The Party

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The party at Ray’s mansion probably would never have happened if his father hadn’t been away on business when the quarantine started.

The keg was in the downstairs kitchen, near the front of the house, and that room seemed to be getting the majority of the attention. Originally, the party had only consisted of friends from Ray’s high school, but naturally things escalated, as they always do, and as they always should, and now almost all seventeen rooms of the first floor were filled.

“I have to say, it’s looking pretty good, Jeeves,” Ray said to his butler, whose name was not Jeeves, but actually Milton. Ray was a nickname guy. He loved dishing out nicknames.

“I agree,” Milton nodded, “though I have to say, we should have taken more precautions to work within the quarantine. The government doesn’t want anybody outside, and all of the attention might—”

“Puh-leez, Jeeves. We’re up in the hills. The plague is nowhere even close to us!” Ray laughed. “Nobody’s going to find out. Not even my father.”

Milton always helped out whenever Ray threw a party. Milton was sworn to secrecy, and had been ever since Ray was nine years old. Ray paid him an extra fifty dollars a month to keep his secrets safe, which Milton did happily. This past year, that fee had bumped up to eighty dollars a month, but it was still nothing but pocket change to Ray. Really, though, this party was going to be an enormous mess. Ray liked the idea of making a mess, especially without his father finding out. The bigger the chaos he could cause and get away with, the more exciting!

Milton commented, “The attendance is easily three times what we anticipated.” His eyes were shifting between the keg in the kitchen and the people dancing to music in one of the living rooms.

Ray slapped him on the shoulder. “You say that like it’s a bad thing. I wouldn’t expect any less than this, especially with everyone tired of being cooped up with the whole ‘plague’ thing. Honestly, I think that the state-wide quarantine is a huge overreaction.”

Milton nodded, still looking perturbed. “I’ll go check on the refreshments. The, erm, jungle juice was running a bit low last I saw.”

“Sweet, I’ll go score some chicks,” Ray said, slapping him on the shoulder again before they parted ways.

Ray passed through the living room, which was alive with electronic music and people jumping around like perfectly wonderful madmen. In the dining room, eight people were smoking a joint around the table, which only would have mattered if Milton hadn’t remembered to turn off the smoke detectors all around the house. Satisfied with how everything looked, Ray squeezed into the kitchen, where somebody was doing an excellent keg stand.

He watched from beside two stunning girls, who were both dressed for success, as Ray always liked to say. “You two enjoying the party?”

“Yeah,” one of the girls said, her eyes on the guy held over the keg, and man, he was still going, wasn’t he? That’s one heck of a good keg stand.

“You own this place?” the other girl asked Ray.

“Yeah, that’s right,” he grinned. “Nice spot, isn’t it?”

One of the girls was about to respond when Milton came scampering into the room, drawing everybody’s attention. “Raymond, I’m afraid we have a problem.”

Ray rolled his eyes. “What?” Ugh, and he was just in the middle of scoring chicks! Milton really had no class, did he?

Milton grabbed him by the arm, pulling him back into the hall. “This is serious. I’ve just been told that somebody is in the bathroom covered in boils! The plague! It’s gotten into the mansion!”

Ray rolled his eyes again, because he knew that Milton hated when he did that. “Did you see this person covered in boils? I bet it was just somebody messing with you. It was a joke!”

“I listened at the door,” Milton insisted. “I could hear them vomiting!”

Ray laughed. “Vomiting?” he repeated in a mocking tone. “This is a party! Somebody drank too much, that’s all. I’m surprised that’s the first person to puke, even. You need to turn it down a notch or two, Jeeves. You’re busting the vibe.”

“If the plague is in the mansion, we need to take immediate—”

The rest of Milton’s words were drowned out by the thumping bass in the living room, because Ray had started to walk away. “It’s fine!” he called as he went around the corner.

Before he made it to the living room, he heard somebody screaming near the front door. Ray caught a glimpse of Milton making a run for it. Geeze, maybe he needed to take it down three notches. But then Ray watched a crowd pouring up the hallway, all frightened or appalled. He had to move closer and see what was going on.

But Milton appeared and pushed him backwards. “Raymond! Stop! The plague is in the mansion! I’m telling you, it’s true! Two young ladies just collapsed on the doorstep! And everybody outside—”

“Well who was it, then?” Ray demanded. “If somebody brought the plague into my home, then I want to know who! Find me that guy in the bathroom! Get me his name and I’ll teach him a lesson!”

“There’s no time!” Milton argued. It was just like Milton to argue, even though he knew that Ray hated taking his advice. “The front entrance must be closed! This section of the mansion must be sealed off! Move everybody to the back!”

“Okaaaaaaay,” Ray said, waving his hands at his ears to prove how little he cared. “But when people pile up at the front door, you’re going to have to be the one that tells them to come around back.”

“I’m not going out there!” Milton exclaimed. “For goodness sake, I could be infected already! I would insist on evacuating the entire mansion if I didn’t know already that you’d refuse!”

Across the hall, somebody was screaming. Ray had to roll his eyes again, only to mask his uneasiness. “Aight Jeeves, here’s what you’ll do. You block off this area, put some signs up or something, close some doors, and I’ll tell the people to move towards the back of the house. Ugh, and we’ll have to move the whole sound system. Go and spray some disinfectant around here, or something.”

Milton looked unconvinced. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Ray scratched his head. “A quarantine inside a quarantine.” It didn’t sound right.

Milton was sprinting up the stairs before Ray had even registered that he’d started moving. Ugh, Ray was only a couple beers deep, but he got the feeling that he’d need a few more if this problem didn’t resolve itself quickly.

He went into the kitchen to make the announcement that some lemur-brained idiot brought the plague into the mansion, but the moment he was in the room, somebody pointed at him and yelled, “Ay, birthday boy wants to do a keg stand, right?”

This wasn’t actually a birthday party, but Ray didn’t care enough to correct him. And hey, he was just thinking that he needed to be more drunk, so obviously he agreed. Although in the end, it was a pretty pitiful keg stand, only about eleven seconds, probably because he felt a little out of breath from all of Milton’s craziness. People cheered for Ray either way, because why shouldn’t they?

He’s forgotten why he’d come into the kitchen in the first place, so he went back out in the hall just in time to see some grotesque creature hobbling down the hall, covered in boils and drooling green fluid from the corner of his mouth. Milton was just behind him, wearing a gas mask and coating him with a thick spray of disinfectant. In the living room, the pulsating music was starting to get drowned out by the commotion of people scattering.

The infected guy collapsed on the ground, having some sort of fit, and Milton stepped around him, prying the gas mask off. “It’s spreading, Raymond! We have to get out of here! The mansion is lost!”

“The party is not lost!” Ray said. “Keep spraying that disinfectant!”

“This spray is for household bacteria! It’s almost certainly useless! We all know that there’s no known cure for the plague!”

A girl dripping with all sorts of fluids came hobbling out of the bathroom, and Ray leapt backwards, disgusted. “Get away from me! Get out of my house! You heard me! Get out of here!”

The girl scarcely seemed to hear him, and she started to hobble towards the kitchen. Even though her face had boils all over, she still had a nice butt, Ray noticed. He turned back to Milton. “Just close some doors or something. That’s all that a quarantine really is, right? Just some closed doors.”

Milton shook his head desperately. “If you won’t end this party, then our only choice is for us to leave ourselves!”

“Ridiculous!” Ray shrieked. “You’re out of your mind if you think that I’d end a party prematurely! I’d be a laughing stock once the schools reopen! No! No! I refuse to let this party end! Get some more disinfectant! I demand it!”

Somebody above them toppled over the banister and fell with a peculiar splat. Ray hadn’t noticed when it happened, but the music had turned off. “Who shut the music off!? Argh, this is turning into a disaster!”

“I agree wholeheartedly!” Milton said, but he said it defiantly.

Ray stormed into the living room, which was entirely emptied save two people twitching in the corner. He flicked the stereo back on, and the music roared back to life. As the bass pressed against him, Ray muttered to himself, “The party will not end. I will not fail.” He turned back to the hall. “Jeeves!” he called, but he was unheard.

When Ray marched back out to the front hallway, Milton was pouring out the disinfectant onto a guy who seemed like he had deflated. The front door had been left open, but the Ray refused to close it, because the doorknob was covered in a thick layer of mucus.

Milton had his gas mask back on, muffling his voice. “Most of the guests are leaving out the back door.”

“Stop them!” Ray screeched. “Stop them this instant! The party is not over!”

He sprinted through the kitchen, nearly slipping on the beer-slick floor. He stumbled around the corner, feeling lightheaded, from the alcohol, of course, not some slimy little sickness, and he practically launched himself at the guests that were scampering out the back door. “Stop! Stop!” Ray called at them.

But they weren’t stopping. Even the few people that Ray actually recognized from school were ignoring him, squeezing out the door like they were being pressed through a meat processor.

“Stop!” Ray screamed.

He looked down at his hand and saw a reddish bump forming on his palm.

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