FIVE COURSE MEAL
The door closed behind them. Many electronic locks clicked. The room was in a basement floor below the science building. It was 700 square feet with white tile floors, white tiled walls, a double bed, a sink, toilet, a giant mirror presumably for the researchers to watch in, and one heavy duty steel door with a slot at the bottom. This was to be their home for the next month.
While it was required for all psych majors to participate in a post doc's research project, most only took an afternoon. But this month long experiment came with one thousand dollars each. Jenny and Mark would use the new funds to attend the Bunaroot Musical Festival in Wisconsin after the experiment and before the fall semester. Besides, when you're young and in love, a month in confinement seems like it would be a breeze.
Jenny didn't like the mirror. Her reflection seemed to glare back at her, warning that this was a mistake. Mark took her tiny toned gymnast waist into his muscular rowers arms and kissed her neck. He looked over to the mirror and shouted, "Pervs!"
Not quite forgetting about her reflection, Jenny playfully pushed her boyfriend away and gave a sexy "Mark, you're the worst." They took in the room. The bright lights bouncing off the sterile walls made them wince. "What now?"
The first few hours were actually more difficult than they had thought it would be. They tried to curl up in the bed together, but couldn't find a comfortable spot. There was no table or sofa; the bed, toilet, and sink were the only islands in an imprisoning sea of white. They decided the most comfortable spot was cross-legged on the floor. They sat and discussed how weird it was that they would have nothing but this room for the month.
They hypothesized on what this experiment was about, isolation they presumed and enjoyed how clever they were by staying one step ahead of the researchers. They made a pact to try to keep each other sane, to remind themselves where they were and why; incase things got sticky. So far it really didn't seem like it would be too much of a challenge.
After a few hours the slot beneath the door opened. A tray slid in with two plates, each with a peppercorn steak, steamed broccoli, a bun, and chocolate milk. Mark held the tray and presented it to Jenny, "Dinner is served ma lady."
Eating on a cold tile floor was uncomfortable, but at least the food was good. Really good. Both Jenny and Mark couldn't remember food tasting so rich, so full. The peppercorns had a nice snap, the steamed broccoli was savory yet refreshing, and the bun released a warm inviting steam when the crust was broken. The food did have a faint unrecognizable taste, which wasn't bad, but certainly noticeable. The one complaint was that is was perhaps too good, it left them both hungry for more even though the portions had been larger than what they were both used to. Mark, who usually had perfect table manners, perhaps to a fault, even rubbed his finger around the circumference of the plate so that the juices stuck to his finger. He injected his finger into his mouth and sucked it like a straw.
"Hey, you got any more?" he called to the mirror. Jenny said that she's had enough, but they both knew she was lying. "Only a few hours in and the only rescue from the boredom is eating." Mark said, but again they both knew he was lying, it wasn't boredom which made him want to eat.
They were starved. The meal had started an engine in their stomach, one that demanded more fuel. It got quiet, tense. They were anxious. Both their eyes turned to the slot below the door. They looked at each other and forced some laughs. It got quiet again. Their stomachs itched as if covered in poison ivy. The itch burned and throbbed with ever increasing intensity. Finally the slot opened and another tray slid in. This time with two full roast chickens, sweet potato mash, corn, and rice and beans. "Thank God" Jenny said.
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WATTY 2016 WINNER of the HQ Love Award! Strange Yarns is a ball of tangled tales. Twisted, knotted, and intertwined. Like Tales of the Crypt, the Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. Strange Yarns is not just a collection of ghastly tales, these are...