Harper called a toast. “To eternal life.” The men and women around the long wooden table stood. The crystal chandelier light sparkled from their vivid vests and dresses. They raised their glasses.
“Eternal life.” They touched glasses. “To the beast!” Harper signaled to one of the five waiters standing at attention against the paneled wall. The waiter nodded and pushed a cart toward the table. On the cart were an assortment of large stainless steel knives, and a silver serving dish. At the center of the table lay a roasted beast lying on a cedar slab. It was twice as large as an average man. It had long muscular hindquarters bunched up and tied to its ribs. It had a huge thick head full of bony ridges and protrusions. Its eyes were closed, its mouth open revealing rows of sharp teeth. The entire creature was flayed of skin, a reddened boiled mass of muscle and gristle. Harper smiled, revealing perfect teeth in a face framed by full gray hair and a gray beard.
“Tonight we receive the gift of the beast. Consume his flesh. Drink his blood. Welcome, my brothers and sisters, to eternal life.”
The waiter leaned forward over the table and pressed the blade of a large knife against the crimson flesh of the beast. It was the last command his brain every executed. In the next instant he was falling backward, his head flopping on a left shoulder held together only by a mesh of tendons, his right shoulder and most of his neck missing and gouting blood from his still pumping heart. The people around the table screamed and tipped over in their chairs. Glasses and silverware flew everywhere as the beast spit out the waiter’s flesh and shed the snapped rope binding. It stood to full height on the table, easily nine feet tall.
The guests scrambled for the exits but the heavy oak doors slammed shut and held that way, sealing them inside. The beast took two long strides across the table on backward-jointed legs. Its thoracic limbs were atrophied and twisted, ending in bony sharp claws. It seized Harper by the vest and lifted him with ease, his legs kicking and dangling in mid air. Sound emanated from between the serrated teeth of its bony jaw, just inches from Harper’s terrified visage. “Did you think it would be that easy?A useless spell? A little boiling water? I was born in fire,” it said, jamming Harper’ skull into its gaping maw as he screamed. Brain and blood squirted out as it crunched down. It turned to the other guests with something akin to a grin. On its black tongue, lolling among the gore, stared one of Harper’ bright blue eyes. It said, “Next?”
©2012 Charles Mirho