An end of year party turns to terror.
| “There’s a party tonight at Cassie’s, Mum. I won’t be late,” Sandra promised.
“I’m not sure I like that girl. She’s flighty. Comes with having no parents to control her.”
“Mum! That’s an awful thing to say. You know her folks were killed only a year ago. Poor Cassie hates living alone, she’d much rather have her family.”
Sandra’s mother sniffed, “Does she take drugs?”
“No, she doesn’t! It was a drugged driver that got her parents killed. Anyway, I’m going around to help her get ready for the party.” Sandra slammed the door on her way out.
“The room looks great. The party lights make such a difference.” Sandra stood back and admired their handy work.
“Let’s let our hair down tonight and have some fun.” Cassie said
“Good idea. I might even consider letting Troy have his wicked way.”
Her best friend shook her head, giving her Sandra a playful shove. “Well, in that case you’d better make yourself irresistible.
Soon the little apartment was crowded. A haze of smoke and the skunky odour of pot filled the air. Sandra and Troy obliviously snuggled in an armchair. The strobe lights throbbed swirls of bright colours in time with the loud music from the stereo, making normal conversation impossible. Cassie sat next to Zak on the sofa. She took a drag of a spliff and passed it to him. He lifted her long blonde hair away from her ear and whispered, “Anyone bring anything stronger?”
“I told everyone, no hard drugs.” She grabbed Zak’s hand and gave him a kiss on his lips, “Come on, let’s dance.”
During the evening, Cassie thought the colours of the lights seemed to be more intense, flashing in time with the beat of her heart. She felt like an observer, watching herself dance with wild abandon.
In the kitchen she stopped in her tracks and stared at melting ice in the sink. She’d never seen anything so beautiful. Her glazed eyes stared at an ice cube changing shape, drops of water sliding, slipping sensuously from its smooth surface.
“What are you doing? You looked as if you were mesmerised?” Sandra’s voice cut through the fog.
Cassie stared back at her with wide-open eyes.
“What’s wrong?” Sandra touched her friend, but Cassie continued to stare at her outstretched hand.
“My hand,” she stammered, and looked at Sandra in amazement, holding it out as if she thought she too could see her fingers elongate and turn into icicles, melting, dripping, running like wax from a candle.
“There’s nothing wrong with your hand, Cass. Whatever you think is happening, it’s not real.” Sandra led her friend by her arm out of the kitchen, back to where the party was getting a bit out of hand.
“Did someone give Cass drugs?” she shouted.
No one took any notice. The dancing continued until Sandra turned off the music. The conversation and laughter died down, all eyes drawn to Sandra and Cassie.
Cassie backed away from the crowd and let out a scream. “Get them off me!” She began to tear and rip at the skin on her bare arms.
“They aren’t real, Cass.” Sandra wrapped her arms around her, holding her tight.
Cassie calmed down as her friend sat next to her telling her over and over, “It’s alright, I’m here. It’s not real.”
After drinking several glasses of water, Cassie felt able to talk. “Oh, my God, that was the worst experience of my life.”
By this time Sandra had persuaded everyone that the party was over.
“Are you okay for me to leave, Cass?” Sandra asked, “I’ll come around tomorrow and help you clean up. I’d stay with you, but I told Mum I’d be home by midnight. It’s almost two am.”
“I’m fine now. You go. I’ll go to bed and sleep it off.” Seeing doubt in her friend’s face, she urged, “Go on. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Alone at last, Cassie dropped on to the sofa and surveyed the mess. The harsh overhead light showed a scene of devastation. Glasses and red plastic cups covered every surface, the floor sticky with spilt drinks, empty beer bottles and cans were strewn everywhere. Her head ached. Popcorn and chips crunched under her bare feet as she made her way to bed, which was a mess of tangled sheets. But she dropped into it and closed her eyes.
Cassie rolled over onto her back and listened. Something had woken her. A slow knock came again. “Who’s there?” she called. There was no answer. Getting off the bed, she went closer to the door. “Who is it?”
“Cassie, open the door. I’ve come to collect you.” A deep voice intoned. “Your parents sent me.”
“It’s not real. It’s just the drugs.” Cassie backed away.
“I’m the Grim Reaper. It’s time.”
“You’re not real! You’re a hallucination.” She screamed.
The terrified girl stood facing the door. All she could hear was the rapid beat of her heart. Holding her breath, she waited for what was coming. Her screams of terror were heard throughout the building, when a wide, curved blade tore a hole in her front door.
She backed away from the jagged hole, repeating, “it’s not real, it’s not real.” under her breath. Nothing else happened. Barely breathing and moving closer to the door, she stood trembling for a few more minutes. At last, she dared place her eye up to the hole, whispering under her breath, “it’s not real.”
Opening her eyes she saw looking back at her the grinning skeletal face of the Grim Reaper. The door opened; he entered the apartment. Cassie watched in horror as he raised his weapon. With one swift slash, the steel scythed through her slim white neck. Her head tilted forward, held on with just a sliver of sinew. The blood from her carotid artery spurted down the wall and dripped from the Reaper’s Scythe.
Her last thoughts from her dying brain were, “It’s not real. It’s not. It’s…