Small Town Nightmares – Part 11

It’s a small place, dirty, with one of those classic counters that have the thin red-and-blue boomerang shapes on them. It’s a bright place, because a series of large windows go from the kitchen doors and ring around the restaurant to end back at the kitchen doors. Nobody would have any trouble seeing out, and nobody would have any trouble seeing in. The kitchen is different, though. A lot of these greasy spoon places have doors propped open so you can see cooks and servers alike going about their work, or thereare swinging double doors with round windows allowing a glimpse of heads of restaurant workers. But not this kitchen. This diner had just two black doors with varying sizes of red duct tape pieces covering the cracks in its black paint.

I don’t think much of it, though, so I take a seat at the counter, where menus are laid out in tandem with the stools. I sit down on one of the stools and wait for someone to come from behind the two taped-up doors, but no one comes. There were a few minutes in the bright silence of the room interrupted only by two cars driving by, and then I call out and ask if anyone is there. I think something is up, but don’t want to freak myself out, so I pick up the menu in front of me and open it for a distraction.

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Instead of menu items, there are names in bold where the food item should be. Under the bolded names, where the description of a dish normally goes, is a bunch of different bits of information: addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, personal habits, sexual information, all the tender little secret tidbits that, if laid bare to the wrong eyes, could do brutal damage.

As I’m looking at the names, I hear a small wet thud from behind the taped doors. Then there’s a soft rolling before one of the doors opens in a sliver in a brief second before closing again. Something wet rolls around behind the counter, but as I lean over to see what it is, there’s only a small red trail. I follow it with my eyes while listening to the rolling sound, and tense up to spring away from whatever is rolling to my side of the counter.

I turn around expecting some sort of abstract beast. But it’s just an eye. It sits there translucent in the fluorescent light, still covered in some of the blood it left behind when it rolled out of the kitchen. Its strand of optic nerve sits half-coiled behind it like a cat’s tail. The Iris is deep green, and expands as it stares at me, like a widening maw eager to consume whatever it can get to.