Shadows

The party has already started by the time I arrive. Johnny and Sarah dragged me and I don’t want to be there. They have weird friends. I open a bottle of beer as soon as we step onto the back deck. Man, this will be a long night.

There’s a fire in a barrel and the barbeque is working overtime, even if the person with the tongs is standing around chatting, ignoring the fact that all the meat is burning. I grab a slice of bread and use it to pick a hot snag off the plate. The onions are still cooking and the sauce is nowhere to be seen so it’s a plain sausage for me. Johnny finds me standing on my own after another 15 minutes.

‘Dude, you have to come meet someone. Sarah’s got this friend and she’s hot. I mean hot,’ he emphasises the words the second time and I instinctively take another swig of beer. This is not going to be good.

I can see Sarah chatting to a girl with long hair as I approach. She turns around and my smile wavers. It’s the girl I’ve been checking out lately. She works at the bakery and looks even better without the hairnet on.

‘Hi,’ my smooth opening line.

‘Hi,’ she replies and looks back at Sarah who nods at her.

‘You work at the bakery right? I think I’ve seen you there,’ my charm is not improving.

‘Yeah,’ she again looks at Sarah.

‘Oh, sorry, I’m Jim,’ I hold out a fist to pump shortly before I realise that girls don’t fist pump. Now it’s just hanging there while she looks at it. She giggles, and looks at Sarah again, before walking away.

This is going to be a long night.

I stand back, happy to spend the rest of the evening on the edge, watching the people come and go. I’m up to my fifth beer before I realise there is something not right about where the people are going. It takes two more beers and a keen eye to figure out that they are walking into dark spaces and coming out of different dark spaces. At first, I put this down to the fact that I don’t know where the side of the garage comes out, any exterior stairs or other details about this house I’ve been dragged to. But it’s more than that. People are walking into the unlit garage (on my right) and emerging in the back garden (on my left). And this is happening with almost no time passing.

Johnny finds me as I am trying to wrap my head around what the hell is happening.

‘Johnny, someone’s slipped drugs into my drink. I don’t know which one, but it’s happened.’

‘Whoa, calm down dude. What’s up?’

‘People are walking into shadows and coming out of other shadows,’ I look at Johnny and see him looking a little confused. I knew I was getting high, it’s the only explanation.

‘Dude, we all do that,’ Johnny says and looks to Sarah who walks behind the car and emerges near the barbeque.

I jump and grab Johnny’s shirt, pointing at Sarah, ‘Did you see that?’

‘Of course, it happened,’ Johnny starts to look more concerned as I watch the people again.

‘You got to get me outta here. I’m on something man,’ I say as a guy crawls out from under the table next to me.

‘No dude, you need to be on something before you can accept the truth I want to tell you tonight.’

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