A Dinner Date

📅 Published on December 3, 2020

“A Dinner Date”

Written by M.M. Kelley
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 16 minutes

Rating: 6.33/10. From 3 votes.
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Zaleski State Forest is a short jot from my place of business. I’ve been known to skip eating and use my lunch break to take short treks through the forest in every season. It’s been at least a weekly occurrence since I began the position five years ago. It’s incredibly freeing to be able to wander nature, experience the plants and animals.

After this week, I will no longer be taking strolls through the park. There’s something old out there. Something old and hungry.

I decided to wander off the trails. If I were to get lost, I could use the GPS on my phone to get back. Most of the landmarks near where I park were committed to memory. That particular Friday, I must have gone further into the wooded acres than I had ever explored. I felt that I had my bearings, I was sure I was nearing the Visitors Center when the smell of steak rolled across the wood.

I followed the smell like a hound; I didn’t think about campsites, I assumed picnic area. Following the smell simply dragged me deeper into the forest. Brambles couldn’t slow me down. Neither could fallen trees or creek beds. The fact that I hadn’t seen a path in heaven knows how long didn’t jump out at me until the recurring dreams afterward. But, the aroma kept getting stronger, as did my curiosity.

All I could focus on was finding the source of the smell. Checking my GPS never occurred to me, my brain didn’t second guess the sun beginning to disappear into the horizon. It was after dark when the smell was so strong that I may as well have had a fresh steak in front of me. I saw the dim dance of flame ahead of me among the tree trunks. The smell of supper was entrancing, as if I’d been wandering the woods for months. The closer I came, the denser the saplings became, as if trying to bar my path.

The source of the dancing lights were two candlesticks placed on a large oak table. Two sky blue diamonds of ceramic sat at opposite ends of the table with enormous, picture perfect steaks, the creamiest looking mashed potatoes and slightly charred asparagus. The table was atop a perfectly flat Persian rug, like it was doctored into a picture of the woods. Situated between the two candles a handful of red roses jutted from a slim black vase.

No one was near, so I began to approach the table. The rug felt firm under my feet, like a platform was hidden underneath. A quick peek under one corner of the rug revealed only dirt and still living plants.  I tried to wiggle one of the chairs to see if it was affixed to the ground but to no avail. A photoshoot, I assumed just from the impeccable attention to detail that its absentee creator had apparently put into it. Up close the steak looked fresh off the grill. A gentle touch told me it was piping hot.

“Have a seat, sir!” a voice called from behind me, tinged with aristocracy of time past.

“Hey, I just kind of stumbled onto your beautiful set while on a hike,” I explained as I turned around.

A figure stood near the edge of the rug where no one had been previously. It donned a neatly tailored tuxedo with a white linen draped over the left arm, but its physique was, in stark contrast, broken and shabby.  It started to lumber towards me, its awkward gait lead by uneven shoulders and trailed by feet that didn’t seem to leave the rug. It abruptly turned and pulled one of the chairs from the table with no effort and bowed. While resting one hand on the backrest, my mysterious host waved me towards the seat.

“Come, come dear. You are a guest here.”

“Oh, no, no,” I stammered, waving my hands and slowly backing up shyly, “I just stumbled upon your set while wandering the woods and–”

“Sir, God does not play with dice,” it said with certainty.

“I really am grateful,” I assured it, “But I really do need to find my car.”

“Pish posh. We will have none of that. Only the most honored guests may be invited to this table.”

It looked me in the eye for the first time. One as blue as the ocean, the other the golden amber of a frosty beer. A crooked nose sat slightly off center above a gnarled pair of lips and a jaw that seemed too square to be natural.

“No, really, I need to be going–” I started before it’s lip began to twitch and nose scrunched, “I’m very sorry, do you run this often? I would love to come back and visit when I have more time.”

The toothy grin the butler flashed turned my stomach. The teeth weren’t too long, or too sharp like a fairy tale monster, nor were they discolored. They were perfectly white, but were in all the wrong places. Molars in the front, canines randomly dispersed among them, incisors haphazardly sprinkled among them, too. I told myself to stay calm. I tried to control my expression. Its face contorted in bewilderment, as it twisted its head sideways and stared.

I spun on my heel, made a mad dash for the woods and refused to look back. I took the step up to the tree line in a bound, but my hope was dashed. The saplings were packed together too tightly for a person to squeeze through. I searched along the tree line for the place that I had slipped through. I checked over my shoulder every few steps. The butler stood lopsided and proud near the table, his linen arm held out in front of him.

“Dear Sir,” it called out, its accent giving way to that of a southern gentleman, “I understand the manor can be fascinating, but won’t you please join as our esteemed guest before the master returns?”

The words fit together, but fell flat. They lacked feeling, urgency, or weight of any kind. A voice that only existed between organic and mechanical, but distinctly neither.

I tuned it out and tried to pry some of the thin trunks apart, but the gaps were too small to even fit my fingers into. When I checked to see if he was still in his place, it was closer. Everything was closer. The grassy area around the rug was essentially naught and the tightly packed trees pressed together with such force that a smooth surface formed. The butler dragged it’s off kilter form around the walls, carefully lighting candles perched on branches that had not vanished during the formation of the walls.

“Please, deary,” it begged, its voice somewhat feminine and decidedly Eastern European now, “The Master will be so happy if you were in your seat before his arrival.”

“Who is the Master?” I demanded, caving from my stance of not giving it attention.

“Why, they are your host for the evening’s festivities!”

At the time it felt like avoidance, as if the butler were simply biding its time for an accomplice to arrive. The smell of cooked meat faded as it mixed with the growing smell of decaying leaf litter and burning unscented candles.

The sound of obvious, deliberately slow steps seeped into the closed room. The sound of bare feet on tile, following the cadence of a ceremonial march approached from both around, above and below. I started to notice patterns forming in the striations of bark that had become walls. They resembled portraits, the things contained in them covered in furs, occasionally sporting jagged, white horns. While many of them were clearly monstrosities, others bordered between man and beast.

The walls groaned and creaked like an old oak, unable to stand strong against the storm winds. Butler shambled with urgency, tidying the table, straightening the candles that cast the shadows away. It murmured about “The Master” the entire time, the already picturesque scene becoming perfect.

I snatched it away from the table by its collar, fed up with the deception and avoidance. I jerked it close enough that I could feel its irregular breaths. The pace and shallowness took my focus for a moment before I barked in its face.

“What the fuck is that?”

It seemed flustered. A little red came to the slightly asymmetrical face of the butler.

“The master?” it asked with a sheepishness that one would answer a child with, “They do like to make an entrance. Your part of this elaborate display is to be seated when they make their entrance.”

“They?” I asked, my mind suddenly ripe with possibilities.  “How many are coming to dinner?”

“Just the one, sir.” the butler assured me, “While they enjoy the language and imagery that the title “Master” signifies, they are without gender. They simply are.”

“Just tell me who the fuck it is!” I snapped in the butler’s face.

It started to reply but before its tongue could form a sound, a musty wind rushed through the walls. I dropped its collar and it backed a few steps away from me with a deep relieving breath. The gust refused to relent, the expected howl of the wind through trees rolling into a bone rattling shriek.

“It’s nice that you’ve finally made it, Jack” a smoky voice rattled through the shrieking gust.

The presence of a third threw me off. I frantically looked around. A thick mahogany door creaked open from the wall furthest from me, and a tall, spindly figure stepped through the threshold. It bent and stepped, like a person slipping between slats on a fence, a burgundy velvet robe swishing with its movements.

The butler bowed in perfect form, a beaming smile showing off its misplaced teeth.

“The Master has arrived, dear sir,” it whispered, nodding for me to bow as well.

A long pale face jutted from the collar of its swaying robe. I swept downward in a polite bow, and the Master reached out with open arms in response. Two white, emaciated arms slid from the wide sleeves of the robe. Black horns jutted from its forehead and curved back behind it like styled hair. It gestured upward with its sickly palms and grey pointed nails slicing the air.

“Rise, please,” the voice creaked with a hint of a laugh buried in its rattle, the gust dying out with his words.

It took a seat at the table, what was once a plainly carved chair was now an ornate and enormous throne. Black, snake like eyes observed me from high above the table. It nodded reassuringly to me, a sweeping flick of the wrist directing me to the empty seat opposite of it.

“I was telling your… friend? Here that I actually need to be going but I would be happy to come ba–”

“I know what you told them,” the Master interrupted in an almost maternal tone, “You must understand, we have been waiting for you for a very long time.”

The Butler, hanging on its words, nodded profusely in agreement. The door it had entered through was still ajar.

“My wife is expecting me though,” I lied through my teeth, edging towards the door, but away from the table.

“You have no attachments outside of these wood.” it rattled louder than before, “You only smell of self and nature.”

I acted like I was going to respond, but I ran. I ran so hard the floor shook. The faster I went, the more the room seemed to stretch, the door always just a little further away. It was creaking closed slowly. I pushed myself; my legs screamed with fatigue as though I’d run the length of the entire park a thousand times. I threw myself at the narrowing gap in the door. My shirt was ripped, and a long scrape went across my chest, but I made it through.

“Must you be so dramatic, Jack?” its voice rattled through the candle lit hallway I found myself in, distinctly lacking any form of amusement or enthusiasm.

More of the same portraits lined the walls, separated by more mounted candles. A burgundy rug ran down the hall and into the darkness. I tried for my phone for light, but had to take a candle from the wall instead. I cautiously proceeded down the hall, checking around me constantly for new developments. The paintings started getting more depth, like they were more akin to windows.  Sometimes they were replaced in the pattern with door frames filled with the wood paneling and bone white wallpaper.

The further down the hall I went, the less formal the portraits became. Their clothing started becoming more modern, poses sometimes silly, sometimes frantic, instead of the classic shoulders back, facing the artist portrait pose. The rug suddenly crunched with each step. I leaned down with the candle, the wooden floor had run out and the rug continued to run over leaves and twigs of the forest. The candles and paintings were no longer apart of the landscape. Just rug and walls.

A waning flicker of hope reignited deep inside of me. I reassured myself that this had to mean I was near an exit. I walked faster, the gap between the rug and the walls narrowed. The rug narrowed with the walls, eventually I had to shimmy sideways, holding the candle out in front of me. Even with everything sucked in, the hallway became a tight squeeze. Almost to the point where I could no longer squirm through, a narrow door blocked my path.

I dropped the candle to the dirt and ever so gently landed my fingers on the door knob. A flick of my wrist was all it took to spin the door knob and for it to glide open.

The heterochromatic eyes of the butler beamed at me, a thrilled smile filled with molars and misplaced canines.

“I was hoping you didn’t get lost, sir.” it said, its tailored suit now more akin to the dress of a French maid.

It leaned down towards the narrow door and reached a white gloved hand through the narrow door frame to grab my hand. I tried to jerk away. I tried to avoid capture. The walls held my arm in place and the gloved hand snatched my wrist. The Butler pulled with all of its might, throwing a foot up against the wall for leverage. White frills under its dress obscured my vision while being pulled into a space entirely too small for my body. My skin burned as it was forced through, the joints in my arm slipping and bones sliding instead of my flesh in a cacophony of snaps and cracks as they caught on the edges of the door frame, too thick to make it through linked together.

The pain, the disbelief. It silenced any calls for the rescue I desperately wanted. I was shoulder deep back into the dining room where the Master waited. I slapped around blindly, trying to find something to hold onto, something to anchor to, something that might keep me from those things. I found it. A little piece of door jamb. There was barely enough to grab, but my fingers dug into the wood and I pulled with all of my might against the Butler’s gloved hand.

I groaned, pulling harder as the shoulder the butler had was stretched to its limit.

“Dear,” the Butler grunted politely, “let’s get you free so you may continue with the evening’s festivities.”

“I don’t want to be a part of your ‘festivities’,” I growled as I managed to pull myself mere millimeters away from my captors.

“The invitation was accepted,” the Butler said, perturbed yet gently reminding, “So you are, in fact, obligated to be here. At least by social convention.”

“Fuck th–”

My words were interrupted by my face slamming into the narrow frame that surrounded the sliver of a door. I could feel the butler digging both hands into my arm. I shrieked like a scream queen, but the Butler didn’t relent. It pulled harder with all of its might, the narrow wood grinding against my bones. I screamed and sobbed the top part of my head popped through the doorway like a chicken dropping an egg. I screamed more when the searing pain of my jaw catching on the door frame started.

“I don’t know why you didn’t use the main door,” it grunted as it forced me through.

I wish I would have blacked out, but I felt both sides of my mandible separate from my skull. I felt the skin and muscle stretch and snap back into place as I was drug back into an elegant prison. I felt every rib. Every vertebra slip and move to get my chest through. The butler grunted and growled as it pulled me through. My hip cracked and slid around to make room. Then, the butler flew. It fell right on its ass, and I slopped onto the ground, a fleshy mess of jutting bone inside of skin. I had splinters and a chunk of the doorjamb still in my clenched fist.

The Master’s red robe obstructed most of my vision as it loomed over me, its bony face tilted to the side curiously.

“Butler, please bring me a seat so I may sit and speak with our honored guest.”

“Right away!” the Butler said as it scrambled to its feet and drug the heavy throne within a few feet of my head.

The Master sank into the seat with a disappointed sigh, “You know us, Jack. We’ve never left you unattended here.”

“I’ve never fucking seen you before,” I tried to snap, but after my grand entrance, it was a visceral gurgle.

They flicked their bony hand at me, the empty black bulbs of eyes burning with frustration.

“Butler!” they shouted. “Please assemble Jack again.”

Tears poured from my eyes and searing pain covered my face as the butler grabbed my jaw and stretched it down towards my chest before jamming it back into place. It jammed its gloved fingers into my flesh between my angled ribs, pushing them back into place, and realigning the discs in my back in the process. My arms and legs received a similar pull and jam.

Everything burned and throbbed, but to my surprise I could sit up. I could and did sob after throwing up.

“You’re fine. This isn’t like other places.” The Master said with impatience fueled by disappointment.

I stood up on shaky legs and raised my fists to guard my face. Two things burrowed into my mind: survive and escape.

“Have a seat, boy.”

I held my ground silently with a subtle wobble of my sore body. They rose from the seat and let the robe fall into the seat. I brought my guard in tighter. Their pale skin was blemished with grey and light brown spots, their bony processes jutting out against the fragile looking ancient skin.

“I just want to go, old man.”

“I am no man, boy,” it said, its thin lips cutting into a smile, “but you know that. Don’t you, Jack?”

“I don’t know you.” I said as I swung with everything I could muster.

It happened so slowly. I watched their hand rise, extend their pointer finger and gently touch it to my fist. My fist stopped. It wasn’t like hitting a wall, or a pillow and stopping. Its touch sucked the potency from my punch. I could feel my skin shrinking against the muscle and bone. The rage I felt was unimaginable. How dare they? I gritted my teeth and swung up with my left. Again, it calmly lifted its hand and this time limply laid it on my mid-flight fist.

“You’ve never felt this rage before, have you?” It asked with an air of genuine curiosity.

I struggled to move my arms, but the tight skin made it nigh impossible. The Master removed its hands from mine and small mushrooms sprouted between my knuckles.

“Why are you so opposed to conversation, Jack? You’ve been here, communing with nature for years. Why not have direct words with us now?”

“Let. Me. Go.”

“We see you, Jack. We see you constantly coming to us. You find comfort in the isolation. Why are you rushing back to what you hate?”

I wanted to demand to be released. I wanted a third swing, but his words cut deep. Deep enough to flush the rage from my mind like a balloon losing its air. There was something familiar about its eyes.

“What are you?” I stammered.

The immense being paused, as if unsure how to answer. It dragged its spindly claws across its features. The curved horns, the wood like appendages – it even caressed one of those snake-like eyes with the tip of a talon like finger. The silence was nerve wracking, but the frustrated noise it made before addressing me was harrowing. Too long to be a sigh, yet angry and emotional like a scream, but those words give it the humanity that was all too absent.

“Do you remember the autumn breeze? It was nothing more than our breath on your neck. The songs of the birds, simply the sound of our eyelids as we watched. When you waited through the streams? You danced upon our tongue and flirted with our maw.”

“Like a God?” I asked.

They scoffed and tilted their gaunt face quizzically.

“You won’t find any of those here, boy.” they corrected, “We may seem to be gods to mortals, like an insect may see your destructive feet as those of a vengeful god. Though our lifetimes will be eternal from your perspective, our kind eventually will wither.”

“How many of you are there?” I asked, trying to move my lignified limbs.

“We are many, yet we are one.”

I started to stutter a barrage of questions but was hushed.

“We always welcome new blood into the covenant.”

I could feel the warmth and color drain from my face. “What is this… meeting for?”

“It is for you, Jack.” it said, tossing the claw like hand into air as if it should have been obvious, “Not unlike those job interviews you come here to worry about. A test. A test to see if you have what it takes to have your feral portrait proudly hung in this sacred space.”

“Those were all people?” I asked, my mind flipping through the dozens of portraits I saw down the long hall.

“The majority, yes.” it replied, standing up and turning its back to me, softness and feeling returning to my hands, “Sometimes other creatures are worthy of ascending into our ranks, on more rare occasion beings with higher standing than we may regress and find themselves within our ranks.”

I couldn’t decide what to question first. Implications, fear, rubbing my hands as the mushrooms flaked off onto the rug.

“Do I have a choice?” I asked, clinging to a modicum of hope.

“Choice?” they asked, turning with a sweeping motion of their robe, “You have choices to make, but, the outcome will be determined by your soul and our discretion.”

The master scraped a sharp nail from my forehead and down my chin. The thin cut swelled with a modest bead of blood. They stroked the sides of their spider like fingers against my cheek, as if comforting a child. Disgust filled my stomach and rage burned my veins.

“I don’t want to join you!” I barked with enough force for my throat to burn.

“Only fate will determine that, boy.” they said with a fond chuckle. A little laugh that felt like a window into their situation, and maybe, that it mirrored mine.

The room started to fill with a heavy smoke, sweet with the scent of tobacco. The Master turned, their regal purple robe fanning with the turn like a dancer’s dress.  They proceeded in a strict cadence to the door they entered through.

“Whoa, wait, get back here!” I yelled, leaping towards them, “What am I supposed to do?”

It outstretched its pale, nearly muscle-less arm, wagging its claws through the air. The pale face peaked over its shoulder at me.

“I told you,” it said followed by that fond chortle, “You have choices.”

The walls tumbled outward, the ceiling hung in midair seemingly unsupported. The woods were dark, the same white smoke that had been leaking into the dining room stretched as far as my eyes could see. There was something else immediately wrong, black orbs hung high in the air, unobstructed by the smoke. More of them?

My awe of the landscape was smacked away from me with the sound bones popping into place. The Master stretched and twisted its back and shoulders before turning to me, excitement burning in his inhuman eyes.

“Run,” they said calmly.

I didn’t take the time to process, or respond, my body chose flight. I scrambled over the fallen wall, trying to head for an area where I didn’t see his eyes.

“Or fight, really, you have choices.” I could hear their voice, sullied by a hint of excitement, coming from every direction.

Their words didn’t hinder my stride; I kept my eyes straight ahead to avoid trees. A white, knife fingered hand slashed at me from above. I slid, but narrowly avoided it. I looked up.  It clung to a tree branch with its legs, its face rotated to be right-side up when viewing me.  It wasn’t the Master; its horns were arranged in a row, like a mohawk. A black tongue licked around the lipless opening of its mouth.

I scraped and jerked to get back up to my feet. I ran towards the sliver of moon that I could see through the canopy on rare hopeful occasions. After weaving through some trees I found myself in a straight away, so I ran as hard as I could. My hope was the clearing meant closer to parking and lodges.  The trail ahead seemed to be lighter outside of where the smoke let me see.

Light was not what lied in front of me, they stood shoulder to shoulder, waiting for me. Their slender bodies towered above me, ribs poked from under the skin like tree roots too close to the surface. The one in the middle’s belly was distended, swollen like a hungry ghost. Their eyes smiled down at me deviously, sickly happy noises rolling from their mouths. I started to try to kick one of their knees out when a sharp pain in my shoulder froze my motions.

I tried to turn and see what was behind me, but the noise stopped my head from turning. A noise like a wheeze and a laugh were fighting with a death rattle. My shirt felt hot and wet, when I looked down, obsidian talons jutted from between my shoulder and collar bone. Blood dripped to the dirt and dead leaves. My chest tightened in a panic, I huffed to try to get more air. The periphery of my vision dulled, like a cloudy fluid was overtaking my eyes. My limbs too heavy to fight. The world went black.

I woke up to the sun shining through the windshield of my car and the clang of my car telling me the keys were in the ignition. I was dry; there was no blood on my shirt. The shirt was ragged, but there was no wound of a talon like hand being thrust through my person. I laid my head on the steering wheel and wheezed. It was too real to be a dream, yet too absurd to be real. Could I consider the tattered shirt to be evidence? What about the missing stab wound?

I turned the key. She cranked and started right up. The clock on the radio read 1:15, which is around the time I usually arrive if I leave from my lunch break.

Rating: 6.33/10. From 3 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by M.M. Kelley
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: M.M. Kelley


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on CreepypastaStories.com are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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