Compound Growth II by Benny Mon It had to be the best Halloween party on campus--the best in the whole town. Tyler hadn’t been elected vice president of Nu Phi Kappa and appointed head of the Social Committee only to throw some weak-ass party. He stood next to the dance floor now, an empty shot of vodka dangling between his fingers, taking it all in. A tangle of bouncing, undulating, scantily-clad bodies throbbed around him, moving to the beats of DJ Diabolus. He’d hired the Halloween-themed performer specifically for the occasion, and the dude didn’t disappoint. He wasn’t a gimmick--he knew how to string together a sequence of techno and hip-hop tracks that creeped you out a little but still made you move your feet and shake your ass. Some of the guests had followed the instruction to dress in costume, but barely. There were some sexy nurses and sexy devils and a few guys dressed as stripper-doctors, but that’s about it--and that was all Tyler needed. Some cobwebs dangled from the bannister, a red-and-purple light show for the dancing, a drunk, high brother dressed as the Grim Reaper but giggling his ass off on the porch as people entered: all the right touches to evoke the spirit of the season without, you know, actually fucking scaring people away. It also helped that it was so foggy outside. Some brash piano notes with bass vibrated through Tyler’s ripped chest, announcing a Cardi B song. He eyed a nearly naked Wonder Woman gyrating in the middle of the dance floor and prepared to make his move. Suddenly, though, he felt a heavy hand on his arm, and he turned to see Brian, jacked arms busting out of a makeshift sleeveless tuxedo shirt, tugging on his bowtie with his free hand. “Bro,” he said breathlessly, “you gotta come here, something is up!” “Fuck off, dude.” Tyler was mesmerized by Wonder Woman. “I’m tryna do something right now.” Brian fiddled anxiously with his backwards baseball cap. “I’m serious, Ty, you need to come right now.” A twinge of worry stung Tyler. The party had to be perfect. He couldn’t let anything fuck this up. He looked away from Wonder Woman. “Just tell me what it is, Brian.” “Ty, you gotta come--” “Just fuckin’ tell me what it is, Brian!” Brian took a deep breath and squared away his backwards cap. “Bro, I don’t know how to describe this. Like, I was at the door, cuz this girl told me she was coming at 9:30, so I’m waiting there, and like...” He wiped sweat from his forehead. “...I dunno, man, one of them was, like, walking the other one on a leash?! Straight out of the fog, and I couldn’t look her in the eye, and I don’t if the other one is a girl or what.” “Your girl wasn’t a girl?” Brian looked back anxiously like Tyler was an idiot. “No, dude, I don’t fuckin’ know who this was! I couldn’t look, though, and now they’re fucking up the kitchen--” “They’re what? Why didn’t you fucking tell me?” “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!” But Tyler was already off, hissing “Fucking Christ,” through his teeth as he skirted the dance floor and strode through the adjoining rooms. He passed people dancing and talking and sometimes falling over drunk, but he saw none of it, fixated on the alleged kitchen disturbance. He threw open the doors and saw a few girls pulling snacks out of cupboards, surrounded by piles of spilled boxes and cans. The place was ransacked. The doors swung back and forth at the far end of the room. Tyler swore under his breath before taking a closer look at the girls. He squinted. “Steph?” It was indeed Stephanie, president of the Sigma Gamma sorority, dressed in a cheerleader costume that was barely more than a bathing suit. She was tearing through a family-size bag of cheetos, stuffing them into her face, when she turned at Tyler’s voice, eyes wide and culpable. “Steph,” he sighed, “are you the one fucking up my kitchen? Are these girls in your sorority?” Another, unknown girl bumped against Tyler as she entered the kitchen and reached for the cheetos. “I have no idea who they are,” said Steph, snatching the bag to her chest. “I didn’t do this to the kitchen, I swear! I just got so hungry all of the sudden, and I figured I could find something in here.” Tyler noticed her bare belly was slightly distended, maybe from beer. The snacks wouldn’t have helped that, either. Two more girls and a couple guys poured into the kitchen behind Tyler, flipping open cupboards, reaching into the spilled piles for something to eat. “What the fuck…?” he muttered, but just then Brian ran into the kitchen behind him. “Ty, it’s not Steph,” he said. “They’re out on the porch now!” Tyler looked at Brian, baffled and exasperated, then back at the other end of the kitchen, where the other set of doors still swung slightly on their hinges. He pushed past the small crowd in his kitchen, through a room of people bizarrely fixated on chugging their beers (Stella--no Natty Ice for this party), and onto the huge covered deck out back. It was foggy, and the few brothers here to smoke cigars or weed had fallen back to either side, clearing the path for the two partygoers Brian must have been talking about. One was a tall woman in high, black stiletto boots, covered in a black leather full body suit that highlighted her luscious ass and breasts and the hyperbola of her narrowing waist. It even continued up her neck and around her head like the hood of diving suit, exposing only her smooth, porcelain-white face with its pearly teeth and red(!) eyes. But Tyler didn’t have time to linger on her eyes, as she was holding a chain leash that ended in a collar around the other guest’s neck--covered, like the rest of their body, in layers of white bandages. Like a mummy. They were a little shorter than the first guest and ran a little ahead, eagerly seeking the keg at the end of the deck. “All right,” Tyler yelled, “nice work. You guys have the best costumes for sure. Can you take it easy now, though? I don’t need a performance. Just have a good time, enjoy the music, all right? And maybe tell me what you did to my kitchen?” The mystery guests continued as though they hadn’t heard him, the first clacking forward as each boot struck the wood beneath, one after the other, the mummy throwing themselves on their back in front of the keg. The woman stuck the hose in the mummy’s mouth and turned it on, letting the beer (also Stella) flow free. “Okay,” said Tyler, taking a step forward, “you gotta get your mouth off my keg, that is not going to fly.” The girl looked back at him, stunningly beautiful, her eyes a dark, intense red, and Tyler had to avert his eyes. He looked instead at the mummy, slurping down beer in gulp after gulp after gulp, only a few sprays escaping their cheeks from time to time. Tyler couldn’t believe how much this mummy could down, to the point that he started to notice their belly bulging out a little. “You can’t just drink all our beer. Those kegs aren’t cheap! If you keep this up I’m fucking calling the cops.” “Ty!” One brother tugged on his sleeve, wagging a joint pinched between two fingers. “You can’t call the cops, bro!” It was all nothing to the mummy, who just kept chugging and chugging, gulping down the beer without a breath. Their belly rounded out slowly but surely, their chest gradually following suit, and even their arms looked a little plumper before long. Soon their belly got so big that strips of pale, smooth skin appeared between gaps in the bandages. That was strangely reassuring to Tyler, that there was living human flesh underneath. Well...living flesh, at the very least, right? Brian burst out onto the porch behind Tyler. “Dude, it’s a fucking mob in there! They’re eating all our food!” At this moment the girl tugged on the mummy’s leash, causing them to sputter a little as the hose fell out of their lips. They seemed dazed for a moment, then abruptly scrambled to their feet, fat now and ungainly, and hustled toward the back steps of the deck. The girl walked slowly behind, restraining the mummy on the leash. “You can’t just fucking leave!” Tyler’s heart was racing. He took a few steps forward. “Who the fuck are you?!” But he was bowled over as a crowd burst out of the house, mostly girls but some guys, their faces smeared with crumbs and sauces. They rushed toward the kegs and knocked Tyler to the ground, and he could see them fighting over the beer, wrestling with each other to latch on and suck down more beer into their already taut, overfull bellies. Then someone’s foot collided with Tyler’s head, and he passed out.