One could not say that that Lucas Johann was a hard-working individual. In fact, one could not even make the statement that Lucas Johann was fit for enrollment at the University of Chicago. It would be a stretch to go as far as to say that he could succeed as a creamsicle salesman, and yet, it was hyperbole if you said that he would fail in life. The enigma that was, is, and will be Lucas Johann was a bothersome tale indeed for the admissions office, who slaved for long hours trying to figure out exactly why they had admitted this boy. (And, by hours, of course, I hyperbolize. It was more akin to minutes, or perhaps a cursory glance.) No, the admissions office did not truly toil over his acceptance, although his testing scores were an anomaly to the rest - perfect SAT and ACT scores, every last mark. And yet, his studentship skills were far from honed.
So, one was really led to wonder about Lucas Johann. Then again, after October the twenty-seventh, doing so was quite the task in itself, if not impossible. However, this is far from where the story stands, and as such, I digress to begin.
Lucas was no more than the ordinary student, at first glance, second, third, fourth, fifteenth, and last. His closet consisted heavily of plaid flannels and generic collegewear - too informal to be written off as "preppy", yet too formal to be flung into the pile of "casuals". In the early months of his freshman year of college, Lucas did not embed himself in any one circle or social ring.
Indeed, it seemed that he held a scarcely mentionable presence in almost every conversational group, but it was just that. A scarce mention, an offhand reference. Yet, nonetheless, he was a constant factor that kept his nature in a sort of suspense. It was nothing particularly noteworthy, though, and most never even realized that they were doing it. Most people would realize, eventually, that they had never spoken to Lucas. So, what indeed were they talking about, if not what he has stated of himself?
The nature of his identity was ambient. People were aware of it, and it needn’t be stated. There were a rare few that were able to truthfully say that they had spoken to him, but even those few could not clearly recall what he had said in conversation. All people could recall was a low, thrumming voice; it was enthralling, yes, but by no means was it ever considered ‘attractive’. It was possible, though, that it was just a part of the effect.
Lucas grabbed at his coffee, his fingers sliding around the Styrofoam a few times in a vice grip, feeling the surface slide under his digits. The cup slid towards him as he lifted it, looking down into the liquid and feeling it steam up into his face haughtily. The warmth emanating from the container allowed his hand a little more movement as the strange cold front settled into the area, bringing forth a few other thoughts. He pushed them aside, sipping the coffee and placing it aside, as well. He would truly never recover from the sensation of coffee. It felt alien, almost, to him: such a thing he had never experienced before now, and yet, so very present in his daily life now.
Lucas glanced down at the paper. He had just lost his train of thought, setting aside his pencil, and leaning back. His eyes drifted upward as he gathered his things, packing them away and standing. He had to move from the spot, he could feel the rain coming on. Well, smell. Sort of. It was a strange sensation to describe. Maybe it was olfactory, but, again, the thought was lost to him as he packed the finished paper, the words there and back again without his notice.
He would turn it in tomorrow, after reading the strange letter for a majority of the night, without a second thought as to how the paper had been finished. After all, he had written it.
It did not take long to find his way to the student center, dismounting from his bike and folding the scooter, packing it in his backpack, grabbing the bike lock to right it to the side of the building. Lucas stowed a pencil in his pocket, palm already wrapped on the doorknob. It turned, without retort, and he was inside the student center with a quick hop, the warmth almost joltingly present. He pulled the pen from his pocket, out of habit, and began to roll the pencil between his index and middle finger.
Lucas halted, immediately. His eyes were wide. His head creaked in the direction of the voice, the name piercingly present in the air. Everyone in the room almost looked up, almost, as if aware of how strange it was to hear the name. Then again, it was a common name – but it was attributed to this one Lucas in particular, which set the bizarrely placed word.
“Hey, Lucas,” the stranger breathed, an envelope in one hand. He offered it to the student with a dull smile. Lucas found himself unable to read the stranger’s face; it was an expression of flaccid acceptance, of menial happiness… but there was something in the eyes. They twitched. They burned.
“Thank you,” Lucas breathed, and the room shuddered. The air shook.
The letter slid into his fingers, and immediately Lucas dropped the pen, ignoring the pencil as it clattered on the ground. The pen. The pen. The pen. Yes, the pen. The letter now. The letter was there. The letter was always there. The stranger stared at him, and the eyes twitched. They burned. They smiled. Their teeth shined. They glinted, even. They watched.
Reality re-asserted itself. Lucas breathed, and the room shuddered. The air shook.
The stranger gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Henry had issues with it, too. It’s not as hard as you’d think! Or, so we’re told. I wouldn’t know, really.”
The stranger paused for a second. The smile faded.
“Read the letter, Lucas. And, don’t worry. We’ll talk soon, okay? Try not to bring down the student center.”
Lucas breathed. “Thank you.” He had to remember to breath. He always had to remember. Contract the diaphragm, pull the intercostal-
“Hey, do you want Henry’s number? I’m sure he could help you a bit. Wouldn’t it be rad if you two were related?”
That broke the tone of the exchange. It was informal. The world stopped watching. Lucas breathed. “Do I… know you?”
“Nah. But dude, you will. Hey, I bet we’ll be good friends. You’ll see. I’m a third year.”
Lucas looked around. No one stared. No one pointed. No one thought of him, or the stranger. What gave?
“Do I just… read it?”
The stranger nodded. “Yeah, just do it somewhere private. If someone read it over your shoulder… yeah, that’d suck. Trust me. Combustion ain’t fun. I think that’s what these do nowadays, anyways.”
The letter was in his backpack now. Lucas looked at the letter in his hand. The stranger handed him the letter. “Hey, hold onto it. Don’t worry, nothing will happen to ya’. And I’m sure you won’t have issues finding somewhere alone anyways, huh?”
Lucas gave him a sideways look. Angled, confused.
“Oh,” the stranger toned, frowning now. “I’m sorry, dude. That was just insensitive. Uh, listen, call Henry some time. He can help you, yeah? I’m sure you’d want to understand.”
Lucas nodded, and grabbed the letter from his post box in the student center’s post office. His fingers glazed over the paper, the sticky note with “Henry” written on it still there. A phone number was written across the bottom, and Lucas grabbed his cell phone. He typed it in, and grabbed his cell phone from his pocket, putting the number into a new contact. He opened his contact list, and opened the contact “Henry”, knowing that it was always there. The number was there. It was always there.
The letter in his hand. Yes. He sat in his chair, in his dorm, opening it right there in the post office.
No. It had to be private. He asserted the thought – dorm. Single dorm.
’Please,’ he thought to himself. ’Just this once, don’t work against me.’
Lucas opened the letter, and breathed. “Thank you,” he murmured.
And Lucas breathed.
Dear Potential Rushee,
On behalf of Theta Omega Theta Fraternity, let us start by congratulating you on your acceptance into the University of Chicago. Attending the University is, in itself, a letter of prestige. Of the utmost importance to our relationship to the University is the importance it holds in our brotherhood. We send you this letter in hopes that you may become a Fraternity Brother during your time here. Brotherhood guarantees an eye-opening education into further academia.
Nationally founded in 1889, Theta Omega Theta Fraternity currently has 84 active chapters throughout the United States, with the Nu Theta Chapter being the thirteenth installed. Since 1895, Nu Theta Chapter has labored and bled as brothers to further the onset of our goals as a fraternity. The Brothers of Theta Omega Theta never forget the duties and values by which they hold themselves, above all campus activities. In the one hundred and nineteen years since Nu Theta Chapter’s foundation, this upcoming cycle will perhaps be the most riveting, and definitely one of the most advanced. We currently consist of thirty-one members who through research, development, and the study of the bizarre, have become renowned fraternity members in the system. With our current leadership and third-party connections in place, Nu Theta Chapter is rapidly approaching the peak of its conditional existence. We seek men of specific and rigorous qualification to call Brother, demanding a diverse and effective Brotherhood.
The rush period is one of the only times we perform recruitment, with a very rare exception. We usually begin recruitment for the upcoming year in January and continue on until Formal Rush, which is October 1st– October 5th. Rush events include various events of both entertaining and enlightening qualities, provided in a relaxed environment that allows future Brothers to ease into our specific area of academic advancement. Some of our more exciting annual events include Poker Night, extra-dimensional summoning, paintball trips outside of Hyde Park, relaxed nights in downtown Chicago and on Navy Pier, anomalous mixology, and bowling nights. For every function the chapter will provide transportation, lodging, and anything else that you may need. Although we do focus significantly on our summer rush program, we also always have a very successful formal rush program. If you are unable to make it to any summer events, we will still make every effort to meet you at the beginning of the school year or during Formal Rush.
If you have any questions at all, don’t be afraid to call my cell, e-mail me, or make contact via astral projection. Please also fill out our Rush Interest Form to receive further information on how you can join our fraternity. We wish you the best of luck at the University of Chicago and look forward to seeing you here soon.