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My head throbbed, and my ears pounded.
I didn’t belong here, I realized that now. I tried, to no avail, to squeeze my way through the mass of bodies dancing to the pulsing beat. There! A glowing red exit sign! Freedom!
I hurried towards it blindly, praying I wouldn’t fall over anyone in the process. Failing to notice the “DOOR LOCKED, PLEASE USE OTHER EXIT” sign, I tried to open the door. I pushed, and pulled, and pushed and pulled; no luck. I swore profusely under my breath.
“Language, missy. By the way- that door is locked.” A tall boy walked down the hallway towards me, holding two cups. “Drink?” he offered, holding out a cup.
“Thanks, but no. And yeah, I noticed it was locked.”
He checked me out from head to toe, and then smiled. “Jeremiah. But you can call me Micah, everyone does,” he said, waving an elbow at me, since his hands were full.
I grinned, “Alright, Micah. I’m Katie. Short for Katelyn.”
“Nice to meet you, Katie-short-for-Katelyn.” He looked back down the hallway towards the crowd. “Care to dance?”
“I was actually lea-,” I paused, considering. “Maybe one song,” I decided. “But then I bounce. Too crowded for my liking.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He smiled, and motioned with an inclination of his head for me to lead the way.
We flew across the dance floor, adjusting our movements according to the pulsing beat. All too suddenly, the music stopped. A low hum of annoyance arose from all corners of the larger building.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a voice boomed. “It’s time for KARAOKE! Are you ready?!” Everyone began to cheer and push towards the stage,
“What do you say?” I asked, elbowing him.
“Karaoke? I’m not really much of a singer…”
“Aw, come on. Look, we probably won’t get a chance to, anyways. Everyone will be up there before we get any closer.”
The man on stage picked up his microphone again. “People, people, stop going crazy and trying to get up on stage. This stage is mine, so chill. The judges and I have come up with a great idea to get the ball rolling and see who will be performing.”
“Judges?” Jeremiah asked, skeptically. I replied with a shrug.
“I hope everyone still has their entry ticket we gave you when you got in. We’ll be drawing the duplicate tickets we have here in this hat,” he waved so-called hat around, “and if your number is drawn, your one of the five lucky contestants. You have to come on stage. If you’re here, you’re here to party. So don’t be shy, have the time of your life! So if your number is called, just boogie on up here for a few rounds of our very own American Idol, club style! So get your tickets ready, we will be drawing the first number… now!”
They called the first two numbers, and two girls waltzed on stage, giggling like lunatics, and pretending to be embarrassed. When they called the third number, I noticed Jeremiah turn white. The number they called was 11602. I looked at my ticket. 11514. They called his number. I stifled a laugh.
“Where is lucky number,” the announcer looked down at the drawn ticket again, “11602? C’mon push ‘em up here, it’s time to party! Yoo-hoo! 11602!” he sang, dancing around.
“Micah, go!” I pushed him forward, laughing. His demeanor changed, however slightly when he looked at me. He grinned, and walked forward, looking determined.
“Allllllright! Thank you to the lovely lady who brought our third contestant up on stage. Okay, our fourth victim, I mean contestant….”
I tuned him out and focused on Jeremiah. Micah, I reminded myself. His nervous stance amused me, and it was painfully obvious how uncomfortable he was, though how he tried to look relaxed. He found me in the crowd, and his eyes bore into my own. If I could hear his thoughts, I was sure he’d be saying something along the lines of: This is not fun; I’m only doing this for you, so you better enjoy it. Blah, blah, blah.
“11514! Do I hear an 11514? Going once, going twice…” the announcer’s booming voice startled me back into paying attention. “11514? Don’t be shy. Where’s the girl that got 11602 up here? Girl, push 11514 up here! Let’s go!” I looked back to Jeremiah, and he was grinning like an idiot. I slowly marched up to the stage.
“Alllllright! Here’s our fifth and final contestant for Club Idol! Oh, hey, you’re that girl… irony and its best, folks, irony at its best…” they placed me next to a boy I’d never seen before, who was obviously excited to be here. He didn’t seem nervous at all, he seemed completely comfortable on stage, almost cocky, even. I hated cocky people, though I hated banana slugs even more, but that’s another story. The guy was looking out at the crowd with a giant smile on his face. He looked over each of the other contestants, and he bestowed each with a coy smile. He looked at me last. I was the only one who held his gaze, returning it with a challenging look of my own. His smile widened. Clearly, he was up for the unspoken challenge.
“Jason,” he said, reaching out his hand to shake mine.
“Katie,” I replied, accepting the handshake.
“Alllllright!” boomed the announcer. I was getting tired of his “Allllright!’s”
“May we have a round of applause for our contestants, before they introduce themselves?” he yelled. Their cheers could be heard from a mile away, I was sure.
“Okay, contestant number one!”
“Brianna,” she spoke confidently into the microphone. Her friend mimicked her,
I doubt he realized what he was doing, but the announcer “mmhmm’d” quite audibly into the microphone. The girls giggled, hiding behind their hands.
The man with the microphone turned towards the crowd, and in an attempt to be funny, rolled his eyes as Micah spoke. “This one might need some help, so ladies, do your stuff!”
I rolled my eyes. Idiot.
“Mr. Confident here, ladies. Give it up! Think he’s number one?
Too soon, the microphone was inches from my face. “Uh…” I stuttered.
“There’s always one,” the announcer mumbled loudly. I could tell he rolled his eyes.
“Excuse me?” I asked, irritated.
He seemed surprised at my response.
“Now who’s the one not responding, eh?” I said, growing more irritated. “I’m Katie, and you better not forget it,” I said, roughly pushing away the microphone.
He stared at me for another second, and then recovered quickly, “Contestants please… go to the back room. The ushers will direct you.”
I huffed, and marched off stage behind Jason, who was trying to stifle his laughter. I noticed Jeremiah doing the same.
As soon as we were out of sight, I heard the announcer say, “Guess I was right after all, she’s a fireball. Always gotta have one. What was her name again?”
“KATIE!” they screamed back enthusiastically.
“Okay and you guys get to decide who you want to go first, AND you get to pick the song!”
I wasn’t surprised to hear my name being chanted. Of course I had to go first. Perfect. I sighed, this day just kept getting better and better.
“Knock ‘em dead, fireball.” I turned, expecting to see Jason. It was Jeremiah.
“Thanks, Micah. You too.” He chuckled and walked away.
“Fireball, I mean Katie, come on out!”
I stalked back out on stage, still irritated with him.