Enjoy an excerpt from Shaun Avery’s “For the Very First Time” featured in our new anthology ON TIME.
“You on your own tonight, son?”
That question came from the doorman, who looked a little bit like a tree with a face.
I nodded. “The guys’ girlfriends wouldn’t let them out.”
Though that wasn’t quite how Gaz had put it. What he’d actually said was, “We’ve all got girlfriends, Doug—we don’t need to go out.”
This sad little fact meant that I was alone as I headed into the bar. But I guess, I was used to that.
Unlike the club in which I’d had my encounter with the robot, this one wasn’t supposed to be segregated, so all sorts were out drinking, both living and dead. A bunch of zombies from a world where the undead were famous, celebrities, seemed to be the liveliest bunch—they were trying to impress a group of girls who were dressed up in school uniforms. But it’s never that easy to be charming and witty when your nose keeps falling off.
Still, I suspected that they would probably pull long before I did.
I turned away from the zombies. Saw aliens and demons, having fun together, while I sat alone. On top of all that, I wasn’t really expecting to see an angel, too. But that was just what happened. Or how it felt, at least.
It was a woman. A beautiful one. Another lone soul, too, so it seemed. Standing across the dance floor with a drink in her hand.
I watched her for a while, just trying to make sure that no guy was with her. It didn’t seem like there was. Actually, it didn’t seem like there was anyone with her—though that didn’t mean she wouldn’t be meeting someone later.
Even now, writing this, I remember that she looked a little nervous, as if she wasn’t quite sure she should be there. That should have probably set alarm bells ringing in my head. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, am I right? And what did I really have to lose, other than a single judgemental friend and my virginity?
So I took the chance.
And moved in.
Her name was Cassie, and she liked a cocktail.
Insert your own dirty limerick here.
She didn’t call security or spray me with some kind of pervert repellent as I approached her, and soon, we were talking. Then, we were flirting and dancing—well, she was dancing, whilst I just tried not to look too much like someone having some sort of fit, mostly without success—and the night sort of wound down around us.
I was starting to get a pretty good feeling about this, but as you might have worked out from my earlier exchange with my good friend Gaz, I’d had a few near misses before, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
That’s when she said, “I wish this didn’t have to end.”
Mr. Cool over here, of course I replied, “It doesn’t have to.”
She stared at me now, a way she had not done before—a deeper look, somehow. I thought I saw longing in them, hope in them, and I tried to show the thing in my own eyes, let her know I felt the same. But then, she glanced away, at the same time taking my hand. I tried to hold onto that hand, I think sensing on some level what was about to happen, what she was about to do. But too late. Like always for me.
“I wish that were true,” she said.
And the next thing I knew, she let go of my hand and was running from the club and from my life.
Shaun Avery has been published in many magazines and anthologies, normally with stories of a horrific or satiric nature, and often both. In a rare break for him, “For the Very First Time” features barely any form of celebrity satire. Normal service will probably be resumed soon.