I want you to imagine that you’re out at a restaurant having dinner with a group of friends. It’s a pleasant evening, you’re having a wonderful time.
The atmosphere is very celebratory. You’ve just laughed at a very funny joke told by someone with all the wit and charm of a–let’s say–Andy Ross. That’s when you hear it. Faintly in the background. Soft, but distinguishable. It’s a rhythmic clapping sound, maybe that of another group of fun people at a distant table?
You turn towards where you think you heard the sound come from. That’s when you see it. Not just one person clapping, but a whole line of the restaurant’s wait staff. Clapping and moving inward from the kitchen to the dining area. In a split second, the jovial dinner you and your friends were enjoying has turned into an Agatha Christie drama. You and your friends are all locking eyes with one another. Tensely looking around the table with a glance that says “Who did it? Was it YOU!?”
As this dramatic scene plays out, you hear the train of clappers moving closer and closer. A sense of dread begins to wash over you. Intense. Paralyzing fear. “Are they going to stop here?” you think over and over again. In your mind, someone else at the table is responsible for this, but what you don’t know is that your friends are all experiencing the exact same thoughts that you are. The clapping gets louder, they move closer and closer still. All that’s left to do is to close your eyes and let a silent prayer go out that this will be over quickly.
Eyes shut, the clapping intensifies until it’s almost deafening. They’ve made it to the table. You open your eyes to witness the terrifying sight. The entire wait staff of the restaurant has the table surrounded. They smile like robots, still, insincere, creepy. Your friends have the same look on your face that you now do. Terror hid behind a fake grin. The staff sings to you, they wish you the happiest Birthday. The singing ends, you all clap politely and say “thank you.”
Just as the staff begins to depart, the manager rushes over “No, no! It’s not THAT table! It’s the one next to them!” they yell. A family with two kids at the table to your right gestures the staff to them, they surrounded them and sing, and you and your friends look at each other and feel closer to one another than you ever have before. A bond has been forged between you all that can never be broken, for you have now gone through hell together. See you next week.