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He walked into the front room, holding a leaflet for a new healthy living vegetarian restaurant that had just opened a few streets away.

“Let’s eat out tonight,” he said casually.

She frowned for a moment, then smiled when she saw the leaflet in his hand.

“Oh. Okay, that would be nice. Just let me get changed.”

He had the car running already when she came downstairs, and he drove off before she had even fastened her seatbelt.

“You’re eager,” she said. “Do we have to drive, though, it isn’t that far is it?”

“Just looking forward to it,” he said. “We haven’t eaten out in months. And it’s forecast rain, don’t want to get wet in your nice dress, do you?”

She said nothing. It was true, it had been a long time since they’d been to a nice restaurant, but it was doctor’s orders. He had a lot of weight to lose, so he was on a strict diet. This new restaurant advertised the healthiest food in town, so it would be just about the only place they could eat.

“Hold on,” she said, sitting up and looking at the passing scenery. “Isn’t the veggie place the other side of town?”

He smiled. “We’re not going there.”

He pulled into a car park and she stared in horror at the sign.

“Porkies? You can’t eat here, your diet-”

“Diet be damned,” he snarled, heaving himself out of the car and slamming the door behind him. She got out timidly, and followed him across the car park.

“I haven’t eaten a proper damn meal in three months,” he shouted over his shoulder, “so I’m going to enjoy this!”

He stopped by the door and pointed to the sign that hung beside it.

The Porkies Eat It All Challenge
Clean your plate and you eat free!

She knew it was pointless to argue with him when he got like this. He would only make a scene – people were already staring- and she hated being the centre of attention. Nevertheless, she had to make some kind of protest.

“Give me your keys,” she said.

“What?”

“Your keys. I’m going home. I don’t want to watch you eat yourself into a heart attack.”

“Fine!” He threw the keys in her general direction and turned away as fast as a man of his size could. She picked them up off the floor and shook her head despairingly at his back as he pushed through the door. With a sigh, she got into the car and drove away.

Inside the restaurant, the lighting was low and the atmosphere was cosy. It was quiet – he assumed the eat-it-all challenge was a gimmick to combat that- and he was quickly settled in to a corner table with a bench seat.

The challenge meal came out on a plate almost the same size as the table. It was piled high, with sauces and dips on the side. He asked the waiter with a wink if he had to finish all the sauces and dips as well to win the challenge.

“No, sir, just the plate. Good luck!”

He tucked in with pleasure. The meat was tender and juicy, and everything on the plate was cooked to perfection. There was some kind of clever heating device in the plate itself, which kept everything warm while he plowed through it all.

He took his time, sitting back occasionally to belch and loosen his belt, but finally wiped up the last bit of gravy with his finger and pushed back the clean plate.

“Congratulations, sir.”

He looked up at the tall man who had stopped beside his table.

“I am the manager, sir. You are the first person to beat my challenge, I wanted to congratulate you in person. How did you find the pork?”

He shook the manager’s hand as he stood up. “Uh, delicious,” he muttered. He belched, belatedly covering his mouth with his free hand. “Scuse me. Compliment to the chef, that, in some places.”

“Indeed sir,” the manager said in an obsequious manner. “Thank you for eating at Porkies.”

He staggered past the manager and out into the parking lot. He felt strange. Not sick but not quite right either. He felt a tingling sensation in his fingers, and his breath grew shallow. He gasped, leaning against the wall. Was this what a heart attack felt like?

He tried to call out for help but all that came from his mouth was a wordless grunt. He stared at his hands as his fingers melted together into split hooves. He bent double, trying to scream for help. All that came out was a squeal.

He fell forward onto all fours. Bones cracked audibly as his face and body reshaped themselves to fit a new mould.

“Good piggy,” said the manager from somewhere behind him. “Good, fat piggy.”

© Kari Fay

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