Savoury nibbles, sweet delights, fried bites, fresh goodness, the hall had them all. The boy swallowed before he drooled all over himself.
He walked in circles, watching what the other children took, before finally scampering to the table by the door. A stack of plates sat at the end of the table, and he reached for the top one.
Or he tried to.
“Don’t eat anything here,” another boy said with his hand on the plate.
“But the lady said I could eat anything,” he said.
“If you eat the food, you’ll be trapped. Like me. Follow me,” the other boy said and pulled him. With a longing look at the table, he followed the other boy to the door.
“Try and walk through the door,” the other boy said.
He walked in and out a few times. Nothing happened.
“My turn.” The other boy stuck his hand through the door, but instead of passing through, he hit an invisible wall that flashed red when he touched it. Even when the boy tried to pull the other boy through, he couldn’t pass the door.
“If you eat the food here, you’ll be trapped forever.”
“Forever. You’ll never see your family and friends again. Or your favourite toy, or your favourite place, or your favourite TV series.”
With every word, the boy’s eyes opened wider and wider in horror.
“It’s too late for me, but not you. Escape while you still can.”
The boy nodded and ran without looking back. A woman appeared behind the boy who remained.
“And so, another escapes,” the woman said.
The illusion of a boy faded into the body of a man.
“Another two dozen more to go,” the man said with a glance at the other children gorging themselves on the abundant food that would only make them hungrier, “I won’t stop until they’re all free.”
“I won’t stop either. Remember. You’re the intruder,” the woman said and left.
“Only because what you’re doing isn’t right,” the man said to empty air. Not that it mattered if she actually heard him. He already tried talking to her about her obsession in the past to no avail, and if he waited for her to come to her senses before he acted, it would be too late for the children.
He turned his attention to a girl by the pizza table. He shrugged into an illusion of a pretty, definitely not suspicious older girl and approached.
“I heard there’s chocolate pizza outside. Want to get a slice?”