The young woman next to Aiden spoke with polished authority, sipping her drink between words. “MDMA, coke, even alcohol— neurotoxins, it’s really interesting, you and Aron should see the stuff we’re premiering from the lab. Every party kid’s wildest dreams.”
Aiden was all ears until she leaned forward and put a seeking hand on his thigh.
“I’m gonna head out.” Aiden said, standing quickly and enunciating each word loudly so his brother could hear him over the bubbling music. The square collection of plush couches overlooked the energetic dancefloor and had grown overcrowded, and now his status as Aron’s brother made him vulnerable to wandering female hands. They were all quite intelligent in a hard sciences sort of way, but so far none of Aron’s male classmates had been so forward. It was time to try his luck elsewhere. Aiden relinquished his seat to a buxom astrophysicist who happily took the opportunity to slide a seat closer to Aron.
Aron looked up from his own conversation, a question in his raised brows. Aiden twitched a smile back, making it clear he was alright. “Have fun – I’m gonna go.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the universal signal for bailing on loud social scenes. He waved, Aron pointed at his phone, and Aiden nodded in agreement, he would text.
Communication successful, Aiden pressed himself through the sweat-slick crowd on the way to the door, making his half stumble into the humid but still fresher air outside, feel like a dive into cool water. He filled his lungs with the neon-lit night and waved away someone trying to get rid of a stack of flyers to various probably equally sweaty clubs.
Aiden glanced at his phone, at well past twelve he’d have to hurry to make last call anywhere else. Instead of rushing into the next promising bar, or hurrying towards the club two streets over where Aiden knew the nights less-than-handsome and now desperate were bound to be easy pickings, he dug his hands into his jacket pockets and strolled.
Last call was last call, but that meant everyone would be out on the streets soon, wandering roadside and looking for trouble.
It wasn’t until he’d passed a few blocks searching for something to hook his interest that he realized the neon was behind him. The streets here were lit with buzzing yellow, creating pockets of sickly light that illuminated the gum-pocked sidewalks and litter filled curb drains. Aiden almost turned back around, but stained paper—one of those flyers—caught his eye when it stuck to his shoe. It wasn’t for a dance club or bar, but a lounge. The Setback Club. Aiden blinked down at the title and then up.
Just down the street ahead of Aiden old marquee letters repeated the name in old red, the color of sun streaming through closed eyelids. Aiden glanced behind him, and finding nothing to pull him back from this beckoning whim, started walking further into the dark humming neighborhood.