My life sucked.
First, my girlfriend left me this morning for my boss, who then fired me so it wouldn’t be “awkward” at work. Then, as I drove home to my crappy apartment, my car broke down.
Honestly, could it get worse?
The sudden thunderclap as I walked home reminded me that it could, and I pulled my jacket close as large drops of rain began pelting down, soaking my already miserable existence.
I kept my head bent against the rain as I trudged home, but a flash of neon in a puddle caught my eye and made me pause. Looking up, I saw a large neon sign in the shape of martini glass with the word DRINKS in large letter beneath it.
And, after the events of the day, I definitely needed a drink.
I opened the door and stepped into the room. The room swam in smoke, so I paused to remove my waterlogged coat and let my eyes adjust to the darkness. It looked like any other dive with worn tables, crooked stools that had seen too many fights, and a bar top polished to perfection by years of use. I sat down and sighed as the bartender, a stunning woman in her late thirties, handed me a napkin.
“You could say that,” I replied before ordering a double shot of whiskey neat. She produced the drink and soon left me to my sorrows as she moved to the next customer, and I was quickly lost in my own thoughts.
However, my thoughts were interrupted when someone tapped me on the shoulder.
“Len? Is that you?”
The person sat down next to me and I grinned as I shook his hand.
“Greg! Man, it’s been ages. How are you?”
“Better than you from the looks of it,” Greg replied as he ordered us another round. “What’s up?”
“Oh man, where do I start?” I sighed. “You ever feel like life’s just given you the biggest “fuck you” ever?”
“Oh man, yeah. I had that moment a few years ago.” Greg said as he took a sip of his beer. “I’d lost everything- house, family, job- and found myself spiraling out of control. It was awful.”
“Sometimes, I just feel like life isn’t worth it.” I sighed.
“Hey, don’t talk like that!” Greg said as he turned to face me. “You just need some help beating life at its own game.”
“Oh yeah? And how do I do that?”
“You find a purpose.”
His face looked odd in the dim lights, but his eyes shone with an earnestness that intrigued me.
“A purpose? Ha! If I knew my purpose, I wouldn’t be here.” I said with a shrug, and Greg shook his head before gesturing to my drink.
“Drink up. You need to get out of here, and I know exactly where we can go.”
I downed my whiskey, gave the attractive barkeeper the last of my cash, and followed Greg into the rain. He pointed me to a sleek Mercedes down the block, and we ran to it. Once inside, I sank against the leather seats as he revved up the engine.
“So, where are we going?”
“I’m taking you to some people who can help,” Greg replied as he drove down the darkened streets. “They
gave me a purpose, and I know they can also give you one as well.”
“I could use a purpose,” I remarked bitterly, and he laughed. I glanced at him.
“Wait, you’re serious?”
He nodded, and we rode in silence for a while as he sped through the slick streets. I eventually realized that he was taking me out of town. Buildings gave way to trees, and shopping centers turned into farms.
Finally, he pulled into one of the farms and drove us right up to the barn.
“Wait here for a moment. I need to announce you.
I did as he asked and watched him disappear into the barn. A slight twinge of unease began to form as I realized that I hadn’t seen Greg in several years and had no idea what he was involved in. However, it was too late to turn back, and since I didn’t have much to lose, I waited.
Finally, I saw Greg reemerge from the barn with two other people in tow- a man and a woman. They were dressed in dark robes, and my fear increased as I saw the unnatural smiles plastered across their faces. They approached my side of the car and waited patiently for Greg to open my door.
“Len, meet Adam and his wife, Eve.”
“Hello, Len,” Adam greeted me, and I tried to be nice but something in his voice set me on edge. “We’re so happy to have
“You must be tired,” Eve added as she helped me from the car, and I squirmed as her fingers dug into my arm. “Come into
the barn where it’s warm.”
“Um, no offense, but I’d like to go home now,” I replied as I tried to get back in the car, but her grip was unnaturally strong. I looked at Greg for help, but his smile now matched theirs.
“This is your home now,” He whispered as Adam took my other arm, and I tried to struggle as they marched me into the barn, but I couldn’t escape.
The smell hit me like a truck and nearly made me vomit, but my three companions seemed unaffected as they captured my wrists and locked them in old-fashioned irons.
“His meat is lean. He will do nicely,” Eve remarked as she stepped aside, and Adam nodded in agreement.
“Yes, I think we’ll dry him. Lean meat is always best when dried.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I shouted, but Eve placed a bony finger over my lips.
“Hush now, it’ll be over soon.”
I turned to Greg, who now watched me with cold, hungry eyes. Still, I couldn’t believe that my friend would betray me like this, and I felt a keen mixture of anger and fear as they attached my cuffs to heavy iron chains.
“Greg, man. Come on. Don’t do this!”
“You said you wanted a purpose, Len. Now, you have one. Please try to be grateful.”
“And besides, it’s thanks to you that we’ll survive the winter,” Adam remarked as he pulled the chains and lifted me from the dirty floor. “You’re the last one. We can finally rest.”
As I hung there and adjusted to the pain, I heard a faint groan off to my right.
I wasn’t alone.
Craning my neck, I managed to make out at least a dozen bodies hanging from the ceiling, each one in a different state of decay as they “cured” in the humid barn.
I turned to my captors as the realization hit me, their unnatural smiles sent me into a wave of panic. My joints groaned as I tried to swing free, but the irons did their job well and sent pain shooting through my arms. I begged and pleaded for Greg to release me, but he merely turned and smiled.
“See you in a few months!”
I had remained somewhat calm until now, but my fury took over and I began screaming every profanity I could think of as I railed against my new prison. However, my screams echoed off the unforgiving walls as my three captors exited the barn and shut the doors, leaving me to the putrid darkness of my new cell and the horrifying reality of my new purpose.