Anyone see the Joker? It was a masterpiece of storytelling. I'm definitely going to watch it again.
Light was trying to bleed through my eyelids, but my headache was way too strong to open them. Pain sloshed behind my skull with every sudden move. Maybe if I didn’t move, I would sleep through this torment?
No luck. How long had it been? Two hours? I might as well check my phone to see the time, even if it made my head throb.
Then my nipples brushed against the bedsheets and I realized that I was naked. Where were my clothes? Where was my phone? It was enough to make me finally open my eyes. Wincing at the sight of dawn’s light pouring through the window, I held my head and tried to remember where my things were.
Brenda’s room was a mess. Clothes and junk littered the floor so thoroughly, I wasn’t sure what kind of floor it was.
When did I take off my clothes? As I leaned down and sifted through layers of laundry, I struggled to piece together the memories of last night. As far as I knew, one never truly blacked-out. Sure, your memories would be scrambled all over your brain, but they were there if you searched hard enough for them.
My hand snagged the wire mesh of my bra. A vague memory of stripping it off came to mind. Hold on… it was Brenda who’d stripped it off. Where was she?
Someone knocked on the door. Gasping, I glanced back and stared at the thing, hastily pasting the bra to my chest. It was unlocked. I didn’t have much time.
“Hey, anyone in there?” Kristen’s voice drifted through the old wood.
“Yeah,” I said quickly.
“Jane? Hey, are you decent?”
“Not yet,” I scrambled to find the matching set of panties. What colour were they? Screw it! These shorts would do. The brief memory of Brenda wearing them scraped past my consciousness, the sensation of her thick legs mounting me lingering.
“Well… hurry up,” Kristen lowered her voice.
“I’m getting there,” I tip-toed around the room. “Just give me a sec!”
My shirt! Where was my shirt? I couldn’t find it anywhere! And why was the TV still on? Was it playing all night? Oh, hold on… I’d stripped my shirt downstairs in the throne room. I guess I could just wear any shirt I could find. This red shirt hanging on the lamp-post would have to do. It was kind of small, leaving my midriff bare, but it would have to do for now.
“We don’t have much time,” Kristen hissed.
“Almost ready,” I bounced on one leg as I pulled mismatching socks on. “Oh, I hope these are clean…”
“I’m coming in.”
“Wait, I don’t have –”
As I hobbled with my back to the door, I heard it creak open behind me. In stepped Kristen, who squeezed through before hastily closing the door behind her.
“Hey,” she stood directly behind me.
“I don’t have pants on,” I muttered, feeling my face blush.
“Big deal. Last night you had no shirt on.”
“It’s not – I mean, it – ugh! Can you help me find my jeans? I need my phone.”
“Okay, but while we’re doing that, just listen, okay? We need to be quick about all this because –”
“Here it is!” I exclaimed gratefully, pulling my jeans from under the bed. “Oh, yes! My phone’s still here…”
“Jane. Listen to me. Things are happening fast. Brenda’s been out of bed for awhile and told Katrina that you were abusing her in bed last night. Then Katrina called Tomie and Tomie told everyone, and now they’re going to use it as an excuse to kick you out and god-knows-what else, and if they find out that I was involved, then it’s both our asses thrown on the sidewalk. Jane, this is serious, can you at least look at me so I know you’re getting all this? Jane?”
My attention was fixated on the screen of my phone. Level up! Progress Level One achieved!
Heart pounding, I unlocked my phone to find that I had indeed broken the threshold and reached the next level. Whatever it meant, I had gained over twenty points. But what exactly had changed? The only thing I knew for sure was that it was irreversible, and it filled me with dread.
“Jane, can you pay attention? This is both of us we’re talking about here.”
“Kristen,” I swallowed. At last, I began to turn towards her. “Do I look a bit off to you? Like, different?”
“Other than being hungover? You were drinking some pretty strong shit, so that’s no – ohmygawd…”
“What is it?” my anxiety began mounting again.
“Your eyes,” Kristen leaned closer, squinting slightly. “Christ… what did she do to you?”
“What is it? What’s wrong with them?” I scrambled to unlock my phone’s camera to take a look for myself.
“They’re all… bloodshot. Or something. Did she put anything in your drink? Did you eat anything?”
The reflection from my phone said otherwise. My eyes were way past bloodshot. They were red. Deep red; almost glowing. The iris’s had faded into a pale yellow that ringed black pupils that dilated erratically as I stared shocked at my transformation. Irreversible. My eyes were stuck like this. Were they bleeding? Injured? If I levelled-up, would I go blind?
“Jane, do you need a doctor?”
“I don’t know,” I stared at her with wide, pleading eyes, but she cringed at the sight. “I don’t know what’s happening…”
Someone banged against the door, louder this time.
“Shit,” Kristen hissed.
“Open it!” someone shouted.
“We know you’re in there!” another called.
“Jane, take it easy,” Kristen grasped my shoulders and eased my back onto the bed. “You just sit here and I’ll handle this.”
Before either of us could do anything else, the door was kicked open. There stood four glaring, Kappa Omega sisters. Brenda towered over them all, standing behind them as she folded her arms. She’d put my jacket back on, and it concealed her swollen boobs and building paunch well, but the same couldn’t be said about her legs, stuffed in grey-patterned yoga pants that put their extra curve and girth on full-display. No wonder she was hiding in the back.
“Well, well, well,” the girl in front entered the doorframe, blonde hair shining against the light from the hallway behind her.
“Hi Tomie,” Kristen replied with sarcastic friendliness.
“So what are you doing in my room?” Brenda tapped one finger against an impressive bicep.
“I’m just talking to my fr –”
“You don’t belong in here,” Tomie cocked her head side-to-side. “You need to go.”
“I’ll do that,” Kristen huffed. “But –”
“But before you do, maybe you could explain why you’re in here talking to this bitch.”
“Because,” Kristen rolled her eyes. “I’m trying to talk to my friend.”
“Oh, she’s your friend, huh?” Tomie sauntered closer to Kristen. “This girl? The one who assaulted her Big?”
“That’s not what happened.”
“We know what happened,” another girl chimed in. “Brenda told us everything. Seeing her Little still in here is evidence enough – and the fact that you’re here? Talking to her? It doesn’t look good.”
“Kristen,” Brenda stared coldly into her ex-girlfriend’s eyes. “Dumping you when I caught you cheating might have been harsh, I’ll admit, but for you to stoop so low as to break into my room, conspiring against me – against your sisterhood?”
“That’s not what happened!” Kristen protested. “That’s not what I’m doing!”
“You didn’t think I wouldn’t notice you and your friend there talking with each other last night? These walls are thin, Kristen, in case you forgot. That’s how I caught you cheating, and that’s how I caught you once again – except this time? This time you’re being exiled.”
“Exiled?” Kristen stiffened.
“It means we’re kicking you out,” Tomie wagged her head. “You and your new girlfriend.”
“I’m done with you,” Brenda turned to leave, tugging the jacket down over her belly. “Ladies, show them out.”
Up until that moment, from the moment I had struggled out of bed till now, the world had been spinning. Events had kicked me off balance and dragged me back and forth like a deadly riptide. Hungover, I could barely even dress myself in clothes that weren’t even mine. But now, at this pinnacle moment when I was about to lose everything once again, a rare moment of clarity swept over me.
I couldn’t reveal our plot to frame Brenda for stealing a bottle of spirits; the only people who would care were the police and the faculty. That plan would come into play later. For now, I had a half-baked story to play, and I had to play it now.
“Brenda!” I wailed, adding a bit of extra oomph to the anxiety I was feeling. “Brenda, come back here!”
“Don’t even speak to me,” Brenda’s voice trailed down the hallway as she strode away. “Sisters, get them out of here.”
“Brenda, what did you do to me?” I sprung from the bed, pushing past Kristen and shooting for the door.
An audible gasp sounded from Brenda’s cronies. “Woah, shit,” Tomie muttered. The woman next to her held her mouth.
“Brenda!” I leaned out the doorway, staring at my Big’s retreating form as she disappeared down the stairs. “Last night… I don’t remember anything!” the sound of the sisters watching me with mounting shock emboldened me, and I widened my eyes as much as possible for added effect. “Last night… you put something in my drink. What did you put in there? It’s the last thing I remember! Brenda!”
Unaware that she had lost control of the situation, Brenda kept walking.
“I… I don’t feel so good!” I stared at the ground and held my stomach for added effect. The sudden move sent stabs of hangover pain through my head. “Ooh… ooh, my head…”
A steady fall to the floor… and my performance was complete. Tomie and the rest of the sisters clustered around me, fawning over me as they held my head and looked into my demonic, red eyes. Even Kristen scrambled to my side – but of course, she didn’t know any better than the rest of them.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Brenda halt at last, with only her head visible from the top of the stairwell. Realization of the situation dawned on her, and she began to walk back, doing her best to look in control even as she tugged nervously on the jacket. Of course, by the time she reached us, the girls were already dragging me outside. Tomie shoved her aside as Kristen held her phone to her ear, calling an ambulance.
As I was carried outside, I winced against the rays of the sun, and did my best not to grin.
“I need a doctor.”
My vengeance on the woman who had stolen from Emily and taken my life from me had begun.
But now, resting on a bed in the campus clinic, a tangle of wires sticking all over my body, and several Kappa Omegas at my side, rubbing my arms with genuine concern, I needed a new plan.
I could not stay in the clinic. The first thing they did in the ambulance was to ask my name. Pretending to be too delirious to answer worked at first, but the nurses just turned and asked my sisters. It was only a matter of time before they realized that “Jane Wick” wasn’t in their records. Best case scenario was they would just make a new entry. Worst case scenario, however, was that they would check the school records. If they realized that “Jane Wick” wasn’t registered as a student, which would start a string of questions as to how “Jane” had appeared on Biltmore Island.
Worse, the police were sure to come. Everyone was assuming that Brenda had drugged me – or worse. They would be sure to interrogate me, and I could not risk seeing the police again.
I had to escape this clinic.
“I can’t believe that bitch,” Tomie paced the room angrily, thumbs dancing across her smartphone. “This is the last straw. When I’m done, the whole school will know.”
“You sure that’s a good idea?” one of the girls asked as she rubbed my upper arm.
“I’m through with her,” Tomie tapped another text and sent it on its way. “Done.”
“I’m just saying. This is, like, an investigation. The police will want as few people talking about it as possible.”
I groaned with helpless frustration.
“You okay?” Kristen held my hand in hers as she reached for my head. “Let me see your eyes.”
“They’re fine,” I looked away. “I’m fine. I’m good.”
“No, you’re not,” she yanked my head towards her. “They’re still bloodshot.”
“But I’m feeling way better,” I argued. “Maybe we can go home and see if this calms down.”
A third girl patted her hand against my mane of hair. “You need a doctor. Just rest.”
“I’m afraid of needles!” I protested. “We should get out of here before –”
“Oh, look,” Kristen nodded towards a curtain being drawn back. “The nurse is back. Hi Tenisha!”
“How’s everyone feeling?” Tenisha asked, tugging absentmindedly at her scrub outfit while glancing down at her clipboard.
Tenisha, I reflected to myself, was a doll. Her generic, blue scrub outfit, though loose, did not hide the curves of her body, from modestly-sized breasts, to shapely hips. Not to mention her caramel skin and cornrow hair reminded me of Zoltan. Zoltan, of course, was stronger and wilder than this nurse, but then again, no one was as strong and wild as Zoltan. I missed her…
“Want the stool?” Kristen sat up, drawing away from me.
“Thank you,” Tenisha said gratefully, plopping herself quickly on the seat. “Ooh,” she stood up slightly to tug at her scrub bottoms before sitting again. “Gotta lay off the sweets for a while,” she laughed to herself.
It was a titillating remark that only I noticed. She had potential, this nurse. The way her scrubs hugged tightly against her thighs, how her hips spread slightly over the rims of the stool, I could tell she was definitely a bottom-heavy type. Her ass would get massive once she started gaining. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if she kept snacking on sweets. However, there was something about her remark that made me uneasy.
“You take any medications?” she asked sweetly.
“No?” I answered, watching her movements warily as she checked the machines I was hooked to.
“Good…” she leaned closer to the heart monitor, tugging her bra strap from outside her scrub top. “So what happened?”
“Brenda happened,” Tomie interrupted. “That’s what.”
“We don’t really know,” Kristen translated. “Brenda slipped something in the drink Jane was holding. Next thing we know, she blacked-out all night and now… this,” she gestured toward my eyes as I blinked innocently.
“Well first off,” Tenisha slapped her supple thighs for emphasis. “I got some good news. All your basic signs are normal, so you’re not sick.”
“What about her eyes?” Kristen asked.
“Let’s take a look,” Tenisha scooted closer, leaning forward and raising a finger before my eyes. I struggled to stare at it, resisting the urge to see if her stomach was visibly hanging. “Now just follow my finger with your eyes. This way… now up here… and down… just like that. Looks good so far. Any pain or discomfort?”
“I feel fine, actually,” I nodded. “Can I go home? Maybe the red will drain away by itself.”
“I can’t say,” Tenisha shrugged. “I’m just a nurse. How ‘bout you wait a little until the doctor comes in? She’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.”
“We’ll wait for the doctor,” Kristen leaned into me, hand crowning mine.
“Just wait here then,” Tenisha rose to her feet and made her way to the curtain. “It’ll just take a minute.”
When she was gone, I glared at Kristen.
“Don’t give me that look,” Kristen squeezed my hand affectionately. “You need help, and I’m going to make sure you get it.”
“But I don’t need help. I’m fine,” I insisted.
“Girl, your eyes don’t lie,” Tomie added, standing before me with her phone in her hand. “And not to freak you out or anything, but they’re red as fuck, and while that’s kind of cool, you need…” startled, she lay a hand on her stomach.
“What’s wrong?” I stood up, suddenly alarmed.
“It’s just…” she rubbed her stomach, a curious expression on her face. “Nothing. Just gas… I think.”
Then it hit me. First Tenisha, tugging away at loose scrubs that weren’t so loose anymore, remarking that she should lay off sweets, and now Tomie, rubbing her stomach and wondering if it was gas. It wasn’t. It was that girl! That one girl that had been sitting with me, Mary, and Brooke! What was her name? Jacky? No, Jaqueline! It was all coming back to me: Jacqueline will gain five pounds every time she talks about someone’s weight, and then transfer the weight to a random girl within a twenty meter radius. She was here! She was nearby and she was spreading weight all over the clinic like a virus!
“I have to get out of here!” I grabbed the wires on my chest and pulled at them.
“No, Jane, just sit!” Kristen insisted, leaning her body over mine to keep me stationery. “They’re not going to hurt you. Don’t worry, we’re here for you. Nobody can hurt you anymore. You’ve suffered enough.”
But Tomie’s belly said otherwise. As she rubbed the fabric of her shirt against her skin, I noted with rising alarm the first signs of weight gain on her slender frame: the hint of a gut, just beginning to round-out. If I stayed any longer, I’d get hexed too.
“Hey…” I said desperately. “Can we just make a mutual trip to the bathroom? I really need to –”
But the curtains parted, and a doctor strode in. Her lab coat wrapped around a tall, thin stick of a body, crowned by a head with well-kempt black hair, tied loosely behind herself for practicality’s sake.
“You must be Jane Wick,” she smiled warmly.
“Did the bloodshot, demon-eyes give it away?” I sighed, still pinned by Kristen.
She laughed heartily at my sarcasm. “I’m Dr. Jenae. Sorry, I forget to introduce myself sometimes.”
“Ma’am,” I took a deep breath while shooting Kristen a glance to make her get off. “I actually feel pretty good, so all things considered, can I go home and… walk this off?”
“Well, the nurses tell me that you’re pretty stable. Normal heartbeat, steady breathing, no broken bones or limbs, and your eyes look like they’re working. Any problems with your vision?”
“No,” I shook my head. “I’m fine. Feel pretty good.”
Jenae gave me a look that let me know she suspected I wasn’t. “How’s your head? You have a headache?”
“No,” I lied.
“You were complaining about your head when you came in.”
“It was migraine,” I shared looks with my sorority sisters. “I was staring at the sun on the way inside, being on a stretcher and all.”
“Alright,” Jenae smiled. “Well, besides your eye discolouration, you’ve got a clean bill of health.”
“So I can go?”
“If you want,” she shrugged.
“No,” Kristen took my hand again. “She needs to stay.”
“I want to go!” I bugged my eyes at Kristen to make her edge away from me.
“Well, I can’t keep you here against your will, so if you want…”
“I want to –”
Kristen patted my upper stomach protectively. “Doctor, can you give us some privacy for a minute?”
“Sure. The remote by your stretcher is to call the nurses. Push the red button if you need anything.”
With that, the doctor withdrew behind the curtains, leaving me with only the sisters to worry about.
“We have to go,” I whispered.
“You need care,” Kristen whispered back. “We need to stay here so to find out exactly what Brenda did to you. Look… it’s my fault that you were alone with her. I mean, I’m her ex! I dumped her for a reason! She’s possessive, manipulative, and now she’s drugging people trying to pledge! Jane, this is my fault. Can you stay just a little longer? For me?”
“Hold on,” I raised a finger. “This isn’t about you – or me. This is about the whole sorority.”
“What do you mean?” Tomie asked, finally averting attention from her stomach to talk to us again.
“I mean, if you think about it, Brenda committed a crime. Now that the doctor’s done with me, who’s gonna come through that curtain next?”
“The police,” Tomie’s mouth dropped as she realized the situation.
“And when the police show up, they’ll ask us all questions. And when that happens –”
“Kappa Omega’s fucked,” Tomie gripped the sides of my stretcher. “Oh shit, this is bad.”
“So we’ll tell them the truth,” Kristen frowned. “It’s hard, but they’ll come to interrogate us all sooner or later.”
“But we can’t wait for that!” I hissed, anxious to move. “Brenda’s gonna have her own version of the story, and whether the cops believe it or not, they’ll start asking all the sorority sisters about what happened last night, and once that happens, all kinds of scandals will surface.”
“Hazing, sexual harassment, sodomy…” Tomie stared blankly onwards. “And our empress at the centre of it all? We’re screwed!”
“Brenda’s story will fall apart,” Kristen insisted. “She’ll face justice.”
“But she’s the empress,” Tomie shook her head. “She represents us all. When the Dean finds out, she’ll put our sorority on suspension.”
“Exactly,” I shook my fists for emphasis. “So here’s what we gotta do: we have to get out of here – now – we have to get back to the lighthouse, tell everyone what happened –”
“Already taken care of,” Tomie wagged her phone smugly.
“And then we have to expel Brenda from Kappa Omega.”
Everyone looked at me with stunned silence. No one moved until Tomie jolted and held her belt.
“Oof,” she stared at her belt buckle, a wave of flesh beginning to crash over its top. She’d been hit with another five pounds.
“We need to go now,” I repeated. “The sooner we alienate Brenda from Kappa Omega, the safer we’ll all be.”
Kristen sighed. “Alright. You’ve convinced me. Let’s exile that bitch.”