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The Primal Need

In an eternity of time before the birth of our universe as we know it, there existed a cosmos in a different time and space—a world confined to a single House. This House was made up of two rooms. In one room was a Kitchen, and in the other rested a single round table and a simple wooden chair. An over-sized clock hung on one of the walls of the Other Room. There were no windows, for it was always light inside both rooms of the House—nighttime and sleep did not exist.

A lone Maid cooked a plain soup and a single biscuit in the Kitchen once every four hours, serving a Man who always—and only—sat at the table. When the time came, the Maid would start cooking for the next meal, and the cycle would start over. The two never discussed, wondered or questioned how their repetitive world came to be. Their minds were dull—dull to the point of almost no intelligence.
Water, vegetables, and spices for making the soup were available to the Maid in the middle of three Kitchen cabinets, and more bags of flour than she cared to count rested in the cabinet on the right. The ingredients in both cabinets automatically resupplied themselves on their own, so they never ran out. The Left Cabinet had never been touched, for it was locked and the Maid did not know where the Key was, if one so existed. The Man ate and the Maid cooked. This cycle continued for many, many, years, until fate decided to intervene.
There came a day when the Man found something not quite right in his soup. It was a most curious thing; it certainly wasn’t a vegetable, and it was hard, so the Man decided not to eat it, since, of course, he had no idea what it was. For the first time in all of his existence in the House, the Man got the Maid’s attention and made a gesture, pointing at the strange object.
Now, the Maid found this object very puzzling. She brought it back to the Kitchen with her. It was shaped very strangely: a small, ring-like golden metal piece fused to another golden metal stick, with ungainly ridges sticking up at random points and at different heights fused to the stick. It was so unlike anything she had seen: after all, she had not seen much except for the ingredients she cooked with and the bowls and plates she served the Man with. For awhile, she was very confused.
However, in the most brilliant flash that the House would ever witness, the Maid found her eyes flitting over the strange object and landing upon the Lock on the left of the three Kitchen cabinets. In the back of her primitive mind, she had always wondered if a Key existed to discover what lay behind the unknown Left Cabinet. Was this it? Was this the Key?
So the Maid went over and inserted the Key into the Lock, and opened the Cabinet. What lay behind nearly overwhelmed her with the wealth and abundance of different foods and ingredients; from exotic greens to fresh fruit; from spiced chicken to plump stuffed turkeys; from rare cheeses to the most precious wines; mashed potatoes and whole potatoes; pasta and mountains and mountains of multicolored rice; mouthwatering peach cobblers and rich chocolate cakes; even jugs and bottles of different drinks, some of them bubbling; and although she had no idea what any of it was, she just knew that they were good foods.
When the next mealtime came, the Maid entered the Other Room with all of the bowls and plates that they had, piled high with steaming food, creamy soups, and cups filled to the brim with several different colored juices and wines. A thick, scrumptious smell quickly filled the Other Room.
The Maid set the huge meal down, filling up the entire table with the different plates, bowls, and cups. The Man, too, was overwhelmed, for all he had known in his entire existence was the plain soup and the plain biscuit. However, his state of shock did not last very long, and he didn’t need anyone to tell him to enjoy. He nearly inhaled everything that wasn’t a plate: very quickly, the table was empty.
The Maid, however, did not worry, because just like the other two cabinets, the Left Cabinet seemed to resupply itself as it wished. The Man continued indulging in all of the delicious foods that the Maid brought to the table, and this newer cycle, again, continued on for many more years.
The Man seemed to take up a liking to the drinks called wine; the Maid was sure to bring him several bottles. He would demand more, and the Maid, of course, would deliver more during the next meal. As time went on, the Man’s body grew and grew, until it sat like an oversized lump on the sagging wooden chair. In addition, there was something in the foods and drinks that increased the Man’s intelligence: he began to understand where the foods came from and the world around him, and the House and the Kitchen and the big timer in front of him and the Other Room he sat in for eternity. He understood all of it now; he was aware of the four-hour wait for meals and the feeling of doom and helplessness of only having the ability to sit and pass time; he understood the worthlessness of such a life and it troubled him. He eased these nagging thoughts with the food, and, more importantly, the wine.
There was a meal when the Man demanded all of the wine that the Maid could find be brought to the table for him. The Maid, of course, obliged, for in her mind, he could have all the wine he wanted. She returned to the Kitchen and opened the Left Cabinet, reaching her arm into the deepest corners to pull out the last bottles of the best wines. Again, she returned to the Other Room with what she thought was enough to satisfy the Man. In turn, she was sent back for more. The Maid returned, showing her empty hands.
The Man responded angrily, but in his mind he understood. His table-poundings died down soon after the Maid quickly retreated to the Kitchen, but at the same time, the Man had an idea. He roared as loud as he could to get the Maid back in the Other Room. The Maid, terrified, tiptoed back.
In a historic moment for the House, the Man spoke: “Next meal in two hours. Got it?”
The Maid didn’t know how to respond. The Man never talked. It was quite a surprise to hear him speak. Second, and more importantly, it had always been four hours between meals. Always. In two hours, she didn’t know if the cabinets would resupply properly, or if—
“UNDERSTAND?!”
The Maid glanced at the giant clock on the wall ahead of the Man. Again, to her shock, the countdown read 2:00:00—the Man had gained the power to decrease the time between his meals anytime he wanted to. It must have been the foods—or was it? The Maid didn’t know. Her brain felt as if it were scrambled; so many things were changing so quickly, all out of her control. Resigned, the Maid nodded meekly.
Come next mealtime (two hours later), the wines had been restocked, but not entirely. Such few wine bottles did not satisfy the Man, who roared angrily. He knew, however, that he had no control over what appeared in the Left Cabinet. During the next two hours, the Man became more and more restless and agitated, for without the effects of the alcohol in the wine, he was beginning to realize, to the full extent, the emptiness in his existence. He needed the wine, else he would collapse internally.
So he decided to decrease the time between meals to one hour, and demanded that the Maid bring him all of the wine in the Left Cabinet, and only the wine. He didn’t care about the other foods. When the Maid tried to protest, she was shut down immediately.
For awhile, the clock reset itself to one hour every time, but then the Man reduced the waiting times to half an hour, then to a quarter of an hour, until the time came when he demanded wine minute after mere minute. The number of bottles and the amount in them dwindled down until the Maid could barely bring spoonfuls to the table. The Man, however, craved more and more.
Finally, and inevitably, there came a day when there was no wine at all in the Left Cabinet. The Maid could only shrug helplessly as the Man howled his disapproval. He refused to have any of the other delicacies in the Left Cabinet.
The House was silent the day the Man died of hunger.





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