The First, and Last, Dinner

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The director was dressed in a flamboyant red cloak and cowl. He was smiling as he watched the guests arrive.

From his viewpoint he could see all the action, along with the two camera men who were filming the proceedings.

The restaurant was spacious and elegantly appointed.

Tantalizing odors wafted from the kitchen as waiters and waitresses scurried to serve the well-dressed diners. The tables were all set with Noritake China dinnerware.

The restaurant offered the finest wines in the world. Gourmet cooks staffed the huge kitchen where world-class meals were being created. The dining room was decorated with red velvet drapes framing full-sized gold-gilded mirrors.

Soft music soothed the diner’s ears. A low buzz of muffled conversations gently bounced off the walls and mingled with the subtle scent of roses.

Everyone was looking forward to the entertainment. No one knew it was going to be, but surely it was going to be classy. It was opening night, and they all knew something special was going to happen.

The diners paid a lot of money for the privilege of being the first customers in this restaurant. Only millionaires and billionaires could afford to attend this dinner show. Celebrities and CEO’s were claiming bragging rights because they got invitations.

As the evening progressed, the cooks and kitchen staff departed. Then the servers were gone. Puzzled patrons were having a hard time thinking. The odor in the room had changed from roses to something else.

At midnight the main lights dimmed and a small glass gallery came into view above the diners. In it stood a man dressed in red cloak. On either side of him, were men behind large cameras recording the event.

“Welcome! My name is Rex Brinner. What do you think about my costume? I’m the closest you’ll ever get to the devil in this world. You know why?”

It was getting harder for the diners to hear Rex. There was a roaring in their ears and they were getting increasingly angry. Seeing red. A mindless mass of growing adrenaline.

“I’m going to watch you all die! This will be the ultimate snuff film! The pinnacle of my film career! I’m even going to be sporting about it. The last person alive will get to go free!”

The diners jumped up from their chairs and fell upon each other like starving hyenas. Their unreasoning rage was all-consuming as they fought to survive in the strange fog. Men and women slashing each other with knives. Chairs flying across tables.

Screams. The entire room was soon splashed with blood. The desperate duels were being recorded by the two camera men. It lasted for hours. Beyond Rex’s expectations. Finally only one figure was left standing.

Rex went downstairs and opened a side door to the main dinning room. The gas had dissipated because he turned the fans on an hour ago.

The lone survivor was a small bald man covered in blood, and still clutching a bloody steak knife. Rex smiled at him and said,  “congratulations! You’re free!” and pulled out his gun and shot him.

No witnesses. It was an absolute rule in this movie industry.

As It Stands, this is my updated version of Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre tale, Masque of the Red Death.

 

Author: Dave Stancliff

Retired newspaper editor/publisher, Vietnam veteran, freelance writer, blogger, married 43 years with three sons and five grandchildren.

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