Greg glanced around at the guests laughing and talking. The party was going pretty well considering the circumstances. Was an apocalyptic wasteland the best place for a luau? Maybe not, but they were making it work. Besides, it looked like everyone was having fun.
An old radio crackled on one of the tables. Only the faintest traces of music could be heard on it, probably the last radio station in existence. Still, everyone was dancing as if the music was blaring. They’d all managed to make mock Hawaiian shirts by rubbing some old clothes with colorful dirt and mud. Their leis were made from whatever dead flowers they could scrounge up.
A few of the men were working on building a fire pit for the main event later. Greg could hear the occasional grumble of arguments as each man tried to take control as pit-master. He shook his head. Even in an apocalypse, some things never change. He found that comforting somehow.
A loud chorus of laughs caught his attention. He looked towards it. His wife, Cici, was standing with a group of women laughing about something. He couldn’t help smiling. He was glad she was having fun. He knew how worried she had been when the crisis first happened, but it seemed as if she’d finally found a comfortable little niche in this crazy world. Maybe they should host parties more often.
“Hey, Greg!” One of the men shouted from the firepit.
“Yeah?” He called back.
“Where’s the food? This baby’s ready to fire up.”
“Umm, not sure. Hank and Dennis went out to find it, so-”
He heard a loud chorus of groans from the men.
“Hank and Dennis?” Pete said, shaking his head. “What idiot sent those two to get the food? We might be here until next week before they catch something!”
“Ah, I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Greg said, waving it off.
“Jeez Greg, did you forget how bad they were at hunting before the disaster? What makes you think they’ll be any better after?”
Greg just chuckled and shook his head. Alright, maybe Hank and Dennis weren’t the best hunters, but he was sure they’d scrounge up something appetizing. Even in all this mess.
“Greg,” Cici called, scurrying over to him. “We’re almost out of refreshments. Will those two be back with the food soon?”
“Like I just told the guys, Ci, I’m sure they’ll be here soon.”
She glanced around nervously. “It’s fine, right? Everything’s fine? Everyone’s having fun?”
“Ci, you worry too much,” he said, putting his arm around her shoulder. “Everyone’s having a great time! We got music, good company, everything you need for a great party! Except…”
“Except what?” She asked, glancing around to see what she forgot.
Greg gave her a big smile and walked over to a dead sapling. He easily snapped it in half and started removing the dead branches. She looked at him, confused. Greg chuckled and lifted the stick over his head.
“Limbo!” He bellowed, his voice echoing across the wasteland.
Some people burst into cheers, some laughed, others rolled their eyes and shook their heads. Still, everyone began to gather towards the center of the party. Greg waved the stick around like an explorer, leading a group on an expedition.
“Alright everyone, here are the rules,” he said cheerfully. “This limbo is elimination style. Last one limboing gets a very special prize: first choice of the meat later tonight!”
“If those two ever get back with it!” Someone called from the back.
Everyone burst into laughter. Greg chuckled himself and tried to calm the crowd.
“Any minute now, I’m sure. Now, while we wait, who’s ready to limbo?”
The crowd burst into cheers. A few guests eagerly lined up to enter the contest. Since they were hosting, Greg and Cici held the stick for everyone to limbo under. A few of the guests on the sideline decided a proper limbo needed proper music and took it upon themselves to sing some jazzy limbo song as contestants shimmied their way under the stick.
One by one the contestants fell flat on their butts. Each time was followed by a chorus of cheers as the numbers whittled down to just two. The branch was very low now. Only one of them had to make it to win.
Kirk stared at the low branch and started stretching. He tried to make his body go lower, lower, lower. Boom! He fell right over. The crowd mumbled excitedly. Could she do it? Could Debbie do it? She got into position. Lower, lower, lower.
The crowd suddenly burst into cheers as Debbie scooted her way under the stick. She started jumping up and down excitedly, clapping her hands. A bunch of people came over to congratulate her. Everyone looked so happy.
The sun was just starting to set. The bright sunlight was quickly replaced by the luminescent green glow from the toxic pond nearby. Greg couldn’t help smiling as he saw everyone’s faces in the soft, green light. A warm feeling spread over him. Making firepits, cracking jokes, limbo contests, everyone singing, dancing, laughing. He didn’t care if it took a week for Hank and Dennis to find some food. Part of him never wanted this party to end. It was just like the good old days.
“Hey! There they are!” Someone cried.
Sure enough, Hank and Dennis drew closer. It looked like they caught a fat one. No wonder it took them so long to get home. The branch they had tied it too bent dangerously as they carried it on their shoulders. There would be a feast tonight.
“Woo, that’s a big boy!” Pete said, smacking its stomach. “Nice job, you two.”
The poor thing squealed, terrified as Pete touched it. Cici looked at it sadly. She hit Greg’s arm gently.
“They had to bring the poor thing alive?” She asked, annoyed. “It’s scared half to death.”
“Honey, I know how you feel, but it tastes best when it’s fresh,” he said, patting her hand sympathetically.
“I know, but…”
“Hey, you’ll forget all about this when you’ve got some tasty roast meat in your mouth later.”
Cici smiled a bit. “Well, I guess you’re right. Let’s get cooking then. I’m starved.”
A bunch of people murmured in agreement. The guys went over to get the fire roaring. Hank and Dennis carried their catch to the fire pit. The creature struggled against its restraints.
“Wait! Wait!” It cried desperately. “Please, don’t eat me! I-I know where there’s a whole hoard of humans. Seriously! Hundreds of them! You zombies could eat for weeks. I can take you to them. Just please, let me go!”
Dennis shook his head. “They always beg like this, I swear.”
“If any animal gets backed into a corner, it’ll do its best to get out of it,” Hank replied. “Anyone got an apple or something we can shut it up with?”
“Uh, I think I found a pinecone. Will that work?” Someone asked.
“Good enough,” Greg said, shrugging. “It’ll add a nice pine flavor to the meat.”
Pete shoved the pinecone into the human’s mouth. Everyone gathered around, ready for them to drop it into the pit. This was the best part. In just a couple hours they’d have a delicious feast ready.
“Hey, Deb!” Greg called. “You won the contest, which part do you want?”
“The brain!” She called excitedly.
A few people in the crowd muttered jealously, but they quickly got over it. After all, it was a party. They were here to have fun. Everyone watched anxiously as Hank and Dennis began to swing the human towards the fire.
The crowd chanted, “Three… two… one!”
Everyone roared as the human hit the fire. The flames burst into life and a shower of embers filled the night sky. The smell of cooking flesh was almost instantaneous. The party chattered excitedly about the food as they started to disband. Some went back to dancing, others returned to their groups to talk more. Cici leaned her head on Greg’s shoulder as the meat sputtered in the firepit.
“We should do this every week,” she sighed happily.
Greg put his arm around her and nodded in agreement. Good food, good friends, and a warm and happy feeling that seemed to cover everyone like the soft glow of the fire. Just like the good old days.