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Danger on the Quad

Portrait of a girl in winter at night

A Dark, Eerie Night

 

Stephanie is a coed at a state school. Because of her workload, she’s had to schedule one of her classes at night. One night just as class was letting out, she stopped to speak with her professor about an upcoming assignment. All the other students shuffle out of the room, leaving just Stephanie and the professor alone.

 

A few minutes later, Stephanie, having gotten her answers, leaves the building. With winter approaching, the campus is pitch dark, with only the lamps lining the paved walks to light the ways. Stephanie zips her coat up a little higher as she makes her way to the parking lot on the other side of campus.

 

This late at night, the campus is practically deserted, all of the other students already long gone. In the distance, she hears the shouting and cheers of a dorm party, but she sees nobody on the path, no familiar faces of her classmates.

 

Not All Perceived Dangers Are Truly Dangerous

 

A rustling in the bushes catches her attention. The blood freezes in Stephanie’s veins and she stops dead in her tracks. She turns her body slowly toward the noise, her feet feeling as if they’d been glued to the pavement. She watches as the branches of an azalea bush shake, and just before a guttural scream erupts from her throat, a rabbit pounces from the bush, followed closely by two smaller rabbits.

 

Realizing she’d been holding her breath, Stephanie exhales, laughing at herself for her fear of a small mammal. She continues along the way, coming upon the concrete stairwell that leads down into the parking lot.

 

Gripping the pitted iron railing, Stephanie begins her descent, feeling the pangs of hunger in her stomach. She’s thinking about where she’ll stop to eat on the way home when a silhouette appears at the bottom of the stairs. Stephanie almost doesn’t see it at first, but as she traipses down another three steps, a second black figure joins the first.

 

Stephanie stops, her fingers gripping the iron railing behind her. The light from the lamps along the quad path shine down brightly enough to reflect against two pairs of dark eyes staring up at her. She hears the crunch of a footstep lifting itself up the stairway, and the eerily glowing eyes shift in the darkness.

 

Pivoting on her heels, Stephanie sprints up the stairway, taking the steps two at a time. The footsteps behind her grow quicker, move frenzied and, worst of all, louder as they draw closer. Stepahnie makes a final lunge, hitting the top landing of the stairway when she feels a weight on her back. She wills her legs to pump faster, run harder, but she’s frozen in place by the hand grasping her backpack.

 

A force drags her backwards, and Stephanie lands flat on her back against the hard packed earth, the books in her knapsack knocking the wind out of her. A body climbs on top of her, holding her down. She can feel knees digging into her thighs, immobilizing her legs. Hands on her shoulders pin her to the ground, her spine bending backward over her bulging backpack.

 

A face hovers inches from her own, the yellow, jagged teeth shimmering in the light from a nearby lamp looking like imps laughing at her own misfortune. 

 

Sometimes Even The Smallest Purchases Can Save You

 

Stephanie’s hand drags across the cold dirt, searching for the pocket of her winter jacket. Her fingers land against the tube clasped to her keys, the rigid accent jewels unmistakeable. She grasps the top between thumb and forefinger, giving it a twist before palming the tube and yanking it from her pocket.

 

Crooking her elbow, she aims the nozzle at her attacker’s face and presses the button, releasing a thick jet of pepper spray into his eyes. He screams in pain, scrabbling backward to get away from the fog, allowing Stephanie to rise to her feet.

 

Her attacker’s companion takes a step toward Stephanie, and she responds in kind, pivoting toward him to release a jet of pepper spray into his face. He doubles over, his hands flying to his eyes trying to rub away the capsaicin-laced liquid, not realizing he’s only making it worse.

 

Without a second’s hesitation, Stephanie bolts down the stairway toward the parking lot, using her keyfob to unlock her car door before she even finds it. She slips from her backpack, leaps into her car, and drives away, calling the school’s security office on her cell phone to let them know what had happened to her.

 

Unfortunately, Stephanie’s situation is one many college-aged women find themselves in almost daily. However, by accepting what happened as a possibility, and not thinking that it could never happen to her, Stephanie was able to arm herself. It’s always best to be over prepared and not need something, than to be under prepared and find yourself in trouble when something bad happens.

 

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