Such Nice Guys

Why they had asked me, I could not say, but they picked me all the same. I had grabbed a Vanilla Latte before class at this coffee shop where I go every Monday and Wednesday morning before my Philosophy class which started at nine thirty. So, I would come in at eight thirty giving myself enough time to buy, and enjoy the drink. I always had this time alone to go over my notes before class, but today several guys that I had never met joined me for coffee.

While standing in line the man next to me had started some small talk. That soon led to an interesting conversation. A few other men overheard the conversation and started to join in. Before too long, we were all sitting at one of the tables, drinking coffee and having one of those intellectual conversations that one would expect college people to have while sitting in a coffee shop.

Though I didn't know them, they seemed to know each other and I recognized a couple of their faces from around campus. I discovered that there was another sophomore like myself in the group but the rest were juniors and seniors. I didn't feel out of place, because they didn't make me feel out of place. They spoke to me as a peer not like I was beneath them.

We had such a good time chatting that I didn't even realize that I had missed my first class. I thought that was very strange. I have a very good sense of time and was never late to class. When I discovered the time I felt shocked but still didn't want to tear myself away. The very thought of leaving the table made me feel queasy and I would start to sweat.

One of them noticed my reaction when I looked at my watch and asked if everything was okay. I explained that I just realized that I had missed my first class and would be late for my second class if I didn't leave right away. The words had to be pushed from my lips because I was having such a good time. They said they understood and told me that they would see me later.

I pushed myself up from my seat and forced myself towards the door. I felt like a child being made to go clean my room when I was in the middle of a fun game. Then one of them called after me and told me to meet up with them after my classes the next day. I immediately felt a little better knowing that I would see them again. I asked where, and they told me that they were having a party at a house by the coast that one of them owned. I got directions and agreed to meet up with them the next evening.

It was strange how quick it had all happened. I say it was strange because I usually don't make friends quickly, or trust people who haven't earned it yet. They weren't even the type of people I usually enjoy being around. I could tell that they were from wealthy families. They were also a part of a Fraternity on campus though I couldn't tell you which one. These were people I would otherwise avoid. I know it's a stereotype but guys like this are almost always pricks, but somehow this group seemed different. It was a vibe.

That was it. It was a vibe. I got a good feeling about these guys. When I was sitting with them I felt exhilarated, and almost euphoric. I also felt nervous that I might say the wrong thing, so I obviously cared what they thought about me. Mostly, I felt happy.

I attended my next class but I could not tell you one thing that the professor said. My mind just kept replaying the events of that morning. I caught myself smiling at comments that I remembered from our coffee shop conversation. What was it about these people? Sure they were nice to me, but nobody had ever made an impression like these guys did. Maybe that's why they were popular. Maybe popular people had this quality that just drew you to them.

My mind continued to wander like that the rest of the day. On my way home to my apartment from the campus I managed to step shin deep in a puddle, trip over a Bistro sign that advertised the specials of the day, and almost get run over when I walked right into traffic without noticing. What was wrong with me? That night, my friend Marcy expressed her concern when I didn't utter a single word while eating my pizza even though our friend Korman had made several statements that would usually goad me into an argument or rant.

I went to bed feeling chilly even though I was sweating so much that my t-shirt was completely soaked. I had trouble falling asleep. I felt anxious and I was shivering like I was cold. It took me several hours to finally drift off and when I did it was out of exhaustion.

I woke early the next morning with a start. I couldn't remember what it was but I know I was having a bad dream. My sheets were saturated. I couldn't believe how much I had sweat through the night. I pulled myself up from my mattress and yanked my sheets, blankets, and clothes down into a pile on the floor.

I stumbled into the bathroom to begin my preparation for the day. The shower water felt horrible on my skin and I had to turn the hot water almost completely off as the heat was starting to make me feel sick. The only other time I had felt even close to this was when I was experiencing a very bad hang over, but I hadn't drank any alcohol in days.

I got dressed, made my way into the kitchen, and then took two acetaminophen with two large glasses of cold water. By the time I left for class about an hour later, I was starting to feel a little like myself again. When I arrived on campus I was even feeling good enough to grab a sandwich. It felt really good to have food on my stomach. At the start of my first class, I was wondering what kind of messed up twenty four hour bug I had caught, but that thought had soon past and I was concentrating on my work.

I was sitting in the break room sipping on a soda after my second and last class of the day when Shawn, the other sophomore from the group I had met yesterday at the coffee shop, walked in and sat right next to me. I felt his hand pat me on the shoulder, and suddenly I was giddy again as an almost ecstatic jolt pulsed through my body at his touch. I looked up into his face and he was smiling at me with a soft but friendly grin.

He asked how I was doing and I said great, not even remembering the trouble from earlier that morning. In fact, I felt wonderful like I had the day before at the coffee house. Anxiousness that I didn't even realize was there started to wash away in a wave of bright white smiles and "bro" slanguage. He reminded me about the party that night and he wouldn't seem to leave until I promised him that I would be there. He didn't have to wait long, because at that moment there was honestly nowhere else on earth I would rather be. He patted me on the shoulder again as he got up and left, and I shuddered at a second dose of physical contact.

For the next several hours I unconsciously rubbed the spot where he patted me. He is such a nice guy. I mean they all were, but for Shawn to go out of his way to make sure that I knew I was welcome at their party, that was extra nice. I wasn't even sure they would remember me the next day, so I was almost touched that Shawn not only remembered me, but he sought me out. They must actually like me. I can't believe I used to think guys like this were dicks. I must admit I felt a little ashamed of how I had stereotyped them all my life. I'm just glad they were willing to give me a chance to learn from my mistakes.

That thought bounced around in my head for several minutes. Something about it felt incorrect. What was I ashamed of exactly? I concentrated as hard as I could, but my mind seemed murky. What does one wear to a party like this? What was I thinking about? I quickly finished my soda and headed out of the break room. I had to get home and figure out what to wear to a beach house frat party.

That night I arrived at the party around sundown. I was starting to feel shaky again like the night before, but then I walked into a sea of polo shirts and khaki shorts. All the guys greeted me enthusiastically, and began patting me on the shoulders and even giving me hugs. I instantly felt a million times better. I stopped shaking almost immediately. After all the pats and hugs, I was actually starting to feel a bit high. These guys had a way of calming my nerves without really having to try.

The beach was bathed in warm light from the bonfire that raged in the center of the festivities. The night air was filled with the sounds of laughter, crackling firewood, and endless ocean waves crashing out past the pier that extended from the beach. I smelled burning pine wood and a pig being roasted in succulent sauces.

Shawn appeared from the crowd and quickly offered me a drink. It was a red wine with hints of apple and oak served in an old, ornate wooden goblet. Shawn told me that he was happy to see that the guest of honor had arrived. It took me a second to realize he was talking about me, but when I did I was speechless. How could I be the guest of honor at a gathering of such great men?

The party began to pick up, music started playing, and everyone started dancing. It was a whole lot of fun. I couldn't seem to stop smiling. I looked up for a few moments and saw shooting stars in the night sky above us, but I had to look back down as I started to get dizzy. Shawn laughed at me and threw his arm around my shoulder as we started to walk through the party together.

We walked through the crowd and he introduced me to so many people so quickly that I had no chance of remembering even a quarter of their names. I hoped that they wouldn't hold that against me later. I also witnessed several party activities. Some guys were gathered together engaging in what was probably some kind of drinking game.

It was then that I noticed that everyone else was drinking from silver chalices. When I asked Shawn about it he laughed again in a kind way. I apologized and told him that it must be quite a burden having to take so much time out of his celebrating to explain things to me. He said it was an honor to be chosen as the guest of honor's preceptor. I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but I didn't feel deserving of so much attention. He explained that the wooden cup was special and only to be used by the guest of honor at each party. He told me that I had been carefully selected as this party's guest of honor because I had impressed everyone at the coffee shop on our first meeting. I felt so flattered that I honestly didn't know what to say, so I just bowed my head and blushed.

Shawn didn't allow me to stay still for long though and soon we were making our way through the party again. We walked by another group of people who seemed to be throwing stacks of money, wooden gavels, and what looked like bundles of clovers into the bonfire. All I could think was that rich people could be so weird. Shawn saw what I was looking at and just rolled his eyes. Obviously I wasn't the only one who thought burning money was silly.

As the party wore on, I became more light headed, but also more content. I could not remember ever being this happy before. The music had gotten more intense and people were also dancing with more vigor. It was like looking at a tank filled with writhing salamanders the way that their bodies seemed to undulate together. Shawn didn't talk much but he stayed close to me and kept my cup full of wine. I was not worthy of such trouble but I was thankful for it. I didn't want to be away from him.

We continued to mingle with the crowd and even came upon a large group of attendees who had disrobed. All of these men were engaged in some kind of sexual activity with one another. The image of writhing salamanders seemed even more appropriate now. I gave a nervous giggle as my cheeks turned red, and Shawn asked if I was okay. I told him I was fine, but I had never actually seen people having sex before. In fact, I told him that I had never had sex myself. He just grinned at me and said he knew.

I thought that was a bit odd. How did he know I was a virgin? I had never even told my best friends that tidbit of information. Then I realized that he probably had guessed because of my reaction. I surprised myself by suggesting that maybe I could lose my virginity tonight. Shawn just shook his head no and laughed. Shawn was so funny. I would do anything for him. I suddenly felt incredibly hot, and began to tug at my shirt collar. I noticed that my fingers felt a bit numb. I must be drinking too much.

It wasn't long before everyone at the party was naked. Well except for me, but then it wasn't really my place to get naked at their party. I was here for them after all. If they needed something from me, they would tell me. They all knew that I was here to help them with whatever they needed. In fact, many guests started thanking me for being here tonight for them. It meant a lot to me to hear them say that. Wait, why was I here for them? Shawn came up behind me. He refilled my cup and kissed me on the neck before rejoining the rest of the naked men. The kiss sent a visible shockwave through my body as chill bumps covered every inch of my skin. I felt like I had morphine injected directly into my bloodstream. What was I wondering about before? I guess if it's important I'll remember it again later.

I laughed so hard during the feast. They tore into that roasted pig like a pack of starving wolves. Most of them ended up with plum sauce all over their faces. They looked hysterical. These guys had such a good sense of humor. After they got done they all went skinny dipping at the shore line and washed the smears of food off, and then they returned to the bonfire to dry off. Once they were dry, they all pulled on these matching robes.

Shawn came up to me and told me that I should take my clothes off now, so I quickly stripped down and held my clothes in my arms. I don't know why I felt so comfortable doing this. I'm usually a very shy person, but I didn't even hesitate. I looked around for a moment and then asked Shawn where I should put my clothes. He told me to throw them into the fire. I asked him why. He said that I didn't need them anymore. That made sense so I tossed them into the bonfire flames. I don't know why that made sense. Why am I naked? Shawn kissed me on the lips, and all questions evaporated from my thoughts.

Then Shawn walked me over in front of the whole party. As they all eyed my naked body, I started to feel slightly ashamed. I hoped I didn't offend anyone like this. Then I notice the hungry looks and nods of approval I was getting from all the other guests, and my shame was gone.

Shawn walked me to the end of the pier. The rest of the party followed but just observed. When we got to the end of the pier, Shawn smiled at me again, and then he turned to face the rest of the men gathered there. He spoke to them saying that they were gathered here like their ancestors had before them. They were there to make a sacrifice to some God of the deep, and of secrets. The sacrifice would renew their powers of allure and confirm their rule for yet another year.

Shawn ran his hands up my sides until he was cupping my face. My body felt like it was vibrating. Then he looked deeply into my eyes, and asked me if I would be that sacrifice. How could I say no when Shawn was counting on me to help him? I said that I would of course help them as I could think of no purpose more worthy. He thanked me and then helped me step off the end of the pier and into the ocean water below.

The cold water embraced me as I jumped in. When I floated back to the surface, I looked up. I saw the night sky filled with stars and a storm on the distant horizon heading this direction. I never felt more at peace in my life. Then I looked over at my new friends standing on the pier. They were chanting something that I couldn't understand, but it didn't matter. I could see the smile on Shawn's face and that was the only thing that mattered to me.

Then I felt something coil around my chest and stomach. I was slowly pulled beneath the waves, down into the deep. Soon more tentacle-like appendages wrapped around my arms and legs, and my decent increased in speed. I watched as the moonlight slowly dimmed, replaced by cold darkness. I thought about my friends. They are such nice guys.

Charles A. Bradley (Devil Jack) is a Horror Short Story writer from East Tennessee. Greatly influenced by Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman growing up. Has been writing for 22 years now.

You can follow him on Twitter and Amino.