You could hardly flush the toilet before you heard the screams. They came from the living room, sudden, sharp, sounding through the entire house. What was going on? Was someone hurt? You struggled to pull your ugly sweater down and get out the door fast enough without busting your ass. You were normally more hygienic, but for the time being, fuck the hand washing. The screams turned to scattered gasps and noises of incredulity. Whatever it was, it was real. Really good or really bad.
You nearly skidded on your socks on the way into the living room. Your friends could be found crowding the leather sofa and fixated on the television. It hadn’t been on when you went to the bathroom, but now it was turned to the news. You couldn’t see but a corner of the screen. What was so damn important everyone was screaming? Was it war? Your country always seemed to be on the verge of war, especially lately, what with that asshat in charge and all. It had to be something violent, something dreadful, with the way that your friends that had been calm three minutes ago were now hectic.
The host of the party was next to you, but he was tall enough to see. When you glanced up at him for some clue or information, he only breathed, “…Are they real?”
“They’re real,” Jade, your roommate, called from her prime spot on the couch. “I just ran a check, it’s all over every news network.”
“Shit,” he said back, and when he moved away from the sofa you wedged yourself into a better spot.
And then you saw the headline.
And you swear you’d never been more breathless.
A week and a half later that statement from your university came, and it went viral. Well, you knew you were in a progressive place, but this was something else! You got the same e-mail that the rest of the students and teachers did. This acommodation was only to be in effect until citizenship was granted to the monsters and they could purchase their own homes, it explained. Classes were to be delayed another two weeks to give the new campus residents time to settle in and adjust before any students returned, and you thought that was reasonable enough, though your anxiety gnawed at the back of your mind. They’d remember not to give your room away, wouldn’t they? Of course they would. But what if they really needed the room? Well, they never promised housing to all of the monsters, right? Right. Things would just be a little… crowded. And you were okay with that. Hell, you got an extended break out of it.
All breaks have endings, though. And yours ends now.
“Are you ready for this?” Jade asks as she pulls a suitcase from your car. Her black hair flips over her shoulder when she turns to face you.
“Hell yeah.” You grab your duffel bag, your book-bag, and your purse all at once. Two trips are for the weak. Together, you walk from your car to the elevator of the parking garage. It’s rickety, and there was a rumor back in September that it dropped some people two floors down, but you never quite confirmed that. The light’s flickering when you step inside, but you never scared easily anyway. Jade, however…
“I’m surprised you’re so calm about this,” she says, “I mean, you saw them. We could have a goat for a neighbor!” Yeah, she’s a little finicky.
“Goats are cute,” you remark. “Besides, you saw the reports. They’re not violent unless provoked. Just like us.”
The elevator lets you out at the ground floor, and all you have to do is cross a street before you’re back at your dorm building. Well, it doesn’t look much different from the outside. There may be a few more sets of curtains in some of the windows, but that’s about it.
“See?” You tell Jade as you hold the door for her. “It’s still the same place. Still home. Still safe.” The two of you walk past the front desk, waving to the RA on-duty. Danny’s not in charge of your floor, but you’ve got a few classes with him, so you know him. He's a bit jumpier than normal, but you try to be understanding, given the circumstances. Wow, these circumstances. You’re not opposed to everything going on one bit, but you gotta admit, this shit’s crazy.
You do hope your roommate will lighten up a little. Jade doesn’t look like the uptight type, but that’s just further proof that she’s full of surprises. She cuts her hair into its choppy bob all herself, and she’s never failed to wear some crystal or another around her neck. One look at her menagerie of a closet exposes both her thrift store and designer shopping habits. And you’ve never been too much into birds, but she absolutely loves them, like you’d love cats or dogs. She told you from the start that she grew up more conservative than you could ever imagine, and now you’re starting to believe her. She hasn’t stopped freaking out about the monsters since that night at the Christmas party three weeks ago. You even volunteered to drive the both of you here earlier than everyone else to ease her anxiety, and hopefully her chances of sensory overload.
It’s about 6 in the morning now, and the elevator’s empty. She presses the button for the second floor as you prop your bags against the wall.
“I feel kinda douchey every time I get in here and press 2,” she sighs, “I was on 7 last year and I just hated those kinds of people with every fibre of my being.”
“Well, we’ve got a shit-ton of bags,” you reply. “They can’t expect us to haul all this up a big-ass flight of stairs.”
The elevator doors are closing when you spot a bright, brilliant flash of blue light in the lobby. Suddenly, the light’s in the elevator. You and Jade can only glance at each other before the light materializes into something- no, someone. You’re no longer alone.
You hear him before you see him. Boy, he’s loud. “OH, I ALMOST MISSED THE ELEVATOR! I WAS WALKING UP AND I SAW IT CLOSING AND I SAW POTENTIAL NEW FRIENDS INSIDE AND I JUST KNEW I HAD TO CATCH IT!” He’s a pure skeleton, from head to toe. The newcomer stands at about 5 feet in height, and is covered head-to-toe in baby blue. Gentle cerulean stars sparkle in his eye sockets as he fidgets with the cloth edges of his gloves. It’s your first encounter with a monster, and you’re honestly too awed from his sheer fucking adorableness to be nervous.
“Oh my god,” Jade whispers from next to you. None of you can get anything else in before the elevator stops at the second floor.
You’re starting to gather up your plethora of luggage, but the tiny skeleton stops you. “HOLD ON WAIT STOP PLEASE! LET THE MAGNIFICENT BLUEBERRY HELP YOU!” So, his name’s Blueberry. How… fitting. Without waiting for a reply, he grabs your biggest and heaviest suitcase, and you’re about to tell him to be careful, but he effortlessly pulls it away from the elevator bank. “WHERE IS YOUR ROOM? MINE IS 228! MY FRIENDS ARE ALL ON THIS HALLWAY! ALSO GOOD MORNING, BECAUSE IT IS VERY EARLY AND IT IS A VERY BEAUTIFUL DAY! ALSO YOU ARE ALSO PRETTY LIKE THE MORNING!”
“My room is 225, and I’m _____,” you reply. Jade is already on her way down the hallway, and you start to follow her.
“_____?” Blueberry clarifies. “THAT IS A PERFECT NAME FOR A PERFECT _____!” That didn’t quite make sense but dear sweet Jesus he’s adorable. Without further hesitation, he hauls your suitcase to the door of room 225. His room is across the hall and two doors down, you notice.
You catch up to Jade, who’s digging for her keys. Yours are deep within the black hole that is your purse, and she’s already looking, so you opt to just wait on her.
“So, Blueberry,” you ask, “how many of your friends are staying here? Like on this floor? You mentioned them a minute ago and I just wanted to know.” Jade sighs, and you know it’ll prompt another rant from him, but you genuinely are curious. Who cares how eager she is to be by herself?
“OH!” He starts. “WELL THERE’S MY BROTHER, STRETCH, AND THEN THERE’S SANS, AND THEN… OH, I LOSE COUNT A LOT!”
“It’s okay,” you ease, “Can you give me an approximation? Like a guess on how many?”
But then he exclaims, “OH, WAIT, I HAVE A BETTER IDEA!” And before you know it, Blueberry is moving those little bony legs and running down the hallway. “GUYS, EVERYBODY, YOU NEED TO COME OUT IN THE HALLWAY RIGHT NOW! I MADE OUR FIRST HUMAN FRIENDS!” Oh, is he really waking everyone up this early? Or do all monsters get up early? Or is that a stupid thing to wonder? You watch him speed back to you after his sprint.
“DO NOT DESPAIR OVER NUMBERS! THEY WILL BE HERE IN A MOMENT, _____ AND OTHER NEW HUMAN FRIEND!”
“Jade,” your roommate quietly interjects just before she jams her key into the door and enters. “_____, are you gonna…” she trails off, glancing from you to the open door.
“I’ll be in in a minute,” you reply, and as soon as you finish waving her off she shuts the door.
When one door closes, several others open.
And you mean that quite literally. Within seconds, many of the doors down your hallway on the second floor open, and their occupants step out. They’re skeletons, each and every one of them. And they all have their eyes on you.