Shelby the RA had gone down the hall, knocking on everyone’s doors in an attempt to start the meeting on time. Since Lisbeth lived across from her and next to the lounge, she was the first to arrive. This allowed her to not only get a chair, since there were not enough for all the girls that would be arriving, but also to position it to face the door with her back to the wall. On a table in the center of the room were a stack of pizzas, probably meant as a bribe to keep them in the room after the meeting ended.
Lisbeth watched with curiosity as her floormates slowly filtered into the room. Telepaths were suppose to be good with social situation, and they had learned how to get the effect they wanted when they entered a room. The girls were clearly going for a similar effect, they were all wearing mildly provocative clothing; things that were noticeable but wouldn’t make them stand out in a group. Their makeup was similar, not the kind of thing a prom queen would wear, but maybe the girl standing behind her. The one thing that they all had almost identical was a beautiful genuine friendly smile. One normally wouldn’t call the smiles fake and forced, but when one saw it on the faces of 28 girls in a room it wasn’t hard to catch on.
Lisbeth had never been in a room with so many people doing their best to lie about who they were before. They were doing everything wrong. Despite their friendly demeanor, inviting smiles and outfits they all tried to get positions with their backs to the wall. The most popular positions were those that allowed a back to the wall and a view of everyone else in the room. The ones that didn’t get a wall were constantly scanning the room. As more girls arrived and the lounge got crowded the anxiety in the room increased. Lisbeth saw more than a couple of the smiles cracking.
Then Shelby entered the room and everything changed. Shelby had brown hair and glasses, and something about her screamed ‘safe’. She was the kind of girl who would survive a horror movie because everyone else would protect her, or the girl who gets killed before the opening credits. Her effect on the room was dramatic; everyone relaxed, the fake smiles became slightly more real, and she had the attention of every girl in the room except Lisbeth. For a moment Lisbeth didn’t understand why, then it hit her. Shelby either couldn’t or was choosing not to shield her mind. It shocked her that someone would be willing to be surrounded by so many telepaths and not shield themselves. Maybe that was why she got the job in the first place.
Lisbeth realized that the earlier conclusion she had come to when with Krista and Amy was wrong, there was something she could do to help. She felt a flash of fear at the thought of what she was about to do. A couple of the girls closest to her shot concerned glances in her direction, apparently they had picked up on it. Lisbeth felt for the walls in her own mind, unlike other telepaths she did not maintain hers, they were automatic. It actually made it harder for her to pull them down.
In that moment all the focus on Shelby was redirected to her, and Lisbeth could feel it inside her mind. Lisbeth got extremely self-conscious under the sudden scrutiny, she blushed and looked down at her feet. Fear, Anxiety, Embarrassment, Determination, Resolute. Please stop looking at me, I know you can still hear but please stop looking. By the time Lisbeth worked up the courage to look back up at the room about half the girls were being very careful to not look at her. Those would be the general telepaths capable of hearing surface thoughts. The empaths had stopped focusing on her quite so intently but they were still glancing at her.
Shelby had noticed something had happened but did not seem to know what, confirming to Lisbeth that she wasn’t a telepath. Shelby did however have a meeting to conduct and decided to start talking.
“Ok first things first, since none of us have roommates that isn’t something we have to deal with. Rules-wise things are simple: no weapons, no fighting and no smoking on campus. Also this is an alcohol free campus, so no booze unless you have a religious exemption, like the dwarves.”
For a moment Lisbeth felt a flash of guilt at the alcohol thing remembering her personal stash. Oh well, worst case scenario I could probably swing a religious exemption if I need to. Lisbeth saw a couple of the other girls react to that. Keep quiet and I’ll share. Some of the girls flashed her a smile that looked far less fake than the ones they entered with. A couple of the girls were quite pretty. No bad thoughts, they have to deal with that shit all the time, keep a lid on it here. Lisbeth was starting to get self-conscious and nervous again so she shut down the entire train of thought.
“There is a list of emergency contact numbers in your welcome packets, please save them in your phones. If you ever need help call, even if you have been drinking you won’t get in trouble. Now that the admin stuff is out of the way, why don’t we introduce ourselves? My name is Shelby, I’m a business major and I’m a pyro.”
To demonstrate Shelby sent a spark into the air from her hand. Whilst doing so she wore something of a slasher smile that caused Lisbeth to reevaluate her opinion of the RA. That girl won’t get killed in the movie, it will be one of the twist ones with her cast as the monster. Stop thinking about the pyromaniac RA and try to remember names. Fuck ok I will never remember all these names. Shit my turn, moment of truth.
“Hi my name is Lisbeth, I’m undeclared and I’m uh… I’m…”
Anxiety, Fear, Terror. Shit just say it everyone will find out eventually anyways.
“I’m a dream walker.”
The room was already quiet, but now it went still. Most everyone reacted and unconsciously pulled away, those that didn’t had identified themselves as general telepaths. Lisbeth suspected that they had already figured it out themselves by putting the clues in her thoughts together. Oddly Shelby looked positively gleeful. Fear, Terror, Run. Lisbeth was looking down at the floor again biting back a sob. Telepath logic was to identify the biggest threat I’m the biggest threat, assess emotional state terrified, find most likely course of action scared people are unpredictable, attempt to change subjects emotional state to one that is predictable and not dangerous. Review knowledge of subject I expressed interest in girls, identify best way to utilize information. Lisbeth felt an arm around her shoulder, one of the ones I thought was pretty. The girl started talking to Lisbeth but she couldn’t hear over the sound of her own heartbeat, the girl stopped talking. I want to put my shields back up, no that would make this worse, I want to hide but I can’t hide forever. She smells nice, telepaths got good at calming things down. Ironic, I’m only scared because I think they are scared of me and yet they try to calm me down.
When Lisbeth looked up, the room had emptied out. Telepath logic; if unable to diffuse potentially dangerous subject, get out of the line of fire. Lisbeth felt the girl next to her stiffen. Not you, thank you, I owe you for this. Her initial assessment had been wrong, the room wasn’t completely empty, Shelby had stayed behind along with Krista and Amy. Lisbeth could understand Shelby staying it was her job as RA, but she hadn’t expected Krista and Amy to stay.
“Of course we stayed how else could we get the pizza.”
Lisbeth gave a nervous giggle to that, a perfect ordinary line to calm her down. Amy might even have even been genuine with it. This is what normal people feel like all the time, never knowing if the telepath is lying or being honest. Fuck I haven’t been this vulnerable since– Lisbeth snapped her mental shields up so quickly the girl next to her flinched. Lisbeth took a deep breath to calm herself and slowly pulled her shields back down. Sorry bad memories, that’s private. Lisbeth looked up at Shelby.
“Sorry I made a scene Shelby.”
“No problem. When you are feeling better come talk to me.”
With that Shelby slipped out.
“Amy, Krista thank you as well.”
Lisbeth looked over at the girl who was now holding her quite close. In doing so she looked directly into the girl’s eyes. Shit I already forgot her name, if I even heard it. She really is pretty, I would enjoy looking into her eyes all night. Shit, bad brain, stop thinking like that. She could take the girl back to her room and stare into her eyes all night, or more. This girl was well and truly in the line of fire now and would do what was necessary to protect herself. Every telepath that lasted this long would. The girl gave Lisbeth a dazzling smile.
“My name is Nerissa and it’s ok.”
“No it isn’t, I should go now.”
Lisbeth practically fled back to her room. She really did want to bring Nerissa back with her, but more than that she wanted to put her shields back up. She could not do that to Nerissa, who had been willing to comfort her whilst the others left. Actually she could, it would be easy, but she would not do that. After locking her door and deadbolt Lisbeth practically flung herself into her pocket. Inside she allowed her shields to reform and reinforced them. As her mind started curling in on itself so did her body. She sobbed herself to sleep, curled up on the floor without even making it to the bed.