It was autumn of 2030, and it could have been described in a lot of ways. 'The best of times and the worst of times' certainly rings true, but I feel like that's been used before. Personally I would have described it as 'dull and boring', but that's too be expected of a student entering college. While I seemed to be surrounded by people who thought college was the most interesting thing that had happened since prehistoric times, I was less enthused. There was too much I was left wanting after high school, things that I felt I had been deprived of and others - goals I had been forced to leave behind and forget about. It wasn't anyone else's fault, of course, but it made me cynical and irritable all the same.

For the rest of the nation, though, that fall was supposed to be a mark of a new beginning. Ten years ago humanity had graduated beyond their homo sapien handle. Meta sapiens now accounted for .001% of humanity. That meant roughly 1 in every thousand humans now had the ability to do something out of the ordinary. Telekinesis, for those of you who need an example. This year had marked the legislature that had passed to allow metas to live without persecution and also the creation of the Federal Bureau of Meta Operations. It allowed metas to moonlight as legal heroes, but also gave certain rights to unregistered meta vigilantes as long as they abided by a certain code.

As cool as all of this was, none of it affected me. I was as normal as they could get. None of my family - extended or otherwise - was even a class one meta, let alone anything near the capacity needed to be an effective crime fighter. And in a city as large as ours you might think that we had some sort of figure-head meta that ran around stopping the big crimes, kissing babies and cutting ribbons to newly opened city buildings, but in reality we had none. Nada.

We did have other things that put us on the map, though. We were the base for some of the most cutting-edge science labs in the entire world as well as the supposed home base for several meta crime syndicates. You would never know walking the city streets, but at night it became a much darker place. I had grown up with the common knowledge that getting home before dark was 100% necessary.

College, though, is a time where even the best of children pushes the boundaries a little. On one particular morning, with the smell of garbage permeating my nostrils, I wished I had maybe listened a little closer. Then maybe I wouldn't have woken up the night after my first party in dumpster. I mean, really, of all the places? I groaned as I worked my way slowly into a sitting position and inspected my surroundings again.

Definitely a dumpster.

Blindly groping upward with my hand, I managed to push open the lid. The light was all too much at once. As involuntary tears fled from my eyes in response, I squirmed my way out of the garbage and onto the pavement of the alley. The smell of the alley was almost worse than the dumpster, like week-old piss left to soak into a carpet in a hot room combined with broiled rotten food. My stomach lurched. Whatever was left in it after the night before was dispensed behind the dumpster. I wiped my mouth with the sleeve of my hoodie, hating myself for every second of this bad morning.

Stumbling out onto the busy sidewalk with a hangover was difficult, but finding a payphone was harder. Walking through the crowds of early morning commuters made me feel self-conscious. I clearly had on last night's rumpled clothes - white skinnies and a galaxy hoodie with black high tops - and I was about 90% sure that what I could feel weighing down my unruly bedhead was some sort of garbage residue left from my dumpster dive. With no phone or wallet on me, I had to resort to begging a few cents off of a stranger when I finally found someplace to call back to my apartment from.

Hearing my roommate, Bentley, answer was like hearing angels sing. "Hello?"

"Bentley, it's me. I need you or Orion to come pick me up. I just woke up in the business district with a nasty headache."

"Holy shit," Bentley's voice held a trace amount of something akin to awe. "Torrin, we've been looking for you all night. Where the hell did you go?"

I leaned my head against the germy receiver. "Hell if I know. I can't remember anything after we got there. I am never going to another party as long as I live."

His response was delayed. I could hear his voice conversing with another, along with the slamming of doors and the tell-tale jangle of keys. I sighed in relief. "Tor, can you tell me what street you're on? We're coming to get you."

"Corner of North Avenue and Jaeger Boulevard. I'll be the one wearing the overwhelming garbage perfume."

"We'll leave the windows down. Stay put." And the line went dead with a click.

Sighing again, I went and leaned against the side of the building, tilting my head back and closing my eyes. I would feel much better after a shower and some Excedrin. My morning classes were as good as missed at the point but I held out some hope for the rest of the day. Tons of people recovered from hangovers. Why should I be any different?

"Torrin? Tory, wake up!" A hand shook my shoulder and I startled awake, roughly grabbing the shoulder of the figure in front of me before I realized who it was. Blue eyes filled with concern took up my vision. "Hey, Tory, let's get you to the car."

Bentley helped me to my feet, supporting me when I swayed slightly, and led me over the idling piece of crap that was sitting at the curb with Orion at the front. I was still swimming in and out of consciousness but I could vaguely feel Bentley climbing into the back with me, a seatbelt be strapped into place around my sleeping form, and the rumble of the rust bucket's engine as it wheezed into traffic again.

"Tory, I need you to open up your eyes for a few seconds, okay?"

I hummed in agreement, pushing my heavy eyelids apart and peering over at my best friend. It was difficult, because the longer I stayed awake the more tired I felt.

"Tory, did anyone do anything to you? Give you anything? Put anything... anywhere?"

"Hmm, no. I didn't get raped." I narrowed my eyes and squirmed a little, taking stock. "I don't think so, anyways. I still feel like a virgin, but I can't remember anything."

Bentley rolled his eyes, "Alright, little miss nun. But did someone spike your water? Or inject you with anything? You look trashed."

"Digging the tough love right now, Bentley." I sleepily glared at him and then turned my gaze the driver. "Orion, why am I stuck in the back seat with this meat head instead of you?"

The blond shrugs with a smirk. "Best friend rights. I'm just the roommate."

"You're more than that," I pat him affectionately on the shoulder and settle back into the seat. "I guess I just had one too many beers, or something. I guess I'm a lightweight after all!" I sniggered a little bit, but stopped when I realized that the car was silent. "What? Why isn't anyone else finding that funny? I can't hold my beer. Isn't that supposed to amuse college-age boys?" I snapped.

Pushing back my hair, Bentley looked in my eyes. "Her pupils look normal, so I'm guessing it's not ecstasy. We should probably get her to the ER. Could be roofies or something."

"I'm fine!" I insisted, trying to bat his hands away. "It's just a hangover, guys. Everyone gets them."

"Tory," Bentley shook his head, his face betraying his concern. "We were with you all night. You didn't drink anything. You were our designated driver."

"What? That doesn't make sense. Then how did I end up back there?"

"You drove us back to the apartment and then went back out because you left your phone in the car. When we woke up this morning you were gone. We've been waiting for hours for you to show up. We were about to call the police." Orion glanced back, his eyes flashing from behind his glasses. "We're just going to get you checked out in the hospital, okay? Then we'll get you home and you can sleep whatever this is off."

Mutely, I nodded. Obviously something had happened to me, something that I didn't remember, and the reality of that was starting to sink in. I hadn't drunkenly climbed into that dumpster like I had originally thought, and as I started to drift back to sleep a realization hit me that made goosebumps rise up on my arms.

Whoever had put me in that dumpster probably hadn't thought I was coming out.

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