I had been fucking Birdie all night and all morning, and finally I was getting tired of it. I hadn’t come, couldn’t come. So now it was time to get her the fuck out of my room. She dried out an hour ago, and she was done. I would’ve had her leave and walk home by herself, but she made me feel bad.
Birdie was going on about how the worlds going to end. “So you know, Edgar Cayce said that Atlantis was going to rise in 1999, which is this year. Right now. The oceanographers have been testing all kinds of weird stuff surfacing from the bottom of the ocean. And people all over been showing up with these weird hexagram tattoos on their hands and their faces, and a lot of them can’t even explain how they got them. I think it’s the Mark of the Beast or something.”
“Yeah, OK, the world’s ending.”
“This is important Ram! Haven’t you ever read the Bible?”
“Not really. My head hurts.”
“Do you think it’s because you drank too much that you couldn’t come?”
“Maybe. I don’t really want to talk about that either.”
“Listen Ram, it’s the end of the millennium. It’s 1999. This is a big year for astrology and it’s a big year for prophecy. Stuff is happening right now and we have to pay attention.”
We reached her door, and I went to give her a kiss. She put her finger on my lips and blocked me. I shut my eyes. I was really annoyed. “Does this mean I’m your girlfriend now?”
I leaned back and shook my head. “Can we talk about this when my head doesn’t hurt so much? I got to go back and get some sleep.”
She leaned forward and gave me gave me a little peck on the cheek. She whispered, “you’re such an asshole.”
I trudged back from her dorm up the hill to the Beta Sig house. The door slammed behind me, and the guys were all sitting in the cafeteria, watching TV. Their heads swiveled, saw me and started shouting. “BEAST! BEAST! BEAST! BEAST!” They were stomping their feet, hollering. It was disgusting.
I screamed: “SHUT THE FUCK UP! I HAVE A HEADACHE GODDAMNIT!”
“We heard her moaning all night! She’s totally your girlfriend now! You’re screwed dude!“
“She’s not my girlfriend! She’s just around all the time so we hook up. Yeah, I fucked her all night, but I couldn’t come. So that’s got to be a sign we’re not supposed to be together.”
The cafeteria erupted in laughter. “What’s wrong? Scared of a little birdie?”
“Man, fuck you guys. I’m going to bed.” I stomped up to the second floor. I had left my door open, and there was too much fucking light in my room. I slammed the door, got into my dirty, stinky bed, put my head under the covers and passed out.
I woke up to someone pounding my door; as dark as my room was now, I must have slept the whole day. I opened up to Hank, looking lost and jittery. I walked back to my bed and got in. He dumped himself on my couch and lit a cigarette. My eyes hurt and my head was pounding. Fucking brown liquor. Never again.
“Man, you would just think that God took a big shit on you? Like there was some cosmic joke with him and the angels, and you’re the dumb ass who has to go around getting laughed at all the time?” Hank was too smart; he kept himself wired on caffeine, trying to do a physics major, and making himself sick with worry while he did practice equations.
I groaned. “If you’re going to talk bullshit to me, at least give me a smoke.” I sat up, he passed me his lit cigarette and lit a second one for himself.
“You’re not a joke, Ram. I am. You’re a good-looking guy, you’re a fraternity president, you’re in college, you’re probably going to get some rich banker job and have a heart attack and die when you’re forty-five or something. You’re like the living American dream. Every girl wants to sleep with you, every guy wants to be you, you’re like the king of this fucking shithole college.”
“Hank, I’m not the guy to talk you down from the side of a building. My life is just fucking pointless. Like, why even go to college? Why do anything? Birdie was telling me this morning that the world is going to end. I’m kind of excited about it. I wish it was over right now.”
“It’s coming up, man. January 1st, 2000, 12:00 AM, we’re all dead. It’s been foretold.”
“You’re a scientist, for fucks sake. Who says that day, that time, those prophecies mean anything? The guy who wrote it was probably high. It was a thousands of years ago. They didn’t know anything, just like we don’t know anything. Nothing’s ever going to change.”
“Atlantis came up, dude. The dead are rising out of their graves. Plagues of locusts are devouring everything again.”
“I’m going to take away your radio if you keep staying up all night listening to Art Bell.”
“I’m learning all this shit, all this higher order math, and I just think it isn’t going to make a difference to anyone. You get to the edge of the circle, you see the set of all the numbers you’re graphing, and there’s nothing there. I thought I was going to transcend this existence by the time I got this far in my studies, but I’m still the same Hank, just an asshole who’s going to be selling insurance in a couple years because no one pays anyone to do this kind of work.”
“We got to get ready for chapter tonight. It’s ritual practice. I got to make sure none of you fuck it up when the pledges get initiated. Get the fuck out of here so I can take a shower.”
Hank left, I stubbed out the smoke and got my shower stuff from the under the bed. Birdie must have bit me overnight; one my pecs was starting to swell up. It looked like a huge bug bite. Damnit.
I got myself showered and cleaned up, and met the executive officers in the chapter hall in the basement. We got our robes on and were walking around the pillars lighting the candles when Damon burst in. “There’s a demon at the door, a fucking demon!“
Hank was pissed. He had just gotten his candle lit. “What the fuck man, what’s going on?”
“There’s a demon at the door, he wants you, he wants you, Ram!
“That’s bullshit man, demons don’t just walk around. You’re fucking crazy.”
I set my lighter down and the guys crowded around behind me as I walked to the door. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but I forced myself to be calm. I swung the door open, got scared shitless. There was a huge figure there on the doorstep, with a peaked purple hood and mask, and a purple robe. He must have been ten feet tall, silhouetted in the darkness. I looked over his shoulder and I saw a bunch of robed and hooded figures with torches in the darkness outside. A dog was barking somewhere.
When he spoke, he sounded like the fucking crypt keeper, deep and resonant. “Robert Beezle, called Ram, son of John, today you inherit the kingdom. Come with us.”
I shouted back “Who the fuck are you? Are you the Klan?” The whole house was behind me now, thirty guys, all ready to brawl.
“We’re not the Klan. We are the Penitents. We serve the drowned god. We demand your presence. Come with us.”
He reached out and put a huge hand on my shoulder. I jumped back and screamed: “Fuck him up, Betas!” Then the fucking melee started.