Karl glanced through the open door that led to the dorm’s main living area. “Your roommate came back a half hour ago,” he whispered. “He’s passed out on the couch.”
A creak of floorboards echoed from the main room. Anthony sat up. Pale, white light reflected off the snow, outside and illuminated his Anderson Hall home. Through the door he could see Max’s prone form crashed out on the couch with a spilled beer can by his hand. His roommate, still dressed in a winter coat, snored softly.
Karl propped himself up on one elbow and looked up at Anthony with an expression that said, “See?”
Anthony put a single finger to his lips and, slowly, got out of bed.
The faint flower smell wafted through the air. His steps faltered; there was something strange and evocative about that aroma.
Briefly, a long-forgotten memory flashed through his mind: a vast thicket of rose bushes winding their way around tall pines. Another creak echoed through the quiet dorm.
He peeked into the main study area he and Max used as a living room. The door to his roommate’s bedroom stood open but everything else was untouched. He heard something new: the sound of rustling. It seemed to come from inside the closet by the hallway door. A chill ran down his spine. Two months before, he’d had a visitor; a visitor who had come through that impossible, closet door. While he remembered their conversation, here in the dorm, memories of the adventure that had followed were only just returning. The smell of roses grew stronger as he crept towards the closet. Behind him, Karl followed.
Gingerly, he reached out to grip the doorknob. He motioned Karl back with his other hand and slowly turned the knob until the latch disengaged. He counted to three.
He jerked the door open in a flash and a small, cloaked figure barreled into him. He was knocked to the floor and bit back a sharp profanity as he felt what seemed like sharp needles score his bare arms and chest.