Night Out. Short Story.

I’m still a bit sick. What ever I have seems to what to do as much damage as possible before it leaves. My throat isn’t sore any more, but my nose is blocked. Other than that I feel fine so it’s starting to annoy me. I’ve been downing vitamins like no bodies business though. My eyes keep watering too as I keep sneezing. It’s very annoying.

Yesterday was a fairly busy day, spent most of it going around Dublin, though I got a few bits I needed as well as a book I need for college. So it was a productive day at least!

On with the show!


Night Out.

The music was loud, but not unbearably so, people were talking and laughing, the noise combining into a general murmur from which nothing could be heard. She stood at the edge of the crowd, looking at all the happy mingling people, wondering why she couldn’t do the same. Jenny had convinced her to come, told her it would be fun, and it was at first, until Jenny had wandered off somewhere in the cavernous house. They had been drinking and dancing and then she was just gone. Linda knew no one else here, she didn’t even know how Jenny knew them, when she had asked Jenny who was throwing the party the answer was vague. Linda always hated this part, if she was drunker she would have no problem walking up to any random group and inserting herself into the conversation, but Jenny had taken the booze they had brought with her and the only other alcohol was a large tub full of god only knew what. She eyed the bowl, its contents were neon orange and glittering under the low lights. She watched for a moment, people seemed to be ignoring it, she hadn’t seen one person take a drink from it yet and that made her wary. What was so wrong with that drink? Someone cackled, harsh and loud, she looked around for the source but the noise had already died. She pretended to listen to the music, having no idea of the song or band. She scanned the room again, hoping she didn’t look as awkward as she felt. She checked her phone, still no word from Jenny, she had sent her a text, tried to ring her, but it was ignored. Jenny wasn’t that drunk when they were separated, neither of them were. She glanced around the room again, searching for a familiar face but all she saw were strangers. After a few seconds of indecision she moved from where she was standing, she could always come back there if she couldn‘t find her.

The house was mostly empty of furniture, there were a few couches but that was really it, the floors were carpeted or covered in wood, she moved through groups of people, all crowded together in little clusters, wove her way through rooms, avoiding getting bumped or spilled on. Once she was reasonably sure she had looking in all the downstairs rooms, she went upstairs. Linda climbed the stairs carefully, they were wide but strewn with cups and debris, a few people were sitting on them. Upstairs was equally full of people, there were a few mattresses on the floor, people were lying on them, passing around cigarettes or joints. She wasn’t sure which and didn’t care enough to find out. There was a large queue for the bathroom, the guy at the head of the queue banged on the door a few times and a girl came out, her face red, there was a brief flash where she thought it was Jenny, but that quickly faded. Jenny was wearing an outfit similar to the bathroom girls, but the bathroom girl was too short. Linda left the queue behind and wandered into one of the rooms, still looking. The music up here was different, though she couldn’t seem to pinpoint where the speakers were. The house was at the end of a long row of old and slightly dilapidated houses, the area wasn’t the greatest, but it was usually safe enough. She glanced out the window and saw there were people outside in the back garden, smoking and chatting. She missed there on her first search. She went back down the stairs, stepping around a puddle of unidentifiable liquid.

It had been raining earlier on in the day and the feet of so many people had turned the back garden into mud, there were a few patches of grass, but they were sparse. She didn’t spend too much time in the back garden, it was cold and dark outside, whomever had organised the party hadn’t planned for lights out the back. A quick scan made it obvious  that Jenny wasn’t outside either. Shivering slightly she went back into the warm house, the music seemed louder and there were more people dancing. She hated this and right now, she hated jenny. She’d be worried if it wasn’t something Jenny did almost every time they went out. She should know better by now. Most of the time Linda found her again, but there were times like this when Jenny was just gone and no one knew where she went. Probably met another guy and went back to his. It was always the same, “I’ll be back in a second” and then she was gone. Linda shook her head angrily. She shouldn’t have come here in the first place, it was stupid, but Jenny had convinced her to go, asking again and again until she caved, convinced that it would be fun this time. That was the problem. Going out with Jenny was a blast, if you didn’t lose her and she always fell for it too, hoping that the night would be amazing and finding that after an hour or two she was alone. Again. It wouldn’t have been too bad if Jenny hadn’t taken the booze, or if she knew someone else here. They could start talking to random people together, but no. She was alone. She dug out her phone and clicked into the messages, she sent a quick text, then slipped it back into her pocket. She knew in the morning Jenny would apologise, telling Linda she didn’t notice how fast the time went or that she tried to find her. Linda moved through the crowds again until she was back into the hall. The front door was big but easy enough to open, she quickly slipped out.

She hadn’t dressed for a walk, she had shared a taxi on the way over and had planned to do it again on the way back, but she didn’t have enough to get one by herself. She wrapped her jacket around herself, it was light but better than nothing. She was thankful she hadn’t worn a skirt or dress out, instead opting for jeans and a t-shirt. It would be about a half an hour before she got home, but that wasn’t too bad either. It could be much worse. Once she got home she could change into pyjamas to warm herself up and have some food. They ate before they went out, but there was still some left over’s at home.
She walked quickly to keep herself warm, the area was creepy at night and she wanted to be home as soon as possible. The houses had looked only a little worse for wear when they had come in by taxi, now they looked as though they were going to collapse. It looked as though only squatters would live in any of the houses, one of them was probably a drug den. She took a breath, trying to calm herself. It wouldn’t do to let her imagination take over. She was fine, the houses weren’t that bad, it was just shadows and streetlights distorting everything. She’d be home before she knew it, safe at home and eating left over Chinese food. She got to a turn, then went left, the streets were empty, though every now and then she could hear something, a banging noise, the skittering of cats, it startled her each time but afterwards she calmed herself down. There wasn’t anyone there, it was just animals or the wind. She would be getting close to people soon, a small grouping of shops, pubs and clubs, she’d cut through there and then it would only be another ten minutes or so until she was home. She could hear cars every so often, but hadn’t seen one on her walk, the area was fairly deserted, but that didn’t surprise her, it twisted in on itself, it wasn’t a short cut for anywhere, the only people going in or out would be those that lived there. It was still early and she was probably one of the few people that had already left the party. A taxi turned the corner and drove past, she wondered if it was picking someone up or if the taxi man was just done with his shift for the night. Ahead was the turn off for the main road, she could see cars drive past every few moments, as she walked closer to it she wished she had thought to bring headphones, music would have helped pass the time.  Her phone buzzed, she dug it out of her pocket, a text from Jenny. “Hey, sorry I disappeared. Where are you?” she texted back quickly, then slipped her phone back into her pocket. She had already told Jenny she left. She thought she knew what was about to happen, Jenny no doubt went off with some guy who turned out to be an asshole and she wanted to come over and bitch about men. It wasn’t that late but she was tired and didn’t want to have to deal with this shit again. It was always the same, the same problems and the same advice and Jenny never listened. Her phone buzzed again. She read the message and it was just as she thought. Sighing, she replied, asking if everything was ok. She turned onto the main road and started walking towards the lights, she could hear people now, it was reassuring, if anything happened there would be somewhere she could go for help.

She passed by the bars and clubs, people were outside milling around, a few people were sitting inside the one takeaway place, most of the people outside were smoking. As she walked she was texting Jenny, who was regaling Linda of how terrible her night was, though she sounded a little off. After a few minutes, Jenny admitted that the guy had tried to attack her and a few moments after that she asked if she could spend the night. Linda quickly agreed, worried that it might be serious. Jenny had always complained about guys but none of them were ever really that bad, and none of them had attacked her before.
She came to her house and quickly opened the door, it was empty for the weekend, her roommates had all returned to their homes, Jenny could stay in the spare room, there were blankets and sheets in the hot press. She went upstairs and quickly changed into pyjamas then threw on a robe. She got a text  from Jenny telling her she would be there in about ten minutes. While she waited, Linda heated up the left over food and took out the ice cream to let it melt a bit. She was hungry and she figured that Jenny should eat something too.

The door bell rang, leaving her food where it was she stood and went to the door, pulling it open she expected Jenny to rush forward and hug her or something, but it wasn’t Jenny. “Oh. Sorry, I thought you were someone else. I think you have the wrong house.” Linda started to close over the door, he rushed forward, pushing it backwards, it slammed into her face, pain bright and sudden, she fell backwards, landing heavily on the ground, her wrist cracking painfully. She tried to scream but all that came out was a dull moan. The man stepped inside the door and closed it, he smiled at her, “Jenny wanted me to say hi.”


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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