For as long as I could remember, I've been super obsessed with music. I've come across so many songs that, in this choir game where you have to think of multiple songs that have an assigned word in it, a lot of people wanted to be on the same team as me.
There is something that makes me feel out of place within music, though: a lot of the songs I actually like are either underrated or older. Now, don't get me wrong, of course the songs of recent catch my ears after being repeated on most radio stations so many times and being played everywhere I turned. However, I don't really connect to those songs as much as I've connected to songs that feel more down to earth, like "Chasing Cars" or "The Reason", which are two of the reasons I feel glad that variety stations existed. There were other songs as of recent that are more down-to-earth in lyrical atmosphere that play on other stations, but not on the most known stations, (songs like "Battleships" and "Happy Little Pill"). I've always been the kind of person that speculated that parties and radio stations play the same songs over and over or alienated music (at least to me) because they would swallow their pride if they were to put on more meaningful jams. As of this day, looking back, I am still amazed that my speculations were half right.
I still can't believe how calm it all started coming into my view. I was nineteen and spring break had just started at my college. I searched online for subtle references I could use for a poem I was writing. I felt my phone vibrate briefly and checked to see that I got a text. It was from my high school best friend, Elisa. I haven't heard from her in ages, so I was pretty excited on the inside. At that point, I've tried making contact with a lot of people I've known from high school, but I haven't heard much. The last messages I've got from them, though, mentioned that they were all heading over to some parties (like average college students that got overexcited), so I just figured that they were trying to deal with some possible issues caused by intoxication and they needed some space for a while. I looked at the text and didn't hesitate to go on.
"Hey, Joe is having a party at his place. Wanna come?"For the next few days, I'd been thinking of songs that would make good suggestions, yet I felt slightly sinister, in a silly sort of way, about the idea of choosing songs that would have guests be tricked into jamming to something that actually contains meaning, depth, or history. I hadn't been to a party in a long time by then, so once I emailed the suggestions to Joe (still had the email address from when we were in groups for a class project in middle school), I had my fingers crossed when he responded that he'd put them in the playlist.
"Depends. When is it?"
"Anything I should bring? Don't count on me to drink if anyone brings a keg. Lol"
"Don't worry. You, particularly, would definitely need to think of some song suggestions, tho."
"OMG, cool, I'll jot down some ideas right away."
It was Friday night and I found Elisa on her way to the front door. She squealed as she approached me and I felt my cheeks hurting from grinning. We both hugged for a while and I found myself rubbing her back to take a slight notice of the fact that it was cold, along with her hands on my back. At the time, I decided against saying anything about it, in case it had to do with something personal, but, looking back, in comparison, the night was warm enough to make me think of running around in a grass field under the stars.
As we both walked in, I saw that there were a bunch of people jumping around and hanging out, which included some of the people I knew that I had trouble getting a hold of. As we were all reuniting and hugging, I still felt a chill on the bodies I was embracing. I'd brush it off like beforehand, but dances and parties, at least from my experiences, tend to leave people exhausted and feeling humid. I kept it as a mental note and found Joe.
"Hey, I was worried you wouldn't be here, Mo."
"Thought I'd see if the energy gets into me this time."
"Well, you'll definitely enjoy tonight. I've got a bunch of songs on my playlist, your suggestions included, and they're on shuffle, so they can take you by surprise."
I looked at his Spotify playlist and saw that he was right. Along with a bunch of songs I wasn't exactly familiar with and the most overplayed songs I could think of, some songs like "You Can't Stop The Beat" and "Wake Up Everybody" were on the list. Joe set up the next song of the playlist and went over to a huge pile of pillows where a bunch of other guests did a pillow fight. As for me, I went to the snack table to grab a cup of Dr. Pepper mixed with Orange Crush and wandered around a bit to see whom I could find. I was never that much of a social butterfly growing up, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try to strike a conversation and maybe even find out why some of my friends hadn't called or texted me to let me know if they were alright.
The music was loud and, as I tried throughout the evening, conversation seemed a bit difficult. I got a few words out of some people, but, before they spoke, they gave me a look that simultaneously made them look confused and panicked, earlier they seemed fine just dancing and jumping around in their groups. Everyone else seemed too busy dancing or cheering to actually talk to one another, but I just passed it off as people getting too into the atmosphere. There were some songs that made me tap my foot a couple of times and I did smile slightly when I heard "Backseat Serenade" midway through the party, but the rest of the time, it just felt like I was hearing every song on the playlist except for the down-to-earth jams, whether they were slow or fast paced.
I headed toward the speakers to check on the playlist, but I turned my head toward a group of people body rolling and laughing near a speaker. The air around them felt like the freezer section of a grocery store. I walked up to someone in the group and tapped her shoulder in an attempt to ask if it was too loud. She didn't acknowledge it and I felt that her shoulder was getting colder every time I tapped it. I looked over to the speaker and saw that there was mist between the speaker and the group. My glasses were clean and nothing was burning, so I kept that as a mental note, no matter how much I wanted to find out about it straight away.
I noticed that my cup was empty, so I went to get some decaffeinated soda just in case some of the sugar was messing with my head. I walked a few steps and sat on some nearby stairs. Fortunately, when it comes to the crave for music, I always came prepared. I guess I never really had faith deep down that some music I really enjoyed was going to play anyway. I pulled my iPod out of my pocket, stuck my earbuds in to hear "You and Me" by Lifehouse, and as the instrumental intro calmed me down a little, I saw a friend, Stephen, quickly walking toward me, which was funny since he seemed too busy dancing to talk before.
"Why so down, Mo? We're all dancing to music right here!" he shouted.
"I wanted to get back to my branch of enjoyment!" I shouted a retort.
He looked down at my iPod to see what song I was listening to and said, "That's too slow!"
"So is 'You and I' but you enjoy it!" I said, in the hopes that his enjoyment of One Direction would make him listen to reason.
"Come on, party pooper!" He responded with a laugh and ignorance to my prior comment. As he was about to pull me up by the arm, his fingers felt chilly and I quickly made an excuse of needing to go to the bathroom first, before I ran off.
I locked myself in the bathroom, and as I was sitting against the bathroom door, I was trying to process everything that had happened:
- A bunch of people felt cold to the touch.
- Their main focus was the music and dancing.
- There was mist that seemed to be flowing from some dancers to the speakers.
- Every song has played on the playlist apart from the more meaningful ones.
- Stephen, who was so wrapped up in dancing, tried to get me on the dance floor as soon as I was listening to calmer music.
- And he even ignored my statement about the One Direction song he requested not playing.
I needed to relax before a possible heart attack would occur. I took a deep breath, put my earbuds back in, and changed the song on my iPod to the stripped version of "Witness". I remembered putting the song on repeat as I was lying on the bathroom floor, and felt the sense of security overtake me as I slowly closed my eyes.
The next time I opened my eyes, I looked out the bathroom window and saw dark clouds in the sky. I checked the time on my phone, which was in my other pocket. 6:45 AM. As soon as I got up and stretched my back, I unlocked the bathroom door and found that it was quiet on the other side of the door. I slowly turned the knob, opened the door, and noticed a bunch of people were lying down in different places. I passed it off with the idea that they all got a little crazy and did multiple antics before they passed out. I heard some groaning in some rooms and no groaning in others.
I walked into one of the bedrooms to see Elisa passed out with her face on the floor. I crouched down and turned her over to her side in case she got sick. When I went to check her pulse, I think I felt my heart drop. Her pulse wasn't there at all and she still had that chilling feeling in her body. I got out my phone and called 911. When asked about the emergency, I frantically stated that there was a party the prior night, and my friend's pulse was gone, and that I wasn't sure if anyone else collapsed were without a pulse as well. I guess the tone in my voice alerted the person of how scared I was because I was instantly told to not leave the house and that help was on the way. The moment the person hung up, I was midway down the stairs and found myself hyperventilating. I gripped onto the railing so hard, I think I left dents in them.
I heard a knock on the door, opened it, and saw an officer at the threshold. When he came in the house, he looked around a bit.
"Don't worry. Just explain to me what happened."
"I-I don't know. Everyone around here was enjoying this party and I locked myself in the bathroom to sleep on the floor."
"Well, try to relax and I'll get you some answers soon."
I looked out the window of the living room to calm down as he walked around the house. After a few more minutes, the officer walked back over to me.
"Are you aware that a number of these people have the exact resemblance to some corpses that mysteriously disappeared from some death scenes after some past police investigations?"
"W-what? That can't be. Sure most of the people felt cold, but that has to be a coincidence. R-right?"
The officer looked down at his notes and I just twiddled my fingers.
"W-were the death scenes connected in some way?"
"I can't say for certain, but they did occur in the aftermaths of multiple parties over the past few months."
Silence filled the room for a while, but it was broken by the sound of the speaker playing and, in Elisa's voice, the chorus of "Shake It Off" singing slowly.