Chapter 2 – 400 Lux

REED

“Bellview Police! Everyone get out your ID’s and freeze!”

 

“SHIT! EVERYONE RUN!” I scream while hysterically laughing. This is not the first time I’ve been at a crashed party when it was crashed. As my classmates run for the obvious exits, I decide to change it up a bit. Instead of running out the front or back doors, I sprint towards a stairway I saw some people use earlier in the night.

 

The party may have been my first while in college, but it wasn’t my first college party. I run with ease past various articles of clothing, beer cans, plates of half-eaten food, and even a sleeping person. (I didn’t have time to wake them up. I mean, if they could sleep through the sirens, there’s no way I could wake them up with ease.) I make it to the top of the stairs after dodging another pile of trash. Without thinking, I hurry down the steps.

 

I’m soon to realize I took the wrong staircase as I find myself running into darkness.

 

Shit.

 

Damn it, I’m lost. So this is what it feels like to be a freshman. Thank God no one is watching me. Unless that sleeping person woke up… Shit. Regardless of my surroundings, I have no choice but to keep going. Down the stairs I go.

 

I hear the voices of a few officers as I reach the bottom of the stairs. I’m in the basement. Perfect. At least the lights are off. No one can see me down here.

 

I grab my phone out of my pocket for a flash light and venture through the basement. I find furniture covered in dusty sheets, a bunch of empty beer kegs, and cardboard boxes full of clothes and various unimportant stuff before finding a huge wardrobe.

 

“Bingo,” I whisper. “Take me to Narnia,” I laugh to myself as I open up the wardrobe to find my wishes ignored. My minor laughter dies as I learn the inside of the wardrobe was not another world, but indeed, just another wardrobe.

 

Disappointing, right? Just like reality. Sometimes you just want to find an escape from everything, but instead find just a bunch of Bellview Bangels lettermen jackets hanging on a cold metal rod. Despite my disappointment, I know the wardrobe was my only possibility of escaping the cops, and my time was running out. I hear more movement upstairs and have no choice but to hide behind the bar the jackets were hanging from.

 

Ha, I’m hiding behind one bar to avoid being stuck behind several bars. Hopefully it works.

 

“You go search the basement, I’m going to get the ones hiding in the bushes outside. If you find anyone, you cuff them and bring them to me, got it?” I hear one cop, I’m assuming the sheriff, say to another as I shut the wardrobe’s doors.

 

“Got it!” The other cop replies. I hear footsteps slowly grow more and more distant and assume they belong to the sheriff leaving to go look for the kids in the bushes.

 

As the footsteps fade, I remember the other cop is coming to look for me. I hear his feet shuffle, the noise louder due to how much closer he was. Here we go, here he comes.

Seconds pass before any more noise is created. Was the cop gone already? More time goes by with silence being the loudest noise, and I feel a smile of relief begin to form on my face. I move slightly to make sure the officer was gone, trying to not interrupt the convenient silence.  However, my attempt at silence fails as a hanger scratches against the rusty bar above my head. I notice the sharp spotlight of the officer’s flashlight respond to the noise, shining in the direction of the wardrobe. I try to remain as still as possible as my hope sinks.

 

“Anyone down here?” He asks as if anyone would answer. I hear him begin walk down the stairs.

 

Yeah! I’m right here officer!

 

What kind of dumb question is that? This guy must be new. I hear him slowly make his way down the stairs. He seemed to be very cautious of his surroundings, as if he was afraid of the dark.

 

“God is it creepy down here…”

 

So I was right. Awesome, he’s not only new, but also easily terrified. This guy was born to be a cop.

 

“It’s so dark down here-” Officer Made-For-The-Job begins, but was interrupted by the sound of beer kegs hitting the floor. Clearly, the officer could also be considered a klutz. I listen as the kegs roll around on the ground. “Owwwww…” I hear him add on.

 

My mistake. Officer Made-For-The-Job was interrupted by himself hitting the floor, along with the kegs.

 

As I try so hard to not bust out laughing, I hear the sound of the officer’s walker-talkie go off before receiving a message. Hopefully he knows how to operate it…

 

“Everything okay down there? Have you found anyone, Greg?”

Huh, looks like Officer Made-For-The-Job actually has a name.

“No sir, still looking.” Greg responds, clearly pained.

 

“Good, I’m positive I saw a few run down there. Stupid freshman, thinking they already own the place.”

 

Wait, did Greg’s boss just call me stupid? Hold up sir- I’m not the one who hired an idiot to be a police officer. No, I just ran down the wrong staircase at my first crashed college party. That doesn’t make me stupid. My GPA, on the other hand, that might make me stupid. But Sheriff Assumptious doesn’t know about my GPA, or my life! So he shouldn’t be calling me stupid. He’s stupid.

 

“Alright,” Greg interrupts his boss, “…if anyone heard that he didn’t mean it. We’re just having a rough day…”

 

Awe, tell us about it, Greg.

 

“Let’s see now, where could you be?”

 

Officer Greg, at it again with the stupid questions!

 

To answer it, Greg, I’m in the wardrobe you shined a light on earlier, but I’d much rather be in Narnia. Regardless of that, however, here we are, in the basement of a frat house you are afraid of with just me and this extremely disappointing wardrobe.

 

Suddenly, the wardrobe’s door creaks open slightly so that a crack of light shines in. The noise catches both the officer and I by surprise.

 

“Oh! Could you be in this wardrobe?”

 

Shit. No. I’m in Narnia. I close my eyes in attempt to escape. I shouldn’t have called the wardrobe disappointing. Maybe the wardrobe actually is magic and now it’s getting its revenge on me by making random noises.

 

I hear the door to the wardrobe open completely and feel Greg shine his light inside.

 

“Woah,” He says as he reaches out to touch one of the letterman jackets. “They’re so soft,”

 

What the fuck? Greg, are you high?

 

Greg brakes his stare from one jacket to feel the next, and the next, and the next, and so on. The light from his flashlight comes closer by the second as he reaches for the next jacket. He repeats the irritating process and the tension becomes nearly unbearable. For whatever godforsaken reason, the world’s strangest cop had to touch every single jacket in the wardrobe… that is, at least, until his light shined on my face before he could reach the last jacket. Before he could touch it, the cop sees me, finally, and jumps back while letting out a high pitched scream.

 

“Holy crap! You scared the crap out of me!”

 

Crap? The guy couldn’t even swear? Oh God, come on!

 

Like I said, easily terrified.

 

“I mean you- you’re coming with me.” He says in attempt to regain his dignity. At little late for that, wouldn’t you agree, Greg?

 

“Damn it,” I whisper as he pulls me out of the wardrobe. I offer my hands and he cuffs me.

 

“Sorry about the sheriff, he didn’t mean it when he called you stupid. He never means it.”

 

“Is that what he told you?” I ask as if speaking to a child, amazed at his stupidity. Unsurprisingly, my comment goes over his head. Instead, he reaches for his walkie talkie.

 

“Got him, coming up.” He then lets me pass to go back upstairs. He follows behind me.

 

We get to the place the party was moments ago and Greg walks over to a table where some left over snacks were left.

 

“You know, the parties you all throw may be crazy, but these brownies… they’re crazier.”

 

Oh. My. God. I was right.

 

“You think so?” I ask as if speaking to a child once again. I try not to show how hilarious this is on my face.

 

“Yeah! Whoever baked these better be majoring in foods, they’re delicious.” He comments, obliviously.

 

“Yeah, whoever made them is surely great at baking things,” I say sarcastically, knowing Greg wouldn’t catch on. “Hey, would you mind handing me one? I haven’t had one yet,”

 

Ha! That was a lie.

 

“Sure, I mean. I probably ruined your night. It’s the least I can do.” Greg says calmly, showing me the best baked grin I’ve ever seen.

 

“Don’t worry, man.” I say as I am given a brownie. “You haven’t ruined anything.” I say as we hear his walkie talkie go off again. He takes his time reaching for it as the sheriff talks,

 

“My car is full. I’ll meet you at the police station. Don’t be long, okay?”

 

“Yes sir,” Greg replies. He puts the walkie talkie away and looks back at the plate of brownies. “You know food is good when the more you eat the hungrier you get…” He reaches for the rest of the plate, with eight brownies still left. “I’m taking these.”

 

This will be fun.

 

“Alright, let’s go.” He says, gesturing to the front door with a large smile on his face. I walk out before him and continue to talk.

 

“So from how I take it, you’re new to this job, right?” I ask, as I hear the door behind me open and close and open and close and open… “Greg?” I ask, turning around, hearing the door open and close several more times.

 

There I see Greg, brownies in one hand, the other on the doorknob. He’s laughing to himself while staring at the door lock of the frat house, opening and closing it over and over again, entertained beyond distraction. The guy was higher than a kite.

 

“Greg!” I shout, finally able to grab his attention. He responds, calmer than ever, while keeping his eye on the lock.

 

“You know, kid, doors are so beautiful. The way they can just separate two areas is just so… so…” Greg tries but fails to complete his thoughts.

 

“Nice?” I ask, attempt to finish his sentence.

 

“Yes!” He shouts, finally taking his gaze off the lock. “Nice! That explains it perfectly!”

 

“Alright, Greg,” I say through laughter. “Tell me, have you ever seen the rest of the campus?”

 

“Actually, no. I just started the job today.”

 

I would’ve never guessed that one.

 

“…I was so nervous, but it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.” Greg explains while we make our way to the cop car. “Sometimes you just gotta relaaaaax a little, ya know? Not overreact all the time?”

 

“Oh, I know.” I say, as he lets me into the backseat. “I’ve just had a rough day; I really need to relaaaaax too.” By the time I finish my sentence, I’m sitting in the backseat and Greg is eating another brownie. He notices that I stopped talking and through a mouth full of brownie, replies,

 

“Oh, sorry. Did you want another one? There’s plenty.”

 

“I would love another one, but not for a while. I want to show you around the campus first.” I reply as he swallows more of the mysteriously delicious brownies.

 

“I’m bringing them into the front seat, though. You won’t be able to eat them from-” Greg begins but is interrupted by his thoughts. He eyes grow wide as he shouts, “WAIT!” He shouts, his voice, matching the expression of a scientist who just found the cure to cancer. “Why don’t you just sit up front? That way we can share the brownies!”

 

“Perfect!” I say, not believing this was actually happening. I shuffle my feet to step out of the backseat as his moves out of the way of the door. “You’re full of great ideas, buddy.” I say as I walk over to the passenger’s side. Greg watches as I walk past, and doesn’t move for a few seconds until he realizes he needs to open the door for me to get in. He walks over quickly, while replying,

 

“You really mean that? You think I’m full of great ideas?” The officer asks, his voice reminiscent of an excited child. I strangely have the slighting feeling of sadness for him.

 

I watch as the intoxicated Greg walks over and stands beside me. He doesn’t reach for the door handle right away, though. He seemed to be waiting for a response.

 

“Uh, yeah, Greg… I do.” I reply awkwardly.

 

“That’s so nice of you! No one has ever said something like that before to me!” Greg shouts as he embraces me for a tight hug. He eventually let’s go, but only after several seconds of squeezing. His hug is followed by a reach for the handle. “Here you go,” He says delightfully while opening the door.

 

“Thanks, Greg,” I say, even more awkwardly then before. Despite the momentary awkwardness, however, the situation was still hilarious. “Let’s go see the campus!” I say, trying to compensate for my awkward thankfulness.

 

“Yeah! We can even turn on the sirens and sing along to the radio, if you’d like.” Greg proposes as he gets in the passenger seat.

 

“Whatever you want, buddy.” I respond, lightly brushing my fist against his shoulder, in attempt to show that I’m still handcuffed.  I thought that with how high he is; Greg might unlock them for me without even thinking about it. And even if he doesn’t, it’s not like it’s going to hurt anything.

 

“Oh God, you’re still in hand cuffs! Here, take them off,” He says, scrambling to find his keys.

 

Hell yes. It worked.

 

He eventually finds them and picks out the key that unlocks the cuffs. He hands the key to me while apologizing. “I’m so sorry. I thought you might have been a threat back there, clearly you aren’t!”

 

I unlock the cuffs and hand both the keys and the cuffs back to Greg, who just leaves them on his lap.

 

“Time to cruise!” He says as he puts the car in drive. We leave the frat house while cheering and turn on the sirens as we venture all over campus. The blue and red of the lights illuminate the streets as the mystery brownies taint our veins. We blare the radio and sing at the top of our lungs to songs I’ve never heard before. The once annoying Officer Greg evolves into one of the coolest people I’ve met so far in college. We speed down the bridge towards my dorm as the clock on the dash reaches 2 AM. I stick my head out of the window, shouting in attempt to show the entire campus how happy I am. And in that moment, in the passenger seat of a cop car, I felt on top of the world.

 

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