*** Author’s Note to Readers*** The following novel may contain themes of violence and occasional vulgar language.  The most offensive chapters will have a warning like this one, and are rare.  However, I would recommend to parents that they preview such chapters before allowing adolescents to read them, that’s just common sense.  

A young man lay sprawled across a small bed that was just wide enough for one person.  The bed lay in one corner of a small room with large bricks painted white, giving the room a very institutional feel.  One wall of the corner, above his head, held a wall-mounted bookcase with textbooks and novels.  The other wall of his corner held the only window.  The room’s only further furniture was a desk and chair.  A computer was on top of the desk.  The dresser was crammed into the open closet to create floor space.  A duffel bag lay on the floor in front of it.

            The third wall of the little room was decorated with illustrations, featuring comic book and fantasy characters:  mutants and elves, angels and ogres.  The fourth wall had the door, which someone was currently knocking.  The youth on the bed rolled over.

            The knocking became pounding and he sat up.

            “Ethan!  Wake up!  Come on, wake up!”  Someone shouted through the door.  He stared at it for a moment, his head cocked to one side, a strange little smile in the corner of his mouth.

            He pulled on a tshirt that was draped over the chair and then pulled on jeans that had been lying in a crumpled pile on the floor.  He waited at the doorway, peering into the peephole.  He timed opening the door perfectly.

            “Ethan! Whoooaaa!”  Another young man toppled into the room, caught off balance by his next big swing.  Instead of pounding the wood, he pounded himself into the carpet.  Being over six feet tall and more than two hundred pounds, he hit it fairly hard.

            “Dick!”  He grinned, picking himself up.  “Why didn’t you answer me, Ethan?”

            Ethan looked at him with that same little smile.  “I was dreaming.”

            “Well, get your ass up!”  The bigger youth grinned, punching him in the arm.  “Grab your bags, we have to get moving.”

            “I thought we agreed to meet at nine?” 

            Another young man appeared in the doorway.  He had long dishevelled hair that seemed unable to make up its mind regarding its colour.  It wasn’t quite blonde, nor was it quite brown. 

            “Dan’s a bit excited,” he said.  “To put it mildly.”

            “Yeah, and this fucker used my enthusiasm against me.  Knocked me right onto the floor.”  Dan playfully shoved Ethan, who showed no reaction in his face. 

            “He’s probably getting you back for last week.” 

            “What did I do last week, Evan?” Dan asked.

            “The shaving cream incident?  You covered his door and his bed.”

            Dan laughed loudly, “I forgot about that.  That was awesome.”

            “Well, now you’re both even,” Evan said.  “Can we get on with our lives?”

            “I was trying to get Ethan up so we can leave.  I don’t want to miss our flight, man.”

            “We can leave now, if you really want to,” Ethan said.  “I’ve been packed for days.  We’ll just get there earlier than the others and have to wait.”

            “Well, that’s better than just standing around this dump.  School’s out, let’s rock!”  Dan followed this comment with an enthusiastic bellow more suited to a crowded hockey arena after a game-winning goal than a university dormitory.

            “Dan, I admire your passion, but you’re aware some people actually use Reading Week to study, aren’t you?” Evan smiled.

            “Who gives a fuck?”  Dan laughed.  “Let’s go.  I want to be the first one there.”

            Ethan pulled on his boots and coat while his friends bantered, hardly listening.  He hefted his duffel and followed them down the hallway.

            “I bet Neal gets there before we do,” Evan said, talking about one of the friends they would be meeting at the airport.

            “Uh uh, no way.  We’re closer than he is, and we’re leaving earlier than we planned,” Dan said.  “Twenty bucks says you’re wrong.”

            “Deal.”  Evan shook on it with his hefty friend.  “I bet you another twenty that Owen is with Neal, and eating a sub sandwich while they wait for us.”

            “A sub?  Bullshit, easy money!  I’ll take that bet.  You couldn’t possibly know that.”  Dan gleefully shook again.  Evan shrugged.

            “Owen likes snacks, what can I say.  If I’m wrong on both counts, you just pocketed forty dollars.”

            They stopped by Evan’s room and grabbed his gear, including his cherished guitar in a cloth gig-bag.  Dan’s room was next door, so it wasn’t long before they were headed out of the building towards the parking lot.

            “Crap, it’s snowing!”  Dan said, tugging a hat over his dark hair as they walked through the school grounds.

            “We’re going on a ski trip, Dan, better get used to it,” Ethan said.  “There’s a lot of snow in the mountains.”

            “And there’s a lot of snow-bunnies in Whistler.  I am going to get so much ass this week!”  Dan cheered.

            “Pervert,”  Evan laughed.  Ethan strode ahead, finding his truck and tossing his bag into the back.

            “Let’s roll, shall we?”

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