By Christian Laforet
“Another goddamn Monday,” Andy spoke to the empty bedroom as dragged himself out of bed.
An ill-planned bachelor party had kept him up half the night; who the hell has a bachelor party on a Sunday, anyways? It was hard enough starting a new week without a severe hangover.
A belch, which could strip the paint off the walls, blew past Andy’s lips. He made a sour face and decided that he needed to brush his teeth before he did anything else.
His apartment was small. It was basically three rooms: a bedroom, a bathroom and then a living room/dining room/kitchen all in one. Unlike most single men, however, Andy’s place was spotless. He attributed this mostly to his mother, the woman collected cleaning supplies like others did troll dolls, or miniature spoons. He also suspected he was a touch OCD which only added to his need for cleanliness.
As Andy left his bedroom, he walked past the calendar tacked to the wall. The calendar, sporting an image of a puppy doing yoga, had been a gift from his landlord last Christmas. Most of the days of the month had a large black X through them. Written across the last Sunday was, “Jeremy’s Bach!” and next to that was the last day of the month, today, the fifth Monday.
The bathroom was more akin to a closet but Andy had no real use for larger facilities. He wasn’t fond of taking baths, so a tub would be a waste—if he had one.
“Oh, great,” he sighed as he looked into the mirror. A smattering of glitter sparkled along the side of his face and down both of his arms. Looking at the glitter, Andy couldn’t help but smirk. If there was one saving grace of any legitimate bachelor party, it was the stripper. The woman arrived just after midnight, her small frame wrapped in a vinyl maid’s outfit. As soon as he laid eyes on her, Andy was smitten. She announced herself as Cerise, and promptly began peeling off her costume. Jeremy—the groom—received most of the woman’s attention, at first. As the night wore on, however, the stripper seemed to take a liking to Andy as she focused all her time—and considerable talent, on him. At one point, Cerise—while straddling his lap—had grabbed a handful of his hair, leaning in like she was going to plant a kiss on him; instead, she whispered something directly into his ear. Andy was far too drunk and the music way too loud to hear what she said, but something about the lost words set his head spinning. An hour and a half later, Cerise was packing up her things, counting her money and heading for the door.
Leaving his clothes piled on the floor, Andy hopped into the shower. It took nearly fifteen minutes to remove all the glitter. He wondered if there was some sort of trick to getting rid of the stuff; if he ever saw Cerise again, he’d ask her.
Andy turned off the shower and reached for the towel hanging on a nearby hook. As soon as his hand touched the cooler air, something happened. A tremor ran up his arm and across his chest; his teeth began chattering near uncontrollably. “What the fuck?” Andy muttered as he snatched the towel and quickly wrapped it around himself. Instead of abating, the sensation only grew. Goosebumps cascaded down his skin, his legs shook so badly that he needed to sit on the toilet for fear of falling. Placing a hand across his forehead, Andy was shocked at the coldness of his skin; he wasn’t just chilly, he was freezing. Stumbling from the bathroom, Andy darted towards his bedroom and dove into his bed. Frantically, he wrapped the blankets around him like a cocoon.
The chill only lasted for a few minutes before departing nearly as quickly as it came, leaving a phantom tingling vibrating through his limbs. Andy tentatively pulled back the blankets, the air was cold and abrasive, but he realized it was mostly from the fact that he was still wet from the shower.
Andy dried off quickly and got dressed. He felt somewhat dizzy still from the unexpected experience but was starting to convince himself it had come courtesy of the hangover.
Heading for the kitchen, Andy grabbed a Pop Tart from the cupboard and a bottle of water from the fridge. He hadn’t realized how voraciously hungry he was until the first bits of Pop Tart crumbled in his mouth. The water felt good as well, refreshing. He tossed the empty bottle into the recycle box tucked near his apartment door, then meticulously swept the crumbs from the counter top into his awaiting palm.
“Shit!” Andy blurted as he looked at the clock hanging behind his couch. The fine-tuned routine that constituted Andy’s mornings had been shot to hell by the mysterious cold flash. If he didn’t get a move on, he would be late for work.
He snatched his coat from the back of a nearby chair and made for the door. Reaching into his pocket for his keys, Andy felt something unexpected: the sharp edges of a card. Pulling the small rectangle free, Andy read it; Pluto’s Gentlemen’s Club, was written across the top in bold print, Cerise, in a dainty scrawl across the bottom. He had not remembered taking the woman’s card and was just about to toss it out when he noticed something written on the back.
I have your soul. If you don’t help me, you’ll never get it back.
“Huh?” Andy said as he scratched his head.
End of Part 1.
Return back on June 30th (the next 5th Monday) for part 2!