Blaise studied Abstract Perfectionist Performance art in the University of Kenharrier (Go Harriers!). What that meant was beyond her understanding. The professor's understanding. A source of befuddlement to the entire university itself, beyond a clerk who’d alighted on a brilliant idea to save a few coins after the government had made student loans that perfect middle ground of screwing over educator and educated. The course had seemed the thing most likely to convince her parents that it was just a waste of money and time, and she was perfectly happy frying food and attending concerts. They feigned interest perfectly. What followed was to be four years of a freakish mixture of interpretive dance, painting with blood and ink, and a lecturer who eventually induced their own heart attack on stage in an attempt at combining every form of art they could think of in one last desperate grasp at what it all meant. Afterwards a clerk in the audience had quit. Never said why.
Chandler was a year older than her, and through careful cultivation of his hair had the appearance of a man 10 years older. A beard that must’ve been the labour of years. A head of non-hair that was smoother than most eggs. Eyebrows that you could lose a pen in, and were gelled back like most some people's hair. He had been taking “From Revolution to Evolution” another recent amalgamation of courses. The terrible trifecta of kinetic studies, history, and philosophy had warped his classmates into some of the most boring and/or interesting people imaginable. The people the campus Psychokinesis society frowned on for their obsession, even as their own initiations grew ever more imaginative in trying to induce “super powers.” It was only Francis who was abnormal slash parahuman slash paranatural slash differently enabled but that didn’t really come up that often until after he’d drank 2 gallons of milk in a minute on a bet.
It was the last week before the end of her second year. The possibility of a gap had escaped her until a sudden and terrible realisation midway through the first act of Madison Clementine’s “Nightmare in Orange”, when the chorus of screams and unrhymable words nearly gave her a panic attack. He’d opened the soundproofed doors, plugged his ears, struggled to the front, plucked the flyers from his armpit, and dropped the lot of them before running out. Blaise had grabbed one of the handouts and ran after him while the door was still open. Afterwards the lecturer had said it was the best satire of audience participation Tre had ever seen. (Tre declined anyone else’s titles for Trer)
“Vacation, explore the wild north and tour the sights (sic) of ancient ritual and legend.” Backpacking north Kanterra. It was just her and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students of “From Revolution to Evolution” They refused to speak of what had happened to the 4th. Just her and some fifteen humanities students. It had to be better than the closing acts of Madison’s ten day spoken word horror rock opera in agony. A year later Blaise was surprised to see the tickets at four figures, and unsurprised that Madison was practically anemic. Then again, a year later Blaise was seeing herself on wanted posters.
Camping. Drinking. Jokes. Usual chit chat opening your self up nonsense. Then it was hiking across the glacier, and she made a wrong step on an ice bridge. Chandler tried to grab her. Got pulled down too. Nobodies meant to survive a drop like that. Rest of the guys just walked on after they'd tried calling after them. Nope. Winded. Barely able to breathe, let alone call back.
The crevasse. Burning all the fuel they had to keep warm that night. Then burning anything that could pass for fuel. The great sacrifice. The Burning of the Beard. Chandler hammed it up to keep her going, made it out as some amazing personal loss. She could've laughed. She saved her strength.
One more night, huddled together for warmth, calling for help, freezing. And then Chandler is a candle. A soft fire in the palm of his hand. They didn't say anything, and he sat calmy, his gloves burning. She'd held her own out and warmed herself in his flame. He'd smiled. She'd smiled back. They fell asleep together when his hands died down. And the next day, someone heard them calling out.