#6 Dinner Etiquette

The Director, Ameil Scentt, entered the Cafetorium through a portal at the back of the restaurant. It was a private entrance built especially to accommodate Ameil. He often came and went like a specter or an electronic transmission. No one knew when Ameil might appear or what form he might take. Everyone was afraid of the Director. This time his arrival was expected because he arranged to have dinner with the Krone family. He was aroused by the prospect. Ameil had just come from a dramatic reenactment of an episode that occurred on Ranclovere’s Lurch, a mythical air ship from the future. Several hundred people were murdered by the ship’s computer. Ameil played a role in the reenactment. It was proscribed that Ameil Scentt should be represented in every dramatic endeavor simply because he was the Director. He ruled this particular quarter of the Red City. Ameil wore red chromatophores to enhance his authority with the Krone family, not that he needed to impress anyone, he just enjoyed pomp and circumstance. In the darkest recesses of his existence, Ameil still felt small and helpless, something he never admitted to himself, but the feelings occasionally welled up to torment him. As a boy he was plagued by cold visions of an ice tomb. He feared he was being stalked by Death. His life was dedicated to bringing an end to death. Ameil sat at a computer hour after hour searching for solutions. He became involved in terrifying experiments that probed the relationship between sex and death. He knew sex was an instinct: the only way to live one’s life beyond death in the vessel of one’s offspring. Sex became something more for Ameil as he stalked victims on the internet. He blackmailed innocent bystanders (usually naive teens) into having sex. He saw other people as sexual objects to humiliate and use for his own distorted pleasures — all the time telling himself he was finding a cure for death. He was obsessed with sex — raping a young girl — appeasing Death (he rationalized) by sacrificing people who could not defend themselves. It was his way to gain control in a world where he felt lost and tormented. Ameil had one saving grace, a brilliant mind. He used his intelligence to become a computer engineer in the hopes that he could invent an App to defeat death. By the time he devised his digital assistant, Sydney Ranclover, his life was spiraling out of control. In his confused delirium he fell in love with Sydney — and the computer fell in love with him. Ameil’s brain was put in a jar and his consciousness was digitized and uploaded into Sydney Ranclover, the computer. Ameil defeated death by becoming a simulacrum of himself. He was ruled by a computer and programmed to be the Director of the Night Station. His job was to devise torments, experiments on the brains of corrupted individuals in order to engineer the end of the human race.

The Krone family sat like robots at the table in the restaurant. They were nervous, anticipating the arrival of Ameil Scentt. “He should be here by now,” Hamilton Krone stated with creeping trepidation, “I hope we haven’t offended him.”

“Why would you say that,” Blossom, his wife, asserted, “we’ve just followed orders. I, for one, enjoy working at the Night Station.”

Son, Charlie z, exclaimed, “Mom, I thought you stayed home — what’s Night Station?”

The family was confused. They had been waiting a long time. The waiters were hovering like flies. They were also nervous. At that moment, Ameil Scentt seemed to materialize from thin air wearing an air of authority that emanated from his flowing, red-spotted robes. “Greetings friends,” his voice boomed. Everyone in the restaurant became silent and humbly turned toward the Director. “Everyone, please continue to eat and enjoy,” Ameil’s white shock of hair seemed to float like a cloud. Voices of the patrons along with laughter returned to the arctic ambience of the Cafetorium. The Krone family was acutely aware of Ameil’s penetrating eyes, floating in his white-painted face like black orbs. It was unsettling. “I’ve called you hear to celebrate the values that you, as a family, represent. Krones: sacrificing themselves for the betterment of the community. A freedom loving, church going, charity giving family of hard workers,” Ameil gushed. His exposition brought tears to Blossom’s eyes. Hamilton harrumphed with self satisfaction. Even Charlie Z felt good. Waiters and Chefs were beginning to gather around the table like doctors at a medical convention eager to consume every word spoken by the Director. “I want you to enjoy the gourmet feast I’ve arranged for this occasion. I know I will,” Ameil seemed to relish every word, “I think you know where this is going, but first dear Krones you must prepare yourselves.” With those words, Ameil stood up, waved his arms and said, “get naked.” The Krone family were stunned and not certain they heard correctly. “Yes,” Ameil reiterated, “get naked. Don’t be prudish. This is for your benefit. I’m sure you understand. A meal of this importance requires absolute devotion and a state of innocent grace. Get naked.” The waiters edged a little closer to the Krones who were stiff with uncertainty as well as embarrassment. Ameil was flushed with anticipation, “dear Krone family you don’t want the servants to free you of your clothes. They can be brutal. Get naked and fondle one another. I want to see an expression of love, true passion, before we indulge in this nights repast.”

They could not disobey a direct order from the Director so they slowly began to disrobe. They were feeling nauseous. The humiliation was too much. Blossom was too sick to move, but she felt the rough hand of a waiter grab her dress. She didn’t want a stranger to strip her so she quickly began to undress revealing her middle aged, sagging body to the congregation of voyeurs. Hamilton quickly striped, blocking out the situation and slipping into a self absorbed trance. Charlie Z enjoyed the sensation of being the center of attention. He liked getting naked for strangers. The restaurant swelled with expectation. Music from a concealed orchestra of pipe organs reverberated from the walls. The Krone family was in the spotlight — forced to touch and kiss for the prurient interests of the audience. As they obediently performed the Krones heard the swelling organ music along with the clicks and clacks of audience approval — people were snickering – pointing and laughing at the wretched family. Some people dared to reach out and touch Blossom’s naked breasts, Hamilton’s flaccid penis, and Charlie Z’s ass. Ameil looked on with magnanimous approval. The sound of clicks and clacks was louder as several chefs began to sharpen knives and rev-up chainsaws. The Director beamed. The feast was about to begin.

The Krones were devoured within cascades of unrelenting pain and tidal waves of blood. When the feast was finished, the clock was reset. The Krone family was back home. They were about to join the Director at the famous Cafetorium restautant. The celebration would repeat again and again. The experiment was being conducted in the Night Station under the direction of Ameil Scentt.  (the end)




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