Excerpt

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Part 1
The Harbinger

Chapter 1

Well, I'd set myself up for it yet again and shook my head at my own stupidity as I wondered when would I learn. What was that saying about me? 'Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me', and this was the second time. This time round I'd been left standing on the crowded dance floor of the night club all alone. It wasn't the first time my co-workers - they're called co-workers because work mates don't treat their friends like that - had done such a thing to me. However, it was certainly going to be the last as far as I was concerned.

What a waste of a Friday night, and it was my own fault.

The first time was over a year ago when the nine of them had invited me out to dinner, to even out the numbers they'd said. I'd accepted in the effort of not being so shy and make friends. Back then, before that first outing, they hadn't been so nasty. Between them and I, it had been typical office staff interactions.

We sat in a pleasant café with restaurant-styled service, ate dinner, made useless small talk as they'd never asked any true questions. Whenever I did, they gave nonsense responses back. Once the food had been eaten they then started disappearing in twos and threes only to have left me with an expense of two hundred dollar plus, instead of fifteen to twenty, which would have been my share.

What they'd done to me kept them amused for the following week or more. The second time, and definitely the last, they invited me out to the night club to go dancing with them. At lunch time, they cornered me in the staff room...

"We're all going to the new dance club on Newmarket Road tonight. We've been there before and it has great atmosphere, reasonable drinks, some food and music. Why don't you join us? We'll arrive at ten, dance for a few hours, and have a drink or two. It'll be fun." One co-worker said.

"Yeah, come on. The only expense is the entry fee and one round of drinks each if you have something to eat before coming out and then dancing the night away." Encouraged two others.

"Oh yeah, and don't forget the all the cuties looking for a good time." Piped up a fourth.

"Oh definitely can't forget those. Come on, say yes, you'll enjoy yourself." The rest urged.

Suffice to say I said sure. They had sounded genuine and sincere, that maybe they were truly interested in being friends. Stupid me!

The arrangement was that we would meet at the club. So, I went home and spent the early part of the evening having dinner then finding light-weight filmy clothing where the layers would look good. I didn't have anything in the way of clubbing clothes but I did have some wonderful velvet, gauzy and silky fabrics which were stylish and of colours that went well together.

In the end, I'd decided to go with black velvet tights and a blue with a black floral design long sleeved asymmetrical hem lined shimmery satin top. It was the best I could do, with a couple of other layers underneath on the top half of me. Being winter, I didn't want the top half of me getting too cold to and from the club.

The finishing touches were a vibrant red sheer scarf around my waist, black velvet ten centimetre heeled knee-high pirate boots and a touch of make-up. A quick glance in the mirror and I was done.

After catching a taxi, I arrived at the club at ten that night. Since I barely went anywhere, I had the money to splurge on a taxi to and from the night club. However, it was a good thing that I did because it was pouring rain when I walked out to the footpath. The street lights glittered off every wet surface possible and, while slow, the trip to the club was a light show in of itself.

In reality, I didn't mind the slow trip to the club. Staring out at the neon colours glittering off all the wet surfaces, I was nervous and apprehensive. Deep in my gut I had a feeling the night wouldn't end well. For the umpteenth time I mentally shook my head and willed myself to give them the benefit of doubt. It didn't ease the knot of tension in my stomach.

My co-workers were waiting for me just outside the front doors, like they'd said. Not long after that we'd paid our twenty dollar entry fee and were all dancing near the bar after I'd bought the first round of drinks. My first clue that I didn't pick up on.

The place was full of dark walls and dark décor with the lights down low and occasionally strobing to the loudly pounding music. Because of the low lighting I had no way of working out what colour the décor was.

I didn't know how long we had been dancing for when, as before, they were subtle in their disappearances. Without me realising it, they let the dancing crowd swallow them up and not come back. The second clue I didn't pick up on. By the time I did notice, it was too late.

Oh, and my round of drinks had been the first and only round bought, so I was the only one down by almost a hundred dollars. Not including the entrance fee.

Falling for the prank a second time I guess I deserved what I got, but that hadn't stopped it from hurting. God! Am I that desperate to make friends?

© KC Riley-Gyer 2012