The Drawing Board

It was another late night for Lacey in Wright Hall.
Being an architecture major entailed countless hours of drawing, erasing, and fervently redrawing aside others in her cohort, all to realize a distant vision. Buildings had captivated her for almost as long as she could remember. Precious free time was spent modeling the structures of her dreams and attempting to satisfy a deeply rooted obsession. She was frequently awake late enough to greet the sunrise. Its glow reflected the exhaustion in her dry, red eyes.
Many an evening was spent with others in similar states of decomposition. Recently, Lacey had begun to estrange herself from them. It started with missing one Sunday night group takeout dinner to perfect an assignment. What was once a full table at the group's daily coffee scavenge gained a lingering chair. To maximize her personal efficiency, Lacey brought her own bag of coffee grounds and gave a decrepit percolator a renewed purpose. Though her cohort left their invitation open, they learned to stop expecting her.
Lacey was entrenched in the throes of Saturday night. A sticker on her nearby laptop – the only one on it – read "a moment hesitated is a moment lost". She sighed heavily and crumpled up another sheet, carelessly tossing it away. It fell to the ground with a soft crackle. The other night, frustration had proven its toll. Tears started flowing from her eyes, reaching a breaking point at the midnight hour. Her acute sobs had echoed emptily through the halls. Her residual anger was now dry and bitter. Work was punctured with fleeting moments when she longed for nothing more than the chance to escape it all.
She flicked her wrist. Her eyes pointedly strained to make out the time on her watch- 4:17 AM. The last overworked architecture professor had left Wright Hall hours ago. Lacey looked around her, mindlessly searching for anything- or anyone- nearby. She had claimed this classroom a while ago; it was one of her favorites to haunt. Many of her most important classes had met here. On nights as desperate as these, she hoped to tap into the wisdom it had seen for years.
A violent cough punctured the still air. As she choked on her dry throat, she fumbled for her thermos and wrenched it open. Tipping the bottle back rewarded her little. Cold drops of coffee fell onto her tongue.
Lacey reclosed the bottle and pushed back on her chair, creating a horrible shriek as it scraped across the hardwood floor. She attempted to stand, but her legs collapsed under her form. She brusquely caught herself on the table. Pain reverberated through her palms. Pins and needles consumed her lower body as the corners of her eyes teared up. She lifted her chin and gazed ahead with the best pointed gaze she could muster. As her eyes focused on the front of the room, they shifted to confusion.
The whiteboards dominating the front of the room shone to anyone looking from the right angle. Earlier, they harshly reflected an excess of sunlight. Now, they echoed the fluorescent lighting. They somehow looked... different than other nights, though.
Lacey's eyes shot between her filled, transparent water bottle, forgotten before now, and the board. An uncanny resemblance between the two grasped at the edges of her mind. The thought slipped away as pain shot through her temple. She vigorously attempted to shake it all off. What was that one thing she needed to know for Monday's quiz?
Her legs were awake now, but Lacey still stumbled as she traipsed to the front of the room. Her fingers clung to the cold, metallic ledge of the whiteboard once they found it. One hand grabbed at a red marker as the other yanked the lid off. She mumbled to herself and slowly began to write. Goosebumps rose on her arms as she began to shiver.
In her frozen haze, Lacey never noticed how her letters morphed after being created. They delicately spread out, following the contours of thin, almost imperceptible folds. The board softly dragged under her as she wrote, like tissue paper clinging onto the tip of a feather pen.
Lacey's frustration built as her memory fought against the damage of sleep deprivation. In a fervor, she swiped her hand across the board.
The infinitesimally thin sheet before her soundlessly tore into two. The halves drifted apart as serenely as the lily pads floating atop the river of her laptop screensaver. As they flowed into the unknown, beyond the plane of the board, her letters went with them. The board was empty again.
Lacey's mouth hung slightly ajar in a dumbfounded gaze. Her right hand still clung tightly to her marker. A circular wave spread out from where she had lashed out, and it slowly faded away, like the remnant of a stone skipped on a pond.
A gigantic hand broke out from the wave center. It had an unsettlingly featureless form, yet its structure was vaguely human, though it still seemed to be understanding how to function. It twisted and contorted under its smooth bounds in a manner reminiscent of stretching latex. Lacey's heartbeat overpowered the silence. She watched, trapped where she stood, as a thumb the size of her leg silently looked for her. When it brushed against her left arm, she returned to her corporeal form. She screamed wildly, turning and darting away as her throat became painfully raw.
A white residue marked where the thumb had touched her. The substance now grew on her, rapidly wrapping around her arm and shoulder. She was too occupied in fleeing to notice at first. Once she finally took a pause, pressed against the table behind her, she gazed upon her luminous white arm and chest in terror. Her fingers still flexed at her own command, but her hand bore a striking resemblance to the one looming over her.
It lunged.
As Lacey bumped her elbow back into her laptop sticker, the computer crashed to the floor. The fingers behind her allowed the thumb to press flatly into her stomach. She dug her sneakers into the tile floor and banged her hands against the cold, firm grasp. They paid no heed to Lacey's raw, gasping coughs.
Lacey's final vision was white and bright. Her feet dragged on the floor behind her. Her final gasps for help fell on an audience of thermoses and study materials. When her body, now almost completely white, grazed the board, it reached out to meet her, welcoming her home. The hand unendingly melded back into the board, and Lacey went with it. The whites of her eyes became one with the vast emptiness.
The room grew quiet again.
Moments later, a red marker emerged from the board, breaking the bereft sea and landing on the floor. It was open with the lid affixed to the back, just as Lacey had been holding it. A streak of blood gleamed across the barrel.
The empty drawing board soon regained its usual sheen. As it began to reflect the sun's first light, it shone in a deep, rich carmine.