The Banquet. Short Story.

I hope everyone’s week is going well! Mines pretty good, I got my graduation present today! It’s this, a Gear Ring from Kinekt Designs, it’s really, really cool. I absolutely love it! Plus the company is awesome as well! My parents ordered the size based on my sisters ring, but unfortunately it was too small, so we had to send to back to exchange it for a bigger size and they had no problem switching it and they were super fast as well!

It’s awesome on so many levels and really fun to play with too. I wanted it for a while so it was a really nice surprise, I don’t really wear jewellery, but I love this ring!

I’ve also caught up with Game Of Thrones, so now I have to wait for the next episode, which is annoying because the show is amazing. I’d advise you to start watching if you haven’t already. I’ll probably end up reading the books, I did start but the level of incest kinda freaked me out so I switched to another book, I may give it another shot though.

On with the show!

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The Banquet.

He looked at the piles of food on the table, unsure how to proceed. Around him people chatted, ignoring the spread of luscious foods, he however, was hungry. The food had been brought out a little while ago and no one made any move towards it. It was his first time at one of these events and as such, he had no idea what the etiquette was. Should he wait for someone else to eat? Was there a certain period of time one must wait before eating? There were plates sitting out after all, just waiting to be taken and filled with mounds and mounds of food. He glanced around nervously, seeking any signs that people were gravitating closer to the buffet, but it appeared as though everyone was engrossed in their conversations. Perhaps they were not hungry and they had eaten before. Maybe they preferred foods to be at or around room temperature rather than have them hot or cold. His stomach growled and he blushed slightly, certain that almost everyone in the room heard his traitorous body. It was so close, but so unfathomably far away. This wouldn’t be a problem if Angie had come with him like she promised, but no, she had to back out at the last minute, claiming to be sick. She was probably just sitting at home, eating ice cream out of the tub and in one of her moods. She would have known what to do. He considered pulling out his phone and calling her, but he was sure that would be equally rude, he hadn’t seen or heard someone on the phone since the beginning of the event. He had been fine at first, mingling with the crowd, pleasantly chatting but then the food came. He moved away from the table, so as not to be obvious and he took a glass of wine from a passing tray. He wasn’t really thirsty, nor was he a fan of wine, but it made him feel like he had something to do. He took a sip of the drink, trying to keep his face normal. The wine was quite tart, an unpleasant twang that lingered on the tongue. If only he had food, that would get the taste out of his mouth quickly. One tiny little morsel. Surely no one would notice. Oh, but they would. There seemed to be a five foot wide gap between the table and the people. Like they were purposefully avoiding the food. Maybe it was charged for and it was really expensive. After all, he’d never been to one of these things before and never thought to ask. He could try slipping out but that would be obvious too, there was still another hour or two till the main event, it would look bad If he just left. Besides that, where would he go? Some take away place that had food that wasn’t even half as good as the food on the table. Really, how much of a faux pas would it be to just take a little bit of food? If he did it subtly enough maybe no one would notice, pretend to be putting the wine glass on the table and just pick up something small and pop it into his mouth. It was easy. Though if it was so easy, why was no one else doing it? A woman walked by, her dress elegant and red swishing gently as she walked, as she passed, the air filled with the stink of her perfume, it wasn’t too strong, but the scent itself was almost overpowering, intoxicating and off. Beneath the scent of flowers and spring was something else, something harsh and bitter. His breath caught in his throat as he tried to breathe through it.  He moved further away from her to cleaner air. After the perfume the scent of food was heavenly. Finally, it was too much, what was the point of there being food if no one was going to eat it? He went over to the buffet table, walking confidently, and he picked up a plate, using a pair of tongs, he began to place morsels of food onto his plate and once satisfied he moved away. Though he half expected to be stopped, no one called out, no one grabbed him, no one seemed to notice. There was no sudden hush and the conversations continued on as normal. He began to eat, slowly despite his hunger, savouring each bite. Everything was delicious and bursting with flavour, the pastries soft and flaky, the meats tender and juicy. As though his actions broke the spell, others began to gravitate towards the food, and slowly, others began to eat. He smiled, obviously, everyone was just waiting for someone else to make the first move. Once he cleared his plate, he went back and took some more. As he ate, he moved around again, chatting to people once more, no longer distracted by the insistent pangs of hunger.

Though the food was delicious, it was surprisingly light, he was on his fourth plate of food and still he felt no where near full. Others did not seem to have this problem and when he went to fill his plate again he felt guilty, as though everyone was starting at him. He disregarded those feelings, after all it wasn’t like he was obese or even fat. It wasn’t his fault the food wasn’t filling. It wasn’t all bad though, it gave him a chance to sample everything that was on offer, with room to resample the more delectable bites. Finally full, he placed his plate down where everyone else seemed to be putting their dirty dishes and he began to mingle once more.

Finally a gong sounded somewhere and the general murmur of voices died off, the main event was starting. He was curious as to what would happen, Angie had told him the event would be strange, though she didn’t elaborate, she had been to a few of them before. Stephanie detached herself from the crowd and stood on the small stage. “Thank you all for coming tonight, it is a night which I have looked forward to for a long time and I’m sure many of you feel the same.” A few people in the crowd nodded. “As you all know, we have almost completed the collection, and tonight we will receive the final piece.” the crowd began to murmur gently, whispering to one another. “That’s right, tonight will see the final piece being placed in the puzzle. Now, we haven’t had a chance to prepare it fully, so for this I apologise. I would now like to ask my friend Jason to join me on stage.” He looked around, waiting for someone else to move, but the crowd was still, Stephanie smiled and looked directly at him, “Yes, you.” as he moved towards the stage, the crowd gently applauded, he climbed up beside her and stood awkwardly to her left, unsure what to do. “So my friend, how has your evening been so far?” Jason blushed and leaned towards the microphone, “Quite enjoyable, thank you for inviting me” Stephanie smiled, “It’s our pleasure to have you here.” behind them a hidden panel in the floor opened, Jason stepped away from it, worried he might fall, slowly, a chair rose from the hole. “Would you please take a seat?” unsure of what was going on, Jason did as requested. The chair was firm and made of thick wood. “Comfortable?” Jason nodded, “Good.” Stephanie gestured to people standing either side of the stage, they climbed up, carrying some rope. “Just sit still for a moment.” The people approached Jason and began to wrap the rope around his wrists and ankles, “What are you doing?” “Just relax for a moment, it’s all part of the fun. Don’t worry.” she winked at him. Jason tried not to struggle as the ropes were wrapped around him, they were loose at first, but they began to get tighter. He started to struggle. “Stop. Please, stop, I’m not comfortable with this.” he tried to get out of the chair but by now the ropes were too tight. “It’s ok, just relax.” beads of sweat began to run down his face as he strained at the ropes, “Stop, I said stop!” the people continued, ignoring his pleas. “Just answer a few questions and it will all be over, ok?” he nodded, trying in vain to relax. “You were the first person to start eating, correct?” “Maybe, I’m not sure. I think so.” “Good. And how much did you eat?” “I’m not sure.” “How many times did you refill your plate?” “six times maybe.” “Are you sure?” “It might have been seven or eight.” She nodded, “Our count has you at nine, but close enough.” “Can I go now?” “Not quite yet.” She turned back to the crowd, “May I present to you, Gluttony!” the crowd started clapping in earnest, there were a few cat calls. She turned to Jason, his face bright red, “You see we were trying to create the whole set, a few thought it wouldn’t be possible, but you are the missing piece, the seventh and final part.” Jason could hear something moving behind him, the chair was swivelled around. The wall had parted to reveal a display case. Inside were six people, each contorted into horrific shapes. He looked at them, his stomach knotting in horror, trying not to vomit. “As you can see, we tried to keep to the theme as best as possible.” “Y-you’re going to kill me?” Stephanie laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous, look closely” she leaned close to him and whispered in his ear, “they’re still alive.” Jason began to scream, the sound mingling with the cheers of the crowd.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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