By Dean Zach
He had never been to an AYCEB before, so he asked his friends, what’s an AYCEB, and they told him, and he said, oh, that makes sense. Soon, they were inside the AYCEB, and, after paying the standard adult lunch rate and claiming a nice booth in the corner, they trooped off to the serving area. He let his friends go ahead of him, and then, apprehensive, he approached the first serving table and applied a spoonful of stir-fried vegetables, a scoop of jasmine rice, a few pieces of orange chicken, and a single egg roll to his plate. Then he looked up and saw his friends laughing at him, mountains on their plates. So he went back through, made a mountain on his plate, returned to the booth, saw his friends gobbling, slid into the booth, and gobbled. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom played silently on a TV in the corner; once, twice, three times he stopped and lifted his head, entranced. I haven’t seen this movie since I was a kid, he said. His friends sighed; shook their heads. Don’t get distracted, they said. Your plate isn’t empty yet. So he put his head down and gobbled. Soon, they were done. Anyone full yet? asked one of his friends, and everyone else shook their heads no, so he shook his head no too, and when everyone got up to get a second plate, he did too. The contents were the same: rice, noodles, chicken, tilapia-fish, vegetables, egg rolls, etc.; all thrown together in a pile. In order to better facilitate gobbling, they put aside their chopsticks, forks, knives, spoons. Soon, they were done again. Everyone full? someone asked, and everyone nodded this time—except him, he was still hungry, he was already going back, he had to go back. So he went back, and got thirds, and then fourths, and then fifths, and then sevenths, and then elevenths, and so on. Hours passed, the plates stacked up, but he kept gobbling. His friends, first peeved, became frightened, then awed, then hypnotized. Soon, he had gobbled up all the food in the pans of the buffet tables; the staff objected, but his friends protected him. He went to the emptied-out dining area, gobbled up all the food on abandoned plates. He went to the kitchen, gobbled up all the food there. He went to the freezer, gobbled up all the food there; went to the trash cans, had them emptied into his mouth. His hunger did not abate. Soon, he was left alone with his friends.