Emilia Jessop was known as a quiet and rather strange girl by her classmates on the Class of 2014 media studies course at Colorado State University. During lectures, she always sat by herself at the front of the auditorium. Few students felt comfortable sitting next to her, some out of respect for her obvious preference for solitude, others because her blankness and aloofness made them uneasy. Michael Parker was the first person to make a serious effort to talk to her. Although at first, prickly and unyielding, Emilia in time founds elements of compatibility between her personality and his, and she eventually invited Michael back to her dorm room one Saturday evening to ‘watch a video’.
Emilia was an attractive girl; a quite typical emo/goth type, with dyed hair and a lip-ring. (So common was this look around this time that it better implied, if anything, a conformist streak than any kind of rebellion). Jessop’s skin was shockingly pale, almost seeming as if she wore a thickly applied coating of chalk. Her eyes were brown. She was tall, with a spiky, bony frame.
The first thing that struck Michael upon entering Emilia’s dorm was the state of the place. It was extremely untidy, even by the warped standards of a student dwelling. It smelled putrid. There were papers and food packaging carpeted over the floor.
“Sorry about the smell,” Emilia said flatly, closing the door behind them. “If you don’t like it, you’re free to leave.”
“It’s fine,” Michael said.
“Good. I’ll get the movies ready. We’ll watch them on my laptop.”
The two of them sat down on Emilia’s queen-size bed. Emilia slid her middle finger around the touchpad of her computer, clicking sporadically, straining her eyes at the screen.
“Not sure which one to start with…” she mumbled, apparently to herself.
“Are we not watching one movie?” Michael asked.
“No,” Emilia replied emotionlessly, maintaining her focus on the computer, “not just one. Here we go.”
She shuffled round to face him and positioned the laptop so they both could see the screen. A video began to play. It depicted a man lying in a pool of blood on a pavement, apparently having been shot in the chest.
“Wow,” Michael smiled. “What’s it called?”
“It doesn’t have a name,” Emilia answered. “I can give you the name of the site I downloaded it from.”
“Sure. But it has a name? The movie, I mean. Right?”
“It’s not a movie.”
In the video, a suited figure was now crouched by the body of the bloodied man, who was moaning with disorientation. After angrily shouting something in Russian, the crouching man then shot the other in the head, sending a gushing stream of new fluid on the pool of old blood around his body. A replay button popped up over the final image. The video was finished.
Emilia leaned forward and started scrolling for another video.
“It’s weird. I’m nearly in the mood just because of that clip. I love it. We can do it to a longer one.”
“What was that video, Emilia?”
“Not really sure of the background. Something to do with the mafia. Only the blood matters. The blood and the noises they make. It’s what I’m into. We’re going to fuck with a longer one playing. I’ll make sure to put the volume up.”
“That was a real execution?” Michael asked, frowning, “That kind of shit turns you on?”
Emilia looked round. Her eyes were glowing and red. She spoke with a completely different voice. “And it doesn’t turn you on?”
Michael’s body was paralysed.
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