Sometimes you just can’t explain things. Whether you can’t find the words or you’re in over your head, situations exist where you’re left floundering. That’s where I am. I am in over my head deeper than I could have imagined. It started with Mark’s end of semester party. I drank too much. I forget big pieces of the night. Now I am running. I am terrified. I don’t know where to go or who to turn to…
Mark was a lifelong friend of mine. We grew up in the same neighborhood. When we both got accepted to the same University it was like the perfect alignment of the stars. We could continue our mayhem and mischief. By our junior year, Mark had become known for amazing parties just off campus. He was a spoiled kid, Mommy and Daddy paid for him to have a whole townhouse which he graciously shared with me. Luckily, his parents didn’t mind being that they had known me my entire life, their son living with a girl who was basically his sister was okay.
This party wasn’t different than any other. Alcohol flowed freely, music blasted, questionable decisions were made. The rooms were packed wall to wall with drunk co-eds. Instead of my usual sober self, I decided that I deserved to live it up a little. Everyone had just finished their finals and was packing to go home. It was a perfect excuse to have a crazy night. It was the morning that was not part of the norm. I woke up in my bedroom, my mouth felt like a week old gym sock and my head throbbed. I squinted against the bright, early afternoon light coming through the windows. It had to be around noon or one, I didn’t bother checking. Ugh. What the hell was I thinking? I managed to drag myself to my bathroom. I checked the mirror, I was really worse for wear. My brown eyes bloodshot, my long blonde hair a rats next with stiff parts that smelled faintly of Apple Pucker, I was pale with what I imagined to be a slight green tinge on the edges. My head felt like there was an evil fairy with a jackhammer going to town.
I managed to get into the shower and brush my teeth. I at least felt slightly more human. I wrapped up in my comfy robe and shuffled to the kitchen, picking my way gingerly around discarded solo cups and general debris. Coffee. My only coherent thought. To my surprise someone succeeded in setting up the coffee pot the night before, I just needed to hit brew. I fared pretty well making some toast without burning the place down, even though the thought of food made my stomach automatically revolt against me. I groaned as Mark entered the kitchen, his cheery disposition didn’t help. How in the world did he never get a hangover? I admit I was slightly jealous.
“Good morning, sunshine. How are we feeling this morning?” he smiled as he poured his orange juice.
“Ugh. I am never doing that again. It’s not worth it,” I said, laying my head on the kitchen table.
“You say that every time, Lucy. And every time you get completely obliterated,” he chuckled, taking the seat across from me. “Last night was something else though. I swear you were putting away shots like your life depended on it. Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t wake up next to Tony this morning.”
“What? Tony Gallo? Oh, god. What did I do?”
“You two were being rather friendly,” he coughed. “But he disappeared with those random girls after you passed out on the floor. I carried you to bed, by the way.”
Great. Just great. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to deal with Tony or any repercussions from whatever drunken antics I got up to. Tony was the single most annoying person I’ve ever had to deal with. He was in several of my classes, always inserted himself into conversations, extremely irritating pretending he was far superior to anyone he encountered. I got up from the table and stumbled back to my room. Pack or go back to sleep, that was the question. I opted to fall face down on my bed, hoping my stomach and head would stop competing for the most desperate to make me want to die. It was only a moment before my phone started buzzing on the nightstand. I cringed. It was either Tony or my mom. Mom would blather about how excited she was that I was coming home and Tony would want a continuance of the previous night. I reached blindly for the phone, answering just before the voicemail would have cut on.
“Hello Lucy,” a voice answered. I gave a shudder. The voice was disturbing — think Hannibal Lector saying Hello Clarice.
“Who is this?”
“You’ll find out soon enough my darling girl. Soon enough.” I looked down at my phone just as the call ended. What the hell was that? Well, that was enough to get me out of bed, so I started packing, glancing nervously at the phone on occasion. I didn’t have much and I was mostly packed to begin with, so it was a short process.
I picked up my phone to send a few good bye texts to a few friends, but I was hit by confusion. The background was different. My phone’s background featured a picture of the Andromeda Galaxy, an ode to my astronomy major. This background was a picture of me walking into my physics lecture. Okay, weird. The picture was taken at a little bit of a distance. I didn’t remember the picture and I certainly wasn’t vain enough to set my background as a picture of myself. I scrunched my nose and opened the messaging folder. Empty. Okay, that was weird too. I was a hoarder of text messages, never deleting anything, no matter how incriminating. I opened my email. Empty. Okay, that wasn’t my email address. And I certainly wouldn’t have deleted that — it had all of my school stuff and emails from home. Feeling confused, I opened the camera roll. Whoa. Every picture was a photo of me, going to class, hanging out in the quad, dinner at Joe’s Diner, working in the library. Okay, this is just plain creepy. I made my way to the phone settings. The phone number that showed wasn’t mine. I somehow ended up with someone else’s phone, and a creepy stalker from the looks of it. I called down to Mark. I wanted him to take a look at this. The phone buzzed in my hand, with a new text message.
“I can’t wait to see you”
“Sorry,” I typed. “I’m not sure who you are trying to message. I accidently got their phone at a party. Who does this phone belong to?”
“oh Lucy. Its yours now. Do you like your pictures? I liked taking them”
Screw that. I screamed for Mark. He must have already been in the hallway, because he dashed in the room looking concerned. I wasn’t the type to get excitable, so he knew something was up. I didn’t speak, I just handed him the phone, trying to form sentences to explain what I had found on the phone and the freaky phone call. His brows furrowed.
“That’s just plain sick,” he said. “I don’t recognize the number either. Let’s just toss this thing and get out of here. I’ll carry your stuff down.” He pocketed the phone instead of depositing it in the trashcan and started carrying boxes down the stairs.
I tried my best to put the phone out of my mind on the long drive home, but it kept nagging at me. I borrowed Mark’s phone to report my phone stolen — we couldn’t find it when we searched the house. My parents were going to be thrilled to file an insurance claim to replace my phone. The drive was pretty quiet, one of the nice things about Mark. We were completely comfortable in silence. When we stopped to get gas and stretch our legs Mark checked his pocket. The glared at the mystery phone and looked warily at me. He handed it to me, text messages open.
“Aww, you look really sweet in that pink shirt. Loving the yoga pants btw”
“you look bored. Did you forget your book on your nightstand?”
“can’t wait to see you when you get home”
What. The. Fuck. The clothing description was spot on and I had forgotten my copy of The Hitchhikers Guide on my nightstand. I looked back to Mark, worried.
“Let’s get home,” I said. “Once we’re there, I want to call the police. This is just freaky. I don’t like it.”
The phone buzzed in my hand.
“you had better get going if you want to make it home in time to see bear”
Bear was my mutt dog. Aside from Mark, that dog was my best friend.
“I’m calling mom and dad. I want to make sure Bear is in the house,” I said. I bit my lip, making the call. There was no answer. I swore in frustration. I would try again in a little while. At least we were only about an hour from home. I spent the rest of the trip biting my nails and casting wary glances at the mystery phone stuck in the console.
Mark dropped me off, once he unloaded my stuff he set off for his house, promising to come back as soon as his boxes were in the house. He didn’t want to leave me alone for long. My driveway was empty. My parents were probably out at a flea market planning to buy more junk furniture to refinish. I wandered through the house, my stomach dropping. Where was Bear? He should have greeted me or at least been barking. I checked the backyard and immediately regretted it. There was bear, bloody and motionless on the porch. I think I screamed. I remember grabbing the house phone and calling Mark.
The police were polite. They took down all of my information and looked through the mystery phone, but left it behind. The decided that they would have a cruiser sit outside for the rest of the day and the night to keep an eye on me. Whoever this was, they were a real live threat. They killed my Bear. Mark cleaned up the porch and took care of Bear. I spent my time sobbing, unable to even look at the back door. Thank heavens for Mark. I don’t know what I would have done without him. But, that small respite he offered was very short lived. Things were going to get worse. So much worse. I already felt like my world had collapsed when I found Bear, but that was just the first blow to my perfect reality.