Friday, February 25, 2011

The Dark Room, part 4

On the other side of that oddly un-assuming door was a dining hall that very much made up for it. It was as long across as a city block, and the table that sat in the center of the hall extended nearly the entire length. It was covered with ornate candelabras, shining silverware and expensive china, fourteen places down either side, and one at each end. At each place along the table there was a solid wood chair with a tall back, and all up and down they were carved with images of monsters devouring children and demons torturing them, and phantoms sucking their souls out. As the boy approached the chair closest to him, he could make out more of the terrible details engraved in the dark ancient wood. He leaned in to examine the horrible art and it made him uneasy.

"Be careful," muttered the dragon on his right shoulder.

"No," cracked the raven, "be afraid."

At that moment, doors that the boy had not previously noticed opened up on either side of the dining hall, and twenty-nine identical short, fat men in business suits trotted out and took their seats at all but the one closest to the boy. They had slicked-back black hair and wore dark sunglasses, and they showed no emotion. They sat silently, except the one at the far end of the table, who sat scraping to knives against each other menacingly.

"Please," he said with a cold smile, "take a seat."

"Be careful," the dragon whispered again.

"Be afraid," repeated the raven sharply.

The boy climbed into the disturbing woodwork of the chair and sat nervously at the end of the table. The man at the opposite end of the table continued sharpening his knives. The boy didn't say anything. He looked down the table, and couldn't help but notice that he was the only one without silverware or a plate. The boy chose not to think too much of it.

"Be afraid."

The man at the other end of the table stopped sharpening his knives and set them down gently on the black table cloth. All of the twenty-nine pairs turned and looked right at the boy.

"Dinner is served," said the man at the end. There was a flash and puffs of smoke all the way down the table. After the smoke cleared, the boy saw six covered silver platters along the center of the table. The man at the end put his hand on the first and smiled toothily, as a predator would to its prey. "Let's see what the first course is."

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