Before the Cult

       Sandy Masia / Thrillers & Crime
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“Would you shut the hell up?” I snapped.
Macfearson shrugged. “It’s just strange what you guys are doing here. Who listens to music like that? I’m tiptoeing around this place afraid to make a sound like you have your freaking heads buried in a book before an exam. Afraid because I might, “he added air quotes, “distract you.”
“I think you can’t stand being alone,” said Macxermillio.
“I think you missing the point. I can’t stand being in a room with fucking zombies staring at a screen watching every little move I make. No, I can’t stand the silence oozing from the undead. It is just awkward.” He began approaching with a coyly careless gait. Leaned over from behind us to take a look at the screen. "Oh my dead dog, you guys are just staring at nothing? I thought you were looking at visualizations or something. You just staring at the player?”
Macxermillio shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand, music is not just meant to be heard but experienced and be enveloped in it. That requires your undivided attention and the moment you realize how beautiful and magical the experience is maybe you would burn yourself a bit less. Nothing strange here.”
With a shrug, Macfearson sat on the bed behind us situated at the corner. He rolled up his left sleeve, grabbed a lighter from his pocket and held his arm over the flame, searing his skin. He groaned, “Oh yeah. That does it.” He leered at us then slumped on his back over the bed. “You can freakin’ carry on now. I’m gonna take a nap. I like the whole keeping the room dark thing but what you guys are doing is strange.”
“Every time you speak you just distract us and we have to start all over again. This is an album not a random collection of songs like a pop record. We need the silence!” I said.
Macfearsonn sighed heavily. “Why can’t you start where you left off? It’s like a fuckin’ movie on pause, right?”
“Some experiences beg to be experienced without a pause or an interruption. It’s not the same, it’s a thing of its own kind,” Macxermillio answered. “Do we have your cooperation?”
“Can I snore and have a freakin’ ciggy?”
Macxermillio chuckled. “You can’t fuckin' snore.”
“Alright.” He stuck a cigarette between his lips and let it dangle on the corner of his mouth for a little while. “Okay, I’m ready. You can hit it?”
With a gentle tap on the laptop’s keyboard the album started and the room filled with a modest stream of sound. Soaked us in it. Soon our minds were drowning within the affect world of music and the spells of the experience. The external world submerged into a darkness, so deep and out of sight that the furniture reverted to its lonely creaky nature. The tree out the window and its shuffling leaves miniature, the bird songs mixed in the background fog of student voices, cars, motorcycles, trucks and dog barks. Such abstraction from the university’s morning stir. The music spawned webs the size of the universe and we swam in the volume like whales.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
Aggressive and disruptive, tugging us from the depths of the music. With a grimace on his face, Macxermillio muttered under his breath, “Who the fuck is that?”
“No, fucking clue,” I said.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK !
“Fuck,” I cursed under my breath as I got up, exasperated. “On my way! Cool off.”
“I wanna see who this dopey is.” Macfearson got up and waited.
I opened the door. “Jay! How are you?”
He ignored my greeting and went straight to his point. "I can smell the smoke in the hallway," he said. "I told you to stop smoking in your room. I can't give you hours for this, but the sub-wardens will. It's just fuckin’ annoying, man. Please be considerate to all the people living in the res.” He paused. When he did I realized he was coming from the shower, his towel wrapped around his waist. He was still wet and for the first time I could see how far his belly hung out and how flabby his biceps were. I also found myself not hearing half of the stuff he snarled, increasingly apathetic. He lived three doors down from me and my neighbours never complained about the smoke, but occasionally the music. “Please, will you stop? It’s a fire hazard.”
I sighed. "Okay, I will, Jay."
He studied me closely for a while, incredulous. “I am serious.”
I shook my head. “I see that now.”
"Next time I'm telling the one of the sub-wardens." With that, he stepped out of the doorway and went down the hallway.
I watched as he disappeared into his room, turned and shut the door behind me. Macfearson harboured a grin on his face, eyes sparkling with an idea. “When the flowers grow too high and too close to the window, enough to block your view. You clip them off,” he said. “Deathlings, I think we have our next sample. We have let it grow too high and wide.” He paused. “His blocking our view.” He pointed. “Fellas, that is the true distraction.”
He planted another cigarette between his lips.
“Are you gonna smoke again?” said Macxermillio.
Macfearson stared at Macxermillio for a while. Removed his lighter from his pocket and flipped it on. “If it all goes well,” he lit the cigarette shut the lighter and placed it back his pocket, “I am breaking his nose in a few minutes.” His jaws jerked and his breathing grew heavy. “A fucking lifeling can’t tell us what to do. Fuck him!”
“He is probably not coming out in his room for the next fifteen minutes or so. The guy just took a shower,” Macxermillio said.
“It is enough. Cigarette smoke is not easily cleared.”
“I would love to watch it all go down but I gotta go to the philosophy lecture pretty soon,” I said.
Macfearson nodded. “You going, Macx?”
“No, I think I will continue listening right up until the encounter.”
“Guys please don’t mess my room. Don’t get me in too much trouble. I am responsible for you guys since you don’t stay in this res or are even students here,” I said.
Macfearson sighed. “Yeah, we won’t. It’s cool.”
“Guys, don’t cause too much trouble, we can’t afford to draw much attention to ourselves now.” I shook my head. “I guess a simple intimidation would do. Look he is a bully he can’t go tell on me because that is freakin’ weak according to the standards he set himself.”
Macfearson groaned. “C’mon, let me break his nose. It won’t cause any commotion or take long. No one will notice, not even himself until the deed is done.”
Reluctantly I replied, “Okay, but only if he comes here. Don’t overdo it.”
Macfearson chuckled. “Alright!” He pulled on his cigarette and grinned.
“Okay. Macx, I’m trusting you, okay?”
“Okay.” He nodded.
With what felt like a speck of assurance I grabbed my bag which rested against the bookshelf, opened the door behind me and disappeared into the hallway.


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