I didn’t set alarms when I stayed in hotels. It ruined the luxury.

Rita’s might not be five stars, but it beat the hell out of the back seat of a six-wheeler or the alleyway of some drugged-up addict who didn’t care I was thirteen. Those first few years had been a struggle of will. In and out of shelters, on and off the streets. These were better days now. I’d learned enough in the last six years – not to mention grown curves and a pair of tits – that it wasn’t very often I slept on the streets anymore. Still, any hotel, any space of my own? That was a luxury. And a shower? That was priceless.

So when I woke up at noon, I didn’t bother getting up. I never ran a job during the day, and the college town wouldn’t recover from last night’s bender until much, much later. For better or worse, I had time to kill.

My backpack lay on the ground beside the bed and I grabbed my copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The cover had torn long ago, but the pages, worn and crinkled and dog-eared, felt good in my hands. Familiar. Besides my clothes and the essentials, Alice was the only thing I kept with me.

It was the last book I had read as Rainey Sullivan. Back then, I’d felt a lot like Alice. Tossed down the rabbit hole into some strange world where nothing seemed to make sense anymore. Alice had survived, and I think, deep down, that she had kept me alive those first few months too. My only constant when everyone else seemed to forget me.

I was just Rainey now.

I leaned back in bed and leafed through the book, losing myself in the pages. My own notes littered the margins. A journal of sorts, except, it felt like someone else was listening. Someone who wouldn’t leave me. Childish, I know. But once I started writing to Alice, I never had the heart to stop.

I glanced at one of the notes, scribbled in tear-stained ink. The page more worn than the others.


The shelter was closed today. It rained and snowed and I thought I might die outside. I broke into a restaurant through the alleyway door. A homeless man must have seen me because before I knew it he was there behind me, his dirty hand clenched around my mouth. He pressed me against one of the tables. Oh, god Alice, his other hand… I almost gave up. Then I thought of you. I kicked my leg back and he must have felt that because he gasped for air and fell to his knees. I ran, Alice. I ran.



I cringed and flipped the page. I wasn’t that girl anymore. I never would be again.

Most of the day passed that way. Me in bed, reading and remembering. I almost didn’t realize when the bedside clock struck 9 PM. Sliding out from beneath the covers, I stashed Alice and got dressed, ready to hit the town once more.

It was still too early for the clubs, so I settled and went bar hopping instead. The first two I hit, JAX along Main street and Thirsty Pete a block from campus, were dead and dry. Not a soul in sight. I would’ve had a better shot robbing the cash register than finding someone to take me home. But the next one – well, third time’s the charm, ladies.

McGee’s Irish Pub looked like it might explode at the hinges. Drunk students overflowed onto the side streets. They ducked between cars, gave the finger to the cops hovering nearby, and started random fights with townies. I bobbed and weaved through the crowd, heading for the entrance. A seedy little tavern, McGee’s was set off from the rest of the street by a thin strip of hedges. I squeezed between the bushes, ignoring the branches that scraped against my arms, and flashed the bouncer my fake ID.

Jessica Weber. California. 21 years old.

It was a tiny piece of plastic, but easily the best investment I ever made. What you could call a game changer.

You see, when I first started out, I was only hitting Frats. It was perfect. No planning necessary. There was never a lack of alcohol and certainly no limit to the number of drunk jocks willing to take my bait.

Easy peasy.

Then I realized my mistake. It wasn’t the Frat stars who played beer pong and fought over Super Smash Bros that carried the most cash. No. To get the best bang for my buck, I needed to go where the money was. And that, my friends, was the bars and clubs.

Even still, I had a soft spot for the Frats. I always tried to hit at least one per town. They simply felt more homey.

I pocketed my ID and walked inside. Immediately, the stench of stale beer and cigarettes assaulted me. It would have been bearable, if not for the horrible jam band on stage. They were the triple threat.

I gritted my teeth, wishing I’d drank a little more before heading out, and worked my way through the crowd of bodies toward the bar. It was slow going. You try pushing your way through a crowd without your hands. Seriously, try it sometime. It’s not exactly a walk in the park.

Still, I’d found early on that the less people who turned up with amnesia, the better. No one would ask questions about three or four drunk kids blacking out. But half the bar? That might raise some concerns. Hence, hands in pockets.

And a long sleeve shirt.

After a bit of matrix-like dodging, I snagged a seat at the end of the counter, right across from the bartender. It was prime real estate, but I had no intention of buying a drink tonight.

“The professor’s actually really good. And it’s one of the pre-reqs for…”

The guy sitting next to me. Jabbing away about some class he was taking. I wasn’t sure which was worse. That he was talking about school at a bar, or that he was oblivious to the fact that the redhead he was with had dead eyes. You know the ones. Cold, distant. The ones that meant she’d zoned out ages ago. He droned on and she glanced around the room, probably searching for her friends – or a shotgun – whichever turned up first.

Poor sap.

I waited till he was distracted, then slipped his beer from out in front of him. Guiness. At least he had good taste. As I brought the glass to my lips, I glanced around the room, scoping for potential.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

I paused mid-sip and swiveled to the right.

The voice belonged to a guy about my age. He leaned on the bar, gesturing to my glass. I gave him a once over. Close cropped brown hair, a five o’clock shadow, button down shirt and tight-fitting black jeans.

Sure, I’ll play along.

“And why’s that?” I said.

He nodded to Guiness guy. “Looks like a drooler.”


“Definitely. May I?” He pointed to the beer.

“Go for it, chief.”

He leaned over and made a show of inspecting my glass. When he was finished, he shot me a grave look. “Just what I was worried about. That’s at least 83% backwash.”

I laughed and pushed a blonde strand out of my eyes. Was the banter really necessary? Probably not. But it was part of the fun. Interacting with people. That little taste of normal. I nodded and said, “I know.”

“You do?”

“Sure. It’s me, actually. I’ve got this drooling condition. Genetic, terrible. Sometimes, it just comes out in gallons. Like a faucet.”


“Unfortunate, I know. My ex, he…” I looked away, leaving the question hanging.


“The doctors. They called it an on-the-land drowning.”

He laughed, then looked at me funny. I wasn’t giving him anything. “You are kidding, right?”

I shrugged, sipping my beer.

“Huh,” he said. “Well… I guess we’ll have to skip the foreplay then.”

I smirked. “Okay, you pass. I’m Rainey.”


He shook my hand. The timer was set. It was on.


Kevin turned out to be a Junior. He was on the soccer team and lived on campus about four blocks away. His two roomates, Jimmy and Kyle, were both out of town.

He was also, as it turned out, incredibly popular.

Now, I never would have considered that a bad thing. In fact, usually it’s a solid sign that the guy is a human being and not a serial-rapist. But this time around, it was certainly making things more difficult.

“Kevo! Dude, you’ve got to come to UpBeat. It’s ridiculous over there.”

Mark. One of Kevin’s drunk soccer buddies. It was unreal. They just kept coming out of the woodwork, a never ending wave of fist-bumps and bro-hugs. The minute we worked our way past one, another popped up to take his place. I simply couldn’t escape them. They were infinite.

They were Legion.

And apparently, they were at the club across the street and it was RIDICULOUS over there. I wanted to shake this kid. The only thing that was going to be ridiculous was how far I was going to shove my foot up his –

“Come on, Kev,” Mark said. “Bring the girl. It’s awesome.”

“Nah man, I think we’re gonna call it a -”

“Screw that.” Mark grabbed Kevin and started whispering in his ear. I heard the words, “only ten minutes” and “get laid,” and then Kevin glanced back at me.

He gave me shifty eyes.


I checked the time. It was late and my options were crappy at best. I could either push my luck now, follow them to the club, or start over with someone else. I looked around. It was well into last call and the bar was already starting to clear out. Damn.

We went to UpBeat.

If McGee’s was the older woman, experienced and eager, yet not quite aged to perfection, UpBeat was the titillating young blonde, hopped up on Vert, her mind – and her legs – heinously open to persuasion. Brand new and top of the line, the club sat as a gem against the backdrop of a relatively awful social scene. Amusingly, it’s doors hung wide open.

We walked in and I told Kevin I’d meet him at the bar. Nature was calling. As I moved toward the back of the club, I took it all in. Despite the seizure-inducing strobe lights and what were sure to be the most expensive drinks on the planet, I had to admit – the place actually seemed fun. Sweaty masses of people crowded the dance floor, writhing to the music, arms and legs ringed by glow-in-the-dark bracelets. On stage, the DJ scratched out some Dubstep, techno crap. It blasted through the speakers, an ear-splitting wail that knocked people backward.

I cringed, but it had nothing to do with the music. I was really started to feel those beers.

Unfortunately, the bathroom I had bee-lined toward sported a line. I leaned up against the wall and crossed my legs, hoping that would do me miracles.  It didn’t help much. Neither did the guy next to me, who apparently had decided the bathroom couldn’t wait. I turned my back to him and caught the guy behind me lighting up.

“Hey,” I said, “Can I bum a smoke?”

“Sure, yeah.” He turned, handing me the lighter, then paused as we got a good look at each other. “No fucking way,” he said. “It’s you.”


It was one of the guys from the frat lawn.

And over his shoulder, mouth open, staring at me, was Jake.

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10 thoughts on “1.02

  1. flame7926 says:

    Oh shit, that’s not good. I have no idea what he’ll do though; find a video of a girl drugging you and taking your money and you don’t remember a thing, no clue.

  2. Jon Strother says:

    Sort of catching this in the middle evidently, but just wanted to say, excellent writing here. Lots of grey-tones and foreshadowing to peak my interest. Welcome to #FridayFlash.

  3. Nice groove Rainey has going, but looks like she may have to check her footwork as the dance takes an awkward turn. Nice character building.

  4. Interrupted rhythms. They suck.

  5. farmerbob1 says:

    I like this. Definitely different. I didn’t spot any errors or problems in the first two chapters either, which means you either write better than me, or I was distracted enough by the story that I missed mistakes. Either reason is a good reason, in my book 🙂

  6. FinalPyre says:

    was really started -> was really starting

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