The Banquet


The Banquet

Imagine, if you will, a huge banquet table, laid and laden with more food than you could ever eat in a hundred lifetimes. Food of all varieties, exotic fruits, standard pies and cakes and others that defy description, roasted and smoked meats both spiced and plain, salads , vegetables and many combinations . Even everyday fare such as pizzas and burgers sit next to curries, strange loaves, savoury and sweet dishes and cuisine from all countries. Delicious drinks, aromatic hot soups, puddings, custards and creams. Without doubt, a banquet to satisfy the wildest of tastes with enough diversity for anyone . . .

Now . . .

Imagine there are several hundred people in this room. The table holds MORE than enough for everyone, that much is plain. The table itself is groaning under the weight of all it contains and is piled nearly a meter (3 ft) high with food. There is no doubt, by even the quickest of glances, that this table could easily feed this room, probably several time over. Everyone would receive a wonderful meal from this table.

The problem is this:

There are ten people standing shoulder to shoulder around the table. It is impossible to tell if they are male or female anymore and it doesn’t seem to matter. They are shoulder to shoulder around the table like an impenetrable wall of flesh. There is no way past them, over them or under them.

and they are obese . . .

. . . truly obese . . .

Not overweight in the natural way that a person who needs to diet is overweight. Nor obese in the way that someone with an eating disorder born of trauma, pain or neglect is. This is not a natural obesity but one that straddles the wall between psychosis and the supernatural. Obese in the way that a creature that does nothing but gorge and guzzle can be, swallowing without chewing, ramming huge fists of food into their mouth, barely removing their hand in time for the other hand to pile drive another huge fist full of food into their waiting mouths while the first hand is scrabbling for liquid so as to wash the swill down their throats even quicker. Some of the food is falling to the ground, some strikes the table, some drops , hits their bare chests and sticks where it lands, adding to the already sticky mass of food that covers the fronts of all of them. They are immense, taller, wider, denser than any normal person and their clothing has split at the seams and fallen away long ago. They are no longer what they once were and any vestiges of humanity are now gone.

The next thing you would notice is that there are people clinging to them.

The people, though normal in size, are dwarfed in comparison to the creatures to which they are attached. They seem to be a tenth of the size in fact. Those closest to the ground are picking some of the fallen and rotting scraps off the floor, others are picking food off the chests and chins of these animals, while some, the boldest of all. seem to be picking choice tidbits from the pistoning hands as they move at dazzling speed, even snatching the ripest offerings straight from the mouths of these mammoths.

Their success is, for the most part, short lived.

A patient eye would notice that, while the occasional person may succeed, most do not. Even those that do, when repeating the tricks more than once or twice, are caught up in the process. Whether accidentally caught by the massive hands, daring too close to the open slobbering mouth or , in some cases, failing to notice that the pinprick pupils in the swollen eye slits of the behemoths have darted their way and noticed them, the result is the same.

They are rammed, with all the finesse of a pneumatic drill, into the open hole of the creatures mouth. The apologies screamed, the prayers babbled forth make no difference at all, nor do the justifications or excuses. Some are held for the briefest of instances, as if to give them full awareness of the moment, or maybe to hope for a reprieve. None comes.

And even as the person is rammed, bones breaking, soft tissue tearing and organs imploding from pressure into the jagged orifice, another quickly climbs, hissing and spitting, into the space recently made vacant by it’s predecessor. Before the spraying blood has even hit the table cloth, the new holder of the place is kicking at those closest, glaring at all around it and snatching hand fulls of food from the pistoning fists, believing it will succeed where it’s fellow failed.

and some do . . . . .

The truly patient eye will see, on a long enough time line, that some grow so adept, so cunning, so patient and daring that they manage to succeed and grow, eventually growing so large that they begin to weigh down and crush the original Host. At this point, it can be seen that while some of the people immediately begin to jump from the first mammoth to the second, adding to it’s weight and speeding the demise of the first, some pause to begin tearing at the flesh of the first, squealing and biting in glee at the creature that, not so long ago, they were stroking, petting and fondling. When it seems there is no hope left, most people leap to the successor. Some fail and disappear under the weight of the new monolith. We also see that the original person is no longer as they once were, but now so closely resemble the crushed predecessor that any difference is miniscule and irrelevant. They look no different because they are, now, no different.

And the feeding continues . . .

The eye will also notice that the people that are not part of this main spectacle, whenever venturing near the table, it’s occupants or the scraps, find themselves scratched, hissed at, spat upon and attacked by those that already have a perching point on the creatures that they cling to. Some will attempt to steal scraps and some even ask “why” it is this way. Though the Monoliths do not deign to answer nor pause in their feeding frenzy, they can be seen to smile when the inhabitants on their bodies hiss answers such as “you would take it all from us”, “you have not worked as we have”, “you do not deserve” and to bray outloud when the words “there‘s not enough” are occasionally spat out. This final taunt brings tears of mirth to the eyes of all who stand at the table and seems to be one of the few times that all are brought together, sharing the same joke, spraying food and saliva forth, while the humans upon them have learnt to remain straight faced and not attempt to share in the humor.

Even those people that believe it wrong will sometimes attempt to join the scuffle, as they see no other way to eat and survive. Some even truly believe that they will do what it takes to stop this scene and will, once they reach a point of becoming one of the animals, change this performance for the better or even stop it altogether.

None, upon reaching the point where this is possible, ever do. They do not remember the thoughts they once had, nor, if they did remember, could now imagine why they ever thought that way. This is the way it is, the way it has to be, the way it will always be. It can not possibly be otherwise.

Before we leave this scene, we may notice one last thing. A child, lying near the corner of the room watches this macabre display with dark eyes, her breaths coming slower and slower. If we were here earlier we may have seen her smaller story from the beginning. We might have watched her father and mother, trying to find enough crumbs and scraps to keep her alive, growing all the more desperate. We may have watched the mother, smiling at strangers, using kind words and soft touches to try and coax food from others, despite her husbands sorrow and shame. We may have seen her despair as her gaunt face and weakening voice became less capable of producing anything of worth. We might also have chanced to see them reassuring the small girl, feeding her the last few remaining crumbs, soothing her distress and assuring her they would return soon with more. Maybe seen their cautious path through the throng of people crowding near the table, watched them wait for a perfect moment, what seemed a safe moment, in which to try to grasp a small piece of food lying unused next to one the monsters. If we had watched this scene play out, then we may also have seen that at the moment that chance seemed to favour them, nature did not.

A person attached and clinging near the rear of the animal seemed to strike out as they grasped the food and at the same time as this, the animal moved slightly and the couple went down, disappearing from view. Those nearest all seemed to turn their heads as this happened, only looking back when they seemed assured of seeing nothing of consequence. It was as if it had never occurred, as if the mother and father were never there, had never even existed.

And as we leave, we may take a final glance, at the child that now lies alone in the corner, her breathing shallower, her eyes closing, her small hands no longer shaking, as tremors and tears are luxuries that require more than this little body is capable of now. We may see her eyes, almost fully closed now, slowly turning towards us, as if seeking something to hold on to . . .

. . we may see her chest rise, fitfully . . .

. . . and fall . . .

. . and rise . . . .

. . . . shudder . . . . . . .

. and fall . . . . .

and stay.

And then we may leave,
and carry on as we were . . . .

(An old unfinished work of mine that was originally an art idea that wasn’t realised.)


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