The Sunday Serial: Episode 2 – Keep Calm And…
Whilst the stranger jumps into Sarah’s cupboard, a different story is unfolding on the other side of the corridor. How will the rest of this sleepy 4th year community react to the intrudor? From whence came the blood on Sarah’s carpet?
Sarah, who had grown accustomed to this kind of behaviour on a Saturday night, rolled her eyes and made to get up in the hope of chasing this bore. Yet something in the silhouette’s eyes told Sarah that this was far more than a game of Sardines gone wrong, or the result of a disastrous night at the ADC bar.
“There’s a washing basket in the cupboard…” began Sarah. “Hide yourself in that for now. I’ll lock the door.” Catch up with episode one here.
As the unknown guest stepped into the cupboard, as he had been told to do, Sarah couldn’t help but notice the bloodstains at the bottoms of his trousers.
Where a nervous frown would have appeared on the face of your regular village-elder CUSU-attender, Sarah let slip a smile. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happened on the sleepy 4th year corridor of the sleepy Cambridge Access College, and the blood spattered stranger now crouched in the cupboard was of inordinate excitement.
He was a reason to close down Hermes, to close down Facebook and to put on a hat. She picked a Trilby off her shelf, and let loose a squirt of Nina by Nina Ricci onto her neck and cleavage. She was doing this – so it was rationalized in her head – not, by any stretch of the imagination, to seduce the stranger, but to find sensual pleasure in her sordid involvement in what might well have been a murder or an escape. Or at least a swap with the Murray Edwards Dames gone horrifically, violently wrong.
This was just the sort of situation she had been warned about in the year five Stranger Danger assembly. This was the sort of situation her mother over trembled before throwing a Wrigley’s Extra between two pursed lips. Throwing herself back down into her swivel chair, she realised how much easier her essay was going to be now that there was a stink of delicious danger in the air. She deleted the words “indicates cliché” from the sentence she had been writing, and replaced them with “pathetic phallacy indicates imminent danger”. A flirtatious glance at the rain. A sip of her Kenko.
Completely unaware of the evening’s strange events, Jamie and Sam sat in their room discussing the dynamic of the sleepy 4th year corridor of the sleepy Cambridge Access College.
“She’s got to go!” Shrilled Sam, removing her grasp from Jamie’s knee and moving to stand at the window in front of the rain.
“She doesn’t do the dishes,” said Jamie. He knew exactly what Sam wanted to hear. “And always making excuses!” This final bit he added after his other half failed to grant him the nod of approval he had anticipated would follow his recognition of the state of the kitchen.
The ballot had been, in Sam’s words, an inevitable farce. Their names had been plucked from the top of the list, only to then have been landed with “enigmatic?” “asocial!” Sarah and “involved?” “nosey!” Clarrissa. Not that much could be said for the rest of the entourage either.
“I’m emailing in.” Sam’s left eye twitched despite her determined stoicism. “It’s not that we are being unjust. It’s just that we have a right to expect a tidy sink and moment or two of polite conversation over cereals in the morning.”
As Jamie retired to the en-suite to unburden his bladder of the weighty residue of a day’s being hen-picked – or at least of the recent coalition of Evian and a family-sized Lucozade – Sam typed the words “requested meeting for next week” into the subject box of an email to her Tutor. The email was to begin with a brief, yet sincere, enquiry as to said Tutor’s weekend before moving quite abruptly into two or three well-phrased paragraphs of domestic diatribe.
A huge crash from across the hall interrupted Sam’s flow. A bookcase falling? A kettle thrown at the wall? “That’s quite enough. It was her room, I’m sure.”
The laptop lid was thrown down, Jamie’s wrist grabbed from the en-suite, and a fist thrown at Sarah’s door.
No reply. A glass of wine, which now lay stomach-locked and diffusing into her bloodstream, encouraged Sam to push open the door, Napoleonically throwing a right foot into the room as she did so. Territory claimed; presence asserted.
There was no-one there. A mug lay smashed on the floor, the words “Keep Calm And Carry On” rudely divorced from one another by a Harry Potter shaped scar. The curtains provocatively bellowed in the storm at the wide-flung window. Was that blood on the carpet?
The words “pathetic phallacy indicates imminent danger” stood proudly next to a flashing cursor.