Story Go Round 10/20/2007, round 2, #2

The Caterers

(pre-titled by Terry)

The Beed College Administrative Board had gathered for their annual banquet devoted to capital, investments, and fiscal planning for the coming year. Spirits were high, as Jane Leehorn had just given birth to twins and the new planetarium was finished, and they look forward to a fantastic meal.

Other evil deeds were on the agenda tonight, but none could be broached until after the main course of braised pork and garlic mashed potatoes. Unbeknownst to the Board, the entire catering staff had been replaced by minions of the fell witch Lisa, who knew how to turn the tables - she was also a European History major sophomore from a middle class family.

Jane was the first to notice something different about the menu: "I'm sorry, Steven but does this pork list at $5.20 or $5,200? Is that a comma?"

Steven did not offer a reply.

Jane felt first impatient, then insulted and finally a wee bit homicidal until she realized that Steven did not appear to be breathing.

Someone stood up to make a speech. Oh, it was the Chair. Never mind.

Jane turned back to Steven and checked for a pulse. She found none. Concerned, she felt his forehead; it did seem rather clammy. Looking up at him, still standing next to her with a platter of hors d'oeuvres in hand, she decided that pulling all-nighters weeks in a row would make any student's pulse erratic. The menu wasn't doing anything good for hers. She mouthed, "Baked potato ... $2,500 ... soft drink ... $450 ... cordon bleu ... $7,500 after dinner mint ... 50¢."

"Is this some kind of joke?" Professor Lewis exclaimed. "Who made this menu? The Pentagon?"

Someone gagged on an appetizer, but no one noticed as everyone scrambled to take their seats. If they weren't careful, they might find themselves stuck next to Deborah, the newest board member. She was always on about slowing the rate of tuition increase and other unpleasant topics nobody wanted to hear while sitting in a $6,000 dress with $12,000 shoes and $6 underwear.

"Is this a fund raiser?" Jane heard someone ask, "I hope not - I didn't bring my checkbook."

"I'm sorry, but we'll need some kind of security, in order to proceed with the meal," Stephen droned, in an inhuman, raspy voice. "Your driver's license won't do, and the credit limit for your Visa's too low... perhaps you have the birth certificates for your new children?"

Catering staff in blood red cummerbunds, with pale faces and vacant eyes, spread like spilled liquid through the room, removing wallets, purses, fanny packs and money clips as they did, but so smoothly no one noticed. No one that is except Jane. Glad for once that the tablecloths at these fancy affairs went clear to the floor, she slipped down under the table. She heard things like "No! I need my BMW for field work and trips to Kinkos! Give that back!!" and "If you give me a discount, I'll let you scrounge my meal," along with sounds of scuffling. There were cries of protest and outrage, now.

Lisa's voice filled the air now, silencing them all.

Her possessed staff moved to block all the exits.

A few closed the blinds.

And one began to dim the overhead lights.

"Try the brie. It's fresh. It's runny. It has cranberries."

No one moved.

"It's very expensive."

As one the board members began to comply.

Even Jane felt the pull.

"You've never tasted anything so delicious as this."

Hands around the room reached uncontrollably for forks and spoons. Jane, still under the table, caught herself beginning to emerge. Gritting her teeth and straining, she took a bite. It was good. Most forgot the ridiculous prices in their devouring. It took minutes before they realized the keynote speaker, College President Nielson, still hadn't showed up. Mouth full, the political phil professor turned to Lisa and asked her if she knew about his whereabouts.

"Oh I don't know," she said with a sly smile, "He must have been detained. Maybe he won't show until the Q & A session. There must be some way to pick his brain."