The explosive pop of gunfire bounced off the cinder block walls, mixed with the rapid pounding chords of an angry guitar, and echoed out through the dorm’s open windows. The first rifle was joined by a second.Then a third. Before Austin knew what was happening, it stopped.
Blood ran down the television screen and the dreaded white words appeared. Game Over.
“Dirty! Camping! Butt-munching sex badgers!” He dropped the controller onto the coffee table and snatched up the massive energy drink. “Did you see that? Glitch twitching jagoffs came through the wall.”
Jacob looked up from the books laid out in an even line across his desk. He shrugged and pointed at his ears. “What? I can’t hear you over the sound of Herman Li murdering my eardrums.”
Austin reached up and turned down the knob on the massive stereo hanging above the television. “You have no appreciation for the modern classics, man. Our grandkids will put DragonForce on the same pedestal as AC/DC and Alice Cooper.”
“So, on the butt-rock station, crammed between commercials for dating sites and monster truck rallies.”
“Whatever, I saw your foot tapping.” Austin crashed back down on the couch and snatched the controller back up off the table. “Ah, dick-balls. They dropped. Douches cheat and run.”
“Yeah,” Jacob muttered. “If you can’t find a pick-up match you might actually have to do some homework to pass the time.”
“I have a plan for that. I’m going to wait until the last minute and then guilt you into doing it. You know…. Like I do every semester.”
“Come on, man. We’ve got four months until the real world. You better believe I’m not going to come to your job and do your work for you, too.” Jacob picked up his books and shoved them into his backpack. “I’m gonna hit the library. I’ve got two papers due next week and I don’t have anyone to push my work off on.”
“Today was the second day of class. How could you possibly have papers due already?”
“Some of us have a future.” Jacob grabbed his notebook of the desk, knocking over a stack of papers and sending them scattering across the tile floor. “Damn it! That was two hours of work.”
Austin paused the game. “That is god’s way of telling you to take a break.” He grabbed the second controller and held it out. “Come on. We can go old school. Pop in some Gauntlet and order some greasy pizza. It’ll be like freshman year all over again.”
“Where’d this come from?” Jacob held up a pink envelope, his name written on it with glittery purple ink. “Did you put this on my desk?”
“Oh, yeah. It was on the floor by the door when I came back for the first nap. I figured you dropped it. Why? What is it?”
Jacob turned the envelope over. The seal was held in place by a sticker—a cartoon kangaroo wearing aviator sunglasses, smiling and giving a thumbs-up. “No name or return address. Somebody must have slipped it under the door.”
“Ooooh. Mystery letter,” Austin said. He hopped up from the couch and snatched the envelope from Jacob’s hands. He raised it to his face and sniffed it. “Awe… No perfume. Bummer. I thought it might be something sexy.”
Jacob took the envelope back from him and tore it open. Glitter puffed out as he pulled the card inside free.
“Careful. That coulda been anthrax or something,” Austin said, but he flopped back down on the couch and unpaused his game.
“You think terrorists are gonna mix their anthrax with glitter and send it to a college kid?” Jacob asked. The front of the card was a postcard image of green cliffs dropping into a pale blue ocean. Orange and yellow letters drawn to resemble a sunset read “Greetings from the Copper Coast.” The only thing inside the card was a small note and address written in purple ink. “I like kangaroos, too. XOXO, Hannah.”
“Don’t know. 1531 Cooper? You know where that is?” Jacob sat back down at his desk and cracked open his laptop. “I think that’s over by the square.”
“It’s a bar,” Austin said. “1531 Cooper. It’s one of those dueling piano places. They do trivia on Tuesdays and do a theme night each Thursday. It’d be right up your alley. I mean, if you didn’t have a broom shoved up your crapper and an irrational fear of bar stools.”
“It’s not irrational.” Jacob pulled up the bar’s website. “Tonight’s theme is ‘Shrimp on the Barbie’.”
“The plot thickens,” Austin said. He clicked turned off the television and stood up. “So we gonna go and meet your mystery woman or what?”
“I don’t know, man. What kind of girl slips an envelope under the door? I don’t even know what she looks like. What if she’s a serial killer or drug kingpin–”
“–or a dude. Hannah could be a dude’s name. Come to think of it, in the four years we’ve been roomies, I’ve never seen you go on a date. A dude named Hannah might be your bag. If it is, I support you.” Austin widened his eyes and smiled. “I just want you to be happy. So let’s go to the bar and meet your prince.”
Jacob flipped the card over-and-over in his hands then tossed it back on his desk. “I can’t. I’ve got too much work to do to run off and meet some mystery lady.”
“That’s bunk and you know it. Come on,” Austin grabbed Jacob’s arm and pulled him out of the chair. “You do this tonight and I’ll do my own homework for the rest of the semester. What have you got to lose?”
Jacob sighed and tossed his backpack over his shoulder. “Fine, but I’m bringing my homework with me and if things go bad, we’re blowing it off and going with me to the library.”
“Alright. Deal,” Austin said. “But, if it goes awesome, I’m reneging on the homework thing.”
Jacob shrugged. “I guess we’ll see.”
“We will indeed,” Austin said, locking the door behind them. “We will indeed.”