“So what time do they bring out the kool-aid?”
“Oh my goodness! Dylan, if you don’t shut up we are turning
around right now and you’ll never hear a thing about this again.”
Lola is my best friend and the only person that I can honestly stand to even be around. I’m not blind to the fact that I am a total bitch, but at the end of the day I am her bitch, and that is all that matters right? She stops and stares at me to ensure I got how serious is she about this.
“Ok ok, don’t go all parent on a road trip on me here, Lolly. You know I am just messing around, mostly.”
“It’s the mostly I am concerned about. This means a lot to me, and I am risking a lot by even bringing you here.”
“I know, and really I am grateful. I promise I’ll cut it with the cult talk and be on my best behavior.”
“Good, because we are not a cult.”
As she continues to walk again I give an eye roll behind her back. Lately, Lola has gotten mixed up with some new friends. They finally convinced her to join them at some sort of secret meeting place with them once a week to just chat, meditate, or whatever. Ever since her first meeting she has been borderline obsessed with the whole thing.
Normally this is a completely hush hush type of situation, but being her best friend she couldn’t keep what was going on from me. I mean I would say since she is my friend I respect her having a personal life outside of my own, but I would be lying. So I would push her to call after every meeting to give me the low down on her creepy choice of social activities. That being said, the more meetings she went to, the more I noticed her skimping on the details. This clearly led me to some less-than-positive thoughts about this group, and so I insisted she take me to see for myself.
We enter the campus library and Lola head straight towards the back.
“Ohh a secret society in a library. That is totally original.”
“Shhhh.” Lola whispers while looking around
A student studying nearby gives me a glare as I pass.
“Dylan this is a library, and the whole point of a secret is to keep it a secret.”
“Alright sorry. It was just a joke. Could have at least given me a pity laugh.”
She continues walking towards some unknown destination ahead of us. Finally, she reaches a row of books near the very back. She does one more look around and then pulls up the edge of the carpet lining this row. Under is a trap door which she opens and signals for me to go ahead. I hesitate.
“Hurry up before someone comes along.”
I head down with a gulp as she follows behind the closes the door behind us. She lights up her phones so that we can see the long and dark hallway before us leading to a thick door at the end.
“You see how creepy this is right?”
“Oh stop, it’s just a hallway.”
“Who decorated it? Horror movies incorporated.”
She rolls her eyes and steps ahead to lead the way. As we get to the door she doesn’t go for the knob but instead starts feeling the sides of the wall.
“Um not to question your mental health or anything, but you do know there is a knob right there?”
I go to open it for her.
I freeze right before my hand touches the knob and jump back.
“That door is a fake”
“Yeah, and if you touch it or try to open it you will get a bit of a shock.”
“Oh hell no. They are tase people with electric doors now?”
“Only the ones trying to break in need to worry about that.”
“Well gee they seem sweet. Cant wait to meet them. So where is the actual door?”
She fumbles around the wall a bit more.
She flips some sort of hidden switch inside the brick wall and the wall behind us opens up. I jump back and ram right into her.
“Ow! You got my nose Dylan.”
“Ah, im sorry Lolly, but warn me before you go opening up magic doors.”
“It’s not magic, it’s engineering.” She says while rubbing her nose. “Anyway we are going to be late, lets get going.”
She moves past me again and proceeds down a set of stairs.
“Watch your step and stay close to me no matter what.” She calls back. “These are my friends, but newcomers aren’t exactly common.”
I hold back a snide comment for what seems like the first time in my life asI look down the stairs. I see it turn at the bottom and a soft glow of a light just around the corner.
Turning the corner we enter a room unlike anything someone would expect from a place like this. It could almost be considered lavish. A wooden bar with silk-lined stools sits in the corner, a small sitting area with two couches facing each other with a coffee table between them, from floor to ceiling of shelves that hold mostly books along with a few other trinkets, and at the center of it all a large circle table that could probably fit up to twenty people.
There couldn’t have been more than 15 people in the room including us, but they all seemed at home here as they drink and chatted amongst themselves. Some played games like cards or chess, while others read in the small reading chairs near the shelves. It was quiet for a room of this many, but the feeling of life was clearly here. It was like these people just had no need to raise their voices or make any unnecessary movements. I would call it eerie, but it truthfully it was actually almost peaceful.
“So what now?”
Before Lola can answer a young man not much older than us walks in from a door off to the side. His grace and charisma are clear from the second he walks into the room and heads towards the table.
“Hello. Hope you all have kept your peace this week.”
A number of people greet him as Walter and begin to take their seats at the table around him. Lola starts to head forward but I grab her hand and give her a worried look.
“Lola! I see you brought a uh…guest?”
Walter moves over to us as the rest settle in without seeming to notice or care. His voice always gentle, yet his intentions always hidden.
“Oh yes Walter. This is my best friend Dylan. They insisted on seeing what I have been up to here, and I just couldn’t reject them. I hope that is ok.”
“Well you will have to ask everyone. I mean I may keep things moving here, but I am just as important as any one of you.”
These words seem less than honest as it is clear if he said the word, any of these people would jump no matter what may be below. He was their voice, and even a newcomer could see the by the way their eyes lite when he walked into the room.
“Yes you are completely right.”
Lola lets go of my head and moves towards the table as Walter gives me a charming smile.
“Hello everyone, I just want to introduce a potential new member to society of peace. I hope that is ok”
Many who were happily chatting earlier have much more serious looks now. Some glance towards Walter as he makes his way back to the group and takes his seat across from where Lola stands.
“Well, I suppose we should at least hear an introduction. What do you all think?” Walter states smoothly.
Everyone nods in agreement.
Lola runs over to me and practically pulls me up to the table. All eyes are on me now.
“This is Dylan. They have been by my side for as long as I can remember and I just know the society would love to have them with us.”
I quickly move towards Lola’s ear and whisper.
“Wait, Lolly, I never said I wanted to join.”
“Dylan just trust..”
“We may be a secret from those outside the society, but for those within, we do not keep secrets. If you have something to say, Dylan, feel free to speak it to all. Think of it as a sort of initiation.”
Walters’s smiles and I feel myself shiver.
“She was just saying she was nervous to join and wanted to know what to say to make a good impression.”
I look at her with slight shock at the lie.
“Lola, thank you, but next time please allow Dylan to speak for themselves.” Walter returns.
“Oh right, sorry.”
A moment of silence passed that seems to only be awkward for me as the rest remain peaceful and content.
“Well Dylan, why don’t you start by telling us about yourself?”
“Hm, anything really. Something like your favorite color or hobbies.”
“I like yellow mostly and playing the keyboard I guess.”
“Good good! That’s an excellent start. Shall we begin to deep a little deeper now?”
Every nods and begins to smile.
I grow visibly uncomfortable. I look to Lola who is only looking down now with no comfort to give.
“Well yes. We like really get to the heart of a person before allowing them into our society.”
“Like some kind of trust test?”
“Trust is a part of it, yes, but it is more about digging deep to find you inner peace. Now how about you tell us a secret?”
“Like my fears or something?”
“Fears are good, but what we are looking for are not necessarily your own secrets, but other people’s secrets.”
“Because while your own secrets are your own to give without repercussion, someone else’s secret is an act of true allegiance and strength. No worries though, we would never share what is spoken here. After all, Lola here has given us plenty of your secrets and I am sure you would have never known.”
My eyes widen as I look towards Lola whose eyes are equally shocked. Normally this would be where I start snapping, but instead, I take a deep breath in and summon all my courage and restraint. I put on my most composed face.
“Honestly, I would rather like to know more about you and what else you have been doing with these people and my …ex….friend here. Other than getting her to stab me in the back that is.”
Lola flinches at the word ex.
“You do well in hiding the depths of your anger, but it is clear you are not ready to accept peace.”
“Yes, of course, that is what this society is all about, but don’t let me dominate the conversation everyone, please feel free tell Dylan why you are all here and what we do.”
A younger girl stands and gives me a neutral smile.
“We are a society of peace. We learn to control our thoughts and emotions in a way that allows us to be free. Peace be us.”
She sits and a young man three seats down rises.
“We still feel of course, but only in a way that is deemed positive, productive, and without pain. Peace be us.”
He sits and one more female rises near us.
“We are the enemy of chaos. All we dream of and live for is order and harmony. Peace be us.”
She sits, and Walter now rises.
“Dylan, we would love to have you join us and share you world with us. I believe we can fix you.”
“Fix me?” I shout.
All composure I had has been washed away. My words rings throughout the once peaceful room.
“I am not someone who needs to be fixed. I am perfect the way I am. Chaos and all.”
The group looks uncomfortable for the first time as they begin to look around at each other. Walter sighs.
“Then I suppose we will have no choice but to refuse your acceptance into the society.”
“Good! I didn’t want to be in this stupid society anyway. Let’s go Lolly.”
I grab her hand but she hesitates to move. Her body shaking a bit.
“Look Lolly, I know these crazy bastards messed with your head and I’m sorry for calling me your my ex friend. We are friends and always will be.” I smile at her “So let’s just go back to the dorm and I can kick your ass there for being so dumb.”
She finally looks at me and gives a small smile back. We begin to walk towards the door when one of the larger members blocks the path.
“Sorry, but it can’t be that easy.”
Walters’s voice rings out from behind us. Still as calm and gentle as ever.
“Excuse me? Me and my friend are leaving this creepy cult.”
“We are no cult…”
“Yes you are!”
Lola screams out as I notices she is suddenly crying beside me.
“You are a cult. You tricked me into thinking I was doing what was right. You brought me here and I felt so at peace while I was here. I thought I was making friends and doing improving myself with all the peace be us bullshit but all you did was turn me into a horrible friend. I don’t want this anymore!”
Walter hesitates for a moment and then nods his head. The large guard moves out of our way. Me and Lola share surprised looks and hesitantly walk towards the door. Walter calls out behind us.
“Lola, we may be letting you go, but every choice has its consequences. You will never know true peace. ”
As we safely make it back to our dorm Lola breaks down in full on ugly tears.
“I am so sorry Dylan! I just thought maybe if you joined than I wouldn’t have to feel so bad anymore about talking about you.”
“I forgive you Lolly.”
She looks up and sniffs as I hand her a tissue.
“Wow, don’t get me wrong, I am really grateful, but why? I mean you aren’t exactly…”
“Look I know I can be a real handful to deal with, but I get it. I know what it feels like to want to find peace in life. I can’t fault you for wanting that.”
“Dylan I will never turn my back on you like that again.”
She hugs and I return it in full.
“Go get some rest. I need to take a walk or something to get my thoughts straight.”
“Sure, be careful.”
The sun is barely in the sky as I walk towards a bench near the closed campus store. I feel a figure sit beside me and don’t even need to look to know who it is.
“Have a fun night?”
Walter gently whispers in my ear. I respond with a cold look on my face.
“I told you she wasn’t ready to be one of us. She is too emotionally weak to handle true peace and our way of life in the true society.”
“So you were. What now?”
“Keep the peace.”
“Indeed. Peace be us.”
I smile a neutral smile.