Party Time (HTML excerpt)
 
It was 11:59 PM on Friday, December 31st, 1999. It had been for a very long time. Sarah wasn’t sure how long. Time was passing inside her apartment, sure, time enough for everyone to eat their fill and drink past their limit then puke and sober up and do it again, but it wasn’t the sort of time you can count on a clock. There was no point in tracking the hours anyway. The world outside was on pause, like a VCR tape you’ll restart when you’re ready. Responsibilities awaited everyone in the morning, but while they remained inside Sarah’s apartment the morning need never come.

The view from the windows was an instant in freeze-frame, starbursts igniting the sky all along the Mississippi River. Sarah could count at least ten different towns’ worth of New Year celebrations. It was lovely the way the motionless lights washed the motionless waves with color. But Sarah wished, just a little, that she could unpause the night and watch the fireworks shows continue.​

Her sister Paula had rigged the time-warp. Sarah had no idea how. Paula had been too drunk to explain much, and nobody else had been either sober enough or sufficiently well-versed in astrophysics to understand. “Long as there’s someone in the apartment,” she’d said, “the apartment will remain outside of time.”

She’d accounted for everything. Water and electricity flowed freely despite the apparent chronological discontinuity. The toilet, thank God, still flushed. The air conditioner ran as needed, and the air circulated just fine. Supplies of cold beer and raw hamburger were unaffected by how often the party-goers raided the refrigerator. The hamburgers had to be cooked on the kitchen stove, though. The outdoor grill on the balcony was off-limits. Paula had warned everyone that the moment they left the apartment, they’d resume their personal journeys into the future. They could come back in, she’d said, but there’d be no point. The party would be over. The moment would have passed.

Sarah imagined anyone who did come back in would find her washing the dishes and applying stain-remover to the carpet, and she’d be grateful for their help. Not that they’d give it. She’d thrown the party in a forlorn attempt to turn her coworkers into friends, and it hadn’t worked. Oh, they’d gushed appreciation at her in the way of party-goers toward their host, but no one had much else to say to her otherwise. As long as she mopped up the spills and refilled the punch bowl, she was invisible. Sarah was beginning to feel a little used...
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This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for March 23, 2018. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1330 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.

Cover art incorporates and modifies fireworks photo by Flickr user Alli (CC BY 2.0).

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