Costumes, food, and music—that was what the invitation card read. Nothing more, nothing less, just a fun night with friends. As someone who preferred to cosy up on the sofa with a murder-mystery novel, I contemplated long and hard on my answer. But in the fear of missing out, I said ‘sure’. Did I regret my decision? Yes, but not in the way most introverts did. Rather, what I thought would be an insignificant and boring night changed my life… forever.
“Who are you going as?” I asked my friend—the very same friend that convinced me I would enjoy myself.
“I’ll probably just throw a mask on and be done with it.”
“It doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to try so hard,” she said with a chuckle.
“It says, come in your best costume.”
“I’ve been going to this for years—best costume simply means looking your best. Trust me, you don’t want to overdo it—you’ll be the weird one. Just go get yourself a mask.”
If she said so, she must be right. So I took her advice. After all, I was losing interest as the days went by, wondering if I should cancel my attendance. And perhaps, I should have listened to my gut. If only I didn’t feel the need to push myself to socialise and make new friends, I could have escaped this fate.
When the night of the event finally rolled around, I had already planned my exit. I had no intention of staying long and had made up my mind to excuse myself after an hour. But as I entered the three-storey bungalow, belonging to a complete stranger, I had an inkling I wouldn’t be allowed to leave until the host said so.
“This is Jon,” my friend introduced. “The man of the house.”
Jon’s costume was a dinner tuxedo, finished with a black Zorro mask. Alike everyone else, his only costume was a horrible disguise. And at that moment, I heaved a silent sigh of relief—having thrown on a red dress, and a party mask that I bought at a Halloween store. What a nightmare it would’ve been to be an oddity—a thought that would soon mean nothing.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” Jon said. “Make yourself at home—it’s going to be a long night.”
I nodded with a thin smile. But as Jon went to greet the next arriving guest, I turned to my friend and said, “I’m leaving at nine.”
“Why?” she asked.
“You know I don’t like this kind of gatherings.”
“You’ll like this one,” she said with a wink. And before I could utter another word, she ushered me toward a group of people she claimed to be her friends.
“Have you guys met Natalie?” my friend introduced, as she gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze.
For a moment, I was confused. Was she referring to the lanky woman with the broad smile? Or, had she forgotten the name of the person she’d known for almost a decade? “She goes by Nat. Be nice to her, all right?” my friend continued. “Now excuse me, I think I see someone who owes me something.”
Just like that—after tossing me into a bizarre scenario—she vanished. Should I reintroduce myself? I hesitated. Oddly, I chose to pretend that my name was indeed Natalie before feigning interest in the group’s chatter about the newest mobile phone. Oh, how dull it was. But before I could escape the torment, the conversation took a turn.
“So, why did you say ‘yes’, Nat?” the lanky woman named Amber asked.
“Yes? To what?” I replied.
“Oh, I thought it would be… fun,” I lied. I never once thought I would enjoy myself, despite my friend’s claims.
“That’s sick,” Amber said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting into until I arrived.”
“Me too,” one of the two men echoed.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh,” Amber replied, eyes widening as though she had just realised I was clueless. “So you don’t know.”
“Know what?” I found myself holding my breath. I didn’t know why, but my stomach knotted—a strange urge to leave surfaced, but my feet rooted themselves to the ground.
“Sam hasn’t told you yet, but things are about to get interesting,” Amber said.
Who was Sam? I had yet to meet anyone by the name of Sam. Unless, Amber meant…
Sam—Victoria’s fake name. What did Victoria drag me into? Why did she invite me to something like this—whatever this is that Amber would call me ‘sick’ for thinking it would be fun? I took an unintentional dry gulp, before scanning the room for Victoria. I needed answers. But more importantly, I needed to leave.
“Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine,” Amber said. “You’ll understand once they bring out the head.”
“What?” I asked. “What do you-”
“I’ve been told we have a good one this year—all the way from Germany.”
“I-I need to-”
“Look,” Amber prompted, pointing at the doorway behind me. “It even looks fresh.”
I didn’t want to look, but I did. And unfortunately, I cannot say what I saw. For if I told you what occurred that night, I would have to give you a fake name too.
Food, party, and head were words given by Lars Driessen on Facebook. Fun fact: Halloween isn’t celebrated in my country. But, I thought it would be fun to write something in line with this season. Usually, I try not to craft such tales. Thus why I’ve left the ending open—I didn’t want to imagine anything more, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.
Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Perhaps you can take on a lighter approach.
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)