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Horror Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

‘I don’t recall seeing a restaurant on this road, not out here, anyway.’


‘Nottingham Road just before the cattery.’


‘Sounds… nice. I hope it’s worth coming.’


‘It’d better be, I’ve already recommended it to Angela.’


‘Who’s Angela?’


‘Senior partner.’


‘Oh yeah, I remember.’


‘The reviews said it was a nice place, good eats and it “caters for the discerning palate”, whatever that means.’


‘It’s not one of your vegan places, is it?’


‘I’m sure they do all sorts. I read something about steak. Said it came just as ordered.’


‘Oh, well that’s good. Can’t be doing with bloody tofu.’


‘There it is. See it?’


‘Yeah, just. It’s gone bloody foggy, hasn’t it? Trowell must have its own climate.’


‘Yes. The weather’s supposed to turn this weekend, isn’t it?’


‘Haven’t heard.’


‘Remnants of hurricane Betsy or something.’


Humph


‘What?’


‘Well, it’s Britain, isn’t it? North Sea? I’m surprised they attempt to forecast.’


‘I suppose… Car park looks empty. Not as popular they’d have you believe.’


‘Well, they’re not going to post reviews from people who haven’t been, are they?’


‘Although, it is still early. In fact, what time is it?’


‘Wow.’


‘What?’


‘Half past five. Looks like bloody midnight.’


‘Never mind. I’m sure it’s cozy on the inside. Park here by the door?’


‘Wherever. No. Over there. Don’t want any yobs staggering out and vomiting all over the windscreen.’


‘Hmmm, good call. So, think they’ve got a bar?’


‘Place like this? I’d expect so.’


‘It’s big.’


‘Looks more like a hotel than a restaurant.’


‘Come on then, bring the brolley, might need it when we come out.’


‘This looks like the sort of out-of-the-way place a bloke would bring his mistress.’


‘Intriguing statement.’


‘Yeah?’


‘Certainly is. Do you have a mistress?’


‘I’m too tired to have a mistress.’


‘Poor thing. Wife runs you ragged, then?’


‘Yeah… You certainly do.’


‘Not too tired to open the door for me, I see.’


‘She says barging past me.’


‘There’s another reason for not having a mistress.’


‘What’s that?’


‘Being a git.’


‘I’m may have asked the question, my love…but you said yes.’


‘Good evening, Madame, Sir. Welcome to Solace. Table for two?’


‘Yes, please.’


‘Very good. I am Antione. I shall be looking after you, now you are ours. Please, follow me.’


‘Why, thank you, Antoine.’


‘Your first time visiting us.’


‘Yes, and I’ve heard good things.’


‘Excellent, Madame. Always nice to hear… your chair, Madame.’


‘How civilised. Thank you, Antoine.’


‘Not at all. I shall give you a moment?’


‘Very kind of you.’


‘Someone will be along for your drinks.’


‘That’s lovely. Thank you.’


‘He seems nice. French?’


‘He likes flirting with you.’


‘It’s his job. I’m sure he flirts with everybody here.’


‘He didn’t flirt with me.’


‘Probably doesn’t talk at all when he’s at home.’


‘You reckon? What do you want to drink?’


‘I’ll have a glass of white, please.’


‘But you’re driving.’


‘Not anymore I’m not.’


‘Oh. I see. Nicely played… There’s no prices on this, just… pictures.’


‘Probably the fixed price menu. Three courses - fifty quid or whatever.’


‘Fifty quid? What do you think this is? An anniversary or something?’


‘Eight years tomorrow.’


‘Oh yeah. I remember now.’


‘Git.’


‘Fair few in tonight. Think they walked?’


‘Have you decided on drinks?’


‘Yes, please. I’ll have a glass of house white.’


‘And Sir?’


‘A lager, please.’


‘I’m sorry, Madame, but I am afraid we are completely out of white, only red this evening.’


‘Red it is then. But only a small one, please, too much gives me a bad head.’


‘I’ll bring them shortly.’


‘Thank you.’


‘Maybe it is a hotel and these people are guests.’


‘Bussed in maybe.’


‘Maybe. So, who told you about this place?’


‘Janie told me about it a few weeks ago.’


‘That’s right. I remember now.’


‘I do wish you’d listen to me.’


‘It’s not listening I struggle with, deary… it’s headspace.’


‘Anyway, she said she was coming here with Carlos and said they expected it to be fantastic.’


‘Who’s Carlos?’


‘A guy she’s been seeing.’


‘Ah. And was it? Fantastic, I mean.’


‘Don’t know. I’ve not heard from her since she mentioned it.’


‘Bit weird.’


‘What do you mean?’


‘Didn’t you say you work in the same office?’


‘Again, you never listen. I said same department, different floor.’


‘That’s right. I remem…’


‘…ber now. You’re like a broken record.’


‘I love you.’


‘I should think so. Here comes the waitress with our drinks.’


‘Good timing. Saved by the Stell.’


‘Git.’


‘Stella? It’s not a bad pun.’


‘It’s not a good one, either.’


‘A red wine for Madame.’


‘Thank you.’


‘Sir’s Stella Artois.’


‘Thank…’


‘Oh sir, I’m terribly sorry. That’s the wrong menu. I’ll get you another.’


‘…you. Wow, she lunged for that, didn’t she?’


‘Out of embarrassment, I should think.’


‘I thought she was going to bite me.’


‘Don’t be so dramatic. It was just a mistake.’


‘Do you know what you want?’


‘Yeah, I think I’ll have the duck. Seems right since I’m on the red.’


‘Duck? I don’t know what menu I had. Can I look at yours? I can’t see them bringing me another one.’


‘Sure.’


‘Yeah, this one is different. That one just had pictures of raw meat. I like it rare, but not that rare.’


‘Was it the sashimi menu? Maybe they’re not grilling the steaks tonight.’


‘Or offal?’


‘Offal?’


‘Yeah. Kidney, liver.’


‘I like liver.’


‘I know you do. It’s awful.’


‘Stop with the puns.’


‘Heart?’


‘Stop it now, you’re going to put yourself off eating and we’ll have come here for nothing.’


‘You’re right. Sorry. Now, what to eat?’


‘Have you decided?’


‘Yes, we have. I’ll have the duck, please.’


‘Very good, Madame. And Sir?’


‘The eight-ounce rump steak, please.’


‘Certainly Sir. Rare?’


‘Exactly, yes please. That’s impressive. How did you know that’s how I like it?’


‘It’s our specialty, Sir. We pride ourselves on our attentiveness.’


‘So you should. Thank you very much, Antoine.’


‘It should not be long.’


‘Well… what do you think to that?’


‘I hope my duck’s not rare.’


‘Umm… Hello.’


‘Janie! Hi! Good to see you.’


‘Yeah. So, you’ve come. I didn’t think you would.’


‘Yeah, well you were so excited about coming with Carlos and I think it rubbed off on me so… tomorrow’s our anniversary so we thought we’d come tonight.’


‘Congratulations. Listen, I can’t stay. I’m working.’


‘Oh, working. What, now? Here? What about-’


‘Yeah, they don’t like it when I talk to guests like you. I just wanted to make sure you saw me.’


‘Janie! Service!’


‘Coming!... I gotta go. See you soon.’


‘Yes, of course. We’ll have to meet up, the four of-’


‘Yeah. Soon.’


*


‘…Well that was awkward.’


‘Indeed. I thought you were friends… looked a bit strained.’


‘She seemed scared. She looked the same way that time she got that severe dressing down from Angela at work. Worse, actually.’


‘Dressing down?’


‘Yeah, swearing at clients. I can’t believe she’s working here now.’

‘Didn’t she have to give notice?’


‘I mean, she’s a junior but I’m sure she’d have to… but she just disappeared. Walked off the job.’


‘Well, that’s not good… Come closer, I don’t want to say this loudly… Could she be in some sort of trouble? Are you in trouble?’


‘Me? No, I just… got a weird feeling about how she was acting. And where’s Carlos?’


‘Not a clue. Did you see the way she kept tapping on our tabl-… hey, what’s this?’


‘Janie must’ve left it. What does it say?’


‘Shit.’


‘Shit?’


‘No. It doesn’t say shit. It says toilet five minutes help me.’


‘Shit.’


‘Help her shit?’


‘Don’t be a git.’


‘Where are you going?’


‘Where do you think?’


*


‘Where the hell have you been?’


‘In the toilet, waiting for Janie.’


‘And?’


‘She never showed.’ 


‘Christ, come here.’


‘What?’


‘Just after you disappeared around the corner… it went dead quiet.’


‘So?’


‘There’s more. All these people, every one of them, at the tables as well as the waiters, stopped doing what they were doing… and leered at me.’


‘Is this a joke? I’m concerned for Janie and you’re-’


‘No. Listen to me.’ 


‘What?’


‘They were smiling.'


‘Smiling?’


‘They were all… smiling… horribly.’


‘Are they smiling now?'


‘They stopped just before you came back.'


‘Right. I’m starting to freak out.'


‘You? They were smiling.'


‘Have you seen Janie since she left?’


‘No. Have you seen what’s in those glasses?’


‘No. I haven’t. Now, let me know if anyone is watching me.’


‘It looks like tomato juic- hey! What are you doing?’


‘I’m going to look for her.’


‘Don’t leave me again.’


‘I’m not going to. I’ll use my mirror, like I’m checking my makeup.’


‘Oh… Good idea.’


‘What can I say?’


‘You could say we’re leaving.’


‘Not without Janie… wait, there she is.’


‘Where?'


‘Over by the stairs, near that purple door.’


‘What purple door? I can’t see anything for all those people.’


‘People? What people?’


‘Them between us and the purple door. Don’t stand-’


‘We have to go.’


‘What?’


‘Toilet. Now. Get Janie. Then we’re leaving.’


‘Both of us?’


‘Yes. Me first. Then you in a few minutes.’


‘You’re gonna leave me again?'


‘Bloody hell, you go first then, dammit.’


‘Are you sure?’

‘Just do it. Women’s. Hide in a stall and I’ll call you when I get there.’


‘Ok. Kiss for good luck?’


‘Will. You. Just. Go.’


‘Ok. A few minutes.’


‘Yes.’



‘Are you here?’


‘Yeah.’


‘Janie’s coming. And then we’re going.’


‘I thought at first they were dinner services, but they weren’t.’


‘What are you talking about?’


‘They were rolling them down the corridor. From the front they looked like food carts, but they were…’


‘What?’


‘…coffins. I don’t know, maybe ten of them. Just pushing along like it was a normal thing.’


‘At Solace, it is a normal thing.’


‘Janie!’


‘There’s a lot of normal things here that ain’t fucking normal.’

‘What kind of restaurant is this?’


‘Chez Nosfaratu.’


‘Nos-’


‘Nosfaratu. Vampires. All of ‘em. Even the guests.’


‘Even the guests?’


‘That’s why I couldn’t see them in my mirror. Where’s Carlos?’


‘Carlos is dead.’


‘Dead? What happened?’


‘He was an asshole.’


‘Oh, Janie.’


‘You know how angry he’d get.’


‘Yeah.’


‘Well, he got angry, his knee-jerk for everything.’


‘And?’


‘And they ate him.’


‘Ate him? Oh Chr-’


‘Don’t say it. Winds them up. Learned that my first day.’


‘Was that Carlos on the menu?’


‘Carlos carpaccio? Maybe.’


‘Oh Janie, I’m so sorry.’


‘Don’t be. He was an asshole.’


‘But why are you still here? I mean, working, why don’t you leave?’


‘I can’t. We can’t. Antoine said you were theirs when you came in, and he meant it. Said the same thing when I got here with asshole.’


‘But what is this place? A prison?’


‘Something like that. They keep me to feed the guests. And now they’ve got you.’


‘Feed the guests?’


‘It’s a bloodering hole for the undead. They extract from me every day and right now, they’re out there serving my blood in crystal tumblers.’


‘You’re serious, aren’t you? These are actually vampires.’


‘Damn skippy. Antoine runs this place along with his understudy, Mel. Then there’s their blood-sucking staff.’


‘What about them at the tables?’


‘Them at the tables are the paying guests.’


‘Guests? What?… like… on holiday?’


‘In one. Some want a place to sleep for the day and some are so lazy they can’t be bothered to go out and find their own meals.’


‘So, they come here for…’


‘Plasma aperitifs? Haemoglobin highballs? You name it, we serve it.’


‘Like a bed and breakfast for vampires?’


‘Coffin and corpuscles, more like. Now here’s the sixty-million-dollar question - do you have fire?’


‘No.’


‘Shit.’


‘Wait. When was the last time you wore that dinner jacket?’


‘I don’t know. A couple years ago… the last time we went out for a meal.’


‘When you still smoked.’


‘Yes.’


‘Check the pockets.’


‘Bloody hell, I’m glad I married you. I’ve got one.’


‘But does it work?’


‘Try it.’


‘Hang on! These bastards can hear a fly fart at a thousand feet.’


‘If they can hear the lighter, why can’t they hear us talking?’


‘It’s the echo in here. So like bats, they can hear the sounds but can’t decipher the individual voices.’


‘Ahh.’


‘But a lighter makes a distinct noise. They’d hear that and come a-running.’


‘I get it. Echo dislocation.’


‘Good one. Now, I’ve got a plan. C’mon. And grab as much toilet paper as you can carry.’



‘I’ve been casing this place for three weeks and there’s no actual way to get out. The windows are shatter-proof and the doors only have handles on the outside.’


‘The outside? How do the vampires get out?’


‘Really? They’re vampires. They can turn to mist and fly.’


‘Oh yeah. I remember n-’


‘Is there a sewer?’


‘No. That was my first thought too. But this isn’t a Stephen King film. This place is totally self-contained. No electricity, no gas pumped in from the real world either. Even the toilets drain into a holding tank underground.’


‘Bloody hell, who empties it?’


‘Nobody. It’s just been sat there for who knows how long.’


‘Lovely… breathe in all that methane.’


‘What about the lights? The cooked food on the menu?’


‘It’s dark magic. I don’t know how they do it but it definitely ain’t real. These guys can’t bear burning. Kills ‘em. Instantly. Food’s cooked… just not with fire.’


‘That’s…’


‘Weird. Yeah. The only thing that ain’t magic is the water. A massive reservoir on the roof collects rain and that’s what’ll come out of the sprinklers when they set off. Real, unadulterated water. And it’s always full.’


‘Holy water?’


‘Probably not. BUT, we can try blessing it. I mean, the water coming out of the sinks is connected to all the other water here. Whaddaya think?’


‘But I’m no priest.’


‘We can try it, who knows? It might work.’


‘Can’t hurt.’


‘So, what’s your plan?’


‘Right. We’re on the top floor. These rooms are where the big-paying punters sleep. Set this burning and they’ll scurry to save their coffins.’


‘Will they?’


‘Yeah. It’s neurotic, but they love ‘em. Like cats and their litter boxes. Hopefully the fire’s far enough away from the dining room that none’ll notice it for a while and buy us some time.’


‘For what?’


‘To get back downstairs and wait for the chaos.’


‘And when they notice?’


‘That’s when we make our own exit.’


‘And that’s what the bog roll’s for.’


‘Yeah. Big pile in one of the rooms, unroll one for a fuse, light it by the service lift and it’ll burn like a bastard. And we can be back downstairs before anyone knows what’s happening.’


‘Good plan. But what if someone does see us?’


‘Just pray that someone’s not Antoine.’



‘Did you bless the tap water?’


‘I gave it a go, but my Latin is rusty.’


‘Git.’


‘Madame. Your duck.’


‘Thank you.’


‘And Sir’s steak.’


‘Yeah. Great.’


‘Bon appetit.’


‘So, where’s Janie gone?’


‘Shhhhhh. Not so loud.’


‘But where is she?’


‘I don’t know. Getting prepared, I suppose.’


‘Do the mirror thing again.’


‘No, they’re probably watching us. Don’t do anything suspicious.’


‘Are you gonna eat that?’


‘Magic duck. Yeah. Sure.’



‘Excuse me, Antoine.’


‘Countess, you’ve come again. What can I do for you?’


‘I do not want to cause alarm but… can I smell smoke?’


‘Oh, most certainly not, Countess. The smell comes from the kitchen – the food we cook for the warm ones.’


‘Ah.’


‘But for you, Countess, I shall investigate, for safety’s sake.’


‘Thank you, Antoine.’



‘Mel!’


‘My Lord.’


‘The warm ones were for the new girl’s first feast, yet they still live.’


‘She was with them, my Lord, not long ago. Did she not drain them?’


‘Clearly. Not. Where is Janie?’


‘I do not know, my Lord.’


‘Find her. NOW!’



‘I hope that fuse didn’t burn out.’


‘I doused it with enough perfume to keep it going for weeks.’


‘Do you hear a creaking noise?’


‘No. But I can really smell smoke now.’


‘Get ready to run.’


‘Oh dear.’


‘What?’


‘Antoine’s coming. And he doesn’t look happy.’


‘Where?’


‘Behind you.’


‘Holy shit he’s got his fangs out!’


‘I think we should run now.’


‘Better idea. FIRE!’



‘HAVE WE LOST HIM?’


‘YEAH, HE’S TRYING TO CALM EVERYONE DOWN!’


‘EVERYTHING’S SATURATED!’


‘ANYONE MELTING?!’


‘NO!’


‘MY LATIN’S WORSE THAN I THOUGHT!’


‘GIT!’


‘I CAN STILL HEAR CREAKING!’


‘JANIE’S TRYING TO SMASH THROUGH THE FRONT DOORS!’


‘WHAT WITH?’


‘A COFFIN TROLLEY! THE THING’S JUST SPLINTERING!’


‘THE DOORS?’


‘NO, THE COFFIN! WE SHOULD GO HELP HER!’


‘FUCK THAT! SHE’S DOING A CRACKIN’ JOB ON HER OWN!’


‘STAY HERE THEN!’


‘ARE YOU SERIOUS? OH, BLOODY HELL!’



‘JANIE!’


‘THIS DOOR WON’T BUDGE!’


‘HERE! TRY IT WITH TWO OF US!’


‘THREE!’


‘PULL IT BACK SO WE GET A GOOD RUN AT IT!’


‘ONE!’


‘TWO!’


‘ANTOINE’S BLOCKING THE DOOR!’


‘THREEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!’


‘THE CEILING’S COLLAPSING! RUN!’



‘What the hell was that?!’


‘The reservoir collapsed the burning timbers and smashed through the front wall!’


‘That was lucky!’


‘Not for the Countess it wasn’t!’


‘She was dead anyway!’


‘Get in the car! I’ll drive!’


‘What happened to Antoine?!’


‘Gored by that splintered coffin!’


‘Dead?!’


‘Injured! I saw him crawling behind the bar as we ran out!’


‘Go! Go! Go!’


‘It’s still on fire!’


‘Good riddance!’


‘What was that!?’


‘It’s Mel and the waitress! They’ve landed on the roof of the car!’


‘Faster!’


‘I’m trying!’


‘They’re coming through!’


‘More of them now!’


‘They’re smashing the windows!’


‘No, that was the shock wave from the hotel!’


‘From the hotel?!’


‘Yeah, fire must’ve ignited the methane!’


‘Where’s the waiters?’


‘They’ve fallen. Just corpses on the road behind us now.’


‘Are you sure?’


‘Antoine’s dead.’


‘What?’


‘He didn’t survive the blast.’


‘How do you know?’


‘His magic kept his minions alive.’


‘Look, it’s getting light again.’


Humph


‘What now?’


‘It’s only eight-twenty-five.’


‘Dark magic made it always night around Solace.’


‘Great anniversary date.’


‘I’ll say. What do you want to do next year?’



THE END


February 24, 2023 13:11

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13 comments

Viga Boland
19:23 Mar 17, 2023

Joseph, you’re my kind of writer! As you’ll see if you find time to read my dialogue only pieces (4 dialogue only on my page) I’m totally into bantering dialogue between husband and wife, with no descriptions and lots of humour. I’m happy to read pieces like this that move quickly and teveal character better than long-winded narrative descriptions. Keep up the good work and I’m following you now in the hopes of enjoying more soon!

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Joe Sauers
21:25 Mar 17, 2023

Hi Viga, thank you so very incredibly much for your message. Words can’t describe how you’ve made me feel by writing what you have. I’m chuffed that you’ve enjoyed Table For Two. It was really fun to write. I’m into fast-paced, bang bang bang, Jack Karouac style writing too. I found Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa to be very fast moving. Brilliant story too. Thanks again for your kind words and I’ll follow you as well, if that’s cool. Speak to you soon. 😁

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Viga Boland
22:17 Mar 17, 2023

You bet! Here’s to future dialogue in more ways than one

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Jane Andrews
21:01 Mar 05, 2023

What an impressive feat to pack so much action and storyline into pure dialogue. This was a fun read, Joseph - I loved the back and forth banter between the husband and wife (before they or I realised it was a horror story) and once we reached the vampire part of the plot, it became a wonderfully bonkers story. I can just see the wife bringing this up every time they go out for a meal in the future. Btw, I noticed in your bio that you love ‘Jamaica Inn’ - it’s one of my favourites too. And du Maurier’s short stories are masterful. I’ll look ...

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Mary Bendickson
19:57 Mar 04, 2023

Joe, Just be careful of the places you pick to dine out in!

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Mary Bendickson
22:01 Mar 03, 2023

What a story!

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Joe Sauers
16:47 Mar 04, 2023

Hi Mary, I read your message last night (UK time) and I still have the smile your words inspired as I’m writing this. 😁 Nearly 24 hours. People are starting to stare! Thank you for your very kind message. I am thrilled that you enjoyed T4T. I had a lot of fun writing it. I will be dining out on your message for years to come. Thanks again. Joe

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Carina Caccia
08:26 Feb 28, 2023

I read your piece with my morning coffee. Really enjoyed the touches of humour, especially the rusty Latin. This also captured my attention: ‘Wherever. No. Over there. Don’t want any yobs staggering out and vomiting all over the windscreen.’

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Joe Sauers
06:34 Mar 05, 2023

Hi Carina, thank you for your kind words. I’m chuffed that you enjoyed T4T. I had a lot of fun writing it. Thanks again. Joe

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L J
23:44 Feb 27, 2023

Read your bio..if you like movies; have you seen the Thin Man series? Nick and Nora Charles? If you combine them with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer..you have yours! LOVE IT! Love the rapport between the spouses (reminded me of Nicki and Nora); love anything Vampire related and I would love to see or read more of this! I could picture what was happening and he use of CAPS to show action was brilliant! I laughed at the puns; thoroughly LOVED IT. Thank you for taking time to read mine!

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Joe Sauers
06:44 Mar 05, 2023

Hi LJ, thank you for your very kind words. I’m thrilled that you enjoyed T4T. I had a lot of fun writing it. I’ve not heard of the Thin Man series but I love Myrna Loy and have got the first two films in my Amazon basket for future getting. Thanks again for your message. Joe

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Wendy Kaminski
20:30 Feb 25, 2023

This was exciting and well-paced, Joseph! I really enjoyed your spin on the prompt, and in particular the very original and engrossing storyline - nicely done!

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Joe Sauers
17:46 Mar 04, 2023

Hi again, today’s my responding day. I try to be regimented and it works… most of the time. Thank you for your kind words and I’m chuffed that you enjoyed T4T. Joe

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