Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

The young couple were blissfully unaware of the silent orange and black striped death silently stalking them. Hidden amongst potted palms and low tables, the tiger padded lightly towards the amorous pair. Honed on the savannahs of east Africa, centuries of civilization had dulled the once acute senses of the humans

With a guttural roar the big cat sprang. The beast caught the mans face between powerful jaws, crushing his thin skull as a baby’s head beneath a hobnailed boot. His wife and their bored waitress found themselves drenched in hot sticky blood.

Soundlessly the young bride screamed, inhaled, found her voice and screamed again. The waitress absently dabbed at her blood stained shirt with a linen napkin. All around them, the other diners chuckled and applauded politely.

The young woman, looking as if about to retch, launched herself from the table and dove through a group of women nodding approvingly and clapping lightly.

Mrs. J. W. Pewtersmythe, the leader of the small group spoke up. “Oh Henri,” she said to the Maître d’, “it’s wonderful what’s been done with the place.”

“Yes Madame. Each plant and beast has been expressly chosen for its beauty and lethality. And now that the retroactive ZPG laws have gone into effect we have been able to acquire such beautiful creatures as the Bengal.” He offhandedly gestured to the tiger noisily feasting on the young man’s entrails.

“Please seat us somewhere appropriate, overlooking the show, away from the kitties and the slithering slimies,” she indicated a python in the process of engulfing a pair of Armani clad feet. She slipped Henri a pair of hundred dollar bills for his efforts.

“Of course Madam,” he replied with an oily smile, “no purring death nor slithering strangulation. We shall keep you away from the hoi polloi.”

The women were seated at a small table away and above the main floor. “Isn’t this wonderful,” Mrs. Pewtersmythe gushed to her fawning companions, “I hear they even invite the homeless in on Wednesday mornings for a free breakfast.” She tittered in a most ladylike way.

“I think it’s wonderful that the lower classes should throw themselves upon the sword for the good of Britain,” remarked Mrs. Fontescue.

“Oh I don’t know,” Mrs. Nesbitt chimed in, “I’ll just be happy when this damned war is over and we can send the riff raff to the Martian Colonies, or at least to the Lunar penal enclave.”

“Hear hear,” the others said in unison, raising their drinks.

Henri himself waited on the august group of women.

“And what will be your pleasure today Mademoiselles.” He handed each woman a menu bound in blood red, crushed velvet.

The old women tittered delightedly and blushed on cue.

“What is this one here,” inquired Mrs. Pewtersmythe, stabbing her bony finger at a listing under, Aperitifs.

‘That would be araignées, Madam. Veuves noires. A rare and most delicate repast in some parts of the world. Very exclusive,” he bent closer and finished in a stage whisper, “and very expensive.” He leered knowingly.

“That’ll be us then.” She smiled winsomely.

“Pierre,” Henri said to the hovering waiter at his side, “araignées, sil vous plait.”

When the dish arrived, Henri removed the cover with a flourish, “Eh voila!” Thousands of small glistening black objects swarmed from beneath the lid and over the women.

As they covered Mrs. Pewtersmythe’s face, she saw the brilliant red hourglass on the abdomen.

“Henri,” she shrieked, “but I…,”

“Pardon, Madam did not want the fuzzy death, nor the slimy suffocation, but she said nothing about the creepy crawlies. Bon appétit.”

He smiled.

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