This sharp tale gives us everything we want: Sex, violence, innocence lost, and something very dark found.
Zach grinned nervously as the bouncer looked back and forth between him and his ID. His stomach was in knots. What if he’d bungled it? What if it didn’t look realistic enough? This guy looked like he could chew Zach up and spit him out.
He’d thought he’d done a spectacular job with it. He wasn’t stupid enough to make his age ridiculously high … not, like, 25 or 26 … but he’d thought he could reasonably pass for 19. He wasn’t that far from it, anyway … he was just weeks away from 18 now. But 19 sounded more mature. So 19 was the age he’d decided on.
After a few more suspicious glances between him and the ID, the bouncer nodded and handed it back. With a pounding heart, Zach paid his cover charge. The bouncer pocketed it, stepped back from the door and gestured to Zach to follow him in. “So you’ve had the chance to look over the rules,” he said as they went into the house. “No clothes while you’re here. Only one wears clothes here is me.”
He kept talking as he led Zach in deeper. “My house, my rules. No cameras. This is a safe, private party, and we want to keep it that way. I find you with a camera or camera phone, it’s mine. If you need to make a call, make it in the coat room. No drugs, no underage drinking. I catch you doing either, you’re out. With me so far?”
Zach nodded, looking around him, his face reddening. It wasn’t like in the movies. Soft classical music was playing, not the bow-chicka-wow-wow kind one might expect. And nothing much seemed to be happening yet. People were just milling around at this point, talking, drinking, laughing, relaxed. And they looked like perfectly ordinary people, of all different ages and sizes. Not like the ripped and oiled porn stars you saw in the movies. Just regular people. Talking sports scores, gossiping about the latest celebrity news, complaining about the government.
If they hadn’t all been stark naked, and if there hadn’t been condom trays and lube bottles placed strategically around the rooms, he might have thought he was at an ordinary house party.
The bouncer was going on with his recital of the rules, which he probably had to do every time someone new came in. “—and don’t worry about safewords. We don’t mess with safewords here. Somebody tells you to stop, you stop.” The bouncer abruptly halted and turned to face Zach. “Likewise, if somebody doesn’t stop when you tell ‘em to stop, I’m the one you call. Charlie. Okay?”
Zach nodded, his throat dry. He thought ironically of his best friend Chuck sitting back in the van. He’d have to remember this was Charlie here, not Chuck. If he accidentally called out “Chuck” by mistake …
“Everybody knows me here,” Charlie said with a toothy grin. “If I tell someone to stop, trust me, they’ll stop.”
Zach fidgeted nervously. “Does that … happen a lot?”
“Nah,” Charlie said, waving dismissively. “Everybody’s pretty well behaved here. But you know how it is.” He chuckled, and Zach grinned and nodded and pretended to know.
Charlie patted him on the shoulder reassuringly, turned and continued on toward the coat room. “And it’s totally okay to be a wallflower. Nobody has to do anything here. You just want to watch, that’s cool. And you can leave any time.” He opened the door to the coat room and told Zach where he could stash his clothes and belongings.
“And have fun,” Charlie added with a smile, closing the door to let Zach disrobe in privacy.
Zach stared at the various neatly-stacked totes where others had stashed their clothes. He rubbed his arm nervously. Not for the first time, he questioned his choice on coming here.
The ad had been pretty straightforward. They hadn’t tried to hide the kind of parties they held. And they’d been surprisingly willing to accept him, a complete stranger. A few cautious, discreet emails, one signed waiver, and a surprisingly small cover charge later, here he was.
He couldn’t believe he’d actually done it. He couldn’t believe he’d even made it through the door. He couldn’t believe he wasn’t expelling the contents of his stomach right now.
He took a deep breath, let it out, steeled himself, and started to undress.
Zach peered out the door both ways before slipping out. He wondered where he should go next. Where was safe? Then he sighed. Safe? None of this felt particularly safe.
Food. Food was universal. He made his way to the kitchen, where party platters and drinks of various kinds were set out, and a few people were standing around chatting. He thought about trying to sneak a glass of wine (it might help calm his nerves, he reasoned), but thought better of it, instead reaching for a can of root beer chilling in an ice cooler.
He smiled at the people who looked up as he’d come in, trying to pretend that he belonged there, and snapped open his can of soda. He happened to look out toward the living room, and saw two people necking on a couch. Suddenly he decided that his root beer was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted, and he quickly turned away from the couch scene.
Instead, he focused on what the people in the kitchen were talking about. They were discussing horror movies. I like horror movies, he thought, hope dawning in his heart, and made his way over to them.
“You’re wrong,” a blond man in his 30s was saying, “I don’t care what you say, Evie, Bela Lugosi beats the hell out of Carlos Villarías as Dracula any day.”
“Oh, come off it, Tom,” the 40-ish Evie said. “You’re just stuck on the big Hollywood name. You’ve never even seen the Spanish-language Dracula.” A younger woman in a ponytail beside her nodded in agreement.
“I have!” Zach ventured.
The others turned to look at him for one startled moment. Then the redhead thrust her hand toward Zach. “Okay. Someone who’s actually seen it. Which actor do you like better?”
Zach suddenly felt like he was under a spotlight, standing there, the root beer in his hand the only thing between his flesh and theirs. Literally: the only thing.
“Well,” he said after taking a slow, deep, shaky breath, “no one can deny that Lugosi had that classic animal stare, that magnetism, and that great accent. But Villarías had a much greater command of the language. He never struggled with it like Lugosi struggled with English, and so he was able to do more with it. Plus he carried himself with … kind of a haughty attitude that made him much more believable as an aristocrat.” He shrugged. “And he had a pretty fucking scary stare, himself. Like he was going to eat you and was just trying to decide what to eat first.”
Evie smiled in satisfaction, but Tom simply looked disgusted. “Kids,” he muttered, and moved off with Miss Ponytail. Zach watched them go, and realized with a panicky feeling that he and Evie were alone in the kitchen.
“That was great,” Evie said to him, coming closer. “Tom thinks he’s such a connoisseur of horror. It’s nice to see him taken down a peg once in a while.”
Zach grinned nervously and enjoyed the hell out of his root beer.
“Zach.” He grinned, realized he was staring at her breasts, and looked away. Were they supposed to look like that? Definitely not like in the movies.
Evelyn eyed him appraisingly. “Is this your first time?”
He looked at her sharply, then looked away, his lips taut, his cheeks blushing furiously. He nodded once brusquely and tried to take a long, long swig of his root beer. To his horror, he realized that it was all gone.
Evelyn’s eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. “Oh my god,” she said, “I—I meant was this your first time at one of these get-togethers!” She drew in closer. “But this is really your first time, isn’t it?” she asked quietly. Sure his face was on fire, Zach nodded again, once, brusquely.
For a long, terrifying moment he was sure she was going to turn to the whole house and announce, “HEY, GUYS, WE’VE GOT A VIRGIN HERE!”
But she didn’t. She smiled a that’s-so-sweet smile, put a warm hand on his shoulder, and said, “I’m honored, Zach.” He shivered as she began to rub his shoulder. “So you’re here alone? No girlfriend?”
He immediately tensed up; he shook his head and said, “She died last year.”
Evelyn froze with a little gasp. “Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry,” she said.
He nodded, looking hard at the floor. “Thank you.” He closed his eyes as Evelyn started rubbing his shoulder again. After a moment, she said, “You’re shaking like a leaf.” She smiled and glanced toward the back. “Come on, come with me. I’ve got something that’ll help relax you.” She gently coaxed him out of the kitchen, down the hallway, and down a flight of stairs, leaving the rest of the party behind.
Zach looked around the basement as Evelyn laid a blanket onto what looked like a large, sturdy massage table. The room was filled with flickering candles. It smelled like incense: strange, but not unpleasant. In fact the whole atmosphere was very pleasant and relaxing. There was soft music playing here too, but it wasn’t classical … it sounded sort of African.
He wondered if this was supposed to be some kind of massage room or something. Yes, he could see there were oil bottles sitting off to the side. At least, he hoped that was what they were.
He wondered what Chuck was doing right now. He laughed to himself. Chuck would never believe what “Chuck” was about to do.
Evelyn had him lie down on his stomach on the table. “You’re in good hands,” she assured him as he climbed up and lay down. “I’ve been doing this for years.” He was surprised to feel her climb up and perch lightly right on top of him, her thighs settling over his. He started to rise, but her hand on his back gently pushed him back down.
“Relax,” she told him softly. “Trust me, Zach.” Reluctantly, he lay back down, and closed his eyes as her hand settled onto the center of his back.
Evelyn took a bottle of oil and let it drizzle over her hand, warming it as it trickled onto Zach’s skin. She moved her hand over the stream of oil, creating an effortlessly slick massage surface. Zach closed his eyes and sighed as her hands began to work his back.
“Have you ever had a real massage before?” Evelyn asked. He shook his head. She smiled. “You’re in for a real treat, then.” Her hand rested briefly between his shoulder blades, then slid gently down his spine, almost petting him. With both hands now, she pushed back up on either side of his spine, then fanned out to his shoulders, which she began to knead. Inch by inch, little by little, she worked his muscles, seeming satisfied as Zach began to relax under her. She paused for a moment as the basement door quietly opened, then returned her attention to him.
She slid her hands back down to the base of his spine, and spread them out to the outsides of his body, curling her fingers slightly underneath. He gasped a little as she slowly slid her hands back up his soft, supple body, making sure to brush his nipples, before coming back up to his shoulders. Evelyn smiled with satisfaction, and took the opportunity to lay a tender kiss between his shoulder blades. Zach’s fingers curled.
Evelyn made another slow, delicious downward-outward stroke, scooted back just a bit, and began the stroke once again; but this time, it didn’t stop at the base of the spine. Zach groaned as her palms fanned out, pulling at the tops of his buttocks, then began the outside stroke again, her fingers curling further underneath him as she made her way slowly, teasingly up his body. Instead of stopping at his shoulders, she kept stroking upward, up, up, up his arms, until her hands covered his, and she laced her fingers tenderly into his. Her body covered his entirely now, and she nuzzled him and gently placed her lips on his neck. He gasped, then closed his eyes, surrendering.
Evelyn smiled against his neck. “Are you ready?” she breathed into his ear. He nodded vigorously. She lifted off, one finger gently stroking down his arm, and whispered, “Turn over.”
He rolled over onto his back, and gazed at her as she slid her hands back up his arms and pinned them playfully above his head.
Suddenly strong hands emerged from the shadows of the room, and they grasped his hands and feet. He cried out as he felt himself being bound by ropes. “What are you doing?” he cried, and tried to see who his captors were, but they were all cloaked in shadow. “Wh—stop! Stop! Charlie! Charlie!”
“Is there a problem here?” Charlie said, stepping forward from the shadows as Evelyn teased Zach with a smile as she gently stroked his face. His hands and feet were now tied firmly to the sturdy table, and he couldn’t move.
“Help me, please!” he cried to Charlie, who was now as naked as the rest.
Charlie grinned. “Little slow on the uptake, aren’t you, kid?”
“Shhh,” Evelyn cooed to Zach, who tried to squirm out from under her soft touch, but could not. “Don’t fight us, Zach,” she told him soothingly. “Don’t try to struggle—you’ll only hurt yourself. And we don’t want that.” And she laid a gentle kiss into the little dip of his neck.
Zach looked all around him. It must have been all the people from the party, all there, in the shadows of the room, surrounding the table, all staring at him in silence. All naked.
Chuck! Where was Chuck? “What do you want?” he managed, voice cracking. “What are you gonna do to me?”
Evelyn smiled. “We’re going to give you the best night of your life, Zach,” she purred, stroking a finger down his chest and belly.
Zach looked sharply up at her. “All of you?” he squeaked.
Soft laughter all around. “Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, kid,” Charlie said with a grin.
“Let me go!” Zach cried, close to tears. “Please, just let me go! I’m sorry I came here! I want to leave! You said I could leave anytime! I want to leave!”
More chuckles. “But we can’t just let you go,” Evelyn breathed into his ear. “We went to all this trouble for you, Zach. All this, the party, the atmosphere, the ritual, it’s all for you.”
“What?” he cried. “Why me?” He winced as a hand reached from the shadows and started sliding up his leg.
“You answered our Call,” said Tom, coming forward with a grin.
“What … that ad? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you people nuts?”
“Yog-Sothoth provides,” said Miss Ponytail beside him. “Not just anyone could see it, not just anyone could hear the Call. You heard it, and you answered. Yog-Sothoth provides.”
“Provides? Provides what?” Zach asked, visibly shaking now.
The chuckles turned into laughter. Evelyn stroked his face tenderly. “Yog-Sothoth demands His sacrifice,” she purred. “And He also provides it.”
“You’re going to sacrifice me?” Zach shrieked, straining helplessly against his bonds.
“You’ll like the way we sacrifice,” Charlie said as a pair of fingers began walking their way up Zach’s thigh. A mouth came down and landed a tender kiss on his belly. “You’ll be begging for more before you know it. By the end of the night, you’re going to love us.”
“Doubt it,” Zach retorted through clenched teeth. Where was Chuck?
“We’re very good at what we do,” Evelyn breathed, the tips of her fingers playing with the soft nap of hair under his arm. “Every part of your body is a prayer. By the time we send you into Yog-Sothoth’s waiting arms, you’ll be screaming His praises.”
“Your friend drove off half an hour ago,” Charlie said with amusement, and Zach wanted to cry.
“Haven’t you ever wanted to be part of something bigger than yourself?” Evelyn whispered to him, laying a series of soft kisses along his chest. A strange smell began to waft into the room, almost unnoticeable under the scents of the incense and the oils.
“We’re offering you the best night you’ll ever have, Zach,” Evelyn continued, and gently bit his lower lip. “The best night you could ever have. Don’t you see—it was your destiny to be with us tonight! Your heart knew it when you answered our Call. It’s your destiny to fly into Yog-Sothoth’s loving arms. You wanted your first, well, we’ll all be your first. Your first … and your greatest.”
Zach stared up at the ceiling, tears flowing down his face as hands and mouths began to explore him. And he knew. Damn them … they were right. He’d come here with a purpose … a destiny.
The enormity of the thing finally settled upon his heart. That ad … he was the only one to respond, wasn’t he? And they were ready and waiting to welcome him into their circle. As if they always knew he would come. As if he were the one they were waiting for.
It had been his fate to come here. He could no longer deny that. As much as he might want to … he couldn’t deny it. They were right. He was meant to be there tonight.
This was meant to be.
Tears streaming down his face, Zach laid his head back, closed his eyes, and surrendered to his dark destiny.
“Is that what you said to Claire?” he asked quietly, and everyone froze.
“Who?” Evelyn said.
Zach stared her in the eyes stonily. “Pretty girl. Green eyes. Dark hair. Dimples on her cheeks whenever she smiled.” Blank stares all around. “You might know her better as last year’s sacrifice?”
Looks of realization passed between them. “Oh,” Evelyn said. “Her.”
“She was so sweet,” Charlie said with a toothy grin.
“She was the love of my life,” Zach sobbed. “We were both virgins. We were gonna be each other’s first! We were going to give ourselves to the Lord of the Wood!” he cried. The smell was stronger now; a few of them were starting to smell it, having been distracted from their original pursuit.
“And it was going to be beautiful!” he wept.
One of the group clasped her hands melodramatically to her heart.
“But you lured her here!” he cried, his body shuddering with helpless sobs. “You took her from us! All of you! And now you’re gonna pay!”
The others laughed. Evelyn squatted comfortably over him, her head tossed back with riotous laughter. “And how do you think you’re going to do that?” she enquired. “Just out of curiosity.”
Zach smiled up at her nastily. “You are all mine,” he said, and the laughter turned hysterical. Zach threw his head back. “Iä! Shub-Niggurath! Lord of the Woods with a Thousand Young! I give You these blasphemous mongrels! Take them into Your arms—“ He fixed Evelyn with a poisonous glare. “—and out of my sight! Iä! Shub-Niggurath! Iä! Shub-Niggurath!”
The cultists were falling down laughing. The incense smoke stink was now cloying, and a few of them were starting to choke on it and looking for a window to open in between fits of laughter.
But the laughter stopped immediately when the first of the explosions went off.
Good old Chuck.
Waiting, so patiently, out in the van, at the safe distance they’d agreed upon. Waiting with the cans of gas and the explosives they’d worked so hard on. Waiting for all the cultists to go downstairs where he could trap them. Waiting for the first of the screams as they discovered their exits were all barred. Waiting in the night with his rifle for any stragglers trying to escape, just like he’d done in the army. Waiting for his revenge for his little sister, Claire.
Waiting. Waiting so patiently. Good old Chuck.
Now Zach was the one laughing as cultists scrambled around, frantically seeking escape. “It’s your destiny!” he screeched merrily as flames rose all around him. “It’s your destiny!” Screams drowned out his hysterical laughter as the others discovered that they were indeed trapped. Some tried to scramble for the windows, but the openings were too high to reach and much too small anyway. The smell of burning flesh began to pervade the air.
At last…at last the Lord of the Woods would have His sacrifice … and Zach and Chuck would have their revenge. “Iä! Shub-Niggurath!” he cried in ecstasy one more time before the ceiling came crashing down on him in a hungry inferno.
So he would die a virgin after all … but Damn, he thought as his life drained from him …
It was worth it.