An isolated incident. I’m a normal guy. I don’t know what happened. I mean, it could happen to anybody, eh?
I’ve always figured there were too many people on this planet anyway, and that most of them are pretty miserable if they’re not starving to death. But I’m justifying myself in retrospect. Shit. Okay. I’ll just tell the story.
It was a normal day. Or, it started out that way: went to work, got up to the building and parked; all like I do every day. But this one day when I got in the elevator to go up to the office, I broke out into a cold sweat. It started on my forehead and the small of my back. And I thought I was going to pass out right there in front of all those people– and this elevator was packed, like it is every morning. People going to work, you know? But anyway, my arms and legs start sweating and I can’t get enough oxygen, no matter how deliberately I try to breathe. I’m not really freaking because I’m just trying to maintain, you know– I’m just concerned with staying alive I guess, ‘cause I never really thought about any of the other people in the elevator. Except I remember getting really hungry, which is strange now that I think about it because I’d had a good breakfast just a half-hour before… And then after I got out of the elevator and I was okay again, I was still hungry. So I went right to my office and ate the sandwich I’d brought for lunch, but that didn’t help. I couldn’t get enough to eat that whole day at work– that was weird.
But besides that, the rest of the day went fine; at work, I mean. I worked on this proposal that my group is working on for the Population Control Center. Yeah, everything went normal that day, but for some reason I do remember this one memo on our group’s electronic bulletin board. It said, “the future is Soylent Green.” I just laughed at the time; I got the reference, you know? Ugh… People eating people…
Anyway, so it happened in the elevator ride back down at the end of the day. And nothing like this has ever happened before, you know? Except for this one day. The elevator was packed, like it always is at the end of the day– people going home, you know? But this time, just like that morning, I broke out into this cold sweat, and almost instantly I get dizzy and start seeing stars around the periphery of my vision like I’m about to pass out. And I get real hungry again. And this time I do notice the people in the elevator. I remember them seeming so big and imposing. So close. I’d look at the guy next to me and his face was all pitted and scarred and oily and I could see sweat beading up on his upper lip. Oh, and his breath stank like he’d just eaten a piece of rotten meat. Reminded me of when I was a kid, I got locked in the cabinet under the sink where we kept the trash can. I was stuck in there with all that rotting food scrap for I don’t know how long, but ever since then I think I’ve been afraid of both closed-in spaces and leftovers.
And this lady on the other side of me, she was hugely obese and I don’t know what she was doing in there ‘cause she looked like somebody’s worst nightmare of a mother-in-law. God, she was wearing this sleeveless sundress-type wrap of cloth and she was sweating worse than I felt like I was. I remember her pasty skin from about mid-upper arm up to her neck and — oh, God– she had this dark, thick, long body hair. A bunch of it around her neck. It was really extraordinary– and I remember I thought so at the time. I remember I thought, “a lioness!” But she couldn’t have been a lioness– it’s the male lions that have that thick mane around their necks. This was a woman. But god, did she have some sweaty fur!
So all this time I’m getting hungrier and hungrier, and everything looks like a dream. Like slow motion and soft filters and I’m numb except for the feeling of my stomach starting to digest itself. And then I become extremely aware of the smells of these people. There’s the guy’s rotting meat breath. There’s the scent of his sweat and mine and that fat lady’s and everybody else’s all mingling together– and believe me, by now I can tell that everybody in that elevator’s sweating big time.
But the smell of this one woman– she was behind me to my left– God! Sweet! Like an exotic dessert. So I turned around to see her, and, oh, she was simply gorgeous! Lisa. Yes, Lisa. She was new in my office– my boss introduced her just the other day. Quite cute: auburn hair, green eyes, olive complected, and a beautiful, if nervous, smile. I wanted to eat her so bad. Yeah, really. I mean I literally wanted to eat her right up. But then I noticed this other delicious scent from the front of the elevator, to my left; it was another lady, but she smelled like she’d basted herself in Worcestershire sauce all day. I remember thinking, “she’d make a tasty appetizer!” HA! Yeah, no shit. And so on with all those people.
But what pushed me over the edge was this one lady, Claire. I knew her from my office– she worked in another group, but we’d known each other from just seeing each other around. I’d always been obscurely attracted to her. She’s so somber most the time, you know? But she’s an interesting woman–got a wide range of interests and she’s very personable and interested, too. But what was so strange is that she smelled to me like this dish my aunt Lorraine used to make for family gatherings when I was a kid. Oh, god, this was the best food I ever ate, before or since; and I’d not had a bite of it since I was about 16 I guess– that was when Aunt Lorraine fell into a meat grinder at the meat-packing plant where she worked. But she called this dish– my favorite dish ever– she called it “Claire Lorraine.” I guess it was like Quiche Lorraine, but she had a daughter named Claire and kinda combined the two into the name of this awesome casserole.
So this lady Claire, just as I’d turned to see where this delicious scent was coming from, she turned too, to look at me. And she nodded to me, like she was saying, “I know you’re hungry. Okay. I’m your main course. Bon appetit!” Real somber like she always is!
I couldn’t resist. I was so hungry– famished– and her delicious scent drove me into a feeding frenzy. I devoured Claire in about 3 bites, downed the appetizer lady in about a bite and a half, and the rest I don’t really remember ‘cause there were body parts all over the place and I kinda smorgasborded it, you know. A little bite of this, set it down, a little bite of something else, set it down, etc. And they were all very resigned about it. Like they knew it was coming. They didn’t run or scream or anything.
Even Lisa. She stood back there in her corner watching like it was TV. When I was done, she looked at me and gave a slight giggle– not nervous anymore– and she said, ”Thanks. It was getting a bit crowded.”
And she was right! For the first time I could remember in that damn elevator, I was relaxed! I could feel the oxygen beginning to infuse my veins along with the fuel I’d just devoured. I felt great, like my eyes’d been popped out, washed in a bath of Windex, and popped back in. Everything was crystal clear, colors bright as sunshine… especially Lisa. Her hair took the colors of a bonfire at night, and her green eyes looked like thick jungle.
I sighed and replied, “Yeah, and I’m not hungry anymore.”