Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Osborne Lopez, Creative Writing Editor

Three…two…one. “Happy New Year!” the man exclaimed. It’s going to be a good one, the man thought to himself. Yes, a good one indeed. Still, something bothered him. 


The rest of the party-goers were ecstatic also. Who knew what the year had in store? A lot of them did, actually, but they wouldn’t dare spoil it for the man. The man was sweet and kind. He was excited above all, and who could threaten such a mood? Ah yes, 1962 was going to be his year.


“Well, hello there Carl,” the man said to his dear friend, a smile beaming on his face. “Where is your Lisa tonight?”


Carl replied in a rehearsed manner. “Ah, she’s at home with the children. Junior wasn’t feeling the best, and you know we only just had our little Mary Anne. She sends her regards and apologies for missing the party.” A plastic smile spread across Carl’s face. 


“Oh, what a shame,” the man said, examining his friend’s face. What a peculiar smile, he thought. “Sorry, I don’t know where my head has been lately. Ever since the party began…Well, just a weird feeling I guess.” The man laughed to ease the growing tension. 


“Well, I wouldn’t worry. Just a new year is all. Say, how do you think this season will end? It’s been a weird one, eh? I mean, who knows who it will be?” Carl’s face looked mournful; interesting. The atmosphere shifted.


The smile on the man’s face started to lose its elastic charm. “Carl, I am afraid I just do not know what you mean,” said the man, adjusting his tie. “I guess you could say it may get a bit colder, but it hasn’t been that rough of a winter.” The man knew that’s not what his friend meant. His friend’s face pointed towards something deeper, but the man could not decipher such a look. What did he mean by who knows who it will be?


“Oh, man.” Carl wiped the sweat from his forehead using his pocket square. “Haha yes, the winter.” 


“Carl, are you sure you are feeling okay?” the man asked, concerned. “You seem a bit tense.”


“Yes,” Carl answered enthusiastically. “Just a bit warm is all. Must be all the excitement in the air. It’s a new year my boy!” Carl cleared his throat and put his pocket square back in his coat-pocket. “Well, I’ll be outside. It’s a bit stuffy here.”


“Sure thing. It was nice talking to you.” They shook hands. “Give Lisa my best wishes! I’m sorry she couldn’t be here.” 


“Mm hm.” 


A very weird conversation indeed, the man thought to himself. 


Suddenly, everyone in the room paused. They stood still, and the air grew thicker. An announcer appeared in the corner, and yelled, “Break!” 


The man tried to look around, but he was unable to do so. He tried to speak, but that failed him also. He tried to scream; another thing that was lost. 


After a few minutes, the announcer reappeared. “We’re back in three…two…one. Action!” 


“What was that,” the man asked. He went up to every party-goer, but they all provided nothing to satisfy what they thought was paranoia. Was it paranoia? The man looked down at his glass. “What is in this wine?” he asked himself. 


“What is what?”, asked a party-goer. It was Donna! She wore a nice, bright yellow dress that complimented her vibrant aubrey hair. The dress reminded him of their first date. Those times were over now. 


“Oh, Donna, how nice to see you,” the man said surprised. “I was just…ah nothing.” The man decided to keep quiet, out of fear of sounding like a lunatic. “You look lovely.”


“Thank you! How do you do? Are you excited to see what’s in store,” Donna asked.


“Of course! A new year is always exciting. Are you enjoying the party?”


“Yes, it is lovely, but that’s not what I meant. Do you not know?” Donna asked, seemingly shocked. 


“About what?”


Suddenly, Donna’s face went blank. No emotion, no expression; nothing. Just silence. The same thing happened to Carl. How weird, the man thought.


“Donna, what’s going on? Something seems to be wrong; everything seems to be wrong. I would like to know that I am not going crazy.” The man waved his hand in front of Donna’s face. She seemed to be in a trance of sorts. “Donna, answer me, please.”


“I’m sorry. I seem to have forgotten my line,” Donna said in reply.




An aggressive hand touched the man’s shoulder, and said, in the most orderly voice the man had ever heard, “Hey buddy, why don’t you just leave her alone for a moment, huh? She’s preparing.”


The man shrugged his shoulders and turned around. Standing there were two men, both carrying large metal clipboards and wearing a headset. “No, I would like to know what is happening right this instant.” 


“We can’t provide any information, but we do suggest you leave the premises immediately. It’s either that, or we remove you by force.”


“Don’t bother, sir,” the man said, disgusted. “I would much rather leave myself.” The man did not question as to why he had to leave, but as he did, multitudes of party-goers turned to him and whispered the weirdest things. 


“Don’t trust 1962,” a woman said.


“I wonder who’s next,” one man said, as if he knew the answer. 


“Beware the stage managers,” another man said in between sly chuckles. “They do bite.” Was that who those men were? The stage managers? 


But the next one. Oh, the next one was the worst of all. As the man reached for the door, an elderly woman grabbed his hand, and said to him, “It’s only the end of the season, and the death of a character always grabs the audience’s attention.” A simple smile appeared on her face, and she stared at him with wide eyes. 


The man cleared his throat after a few moments. “I’m sorry ma’am, but I must be going. Highest regards.”



Outside, the city was dark and silent. The man had been walking down the street, right past the pharmacy that bolstered bright red letters, and straight toward the apartments that always loomed over Blossom Boulevard. There, he saw a familiar face.

“Hey there, Carl,” the man yelled from across the street. “I’m relieved to see you! I was just…well, I don’t know what I was doing. Just wandering, I guess.” The man laughed. He was hoping his friend was feeling better now. He had a lot to get off his chest after all, and he needed someone to share this frightful night with.


As the man’s foot lifted off the pavement to cross the street, over to the apartments, his friend warned, “Don’t move.” 


“I’m sorry?”


“I don’t want to do it,” Carl yelled. “They’re telling me I have to be the one. Please, I don’t want to be the one. I don’t want to—” Carl stopped himself. 


The man reflected back on what the elderly woman had said to him minutes before. Die. Someone is going to die, the man thought to himself. 


“You do not have to say another word. Listen, Carl, no one is dying tonight. I promise, I’ll figure out this madness. I won’t allow—”


Carl interrupted. “No, you don’t understand. We have run out of time. Show’s up, my friend.”


“Carl, no. I don’t know what is happening, but I know there is a way we can prevent this; there has to be.”


Just then, out of the corner of his eye, the man caught a glimpse of a stranger. Standing directly to his right, in the middle of the street, was the answer to this night’s mystery. 


The stranger held up his right hand, the other one was holding a camera. What is he recording, the man thought. As the stranger stood with his hand held high, our main character turned to look at his friend. Carl’s face lost all its worry and all its frightfulness. It’s time.


The stranger’s hand was counting down. The fingers went down slowly; one by one. He smiled. Was the stranger trying to savor the moment?


“No, I won’t let you do it,” the man yelled at the stranger. “Enough!”


But no matter, we were at three, and then two. One. At that instant, Carl ran towards the man. No emotion or thought motivated his movements; it was as if Carl’s mind had abandoned his body, and left a husk to fulfill his actions.


As Carl approached, the man noticed something. How did he not see it before? Did the darkness of the night really hide all evils? Carl’s hand was behind his back. The man made a grim realization, and started to run as well. 


“Oh, Carl. What have you done?” the man said as he reached an alleyway. Oh, but it wasn’t just any ordinary alleyway; it was the setting for the precursor of our final scene.


As our main character stopped to catch a breath, and the stale night air filled his lungs, a friend stabbed a friend. 




“I didn’t want to be the one.” 


The man dropped to the ground, and with his life slowly leaving his grasp, he crawled. His fingertips clawed at the wet, rigid, concrete. He was cold, and dying. “Somebody help me. Please!” 


A camera appeared to his left; a camera appeared to his right; and a door appeared right in front of him. The show continued after all, but the season was still coming to an end. What did the finale have in store?


Thinking this door was his salvation, the man forced himself to his feet, looking behind him to see what had become of Carl. His friend stood there with his eyes toward the ground; motionless. My dear friend, the man thought. No. There is no time to dread what has happened. I need help. The man turned back to the door and pushed it open. 


As the door was pushed open, a voice announced, “Welcome to Stage 5! Here you have it folks, our main character! We also have the rest of the cast here to finish him off. Carl did his job, starting off the festivities and all, but now it’s time for the climax! And won’t you look at that wound! Good job, Carl!” An audience cheered in reply. 


The lights were enough to hinder the man’s vision, but through blurry spots, he could see actor’s chairs and a sign saying action. He was on a television set.


“Kill him off,” an audience member yelled.


“Yeah, we’re bored,” another yelled. “Should’ve made Donna the lead character last year instead of continuing on with this borefest.” 


A female voice replied. “Ah, shucks. Thank you, my dear fans! I’ll sign autographs in Stage 4 after the finale. Hugs and kisses! Mwah.” 


The man turned to meet the woman. “Donna,” the man said, his voice faltering. “What are you doing?”


“Nothing, crybaby. Now, are you going to make this a good show for the fans, or what? I need a good paycheck this week.”


“Please. You don’t have to do this.”


Donna approached, one small step at a time. “Mmmm, yeah I do. You’re bleeding already, I might as well finish the job and end the season off on a high note. Just make sure you don’t mess up my dress, okay?”


“Yeah, get him,” an audience member yelled in excitement. 


Donna looked up towards the audience’s seats. “Don’t worry girl! I’ll make it a good one.” She looked back down to meet the man’s eyes and, with a mean glare, asked, “You ready?”


“I’m tired.”


“Yeah, me too, but the work never stops, and I’m really trying to get a feel for my character so I can prepare for next season. Now, I’ll count down from three.” Donna cleared her throat. “Three…two…one.”


Rob Bogaerts via Wikimedia Commons


Pain struck the man’s chest, and he fell once again. He tried to ask the audience for help, but the effort proved useless; all they did was yell phrases of encouragement. One by one, others joined in, weapons in hand. As the light dimmed from his eyes, he caught a glimpse of his coworkers from the office, his brother, his sister, his uncle. Everyone’s here, he thought. How did I never notice? His last breath escaped his lungs. I thought it was going to be my year.