Chapter 2:

Club Fair Chaos

Insurmountable Odds


Thanks to Hazel’s guidance, I was right around the corner from the fair venue. As per her advice, I took my time getting there, both to avoid being hazed as well as to hopefully not run into Hazel immediately after that awkward display.

As tempted as was to go back to my room and curl into a ball for the next year, or ten, I knew I need to push through this. The club fair awaits!

At around 9:50 I wandered over to the venue and my heart sinks. There was a line. 

With no other choice, I enter the back of the queue, defeated. I considered talking to the people around me, but I couldn’t think of what to say, the arid heat from the summer sun adding to the pressure. Before I had a chance to form a complete thought, a loud voice comes over the venue speakers.

“Welcome to the Briarson University’s 32nd annual Freshmen Club Fair!” The grainy voice boomed over the overhead speakers. “We have a variety of fun events for you all to enjoy today while browsing our wide selection of clubs and societies so be sure to enjoy yourselves to the fullest! Go Quokkas!”

As the announcement came to an end, the student staff opened the doors to the venue, allowing for all the exhausted and annoyed students to flood the building. The volunteers shuffled us all into the venue one-by-one, offering campus maps and water bottles along the way, which I gladly accepted. I would rather not get completely lost again like this morning if I can help it.

Now wasn’t the time for self-loathing though, I needed to find some clubs that could jumpstart my college life full of friends and adventures!

The inside of the building was complete chaos. It appeared to be a remodeled row of warehouses combined into a massive hall. Despite the cavernous feeling of the building, the tightly packed crowd still made me feel suffocated as I attempted to traverse through the stalls alone.

Although I was excited to find the perfect club for me, I was equally overwhelmed by the easily 100 different groups all making very compelling pitches for a wide variety of activities from book clubs and cooking to horseback riding and camping.

The clubs were listed in alphabetical order so there were some very strange and sometimes funny rows of societies competing with each other. For instance, the game society, GSA, and Harry Putter society seemed to form some kind of impromptu alliance against the French and German language societies between them, throwing paper balls at each other and warring over new students.

As I wondered into the LMNO row, I wondered if I should have brought a bag with me to carry all the handouts and trinkets I had been receiving. My jean pockets were overflowing with pamphlets and my shirt felt as though it weighed an additional 5 pounds from the sheer number of buttons forcefully put into it by many rabid recruiters, not to mention sweat.

I was lost in thought, desperately trying to keep all the clubs and societies straight in my head as a guy in front of me with dark hair and a jacket suddenly turned away from the booth he was looking at and bumped past me, seemingly in a rush.

“Sorry.” He breathed, not even looking at me.

I turned to say something in response, not thinking much of it, but he was already gone, swallowed by the crowd of rampaging people.

I turned back to look at what he was so fixated on before rushing off. The unmanned booth was unimpressive at best with a stack of shoddy pamphlets adjacent to a piece of paper with the name of the club written crudely in Sharpie.

The Mixed Martial Arts Club, huh?

The display board they were using had a few pictures of men and women, presumably from the society, dressed up in combat gear and demonstrating different moves or fighting with each other. The pictures depicted a sizable gym with punching bags, wide spaces for mats, and even a case of trophies and medals from competitions. They seemed like the real deal.

I didn’t know if it was the random encounter with the black-haired guy or maybe the effects of delayed heatstroke from running in circles this morning in the sun but for whatever reason, this felt like destiny. I picked up the pamphlet on the table and flipped through the contents casually while walking through the rest of the row.

As I skimmed through the pages, I became even more interested. They specialize in Brazilian Jiujitsu, Muay Thai, and Judo. I have no idea what half of those words mean but they sound cool! They meet up four times a week for ninety-minute sessions. Seems appropriate! Their first meeting for freshmen is on August 28th at 11am. That’s interesting!

I stopped in my tracks, causing the person walking behind me to bump into me confused. I pulled out my phone and check the date and time. August 28th, 10:45. I’ve never been the best at math, but it seems like the meeting is in fifteen minutes from now.

Oh god.

I turn around and start struggling to push backwards through the crowd in order to escape the venue. If having found this club was the work of fate, then this had to be some kind of cruel joke or test by the powers above. As I made my way backwards through the excited new students and warring recruiters, I looked fervently through the club handout and campus map to find out where exactly I’m going.

Luckily for me, it seemed as though the club room for the mixed martial arts club was in the sports center right next door. As soon as I managed to break through the last wave of people blocking the exit, I made a run for it, stopping only briefly to double check the map and locations. I didn’t have time to get lost again.

After having to ask for directions twice, I finally made it to the sports center’s club hall where I began searching for any sign or people for mixed martial arts. The hall itself way rather small and run down, although I shouldn’t be too surprised by a medical school with no focus on athletics. As I reached the far end of the hallway, unsure of what I may have missed, the fluttering of a paper taped to the door in the far corner caught my attention.

MMA Club Room.

Immediately alarms started going off in my head. This seemed sketchy. Was I tricked into some kind of weird drug party my mom had always warned me about? After much deliberation and against my better judgement, I opened the door and peered in.

What could possibly go wrong?

Miao Miao
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