T’was the night before Doomsday, and all through the glass house…
…not a sucker was stirring, not even a—
Allow me to rephrase. The final six had actually been up half the night, taking turns violently heaving rotten buffet food into the single toilet.
Finally they bunkered down, light-headed with fear and dehydration… just in time for a new fixture to go up outside.
Toto was the first to stir. “Is that… a party?” she said groggily. She had a radar for these kinds of things. “Must… go… twerk…” she muttered, and proceeded to wake up the entire camp with the lyrics of “We Can’t Stop.”
Zerflumpagus was none too happy to be back in the waking world. In Dreamland, she’d been floating on a pizza, drinking lemonade with Banji. But here, Banji was dead, and her own life was on the line at every turn.
“I want to go home,” she said to the hidden microphone in the bunk ladder, quite by accident. Far away, someone laughed.
Squonky took advantage of the early start to clean the vomit-stained bathroom, but his waterless method was not very effective.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have cut off the plumbing,” he mused.
Toto was already on a mission, fuelled by bad techno music and flashing lights.
“Hey Lunk the Hunk, how’d you like to feel me up on the dance floor?”
“Like that’s going to work,” thought Porge.
But it did work. You see, Lunk was incredibly shallow… and incredibly high.
“Lead the way, Tutu,” he said stupidly.
“Ooooh, scandal!” said Porge.
He decided to stir up some scandal of his own by flirting with Zerflumpagus — who just happened to be incredibly tired and incredibly vulnerable.
“Just promise you won’t die today and we’re all good,” she told him.
“Look at those copy cats!” said Toto. “We are the OTP in this show!”
“What’s with all these hormones?” Melba complained. Personally, she’d had hers surgically removed because she saw them as a weakness. She didn’t understand why others didn’t do the same.
It wasn’t long before the music seized them and everyone went running for the dance floor. Toto was the first to start running and the last to get there, because Melba had pushed her down the stairs in irritation.
“Wait for me, guys!” she called as she limped along.
She was probably faking it, because the next minute, she could dance just fine.
“Eyes over here, mister,” she demanded of Lunk.
“Ha ha, double rainbow,” he said.
There were six stereos playing, enough for everyone to dance wherever they wanted.
“This guy’s got moves,” said Squonky. It was true. Porge had lots of moves.
Melba was having a great time on her own, remembering her brief stint as a Zumba instructor. Her classes had been notoriously intense and she’d had several students go into cardiac arrest mid-song.
“Good times,” she thought.
Zerflumpagus was the only one who wasn’t feeling it.
“I don’t dance,” she said. The others assumed she was quoting High School Musical and broke into an elaborate number.
But there was a bright side, she realized, and she decided to share this with Porge.
“At least there’s no way this can kill us, right?”
“Absolutely not!” said Porge.
There absolutely was. They just couldn’t see it.
Some were a little preoccupied sniffing each other’s necks.
“Is that Axe?” said Toto. “I love Axe.”
“I also love axe,” said Lunk, but he was talking about the sharp metal thing.
Then, all of the stereos stopped working at once.
Toto kept dancing, unable to process that anything was wrong. “Ha ha,” she said. “Look at that smoke.”
“Smoke?” said Lunk. “Pffffft, I don’t smoke!” He laughed nervously.
But reality hit them quickly after, albeit not in the way it should have.
“Emergency, emergency!” said Toto. “I need the music to woo my man!”
“I was gonna get laid tonight, dammit!” said Lunk.
WHAT A SHAME, said the loudspeaker. WELP, YOU’D BETTER FIX THOSE STEREOS IF YOU WANT TO KEEP DANCING. DANCE, MY PRETTIES! DANCE UNTIL YOUR FEET BLEED! GOOD RIDDANCE, AND I’LL SEE YOU ON THE FIVE.
Automatically, they gravitated toward their colour-coded stereos. It was starting to become habit.
No one except Zerflumpagus was really worried yet. I mean, how often did people die trying to fix a stereo? They would get through this, easy as pie.
Zerflumpagus knew better.
“It’s happening again!” she cried. “I can’t take it anymore. Just let me die now, let it be over!”
No one paid her any mind. They got to work with their screwdrivers, loosening things and tightening things and not really knowing what the hell they were doing.
“This is easy,” said Toto. “I should get paid twice as much as those bozos who call themselves ‘electricians.’”
The god of thunder struck her down. (Or maybe it was the president of the Electricians’ Guild.)
They got Melba in exactly the same moment.
Porge was fairly quick to stick his finger in the wrong place.
And Squonky’s plotting backfired when one of the pipes he’d redirected burst under his feet.
“Is there no justice in the world!” he screamed.
There wasn’t, he realized, as the floor burst into flames.
KEEP TRYING, the voice urged all who had failed. DON’T LET A FEW SINGED HAIRS STOP YOU! GET THAT BOOGY BACK IF IT’S THE LAST THING YOU DO!
Melba shrugged and got back to work. “It’s not like I have anything better to do,” she said.
Toto really wanted the music back. Wanted it so badly that she pounded the wires in frustration, crossing wires that should never be crossed.
“Oh… oh dear,” she said as the power surged through her again. “I don’t like this kind of dancing.”
That is because she wasn’t dancing. She was dying.
“Help me, you morons!” she shouted. “Is chivalry dead?”
NO, TOTO, said the loudspeaker. BUT YOU ARE.
“Date me!” she cried out to the heavens above.
And then she was gone.
“She’s gone!” said Porge.
“Um, help?” said Squonky, sequestered by the raging fire.
Moments later, the Grim Reaper materialized at Toto’s turntable.
“ARE Y’ALL READY TO GET DOWN TONIGHT?!” he announced, getting ready to DJ.
“Not really,” said Porge.
Toto’s ghost came out of the fetal position to meet the Reaper.
“This sucks and all,” she said, “but look how sad he is that I’m dead. Isn’t that great? He’ll pine after me for the rest of his life. It’s all I could ask for.”
Lunk was indeed quite traumatized. His drugs were starting to wear off, and with a patchy memory (at best) of the night’s events, he couldn’t be sure he hadn’t killed her himself.
“Whatever floats your boat,” said the Reaper.
“You float my boat,” said Toto, “Mr. Charming.”
And so her stone was added to the graveyard out back. As more and more squares were filled in, it was becoming fairly obvious that there was a pattern to all this death. But no one had quite put it together yet.
Toto may not have been the most liked member of the camp, but her passing still affected the others profoundly.
“Ding, dong, the bitch is dead!” said Zerflumpagus, but immediately corrected herself. “No, I didn’t mean that!”
She tried her best to muster a sad face, but it just wasn’t working. “I’m hurting, I really am,” she said, and laughed. “Gosh darn it, what is wrong with me?”
Just then, the loudspeaker made its customary second announcement.
YOU HAVE ALL WITNESSED A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY TONIGHT. YOUR COMRADE TOTO GOT A LITTLE TOO AMPED UP, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING. HOWEVER, THE NIGHT IS NOT OVER. WE HAVE YET TO DECIDE A WINNER. THOSE OF YOU WHO LOST YOUR CLOTHES—YOU STINK. GO SHOWER. THE REST OF YOU, GET BACK TO WORK! I’D BETTER HEAR MUSIC BEFORE SUNRISE OR IT’LL BE THE LAST SUNRISE ANY OF YOU SEE.
“Shit, that’s me and you,” said Lunk to Zerflumpagus.
“Please do it,” said Squonky. “I’d like to see more sunrises, please. I don’t want to move to Antarctica. I would have to take a boat.” He had clearly missed the point.
Neither Lunk nor Zerflumpagus was the type to sacrifice themselves for the sake of near strangers, but they also didn’t want to die. So they kept plugging away, so to speak.
“Damn you, stereo!” said Lunk.
“I’m never listening to music again,” vowed Zerflumpagus.
The sky was getting lighter, and still neither had succeeded in bringing back the music. “Please, no, please,” said Zerflumpagus. The stereo must have felt bad for her, because it came stuttering back to life.
Lunk, who finally resorted to just kicking the damned thing, was barely behind her.
ZERFLUMPAGUS IS THE WINNER! said the loudspeaker.
Lunk kicked his stereo again. “Are you kidding? I lost by half a second?!”
Squonky hung his head. “So did Toto…”