All was calm and dark. After a long day of lab experiments and flight simulation, followed by an even longer night of gossip, peanut butter M&M’s, and severely burnt popcorn, sleep was welcomed with open, if drooping, arms.
A young girl lay in a dormitory bed, an odd combination of simultaneously stretched and coiled limbs beneath a single sheet and a homemade fleece blanket. A small electric fan blew at the center of this gently breathing mass from its perch on a chair dragged nearly to the edge of the bed.
Outside, dark billowing clouds, heavy with rain and giving off an aura of trouble, gathered around the tops of academic buildings, as if waiting for their cue to strike. The air zipped with electric energy, and the indescribably delicious smell that only comes before a good soaking rain drifted to the ground, into windows opened to ward off the stifling summer heat, and permeated the silent and soon-to-be-forgotten dreams of many piles of blankets steadily rising and falling with unconscious life.
Without warning, a single drop of water fell from an impatient cloud, riding a powerful gust of air through a window to land smack onto the young girl’s nose. As if it were a sudden bursting snore from her nasally-impaired father, she brushed at her face even as she rolled onto her other side and pulled her coverings tighter around her, oblivious to the chaos-toting Pandora’s Box that she had unlocked along with her windows earlier that night.
Another few drops fell, each blown by the forceful wind into the side of a building, like particularly stupid birds into a really clean window. The storm began this way, hesitantly, building up its courage and confidence in preparation for the real thing.
As a drizzling level of rainfall was reached, a flash of lightning zigzagged its way from the clouds to the ground and back, like a cautious swimmer would use their toe to test the water temperature. A few short seconds later, a resounding crack of thunder split open the sky, and let loose torrents of cold, unrelenting rain, which the wind directed right at the young girl’s window.
However, in combination with the girl’s conveniently wall-facing position as she slept on, the arrangement of the bed into the corner of the room allowed the majority of the nocturnal shower to pour itself onto the carpeted floor, just short of the small fan. Her roommate was not so lucky. With her identical dorm bed pressed right below her open window’s ledge, rain bucketed down and quickly began to soak her blankets through to the person underneath them.
Being an uneasy sleeper to begin with, the young girl’s roommate chose this moment to roll onto her other side, where she had run out of mattress to catch her cataleptic chassis, and thus landed with a blanket-muffled thud. Her grunt upon impact was as drawn out as her fall was abrupt. Gathering the avalanche of comforter around her, with eyes still closed in fatigued denial of consciousness, she stood up and climbed back into bed in one fluid motion, completely unaware of the icy cold lake of rainwater that had formed in the crater she’d left in the old, sagging mattress.
With a shrill squeak stifled by her sleepiness, she leapt out of the waterlogged bed, still clutching all her coverings, to land with surprising feline grace on her feet. She spent quite a few moments blinking uncomprehendingly at the storm streaming with an unparalleled intensity in the window, unable to do anything but cradle her impossibly huge bundle of bedspread, as one brusquely woken in the middle of the night is prone to do. She finally regained enough of her senses to wake the young girl before crossing their bathroom to an adjoining room, where two other girls slept, unaware of the meteorological mayhem teeming in their wide-open windows.
In a flurry of chaotic yet coordinated choreography, the four girls flitted from window to open window, closing them as quickly as they could manage in their inebriating exhaustion. After laying down towels underneath the nearly flooded bathroom window, they quickly formed a makeshift bed for the young girl’s roommate from her plethora of bedcovering, as her actual bed was beyond the capacity of their sleepy cerebella. All of the girls then returned to their respective places of rest, and as the young girl replaced her sheets around her tired body, she thought to herself what a storm survival story this would eventually make.