Note: This was written for the Review Game's June Writing Challenge Contest. Check out the other entries and vote for your favorites from the 8th-14th.


Aaron blinked dirt out of his eyes and wondered why the concert grounds seemed strange all of the sudden.

His first indication that something was different was the pinch of the officer's handcuffs as they slid tight on his wrists. The ground pressing into his cheek was another new sensation, and he certainly didn't remember being covered in neon orange spray paint before then. He took in his surroundings with wide eyes as the officer roughly pulled him from the ground and shoved him into the back of a patrol car with two of his similarly wide-eyed, paint-splattered friends.

The door slammed behind him, and Mike, in the middle, asked through a split lip, "What the fuck is going on?"

Aaron thought that was an excellent question. But another one, "Where the hell are we?" left his mouth instead of a helpful response.

Jimmy, on the far right, inspected the blue-and-red-flashing landscape. "Fuck if I know, man, but I think we're in deep shit."

The three of them peered out the windows and saw they were far from the only confused paint-children being wrangled into cop cars. In fact, the not-concert-grounds, wherever that might be, had twelve patrol cars and probably twenty officers, a SWAT team, and four ambulances surrounding a group of nearly a hundred groggy and bewildered concert-goers. Most of them went quietly, handing over their baseball bats, spray paint, or crowbars, but others seemed intent on doing whatever damage they still could. They graffitied the traffic signs, broke in squad car windows, fought each other… Aaron watched as a little weedy-looking guy wriggled right out of custody, grabbed an abandoned crowbar and took off down the street, cheerfully smashing mirrors off parked cars as if the SWAT team behind him didn't exist.

Jimmy laughed hysterically when that guy got tackled and dragged back to the fray. The laugh started normally enough, a loud cackle right at the moment of impact, but Mike in the middle edged away from him as Jimmy's laugh kept coming, shriller and more hysterical every moment.

"Uh, Jimmy?" Aaron wished his hands weren't cuffed behind his back so he could punch his friend back into sanity. "Jimmy, this really isn't that funny."

Tears came to Jimmy's eyes as he gasped out, "At least we're not the only ones, though, right? These guys are as messed up as us!" At last his cackles turned to chuckles and then to a chesty cough as all humor dropped from his face.

After a relative silence, wherein they heard only the shouts and footsteps outside the patrol car and the faint whir of the lights spinning above them, Mike asked, "Either of you remember how we got here?"

"I don't even know where here is," Jimmy muttered.

Aaron wracked his brain as he turned his attention from the people to the buildings around them. It was a residential area of some sort, full of nice two-story houses with wide porches full of concerned and angry homeowners. At one end of the street, he saw a wide swath of sloppy graffiti and broken glass all the way from the corner to where they sat. At the other end, he saw the lake, with more ambulances, cop cars, and an ominous black morgue van clustered around the shore.

After he saw it, Aaron looked everywhere but the lake and the dark van. "What's the last thing you guys remember?" he asked.

Mike's face contorted in concentration. Jimmy's eyes glazed over and he began to sway to a beat Aaron almost remembered. He'd heard the same beat, moved the same way, at the concert. But where had he heard it?

He remembered bongo drums, and Jimmy laughing at the guy playing them at a rock concert. "What's with this pansy bongo shit?" he'd asked, and jokingly danced along. "Go play for some hippies, you dumbass!" Aaron and Mike laughed with him; the street musician just grinned and kept on drumming.

"There was that bongo guy before the concert," Mike said, and Aaron nodded.

"That's the last thing I remember too." They turned to Jimmy on the far right but he was still off in his own little world, humming and bouncing to the remembered drumbeat. Mike rolled his eyes and the two of them ignored their loopy friend.

"Do you think all of them," and Aaron twitched his head toward the now-tame mob filing into squad cars, "listened to that guy too?"

"What, and some bongo guy put a spell on us that made us go crazy?" Mike sighed and rested his head on the hard plastic seat. "I really hope we're not the ones who have to tell the cops that one. Get serious, man. What are we going to tell them?"

"I have no idea."

They fell silent again, save for the creak of the seat as Jimmy swayed to the beat he kept humming faster and faster. His swaying turned to wild twitches and jerks, his shoulders spasming and legs stomping as his eyes rolled up to the ceiling. The humming reached a fever pitch as he began smashing his head against the glass of the window.

Aaron and Mike yelled for the cops, yelled at Jimmy, just generally yelled at the sight. An officer rushed over, pulled Jimmy out and uncuffed him. Jimmy seized on the ground a moment while the cop rushed to get a paramedic.

As Aaron and Mike watched in horror, Jimmy stilled, calmly stood up, and raced down the street humming the tune. He nimbly dodged the assembled cops, barreled down the street past the ambulances and the black morgue van. He bolted down the pier, climbed over the railing, and leapt into the lake.

Jimmy didn't come up again.