“Chug, chug, chug,” Ananya heard a chorus of frat-boy voices cheer as she entered the mansion. Some Chad or Kyle was upside-down on a keg in the middle of the lawn trying to prove his bravado.
She craned her neck searching for Mira and Riya in a gaggle of girls and spotted them at the same time they spotted her.
“Heeyyyyy,” said Mira in a sing-song voice. She was clearly drunk.
“Don’t you look hot!” Riya exclaimed, hugging her tightly.
Ananya looked around with a grin. Her favourite frat house always threw some amazing parties. And she loved to be the centre of attention at all of them.
Grabbing a drink in one of the red solo cups she swept a casual glance trying to find her man-candy of the moment. Adi was, of course, in the corner, making out with a scantily clad girl. Ananya had to roll her eyes. How typical of him. But she was sure that once she made her presence known, Adi would forget about everyone else.
The music thumped loudly all around her and the air hung thick with the smell of weed. A girl next to her closed her eyes with a sigh as the tiny strip of acid melted on her tongue.
A rager indeed.
She was sure some of the people here were underaged, but far be it from her to judge them.
“Hey, Adi,” Ananya called as flirtatiously as possible and as predicted Adi turned around much to the dismay of the other girl.
Ananya had learned a long time ago that a little black dress was hot, but a little red dress could open a whole new world. Looking her up and down now Adi whistled in appreciation. She felt a vague sense of accomplishment but brushed it off quickly. Vain as she might be, she didn’t crave validation from her man candies.
The next hour was a blur of alcohol and weed. Flirtatious words ran rampant, chased by kisses and promises of a sinful night ahead.
Ananya was laughing uncontrollably at something silly Riya had said when she heard the sirens.
Shit, shit, SHIT! She couldn’t be caught here. There was no way she would not spend the night at some dirty jail for this. Like flies, people around them dropped in a crouch.
A stern knock on the door had all the activity stopping, but Ananya was too drunk to be standing straight, much less walking to get the door. They could just pretend that nobody was home, right?
“We know you are in there, open or we will come in forcefully,” a heavy male voice warned from the other side. Whispers around her suggested running out at once. The police couldn’t get them all at once.
What a stupid plan, Ananya scoffed but some genius had already opened the door.
“Don’t move!” said the same stern voice and she sat up. At least he hadn’t seen her yet, right? But that flew right out as he raised his gun and aimed it right at her.
Being on the receiving end of the barrel was instantly sobering.
A horrified sensation crept up on her spine. She had been here before, the deja vu so strong it made her dizzy for a moment.
Struggling to stand up on her feet she grabbed the sharp bottle opener from next to her.
“Easy now,” he still had the gun pointed at her, “I only want to know how you got in here.”
“In… here?” Her voice sounded distant. She was drowning as the memories came crashing down one after the other.
“Put down the weapon, girl. We don’t take kindly to fugitives.” The warning was stark in his voice now.
“Fugitives?” her vision was swimming, but she could recall it clearly now, her nostrils heavy with the smell of smoke and burning flesh.
In horror she lurched forward, eyes wild and a loud boom pierced her eardrums. Time slowed down, the air shimmered with gunpowder and all she could focus on was the damn smoking barrel.
Pain bloomed in her chest as warmth spread down her stomach.
The bullet had penetrated her chest lodging itself straight into her heart.
As she lay dying, she remembered that night one last time, the gargantuan flames, the screams of the dying, the sirens of the fire brigades. She had gotten wasted and played with fire for fun, all whilst surrounded by alcohol. Surrounded by the wasteland now, she let a few tears escape and finally let go. She could see the scene around her change.
The freshly painted room around her turned to dust and burnt rubble. Riya and Mira’s half-burnt corpses came into view as she let a few choked laughs escape. The irony was not lost on her even in death. The life of the party had become its death after all.