We knew (roughly) when and where Bossman and Alienboy were going to be and we had not enough time to get our stuff together. Yeah, we'd been doing pretty good on getting The Interrogation to End All Interrogations ready, but that was like we'd been getting ready for a move and now the moving van had shown up and we were still finding things to pack. Or something like that. Or like we'd been taking our time on an essay question and then checked our watch to find that we had six short answer to go and two minutes left on the clock.
On that note, I sprang into hyper-action. I dug around in the pile of stuff that I referred to as "Not-Crucial-for-Monday" and whipped out the Febreeze that Cami Rawlins had given me as a welcome-to-the-team-don't-breathe-near-me gift at our first staff meeting. I Febreezed my pits, feet and the garbage cans, knowing the whole time that the illusion couldn't last long, and then chucked the can to Sharsky. It was the kind of aromatherapy that would make my mom swear off potpourri, but it wasn't like we had time to groom with an alien conspiracy on the line. Showers and clean socks could wait until after we'd gotten the real effing deal out of the jerks who had been holding out on us this whole time.
The rest of the 'cosmetic' prep was pretty straightforward, since it wasn't like we needed a cleaning check, just enough visibility to see the PowerPoints on the big screen. That meant moving the usual piles into lots of littler piles and shoving everything that couldn't be piled into corners where we could care about it later. We even risked double pneumonia and left the windows open so it wouldn't smell like Leo's socks had been hanging out in a sewer all weekend. We made a run to the common room to stash some of the funkier stuff in our fridge and when we came back, we were able to breathe pretty normally.
Then we got down to pulling all the videos we could from campus security. We had tried from Lisbeth's house, but it was much easier to get on from the campus network.
We kept checking the Buzz to see if there were any other updates, but our first notice was when we heard a key in the lock. I waited in a half pounce in the door of the server room, wanting to make sure it was our erstwhile roomies, not the half-zombified April checking on us.
The door opened to reveal Alienboy in all his glory. I froze as I took in his gloomy expression and gimpy knee. He looked terrible. Sharsky took my silence for the chance to address them. He spun around in Leo's chair and gave his best Mr. Burns impression, "So..." he demanded over steepled fingers, "you wanna say this is a case of effin' mistaken identity?"
I unfroze as I noticed Leo and Cam entering behind Sam. I bounded into the room and calmly addressed him, "Good to hear you're not, you know, dead. Wish you'd thought to notify us sometime in the last three days. The news channels kept saying you were the target and connecting it back to the attacks last fall."
Or at least that is what I thought I said. It might not have come out how I intended it as all three of them flinched and looked at me like I was speaking Swahili.
Sharsky gave me an exasperated look, which I ignored. I continued talking in a reasonable tone, "Now we have some questions we'd like to ask you."
They, very rudely, ignored me while Sharsky all but ordered them to sit down and pay attention. I scowled and was about to direct them back to my questions, when Sharsky pulled up the org chart. I slumped down in a seat and allowed him to take the lead.
I noticed distractedly that my legs were bouncing up and down as I sat. I cocked my head and wondered why they were doing that before I looked back up and helpfully read off the title of the slide, "Military structure!"
Sam and Leo glanced at each other and I detected a look of worry. I grinned fiendishly at Sharsky and plowed ahead with our new insights. "So," Sharsky growled, "cut the crap about mistaken identity. Cut the crap about Langley and Area 51. This is as effing real as it gets and we ain't playing along."
"Yeah, it was for real," Sam finally spoke grudgingly, "Some nutjob who blamed me for all those fatalities back in September took a shot at me. Nothing alien about it."
"HAH!" I said and pounded on the keyboard bringing up one of the videos I had pulled from campus security showing Sam walking through a tree.
That was when I saw it. Alienboy's facade cracked just a bit, then he glanced at Cam and Leo. Sharsky seemed to feel it too and he latched on, "Tell us everything you know."
"What do you think we know?" Leo bluffed. "It's not like they gave us a briefing on who was kidnapping us when they shoved us in the trunk ..."
Cam looked up from his cell phone and coughed.
Leo threw him a glare but corrected, "Back seat of..."
"A Camaro '76?" I interjected. "Yeah, we got that. Like hell you didn't go willingly."
I knew we had them now, and I could tell Leo was weakening. We were almost...right...there!
Leo gave up the bluff and started confessing like we were priests.
"What, you think this was my idea?" he said. "I signed up for the real effing deal, not some back alley alien invasion where we got blown halfway across Egypt. No one asked me if I wanted to be molested by two ghetto flunkies from Mars!"
Sam, who had managed not to be as intimidated by our interrogation, spluttered, "Molested?! You weren't the one with that...that thing up your NOSE!"
"Dude," Sharsky said in his normal voice. "You actually got...probed?" I blinked, mind painting pictures that were not images of how I wanted to be thinking about my roommate; I couldn't tell if it was a badge of courage or something to envy.
"Yeah," Sam said in a disgruntled tone, "I got probed. If anyone wants their adenoids yanked, I know a good doctor."
"We're getting off-topic," Leo said. "It's not like we wanted this to happen."
Sharsky and I snorted in unison.
"They let us live and they let us in on the whole thing, but rules were radio silence, man," Leo stated. "No tweeting about our paisanos in the military or anything in Cairo. I couldn't even say I'd met one of them."
"So, you have met one of them." I said triumphantly.
"I met a whole buttload of 'em," he snapped. "You can take S&M any day you want 'em."
"I'll pass," Sharsky said, but I wasn't going to let Alienboy go that easily.
I turned to focus solely on Sam and asked, "So, boy, what is the deal with you and Camaro76?"
Cam kind of choked and screwed up his face in a grimace.
"Need to know," Sam said, "Absolutely need to know."
"Yeah? Let's talk about 'need to know...'" I moved towards him to pull some more answers out in any way I could.
Leo, however, intervened, planting a hand in the middle of my chest. "Be cool, man," he said with a rare kind of maturity and gravity. "It'll be one step at a time, just like it was for us."
"Okay, step 1," Sharsky challenged. "Area 51."
"Never been there, heard the weather's nice."
"Not. Involved. At. All." Sam answered.
I noticed Leo looked actually crestfallen at that. I was still suspicious, though, so I nudged some more while I still had a captive audience.
"The Bermuda Triangle?"
"Tampoco." Leo answered this time.
"A poco," I said savagely. It was Spanish for Yagottabeeffinkiddingme and seemed appropriate. "There's nothing hiding there?"
"Other than Caribbean chicks..."
Sam shook his head. "But," he held up one finger as he saw Sharsky about to explode, "I will tell you, Hoover Dam and The Smithsonian." That brought both Sharsky and I up short.
"No way." I whispered, wiggling my fingers, just waiting to get on the computer to do some research on anything unexplained that might have happened in the last few years at either location.
"Aliens in LA," Sharsky demanded.
"Wasn't there," Leo said firmly.
"Aliens in Appalachia?" he tried weakly.
"Urban legend," I asserted. "So, if you've never been to Area 51, where the eff did you meet the big bad aliens?"
"Uncle Bobby's." Sam said promptly.
Cam glanced up at Sam and they exchanged a look. I cringed mentally, if he was going to rein Sam back in and stop him from talking too much...
"Who the eff is Uncle Bobby?"
"Uncle Bobby Bolivia," Sam answered airily. "He's the man with the connections and a hell of an attitude. Even his mammy flipped him off."
Yup, I'd been right. They were trying to back away now, being all coy and mysterious. Sharsky scrunched his eyebrows, "Queensland, Australia - a year and a half ago," he challenged.
Leo, with an amused look, started shaking his head until he caught a slightly sheepish look on Sam's face. My heart started beating faster; maybe we were getting somewhere!
"Really?" He asked in disbelief, "I debunked the hell outta that one on therealeffingdeal!"
"Dude," Sam said. "You can't be right about everything."
"Area 51," Sharsky reiterated. "If it's not all happening there, where is it?"
Leo yelled "STOP!" just as someone knocked on the door, and I wondered who was coming to tell us to keep it down.
Then the door smashed inward and banged against the wall beside it. It was The Man. He was in a uniform and everything. He prowled into the room and practically growled "Not. Another. Word."
Sam tried to push the blame off on us, but Leo either had more guts than I gave him credit for or he was just plain oblivious because he just kept rambling on about how Sam totally had an in with the aliens.
The Man grabbed Leo by his shirt-collar and dragged him into the hallway. We all stood there waiting for someone else to lead the charge and rescue Leo because I wasn't stupid enough to be the first one to poke my nose through the smashed doorframe. I wasn't expecting Cam to be the first one to look away, though, and I really wasn't expecting Sam to just start clearing off the bed. I mean, he and Leo had been through an alien invasion together. That was, like, epic bromance. Sam totally should have been the one to volunteer as cannon-fodder and lead us after him! "DUDE!" I shouted. "The Man has Leo!"
"Eh," he answered, tossing some old socks onto the floor. "They'll just rough him up a bit."
"Aren't you going to stop him?" Sharsky asked, clearly on the same page as me.
He wheeled on us. "Um...gun? Fricking badass military thug breaks down the door and hauls him out for saying too much? You were the ones who said you wanted the truth. You guys should know better than anyone that the truth has strings attached."
"Strings? What strings? Are these metaphorical strings or something or is there actually..."
He got this very Yoda look on his face, which creeped me out more than usual. It was like he'd gotten religion in the line of fire. "It is something you have to learn for yourself," he intoned.
I hated it when people intoned. It was always pseudo-cryptic and reminded me of Executive Orders or papal decrees. It wasn't something that should come out of the mouth of a guy who liked muscle cars and hair gel.
"I don't buy that," Sharsky said. "I think you're just holding out on us."
"I'm holding back anything that would put you in danger," Sam pointed out. "Do you really want to push your luck?"
The answer was "hell, yeah," but I was going to wait until I'd had a couple hours of sleep and a couple more cans of Bull before I staged a full-scale attack. For all Sharsky's dramatics, this was like the first bombing in a spy movie. Small potatoes and all that crap.
"I think we're going to find out whether you want it or not," I intoned. "You can cooperate or you can..."
"You think you want this? You think you want in on all the excitement of death threats and assassination attempts and making personal enemies in some very E.T. places? You don't know what you're asking."
It was the kind of impassioned tirade that I would have built up into a roar by the end of the speech, but Sam said it in this kind of defeated, exhausted voice, like he had been talking people out of joining the PR department of SETI for his whole life. It wasn't what I was expecting and it kinda freaked me out.
"You're not kidding," I said.
"I never was," he answered.
I had the feeling that was the most honest thing he'd said all day and it made me want to pat him on his kewpie-doll hair or maybe give him milk and cookies. It definitely put me out of the mood to strap him down and waterboard him about his alien connections.
Sam turned his back on us again before I could do either of those things. "So...what did I miss?"
It took me a second to switch channels to actually remember last night. I remembered that there had been macaroons for dessert and Lisbeth had tried to wean me off of my computer at one point. I also had a weird kind of flashback to blinking lights and people cheering.
"Great game last night?"
Sharsky hit me on the shoulder and glared at me like I was trying to make a joke or something.
In the meantime, Sam had excavated enough of his bed that he found his Lit class syllabus. He picked it up, dropped it like it burned him and then dove for his laptop.
I intervened before he could have a full panic attack. "Chill, I hacked your comp, fixed that jackass thesis on Gatsby and sent it off to the Professor something like nine hours before the deadline."
"You wrote a Lit paper for me?" Sam looked almost awestruck - as he should be.
"I can use my powers for good."
"Above and beyond, man."
The Man returned, with Leo behind him. He wasn't exactly crawling on all fours, but he was looking whipped, like he was one step away from sleeping on the couch and he knew it. It was almost as weird as our profound Alienboy, but given the wreckage of the door and what I could only imagine had gone on afterwards, I couldn't really blame him.
As for Arabic John Wayne, he repeated "Not. Another. Word." and with a very Dirty Harry glower, stalked out of the room.
The fire had gone out of the interrogation by that point and there weren't many segues that could work in this situation. Sam spoke up first after doing a walk-around of what was left of the door.
"There goes the security deposit."
"Again," Leo agreed mournfully.
Sharsky whispered, half-respectful, half-scared-spitless, "Who was that?"
Sam's head twitched to the side in a kind of shrug, like it was normal for us to have a SWAT member bust into our dorm. "Some guy I know. He just shows up when things get dicey."
When we were alone again, I was going to fist-bump Sharsky. We'd hit things so close to the mark that there had been a frigging INTERVENTION.
"They assigned him to be my handler back in September, and trust me, you don't want to get in his way."
Without another comment and without getting out of the clothes he'd walked in with, Sam flopped on the bed. After a few seconds of gathering up his strength, he grabbed the edge of his blanket and went undercover again. Leo waited until he'd been motionless for more than a minute, and then beckoned us in the direction of the server room. Naturally, we had a fight over who got to go through the door first. Sam was all post-traumatic and sleeping the whole thing off, but if Leo had more to spill, it was our duty as human beings to hear him out. I was about to shut the door quietly when Cam squeezed through and flashed me a very enthusiastic grin. It was manic enough to look crazy instead of friendly and since his biceps were bigger than my head, I waved him to a seat and let him stay.
"First rule, mijos," he hissed. "I'll answer what I can, but you ain't getting nada that'll get me in trouble with the National Security..."
"OH, COME ON!" Sharsky whined.
"Nothing doing," Leo said adamantly. "I spent the weekend in a holding facility, and just got read the riot act by The Man. I'm not going to Sing-sing just because you newbs talked me into saying something stupid."
I nodded in grumpy acquiescence.
"No questions about Sam," he said. "Ese chamaco's been through a hell of a lot since you saw him last and we're going to be treating him like a baby kitty until at least tomorrow."
"But you'll answer our questions?" I insisted.
"I can plead the Fifth any time I want, bro," he said. "I don't have to do you any favors."
"And I can't name names," he added.
"We don't have to know names," Sharsky said. "Use blog names if you have to, but it's time for you to give us..."
"If you say the real effing deal, I swear Imma gonna slap you into last Tuesday," Leo interrupted.
Rich coming from the site founder, but if he was telling us to hold off on abusing Sam, it meant he wasn't in the mood for our usual crap. We could hold off on the corporate buzzwords for this conversation only.
"It's time for you to give us the straight stuff," Sharsky corrected himself. "None of this RPG bull."
"None of the RPG stuff," Leo agreed.
I wanted to consult with Sharsky to see if he wanted to take turns or take notes or something, but he jumped right in.
"True or false," he said gleefully. "Waikiki and Honolulu are...real."
I instantly remembered the poster Sam's girl had sent us last fall, the one with Leo's arms draped over a pair of hotties not wearing much more than grass skirts.
"Which part of them?" Leo warily asked.
"Waikiki and Honolulu are not of this world," Sharsky reworded the question.
"Truer than I care to remember."
"You've snogged an alien," I burst out, my suspicions finally on the verge of being confirmed.
"Snogged, no," he said. "Cuddled, yes. Ain't never doing it again."
I slumped a little, but continued on. "Vegas Vulcans," I said. "Were your guys involved with the Luxor?"
"False. Not our jurisdiction."
"You've had bodyguard training."
He flexed his muscles emphatically. "True and I've got the pecs to prove it."
Cam snorted and rolled his eyes.
"So far false, but it's not like we're experimenting." He raised an eyebrow. "Why, do you really want to know where alien babies come from?"
"I wanna know if BikerChick's going to come along and knock me up one of these days to see how human males deal with morning sickness." I shot back.
For the first time I could recall, Cam blushed. I guessed he couldn't stomach the idea of humans with chest-burster babies any more than I could.
"Plus if these guys are making a habit of alien dorm invasion, we sleep, like, twenty feet away." Sharsky added.
"You want to be invited?"
I wasn't touching that one. It would make me start begging and I wanted to keep my dignity in this conversation. I just shrugged casually and waited for Sharsky to take the next turn.
"True or false," Sharsky said again. "The aliens look like us."
"Sometimes true, sometimes really false."
"So they're shape-shifters?" Sharsky was probably thinking Odo from DS9. I was thinking more like Agent Smith from The Matrix. "They could look like me?"
It wasn't a stretch. Sharsky practically looked like a Wookiee already.
"The aliens are hot," Sharsky said next, predictably.
He shuddered. "Not usually - and when they are, run. Sam will totally back me up on that one."
I jumped in. "The aliens are going to be competition for the Freshman 55."
"The aliens were IN the Freshman 55."
"Totally that girl who 'dropped out' from the first floor," Sharsky guessed.
"Or the one who got mono," I said, jabbing a finger pointedly. "That was very convenient mono!"
"So, you can get another one of them for this Saturday night?" I suggested.
Cam coughed and Leo glared at him. "Not. A. Chance."
"The aliens have sexual orientation," I continued.
"I don't know," Leo said. "I've never been to an alien gay bar, but Waikiki thinks I have a cute aft."
"Your would-be assassin is an alien," Sharsky asked, moving onto more serious questions now that we had Leo loosened up and lulled into a false sense of security.
"No." He paused as though considering something and then added, "He was bleeding red. All over."
"What color do the aliens bleed?" I eagerly asked.
Leo and Cam both started at me in what might have been disgust for a second.
"What?" I demanded.
"Tact," Cam's cell phone said, shaking his head.
A little weakly, Leo answered, "Green, I think. Globs of it."
"Duuuude," I said, almost worshipful that he'd actually seen that much action up close.
Sharsky asked the natural follow-up question. "Your would-be assassin is working for an alien."
"If he was," Leo muttered darkly, "they're gonna get their asses whupped now. There are some aliens out there who are really protective of Sam and, well..." He trailed off and then frowned. "Next question."
"Aliens can be deported."
"Wrong kind of alien, no matter what Men in Black says."
"The aliens can vote," I asked as a follow-up.
"Creepy," I said.
"Can't be worse than Communists," he said.
"Dubya was an alien."
"Much as that would explain things, no."
"Neither is Obama," Leo interrupted.
"The aliens are Republicans."
"The aliens don't like gun control, but they're not all that political otherwise."
"The aliens like Country music," I demanded.
Leo started to shake his head 'no' but Cam's cell phone sang, "Roll on, eighteen-wheeler, roll on..." Leo grimaced. "He would."
"Seriously?" Well, they were alien. Actually, that kind of explained a few things about Nashville.
"Okay," Sharsky cut in. "The aliens live among us."
Leo leaned closer conspiratorially. "Only when The Man lets them."
"The Man meaning... the door buster?" Sharsky asked.
"Dude, he wasn't a Black Friday deal!" I replied before Leo could as I smacked him on the shoulder.
Leo made the executive decision and said, "Let's just call him G.I. Jamal. And no, I meant, 'The Man,' not him."
"They're here for world domination."
"Way off," Leo said, his tone suddenly dead serious.
"They aren't?" I asked, crestfallen.
"Mars Attacks was a lie?" Sharsky whined.
"Mars Attacks was a satire," I said. "But seriously. They see all the stuff we have to offer and they don't want to enslave any of us?"
"They're all about liberty and justice," Leo confirmed. "What part of the blog made you think they're out to rule us?"
"Well, maybe not the wuss who can't get over squirrel slaughter," I grumbled.
For some reason Leo gave me what kind of looked like a warning glance, while Cam crossed his arms menacingly.
Sharsky gave me a frustrated glare and spoke over me, "But ConSlayer is totally a Klaus Schmidt. I could see him holding the UN hostage or something."
"But they're aliens! They invaded!" I added, not about to let Sharsky try to take over the interrogation.
"They crash-landed," Leo corrected.
That did change things a little bit, but it was still disappointing.
"They really don't want..." Sharsky said a little plaintively.
"What, you want to be their slave?" Leo demanded.
"Well, not slave, but maybe like The Apprentice."
"Not happening," Leo said.
"No way," Cam's cell phone said as Mike Myers.
We could come back to that later, once the roommate with CONNECTIONS stopped snoring in the next room.
"Aliens built the pyramids, true or false?" Sharsky asked.
"Mostly true." Leo nodded in affirmation.
"Awesome," I breathed with glee.
"Weird taste in architecture," Sharsky commented and continued with, "Aliens blew up the pyramids."
"No, actually that was us to get them off the pyramids." Sharsky and I both blinked at that. Why was the US so hot to protect the pyramids from aliens using them as a jungle gym?
Struck by my usual inspiration, I leaned forward and lowered my voice. "The Vietnam War was fought over a bet that Howard Hughes lost to Aristotle Onassis."
Cam's phone rang again. "D'oh!"
Leo stared. "What the eff does that have to do with anything?!"
"I don't know, but it's totally true!"
"Shut up," Leo ordered, sounding exasperated.
I decided to tone it down. "Were they there at the moon landing?"
"Wrong aliens," Leo said while Cam looked uncomfortable.
"Did aliens abduct the Lindberg baby? What about JFK's other shooter?"
"Are there little squid people inside of those robots?" I asked, wiggling my fingers squid-like.
"They aren't Daleks, doofus." Leo rolled his eyes, while Cam's phone let out an "EXTERMINATE." Leo glared at him for a moment before turning his attention back to us.
"Are they behind global warming?" Sharsky jumped in before I could ask a question.
"No, but they have some really great ideas for green energy." Green like their blood? The thought wandered through my brain.
"Did they invent the internet?" I asked loudly as I saw Sharsky opening his mouth.
"No, but their arch-nemesis invented microchips."
"Bill Gates?" Sharsky asked, puzzled.
Leo smirked and didn't give an answer.
"How many of these bloggers have you actually met?"
"Um," Leo paused for a moment and looked to be counting in his head, "not all of them."
Sharsky scowled at the evasion, but didn't have a chance before I broke in, "What or where are Polyhex and Tyger Pax? Are they related to witchcraft?"
"Yes, Tyger Pax is the incantation for unending boils in uncomfortable places, and Polyhex is how you curse a whole group of people at once." Leo deadpanned. Or at least I think his tone was deadpan.
"Are S&M really into S&M?"
"As far as we can tell, in the late 19th Century."
I blinked, feeling a little dizzy. "Huh?"
"We can't pin it down, but Sam knows more about the boring family history side of things," Leo said. "Ask him about the glasses sometime."
I nodded while Sharsky took another turn. "Can they read minds?"
"They really like the Beach Boys," Leo answered. "No accounting for taste."
Okay, none of this was making any sense. I blinked again.
"And that's when this dude starts monologuing about 'one man alone...'"
"Dude, pick a topic," I snapped. "You were just talking about the Beach Boys."
Leo and Sharsky exchanged a look. "Yeah, like five minutes ago."
"No," I said impatiently. "You said they had bad taste in music and someone was monologuing..."
"Dude," Leo interrupted. "Have you slept at all?"
"Yeah, I got, like five hours of sleep on..."
"The night before you left," Sharsky supplied. I blinked again and suddenly found Leo up close and personal with my face and wielding Sharsky's pen light. I lurched back and waved him off frantically.
"Go. SLEEP. NOW." Leo pointed imperiously to the doorway.
"I don't need to," I protested. "I had a Bull, like, an hour ago. I can go for another..."
Leo was saying in a low voice, "And call his mom, see if she can scare him into some kind of herbal detox."
"I'M AWAKE!" I shouted. Sam's snoring faltered. "I can go for another hour!"
"You've been zonked for..." Sharsky checked his watch. "Three minutes and thirty-six seconds."
"Six minutes, two seconds," Leo said next. "Cam, bounce him."
Next thing I knew, I was an inch off the floor and moving very quickly towards my bed. I flailed, trying to free myself, and my captor shook me, either to subdue me or to knock me out again. A few seconds later, he dropped me on the mattress and I glowered at Cam.
"I've got feet, you know."
His cell phone started playing "Enter Sandman."
"I get the hint," I growled.
"Hush, little baby, don't say a word, and never mind that noise you heard. It's just the beast under your bed. In your closet in your head."
I blacked out before I could think of something intelligent to say.
I woke up feeling pretty much hungover. Or crashed. Or something. The energy I'd poured into my insanely awesome logical analysis of the org chart had been completely spent and for a while, it took more energy than I could afford to even blink. I stared at the ceiling until I remembered that my eyelids worked. It wasn't like I counted the squares up there, but I definitely noticed some funky stains that I should probably report to the RA. When my brain formed its second thought, I decided to move my pillow to the other end of the bed so I wasn't sleeping peacefully under that funky yellowish stain.
Usually I felt a bit of a buzz after Red Bull wore off, but it hurt to get my eyes moving this time. I could hear someone typing - Sam from the hunt-and-peck method sound of it - and it was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too loud. Hell, I was even having hard feelings about the whir of computers. This had to be what hell felt like.
I definitely needed the hair of the yippy little dog that had bit me.
I made it into a sitting position and reached for the cup on the nightstand. It was the only thing on there that wasn't plugged into my power strip and I vaguely remembered having something caffeinated in there some time. Unfortunately, upon further inspection, I realized that it had been that Dr. Pepper that I'd used last week when I ran out of everything else at midnight and the milliliter that was left was sort of coagulated in the bottom of the cup. I wasn't tired enough to try and slurp it down.
"Sharsky," I groaned. No one answered. Either he was ignoring me or he was wearing his air-traffic-controller-style headphones. "Leo. Alienboy. ANYONE."
"Morning, sunshine," Leo shouted back.
"Bull," I whined.
"Hell, no," Sharsky added sternly. "You're going as caffeine-free as a Mormon party for the next week. Cold-turkey."
"Bull," I repeated. "I'm dying here."
"You're getting what you deserve," Sharsky reasoned.
He was being a bit of a jerk. Guess he was still pissed off about having to leave before he learned how to make a torte.
"Someone other than Sharsky," I called.
"Come out here," Sam suggested. "We've got a nice glass of water for you."
I decided not to argue and dragged my sluggish body off my mattress. I shuffled listlessly through the door and shut off the overhead lights. With all the computers going, it wasn't like we needed them.
I heard a very distant snigger that sounded like Leo. "You talk in your sleep, you know."
"Do not," I muttered sullenly.
"Yeah, you do," Sharsky added.
"I've got recordings," Sharsky alleged. "And you've said some really weird stuff about Nancy stealing your dolls today."
That jived with what I remembered about my dreams. Or maybe he was making it up. There were other things on my mind, though.
"Pee," I muttered.
There was no way of turning off the lights between our room and the bathrooms, so I closed my eyes and just sort of felt my way along for a couple of seconds. But then my dizziness kicked in and I realized that a headache was a small price to pay for not dragging myself across the dorm on my hands and knees.
I got back to the room and commandeered the couch. It was the only place I could flop without looking like I was swooning. I heard more sniggers, but no one tried conversation. After a few seconds, my staff sippy cup landed on my chest with the promised water. It tasted really boring after taurine, but it was okay for now.
"Same," Sam informed me. "There isn't much of it left, but it's not like you passed out for a month." His phone chimed and he glanced at it. "Woke up just in time, too. Post."
Hung out - what I did with the boy and his friends over the weekend.
Strung out - what someone else I know did over the weekend using substances that just shouldn't be able to DO that to you. I'm seriously dying here.
S&M: Who iz ya, and wha' ya do wit Camaro76?
NurseRatched: You wrote a post about the dangers of substance abuse.
NotTheToothFairy: lol You like to live dangerously, Camaro.
BikerChick: Ditto, NtTF. (To C76) And don't look to me to patch you up later, either.
NurseRatched: You wrote a pointed blog post about substance abuse. On a blog I follow.
ConSlayer: Dollars to donuts Camaro's not coming home for Christmas.
ElectricBlue: Unless it's in a box. I'm not taking that bet. :P
BikerChick: ...dollars to donuts in a box? What does that phrase even MEAN?
BringTheRain: (to CS) You seriously just said 'dollars to donuts' in writing. YOU?
LadiesMan217: No, really, this is an issue on campus now.
LadiesMan217: (to IS) We're on campus.
IncidentalSidekick: We're in dorms, not the library.
LadiesMan217: Still counts.
IncidentalSidekick: No it doesn't.
LadiesMan217: Kids are overdosing on everything these days.
BeeFF: That's his way of saying, "I'm lying through my teeth."
Optimust: I see.
Spitfire: Wait, did I read that right, Ladiesman? "We" have a problem? As in we're going through the whole underage drinking thing AGAIN?
Ladiesman217: GAH! No! It wasn't me!
IncidentalSidekick: It wasn't me, either! It's one of our roomies. Had to do a total detox when we got back home. He was drowning his sorrows in Red Bull.
BringTheRain: Before or after he got drunk?
Survivor: Is this a scotch and soda for hipsters?
NurseRatched: I would like to point out that the chemical makeup of Red Bull renders it inadvisable as a companion to any grain liquor.
NotTheToothFairy: You would know.
Ladiesman217: NO ONE got drunk!
NurseRatched: Of course no one did! Camaro76 is just taking advantage of the fact that he's on the other side of the planet to harass me about the incident last October.
ConSlayer: That's MY job, Camaro.
Camaro76: I wasn't talking about you, NurseRatched. Promise!
NurseRatched: That's not going to do you any good. I *will* see you again, sooner or later.
Optimust: (to BeeFF) What do you think he's lying about?
BeeFF: Dunno. But when he starts sounding like a patronizing grown up, he's lying. Trust me.
Ladiesman217: Am not! I'm just nervous because NR is about ready to throw something at Camaro76 from all the way over there. Help us out, BeeFF Pleeease?
BeeFF: How come I'm the one who always gets tossed in front of the raging Hummer?
Faithful: Because even doctors brake for a Warrior Goddess brunette.
IncidentalSidekick: ...and it looks like someone is WAAAAY too sensitive on this topic. NR, none of us were talking about you. At all.
There was a vague ringing in my ears as I reread the comments section. Right there, in black and white and a whole lot of pixels were aliens discussing my drinking habits! Sure, they'd called me a hipster, but they were extra-terrestrial intelligences caring about whether it was smart for me to get that buzzed! It was almost as much of a rush as the 13th Bull had been, before I'd developed an immunity.
I came back to myself in time to notice that my jaw was hanging open. I shut it and waited until my ears stopped ringing so I could put my feelings about this whole thing into words.
Sharsky got there first. He got up in my face like I'd just insulted his mama, his face slightly purple.
"YOU GOT SCREENTIME WITH THE ALIENS BEFORE ME!" he bellowed.
"I know!" I tried unsuccessfully not to squeal. "I got..."
"WHADYA GIVE HIM, HUH?"
He took his drama queen act on the road and whirled to jab a finger at Leo. "Six hours longer! I knew you six hours longer than this joker and he gets to be a cautionary tale before me? I live to be a cautionary tale!"
"Don't worry, bro," I said sincerely. "You're a cautionary tale to us all."
"Did I do something wrong?" he hissed, finally not in the mood to yell. "Is this about that thing I forgot to mod over Halloween? You couldn't have brought this up when we talked about a raise? You couldn't have..."
"Dude!" Leo snapped. "You're taking this way too personally. You're like something offa Gata Salvaje."
I was absurdly tempted to make the usual noise to signal a catfight, but I had the feeling Sharsky would kick my monitor in if I did.
"I have just as much right to be on there are baldy here," he asserted. "Da hell did you talk about him for?"
"Because you weren't as weird," Sam interjected before Leo could say something stupid. "When you're acting like a total meth-head about the whole thing, I promise it'll get a mention."
"You're just saying that to make me feel better," he pouted.
"We try," I said carefully. "Have a Coke."