It was New Year’s eve. The four friends had been reunited once again to celebrate the coming of the New Year. Hopefully this year would present itself with great opportunities and if it didn’t there was always the hope that things could change. They didn’t drink much anymore. Ever since it had happened. Ever since they had lost the fifth amongst their number.
The fifth member of their small gathering had died some years back. Many years ago now. Five years and counting. It had been on that New Year that their friend had drunk all of the booze that they had bought, to a point way past what was considered a healthy dosage. Their friend had died choking on his own vomit, in the backyard of the house that they now sat. They had all once been like that. Throwing their lives away to the wild whims of their mind’s need to escape from reality. Once their friend’s life had been claimed because of his own stupidity, they had ceased drinking.
But that was not the end of it. Their friend’s life, or body rather, had been donated to medical science to be used as a warning over the excessive intake of alcohol. His body had first been donated to a local taxidermist and stuffed with cotton stuffing. His skin had been treated with lather so that it did not simply rot away and after that, their friend had become a life size model doll. The doll would be taken into various high schools around the country and shown to high school students to scare the students straight and warn them of the dangers of excessive alcohol intake.
The doll, that had been their friend, would be propped up at the front of a hall full of high school students and the medical specialist giving the presentation would talk about what had happened to ‘subject A’ on one fateful New Year’s Eve. In the presentation they would talk about the addictive nature of alcohol and how alcohol effects judgment to the point where one can no longer tell what a ‘reasonable amount’ of alcohol was. Then they would pour out exactly how much alcohol the doll had drunk that evening to effectively die because of alcohol poisoning.
And every New Year’s eve since the doll had been given back to his small circle of friends for caretaking measures.
“I don’t know, that thing keeps on freaking me out,” it was Ted, commenting on their former friend who had been propped up in a banana lounge chair near the small bonfire that had been created outside.
“That’s what it’s meant to do. That’s its job.” It was Dean, explaining their friend’s role in the great compendium of life.
“Does it talk to you too?” It was Reginald, “It keeps on telling me that I’m like a tortoise.”
“Why would it say you’re a tortoise?” Callum asked.
“Because that was what he was saying to me the night that it happened. You drink like a tortoise. He kept on saying that to me,” Reginald explained.
“Why the hell do we have to look after it!? Every god damn New Year’s eve! Why do we have to look after it!?” Ted was complaining.
“Just shut up! And listen to it. It speaks sometimes…” Reginald tried to calm them down.
They were all going crazy. Every New Year’s eve they would be given care giving duties to look after their deceased friend’s corpse. As they all tottered off to bed after the stroke of midnight, they all congratulated themselves. They had all survived another New Year’s eve with that… that… that thing.