The floor was still covered with confetti. None of the half-empty plastic champagne flutes had been picked up. Parts of the cheese tray had calcified, whereas others had devolved into runny pools of non-Newtonian stink.
They all sat there. Staring at each other. Someone had the bright idea of counting down from ten to one, and then singing “Auld Lang Syne” again. And so they did. And they all cheered at the end, and hugged, and kissed, and high-fived.
“We did it,” they all exclaimed in one fashion or another. “We made it through 2014!”
Then folks pretended to check their watches and phones, and said that they needed to get home. Some even went through the motion of walking to the bedroom to get their coats, even though at this point, everyone was already wearing their coats.
One brave soul even made the grand overture of walking to the front door, putting her hand on the knob, and saying to everyone, “Have a great year, everyone!”
And they all held their breath, waiting for someone to be the first to say, “You too!” Then they could all join in, wishing each other well for the new year, and the party would finally be over.
But before that could happen, before any of that could happen, a dull “thud” emanated from the other side of the door, followed by a few more.
The brave soul took her hand off the knob.
She sat back down on the couch.
One by one, everyone sat down again. They all sat down and stared at each other.
Trying to lighten the mood, someone blew into their noisemaker sarcastically. But by that point, the part of the noisemaker that made noise had broken, so his effort manifested as a long, loud, inappropriate sigh.
They all stared at him angrily, and he dropped the noisemaker to the ground.
Someone else asked what time it was. This too was met with angry stares, because they damn well knew the answer. Every clock in the house, every watch, every phone, every device that possessed the ability to show a time and date told the same story.
11:59pm, December 31st, 2014.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
“Turn on the TV again, maybe it’s changed,” someone theorized. So they did. And it hadn’t.
In Times Square, the giant, expensive electric ball, covered in crystals, sat resolutely perched at the top of its pole. It had not budged in whatever amount of time had passed.
Early reports noted that clocks and watches had stopped at 11:59pm around the world. Fireworks went unlaunched. Fantastic neon signs reading “WELCOME 2015!” went unlit. Hundreds upon thousands of people in city squares had retreated to their homes, and locked their doors.
Some kind of freak phenomenon, they all agreed at the beginning of the evening.
“They should have it fixed when it’s time for us to ring in 2015,” someone said, and they all laughed as they drank, and ate cheese.
It was difficult to ascertain how long ago that was now.
It was difficult to ascertain anything, really.
They turned off the television.
“Okay, fuck this,” another partygoer exclaimed. “Fuck all of this. I’m going home. You can all sit here if you want, but this party is fucking OVER. 2014 is OVER. And it’s over because I say it is. I don’t care what the clocks say, I don’t care about that stupid ball on a pole, and I don’t care that other countries can’t get their shit together. Okay? We’re through here.”
And with that, he knocked back his warm champagne, threw his plastic flute dramatically, and confidently walked to the door.
THUD. THUD. THUD.
“FUCKING BANG ON THE DOOR ALL YOU WANT, I DON’T CARE, I AM GOING HOME.”
And with that, he opened the door.
It is difficult to say what became of him, it happened so quickly. A few swore he was yanked in the air about three feet, and then disappeared. But of course, they had been drinking.
Others said that they heard a quick shriek, like he had been caught in something, or by something.
But it was too dark to tell. They agreed that ultimately, it was far too dark out to tell what happened to him.
A couple, huddled together in a corner, couldn’t bear to look at all, and after the door was slammed shut, they mouthed to each other, “He got home okay.” “But let’s stay a little longer.” “Okay, let’s stay a little longer.” “But he got home okay.” “Okay.”
A few minutes later, the jerk with the broken noisemaker began to count down again.
“Ten. Nine. Eight.”
“Jesus Christ, shut the hell up,” one of the drunker members of the party hissed. The rest of them grumbled in agreement.
“Seven. Six. Five.”
The drunk lumbered towards the jerk, cracking their knuckles.
“FOUR. THREE. TWO.”
“I SAID SHUT THE HELL UP.”
In one fluid motion, the drunk grabbed the jerk, opened the front door, and attempted to throw them out. But the drunk lost their footing, and both of them tumbled out the door.
Some saw them rise, and vanish. Some heard the shrieks. Others didn’t look at all.
Everyone agreed it was too dark to tell.
Everyone agreed it was a good idea to close the door.
Before that could happen, the couple who had been huddled in the corner nodded to each other. Holding hands, they threw themselves through the front door as well.
The inevitable rush for the open front door now began. People swigged from bottles of booze and bubbly, people kissed each other, people said their goodbyes, some crying, some laughing, everyone grateful that they were taking control, everyone grateful that they were actively deciding to stop waiting for something, anything to happen.
The apartment was empty. A stiff wind blew through the open door, swept up the glasses, the confetti, the cheese, the broken noisemakers, everything, and sucked it out the front door, leaving it spotless.
Sometime later, the hosts woke up from their nap. They joked with each other that they shouldn’t have hit the champagne early, although neither could remember the other one drinking.
They arranged the cheese tray, put out the plastic champagne flutes, turned on the music, and greeted the guests one by one.
The TV was on in the background with the volume turned down. One of the party guests noted that it looked like there was some kind of weird mass clock stoppage in another part of the world.
Some kind of freak phenomenon, they all agreed.
“They should have it fixed when it’s time for us to ring in 2015,” someone said, and they all laughed as they drank and ate cheese.