You are cordially invited to a night of terror…
The word terror written in blood red. Terror, seriously? Unamused I stare at the gold trimmed invitation stuck to the refrigerator. If anything, the past couple of months have pretty much prepared me for just about anything, anything that is that life has to offer. In terms of “terror”, Well let’s see; In just under 6 months I lost my dad to cancer, I’ve been fired from my first real paying job, crashed my car to the point of no return and most recently dumped by my longtime boyfriend. An unfortunate series of events that could possibly lead to the makings of a future nutcase. That’s something my Aunt Cathy would warn. A fine one to talk, seen as she’s already claimed that role in our family for her frequent run-ins with mental institutions. With that in mind, I’m guessing I’m safe for now. “Rachel!” I yell out. “What are you doing tomorrow night?” Rachel’s my best friend as well as the only person who’s willingly offered for me to crash on her couch. I promised her this would be a temporary situation, just until I get back up on my feet, but who knows when that will be. I haven’t been able to find a job in 3 months. Seems no one wants to employ a reporter with a bad reputation. Rachel and I have been best friends ever since our past feud to win over Luke Bryan’s heart in 2nd grade. Needless to say, neither of us dated Luke, but he did agree to take us both to the school dance in 7th grade. I’ll never forget the tacky velvet blue suit he wore that night or how his hands dripped in constant sweat. If we were to compete for his affection today, the odds would definitely be in Rachel’s favour. She is the epitome of the popular girl in High School.
“I take it you’ve seen the Halloween invite?” Rachel says, pouring her morning coffee into her flask.
“Commuting today?”, I ask, Don’t you ride into the city with Kyle on Fridays?” Kyle is Rachel’s boyfriend. His entire being oozes douchebag, he has always been jealous of our friendship and currently not my biggest fan. If I were to make assumptions, I’m presuming its because since moving back home I’ve consumed most of Rachel’s free time which in return takes away from their time.
“No, I have a big case coming up and need the free time to prepare, Rachel says while tying her hair back into a bun, and don’t think I can’t see what you’re doing”
“Me?” sarcastically tilting my head.
“Yes, YOU! You’re trying to divert my attention.”
“I would never, you’re way too smart for that,” I say rolling my eyes.
“We’re going to Jason’s Halloween Party, and I won’t take no for an answer”. Rachel turns towards the front door and rushes out almost spilling her coffee as she closes the door.
I fall back onto the couch and pick up the morning paper. Maker in hand, I’m hoping today will be the day I draw red circles all over the job section. Friday night rituals include Rachel returning home by 6 pm, the two of us opening up a bottle or two of Merlot and chowing down on an embarrassingly large amount of Chinese food from Mr Chung’s down the road. A large portion of chicken spring rolls, deep fried noodles and two fortune cookies is our usual order. This Friday was no different, after cleaning out the white bags of Chinese the two of us pass out in front of the TV, legs locked under a large duvet while the faint sound of sitcom reruns play in the background.
The effects of 3 bottles of red wine have finally worn off, and I’m now standing in front of the bathroom mirror contemplating ways to get out of this dread awful party.
Rachel’s standing in the hallway holding up two pairs of heels “The black or white heels?”
“Black, but I know you’ll just wear the white ones anyway, why do you bother asking,” I say
“White it is!”
“Oh-oh”, Rachel pauses, then turns to me as I take a seat on the edge of the bathtub. My cell phone in one hand. “whats wrong?” I know she can sense the discomfort in the way I call out her name, yet I can’t help but ask her anyway.
“Do you think Brett will be at the party tonight?” I scrunch up my face in anticipation waiting for an answer.
Rachel leans on the door frame, with her arms pressed against her chest. “Are you stalking his profile again?”
I let out a long breath before speaking “Oh gosh, he’s coming, isn’t he? and he’s bringing her.
“Put your phone down, your only going to make it worse”
“I sent him a text”
“What did you say?” Rachel’s voice irritated
“I just needed to know that he still loved me” I closed my eyes trying to prevent the tears from falling. My shame was exposed and my pain became visible for Rachel to see. She walked towards me, lifted my weak body up into her arms and whispered: “I love you!”.
I can hear the music vibrating from inside the club as our cab makes a stop. Rachel wipes the mascara stains from my cheeks before getting out of the cab, I get out after Rachel and turn to pay the driver his fee. We stand on the sidewalk behind a red velvet rope that’s marked VIP, there is a grossly tall man dressed in full black attire with a clipboard checking off names, next to him a young lady offering out glasses of champaign as people enter.
All the usual suspects are here, Harley Quinn is dancing with the joker, the bar is filled up with zombies, and I could’ve sworn IT was signalling for me to come over to him. Rachel is dressed up as a nurse, her hair so blonde it almost looks white in the fluorescent lights. I catch a glimpse of myself in the entrance mirror. Evidence of my recent meltdown painted across my face, while my shallow demise hides behind a combination of my red hood and my long thinned out black hair. Two years ago Brett and I attended one of Jason’s Halloween parties, it ended with me causing a scene after drinking too much and accusing him of fornicating with his business partner, this led to us leaving in different cabs. I didn’t know what to expect tonight, I wasn’t sure how I was to act if I were to see him.
Rachel and I decided to wait over by the couches for Mr douchebag himself to arrive. Being that this was his best friends party, I had no doubt they’d make an entrance. I honestly don’t understand what Rachel sees in him, he has the mental capacity of a doorknob. Rachel leans over to me; “Looks like IT wants to play” she says, followed by a teasing giggle and a suggestive nudge. “No ways!, I have enough clowns in my life, I don’t need another one,” I say before downing the last sip of my champagne. It’s going to be a long night indeed, I think to myself.
The club was starting to pack up now, more bloody zombies were making their way to the bar, the couches were filling up with vampires and the dance floor looked like a reenactment of Michael Jackson’s famous thriller music video. I was on my 5th G&T for the night and just about ready to go home. I wasn’t in the celebratory mood after all, and besides, I have just about had it with creepy IT guy making sexual gestures towards me. Ewww, what is wrong with this guy?
“Kyle’s here! Come on!”
I wasn’t in the mood for Kyle’s judgmental remarks tonight, so I quickly came up with a lie “Actually, I’m feeling a bit dizzy, I think I’ll just sit here for a bit”
“Okay, I just need to make my rounds”, Rachel smiles and puts her empty glass down on the table next to me. “I’ll be right back”
I look around me, I am surrounded by so many people, yet I feel so alone, and the more I drink, the more vivid my memories of the past 6 months become. Flashbacks of my dad’s final breaths, the words “you’re fired!” pounding in my ears over and over again like an angry metalhead drummer, and Brett…oh Brett, he’s gone, I’ve lost him forever. The room starts becoming muffled, my eyesight turns hazy and I can feel a panic attack coming on. I hear a voice, but I can’t make out any of the words, my hands begin to sweat, I realise I need to remind myself to take a deep breath. I feel waves of hot and cold flushes run through my body. I hear the voice again, words, people, music, the lights, my anxiety peaks and I begin to feel overwhelmed. I feel a hand on my shoulder followed by the words “Are you okay?” I’m hesitant to look up. It”s a man’s voice. Feeling more embarrassed for what I must look like to this stranger, sitting on the couch completely and totally out of it. I slowly lift my head from the bottom of my empty glass and turn to him. His piercing dark brown eyes looking into mine, he flashes a huge grin exposing his dimples. Oh my, I think to myself. I’ve never seen a more beautiful man before, his dark brown hair combed back, with just one lonely strand hanging down past his eye. He lifts his hand and rubs his thumb across his chin “Hi, I’m Steven” he says still smiling. I immediately wandered off into thought, I’m thinking of Brett and our relationship, how it ended, my secret, the other woman, our last fight. Steven places his hand on my shoulder once again, his touch ushers my brain to recover. I turn my body towards him “Hello Steven, I’m Casey” I place my hand out to meet him. I’m back in my thoughts, but this time to remind myself that I have to get it together.
Steven gets up and offers to buy me a drink. At this point, I’m not sure if having another drink is such a good idea, but I say yes anyway. I watch how he effortlessly walks through the crowd of dead zombies and vampires. He’s so tall and easy on the eyes. I wonder what a man like that is doing at a Halloween party dressed like some sort of investment banker. He looks so important yet so out of place. He must be much older than most of the men in here, I’m guessing around 35. I break my gaze from him and turn my sight over to the dance floor. Rachel and Kyle are joining the masses in what looks like some sort of cult sacrifice. I shake my head and take a deep breath.
“I pegged you as a wine drinker” Stevens hand suggestively stretched out in front of me. “Shall we go somewhere a little quieter”
“Sure,” I say
“Great, follow me”
I take the glass of wine from Stevens’ hand and get up off the couch. Stevens hand now on my lower back, guiding me through the crowd towards a door with the word exit written in white and green above it. The door opens and in front of me, is nothing, nothing but blackness. My eyes feel heavy, I can’t feel Stevens hand on my lower back anymore. There’s a bright light blinding me, hard hands grip my waist, my mouth is taped shut, I smell cigarette and petrol, I hear voices, two, a man and a woman, they arguing now, my body slides from one side to other of what seems to be a delivery van, one of them kicks my ribs, I taste blood in my mouth. We’ve stopped, I feel my body being dragged, my head feels swollen, my arms too weak to grab onto anything. I’m no longer being dragged, I hear heavy footsteps walking towards me “Is she alive” a man speaks. “Yes,” the woman answers. “Good, take her inside” just then with his second wind of words I recognise his voice and my entire body begins to heat up. My skin was on fire with fear, my thoughts concerning and fatal. I knew then and there who had me, and I knew then, I’d die.