hands type on a laptop; other laptops in background

Oscar comes into the computer lab, settling at his usual machine between Maggie and Adam.

Maggie looks up, “Look at what the cat dragged in. And here I thought you’d tossed your alarm clock out the window again this morning.”

Oscar shakes his head. He leans in and Maggie inclines closer to hear as he says, “I spent the last hour pouring coffee into young Jake. He had a disturbing tale to tell. It seems that Natasha was brutally attacked yesterday afternoon.”

“Natasha. Oh no.” Maggie covers her mouth.

“Seems she was only found because Liz led out the cavalry to search for her.”

Maggie swivels around and psssts Kate and Krystal, who both roll closer for a mid-class confab.

“What’s up?” asks Kate softly.

“One of the girls in my dorm was attacked yesterday.”

Adam leans in to listen as well.

Kate frowns, “Who was it?”

Maggie says, “A frosh named Natasha.”

“Not Bo’s Natasha?” asks Kate.

Krystal gasps, “You mean the chick with the hay maker?”

“Same and same.”

“Ohmigod, what happened?”

Oscar says grimly, “She was bashed in the head and raped.”

“That would explain the police presence.” says Adam.

Krystal swivels toward him. “Yeah cops were crawling all over the parking lot when I got off the bus, but they wouldn’t give a straight answer why they were here. ‘Procedure’ was all they’d say.”

“I was told ‘routine.” Adam adds, “There was crime scene tape across the near parking lot entrances this morning. Those of us who drive in had to park in the overflow lot and hike back. There were security guards, and police officers throughout the woods.”

“Oh that’s so scary.”

“I’ll bet it was that Boris.” says Krystal.

Kate shakes her head. “I don’t think so. Nick works out with Bo, he’s a really nice guy.”

Maggie says, “Besides, Boris and Natasha are friends.”

“Natasha wasn’t very friendly when she clocked him yesterday.” says Krystal.

Oscar shakes his head. “That was just friends having an argument. I hardly think rape would be the result.”

Krystal asks, “Never heard of date rape? Or marital rape?”

Oscar looks thoughtful, “You’re right. I stand corrected.”

Maggie asks, “Is she okay?”

“I only know she’s in hospital. Jake was so exhausted he hardly knew up from down. They were out searching whilst we watched House last night. That’s why Jake missed the meeting.”

“That’s terrible.” says Adam.

Kate asks, “So she was out there for hours?”

Oscar says, “Yes, Kate, she was hit on the head.”

Kate says, “They would have had to warm her up and give her fluids if she was suffering from exposure.”

“I’ll bet it was Boris,” says Krystal. “Any guy can become a wack job if he sucks up enough steroids.”

“Boris power lifts but he doesn’t use steroids.” says Kate.

Krystal laughs. “Don’t they all?”

Kate shakes her head. “No. They don’t. Nick works with weights when he has the time and he doesn’t use steroids. If he’d seen any sign in Bo I’m sure he’d have said something to me.”

Maggie says, “That’s terrible about Natasha.”

“What does one do in a situation like this?” asks Adam.

“Do?” Maggie frowns at Adam. “You mean … like socially?”

Adam nods. “Yes. Would chocolate be appropriate?”

“Krystal snaps, “It’s not like a date, Adam. That’s twisted.”

Adam looks uncomfortable, “I didn’t really know her.”

“Not ‘didn’t,’ Adam, ‘don’t’. Natasha’s not dead and gone, she’s still here.” snaps Krystal.

Adam blanches. “I didn’t mean … I just thought we could let her know we supported her.” mutters Adam.

“Yeah,” Kate says, “we should do something like that. That’s very thoughtful, Adam. Maybe flowers, or a plant maybe?”

“A couple of girls got raped in my high school,” Maggie says.

Kate asks her, “Did they ever get the guy? Or guys?”

“Nope, never did.”

Krystal says, “That’s awful. What’d the girls do?”

“Both of them left school. I know one of them went out west. All I know is I never saw either of them again.”

“That’s rough.”

“You think Natasha will drop out?”

Genuinely perplexed, Adam asks, “I don’t understand, why would they leave school?”

“They were probably afraid.” says Krystal.

“Especially if the guy wasn’t caught,” adds Oscar.

Maggie nods. “That’s about it. You don’t know who to trust. And I gotta tell you, it sure didn’t help male female relations at school.”

“Weren’t you and Stu high school sweethearts?”

Maggie smiles. “Yup.”

“So how did you know you could trust him?”

“It helped that the first rape happened when we were on our first date. I knew it wasn’t him, I could trust him. I wondered about other guys, though.”

“That must have been hard on everyone.”

Maggie nods. “It was. You know how when you first meet people you check them out? At our school every girl had to decide if she thought the guy was a rapist before even considering him as a boyfriend. The worst was nobody even knew for sure if it was somebody from school or not. Didn’t make any difference, though. All the guys were suspect.”

Adam says, “But that isn’t fair.”

“No it’s not, but that’s what happened, Adam.”

“Like it was fair to the girls?” says Krystal. “Bad enough they were attacked but then having to drop out, too. They didn’t do anything wrong. They were the victims and it screwed up their lives even worse.”

“I don’t know about you,” says Maggie, “but this attack scares the hell out of me.”

“Me too,” agrees Krystal. “We won’t be safe until they catch the guy.”

Oscar says, “You do realize how na├»ve that is?”

“No, Oz, what do you mean?”

“There are always rapists and murderers and thieves, but we go through life not even thinking about them until something like this happens. People only think defensively when ‘s too bloody late. If we’d been on guard before it might not have happened.”

Kate says, “Illogical or not, now is when I’m scared.”

There’s a loud bit of suggestive throat clearing from behind Adam and the group turns guiltily to face Professor Gates, who is looking fairly thunderous.

“Excuse me, Maggie, but would you mind sharing what’s so interesting with the rest of the class?”

Maggie flushes, but rises to her feet. “Actually I do, but it’s important that everyone knows so we can all take precautions.”

Gates is floored by Maggie’s unexpected response. “What?”

Maggie continues more loudly so everyone can hear. “Everyone should know that a frosh from my residence was attacked on campus yesterday.”

There’s a silence as Professor Gates looks stunned and the rest of the class takes in the disturbing information. Clearly even the Christie faculty has not yet been told of the incident.

“What happened?” Gates asks quietly.

“She was attacked and raped and left unconscious in the woods. If she hadn’t been found she might have died.”

Professor Gates looks stunned. But she knows she’s lost the class for the day.

“Who was it, Maggie?” someone calls out.

“Natasha.”

“No way!”

Someone else adds, “Goddamn I’ll bet it was Boris.”

Kate says, “Not Boris.”

“Why not Boris?” mutters Krystal.

Kate replies, “Because Boris has been in my house.”

The stunned silence gives way to muttering, both general and specific outpourings of outrage, fear and anger. Little discussions of safety precautions spring up throughout the class.

Oscar has been typing, and he interrupts the growing pandemonium to announce, “I’m just pulling together a quick and dirty web page. It isn’t very pretty but to start I’ve popped on a few rape prevention links, and a few tips.”

Gates interrupts. “Set it up as part of the ComSci wiki, Oz. Then anyone who logs in can add to it. Maybe Maggie might want to start a forum, for example.”

“Include police contact information when we get it too,” adds Kate.

Krystal says, “Read out a few of the main tips Oz.”

“Be observant. Avoid walking alone. Keep to well lighted areas. Avoid shortcuts through parks, vacant lots and the like.”

“And don’t turn your back on Boris.” Krystal mutters. Kate shoots her a look.

Gates nods, “Be observant is probably most important. Try to use the buddy system.”

“It’s posted on the wiki so pass the word around. This is for everyone.”

“Good job. Thanks Oz.” says Gates. “I think that’s it for today. Everyone please try to stay safe.”

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