Brittany was dressed as an emoji but it didn’t make sense outside of a group, and her phone died just as Frannie was texting her, as she stepped out of the station into the rain.
“Goddammit,” she said, holding up a hand to shield her makeup from the shivery drizzle. She walked over to a bodega awning to weigh her options, then went inside. “Do you by any chance have an iPhone charger?” she asked. The grizzled man gave her a look. She went back out, wrapping her jacket around her tightly. Her friends had been at one bar, but were supposedly headed to another, and it was in the opposite direction, and she really had to pee...
One can’t get ahead of one’s self, she thought, and started walking to the first bar, which was closer. At the crosswalk she brushed the dew of rain off of her nude-colored tights and then she went into the bar and through its lurking, costumed crowd. Her friends weren’t there. She turned around to leave and felt a hand pulling on her arm.
“Whoa,” she said, shaking free. She turned around to take him in: a dark-haired guy in a suit, hazel eyes, handsome, with his hair slicked back.
“There’s a party over here,” he said, smiling, so impishly she automatically smiled back.
“Yeah, I've got to go meet up with my friends,” she said, looking past him at the people in the booth he gestured to: a Heisenberg, a troll doll, a Gallagher with a watermelon, a Medusa, a girl in a pixie cut wearing an MC Lyte tank top and jeans. They were all as attractive as he was, and because of this, she let him tug her over.
“Y’all ready for this?” he said to the table.
“Hi, I’m Brittany,” she said, keeping herself from eye-rolling.
“Brittany, we’re partying in the champagne room,” said the Heisenberg.
“We got a real jam going down,” said the suit.
“What are you dressed as?”
“He’s Bateman,” said Heisenberg. The suit held out a business card, bloodied.
“Gotcha,” said Brittany. “Yeah, I’m down for the champagne room. Does anyone in there have a phone charger?”
“Let's start, it shouldn’t be too hard,” said the suit, motioning Brittany down a hallway.
She followed him, nose wrinkled with second thoughts. “Wait, what’s your name?”
“O...kay,” said Brittany, as they squished past a rowdy line of people in front of the bathrooms, Heisenberg in tow. “Good to meet you, Rob.” They opened the door onto a room where the light was pink and dark, and some slow sad-rap was playing with the bass turned up, and people were dancing and a bunch of pretty girls dressed as witches clustered around a bucket of champagne and beer in bottles.
One of the witches did a key bump. Hello, thought Brittany. Hello, friend.
Rob got two beers and Heisenberg went off to talk to the witches.
“This beer?” asked Brittany.
“I’m fine,” said Brittany, looking at her full beer, and then at the girl who’d just done the bump. “Do you think anyone here has an iPhone charger?”
Rob smiled at her, and she noticed the blood spatters on his forehead, which evinced a pleasing attention to detail. “You try to act like something really big is missing,” he said.
In the corner, the girl in the velvety witch-dress was pulling out her little coke bag again. “Uh,” Brittany said, distracted. “That’s not true. Not like, something big. I’m just supposed to meet up with my friends, because it’s a group costume. I’m not one of those people that’s like, super reliant on technology. I mean, I guess I am, I sort of have to tweet for my job–”
Brittany stared at him skeptically for a second and realized what was going on: Rob looked like that guy she had always meant to sleep with in college. Probably not enough of a reason to stay in the champagne room. Also, the girl upstairs had been Rihanna at the VMAs! Okay, she thought. Everything's making sense. And also, what is happening? Go call Frannie.
"Tryna get a nut," he added.
"I get it,” she said. “Funny. You know, I really have to go catch my friends. Have a good night, okay?"
“You can do whatever you feel,” he said, putting his hand on her shoulder and leaving it there. His eyes looked paler when she looked at him, and she lingered on them for a second, staring him down. “You over there with the long hair,” he said quietly, twisting a finger around a barely damp strand of her ponytail. “I’m sure you will find many ways to have a good time.”
His hand brushed the back of her neck and the jolt blew static down to the small of her back. Brittany decided not to leave.
“I don’t waste time,” he said.
Her whole emoji costume seemed to vibrate. “I guess I don’t either.”
“Well, Rob, I’m always looking to get down,” she said, thrilled at how strange she was being, how strange this was, or maybe she still just really had to pee.
“Ready to take you around the way,” he said.
“Whoa,” she said.
“You know how lonely one can feel,” he said. A piece of gelled Bateman hair fell down into his face.
“Wait,” said Brittany. “I talk to myself like that all the time too! Like just as I was walking over here I was trying to figure out if I should come here, or just try to catch my friends at the next bar, and I kept thinking one can’t get ahead of one’s self–”
“Going straight to your mind,” he said.
“You totally are,” she said, drawing the words out coyly, and she'd just put her hand on his shoulder when the lights went out.
A rough groan of protest went up from the room and Brittany snapped her hand back from Rob's suit. A few seconds later a dim reddish light went back on in the back corner and flickered, throwing a distorted group of silhouettes on the wall in front of her. She looked behind her and then whipped her head back around, disoriented: who was casting those shadows? She looked closer at the walls, which were maybe curtains, she realized; maybe the shadows were coming from behind them.
“Okay,” said Brittany, as one of the witch-girls turned on a blacklight and cackled, her teeth hovering pale purple in the darkness. “I'm getting sort of a krokodil vibe from the champagne room. I really should go."
Rob pulled her back towards him and the whites of his eyes shone iridescent green. "Just lay back as we take control," he said, tracing a finger down the side of her neck, and then to her spine, from the nape all the way down, hard. Brittany's legs nearly collapsed. It had been, what, almost two months?
“Let’s begin,” said Rob, and he kissed her suddenly as if her clothes were already off, and Brittany squeezed her eyes shut as he bit her bottom lip first playfully and then harder, and it was so good that she felt as if the walls were spinning like a Gravitron, and the ground shaking (or maybe just her knees?) and a wind whipping past them, pressing them closer and closer as Rob's fingers slid underneath the elastic at the hips of her leotard, and she shivered and grabbed his hands tight and pulled them to her waist, shifting and turning so that he was behind her.
She was startled to feel the wind blow cold and wet on the spot on her neck where Rob's mouth had been. She opened her eyes dimly, and looked down at her hands, which were intertwined in his hands, which were attached to nothing, dripping blood.
Brittany gasped and looked up to see Rob directly in front of her, a smiling figure against a void, blood starting to seep from his hairline and furl up from the crisp folds of his suit. His arms were raw stumps, his veins like spaghetti. She screamed. With her heart clouding the back of her throat she pushed past him and screamed again as she saw that it wasn't the room's light that had vanished but the room itself, and nothing stretched before her except for darkness: impenetrable, total, as damp and horrible and dizzying as the bottom of a well.
She started running, and Rob popped up in front of her again like a jack-in-the-box, still smiling. His pale eyes flashed in the darkness as his smile spread, and spread, as if a knife were cutting it from the inside.
Shaking, Brittany strained to see the outlines: a vast plain in front of her, a slim crescent of a moon hovering as a bird flapped darkly across its pale slice of light. The ground started to rumble again, or maybe she was still weak in the knees.
“Here’s a thunder sound from the wonders found from the underground town down the hill,” said Rob, whose voice had turned to metal, as if he were a seer.
He turned his gaze on Brittany. The last traces of color faded from his irises. Their orbs were white, glowing, and then a dot of black pin-pricked the center, then spread viscously, like ink, into the corners, dripping out like sludge. Blood soaked his suit from the inside and blossomed on the outside of the fabric, dripping down. Brittany stared at his disintegrating face in horror until she saw something moving, reflected in the lacquer of his eyes.
She whirled around. There, cresting a faraway monstrous hill, were a line of tottering people, dressed in suits that had been torn and reddened to rags, and the line became a mass of them, and the earth they covered seemed to give way and churn more of them forth. The moon glinted pale off their jerking, reanimated bones.
"I knew I should have never gone as an emoji if there was any chance I'd get separated from the group," said Brittany weakly.
Rob grinned again, feral and foul. “Let’s get ready to rumble."
Reference purposes: Jock Jams Volume 1. Happy Halloween!