Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fiction: Fearsome Tranquility By Amanda Lawrence Auverigne

“Hey, what’d you get for number five?” Lila asked.

“Uh, seventeen.” Gretchen replied.

“Then your answer is wrong. Ha! Ha! Ha!” Lila laughed heartily.

Gretchen stopped typing. She looked up from her computer and glanced at the seated people in the large study chamber around her.

A few of the students were looking at her with expressions of irritation across their weary features.

Gretchen turned from the students and looked at Lila who was seated at the table across from her.

Lila’s gaze was fixed on the small screen of her laptop computer that rested on the table in front of her. Her cellular phone was clutched in her left hand and she typed slowly across the keyboard of her computer with her right hand.

The sound of chimes poured from Lila’s phone and the young woman shifted her sight from the computer and looked at the cell phone.

“Oh, a text from Max. He’ super sexy.” Lila giggled. She tapped at the screen of the device. “Want me to tell him you said hi? I know he likes you.”

“No, don’t tell him anything. What you should be doing is finishing your exam.” Gretchen said.

Lila pursed her lips and said, “I’m done with my exam.”

The sound of a mini explosion poured from Lila’s phone.

“Text from Pete…he just aced his Organic exam,” Lila said. She tapped rapidly at the phone’s screen. “Go Peter! And send.”

“Lila, come on.” Gretchen said.

“What? I’m keeping up with my busy social calendar,” Lila said. She tossed her phone on the table and looked at Gretchen. “Did you start your exam yet?”

“Yes and I’m trying to finish it,” Gretchen huffed.

“Ugh so snotty,” Lila commented.

A loud tinkling sound followed by a high pitched scream of “Ewwwwww” poured from Lila’s phone.

Gretchen looked up at her friend with irritation.

“What in the hell?” Gretchen asked.

Lila snatched up her phone. “Ew, it’s a text from Grayson.” She smiled at Gretchen. “You like the ring tone? I have it for all of the guys who bug me that I’m not really interested in.”

“If you don’t like Grayson just tell him so and stop wasting his time.” Gretchen stated.

Lila looked at her phone with a sigh. She tapped at the device and said, “But I do like him. He’s sexy and interesting but in a dark mysterious kind of way you know?”

“No, I don’t know.” Gretchen said with a shake of her head.

“Yes you do,” Lila giggled.

“Whatever,” Gretchen mumbled.

Gretchen lowered her sight from Lila’s face and focused on her computer for a brief moment before she began typing.

The loud music and screaming ‘Ewwwwwww’ poured from Lila’s phone once more.

“Ugh…” Gretchen huffed.

“Grayson is such a spaz. Look at what he wrote.” Lila said thrusting the phone in Gretchen’s’ direction.

“No,” Gretchen said still typing.

“Fine I’ll tell you. He says he dreams of kissing my lips. What do you think? Junior high corny right? Or is it cute?”



“You need to keep it down.”


“Three reasons. One we’re in the library, two its midterms and three there are people in here who are trying to study.”

“Oh come off it, silence police. I’m not being that loud. And besides, the people in here don’t care what I do. Most of them are prolly hooking up on FB. Or checking their updates.”

“How do you know?”

“Cause that’s what I’m doing. Duh.”

Lila tossed her phone on the table. She turned to her computer before raising her hands and typing rapidly across the keyboard.

“I thought you had a paper due for Dr. Chase’s History class.” Gretchen said.

“I did and I’m done. I finished that thing last night while you were in your wittle room snoring like a rusty chainsaw. I’m all done with midterm junk and now it’s time for some fooling around,” Lila said.

Lila stopped typing. She looked up at Gretchen with a mischievous grin.

“The kind that doesn’t get you pregnant!” Lila cackled.

Gretchen twisted her face into a sneer as she typed.

“Oh lighten up, Gretchen. It was just a joke,” Lila said. She looked at her computer and typed. “Now to see what’s happening on Twitter. What? I lost thirty followers? What the heck?”

“Lila, hush.” Gretchen said.

“What do you mean hush? This is serious business. Now I’m down to 970 instead of the cool 1000. How many followers do you have?”

“Does it matter?”


“Well, I’m focusing on my academics right now so Twitter can wait.”

“Twitter is what you do when you’re bored between the academic stuff. Hey, I just got ten more followers. Whoop!”

“Lila please be quiet. I’m trying to finish this paper that’s due in a few hours.”

“Well, it’s not my fault that you waited till the last minute to finish it. So you only have yourself to blame. Ya ninny.”

“Oh, could you just shut up so I can think?”

“No, I can’t.”

The sound of a loud siren poured from Lila’s cellular phone.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Gretchen said tartly.

“What is this?” Lila asked. She looked at her phone. “Oooh, a Campus Crime Alert!”

Lila snatched her phone from the table and tapped it quickly.

“Gretchen, do you have this App?” Lila asked.

“What App?” Gretchen inquired.

“The Campus Crime Alert App. Or the CAA as we like to call it.”


“Well you should get it cause its free and it can come in real handy.”

“Handy how?”

“Well, remember a few weeks ago when they had to shut down the campus after the basement in the old Triton Building was flooded from the storm and all of the rats in the basement like swarmed and chased students and stuff?”


“Gretchen you remember. The Health Department sent in a team to like kill them all.”

“I think I remember. But how did the App help you with that?”

“Well, I had a class that day in the Pryor Building and I was totally on my way too but I stopped after getting the Rab alert on my phone.”

“Rab Alert?”



“It was just like a Health Warning Alert that the university sent to the students with this App but somebody like hacked it or something and by the end of the day they were calling it the Rab Alert.”

“You and a lot of people on this campus have way too much time on your hands.”

“That’s cause I’m an effective Time Manager.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Hey, this alert says that two crazy dudes like escaped from that mental hospital on the north side.”

“Uh huh.”

“One of them is schizophrenic…his name is Walter Prim…and the other guy’s name is Paul Rodgers…ugh these mug shots are really scary. Take a look.”

Lila shoved her phone in Gretchen’s face.

“Get that away from me,” Gretchen said slapping the phone from Lila’s outstretched hand.

The cell phone fell from Lila’s grasp and it landed on the table with a loud clattering noise.

“Hey, you almost broke it!” Lila cried.

The siren poured from the phone again.

“Oh snap!” Lila chortled snatching up the phone. “Another CCA. Someone hacked it and they’re calling the last post about the crazies the Straight Jacket Bulletin. Har! Har!”

“It appears that your phone is operational,” Gretchen said between clenched teeth.

“Hey, it says here that they caught the schizo dude. It says he was wandering around Hartt’s restaurant parking lot.” Lila said.

“That’s like twenty miles from here.” Gretchen said.

“Yup.” Lila said. “So I guess we’re all safe.”

“What about the other guy?” Gretchen asked.

“It doesn’t say anything about him. So I guess he’s still at large.”


The sound of a laughing squeal poured from Lila’s phone.

“Oooh, it’s a text from my mans, Palmer.” Lila giggled. “Sent me a pic. His shirt is off and he’s looking all sexy. Hey, Gretchen. I’m thinking of sending him a pic of my boobs. Inside of my bra of course but just pushed up like they’re about the like spill out like butters. What do you think?”

“That’s it. I am so outta here!” Gretchen cried.

Gretchen slammed the lid of her laptop computer shut with a snort before she rose from her seat and snatched her bag from the table.

Lila stopped typing and looked up at Gretchen. “What are you doing?”

Gretchen shoved her computer inside her bag. She grabbed her notebooks, textbooks, cellular phone and ink pens off of the table. She stuffed the items inside of her satchel before she kicked her chair under the table.

“Gretchen, what are you doing?” Lila repeated.

“I’m leaving.” Gretchen replied.


“You heard me.”


“I need to focus and in order to do that I’m going somewhere else to write my paper since I can’t do it here with you flapping your gums every five minutes about Straight Jackets, Rabies Rats and hooking up on Twitter.”

“You can’t really hook up on Twitter. Just sayin.”

“Lila, just be quiet for once.”

Gretchen turned away from the table and walked away with a petulant huff.

“Hey wait up!” Lila shouted.

Lila leaped from her chair and she grabbed her things.

She shoved her belongings inside of her bag quickly before yanking the heavy satchel off of the table and swinging atop her shoulder with a wince.

Lila kicked at her chair weakly before she turned around and followed Gretchen.

Gretchen stalked angrily across the vast study chamber in the direction of the room’s large doorway.

Lila sprinted across the large dimly lit room and she slowed her pace with a ragged choke when she walked beside Gretchen.

“You walk really fast when you’re mad,” Lila wheezed.

“Shut up,” Gretchen muttered.

“Oh, you’re so mean,” Lila said.

Gretchen rushed forward and walked a few paces ahead of Lila. She reached the entrance to the room and stepped through the massive doorway.

Lila followed her friend closely.

“Wait up!” Lila called.

The two young women entered a large silent clearing that was filled with hundreds of tall metal bookshelves.

Gretchen and Lila walked across the clearing and they entered one of the long narrow passages between the towering book shelves. The two young women moved through the space quickly.

“Its always creepy quiet in these stacks,” Lila whispered.

“Uh huh,” Gretchen said.

“Hey, maybe you can study here.”

“Maybe you should. Then you won’t disturb anybody with your chatter.”

“Mean! But I know you love me!”

Lila stopped walking and she pulled Gretchen into a hug.

Gretchen stopped walking and she turned to Lila with exasperation.

“Get off of me Lila!”

“Hee! Hee! Tickle!”

Lila pinched at Gretchen’s lower abdomen.

“Stop!” Gretchen howled with a giggle.

“Oh,” Lila said. Lila squeezed Gretchen’s belly. “Somebody needs to do some sit-ups.”

“Stop pinching my fat!” Gretchen exclaimed. She slapped Lila’s hand away.

“Ow, that hurt.” Lila protested pulling her hand away from her friend’s midsection.

“Oh, can I get in on some of that tickling action?” a low voice asked.

Lila and Gretchen turned around.

Grayson Clark was standing in the book-filled aisle a few feet away from them.

The handsome youth smiled at the two young women while he strolled across the space in their direction. He stopped in front of them with a lazy smile.

“Hello ladies,” Grayson said in a slightly hoarse whisper.

“Hey Grayson,” Gretchen said.

“What do you want?” Lila asked with irritation.

“You,” Grayson replied.

“Not in a million years punk,” Lila said.

“Ouch.” Gretchen said with a wince.

“Now, why do I have to be a punk?” Grayson asked. He grinned at Lila. “Look at you sounding all retro with your insults.”

“Retro?” Lila asked.

“Yeah, punk is kinda old,” Gretchen said.

“Oh,” Lila said.

“Yeah, nobody says that anymore. But on second thought...” Grayson said.

Grayson moved closer to Lila. He gazed into her eyes and said, “I’ll be your punk. If you’re gentle.”

“Was that supposed to be sexy?” Lila asked with disbelief. “Cause it came out kinda creepy.”

“Yeah, it kinda did.” Gretchen agreed.

“Wait I’m getting over a sore throat,” Grayson said. He cleared his throat in slow melodic fashion. “How about now, baby? Am I sexy enough for you?”

“That’s about a four out of ten,” Gretchen said.

“Yeah almost but not quite,” Gretchen added.

“Well, damn this sore throat. Its ruining my game,” Grayson said.

“Like you ever had any,” Lila laughed.

“Gray’s got game aplenty,” Gretchen said. She looked at Lila. “Even you said he was cute first year.”

Grayson smiled at Lila. “You think I’m cute Lila? Cause I think you’re hot.”

“No,” Lila began. “I don’t think you’re…wait. You think I’m hot Gray?”

“Totally,” Grayson said with a slow nod.

“Well then,” Lila said.

“Well then. Since we’re both hot we should heat things up together.” Grayson said with a short cough.

“Not until you get that voice box fixed. It is ruining your game,” Lila said with narrowed eyes.

“Wait,” Gretchen said. She reached inside her bag. “I think I’ve got a pack of Ricola in my bag.”

“Sweet!” Grayson exclaimed.

The sound of a loud scream echoed in the still space.

“What was that?” Lila asked.

“More like who was that.” Gretchen said.

A series of low pitched shrieks, loud ripping noises and resonant thumps echoed from the left side of the narrow passage.

The large book filled shelf on the left portion of the aisle shook violently.

Thick plumes of dust, dead insects and small portions of metal shelving fell from the bookcase and landed on the floor.

The steel structure shuddered with rapid violence and hundreds of thick leather books fell from the ledge and fell atop Gretchen, Lila and Grayson’s heads with painful thumping sounds.

“Its falling!” Lila screamed.

“Run!” Gretchen howled.

“Hurry up!” Grayson shouted.

Gretchen, Lila and Grayson turned around and they ran along the length of the narrow aisle. They moved swiftly through the passage with their arms raised in a protective gesture atop their heads.

Heavy books fell from the shelves around them and the rapidly descending tomes struck the running youth’s heads and shoulders during their frenzied trek forward.

The three youths continued their sprint forward and they leaped through the narrow entrance of the aisle with choking coughs.

They reached a large clearing and stopped.

The loud rumbling sound ceased and cold silence filled the area.

The bookshelf lay a few feet behind the trio. The large metal structure was motionless. Small puffs of white dust and bits of wispy spiders’ webs hovered atop the empty shelves of the structure.

Hundreds of dusty books lay on the floor in the center of the aisle.

“What in the hell was that about?” Gretchen asked.

“False alarm,” Grayson said. He coughed. “Probably just somebody fooling around in the stacks.”

“How can that be a false alarm?” Lila asked. “That thing almost fell on us!”

“But it didn’t’ and we’re all fine, right?” Grayson asked.

“It looked like somebody was shaking it.” Gretchen said.

“Yeah, like I said, somebody was just fooling around.” Grayson said.

“Yeah, well you would know about that wouldn’t you?” Lila asked with irritation.

“Actually, the library is the only place on campus where I haven’t fooled around.” Grayson said. He pulled Lila into a loose hug. “Care to break me in?”

“Hey! Let go of me.” Lila cried.

“I’ll take it real slow,” Grayson said in a deep melodic voice.

“Oooh,” Lila cooed. “That sounded better. Sexy even.”

“Really?” Grayson asked.

“Really,” Lila said.

Lila kissed Grayson. Grayson pulled her closer to him while returning her affection.

“Ugh, get a room!” Gretchen huffed.

Lila pushed Grayson away from her slightly with a smile.

The sound of a loud squeal echoed in the space.

Grayson, Lila and Gretchen turned in the direction of the sound and they stared at the empty bookshelf near them.

A short corpulent young man with bright red hair and square shaped glasses rushed from the interior of one of the narrow passages.

His clothes hung from his heavy form in dangling tatters. His pudgy face, neck and chest were covered with thick splashes of red fluid. A large black messenger back hung limply from atop his left shoulder. He clutched at a frayed piece of dark blue cloth in his left hand.

The corpulent young man stopped a few paces in front Gretchen, Lila and Grayson and he wiped at his face with the tattered cloth while emitting loud sputtering noises.

“Tomas, is that you?” Gretchen asked tentatively.

Tomas pulled the cloth from his face and he looked at the three young people in front of him with an expression of fury across his features.

“Yes, it’s me. And thanks a lot for helping me out!” Tomas shrieked.

The chubby young man glared at the three young people. His entire form shook violently and his lower lip trembled uncontrollably. Thick tendrils of pink spittle oozed from the corner of his lips and dripped down his chin.

Lila hid behind Grayson.

Gretchen took a small step towards Tomas. “Tomas, are you okay?”

“What do you care? You heard me screaming for help back there and you just ran! I thought we were friends! I mean, I shared my cheese puffs with you in lab…they’re my favorite and that gotta mean something.” Tomas wailed.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Grayson asked.

Tomas wiped his chin with the cloth and he released a faint wheeze before raising his right hand and pointing at the three youths in front of him with a tremulous cry.

“You three freaks didn’t even try to help me!” Tomas shrieked.

“Dude,” Grayson began with a chuckle. “That was you screaming like that?”

“Yes, damnit! I was dying back there. And you didn’t even come to check on me.” Tomas sniffed.

Tomas allowed his right arm to fall limply at his side. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before opening his orbs and focusing his red tinged sight on Gretchen.

He smiled weakly and said, “I’m so sorry I yelled at you Gretchen. I uh. I just sort of lost it back there is all.”

Tomas grabbed his bag and he looked at the floor around him with a loud smack of his lips.

“I lost my pills during the scuffle. Damn, Dr. Long is not going to believe me when I ask for another refill,” Tomas muttered.

“Let’s just leave this creep,” Grayson said to Lila.

“No,” Gretchen said firmly. “I have to make sure he’s alright.”

“Do you have a death wish? Dude is certifiable!” Lila hissed from her perch behind Grayson.

“Tomas,” Gretchen began. “Why don’t you come with us to the campus Wellness Center?”

Tomas looked up at Gretchen. He blinked several times before he smiled at her.

“Hello Gretchen. Did I say hello to you?” Tomas asked.

“Uh, I don’t think so.” Gretchen said tentatively.

“Well greetings. You look very nice today. Your shirt really brings out the color in your eyes.”

“Um, thank you.”

Tomas looked at Lila.

“Hello Lila. We never get to see each other since you switched majors last term.” Tomas said. “How are you today?”

“Uh, I’m good.” Lila mumbled.

“Great,” Tomas said. He looked at Gretchen. “How did Dr. Parson’s midterm go? Was it as hard as they say?”

“It was killer,” Gretchen replied.

“Good,” Tomas said. He rubbed at his crimson smeared chest with a cough. “I studied real hard for that exam and at least now I’ll live long enough to take it. To ace it.”

“Wait, wait, wait a minute!” Grayson shouted. He raised his hands in a rapid time out gesture. “Time out. Time the hell out. Gretchen, do you know this loon?”

“Yeah,” Gretchen said. “He’s my lab partner in chem.”

“I’m not a loon you perv.” Tomas said with a choking gasp.

“Watch it you lunatic,” Grayson said.

“I will,” Tomas said. “I’ll be watching your head roll across the tiles.”

“What did you just say to me?” Grayson asked taking a small step towards Tomas.

Lila leaped in front of Grayson. She placed her hand atop his heart with a sharp intake of breath.

“Just calm down. Gretchen is right, Gray.” Lila looked at Tomas. “Tomas looks like he needs help.”

“HE needs help alright. The psychiatric kind.” Grayson said.

“I’m all done with therapy.” Tomas said.

“You have got to be kidding me!” Grayson exclaimed.

“Tomas,” Lila said. “What happened to you?”

“Nothing worth mentioning to the three of you cowards!” Tomas cried.

“What?” Lila asked.

“I heard you running and screaming,” Tomas said with a concentrated sneer in Grayson’s direction.

“I do not scream,” Grayson said quickly.

“Tomas is that blood all over you?” Gretchen asked.

“Yeah,” Tomas said. “But don’t worry, it’s not mine. It belongs to that psycho cannibal in the aisle back there.” “Cannibal? What are you talking about?” Grayson asked.

“Paul Rodgers,” Tomas said.

“Who?” Grayson asked.

“Do you guys monitor your Apps?” Tomas asked with irritation.

“Do you take your meds?” Grayson asked testily.

“Yes I do, on a regular basis thank you.” Tomas said calmly.

“Paul Rodgers?” Gretchen asked. She turned to Lila. “Why does that name sound familiar?”

Lila pulled her phone from her bag.

“Look, Tom. We’re leaving. You can stay here and have a hissy fit if you want but you won’t have an audience for your madness.” Grayson said.

“I bet your brain is aching from the use of correct grammar, subpar diction and masculine projection that you just used in that last sentence,” Tomas recited.

“What?” Grayson said.

“Hey guys,” Lila said. “Paul Rodgers is one of the guys who escaped from the crazy house yesterday! His name was on the CCA from earlier.”

“Yeah,” Tomas said. “He’s back there alright. See, it’s like this. I came up here to get a book for my final paper and I met him and we started talking. And you know, he seemed alright until he tried to take a damned bite out of me! But I had something for his ass, yes I did.” Tomas giggled.

Tomas pressed the dark cloth against his chest and stroked at his messenger bag with a maniacal chortle.

“Tomas, you really should see a doctor. You don’t look so good.” Gretchen said.

“Yeah a head doctor,” Grayson chuckled. “Hey, Tom. I hear there’s a couple of beds available at that hidden crazy house on Seventh and Grande.”

“Ha. Ha. And Ha. They don’t do intake anymore you idiot!” Tomas squealed.

“Tomas come on,” Lila said gently. “We’ll take you to the Campus Wellness Center and the doctors there will...”

“What?” Tomas interrupted with a choking wheeze.

“Lila, are you trying to kill me? No, no way. I’m fine. More than fine I’m still alive. But he’s not.” Tomas said sternly.

Tomas reached inside his bag and he pulled out a long crimson colored oblong shaped object. He swung the scarlet forward before he threw it onto the floor.

The long thing struck the stone tiles in the center of the space with a loud clattering noise.

Lila moved to the object. She stared at the crimson smeared object.

A blood covered skull lay on the floor. Its neck and spinal column was attached to the lower portion of the bony sphere. The entire structure was covered with a thick coating of rapidly congealing blood. Small oddly shaped chunks of pale colored flesh clung to the bony object. Several hunks of the skin fell from the structure and landed on the floor with loud slapping noises.

“Yeah,” Tomas said with a snort. “The rest of him is back there in the stacks. Well, on the books and stuff. So, those nosy librarians are probably gonna have to replace this whole section. Hopefully they’ll step outta of the Stone Age and digitize.”

Tomas wiped his face with the cloth in his hand. He released a choking sneeze and wiped his nose briskly with the linen.

“Whew, well I’m all done with this.” Tomas said.

Tomas tossed the cloth to the floor.

The dark garment landed on the stone flooring beside the skeletal remains.

The words ‘Ridgeland Mental Health Facility’ was printed in large white letters across the front of the bloody object.

The name ‘Paul Rodgers’ and a series of large numbers lay beneath the printed words on the lower portion of the dark garment.

Grayson, Gretchen and Lila stared at the blood covered uniform with silent shock.

Tom reached inside his bag and pulled out a container dental floss. He flipped the cap open and ripped a long segment of the thin white cord from the interior object. He slid the box of floss inside his bag before he raised the white cord to his mouth.

“Well,” Tom said sliding the floss between his teeth rapidly. “I’m really tired now guys. I ate way too much meat this time and it’s been awhile since I’ve had to deal with a psycho like that Rodgers back there.”

Tom pulled the red tinged floss from his teeth with a smack of his lips. He wrapped the string around his left wrist slowly while he spoke.

“You know, I thought that when they finally let me out of the institution three years ago I wouldn’t have to deal with creeps like that.”

Tom looked at the floor and he kicked at the skeletal remains with a huff.

The bloody bones slid across the floor with a loud clattering noise and the long object stopped its motion a few inches in front of Tom.

“Turns out, it’s more dangerous out here than it is on the inside.” Tom said.

Tom looked at Grayson, Lila and Gretchen with a red tinged smile.

“Scary huh?” Tom asked with a chuckle.

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