The bugs were everywhere.
Even the theaters weren't safe anymore. Just the thought of them made his skin crawl. The dangling legs, their hard shiny bodies, the little teeth gnashing away in the dark. Suckling away at the very thing that gave him life, the sanguine fuel of his existence. Slowly draining him, flesh shriveling like a prune sucked dry by the harsh rays of an angry sun.
He knew of course that bedbugs were not that dangerous. Perhaps his fear was irrational.
he didn't like the idea of anything biting him while he slept, helpless and alone.
Jangling chords and a high, whining voice shattered his concentration.
"Mom! Can you please turn this crap off? You know I hate Country."
A quick shift and it was all blaring bass and vicious attitude.
Rock music- much better.
His worries dissipated, broken like a fearsome reflection in the water, dashed by the ripples of the roaring Rock.
Suddenly, his dorm was in view. With its imposing height and shining exterior shell, armor protecting solid concrete, the dorm was a monument to safety. It loomed menacingly over all who might threaten those inside.
As he exited the car with his mother, a young man cheerfully greeted them. His voice was shrill and deceptively cheerful, like that of a telemarketer.
"Welcome! I hope you're as pumped to kick off the year as I am!"
He figured this was probably his R.A. A little excitable maybe, but he seemed nice enough.
"Hey, I'm Mark, and this is my Mom. Nice to meet you."
As the R.A. led them through the seemingly endless halls and stairways to Mark's room, his Mom popped off question after loaded question like automatic gunfire. Like most Mothers, her mouth was always cocked, ready to decimate the unsuspecting ear on a moments notice.
"What are you guys doing about this bedbug issue? I don't want my son living in unsafe conditions."
"We are happy to report no incidents of infestation yet at this institution. We take a lot of precautions to ensure that any bedbugs would be isolated and quickly and efficiently eradicated. No vacuum sharing, plastic covers on the mattresses, and the welcome watchful eye of a friendly R.A."
His grin seemed likely to split his face in half. Mark was not sure how welcome this watchful eye would be.
"Here we are!"
Finally they reached the thick wooden door with 710 emblazoned on its face, indication that this room belonged to him. A quick swipe, a beep, a flash of green, and the door was open.
His Mother screamed.
"Oh Mark, it's so nice!"
He dashed past her to the bed, his top priority as his dormant fear gurgled back to the surface of his mind. He picked up the mattress, investigating the plastic cover with a singular purpose. Little rips marred its skin like pockmarks.
Someone, or something, had chewed through it.