Day 169: You’ve just realised that you’ve lost something valuable in a nightclub (a necklace, a wallet, a phone). What happens next?

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There’s only so much bass one person can take. For me, it’s the first minute of Skrillex’ Banagarang for the third time in an evening. I suffered through bouts one and two, but number three was just too much.

‘I’m going for some air!’ I yelled to Danny, struggling to be heard from four inches away. Hundreds of people were in that club and Danny was fairly taken with one of them. The redhead from the queue, with a name like Cindy or Brandy or something like that. Her friend with the black hair had been making eyes at me all night, but she’d wandered off to the bar.

‘I’ll have a Bud!’ He shouted right back. A few words got lost in the music as I tried to protest, then gave up and went to the smoker’s area. I know I mentioned fresh air, but this wasn’t exactly fresh. But it did the job. The music was down to a rhythmic thud, but at least it was distant. I could hear myself think and breathe something that wasn’t a funk of sweat and overblown sex drives.

I pinched the bridge of my nose, my bracelet with its dangling charm dancing into and out of focus. I didn’t even know why I was here, I hate clubbing. Danny loved it, the noise, the crowds, the drink.

I just wanted to stay in with a book.

‘Excuse me, do you have a light?’ A girl’s voice came from over my right shoulder, husky and mysterious. I turned, my words failing in my mouth as I saw her. The black haired girl, Cindy, Mindy, whatever her name is, her friend. ‘Music too loud?’

‘Just not my scene. Never been one for dance. Your friend’s getting on alright, isn’t she?’ She smiled at me then, her teeth bright and perfectly white, even in the neons. She shrugged, indicating that Danny had done his usual thing and disappeared with his latest conquest.

She reached out a hand to me, and I took it in my own. Her hands were small, petite. Long slender fingers, a piano player’s hands, soft and warm to the touch. We sat like that for a while, without speaking, just experiencing.

I’ve got no idea how long we were even there. Then she just told me that she’d be back in a moment and left me, sat all alone surrounded by cigarette smoke and the people who choose to smoke them.

I raised my hand to the bridge of my nose again. Which is when I saw it. Or rather, didn’t see it. My bracelet had gone.

The lances of pain had begun in seconds. Needles stabbing into every inch of my skin, starting at my fingernails and working their way up, through every single tendon, vein, artery. All of them through to my bones. The ringing came shortly afterwards, starting musically, tinkly bells, moving up through old style alarms through to the clanging of the church, thunderous and deafening.

My skin began to split, rents and tears appearing along my forearms, my vision blurring, flashing through red, monochrome, purple, all the colours imaginable. My voicebox fighting to escape my throat, keening and screaming that I couldn’t work out where it was coming from until my vision turned to black and the screams coming from my own mouth followed me down, down into the dark…

***

I woke up on a hospital ward three days later. No sign of those cuts on my arms, not even a hoarse voice, nothing physically wrong with me at all. They brought me crap hospital food, removed the catheter, all the usual things that one does in a hospital.

The guy in the bed opposite me, apparently his name was John, got the newspaper every morning. Two days after I woke up, John had folded over the top part of his paper to read the second half.

You know how they call it an above the fold story? The big page runner, the headline. The dominant story on the 15th January.

NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE – MONSTERS LET LOOSE?

I looked down at my wrist. At the bracelet, with its charms dangling. I had control back…

Come and meet the monster. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

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