Jennifer staggers down the walkway of the sorority house, her awkward movements caused by fatigue instead of alcohol. One of the sisters starts walking toward the younger woman, a joyous grin appearing at the thought of yelling at someone. She skids to a stop when her potential victim yawn so wide that the sound reminds everyone of a lion. Wavering on her feet, Jennifer rubs her eyes and makes it to the door where she nearly falls asleep with her forehead against the poster-covered wood. She slaps herself in the face and gets inside where she holds up a textbook as a sign that she was studying. Approached by two more members, she breathes in their faces to prove she has not been drinking. The mixture of soda and hot peppers nearly knocks one of them out, the other struggling not to gag. She remains in front of them until they jerk their thumbs at the staircase and go back to a paused video game.
With a lopsided smile, Jennifer takes the steps by twos and stays against the wall to avoid falling over. Making way for a group going out for the night, she gradually goes down the hallway. She pops a cough drop into her mouth as she reaches her door, a pang of anxiety striking her stomach. Putting her ear against the lock, Jennifer carefully listens for movement and voices. Hearing some shuffling and muffled words, she knocks three times and wiggles the knob to give her roommate a warning. When her neighbor steps out, she puts a finger to her lips and waves the drunken girl away. Bracing herself for the worst, the red-haired woman opens the door and walks into a situation that she has always feared.
“Dear God, you’re naked and on top of him,” Jennifer blurts out as she turns her back on her roommate. To her chagrin, a new mirror has been hung from the door and she is forced to close her eyes. “Most people put something on the doorknob or leave a note. Even so, I knocked and made enough noise to let you know I was outside. You could have at least thrown something over yourself or . . . dismounted.”
“Nothing can be done in the heat of the moment,” Natalie casually says while she gets off her nervous boyfriend. She smacks his hands when he tries to cover himself up, but he manages to pull the covers up to his neck. “Don’t be such a prude. Not like you have anything she hasn’t seen some version of. Well, I’m not done with our romantic evening. So, you either go somewhere else or try to sleep over there. Keep in mind that staying here will result in me spreading the word that you’re a voyeur.”
Unable to keep her eyes closed without falling asleep, Jennifer does her best to walk further into the room and avert her gaze. “I’m too tired to deal with this, but you’re not giving me much of a choice. Please stop being a bitch to me for tonight and I’ll give you the room tomorrow. I just want to sleep. If I go to the lounge then all the noise will keep me up and I won’t be able to get to my classes.”
“Don’t say a word because you’ve already disappointed me once tonight,” the black-haired roommate snaps, stopping her muscular boyfriend from speaking. Moving to remain in the other girl’s line of sight, she puts her hands behind her back to help push out her chest. “I don’t really care about your classes. Flunk out and let me get a single because this place would be better without you. Always practicing your lines and never let me smoke in here. I should be with my best friend down the hall, but they had to put me with you. The only way I can get rid of you is for you to quit as a pledge or as a student. Considering how much I hate you, I want you out of the school.”
“Why do you hate me so much?”
“Because you’re annoying.”
“We’ve only known each other for half a semester.”
“And it feels like years.”
“Fine, I’ll try to sleep in the lounge. Have fun bumping herpes sores.”
Jennifer angrily slams the door behind her, which causes the mirror to fall and smash against the floor. With a victorious smile, Natalie locks the deadbolt and skips over to the bed where she yanks the covers off her boyfriend. She is about to crawl onto the narrow mattress when a cold breeze strikes her skin and threatens to calm her down. The irritated woman reaches over to turn off her roommate’s desktop fan and violently yanks the plug out of the socket. Using a scissor to cut the cord, Natalie drops the broken device in the garbage and happily skips back to the bed where her boyfriend is starting to fall asleep. A stronger blast of cold air hits her, the frigid gale giving her goosebumps and making her shiver. The blinds move to reveal the open window where a raven is calmly sitting, its back to the room.
“Get lost, bird,” Natalie hisses as she shoves the animal away. Closing and locking the window, she flips off a person outside who pulls out a camera to take her picture. “Why did you turn on the fan and open the window? We barely did anything that would make you work up a sweat. Wake up, James, because I’m not done with you.”
“Weren’t you a little too mean to her?” the young man asks while grabbing a nearby water bottle. He gets up to stretch his legs and rub his back, the cheap mattress and box spring making his muscles ache. “I know that you don’t like her, but having sex to get her out of the room might be a bit too far. Kind of tough to stay in the moment too. Not that seeing you naked isn’t helping, but I keep fearing that she’ll come back in.”
Tiptoeing to the door to avoid the glass, she closes the chain lock and rattles the knob to prove it will not open. “Even a key can’t get her back inside, so she’s gone for the night. Look, I’m really sorry about putting you in an awkward position. Let me make it up to you for the rest of the night. All I ask is that we have sex in her bed. Give me that one gift and I will make it worth your while for a month.”
“That’s why you changed her sheets,” James mutters as he wonders if he has any control over the situation. Eyeing the other bed, he notices that it looks more comfortable than the creaky one that his girlfriend was given. “My back and knees could really use a break. Not that I’m saying we stop, but the springs over here keep poking me. Do we have to tell her that we did anything? That sounds like something you could get in trouble for. I mean, me and the guys have certain rules when it comes to this. One of them is that you don’t have sex in a roommate’s bed unless you’re ready to buy them new sheets. After all, things happen when you really get into it like that time last week.”
“You’re never going to stop gloating about that one,” the black-haired woman says, a faint smile on her face. Running a finger along Jennifer’s desk, she sits in the chair and shifts until she is comfortable. “As far as I know, there is no rule against it, but I would only get in trouble if she finds out. You’d never tell her about what we’re doing because you don’t want to upset me. My back would appreciate the change too. Please, let me ride you on my roommate’s bed, which has a better bounce.”
James hesitates until Natalie licks her lips and stretches her arms over her head, a lustful look in her eyes. Unable to hold back his desire, the young man finishes his water bottle and grabs a condom from a jar. He gives a final look at his girlfriend, who shows no sign of changing her mind. As she gets to her feet, James pulls back the heavy blanket and jumps into Jennifer’s bed. The instant he lies down, the bed snaps shut with enough force to break his spine and slowly suffocate him in the soft material. His toes stick out of the top of the folded mattress, only one of them twitching.
Natalie grabs James’s flailing arm and tries to pull him free, but the limb tears off at the shoulder. She chokes back a scream out of fear of being blamed for what she assumes is a horrible accident. With people knowing about her aggression and pranks toward Jennifer, it would not be a surprise for anyone to consider she boobytrapped the bed. Her mind spiraling into paranoia and panic, Natalie drops the arm and backs to the door. The soles of her feet are sliced up by the broken mirror, the pain momentarily snapping her out of her fear. She turns around to undo the chain, but her arms shake too much for her to get it open. Backing to the middle of the room, she looks down at her bloody footprints. A burning pain runs through her body and she holds up her hand to watch a glass shard come out of her palm. Coughing up blood, Natalie feels more of the mirror pieces weave their way through her insides. Amazed that she is aware of what is happening, the black-haired woman collapses to the floor and reaches out to take her boyfriend’s severed arm. The last thing she sees is her vision splitting as two shards slowly push out through her eyes.