“LEXI! Lexi, wake up!” Gwen yelled, shaking her roommate awake on her bed.

Staggering backward, Lexi screamed and nearly fell off of her bed as she clutched her pillow tight against her chest, eyes nearly bugging out of her head.

“It’s alright,” Gwen tried to assure her. “You just fell asleep and had a bad dream.”

“NOOO! It’s not alright!” Lexi fired back, recoiling away from her. “You don’t understand. He’s out there and...”

“Who’s out there?” Gwen asked, but before Lexi could answer, Calvin appeared in the doorway, gently rapping on the door.

“Everything alright in here? I heard some commotion,” he stated. “They’re waiting for you in the common room.”

Gwen didn’t respond. She just looked grimly at Lexi, who cleared her throat, caught her breath, and mumbled, “Yeah, Calvin, everything’s fine. We’ll be right there. I was just gathering up some of my things.”

“Well, alright then,” Calvin replied. “I’ll go let them know you’re on your way.”

“Thanks, Calvin.”

“Sure thing, ladies. See you later.”

“Are you going to be okay?” Gwen asked, clearly concerned for her new roommate. “That was some messed up shit.”

“Huh? Yeah,” Lexi answered, wiping the tears from her eyes and getting up off her bed. “I just have to check something.”

Walking through her open doorway, Lexi peered out into the hallway, first to the left, then to the right, then back to the left again, before turning around and smiling at Gwen. “Okay, let’s go.”

“You’re really starting to worry me, you know that?” Gwen stated, patting her on the back as they shut the door and started down the corridor. “We gotta get Dr. Graham to prescribe something for those nightmares of yours.”

Hearing the word nightmare made her flinch, but she didn’t show Gwen it bothered her. Cheerfully laughing it off, she continued on down the hallway toward the common room, where the rest of the group anxiously awaited their arrival.


“Okay, I want straight talk only in this room,” Dr. Graham stated to the group as Gwen and Lexi finally entered and took their seats, the last two empty chairs in the room. “Ahh, ladies, how nice of you to join us.”

“Sorry, Dr. Graham,” Lexi explained. “I was unpacking my things and lost track of time.”

“It’s alright,” Graham replied. “Just don’t make a habit of it. Everyone, this is Lexi. She just joined us last night, so let’s make her feel comfortable, shall we?”

“Hi, Lexi,” the group collectively clamored, as if she had just given the “My name is Lexi and I’m an alcoholic” speech.

“You probably know most of them already,” Graham stated matter-of-factly. “But for those of you who don’t, why don’t we all go around and introduce ourselves?”

“Wassup, Lexi?” Ty asked. “You already know me, but when I get out of here, I am going to be the next big rap star. In fact, I’ll make all of you honorary members of the T-Unit.”

As he was talking, Manny cut in, faking a cough and intentionally mumbling the word ‘rip-off’ in between gags.

“What?” Ty asked, glaring directly at him.

“Come on, mang,” Manny responded in his heavy accent. “You actually think you gonna be as big as G-Unit?”

“Fuck yeah, I do,” Ty fired back, catching a glare from both Dr. Graham and Dr. Halverson.

“Hey you know we watch our language in this room, Ty,” Dr. Graham interjected, attempting to tone down the temperature of the room. “Let’s settle it down.”

“Oh, sorry about that,” Ty replied. “My fault. Anyway, it’s more than you’ll be, Mr. Taco Bell, so why don’t you sit down and shut up.”

“Screw you, holmes,” Manny shouted. “I’m gonna be a big stunt man when I get out of here. You’ll be seeing me in the next installment of the Fast and the Furious.”

“Hi, I’m Simon Larson,” the short, nerdy-looking kid beside Manny interrupted, trying to cut back the tension as he adjusted his wide-rimmed glasses. “It’s nice to meet you. I am gonna be a science fiction novelist when I get out. In fact, I’ve already started my first novel in here. I don’t have a title for it yet, but it’s gonna be a mix of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. It’s gonna be the next great classic.”

“May the force be with you on that one, brother,” Ty joked, getting in his last words before finally quieting down so the others could talk.

“Yeah, well, I’ll be the one laughing all the way to the bank when my books hit the big time,” Simon responded, almost hurt by their sarcasm. “I might even be able to get George Lucas to do the movie version.”

“Hey m’am, how ya doin?” the tall, lanky guy next to Simon exclaimed in an obvious southern drawl. “My name’s Darren Bradley, but folks around these parts call me Tex.”

Lexi just grinned and nodded her head in a gesture of kindness. Even if this guy never said a word, she still would have known his nickname because of the ten-gallon cowboy hat that seemed to float atop his head. Still, Tex seemed nice enough, so she figured she would give him the benefit of the doubt.

“You better stay on your toes, because Tex likes to throw his lasso around from time to time,” Maria informed her. “He got us all at least once, and I think he got you, what, about ten times, Suze?”

“Ha ha, very funny,” Suzette answered, sarcastically flipping off her best friend. “It was really only twice.”

“Yeah, but I promise I’ll take it easy on you, being that you’re a rookie in here and all,” Tex quipped, tipping his cap to her.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Lexi responded, trying to hold back her laughter and forgetting all about her problems. So, this place was good for something, after all.

“Alright,” Dr. Graham cut in, taking back control of the room. “Now that we are all familiar with one other, let’s start this roundtable discussion and talk about what’s troubling you all tonight...”

Hearing that, Lexi smirked. There’s no way in hell I’m telling you what’s really going on, doc. For the benefit of myself and the others, I’ll keep quiet.

For now.

Proceed To Chapter 7
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