Traveling to Asia had been one of the best choices of my life. I learned and discovered so much more than I imaged. It was a truly life changing experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. With that said, it meant that I had missed a party with one of my dearest friends. I hadn't spoken to him since I left America, so I was a bit surprised at the invitation. I turned it down regretfully and enjoyed the rest of my trip.
When I returned home, I heard that something strange had gone down at that party. However, I couldn't find much information on the topic myself. It was as if no one wanted to talk about what had happened. That seemed a bit strange to me since the mayor and a police detective had both attended the party. I read somewhere that they both died there, but I didn't believe it. My friend would have told me.
But what if something had happened to him? Was he ok? These thoughts swirled in my head as I went out to check my mailbox. I grabbed the paper from the mailbox and headed back towards my house. I absent-mindedly flipped through the mail – most of it being junk mail or bills – until I saw something that caught my eye.
Invitation to the reopening of the mansion
Saturday at 6 P.M.
Can't wait to see you there – Mark
So he was ok? Clearly, he had to be alright if he was sending out invitations for a party this Saturday. I messaged him once I got back inside.
I'm back home. I just got your invitation. How are you?
I waited a few moments, but I didn't get a response. I couldn't help but feel nervous. Something weird was going on.
Saturday finally rolled around. I tried to fill my day with activity to keep from becoming anxious, but it didn't work. My impatience only grew. It felt like two days had passed by the time six o'clock rolled around. I picked my best outfit and left for the party.
The mansion was just as I remembered it. Bold, stately, and aesthetic. The sky was turning dark as I stepped out of my car. Other guests were arriving. There were a lot of people here. Did he know all these people? Do I know them? Who are they?
I reached the entrance to the mansion. A man was posted outside the door, making sure everyone had an invitation. I quickly pulled mine out and showed it to him when it was my turn to go inside.
The mansion was abuzz with people. Light lit the room with a yellow illumination, and airy music floated throughout the house. I looked around nervously. I didn't want to just stop right here at the entrance. It looked like most of the people were in the living room. Since I lacked any real confidence in myself, I went to the living room too.
I didn't recognize anyone here. Where was my friend? As I walked through the crowd I heard snippets of conversations.
"It's a shame what happened to that detective..."
"...I just can't believe the mayor was there!"
"What was that poor girl doing there anyway? What was her name again? Selene?"
"...I hope that nasty colonel is found!!"
What the hell had happened at that party?
The music was suddenly silenced. Everyone hushed. We all waited expectantly for our host to make an appearance.
"Hello, everybody," a dark voice from above addressed. There he was. Standing just before the stairs, looking over the banister at the crowd. But something was different about him. I wasn't sure if it was just time, or if he had really changed. "My name is Mark," a slight pause, "but I think you all knew that. I bet you're wondering why I chose to have this party after all that has happened. The death of the mayor, the brave detective, and my dear friend, Selene." Another pause. "I wanted to be the example of moving forward. We can't stay slaves to grief and the past. We need to move on, become stronger. I, more than anyone, know how horrible this year has been, but I won't let that drag me down. We must keep going. We must be strong. If not for me, for the ones who had their precious lives cut short." He held a solemn but firm look. As applause echoed around the room, his eyes landed on me just for a moment.
This was wrong. I don't know why or how. It just was. This wasn't my friend I once knew. He wasn't like this. No, something had happened. Something had changed. I looked back up, but he was gone. He must've gone down into the crowd.
I suddenly felt something on my shoulder and jumped. A warm chuckle. It was just him. I relaxed and turned around.
"I'm glad to see you're back," he said to me. "Although I think all this travel has made you more uptight."
I managed a smile. "I guess it has."
"I'm glad you came. And I'm glad you're back. I have a good feeling about the future. Something big is coming."
The way he said that phrase sent chills up my spine. "I can't wait," I lied.
"Neither can I," he said with a sly smile. "I'll see you around."
It sounded less like a dismissal and more like foreboding promise. I nodded as he moved back into the crowd.
I didn't see him for the rest of the night. I tried to make formal conversations with the people there, but I couldn't. I had this deep feeling in my stomach as if something bad was about to happen. Something big.
That night, I dreamt that someone was trying to warn me of something, but I couldn't hear them. All I could see was red and blue.