The state of the van closely resembled the state of Casey’s mind.

Complete disarray.

“It was supposed to be fun, it was supposed to be a bit spooky, sure, and maybe even a little bit weird, there’s nothing wrong a little bit weird, but dead? I mean, actual dead? And Tommy! Tommy of all people does not suit dead in the least. Like, not even a bit.”

He rummaged in the bag he’d tossed up onto the captain’s chair at the centre of the van, lamenting not for the first time the dead battery on his cellphone.

“You know what would be really handy right now? A flashlight. Too bad I didn’t pack one because I thought I could use my cellphone which obviously is not an option. If it was, I could use it to find my charger, so I could charge my…”He sat down hard, his eyes swimming with tears suddenly.

“Fucking hell, Tommy. I never meant for this to happen. I’m sorry. I didn’t think it was real. Who thinks the bogeyman is real besides Jamie Lee Curtis and that guy who played Dr. Loomis? I bet Dr Loomis would have packed a flashlight.” He wiped his eyes and stuck his hand back in the bag, feeling around for something that might be useful.

“Aha!” He pulled out a bag of balloons. “This might be just what the doctor ordered!” He rifled around and came up with a box of small silver canisters and a whipping cream charger. He slid the canister into the charger and hooked the balloon around the nozzle. Once he clicked it into place and pressed the lever, the balloon filled rapidly. He climbed onto the bench seat at the back of the van and pulled the balloon free, careful to keep the air inside. Then he played it like bagpipes, inhaling and exhaling to mix the nitrous oxide with his breath. Soon enough, the familiar womp womp sound filled his ears and he lay back on the seat, giggling slightly.

“Well, all I can say is…whoa my voice is so deeeeeeeeep…all I can saaaaayyyyyyyyy..” the timbre of his voice had dropped significantly, due to the cold gas he’d inhaled. He started laughing, and the sound made him laugh even harder.

“Am I a tenor now? Or is it an alto? Eh, whatever. I think another balloon is prolly the good idea…”

He loaded another balloon and took in the nitrous, the wavy feeling in his head escalating.

“Mmmmmmmmmwohmwohmwohm…ok so if ohm is the sound the universe makes when it sings to itself or whatever that thing is, is wohm the sound it makes when it…why are my socks so tight? I bet I’d be higher if my socks weren’t so tight.”

It took a minute, or perhaps longer, but Casey managed to get his shoes and socks off.

“Oh wow that is so much better. I think I do feel a bit higher. This might not be the wisest course of action. I mean, my friend is dead and while I’m really sad about that, I should probably consider that the killer might kill the rest of us too. I mean, that’s kind of what killers are known for doing. The killing part. I don’t really know what else they do. In all the movies, you don’t really see them when they’re not killing people. I guess they might be seducing nurses or cleaning hotel rooms or trading stocks or whatever that guy in the movie with the 80s music did. But I’m being silly, those are just movies. I probably need another balloon. Where is that whatzit? Why are my pants so tight?”

Casey floated back to the surface of cognitive capability enough to load another canister and fill another balloon.

“This one is blue! I like blue. I think I would be much sadder if I wasn’t so messed up. I mean, if I stopped to think about the fact that someone was able to kill Tommy, who was almost certainly the strongest of us-well, I don’t know Krik that well yet..Krik? Krik? Kirk! Haha, yeah, Kirk. He’s a good guy. But serious, what chance do the rest of us have? Ugh, I should really think about something else. I’m harshing my own mellow.”

The effect of balloon number four, or was it five, started to fade and Casey thought he should probably head back to the cafe and check on everyone. It sounded as though Kirk and Nathan wanted to go hunting for the guy, if it was a guy. Cassandra and Herb wanted to stay put and call the cops. Casey wasn’t really a fan of cops, and thought he should probably clean up this mess a bit if there was a chance they might encounter some. He picked up some of the clothing strewn about the van and spotted a cigar box under some pants.

“Ooh! My weed! I should probably roll a couple of joints for the road, whichever direction we end up heading in.” He had pulled the box onto his lap when the side doors of the van opened suddenly and Kirk, Nathan, Cassandra and Herb stood there, mouths agape. The cream charger and bag of balloons fell out, nearly landing on Cassandra’s foot. She looked around at the chaos of drug paraphernalia, random clothing and her red eyed brother on the verge of sliding off the seat, a joint half rolled his hands.

“Why are you naked?”

Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash