The Monster of July

Damian's life changes when one of his professors turns out to be an acquaintance he had erased from his memory. Demons from the past will come haunting him again as their relationship evolves, dragging them both in a rollercoaster of drama, angst, and yes, sometimes a bit of joy.


3. Back Door (part 1)

          Thursday morning was bleak; the breeze carried a certain coolness signalling that autumn would be here soon. I walked on the alley leading to the main building, noticing the occasional yellowing leaf in the trees. As I made my way, it seemed like the fragments of a dream I struggled to remember were being dissipated with the mist. A voice calling my name stopped me in my tracks. I turned around and started smiling despite myself.

            "Daniel! Good morning."

            He caught up with me and we started walking side by side, chatting about the weather, our schedules, the students... As we approached the main entrance, Daniel slowed down and then paused a few steps away from the door. He turned toward me, pausing to gather his thoughts before saying, "Damian, as you know, I'm going to start setting up my research laboratory very soon, and I would need someone to help... So I was wondering if you would like to work as my research assistant? It would be a paid position, of course.

            Did he have mind reading abilities? I had the feeling he somehow knew I was looking for a job. Maybe he had tapped my phone and heard my conversation with my mother last night.

            "I'm not sure, I have absolutely no experience..."

            "Don't worry, you would learn as you go."

            I hesitated. I had heard research experience was important, but I hadn't considered getting in a lab right at the beginning of my first year. At the same time, I didn't want to miss an opportunity to work... with him? Daniel noticed my discomfort and finally said, "You don't have to tell me now. Think about it. Maybe after the midterms you'll have a better idea whether you can manage extra work on the side."


            Once in the classroom, I took my place next to the same girl as last time. It turns out that we had a few classes together and she was doing her best to become my friend in every one of them.

            "So you know the prof? How did you two meet?"

            "It's none of your business," I replied in a friendlier tone than you might think.

            "Why don't you just tell me?"

            "It's personal. I don't even know your name."

            "I'm Clara."

            For some reason, words deserted me. I just stared at Clara, who stared back with a critical look in her eyes.

            "What?" she said.

            "N... nothing... It's just... You don't look like a Clara."

            "What does a Clara look like?"

            "Well, they're more... you know... and maybe, like, less... ah..."

            She pouted before returning the question, "So what's your name?"


            "Well, I'm sorry to say, but you don't look like a Damian at all. It's like a prince charming name and you're more like a... not a prince charming."

            Alright, so that's how it was going to be. I snorted and shook my head, replying, "It's just that I'm still in my frog form. One day you'll see."

            She laughed. 


          The night of the party came way too quickly. Clara made me believe that I had promised I would go and that I wasn't the kind of guy to break his promises. Well, couldn't I just be whichever kind of guy I felt like being? I'm going to skip the initial awkwardness of generally not knowing where to put myself, and cut directly to the interesting part, which occurred after, or rather because, I had become pretty drunk. I think the medical term for that is "smashed".

            I wasn't the only one though. So were most of Clara's friends, whose names I can't really remember. One of them, a tall, muscular guy with a manbun, asked me if I had a girlfriend. Clara, despite her own advanced degree of alcoholization, was faster and answered for me, "No, he's got the hots for Dr. Lewis." This seemed to spur my tongue to action.

            "What the hell are you talking about? I'm actually into girls."

Manbun grinned and looked at me in challenge.

            "Then prove it. Go chat up a girl."


            "Have you ever flirted with a girl before?"

            "Of course! All the time!" I lied

            "Then go, choose one and we'll watch you." All the others cheered, leaving me no chance to protest. I was way too drunk for that anyway. I tried to put my hands in my jeans pockets to look cool, but missed on all three trials, so I decided to just leave them by my side. "Alright," I said. I looked around me, checking my options, and pointed at Clara with a dramatic flourish. "I choose this specimen... who calls herself Sarah."

            "Clara," the specimen retorted.

            "Whatever." That settled the argument.

            "I don't want you to flirt with me. That's weird."

            There was something in that, so I looked for someone else. Not far from the bar was a girl with long blond hair, a tiny, tight black dress and platform stilettos. I pointed at her, "This one."

            Manbun disagreed. "You should try someone a bit more... your type." He looked around the room and found what he was looking for. "This is Stephanie. She's really nice and I think she likes the quiet type."

            "Who's quiet?" I asked.

            As an answer, Clara pushed me in Stephanie's direction. I vacillated a bit on my way there. Stephanie was chatting with a couple of friends but she paused when she noticed me coming her way. She wore fitted jeans with a t-shirt and had shoulder-length, curly black hair. She smiled when she saw me, so I guessed she didn't mind my presence. Maybe it was the alcohol, but I did think we might have eventually got along in some way or other. However, I didn't say anything, because in one second all my priorities changed radically. Without giving it any second thought, I hurried to the toilet where I threw up everything that had gotten in me that night. 

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