The Intoxicating Beverage – a spooky short story by Aaron Lockman

Art by Hsin-Yao Tseng

Diana had loved nightclubs. And now, they were gone.

The irony, of course, was that she had steered quite clear of nightclubs when she was alive. She had hated the near darkness, punctuated with blinding flashes. She had hated the loud music, and having to yell to make herself heard. She had never seen the point of dancing – at least this type of dancing, this random writhing without any precision or grace to it. Add to that her general distaste for both alcohol, and the creepy machinations of the sort of men who tend to hang out in nightclubs, and the whole arrangement seemed bizarre. Bizarre that nightclubs existed, bizarre that someone had even come up with the idea, and bizarre that people liked it.

But then, most humans did things that were incomprehensible to her. There comes a moment when one recognizes that one cannot possibly reconcile the vast majority of human behavior – that empathy, beautiful and necessary though it is, has a bend to it, and a breaking point. And so Diana had stayed in her lane, and sat at home, and drank tea, and read books, and rolled her eyes at her friends who saw fit to frequent such odd places.

After that cold, fateful night, however, something flipped. Many things flipped for Diana, of course. That which she previously had run from in terror now attracted and entranced her. She loved bugs now, for one thing. Where before, a single centipede was enough to send her headfirst into hyperventilation, now she would lie in open fields late at night, look up at the dark clouds, and let the ants climb over her, tickling her cold skin.

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