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The 24/7 Diner

A short story.

By BoblobV2Published 4 years ago 6 min read

Rumor, that was what I expected of the 24/7 Diner. A place unlike any other. Only a single employee inside, always waiting for the next customer, one at a time, for every second, every minute, every hour, every day. Those that found it are few, and that is if the stories are to be believed. Some fear it, some worship it, and others despise it. It was as if the mere thought of the Diner is all it took to materialize. The locations of it have been varied, at best in the same area, at worst in a completely different continent.

I did not know what made me think of the Diner in the first place, perhaps it was an ancient memory of someone mentioning it in the past that rekindled my interest. Perhaps, it was the sheer lack of anything else to do, that anything mysterious would be enough entertainment as I remained in my home. Maybe, just maybe, there might not be a reason at all, and that was the reason that worried me most. The lack of reason is an unknown wasteland, and is simple to get lost in.

What is important is that I was inside it. It was welcoming, even in the lack of light. A single light at the entrance, and another at the cooking area. I sat at the counter and looked at the various items behind it, and above all the cooking area. I wondered how it was that a single person was all that it took to run this place? And why was it that only a single person was allowed to enter at any one time, when there was so much room, only for it to linger in the darkness?

You have many questions. I smiled as I looked at the customer that had wandered in. A single customer as is the custom. No more, no less, as things should be. No one comes here because they want to, they all come here because they stumble upon it, regardless of whether they know about us or not. Curiosity is good, it will help you survive, or accelerate your death. Quite the curious thing is it not? People fascinate me, and that is why I took this job.

I was still confused. I felt as if she too knew that this was the case, which is why I think that she simply asked me. What would you like to have? You are in a Diner afterall. Something simple, this I managed in my confused state. ‘A hot chocolate, and whatever else you recommend.’ Do you want me to tell you? Or do you want it to be a surprise? I was starting to feel far more comfortable, and as a result I could not help but smile, ‘Surprise me.’ She too returned the smile, A surprise it is.

I started with the hot chocolate. So then, what made you come in here? Were you looking? Or was it chance? Something I liked to hear them say. I already know the answer, I simply like to know if they are honest with themselves. ‘I’ve heard stories about this place, never expected to actually be inside it though.’ And why not? ‘The location, never matched, and the stories that some people tell about it is, well, hard to believe.’ I brought the warm cup over and set it on the counter.

I wrapped my hands around the warm cup, and felt the heat travel through my body. It was only then that I realized how chilled I truly was. So much so that I had to let out a shudder. She seemed to enjoy this as I smiled, and let out a laugh, ‘Sometimes you don’t realize how cold you are till you feel something warm.’ She nodded in agreement and looked outside the windows. It was raining hard, and frost had formed on the outside edges of the glass. It was only black beyond. ‘How do you have electricity here?’

Generator, we need one, because of just how often we travel around. I walked over and leant on the counter, close. ‘You said, we and us, earlier too. Does that mean that you don’t work here alone or is it something else?’ It’s me, and I knocked on the counter him. ‘Doesn’t it get lonely?’ Loneliness is relative, we all feel it in different ways, and to different extents, I do not get lonely because I am in here, and I get to talk to nice people like you all day and night.

‘I guess you have a point there.’ I took another sip of the hot chocolate, and I could feel the heat starting to radiate from my core. Do you get lonely? I paused. Something about that question, no, something about the way she asked me that question, the sincerity behind that voice, stopped me. My body reacted, and my eyes glassed over. She reached out and held my wrist. She said nothing, the act alone was enough of a comfort, and I felt the emotions settle down inside of me. The tidal waves that were battering me calmed to gentle waves.

No words needed to be said, the feeling was radiating out of him, I felt it flowing into me. Pure concentrated loneliness. The coldness of it, like pitch black smoke traveling in the hopes of infecting anyone that gets close. Strong enough for anyone else to let go, however, I am not anyone. I let it flow into me, to take everything negative from him, all in the hopes of healing. ‘Why?’ This is a place that cannot be found by those that simply want to find it, this is a place that will reveal itself to those who need it most.

Breathing was difficult as the emotions that had been locked up deep inside were being ripped through the seal as a result of the vacuum being created inside of my body. Things that I have not allowed myself to feel in so long that the sensations forced my body to react, tears streamed down, and there was no end to them. I found it hard to look at her, yet she looked at me, her gaze itself seemed to reach in and pull the emotions to the surface. ‘Why?’

Why what? I found it hard to remain composed, and a crack in my voice slipped through. Taking in the pain of these broken individuals, alway had this effect on me, feeling what they have felt for years, in a single concentrated dose. The Diner groaned as the pain was absorbed from this individual. The surroundings started to vibrate from the pressure that was rising from the two of us. ‘Why are you doing this to yourself?’

The surroundings rose in its vibration to a peak, and the moment the question was uttered, a shockwave burst out from the epicentre of their contact. A shockwave that stilled the entire Diner, while the concentration of the air itself was so dense that anything that was not bolted down was floating in the air. The seal was ripped clean from the heart of the customer, and she looked into their eyes. She smiled. The pain was coursing through her veins like a poison. Yet, she smiled.

Because, I choose to. Despite the tears, I found that I was smiling, every single nerve ending was on edge, and sang in my body. I reached out and cupped their cheek, maintaining the smile. Despite having done this before, I have never had to absorb so much pain from a single person before. ‘Thank you.’ They remained still for a moment, marinating in the moment, letting themselves simply feel.

It was time, and I finally moved my hand from their cheek, to the wrist I already held, You have to make a choice now. She pointed to two doors, one to the right of me, leading to somewhere else, and the other right behind me, the entrance I came from. Looking back I saw that it had stopped raining, and light was filtering through, morning. I pointed at the door to his right, Through that door, is the life that you have always dreamt of. I squeezed the wrist gently, A life that I would share with you. I then pointed at the entrance, Through that door, is the life you had, all the struggle, all the memories, all the friends, and everything in between. It's your choice.

I look at each door in turn, and finally I look at her. I smile and hold her hands with my free hand. ‘I don’t even need to think about it.’


About the Creator


Writing about anime, and anything else I find interesting.

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