We were all here, all five of us, at last standing on the Glassway. What now? I wasn’t quite sure, but Soren had an idea. He had been wearing a backpack since we got out of the car. He took it off and quickly unzipped it. Zzzip.
“Ladies and gentlemen, le piece de resistance.” He pulled a decent large bottle of clear liquid from the bag. I had never been drunk before, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew that it was definitely a bottle of vodka. Ivan was more than ready for this. The bottle was already open, but still almost full. That wouldn’t last. Soren lifted the bottle up to his lips and taking a few gulps. Glug-glug. He passed it to Simone.
How much was I supposed to drink before passing it on? Did it mean something negative if I ended up the last to have a turn? If the owner of the bottle hands it to you before anyone else gets it, he or she must think you’re quite special.
Maybe it was just coincidence, but I didn’t think it was. Next the bottle came to me and I repeated the same motion. Gulp-gulp. The liquid burned my mouth, warming everything it touched as it swam down my throat and into my stomach. It made Ivan feel more terrible…terrible in the eyes of the ‘good and holy’, at least. That felt good. I was me. I wasn’t like them and I would never be. I handed the bottle to the shy girl. She made a face that looked like she had just consumed the most unpleasant thing she had ever tasted in her entire life. Was she drinking for the taste? If so, it was time for her to stop.
“Ha-ha! Kate…” Soren exclaimed. Kate. That was her name. “…Try not to die.”
“He’s saying that to the wrong person, isn’t he?” Shadowshade chimed in, daffy-laughing away. He was making me feel kind of uncomfortable.
“I don’t really want to drink much tonight,” the condemned ‘backseat driver’ bicker-boy said as he took his turn.
“But what he drinks will be just enough. He will misjudge the little chasm and it will consume him whole.” Shadowshade was relentless. The minutes passed, and our mental states began to change. It was now somewhere in between eleven and eleven-thirty. I suspected that it was closer to the latter. I felt a bit calmer than I had before, a bit less inhibited.
‘Ivan the Uninhibitor.’ I imagined myself taking on this title instead. I liked it, but not enough to make the change. I also felt a little more confident, more open to suggestion, and fairly apathetic. I felt the glass underneath me feet vibrate as if someone else was hopping aboard. I looked back toward the gap between the Glassway and the roof of the other building, and there was Anna. How could she have gotten here? Was she even real? She landed on the bridge and speedy-sped toward us.
“I like this place, Tristan.” I grimaced when she said the name. I wasn’t sure if it was okay for her to keep calling me that, but I didn’t tell her not to. “It looks just like a dream. It reminds me of when we planned to fly to moon.” She knew about that? I hadn’t shared that dream with her. Was Shadowshade talking to her too?
“Of course,” he said.
“You know about Shadowshade?” I asked.
“Oh yes, he introduced himself when we were having our tealess tea party. I call him S. for short.” That wasn’t such a bad idea. I would start doing the same from time to time. She turned around and raced back toward the gap, jumping far sooner than she should have. Her head hit the edge of the roof and she plummeted downward, disappearing into the night.
“Anna!” I ran over to the ledge and looked down at the ground underneath me. There was nothing there, no body. Where could she have gone? I walked back over to the others and was met with puzzled expressions.
“You’re totally bonkers, aren’t you?” Simone said it playfully, but I was sure that she was serious. She was playing with a spider that had chosen to make its web on the Glassway wall. She held a lighter inches away from the web and burned off tiny pieces of it. The spider seemed to be annoyed. Still, it kept its distance from the flame. It wasn’t interested in being roasted.
“So, Sir Ivan the terribly terrible, how dost thou fancy this fine fancy playhouse of glass?” Soren’s words were slightly slurred. He had been drinking a little more than the rest of us. It was his liquor, after all.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It seems like something from a dream.” I sat down beside him.
“We’re creating history,” he said. “We’re writing the story of human existence.”
“Then I suppose it’s our duty to do the pages justice. We mustn’t bore the readers to death, or we’ll fade into the background and join the sea of the nameless... the unremarkables.”
“Our pens are writing faster than theirs already, I think,” Simone was rather confident.
“With glowing, gliding, toxic ink,” I responded. The other two weren’t saying much of anything and seemed confused by our conversation. But then I was walking toward the abandoned school with Marcus and Veia. The two nameless lovebirds had ventured ahead without us. There were three of us talking, the other two walking…a group of five, yet really a group of three plus an uninterested two. How similar this was. I wondered if everything was connected somehow, everything I had ever done, everything I had ever seen. Was Soren Marcus reincarnate? Perhaps Simone, then, was Veia. I really hoped they weren’t. I didn’t want to be stabbed again.
“Ribbit,” Simone said. “I’m a fuckin’ frog.” What the hell? I must have been hearing things.
“Ribbit.” I said it this time.
“What?” Soren asked. He and Simone probably thought I was insane by now.
“Oh, nothing…it was just a random ‘ribbit’ from a memorable dream. My dreams have been invaded by a plague of frogs.”
“Ah…nasty Pharaoh, thou must learn not to test thy invisible puppeteer.” This hysterical, in part because I was definitely buzzed at this point…possibly more than buzzed.
“Hmm,” I said after I had stopped laughing. “I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to a party.”
“I’m not sure about that.” Jesus Christ! Shut up, Backseatdriver. That was now his name.
“I know of no such events occurring on this night,” Soren confessed. “Sooo sorry to disappoint, sire.” Simone giggled and goggle-googled tipsily.
“Sire…you’re a king now, or should I say a terrible Tsar,” she said. I bowed regally, knowing that they weren’t aware that I had been planning to go to a party all along.
“But you do not disappoint, for I do know of such an event! I’m certain it will tickle your pickles ‘til you’re sickles.”
“Oh? Do tell.” Soren and Simone said in unison. But there was no jinx and no soda. What a shame. We could have used a chaser.
How had I already planned to go to a party? How did I know about it, and how to get there? I’m glad you asked. The church girl, the “she is welcome back once she corrects her sluttiness” one, said something else to me that day that I haven’t mentioned…or purposefully omitted until now. It was something like this:
“I don’t even want to get married,” she concluded.
“Oh yes, I agree. It’s a ritual that we seem to be socially obligated to take part in. I’m my own person. I don’t need their acceptance and neither do any of my relationships.”
“Tristan! Come here!” Anthony shouted.
“My name is Fawn. If you’d like to see me again, I’ll be going to a party soon. It’s going to be a very unique experience. I think you’d be exceptionally entertained. We’ll probably be the youngest ones there. It’s technically ‘18 and up’, but they’ll let us in. I’m sure of it.” She gave me the address, date, and time. It would begin at midnight in a hotel room at the Hotel Obscurité. She didn’t say which room it would be, only that I would be able to tell when I arrived. It would take place on a Saturday night, the very same Saturday night that I somehow ended up at the Glassway with Soren and the others.
“You’ll come to us. You will!” Then Anthony forced me to leave. “Over the glassy bridge you’ll cross, and then you’ll come to see me.” The puzzle began to piece itself together in my mind. Had she known that I would be at the Glassway on the night of the party? How was that possible?
“A party extraordinaire is almost upon us, friends. At Le Hotel Obscurité at midnight, something quite unique is set to happen. I don’t believe that we would be anything less than satisfied if we choose to attend.” Soren and Simone looked rather intrigued. The other girl seemed a bit unsure. As for Backseatdriver, he was ready to kill our buzz.
“I am definitely not going,” he said just as Soren and Simone agreed that it was an excellent idea.
“Then walk the fuck home.” Soren was starting to slur a little. “My car is driving away and Obscurité is its destination.” Simone and I were amused by his cleverness. I had to admit, he was kind of charming. I probably would’ve tooted his horn. The girl sitting near Buzzkill, Backseatdriver’s other new name, hid her own amusement. I was convinced that she had some a relationship with Partypooper, but why? Why?
“Alright, I’ll walk home. Have a great night. You all suck.” Backseatdriver said as he stood up and headed back toward the ravine. At last. We finally felt the same way about each other.
“Not for free,” I replied. “I’m a pricey whore.” I tipsily wished that S.’ prediction would come true. Maybe he would fall into the gap between the Glassway and the other roof and die. Did Shadowshade really have psychic abilities? I would soon see.
The guy took off running, preparing for the jump back to the roof, one foot after the other. I was sure that this was more entertaining to me than it was to the others, considering S.’ nice bit of foreshadowing. Then he appeared alongside Spoilsport, who was still a few feet away from jumping.
“Now! Jump now!” S. screamed. Or did I scream it? It was still much too early for Buzzkill to jump, but he must have been affected by the screaming. It caught him off guard. He jumped much too early…much too early. He flew through the air over the little ravine for what seemed like a lifetime. There was no way he was going to make it unless he grabbed onto the ledge. He was about to hit the side of the roof, which was level with his neck at this point. All of us could only stare in disbelief.
“Grab onto it, Jason!” The girl who was his something squawked. Well, at least I know his name now. Maybe I was strange for thinking of that instead of something like shit, this guy is about to die…but I wasn’t very fond of him. His arms reached out to grab the ledge when his head slammed right into the side of the roof with enough force to give Chuck Norris a concussion. Smack!
The impact knocked him unconscious. Soren, Simone and the other girl were up racing toward the ledge. But, as you may have guessed, it’s quite a challenge to hold onto the edge of a roof when one has been knocked unconscious. He wasn’t able to hold on. His grip slipped and he began a ten story freefall, accompanied by a surprisingly noticeable thud a few seconds later.
I couldn’t help but let out a laugh. It was an intense situation and I wasn’t sure what expression I was supposed to have, so I defaulted to laughing. What? Are you judging me? I don’t care. It was entertaining. It wasn’t like it was Soren or Simone who had fallen. Jason was leaving the group anyway. We wouldn’t be hanging out with him even if he were still alive. But he had been with us for a while, so if we were still here when the body was found then we might become suspects. Soren and I seemed to be on the same page about this.
“Holy fuck. Okay guys, it’s time to go. We are not fucking staying here. Come on.” He jumped over the ledge. The other girl was hysterical. She screamed a few times until Simone made her stop.
“If you don’t shut up you’re going to be right down there with him in about two seconds.” This strangely turned me on. I’d have to let her know. Simone and I quickly hopped over the ledge, joining Soren on the other side. The girl looked very hesitant to jump over.
“I’m not going with you! He can’t just be left there, and there’s no way in hell I’m going to jump over after that! This whole thing was so stupid! You’re all freaks! I’m going to find another way down and go to him. How can you be leaving? He’s fucking dead!” She was screaming now.
“Maybe she’s right,” Soren slurred to Simone and I.
“Really? You want to be here drunk when the cops show up? You want to be standing next to a dead body? You’ve already been to juvie. Was it that fun? You want to go to prison too? You’re eighteen, Soren. Two words: Ass. Rape. And they won’t use any lube. None, as in none at all…completely lubeless ass rape. Does the word ‘hemorrhage’ sound like something you’d like to experience? Hmm? Hmm?!” Simone had a point, but was verging on a drunken tirade. This whole outing had really become an incident. Before she could continue ranting about Soren’s potentially hemorrhaging asshole, I decided to chime in.
“We still have time to make it to the party.” Why cancel our plans? The show must go on.
“That sounds fantastic. I could use something to pick me up. I vote party.” Simone was on board.
“Alright then…I guess let’s go,” Soren stumbled back toward the stairs. I hoped that he wasn’t planning to drive, but he was. When we arrived back at his Charger he unlocked the doors and grabbed around for the handle of the driver’s side door. The car made that chirp-chirp noise that you hear the cars make on TV. I imagined the three of us dressed in high-dollar outfits, pulling up to some ritzy club that I’m sure existed somewhere in the city. We exited the car and people craned their necks to admire our photogenicity. Soren pushed the unlock button on his little key fob. Chirp-chirp. Just like a commercial.
But back to reality, I wasn’t quite sure that Soren was capable of driving us to Hotel Obscurité. This was partly because he fell twice as we were descending the stairs that led out down from the Glassway. It was also partly because it had taken him nearly a whole minute, and quite a bit of fumbling around while sliding his hand across the door’s cool metal, to locate the door handle of his own car.
“Do you think that one of us should drive?” I asked. Simone nodded in agreement.
“Really? What? Hahaha, no…I’m fine,” he mumbled. “Perfectly fine!” He switched to screaming. “But thanks for being concerned. It’s cuuute.” He turned to face me, then forcefully pulled me into him. He slid both of his hands up around my neck and roughly pressed his lips into mine. I wasn’t sure what to think at first, other than that he tasted like vodka…which I didn’t mind. It was nice. I would have happily taken in the moment, but the voices in my head were distracting me.
“Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”
“Abomination!” The church, Anthony and Cindy, and the rest of the diehard traditionalists would certainly not approve of this. This made him taste even better. I must be bisexual. I was enjoying this quite a lot. Our drunken half-make out session lasted for a good twenty seconds before he finally pulled away. I wasn’t sure that I was ready for him to.
“That was scrumdiddlyumptious, boys.” Simone was entertained, and probably turned on. “Now let’s be off or we’ll be late. If this thing is at a hotel then there will be plenty of rooms for you to slink off to, if that’s your desire. Soren, you really shouldn’t drive. I know you’re going to anyway, so we’ll try to enjoy the ride. Just please don’t crash. That would fucking suck.” She got in the car through the back door on the right. I followed suit and entered through the back left, and Soren slumped his way into the driver’s seat. We had a chauffeur. He failed a few times at getting the key in the ignition, but it finally went in.
The engine roared to life and the lights came on. He put the car in drive. We were now on our wild ride to the mysterious, hopefully alluring, Hotel Obscurité.