Let me start off by saying I’m not a big partier. In fact, in four years of college and two years of graduate school, I’ve never even been to a friend’s dorm room. It’s not that I don’t get invited to all the big ragers. I just don’t have time for them. I’m a full-time student with a full-time job who has two pugs and a French bulldog to take care of. Fun isn’t on my to-do list.
But Greg, the preppy rich boy I’ve been crushing on for three whole semesters, handed me the invitation himself. Said that it was the party of all parties. That the weak would never dream about attending.
Well, it’s about as close as he’ll ever get to asking me on a date, so I figured, why the hell not? If I can’t marry him, I might as well fuck him. The last time I got laid, Whitney Houston was still alive. I could use an orgasm or two.
So I fed the dogs early, kissed them each on the snout, and took an Uber to the address written on the back of the invitation—Except, it couldn’t be the right place. There were at least ten floors with windows from top to bottom. It looked more like an office building or a five-star hotel than some college kid’s apartment. But then I remembered Greg’s father was the owner of a major hotel chain, and it all made sense.
When I walked through the revolving doors, a woman sitting behind a wooden desk greeted me. Masks were hanging up on a board behind her, like the merch table at a concert venue. Didn’t realize it would be a masquerade party, so I guess I wasted an hour on my eyeliner for nothing.
“Drop your cell in this bucket here and then you can trade in your invitation for a mask,” the woman said in a chirpy voice, like she was acting on a tampon commercial. “Would you like a description of each color before you choose?”
The masks came in red, blue, green, yellow, orange, black, white, and purple. Pretty much the entire rainbow. I motioned toward the blue and told her I’d save her the trouble of going through her spiel. One of my friends had bragged about a glow stick party she went to and I figured it was like that.
The green glow stick meant you were in a relationship, the blue glow stick meant you were single, and who the hell cared what the rest of them meant? It was just a way to make hooking up easier, so it didn’t matter if I grabbed the wrong color. As long as Greg knew I was available, nothing else mattered.
After the woman helped me secure my mask to the edges of my face with some type of special glue, she told me to make my way to the “private” elevator in the back of the lobby and press 8. So I did.
But God, I wish I didn’t.
When the elevator reached its destination, it didn’t open onto a floor. It opened into a massive room. A room with a hot tub in the center that held a giggling woman in her underwear and a blue mask. Standing next to the edge of it, smiling down at her, was Greg.
They must’ve heard the elevator ding, because they both whipped their heads toward us. Greg even walked over.
“I knew you’d come. I knew from watching you.” He gave me a kiss on my papier-mâché cheek, and my insides shivered. “Surprised you picked blue though. Most people are partying on the other floors.”
“What about you? You don’t get a mask?” I asked, trying my best to be flirty.
“Nope. My party, my rules.” His smile dipped into—not a frown—but something vaguely sinister. “Want to watch?”
For a split second, I thought he was asking me if I wanted to watch him fuck the blonde girl. But then I realized it was a stupid thought, and just nodded.
That’s when he walked over to her, grabbed her by the back of the neck, and dunked her head under the water.
Even from the entryway, I could see the bubbles. Could hear her smothered screams.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked, running over to pound on his shoulder, kick at his shins, and yank on his arm. Anything to make him let go.
I semi-succeeded, because he lifted one hand to smack me across the face. But when my ass hit the carpet, he snapped right back to his task.
“It’s what she wanted,” he said, like I was the crazy one. “She chose it. You did, too.”
Yeah, I had questions. Yeah, I wanted some fucking answers. But you know what I wanted more? To get the hell away from him. So I bolted toward the elevator. If I was lucky, I could get the lady at the front desk to send up security before the poor woman died.
When I got safely inside, I jammed my thumb against the “lobby” button, but it wouldn’t fucking light up. Why the hell would it? Why would the universe actually give me a break? I decided to press 2 instead, hoping I could take the stairs the rest of the way down.
But thirty seconds later, when the doors opened again, I saw a dozen people fitted in red masks standing around a fire pit. There was a kid waving his hand over the flames. A woman burning her wrists with a lighter. A man branding another man’s balls with an iron.
“What the fuck? What the fuck is this place?” I was glad I kept my arm against the elevator doors. Made it easier to flee again.
This time, I pressed down on the 3. There had to be a place safer than a room full of fire. Hell, the hot tub room was heaven in comparison. No wonder why most of these sickos didn’t choose it. Too mundane for their disturbed minds.
When the doors parted, a handful of men in orange masks were beating the shit out of each other. Speckles of blood covered the carpet like confetti. There was even an eye mushed into the carpet like a wad of gum. Get me the hell out of here.
Back to the elevator.
In the white room, people were jamming guns into their mouths, shoving the barrels down so far their throats that they gagged.
In the green room, people were mutilating their own genitals with butcher knifes and bleeding out on the floors.
In the purple room, people were hanging from the ceiling like bats, their necks connected to ropes and belts and wires.
Each sight was more sickening than the next. I couldn’t stomach those psychos for more than a few seconds. How could I stay in there long enough to walk around and find a fire escape? I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
So I did the only other thing I could think of. I hid in the elevator and pressed the emergency stop button.
The elevator stayed suspended, its doors closed, so I sunk onto the floor and cried. Once I managed to shake the tears away, I had a few blissful moments of silence, where I tried to think up a plan B, C, and D, but then Greg’s voice seeped through the emergency phone.
“Lilith,” he said, his voice like gravel. I couldn’t believe I used to find the sound sexy. “Lilith. I thought you understood what this was. This suicide pact of sorts.”
“You sick fuck,” I said, but I didn’t press the button, so he couldn’t hear me. At least, I hoped he couldn’t.
“You just looked so sad,” he continued. “Every single day, in class. You never have any fun. You work. You study. You work some more. That’s not a real life. I thought you wanted this. Don’t you want this?”
Honestly, I hadn’t. At times, my life was chaotic, but I didn’t mind it. I’d experienced moments of stress and frustration, but never depression. I’d been way too busy to think about suicide.
“I should’ve made a special mask for you,” he said softly, like he was paying me a compliment. “You made your way through all the floors. You’re back at the top. You’re going to go out in a whole new way.”
“Just let me get out of here. Let me go home. Let me leave.”
I waited to hear his voice float through the elevator again, but it never did.
Instead, I heard the sound of the cables snapping.