The DJ dropped a beat.
It was loud. It was smoky. It was dark. Frank began to sweat.
He looked around him. It was a club. He supposed.
An obese man in his underwear stood beside Frank. He was staring at the ceiling.
“Hello?” Frank asked. The man looked down, big drowsy eyes.
“Uh,” The man managed.
“Do you know what is going on?” Frank asked.
The man shook his head then let it tilt back up toward the ceiling.
Frank moved on, pushing through the meat, sweating through the sound. The wall didn’t seem far, yet, Frank continued to walk. The people changed but the wall stayed forever far and the DJ forever close.
“What kind of hell is this!” Frank yelled.
“Pansy,” a nude elderly woman muttered, knocking his shoulder as she passed.
“Don’t mind her,” A loud voice called over the music.
Frank turned. A big man with a big beard and even bigger grin, patted Frank on the shoulder. He held out a hand. Frank took it automatically.
“My name is Charlie, you’re dead.”
Frank frowned. “What?”
“You’re dead,” Charlie called, louder.
“Yeah, I heard you.”
“Oh. I feel like a lot of people don’t realize it, because, you know,” Charlie waved around at the room. Frank followed Charlie’s hand and nodded.
“Right, what is this?”
Charlie made a face like a blowfish and shrugged.
“Well, I’ve met some folks who have been dead a long while. They said it used to be different here, apparently the Woodstock years were a riot. Something about it reacting to the desires of each generation or some nonsense. Fucking millennials, am I right?” Charlie finished, rolling his eyes at the room.
Frank ignored him.
“Are kids here too?”
“You see that pink strobe light in the corner?”
“Yeah, just keep walking towards that. Just whatever you do, don’t walk towards the DJ. Things get freaky.”
“No worries,” Charlie said, giving Frank a wave and heading off in the direction of the DJ.
So Frank walked in the direction of the pink strobe light. He passed all sorts along the way. Some moved along to the beat, placid, resigned. Some chatted with horse voices over the music. Few smiled. Eventually Frank found that the crowd was changing. It became a floor covered with children. Some adults walked around between them all, organizing games, holding criers, and breaking up fights.
Frank approached one of the adults, a middle aged man.
“Hey, so I know it’s a long shot, but, I am hoping my wife might be here with my son.”
The man eyed Frank suspiciously.
“Look, these kids have it the best we can do, we don’t need someone coming in and causing trouble.”
Frank gritted his teeth.
“Look, my son died a long time ago. My wife a few years back. I know she would have come here looking for him. I can wait here but will you please go ask someone if she is here?”
The man crossed his arms.
“Does this look like the type of place where registration forms are neatly stacked in an office somewhere? Or–”
Frank lost his patience. He pushed the man in the chest, not hard, and began walking. The man called after him but Frank paid him no mind.
“Sara!” he called out over the sea of children.
“Yes?” a little girl called from his left.
“Sorry, not you dear. My wife.”
“Oh,” the little girl looked a bit sad.
Frank bent down.
“Would you like to help me?”
The girl nodded.
“Can you ask all of your friends to go and try to find a woman named Sara Morgan”
“Sara Morgan.” The girl repeated.
The girl went off. Tapping other children along the way, telling them what to do.
Seven months later Frank lay on the cold floor, staring up the pink strobe light, being used as an obstacle for an endless game of hopscotch.
“Oomph,” Frank groaned as a child jumped onto his stomach.
“Sorry,” an impish voice cried. Frank sat up. Through the smoke, above the heads of children. His wife walked toward him.
He was up and to her without thinking, children scattered after one unlucky soul got knocked aside by his knee.
“Frank,” Sarah said, letting him go. She frowned behind him. He turned.
“Shit,” he said, walking back to pull the child off the ground.
He turned back to Sara. She smiled. She held Frank’s hands and rubbed his wrists.
“You idiot,” she muttered, rubbing a thumb over the wounds.
Frank began to cry.
“I’m sorry for everything. I had to come find you and find our son. After, after everything.”
Sara didn’t cry. She kissed Frank’s cheek, taking away a tear.
“He isn’t here Frank.”
Frank’s frown dried his tears.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean he isn’t here. I’ve checked. I’ve been here over a year. Every day I’ve spent looking into every child’s face. I’ve had others look too.”
Frank shook his head.
“No. He is here. We will look together. We will find him.”
Sara patted Frank’s hand then held him in her arms again.
“Okay Frank,” she whispered.