The Office Party

It’s a new year and here’s a new short story. I intend to write more fiction on Horror Every Day, with more of my articles and reviews are going up on UK Horror Scene. This is another of my Dice stories. Dice stories are randomised, a list of 20 starting emotions and 20 horror sub-genres, decided upon by rolling two D20s. This story is “Drunk” and “Monster”.

The Office Party

It has become a bit of a tradition to get recklessly drunk around the holidays. I’m not sure if it’s just because everyone else uses the same excuse, or that I’d rather be drunk when dealing with all the damn social obligations, but I still ended up wasted. I was on the spirits, a vodka here, a whiskey there, and not a care to be found. It’s so much easier getting fucked up when you don’t have to pay for your drinks so the company party wasn’t as hellish as I thought it might be. They had booked out the function room of a moderately fancy hotel, and we were getting reimbursed for our rooms, they were expecting things to get a little wild. My double vision glared around the room, the office drama unfolding. Petty squabbles slowly boiling over into booze-fuelled feuds. Unrequited love becoming less the subtle hand movements under the tables. I had stationed myself by the bar, knocking them back, content with watching my co-workers like the animals at the zoo. My solitude was in danger as my drunken anthropology was being noticed. Janice, a girl I vaguely remembered from reception, had staggered over to me. Her glazed eyes were similar to my own, but there was something else. She wanted something.

“You’re looking lonely Dan” she mumbled. I felt her hand on my arm. She gripped at my bicep a little too tightly. I assumed she was trying to be seductive but I felt more trapped than seduced. “I know how that feels…”

“I’m okay, really. Just getting my buzz on. Tis the season, right?” I looked around to see if there was anyone I could pawn her off on but the crowd was getting sparse. People were sneaking off to hotel rooms or heading outside to air their grievances with their fists.

“How about you buy me a drink and we can get a buzz on together?” Janice tried to punctuate this proposal with a wink but it was more of an awkward blink. I weighed my options in my head. Janice is attractive but I wasn’t drunk enough to ignore the fact that there would be repercussions. The workplace gossip, the discussions of what the night really meant between us. It would be a hassle I just didn’t want.

“Let me just go to the bathroom for a sec, and I’ll be back for that drink.” I prayed that she would buy this little white lie.

“I think I’d get lonely here by the bar, how about I come with you?” She attempted the wink again. I forced a smile but I worried about encouraging her.

“I’ll be right back…” I edged away from the bar and walked towards the door of the function room, grabbing my suit jacket from the table I’d been sat at earlier in the night. Time to call it a night. I headed for the elevator but looking at the lights, it was at the top floor and the stair well seemed more suited for a quick escape. My room was on the fourth floor and it didn’t seem that far at first, but I was wobbly on my feet. I swayed a little, gripping the hand rail tight in case I fell backwards. I had reached the second floor when I heard the door to the stair well creak open on the ground floor.

“Daaaaaaaan…” I had been sussed out. I heard the clicking of her heels as she entered the stair well. I quickened my pace. Janice’s flirting wasn’t too bad but I had no intention of feeling her drunken wrath for ditching her. I stumbled up the stairs up to third, trying to take two steps at a time, occasionally missing. I exited into the hall on the third floor. I thought there might be another stair well at the end of the hall that I might be able to use to get to my room on the fourth. I staggered down the hall. I followed it down to the end but it came to a corner, no stair well in sight. I turned the corner to continue my search. I heard Janice calling again back the way I came. “Hold on big boy!” She slurred her words.

The hall was just door after door, but no escape. I felt eyes peering at me through spy holes. I was no longer the watcher. It made my skin itch to feel like a spectacle. I just wanted the safety of my room. That’s when I heard a loud thud from behind. I turned round to look back. Janice lay there in a heap. She must have tripped, The way she landed looked painful and while I had been trying to avoid her I couldn’t help but feel pity. She just wanted a little fun and I felt kind of selfish. I went back to help her up, to get her back to her own room before she hurt herself more. I offered my hand to her. She grabbed my wrist, that too tight grip again. Way too tight. It felt like my hand was falling asleep, the circulation cut off entirely. I tried to shake her off but she clenched on with obscene strength. I panicked and kicked her in the chest, knocking her back to the floor. I looked at my wrist where she had gripped me and there was a large circular welt. A suction mark where her palm had been. My fingers were still numb. I looked back at Janice slumped on the ground, she looked broken.

My brain was working over-time. I was drunk, too drunk and this whole thing was getting too weird to comprehend. I wanted to help her, she was just this flirty women from reception. I couldn’t compel myself to get near her, my fight or flight instincts kicking in. The audience of eyes from behind the spy holes were burning into me. Had I just got drunk and hit some girl? Was I going to get fired? Was she going to sue me? My head spun. Janice got back to her feet, her joints clicking as she stood. It wasn’t her though.

Janice’s skin hung loose, sagging from her arms and legs. Her head was tilted towards the ground and her face followed gravity. Her eyes peered out from the sagging skin, hidden in shadow but still piercing.

“Janice… I’m so sorry…” I stammered. I turned on my heels and ran down the hallway, around the corner. It lead to more and more rooms but still no stair well in sight. I didn’t dare look behind me but I could hear her chasing me, the slap of sagging skin against the floor with every step. The hallway lead to another corner. As I followed it I thought that maybe it would at least loop around and I could get back to where I was before and get up to the fourth floor from there. The slapping foot steps behind me were getting a little fainter so I hoped that I was creating a big enough gap that I could escape up the stairs to safety. The hall was long but even with my blurry vision I was sure I could see the next corner. My breathing was heavy and my legs were burning but I pushed myself harder, the end was in sight. As I rounded the corner I could see the elevator, and the door to the stair well. As the distance between me and the door shortened, that sickly slapping noise grew louder. Sweat was pouring from me as I swung the door open. I tried to keep my composure as I took the first step but I was going too fast, I was way too drunk, my foot slipped. I tumbled in slow motion, my head hurtling towards the concrete steps and the slapping steps just behind me. There was a crunch as my head collided with the steps and the room went black.

I woke up to the sound of bubbling water. The room was dark, the curtains drawn. The hotel room kettle boiled by the TV. I could see my pale skin reflected in the blackness of the TV screen. Naked in a hotel room bed, definitely not the way I planned to end the night. I had vague memories of the party, I expected to hear the worst of it on Monday. I looked towards the door, following the trail of clothes that led towards the bed. A dress, my trousers, some underwear… Some skin. Memories flooded back to me as the bathroom door creaked open.

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