No one knew who would be hit next, or who would hire Darien for his services. The boy would have no want for candy for the next year, he gathered so much. It was the most successful party Rachel had every thrown. Almost everyone got in on the game, and once they all knew Darien was the hunter, they knew who to watch out for. Which only made Darien enjoy the game all the more. The challenge was in not being caught, and he revelled in it.
After awhile, the craziness died down, and Darien retired to the kitchen to take stock of his booty. He began emptying the contents of his coat out onto the counter, and it seemed like the supply would not end. Brendan watched with fascination as bars, and chews, and lozenges, and every other shape imaginable was pulled out of the coat, and piled up. There was more candy on the counter than the trenchcoat could surely hold, Brendan thought. Yet more kept coming.
"You want any?" Darien offered to Brendan, and Alex whom had chosen to remain nearby, since that seemed like a safe place to be.
Both of the other men said no, having had their fill of candy for the day. They did however each take a bottle of beer from the fridge, and toast each other over Darien's spoils.
Darien began, "To a good haul."
"To not being shot," continued Alex.
And Brendan concluded with, "To my girlfriend not setting anyone on fire."
The trio of bottles clinked together and they each chugged down the beers to about halfway empty.
The night's first target wandered by, and as she did, Crystal stopped and smiled at the boys. "Having fun, guys?"
They each nodded in turn. Before Crystal could disappear, Darien stopped her with a question. "Have you seen my sister anywhere? She shouldn't be this late."
The night was still young, people could still be seen wandering the streets with their children, but they had expected Alyson to arrive some time ago.
Crystal shook her head and apologised. "I haven't. If you'll excuse me, fellas, I think I had a bit too much to drink, I'm gonna head outside and get some fresh air. If I see her, I'll let her know you're looking for her. Enjoy the candy."
Just thinking about all that food made her queasy, and she made her way out of the kitchen as quick as she could.
Darien finished off his beer and shook his head with vigour. "Ok, I think I'm done for the night."
"Lightweight," mocked Alex.
"Damn right," retorted Darien with his head in his hands. "I think this is the first time I've gotten drunk."
"You're not sure?"
"Well, if you remembered it, is it really getting drunk?"
The trio laughed, and watched the rest of the party move around them. Much was as it was before Darien kicked up his bit of chaos. People were back to watching tv, gossipping the latest gossip, dancing, listening to bad music, and getting drunk. It was if a single shot had never been fired.
Things went on as they had been, but none would forget the events of that night. Darien had cemented himself as more than just a dark and brooding man of mystery. He was ready to swear off the stuff, but his brief imbibement had not been an entirely bad experience.
The men disappearred into the crowd, ending up watching whatever was on the television. More like Brendan and Alex watched, as Darien ended up taking a nap. His snores were drowned out only by the poor victims screaming on the tv.
Kelly made her way over to the band of slasher watchers to check on Darien, and paused for awhile to chat with her friends there. She continued her rounds of the party, helped a few people refresh their drinks, and even changed cds when one ran out. She had long had a reputation as Rachel's co-hostess, and it was a role she was well suited to do. Rachel couldn't take care of every detail, and Kelly was more than willing to lend a hand. She enjoyed helping people in need, even if it was just to pop in the next Friday the 13th DVD.
Her hands were full of clinking empty bottles, grasped in every possible way by a finger here and a finger there. No one could tell how she carried so many bottles, but she somehow managed. Kelly's gloves had long since left her hands for the night, and become tucked through her belt, the leather fingers flopping loose against her hip.
She made her way into the kitchen to drop off the empties, and ran into Rachel, looking confused. Not the most uncommon look for the blonde, but this was even more dire than her usual.
"What's up, Rachel?" she asked, letting the bottles go into a bucket already filled almost to the brim with glass.
"I can't find Crystal," said the worried young woman. "She said she was going outside, but that was ages ago. Have you seen her?"
Kelly shook her head, the hair tied back into a ponytail swishing around as she did so. "Last I saw, she was heading out onto the front porch. You should go check there."
"Yeah, ok." Rachel saw all the bottles her friend had been carrying. "Oh hey, you need a hand with stuff?"
"Nah, I'm good. Go find our wayward Red Riding Hood. I've got everything in here under control. No one will even notice anything is amiss. Shoo."
"You're the best, Kelly."
The ersatz Shadowcat smiled with pride. "Yeah, I know."
Rachel rolled her eyes, but the look on her face was one of amusement. "Don't let it go to your head."
The blonde left her friend behind to take charge of the party, and wove her way through the crowd of people that had built up in the main foyer. Many were escaping the music, or the games, or the dancing, or just trying to escape the crowds for a moment. Instead, they found a whole new crowd, just looking for some breathing room, but failing.
They parted to let their hostess through, some of them taking up seats upon the stairs. Rachel cast a quick glance back over her shoulder and up to the second floor, to make sure no one was sneaking up there. Some couple always tried to find their way to a secluded bedroom, but Rachel tried to keep the party contained to the first floor. She'd have to make a check of the upstairs once she found Crystal safe and sound.
Aside from a few missing people, and some pockmarked foreheads, the party seemed to be a smashing success this year. Rachel was quite pleased with how everything had turned out.
She hoped nothing would ruin it, and the second those thoughts entered her mind, she should have known the inevitable would come along to do just that.
Rachel gave one last look around the party before opening the door. She saw Kelly flitting about from room to room, like a hummingbird trying to find the right feeder.
The door opened and when she looked outside, her perfect but chaotic party came crashing to an end. It would be unforgetable, but not for any reason Rachel could have thought of.
Rachel had found Crystal. There she lay upon the porch, her red hood dyed an even darker shade that was drying to a thick brown crust. Standing over the drained body was a black clad stranger, hands covered in blood, dripping off her fingers and plip plopping on the wooden porch.
The face was unrecognisable to Rachel, and a vision of pure horror. Long fangs protruded where none should, and the face was on the verge of humanity, but instead made a mockery of the features.
Rachel stared into the crimson eyes of the creature, standing there with blood dripping and fangs at the ready, and she screamed.