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Lying in wait

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Spring is beautiful in the desert. It never really gets all that cold, but the chilly mornings fade into pleasant days and what little wildlife there is can usually be seen milling about in the evenings, just as the sun starts to fade. Commander Iverson was watching Shiro staring wistfully out the window, pen twirling in his hand by his ear. “What are you still doin’ here, kid? Class has been over for hours.” He asked with a raised eyebrow.

Shiro jolted a little in his seat, dropping his pen. He scrambled out of his seat to attention. “I was just trying to get some homework finished in the peace and quiet, sir.” He answered.

Iverson shook his head. “At ease, cadet. And go back to your room. You work too hard.” He said with a fond smile.

The thought of going back to his room had Shiro’s blood running ice cold. There was no telling what was lying in wait for him there. “Yes, sir. Of course.” Shiro replied, a little anxiously. He stuffed all of his books and papers into his bag.

Iverson stopped him in rush by with a hand on his shoulder. “Everything ok, Shiro? You seem spooked.” Shiro’s cheeks tinted pink.

“Uh yes, sir. Everything’s fine. Just…” Shiro sighed as he looked down at the floor.

Everything was fine, except for the date. April First.

April first was Shiro’s least favorite day of the year. Normally Matt was an amazing roommate and great friend. He always did his share of the chores, helped Shiro with his chemistry homework, cheered him up when he was feeling stressed or sad. But not on April first.

No, Matthew Holt had not gone to class on April first the entire time Shiro had known him, claiming it was basically a religious holiday. Instead, he plotted and schemed and there was nothing Shiro could do.

Their first year as roommates, Matt had gone easy on him. Shiro had woken up to every single pocket in his backpack filled to the brim with packing peanuts. When he finally cleaned them out and opened his desk drawer for a spare pen, more peanuts. Every drawer. Peanuts. It was a little bit annoying, but mostly funny. When he’d gotten back from class that day, he realized that Matt had spent the entire time covering every inch of his room in pictures of Jeff Goldblum. His walls, his desk, his bed, the whole thing: Jeff Goldblum. Matt hadn’t used a single picture twice, which was a little impressive, but the tape residue had never quite come off his laptop all the way.

Year two had been, in a word, more. Somehow Matt had sneaked into his bedroom while he was asleep and set hundreds of plastic cups, halfway filled with water, around the entire floor. About half of them had been stapled together in seemingly random patterns, the rest interspersed so as to be easiest to knock over. Eventually Shiro had just put his boots on and stomped over them so as not to be late to class. When he finally made it out of his room, slightly damp, he was horrified to discover that their tiny kitchen (a microwave, one burner, a sink, and a small fridge with no freezer) had been completely covered in tin foil, even the individual pieces of silverware. The bathroom had been worse. The toilet, the sink, and the showerhead had been seran wrapped. It had taken a lot to clean up. Shiro most certainly had been late to class that day.

Of course, Shiro was no pushover. Matt had dealt with glitter in his PT bag, googly eyes on all of his movies and games, temporary dye in his shampoo (which had backfired, who knew Matt would look great with purple hair for 2 weeks?). Shiro wouldn’t start the pranking, but he didn’t let Matt have all the fun.

That morning, Shiro had woken up expecting the worst and been terrified to find… nothing. He checked his boots, his bag, his desk, the kitchen, all were clear. Matt had just been sitting at the table, calmly drinking his coffee. “Good morning, Shiro.” Matt greeted with a vacant smile.

Shiro stopped in his tracks on the way to the bathroom. “Good… morning…” He looked around, waiting for the room to sudden burst into flames. “Why are you here?” Shiro asked tentatively.

Matt took another sip of his coffee. “I live here, Shiro.” He replied. A shiver went down Shiro’s spine. He sounded like an extra in Children of the Corn.

“Yeah but you’re never here today. It’s… it’s April Fool’s Day.” Shiro stammered out.

Matt hummed in thought. “Oh, it must have slipped my mind. Well, I’m off to class.” He said as he finished his coffee, setting the mug in the sink. “Have a good day, Shiro.” Matt shouldered his backpack and walked out the door.

Shiro carefully checked the bathroom door for a bucket as he walked in, but the top of the door was clear, as were the sink and toilet. He splashed cold water on his face, knowing it was going to be a long day.

That was how he had found himself sitting in Iverson’s classroom hours after class had let out. “Shiro? Do you need to go to the infirmary?” Iverson’s voice pulled him from his reverie.

“No, sir! Sorry, it’s just been a long day.” He answered with an awkward chuckle.

Iverson gave him a worried look and grabbed his shoulder. “I’ll look the other way just this once if you need tomorrow off. I know adding recruitment to your schedule has been hard.” He squeezed lightly.

Shiro smiled at him. “Thank you, sir, I appreciate it.”

Iverson nodded and shooed him out of the classroom, locking it behind them as they left. Thankfully, he turned the opposite way Shiro was headed, so he was able to double back and head to the library. He stopped in his tracks halfway there.

Matt would know.

Of course Matt would have assumed he’d hide in the library. No, there had to be somewhere else. Somewhere else Matt wouldn’t think he’d go.

Shiro snapped his fingers and turned around again, heading for the garage. Matt would never suspect him of leaving after hours, that would be against the rules. He made his way to the garage and sat down on his bike. He hung his head as he realized he’d left the key in his desk. In their room.

After another hour or so, Shiro got tired of sitting on his bike reading and dreading going home in turns. He finally decided to just face whatever horrors Matt had unleashed. At least he would be able to do it in basketball shorts and not in uniform anymore.

He cautiously opened the door and peered around. Matt was sitting on the couch, reading a book. Nothing seemed amiss. He hadn’t really forgotten about April Fool’s Day, had he? It seemed impossible. “Hey, Matt.” Shiro said suspiciously.

Matt didn’t look up from his book. “Wow, you had a busy day. It’s late.”

Alarm bells were blaring in Shiro’s mind. Something had to be wrong… he looked around carefully again and saw nothing. He side-eyed Matt as he walked into his room. Still nothing. “Ok, I give up! What did you do!” Shiro shouted, throwing his hands up into the air.

Matt just smiled and turned the page. “I just went to class, got dinner, now I’m reading. This book is really good, you’d like it. There’s wizards.” He still wouldn’t look up at Shiro.

Shiro took a deep breath and let it out through his nose. He grabbed his pajamas and decided he was going to take a long, hot shower and go to bed early. He pulled back the curtain and screamed at the life-sized cut out sitting there in tub, staring at him with lifeless eyes. Grabbing the cardboard monstrosity he walked back out to the living room. He locked eyes with Matt as he sat there grinning on the couch. Shiro ripped the cutout in half and threw it on the floor, shouting in indignant anger. “God damn it, Matt! What is your deal with Jeff Goldblum!?”