The Room, 2019
“Val come upstairs with us!”, says Adrienne, followed with nods and signals from Gia, Scotty, Jordan, Wags, and cute Kyle as Valentina refers to him. Excluding cute Kyle, these were members of Valentina’s friend group since middle school. They’re in 11th grade at this time. Valentina follows them upstairs, entering a room full of smoke and black lights.
“This one’s for the birthday girl” Scotty announces, handing Valentina a black CD case with two perfectly symmetrical white lines. The room goes quiet as “Me and Mr. Jones” by Amy Winehouse plays loudly through the speaker. Valentina leans over, placing a cut straw in her nose and over one of the white lines. After two deep inhales, she looks up at her friends, wipes her nose, smiling.
“I just want to say thank you for this, guys. It’s been a rough few weeks. I really needed this.” Valentina says as she takes another swig out of another bottle. As she watches her friends snort lines, her mind begins to race into oblivion. Her eyes open, she’s moved into a bed. Although she is breathing, she feels constraint in her arms. A cold breeze runs across her neck as she stares into the black lights surrounding her. The lights begin to dim as she finds her body dozing off. She feels an almost tickling sensation as her head falls a little bit backwards. Her eyes finally shut.
What feels like two minutes later, she opens her eyes to a bright light and several figures. She’s still paralyzed but can only hear mumbling. Her eyes doze back closed and she can hear a bit clearer.
“It looked like there was a pretty crazy party going on before we showed up.”
“We found her tied up in a locked room, her head barely attached to her neck.”
“There were six people at the house still, you think they’re her friends?”
“They said they just came to the party, don’t know the girl.”
“Killed on her 16th birthday, what a story.”
Valentina snaps out of her sleep by a concerned looking Adrienne. “Oh, thank goodness, it didn’t look like you were breathing! We were terrified, are you alright?”, exclaims Adrienne as Valentina sits up slowly, still a little drunk from before. She looks at Adrienne and realizes her face might look of terror. “I’m okay, I just got lost in my dozing off. Classic drunk Val. Thanks” Valentina replies. She turns and see’s Gia, Wags, and cute Kyle.
The music remained loud downstairs. cute Kyle comes closer to be in front of Valentina, “You sure your good? Do you want anything?” his blue eyes illuminating in the purple hued room. Valentina smiles and tries to avoid eye contact, “I’m alright, I promise. Thank you.”
As her thoughts are reduced to just a weird dream, Valentina and the rest of her friends return to the party.
Valentina stared at the reflection in her grey vanity mirror. It’s been an hour since she’s been home from the party. Friends Adrienne and Gia were laying in the California King behind her, passed out. Valentina gives a glance to her friends and exits her room to her downstairs. As she enters her kitchen she hears her father’s hearty laugh. She goes and sits down next to him.
She lightly smiles as he hugs her closer to him. “How was your party sweetheart?” he asks. Valentina stays quiet for a short moment before responding. She’s thinking of whether she should ask him about the weird dream she had, how real it felt, and why she would have a dream like that on her birthday. “The party was fun. A lot of people came, it was nice.” she replies softly. “That’s really nice of Jordan’s family to let them throw the surprise party there. I stopped by a little before to see if they needed help setting up. It looked really special. What good friends you have V.” his response made her think. She thought of all that had transpired through the years, her friends had always been there for her. They were really good friends. She thought maybe the dream had some sort of reverse meaning, like hey, your friends would never kill you!
“They are good friends.” she said quietly. Smiling and hugging her father goodnight, Valentina retreated back to her room where two of her best friends laid messily. She looked at them and felt tears springing from the back of her head. She gently pushes Gia from her side, to the middle of the bed, finally beginning to doze off for real.
As the night went on, a group chat vibrated from two phones on each of Valentina’s nightstands.
“Are we good?” the message reads. Another response vibrates the wooden surfaces reading the words “all clear”.
As Valentina dozes off, her body becomes heavy. Her eyes, shut black, but her mind still awake.
Feeling a dry lump in her throat, she reaches out left to retrieve her water bottle. As her eyes remain shut, she realizes her body isn’t moving. She’s restrained again like the night at the party, instead this time, her arms are tied as if she were in a straight jacket. Trying to pry her eyes open, her head strains. No sound, no sight, no movement. Panic insinuates as she feels herself being moved backwards. “No way, no way, no fucking way!” shouts a voice excitedly.
“This is her! I can’t believe you guys actually pulled it off after last nights close call.” a male voice continues.
It’s silent in Val’s head until she is awoken by a loud shotgun being blasted into the air. Her eyes rip themselves open, mouth grasping for air, arms trying their best to flail in front of her. Still constrained, she observes her surroundings. A dark grey room, plastered with neon signs. She notices the figures around her and is brought to more tears falling down her already stained cheeks.
Jordan, Wags, Scotty, Gia, Adrienne, and stupid Kyle.
Out of breath, she looked around to confirm her current misfortune.
“So last night wasn’t a dream?” she chokes on her words, earning a smirk from Gia and Scotty. “What did I do? Why are you guys doing this to me?” Valentina continued through her sobs. In that moment, she went back through her head trying to comb out any wrong doings she may have committed to have led to this. As she cried and tried to reason through her tears, she was interrupted.
“Look Val, this isn’t anything personal okay. We’re just doing our jobs.” Kyle said in an uncomfortably reassuring tone. Confused, Val’s sobbing continued. As she began to question, she was cut off by a loud gunshot and a pinch to her temple. She blacked out yet again.
As she entered consciousness, with eyes still closed, she heard a loud vacuuming sound. Although she wasn’t able to see, she felt compression all around her body. A monitor began to beep and a door opened. Her surroundings became silence yet again for what felt like years.
“Oh no!” a shriek came through her ears.
“Not again. How does this kee-“ the voices were cut off by the sound of Valentina’s own heavy breathing.
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness in her room, she used the light of the night sky through her window to see the silhouettes of Gia and Adrienne on either side of her.