Photo by Eyasu Etsub on Unsplash



David Pucsek

Mr. Red thrust the cue in the direction of the white ball, he completely missed it. The superb champagne that he consumed in huge quantities was already working on him. It was his opponent’s turn on the pool table, but he didn’t care. This was his house, his banquet, and he didn’t even know the girl in the witch costume. He shoved her away, she lost her footing and fell into the crowd, which swallowed her as they danced to the bass-rich music. Red took another shot, and this time he did hit the ball, the problem was that it crashed into the side of the table, flying off in the direction of Uncle Paul.

Uncle Paul was not wearing a costume, but he was the ghastliest of all the attendants. The prehistoric bear left his mortal coil centuries ago and was missing his skin and flesh now. Red paid five hundred thousand dollars for him after he got into a bidding war with Nicolas Cage. Red kept the skeleton around to showcase his love for the bizarre and grotesque, just next to a beautiful antique clock that served the same purpose. As it happened, the ball hit Uncle Paul in the right eye socket and knocked him over. Mr. Red’s face turned crimson with rage, and he broke the cue on the side of the table. Some of the attendants turned just in time to see the skeleton shatter to pieces, but most were too caught up in dancing, drinking, snorting, gambling, or getting laid. 

He hosted a great party amidst this pandemic because he was bored. He invited two hundred people for entertainment, yet it seemed, he was the only one who was not having any fun. Alfred, his butler was standing next to him, Red hired him for exactly the reasons you are thinking, as always Alfred was not moved in the slightest by his master’s rage. That’s why Red loved him. 

“Alfred, fucking get to work, and clean up Uncle Paul!” he shouted, despite the man already moving to do it. 

“Yes, sir,” he said in his quiet, yet clear voice. 

Red reached for a glass of champagne, and gulped it down, sitting on the pool table. 

“How do you wish to dispose of the remains, sir?” the butler asked. Red stopped to think for a few seconds. 

“I have a great idea, get a shovel, Alfred.”

They went out onto the golf course, Alfred carrying the shovel and the bone fragments in a bag. At hole thirteen, Red told Alfred to dig. And he did. 

“Uncle Paul deserves the rest after so many long years of servitude, don’t you think Alfred?” He knew better than to answer. 

“Wait, don’t bury him yet. I have to piss,” he said as he unzipped his pants to relieve himself on the remains. “There goes five hundred thousand.” 

He left the butler there and started walking back to the mansion. He saw a car just outside the gate of the estate, he had the security staff to deal with such things, he felt empty and bored, so he decided to investigate.

It was a police car; the officer was stood in front of it. They knew each other. 

“Good evening, Johnny,” Red welcomed him. 

“Good evening, Mr. Red. I’m here because…” he couldn’t finish. 

“You’re here because you heard I was hosting a masquerade, isn’t that right? You are already dressed as a policeman, so feel free to come in,” he said half-jokingly. 

“In part, it’s the reason. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, I think I’ll have to stop the party, it is a public health hazard and it’s not a small event either,” he said, but he was sweating. 

“You sure you don’t want to come in instead? We have some of the stuff you like. You know, the white one,” Red said with a victorious smile. 

The officer looked down. “Yeah, I should come in, to make sure, everything is all right, and you are not contributing to the spreading of the virus,” he said reluctantly. 

“That’s what I’m talking about, Officer Johnny!” Red opened the gate, and they walked back together.

“What the fuck happened here?” the officer asked as they passed the pool? Red turned to take a look and noticed big red stains on the ground. Blood? 

“The fuck…” Red said, and once again he was filled with rage. He didn’t need a police investigation, so he was hoping for the sake of the person, who left the streak, that he was not about to die. He would kill him again if he did. The two men looked at each other and followed the blood. It led right through the door and continued on the exquisite marble floor. The great clock began to toll the midnight hour. The blood led to a figure’s feet, the figure was gaunt and tall, they walked deeper and deeper into the mansion, lengthening the trail of blood. An unexplainable terror took hold of Mr. Red, and he knew the others felt it as well. Everyone gazed at the horrifying costume. The person must have stood on stilts, they wore black rags, which undulated unnaturally in the air like an otherworldly wind was blowing them. A mask hid their face, it was a woman’s visage, perfect and white as porcelain, yet somehow it looked dead, blood oozing from the eyes. And there was nothing behind the eye slits, just darker than the black, deep abyss. 

The anger of Mr. Red proved to be stronger than his fear. 

“Who… Who are you? Asshole…” he stammered.

The last word was meant to be offensive, but it could be hardly heard, as his voice died. The figure didn’t pay him any attention they just continued at a slow but steady pace towards to stairs. No one dared to stand in its way. The music stopped, no one whispered a word. Only the perfectly spaced tick-tocks of the antique clock could be heard, which was standing at the base of the staircase. Red loved the clock, he bought it for a large sum of money, he couldn’t remember how much. He could never explain why he felt the need to have it in his home. It stuck out like a sore thumb, along with Uncle Paul, and a few other things, from the otherwise minimalist décor of his mansion. But now the toll of the clock made him feel uneasy like his time was running out. Finally, he was able to break the shackles of terror and went after the figure. 

“You overdid your costume buddy,” Red said as he reached for the black robes.

A puff could be heard, like when a gust of wind extinguishes a candle. When Red grabbed the figure’s shoulder it crumpled and then exploded into a cloud of fine dust, Red fell back. The whole figure disappeared as if it were vapor. 

“What the actual fuck? Red exclaimed. 

The white dust settled on him, as he fell to the floor. A few seconds passed before he realized he couldn’t breathe, he squirmed around on the ground, as some guests rushed over trying to help him, while others started fleeing in every direction. Mr. Red’s heart gave out, as the antique clock stroked midnight. Its sound sent a chill down the spine of every guest, and the ones trying to help Red got up and fled. Johnny, the police officer ran for his life. The flames of the candle’s died, no sound could be heard anymore, the expensive cars wouldn’t start, only the electric ones rolled a few meters, before crashing into each other, the mansion, or just slowly grinding to a halt, as the drivers suffocated. People buckled and fell on the golf course; Alfred was among them, still clutching the shovel as he lied on the ground. Some of the guests who fled in other directions, even made it to the fence, as they climbed over they blacked out breaking their necks or dashing their brains across the ground. A swarm of crows tried passing over the estate, but they fell out of the sky, becoming red specks on the ground. 

Then there was no one standing next to the antique clock anymore, heaps of partygoers lay dead across the opulent den, the air was filled with the scent of death, the sounds came back, dogs barked in the distance, the birds sang on the nearby trees, a car passed on the road, not so far away. But the clock never ticked again.      

Leave a Reply