Blink And You’ll Miss It

Lately, time feels like it's fleeting. It’s always two steps ahead of you, gaining speed whenever you're close to riding its coattails. You move like a cat through the alleyways, taking a shortcut. You didn’t usually take shortcuts or walk in alleyways like a protagonist waiting to be robbed or murdered, but you were desperate and late. Already, you received two texts from your friend Susan, who was more of a work friend, but after attaching herself to your best friend, Wilson, she was now a permanent fixture until Wilson saw the light and dumped her. Susan texted you twice already, telling you to hurry up because she and the rest of your friends would be heading to the restaurant soon. Tension between you and Susan is already high tonight because you skipped out on Wilson’s birthday drinking celebration to finish a work order from a valued customer.

Ever since you quit your job, Susan’s attitude towards you has shifted, going from amicable friends to whatever status you guys are at now. You weren’t sure if she hated you or disliked you. Sometimes you felt like she wanted to push you off the edge of the cliff, while other times she seemed to view you as a simple eyesore. She wasn’t the only one whose status with you had changed. Wilson and you were close friends, but lately, there’s been a distance between you two after you left your cushy office job to focus on your passion for woodworking. Everyone in your life thought you made a mistake, including Wilson, but there was a satisfaction you got from looking at a finished chair that you couldn’t ever get from sitting in one all day. They wouldn’t understand, as they thought you were a sentimental fool who refused to infuse yourself into reality.

You could feel the bond of friendship between you and Wilson fraying, so seeing him tonight was of the utmost importance. Earlier, you checked every social feed, noticing they weren’t even at the restaurant yet. Carmen posted that they were making Wilson do thirty shots for his milestone birthday. All while Susan’s socials were suspiciously quiet, probably to add weight to her claim that you were ruining everyone else’s plans again. You speed up, making your way back to crowded streets, which you slip through with apologies uttered every other second.

Finally, you reach the restaurant. Walking in, you inform them of the reservation and are then escorted to a table. Once there, you find relief because you arrived before them. You’re offered a glass of water and a bread basket while waiting for the others. You accept the offer, gulping down the water as soon as it comes. Before you forget, you text Susan that you're at the restaurant, and she replies that they’re sobering up Wilson and will be there soon.

So you wait.

Unsure of what to do with yourself, you decide to take a piece of bread and break it in half. You take a bite, spotting something odd on a plate as a waiter passes you by. Now, you didn’t know much about this restaurant, but you did know that it was strange to serve a human heart. No, it couldn’t be what you thought it was, because if it was, then why was it on a plate? Even worse of all, why did you still see it beating?

You shake your head, deciding that you mistook the sight, and finish off the remaining bread you held. Taking out your phone, you check your social feeds, then go to Carmen’s page to see how your friends are doing. You click on her most recent post, watching as Wilson downs his shots, but the color is strange—a bloody red. You don’t know why this unsettles you, especially because you knew some drinks had a red hue, but something wasn’t right. Maybe it was the texture, or maybe it was the strange ice cube that looked like a human eye. It blinked. You drop your phone, freaking out.

You convince yourself that your eyes are playing strange tricks on you. Part of you wants to head home and get some rest, but you can’t disappoint Wilson, so you stay glued to your seat. A waiter comes over and asks if you want a menu. You are hesitant but convince yourself that if you get a small appetizer, you’ll be done with it before Susan walks in with her complaints. You say yes, and you're handed a menu.

Opening up the menu, you’re horrified to see what's offered here. Organs. Human organs. The chef’s special is Jerry’s cholesterol-filled heart with a side of Sarah’s spleen. You retch, rising from the table, but nothing comes out. The staff looks upon you with concern, asking if you would like to use the bathroom. You shake your head, looking around you with disgust and horror. The staff is confused by your reaction, but they take a step back from you, observing you like you were the monster.

Leaving the restaurant, you run with everything you have. You decide to take that shortcut once again, desperate to get home. Once home, your phone buzzes with a bunch of angry texts from Susan. You ignore them, still trying to wrap your head around what you saw. You decide to look up the restaurant you went to, scrolling through review after review. Every single one praised the restaurant and spoke highly of their spaghetti made of noodles, not human organs. You go on their website, check through their menu, and see that everything is normal. Was this all just a cover? You wondered. Suddenly, you think back on the video Carmen posted, and bile rises inside of you.

You decide to rewatch and see that the shot Wilson takes isn’t bloody red but clear. There is also no eyeball in his glass. You place your phone on your coffee table, wondering to yourself. What exactly did you just experience?

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