All I was surrounded by were bars, grass, the darkness and sleeping gorillas. And even though to someone like Steve Irwin that may sound like a good time, I feared for my life. "Hello!" I called out into the emptiness. I didn't have any hope—I didn't have my cell phone and I knew no one would come for me. Hell, I wasn't even supposed to be here, but it was a dare. And one thing you should never do is take a dares from some doped up frat boys. It can screw up your night—even cost you your life. I called out again, tapping the metal bars slightly. I didn't want to make too much noise at the same time as wanting to be heard. "Hellooooooo!" I whispered.
And on top of me not wanting to wake the sleeping killers, I also didn't want to get caught by the police. Because how can you explain doing something as deranged as this?
"No offense," I whispered to the gorilla beside me. He remained asleep—thank goodness—completely unaware of my intrusion. I desperately wished I'd paid attention in eighth grade when my science teacher forced us to watch that Jane Goodall video—but Ronny Graham and his almost-as-dreamy brother just had to sit in front of me. I didn't even pay attention that much.
But if Tarzan ever taught me anything, it taught me that if I was caught by a silverback, then all the others would wake up and then I would be in deep, deep shit. Possibly literally.
I rattled the cages again, hoping that maybe a janitor was walking by. Maybe an elephant. I'd take a penguin if they were like the ones in that Nickelodeon show—hell, I'd take a flying bison. I kept jangling the cage bars, but they didn't make as much noise as I'd hoped they would. It wasn't enough to catch the attention of even an elephant—much less a human, and I hadn't seen one of those since I'd gotten here. I guess when they said the zoo closed at nine o' clock that meant employees were gone by ten o' clock. And it was one o' clock in the morning, so I was pretty much screwed.
"Damnit," I swore, falling back onto the grass.
"Ooh," I heard an inhuman grunt as I fell, and I nearly pissed myself. Did I just fall on a gorilla? I didn't want to die yet—I still hadn't gotten back those frat boys! I still hadn't told Professor Myers to shove his chauvinistic racism up his uptight ass! And I still hadn't tried the cafeteria's black eyed peas.
Scurrying to the farthest side of the cage from the gorillas, I began to tremble with unfulfilled promise. Weren't the pretty girls the ones who died first? And the average, sort-of-pretty girl always survived. That's what always happens, I told myself. I wasn't very comforted by that at all—I was too young to be King Kong'ed.
The pile of leaves and grass began to ruffle, and my heart rammed in my ribcage, anticipating death. The rubbish-covered gorilla shook everything off, and I squeezed my eyes shut before it could kill me. I mumbled a quick prayer for God to save me. But then, He didn't have to.
"What are you doing?" his deep, male voice asked me in clearly human, clearly English words. My head snapped up to meet the familiar eyes of a lifelong classmate.
"Trent?!" I exclaimed in surprise, both of our eyes widening at my volume. I slapped my hand over my mouth and we stood silent for a tense minute, trying to assess whether or not the gorillas heard my outburst.
Before me, Trent Graham sighed in relief. He turned to me and glared. "Jesus, Asia don't wake them up," he scolded, "I've got midterms tomorrow and my professor wouldn't excuse me even if I was dead."
I sat there and stared at him in awe. Not only did he scare me half to death by popping out of the floor like that, but he was scolding me? I didn't care how long we'd known each other—he and his frat brothers got me stuck in this cage and he was glaring at me? I doubted seeing people pop out of the bottom of gorilla cages was a common thing for him, but it happened to me and I was surprised—so what?
I returned his glare. "You're mad at me? I didn't just give you heart palpations!" I snapped in a whisper.
Trent adapted the same tone. "Well I just had one—you were so loud they could hear you in Africa!" He groaned again, running his hand over his scalp. "Do you know what they'll do to us if they wake up?" He gestured around him to our sleeping enemies.
"Oh, I just thought they were going to steal my Lucky Charms—of course I know! Why do you think I'm so scared?!"
"All I'm saying is be quiet," he cried, "Don't yell at me!"
"I'm not yelling, I'm panicking. There's a difference when you think about it!"
To the left of us, a particularly large gorilla shuffled around in his sleeping foliage. Whatever retorts Trent was about to spit at me died on his tongue, and we both peeked at each other with wide, frightened eyes. We didn't move again until the gorilla had remained still for a few minutes.
I became lost in my own misfortune, scowling at the ground in aggravation. I hate fraternities. If I could, I'd never see another Iota Theta as long as I lived. But that was just a dream—it'd never happen. It was obvious to me as Trent lowered to a crouch beside me on the bars. I slid away from him a bit, bringing my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around them. "How are we going to get out of here?" I asked him almost silently. He turned to me in concern, "How are we going to keep these gorillas sleep? Look, I don't know how to soothe one—I missed that How to Survive episode."
Trent nodded as I complained for the span of eight minutes, holding my hand and gently rubbing his thumb along my knuckles. It was something that brought me back to the old days, back in elementary school when Trent, Ronny, and me always played with each other—tag and hide-and-seek and stuff. But then I got boobs and—I got to say—I just grew out of acting like a boy. Especially when Ronny called me "pretty" in ninth grade—that made me the ultimate girl. And then we all just grew up and moved on after that—naturally, of course.
It was sad, but there were brighter sides to it, too. I laughed quietly, softly squeezing Trent's fingers with mine. He looked me quizzically. "What?" he asked just as quietly as I'd laughed. Thinking about the old days will never cease to amaze me—I was such a weirdo.
I kept laughing with myself, my giggles becoming very much like Batman's The Joker the more I thought about it. I tried to choke out the words. "I can't—I can't believe I used—used to like Ronny!" After saying the words aloud, I was done. I crumpled over in hysterics and held my sides just to ease their pain. You'd understand why liking Ronny was something funny if you'd ever met him. The words "beefcake" and "pretty boy" usually come to mind, but not more than "not my style." He was just that football player that I know and love—had since elementary school. But still—hell, no. I could hear Trent beside me, chuckling quietly as well.
"What was I thinking?" I asked him, my laughter finally subsiding. He smirked, looking at the other side of the cage instead of me.
"You couldn't help it," he said. I looked at him curiously, not understanding his meaning. He glanced at me once again, and saw the look on my face. "We were kids, right?" When he said that, I couldn't help but look away. So, to Trent, a crush is only acceptable when you're a kid?
I scoffed, glaring up at him. I turned away in disgust when he just rolled his eyes at me. "What's your problem?" he asked in that argumentative tone of his. Believe it or not, Trent and I were always that way. He would start arguments about nothing, and then I would start arguments about nothing. It's not that we didn't get along, it was just the way we were. They never got too serious, just plentiful.
I scoffed again, this time at his outrage. "So the only way I can like someone is if I'm a kid?" I asked him.
He chuckled, making me laugh too. "The only way you can like Ronny is if you're a kid," Trent countered with a smile. We both laughed lightly at that, and for the first time since I'd found out he was in the cage with me, I got closer to him. I leaned my back against his shoulder, enjoying the warmth he had. He put his cheek atop my head, and we rested in silence.
I sighed contentedly, always enjoying the proximity with Trent. Although we were no where near as close as we'd been when we were younger, I'd always been closer to him than I was Ronny. I snuggled into his shoulder even more, a serene smile gracing my lips. It stayed there until about an hour later when Trent sucked his teeth. "I'm so tired of your bullshit!" he swore, lifting his head from mine. He wasn't as mad as his voice made him seem—he didn't even move away. I didn't either.
But I did roll my eyes at his theatrics. "What are you so worked up about?" I snapped at him, trying to belittle him with my tone. Even with our harsh words, our hands seemed to find each others, and I held his with the same patience he did for me.
Trent continued his ranting. "I don't know why you can't just man up and tell me you like me!"
"I don't know why you're pissed at me! You're the 'man!'" I snapped back, whirling to face him.
"Yeah, but you liked me first!"
"I liked you first?! In the third grade, you cried when Ronny gave me chocolate on Valentine's Day!"
"But it wasn't fair! He told me you were allergic!" he protested, "Besides, you were the one who kissed me behind the bushes in the first grade!"
"It was a dare! They double-dog dared me!" I argued.
"And you used to drool over me in Ms. Hynes class back in eighth grade!"
"No, I didn't!"
"Yes, you did!"
"Ronny! It was Ronny I was drooling over!"
Trent rolled his eyes. "Oh please! You just liked Ronny because he didn't argue with you and looked like me!"
"Yeah, right, Trent! And eighth grade is after third grade you idiot!"
"And first grade is before!" he pointed out, "Admit it—you can't stop yelling because you like me!"
I groaned. "You know what? I'm not arguing about this anymore!" I yelled at him. My words echoed off of the cramped cage, and we both froze—I hadn't meant to yell. After none of the gorillas stirred, we both visibly relaxed and I leaned my back on his shoulder once again. There was a wide, goofy smile on my lips and it just would not go away—but I knew that Trent had the same smile. "You're so annoying," I muttered. I could tell he heard me because he chuckled softly. I gave in. "You're right," I whispered shyly. I felt Trent's head lower to mine again, and he sighed. I heard a little relief in his breath.
"Now say it out loud," Trent teased, gloating at his win. I turned to him silently, placing my cold lips on his warm ones. Considering we think so much alike, Trent wasn't even surprised, and he wrapped his arms around me affectionately.
I could feel his small smile just before I pulled away. I shrugged, thinking of Helga Pataki liking the football head…we had a lot in common. "I like you, like you," I said softly. I lost—he won. We both grinned at each other with dopey faces that were just about identical.
"Good," he whispered, sitting up higher. He chuckled, adapting a brusque tone, "Because I was tired of this cage." He leaned back again, ruffling through his pockets as I tipped my head, looking at him in puzzlement.
Imagine my shock and fury when Trent finally found what he was looking for and took out a small, fancy cell phone. He waved it in my face proudly, unashamed of having deceived me. "I was waiting for you to say something—we could've been out of here a long time ago." I'm sure I made some form of squeak, helplessly watching him dial a number and smirk in self-satisfaction. I was appalled. "Hey, Ronny!" Trent greeted when Ronny answered. He listened to Ronny speak for a moment before speaking again, "…yeah, we're still here. You're still by the giraffes, right?" He waited again. "Yeah, bring the keys around. You got to come get us out, she's—" I held my breath when he suddenly stopped speaking. I wanted to hear what he'd said about me—even if it was so Gilmore Girls. "Nah, it's all good—she says 'hi!'" I scoffed. "Yeah, I'll tell her…alright…peace." He hung up his cell phone and put it back into his pocket as if nothing was wrong. But I could tell he knew I was livid. He threw me an innocent look. "What?"
I tore into him. "You set this up?!" I whispered angrily, "You Punk'd me?!" I turned back to my constricted position, pettily refusing to look at him.
He was unashamed. "Yeah, so?!" he snapped back. I only turned my head to glare at him. "You were being stubborn!"
"I want my kiss back—and my 'I like you!'" I whined.
"Too bad—it's mine, now!"
"Well, I'm taking it back!"
"You can't do that!"
"Maxwell Sheffield did it, and so can I!"
"I bet you you won't!"
"I bet you I will!"
"I bet you you won't!"
"Watch me!" I hissed, swirling back around and leaning on his shoulder yet again. I didn't want to think about the self-satisfied smile that he most certainly had. "God, I hate frat boys!"
"Me too," Trent said, laughing. When I didn't laugh with him, he nudged my back with his shoulder. I bit back a grin. "Come on, Asia. You know I like you like that," he teased. I frowned, not too fond of being teased. "If I kissed you, I wouldn't take it back."
"That's 'too bad,'" I mocked.
"Don't be so moody," he told me, and nudged me again.
I shook him off. "Don't make me so moody."
"I bet you still like me."
"Well, no one said you were Jimmy Neutron."
"Don't go there with me!"
"I just went there!"
"I can't believe you…" We were about to begin yet another pointless argument until a sound made us freeze. The gorilla cage began rattling noisily, and I held onto Trent with about as much strength as an actual gorilla. I could see his wariness as well, and he looked around the cage in paranoia. He inhaled slowly. "R—Ronny…?" There was no answer to his call. The rattling continued, rising in volume just slightly as we both squeezed closer together in fear. All I could think of was what they would say at my funeral: "Girl and Boyfriend Killed By Gorilla" wouldn't do the situation justice. If I saw that in a newspaper, I'd laugh. All of a sudden, the rattling stopped completely, and we were left alone in the thick silence. I whimpered.
"BOO!" Ronny shouted, leaping from the shadows. Trent and I screamed so loud I'm sure every animal in the zoo woke up.
I never want to see another Iota Theta as long as I live.
A.N. Hey guys--be honest--when was the last time I wrote a one-shot. It's been a long frigging time. And I'm not very happy about my return, but hey, what can you do? Nothing--that's what. Hope you enjoyed it!