I was out at the institution and had several hours hangtime between reasons to be there, so tried to make it productive by going to the library.
So there I was, down in … periodicals, attempting to get some reading to sink in to my head without falling asleep. I fished into my backpack for something to write on and felt wetness. I’d brought a cut lunch and two ripe peaches. Inexplicably, it hadn’t occured to me that they’d get smooshed by the hardback textbooks.
Thankfully, things weren’t too bad — just the sphericality of one of them had been flattened a little. I held it there looking at it. It wasn’t going to get any better.
Sure I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat food in the library but back up the stairs and outside was such a long way to go for one piece of fruit that would be gone in a second. I had a quick glance around, but there’s like, only two seats down there in periodicals. That’s why I like it.
I bit into the peach where it bled. And, y’know, it’s funny but I can’t remember much after that.
This was remedied later by a couple of Blackshirts (the subcontractor security firm that patrols campus). I was sitting in a small room with these thuggish men.
“Can I go home?”, I said looking at my watch and realising that I’d not only missed the tutorial I’d been waiting around for, but there was something on telly.
“You just don’t get it do you?” said the short one.
“Look, I promise I’ll never take food into the library again.”
He shook his head and flicked On and Play switches on a video and TV that I hadn’t previously noticed.
After 20 seconds of this mostly motionless footage I realised that the receding hairline and unkempt sideburns of this figure were mine; it was where I was sitting at the carrel. The camera appeared to be located above and slightly behind me. It could only be hidden in the ceiling because I pay a lot of attention to those kinds of things. My mouth dropped open slightly. That paranoid kid I stopped hanging around with was right – hidden cameras in the ceilings … everywhere.
As I stared into the warm blues and blacks that formed the shapes in the security tape I began to observe myself. Hunched forward, devouring the peach with honed technnique — elbow tilted higher than the wrist stopped the nectar from running down my arm. The tall Blackshirt piped up:
“Look! Yer dripping stuff all over that bound set of periodicals!”
The short one turned up the volume without explaining himself.
“Ohh. mmm. ffff. Guh.” These breathy, almost animalistic sounds were coming from me.
“Ohhmmm!” “Guhh … ffff”
This continued an embarrassingly long time as I ravaged the second peach. Oh why were they making me watch this???
I spat the stone out, stood up quickly and wheeled around. I seemed to breathing heavily and my arms were poised in a rather odd way at my sides. Yes it sounds comical, but in that moment I thought of Taz the looney-tunes Tasmaninan devil character. This was no joke though. I flicked my head one way then the other, and then most chilling of all, seemed to look straight up into where the security camera was, as if I was instinctually aware of its presence. I ran out of shot, the footage cut out to static. I hardly got out an exhalation of relief at the ending of this monochrome nightmare when a new shot cut in. It was a similarly panoptical setup, but from the foyer area near the main cafeteria with me bounding in to shot.
“oh shit”, I mumbled. Maybe bits of memory were piecing together, because I could tell that the scenario was that it hadn’t been enough. Two peaches wasn’t enough.
He was breathing heavily, rapidly — huffing, arms still well spaced from the torso, eyes wild and wide-eyed, nostrils flared and flickering with the intake of air, teeth showing but not quite gritted. To some girl staring and cowering by the glass wall he growled,
“What’re you lookin’ at?”, then sprung into the open doors of the cafeteria, nose first, probing the air.
With and arm and two fingers out he pointed down the length of the many scattered tables and chairs.
“HEY YOU, TWO-FRUITS!”
At the other end of the hall some nerd wearing a parka froze as this beastman vaulted towards him. His hands shook and the little Goulburn Valley plastic cup fell to the floor, spilling its juice, pear and apricot chunks…