Party People

Emma Caster-Dudzick

Jenny got into the shower and stood for a bit getting warm. She scrubbed and shaved and lathered, all with much care and time. She looked down at her hips and pushed them side to side, danced a little, finished her hair, stood in the heat some more, and then shut off the water. In front of the steamy mirror she rubbed herself from head to toe with thick cream and left the bathroom like a hot, sticky, perfumed Queen. She walked to her room, slammed the door, and continued on with the ceremony.

Mike sat slouched and spread-legged on the couch, thumbing his phone while he negotiated invites. He sent duplicate messages to representatives of different friend groups who would in turn inform their masses. And to the girls he would very much like to see, he sent specially crafted personalized messages. There was Rachel with the tits. Talia with the ass. Sam who got too drunk. He smiled at the thought.

Down the hall from the kitchen, the air was heavy. Benjy sat in his room, in his bed, surrounded by laundry and stale smoke. He was tall, thin, and greasy, the type someone might inch away from when he sat too close. His eyes were faded out, and he was remotely aware that he needed to buy drinks for later but couldn’t seem to muster the strength to peel himself from the bed.

An hour later, the three of them sat on the rug in the living room, waiting: Mike with a beer and a deck of cards, Jenny sipping something pink, and Benjy sprawled with a can beside him.

“When are people coming?” asked Jenny.

“Sometime around eleven,” said Mike. He pushed a clump of hair and dust off the stone-grey rug and arranged the cards in a rectangle.

“Is Marcus coming?”

Mike shrugged. “Turn one over.”

They sat and drank in accordance with the cards they flipped, each having a different meaning. Jenny was becoming rather interested in extending her legs out on the rug in a way that accentuated their longness, and also in laughing sort of heartily and girlishly, probably because at this point Marcus and his friends had arrived and were now likewise seated on the rug.

Mike turned over a card and told Jenny to tell someone to take two shots, as per the rules of the game. “Marcus!”

She seemed excited and felt sly, though everyone expected her to give Marcus the shots. But when it was Marcus’ turn, he would give shots to Becca, who was next to him, who would give shots to Benjy on her turn. It was a strange barter of affection. They gave drinks to the one they wanted drunker and a bit more blurry, a bit more slurred.

Mike was drunk and losing his grip on who went when and what meant what, so the game was abandoned. And anyway, people were flooding in.

Jenny walked through and down the house, or rather squeezed, because the halls, doorways, and everything else were tight with young things like herself who were also clumsy, hot, and rather unaware of anything but their own blurriness of vision and concerns with appearing not too wasted, or so she imagined. She, herself, was missing steps and reaching for walls to support herself as she made her way to the back door and to the fresh air. She lowered herself, finally, down the back steps and into yet another crowd. She was searching for Marcus.

In the living room, people were dancing messy in the dark, but thinking they looked good, and thinking someone might be watching who might want them or who they might want. Once in a while someone would lose the urge to dance, and would stop and drink and then dance again. People came in and out, and Mike, dancing near Rachel With The Tits, made a note that he recognized almost none of them. Benjy was on the couch talking to someone and keeping an eye on the girl dancing in front of him.

It was loud. People screamed when they spoke to be heard over the music. Girls hung off guys, red-eyed and floppy, and guys yelled over tops of heads through the kitchen, through the halls. A fog of confusion drifted in and out of the house so that people couldn’t really hear and couldn’t really see, and when they spoke it was gargled and strange.

The night went on, and much later, when people saw in shadows and blurred motion, and when a room had to catch up with a turn of the head, someone stepped into the house who was tall, dark, hooded, and looming. Jenny was near the door and noticed that she couldn’t catch his face, it kept blurring with the room. She whispered to her friend: “He’s hot.”

He stepped further into the house and two others followed him. One was short and fat and looked very strong. He had an overbite and tusks that extended from his face out, almost touching the tall man, though it seemed he took care not to poke him.

The other wore a long green trench coat that swept almost to the floor. At the hem, along his boots, hung the ends of several thick, slimy tentacles with leaky suckers that dripped onto the floor. Jenny’s friend caught a glimpse of his face under the brim of a hat. His chin hung with tentacles, too, that tucked into his coat. She whispered to Jenny, “He’s cute.” They watched hungrily as the strangers moved together into the party.

All the people were blurring together, now. Mike and his friends were hanging and jumping all around the kitchen, sort of pouring over the cabinets and spinning between girls, yelling and touching them and laughing with their mouths very wide. Benjy was practically gone in a cloud on the couch with his feet up on a small table and tons of people dancing around him, arms up and jumping, or pushing their butts against each other and screwing up their faces into pouts. Jenny was putting herself on display, making sure her stomach, sucked a little bit in, was showing, other times she was laughing or walking very erect, always keeping an eye on Marcus or the dark stranger in the coat and his interesting crew, who were now moving around the house.

The one with the tentacles was walking along the walls, dragging his suckers slowly across every inch behind the partiers and the dancers, from the kitchen to the bathroom, down the hall to the bedrooms, and all about the living room. The slippery, greenish slime oozed from him all the while and now covered and dripped from all the walls of the house. No one minded the slime when they leaned against the walls for stability in getting from one place to another, and soon many were shiny with it down their arms and backs.

A huge noise came from the kitchen, where the stranger with the tusks busted in through the back door, taking down the glass and the frame. Mike cackled, picked up a piece of glass and ran over to the stranger who was also picking up glass. They stared at each other wildly and started laughing and laughing and holding glass in their hands. Blood dripped on the floor, and they spun in the kitchen among the others who also were laughing and picking up glass and bleeding a little and spinning around with each other.

In the living room, the tall stranger was walking a large circle on the rug, slowly weaving between the dancers. His head was down and the music pulsed and his darkness seemed to pull the light from the room, which was hazy and blurry with the people everywhere moving and pulsing. Jenny watched him, thought he had good moves, and danced nearer to him with her arms always moving in and out.

The man lifted his arms slowly as he walked, still in the circle, and raised them above his head, which now tilted up and back so that his hood fell against his back and his dark, shadowy head began to move in sync with the pulsing music. The shadows of the room sucked into his head like a million flies swarming and forming to his outline.

In the kitchen, people were laughing and crashing with the man with the tusks and everyone was a bit bleeding, and the people moving back and forth were getting coated in green slime in their hair and on their face, and they were moving back and forth all blurry and slippery, the tentacled stranger still secreting, and the dancers and the partiers in the living room starting to walk in a circle with the man who was pulsing with the music, their feet slowly carving down through the rug, through the floor, until the ground beneath them began to crack and crumble.

Mike and the Tusk Man ran in from the kitchen with the kitchen crowd, all screaming very war-like, and the Tentacle Man slimed onto the couch next to Benjy and wrapped his tentacles around him so that goo crept up under Benjy’s wire-framed glasses. Jenny followed the Shadow Man closely in the circle.

The Tusk Man started a hoo-ha-ha sort of chant that picked up quickly amongst the circlers, who hoo-ha-ha-ed right along, and seemed very pleased to be hoo-ha-ha-ing. Benjy mumbled a few hoo’s, but he was very preoccupied with the Tentacle Man, as they were having a limb exchange, where Benjy would pinch and pick up a tentacle or two for observation and the Tentacle Man would examine a leg or two of Benjy’s in a way that was polite despite its sliminess. Jenny noticed that the floor was sparkling with black and silver mixed into the green slime that pooled all on the floor, and thought it a nice combination.

They all walked in the circle until the indent they’d made and cracked and fell deep into the earth, bringing the dancers and Jenny with it, falling down, down, and the hole began to glow red all while the music kept pulsing and pulsing and pulsing and Mike and the bleeding kitchen crew ran and dove headfirst into the hole, screaming all the way. Then Benjy rolled off the couch in a cocoon of slime and dripped into the hole, followed by the rest of the party who either walked, ran, jumped, or fell right in.

When there was no one left but the Shadow Man, the Tentacle Man, and the Tusk Man, the music stopped, a bird chirped, and the sun began to rise.