Chapter 3 : Chains & ParanoiaA Chapter by Minoru Kusari
Chapter Three: Chains & Paranoia
The weekend passes uneventfully. I spend the time reading books, watching TV, listening to music, and going out for walks when it’s not too hot.
Before I know it, it’s Monday already. Damn it. Mondays really suck. While I’m on the topic, so do Sunday nights. I remember when I was little, the weekend felt like a substantial period of time to relax and play. Now it’s more like Yahoo it’s Friday night--Wait, when did it become Sunday night? And then I just spend Sunday nights doing homework and dreading the following day. Know what I’m talking about?
It’s the last class of the day. I sit down in my usual seat for Philosophy, though today I’m much more on edge than usual. Why’s that? Because I’m curious to see whether Professor Bradford will show up today. Oddly enough, the professor never showed up last Friday after I woke up from my freaky dream of him being devoured by a shadowy creature. As if my weird dream weren’t crazy enough, the professor was absent without notice that day! The other students and I waited a while and then left, seeing as how he wasn’t showing up. So will he show up today? What if he doesn’t? Would that mean that…I wasn’t dreaming last Friday?
I’m sure my worries are baseless anyway, and that bumbling middle-aged man will come waltzing in here any minute just like always. I let out a sigh. It’s not like me to worry so much about this kinda thing in the first place. I should calm down. It’s bad to get so worked up.
The students are still filing into the classroom, rather unenthusiastically I might add. Well, it is the last class on a Monday. Mondays are rough. I’ve covered that, right?
As the room fills up with people, it also fills up with their pointless banter. It’s annoying when everyone talks all at once. I don’t care if they wanna have conversations or whatever, but do they have to be so damn loud? It’s probably just because there’s no faculty member here yet. Laughter rings out from several of the conversing students, and I ignore the distant notion in my mind that people are mocking me somehow.
Much to my chagrin, Laura is present today. As always. She probably has perfect attendance in every class, I’m sure. She takes her usual seat right next to mine on the right and straightens out her brightly colored dress that leaves her shoulders bare. She strikes me as the perfectionist type, but that’s only based on her neat appearance, not from personal knowledge. I don’t know why she chooses to sit there. We don’t have assigned seating or anything and I’m sure she has plenty of friends she could sit with. It’s a pain because she keeps talking to me all chummy-like, as if we’re friends. It pisses me off. It’s like she’s wearing one of those creepy smiley face theater masks while she hides her true malicious intentions beneath. How’s that saying go again? “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” I think. She could very well be that kind of person, I mean, who knows what she’s thinking while she’s pretending to be all friendly and stuff? She probably only speaks to me because none of her friends are in this class. Or maybe she’s planning to get close so she can use me, or humiliate me in some way.
Stop being so paranoid, Violet, I think to myself. I sigh again and turn my head away from Laura’s direction.
“Hey, Violet! How are you today?” Laura asks me with a bright smile on her face.
I ignore her, but she’s persistent.
“Hello, anybody home?”
I wonder if she can even tell I’m ignoring her.
“Come on, Violet, don’t be so mean…” she says.
I decide to cut her some slack for once. I turn my head to face her and grin a little.
Laura giggles. “Oh Violet, you’re such a tease. That was pretty good. I thought you were seriously ignoring me there for a second.”
She really is stupid. Does she truly believe we’re friends or something? Or is she just feigning that naiveté?
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” I say, though the sarcasm is seemingly completely lost on my neighbor Laura the space cadet. She just smiles and looks about to say something, but then something else catches her attention. She seems to be looking towards the door to the classroom, so I follow her gaze.
Walking into the classroom is a tall man with his hands in the pockets of what appears to be a long black lab coat. Didn’t know they came in black. He has dark disheveled hair, and a bit of stubble. A small white stick extends from his mouth " is that a cigarette? The man is looking at some papers in his left hand while he scratches his head with the other as he casually struts into the class. Everyone turns to look at our strange guest. He wears a facial expression that lies somewhere between irritated and extremely bored, as if just being here is a huge pain in the a*s for him. The man takes the professor’s place behind the podium and just stands there. After a few long minutes, he looks up from the papers in his hand and places them down in front of him. An indifferent cursory gaze examines each one of us, stopping on no one in particular, until he settles for staring into space looking like he’s pissed off or wants to sleep…or both? Who the hell is this guy?
From the moment the man walked in here, the room has been deadly silent. That is, until one of the male students raises his hand and says, “Running late as usual, eh teach?”
The man shoots an annoyed glare towards the student. “Haven’t you learnt it’s impolite to speak to your professors that way, you little brat?” he says with a controlled, but tense voice.
The boy shuts up. Poor guy. Even so, I find it somewhat funny, and start to chuckle a bit until I realize what he just said.
“Wait, you’re our professor?” I say aloud, totally lost.
This of course, draws the attention of the man in the black lab coat. The man looks at me with a scowl that seems to be glued on his face, and opens his mouth as if to say something, but then just closes it instead. He holds me with his gaze for a few moments, sending a chill up my spine. He chews on the small white stick in his mouth. After an excruciatingly long period of time which is probably only a minute or so, the man lets out a sigh and seems to loosen up a bit. Well, just a little bit.
“Yes, I am Professor Kusari. I’m the one in charge of this class. Same as the past few weeks. I realize it’s still only September, but you’d think my own students would know who I am by now,” the man says with no emotion whatsoever.
I sit there staring vacantly at this stranger calling himself our teacher. I look around at the faces of my peers, though most of them are currently returning my questioning look with a look of their own. I look down at my desk to avoid the awkward stares of those around me. I suddenly feel very hot. None of them seem surprised by this Kusari guy walking in here instead of Professor Bradford…what’s going on?
“Um, Professor Kusari, could you please start the class now?” Someone suggests to our new ‘professor’.
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” Kusari says without even looking at who spoke. He seems to have gone back to staring absentmindedly in some general direction. And I thought I space out too much.
After another reminder from a student, this Kusari guy finally decides to get on with the class. If you can even call it a class. He simply tells us to open our books and answer some random questions he writes on the board. He doesn’t give us any actual instruction. He says we can work in pairs. Guess who claims me as her partner? Come on, take a wild guess. Don’t know? I’ll tell you: Laura. Lucky me. We push our desks together and get to work.
After we’ve been working for about twenty minutes, I tap Laura’s hand. She looks up from her book at me.
“What is it?” she whispers.
“Don’t you think something about this whole thing is odd?”
I roll my eyes. “No not our classwork, stupid. I mean the new professor guy.”
“Yeah, him, obviously.”
Laura puts a finger to her lip as she thinks for a few seconds. “Hmm, well, he is a bit rough around the edges, but I think he’s probably nice enough deep down. You’ll get used to him eventually, we’re still only a few weeks into the semester after all.” She finishes her sentence with a smile as if to reassure me of something.
I resist the urge to slam my fist against my desk in frustration.
“No, I’m not talking about his personality--which I must point out is really freakin’ weird--I was talking about how our old teach just sorta poofed outta here with no warning.”
Laura furrows her brow in confusion. “Violet, is this some kind of new joke or something?”
“You keep acting like Professor Kusari is new…but, he’s not. And who’s this ‘old teach’ you’re talking about?”
“L-Laura, you’re the one joking, right? You don’t remember Professor Bradford?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know who you’re talking about,” Laura says with a genuinely apologetic look on her face.
What the hell is going on!? This doesn’t make any sense! Is someone playing a prank on me? That must be it! I bet someone set this whole scenario up to make fun of me, and they even got that Kusari guy, the other students, and Laura all in on it!
“Quit playing dumb, Laura. You know exactly who I’m talking about!” I say, accidentally raising my voice. I don’t care, though. I need to get to the bottom of this.
“Shut up! Shut up! Where did he go!? Why is there some guy I don’t know here instead!”
“Violet, are you…okay?” Laura asks with a look in her eyes I recognize all too well: pity.
I grab my head with my hands so tightly it feels like I could dig into my skull with my bare fingers. I think I am sweating, but I’m freaking out so bad I’m not quite aware of myself or my surroundings anymore. I think Laura is calling out to me, but I can no longer hear her.
I’m not crazy, I’m not crazy, I’m NOT! What the hell is happening?! Why am I the only one who doesn’t recognize that guy! Why doesn’t Laura remember Professor Bradford? Am I dreaming right now? Or was I dreaming before? Where do the truths end and the lies begin?
I feel a hand firmly grasp my shoulder, slightly bringing me to my senses. I realize I am tearing up and everyone is staring at the crazy girl clutching her head and whispering to herself. I wish I could just disappear.
“Hey, are you alright?” Professor Kusari is the one with his hand on my shoulder. Apparently he had walked over to my desk while I was freaking out. He looks down at me with narrow, calculating eyes. I’m sure he’s thinking, Man, this girl’s such a pain making a huge scene in class like this. It’s such a pain playing the caring adult.
“Y-yeah, I’m fine,” I say wiping my eyes with the sleeves of my shirt.
He doesn’t seem convinced. He glances at Laura who has a look of grave concern painted on her face. I bet she’s thinking, What the hell is wrong with this freak? Sheesh, I’m nice to this basket case with no friends and this is what happens? Better try to look worried or people with think I’m a b***h.
“Hey, you, what’s your name again?” he says to her.
“You’re friends with this student, correct? Take her somewhere where she can relax. Don’t worry, you two won’t be penalized for not finishing your work.” Kusari says all this without showing any facial expression, but he speaks with a tone that demands urgency.
“Sure thing,” Laura responds to the professor, then to me, “Violet, can you stand? I’m going to help you, okay?”
I barely manage a nod, feeling suddenly drained of all energy. I almost feel as though I’m watching the whole scene from outside my body. Laura helps me up from my chair and picks up my bag for me. She then puts one of my arms over her shoulder so I can lean against her a bit as we walk towards the door to exit the classroom. She puts one of her arms around my waist to support me. This is the first time I’ve been so close to her. She smells nice, like flowers. I’m not accustomed to such close physical contact with other people. A sudden wave of panic shoots through me at the notion of relying so much on Laura when I can’t gage her hidden intentions, but then I decide not to worry about it. More like, I’m too exhausted to do anything about it at the moment.
After we’ve exited the room and started walking for a bit, Laura turns her face to me with a smile and says, “So, Violet, where would you like to go? I can take you to your room if you tell me which dorm you’re in. Or we could go to the nurse’s office if you’d like, though that may be a little far from this building.”
“R-room.” I find it surprising how difficult it is for me to speak. I manage to tell her which dormitory and room I stay in.
Laura nods and shifts around a bit so we can balance better. Once we have our balance, we begin moving along the path to our destination. I feel pathetic for relying on her like this. She’s a bit shorter than me, so it can’t be easy to support me. Even so, she shows no sign of discomfort on her face. Instead, her face looks far more serious than I can ever remember seeing it, far different from the usually cheerful airhead face she makes.
© 2012 Minoru Kusari
AboutI'm in my late teens. I'm a pretty laid back guy most of the time, but I get really passionate about certain things. I like to play guitar, video games, draw and read. I love music. I've always liked .. more..
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