“Smart choice. Nothin’ quite like whale on rye to kickstart your day. Millard Filmore used to swear by it.”
He wrings his hands and leans close, whispers in your ear. His breath is hot and smells like the breeze drifting in from the sea following an oilspill – you can make out sixteen separate species of dead fish.
“You seem like a man of means. Reckon you’re used to eating in those fancy places, with cutlery and tablecloths and whatnot? Kind of place where you get to pick your own lobster out of the tank? Right you are, sir. Follow me.”
He opens a trapdoor right there in the floor of the cafe and shines a torch down into the depths. There is a ladder, hard steel affixed to the wall of the circular portal that heads straight down into the darkness.
“Go on down. You can pick your own whale, just like in those fancy lobster places you enjoy so much.”
Rather than explaining how much you dislike those fancy lobster places, you decide to see this thing through to the blubbery end and hop onto the ladder. You’ve only taken a couple of steps down when the trapdoor closes, plunging you into darkness. Nowhere to go but down.
You’ve been descending for what feels like hours when you first notice the salt encrusted onto the rungs of the ladder. There’s a source of light somewhere below.
A few minutes later, you emerge in a huge cavern. The sound of whalesong echoes around the walls and you can see the creatures below, drifting in a saltwater lagoon just deep enough to keep them alive. When you reach the bottom of the ladder, you find two slices of rye bread, a machete and an enormous meatfork.
The eye of the closest whale is a mysterious pool, almost large enough to drown in. It seems to gaze into your soul as you tighten your grip on the machete and fork, and prepare to feast.