The Worst Party In Ten Thousand Years

(Horror stories about parties.)

“I don’t like him,” Jeri whispered. “He’s weird.”

I looked at the guy sitting alone on the couch in the corner. Lanky. Pale. Brooding. He seemed out of place. I wondered if he was someone’s date who’d gone forgotten.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover, Jer,” I replied. “Haven’t you seen that credit card ad?”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. But I don’t want to be around when he starts shooting up the place.”

“Jesus!” I hissed. “What’s wrong with you?”

“This is a party, Kay. People are supposed to be having fun, not being miserable.”

“So then why are you acting like such a miserable t**t?” I responded, and walked away, heading toward the guy in the corner.

“You’ve got some f*****g nerve,” I heard her complain. I sighed and ignored her.

“Hey,” I said, sticking my hand in front of the weird guy. “I’m Kay.”

The guy glanced up. I was surprised to see tears in his eyes. I guessed my “date gone forgotten” theory might have been accurate.

“Devin,” he replied, slipping his palm into mine. It was warmer than I’d expected.

“So what brings you here, Dev? Do you know Shawnna and JP?”

Devin shook his head. “No. I don’t know anyone here.”

“Party crasher, huh? I dig that. You’re missing out on some good food, though. Want to come get some of that lasagna with me?”

“No thanks. I’m not hungry.”

“That’s cool, that’s cool. Can I get you a drink? JP made a batch of Manhattans that’ll strip the enamel off your teeth.”

“I can’t drink.”

“Gotcha,” I acknowledged, wondering why he crashed a party thrown by people he didn’t know and whose food he refused to eat and whose booze he wouldn’t drink.

I plopped down on the couch next to him and surveyed the party. The industrial-style loft shared by Shawnna and JP was cavernous and well-appointed. How they were able to afford a place like that was beyond me. It fit the thirty-or-so partygoers with room to spare.

I peeked over at my idiot friend. Jeri had a cocktail in each hand and was unsubtly twerking against a guy who was dancing with his boyfriend. “Classy as always, Jer,” I thought.

Devin said something in a low voice. Raucous laughter and joyous shrieks and the din of background conversations over the pulsing music made it difficult for me to hear what he’d said.

“Come again?” I asked.

“I’m not going to shoot up the place,” he repeated.

I turned bright red. “Did you really hear her say that?” I asked.

Devin nodded. “It’s okay. I know I’m weird.”

I turned to face him. His long, black hair was obscuring half of his gaunt face. The tears in his eyes had dried. He looked at me with a startling intensity I’d never experienced before.

“It’s all good, man,” I reassured. “We’ve all got our things.”

“Yeah.” He paused. “Kay, can I ask you a favor?”

“Sure.”

“For the next fifteen minutes, don’t leave this spot on the couch, okay?”

I shot him a quizzical glance. “Okay? Any reason?”

“Yeah.”

I waited, but he didn’t elaborate. I knitted my brow, trying to figure out what the dude’s deal was. He fidgeted and trembled, but not in a way that made me worry he was about to lash out. He seemed intensely anxious. I wondered if me being there was to help him manage his stress.

“Sure, I’ll hang out here.”

“Thanks.”

The two of us watched couples dance and singles flirt and drinkers drink. I let my mind wander. Devin wasn’t bad looking. Not at all, really. I hadn’t seen him stand yet, but he seemed tall. Over six feet. It looked like he had great teeth, too, but I couldn’t be sure until he smiled. I didn’t expect that to happen, though, which was a shame. I’m a sucker for nice teeth.

A weird disruption of the background noise brought me back to earth. It was hard to identify; like all the sounds happened at once or something. No one else at the party appeared to notice.

“What was that?” I wondered aloud. Devin didn’t answer. He stared with blank intensity, as if he were trying to see through the wall on the other side of the room.

“Hey Dev, did you hear –” I began, but then it happened again. This time, I was paying attention. A single word rang throughout the room.

“Heads.”

“What the hell?” I muttered. “Heads” was said by every person at the same time in all the disparate conversations.

Devin leaned over and whispered, “it’s okay,” into my ear. “Just don’t get up. Please.”

A cold wave of discomfort passed through me. The rest of the partygoers weren’t aware of what had just happened. I stared into Devin’s dark eyes. They were wet again. A single tear was leaking down the side of his face.

“Devin, what is happening?”

He turned away and faced the party. I crossed my arms across my shivering body and stared at the scene in front of me. Nothing was out of place.

“High.”

It was another word said in unison by the crowd. Not a single person noticed the synchronicity.

Five seconds later: “Cycle.”

Another five: “Renews.”

Another: “Cycle.”

“Oh my God what is going on here,” I choked, and went to get up. Devin’s left arm shot out and pushed me back onto the couch.

“Please, Kay. Don’t. Just…don’t.” He was sobbing.

“Renews.”

The partiers danced and laughed, kissed and chatted, drank and boasted, oblivious to their shared words.

“HOLD HEADS HIGH CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS.”

That time, the entire series of words was announced in an unbroken string. The conversations continued as if nothing had happened. Jeri scowled at me from the bar and gave me the finger. If she could see how frightened I was from the expression I was certain I was wearing, she couldn’t care less.

“Dev, is this some kind of prank? Like, did you and Jeri and the rest of these guys plan this out to f**k with me? If you did, bravo. Seriously. You got me. Just stop, okay? Enough.”

“HOLD HEADS HIGH CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS.”

I peered into Devin’s eyes. They were bright red and puffy. If it was fake, he was an incredible actor.

“It’s almost done,” he whispered.

“What’s almost done?” I demanded, glaring at him. “Tell me, man, because this is f****d up.”

The conversation ceased. The music stopped. The room was silent.

I whipped my head back toward the party. The whole room was staring at us. My breath caught in my throat.

“Dev?” I whimpered. “Jeri?”

“HOLD HEADS HIGH CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS.”

Everyone aside from me and Devin lifted their chins and peered at the ceiling.

“HOLD HEADS HIGH CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS.”

“Stay where you are, Kay. Don’t leave my side.” Devin’s voice was strong and insistent. I obeyed.

Around us, the walls shook. Bottles fell off the bar and plates crashed to the floor. A few partiers dropped to their knees, but they never stopped staring at the ceiling. “Hold heads high,” I thought to myself.

The floor groaned as if it were about to collapse. My vision spun and I realized I’d been holding my breath. I let it out in a series of racking sobs.

“CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS.”

Something shimmered across the floor. I gasped. The room spun again, but I’d been breathing as normally as I could. I squinted at the shimmering forms, only to have the room dim and a jolt of hideous nausea grip me.

“Devin, what am I seeing,” I gasped, staring at my knees as the sensation of sickness waned. I tried to look at the things again, only to have my stomach lurch in reply. I turned my gaze toward Devin, who was watching the situation unfold without any apparent discomfort.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the shimmering masses of shifting forms shudder and rise from the floor, enveloping the partygoers.

“CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS.”

One by one, each enveloped person blinked out of sight in a puff of vile-smelling steam, their clothing and personal items falling to the floor in a heap.

The swirling chaos of shimmering arms and tendrils and mouths focused on the last person. Even though I wasn’t able to see directly, I knew it was Jeri in her magenta top. Fighting the nausea and dizziness, I turned to face her.

“CYCLE RENEWS CYCLE RENEWS,” she breathed, her face tilted upward, as if in prayer. The monsters converged on her. In the brief instant before her disappearance, I saw her flesh bubble and char. A second later, nothing was left but two whiskey glasses, a magenta top, shorts, sandals, and a cell phone.

“Jeri,” I whispered, as hot tears cascaded down my face.

“It’s done,” Devin said, and finally stood. He towered over me. I’d underestimated his height. He was easily seven feet tall. Maybe more.

“Are they dead?” I asked, knowing the answer.

Devin nodded. “I’m sorry. But there was no avoiding it.”

“No avoid– but what happened? What the f**k happened?” My voice was rising as my fear and disbelief shifted into indignation.

“It needs to happens once every ten thousand years. I have to watch to make sure it all goes through.”

“Ten thousand years,” I parroted. “What th–”

“Thank you for being kind to me, Devin said. “No one ever is.” He gazed at me with deep sympathy and gratitude. “I’m sorry you had to see it, but the alternative was, well,” he gestured at the steaming piles of personal effects.

“And that’s it?”

“That’s it.”

And with that, he was gone. And I was alone.

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