Party Poopers

📅 Published on September 30, 2020

“Party Poopers”

Written by Queen of the Moths
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.75/10. From 4 votes.
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The first time I saw it, I was exiting the final train that evening. The station was practically abandoned at that point and uncomfortably quiet. I try to avoid getting home so late, but I wanted to take Monday off so that I could go to my friend Vanessa’s weekend shindig–a two-day party she throws every year–and that meant pulling some extra hours to make up for what I would miss.

I was already nervous about walking alone in the dark, so when I turned the corner to my street and saw a strange man there, I nearly wet my pants. He was at the other end of the sidewalk, standing with his back to me. No, not standing exactly. He was in a single spot, but he was hopping from one foot to the other, his arms turned up at the elbow.

He didn’t react to the sound of my footsteps, just kept hopping back and forth, kicking his feet out now and then like he was trying to do an Irish jig.

It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so creepy. Who does that? Just stands around outside, close to midnight, dancing merrily. I figured he was drunk or on drugs, so I crossed the street. It wasn’t until I began to pass that I noticed his face.

Although his movements were gleeful, his face was twisted in horror. His mouth was open, the corners turned down in an exaggerated fashion. His eyes were bulging and red, and he appeared to be out of breath, like he’d been dancing for hours.

I quickly looked away before we could make eye contact.

Saturday afternoon, I headed to Vanessa’s place with my roommate, Angie, and we helped set up for the party. Vanessa was predicting twice the amount of guests as previous years, so she needed all the help she could get.

By 7:00, most of the guests had arrived, and the house and yard quickly became packed. I eventually lost track of both Angie and Vanessa and soon found myself surrounded by strangers. It wasn’t even dark yet, and people were already getting wasted.

I kept to the walls, hanging out in the corner and searching for anyone I knew. Around 8:00, I noticed someone dressed as a giant baby, staring at the house from the lawn’s edge. Without changing their expression, they danced, bouncing back and forth and holding up their arms at the elbow.

I had told Angie about the guy from the night before, and she had laughed it off, seconding my suspicion that the man had been intoxicated. Seeing another person doing the same dance creeped me the hell out, though, so I went looking for a familiar face.

It was easiest to find Angie, as she was surrounded by interested guys. She was at her happiest when she was flirting and basking in attention. I found it kind of endearing usually, but not when I was so on edge.

“Hey!” I called out to her, over the noise. She was giggling so hard that she couldn’t even hear me. I tried to push through again.

When I finally breached the human barrier, I noticed Angie was tilted over so that someone in a cloak could whisper in her ear. They were very small. A child? It could have just been a really short adult, of course, but it was hard to say when their face was hidden. A small hand reached out to touch Angie’s hair, and she nodded, smiling.

“Angie?” I asked, as the figure disappeared into the crowd.

“What’s up, Jen?” she asked me. “You don’t look drunk enough.”

“I’m pacing myself,” I told her, trying to get close enough that we could actually hear each other. “Dude, there’s some guy out there dancing like that man last night.”

Angie raised an eyebrow, and I reminded her of what I’d seen. She contemplated that for a minute, then laughed. “Weird,” she said. “Maybe it’s some new trend. Most of the people here are wasted, so I doubt it’ll be the last bad dancing you see tonight.”

She wasn’t wrong, but it was bugging me. The way they had both stared like that, dancing so rigidly. Maybe they meant to freak people out, and if so, it had worked.

When I turned back to say that to Angie, she was gone again. I sighed and started to head toward the bar, when I felt a little tug on my shirt.

I spun around to see another small figure, this one wearing a red cloak instead of black.

“Uh, yeah?” I asked, glancing around the room for a parental figure.

“Hey,” the figure said, in a distinctly child-like voice. The kid was nearly whispering, so I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl. “Hey miss,” they continued. “Can I tell you a secret?”

More feminine than masculine, I decided. I hesitated at the question, then forced an uncertain smile. “…Sure, I guess,” I said, and she reached toward me, as if trying to pull me closer. I felt her cold little fingers brush my cheek and shuddered from the sensation, then I bent down so that the kid could whisper into my ear.

“Jen!” Vanessa called behind me. I jumped, startled, and turned back to see her. She waved me over, so I turned back to apologize to the kid, but she was gone.

“Why are there little kids at this party?” I asked Vanessa when I finally reached her.

“What?” she said, handing me a beer. “There shouldn’t be.”

“Well, I’ve seen two,” I told her, fiddling with the beer’s twist-off lid.

“Damn it,” Vanessa sighed. “I told everyone to leave the brats at home.”

She started to maneuver through the crowd, when someone screamed across the room. We both jerked our heads in that direction and saw a girl dressed as a playboy bunny, wiping beer off of her leotard.

“You asshole! This is satin!” she snapped, but the one who’d spilled the drink wasn’t listening. It was a guy dressed as the Grim Reaper, and he was dancing. That same, strange dance–back and forth, bouncing from foot to foot. Beside him, someone dressed in a gorilla costume was dancing in the same manner.

Vanessa crossed over to do some damage control, but I looked around to see if anyone else was dancing. Throughout the room, I spotted a few. A girl dressed as an angel, two girls in matching vampire costumes, a smattering of guys in football jerseys, and a lone dancer in a banana costume, bouncing around in the corner.

The faces I could see all held that same, distraught expression, like they were completely spaced out, or very unhappy. One of the girls appeared to be bleeding from the mouth, but she was a vampire, so it could have just been part of the costume. Either way, it was weird as hell, and I found myself wanting to leave.

When I turned back, I saw a noticeably drunk guy slumped over in a seat. Beside him, a small, cloaked figure was whispering in his ear.

“What the hell,” I muttered and crossed to them. “Hey, kid! Who did you come here with?”

I reached out to grab the kid, but he was surprisingly quick, darting back into the crowd before I could touch him. It had been a green cloak this time. Just how many of these kids were here?

“Vanessa?” I called but couldn’t spot her. The Grim Reaper and gorilla were still dancing, and they’d now been joined by a pirate and two elves. No one was smiling or looked to be enjoying themselves at all, and I noticed someone nearby, begging one of the dancers to knock if off so that they could go.

My stomach clenched, and I looked around the party, frantically. I had to find Angie so that we could leave. But as I skimmed the crowd, I realized Vanessa had been right: the house was now doubly packed, making it difficult to move, let alone locate someone.

I forced my way through sweaty bodies, calling Angie’s name, as if she could hear me over the music and laughter. I checked the kitchen and bathrooms to no avail, before I headed back to the living room and saw her.

Angie was standing near the keg, arms bent up, bouncing back and forth in that strange, rigid dance. She wasn’t smiling, just staring forward, like the crowd of people around her. I pushed through until I could grab her and shook her arm.

“Hey! We need to go!” I told her. “Come on!”

I shook her again, but Angie didn’t stop, and it was then that I noticed tears running from her eyes. I leaned in closer and heard a soft, sobbing sound coming from Angie’s clenched mouth. I tried to pull her from her spot, but it was like she was held there by magnets. I couldn’t get her to budge.

My heart pounding, I looked around the room and saw that most people were dancing now, all of them bearing horrified, frozen faces. Here and there, other people were trying to get the dancers to stop, standing in front of them and pushing.

A few feet away, a girl was tugging on her boyfriend’s arm, tearfully asking him to stop. She was jerking with all her might, but she may as well have not been there at all. I glanced over to see the drunk guy from earlier dancing just as rigorously, right next to the Playboy bunny, who’d stopped worrying about her ruined outfit.

I looked around for those little kids, and I spotted one standing on a speaker. His head was down, but I sensed a sort of excitement coming from him. He was bouncing on his toes, fingers wiggling as the people around him danced more aggressively.

Another scream drew my attention back over, and I saw the girl from before get knocked to the ground by a dancer. She tried to scramble to her feet, but she was knocked down again. The dancers didn’t seem to notice, stepping on her hands and hair as she tried to get away.

I pushed through the crowd, trying to reach her, but the dancers had grown more concentrated in that spot. They started hopping more quickly, landing on her arms and back as they did. She screamed again, and I frantically reached for her, trying to breach the flurry of limbs and writhing torsos.

But try as I may, I was unable to reach her, and soon I could only watch in horror as the dancers stomped around on top of her, crushing her under their feet as if she weren’t there. Her screams went on for a long moment before it was replaced by wet, crunching sounds.

I turned to the side and threw up, gripping the wall as dancers crashed into me. I knew I had to get out of there, but the door seemed so far away. These people were virtual walls, blocking me in like a caged animal.

As I twisted and shoved my way to the exit, I saw more gore and blood on the floor, chunks of hair and ruined costumes. I could hear the children laughing now, giggling and clapping from every corner of the room as I tried to flee.

“Don’t go, miss!” one of them called as I neared the door. “I have to tell you something! Don’t leave!”

At the exit, the dancers blocked the door and part of the window. I grabbed the first heavy thing I saw, a lamp near the couch, and threw it at the window as hard as I could. It took a second swing to break, but before long, I was climbing out, cutting my hands and arms on the jagged bits of glass that remained.

Outside, I tumbled to the ground and rolled onto my belly, looking up to see even more dancers on the lawn. Many of them were bleeding from the nose and mouth. A few had their eyes rolled back in their heads, as if they’d passed out but hadn’t fallen over.

I needed to get out.

Wasting no more time taking in the nightmare before me, I forced myself to my feet. With all the adrenaline I had left, I wove my way through the dancing party-goers and didn’t stop until I hit the street.

A sound like a bomb going off inside the building made me whip back, and I saw smoke pouring out of the house in heavy plumes. The dancers were unfazed, still bouncing and jerking, but something was different now. In the hazy glow, I could see tall, slender figures standing among the dancers. Their arms and fingers were stretched unnaturally, their bodies thin and practically see-through. They were grinning, all of them, wide, manic grins that showed all of their massive, flat teeth. And they were dancing as well, lifting their arms up rhythmically, nodding their heads to an unheard beat.

I could see the faint outline of what looked like strings. The tall figures were controlling the dancers, like one might control a marionette.

And as those lanky, looming figures slowly turned their attention to me, I ran. I didn’t let myself think. I just forced my legs to carry me until I wasn’t anywhere near that place.

I ran for two blocks before I caught sign of civilization. Part of me had been terrified that I’d only find dancers wherever I went. A diner at the end of the neighborhood, nearly deserted, contained a few seated guests and a tired-looking waitress. They didn’t look particularly vivacious, but they weren’t dancing.

Inside, the waitress tried to calm me down as I hysterically relayed what had happened. We called 911, and I tried to speak clearly enough to give them the right address. I didn’t know how to describe everything without sounding crazy, but fortunately, they didn’t push me on it. I just wanted someone to help. To make it stop.

For the rest of the night, I sobbed in that diner as the waitress tried to comfort me. Later, the police took me to the station, but I wasn’t of much help in the end.

Officially, it had been a gas leak. The papers reported it as a freak accident, including evidence that the leak had caused hallucinations, and later, an explosion. Everyone at the party was dead on the ground when the police had arrived. I was the only survivor.

It was recommended that I get a few sessions of therapy, and they told me that I’d likely imagined the whole thing to compensate with the horror of what I’d actually witnessed–the death of my friends from a deadly gas leak. I asked why I’d seen the man earlier, but it was all chalked up to a faulty memory, typical of someone who has recently gone through trauma.

It’s an easy write-off for the rest of the world. I’m not so convinced, though. Hallucinations can’t be that vivid in your mind, can they?

I haven’t been sleeping these days, and I don’t know if I ever will again. I can still picture their faces so clearly–those dead, horrified faces. I couldn’t do anything to help them. I couldn’t help them, and now they’re gone. That weight is impossible to lift from your shoulders. I feel it crushing me until I can’t focus on anything else around me.

The last few nights, though, I’ve heard pebbles on my window. Someone trying to get my attention close to midnight. I never answer, but I can hear it anyway.

They’re out there, begging me to listen to their secrets. Coaxing me to come down and play with them. Giggling. Singing.

It’s a catchy little tune, too.

Almost makes you feel like dancing.

Rating: 8.75/10. From 4 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Queen of the Moths
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Queen of the Moths

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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