The room was smoky from all of the cigarettes that were lit in such a small place.
She coughed, trying to keep her head down. The smoke made her head hurt, but she wasn’t about to let that slip. With the cigarette gripped firmly between her fuck-off finger and her ring finger, she tried to make her way through the crowd that had congealed itself in the kitchen area. She had to find someone -- anyone -- that she knew here, or she was going to lose it.
Peoples’ faces blurred to her. She tried to sort them out, but in her alcohol-induced haze, everything looked so different. The kitchen, which she had seen so many times throughout her life, looked like a new place to her. If she didn’t know any better, she would have gaped in awe at the sparkling appliances that were now covered with crepe paper, red Solo cups, and half-empty beer bottles.
She squinted her eyes, trying to see through the foggy air. A few people had crowded in the little dining room; briefly, her mind flashed into some old memories of when she was a little girl. Her entire family would gather around the dining table to say grace, or to celebrate a holiday. But that, of course, was before everything had fallen apart. She connected the dots in her brain and figured out that this was the first time anyone had been in the dining room since then, actually.
She wasn’t comfortable here. This was her own house, sure, but there were so many strangers in it that everything felt foreign. All she could think was that hopefully this would pay off; if she through a killer party, then maybe people would like her more. Maybe then they would stop the torturous bullying that had followed her viciously for the past eight years. She didn’t know how much else she would be able to handle if it kept going.
“Addie! Over here!”
Looking around, she tried to find the source of the voice. She knew that she should have known who it was, but then again, this was her party. So many people could have figured out who she was by now. Or, maybe, there was another Addie here. Anything was possible, she thought to herself in her muddled mind. Nothing made sense right now, so why should this?
It ended up being someone that she really did know, though. As the person came closer, she saw it was her romantic interest of the past few months, Jack. He smiled at her, and in his mind it probably would have seemed like a sexy one. But in reality, Addie thought his nostrils flared out like an angry bull, and from the corners of his mouth, she could see a little bit of drool trickling out.
She tried not to think about that as he pulled her into a tight embrace. It didn’t work so well, because when he went to kiss her, she turned away.
“I’m out of beer,” she said, trying to find a quick excuse. She didn’t want to have to deal with any drama tonight; all she wanted was to have a good time without having to deal with any consequences just yet. That, she decided, was for later.
A few coolers were placed around the house strategically. Her head throbbed as she tried to locate one of them. Scowling, she found one of the reasons for her headache. Loud music blared out of speakers that had come from somewhere. Addie didn’t know where; they certainly didn’t belong to anyone in her house.
Finally, she found a plastic blue cooler that was stocked full of beer cans and bottles. She took a can and cracked it open, hardly pausing a second before she took a quick gulp of it. The taste made acid rise in her throat. She choked for a second, trying to contain her stomach acid.
Addie didn’t understand why she drank this shit if it tasted so awful, but figured that since everyone else was doing it, there had to be some reason. On the bright side of things, she was handling her alcohol a lot better than some of the other people around here. There were people lining up outside the bathroom and the back door to find some place to retch up their bile. A little feeling of pride came over her; she hadn’t puked even once.
Out of nowhere, Jack came up from behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, and it startled her. She jumped, splashing a little bit of beer on her shirt. Scowling, she turned around.
“What do you want?” she said, with unintentional bitterness seeping into her voice.
Jack didn’t seem to notice. His eyes fluttered from being overwhelmingly drunk. Addie nearly choked. He smelled as though he had been out on an all-day adventure with the local Breakfast
Club. “I want you to come play this game with me.”
“A game. At a party. What, are we in eighth grade again? Seven Minutes in Heaven revival?”
He shook his head, chuckling. “Nah, nah. We’re gonna smoke out a lil’ bit an’ then play Russian Roulette. A ton of people are gonna do it.”
Addie ran the thought through her head. She knew the basic rules of the game: a gun was passed around to each person, and they had to pull the trigger. No one knew which one had the bullet, but that was the excitement of it all.
“Wait,” she said, her words slurring a little. “Can’t there only be six people playing at a time?”
Jack grinned. “Exactly.”
It took a minute to set into her brain that what he had said was a little off, but in her haze she figured it was just a bad joke. Jack was known for the corniest pick-up lines and the worst jokes ever. It wouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone if he had just come up with another one right before they were about to play the game.
He led her into the dining room where, already, people were passing around several joints. Addie had hardly realized that she had dropped her cigarette a while ago. She brushed the thought off in her mind and focused mainly on getting buzzed. She’d never been high before, and now seemed like the perfect time to try.
A girl with dreadlocks and several facial piercing passed her a fat blunt. She held it between her index finger and her thumb and inhaled deeply. The smoke felt smoother than that of a cigarette, and yet it felt lighter than those of a cigar. Weird, she thought to herself. She blew out the smoke lightly and passed the joint over to Jack.
It went on and on like that for a few minutes before someone reminded everyone of the game they were all going to play originally. Everyone snapped out of their high temporarily to scramble around for the gun. Addie’s eyes felt heavy as someone cheered out, “Found it!”
Jack took the gun into the hallway with three foam pellet bullets. “We’re gonna play three rounds, ‘kay?”
Everyone nodded and murmured their approval. Addie didn’t think he was really going to put any bullets in the gun. Where, she thought to herself, would she have found any? An empty gun, well that wasn’t all too hard to find. It was the bullets that was the problem. They weren’t so easy to sneak out. In a few of her friends houses, the unloaded guns were left out freely. But the bullets, those were kept under lock and key.
The whole idea of the game worried her, but she figured that he was smart enough to know what he was doing. He wasn’t one of the stupid people who play around with guns for the hell of it; she remembered him telling her about all of the hunting trips he used to go on. Obviously he knew how to handle them well enough, she thought to herself.
A few minutes later, Jack came back. “Alright, who wants to start?”
“Me! Me!” a guy with a snapback hat and baggy basketball jersey squealed. His voice sounded way too high to match the ego he seemed to have.
“Wait,” one girl piped up. “These are foam bullets, right?”
“Of course,” Jack said, smiling.
That smile, Addie thought to herself, kept getting more and more unnerving every time. She took a sip of her beer as the boy put the gun to his head. His hands trembled slightly as he put his finger around the trigger.
“If it’s me, tell my parents I love them,” he said in a shaky voice. “And let ‘em know that I died high as a fucking plane!”
He squeezed the trigger. Bits of laughter died out.
Everyone let out a gust of air at the same time. Jack laughed. “Y’all are goin’ to have to get used to the suspense,”
The entire room laughed. The boy passed the gun to the next person, which happened to be another guy in a snapback but this time a DC Shoes t-shirt. He flashed a dazzling smile at the crowd. His caramel colored skin looked unusually dark in the dim light and smoke of the room. He took the gun in his hand.
“I got nothing’ to say, except for hasta la vista bitches!”
He pulled the trigger.
Everyone sucked a breath in. People exchanged looks at each other. There had been no sound, but no one had the guts to look at the boy yet.
Addie swallowed. She looked over at the boy. A gasp caught in her throat, along with all of her abilities to speak or make any sound at all.
Apparently, though, others had not lost it. One girl even let out a blood curdling scream.
There were splatters of something dark in color all over the wall behind the boy. He was slumped on the floor, the gun not too far away from him. His eyes were rolled back in his head.
The girl with the dreadlocks jumped up. “What the fuck?!?!? You said they were fake!”
Jack wasn’t sitting next to Addie anymore, though.
She looked around quickly, trying to find her boyfriend. A cold shiver of fear ran down her spine as she made eye contact with him. He was right in front of the door. He closed it behind him. Everyone got silent as he pulled out a very large and very real looking gun.
“Let us out!” shrieked the boy who had gone just before the other.
Jack smiled deviously. “No one’s going anywhere. Anyone who wants to put that to test can face me. Or my friend,” he said, absentmindedly stroking the barrel of his gun.
Addie’s mouth went dry. “Jack, no. Don’t do this.”
He laughed. “Don’t act like you give a fuck about all of them,” his voice was bitter. “All they’ve ever done is treat you badly. It’s only because of this party that they act like they like you!”
“It doesn’t matter if they like me,” she said in an almost whisper. “I’m not important here.”
Everyone shot her looks like daggers. They thought she had put him up to this, for whatever reason. Or maybe they thought that he was doing this for her, as if this could solve some of her problems. She wished slowly that she hadn’t taken so many tokes or drank so many beers; it was hard to formulate a rational thought, let alone try to figure out how to convince Jack to give it up.
“Keep playing the fucking game. Don’t stop til I say so.” Jack’s voice was as hard as iron and sharp as knives.
Addie cringed as the next person took the gun. It was a girl this time, one with light blonde hair that was pulled back in loose braids. She had freckles on her nose, Addie noticed. The girl hardly looked old enough to be in high school, much less be someone who would have bullied Addie or Jack.
“Please, if I’m the one to go,” the girl said in a shaky, squeaky voice. “Tell my momma I love her,”
Tears ran down the girl’s face as she squeezed the trigger.
Addie clamped her eyes shut. She didn’t want to be in the same state of panic again. She waited until she heard the muffled sobs to open her eyes again. The girl was alive, and was apparently really surprised that she was, too.
The gun was passed again. This time to the girl with the dreadlocks. She took the gun in her hand and looked down at it for a minute.
“This is the stupidest fucking thing any of us have ever done in our lives,” she said after a minute. She rubbed her palm on the butt of the gun. “We get wasted and play with guns. It’s no fucking wonder some psycho came and took over the place! We were fucking targets to be killed and I----”
This time, there was a noise. A very loud boom, to be sure. Addie heard a sickening gasping sound and then a body hit the wall. Looking over, she saw the girl with the dreads’ eyes roll into the back of her head. A large red spot bloomed from the center of her chest.
The blonde girl screamed. In a split second, Jack had reloaded his gun and shot at the girl, too. Addie screamed as the girl was flung against the wall like a rag doll. Her body landed limply against those of the other two dead people on the wall. Their faces all were perfect masks of horror.
Addie jumped up. “Jack, stop! Please!”
“Addie, I’m not gonna let these assholes push us around anymore! They don’t deserve to live when every day they’ve made it to where we don’t want to. They shouldn’t get to live when we have to spend every day trying to hide from them so they don’t tear us to shreds. How is it fair that they can be happy and yet be such bastards at the same fucking time?”
Jack had tears rolling down his cheeks. It looked so odd; his face looked like a boy who just wanted someone to understand him, like someone who needed somebody to care. But he was standing like a man who wanted revenge, who wanted his pain paid back to him in the form of others’ blood. As Addie saw it, there was no sympathy to be had for someone who would knowingly kill people like he was doing.
“You need to stop this, Jack! Please. Do it for me. Let them go.”
He looked as though he were truly thinking about it. Addie could feel all eyes on her; everyone was watching her reaction, how she was handling everything. There were muffled sobs coming from the corner, and the smell of beer, pot, and blood was almost overwhelming.
The music still thumped outside the room. Addie guessed that was how no one had heard the gunshots. It was so loud in the rest of the house, and everyone else was so hammered, that there was a chance that no one was going to get out until Jack allowed them. If that was going to happen.
“No. They need to pay for what they’ve done.” Jack swallowed the iron lump in his throat and tightened his hand around the gun. “Y’all better hope the odds are in your favor.”
A boy picked up the gun. His pupils were dilated, and Jack guessed he was too stoned to even be able to process what was going on. He placed the gun to his forehead and gave a toothy grin. “Ain’t none of ya ever knew me anyways, huh? Might ‘s well,”
Addie bit the inside of her cheek as the boy pulled the trigger. The gun fired a bullet right through the back of his skull almost instantly. If it weren’t for the silencer, she knew there would have been a horrific sound when it went through the bones. She could feel screams and cries building up in the back of her throat as the gun was taken out of the dead boy’s hands.
Solemnly, a dark haired girl took the gun. She turned to look at Addie. Her eyes were rimmed red, and tears had streaked her cheeks. But there were no tears to be found on her face now. There was just pure, cold hatred.
She didn’t bother speaking. It was like she accepted her fate and the odds of her death. Closing her eyes, she put the gun to her head.
Addie couldn’t force herself to look at the bloody corpse falling to the ground. There were only a few more people left to die, now. She didn’t know what to do, what to think. She couldn’t escape, and she couldn’t help them out, either.
Guilt and fear clouded her mind. She had put them in this situation in the first place. There was a chance that she was going to go to jail for this; they could count her as an accomplice. That is, if she made it out alive.
She swallowed and clenched her jaw. Everything felt so numb. One by one, the people took the gun. There was so much blood everywhere. The mouth of the gun was stained red, and everyone had at least a few splatters of blood on them. Addie wished that someone would shoot her. Then she wouldn’t have to go through any more of this.
Another one pulled the trigger. She didn’t look up. All she heard was a breath of relief. No bullets were fired. This time.
“Jack, please.” she whispered. “Don’t keep doing this. It’s bad enough that so many are dead. Isn’t that enough for you? Haven’t we all suffered enough?”
He roughly put his hands on her.. “Are you sympathizing with them?”
“Yes, I am! This needs to fucking stop, now!” she screamed.
His face went from concerned to confused, and then straight to anger. “Alright, you want to fucking play that way? So be it.”
In a flash of an instant he aimed the gun at two remaining people. There was a split second of no action, but everyone was trying to process what was just about to happen. It was enough time for him to pounce on the inaction and fire.
Addie screamed. She had never seen anyone become such a monster, much less someone she thought she knew. “You’re a fucking beast! A devil! What the hell is wrong with you, Jack?”
“Everything!” he yelled back. He put the gun to her temple. “Every god damn thing that could go wrong in my life has. I’ve never had control over anything that’s happened to me. I’ve just had
to fucking suck it up and take the beatings.”
He tilted the gun. Kill shot. “I’m done being the whipping boy. They pushed me to my limit, to the point of wanting to kill myself. So I’m doing it back to them! They have to kill themselves, or I do it for them. At this point, I don’t even give a fuck. We’re all going to die anyways,”
“We don’t have to die now. People change, Jack! This is enough to make anyone go crazy. Aren’t you satisfied with that?”
Addie was horrified with herself that she was even reasoning with him. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a few people that were still left. Every one of them was crying and trembling out of fear.
“I have a deal to make,” Jack said. “You can sacrifice yourself for them. Then they go free,”
She paused. Save them or save herself. Even if she lived, she would have to deal with this memory haunting her forever. She would be known as the girl who’s boyfriend went psycho. She would be held responsible along with him.
“Okay.” she said, slowly. “Fine. But you have to let them go now.”
Jack shrugged. “Whatever.”
He opened the door and scowled. “Go, you fucking pigs.”
The people scrambled up, sobbing and teetering over as they walked. They were all shaking still. One girl turned to look at Addie.
“I don’t blame you for this. Thank you for saving us.” she said, her voice hoarse. It was barely louder than a whisper.
Jack closed the door and gave Addie the gun. She took it with trembling hands. The metal was unbearably warm and hard. She could barely breath.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this, Ad. I really can’t. After everything they’ve done to you, you still choose to save them. Well, it was so good knowing you. I really thought I knew you well enough to know that you would agree with me, but I guess I never really knew you at all.”
Addie laughed. “You never knew me? Obviously not! If you could even think that I would be okay with this, then I don’t know who the fuck you think I am. I’m no monster.”
“Monster?” Jack cackled. She jumped a little. “So that’s what I am to you, a monster. Okay, fine. You’re just as bad as them now.”
He pointed his gun at her. She clenched her eyes as it fired. She waited for herself to black out, but all that was there was a sharp stinging pain.
Gasping, she opened her eyes. “Fuck!” she choked out.
A bright red flower blossomed from the center of her abdomen. She dropped down to her knees. Clenching her stomach, she tried to blink away the spots that were clouding her vision.
Her fired again. This time the bullet found her arm. She yelped and tried to staunch the bleeding with her hands.
“Are you going to do the honors or am I?”
She could barely look him in the eyes. “I’ll fucking do it. You’ve done enough.”
Staggering onto her feet, she took in a deep breath. At least she wouldn’t have to bear the pain any longer. She would never be bullied or beaten or anything like that. She would die at her own hands; there was at least a little dignity in that.
“Goodbye Addie. It was so nice knowing you,” Jack said. It almost sounded like he was on the verge of laughter.
Addie squeezed the handle of the gun and put it to her head. She took another breath. Putting her finger on the trigger, she exhaled.
Then she quickly turned the gun and pointed it at Jack’s forehead. She pulled the trigger without another breath or thought.
Fear made his eyes go wide. But there wasn’t enough time for him to choke out any final words before he collapsed, a bloody heap. His gun clattered to the ground, the metal making an awful sound. She blinked, trying to fully realize what she had just done.
Then she was reminded of her wounds, and she almost fell on top of him.
Gritting her teeth, she opened the door. Blood covered her from almost head to toe. People stared at her in awe and in horror as she shuffled out.
“Call the fucking police and an ambulance.” she said, her voice straining to come out. “I just came back from hell.”
Then she passed out.
© Copyright 2016 Coralie. All rights reserved.