It was supposed to be a normal night at the bar. You know the kind; out with friends, trying to get up the guff to sing some kooky tune on the Karaoke machine while your friends laugh and sing along. That's what it was supposed to be. But when we all walked in, the place was barren. Quiet, too quiet. The bartender seemed almost as if she was waiting for us. Staring at the door as if she was counting down the seconds til the doors swung open. She didn't say a word, just stared at us a moment or two. Kind of like an uncomfortable pause. We all turned our heads to look at each other, Spar had a look of apprehension in his eyes, Eric seemed to be saying 'well we're already here, let's have a drink' Kim just had that look like she wanted to smile but had forgotten how. I was thinking about leaving, then without a word, the barkeep turned and started pouring us drinks. The jukebox started up without warning and started playing a familiar tune. We started towards the bar and pulled up stools as if we were asking each other if it was ok to stay.
"I thought you said it was Karaoke night?" Kim seemed to be asking no one in particular. Spar took his drink and started downing it. I guess he figued while the drinks were free, he'd get his money's worth. Eric and I stared at each other trying to figure what small talk would get the ball rolling without letting the bar tender know we were really nervous about being there.
She was tall and had short hair, the bar tender. Handed Eric and I each a drink and said "You can call me Z. Rough night out there huh?" about a second later the crack of lightning made us all jump damn near out of our seats and the sound of pouring rain drown out the noise of the jukebox. I could hear the pounding in my chest clear as a concert in my cerebellum.
After three rounds were were starting to open up to the dance-floor, after all we had it all to ourselves. Spar and I were enacting (rather poorly) a scene from dirty dancing. Eric and Kim seemed to both know the jitterbug or some type of fifties dance and they were having a blast. Z, she was staring at us still. It was making me terribly uncomfortable the whole night.
So I figured I'd stumble off to the bathroom to figure out what exactly was going on. I splashed some water in my face and took a deep breath. I was going to tell the guys it was long past time to leave and find somewhere else to go. This obviously wasn't the place we thought it would be. I was in there only about thirty seconds and when I came out the room was packed with people. I was alone. I couldn't find a single familiar face.
"Hey Z! You know where my people went?" I shouted over the rousing croud as I made my way to the bar. There was a heavy-set man serving drinks instead. He gave me the meanest look I'd ever seen and said "You gonna pay for those drinks or what?" I dug into mu pockets and pulled out thirty-seven dollars and fourty cents. Showing him my open hand, he snatched it from me and said "you owe me another fourty-two."
The back of my head laughed at me as I smiled at him saying "the answer to life the universe and everything!" He wasn't amused. So I wiped the smile off my face and asked him if he could point me in the direction of my friends. He just kept staring daggers at me. "Ok, maybe Z can, where'd she go?"
"Z hasn't been here in over thirty years, she's dead." He said as if this was a fact that everyone knew. His tone said 'I'm not amused.' I said "but she was just here, so were my friends. Let me go find them." I turned to look at the door, the rain had stopped. The Karaoke machine was cranking as a trio of severely drunk women tried to sing a dixie-chix song as if tone deaf. I looked at the pool table, the dart-board, the other room with it's really old arcade games. Tables in the corner with call-girls tempting business men. I couldn't find them anywhere. I felt lost, scared, drunk and alone.
Just then shots rang out. The whole room full of people stopped. the only sound was the crappy synthetic sound of the Karaoke machine pluggin along in what now seemed to be an uncomfortable rhythm. Everyone seemed to be asking whether they should run towards the noise to see what happened, or away. Then another shot and the light above the pooltable shattered. A stampede ensued, everyone heading for the door. Except for me. Pushing against everyone to make my way towards the back door by the dumpsters. When I got out there the bar keep, the heavy-set man, standing over Spar with a pistol in his hand. Spar was lying there sprawled out like a cheap date on prom night. The toughest guy I knew, dead. I screamed.
Just then I felt arms around me, dragging me into a room I didn't know existed. And I could hear the rain start again. Spar and Eric and Kim all tied up in wooden chairs, I smiled to see Spar alive, I squealed against the arms around my ribs, pushing the air out of my lungs, forcing me into a chair. ANd after a long wait in darkness, trying to talk to each other and figure out what was going on through gags, a door swung open and a tall figure silloetted in the light from outside was standing in the door. It was Z and I was scared. I tried to bite through my gag to tell everyone she was supposed to be dead.
The night seemed to never end. The nightmare seemed so real. When I woke the next morning, I'd bitten a hole in my pillow and there on my phone a message from Spar "Where were you? thought we were all going to the bar last night?! We missed you!" Was all it said.