The Shadow Figure
The buzz was electric, flowing through the hall and made every conversation taking place indiscernible. Daisy stood waiting in line quietly, no one to talk to. She was a nice girl with gold rimmed round glasses that looked John Lennon style. She had dark blond straight hair and bangs. At seventeen years old, she stood out because of her computer skills and ability to program. She one-handedly, created a new program for the teachers to record attendance and grades much easier than their archaic ways of pen, pencil and paper. The school administrators adored her and when the chance to go to a tech conference came, she took it.
Now she stood with hundreds of other hopefuls to nab a good seat in the behemoth of a conference hall. She had never attended such a large event and felt truly like a tadpole in large pond of ornate koi fish. Even her fashion choices stood out. Girls with differnt colored hair, multi-colored in shades of candy - bright blue, orange, pinks and purples. She looked down at her natural drab boring hair color, the same one as she was born with. The other girls wore dark and simple but tailored with a cut to flatter their figures, European designers, she had heard one girl respond to someone who complimented her. Daisy had never even thought of shopping outside of the same department store she had gone all her life. Wearing a gray sweatshirt that had a unicorn on it and plain blue jeans. Cursing her mother for not warning her about this new social challenge, she vowed to maybe look at a different store next fall for something a bit different.
She could hear conversation after conversation about jobs, interviews, parties and dating. Things she could not relate to at all, completely unfathomable to her. But she held onto her laptop and just waited.
As the drone of everyone's voices went on, she spotted some kind of dark figure in the corner. He was in all black, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood on his head. It appeared that he too had no one to talk to. But he stood there on his phone scrolling through it.
Daisy studied him for a bit, she wasn't able to get a perfectly good view but saw he was slim, tall with dark wavy hair. He seemed to want to stay in the shadows. She kept turning to see if anything had changed with him, but there he stood waiting with everyone else.
Then on the twelfth time she turned her head to check up on him, he disappeared.
She wondered, where did my hooded guy go? Should I go find him?
Not understanding the pull he had on her, she decided to get out of line and look to see where he was. As she walked frenetically down the hall, a guy called out to her.
"Your boyfriend went down to the basement," a bystander wearing a black Atari shirt and had a buzzcut said in a sarcastic tone. "Thought I would let you know in case you were worried."
Daisy shot him a dirty look but whispered a curt "Thanks" and was on her way to the basement.
She found a door with glowing red letters say EXIT and on the door it said "Basement." Well that was easy enough, she thought.
The conference was to start in minutes but she had to find this shadowy guy, to find out what was drawing her in and why.
Speeding down the stairs, she came to an abrupt halt. The shadow guy was but mere steps from the stairs, standing in the dark, and puffing on a vape pen.
"So you found me?" he said in a dry flat tone of voice.
Out of breath, Daisy suddenly felt foolish and the heat rose on the tops of her cheeks. She had not lost her cool like this since a very long time and it was unsettling. He was a complete stranger, and now she was in a dark basement with him. Her parents would absolutely scream at her if they could see her now.
"Uh yeah, so umm, what are you doing down here?" Daisy, trying to act cool and nonchalant with every ounce of dignity she thought she might have left.
"Just hitting some hash oil, it's so boring waiting. Can't stand it," he said, continuing in the flat tone of voice, talking like they were already best friends and he no cares in the world.
"Want a hit?" he asked.
Panic struck Daisy because she wanted to act cool and move along in her investigation of this guy but not at the expense of doing drugs. She knew that marijuana was becoming more accepted and legalized but she wasn't so sure that this was how her first time using it was going to be. Or if she even wanted to try using it.
After waiting for a few moments, and trying to make herself say something without sounding too weird or like a prude nun, she said flatly, "I don't share drugs."
Shadow guy was taking a hit while she said that and started to laugh and then cough at the same time.
While laughing, she could see his smile and that made her smile.
"Fair enough, fair enough unicorn - no need to share. I'm Brack, what's your name?"
"Daisy," she said, trying to keep her calm as she realized she probably said the most coolest thing in her entire life to this guy.
"Well Daisy, you want to go back and get into line so we can claim our seats?"
"Yeah that sounds good."
They ventured back together and realized that both were programmers and shared a love of video games, especially Fortnite. Brack had graduated high school early and found a job in the tech industry and his job had sent him to the conference.
Back to the noisy line hallway, they found their place in the back of the line, continuing their conversation. Their voices now joining the cacophony of voices that echoed throughout the hall.