1313

David looked at the envelope with trepidation.  It had his name on the outside with a ‘Mr.’ in front of the David Landry.   The name and address had been hand-written, and the paper texture and colour screamed elegance.  Wondering who would be sending him such a formal and at the same time personal letter, he opened it, careful not to tear any edges.

The letter was written in the same elegant hand writing on rich-feeling buff paper.  A logo appeared in the top left corner, but no official return address, just 13/13 SW.

‘Dear Mr. Landry, Congratulations!  It has come to our attention that you will be celebrating your 21st birthday on this upcoming Friday, September 13, 2013.  The 13/13 Club will be celebrating that same date as well.  Our grand opening is planned for the very same Friday the 13th as your birthday and we would like to extend you an invitation to attend as our honoured guest, all expenses will be covered including drinks and meals for you and a guest.

Please RSVP by burning this letter at midnight tonight in your backyard.  We hope to see you there.’

There was no closing salutation or signature.

As soon as David finished reading the strange letter he heard a knock on the front door.  Opening it, he saw his friend Jack standing there.  ‘Hey man, what did you want?’ Jack blurted as soon as the door opened.

‘What do mean what did I want?’ David asked letting Jack in and at the same time passing him the letter.

‘Never mind; thought you called‘s all.’  Jack took the letter and read.  ‘Whoa!  We goin’?’

‘Uh, ‘course!  Free is one of my favourites.  But weird, I don’t remember any club at 13th Street and 13th Avenue SW – isn’t that all apartment buildings?’

‘Even weirder, Bro.  There’s not even a 13th Street down there.  I remember ‘cause I got lost looking for an apartment to do a delivery one day, and was reading all the street signs when Boom!  All a’ sudden I was at 14th Street.  No 13.’

At midnight that night David and Jack went into the backyard and burnt the letter, trusting their inviter would get the message.

Friday night, David pulled up in his Mom’s Scion and honked twice.  Jack ran out letting the front door bang behind him.  ‘Let’s go,’ he said jumping in and slamming the door.  The car entered 13 Avenue at 12 Street 20 minutes later, at 9:15 pm.  They drove up 13 Avenue slowly looking at all the high rise apartments.

‘There it is!’ Jack yelled pointing to his right.  A single lane unpaved road was marked with a small green street sign that read ’13 Street SW – You are here!’  A very small building nestled back between two of the taller apartment buildings came into their sight.  ‘I never noticed that before!  I guess I was wrong.’ Jack said getting out of the car and walking up to the front door without checking to see if David was following.  He was.

A tall blonde woman in a long form-fitting black dress met them at the door.  David could not tell how old she was – somewhere between 22 and 45 would be his guess.  She held the door open ‘Welcome, boys, enjoy the fantasy. Her deep, husky voice was confident and in contrast with her darting eyes that looked up and down the streets as she ushered them in.  Monyka, as they learned her name to be, walked between them holding each of their hands with a firm, but sensuous grip, and led them to the bar where she introduced them to, yes, Igor.  Igor told them they did not have to drink draft here, they would be served any drink they wanted as Club 13/13’s honoured guests.  David finally ordered a Canadian and Jack requested a Tom Collins.  ‘What?  I saw it in a movie and I’ve always wanted to try one.’

‘You’re weird, man.’  Jack shrugged at David’s comment and sucked on his straw.

The two wandered around the club, checking out the joint which was hopping with extremely attractive men and women, but something felt strangely odd.  The women wore too much makeup and the men looked like they were wearing wigs, all presenting fake larger-than-life smiles every time the two guys walked past.  A few women reached out and touched both Jack and Dave, but the boys kept walking past.  Two attractive women, one a buxom blonde, the other a sultry redhead, approach them and asked if they would like to dance.  Well, they didn’t exactly ask; they grabbed the two men and pulled them onto the dance floor.  Dave and Jack dropped off their almost empty glasses on the nearest table and followed the two beauties.  The men moved awkwardly at first, not used to dancing, far less being the centre of attention (so it seemed), but soon loosened up (what was in those drinks?).

David noticed that other people who looked just as awkward and nervous as he and Jack had also been pulled onto the dance floor by gaudy over-done and overly beautiful dance partners.  There seemed to be equal numbers of both men and women of all ages.

‘Happy Birthday, everyone!’ the tall blonde Monyka from the door was on stage now holding a microphone.  ‘You are the honoured guests of ‘The 13/13 Club’, and we want to give you the best time you have ever had in your life.’  She almost sounded like a game show host.  Jack thought that she was going to tell someone to ‘Come on down’ or start turning letters or something.  ‘We want to spoil you, boys and girls!  It’s your special day – Friday the 13th – make the most of it!  Ha, ha!’  She kind of danced around in circles while shimmering paper confetti fluttered down all around her, coating her blonde hair.  All the people on the dance floor had stopped moving and were staring at her.  Jack assumed that most of these people had a September 13th birthday, but his judgement said none of them on the same year.  There was maybe one younger than his buddy, Dave, but some of these people seemed to be as old as his grandma.  As Blondie left the stage, Jack noticed that she shot a stabbing glance at the DJ then said something that looked harsh by the way her mouth moved and her face contorted, although he could not hear.  The DJ nodded and looked down at his tunes, reaching for something under the turntable.

‘Hey, Man,’ Jack yelled in David’s ear; the music was so loud he had to lean in really close.  ‘I think it’s time to get outta here.’

‘Are you crazy, Bud?  These chicks.  These tunes.  I think we gotta stay.’ David turned and began grinding with his dance partner, whose name he still did not know.

Jack shook his head.  ‘I’m gonna get a smoke then. K?’  He turned and walked off the dance floor, patting his jacket.  ‘Aaah, Man!’ Jack turned back around and headed to Dave.  ‘My cigs are in the car, Bro.  Gimme your keys.’  David handed them to Jack without even missing one move.  Jack took them and headed straight for the door.

‘Where are you going?’ Blondie was standing right in front of Jack, blocking the door.  She smiled.

‘I forgot my smokes in the car.  I need a little break.’

‘Here, take one of mine.’ She snapped open a silver case that was tucked inside the left side of her bra.  It was filled with single cigarettes of every brand Jack had ever heard of, and some he hadn’t.

‘Thanks,’ Jack said, taking a Number 7. ‘This is my brand.’

‘I know’ said Blondie. Jack headed for the door again.  ‘We have a balcony,’ she said grabbing his arm and not waiting for an answer, led him to the back of the club. ‘All our guests smoke there.  Would you like another drink, Jack?’

‘You know my name?  How?….’ he was dumb-founded and at the same time concerned.  This lady did not want him leaving this club, not for any reason. Why?  He looked out at his best friend on the dance floor, dumb smile on his face – drunk.  He was oblivious.  Jack looked around the whole club, from here he could see everything.  The birthday people and their guests were all on the dance floor. They all had mildly dazed looks on their faces.  Their partners had become even more garish and gaudy, if that was possible.  Jack looked across the stage at the giant clock on the wall.  It was one of those Kit Cat Clocks, but enormous.  He saw that it was 11:45 pm.  Fifteen minutes to midnight.  What does that mean?  The DJ was holding a giant magnet-looking object over his head and Jack could swear he could see waves coming off it.  Must be the lighting in this place.

Turning to his host who had completely ignored his last question, Jack asked ‘So, did you invite all the people in Calgary who have a birthday on September 13 for your grand opening?’

‘Of course we did.  All 13 of them.’ Blondie replied.

‘What a great idea.  Did they all make it?’ Jack asked smiling his own fake, but actually real-looking smile. He reached out and touched Blondie’s arm.

‘Not quite,’ she replied, the corners of her mouth turning down in a severe grimace.  ‘But, we are always hopeful.’ Blondie threw her head back and brought her own elongated slim cigarette to her lips, breathing in deeply.  She straightened her head back up and blew a long line of smoke across Jack’s forehead. It smelled musky and sensuous.  He closed his eyes, feeling drowsy.

At that moment, what sounded like a door bell rang.  It was a deep tone, much like a gong.

‘The last guest,’ Blondie said, her eyes going wide.  Without excusing herself from Jack, she leaped up and hurriedly made her way toward the door.  She had to cross the dance floor and continued to get stuck, being grabbed by admirers and patrons.  Pushing them aside, she smiled and curtly continued on her way.

Jack snapped out of his trance brought on by the musky-smelling cigarette smoke and took this moment to act.  He had decided something dubiously evil was going on here.  He and David were getting out.  He almost sprinted to the dance floor in the opposite direction of Blondie, so as to not attract her attention, racing as fast as he could toward David.  Jack raced past David, grabbing his hand on the way.  Not saying anything, he pulled and dragged him toward the exit.

‘What’s going on, Jack?’ David yelled, sounding irritated.

‘I…We…I have to tell you something, Dave!’ not really a lie, he did have to tell David something.  Yeah, to get out of here.  Jack’s eyes were on the door as Blondie approached it, her tight long black dress accentuating every curve, and she was very curvy (and slim at the same time).  Her long white arm reached out and grabbed the door handled. She pulled it open.  Two middle-aged people stood there in elegant evening attire.  The woman wore a fur coat even though it was barely past summer; the man wore a tux.

‘And who is the birthday boy or girl?’ Blondie asked, smiling her big, red, fake smile.

The woman raised her hand and dropped her eyes. ‘Sorry we’re late.  We hadn’t decided until the last minute, and then it just felt like we needed to be here.’

‘You’re never too late.’ Blondie replied smiling at them both, then quickly turning and giving the DJ a grimace and a nod. We’re ready, it seemed to say. She began to close the giant door to the club.

Jack took this moment to pull David even harder.  He literally screamed in his ear, ‘Come on, Bro!  We’re outta here!’ and dragged him through the door just as it was swinging closed.  Did Blondie see them?  Probably.  At that exact second, Jack heard a loud tone.  It was coming from the giant Kit Cat clock in the club behind them.  It was beginning to toll midnight.  When the clock finished, there was a rushing noise, and then a white flash of light; the door of ‘The 13/13 Club’ slammed shut with a sound like thunder.  Jack and David were thrown off their feet, but not too hard.  They landed on the grass next to the sidewalk.

David lay on his stomach, lifting up onto all fours; he shook his head and looked around.  ‘Hey Jack, will you look at that?’ He was pointing behind them.  ‘The Club’s gone!  The road is gone too!’ And it was.  Behind them was just another apartment building and they sat on the grass and stared up at it.  ‘What the…’

The next morning Jack, who had slept on David’s couch, got up and flicked on the TV, grabbing the carton of milk out of the fridge.  David walked into the living room still stretching.  ‘What’s up, Bro?’ he said yawning.

Jack pointed the carton that he was drinking out of toward the TV with an amazed look on his face.  The news was on.  The announcer was describing a series of missing person’s reports that had come in early that morning – 24 people in all; 12 of them coincidently born on September 13.

‘Whoa, Dude!  I think we barely got away.  You were supposed to be number 13!  Thirteen all born on September 13, celebrating their birthday at ‘The 13/13 Club’ in 2013.  That’s too creepy.’  Jack looked out the window, dropping the milk carton away from his mouth.  TV reporters and cameras were pulling up outside Dave’s house.

Somewhere in another dimension, a tall blonde woman named Monyka stared out a window into darkness and let out a long, stifled scream.

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