He watched their movement without the soundtrack, their eyes closed to the shouted snippets of tunes he all but recognised. At the edge of the dance floor he stood, a long-drained glass in his hand, the wallet in his pocket almost the same. Still, he had enough to get a headset lit by colour either side, enough to put down to join the masses in the darkness. He chose not to. He chose not to shut out the atmosphere surrounding, chose not to listen only to what came to their ears. He stood at the side-line thinking because thinking was what he did best.
Or so he thought.
He watched something he knew he didn’t want to join in with, left only to wonder why. Instead, without turning his head, he listened to the conversation to his left, to someone else’s friends pouring their hearts out, telling each other why they were the best, why they were the ones who could sort out their problem with a woman called Janice, or Jan, to the chorus of whoops naked of the guiding baseline.
His eyes flicked to the right, to the corner of the room and the fire exit he knew shouldn’t have been letting in the cold dark night unless the bells were ringing. His attention drew back to the conversation, guilt returning as he listened to information they shouldn’t be broadcasting, his breath pausing as he caught a word, isolated, without context. Unnatural.
The conversation drifted out of his mind, a sudden blurted snippet of a song he’d not heard for such a time he’d been thankful, then to someone tall, wide shouldered, un-assailed by alcohol, someone who should have been responsible, someone who should have known better than to push back, to take in what stumbled through the fire door with their mouth dripping dark with liquid, their expression much like those who paid no attention to anything but the music pouring through their ears and to what hung beyond their arms reach.
The glass slipped from his hand but only he heard it shatter at his feet. Only he felt the crunch under his shoe as he took a step, leaning forward, eyes squinting between the bodies swaying their heads from side to side, light shining at their ears. He looked to their dance which was like no other, hands raised, arms grabbing, holding close like a slow romantic song speeding to a rate which made little sense. He watched their bodies twist and turn as they ducked in and out of view, huffed air blocked in and out by a renewed wave of whoops and hollers from the crowd. The joy of those oblivious to the exchange couldn’t mask the scream of a man who hadn’t called out that way before, hadn’t reacted to such pain in all his life, his body flinching, falling to a heap as his calls went unanswered.
He looked around to the friends who had re-joined the bouncing masses and for the TV cameras filming his reaction, hidden in each corner ready to capture the moment panic struck. He couldn’t make out the glass of the lens, the black nothingness beyond. He looked for others who’d heard the call, who’d seen the bouncer fall to the ground, but there was no one else, all others in the room all but silent for the feet slapping to the ground with disorganised rhythm.
They were good. The setup must have taken time, his admiration for his friends grew, the attention to detail for the prank warming his heart even more as he lost count of the costumed actors streaming through the doorway with the empty-headed stares and their quickening pace as they sought targets.
It took the third, or maybe it was the fourth headset to fall to the floor, the screams joining to a chorus before people took note, before they pulled down the cans at their ears, heads titling to the side, eyes widening with pain, before the screams reverberated and legs ran in the opposite direction, stopping, pausing when they saw the same expressionless crowd head from the way they wanted to run.
His admiration grew as he looked from eye to eye, saw fear on their addled faces curled in confusion as he held his chest against the laughter pouring from his mouth. His admiration grew as he took a step back, bumping against the wall as people ran left and right. Movement caught him by surprise, but still he smiled, the laughter without control even when the stale stench of sewerage wafted across his face, even when the dark figure bared down, intense pain radiating from his neck.
In The End
What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?
Could you survive the end of civilisation?
Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.