It was a dark and foggy night, cold and silent like an abandoned graveyard on a still night. The overcast clouds blocked out the moonlight, but a faint gray glow gently brushed across the leaves and undisturbed earth. No breeze, no motion, no sound. Just low-lying fog, a mysterious thick cloud, hovering and exploring across the surface. The air was damp and stale. And even though this location sat in the middle of forests and creeks and mountainous landscapes, no wild animal or wandering person disturbed the silence of this hazy, dark night.
Approximately 40 miles from the nearest town or gas station, the isolated campus of Echowood College rested uneasily out in the wilderness, several thousand feet above sea level. The campus was larger than most, but still smaller than many state universities. All in all, about three thousand students, faculty, and staff lived here on site. They had their own dorms, laundry facility, private grocery store, and even an entertainment center where students could rent videos or play arcade games.
The college was privately owned and very selective in its students. Few even knew about this place, and its board of directors preferred to keep it that way. They sought the students. They gave the selected few a coveted admission application. No one else. For this place of higher learning had its secrets. Secrets that only the chosen few might ever know. Secrets that could change the very foundational perception of the world. Secrets, that in fact, had the power to change the world in ways unknown, unimagined, and as of yet unrealized.
This was Echowood College. And on this very night, the history of the world would soon be forever changed.
Delta Hall, one of the female-only dorms, had its reputation for mysteries. All the dorms had stories of ghosts, unexplained phenomena, and even mysterious student disappearances. Delta Hall was no exception.
And on a night like tonight, only the insanely brave or daringly foolish would venture out to the far end of the campus, to Delta Hall.
Mack Thompson, a sophomore at Echowood College, was neither insanely brave nor daringly foolish. But he was horny. And his much-desired girlfriend stayed in Delta Hall. Most of his buddies were drinking and watching satellite TV. But Mack couldn’t keep his mind off Melissa Freeman—the girl he was lucky enough to call his girlfriend for the past seven months. He had to see her. He had to be with her. So while his buddies were laughing at stupid jokes, he slipped out unnoticed, and stealthily snuck across campus.
The chilly air caused him to shiver, but the boiling blood of passion kept him going. The image of Melissa burned into his mind’s eye. Her soft round face, her gentle cheeks, her sweet lips… Those intoxicating brown eyes, that smooth red hair… He wanted to kiss her, he wanted to hold her, he wanted to reach and touch and caress her, from head to toe, and all over.
It was the “all over” part that really excited him. She had a great body to begin with. Nice round firm breasts, a seductively curved figure, and thighs that would make any man drool. Her legs were so smooth and well toned. Feet so perfect and adorable. And her hands—oh yes, her hands—had the softest touch and the most stimulating tickle. Melissa was beautiful, to say the least.
Mack wasn’t such a bad-looking guy himself, either. He was fairly tall, in good physical condition, with dark hair and brown eyes. He liked to work out two or three times a week, ate healthy, and kept himself well groomed and shaved. Melissa especially liked his round goatee and long sideburns. She also liked other parts of him that were “long” too.
As he quietly walked through the shadows, stepping across campus, he stopped to notice something odd. One of the buildings, the Metaphysics Research Facility, had a lit room on the second floor. All the buildings were supposed to be closed down and locked up by now. Even the janitor crew would’ve been done hours ago. He thought it was odd, especially since all the other buildings were dark and quiet. But he thought nothing more of it, and continued on to his girlfriend’s dormitory.
Just ahead was Delta Hall. Four floors high, twenty rooms wide, three hallways deep. Home to just under 500 college-aged girls. But he was only interested in one girl: his sweet, sexy, so deeply-desired Melissa.
Now came the hard part. How to get in? Delta Hall was for girls only. Absolutely no boys after 7:00 PM. Since it was after midnight by this point, Mack certainly didn’t want to get caught being here. Echowood College was very strict on their policies and rules. He learned that the hard way. About a month ago, he got caught visiting Melissa after hours, even though it was a weekend. After putting him through two weeks of janitor duty, they warned him that if he was caught in the girl’s dorm after hours again, they’d expel him. Mack was on a full-ride scholarship from this institution; he certainly didn’t want to blow this opportunity. Not to mention, his parents would probably kill him if he was sent back home half way through the semester.
So he had to play it smart. He knew the Resident Advisor “randomly” checked the halls every thirty minutes or so. He also knew which security office the R.A. would come from, based on when he got caught last time.
So, if he hid in the bushes, in the darkness and shadows, he could peer in through the glass door and watch a narrow section of the hallway. Once the R.A. started her rounds, he could sneak inside and take an alternate route. True, the security cameras would probably see him, but the R.A. wouldn’t while she was walking the halls. He had a narrow window of opportunity here. The slightest margin of error could mean disaster for him. But if he timed it right, he could sneak inside, get upstairs, and slip into his girlfriend’s room. There he would spend the night, until it was safe to leave later the next day during normal visiting hours. Even if he got caught on the way out, he could say that he was on his way in, to check in, to visit his girlfriend. It was genius. Fool-proof, he thought. All he had to do was time it correctly and slip in silently.
Just then he saw the R.A. pass through the hall. This was it! Taking the shadowy route, he snuck up to the door and peeked inside one more time. The coast was clear. Carefully, quietly, he twisted the door knob and slowly drew open the door. Silently, he slipped in through the opening and dodged down the nearest hall. He spun around and crept into the stairwell, missing the R.A.’s sight by mere seconds. With each soft tip-toe, he ascended the stairs and arrived at the second floor.
He peered his head around the corner, making sure no one was in sight. His heart raced. He thought he heard a footstep. Could that be the R.A.? Getting caught like this would look really, really bad. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all. Oh well, too late now.
Softly, he stepped down the second-floor hallway, approaching his girlfriend’s room. No one in sight. Still safe. Quietly, nervously, he knocked on her door. He knocked again, slightly louder. He waited. No one answered. He knocked again, louder still. He looked back down the hall, to make sure no one was coming. He waited impatiently at her door, afraid to knock any louder, knowing he could be spotted at any moment!
Suddenly a female voice called to him, from down the hallway. “Mack?” she remarked, surprised.
His heart jumped and skipped a beat, gasping for air as he turned to see her. But when he saw her – whew – it was none other than Melissa herself.
“What are you doing here?” she exclaimed, trying to keep her voice down. She quickly went up to her door and pulled out her key to unlock it. She held a brown cardboard box in her other arm. She opened the door as fast as she could and rushed him inside, locking the door behind them.
She sat the box down on the table. “You trying to get expelled!?”
“I’m sorry,” he said, so happy to see her. “I just had to see you. I love you, sweetie.”
Her heart melted. She really wanted to see him too. It had been too long since they were last together. Their school workload had absorbed most of their free time. E-mails and the occasional phone call simply weren’t enough. So she quickly embraced him in a hug. “Well, I’m glad you made it here safe. Even still, we should keep our voices down.”
She took him into her personal room, carrying the box with her. She closed her bedroom door and locked it shut. She placed the box down on her bed, sitting beside it. Mack stood in front of her, unable to keep himself from staring at her beauty. He really wanted to strip naked right then and there, and throw himself on her. But he had a little more reserve and self-control than that.
“So what’s in the box?” he asked her, noticing how closely she held it by her side.
“Oh nothing,” she said.
He paused and then cracked a smile. “Right. You’re only out at 12:30 at night, bringing home some anonymous box, that’s ‘nothing’.”
She looked at his deep brown eyes, and sighed. She couldn’t keep this secret from him. After all, they trusted each other. “Okay fine, but you have to promise to not tell anybody, okay?”
She seemed pretty serious about it, so whatever it was, he agreed to it.
Melissa opened the top of the cardboard box. They both leaned in to look.
“It’s a ball,” Mack said.
Melissa giggled and then reached in with both her hands. This “ball” was about the size of a softball, give or take, except it didn’t have any threads or marks. “No, silly, it’s not a ball. It’s a sphere.”
“Sphere, ball, round object, whatever,” he said.
She held it in her lap. It was colorless, like a crystal ball. Heavy too. Perfectly smooth and round. Placing both hands on it, she smiled with lustful bliss. She closed her eyes, beginning to imagine or dream of something.
“Mmm…” she said, enjoying it a little too much for Mack’s comfort. He snatched it out of her hands.
“What the hell is this supposed to be?” he asked, keeping it away from her. But as he held it in his own hands, he quickly understood why she enjoyed it so much. He could feel it too. Coming from the ball, through his fingers, and into his hands. It was…like nothing he’d ever experienced. Hard to explain.
She stared at the crystalline sphere in his hands, longingly. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Sure,” he said.
“In my one science class, we had to go to the lab today for some experiment. I went to the bathroom, but got lost on my way back. That’s when I found it.”
“Found what? This?” he asked, looking into the mysterious sphere.
“Yeah. I had wandered into the wrong room. I saw it sitting there. They were working on it or studying it or something, but I guess someone left it out while they took a break. Maybe because students aren’t usually in the building. Anyway, I saw it—and it called to me, somehow. I know this sounds crazy, but, I just had to get a closer look.”
Still holding it in his hands, he wanted a closer look too. Something about it intrigued him. Pulled him to it. He didn’t want to stop holding it.
She continued her story. “When I touched it, I felt something. A power surge or something. But it didn’t hurt at all. It actually felt really good.”
“Yeah,” he said, able to understand. He was feeling it too, right now.
“But then I heard someone coming, so I ran out and eventually found the rest of my class. The scientists working in that room saw me, but didn’t realize I had been inside their lab. They gave me directions back to my class, but I made sure to remember how I got to that room.”
“You came back for it, didn’t you?”
She nodded. “Let me see it again?”
He sat down with her, and let the mysteriously-alluring sphere sit between them. They both held a hand on it. “This is weird,” he said, realizing how he was acting about it. It was almost as if it has some kind of supernatural power to it, drawing them to it.
“You don’t know the half of it,” she explained, excitedly. “When I went back to get it, I saw some papers laying out about it. They were the scientists’ notes… Mack, you’re not going to believe this.” She paused, almost unable to reveal the amazing truth herself. “Mack, this thing—whatever it is—can totally transform us. Total change. You understand what I’m saying?”
“Um,” he said, searching his thoughts. “No, not really.”
“Here, let me show you…” She grabbed the sphere and stood up from her bed. Standing in the middle of her small room, she faced Mack, and said, “Watch this!”
She closed her eyes and focused her mind. Holding the sphere between her hands, she accessed its power and focused its potential on her. Shifting its raw mysterious energies to work, she used its power freely and effortlessly—on herself.
Mack watched her curiously, not sure what to expect. Then, suddenly, his eyes went wide with disbelief as he witnessed the most incredible sight. Melissa, his beautiful girlfriend, was changing right before his very eyes.
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