Portal – Chapter 3

One Year Ago

Michael took another jello shot from the cute sorority girl. He had just finished his first year at the only community college in the state. The Greater Depression had already closed down many private four year universities, including nearby Butler and University of Indianapolis, and many public Indiana University campuses had closed to consolidate at Bloomington and Indianapolis. Purdue was barely surviving on government grants researching the Enhanced  while Notre Dame still had a large endowment and wealthy backers.

Michael’s plan to work through two year community college then transfer to Indiana University had, so far, worked perfectly. He was a 4.0 student and on the Dean’s Honor Roll. He had actually made a few friends that knew nothing about his crazy alcoholic mom and even received a small raise at his UPS job at the airport. His job had him up at odd hours, usually 3 a.m. to load aircraft for departure, but the pay was good and he did not need a gym membership. His shift manager was impressed at his strength, endurance, and ability to work without complaints. Michael was just happy to have enough money to pay for his small studio apartment on the west side of Indianapolis near the airport and pay his tuition every semester. He still did not have a car but the Indianapolis bus system worked well enough for now. He could get to work, to school, and home without too much trouble. Only over the winter was he really tempted to find an old beater car to drive. He knew that would set him back on his goals so he decided to stick it out and just buy another sweater at Goodwill.

Michael had been invited to an IU Zeta sorority party by his chemistry lab partner who was dating one of the Zeta girls. They worked together and she mentioned they were celebrating the end of the year with a huge party on Sorority Row. Sean was going to take his girlfriend home to her parents’ suburban home and come back for the party. He knew Michael had a rough life outside of college so he wanted him to have a great time tonight. The offer of free alcohol and many single girls was too good to pass up. When they arrived at the old arts and craft style home, Michael was impressed until he saw the huge white greek letters that ruined the architectural design. Inside, the wood floor had been recently polished but nothing could hide the horrid color of pink on the walls with white Zeta letters all over. A pretty sorority girl, likely a pledge who became a sister during the spring semester, was offering jello vodka shots to all takers. Michael had never tried one before and sucked it down. It burned a little but he could see why they were appealing. After drinking a few cups of beers from the tapped keg, he downed another shot. Michael was feeling quite intoxicated and the needed to relieve himself.

As he searched for the bathroom, Michael could feel his body start to relax and numb with the alcohol. He had tried beer once at a friend’s house many years ago but found the taste revolting. He never tried alcohol until tonight. Although most of the people here were underage, the police had better things to do like catch murderers and rapists than bust a bunch of college kids celebrating.

The bathroom was just as horrible as the rest of the house. The paint was pink with white molding, a white vanity with a large mirror. The counter top was filled with pink heart shaped porcelain boxes and a giant candle in a glass jar that was obviously supposed to cover up the smell of puke and all the normal body fluids and gasses released in the bathroom. Michael shook his head in amusement as he finally could give his bladder some relief.

After he flushed the toilet and washed his hands, he picked up the candle in the glass jar. He wondered how much the candle cost when it slipped out of his drunk hands. His reflexes were dulled and he knew the candle would be smashed by the white ceramic tile. He expected to hear the glass shattering into a million pieces but instead he saw glowing grey ring about 12 inches wide rippling with a mirror on the other side. As the jar passed through the ring, it flew by his head and smashed into the large mirror, shattering the glass jar and putting a large crack in the mirror. The glass from the jar fell on the vanity, in the sink, and on the floor. Michael suddenly felt disorientated, much stronger than just alcohol. In the cracked mirror, he could see another rippling ring. He looked down and the ring on the floor was still there. As he looked in the ring now, he could see the shattered mirror but also see the right side of his head. He turned to look in the other hole and he could see his chin and the ceiling above him.

Michael’s interest in the rings was cut short as the door to the bathroom flew open. A Zeta sister with long blond hair and a fake suntan that was more orange than brown, gasped and covered her mouth with her freshly manicured fingernails.

“Oh my God! This drunk jerk just destroyed our bathroom!” the Zeta screamed.

Michael was having difficulty standing when two large males, probably Fake Bake’s boyfriend and his buddy, grabbed his shoulders and pulled him out. Both rings disappeared, leaving no marks on the wall or floor.

“Listen, asshole,” Michael remembered one of them mumbling. “You better have the money to fix this mirror.”

He passed out.

—–

Michael awoke to find himself at the park near Sorority Row as the sun was peeking over the eastern horizon. As he sat up, he looked but no one was around. He found his wallet on the ground empty, the $20 bill either stolen by Fake Bake or a bum in the park. He was not stupid enough to carry a large amount of cash around. He found his school and state issued ID a few feet away. Credit card companies were actually selective now after massive numbers of defaults so he did not have to worry about that. His debit card was still at home.

He leaned over, covering his face with his hands as he remembered the previous evening. He was 19 and he just had his Reveal.