Alarms

Vivian trudged from her last class of the day, feeling sore.  There was no rest in sight for her.  The night would consist of a few hurried hours of studying, followed by a six to midnight shift at the diner.

As she passed the line of student apartments a yard sale caught her eye.  Vivian was broke enough that she didn’t pass up a way to get cheap cloths.

Marcy from her chem class was there, manning a cash drawer.  “You’re not leaving, are you?” Vivian asked.

“No,” Marcy said with a sigh, “my room mate left.  No warning, and now I’ve got no one to split the rent with.”

“Connie?  When did she leave?” Vivian asked.  Had she really been so tired she hadn’t noticed one of her classmates missing?  Her eyes were scanning the table, looking over the tops, a lamp and some text books. 

“She just vanished, didn’t come back to our room one night, about a week ago,” Marcy said.  “Her folks came and picked up most of her stuff, said I could keep whatever they forgot.  They haven’t heard from her either.”

“Wonder where she went.” Vivian asked.

“Probably after some guy,” Marcy muttered.

Vivian picked a tablet off the table.  “You don’t want this?” she asked.

“No, my parents got me one for Christmas.  Besides, like I said, I’ve got no one to split the rent with now.”

“You want fifty bucks for it?” Vivian asked, reading the price sticker.

“Eh,” Marcy said, “I don’t even know if it works.  D’you want to give me twenty five for it?’

“I can handle that,” Vivian said.  She figured she could get at least that much back if she sold it on one of those broken electronic websites.  She paid Marcy, and headed for the library, her new tablet in hand.

As she walked, she pressed the power button, half expecting it not to turn on at all.  It did, though, the welcome screen flashing merrily.  “Aren’t you a pleasant surprise,” Vivian said.  She carried it into the library with her, and it connected to the wireless without a problem.

The problem came when she tried to go into the reference room.  The tablets alarm app opened, and started to make a high pitched, screeching sound.  A man, possibly homeless, was napping in a corner chair.  He had a baseball cap pulled down over his face, but he looked up when the noise started.  She couldn’t see his face, but she was pretty sure he wasn’t smiling.

“Sorry, sorry,” Vivian said.  She turned down the volume on the side, but it failed to get any lower.

People were starting to mutter.  Vivian desperately held down the power button.  It finally shut off.  Vivian shoved it in her bag, and left the room.

Deciding that this study session might just be a bust, she headed to work, figuring she’d read some before her shift started.

Later that night, during her break, Vivian hesitantly turned the tablet back on, expecting noise.  The tablet came on silently, though, and worked without a problem.  She chalked the earlier incident up to goofy electronics.

The next day Vivian planned to spend the whole morning at the library, to make up for the time lost the day before.  As a precaution, she turned the alarm application off.

She settled to work, her notebooks and supplies scattered all across a long table.  The tablet was working fine.

“Hey,” a voice said behind her.  Vivian turned to see Mark, who had an econ with her.  He also had stunning green eyes and really broad shoulders.

“Oh, hey,” Vivian said, praying that her smile didn’t look stupid. 

“Do you remember me from class?” he asked.

“Yeah, Mark right?” Vivian said, as though she had forgotten.

“Yeah,” he said.  “You were like the only one to get a good grade on that last paper.”

“Well, I mean, it’s just what I’m good at, I guess,” Vivian said.

“It’s sure not what I’m good at,” Mark said, wincing.

“We can study together, if you want,” Vivian said.  Her face felt numb, she wasn’t used to getting this lucky.

“That would be great,” Mark said, “My mom’s going to kill me if I flunk this class.”

“That would be a tragedy,” Vivian said, glancing behind him as the homeless man from the day before walked behind Mark.

He started to pull out his books, and she made room on the table for him. Then, the tablet’s alarm started to go off again, high and piercing like a woman’s scream.

Mark Jumped. Vivian grabbed up the tablet and tried to shut it off. It didn’t respond at all to her frantic button mashing.

“Sorry,” Vivian said, trying to give Mark a casual smile while her tablet continued to lose its mind. Finally she shut it off, her face red.

“That’s okay,” he said, laughing. “It happens. Mine went off in one of my classes one time, and I thought the professor was going to skin me.”

Later that night, Vivian made her way home after her shift. She was sore, and sleepy, and elated. Mark had asked her to a movie tomorrow night, her first college date. She felt lighter than she had in some time.

That is, until her tablet’s alarm started to go off again.

“Ugh, you stupid thing!” she cried. She knelt on the pavement, and pulled the tablet from her bag to silence it.

That’s when she heard a slithering sound behind her.

Vivian stood up, grabbing her bag in one hand and the screaming tablet in the other.

There was a homeless man, with a ball cap plled over his face. Vivian was sure it was the same one she’d seen hanging out around the library the last few days. Last few months, now that she thought of it. She’d started seeing him about the same time Connie had vanished, according to Marcy.

He walked towards her, but here seemed to be something wrong with how he was walking. It seemed smooth, almost serpentine.

“Hey,” Vivian said, holding her bag closer to her.

The man didn’t respond. He lifted his head, revealing yellow eyes and black, scaled skin. As he slithered towards her, he opened is mouth to reveal sharp, long teeth.

Vivian screamed, and tried to run. Before she could, he was on her, his fangs sunk deep into the area where her neck and shoulder met.

The tablet dropped to the ground, and screamed. And screamed and screamed.

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