12 Jan “Don’t Eat Today’s Special” – Creepypasta
There’s something terrifying going on in the restaurant downtown. I could give you the address, could tell you the exact location, could give you turn-by-turn directions on how to get there – but I won’t. I’ll describe how it looks, so you can turn away if you ever stumble on it by accident, but that’s all I do. I’d rather not have any of you trying to find the place.
The restaurant I am talking about is in a run down part of my home town. It’s in the kind of neighborhood that consists mainly of closed up shops – their dusty windows blocked over with old newspapers and cardboard. There are only two kinds of businesses that seem to survive in that place. There are filthy bars lined with slot machines on one hand and on the other are the sort of second hand electronic stores that seem to only exist so pickpockets can get rid of stolen cellphones.
I used to take a shortcut through this district on my way home from my part-time job. Normally there was little to see – or rather what there was to see was either gross or concerning if not both, so you were better off not paying any attention in the first place. On this particular day several months ago however an illuminated window caught my eye. A simple table cloth behind a dirty window. It was the bright white color that did the trick. Nothing really special you may think and you’d be right, but its pristine condition stood out in a place like this, where an all-encompassing patina of filth was an expected part of any decor.
The window belonged to a two story house wedged in between some taller buildings. Graffiti covered its walls to an extent that rendered it barely recognizable as a restaurant. Once its name must have been painted onto the wall above the window. Now only a few faded letters remained legible. ‘Da-i— –stro’ was all I could make out. I guess that the second used to be ‘Bistro’. No idea about the first one.
Upon taking a closer look through the illuminated window I spotted a laid table housing a single lone customer. There were other tables and chairs haphazardly littered around the room, but this central one was the only table sporting a bright white table cloth and a guest. Various pots and pans were strewn about on its surface. The air above was filled with the soft foggy steam of freshly cooked food. There was a lot of it – far too much for the lone patron. He was a skinny man with worn clothes that seemed far too big for him. His cheeks looked hollow and his arms spindly. Maybe part of the local population of homeless drifters and addicts – definitively not the kind of person who might be able to afford a meal of this size.
He was facing my direction without ever directly looking at me or the window in general. His attention was completely focused on the food. He shoveled a spoon filled with mashed potatoes and green beans into his mouth before grasping the nearby glass of water to flood the generous portion down his throat. There was an obvious appetite in the way he hungrily wolfed down anything he could get his hands on and the longer I stared at the simple but generous meal, the more I started to grow hungry myself. For a minute or two I fruitlessly walked back and forth in front of the place, searching for a way to enter. The only visible door was closed and it didn’t look like an entrance in the first place. It was a plain steel door sporting an electric warning sign.
After returning to the window one last time I gave up, went home and proceeded to forget about the whole encounter. I didn’t think about it at all until I passed by the window again the week after. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the white color, the memory came flooding back. The very same man was still there, or more likely was there again and once more he sat there in front of a lavish meal. A sweaty gleam was covering his face and I could see the muscles in his neck tense and twitch whenever he swallowed. The only thing that had really changed from the week before was the food.
The simple mix of potatoes, soups and steamed vegetables had been replaced by more intricate and expensive meals. Plates housed nicely arranged cutlets of various meats – each artfully drenched in a different sauce and adorned with a few herbs. With a twist of his wrist the patron scooped up a serving of thin delicate noodles dripping with olive oil and roasted garlic. He squeezed the fork against his lips, his jaw still trying to chew the previous load, then opened his mouth and shoved the noodles in, nearly choking in the process.
He looked slightly distressed as he tried to swallow the portion while his hands were already scooping up the next load – a tender piece of chicken breast from its roast dipped in brown marinade. He slightly shuddered as he forced the food down, took a second to sip on a glass of red wine, then went back to stuffing himself. I watched him for five minutes before moving on. The scent drifting through the window was enticing, but I had already given up on the notion of finding an entrance to the building. When I came home I emptied my pantry and cooked myself a giant meal as well.
The next time I came back to the restaurant wasn’t by chance. Something about the whole place had piqued my interest and I was looking forward to seeing whether the same singular customer had returned for a third time. To my disappointment something was blocking the view that particular night. A board of some sort was propped against the window from the inside. I could still see parts of the room through a small gap, could see that the light was still burning and that somebody appeared to be still sitting at the place the man had been those last two weeks, but there was no way of getting a good look at what was going on. With my curiosity left unsatisfied I went home. The next day I made a detour to return. I just hated to be left hanging like that. The window was blocked again.
Over the next few weeks I’d develop a habit of dropping by the place every now and then. Sometimes the window was blocked, sometimes I got a good view into the room. Whenever I did I’d find the same sight – the skinny man sitting in front of increasingly lushious meals, gorging himself on the food. By now you couldn’t really call him skinny anymore though. He had gained at least a little weight. His cheeks were no longer sunken in and his formerly loosely hanging vest had grown a bit tighter around the waist. While he had eaten with a healthy appetite at first, his expression had turned slightly pained by now. Every bite had become a struggle. Every motion seemed forced. His nose wrinkled in disgust every time his lips opened. Still he kept eating.
I have to admit however, that I didn’t pay all that much attention to him. The increasingly exotic food was just too bizarre to look away from. Every time I was allowed a glimpse at the table, I’d see more and more alien items appearing in more and more strange arrangements. Jelly cubes encasing sharp fanged anglerfish. Misshapen eggs the size of my fist emitting a faint glow. Noodles so thin and dark they looked like hair. It became hard to even recognize half of the stuff as edible in the first place. I watched the man crack open the gigantic body of a purple spider crab, watched him bite down on moss covered mushrooms that spat out clouds of yellow spores with every touch, witnessed him sitting in front of a plate of little squirming black bugs that tried to flee from his spoon as he shoveled them into his maw. Giant algae plants shaped and twisted around each other like strands of DNA – Needle covered orange balls that slightly shivered as if breathing – the roasted body of some eight legged animal, either the remnants of some freak of nature or several animals stitched together to create a new abnormal shape. Soon I ignored the patron completely and just dropped by to see what kind of absurd ideas the cook had come up with this time.
And strangely – no matter how bizarre and abhorrent the food looked, it left me wanting to try it myself, left me hungry and searching for something to fill myself as well. And then when I finally returned home to plunder my kitchen I’d end up unsatisfied.
As time passed my chances to catch a glimpse at the goings-on inside the restaurant grew rarer. More and more often the window was blocked and I was relegated to squeezing my head against the corner in hopes of at least catching a little glance at that day’s special. Minced meat shaped to resemble realistic human heads, with hairs and teeth taken from various animals. A thin glass that emitted a seemingly endless stream of bluish fog. A red soup that followed the motions of the spoon before it ever came into contact, as if driven by some magnetic force. By now I can’t believe that I never noticed anything being wrong with these things when witnessing them, but back then I kept telling myself that there existed a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this, that everything I saw were just tricks manufactured by some creative and probably slightly deranged cooking genius.
But this little lie I kept telling myself could only get me so far. It was only a matter of time until the strangeness crossed a threshold. That’s what happened last week. Things just got a little too weird to ignore and mentally push aside. There is something wrong with that place. There is something terrifying about the restaurant downtown.
Before the day in question I hadn’t gotten a clear view into the restaurant for a month. Just little hints here and there, but never enough to leave me satisfied. And on that day – finally – the window was free again. The moment I stepped closer this joyful excitement I felt turned into a subtle horror.
There was only a single item lying on the table. It looked like the carcass of a large stag at first glance – a four legged animal with short reddish brown fur and huge dark antlers. At second glance the alterations that had been done to the creature were unmistakable. I say alterations because I refuse to believe that a thing like this could come out of any natural process. It must have been crafted artificially – maybe taxidermized out of different animals. If so then the creator of this monstrosity did a perfect job of blending the various parts into one seamless whole.
Instead of hooves the stag was sporting four hands – like those of an ape or some similar primate – wrinkled and calloused, but hands nonetheless. Its face too was not that of a deer. The nose was flat and thin, the mouth large and adorned with human-like lips, its skin around these parts hairless and flesh-colored. A large hole had been torn into its side. Broken ribs were sticking out. Blackish blood darkened the fur around the open wound. The man was leaning over the carcass, his mouth stained with the dark red color of blood as well. Some entrails were hanging between him and the corpse and with a motion of his head he slurped them down as if they were spaghetti.
He had changed completely. His formerly lithe body was now encompassed by layers of fat. His eyes had turned into beady black holes, almost as if they had retreated into his skull. His clothes – now ill-fitting in a completely different way – had burst in several places, revealing the hairless greasy pale skin underneath. He looked less like a man and more like a giant maggot – the way his neck had swollen to the size of his shoulders – the way his arms barely peeked out of the armor of fat surrounding him.
And then he looked up – looked away from the meal for the first time and straight at me. There was nothing but a deep and bottomless hunger. Saliva gathered in the corner of his mouth. His gaze wandered up and down my body. He licked his lips.
I turned and left. It took some force of will not to run, but I managed to keep walking at a slow and steady pace. Maybe running would have been an appropriate response to being looked at like that, but at that moment I was still trying to hold on to reason, was trying to find logical explanations, was trying to laugh all of this off. Maybe I was just confused. Maybe this was a completely different customer. Surely the blind hunger in his eyes wasn’t actually targeted at me. But nothing could quench the growing unease and fear in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to go back, didn’t want to be forced to look at this creature ever again, but I had to. I just needed to make sure the man was still there, locked in the room. Just one last time.
When I returned today, my worst nightmares had come true. The man was gone. The table was empty. The metal door with the electrical warning sign stood open leading into the room and an enticing smell floated through the air towards me. Despite all I had witnessed I found myself taking a step towards the opening. Before I could take another something heavy moved in a nearby alley. Some street cat let out a startled scream that was cut short. A moment later there the sound of cracking and munching echoed from the buildings. This time I did run.
I will not return to this place ever again. I will not return to this part of the city ever again. I’m even making plans to move far away. The scent that drifted out of the open door is still stuck in my nose and no food I touch can satisfy my growing appetite. And then there is one detail about tonight that keeps popping back into my mind.
Right next to the open door, somebody had propped up a simple blackboard.
It read: ‘Today’s special: All you can eat!’