As much as I hated these things, I found myself at another Hedonist, Inc Christmas blowout. The company’s real name is HedoLine, Inc, but I’ve called it the other way since the first party I attended here. It was a booze-fueled night of inappropriate jokes, kiss and grope, and indiscrete lavatory hookups.

Around me the others came in, dropping off the normal “party supplies.” Assorted finger foods, seven bottles of high-grade liquor, a case of energy drinks, a bowl of cannabis edibles (a staple since legalization), and The Punch Bowl. Three large bottles of fruit punch and a bag of ice had it half full, and it would remain so until the official start of the party. Once the DJ started (it was Dan, from Accounting, again) they’d ceremoniously dump four fifths of cheap whiskey into the bowl.

The lights went out, the Christmas tree was lit and the music started with thunderous bass. Of course, the tree had been lit all week prior, so the reveal was not at all exciting. But traditions seem to hang on, even when they’re lame. The CEO, CFO, CTO, and VP all had an open bottle of store-branded whiskey, complete with sell-by date, which they dumped into The Punch Bowl. As the music blasted out the lights came back half-way, with a spot pointing at a small disco globe hung from the ceiling.

Certain that I’d been seen and accounted for at the party I snuck into the break room and grabbed a small bag of cheese puffs from the cupboard, and a cold cola from the fridge. I don’t drink and I certainly don’t indulge in cannabis, so I left the “party supplies” alone. Dan was doing fine as DJ, at least so far. As the night wore on and he got drunk that would change, though.

Last month, someone left a sun lounger in the break room. I had unfolded it and was all set to lean back and take a nap when Debbie from Marketing came in. “Oh, hey sweetie,” she said, already half-lit. “Since you’re already in here can you start the coffee? We’re making Irish coffees for myself, and Darlene, and Dennis, and Delta, and -” she stopped. “Silly me, you don’t care about that, just make us some coffee?” She tried to look endearing, but she only succeeded in looking even more drunk.

Anxious to get her out of my sanctuary I agreed and told her I’d bring it out when it was ready. I lay back down as soon as she left. If they couldn’t figure out how to use the single-cup coffee maker in the main office, it was on them. It would probably be an hour or more before the “secret Santa” gift exchange, so I set an alarm to wake me then and dozed off to the muffled beat of Dan’s dance mixes.

When my phone woke me, vibrating in my pocket, the music was still pumping, but the transitions were sloppy. Not a big surprise. I grabbed another cola and sipped while wondering how much longer until I could attend the gift exchange and then bow out graciously. So far I’d handled these parties well enough that I didn’t catch any flack for not being “involved” enough in the “company culture.” That’s all I intended to do this time as well.

About thirty seconds into a song a second started playing on top of it, the two clashing like throwing a car into reverse while traveling at high speed. When the cacophony didn’t stop right away, I began to fear that Dan had passed out at his deck. Or possibly had a stroke. Either way, I couldn’t stay in my sanctuary any longer.

I emerged to pure chaos. Debbie was standing on a desk, nude, holding a drink aloft and dancing suggestively with Darlene who was in her underwear. Dan was trying to catch the lights from the disco globe. Delta was making out with Dennis in the middle of the room, while right behind them her husband Dave swayed, staring at the floor. They got her blouse off and then stopped, holding it between them and stroking the fabric.

A sharp blow to my rear brought me back to awareness. The CEO leaned in close, still holding my butt. “You know, Dick,” he said, “you could really go far in this company.”

I pulled away. “My name’s Richard.” Partly because Debbie was bound to spill her drink on someone’s computer, but mostly to get away from the CEO I rushed about the office, unplugging all the desks from the floor outlets that provided power. It wouldn’t save the computers that she spilled on, but might save the others from a shorted connection causing a power spike.

“Look at that!” the VP called out, getting everyone’s attention. He was pointing to Debbie and Darlene, now getting handsy. “Dream work makes the teamwork!” he yelled. I wanted to curl up into an invisible ball and remove myself from the cringe-fest happening all around me. This was far beyond the normal level of drunk, stoned, and stupid I had come to expect from Hedonist, Inc. This was… I wasn’t sure what this was.

I made my way to The Punch Bowl and saw something that hadn’t been there before, a bowl of sugar cubes, faintly pink. I watched as a few people made their way over and refilled their glass, adding a sugar cube, or sometimes two, before rejoining the party. Unlike normal sugar cubes they seemed to dissolve instantly in the drink. The horrible sound from the doubled tracks finally ended and Dan started playing some late 80s Rap, something about “me so horny.”

By this point, Dave was wearing Delta's blouse as a scarf. I didn’t see Dennis anywhere, but Delta was sat on the floor counting the straps on her shoes. It wouldn’t seem like there was much to count there, but she would pause often and make motions like she was adding on her fingers. The CEO was chatting up one of the guys from Sales, and it looked to be going far better than his ham-handed attempt with me.

That’s when I saw him. Dennis was back, and swatting at some flying thing only he could see with a broom. I don’t know where the broom came from, but there he was, swinging wildly with it. He connected with a monitor that crashed to the floor. Next was a potted plant. The plant, like everything else around here, was fake so I didn’t worry about it. His next swing, though, broke one of the fire detectors on the ceiling. Water sprayed down, all of the sprinklers opening up as the alarm sounded.

I expected a panic. Instead, Dennis cowered under a desk, the broom discarded. Dan turned the music up even louder, and everyone else started dancing in the downpour, stripping down to underwear or less. Knowing that no-one else would I went outside in my now-soaked clothes to meet the fire department.

The fire trucks showed up in minutes and I let them know what was going on. One of the crew turned off the water main to shut down the sprinklers while her teammates went in to assure that everyone was ok. A moment after they entered the music finally stopped. Minutes later they emerged, one laughing and the other gone pale. The laughing one said “That’s why I never wanted an office job!”

The police arrived on the heels of the fire crew, and talked to them first. I overheard the words “electrical hazard” and “wild orgy” from the crew. I was next for the police to talk to. “What’s going on in there?” he asked.

I explained the typical Hedonist, Inc office party, and then added that this one was different. He nodded, taking notes as I shared my suspicions of something in the sugar cubes. Then I added “when I walked out there was no orgy, just dancing naked in the sprinklers.”

He asked me to show him the bowl of sugar cubes so I led him and his partner inside. To call what was going on an orgy would be to undersell it. As I stood, shocked for a moment, I wondered how I’d be able to face any of them come Monday. Without the thumping music there was no mistaking the sounds of sex coming from the piles of bodies scattered around the desks. I shook my head and led the officers to the “party supplies” and pointed out the small bowl, now full of water.

“Whatever was in here got washed out by the sprinklers,” he said. “We’ll take it anyway and see if we can get something off of it.” Wearing blue nitrile gloves he picked up the bowl, dumped the water out, and placed it into a large plastic bag. He pointed to the large camera above the table aimed at the main floor. “What’s that for?”

“We do live feeds for webinars, and that’s the main camera for that,” I said. “They also record these parties, then Marketing edits them to look fun, and happy,” and not like a drunken frat party, I thought, “and uploads them to social media.”

“Looks like this one’s gonna need a lot of editing,” he said. His partner asked if I could go with them to make sure everyone was accounted for and safe, and I agreed.

Dennis was still cowered under the desk, afraid of something. He left in an ambulance. So did the CEO and the man from Sales, as they were found both unconscious where they had passed out mid-coitus. Delta, Dave, and Darlene were having a go at it, and I interrupted to ask where Debbie had gone. They all looked at me like I was a three-headed garden gnome and went back to what they were doing. We looked all over, but no Debbie. My phone chimed. It was a tweet from Debbie on the official company twitter account, with a nude selfie.

“The last one’s in the men’s room, I’d recognize that ugly tile anywhere.” I showed the tweet. “If it’s ok, I’d like to go now.”

The officers took my contact information and let me leave. As I walked home in my wet clothes, my phone chimed again. Another tweet from Debbie, “cops gone, party on!!!” It was followed almost immediately by a tweet with the video from the party and a link to the live feed. Yeah, definitely not going back on Monday.

December 26, 2019 17:38

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