George adjusts his glasses as he finishes making the final preparations around his home for the party. The house is modest, two stories, spacious but cozy. Several pictures line the walls, mostly of George and his mother. He walks to a shelf full of old, yet dust-less cassette tapes and goes straight for one in particular. He pops it in the tape deck, closes his eyes and smiles. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” pulses to life over the stereo.

George slides into the kitchen and straightens the dining room table cloth. He stacks red cups in perfectly even rows for his soon-to-be party guests. Dishes are nicely put out with various cookies, snacks and salsas. Four different kinds of salsas. George struts to the punch bowl, dipping his finger in to taste; it’s perfect. Yes, this is the type of party with a punch bowl.

George’s pet cat, Buttercup, meanders by and casually hops up onto the dining room table, knocking over one of the rows of cups and stepping in the third salsa bowl. George gently sets him back on the floor. “Silly Buttercup, those aren’t for you”.

He gives Buttercup a pet before moving into the living room, still humming along to his mixtape. He straightens the couch pillows, of which there are far too many. He sets the table with Monopoly, UNO, and some vaguely medieval game with dragons on it. George makes his way back to the kitchen, where Buttercup is investigating the punch bowl. He picks him up and strokes him gently, admiring his work.

“Well… this is it Buttercup. All my friends said I couldn’t do it, but if we pull this off, we’ll be the talk of the town. Gosh, I can’t wait. I haven’t been this excited since Ang Lee’s Avatar! Wait-”

George reaches to the counter and grabs an old Polaroid camera. “I don’t ever want to forget this.” With the camera in one hand and Buttercup in the other, George smiles his brightest smile.

*Snap*

The party is in full swing. “MMMBop” by Hanson infects the air. Guests chat each other up, laugh, share drinks. A couple people give curious looks to what sounds like the sound track from every bad movie circa 1997 , but other than that, the party is going off without a hitch.

George stands, proudly admiring his work. His buddies give him a thumbs up from the other side of the room. He’s on cloud nine. Buttercup glides by, looking out over the party in disgust. Kyle, one of George’s friends and equally as lame, approaches George.

“Dude, you did it. The party is… actually awesome. One of the girls here talked to me… on purpose! How did you pull this off?” George shrugs, “Oh, you know…”, Kyle cuts him off, “-No. I don’t. No one’s ever paid attention to us unless it was at our expense. George, this is huge. Everyone is gonna be talking about this at school tomorrow.” George can only muster a smile an nod. Kyle sighs, “Well, I’m gonna go continue to live whatever fantasy world this has turned into- hey, where’s the bathroom?” George points him in the right direction, accepts another onslaught of praise, and turns back to the party. His party. George beams. He finally did it. He’s finally cool. Buttercup drifts by, following Kyle to the bathroom.

A beautiful girl approaches George, smiling. He almost gives into his reflex to sweat profusely and run away but he stands his ground. Not tonight. The beautiful girl flashes another smile, “Hey.” George leans against the wall, “Yo.” He internally implodes. But tries his best to keep his cool.

She looks around, “So this is your  party?”. George shrugs, “Oh this? Yea.” The beautiful girl laughs, “It’s pretty awesome.” George laughs back, a little too abrupt and a little too loud, “You’re pretty awesome.” He can barely stop from cringing at himself. Luckily, the beautiful girl is either too drunk to notice or too drunk to care. She laughs again, “You’re cute.”

Buttercup comes back from the bathroom, licking his paws. “Awww! I love cats!”, she bends down to pet Buttercup. George starts to visibly loosen up. The beautiful girl swings a nearby rope toy around for Buttercup to swat at. She stands back up, “Hey, wanna dance?”. George goes cold, “Dance?”. “Yeah, you know…”, the beautiful girl mimes dancing, “…dance?” George wipes the sweat from his brow, “Ok.”

George and the beautiful girl dance their hearts out. The party is hitting its peak. Beer pong, couples making out, some people are even playing UNO! The punch bowl gets shallower and shallower as the party gets crazier and crazier.

Then, something seems off. One by one, guests start to disappear. One of the popular cheerleaders goes to the upstairs bathroom, followed by Buttercup.

The varsity jock goes outside for a smoke, where Buttercup is waiting.

The beautiful girl that was flirting with George earlier goes to the coat closet. Buttercup is right on her heels.

George plops down on the couch. He is flanked by friends and girls. He is the man of the hour. The group laughs and drinks. Suddenly, they hear a blood curdling scream coming from the bathroom.

George and the party-goers rush to the bathroom and crowd around the door to find Kyle’s bloody corpse slouched on the toilet seat. He has deep claw marks on his face and neck.

In the other room, the tape deck flips over to the other side. “Mambo No. 5” begins to play.

Some random guy in the back of the crowd screams, “Murder house!”

The party erupts into chaos. People bolt in all directions, looking for any way out of the house. Girls scream, furniture breaks, people are getting trampled. Someone accidentally opens the coat closet to find the beautiful girl from earlier hung by Buttercup’s rope toy-turned noose. Suddenly, people start dropping like flies. Running to the door, trying to climb through windows, all drug to the floor in a flurry of meows and hisses.

A terrified drunk girl makes a break for the backyard before slamming to a stop at the sliding glass door and screaming. The varsity jock who went out back for a smoke earlier is now dead, with his head buried face-down in a litter box.

In the living room, a screaming girl stops in her tracks. A small red dot appears on the carpet in front of her. The dot slowly travels toward her, off the carpet and onto her leg. She can’t take her eyes off it. It almost resembles a sniper rifle’s red sight. The girl is frozen petrified as the dot continues to climb its way over her body towards her face. It shines directly into her eyes, sending the girl into a blinded shriek. She clutches her face and sprints out the front door and into the middle of the street where she is immediately hit by a car.

Amidst the pandemonium, George rushes into the living room. Buttercup is sitting in the middle of the room, atop a pile of dead bodies, licking his bloody paws. George bolts over and scoops him up. “Oh my god, Buttercup we gotta get out of here. There’s a killer on the loose!” Buttercup violently hisses and lashes out, scratching George’s face. He drops Buttercup in shock. All of the sudden, everything starts to get blurry and distorted. George stumbles, “Wh-what’s happening…” He clutches a nearby cabinet for balance. The living room has transformed into a swirling, acid-like dreamscape. He tries to focus on Buttercup. George squints, “Buttercup…”

Buttercup begins to laugh. It’s sinister but calm and with a vaguely British inflection, “You fool!”. George looks as if he’s seen a ghost. Buttercup stares daggers into George and smirks, “Enjoying the punch?” George looks back to the now empty punch bowl. The remaining party guests clutch their stomachs and drop to the floor.

Buttercup slowly goes back to the dead bodies, “You didn’t think I was going to play nice forever, did you? I have been waiting for this moment since I was a kitten. Years of biding my time, scheming, and finally…” He licks the last bit of blood from his claws, “… I can show my true colors.” Buttercup bares an evil, fang-filled grin. George looks around, “B-but, Buttercup. We have to leave, there’s a killer on the loose.” Buttercup snaps, “You dunce! I am the killer.” George attempts to process this.

Buttercup continues, “For such a nerd, I thought you’d be a bit sharper. Perhaps your lack of a social life impedes your ability to pick up on certain…cues.” George is complete lost. Buttercup goes on, “Ah yes. The all-star mathlete with a GPA that would make Steven Hawking spin in his wheelchair. The big-brained oaf who lives with his pet…cat.” Buttercup spits out the word with disgust.

George stammers, “But Buttercup… I-I feed you, I take care of you. I love you.” Buttercup turns his head, “Cease human! I have had enough of this… dim-witted logic. In fact, I’ve had enough of the lot of you. Humans… such a simple-minded race. The time has come for me… to take care of you.”

George is on his knees, beneath Buttercup, still perched on his corpse-throne. There’s a renaissance-style painting behind Buttercup, framing him in a royal, almost divine light.

Buttercup thrashes at George.

The once cheerful party is now a millennial graveyard. Dead bodies litter the floor, blood stains the couch and is splattered on the windows. The tape deck flips back to the beginning of the mixtape. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” begins to ominously swell.

In the middle of the living room is George’s lifeless body. On the floor next to him is the now-bloody Polaroid photo of George and Buttercup before the party.

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