TW: graphic violence
“Alright,” Julia sighed, shaking her head, “who put Margaret Thatcher’s cum drenched pussy pipe?”
No one raised their hand. No one needed to. They all turned to look at Marcus who cracked from the glares and smirked.
“I should’ve known,” Julia said, handing him the black card. “Well done.”
Marcus added it to his collection and then held the five cards together in the air triumphantly.
“I guess that means I win again,” he said
The group groaned and shuffled the cards back together. Mary grumbled about not being able to use Daniel Radcliffe’s delicious asshole and then the game was over.
“Alright,” Marcus declared loudly, trying to keep the group awake. “What are we playing next?”
Leon went to make a suggestion but Pat quickly shut the idea down.
“Uh, uh, dickweed,” he said, Julia’s head bobbing on his shoulder as he spoke. “We already played your weird game with the candles and it was boring as shit. You don’t get another suggestion”
“Please don’t call my brother dickweed,” Julia said as she slipped her hand under Pat’s shirt and massaged his chest. “That’s a really gross mental image. Dipshit fits him so much better. Pat does have a point though Leon, I mean what were you hoping to accomplish by boring us all to death?”
“I think he was just trying to get Mary scared so he could bore her to death if you know what I mean!” Marcus added, thrusting his hips back and forth until everyone was staring at him.
“I meant he wants to fuck her,” Marcus explained.
“Yeah, we got it.”
Leon and Mary awkwardly looked near each other while the fire crackled.
It was Pat’s birthday and he had decided to jam his closest friends, and Leon, together into the flat’s living room to celebrate. The party had lasted for a few hours but when noise control had arrived the majority of the herd had migrated to town. All that remained were the core members of the group, trying to entertain themselves. The night was going to get lighter before it got darker but the group was determined to stay up as long as they could.
Pat had brought in a seat from the kitchen and put Julia on his lap in front of the fireplace, rationing their warmth and overseeing the others. Mary was on their left, curled into one corner of the couch and playing with her hair. Marcus took up the other side, leaning against the couch with his legs stretched out on the ground in front of him. Leon had decided he was fine with sitting on the floor, so long as he was opposite Mary.
No one else was in the room.
“I guess we could just call it a night,” Julia sighed, rubbing her fingers against Pat’s thigh and hoping he’d take the hint.
“Or we could play truth or dare,” he replied, failing. “That’s always worth a couple of rounds”
“I’ll go first!” Marcus said, raising his hand and then pointing it at Mary. “Tell us the truth, Mary. Why is your nose bleeding?”
A look of shock spread across her face like she’d just felt something breathe on it, then she wiped the blood away.
“Dude that’s not how the game works, you actually have to ask them ‘truth or dare’,” said Pat.
“I know how to play Pat, this isn’t rocket surgery.”
“I guess it’s my turn,” Mary said, grasping the momentum of the game before it slipped. “Leon, truth or dare?”
“Truth,” said Leon. He could barely be heard over the fireplace.
“Pussy!” Pat coughed, disguising the word poorly. “Ugh sorry about that, I have a cold. You almost couldn’t hear me call you a pussy.”
Everyone but Leon and Mary laughed. Julia stopped when Leon looked at her, but there was little that she could do. No one wanted to deal with Pat when no one was laughing at his jokes.
“Why did you come here tonight Leon?” Mary asked. She wouldn’t admit it to herself but she was hoping it would be her.
Leon shrugged, “Mostly just to piss off Pat.”
“It’s working,” he replied.
“Come on you guys, we don’t have rulers short enough for you guys to start measuring dicks,” said Julia.
“Marcus, truth or dare?” she asked, deflecting the tension.
“It’s not your turn,” Marcus frowned.
“Answer the question, Marcus,” Pat affirmed. He was talking to Marcus but Leon couldn’t shake the feeling that he was the one who was getting threatened. Marcus opted for a dare.
“I dare you to punch dickweed in the face.”
Marcus looked at Leon. He’d never done anything to him but a dare is a dare. Marcus raised his fist right next to Leon’s head. Leon squinted and braced himself for the blow but when Marcus let his fist fly, it only hit his shoulder. It was still painful, likely to leave a mark, but a much better alternative than where it had been headed. The group laughed but it didn’t stop Pat from making a mental note to make the next dare target Marcus.
The game continued for a while. The boys and Julia picked dare. Leon and Mary picked truth, asking each other questions back and forth until Pat grew quiet under the glow of the fire. Julia noticed and said she was going outside to feed the dog, hoping Pat would follow after. They had been putting off a necessary talk for a long time. He didn’t follow.
Marcus watched her as she stood in the kitchen and took a pitcher of gravy out of the fridge, heating it in the microwave. When it was done she calmly poured the warm liquid over her forearm and then went out into the backyard where Rufus the Rottweiler was waiting for her.
With Julia gone, the five remaining players continued.
“Maybe we should call it a night; I’m not feeling too good,” said Marcus
“Games not over till I say it’s over Marcus,” Pat said. “Truth or dare?”
“Ugh, fine …” Marcus mumbled, “dare.”
“I dare you to finish the rest of your beers in the next five minutes,” said Pat
The part of Marcus that was usually very aware of his personal limits was strangely quiet. Marcus burped and then pulled the bottles closer, knocking them back.
“Don’t do it if you don’t want to, Marcus,” Mary said, resting a hand on his shoulder.
“Oh, so you’re just playing everyone now aren’t you?” said Pat.
Mary pulled back her hand. She wasn’t really sure why.
“Truth or dare Leon?” Asked Marcus, finishing the first half of the beers and wondering where he could find more.
“Dare,” Leon found himself deciding. “Why not?”
“Alright,” said Marcus, laughing, “I dare you to make out with Mary.”
It was quite a standard dare all things considered, but it put the whole room on edge. They all stared at each other, wondering if the fuse would be lit and who would be the one to do it. Leon respected what he assumed were Mary’s wishes and turned the dare down. She appreciated the notion, walking to the other side of the room and giving him a peck on the cheek for his troubles. Leon counted it. Pat did not. Marcus was too busy responding to messages asking about what was standing behind him to notice.
Marcus had finished his last beer and the room was getting fuzzy. He was starting to see things that weren’t really there. Something compelled him to continue drinking and he walked into the kitchen, returning with a half bottle of vodka he had found and pouring some into a glass.
Leon asked Pat next and was surprised to hear “Truth.” Leon felt like he shouldn’t ask him … but he did anyway. There was a smear of blood on his sleeve.
“I want you to tell us if you miss your ex.”
Even Marcus dropped his grin, though of course he already knew the answer. There were a lot of things he knew about Pat that he had promised to keep quiet.
“You’re not going to like the answer to that,” said Pat. Leon held his stare.
Pat took his time. That was fine. They had all the time they needed.
“I’m happy with your sister,” Pat said, feeling out the letters passing his lips “That’s gonna surprise you, but it’s true. I’m happy with my ex too though. I’m pretty sure Julia already knows and I think part of her knows that’s why this works. Someday we’ll talk about it though, and that’ll be when things end.”
Marcus had finished the bottle of vodka and was looking out the window to see why Julia hadn’t come back in yet. She was sitting there, holding her gravy-soaked arm in front of Rufus and smacking his nose every time he tried to lick it. She had become more violent with each attempt until Rufus was trying to pull her arm off. Once the teeth were sunk in deep enough, she stopped struggling and went along for the ride. Marcus went to find more alcohol and staggered into the kitchen, only to find that there was now more alcohol in his bloodstream than anywhere else in the flat.
“I really think I’m going to miss you guys when I move to Auckland,” Mary admitted after she had selected truth. “My dad says you’re all going to hell but that’s okay ’cause I don’t love him anymore anyway. Maybe I could help you guys out sometime though, just in case he’s right. Can I do that? Can I just dare all of us to be better people?”
“Nah,” Marcus said, smashing the empty vodka bottle against the couch and sucking on the fragments. “It’s against the rules, you got to do one person at a time.”
He was right. It was against the rules.
Mary sighed and her strength failed as she slipped into a slumber. After only a few minutes had passed she awoke again in a daze, rubbing her head against her palm. She looked across the room with weary eyes and then widened them suddenly, leaping to her feet and pointing at the wall, screaming that something was there.
She shook the shoulders of the other players but they didn’t seem to care. After a while, she decided to slam herself into the ceiling to calm herself down. Both of them came away dented but it helped her feel better. Mary climbed back over to her seat on the couch and gently pushed the broken chunk of her skull back into position. She took a few deep breaths to recover while Marcus rubbed her knee in support. Eventually, she managed to hold a crooked smile and stopped blinking away tears. Not long after, she stopped blinking at all.
Pat grew tired of talking across the room and pulled his chair closer to Leon.
“All right dickweed, It’s your turn,” he said. “I dare you to break one of my fingers”
They briefly argued the parameters, the whole time expecting Leon to chicken out. Then, Leon grabbed Pat’s pinkie finger and wrenched it back and forth until it was separated entirely. Pat was impressed. Leon asked Marcus next, who had to change his answer to truth after spending five minutes trying to stand up again on numb limbs.
The last remaining players seemed to have forgotten the rules and didn’t ask Marcus a question. They just let him speak whatever truth he wanted to. Marcus took his time, clumsily pouring the last bottle of alcohol he could find and licking any spilled drops up off the ground. This included the drops that had fallen into the pile of blood that was seeping out from the couch beside his head. It was still left over from where Mary’s corpse had been dragged off into the darkness.
“I don’t actually like you that much Pat,” Marcus admitted as he wiped his chin. “The only reason I still hang around you is ‘cause people are really scared of you and think I might be like, the last chance for you? Like when people look back at serial killers and they’re not surprised that the weirdo snapped and you wonder why they never said anything while they had the chance. I don’t want to be the person who didn’t do anything.”
Pat poked the ashes in the fireplace while Marcus finished drinking the house cleaner that had been sitting under the sink. It was the only thing he could find in the house that still had alcohol in it. Once finished, he began hurling the cocktail back onto the floor through his burning, twisted throat. They sat in silence, save for the sound of Julia being tossed around outside.
The game continued between Pat and Leon. They dared each other over and over again to hurt the other until pieces of them were dismantled and scattered across the floor. Eventually, they grew tired, leaning against the couch where Marcus had once been and agreeing on truths rather than dares.
“I don’t know who I’m supposed to be,” Leon said, holding his exposed ribs in his remaining fingers. “I mean I wouldn’t even be here at this party if I wasn’t just piggybacking off my sister’s popularity and trying to look important. You have no idea how lonely I get. I used to go into depression chat rooms to try and reassure myself there were more pathetic people in the world than me but … I didn’t find them.”
The fire was dead. The sky was getting brighter. Pat and Leon decided to call it a night. They had made a lot of progress together in such a small space of time that Leon decided to give one last dare to cement their newfound friendship. Pat laughed at the request. There was nothing that would make him happier than what Leon had just dared him to do. He obeyed and then pulled the little brat into his arms.
“I really appreciated you opening up tonight buddy,” Pat said, holding him “You ever want to talk to me, know that I’m here for you.”
When the police arrived, Leon was hanging from Pat’s hands, his face blue and his eyes bulging as the light left them. Pat continued holding Leon exactly as he had requested until his empty body collapsed on the ground.
Pat gave them a puzzled look.
“I think you’re wasting your time here officers,” he said, dropping the body. “Noise control has already been. I turned the music off hours ago.”