The bright bluish glow of the computer screen as the device sprang to life reflected in his glasses. Their only attribute was being reading support, but he still liked the thin plastic glasses, whose black coloration complemented his own hair, an unruly black mess that constantly fell in front of his eyes. He swatted some strands back, only for the rebel sticks to come back at the front. As the screen turned momentarily black, he remembered his day up until that point.
The case hung in his back; it was adorned by a sticker with the image of a cello playing pony. –His classmates made sure to have it pointed out at least once a day, though it was always in good fun-. The familiar weight of the instrument behind him filled his mind with easiness as he sat down next to the window. The road bumped and the sight was the same as always, bearing its "clouded but not rainy day" version. The one-hour long travel –sometimes he even believed his watch ran out of battery, so slow would the trip be- … well, it as a rather boring trip when done effectively, providing the vehicle didn't come to a halt. Didn't the drivers bother to check up their machines before going on their route? And there was also the matter of the people that went up sometimes just to beg. Or to steal from passengers. But he was rambling now again, and only half the trip had been made. He closed his eyes and hugged his case tight. Finally he recognized the long asphalted path that tore from the main avenue and led to the university. As the bus stopped in front of the gate, he descended and walked towards his faculty
"Jones, what's with your tempo?" The scream pierced the room, reverberating. Damned acoustics. He held his guitar in both hands and looked at the irate teacher; almost swearing he would soon start expulsing vapor like a pressure cook.
"Sorry, Professor, I'll get myself back on track."
The professor didn't answer back; the class continued in their practice After what seemed like an eternity, they packed down and went outside to rest.
"Hey, Alb, what happened back there? You're always in sync with the rhythm, everybody was surprised. Roberts is just bitter, though, as usual." Noelle sat by his side at the usual bench they picked on Mondays; she was petite and thin, with exception of her round, full face. He didn't look at her.
"Just woke up feeling a bit down. No big deal, don't you worry"
"Well, you still have me here when you need me, Octave" She laughed, throwing an arm behind his back; and pressing against him. The "Octave" nick had been assigned to him in lieu of both the musical reference and the pony that adorned his black case, as they both were fans of the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic show and found the classy earth pony as a very likeable, representative figure.
Albert and Noelle had been quick friends since they both had entered the Musical Arts career two years ago. They had other good friends, but their relationship had simply tied itself in a knot, one of those fated meetings. Bereft of romance, as they had been likened to before to a cute couple of lovers, they dispatched such notion amicably.
Noelle took her arm off of him. "Well, let's go and practice?"
"Yeah, let's go now."
The small garden behind the building served as a resting spot for students who had breaks between classes. It was also used by Environmental Management students as a place for planting and growing different plants and trees, some of which bore fruits, and for the music students to practice, providing the faculty with the constant overflow of notes.
Time passed slowly as Albert played his guitar and Noelle sang; they had created a duet. As an instrument, she preferred the keyboard The sun was almost reaching its zenith in the sky when they decided to take a break and crossed around the building to get to the cafeteria.
After another half hour, they split as Noelle had choir practice and Albert had a class of music history. The class was over rather fast –at least for Albert's perception- and soon he found himself on the way back to his work. The feeling that pressed down on the top of his head still hadn't disappeared, but he could more or less ignore it.
Putting the guitar and his backpack in a room at the back of the locale, he went over to the front. The shop was relatively small, but in a well-populated area such as that one, it did good business and he got a good pay, for the few hours he worked in there weekly. His father was a good friend of the manager and had landed him the small job. His cellphone rang in that moment.
"Hey, Octave, what's up, man? Where are you?" Rick's voice sounded annoyed, as he claimed for Albert's presence. He was what Albert could call his closest friend after Noelle; an extroverted guy who kept dragging him into all kind of situations; the Octave's nickname had been stolen from Noelle, he assumed it to refer to a simple musical term.
"What do you mean where am I? At the store, of course. Where else would I be?"
"Aww, come on, Octave! What about the gig practice we were gonna have with the guys? This isn't cool at all, Albert. Not cool."
"Look, sorry, man, I lost myself there. As always. I'll make it up to you."
"That's not the issue here, Albert. Never mind, I'll go and talk this one off. We'll have to meet, though. Talk to you later"
He put the phone away and went to work. His shift that night was thankfully not very busy and by its end he got home, looking forward to rest.
At home, the familar warm atmosphere received him; his family (namely father, mother and grandfather, he was an only son) doted on him very much. Dinner with his parents –his grandfather generally ate earlier, and very little- was pretty much routine, but this didn't bother him at all. He finally wished them both a good night, and marched to his room, making himself comfortable. He turned on the computer and sat at the chair while waiting. Once he got on the internet, he checked the different forums and websites he visited regularly and after not finding many things worth checking, he decided to watch a Friendship is magic episode. After looking through the episode list, he chose "Stare Master"; he found the episode rather amusing and he liked the focus on a mythological beast.
He advanced through the episode until the part in which Fluttershy went into the forest, looking for the girls. The action developed in front of his eyes, until suddenly, something like a shortcut blackened everything momentarily. The computer's screen flashed brightly and he was rendered unable to see anything for a while.
The sky above was blue with a shiny sun. He was surrounded by huge, dark trees everywhere and the sounds of nature could be heard all around him; they were very detailed, almost like coming from a pair of giant speakers, his ears rung with the songs of birds, the rustle of leaves, the flapping of wings and many other sounds he wasn't able to decipher at the moment. Opening his eyes slowly, he blinked, as the light burnt his retinas for a while until he finally got accustomed. He blinked again, taking in the new, strange place, unable to process not being in his dark room anymore, but in a strange forest on the middle of the day. The new place, however, seemed to have a certain degree of familiarity, which he couldn't place exactly. Deeming not exactly productive to be standing around in the middle of the wild gawking at the sight, he started to walk, hoping to find a path in the middle of the wild place.
Suddenly he turned around, sensing a shadow somewhere near him. The thick trees surrounding him prevented the discovery of the source. He turned again in persecution of the eerie feeling that bathed him. Not understanding how something he couldn't see possibly made him so nervous, he spun back and started running, his feet cracking twigs and fallen leaves on the floor. He stopped momentarily to catch his breath, and dared a look behind him. His whole body turned back, when a cluck sound alerted him. A small figure jumped in front of him, and as soon as he recognized it, he knew everything was over. The head of a hen was joined to a lizard-like, winged lower body with hen legs, and its red, menacing eyes locked gaze upon him. In that moment, his body turned into stone from the feet up, giving him just enough time to think about everything he would be now leaving behind, what would be of them from now on without him, and lastly, a brief but insightful flash about just where he had ended up.