“Dinner at Raahab” #7
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
Rooms of Raahab opened with little to no publicity, despite the somewhat scandalous name and buzz within social circles as to what this restaurant would actually feature to its customers. Its success bloomed through word of mouth and highly selective referrals. Despite the suggestive name, the only item being served inside besides food was privacy, a commodity most rare and expensive in this day and age of almost complete surveillance by the State and by the Phorzhicoa, a dangerous, (and outlawed) underground collective dedicated to Hoomudl, God of the Watchers. The menu varied, according to popular trends, and usually tended to be less than impressive.
The restaurant was designed specifically for those who seek to enjoy exclusive, uninterrupted dining and social activities with friends and family without the intrusion of Watchers, who have been known to use chatty, busy restaurants to “feed” on endorphins via thoughts, images, and speech. Valentine’s Day is a particular challenge, as it is considered a Feast Day for the Phorzhicoa, and they swarm upon clubs, bars, restaurants, parks, and any other place known to fill with lusty, romance-tipsy minds. As to be expected, many people ignored the warnings and risked being caught up in a mind-sweep, figuring a crowd’s safer than staying home.
Raahab promised and delivered a much more secure and relaxing environment for the few who could afford the luxury of privacy. The clientele tend to be of the ruling corporate class, along with the occasional celebrity in need of a more secure dining experience, in addition to a properly leaked rumor of his or her arrival at the front of its lead-lined, steel doors. The windows were opaque, completely obscuring the inside from pedestrians, paparazzi, and surveillance cameras. Entry into Raahab was via temporary codes delivered to each guest’s RFID upon completion of the reservation request and clearance.
In Raahab, speaking is forbidden outside of dining cubicles. The walls and barriers of each cubicle feature the latest in soundproofing technology, and since orders delivered to the kitchen through a tablet, the restaurant hallway is completely silent. Food comes via server-bot to designated cubicles. Each cubicle has been carefully warded off from Remote Viewing via a banishing sigil placed above the entrance. Human cooks and a chef prepare each course, but they never come into the dining area.
One would need to be greedy, arrogant, desperate, or even perverse to attempt to invade or sneak past the visible and invisible security used by the owners of Raahab to maintain such a high standard of privacy and safety, especially given their warning to would-be invaders that they would be arrested and mindswept, in accordance to State Code Number 237. The word on the street was to treat Raahab as off-limits to the minions of Phorzhicoa and any other off-grid entity. Most Phorzhicoa members preferred to stay in the shadows and feed without exposure, anyway, so they avoided Raahab.
One person sitting alone in one of cubicles on a particularly busy St. Valentine’s date night was clearly the exception. Endirce sipped her Pinot Noir slowly, greedily draining endorphins, as well as a boatload of passionate conversations, images of anticipated coitus, and quite a few fantasies from each cubicle without pausing from her wine. She, whose evocation to summon spirits to carry with her as she walked into the restaurant that overrode the sigils and left the cubicles vulnerable for her to drain at will, fed the spirits who served her with the scraps of what she stole, with plans to dismiss them upon departure from Raahab.
She was greedy enough to gorge herself, but not too greedy to know when it was time to leave. Endirce adjusted her cloak and quickly tapped the tablet to pay for the wine. She quietly moved through the hallway and pushed the door into the kitchen, startling the cooks and chef, then freezing them in mid-motion as she raised her left hand. The exit to the alley was locked from within, meaning a silent alarm had been tripped, no doubt by discovery of her presence. Someone or something must have figured her to be no ordinary minion of the Phorzhicoa. She needed to find an escape before the Extractor found her. Extractors were not bound by the limits of the State, and would not wait for the authorities to come and try to arrest her and mindsweep her. Extractors hunted and killed without pause or regard. As she stood at the back door she sensed an Extractor approaching the entrance of Raahab.
The air suddenly grew hot, as if a fire had been lit.
Things could get bloody.