“509… 510..,” Lucas swiveled his head left and right as he walked down the broad, mostly empty hallway. He noticed a couple of students lingering in the fluorescent hall but the fifth floor seemed to be more offices than classrooms. He kept walking. “513… 515!” He stopped in front of a door. He looked through the small window by knob and found a bright class full of eager students. The professor must have cracked a joke because laughter rolled through the room. “That doesn’t feel right,” he mumbled to himself; he dropped his hand that was reaching for the knob and looked down at his schedule again.[MGC 101 – Intro to Basic Arcanum. Professor Regal. Room 515.J]
“J?” He checked the door again: 515. He turned and walked up the hall, he stopped in front of two students that were chatting and found the right door. 515.J was written in black marker on a strip of beige masking tape stuck to the door. The door itself was narrower than the other ones in the hallway and there was no window on it. “Huh,” Lucas shrugged and opened the door.
Immediately, Lucas realized the “J” stood for “janitor.” The sharp scent of cleaning chemicals filled his nose before his eyes adjusted to the closet’s darkness. The lights were off, but the room was small enough that stray hall light illuminated it enough. Other than cleaning supplies and paper goods, the closet was empty.
Despite reminding himself every day since he signed up that it was likely a joke, Lucas was surprised. His shoulder slump must have been visible because he heard giggles from behind him when the wave of disappointment washed over him. He turned to face the students.
One was a pasty chubby guy with a copper-red mohawk striping the center of his bald head. He wore long, loose denim “shorts” that reached his shins and a plain black t-shirt. The girl next to him was almost as plump and pale. Her red hair, the same shade as the student next to her, was pulled into a tight bun atop her head. The pair looked like they could be twins, one of which was the obvious favorite. Even though she wore more or less the same thing her clothes made his look like rags. She wore designer jeans and a black cashmere top.
“Intro to Arcanum?” the girl asked with a pleasant smile. Her question interrupted Lucas’ flash of anger. He assumed they were the ones behind the joke course and they were there solely to laugh at him. Her smile disarmed him and all he could do was nod.
“Us too,” she said. “Once we found the empty closet we thought it would be funny to see who else showed up.” She twisted her wrist to glance at a small gold watch that was worth more than Lucas’ education. He briefly wondered what someone with that kind of money was doing at a community college. “Class,” she said with a thick coating of sarcasm. “starts in about two minutes. Want to wait around with us and see if anyone else signed up?” Lucas hesitated. He was about to decline with a shrug but she sweetened the offer. “I’ll treat us all to some coffee after,” she shrugged. “Class or not, we obviously have some similar interests.
“Yeah. Thank you, I’d really appreciate that,” Lucas said. “I’m Lucas,” he offered her his hand in greeting.”
“Dutchess,” she said with a smile. Then, she pointed her thumb at the other guy. “That’s Haste.” Lucas returned Haste’s polite nod.
“So.. are you guys twins?” Lucas asked. Dutchess laughed and Haste replied.
“No,” he said with a serious tone. He looked up and down the empty hall, then leaned closer. “She’s me from an alternate universe,” he whispered.
“Wh.. what?” Lucas stepped back without realizing it. Dutchess immediately punched Haste’s shoulder.
“Stop scaring people,” she said then turned her attention to Lucas. “Ignore him. Yes, we’re twins. I’m sorry…,” she gave her brother a side-eye glance. “…I’m the one that got all the social graces.”
“I’m the one that knows how to shut up,” Haste grumbled under his breath at Lucas too quiet for Dutchess to hear.
“What was that?” she asked with narrow eyes. Has shrugged.
“Nothing, I’m shutting up,” he said. Lucas smiled at Haste’s joke. He was about to ask more about them but Dutchess spoke up again after she checked her watch.
“Well, time’s up. Let’s go see about some coffee.” As the trio picked a direction 515.J opened from the inside. A tall, lean man with a full golden beard and a matching full head of hair stepped out of the room they all knew was empty. His beard and hair together resembled the mane on a lion. The man’s bushy golden brows added to the look. He wore a dark suit coat with dark slacks. His white shirt was obscured by a rich purple vest. He smiled at the three students.
“Hello class, I’m Regal,” he said.
“No shit..,” Dutchess muttered under her breath.