Story Title: Unanticipated
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It’s anything but a combat zone after the last blow: the dead and the perishing flung all over, generally tranquil, some moaning delicately from the harm dispensed that evening. The aroma of liquor hung like blooded fog noticeable all around, reminding every one of those still cognizant to remember the reason for their end.
It’s anything but a wild gathering. Somewhere at a distance, the music actually played, as merrily happy now as it had been toward the start. As Tom came by, lying on the lounge chair, he saw that the lights were as yet on in the enormous kitchen, abutting this monstrous, intoxicated tossed parlor, and he could pretty much notice the movement of dancing young ladies, for the most part, moving to the sound of Christmas hits, over a significant time span. They adored that messy stuff. So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody having fun.
Damn, that shot-downing contest had been a mistake. A quick survey of the battlefield revealed that most of the fallen had been those that had been involved in that surprisingly fearsome liquor jousting. A mixture of male and female – some couples, even, slumped all over the place. Few had gone home, they simply remained. The alcohol levels were simply too high all round.
No one was in a state to speak to that he could see, and that was no bad thing: Tom was in no real state for conversation. Nobody in that room was really in a state to lift their eyelids, either, as far as he could tell. Tom’s watch read four in the morning – he couldn’t have been out for much more than an hour. In a way, he wished he was still asleep: the alcohol remaining in his mouth reminded him of the dreadful excess inside him, and seemed almost to taunt him, pointing out that come the morning, his head would ache and as the full horror hit, he would regret his actions that evening.
Those girls were still dancing – that was impressive. But they couldn’t go on for much longer, surely.
He didn’t feel much like sleeping, though he wasn’t exactly feeling much like anything. It was that horrible stage of the evening where a partygoer might be overcome with the mournful sense that things were over, the good times at an end, no more chances left to hook up with someone. Failed again. Nothing to do now but recover from the booze. It was a shame – it had been a great night. No wonder those girls were still dancing, changing the music then dancing still, unwilling to call it a day yet.
Over on the other couch, he could see that Morris had got lucky, and though he was asleep, he was asleep with a pretty blonde called Fiona, his limbs entangled in hers, his cheek wedged against hers. Lucky bastard. There were others who had hooked up, too, lying around the room. Some on chairs, some on rugs, some slumped on the bare carpet.
And here he was, alone. Damn it. And he had such high hopes, the party being so well-attended, the booze so free-flowing, the Christmas spirit so apparent after a particularly strenuous year.
Perhaps he should get up, walk on out to the bright kitchen, where the girls were still up and running, laughing, giggling, rocking and rolling. There might be one last momentary chance that some desperate girl might look at him and go for him, turning his poor fortunes around suddenly, to make this Christmas great after all.
But lifting himself up onto his elbows, he felt the room spinning a little. No. That wasn’t going to work. Though his mind was sober, his body was not. If he did manage to get upright, he would probably find himself lurching into the kitchen like some kind of zombie, while any attempt at seduction would be viewed by the girls in there as the depraved groaning of the undead after fresh brains.
It was that time of the party where it was too late to drink, too late to party, but too early to get up and head on home. The Dead Zone, you might say. Tom picked up the glass resting next to him on the floor, immediately pleased to find it was water. If only he could return to his unconscious state now, drift back to sleep and wait out the end of the party before making a run for it when it was light, cutting his losses, fleeing before anyone else could see his lack of success.
But sleep just was not coming.
And this being the final social event of the calendar before Christmas just did not make the feeling of failure any easier to bear.
But now, there was movement. A shadow passing across the light emanating from the kitchen. From where he was lying, he couldn’t quite see what it was – he couldn’t quite see the kitchen, couldn’t quite see what was going on. He could only hear the continuing music and the continuing sound of girls talking and laughing.
Now, a pair of legs appeared in front of him: attractive legs, clad in green nylons under a short green skirt. Of course – most of the girls had come as elves. Just like most of the guys had come as Santa. Ah yes, that would explain the bright red outfit… he had taken those heavy black boots off, though.
He could smell her perfume – sweet, fragrant, intoxicating, addictive. God, he needed a girlfriend.
“Any room for a small one?”
“Sure,” autopilot, and ironic to boot: he wasn’t sure what was happening at all.
The girl virtually collapsed on him, ending up lying between his body and the sofa back, wedged against him, her face right up against his, her body melding to his, arm across his chest, leg across his thighs.
“Hi,” she purred, “I hope you don’t mind – you looked like the best place to crash.”
Anne. So soft against him, her skin, that clean, long silky red-gold hair pouring over him, her sugary perfume mixing with a slight muskiness, the scent of a girl who had been dancing all night. What on earth was going on? This dream of a girl so close… “Uh… you’re welcome,” he replied, his voice rough but gentle, yet unable to conceal his surprise.
Damn, she was beautiful. He couldn’t believe it – she was someone who made him tremble just looking at her from across the room. But wasn’t she Todd “the Beast” Beaston’s girlfriend? What if she was making some ridiculous alcohol-fuelled mistake of identity? She’d open her eyes and realise that mistake, then humiliate him in public. He had suddenly become so incredibly nervous.
Tom had fancied her for ages, though always from afar – she was the most exquisite creature, the kind of girl everyone wanted for themselves, but no one could get near. Tom had always felt a burning sensation in his chest by just looking at her, and on the few occasions that night she’d looked at him as he had been gazing at her, he had felt suddenly weak at the knees, and had quickly turned away to keep from accusations that he was staring at her.