I Twilight Raccoon Frat Party
I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket and pulled it out. My eyes burned for a moment from the brightness of my screen. It was four a.m. Fuck. And I wasn’t in my bed. I was on the ground somewhere, lying in the grass and damp from condensation. I didn’t have my shirt on. My jeans were soaked. I swallowed as I sat up, still feeling dizzy.
It took me a few moments to realize where I was. It only took a few moments after that to remember where I’d been–and what I’d seen.
Except she probably hadn’t done this to me, because if she had I wouldn’t have woken up again. I’d’ve been dead.
I rubbed the dirt off my arms as I stood up and tried to reach around to my back but couldn’t. I’d have to leave that for later.
For now I needed to get to the Underground. They had to know.
I started walking toward the city again. The street lights came on and off in intervals, one moment the street around me illuminated, the next moment in darkness with the spot thirty feet ahead beckoning me onward. I looked over my shoulder a lot, even though I knew she’d probably given up the chase.
Falling into the ditch might’ve saved me if she’d come this way.
Soon I saw the ghostly outlines of the downtown skyscrapers in the clouds above and knew I was getting close. I found a side alley I recognized and went through. I came out on the other side in front of a faded sign for the Underground nightclub. Normally I’d go in through the side, but it was still dark out, so it wasn’t our domain yet. Not until daytime.
I tried the door and it opened.
“We’re closed,” a man said as I entered. Someone was mopping the floor in the entryway. He didn’t look up at me. “I said we’re closed.”
He lifted the mop and moved it toward the bucket; I lifted my hand and jerked it to the right: the bucket rolled a few tiles away and stopped abruptly, the mucked up water sloshing out. The guy looked at me, snarled, and then pulled the bucket back.
“Go inside, but leave the drunkards alone, alright?”
“Fine by me,” I said and walked past him. I went through a pair of black double doors into the club’s main room, thankful it was after hours and the music had been turned off. There were tables set up with tall stools around them; a few people were passed out on top. An empty dance floor ran along the right side up to the bar, where the bartender was wiping up. A girl in black sat with an empty glass between her hands, chatting with him quietly.
“Howdy, Ylissa,” I said as I took a seat two or three down from hers.
“Elliot,” she said and looked at me. She rolled her eyes as she turned back to the bartender and rejoined her conversation. Something about snowblowers or maybe I just didn’t hear enough to know what she meant.
“It’s a little salty,” the bartender said, laughing, “at least that’s what I’ve been told.” Laughing harder, he walked away into the back.
“What?” I said. “Nothing?”
“Don’t tell me you’re doing that stupid race again, are you?”
I touched my face and felt the black paint still across my eyes.
“Come on, seriously?” She shook her head. “What number is this, three?”
“Four,” I said before I figured I shouldn’t. Ylissa snorted.
“Raccoon,” I said, and I shook my hand at her. “It’s a time-honored tradition. Atheleticism, competition. What’s not to like? ‘Come on’ yourself.”
“It’s nothing more than glorified rape,” Ylissa said. Her fingers were clasping the glass harder than before. Knuckles almost white. “Every time I start to think you’re the rare example of a frat guy who’s respectable and kind, you do this stupid race again and I realize, I was wrong, you’re just another frat boy.”
“Frat man,” I said, and then thought maybe I shouldn’t have again.
“But it doesn’t matter. I saw something last night–damn, it made me lose!” I slammed a fist on the counter. All I had to do was win once, and this would have been the year if not for that bitch.
“When are you going to graduate?”
“Next year,” I said.
“For real this time?”
“If I don’t fail orgo.” I laughed. I wasn’t taking orgo, but that was always the joke, wasn’t it? Maybe.
“Whatever,” Ylissa said. I got the impression she’d have taken a drink a few times already and assumed the glass was empty, just a focus to keep her sane. She needed those. “Anyways, Elliot, tell me what you saw.”
“There was a woman”–she scoffed at me and I raised my eyebrows–“who held her hands around this guy’s head and then I watched him twitch, foam at the mouth, and die.”
Ylissa stared ahead for a moment before looking at me. “You’re not joking, are you?”
“Not a bit.” I swiveled around on my barstool until my back faced her. “See that dirt? I fell in a ditch as I ditched her,” I laughed at my clever wordplay, “I forced a trashcan over and it wiped me out. Normally I can move a lot more before it gets to me, but all that adrenalin.” I shrugged and looked at her again. “It wiped me out.”
“Do you know who she was?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her before. Not around here at least.”
“With a skill like that?” Ylissa laughed. “She wouldn’t come around here at all.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” I swivelled back and forth for a moment, then I looked at Ylissa. “Think we need to search her out?”
Ylissa sighed. “Were you drinking?”
“I crashed after calculus and got to the party late. Not a single drop.”
“Were the others drinking?”
“So this guy, he sees a girl who’s super, doesn’t realize she’s not in the race, and tries to rape her.” She shrugged. “I think she’s justified.”
She chuckled and then looked at me, serious again. “I think it’s too soon to say we need to take her out. We don’t even know if what you saw really happened, Elliot. We’ll have to watch the news and see if they say anything.”
I nodded, but then felt a chill run down my spine. “What happens if she went back and took care of the body?”
“Do you know who he was?”
“They keep a list of the ‘coons to tally the score and make sure everyone is home safe in the morning. I could get a copy and see if anyone’s unaccounted for.”
Ylissa nodded. “Let’s start there. After that, well, who knows what the council will decide.” She shook her head. “I don’t think we’ve got a record of anyone in the area with that skill. I don’t even think I’ve heard of anyone able to do that before.” She paused and I could tell she was thinking, her hands still wrapped tightly around the empty glass. “You said she was a woman? Sure it wasn’t a guy?”
“Definitely a woman,” I said. “She had long dark hair, slender fingers, the build of a supermodel. This was no man.”
Ylissa tilted her head sideways.
“Powers manifest differently in women than men. It’s,” she paused again and I could tell she was choosing her next word carefully, “unusual for women to have that kind of influence over the world around them.” She bit her lower lip and I grinned; I loved it when she did that. “I don’t think I’ve ever met any female with that level of power.” She turned toward me and shrugged. “I’m sorry, Elliot, but I just don’t believe it, and even if the news comes back that this guy is missing–or dead–I don’t think the council will believe it either.”
I looked at the glass in her hands. “What if you put that down for a moment?”
She met my eyes and smiled. “Not on your life.”
Ylissa stood up, still holding the cup, and started walking down the bar. She stopped and looked back at me. “Have a good night, Elliot. Get dressed sometime, alright?” She chuckled and turned away, but I just continued spinning around on the barstool.
Right now getting dressed was the least of my concerns.
CHAPTER TWO: Check back on Monday!