The Banquet

The Banquet

A Chapter by Marlowe147
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Just read it.

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Chapter I.

The Banquet.

 

Out on the silver veranda, the Man stood with his hands rested on the chrome barrier. His Wife was seated, reading, at a thin oval table, feet away from where he stood. Her head moved like a dull speeding typewriter; she flicked aimless pages with the thumb and middle finger of her right hand. Her foot tapped with the incessant pulse of the undergrowth.

 

Far, far below, at the bottom of the wall…

Far below where jackals and hellcats, monumental boogeymen, were hidden beneath and by the thick of the jungle.

An inconsistent rustle took vile shape. That was they. There they were. Poised for a mistake.

 

The Man listened carefully to the screeches.

The earthly breath.

Screaming horrors of the night.

 

“What a beautiful night. All of the tiny stars. It’s serene. Don’t you think so, dear?” the Wife called to the husband through her magazine.

“Yes. The stars are fine.” He continued listening.

“Oh, the noise adds a particularly brilliant underscore, doesn’t it?” she paused, distracted. She lost focus of her magazine; it all became a blur in her squinting blue eyes.

“Darling?”

“Yes, dear?” he looked up from the blackness that engulfed all light, the sightless abyss below him.

“What do you suppose is beyond the compound wall?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, you know as well as anyone.”

“What I mean is have you ever wondered if there is something else out there? Something worth finding?”

“Something else? Don’t be ridiculous” he scoffed, “The creatures, those…savages, that’s all there is. I know what it is, you’ve been watching that damn show again. I can assure you, and I should know, I studied the beasts in college, that there is nothing else out there.”

 

“Yes, but…those were just pictures, artist renderings. I have yet to see one, let alone meet a person who has actually seen the monsters.”

The Man turned view from a spot he had picked in the sky, a star to the right of milky moon, back to his Wife. He responded coldly, “It’s not our place to question, dear. We leave that to the Officials. There is a reason they are appointed.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she said with a dropping sigh.

“I’ve studied them, darling,” he said, defensively, “I am right.”

The Man took pride in saying this.

“It’s not that, it’s just…why can’t I ask questions?”

The Man said nothing.

 

The Wife broke the silence.

“Bill and Margaret invited us to dinner tonight. I told them that we’d be delighted to join them-”

The Man grimaced at the thought.

“Do we have to? You know I hold nothing but disdain for Bill. There isn’t a thing we have in common.” He came over to her and caressed her delicate shoulders and kissed her comfortable neck. “Let’s put it off and stay in.”

“No, no. I promised we would go. I don’t like lying. Besides they’re our friends.”

“Margaret’s your friend. And there’s no way I’ll ever befriend her imbecile husband. He has the IQ of a street rat.”

 

The Wife started towards the stairs.

She turned, placing her slight hand on the skeleton of the sliding door.

“I’m going to get ready, you should do the same. It’s one night, darling.” She turned and went up the stairs.

The Man leaned against the railing and looked down into the impenetrable darkness, once more, before turning and following his wife.

 

* * *

“Well, hello, neighbors!”

They hunched in the bronze hallway outside the apartment. The Man’s face showed reluctant friendliness. His Wife’s, a hint of convincing joy scrunched slightly too tight.

 

The air, thin and uncomfortable.

“Come in, come i-- whoops, hello!,” their neighbor babbled, tripping on the corner of the rouge sofa as he clumsily walked backwards, “Please! Don’t hesitate! Sit down. Make yourselves comfortable.”

 

Bill, as he was known (the Man had never bothered to learn his surname), wore the expression of a greatly excited fool. His smile dripped with stupidity, a dopey and inept sinking. Unclout under the eyes. He had dressed casually, slacks and a sweater, in stark contrast to the Man who wore a stiff business suit, consisting of coat and pants of perennial blue, and white undershirt. His tie, black, with adjacent stripes white.

 

Bill thrust out his hand, implying that the Man respond with a shake.

Always professional, casual is for the weak.

The Man gripped tight. Pressure bending the metacarpals.

 

They entered.

Bill shut the door and locked it in place.

Margaret was at the table watching television. She was curvy. Enough meat on her to satisfy the insatiable appetite. Her blonde hair was trimmed short, reaching halfway down her neck and her heavily sedated eyes drooped with a seductive glow.

 

He wanted Her.

 

She sat with her legs crossed, a cigarette clinging to her bottom lip, resting her elbow on plush thigh. The hologram that transfixed her so engulfed the table underneath it in a monolithic wonder-show. It oozed, in a sleaze broadcast, the news, the weather; explosions jumped at the viewers watching in awe, as reality was fed, visually, to them.

 

The flat’s excess was insurmountable. Objects whirred and spun performing miniscule tasks in a wondrous ballet. Keeping order.

Everything was in check.

 

Golden portrait frames, hosting the grinning faces of nameless relatives, glared in the phosphorescent lighting of the room. The floors were decorated with fresh waxed marble patterns. Ivory statues that stared blankly, perched in the corners of the place, like guarding angels.

 

The ceiling reached to the firmament and sprinkled an effect, close to divinity, over the room. Etched in the walls leading to the peak were pristine mosaics, untouched and pure.

The Man was unimpressed.

 

* * *

The Wife and the Man sat at the table, facing the heavy aluminum door, with Bill and Margaret at the opposite, facing the lengthy widows.

To start the meal, a toast.

 

“To the Community, to the Officials, and most importantly to the omniscient and everlasting Vino.”

 

Incompetent b*****d.

 

The first course was served. A verdure salad, ripe tomatoes of the most flawless cardinal. A thick plate of honey ham came next. Its cool texture, spiraling to the center bone, glistened. Then, a plump, golden-basted chicken out on a glorious platter. Its structure removed by a mechanized servant. To finish, a chocolate sphere, filled with cherry, and caramel drizzled atop. Both women refused, citing their figures as the reason behind their rejection. The Man also refused.

 

“I’m not too keen on chocolate.”

Bill responded, “What kind of person doesn’t like chocolate?

The Man clenched tight his fist underneath the tablecloth.

“It is the natural decadence of the world after all. And it’s damn expensive these day, to boot.”

 

After dinner, the women yammered away at the table’s end while the Men drank in silence. The Man sat, full and content with their meal. Bill opened his sloppy mouth.

 

He unfastened his belt and his stomach pushed, he breathed with relief.

“She’s a wonderful cook, isn’t she?” Bill stared with admiration at his wife.

“Yes, she is quite good.” The Man studied her. Imagined being with her. “I especially enjoyed the steamed carrots.” Margaret caught his traveling glance. He switched his attention to the intricate tablecloth’s design and the meager conversation dwindled and died.

 

The pattern spun and intertwined, falling into itself. Again and again.

Bill spoke breaking the Man’s concentration.

“I could ask Margaret, I’m sure she’d be glad to share her recipe. I’ll have her write it down.”

“I-”

Maybe I could have it sent to you.”

“No, I don’t want to be any trouble-”

“Nonsense.”

“Really-”

Pointing directly in the Man’s face, Bill blurted, “Hold on to that thought, let me get a pen.”

 

Bill rose, clumsily, from his seat and went to the bureau near the entrance. He tore open the middle drawer and fumbled through it, coming out with a sterling pen and a scrap of gnarled paper. “Its no trouble at all.”

He slapped it down on the table.

 

“Just write your address down.”

“Look, I’ve answered ’no’ several times over. Leave me and my Wife be.” The woman stopped chatting and were now looking at the men. “I‘m not looking to make friends.” The stern tone in the Man’s voice had silenced Bill, like a child scolded. All was quiet. The Man spoke, “I’m sorry. Come dear, we’ve bothered our neighbors long enough.” The Man stood and pushed his chair in and walked to the bolted door. He took his coat and hat from the metallic hook.

 

Bill rose from his seat, awakened from his dumbfounded shock.

As the Man and his wife started out of the door, Bill threw the dinner napkin that had been tucked into his collar and it sailed to the floor, a red target for the scourg-ed horns.

“Now wait a minute, you are out of line!…”

 

The Man stopped and turned to look Bill directly in the eyes, halting his accusation. “…speaking to a man like that in his own home.” The two squared off. Bill stood facing the Man, waiting.

He waited for a movement, anything.

Tension.

The women now rose and came between their husbands.

 

The Man’s Wife whispered tenderly in his ear.

“Honey, let it go. I’ve got to wake up early tomorrow.” Reluctantly the Man backed towards the open door. He put his coat on the shoulders of his Wife and held her tight. He glared at Bill.

“Good night, Margaret. I had a wonderful evening.”

The slam echoed and the bolt sealed and sounded out in the hall.

 

* * *

The Man lay in the squares of moonlight shining through the thin glass.

He thought evil thoughts.

He thought to kill his neighbors, although Margaret had done nothing wrong, in the mans mind she had done enough by marrying Bill. He thought of sliding the fire axe from its case and knocking, late at night, on their dark metal door. Bill would shuffle half asleep to the tune of the visitor. He would push it open, just a crack, and would look out. He would see the phony look on the mans face and would hear his fabricated apology. The man would extend his hand in friendship and Bill, bending towards forgiveness, would open the door just a little wider.

 

The axe would come swift and would wipe the peon-grin off of Bill’s dopey face. And his lifeless body upturned and wrenching.

He’d be left emotionless, eyes glazed, and his neck would hang backwards with the weight of his lifeless, open skull.

 

The man would make his way towards the room to the right of that colorless table. He would stand in the doorway for a short while and watch Margaret breath. Her blanket rising, up and down.

 

She would be lucky, the man dreamt, before her untimely death she would feel a real man. She would moan with serrated passion.

Bleed with dehydrated faith.

And the light from the window would dance on the sheets that curved with shade crouching in its folds.



© 2010 Marlowe147


Author's Note

Marlowe147
It is a work in progress

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Featured Review

Very interesting start to a story, liked the dark feel you've given the story and the idea that its an alternate world where everyone is caged inside a compound for safety, and the characterisation on The Man is good, he seems like a hell of an anti-hero

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I caught two minor spelling mistakes. Talking about chocolate, "and it's damn expensive these day" Day should be days. And then later "In the mans mind, she had done enough by marrying Bill." mans should be man's, and you should probably capitalize it too since you do up until that point (then for some reason you stop...)

Your writing style is very unique and takes some getting used to. Your descriptions are detailed and vivid without being overbearing, and that's always good, and once I got used to your method of storytelling, the plot moved along quite nicely.

There was, however, one thing I didn't like. Your beginning is weak and jumpy. You get too heavily into unnecessary adjectives right away and you move among several trains of thought without so much as a warning. Spend some more time setting the scene up first before they start talking.

Posted 9 Years Ago


nice beginning, can't wait to get into the next chapter!

Posted 10 Years Ago


This is very good for "just a work in progress".I have to say it was worth reading.Im not sure what the point is ,but still great use of adjetives.

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Very interesting start to a story, liked the dark feel you've given the story and the idea that its an alternate world where everyone is caged inside a compound for safety, and the characterisation on The Man is good, he seems like a hell of an anti-hero

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 25, 2010
Last Updated on April 25, 2010



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