Prologue: Lies Among the Stars

The hallways leaned together, the walls a blur where the brick met tile, and where the wall met the floor. The sound of the high pitched siren echoed in the space untouched by the wavering walls, the unending ring slurred across the imitation lanterns. The sound of packing students was but a silence to one noise that unified the opened dorm rooms and hastily tossed out bags. Shoes, clothes, bedding, food, and even a refrigerator invaded the hallways where the cramp quarters saw girls slough over their belongings that unceremoniously breached into each other. Scarcely a person over eighteen directed their hasty retreat, much like the red papers balled to the end of the hallway. Voices occasionally pitched high into the hall, before disappearing again. 

The siren had fleshed out a space, sputtering in its withdrawal back into the dark, where the first scream of the night re-settled the moving walls and the moving people. The pained scream was followed by silence. The silence of the unknown; a withered figure too dark to see lurked behind them. 

The girls in the hall whispered along a trail to one another, their faces drawn together with their eyebrows pinched tight. Their hands clenched various necessities; one girl a matted stuffed animal, another, her car keys. The scream was distant, across the common area. Muffled and then silenced almost instantaneously with no more a peep, a mere whisper from the stares that shined in the imitation lanterns; eyes that were dark with contemplation, wrinkled in concentration, and squeezed tightly closed on young faces.

She was the only one to not pack, watching the panicked girls wrestle with their own patience, squeezing silent tears down their faces. The girl she lived beside darted into the bathroom to retch into the sink. A wretched sputter was followed by loud sobs and the comforting pats of the girl nearest her.

One girl pulled the other, and the other pushed back. It was like a messy spider web; they lacked the ability to catch their prey but the bond amongst the girls was unbreakable spider silk. But she was nothing. Not a spider, nor a friend , nor a bug caught in their web. The space was empty in front of her and a space was empty inside her. 

A loud shattering sound was heard far in the distance and it awoke them from their haunting waking-sleep, tightening their web. Where silence hung like an uncertain entity in the air, it was ruptured by the voices screaming down the line to one another. Items were shoved quickly into bags and the rest forgotten in piles at the entrance of their rooms. 

The girls precariously made their way to the back of the hall and out the door. Their voices tightly held together in the stairwell, between clamoring steps, pitched high into the ceiling, higher and higher, until it found no way between the railing and the cement steps, dying in the cold echo of the stairwell. 

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