I walk into a restaurant. It is fancy, I am missing a hand. The maître d’ is behind a podium that is carved from the darkest of woods into a snake about to strike. I make a sardonic comment about its relation to the service here, even though I have never been here before. No one is amused, and the maître d’ tells me that I must wait with a stern glance. I do so. I watch people come and go. I hope to sit behind the giant stone archway where there are what seems to be a thousand candles. There is a massive stained glass window in the back. It is like an old cemetery chapel, it is a beautiful thing. When I am finally summoned and seated – in a dark corner not behind the arch but at least not by the restrooms – the conversations around me gradually blend into a misophonic static.
A man comes over with a large pitcher of water. He carries it with two hands, arms outstretched, as though the pitcher is an object to be revered, a relic. I push my empty glass over to him. He pours, the liquid is so clean. Pure. I am not ready to order, I say, but he responds that he is not my waiter. She will be here soon.
I pull the menu towards me, and attempt to read it. All I can see are what appears to be hieroglyphics. I squint, I pull myself back from the menu, I place it close to my face. No change. This irritates me, and reminds me of the surrounding commotion, which I can also make no sense of. It is frustrating, and I grow angry, until I take a sip of water. I am calmed. I wait with as much patience as I can gather for service. I wait. I wait.
In the darkness, I feel a hand on my shoulder. Momma! Momma, I cry! She consoles me, tells me that there is nothing to fear in this darkness. She tells me that my heart has yet to be weighed, to wait for the light just a little while longer. Momma! Momma! I feel her hand on my shoulder.
The waitress’s hand is on my shoulder, gently shaking me. I had fallen asleep. The waitress asks if I am alright. I am not, but I tell her that I am. I apologize, it must have been a very long day, I say.
The waitress tells me her name, which I do not quite catch. Something like Kebbut or Kevehet, I do not know. She asks if I am ready. I am not, I say, clearing my throat. I apologize, and take a sip of water. I say that I cannot read the menu.
She kneels down by my chair and whispers into my ear. It is okay, she hisses. It is true, you are not quite ready. I will bring you more water.
I try to smile and thank her, but it is getting difficult to move. There is a nest of snakes on the ceiling. The noise of the restaurant comes and goes in waves, like the rushing of sand in the wind.
this was written for discord’s book brigade prompt for october: horror / suspense / thriller, with references to an ancient myth.