The Sunday Serial: Episode 6
The Sleepy Corridor is settling into the new rhythm of Christmas with the stranger. A strange calm reigns. This can’t last forever. Join OLD DAL for the calm before the storm…
With that, Cassandra turned on herself and left the room. Pulling open her emerald dressing gown, she revealed that she had in fact been fully dressed underneath all along. A black blazer and black jeans.
Leaving college, she nodded slyly at the circling Corsa which then came to a slow stop in front of her. She leaned in through the window, kissing the woman in the passenger’s upon both cheeks. He shook the driver’s hand, and giggled politely at a joke he made.
“So where did she go with him last night, eh?” Cassandra asked. “They know each other better than they’re letting on didn’t they?”
“Not exactly…” said the driver of the Corsa. “I think you should hop in for a moment.”
Back in the room, Sarah had agreed to look after the captive on her own for a while. As Sam and Jamie returned to their room, she slowly undid the scarf, pulled it out of his mouth, and laughed.
Christmas had leapt upon Cambridge.
It hadn’t faded in gradually, or tastefully foreshadowed its imminence with a subtle bauble here and there. It hadn’t wafted through the air during a choir rehearsal or through the kitchens during the first batch of festive pastries. It had burst. Like John Lewis onto Youtube, or tinsel onto the X factor.
Swaps were now held in red with white fur lining, and student halls were being decorated with boughs of holly from Churchill to Lady Cavendish. Wifi connections Cambridge wide were streaming Cascada’s rendition of Last Christmas and if there was a DVD choice to be made, it was Jingle All The Way starring yuletide favourites Arnold Schwarzenegger and the lesser known Sinbad.
Not ones to resist peer pressure, The Sleepy Corridor had followed a similar aesthetic route. Cassandra was particularly proud of her toilet roll nativity that she had brought from home. Due to previous complaints of the toilet roll Mary’s incapacity to hold her own toilet role Messiah, Cassandra had fashioned a pair of loving, maternal arms out of green pipe-cleaners, which had been wedged in with the help of a blunt pair of scissors. She had bought cinnamon incense for the bathroom and had moved her all-year-round fairy lights out from her bedroom and into the hallway. For the good of the community. For the moral of all.
Jamie had joined the choir and, under pain of death, so had Sam. She projected as loudly as she could, whilst he mimed, every now and then attempting a note yet recoiling at the unexpected groan. Jamie had of course recognized Sam to be having difficulties and, not one to be outdone, had printed off copies of Gaudete to go with him before bed. She had insisted that Sam be cast a bass, and had manipulated her eyebrows in such a way that this wish had indeed been carried out. Yet, most nights, the final thought to go through her head as she lay in the dark, the miming bass pretending to be asleep next to her, was that he was actually a tenner. Much as she tried to put it from her mind, a nagging deep within told her she could never love a tenner. The pervading stench of cinnamon coming from the bathroom did little to calm her anxiety.
She couldn’t help but sometimes let a guilty thought about the stranger come into her head. She’d heard him singing one morning that week. Good King Wencelas. A true rumble. “Snap out of it,” she’d whisper to herself in the dark, like a self-conscious character in a Jane Austen novel. The miming bass, still pretending to be asleep, would look at Jamie through a secretive squint, noting her eyes to be glowing in the dark. He knew exactly what she was trying to snap out of. And he didn’t like it one bit.
Sarah was visibly happier than she had been in months. Cards had gone up in her room. She had bought a compilation CD. She was handing in essays on time. Unfinished, brash, yet on time.
They’d let the stranger stay, you see. Following a group meeting with Cassandra, it had been agreed that he could stay (“Only ‘till we break up for Christmas, mind!”) as long as he did all the washing up, helped cook, and tidied up the bits of everyone’s rooms the bedders didn’t dare approach. He was, of course, only too happy to do this. Not because he was engaging in seasonal cheer, or indeed because he had no other choice (although these two things did also influence the matter to no small degree). He did it because he knew The Sleepy Corridor could do with a hand.
However, this spirit of good cheer was not to last for long. Little did any inhabitant of The Sleepy Corridor know that when they broke up for the Christmas break this year, only half of them would be returning in January…
Come back on the 24th December for a chilling Christmas Eve climax followed by a special long episode on Boxing Day where all shall be revealed.
Who actually is the stranger? Does he know Sarah? Where did they disappear to on that first, fateful evening? Who was in the Corsa? And will Cassandra ever stop wearing emerald? Untill then, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.