The silence was interrupted by the distant sirens, breaking up the imagined harmony of the night. The sky was black and the pavements were wet with the sweat of nightfall.
A young man peered out, pushing aside the pale pink organza curtain. The sky was black and the empty pavements were wet with the sweat of the night. He shook his head.
“It’s too small. None of us will fit through” he observed with a defeated sigh, “Not even her.” He pointed at Edie, a skinny young girl who had drawn her knees into her chest in order to appear smaller.
Shelagh lent back and raised her eyes to the broken leather ceiling. “I cannot believe this is happening.”
“I only came here for a good time” Cal contemplated morosely, staring into space.
Shelagh leaned forwards, “Oh yeah? And I came here to get stuck in a room with you wasters.” She rolled her eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh.
“Does nobody have any signal on their mobiles?” Justin asked half-heartedly.
They all shook their heads. They would have been released already if the answer to that question was yes.
“Who the hell is hosting this party anyway?” Shelagh enquired.
The room’s occupants shrugged.
“So not one of you knows the person who’s hosting this party? No one knows whose house this is? No one was invited here?” Shelagh asked.
“It’s like The Great Gatsby” Cal said, in awe.
“At what point in The Great Gatsby is anyone stuck in a room with a whore, a stoner and a mute teenager?” said Justin.
Shelagh and Cal frowned at those labels. Edie did not move.
“You think that just because you’re sitting up in that chair reading a goddamn book that you’re better than us?” Cal said, addressing Justin, “It is like a Gatsby party though. I come here all the time and I’ve never met the host.”
“Why are you guys here anyway?” Justin enquired, “For kicks, or what?”
“Sure” Shelagh laughed a husky laugh, mocking Justin “For kicks.”
“Is this going to be one of those things where we all open up to each other and find out that we have loads of interesting and life changing secrets to share?” Justin asked, ignoring Shelagh’s sarcasm.
“Like The Breakfast Club” Cal said, matter-of-factly.
“God, no, that’s so overdone. Besides, I have no burning secrets to share” Shelagh contemplated, “No tragic past that will change all your outlooks on life.”
“Good” said Justin, “Then let’s just sit tight until the host finds us.”
Quiet fell across the room like a sheet of air filled with uncomfortable dampness. Only one thing broke the soundlessness. It was a drumming from Cal’s fingertips against the wooden floor. He was tapping quickly and silently mouthing words.
“For fuck’s sake, will you cut it out?” Edie spoke for the first time, with incongruous anger.
Cal stopped tapping. The silence resumed its heavy place in the room.
“This is the shittest party I’ve ever been to” Cal said with passionate, drunken emphasis.
“I am so bored” Shelagh pondered aloud.
“It’s not like there’s nothing to do. We’re locked in a library. Whoever this guy is, he has lots of books,” Justin said, turning a page of the book resting on his lap.
Shelagh rested her chin on her fist and looked at Justin defiantly, “So, you suggest that we read until we’re rescued?”
“Don’t worry. I’ve thought of something better” Cal grinned. He felt around his pockets for a lighter.
Minutes later marijuana smoke danced around the room. Hazy images registered in the minds of them all.
The dread of captivity was replaced by the happiness of a dreamlike fantasy.
“I’ve killed a man before” Edie said, coldly, waiting for their reactions.
“No you haven’t” Shelagh laughed.
“I have” said Edie.
Cal scowled, “When?”
Edie ignored this question.
“You’re too young and sweet to be a murderer” Shelagh said, pragmatically, as if she could expel the idea from Edie’s mind with a simple statement about her character.
Edie took a knife out of her pocket. She stroked the blade delicately, as though she was frighteningly aware of its potency. She raised her head, “Oh really?” The smoke seemed to part and everything was very real once more.
“Shit” Cal said, cowering backwards, further away from Edie and the demanding metallic power she held in his direction, “Where did you get that?”
Edie’s answer echoed with a defensive nature and a sense of the psychopathic, “It’s mine” then she spoke softly and they all listened, in obedience triggered by fear, “It’s better this way. Better than a gun. Better than poison. More lingering. More controllable. Do you kill fast?” Edie waved the weapon quickly through the air, “Or do you kill…slow?” She rose to her feet and sat down again, closer to Shelagh, “It’s an art, you know? A real fucking art.” Edie lightly brushed the knife over Shelagh’s cheek. Shelagh, meanwhile stayed in a paralysed state of terror. “You can choose how neat or messy you make the killing. How much admiration you gain, which, of course everyone has to hide with disgust. Truth is, we’re all fascinated with the insane. Hmm, who should I demonstrate on first?”
“Someone could come in at any minute” Justin warned.
Edie laughed, “We’ve been waiting for someone to come in all night. No one’s coming. God, you’re so fucking pretentious, up in your armchair with your books. You don’t know better than me. None of you do. I have all the power in this room now” Edie’s eyes glittered, “As far as you are concerned, I am God,” and she plunged the knife into Justin’s stomach.
He coiled over and Shelagh screamed. The scream rang in their ears. It rang in Edie’s as she continued to force the knife repeatedly into Justin’s chest. It rang in Cal’s as he hid his face in his hands and shivered profusely. It rang in Justin’s as he slipped from life’s grip into another world.
It rang in James’ ears as he paused the recording and dialled 999.
“Shit shit shit shit,” he repeatedly whispered under his breath as he paced up and down the room and waited for an answer.
14 hours previously
James was a writer and at this time he was alone in his South London home, making the final preparations for his party. He went into the library and adjusted the camera so that it was concealed by the small ornaments on top of the bookcase. There it had a clear view of the whole room. James wondered who would be coming to his party tonight. He hoped to see some strange and interesting faces. Then, he would talk them into visiting his library through some means or other. There, he would lock them in and the camera would film the interaction between the captives.
James sat down in his burgundy leather armchair and rested his chin in his hand. His mind danced with endless possibilities. Who would he trap tonight? Perhaps a drag queen and a teenage runaway. Or a starving artist and an old man with a terminal illness. Each of those could make for fantastic plots if played out right.
This party would be the same as all the others: as guests arrived in hoards, the majority of them unknown to the host, James always had a plan. He would make his way round the party and stop at the most interesting looking people. He would give them directions to his library and tell them to go there, using whatever advertisements necessary. Once James knew that four or five people were inside, he would look the door. In the library was a hidden camera. When the party ended, and before he went to sleep, James liked to watch the recordings of what the people got up to. Sometimes the events would inspire his writing and sometimes they were purely a form of entertainment to light up his drab life. In the past James had seen everything from confessions, to musical performances, to orgies. Never before, however, had there been a murder.
Later that day, three bodies were escorted from James’ house and Edie was arrested. Later, when on trial, she would say that she had seen the cameras in James’ library and that was why she did it. It was performance art. Her defence was that she lived in a culture dominated by surveillance culture and obsessed with reality TV. She only wanted to make something a little more interesting for people to watch and the library had been the perfect chance.