a short story by Jerry Zinn
“What do you think it’ll be like tonight?” Oscar asked.
“It’s impossible to know for sure, but I’m predicting the most insane one yet. After all it is the tenth, and I hear they’re going all out. We’re talking epic proportions,” Ryan answered.
“Last year was pretty crazy though. You think it’s going to be even more out there this go around?”
“Yeah but come on, this is the tenth anniversary. The first couple were kind of lame, but the last few years have just been insane.”
“Duly noted. I’ll brace myself for impact.”
Oscar returned to his desk and sat watching the clock tick slowly with his chin resting in cupped hands. The annual Halloween Party at Blair’s Dopamine Center was an event people talked about anxiously as soon as the Labor Day weekend played through. And while its reputation for excess was well known, officials turned a blind eye each year and allowed it to go mostly unregulated.
Officially, the Halloween Party didn’t exist. It was organized purely by word of mouth. Most offices scheduled the following day off in advance, citing obscure holidays as reasoning, as expectations for productivity were meager at best. It seemed no one was immune to the temptation, the lowest workers in the food chain frequently rubbed elbows with CEOs and bigwig decision-makers. It had evolved over the decade into one of the biggest days of the year, and even those few who didn’t attend, mostly because there were still necessary operations that needed tending to, received a contact high from the festivities.
Part of the reason the celebration was so over the top was the prevalence of a particular drug in almost limitless supply. While not illegal, the substance was tightly controlled the other 364 days of the year, and Halloween was the one occasion where it was not only unchecked, but policing and governing officials frequently indulged in it themselves.
Overdoses were common and accepted for what they were. Hospital’s usually found their ERs and bed towers filled beyond capacity the following morning, and it often took almost a week to process and administer care to every patient. Politicians, when asked how they could better manage the festivities, frequently responded ambiguously so as not to infuriate any of their constituents. It seemed the entire affair was more or less a necessary evil to maintain order and keep happiness at acceptable levels.
The workday ended later than Oscar wanted, and he quickly went home to change out of his work clothes and into something that would permit him to live a little, let his hair down, and so on. He arrived at Blair’s, dimly lit and decked in ghostly and ghoulish ornamentations, where loud music was pounding. The crowd had a raw energy, an unstoppable energy, a lift from which no one so much as considered the prospect of the inevitable downturn. From the sprinkler system drugs rained down in a fine mist, seeping into clothes and lungs with equal indifference. The party stormed on for a few hours before nearly all in attendance, clothed in everything from togas to pinstripe suits, had either passed out where they stood or went home to retire to the most easily accessible places in their homes. The music died down until it could no longer be heard, and somewhere far off in the distance, as if reaching the space from the end of a dark tunnel, voices murmured.
“Do you think we should have let Blair eat all the candy?” the woman asked.
“Well honey he is ten now. Halloween’s going to start meaning less and less to him as he gets older, so we might as well let him enjoy it. Besides, its just one night, and after eating his weight in sugar I think he’ll probably sleep the whole way through the weekend,” the man responded.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so amped up. I bet his dopamine center was having the party of the century.”
“Well he probably wont want to eat another piece of candy till Christmas after tonight.”
The man left the room and the woman lingered a moment longer, smiling at her sleeping son sprawled out on his bed. She flicked off the lights and left the room, shutting the door quietly behind her and officially ending the year’s Halloween Party.