than kill and get into trouble.”
“True,” replied Simon before informing her, “Dante said there’s a new trail of blood in the forest. They haven’t found whose it is.”
“How interesting. First two weeks of the academic year and we already have someone dead in the woods. Anyways, I have to go now and complete my assignments,” stated Olivia, and they left the front of the building.
The next evening in the boys’ dormitory, Maximus arrived at the front of Roman’s dorm and knocked on the door, which was slightly open. Pushing the door, Maximus found Roman lying on the bed with an open book that covered his face.
“What is it?” questioned Roman without moving the book away from his face.
“Mrs. Hill wanted me to give you your mails,” informed Maximus, looking down at the envelopes that were in his hand. “She said the letters hav-”
“Throw them in the trash,” murmured Roman, least bothered to know what the letters contained.
“All of them?” asked Maximus, looking at the names and bringing the envelopes near his nose to smell the flowery scent. Most of the letters were from girls of this university who left their letters in the main office room where the mails were placed along with some others, “Looks like the girls love to spray perfume on their letters for you. Did you read even one of them, Rome?”
“I might end up strangling them if I ever were to read them,” came the blunt response from Roman and Maximus grinned.
“That could happen,” hummed Maximus. Even though Roman had told him to throw the letters in the bin, he placed them on the table. “I will leave it in your good hands. Oh, have you decided when the Bonfire is going to be?”
“Next Saturday,” came the short answer from Roman.
“Wonderful. I am going out now to meet this new chick from freshman year. See you later,” announced Maximus, closing the door of the room, and Roman heard the click sound.
A few seconds passed, and Roman pulled the book from his face and sat upon the edge of the bed. His eyes moved to the table where Maximus had placed the irrelevant letters that he didn’t care about.
He picked up the letters, looking at the names on the envelopes one by one and throwing them in the dustbin without bothering to open them. While he was going through it, he came across a letter heavier than others because another envelope was stuck to it. He pulled it away and saw the letter was addressed to ‘Thomas Winters’, and it was from Julianne Winters.
His eyes subtly narrowed on reading the sender’s name.
It seemed like the new students, who were admitted this year, had trouble understanding the rules that had been imposed. The university had the rule not to contact their family or friends during their time here. And though it was said to keep students’ focus, Roman knew exactly why the rules had been set.
Mails from the students would never go outside the campus and could only circulate inside. The staff and the mailman made sure to segregate and return them to the university if they were ever picked up. Roman turned the envelope in his hand, tearing it open and started reading what was written.
A dry smile appeared on his lips when he saw the words ‘strange students’.
“Looks like you are in luck,” he murmured to himself.
The next day when the classes had begun, like many other times, Roman skipped his class. He walked towards the girl’s dormitory. He knew the tricks of opening the windows and the door because it once used to be his very own room. Pulling open the window, he threw the letter of his own, where the letter warned her to not send another letter outside the university along with a little threat of his own added into it.
Roman hadn’t forgotten about her remark, and he didn’t let things or people slip by without offering a little something in return.
“Welcome to Veteris University. Julianne Winters,” and he disappeared from there.
The same day, hours passed, and when the clock struck eight at night, Julie’s fingers pressed back and forth on the switch three times, and she sighed.
For the next seven hours, she sat on the bed with a blanket covering her with a torch in her hand while facing the window, thinking the person who had written the letter would appear in front of her. The entire time, she sat in the silence of her room and listened to the light chatter that came from outside her dormitory.
Maybe it was just a prank, thought Julie to herself.
“What happened to you?” asked Melanie the following day when Julie entered the class. “You look like you’re ready to be casted in a movie as a zombie.”
“I didn’t get enough sleep,” Julie took her seat behind Melanie and placed her head on the desk and yawned. She had worked hard to catch up with the first week’s classes, and she didn’t want to fall behind again by sleeping. Not to forget, a test was around the corner.
“What kept you awake? You should have studied today instead of pulling an all nighter,” Melanie raised her eyebrows. “You should probably go splash some water on your face.”
“I am fine,” murmured Julie.
She tried to drink less water between the classes to avoid going to the restroom. Girls there often liked to huddle and gossip, and she didn’t want to run into any trouble.
Sitting upright, Julie asked, “By the way, Mel. Does the university library have anything related to the historical books? I mean about this place?” she asked the last question in a low voice.
“There are a few racks for historical books but I am unsure about what kind they have. If you want, we can check it after classes,” offered Melanie and Julie gave her a bright smile.
“Thank you, I would love it.”
“What do you want to check there?” asked Melanie, pulling her book from the bag and placing it on the table.
“I thought to learn more about this place as we live here. There’s barely any other activities to do here except study,” which was true, thought Julie to herself. But the truth was also that she wanted to learn more about the dorm she was in now.
As if remembering something, Melanie said, “Oh, there’s an upcoming bonfire. Would you like to attend it?”
“Bonfire?” asked Julie.
Melanie nodded her head, “As students are not allowed to step out of the university’s property, every month the seniors like to host a bonfire. All the students attend it to get to know each other, like a gathering party. Conner and I usually attend them, and it’s pretty fun. You don’t get to see a lot of students in one place.”
How interesting, thought Julie to herself.
“It is good that the forest is fireproof,” joked Julie.
As discussed, after they finished their classes early in the afternoon, Julie and Melanie headed to the building where the library was.
The library was as extensive as the Blue Block, and it was called the Red Block because of its maroon walls. The building consisted of two floors with two rows, which consisted of twenty racks on each side. In the middle, desks and chairs were placed for students to sit and study with others.
As Julie walked up the stairs with Melanie, she looked up at the ceiling made of dark brownish wood that had an arch at the centre.
“You will find the History section from rack sixteen. I am going to get my book from the other side,” informed Melanie before leaving Julie’s side.
Reaching the history section, Julie started to read the titles of the books while trying to look for keywords like Veteris, Lords, or any other word that related to the property.
Julie walked from one side of the rack to the other side while looking up at the name of the books and wondering if she should climb the ladder to take a look there.
Julie’s eyes widened at the sudden whisper that fell on her ears. She looked left and right, wondering from where the sound came. Did she imagine it? But then she heard it again.
Was someone being bullied?!
Questioning herself, Julie picked up a book and tightly held it as a weapon. She walked past the racks one by one and reached the last rack near the wall. Her eyes were quick to fall on a boy and girl who were making out in the library.
The boy’s face was between the crook of the girl’s neck, his back against the wall, and it seemed like the girl was enjoying it. Julie noticed the boy lick his lips as he pulled away from the girl’s neck and looked in her direction. Oh, God.
Why did she keep meeting him during the wrong times! She was sure he would think she was following him! She saw him narrow his eyes for interrupting him, and he questioned,
“Enjoying the show or is there something you want?”
Julie was too stunned to speak, and seeing him raise one of his eyebrows, she turned and hurriedly walked away from there.
“Why are you running?” asked Melanie, who had come walking from the other side.
“Ah, that. I was thinking about taking the book and reading it in the room. Let’s read together,” proposed Julie.
“Was that the book you were looking for?” asked Melanie. “Aren’t we going to read here?”
“We need a more homey atmosphere with snacks,” Julie dragged her perplexed friend down the stairs.
Back in the last rack of the historical section on the first floor, the girl tried to get closer to Roman, but he placed his hand on her shoulder. Looking straight in her eye, he compelled her,
“Forget what happened. Leave.”
The girl walked away from there as if she hadn’t spent her time with him, while Roman made his way towards the railings to look down. He watched the girl who had interrupted him a while ago, walking to the librarian’s desk and then leaving the building.