“Dance with me! Don’t you like this group?“
The psychopath had to scream his pick up line over the aching bass of the sweat drenched night club. It was not a good one.
“Nah, man, I decided to go to a concert for a band I hate,” I shouted back.
He was confused by that. Too many syllables, I guess.
“My name’s Jackie!*” he said.
He followed that up by ripping off his soaking wet shirt and swinging it over his head like an asshole. Droplets hit annoyed bystanders in the eyes, but that did not seem to slow Jackie boy down one bit. He paced his way towards me like he was charming a snake.
“Oh, Jesus, look at this one…” I laughed. My friends had to be loving this. I scanned the dance-floor to find them, but the idiots were missing in action, last seen grinding on a pair of brothers in the corner.
Sensing a moment of weakness, the sweaty man wrapped his arms around my waist and drifted his grizzled lips to the soft spot of my neck.
“Easy, bud,” I laughed and pushed back. That was the end of our encounter. I said goodbye and walked away.
It was a exaggeration to call that place a nightclub. It was really a re-purposed bar. As I paced back and forth among the crowded bar-stools and tables, I realized that it could not have seated more than two hundred. There had to be at least double that stuffed into the aisle and entrances like sardines.
None of them looked like Sarah and Staci.
I grabbed a couple blondes by the shoulder to see. One girl had the same sequin dress. Another had the same red hair and blue eyes. They looked at me pitifully. After the fifth or sixth encounter, one girl was outright rude when she said:
“Looks like white girl can’t handle her liquor.“
She was wrong about that, or so I thought. I was fine. The shapes in the room had only started to blend a little bit. I could hear my head hammering, but that was a result of the heat and hysteria of the music. When the floor started to come up at me sideways, I only stepped outside for a breath of fresh air.
I can feel my face hitting the pavement and then the lights go out. In those last few seconds… I knew I was drugged.
I woke up in a chair. That’s such a cliche, right? I woke up in a chair with feet that were bare. My hands were bound, but my legs were free. The only sound that awakened me from my sleep was the screaming of a drill and voice in perfect symphony. Was it mine? It was honestly hard to tell at the time.
I expected to open my eyes and greet my murderer.
But the room was empty. The wall in front of me was neatly tiled with an elegant back-splash. I was in a carpeted living room, strapped lazily to a comfortable leather chair. My clothes were the same and I still felt the pain of my aching head.
“Hello?” I asked in a confused tone. “Where the fuck am I?“
The drilling stopped and was replaced by the ragged breaths of a male voice. It panted like a dog for a few moments. Then it was silenced by the sound of a vicious smack. The doorhandle to my room softly turned and I panicked.
I was able to break the restraints without too much trouble. As the wooden door creaked a bit, I reached for the nearest blunt object and held it by my side.
It was a human skull. It was crystallized and sitting on the mantelpiece.
In disgust, I threw it at the door as a man in a blood-stained surgical mask stepped out.
The best word to describe him was unassuming. Other than the horror gear, he looked like a soccer dad – with khaki pants and a braided leather belt pushed over his emerging belly. His collared shirt was unbuttoned on the top where a thin line of sweat met his neatly shaved face. When he spoke, it was with a wasp-like accent that you rarely hear these days… outside Family Guy.
“Please do not break him. He’s my favorite,” he offered lazily.
“Why are you holding me here? Who’s in the room? Who the fuck are you? Are you some sick fuck? Here to kill me?” I don’t recall exactly what I said at that point. It was probably any combination of the preceding.
“You are not being held here,” was how he interrupted me. “I am sorry to have given you that impression. You were in bad shape. I only wanted to help.“
I was dumbfounded.
“Well… where are my shoes? Did you drug me?” I shot back.
He smiled at that and looked down at his feet.
“No, no ma’am. The answer to both questions…” He jerked his thumb to the door behind him. “Is behind me.”
“Jackie?” I asked.
He grinned and nodded shyly.
The man looked at me for a few moments. He didn’t seem aggressive or angry at all. If anything… he was sympathetic.
“Jackie is an animal. Would it make you to feel better to know that this is sixth time? The last one never made it home.“
Something behind the door started to rattle furiously. It sounded like the freak had a vibrator sitting on his desk.
“I don’t want any trouble…” I mumbled.
“And you shall find none!” He suddenly appeared embarrassed by his appearance. He removed the surgical mask gingerly and placed it on a nightstand. “You are free to go. As I said. And I understand that you may want to. But… maybe it will give you some comfort to see what is in this room.“
I stared at him.
After a moment, he turned away from me completely and returned to his work. He left the door open behind him. A drill started again, alongside the fresh rattling of an object against a wooden surface. Small speakers echoed the lyrics of an old Springsteen song over the din. “Hey little girl is your Daddy home…“
Against my better judgement, I followed him.
When I walked into the room, the man did not even pay attention to me. He was holding a wired drill, and he was leaned over the blood-covered bed that contained the hapless shell of my former dance partner.
Jackie was unconscious. Or already dead. Honestly, it was unclear. There were holes drilled clean through each of his two front teeth. Various cuts and bruises on his arm matched a six-inch incision in the center of his belly.
On the table was an ornate black box. It rattled back and forth ominously, like an animal stuck in a cage.
After a few moments of perfecting his drilling, the man stepped back, and jumped in surprise at me staring behind him. He paused and placed his hands together in a mea culpa prayer as he shuffled past me awkwardly.
“You may not want to see this part,” he sighed as he placed his hands on the box. “For your safety, please go now.“
That was more than enough for me. I grabbed my bag and shoes off the floor and bolted out of the room without another word. I raced out the front into the cold night air of an empty driveway.
As soon as I shut the door, there were horrible screams behind me. An awesome, bright white light erupted from the window and illuminated the entire night for a short moment. Then it was drk again.
I ran some more.
I put a thousand miles between me and the freak show that followed me that night. Eventually, I found a cab that took me the twenty miles to my car. I drove home in a panic. Once inside, I locked every door and considered my options and belongings.
Everything was there… except for one thing.
My phone happily buzzed, and the picture message on the other end confirmed my suspicions.
Displayed in clear pixels was my driver’s license.
“In case there are police,” was all it said.